An Introduction to the Study of the Middle Ages (375-814)

By Ephraim Emerton | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI.
THE MONKS OF THE WEST.

AUTHORITIES:--The innumerable histories of monasteries and
orders and the lives of prominent monastic leaders.

MODERN WORKS:-- Philip Schaff: Rise and Progress of Monas-
ticism.
Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1864.-- Montalembert Count de : The Monks of the West from St. Benedict to St. Bernard.
Transl. 7 vols. Edinb. 1861-79. Phil., written by a warm
partisan of the monastic system, but containing much valuable
material.

WE have often spoken of monks and monasteries, but have not as yet considered them as a part of the life of the singular period we are now studying. It will be important for us to look at them now a little more closely. The monastic life begins almost as soon as Christianity. Indeed, ages before Christianity, in the religions of the East, in Brahminism, Buddhism, even in Judaism, we can trace a tendency of men toward a form of religious life which is in all respects like the monasticism of the early Christian times. It has even been supposed that Jesus himself was a member of the Jewish sect of the Essenes, who lived apart from the active life of their day and sought a special consecration in solitude and in bodily deprivations.

Monasticism not essentially Christian.

And hardly was Christianity started in the world, when we find this same tendency again at work, driv

-135-

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