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The Body and Society [Paperback]

By Professor Peter Brown (Author)
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Item description for The Body and Society by Professor Peter Brown...

In his monumental book Peter Brown addresses the practice of permanent sexual renunciation--continence, celibacy, and life-long virginity--that developed in Christian circles from the first to the fifth centuries A.D. Brown vividly describes the early Christians and their strange, disturbing preoccupations. He follows in detail the reflection and controversy these notions generated among Christian writers. Among the topics covered are marriage and sexuality in the Roman world, Judaism and the early church, Origen and the tradition of spiritual guidance, sexuality in the desert fathers and Augustine and sexuality. The Body and Society is a significant study on sexuality and the family in the ancient world by a renowned scholar. Besides being of great interest to readers in ancient history and early church history, and to classicists and medievalists, it will engage readers concerned with women's studies and the history of sexuality.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Columbia University Press
Pages   504
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.1" Width: 5.9" Height: 1.2"
Weight:   1.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 30, 1990
Publisher   Columbia University Press
ISBN  0231061013  
ISBN13  9780231061018  

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > Rome
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Womens Studies > General
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Womens Studies
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Womens Issues

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Body and Society?

A beautiful exposition of the ignorance of the Church Fathers!  Mar 19, 2008
From the philosophical standpoint, this is book is amazing because;
It gives you a glimpse of people who thought and lived in second, third, fourth, and 5th century.
It shows the level of ignorance that those so-called philosophers, fathers of the Christian church, and apologists had.
If you have certain level of knowledge in the health related fields, you will be able grasp, in between lines, that many of them were mentally deranged just because their excessively poorfasting and dietary intake eating habits.
The non sequitur logic and their faulty reasoning are evident throughout the book.

After reading this book, the reader might wonder about such level continence that they practiced and it is unbelievable how western culture did not disappear. These people hated the flesh, abhorred sex, and despised the opposite sex and their Meme survived. Yes, it survived because ignorance existed on a massive scale. Yes, it survived because people did not have free will. Yes, it survived because very few people throughout history dared to research and question Christianitys origin and its dogmas. Yes, it survived because very few people had a lifespan above 25 years and at the age of 30; the individual was already an elderly.

From this book, a couple of questions emerge about human morality, which are; should we revise all Religious Dogmas and their origins? Should we discard, modify these dogmas? Any critical thinker might believe so! We should strive to live in a world of peace created in human equalityin terms of human rights--, love, respect, health, happiness, and knowledge. In addition, we must cherish creation and its unfolding power sex itself by recognizing the true laws of the creator, the laws of nature, which resides in our instincts and logical reasoning.

At the end of the book, we are left with an excellent exposé of ignorance and faulty logic that no one have dared to revise and discard all the ignorance and keep only the pearls hidden inside them.

Peter Brown is an excellent researcher with a level of clarity and scope. This book represents Mr. Peter Browns par excellence. Mr. Brown many thanks for such a wonderful and informative Book!
Quite Obsolete  Apr 29, 2004
In the late 70ies Protestant and Jewish scholars started to reexamine the carnal world of the early Christians. Since then daring new views have come up showing that Catholic Christianity as it developed since the 2nd century is not the same as New Testament Christianity which was deeply rooted in Judaism and its attitudes towards the body. Scholars like Jane Schaberg (1987), Raymond J. Lawrence (1989) and more recently Philo Thelos (2003) have shown that early Christian women and men treated each other in a very revolutionary manner experimenting with freedom and, compared to their pagan background, were all but chaste. It was the Catholic church that later took over Roman and pagan attitudes about family, marriage, virginity and chastity. Peter Brown's treatment of Jewísh attitudes towards the body emphasizes hellenistic Judaism and only slightly discusses much more body-oriented orthodox Judaism. His views on the apostle Paul are simply outdated and reflect traditional atheist views. Mr. Brown, however, correctly observes a trend towards asceticism among late antique Christians. This trend, however, did not originate in allegedly stern attitudes of the new Christian religion but in the failure of many early Christians to, the long run, embrace, keep up and enjoy the freedom offered to them. It was the young Martin Luther who reexplored the bodily freedom offered by the Gospel. The Calvinists and modern Bourgeois middle class Christians again lost that freedom. Interestingly enough, today it is Atheists who challenge Christians and their heritage of carnal freedom.
Theme not very carefully defined  Jan 22, 2004
The title of Mr. Brown's book is deceiving. He asserts to write about sexual renunciation in early Christianity. Instead he basicly writes about sexual renunciation in among the Gnostics. There is a good reason why devoted Christians of all denominations view Gnosticism as a heresy. Gnosticism is very much rooted in pagan, i.e. Indian and Persian religious esoteric beliefs. As scholars like A. Vööbus ("History of Asceticism in the Syrian Orient") have shown, sexual asceticism is not anything originally Jewish or Christian, but has been taken over by certain groups of Christians from Eastern religions. Of course, these groups have heavily influenced church Christianity and made Christians and non-Christians alike believe that celibacy is a truly christian virtue. However, church christianity has never been exactly the same kind of Christianity as the one depicted in the New Testament.
an excellent, scholarly study  May 13, 1999
Brown's book is the finest study available on sexuality and the body in the early Church. This book sheds great light on the classical, Jewish , and Christian conceptions of the body and how important those conceptions were in early Christianity, especially for early Christian asceticism. This is a must read for anyone interested in gaining a serious appreciation of the early Church. Many histories focus primarily on the Development of Christian Doctrine and Ecclesial structures. An understanding of early Christian spirituality and asceticism illuminates early Christian doctrine and church structure even more.
An Excellent History of Early Christianity  Dec 12, 1998
This is a marvelous book and Peter Brown is a master of his field. _The Body and Society_ provides one of the best histories available of the human body and its relationship to Christianity in late antiquity. Brown traces early Christian ideas on the body and sexulity to their roots in the Classical world and Roman views of gender and sexual practice. Then, the Christian idea of sexual renunciation is explored through the ideas of major Christian theologians, dealing especially well with the complex views of Augustine of Hippo. This is a beautifully written masterpiece of historical research and is likely to be a modern classic.

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