www.byzcath.org
"Attitude toward Learning
Orthodox monasteries have never become centers of learning in the same sense as the Roman Catholic monastic orders. This is due to the fact, already noted, that the Eastern monks dedicated themselves entirely to liturgy, mysticism and contemplation. Their fundamental attitude of withdrawal (rom "the world" led to their turning their backs on all forms of secular knowledge. Learning was regarded as an inducement to vanity and pride; for the holy man, it was better to steep oneself in the "folly" of the gospel. Whereas Western monasticism, especially the more recent orders, has contributed greatly to many fields of scholarly endeavor and monasteries today have become centers of historical research, the only branch of knowledge that has developed in the Orthodox monasteries has been the study of mystical theology and liturgics. Even in these fields the spirit of scholarship has more and more faded since the apogee of Byzantium. There have been some exceptions, to be sure: personalities like Maxim Grek (I556), a celebrated Greek theologian and monk of Athos who was sent as a delegate to the court of the Rus- sian tsar and was then kept in Moscow against his will. But his efforts to lend new impetus to theological studies had only limited success. On the whole the Orthodox mon- asteries have remained places for liturgical and meditative devotions. When at the beginning of the nineteenth century the Greek theologian Eugenios Bulgaris ( 1716-1806) attempted to found a theological academy on Athos, he met with furious resistance from the monks. The ruins of the great academy building remain there to this day, a monument to a lost cause, for the monks set it on fire." (Benz, Ernst THE EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH �1963 Double Day & Company, USA)

May I please have some explanation as to why the western monks/nuns became school teachers and eastern ones have not? (forgive me if I err) Is there or has their ever been even an eastern/oriental school system? if so who were the teachers it if not monks? Did the Eastern Roman Empire continue to function much as the Western one did before it fell/declined? How has the academic evolution been influenced by either the oriental, east and west holy apostolic churches? Did the western barbarian invasions encourage western monks/nuns to realize if they were too ignorant of "the world", the world nearest to them may cease to exist with much stability or wisdom?
Dr. Dragani's east2west.org is a minor masterpiece but it still only scratches the surface; answering reasons for effects rather than understanding the full root causes of the effects. If others have interest in questions such as this I may attempt to complile some type of book to help people understand the separate evolutions of the three true branches of christianity along with the national/ethnic groups which make up The Church. For my questions never end in my attempt to understand who I am, why things are how they are, where they are going and where they should be going. At the age of 23 I have only a high school degree and I attempt autodidaction. May Allah work through us always.
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May I please have some explanation as to why the western monks/nuns became school teachers and eastern ones have not? (forgive me if I err) Is there or has their ever been even an eastern/oriental school system? if so who were the teachers it if not monks? Did the Eastern Roman Empire continue to function much as the Western one did before it fell/declined? How has the academic evolution been influenced by either the oriental, east and west holy apostolic churches? Did the western barbarian invasions encourage western monks/nuns to realize if they were too ignorant of "the world", the world nearest to them may cease to exist with much stability or wisdom?
Dr. Dragani's east2west.org is a minor masterpiece but it still only scratches the surface; answering reasons for effects rather than understanding the full root causes of the effects. If others have interest in questions such as this I may attempt to complile some type of book to help people understand the separate evolutions of the three true branches of christianity along with the national/ethnic groups which make up The Church. For my questions never end in my attempt to understand who I am, why things are how they are, where they are going and where they should be going. At the age of 23 I have only a high school degree and I attempt autodidaction. May Allah work through us always. [/QB]
First, welcome to the Forum. I have to say after reading through your post, I think you will need to seperate parts of your post. You seem to place many things in the post and some of them have been covered in previous threads on the forum. Also by mixing the praxis of western monasticism and that of eastern monsticism is like comparing distant relatives. each has made valuable contributions to the church.

If you can, please if you can clarify or rephrase what you are seeking in regards to monasticism.

