Asceticism, the Body and the Spiritual in the Late Antique Era
Hunt examines the apparent paradox that Jesus' earthly existence and post resurrection appearances are experienced through consummately physical actions and attributes yet some ascetics within the Christian tradition appear to seek to deny the value of the human body, to find it deadening of spiritual life. Hunt considers why the Christian tradition as a whole has rarely managed more than an uneasy truce between the physical and the spiritual aspects of the human person. Why is it that the 'Church' has energetically argued, through centuries of ecumenical councils, for the dual nature of Christ but seems still unwilling to accept the full integration of physical and spiritual within humanity, despite Gregory of Nazianzus's comment that 'what has not been assumed has not been redeemed'?
The Greek philosopher Porphyry of Tyre had a reputation as the fiercest critic of Christianity. It was well-deserved: he composed (at the end the 3rd century A.D.) fifteen discourses against the Christians, so offensive that Christian emperors ordered them to be burnt. We thus rely on the testimonies of three prominent Christian writers to know…
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