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10 thoughts on “A History of the Monks of Syria

  1. says:

    I looked for this book based on a comment by Chris Wickham in The Inheritance of Rome that Theodoret of Cyrrhus is one of the few figures from the period 400 1000 C.E that he could imagine meeting with any real pleasure The others are Gregory the Great, Einhard the biographer of Charlemagne , Braulio of Zaragoza, and Augustine Reading it, I can see what Wickham means Theodoret s personality shines through these pages He comes across as reasonable, compassionate, intelligent, curious, and tolerant.The History is a collection of brief biographies of thirty or so ascetics living in Syria during the forth and fifth centuries The characterization of these paragons of self abasement is not strong, there is little to distinguish between them, but the intensity of their faith and the reasons for their choosing to live apart from society are explored and explained Theodoret knew many of these monks and he uses is position as bishop of Cyrrhus to engage them in conversation, despite their vows of silence, and to persuade them to mitigate the extreme forms of penance, if only temporarily.n.b This contains the most detailed biography there is of Symeon Stylites, a monk who spent the last 37 years of his life standing atop a pillar in the Syrian desert His life served as the basis for Luis Bu uel s wonderful short film Sim n del desierto 1965.


  2. says:

    The introduction was quite interesting, as it contextualizes, interprets and critiques Theodoret s text and has good footnotes The rest of it was not as interesting.