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date: 30 May 2020

Summary and Keywords

Hagiography is a problematic yet widely used term with varying connotations; it resists narrow definition. Outside the hagiographa of the Hebrew Bible (i.e., the books other than the Law and the Prophets), the concept is based on a core of Christian Greek and Latin works, from the 2nd to 5th century ce, which range from martyr accounts to monastic and episcopal biographies. A significant factor motivating their composition and reception is the cult of saints. Biblical heroes, especially Elijah, John the Baptist, and Jesus himself are the primary models, but non-Christian literary traditions, especially biographical and novelistic, are also important influences.

Keywords: Christian martyr acts, Christian Lives, Christian ascetics, Christian bishops, rewriting, fictionalisation, stylisation, typology, cult of the saints

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