“According to the Flesh”

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:
“According to the Flesh”

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Biological kin, who were defined with precise language as “those according to the flesh,” lived in the monastery alongside those monks who had renounced their families to join the monastery. These monks faced particular challenges since they experienced enforced gender separation from spouses and relatives, witnessed the corporal punishment of relatives, and even saw relatives expelled from the monastery. Overall, the monks with kin were expected to live as though they had also renounced each other so that all monks had the same “kinship” with each other and so shared the same salvation. Despite these expectations, Shenoute found a way to have male and female monks visit each other without violating his own commands: male relatives often served as envoys carrying these very letters from Shenoute to the female community. Finally, the experiences of one female monk, Tachom, shows the intersection of the three patterns that determined a monk's life: power, gender, and family.

Keywords: corporal punishment; envoy; expelled; flesh; gender separation; language; relatives; renounced; salvation

Chapter.  8239 words. 

Subjects: History of Religion

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