There are four topics covered in these early sections: martyrdom and virginity in the first and second century, aberrant movements (Encratism
, Montanism, Neoplatonism, and Gnosticism), Clement of Alexandria, and Origen.
These chapters parse the types of ascetic positions represented in the first three centuries: "Some emphasized the complete rejection of sexual activity (radical encratism
); others allowed marriage and sexual union and yet strongly devalued both (moderate encratism
); still others stressed the original goodness and enduring value of marriage and procreation" (128).