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Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great$
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Conrad Leyser

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208686.001.0001

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The Anonymity of The Rule of St Benedict

The Anonymity of The Rule of St Benedict

(p.101) 5 The Anonymity of The Rule of St Benedict
Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great

Conrad Leyser

Oxford University Press

There can be few more vivid illustrations of the moral power of humility than that afforded by The Rule of St Benedict. Its appeal is readily ascribed precisely to its winning lack of self-importance. This chapter argues that the author of the Rule’s determination to write for beginners represented not merely a generalized modesty, but a particular resolve to establish a monastic community and a language of authority which did not presume a high, or even a uniform, level of ascetic competence among its members. The Rule solves the problem of asceticism and community that had specifically defeated John Cassian: how experts and beginners could live together in a monastery.

Keywords:   Rule of St Benedict, moral power, humility, monastic community, language of authority, John Cassian, asceticism, monastery

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