Celibacy in the Ancient World

Celibacy in the Ancient World


By (author) Dale F. Launderville

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  • Publisher: Michael Glazier Inc
  • Format: Paperback | 616 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 226mm x 46mm | 748g
  • Publication date: 12 October 2010
  • ISBN 10: 0814656978
  • ISBN 13: 9780814656976
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 1,060,019

Product description

Celibacy is a commitment to remain unmarried and to renounce sexual relations, for a limited period or for a lifetime. Such a commitment places an individual outside human society in its usual form, and thus questions arise: What significance does such an individual, and such a choice, have for the human family and community as a whole? Is celibacy possible? Is there a socially constructive role for celibacy?These questions guide Dale Launderville, OSB, in his study of celibacy in the ancient cultures of Israel, Mesopotamia, and Greece prior to Hellenism and the rise of Christianity. Launderville focuses especially on literary witnesses, because those enduring texts have helped to shape modern attitudes and can aid us in understanding the factors that may call forth the practice of celibacy in our own time. Readers will discover how celibacy fits within a context of relationships, and what kinds of relationships thus support a healthy and varied society, one aware of and oriented to its cosmic destiny."Dale Launderville, OSB, is professor of theology at Saint John's University School of Theology 'eminary, Collegeville, Minnesota. He is the author of "Piety and Politics: The Dynamics of Royal Authority in Homeric Greece, Biblical Israel, and Old Babylonian Mesopotamia "(Eerdmans, 2003) and "Spirit and Reason: The Embodied Character of Ezekiel's Symbolic Thinking "(Baylor University Press, 2007)."

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Review quote

This wide-ranging book situates virginity, chastity, and celibacy within the larger social structure of the patriarchal household in Mesopotamia, Israel, and Greece. Drawing out the understandings of human sexuality in these three pre-Hellenistic cultures, this probing study examines sexual 'outliers, ' such as the celibate prophet, Jeremiah. In this study, celibacy emerges as an effort to separate from customary social-sexual relations with a human partner in order to connect with the divine in a manner that would transcend death; it is, in other words, 'a proleptic death and a quest for transcendence.' The result is an understanding--and a concrete rationale for--the symbolic value of celibacy in the modern world: 'For one committed to a celibate life such sexual discipline is a fundamental means of shaping the ascetic body into a symbol of enduring life in the cosmic community.' The result of this challenging book is a rethinking of sexual 'outliers, ' based on a learned examination of t