The Handbook takes as its subject the complex phenomenon of Christian monasticism. It addresses, for the first time in one volume, the multiple strands of Christian monastic practice. Forty-four essays consider historical and thematic aspects of the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Protestant, and Anglican traditions, as well as contemporary 'new monasticism'. The essays in the book span a period of nearly two thousand years--from late ancient times, through the medieval and early modern eras, on to the present day. Taken together, they offer, not a narrative survey, but rather a map of the vast terrain. The intention of the Handbook is to provide a balance of some essential historical coverage with a representative sample of current thinking on monasticism. It presents the work of both academic and monastic authors, and the essays are best understood as a series of loosely-linked episodes, forming a long chain of enquiry, and allowing for various points of view. The authors are a diverse and international group, who bring a wide range of critical perspectives to bear on pertinent themes and issues. They indicate developing trends in their areas of specialisation. The individual contributions, and the volume as a whole, set out an agenda for the future direction of monastic studies. In today's world, where there is increasing interest in all world monasticisms, where scholars are adopting more capacious, global approaches to their investigations, and where monks and nuns are casting a fresh eye on their ancient traditions, this publication is especially timely.
This impressive Handbook covers Christian monasticism, 'a complex phenomenon with a long history and an unknowable future' (p. 1) from its origins and early centuries to the present day...The Handbook achieves a balance of narratives of the past and agendas for the future. It can be read on different levels and for different purposes. Scholars of monasticism will find fresh approaches, new perspectives, and an up-to-date guide to specialist research and publication.
Students and those new to the history of monasticism will here discover succinct introductions to different periods, movements, spiritualities, archaeologies, discussions of gender, and the joys (and challenges) of interdisciplinarity. The editor is to be congratulated on bringing together a
distinguished company of scholars to produce a fine set of essays. * Janet Burton, Journal of Medieval Monastic Studies * The Oxford Handbook of Christian Monasticism provides striking evidence of the strength and breadth of contemporary research on monasticism and the resilience of the monastic way of life itself. It is a credit to all who were involved in its production, and constitutes an invaluable, indispensable resource for anyone interested in this fascinating subject. * Colman O Clabaigh, Church History Journal * ...the book coordinated by Bernice M. Kaczynski is not only a useful tool for theologians, in their historical research of the topic, but also an important work that will surely make any reader, with or without a theological background, to understand this way of life and to see which was the main role played by some of its representatives during the history. * Iuliu-Marius Morariu, "Babes-Bolyai" University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Studia Monastica. * ... these volumes do an excellent job of covering so much of what we think of as Christian monasticism. I commend them heartily. * Greg Peters, Biola University, The American Benedictine Review * This strength of the book is its versatility. As a history of international monasticism, it can be an introduction for a general reader; as a reference book, it can be consulted for information about a specific topic; with its bibliographies, it will guide the researcher. It will be a widely used resource. * John Binns, Church Times * How often can one call a dictionary, encyclopedia, or handbook 'exciting'? Scholars will find in these chapters much of interest, and even some challenges. The authors write clearly; thus the chapters can appeal to a wide audience. The 'Suggested Reading' section within each chapter is very helpful, and those interested in a topic will find plenty to work with in it and the bibliographies; although footnotes are kept to a minimum, each chapter also has an extensive
bibliography. The volume most certainly succeeds at 'reinvigorating enquiries that are already underway.' All in all, The Oxford Handbook of Christian Monasticism is a very welcome addition to the bibliographical world and discussions of ancient, medieval, and modern monasticism(s). * Tim Vivian, Cistercian Studies Quarterly *