Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity by Jennifer Wright Knust

By Jennifer Wright Knust

Early Christians used fees of adultery, incest, and lascivious habit to demonize their rivals, police insiders, face up to pagan rulers, and outline what it intended to be a Christian. Christians often claimed that they, they usually by myself have been sexually virtuous, evaluating themselves to these marked as outsiders, specifically non-believers and "heretics," who have been stated to be managed by way of lust and not able to rein of their carnal wishes. precise or now not, those fees allowed Christians to give themselves as various from and morally better to these round them. via cautious, leading edge readings, Jennifer Knust explores the writings of Paul, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, and different early Christian authors who argued that Christ by myself made self-mastery attainable. Rejection of Christ ended in either immoral sexual habit and, finally, alienation and punishment from God. Knust considers how Christian writers participated in a protracted culture of rhetorical invective, a rhetoric that was once usually hired to protect prestige and distinction. Christians borrowed, deployed, and reconfigured classical rhetorical ideas, turning them opposed to their rulers to undercut their ethical and political authority. Knust additionally examines using accusations of licentiousness in conflicts among rival teams of Christians. Portraying rival sects as wicked allowed accusers to assert their very own workforce as consultant of "true Christianity." Knust's publication additionally unearths the ways that sexual slurs and their use in early Christian writings mirrored cultural and gendered assumptions approximately what constituted purity, morality, and fact. In doing so, deserted to Lust highlights the complicated interrelationships among intercourse, gender, and sexuality in the classical, biblical, and early-Christian traditions.

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Extra resources for Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity (Gender, Theory and Religion)

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Nevertheless, by employing sexual slander to define themselves and, possibly, undermine their rulers, Christian authors often simply repeated the very same powerladen, gendered categories of sexual virtue and vice that were more commonly used to support rather than undermine the empire. For example, the emperor Augustus was praised for taming the “unclean lust” that had plagued Rome prior to his ascension to power. Thanks to Augustus, the 12 WHO’S ON TOP? ”67 By contrast, Paul argued that faith in Jesus Christ is the sole guarantee of sexual self-control.

Demosthenes and Aeschines were revered as experts at forensic oratory (De or. 94–95). Quintilian began his discussion of speeches of praise (laudem) and blame (vituperationem) with a discussion of Isocrates, remarking that Isocrates thought praise and blame had a place in every kind of oratory (Inst. 11). In two of his parallel Lives, Plutarch compared the Greek orator and politician Demosthenes with the Roman orator and politician Cicero. These two shared much in common, Plutarch stated, since both rose from obscurity to positions of influence by means of their remarkable oratorical skill (Plut.

What beliefs about gender and sexuality are assumed? To what ends were these charges em- 32 SEXUAL SLANDER AND ANCIENT INVECTIVE ployed? As was suggested by the above reading of ancient rhetorical theory, charges of sexual vice tended to appear in lists rather than separately. If a man was condemned for his extravagance, he was also likely to be condemned for adultery, effeminacy, corruption of boys, or some other related charge. 84 For the sake of convenience, however, I will discuss some of the more prevalent charges separately.

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