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Asceticism and Anthropology in Irenaeus and Clement$
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John Behr

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198270003

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198270003.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Asceticism and Anthropology in Irenaeus and Clement

John Behr

Oxford University Press

Asceticism addresses what we are as human beings and asks questions regarding the appropriate ways of realizing this in our lives. Christian asceticism is a significant part of modern Western civilization. Is Christian asceticism, though, a corruption of true Christianity? Is it intrinsic to Christian existence? How is it different from other types of asceticism? Christianity's ideals regarding virginity, abstinence, continence and other such issues have become issues because of its different representations and interpretations; these ideals have marked Christians as a ‘third race’. The specificity and distinctiveness of Christianity is found not in their practices, but in the ‘constitution of their citizenship’. This book looks into the continuity or lack of continuity between pagan Christian morality through investigating their conceptions of morality from philosophical and socio-historical viewpoints. Specifically, this book concentrates on Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria's understandings on asceticism.

Keywords:   asceticism, Christianity, ideals, third race, constitution, citizenship, morality, pagan, Irenaeus, Clement

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