Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Story of Monasticism: Retrieving the Ancient Tradition for Contemporary Spirituality

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

The Story of Monasticism: Retrieving the Ancient Tradition for Contemporary Spirituality

Article excerpt

The Story of Monasticism: Retrieving the Ancient Tradition for Contemporary Spirituality. By Greg Peters. (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2015, 278. $22.99, paper.)

Greg Peters has set out to encourage the evangelical churches to consider, understand, and value monasticism. He emphasizes the biblical foundations for monasticism, and states in the introduction that his purpose "is a general investigation into the biblical nature of religious vocation" (4). After beginning with the Jewish Qumran community, Peters divides his study into four historical periods: Anthony to Benedict, Benedict to Bernard, Bernard to Luther, and Luther to Merton. The book is a wealth of historical detail covering not only the basic foundations of monasticism, but also specific information on various rules of life and the logic of their development. The early monastic rules, for example those of Basil and Augustine, are given far less emphasis than the more detailed Rule of Benedict; Peters very briefly discusses other monastic traditions as well: Celtic, Frankish, and Eastern.

In the last chapters of his book Peters mentions Anglican, Lutheran, and Reformed monasticism, writes at some length about the New Monasticism espoused byjonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and concludes by saying, "monasticism is as Protestant as the sermon or hymn-singing, and to think otherwise is to ignore the historical facts" (225). Although Peters indicates that monks and nuns will no doubt continue in these branches of Christendom, he implies that their greatest future lies in the Roman Catholic tradition, even as he hopes evangelical Protestants will recognize and appreciate their contributions to spirituality. …

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