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Angels in Late Ancient Christianity$
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Ellen Muehlberger

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199931934

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931934.001.0001

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Defining Others: Asceticism and the Discourse of the Angelic Life

Defining Others: Asceticism and the Discourse of the Angelic Life

(p.148) 5 Defining Others: Asceticism and the Discourse of the Angelic Life
Angels in Late Ancient Christianity

Ellen Muehlberger

Oxford University Press

Christian orators explained the emergence of new, renunciatory communities to their urban congregations by the use of a trope: they explained that ascetics were Christians but were different because they were living "the angelic life." This chapter explores the development of that trope among urban preachers, then examines evidence from ascetic communities themselves to understand the effects of the discourse on the day-to-day lives of monks. Ascetic literature, including the works of Shenoute of Atripe, head of the White Monastery, demonstrates that ascetics received the trope with ambivalence, at times using it to construct the cultural foundations of their communities, while at others rejecting it as a dangerous and hubristic way of viewing the ascetic project.

Keywords:   Asceticism, Egypt, Angelic Life, Apophthegmata Patrum, Shenoute of Atripe

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