Cult of Saint Thecla
A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity
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Publisher: Oxford University Press
Number of Pages: 302
Width: 14.5 cm
Height: 22.5 cm
Thecla, a disciple of the apostle Paul, became perhaps the most celebrated female saint and 'martyr' among Christians in late antiquity. In the early church, Thecla's example was associated with the piety of women - in particular, with women's ministry and travel. Devotion to Saint Thecla quickly spread throughout the Mediterranean world: her image was painted on walls of tombs, stamped on clay flasks and oil lamps, engraved on bronze crosses and wooden combs, and even woven into textile curtains. Bringing together literary, artistic, and archaeological evidence, often for the first time, Stephen Davis here reconstructs the cult of Saint Thecla in Asia Minor and Egypt - the social practices, institutions, and artefacts that marked the lives of actual devotees. From this evidence the author shows how the cult of this female saint remained closely linked with communities of women as a source of empowerment and a cause of controversy.
Davis is to be congratulated for setting out the results of his research not only because this includes fully referenced footnotes and extensive bibliographical details, but because he has made his story interesting and readable. Novum Testamentum ... the book is an important contribution to the field of early Christian studies, particularly for scholars of asceticism or those seeking models of interdisciplinary research. Journal of Ecclesiastical History Davis's welcome monograph goes a long way toward filling sizeable scholarly gaps. Journal of Ecclesiastical History ... meticulously researched and elegantly written ... the strength and broader significance of the work lie largely in its more comprehensive scope and its methodological subtlety and versatility ... This engaging book will be of interest to all scholars of ancient Christianity concerned with the figure of Thecla, practices of female piety, the cults of saints and rites of pilgrimage, the production of hagiographical literature, and the broader processes of cultural translation and translocation in late antiquity. Journal of Biblical Literature Scholarly and erudite throughout, this study engages with diverse debates ... it will be valued and judged chiefly for its skilful integration of literary, archaeological, material, papyrological and Coptic evidence. Dutch Review of Church History Davis has brought together the Egyptian source material for the first time ... a fascinating and cogently-argued book. Journal of Theological Studies