The introductory chapter is divided into two parts. The first introduces and defines the key terms of this study: holiness, sexuality, asceticism, and community. This section focuses on the various (Hebrew) biblically derived notions of holiness while differentiating them from other biblically derived concepts such as purity and ethics. This section also discusses the methodologies employed to understand the interpretive trajectories of these same biblical notions as they move and transform across centuries and geographical terrains. The second section discusses the historical, cultural, and literary contexts of the fourth-century authors who are the culmination of this study: the Syriac-Christian, Aphrahat, and the Palestinian and Babylonian Rabbis. These late ancient theologians’ shared Aramaic milieu opens another window onto the early development of both Christianity and Judaism.
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