Acceptance and Resistance

Rebecca Krawiec

in Shenoute and the Women of the White Monastery

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780195129434
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834396 | DOI:
Acceptance and Resistance

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Women's power in the White Monastery lay in their ability to accept, resist, or even manipulate Shenoute's authority. A model of complete acceptance occurs in Shenoute's hagiography, written by his follower and successor, Besa, where Shenoute appears in almost the exact language and imagery he used to present himself. So too there are moments when female monks, who seem to mostly have been those high up in the hierarchy of the female community, accepted and at times manipulated Shenoute's authority over their community, which was exercised either in person or through male envoys sent in Shenoute's place. The nature of the evidence, however, is geared more towards moments of resistance and indeed outright rebellion against Shenoute. The female monks, especially the leaders, could use the space from Shenoute and secrecy among their community to guard their own authority, both of which Shenoute worked actively against. At least one letter attests to both female and male monks joining in rebellion against Shenoute and his excessive leadership.

Keywords: female; hagiography; hierarchy; monks; power; rebellion; resistance; secrecy; space; women

Chapter.  10937 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

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