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Monasteries and the Care of Souls in Late Antique Christianity
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    Dilley, Paul 2018. A Companion to Religion in Late Antiquity. p. 181.

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In Monasteries and the Care of Souls in Late Antique Christianity, Paul C. Dilley explores the personal practices and group rituals through which the thoughts of monastic disciples were monitored and trained to purify the mind and help them achieve salvation. Dilley draws widely on the interdisciplinary field of cognitive studies, especially anthropology, in his analysis of key monastic 'cognitive disciplines', such as meditation on scripture, the fear of God, and prayer. In addition, various rituals distinctive to communal monasticism, including entrance procedures, the commemoration of founders, and collective repentance, are given their first extended analysis. Participants engaged in 'heart-work' on their thoughts and emotions, which were understood to reflect the community's spiritual state. This book will be of interest to scholars of early Christianity and the ancient world more generally for its detailed description of communal monastic culture and its innovative methodology.


'Paul C. Dilley provides an authoritative account of how early cenobitic monks acted on their hearts and minds to achieve virtue and thus salvation. Based on deep knowledge of the primary sources and informed by perspectives from cognitive theory, this innovative, original, and clear book will appeal to historians of the emotions as well as scholars of early Christianity, monasticism, and the history of spirituality. An impressive achievement.'

David Brakke - The Ohio State University

'Monasteries and the Care of Souls in Late Antique Christianity is a brilliant study of the training of monks. It brings new insights from anthropology and cognitive science to explain how these monks set out to remake the deeply human mind. It offers a fascinating and intimate account of the process of becoming a monk that has much to teach us about the monks of period - and about religious practice today.'

Tanya Marie Luhrmann - Stanford University, California

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