Click here to get the answers to the most commonly asked RBL questions.

Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Thorns in the Flesh: Illness and Sanctity in Late Ancient Christianity
Crislip, Andrew

Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012 pp. viii + 238. $65.00

Series Information
Divinations: Rereading Late Ancient Religion


Description: The literature of late ancient Christianity is rich both in saints who lead lives of almost Edenic health and in saints who court and endure horrifying diseases. In such narratives, health and illness might signify the sanctity of the ascetic, or invite consideration of a broader theology of illness. In Thorns in the Flesh, Andrew Crislip draws on a wide range of texts from the fourth through sixth centuries that reflect persistent and contentious attempts to make sense of the illness of the ostensibly holy. These sources include Lives of Antony, Paul, Pachomius, and others; theological treatises by Basil of Caesarea and Evagrius of Pontus; and collections of correspondence from the period such as the Letters of Barsanuphius and John. Through close readings of these texts, Crislip shows how late ancient Christians complicated and critiqued hagiographical commonplaces and radically reinterpreted illness as a valuable mode for spiritual and ascetic practice. Illness need not point to sin or failure, he demonstrates, but might serve in itself as a potent form of spiritual practice that surpasses even the most strenuous of ascetic labors and opens up the sufferer to a more direct knowledge of the self and the divine. Crislip provides a fresh and nuanced look at the contentious and dynamic theology of illness that emerged in and around the ascetic and monastic cultures of the later Roman world.

Subjects: Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Early Church Origins

Login to Read the Review(s)

You must be a member of SBL to read the review(s). Enter your SBL Member ID and click the "Log in" button. Your use of this site indicates your acceptance of RBLís Terms of Use.

I donít remember my SBL Member ID.

Join SBL or renew your membership to read the review(s).



SBL Membership Id:  


Review by John J. Pilch
Published 4/16/2015
Citation: John J. Pilch, review of Andrew Crislip, Thorns in the Flesh: Illness and Sanctity in Late Ancient Christianity, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2015).


Adobe Acrobat Reader
All RBL reviews are published in PDF format. To view these reviews, you must have downloaded and installed the FREE version of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have the Reader or you have an older version of the Reader, you can download the most recent version now.

 

 
Privacy PolicyTerms of UseContact Us