Endurance, Courage and The Life of Faith in the Monastries Near Gaza

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In the correspondence of John and Barsanuphius, two sixth-century holy men from the monastery at Thawatha near Gaza, there is an exchange between the holy men and a former soldier who has become a monk. I analyse this exchange for what it reveals about understandings of the virtues of courage, endurance, faith, and their contraries in sixthcentury Gaza. This Gazan account is then contextualised in relation to earlier philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics) and to Christian thinkers who were influential for the Gazan monasteries and I conclude by exploring possible social and anthropological consequences of Barsanuphius' account of these virtues. The exchange helps to identify distinctive if not original elements of Gazan monastic spirituality. It is evidence for the success, propagation, and implementation of particular strands of Christian doctrine and the continuity and reconfiguration of earlier classical ideas within late-antique Christianity.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Journal Article

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