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282BOOK REVIEWS is not acknowledged; furthermore, it is mysteriously identified as "a document ... in the legal texts of France" and erroneously assigned to the first haU ofthe ninth century rather than to the second haUofthe eighth century (p. 58). The question whether or not Athanasius wrote the Life ofSt. Antony has long been laid to rest; it is therefore quite inappropriate to question Athanasius' authorship (p. 64). Geography receives only rninimum attention; there are only two maps, one showing the spread of Christianity Ui the tlurd century (p. 40), and the other showing the distribution of reUgions in Europe in 1570 (p. 203)· Chronology, too, is given insufficient attention; the Chronology at the end of the book (pp. 286-293) is only a partial compensation for this weakness. The numerous illustrations—they are not numbered—, many in color, have been selected with care and are of high quality. Unfortunately, readers wUl be disturbed even in theU enjoyment of these beautiful illustrations by the captions , which often partake of the same weaknesses as the text. In general, then, this book is a disappointment. Chadwick has underestimated the intelUgence and educational level of those who might be interested in his subject.Those who may be looking for a book simUar in purpose and scope but more substantial and more pleasing in style should turn to The OxfordIllustrated History of Christianity, edited by John McManners (Oxford University Press, 1990), to which, incidentaUy Chadwick has contributed a very fine chapter. Hans A. Pohlsander State University ofNew York at Albany Asceticism. Edited by Vincent L. Wimbush and Richard Valantasis. (New York: Oxford University Press. 1995. Pp. xxiii, 638. $125.00.) This monumental collection of essays adds new weight to the evidence for a surprisingly vigorous and growing interest in reUgious asceticism. Our age in western culture, and particularly Ui North America, has seemed quite tone-deaf to the ascetic.Yet these essays suggest not only a new and serious inteUectuaI curiosity about ascetic phenomena in other times and places, but even the emergence of individuals and smaU groups in diverse corners of our own society whose quest for focus and renewal oflife is leading them to explore various traditions of disciplined practice. This is not to say that, as scholars or lay people, we know quite what to think about asceticism. The participants in the international conference that produced these papers, held at Union Theological Seminary in New York City in April, 1993, did not attempt to agree on a definition of the term.The papers also reveal considerable diversity not only in the specific subject matter described but in method and approach and even in fundamental attitude toward ascetic practice. KaUistos Ware, in the opening address, cites two Russian Orthodox BOOK REVIEWS283 thinkers who celebrate respectively asceticism's power to Uberate the human person and to produce "a beautiful personaUty" By contrast, Bruce Malina, adopting a determinedly "modern" and "scientific" viewpoint, sees only "setfshrinkage .'The reactions ofreaders may osculate between these poles ofhorror at the ascetic and fascination with it.Yet the obvious depth of knowledge and the extraordinary ability of the contributors to convey their knowledge wiU lead most readers to new appreciation for the power of the ascetic impulse as well as to vastly increased understanding of the variety of its expressions. The plan of the book generaUy foUows that of the conference. After a foreword byJohn Hick, an introduction by the editors, and two "General Challenges and Reconsiderations" by KaUistos Ware and Edith Wyschogrod, twenty-four short essays are presented in groups of three, each threesome followed by a response . Elizabeth A. Clark then attempts the daunting task of responding to aU of these in six pages. The papers are sorted under four headings: Origins and Meanings of Asceticism, Hermeneutics ofAsceticism, Aesthetics of Asceticism, and PoUtics ofAsceticism. Most of them could as easUy have been put into one or sometimes two of the other categories, but that fact merely Ulustrates the interesting cross-currents that are at work. Even so, there are six additional contributions that were apparently not deemed quite to fit any of these topics. These appear as "Ascética Miscellanea" in an appendix, which also records the closing...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-0708
Print ISSN
0008-8080
Pages
pp. 282-283
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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