This book set out to demonstrate how sexuality became central to Jewish and Christian notions of holiness and holy community in the postbiblical period. In particular, this study was motivated to determine why sexuality, especially sexual restraint, became a primary demarcation of sacred community boundaries among Jews and Christians in fourth-century Persian-Mesopotamia. To accomplish this task, the book focused on the exegetical underpinnings that link holiness to sexuality in these communities’ emerging hermeneutics of holiness and sexuality. In the fourth-century Mesopotamian context, ascetic practitioners found biblical textual support as compelling as any other outside cultural norm. Sexual asceticism thus finds its rightful place in the formative periods of both religious traditions through the lens of comparative biblical exegesis, social constructs, and the study of the theological developments of the Hebrew biblical notions of holiness.
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