Reading, Not Eating
Women Readers in Late Ancient Christian Asceticism
This chapter focuses on the emergence of the figure of the ideal female reader in early and late ancient Christian ascetic literature, which quite clearly glorifies women who have taken up the ascetic life and, at least metaphorically, have chosen to read rather than to eat. After surveying some evidence from texts as disparate as the Shepherd of Hermas, a Greek papyrus fragment, and Sidonius Apollinarious, the chapter turns especially to the lives of holy women and to patristic writers such as Jerome and Gregory of Nyssa and to Gerontius’s Life of Melania the Younger.
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