Your path and mine were parallel until you went to seminary and I went to Cath. Univ. of Amer., where I did become Orthodox at last (in 1988). Interesting!
Here is Thesis 1 with its struts. My aim, as I have said already, is to be as clear as possible about my opinions, not to be as papal as possible.
Note the following points.
1. I say “amplified,” not “invented.”
2. I say “weakly attested or radically redefined,” not non-existent.
3. “Weakly attested or radically redefined” are capable of being used as weasel-words.
4. I propose a Thesis 0 merely to specify clearly an important premise of Thesis 1. Naturally, it is not easy to pin down the beginning of monasticism. Does Elijah the Prophet count? St. John the Forerunner? There are references to abstainers from marriage, meat and alcohol from day the sub-apostolic times on. I prefer to use the term monasticism to refer to institutionalized asceticism as opposed to the ad hoc, idiorhythmic asceticism attested to by NT and subsequent early documents.
Thesis 0. Monasticism is a later development of Christianity.
Thesis 1. Monasticism amplified practices which are weakly attested or radically redefined in pre-monastic Christianity.
Thesis 1. Strut 1. Monasticism amplified lengthy fasts which earlier were ad hoc (excepting the W & F fasts).
Thesis 1. Strut 2. Monasticism amplified the numerous rationales and incentives have been attached to fasting.
Thesis 1. Strut 3. Monasticism amplified the emphasis on physical asceticism (but did not pioneer asceticism!).
Thesis 1. Strut 4. Monasticism amplified the emphasis on celibacy (but did not pioneer celibacy!).
Thesis 1. Strut 5. Monasticism amplified guruism.
Thesis 1. Strut 6. Monasticism amplified (mystical) silence.
Thesis 1. Strut 7. Monasticism pioneered the doctrine that souls can be delivered from Hell by monastics.
Thesis 1. Strut 8. Monasticism amplified the introduction of non-Orthodox texts and doctrines (e.g., the life of the Buddha [St. John of Damascus] and characteristically Catholic Spiritual Exercises & Spiritual Combat [St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain]).
Thesis 1. Strut 9. Monasticism amplified the redefinition of the norm (married Christians living in the world) as in some sense inferior and the exception (eunuchs for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven) as in some sense superior.
Thesis 1. Strut 10. Monasticism amplified the notion of flight from the world in contravention to explicit teachings in the NT.
As for how this thesis will be handled, I expect roughly.
I advise all interested parties that I am posting this thesis for everyone to critique it, but am chiefly interested in critiques which refer to facts that are verifiable by the normal means of research. Ad hominem (personal attacks" "You are not spiritual enough"), ad verecundiam (appeal to authority: "My spiritual director says so"), petitio principii (circularity: "Of course St. John did not write the life of the Buddha! If you look at the book carefully, you won't find Gautama Buddha's name anywhere in it") etc. must be studiously avoided.