SAECULUM. Jahrbuch für Universalgeschichte

Volume 68 (2018), number 2

Contributions: Special Issue "Kinless Worlds"

Daniel Weisser: Ehe- und Familienlosigkeit als einziger Weg zum Heil: (Sexuelle) Askese als exklusives christliches Ideal im 4. Jahrhundert
In the 4th century, theological reflection on abstinence gained more attention than ever before. All major theologians of the time compiled at least one work on virginity and abstinence, trying to present these as the ideal Christian way of living. In some groups (the Eustathians in Asia Minor, the Hieracites in Egypt), the ideal of virginity even became an exclusive ideal, i. e. married Christians and other non-ascetics are, in their view, excluded from eternal salvation. The major church reacted to the exclusive ascetics' challenge by rejecting their claim to exclusiveness and by emphasizing virginity in a hierarchy of Christian ways of life, while at the same time accepting married people as potentially capable of salvation.

Geoffrey Nathan: The Jovinianist Controversy and Mary Aeiparthenos: Questioning Mary's Virginity and the Question of Motherhood
This essay considers the evolution of Mary's virginity in the early Church, especially in the fourth and fifth centuries. It argues that for the Western Church, the key problem was the eternality of her virginity (ante, in, and post partum); in the Eastern, it was her status as the Mother of God. The difference of concern and final settlement of Mary's nature was brought to a head with the ministry of Jovinian in Italy and, with state pressure, led Church Fathers to declare her virginity eternal and herself Theotokos. The settlement also resulted in Mary's status as a symbol and patron of anti-familial asceticism.

Barbara Feichtinger: Familiale Aspekte asketischer Familienfeindlichkeit bei Hieronymus
The anti-familial tendencies in the pamphlets of the ascetic Jerome have often been evoked by scholars. Jerome's main argument for the dissociation from the secular family were the spiritualised family ties established through the Gotteskindschaft of all Christians. Still, even in his thought, Christian asceticism and family cannot be understood as an antagonism. Rather, the relationship between both forces is shaped by a symbiotic ambivalence. Aside from the anti-familial propaganda of asceticism, Jerome also offers comments which distance themselves clearly from the anti-familial appeals of the New Testament.

Susanna Elm: The Sponsa and the Sponsa Christi: Variations of the Late Roman Marriage Plot
During the later Roman Empire competition among elite men to contract advantageous marriages increased sharply, which led to an increased valorization of the engagement. Merely the possibility to be able to contract an engagement which would, hopefully, lead to marriage, required a substantial down-payment. This paper argues that such increased competition for the right sponsa, combined with changing dowry customs, should form the backdrop for scholarly discussions of the emergence of the sponsa Christi as well as of other kin-related celibate forms of life such as celibate marriages.

Anne-Marie Helvétius: Servir Dieu, le roi ou la famille ? Les significations de l'engagement monastique d'après l'hagiographie mérovingienne
Following the tradition of the antique eulogium, Christian saints' lives normally start with the presentation of the gentile descent of their protagonist. Other than the eulogium, though, the saint's life often focusses on the renunciation of this family, following the example of Abraham or the rich young man (Matt 19,16-30). The ideal monk saint is the one who came from somewhere else and broke with his patria and family to follow Christ. However, in the Merovingian hagiography we rarely encounter this radical form of asceticism. In fact, the Merovingian monk saints committed their lives to the service of the king or the powerful noble families they descended from. Generalisations are not an option. Rather, the manifold ways of life should be taken seriously.

Claudia Zey: Ohne Frauen und Kinder. Askese, Familienlosigkeit und Zölibat in den Streitschriften des 11. und 12. Jahrhunderts
This article initially provides an introductory outline of the stages of the controversy surrounding clerical celibacy from the Early Middle Ages until the time of the reform of the church in the 11th century, as well as a typology of the pertinent sources and an analysis of the terminology used to refer to the non-celibate clerics and their wives and children. Subsequently, arguments for and against clerical celibacy will be presented in the main part in order to show if and in what ways familial ties were actually subjects of this dispute. For the reformers, especially Gregory VII, the results are mostly negative. Searches for decrees addressing the fate of the affected women and children yield no result. Clerical celibacy was prescribed as an absolute norm, representative for a church completely detached from any secular ties. The supporters of clerical marriage, on the other hand, frequently argued against the separation from their wives and children by referring to the authority of Scripture.

Cristina Andenna: Familiäre Nähe und Distanz in der franziskanischen Welt des 13. Jahrhunderts
The contribution deals with the renunciation of family (Familienlosigkeit) in the religious discourse of the Franciscans. The radical separation from the family environment was meant to design a new familial consciousness in a spiritual dimension which conceptually resorts to the semantic of fraternitas: Biological family constellations and familial roles were transmitted into a new frame which promised sanctity not only to the individual religious but to the whole family. Given the rapid and narrow interdependences of the Franciscans with the urban world of the 13th century, family renunciation as defined by Matthew 10,35-37 represented an ideal that was hardly going to be realised. Instead of dissociation from relatives joining the order, proximity is now sought.

Gabriela Signori: Gesellschaftsmodelle im Widerstreit: Die Zölibatsdiskussion im Kontext der Konzile von Konstanz und Basel
Are humans living in celibacy better humans? The question is as old as celibacy itself. The arguments for and against it, however, change over the course of centuries. Since the 14th century, its advocates have frequently been faced with the accusation that celibacy is unnatural, since marriage was established in paradise and conceived as a part of the human nature according to the creation account.

Volker Leppin: Martin Luther: vom Mönch zum Familienvater
Martin Luther chose to enter a monastery following a medieval "tradition", i. e. against the will of his parents, namely his father. Here, monasticism is seen as an alternative to the family since Luther after his entry into a monastery in 1505 integrated himself into the community of brothers and saw his religious superior Johann of Staupitz as his father. When Luther left the monastery and married Katharina of Bora in 1525, his step can be seen as a return to the family model, a model nevertheless influenced by monastic traditions, for example in the reading of Scripture at the dinner table.