Monasticism: A Very Short Introduction [#546]
Monasticism: A Very Short Introduction [#546]


  • Considers monasticism and monastic communities from ancient and medieval times right through to the 21st century
  • Compares the different religious traditions of monasticism — especially Buddhism, Christianity, and Jainism — and also non-traditional communities
  • Explores different settings, from East Asia to North America
  • Discusses the realities of daily life for monks and nuns throughout history and across the globe

Monasticism is a social and religious phenomenon which originated in antiquity and which still remains relevant in the twenty-first century. But what, exactly, is it, and how is it distinguished from other kinds of religious and non-religious practice?

In this Very Short Introduction Stephen J. Davis discusses the history of monasticism, from our earliest evidence for it, and the different types which have developed from antiquity to the present day. He considers where monasteries are located, from East Asia to North America, and everywhere in between, and how their settings impact the everyday life and worldview of the monks and nuns who dwell there. Exploring how monastic communities are organized, he also looks at how aspects of life like food, sleep, sex, work, and prayer are regimented. Finally, Davis discusses what the stories about saints communicate about monastic identity and ethics, and considers what place there is for monasticism in the modern world. 


1: Definitions
2: Differences
3: Rules, Social Organization, and Gender
4: Saints and Spirituality
5: Spaces Real and Imagined
6: A Global Phenomenon in the Contemporary World
Further Reading


Stephen J. Davis, Professor of Religious Studies, History, and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Yale University
Stephen J. Davis is Professor of Religious Studies, History, and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Yale University, specializing in the history of ancient and medieval Christianity, with a special focus on the eastern Mediterranean and the Near East. Since 2013, he has served as Head of Pierson College, one of the fourteen residential colleges at Yale. He is the author of several books, including The Cult of St. Thecla: A Tradition of Women's Piety in Late Antiquity (OUP, 2001), and Coptic Christology in Practice: Incarnation and Divine Participation in Late Antique and Medieval Egypt (OUP, 2008). His most recent book, Christ Child: Cultural Memories of a Young Jesus, was published by Yale University Press in 2014. For over a decade (since 2006), Stephen has directed the Yale Monastic Archaeology Project, sponsoring archaeological and archival work at several ancient and medieval monastic sites in Egypt.

"...excellent..." - Patricia Rumsey, Modern Believing

"... the book of Stephen J. Davis deserves to be read, understood and used not only by the curious people who want to find more about the approached topic, but also by the specialists in their future scientific enterprises." - Iuliu-Marius Morariu, Studia Monastica

"This pocket-size text is concise without sacrificing necessary illustrations, expert but free from pedantry, and skilfully arranged by significant themes." - Patrick Horn, Reading Religion




ISBN : 9780198717645

Stephen J. Davis
168 ページ
111 x 174 mm
Very Short Introductions





Monasticism: A Very Short Introduction [#546]

Monasticism: A Very Short Introduction [#546]

Monasticism: A Very Short Introduction [#546]