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The Monastic Paradox : Desert Ascetics as Founders, Fathers, and Benefactors in Early Christian Historiography

Westergren, Andreas LU (2018) In Vigiliae Christianae 72(3). p.283-317
Abstract

This is a study of three literary sources from the late fourth and early fifth centuries CE that depict the rise of monasticism, the anonymous History of the Monks of Egypt, the History of the Monks of Syria by Theodoret of Cyrrhus, and Sozomen's Church History. Although each of these texts conveys what Peter Brown has termed the "myth of the desert," i.e. a portrayal of monks as being part of another world, I argue that the same texts also reflect a "myth of the city," in which the monastic movement is depicted as a civic institution with regard to its foundation, regulation, and influence in the world. What these texts reflect is an attempt from the side of Christian authors to make sense of the multifaceted phenomenon that was... (More)

This is a study of three literary sources from the late fourth and early fifth centuries CE that depict the rise of monasticism, the anonymous History of the Monks of Egypt, the History of the Monks of Syria by Theodoret of Cyrrhus, and Sozomen's Church History. Although each of these texts conveys what Peter Brown has termed the "myth of the desert," i.e. a portrayal of monks as being part of another world, I argue that the same texts also reflect a "myth of the city," in which the monastic movement is depicted as a civic institution with regard to its foundation, regulation, and influence in the world. What these texts reflect is an attempt from the side of Christian authors to make sense of the multifaceted phenomenon that was monasticism, creating a conceptual space where different ascetic expressions come together as one, as 'monasticism' or as a desert city.

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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
civic identity, hagiography, Historia monachorum, historiography, institutionalization, late antiquity, monasticism, Sozomen, Theodoret of Cyrrhus
in
Vigiliae Christianae
volume
72
issue
3
pages
35 pages
publisher
Brill Academic Publishers
external identifiers
  • scopus:85049359953
ISSN
0042-6032
DOI
10.1163/15700720-12341358
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
0c157cc0-28c9-4e83-807c-b61021f77cd3
date added to LUP
2018-07-19 10:38:28
date last changed
2019-02-20 11:22:27
@article{0c157cc0-28c9-4e83-807c-b61021f77cd3,
  abstract     = {<p>This is a study of three literary sources from the late fourth and early fifth centuries CE that depict the rise of monasticism, the anonymous History of the Monks of Egypt, the History of the Monks of Syria by Theodoret of Cyrrhus, and Sozomen's Church History. Although each of these texts conveys what Peter Brown has termed the "myth of the desert," i.e. a portrayal of monks as being part of another world, I argue that the same texts also reflect a "myth of the city," in which the monastic movement is depicted as a civic institution with regard to its foundation, regulation, and influence in the world. What these texts reflect is an attempt from the side of Christian authors to make sense of the multifaceted phenomenon that was monasticism, creating a conceptual space where different ascetic expressions come together as one, as 'monasticism' or as a desert city.</p>},
  author       = {Westergren, Andreas},
  issn         = {0042-6032},
  keyword      = {civic identity,hagiography,Historia monachorum,historiography,institutionalization,late antiquity,monasticism,Sozomen,Theodoret of Cyrrhus},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {01},
  number       = {3},
  pages        = {283--317},
  publisher    = {Brill Academic Publishers},
  series       = {Vigiliae Christianae},
  title        = {The Monastic Paradox : Desert Ascetics as Founders, Fathers, and Benefactors in Early Christian Historiography},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/15700720-12341358},
  volume       = {72},
  year         = {2018},
}