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Renouncing the World Yet Leading the Church


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Table of Contents

Introduction I. Basil of Caesarea and the Emergence of an Ideal 1. Monks and Bishops in the Christian East from 325 to 375 2. Asceticism and Leadership in the Thought of Basil of Caesarea 3. Reframing and Reforming the Episcopate: Basil's Direct Influence II The Development of an Ideal 4. Gregory of Nyssa: On Basil, Moses, and Episcopal Office 5. Gregory of Nazianzus: Ascetic Life and Episcopal Office in Tension 6. John Chrysostom: The Model Monk-Bishop in Spite of Himself III The Triumph of an Ideal 7. From Nuisances to Episcopal Ideals: Civil and Ecclesiastical Legislation 8. Normalizing the Model: The Fifth-Century Church Histories 9. The Broadening Appeal: Monastic and Hagiographical Literature Epilogue: The Legacy of the Monk-Bishop in the Byzantine World Abbreviations Notes Frequently Cited Works Index

About the Author

Andrea Sterk is Assistant Professor of History, University of Florida.


Sterk offers a study of bishops of the early Christian period and their pursuit of the 'mixed life.' Bishops lived in the world: they traveled from their see to synods; they petitioned court functionaries; they engaged in ecclesiastical politics and corresponded on doctrinal and administrative matters. Some admired the monastic life while simultaneously grappling with worldly affairs, wishing to adopt the discipline and ideals of monks and apply the ethics and asceticism of the monastery to the governance of the church. One such bishop was Basil of Caesarea, who wrote extensively on the need for bishops, like abbots, to be above reproach, to be careful in the selection of subordinates, and not to be forgetful of prayer and instruction. The author provides a well-written survey of Basil's conceptualization of the relevance of the monastic life for church leaders, follows up with a review of the impact of Basilian literature on Gregory of Nyssa, and provides a clear account of the further evolution of the concept of the 'monk as guide' in the thought of Gregory Nazianzus and John Chrysostom. Lively style, no pomposity. -- J. W. Nesbitt * Choice *

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