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Complementary Representations of the Care of the Self in the Gospel of Mary and the Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity

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Abstract

This chapter highlights the way that two ancient texts of early Christ groups represent women in terms of the care of the self. The Gospel of Mary portrays its main character as an unwavering figure who functions as a strong leader. She engages in parrhēsia, or frank speech, a practice related to self-care. Mary also describes an “ascent of the soul” that may be related to the care of the self. The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity depicts Perpetua similarly. Both are courageous women who transgress norms of social deference. Perpetua speaks up boldly and also describes a vision of an ascent. However, the martyrdom account does accord with the tendency to depict women as virtuous only when they subject themselves to suffering.

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