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Writing and Holiness
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Writing and Holiness
The Practice of Authorship in the Early Christian East

Derek Krueger

312 pages | 6 x 9 | 11 illus.
Paper 2011 | ISBN 9780812221473 | $32.50s | Outside the Americas £24.99
Ebook editions are available from selected online vendors
A volume in the series Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion
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"Lucid, innovative, beautifully written, a real contribution not just to the scholarship of the early Byzantine world but to conceptions of authorship and composition on a theoretical plane."—Margaret E. Mullett, Queens University Belfast
"A provocative, stimulating, and complex book, which will reward a close reading by advanced students of Greek hagiography."—Speculum

"A delight to read. Erudite yet accessible. . . . A coherent reading of the practice of hagiographical writing as an ascetic tradition which both celebrated the author as creator and placed him in the context of a scribe whose task was to record less his own view of holiness than heavenly insights."—Mystics Quarterly

"Derek Krueger's monograph provides detailed insight into an important part of Byzantine cultural history. His study fills a gap in the field of examinations of selfhood in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, a field that previously focussed mainly on western Christianity and monastic contexts. ... Liturgical Subjects will be a welcome resource for both scholars already familiar with this period, and graduate students in the fields of Byzantine or Religious studies."—KULT

Drawing on comparative literature, ritual and performance studies, and the history of asceticism, Derek Krueger explores how early Christian writers came to view writing as salvific, as worship through the production of art. Exploring the emergence of new and distinctly Christian ideas about authorship in late antiquity, Writing and Holiness probes saints' lives and hymns produced in the Greek East to reveal how the ascetic call to imitate Christ's humility rendered artistic and literary creativity problematic. In claiming authority and power, hagiographers appeared to violate the saintly practices that they sought to promote. Christian writers meditated within their texts on these tensions and ultimately developed a new set of answers to the question "What is an author?"

Each of the texts examined here used writing as a technique for the representation of holiness. Some are narrative representations of saints that facilitate veneration; others are collections of accounts of miracles, composed to publicize a shrine. Rather than viewing an author's piety as a barrier to historical inquiry, Krueger argues that consideration of writing as a form of piety opens windows onto new modes of practice. He interprets Christian authors as participants in the religious system they described, as devotees, monastics, and faithful emulators of the saints, and he shows how their literary practice integrated authorship into other Christian practices, such as asceticism, devotion, pilgrimage, liturgy, and sacrifice. In considering the distinctly literary contributions to the formation of Christian piety in late antiquity, Writing and Holiness uncovers Christian literary theories with implications for both Eastern and Western medieval literatures.

Derek Krueger is Joe Rosenthal Excellence Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He is the author of Symeon the Holy Fool: Leontius's Life and the Late Antique City.

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