Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum / Journal of Ancient Christianity vol:17 issue:3 pages:504-525
This article offers an in-depth study of Asterius’ often neglected Liber ad Renatum monachum in relation to its compositional context and other similar writings from Late Antiquity. It starts with a thorough discussion about the possible date, author, and place of the Liber ad Renatum monachum. One will see that the context of the writing was the (early) fifth century, but also that the treatise cannot be connected to a place more precisely than the Latin West. In the second part of this article, a closer look is given to the ascetic content of the Liber ad Renatum
monachum. Although the treatise has many topics worth discussing, the present authors have chosen to direct their attention to the rather unknown late antique ascetic practice of syneisaktism, a practice in which an ascetic man and a virgin lived together unmarried with the (unofficial) promise to remain chaste. For this reason the final part of this article is wholly dedicated to the question of how Asterius used and reworked a centuries-old tradition of arguments against syneisaktism. The analysis extends over a wide range of polemical writings, starting from Asterius’ proven sources (e.g., Jerome’s epistulae and the anonymous De singularitate clericorum) to sources previously not connected with this work (e.g., John Chrysostom’s Adversus eos qui apud se habent subintroductas virgines and Quod regulares feminae viris cohabitare non debeant, and several works of the Cappadocians).