Cookie Consent:
Please click Accept to accept cookies from this site, or visit our Cookie Policy page for full details of the cookies we use.

The Making of the Self:

Ancient and Modern Asceticism

By Richard Valantasis

The Making of the Self

The Making of the Self:

Ancient and Modern Asceticism

By Richard Valantasis

A wide-ranging study of asceticism in the Roman and early Christian traditions, combining both historical and theoretical analysis.

Trade Information: JPOD
Available as: Paperback, PDF

  • Share:
  • Share this title on Twitter
  • Share this title on Facebook
  • Share this title on Google+

Print Paperback

ISBN: 9780227172810

Specifications: 229x153mm (9x6in), 336pp

Published: September 2008


PDF eBook

ISBN: 9780227903278

Specifications: 332pp

Published: May 2015

A leading scholar of ascetical studies, Richard Valantasis explores a variety of ascetical traditions ranging from the Greco-Roman philosophy of Musonius Rufus, the asceticism found in the Nag Hammadi Library and in certain Gnostic texts, the Gospel of Thomas, and other early Christian texts.

This collection gathers historical and theoretical essays develop a theory of asceticism that informs the analysis of historical texts and opens the way for postmodern ascetical studies. Wideranging in historical scope and in developing theory, these essays address asceticism for scholar and student alike.

The theory will be of particular interest to those interested in cultural theory and analysis, while the historical essays provide the researcher with easy access to a significant corpus of academic writing on asceticism.


Part One: Theory
1. A Theory of the Social Function of Asceticism
2. Construction of Power in Asceticism
3. Asceticism as a Sacred Marriage: Eastern and Western Theories
4. Asceticism or Formation: Theorising Asceticism after Nietzsche
5. A Theory of Asceticism, Revised

Part Two: Christian Asceticism
6. Uncovering Adam's Esoteric Body
7. Daemons and the Perfecting of the Monk's Body
8. Ascetical Withdrawal and the Second Letter of Basil the Great
9. Is the Gospel of Thomas Ascetical?
10. Competing Ascetic Subjectivities in the Letter to the Galatians

Part Three: Roman Asceticism
11. Nag Hammadi and Asceticism: Theory and Practice
12. Demons, Adversaries, Devils Fisherman: The Asceticism of Authoritative Teaching (NHL, VI, 3) in Roman Perspective
13. Musonius Rufus and Roman Ascetical Theory


Richard Valantasis is Professor of Ascetical Theology and Director of the Anglican Studies Program at the Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author of The Gospel of Thomas, Centuries of Holiness: Ancient Spirituality Refracted for a Postmodern Age, and The New Q: Translation and Commentary.

In the context of belligerently hedonistic Western society, Richard Valantasis's The Making of the Self has never been more relevant. Valantasis proposes that past and present can best be compared, not through ideas, but through analysis of practices and what they produce. Informative and inspirational, The Making of the Self should be required reading for all who seek to make intentional choices that shape the self. Margaret R. Miles, author of A Complex Delight: The Secularization of the Breast, 1350–1750
A tour-de-force journey through the theory and practice of asceticism in late antiquity. Valatansis focusses on the transformative power of ascetic performance portraying asceticism through the ascetic's eyes. He compels us to reflect anew on the nature and role of asceticism in antiquity, and, in the process, to consider its meaning and relevance today. James E. Goehring, author of Ascetics, Society, and The Desert
A coherent and compelling presentation of Valantasis's mature theorizing about a complex and fascinating phenomenon. Valantasis had already taught me much about asceticism. But this book is Valantasis at his best – articulate, creative, witty, feisty, provocative, brilliant. Vincent L. Wimbush, editor of Ascetic Behavior in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook

Customers who bought this title also purchased

Riverside Journey
Riverside Journey (HB)
By Ashley Bryant
Luther's Revolution
Luther's Revolution (PB)
By Nathan Montover
Religion in Chinese Garment
Religion in Chinese Garment (PB)
By Karl Ludwig Reichelt
Towards Reconciliation
Towards Reconciliation (PB)
By Paul Gifford
Way Back To God
Way Back To God (PB)
By Douglas Dales
The Paschal Liturgy and the Apocalypse
The Paschal Liturgy and the Apocalypse (PB)
By Massey H. Shepherd