This book presents the first three Christian centuries through the lens of what Foucault called "the care of the self." This lens reveals a rich variation among early Christ movements by illuminating their practices instead of focusing on what we anachronistically assume to have been their beliefs. A deep analysis of the discourse of martyrdom demonstrates how writers like Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp represented self-care. Deborah Niederer Saxon brings to light an entire spectrum of alternative views represented in newly-discovered texts from Nag Hammadi and elsewhere. This insightful analysis has implications for feminist scholarship and exposes the false binary of thinking in terms of "orthodoxy" versus "heresy"/"Gnosticism."
Deborah Niederer Saxon teaches at Butler University, USA. She researches newly-discovered Christian texts, women's voices and the inclusive perspectives they reveal, and the intersection of gender and religion. She serves on the board of Christian Feminism Today, as the Tanho Center Vice Chair, and is a Westar Fellow/Board Member.
2. The Importance of the Care of the Self in the History of Early Christ Movements
3. Martyrdom Represented as Care of the Self in the Texts of Clement, Ignatius and Polycarp
4. Competing Visions of the Care of the Self in the Apocalypse of Peter, the Testimony of Truth, Fragments of Basilides and Valentinus, and the Gospel of Judas
5. Complementary Representations of the Care of the Self in the Gospel of Mary and the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity
6. The Two Poles of Parrhesia and Concluding Remarks