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Asceticism

The Greek askemsis, “training,” was used of both athletic exercises and, especially among Stoics and Cynics, moral training through education, mastery of passions, and beneficence. Greek antecedents for ascetic renunciation and privation, however, are few and probably insignificant. The OT, particularly the Wisdom tradition, also emphasizes self-discipline, but asceticism is only marginally evidenced in Judaism. Fasting was thus a mark not of asceticism but of piety. In the NT, detachment rather than abandonment (e.g., of property) is the basis for asceticism, though apocalyptic- eschatological contexts import a puritan radicalism, e.g., in warnings to the wealthy. The NT attacks dualist-Gnostic contempt for the body and foods (cf. Col. 2:21-23; 1 Tim. 4:3-4). Jesus, an example for ascetic imitation in several regards, e.g., homelessness (cf. ascetic ideals of wandering, exile, and removal to alien territory), taught that self-denial might involve celibacy, but as a charisma, not s