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Desiring ConversionHermas, Thecla, Aseneth$
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B. Diane Lipsett

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199754519

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199754519.001.0001

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Scrutinizing Desire

Scrutinizing Desire

Hermas, Metanoia, and Manliness

(p.19) Two Scrutinizing Desire
Desiring Conversion

B. Diane Lipsett

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the interplay in The Shepherd of Hermas between desire and self-restraint, and does so as an entrance into the text’s larger concern with metanoia (repentance or conversion), self-scrutiny, and masculinity. The long, repetitive text evinces a striking array of techniques for self-examination, akin to those Foucault describes as ancient strategies for discursive self-formation. Scattered scenes with images of erotic desire are spread across the three sections of The Shepherd (Visions, Mandates, and Similitudes) and invite close analysis. Yet erotic sins or dangers seem less important than others, particularly economic sins, in the ethical register of this text. Rather, images of desire function metonymically within a broader discourse of virtue. In the end, metanoia and manliness in The Shepherd involve not so much the suppression of desire as the choice of its proper object, and even manly abandonment to holy desires.

Keywords:   Hermas, metanoia, repentance, masculinity, self-formation, desire, Foucault

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