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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 monasticism, creating a conceptual space where different ascetic expressions come together as one, as ‘monasticism’ or as a desert city.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
In: Wisdom on the Move: Late Antique Traditions in Multicultural Conversation
In: Wisdom on the Move: Late Antique Traditions in Multicultural Conversation
Wisdom on the Move explores the complexity and flexibility of wisdom traditions in Late Antiquity and beyond. This book studies how sayings, maxims and expressions of spiritual insight travelled across linguistic and cultural borders, between different religions and milieus, and how this multicultural process reshaped these sayings and anecdotes. Wisdom on the Move takes the reader on a journey through late antique religious traditions, from manuscript fragments and folios via the monastic cradle of Egypt, across linguistic and cultural barriers, through Jewish and Biblical wisdom, monastic sayings, and Muslim interpretations. Particular attention is paid to the monastic Apophthegmata Patrum, arguably the most important genre of wisdom literature in the early Christian world.
In: Wisdom on the Move: Late Antique Traditions in Multicultural Conversation
In: Wisdom on the Move: Late Antique Traditions in Multicultural Conversation
In: Wisdom on the Move: Late Antique Traditions in Multicultural Conversation