School of Theology and Seminary Faculty Publications

The Ascetic Taxonomy of Antioch and Edessa at the Emergence of Monasticism

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Arts and Humanities | Christianity | History of Christianity | Religion


The paper offers a taxonomy of asceticism in the cities of Antioch and Edessa during the crucial formative stage of the monastic movement and across the crises of the fourth and fifth centuries. In Antioch, this was the era of Libanius and John Chrysostom, a time of civic and religious tumult. In Edessa, the 360s and 370s saw the arrival of Ephrem from Nisibis, the death of Julian Saba (the city's first 'monastic' saint), and the death of Ephrem himself. Then, in the early 5th century, with the advent of Rabbula as bishop in 412, Edessa offers a unique moment to see the full array of traditional and new forms of asceticism. Rabbula's regulations for ascetics - clergy, bnaylbnāt qyāmā, and monks (dayrāyē) - provide the most clearly delineated and detailed ascetic taxonomy in Syriac literature.