Author Topic: What is a good book on the origins of Monasticism?  (Read 506 times)

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Offline mcarmichael

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What is a good book on the origins of Monasticism?
« on: August 21, 2016, 11:23:52 PM »
I like Monasticism as a concept, but I'm curious how it became an organized thing. Does anyone know a good book about that?

Thanks.

Offline FinnJames

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Re: What is a good book on the origins of Monasticism?
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2016, 06:38:59 AM »
This looks like a good place to start if you just want a general history. But it's not a book:
http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=dgn

But I suspect the Jains may have been the first to have a monastic tradition. And since Judaism isn't supportive of monasticism, I've always wondered if Christian monasticism didn't have some contact with Buddhist monasticism as a model. So you may have to look at religions that pre-date Christianity if you're interested in the history of monasticism in the general sense. Of course, I'm not a historian or theologian, so I could be wrong about this.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2016, 06:45:51 AM by FinnJames »

Offline Gebre Menfes Kidus

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Re: What is a good book on the origins of Monasticism?
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2016, 07:01:31 AM »
Life of Antony by St. Athanasius is a wonderful description of one of the first monastics. It is widely considered the seminal book on spiritual warfare (next to the Bible).

Here is a PDF file:
http://www.orthodoxebooks.org/node/213


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Offline MalpanaGiwargis

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Re: What is a good book on the origins of Monasticism?
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2016, 05:33:34 PM »
The scholar David Brakke has a very good book called Demons and the Making of the Monk: Spiritual Combat in Early Christianity. It's not really a history of the organization of monasticism, but more an examination of how the early monastics constructed what a monk "is" in their warfare with demons. Being an academic book, I would counsel against buying it unless you have deep pockets, but you may be able to get it through interlibrary loan or at a local academic library.
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Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: What is a good book on the origins of Monasticism?
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2016, 02:47:58 PM »
This looks like a good place to start if you just want a general history. But it's not a book:
http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=dgn

But I suspect the Jains may have been the first to have a monastic tradition. And since Judaism isn't supportive of monasticism, I've always wondered if Christian monasticism didn't have some contact with Buddhist monasticism as a model. So you may have to look at religions that pre-date Christianity if you're interested in the history of monasticism in the general sense. Of course, I'm not a historian or theologian, so I could be wrong about this.

I think this theory that the Christians learnt from the Jains would be very difficult, in not impossible, to substantiate and that from what we do know of history it would require a great deal of substantiation to become credible. Further, I'd like to know what points of Jainism you consider correspondent to what points in Christian monasticism?

As for the Jews, they had vowed members of the congregation such as Nazarites from a very ancient period. Further, there is much in ancient Judaism as a whole to inspire a special mode of life. The entire congregation of Israel was "set apart" a "peculiar people" to whom was spoken by Jehovah himself: "Come ye out from among them [i.e., the world] and touch not the unclean thing." When the Jews were discovered by the Greeks, their reputation as a nation of great erudition and piety spread rapidly and earned them the name "the nation of philosophers" of whom one chronicler wrote, "Even their women and children are philosophers." If we look at the sects of the Pharisees or Essenes, the types of Judaism prominent at this period, we see different sorts of what is still in both cases, compared to the world, a very purposeful practical piety of everyday life not unlike monasticism. Finally, consider the priests and Levites and their many special prescriptions according to the Law.

In the end, because what monasticism offers corresponds to what the human condition needs, it was inevitable by Spirit and nature that something like monasticism arise in the religion of the "God who alone loves humankind," as well as, to some lesser and corrupted extent, in other serious religions. Monasticism as it came to us was woven of many historical threads. The Mosaic influence I have already touched on. The Gospel of Christ and Apostles taken peculiarly to heart is another -- and all the early hermits and the Fathers who dealt with monasticism express this fact clearly and thoroughly. The influence of Plato is also alleged. Let me conclude by again pointing out that it is a true and reliable answer to all questions about the Church thru the ages that the Holy Spirit is able and willing to "teach [her] of all things" -- i.e., that there really is a means by which Heaven can teach those on earth who listen.
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Offline mcarmichael

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Re: What is a good book on the origins of Monasticism?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2016, 11:45:07 PM »
I'm surprised nobody mentioned Elijah, and his disciples.

Offline Porter ODoran

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Re: What is a good book on the origins of Monasticism?
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2016, 12:08:13 AM »
I'm surprised nobody mentioned Elijah, and his disciples.

Excellent! "Sons of the prophets" (that is, spiritual sons, dedicated students or disciples) are mentioned in other connections as well. There are also the Sons of Rechab who had a sworn special way of life, but I tend to think the story (found in Jeremiah) is about a literal tribe.
"Love ... is an abyss of illumination, a mountain of fire ... . It is the condition of angels, the progress of eternity" (Climacus).

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Yes we who are far from sainthood we can recognize a living saint and I'm talking from personal experience.Yes they are gentle soo gentle it can not be described it is like gentleness and humility in one and also they have this light this energy it's beyond words...and when you are near them you feel ecstatic and very happy

Offline Hinterlander

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