Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
The Measure of MultitudePopulation in Medieval Thought$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Peter Biller

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199265596

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199265596.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 22 October 2019

The Precept of Marriage and Sufficient Multiplication

The Precept of Marriage and Sufficient Multiplication

Chapter:
(p.111) 5 The Precept of Marriage and Sufficient Multiplication
Source:
The Measure of Multitude
Author(s):

Peter Biller

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199265596.003.0005

Peter Brown's The Body and Society delineates the ideal of sexual renunciation in early Christianity, traced through the writings of the Greek and Latin fathers. Interwoven with this theme is the human race in biblical and post-biblical history. In the beginning there was the injunction to multiply. After expansion there was reduction to Noah and his wife, and then after the flood expansion again. Now that the world is sufficiently populated, the injunction to multiply no longer binds, and celibacy and virginity have become more praiseworthy than marriage. Brown quotes passages from Jerome, Augustine, and others which express their sense of a world packed and teeming with people. In Brown's subtle account this sense is not an alternative to meditation on the end of time and the completion of the number of the elect. It goes hand in hand with these themes, intertwines with the practice of celibacy, and is set in a specific demographic context. The celibacy of the Encratite communities is evoked against a background of the mountainous areas of Syria and Asia Minor, where ‘the population always exceeded the scarce resources of the highlands’ and John Chrysostom's praise of virginity is set against the quarter of a million inhabitants and three thousand widows and virgins who were under the Church's protection in late 4th-century Antioch. This chapter addresses similar texts and themes.

Keywords:   population, human race, celibacy, marriage, multitude, medieval demographic thought

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .