Claiming Masculinity: Roman Ideologies of the Body and the Image of the Christian Man in Second and Third Century Christian Apologists
This dissertation examines early Christian conceptions of masculinity, their effects on the discourse of theological anthropology, and the consequences of those effects on the lives of social Others. I argue that Christian apologists of the second and third centuries co-opted traditional Roman ideologies of masculinity and, in the process, claimed the Christian man as the proper inheritor and guardian of masculinity against the perceived burgeoning threat of feminine contagion. My analysis focuses on three Christian apologists of this era: Tatian the Assyrian, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian of Carthage. I endeavor to show how the cultural and political shifts of the second and third centuries afforded these writers a powerful discourse with which to claim masculinity as the exclusive province of the Christian man. These Christian elites worked to cement their own place in the hierarchy of the ancient Roman social order while modifying in subtle ways the received ideological scripts of masculinity. I argue that these men deployed character tropes from the Roman ideology of masculinity in order to assert that masculinity itself was in jeopardy and that the Christian man was the ideal figure to protect it. The resultant discourse imagines the very existence of gender-nonconforming bodies as an attack on creation, contributing to the formation of a toxic masculinity that frames contemporary violence against trans and gender-nonconforming people as a defense of the divine order.
Religious history|Classical Studies|Gender studies
Perkins, Alexander David, "Claiming Masculinity: Roman Ideologies of the Body and the Image of the Christian Man in Second and Third Century Christian Apologists" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28495260.