Wandering, Begging Monks
Spiritual Authority and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late Antiquity
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Publisher: University of California Press
Number of Pages: 339
Width: 15.2 cm
Height: 22.9 cm
An apostolic lifestyle characterized by total material renunciation, homelessness, and begging was practiced by monks throughout the Roman Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries. Such monks often served as spiritual advisors to urban aristocrats whose patronage gave them considerable authority and independence from episcopal control. This book is the first comprehensive study of this type of Christian poverty and the challenge it posed for episcopal authority and the promotion of monasticism in late antiquity. Focusing on devotional practices, Daniel Caner draws together diverse testimony from Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, and elsewhere - including the "Pseudo-Clementine Letters to Virgins", Augustine's "On the Work of Monks", John Chrysostom's homilies, legal codes - to reveal gospel-inspired patterns of ascetic dependency and teaching from the third to the fifth centuries. Throughout, his point of departure is social and cultural history, especially the urban social history of the late Roman empire. He also introduces many charismatic individuals whose struggle to persist against church suppression of their chosen way of imitating Christ was fought with defiant conviction, and the book includes the first annotated English translation of the biography of Alexander Akoimetos ("Alexander the Sleepless"). "Wandering, Begging Monks" allows us to understand these fascinating figures of early Christianity in the full context of late Roman society.
"Groundbreaking for those who study asceticism, monasticism, the uses of Late Antique biblical exegesis, church history, and most importantly church politics. . . . The very valuable translation of the Life of Alexander Akoimetos is an added benefit of the book." * Journal of the American Academy of Religion * "A detailed examination, with meticulous documentation, of the phenomenon of wandering and begging monks that appeared in the late 4th and early 5th centuries, especially in the eastern Mediterranean region and North Africa, during the formative period of Christian monasticism." * Byzantinische Zeitschrift * "A first-rate study of how the politics of reputation, bonds of patronage, and competition for scarce resources culminated in the bishops' tightened grip on monasteries and their networks of supporters. In addition to advancing scholarship on urban monasticism, ecclesiastical responses to poverty, and the social history of doctrine, Caner's thoroughly researched study will enhance future work on asceticism and pilgrimage." * Catholic Historical Review * "Caner has written in an entertaining and engaging style and packed this monograph fully and comprehensively with the details and impressions of what was the dilemma of Christian asceticism in the third-fifth centuries. Caner takes the reader a lot of places, and it is gratifying to see the significant role of Syriac-speaking asceticism being given its proper and measured place in the history." * Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies * "A model of scholarship: beautifully written and engaging, it clearly situates its subject in the larger historical context, demonstrates an impressive command . . . of relevant sources, and provides clear and compelling support for his interpretation." * Journal of Theological Studies *