Becoming female : Marrowy semen and the formative mother in Methodius of Olympus' Symposium

Journal article


LaValle Norman, Dawn. (2019) Becoming female : Marrowy semen and the formative mother in Methodius of Olympus' Symposium. Journal of Early Christian Studies. 27(2), pp. 185-209. https://doi.org/10.1353/earl.2019.0018
AuthorsLaValle Norman, Dawn
Abstract

In the first half of Methodius of Olympus's dialogic Symposium (c. 290 C.E.), his female interlocutors present three different metaphors involving procreation. Although anchoring their description in an ancient medical belief that semen was a type of liquefied bone marrow, they reject the older reasoning behind this explanation, namely that semen was the vehicle for passing on soul. Instead, they assert that God provides the soul to the embryo while the mother actively forms the child in utero. With this change, Methodius's virgin speakers reorient the gender roles of the parties involved in reproduction, rejecting the forming or ensouling role typically given to sperm. The female interlocutors in the dialogue thereby create an image of the ideal Christian as metaphorically female, united with Mother Church, who, in a constant state of pregnancy, forms new Christians through instruction.

Year2019
JournalJournal of Early Christian Studies
Journal citation27 (2), pp. 185-209
PublisherThe Johns Hopkins University Press
ISSN1086-3184
1067-6341
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1353/earl.2019.0018
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85070095806
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range185-209
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All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Publication process dates
Deposited08 Mar 2021
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https://acuresearchbank.acu.edu.au/item/8v912/becoming-female-marrowy-semen-and-the-formative-mother-in-methodius-of-olympus-symposium

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