In IC XC,
Father Anthony+
Posted By: Alice Re: Explain Evolution of Monasticism Please - 02/09/06 01:56 AM
Dear Criostoir,

Welcome to the forum. smile

You may want to break your thoughts and questions down into smaller posts in order for them to be answered properly.

Thanks!
In Christ,
Alice
A Christoir,
First of all, Ernst Benz's book is not reliable; avoid it! The best general survey-history of Eastern Orthodoxy is still Bishop Kallistos's book The Orthodox Church.
Second, you've asked enough questions for several doctoral dissertations! The best I can offer is a series of suggestions for reading. To start, read the Life of Saint Anthony - it was the most popular book (other than the Bible) in the Christian West for centuries. Then you get to try the Rules of Saint Basil the Great. More will follow if you so desire.

Incognitus
Posted By: Myles Re: Explain Evolution of Monasticism Please - 02/09/06 08:55 AM
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May I please have some explanation as to why the western monks/nuns became school teachers and eastern ones have not? (forgive me if I err) Is there or has their ever been even an eastern/oriental school system? if so who were the teachers it if not monks? Did the Eastern Roman Empire continue to function much as the Western one did before it fell/declined? How has the academic evolution been influenced by either the oriental, east and west holy apostolic churches? Did the western barbarian invasions encourage western monks/nuns to realize if they were too ignorant of "the world", the world nearest to them may cease to exist with much stability or wisdom?
The Western monks were copyists of the classical knowledge during the dark ages. Between the end of Roman rule the interlude of the Carolingian renaissance and the rebirth of the 11th century they were mostly responsible for the conversation of classical learning. Nonetheless, the monks themselves though they conserved literacy were not exactly scholars. Monastic schools were mainly for training monks. Ask a Benedictine what Prima Theologia is and they'll tell you: The Liturgy. Prose to a Benedictine a method of Biblical reading and they'll probably tell you to do 'Lectio Divinia'. That was their attitude in the Medieval monastery one took a new book every Lent and was able to have it on loan from the library until the following Lent. It was supposed to be prayed, contemplated, ruminated upon. The monastic curriculum made little sense to the man of the world.

Rather, secular figures went to Cathedral schools e.g. Paris, which later became the University of Paris. It was at the Cathedral school where secular learning took off. The problem with this writer is that they dont seem to recognise that not all the Catholic Church's religious orders are monastic. Those that came to dominate the Universities, the Dominicans and Franciscans, were forced to adapt to the disputative method used in the University which was employed to train aspiring courtiers, civil servants and other King's men. Why? Because they were wandering preachers and in those days--just like now--people didnt like being preached to. People would heckle them, people would shout at them, insult them. They needed to think fast, come up with quick rebuttals, and develop the ability to put together short, sharp and satisfying arguments for things. Thus the Universities served them well. But as Aberlard and St Bernard's conflict illustrates the monks never really had a taste for this unprayerful approach to Theology.

In the East a similar thing happened though not as extensively. Basileus Constantine IX refounded the University of Constantinople and before too long a man named Michael Psellus was teaching there. But there is evidence that Psellus had been teaching at the Pariarch's school prior to his appointment at the University--once again you see the role of Cathedral schools coming to the fore. Psellus was the beacon for secular knowledge in Constantinople at his time, disdainful of mystical experiences, steeped in the 'wisdom' of the Chaldeans, a neoplatonist at heart. He started a trend of secular learning in Byzantine but the Commeni were diametrically opposed to it and his successor John Italus felt the strength of their piety! :p Ironically thus things in the East went the other way. Although they didnt develop huge Universities it end ended up being monks like Nicephorus Blemmydes who became the teachers of Rhomania. Indeed, it was a style for awhile to build monasteries with statues of Aristotle and Plato outside of them. This goes back to the tradition of the Apostolic Fathers who saw the great Greeks of their past as having in some way understood facets of the Logos (cf. Justin Martyr 'First Apology').

