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LIST 545: Early Christian Monasticism (Classical Perspective)

Area: Classical Perspectives
Instructor: Dr. Bill Hyland

Course Description
This course is an introduction to the subject of early Christian monasticism.  Our focus will be on the time period often called Late Antiquity (ca. 300-700).  Students will learn about the rise of Christian monasticism in the deserts of Egypt and Syria, its eventual spread throughout the Greek and Latin parts of the Roman world, and eventually Ireland beyond the boundaries of the empire.  Monasticism will be examined in the context of both Christian and non-Christian concepts of asceticism and holiness prevalent in various cultures of antiquity, and its relationship to the wider church and society. The classical articulations of monastic spirituality and their subsequent influence will be an ongoing topic. Through a close reading of primary sources, as well as important secondary writers, students will develop a deeper understanding of this very important movement.

Early monasticism exerted a powerful influence on the development of medieval Christian culture in both the Latin West and Byzantine Greek East, and continues to be an important factor in models of asceticism and holiness in many parts of the modern world.  It is yet another example of one of the many ways Classical Antiquity continues to influence and shape fundamental aspects of later civilizations.


Required Book List
    • Bishop Gregory of Nyssa: The Life of St. Macrina Wipf & Stock Publishers - ISBN 1597523895
    • Athanasius: The Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus. Paulist Press - ISBN 0809122952
    • Doran, Robert: The Lives of Simeon Stylites. Cistercian Publicastions - ISBN-13 978-0879075125
    • Chryssavgis, John: In the Heart of the Desert. World Wisdom Press - ISBN 9781933316567
    • Augustine of Hippo: The Monastic Rules. New City Press - ISBN 1565481305
    • White, Carolinne: The Rule of St. Benedict. Penguin Classics - ISBN 9780140449969
    • Sellner, Edward:  Wisdom of the Celtic Saints. Bog Walk Press - ISBN 9780970651136