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While the expectation that passions (or cognitive and emotional capacities) have an afterlife is widespread across cultures, posthumous bodily continuity is more difficult to explain, as seen in the vigorous early Christian debates about the interrelatedness of passions and embodiment in the resurrection. Monastic literature in Egypt offers a rich field for tracing the history of such debates about body and soul through late antiquity. Heir to a society and embedded in a landscape where belief in the posthumous preservation of the body had unusual prominence, Egyptian monasticism witnesses to a diversity of belief, as theologians and ascetics continued to struggle with the challenge of reconciling soul and body in immortality and the resurrection. Focusing on primarily Coptic sources from the early fourth through the seventh centuries, this chapter follows the reflections of ascetic guides and preachers on the interrelation of body and soul as they address resurrection and bodily transformation in letters, polemics, and sermons. While the unity of body and soul remained a controversial topic among late antique Coptic writers, this chapter argues that such writers share an important perspective on embodiment and bodily cognition and experience as fundamental to arguing for the reality of the doctrine of resurrection, including the resurrected body of Christ in the Eucharist, the heavenly existence of saints, and the general resurrection of the Eschaton.

In: The Unity of Body and Soul in Patristic and Byzantine Thought


The passion of envy in the Nag Hammadi Treatise without Title has been noted by scholars for four decades. The present essay approaches the use of the competitive emotions in the Treatise without Title with a sensitivity to ancient conceptions of the passions, and thus clarifies the role of envy. The Treatise without Title links the passion of envy with anger, an emotional concatenation that is found elsewhere in Jewish and Christian emotional thought, and this emotional concatenation drives the action in three core episodes: the origin of the world from the shadow, the engendering of Death by Yaltabaoth, and the final destruction of the gods of chaos and the prime parent. By reading the emotions in the Treatise thusly, the structuring role of envy is clarified, and long debated elements (i.e. the descent of “bile” into the world, and the mutual destruction of the archons) are explained.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
This series welcomes multidisciplinary research on the history of ancient and medieval anthropology broadly understood in terms of both its European heritage and its reception of, and engagement with, various cultural and intellectual traditions (e.g. in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Arabic etc.). This series encourages multidisciplinary studies of the various philological, textual, and archeological sources concerned with the development of anthropological theories in ancient medicine, philosophy, religion, and theology, as well as the subsequent theoretical and practical interactions between these theories. Particularly welcome are studies that emphasise the fundamental connection between different philosophical, scientific, and socio-cultural contexts where anthropological theories were produced and applied, and that analyse the implications of these theories in ethical, ascetic, ecological, gender, and political life from classical Antiquity up to the Middle Ages. Attempts to understand human beings as biological, physiological, religious, and socio-cultural entities persisted from Antiquity and are echoed in the establishing of the complex and multifarious European identity. In grasping this cross-cultural and diversified process, one is able to see the foundations of contemporary scientific, religious, and political discourses that treat the human being and how humanity relates to the world.