The function of the Basilea isn't something I can be bothered to get into at the moment. Its complicated...maybe when I've got more energy? As for whether or not us Westerners with our barbaric invasions changed the fundamental outlook of the monks towards secular learning I would say no. The East was never a civilisation steeped in ignorance, the Rhomaioi became increasingly proud of their Greek-ness as time went by e.g. Geogre Plethon comes at the end of Constantinople's history. The tradition of civilisation continued to instruct men like Sts Gregory Palamas and Nicolas Cabasilas although the restraint of the East as compared with the style of education undergone in the Western University led them in different ways.
Dear Mr. McAvoy,

One reason why the East, in general, didn't develop monastic schools specializing in secular education is that the East never developed the kind of religious Orders that weren't tied to choral Office and cloistered existence as did the West.

The Jesuits, for example, would hardly pass as "monks" in the East. And they have quite the different vocation than, say, Benedictines and cloistered monastic groups dedicated to prayer, contemplation and work with one's hands.

However, the Kyivan Academy of St Peter Mohyla, Metropolitan of Kyiv, Halych and all Rus' who was also the Archimandrite of the Kyivan Caves Lavra, DID promote secular education along the model of the European Jesuit schools.

The academy's lingua franca was Latin, of course, and this allowed students from all over Europe to come to Kyiv to study, and vice-versa.

There are a number of Orthodox Saints who were graduates of this Academy who were tonsured at the Kyivan Caves Lavra and who often became missionaries etc.

Such were: Saint Dmitri Tuptalenko, St Sophrony Krystalsky, St John Maximovitch, St Paul Koniuskevich, St Theophilus Leshchynsky, Bl. Theophylakt Lopatynsky, Bl. Simon Todorsky, St Joasaph Horlenko, Bl. Stepan Yavorsky, St Anthony Smirnitsky, St Innocent Kulchitsky and others. St Paissy Velichkovsky, although a student at the academy, left since he did not see any value in studying the philosophy of the pagan Greeks.

So in the case of the Orthodox Church of Kyiv, the "New Jerusalem" and "Light of the Slavic East," the notion that Orthodox monasticism did not develop a strong secular academic tradition is simply wrong. Orthodoxy in Muscovy contrasted quite sharply here where the anti-Western and anti-education clergy and people preferred to argue over how many fingers one used when making the Sign of the Cross and the like - for which they were considered "barbaric" by St Peter and the Kyivan Baroque Orthodox scholastics.

Alex
Christoir,

I�m not a scholar, so take my answers with a grain of salt.


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May I please have some explanation as to why the western monks/nuns became school teachers and eastern ones have not?
Well, first, it�s important to stress that Western monks were not primarily school teachers. They were primarily monks. They felt called by God to live apart from �the world� and to devote themselves to becoming holy (or, at least, righteous) and to help others do likewise.

However, monasteries in the West also became centers of learning because they were usually the only places where people could read and where there were books. That is because the barbarian invasions of Western Europe had destroyed the Western Roman Empire and they had pretty much wiped out the system and tools of education there. About the only consistent exception was the monks. So, it was natural that their monasteries would also become centers of education in a dark sea of illiteracy. This began to change around the year 1000, when Western Europe again became settled and civilized enough for secular education to be revived.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Roman Empire did not fall to barbarian invasions. As a result, the system of secular education there was preserved. Thus, Eastern Christian monks were free from the additional task of being teachers of secular knowledge (as their Western brothers were occupied). Instead, in the East, people could get a secular education from secular teachers; and monks could focus exclusively on the vocation of the monk: prayer, work, (religious) study and liturgy.


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Is there or has their ever been even an eastern/oriental school system? if so who were the teachers it if not monks?
Yes. From what can be deduced from historical sources, education in the Byzantine Empire seems to have been (roughly) a two-tiered system.

