Dressing Judeans and Christians in Antiquity: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Dressing Judeans and Christians in Antiquity

1st Edition

Edited by Kristi Upson-Saia, Carly Daniel-Hughes, Alicia J. Batten


328 pages

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The past two decades have witnessed a proliferation of scholarship on dress in the ancient world. These recent studies have established the extent to which Greece and Rome were vestimentary cultures, and they have demonstrated the critical role dress played in communicating individuals’ identities, status, and authority. Despite this emerging interest in ancient dress, little work has been done to understand religious aspects and uses of dress. This volume aims to fill this gap by examining a diverse range of religious sources, including literature, art, performance, coinage, economic markets, and memories. Employing theoretical frames from a range of disciplines, contributors to the volume demonstrate how dress developed as a topos within Judean and Christian rhetoric, symbolism, and performance from the first century BCE to the fifth century CE. Specifically, they demonstrate how religious meanings were entangled with other social logics, revealing the many layers of meaning attached to ancient dress, as well as the extent to which dress was implicated in numerous domains of ancient religious life.


"the book is an impressive one, demonstrating thoughtful approaches, both grounded in close textual analysis and successfully drawing upon a wide range of social theory that yields new perspectives on the question of what Judean and early Christian dress is for."

- Ellen Swift, University of Kent

Table of Contents

Part 1 Dress and The Social Body

1. What to Wear: Women’s Adornment and Judean Identity in the Third Century Mishnah

Naftali S. Cohn

2. Coming Apart at the Seams: Cross-dressing, Masculinity, and the Social Body in Late Antiquity

Maria E. Doerfler

Part 2 Dress and Relationality

3. "The Holy Habit and the Teachings of the Elders": Clothing and Social Memory in Late Antique Monasticism

Rebecca Krawiec

4. Unraveling the Pallium Dispute between Gregory the Great and John of Ravenna

Adam Serfass

Part 3 Dress and Character Types

5. The Unibrow That Never Was: Paul’s Appearance in the Acts of Paul and Thecla

Callie Callon

6. Adorning the Protagonist: The Use of Dress in the Book of Judith

Erin K. Vearncombe

Part 4 Dress and Status Change

7. A Robe like Lightning: Clothing Changes and Identification in Joseph and Aseneth

Meredith Warren

8. Hairiness and Holiness in the Early Christian Desert

Kristi Upson-Saia

Part 5 Dress, Image, and Discourse

9. Sizing up the Philosopher’s Cloak: Christian Verbal and Visual Representations of the Tribōn

Arthur P. Urbano

10. Imagining Judean Priestly Dress: The Berne Josephus and Judaea Capta Coinage

Joan E. Taylor

Part 6 Dress and Material Realities

11. Putting on the Perfect Man: Clothing and Soteriology in the Gospel of Philip

Carly Daniel-Hughes

12. The Paradoxical Pearl: Signifying the Pearl East and West

Alicia J. Batten

About the Editors

Kristi Upson-Saia is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles, USA.

Carly Daniel-Hughes is Associate Professor of Religion at Concordia University, Canada.

Alicia J. Batten is Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Theology at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo, Canada.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Ancient / General
HISTORY / Social History