Despite its rich history in the Latin tradition, Christian monasticism began in the east; the wellsprings of monastic culture and spirituality can be directly sourced from the third-century Egyptian wilderness. In this volume, John Binns creates a vivid, authoritative account that traces the four main branches of eastern Christianity, up to and beyond the Great Schism of 1054 and the break between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.
Binns begins by exploring asceticism in the early church and the establishment of monastic life in Egypt, led by St Anthony and Pachomius. He chronicles the expansion, influence and later separation of the various Orthodox branches, examining monastic traditions and histories ranging from Syria to Russia and Ethiopia to Asia Minor. Culminating with both the persecution and the revival of monastic life, Binns concludes with an argument for both the diversity and the shared set of practices and ideals between the Orthodox churches, creating a resource for both cross-disciplinary specialist and students of religion, history, and spirituality.
[The T&T Clark History of Monasticism] is a welcome addition to the fields of history, monasticism, and Eastern Christianity. With the growth of interest in Eastern Christian developments and the constant revision of history, this book will be an indispensable source to both academic and lay readers who are looking for a text which summarizes and captures the essence and spirit of Eastern monasticism. * Reading Religion * Binns identifies major trends and leading monks of each era, provides maps of monastic centers in the orbits of Constantinople and Moscow, and cites statistical data. Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; practitioners; general readers. * CHOICE * Written with deep insight, over and above a compilation of facts, John Binns has captured the essence and spirit of monasticism. Exploring the phenomenon of monasticism from its origins in the third and fourth centuries to the twentieth century, the T&T Clark History of Monasticism imparts fascinating insight into one of the great hallmarks of Christianity, that has a particularly rich trajectory in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The lives of the countless monks who have contributed in so many different ways to the development and maintenance of monasticism over the centuries make this volume compelling reading. * ERICA C. D. HUNTER, SOAS University of London, UK * This book offers an inspiring excursion and engaging exploration into the search for silence and community in the Christian East through the centuries. It lays wide open for the reader a window into the connection between city and desert, the correlation between mission and mysticism, as well as the transformation through resistance and renewal. John Binns provides a historical and geographical panorama of the outer regions of monasticism through a spiritual and personal pilgrimage to the inner recesses of the heart. * JOHN CHRYSSAVGIS, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, USA, and author of In the Heart of the Desert *