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Raised on Christian MilkFood and the Formation of the Soul in Early Christianity$
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John David Penniman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780300222760

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300222760.001.0001

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Same Essence, Same Food: Nourishment, Formation, and Education in Early Christianity

Same Essence, Same Food: Nourishment, Formation, and Education in Early Christianity

(p.1) Introduction Same Essence, Same Food: Nourishment, Formation, and Education in Early Christianity
Raised on Christian Milk

John David Penniman

Yale University Press

Ancient theories of intellectual formation depended upon corresponding theories of the power of material food to shape both body and mind. These theories show little investment in a stark distinction between literal and metaphoric nourishment. This introduction unpacks the dynamic relationship between literal and symbolic food within ancient discussions of human formation. It argues that, in the Greco-Roman world, food was understood to contain an essence that was transferred to the one being fed, transforming them from the inside out. Scholarship on ancient education has often overlooked this crucial emphasis on food and nurturance within the source material and that this has resulted in a false dichotomy between “literal food” and metaphorical references to “food for the soul.” Discussing the ambiguous Greek and Latin vocabulary for food and formation, and engaging post-structural linguistic theory, the introduction concludes that the proper education and formation of children was, throughout antiquity, dependent upon the material provision of food and the ways in which that provision was theorized and regulated.

Keywords:   Paideia, Meals, Tertullian, Metaphor, Symbolic Power, Bourdieu, Feuerbach, Nurture, Soul, Ancient Education

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