Christian asceticism as seen through the image of the Jewish Nazirite in Jerome

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Abstract

This article argues that Jerome saw Jewish Nazariteship as providing a foundation for Christian asceticism. Jerome perceived Naziriteship as an epitome of saintly life, prefiguring the lives of the apostles, and realized in the lives of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, in their extreme devotion and standing above the rest of the community, but in an honourable way.
Jerome’s vision of asceticism reflected his ambiguous relationship with Jewish tradition, both admiring Nazarite ideals and critical of its practice by Law observant followers of Jesus. Understanding the tradition of the Jewish Nazirites through the eyes of Jerome is central not only to understanding the ascetic tradition in the region that saw the birth of Christianity, but to illustrating an important tension within the Christian tradition in general, between
emphasis on a personal relationship with God and separation from the community to that end, and emphasis on a common life organized and supported by the hierarchy of the Church.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-24
Number of pages16
JournalArcha Verbi: yearbook for the study of medieval theology
Volume15
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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