Woman Monks of Coptic and Christian Hagiography

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för arkeologi och antik historia

Sammanfattning: Woman monks are not uncommon to find in Coptic and other hagiographic literature. They were described to dress into male attire and travel to anchoritic monasteries where they would get a single cell to devote their lives to God through seclusion, prayers, fasting, meditation, studies, and other daily chores, all the while not being known as women by most of the men in their brethren. It was a tough life for a man and it would have been a tough life for a woman. In this study, five hagiographies about woman monks will be examined: three Coptic, one Christian, and one found in both traditions. These women performed miracles and went through changes in both body and mind. The woman Hilaria is one of the most popular saints in Coptic belief and her story is the corner stone of this thesis. Her legend is also considered to be one of the oldest and might be the origin of these kinds of stories, which makes it remarkable on its own. Nonetheless, four other female saints will be examined to find what this essay seeks to answer: What are these women, as women, doing and why? What is the meaning of these stories? Why do they go to anchoritic monasteries? Are we dealing with portraying ideals on Coptic and Christian women? These are some of the questions that this essay is based upon. It combines Egyptological, Christian, literary, as well as gender research for a relevant and fresh view on these texts and their meaning.

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