Cover

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Title Page

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Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Introduction: Hagiography andthe History of Sexuality

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pp. 1-18

The Sex Lives of Saints? What could such words possibly signify? Surely everyone knows that the repression of erotic desire is the hallmark of Christian sanctity: a "sex life" is precisely what a proper saint lacks. At most, ascetic eros - encoded as yearning for God - may be seen as the residue of an imperfectly sublimated sexuality ...

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Chapter 1 - Fancying Hermits: Sublimation and the Arts of Romance

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pp. 19-52

"How often, when I was living in the desert, in the vast solitude which gives to hermits a savage dwelling-place, parched by the flames of the sun, how often did I fancy myself among the pleasures of Rome (putavi me Romanis interesse deliciis)]" (Ep. 22.7). Thus begins Jerome's account of his own brief career as a hermit, ...

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Chapter 2 - Dying for a Life: Martyrdom, Masochism, and Female (Auto)Biography

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pp. 53-90

Loosing her tongue, Ambrose's Agnes gives shameless witness to her desire for the executioner's sword: by such violent proxy is she made Christ's bride (Ambrose, On Virgins 2).1 In contrast, Jerome's unnamed youth (subjected to a still stranger persecution) bites his tongue, thereby excising his shameful ...

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Chapter 3 - Hybrid Desire: Empire, Sadism, and the Soldier Saint

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pp. 91-127

Martin of Tours, a Pannonian ex-soldier credited with the militant conversion of Gaul to Christianity, is best known to us from the Life penned by the Aquitanian ascetic Sulpicius Severus. Much admired for its delicate engagement with classical traditions of historiography and biography, Sulpicius's Life of Martin also ...

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Chapter 4 - Secrets of Seduction: The Lives of Holy Harlots

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pp. 128-159

The peculiarly promiscuous Lives of loose women are not easy to tie down to a particular time, place, or even textual version, in large part because their immense popularity led quickly to multiple translations and uncertain attributions of authorship. Thus, although the Syriac tale of Mary, part of a longer ...

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Postscript (Catching My Breath)

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pp. 160-162

Countereroticism will not tolerate conclusion. There can be no end to love in the lives of saints, no end to the reading and rewriting of holy Lives. Nonetheless, readers, writers, and lovers alike honor the power of the interval, the necessity - even the intense desirability - of the pause. Let us pause, ...

Notes

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pp. 163-198

Bibliography

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pp. 199-208

Index

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pp. 209-214

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 215-216

I am deeply grateful to Dean Maxine Beach, my colleagues in the Theological School and Caspersen School of Graduate Studies of Drew University, and the Association of Theological Schools Lilly Theological Research Grant: their combined assistance enabled me to take a break from teaching and committee duties ...