Reclaiming Humility: Four Studies in the Monastic Tradition

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Abstract

Whilst humility held a central place in early Christian theology and practice, it has generally been marginalised by the modern Western world and in contemporary Christian life. By contrast, ascetical traditions in Christianity, especially monasticism, have retained and developed humility as fundamental to the human journey. This thesis examines four historical expressions of the Western monastic tradition to see how they might contribute to a rehabilitation of humility for contemporary life. The thesis suggests that the roots of contemporary suspicion of humility can be found in the meeting of emerging notions of humility in the Judeo-Christian tradition with classical philosophy and its virtue tradition. The subsequent appropriation of concepts of virtue in Christian theology and practice has contributed to a persistent lack of clarity regarding humility, a situation which the monastic tradition has had to address repeatedly and which poses a danger to those contemporary retrievals of humility which rely on the renewed interest in virtue ethics.The four central chapters of the thesis examine the theology and practice of humility at critical junctures in the development of Western monasticism: the emerging expressions of monasticism in 4th century Egypt; the influential 6th century Rule of Benedict; the person and writings of Bernard of Clairvaux; and the writings of Christian de Chergé and the story of the Cistercian community of Notre-Dame-de-l'Atlas at Tibhirine, Algeria.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Thomson, Heather, Co-Supervisor
  • Bachelard, Sarah, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date01 Jun 2011
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publisher
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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