The first tier of Byzantine education was by private tutor or teacher. In other words, a family would hire a teacher, or a family would send a child to the private school of a teacher. This first tier was a basic education: knowledge of the Greek language (grammar, literature, rhetoric), some math, a wide study of history, and a good study of geography.

The second tier of Byzantine education was professional education: law, medicine, engineering (military and civil), and (in the monasteries) theology. Professional education was imparted by members of those professions. Sometimes this was done at academies (a kind of precursor to the university) that were established by the government. Sometimes, it was done on the job. Sometimes, it was by private (i.e., tutored) instruction.

It should be noted that education was generally a quality of the wealthy classes (nobles and upper middle class) or government bureaucracies. In other words, there was no system of compulsory public education for everyone. Instead, the first tier of education (i.e., a basic education) was usually the responsibility of the family; the second tier (i.e., a professional education) was partially private and mostly founded and directed and subsidized by the state.

For this, I rely especially on the chapter on education in the slim but good book �Byzantine Civilization� by Steven Runciman. Again, I�m not a scholar; and there are probably more recently written treatments of this subject.


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Did the Eastern Roman Empire continue to function much as the Western one did before it fell/declined?
That is a topic that is wide open for much discussion and debate. Here is my opinion; keep in mind that others can see things differently.

The Eastern Roman Empire functioned more or less as the Old Roman Empire from its founding by Constantine (330 A.D.) till the reign of Heraclius (610 - 641 A.D.). The major differences during this period of time were twofold. It was based in the East at Constantinople (instead of at Rome). Gradually, the Greek language became more commonly used than the Latin language (because more Greeks than Latins lived in the Eastern Roman Empire).

By the rein of Heraclius (610-641 A.D.), however, there was an enormous change: the rise of the Muslim Caliphate. The Muslim Caliphate permanently conquered about 3/4 of the territory (and people) of the Eastern Roman Empire. Before the rise of the Caliphate, the Eastern Roman Empire consisted of Greater Greece (for lack of a better term: the predominantly Greek speaking areas, including the Balkan peninsula and most of Asia Minor), North Africa, Egypt and Syria/Palestine. The Caliphate, however, conquered three of these four areas: North Africa, Egypt and Syria/Palestine.

Hence, there were three major changes in the Eastern Roman Empire because of the rise of the Caliphate.


1. It became more Greek.

As mentioned above, the Caliphate permanently conquered � of the Eastern Roman Empire. All that was left was the Greek portion of the empire. Hence, by default, the empire became more Greek. Starting with the emperor Heraclius, Greek officially replaced Latin as the language of the empire.


2. It became more feudal.

Before the reign of Heraclius, the imperial army was usually separate from the government of the provinces. Beginning with Heraclius, however, this changed. With the new �theme� system of government, the military became the administration (the government) of the provinces. Specifically, units of the military were permanently located in certain provinces, and those units governed their provinces. They did so in the name of (and under the control of) the central government. However, the units of the military obtained most of their support and personnel locally -- from the provinces in which they were located. This was accomplished by land-grants. Grants of land were given by the emperor in exchange for hereditary military service. This was another big change. Previously, grants of land were given by the emperor as a reward for an individual�s career in military service to the empire. Now, land was given as support for a career in military service. Essentially, this reflected a change in times. The empire was no longer expanding, and soldiers could no longer be recruited by the promise of owning their own freshly conquered lands. Instead, the empire was on the defensive, and soldiers were recruited by being given lands in their area which then would support them while they defended those lands. The result was adding a feudal element to Byzantine society: land in exchange for military service. Byzantine society did not become purely feudal. The empire was still based on a strong, centralized government; and the government was understood as a state. (This is in contrast to the feudal ideal, in which �government� was the person of the leader --the king, duke, etc.-- and whoever had personally sworn loyalty to that leader.) Nevertheless, the feudal element did have an effect on Byzantine society. Over time, local nobility (who owned most of the land and who comprised much of the military) tended to gain power at the expense of the central government.


