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The Role of Death in the Ladder of Divine Ascent and the Greek Ascetic Tradition$
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Jonathan L. Zecher

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198724940

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198724940.001.0001

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The Life of Antony: Embracing Death on the Ascent to God

The Life of Antony: Embracing Death on the Ascent to God

Chapter:
(p.80) 3 The Life of Antony: Embracing Death on the Ascent to God
Source:
The Role of Death in the Ladder of Divine Ascent and the Greek Ascetic Tradition
Author(s):

Jonathan L. Zecher

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198724940.003.0004

This chapter examines Athanasius of Alexandria’s Life of Antony, a text of enormous importance for later monastic literature. The chapter argues that a meditation on death as both judgment and mortality plays an integral role in its presentation of Antony’s ascetic career. This engagement with death informs Antony’s earliest renunciation and appears prominently in his large sermon to monks. In this context are explored the various visions of death that figure in the Life and that present in mythic terms expectations of postmortem judgment. The chapter argues that considerations of mortality and judgment coalesce into a practice of daily “dying,” which anticipates more developed practices of death among later monastics. The chapter concludes with a study of Antony’s death scene, arguing that the scene elaborates the same concerns as are on display in Antony’s sermon and death visions.

Keywords:   Athanasius, Life of Antony, Antony the Great, visions of death, daily dying, memory of death, mortuary religion, funeral rites

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