The Hagiographical Experiment: Developing Discourses of Sainthood


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The Hagiographical Experiment: Developing Discourses of Sainthood throws fresh light on narratives about Christian holy men and women from Late Antiquity to Byzantium. Rather than focusing on the relationship between story and reality, it asks what literary choices authors made in depicting their heroes and heroines: how they positioned the narrator, how they responded to existing texts, how they utilised or transcended genre conventions for their own purposes, and how they sought to relate to their audiences. The literary focus of the chapters assembled here showcases the diversity of hagiographical texts written in Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac, as well as pointing out the ongoing conversations that connect them. By asking these questions of this diverse group of texts, it illuminates the literary development of hagiography in the late antique, Byzantine, and medieval periods.

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Christa Gray, D.Phil. (2012), University of Oxford, is Lecturer in Classics at the University of Reading. She is the author of Jerome, Vita Malchi: Introduction, Text, Translation, and Commentary (OUP, 2015), and co-editor of two volumes on Roman Republican oratory. James Corke-Webster, Ph.D. (2013), University of Manchester, is Senior Lecturer in Roman History at King's College, London. He is the author of Eusebius and Empire: Constructing Church and Rome in the Ecclesiastical History (CUP, 2019), jointly awarded the 2018 Conington Prize.

James Corke-Webster and Christa Gray

Part 1 The Persons of Hagiography

1 The First Hagiographies: The Life of Antony, the Life of Pamphilus, and the Nature of Saints
James Corke-Webster

2 The Hagiographer as Holy Fool? Fictionality in Saints’ Lives
Julie Van Pelt

3 Clerical Hagiography in Late Antiquity
Robert Wiśniewski

Part 2 The Forms of Hagiography

4 Eremitic aemulatio: Genesis of Genre in Jerome’s Vita Pauli
Alan J. Ross

5 A Life Beyond Measure: Sulpicius, Martin and the Possibilities of Perpetual Discourse
Zachary Yuzwa

6 The Perils of Paulinus: Letters as Hagiography in the Correspondence of Paulinus of Nola and Sulpicius Severus
Michael S. Williams

7 Hagiographical Compilation as Literature: Receiving Saints, Recrafting Heroes, Redeploying Theologies
Todd E. French

Part 3 The Strategies of Hagiography

8 How to Persuade a Saint: Supplication in Jerome’s Lives of Holy Men
Christa Gray

9 Holy Fools and Sacred Sidekicks: Comic Relief and Humorous Elements in a Hagiographical Text from Egypt
Konstantin M. Klein

10 Disclosing Secret Chaste Marriages in Jerome’s Life of Malchus and Stephen the African’s Life of Amator
Klazina Staat

11 The Hagiographer’s Craft: Narrators and Focalisation in Byzantine Hagiography
Anne Alwis

12 Postscript
Lucy Grig

Students and scholars of Classical, Late Antique, Byzantine, and early Medieval narrative literature, and a wider public interested in aspects of the crafting of stories about saints.
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