The Early History Of Monasticism; From The Original Sources. -- By: Emerson

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 001:3 (Aug 1844)
Article: The Early History Of Monasticism; From The Original Sources.
Author: Emerson

The Early History Of Monasticism;
From The Original Sources.

Prof. Emerson

Continued from No. 2, p. 331.

Life of St. Antony, translated from the Greek of St. Athanasius.

Life Of Saint Paulus (Cont.)

Antony’s Visit To Paulus (Cont.)

Preliminary Remarks. It has already been suggested that a prime object in this account of the rise of monasticism, is the just exhibition of an important feature of the church at that period. And for this purpose, we must know, not only what monasticism was, but also how it was then regarded by the church, and especially by her

most distinguished leaders. “We must know, not only what the monks did, or pretended to do, and how they lived, but what such men as Athanasius, and Augustine, and Basil, and the Gregories thought of their pretensions and their mode of living, and what they have left us in regard to the popular opinion on these topics. Some information of this kind will be found embodied in occasional extracts from the fathers which will be adduced chiefly for other purposes; and for this purpose, some of the extracts may be given a little more at large than would be needful for their more immediate object.

It is obvious that the question respecting the genuineness of this life of Antony, is one of no small moment. If written by Athanasius, it is, directly or impliedly, a continuous expression of his estimate of the monasticism and of the monks of his period: but if it is to be regarded as the supposititious production of some unknown hand, it at once loses more than half its value. But, before proceeding to this question of its genuineness, it seems needful, for the same general reason, to give some account of Athanasius himself.

Notices Of Athanasius.

We have space for only the more prominent facts in his history. “Athanasius was born towards the end of the third or at the beginning of the fourth century, at Alexandria, the capital of Egypt. Of his family, nothing is known. His juvenile years were spent in study and ascetic exercises. He cultivated the ancient Grecian literature to some extent, and his works testify to his extensive reading. But the study of the Scriptures and of the earlier fathers, was his chief delight. “With his studies he connected the most rigid life of an ascetic. Although we have no traces of his having left Alexandria and retired into solitude, it is still not improbable that he sometimes visited Antony in his desert. Such is the darkness in which the early history of this great man is involved.”

“In the year 319, we find Athanasius already a deacon in the church at Alexandria, having ...

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