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I'm using a plan that has me reading through 10 of the Church Fathers during Lent this year. Today was St. Athanasius: Life of Anthony: Chaps. 41-50.

OK, in Chapter 41, Anthony describes a conversation he had with Satan. The more I read, the less believable this becomes. More and more, Anthony sounds like a mythical superhero than a real person. And now, in Chapter 45, he quits talking and goes back to his cell. I really was enjoying the first part, where there was more of a plot, but I'm beginning to realize that I was enjoying it because it sounded like an epic story.

Then, in Chapter 47, he seems to decide to neglect personal hygiene:
And his discipline was much severer, for he was ever fasting, and he had a garment of hair on the inside, while the outside was skin, which he kept until his end. And he neither bathed his body with water to free himself from filth, nor did he ever wash his feet nor even endure so much as to put them into water, unless compelled by necessity.
At least we're back in a narrative portion. I'd like to see how the story progresses.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 18th, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
1. Hagiography is not always meant to be "believable," though of course if one were to approach much of the Scripture with the same mindset, much of it would not be particularly "believable," either. (Jesus' conversation with Satan comes to mind.)

2. What was considered good personal hygiene in the ancient world is rather different from now. Indeed, bathing frequently was the luxury of the rich and snooty, and was usually done publicly.

3. This same kind of life (i.e., intense asceticism) is found in the Bible, too, e.g., John the Baptist and most of the prophets, not to mention Christ Himself. St. Paul makes a lot of references to it, as well. In fact, asceticism is all over the New Testament.
Mar. 18th, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I get (most of) that. It's probably that I'm just not digging this style of writing the first time around.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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