Members of the Hellenistic Moral Philosophy and Early Christianity Group of the Society of Biblical Literature contribute eleven essays on the theory and practice of friendship in the ancient Mediterranean world. In contrast to volumes that focus on philosophical discussions of friendship, the central eight chapters of the present volume, edited by John T. Fitzgerald, treat friendship in the writings of philosophers (Aristotle, Cicero, Plutarch, Neopythagoreans), a historian (Dionysius of Halicarnassus), a novelist (Chariton), a satirist (Lucian), and Greek documentary papyri and inscriptions. An initial essay provides an overview of friendship in the archaic and early classical periods, especially as it is portrayed by Homer, Hesiod, and Theognis. Two final essays discuss how Greco-Roman traditions about friendship were adapted by Jewish (Philo of Alexandria) and early Christian (New Testament) authors. This is the first published work that focuses on friendship during the Greco-Roman period.
“This book collects a wealth of texts concerning friendship and other bonds of affection in classical antiquity, many of them rarely examined in this connection, and offers a variety of critical perspectives on one of the most important dimensions of ancient social life. It is an important contribution.” —David Konstan, Professor of Classics, Brown University, author of Friendship in the Classical World
“This important volume of essays takes seriously the ecology of early Christian ethics. Its critical examination of a wide range of ancient attitudes toward friendship, a topic fundamental to understanding ancient social relations, contributes substantially to a better grasp of early Christian texts and the communities they reflect.” —Abraham J. Malherbe, Buckingham Professor Emeritus of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Yale Divinity School
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