Original Research - Special Collection: HTS 75th Anniversary Maake Masango Dedication

You are not a man, none of you are men! Early Christian masculinity and Lucian’s the Passing of Peregrinus

Eric Stewart
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 4 | a5609 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i4.5609 | © 2019 Eric Stewart | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 June 2019 | Published: 24 October 2019

About the author(s)

Eric Stewart, Department of Religion, Augustana College, Rock Island, United States; and, Department of New Testament and Related Literature, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Much recent work on the masculinities enacted by early Christians has focused upon Christian texts and claims about their heroes and practices among elite Christians. Lucian’s Passing of Peregrinus offers another avenue for thinking about early Christian masculinity. Lucian denies Peregrinus’ claim to masculinity on the basis of his over-concern for honour, especially from the masses, his inability to control his appetites regarding food and sex, his being a parricide, his enacting ‘strange’ ascetic practices and his lack of courage in the face of death. By tying Peregrinus to a Christian community in Judea, Lucian both demonstrates the lack of manliness in the Christian movement, which he suggests is populated mostly by gullible women and children, and further ‘unmans’ Peregrinus by linking him to a community of easily duped people whose praise is not worthy of a philosopher. By presenting this Christian community as a group that not only accepts Peregrinus as a member but also quickly establishes him as their leader, almost at par with Jesus himself, according to Lucian’s account, these early Christians show their lack of self-control by being deceived by a charlatan. Early Christian writers who claimed that their heroes were manly, even more manly than the Greek or Roman heroes, were writing in part to rebut the types of claims made by writers like Lucian.

Keywords

Lucian; Peregrinus; Early Christianity; Masculinity; Honour

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