Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Lives of Simeon Stylites

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Lives of Simeon Stylites

Article excerpt

The Lives of Simeon Stylites. Translated with an Introduction by Robert Doran. [Cistercian Studies Series, Number 112.] (Kalamazoo, Michigan:: Cistercian Publications. 1992. Pp. iv, 241. $36.95 cloth; $15.95 paperback.)

Simeon Stylites was one of the most famous and exotic of the Syrian ascetics and at the same time one of the least characteristic. From such exotic examples has grown a picture of monastic life in Syria, now perhaps popularized beyond sober assessment, of ascetical extremists, which in turn has generated analyses that attempt to root Syrian asceticism in gnosticism and Manichaeism. A good deal of the credit for this distortion goes to the work of Arthur Voobus, whose writings in this area are ripe for re-evaluation on many points, especially with regard to the origins and early development of Syrian monasticism. In Simeon's case, his original monastic community deemed him a disobedient extremist who was asked to leave the monastery. His subsequent career was obviously one that increasingly inspired widespread admiration, but it appears from the lives here translated that Simeon wanted nothing so much as to be left alone. …

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