Contested origins of monasticism: Divergent models of authority

Stephen Joyce

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As Christianity moved from the periphery to the centre of the Roman empire, monasticism evolved, not without tension, from the desert of the fathers to the urban environment of bishops. Doctrinal differences and functional frictions as a source of tension between clerical and monastic interpretations of the ascetic life, as represented by the conflict between Augustine of Hippo and the arch-heresiarch Pelagius, one symptomatic of friction between the personal charisma of 'holy men' and the institutional charisma of bishops, have since influenced the discourse. This paper will examine the contested biblical origins of monasticism in order to emphasise competing institutional models of authority as a potential source of political tension between monastic and clerical interpretations of a Christian society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of the Australian Early Medieval Association
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015

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