Title

The Matriarch as Model: Sarah, the Cult of the Saints, and Social Control in a Syriac Homily of Pseudo-Ephrem

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2013

Publication Title

Journal of Early Christian Studies

Volume Number

21

Issue Number

2

DOI

10.1353/earl.2013.0012

Abstract

The creative re-telling of biblical stories represents an important element of reception history, for texts take on new meanings in these generative contexts. This article explores the presentation of Sarah in an account of the Aqedah found in a fifth-century Syriac verse homily. The pseudonymous author features Sarah prominently, in particular her longing to commemorate Isaac after his apparent death. Here Sarah’s desires are specifically couched in the language of the cult of the saints, making her a model of late antique female piety. However, her activities are also restricted by the voice of Abraham, and she willingly concedes. I argue that the author of this homily presents Sarah as a model of female piety but also female subservience, in order to reinforce patriarchal control over female itinerancy and cultic practice.

ISSN

1067-6341

First Page

241

Last Page

259

Link Out URL

https://doi.org/10.1353/earl.2013.0012

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