Demons and the Making of the Monk

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Harvard University Press, 2006 - Religion - 308 pages

Demons--whether in embodied form or as inward temptation--make vivid appearances in early Christian monastic literature. In this finely written study of demonology and Christian spirituality in fourth- and fifth-century Egypt, David Brakke examines how the conception of the monk as a holy and virtuous being was shaped by the combative encounter with demons.

Brakke studies the "making of the monk" from two perspectives. First, he describes the social and religious identities that monastic authors imagined for the demon-fighting monk: the new martyr who fights against the pagan gods, the gnostic who believes he knows both the tricks of the demons and the secrets of God, and the prophet who discerns the hidden presence of Satan even among good Christians. Then he employs recent theoretical ideas about gender and racial stereotyping to interpret accounts of demon encounters, especially those in which demons appear as the Other--as Ethiopians, as women, or as pagan gods.

Drawing on biographies of exceptional monks, collections of monastic sayings and stories, letters from ascetic teachers to their disciples, sermons, and community rules, Brakke crafts a compelling picture of the embattled religious celibate. Demons and the Making of the Monk is an insightful and innovative exploration of the development of Christian monasticism.

 

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Contents

The New Martyr and Holy Man Athanasius of Alexandrias Life of Antony
22
The Gnostic Evagrius Ponticus
47
The Vigilant Brother Pachomius and the Pachomian Koinonia
77
The Prophet Shenoute and the White Monastery
96
Ethiopian Demons The Monastic Self and the Diabolical Other
156
Manly Women Female Demons and Other Amazing Sights Gender in Combat
181
From Gods to Demons Making Monks Making Christians
212
The Inner Battle
239
Notes
250
Index
294
Copyright

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Mystics
William Harmless
Limited preview - 2007

About the author (2006)

David Brakke is Joe R. Engle Chair in the History of Christianity and Professor of History, Ohio State University.

David Brakke is Joe R. Engle Chair in the History of Christianity and Professor of History, Ohio State University.

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