3. It became a nation-state.

After the reign of Heraclius, the Eastern Roman Empire was no longer a multi-ethnic state that was dominated by the Roman people. Instead, it was mostly a Greek state: in language, religion and land. Furthermore, society was no longer based mostly on a civic idea of the state. Instead, it was more and more a mixed system of feudalism and the idea of the state. It still thought of itself as the Eastern Roman Empire, and there was a continuity in religion, law and culture. However, in my opinion, the Eastern Roman Empire ended during the reign of Heraclius and with rise of the Muslim Caliphate. In its place (in my opinion) was a new state: based upon the Greek remnant of the Eastern Roman Empire that had not been conquered by the Muslim Caliphate. It was the medieval Greek nation-state that is called the Byzantine Empire.


Please note:

-- The above was my personal opinion; others have different opinions. The term �Byzantine Empire� traditionally refers to the state that had its origins in the Eastern Roman Empire and which perished with conquest by the Ottoman Turks. The traditional dates are 330 A.D. for the founding of the city of Constantinople and 1453 A.D. for the conquest of that same city by the Ottomans. There is quite a bit of difference of opinion about when the Eastern Roman Empire ended and when the Byzantine Empire began because there was so much continuity from the past despite its serious changes. In my personal opinion, I date the beginning of the Byzantine Empire to the reign of Heraclius for the reasons I stated above. Others, however, would date it differently.

-- A good introductory essay on the Byzantine Empire can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_empire

-- A good introductory book is �Byzantine Civilization� by Steven Runciman.

-- A good full-sized textbook is �The Byzantine State� by George Ostrogorsky.

-- A good introduction to the religion of the Byzantine state (and, later, other peoples), the Orthodox Church, is �The Orthodox Church� by Bishop Timothy Kallistos Ware.


Be well.

-- John
Posted By: Myles Re: Explain Evolution of Monasticism Please - 02/09/06 04:20 PM
Runciman and Ostrogorsky are both very good on this topic. Steve Runiman's done a few really nice books on Byzantium actually...Sorry if that was a tangent, just scholarly appreciation wink
Posted By: Myles Re: Explain Evolution of Monasticism Please - 02/09/06 04:27 PM
Nice resources from The Internet Medieval Sourcebook [fordham.edu] wink
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Originally posted by Myles:
Runciman and Ostrogorsky are both very good on this topic. Steve Runiman's done a few really nice books on Byzantium actually...Sorry if that was a tangent, just scholarly appreciation wink
Thanks, Myles ! cool

-- John
Dear Friends,

An apology to you all from me!

I see this is a very serious and scholarly discussion of this matter and I had no business coming in on it with my less than adequate post/response . . .

Congratulations to all you Byzantine scholars here! smile

Alex
Posted By: Myles Re: Explain Evolution of Monasticism Please - 02/09/06 06:18 PM
Dear Alex...

Dont be like that! Everyone knows how great you are and plus without your contribution the post would've been lopsided since we focussed on the question from a primarily Greek position whereas yours gave it a Slavic dimension (much needed).

I apologise for not being more appreciative of your contributions. Indeed, I believe the work of St Peter Moghila to be very, very pleasing as I do the confession of Dositheus at Jerusalem in 1672 (yes, I know, tangent) using the language of substance and essence to describe the metamorphasis of the Eucharist. I would love to see St Peter's work more generally appreciated amongst the East because it may cool some of the Eastern apprehension towards Western ways .

Maybe you could start a blog about the Kiev academdy and inform people? I mean I know you already write for Ukranian Orthodoxy but what about making a site solely devoted to the history, theological achievements, and greatness of Kiev Baroque? You could write a commentary on Moghila's Catechism and everything! I'd love that: An Alex Roman Catechetical Commentary biggrin
For the period of Byzance apres Byzance, Runciman's The Great Church in Captivity is essential.

Incognitus
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