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“A Suitable Abode for Christ”: The Church Building as Symbol of Ascetic Renunciation in Early Monasticism1

  • Caroline T. Schroeder (a1)

Extract

In reading many early Christian texts from and about Egypt, one is struck by the importance of space for the ascetic lifestyle. Whether it be Antony locked in his desert fortress, the tightly arranged cells of Kellia in the Apopthegmata Patrum, or the landscape of the desert in so much hagiographical literature, the space in which the early Christians practiced ascetic renunciation was as infused with as much meaning as the ascetic practices themselves. Since few texts with descriptions of early ascetic space survive, studies have been left largely to archaeologists and art historians, not historians of Christianity. Only a handful of ascetic authors from the fourth through sixth centuries wrote about the theological significance they found in the building of churches. These include the wealthy Latin patron Paulinus of Nola (Italy), two anonymous members of the Pachomian monasteries in Egypt, and the Egyptian archimandrite Shenoute. The churches built for each of these late antique communities held deep theological significance. They symbolized the ascetic endeavors undertaken at those communities. Since for each writer, the ascetic struggle was constituted in slightly different terms, with different goals, practices, and interpretations of those practices, so were the church buildings imbued with different meanings. Yet, in each case, the church held meaning beyond its mere walls. Each was constructed as much by a theology and a discourse of ascetic discipline as it was by wood, brick, and stone.

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2. For Egypt, see Grossmann, Peter, Christliche Architektur in Ägypten, Handbook of Oriental Studies, Section One: The Near and Middle East 62 (Leiden: Brill, 2002); Hedstrom, Darlene Brooks, “‘Your cell will teach you all things’: The relationship between monastic practice and the architectural design of the cell in Coptic monasticism, 400–1000 (Egypt)” (Ph.D. diss., Miami University, 2001); Bolman, Elizabeth, “Joining the Community of Saints: Monastic Paintings and Ascetic Practice in Early Christian Egypt,” in Shaping Community: The Art and Archaeology of Monasticism: Papers from a Symposium Held at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum, University of Minnesota, March 10–12, ed. Sheila, McNally, British Archaeological Reports International Series 941 (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2001); and Bolman, Elizabeth S. and Patrick, Godeau, eds., Monastic Visions: Wall Paintings in the Monastery of St. Antony at the Red Sea (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press and the American Research Center in Egypt, 2002).

3. A codicological reconstruction of the surviving manuscripts of Shenoute's works was completed only as recently as 1993 and continues to be amended as new manuscript fragments are identified. Emmel, Stephen, “Shenute's Literary Corpus: A Codicological Reconstruction” (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1993), soon to be published as Shenoute's Literary Corpus (Leuven: Peeters). See also below, n. 9.

4. Besa, , Vita Sinuthii, 29, in Sinuthii Vita, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 41, Scriptores Coptici 1, ed. Leipoldt, (Louvain: Secrétariat du CSCO, 1906), 712; Eng. trans. in Bell, David N., The Life of Shenoute by Besa, Cistercian Studies Series 73 (Kalamazoo, Mich.: Cistercian, 1983), 4144.

5. Emmel, , “From the Other Side of the Nile: Shenute and Panopolis,” in Perspectives on Panopolis: An Egyptian Town from Alexander the Great to the Arab Conquest: Acts from an International Symposium Held in Leiden on 16, 17, and 18 December 1998, Papyrologica Lugdono-Batava 31, eds. Egberts, A., Muhs, B. P., and Van der Vliet, J. (Leiden: Brill, 2002), 9598; “Shenoute the Monk: The Early Monastic Career of Shenoute the Archimandrite,” forthcoming in The Proceedings of the Fiftieth Anniversary Symposium at the Monastic Institute, Pontificio Ateneo S. Anselmo, Rome, May-June 2002, Studia Anselmiana 136.

6. Shenoute mentions the Council of Ephesus and the death of Nestorius in a text known by its incipit, I Am Amazed, published in part by Orlandi, Tito under the title Shenute contra Origenistas (Rome: C.I.M., 1985). On these events and datable late Shenoutean texts, such as correspondence with Timothy of Alexandria, see Emmel, , “From the Other Side of the Nile,” 9596, and “Theophilus's Festal Letter of 401 as Quoted by Shenute,” in Divitiae Aegypti: Koptologische und verwandte Studien zu Ehren von Martin Krause, eds. Cäcilia, Fluck, Lucia, Langener, Siegried, Richter, Sofia, Schaten, and Gregor, Wurst (Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert, 1995), 9697. Shenoute's attendance at the Council of Ephesus has been debated, in part because he is not mentioned in the Council records. But the current dominant scholarly consensus is that he probably did attend in support of Cyril, even if the veracity of the details in Besa's account is dubious. On Shenoute's presence at Ephesus, see Besa, , Vita Sinuthii, 128–30, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 1:5759; Eng. trans, in Bell, , Life of Shenoute, 7879; Emmel, , “Corpus,” 6, 11; Griggs, C. Wilfred, Early Egyptian Christianity: From Its Origins to 451 C.E., Coptic Studies 2 (Leiden: Brill, 1990), 198–99; Frend, W. H. C., The Early Church (Philadelphia, Penn.: Fortress, 1965), 216.

7. Krawiec, Rebecca, Shenoute and the Women of the White Monastery: Egyptian Monasticism in Late Antiquity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); Layton, Bentley, “Social Structure and Food Consumption in an Early Christian Monastery: The Evidence of Shenoute's Canons and the White Monastery Federation, A.D. 385–465,Le Muséon 115 (2002): 2555, esp. 26–27. The size of the monastery is an estimate based on the report of 2200 male monks and 1800 female monks in the Arabic vita. Emile, Amélineau, Monuments pour servir à l'istoire de l'Égypte chrétienne aux IVe et Ve siècles, Mémoires publiés par les membres de la mission archéologique française au Caire 4 (Paris: Leroux, 1888), 331.

8. Orlandi, Tito, “The Library of the Monastery of Saint Shenute at Atripe,” in Egberts and others, Perspectives on Panopolis, 211–31.

9. Emmel's description and reconstruction of the organizing schema of Shenoute's corpus appears in his “Corpus,” 103–6, 793–802, 876–81. Letters also fill up the ends of the codices of the Discourses. On the dispersal of the manuscripts to primarily European collections, see Emmel, 15–31. I follow Emmel's system of citing Shenoute's works by the incipit of the text and the volume of the Canons or Discourses in which it appears. Because there are no critical editions, I also provide the page numbers and sigla of the codices from which any citations are taken, whether or not the cited passages have been published. For example, This Great House, Canon 7, XL 273 refers to page 273 in codex XL of the text in Canon 7 that begins “This great house.” If the citation has been published, publication information has been provided. If not, the location, catalogue number, and folio number of the unpublished manuscript are provided, along with some or all of the original Coptic text.

10. Precise dating of the construction of the church is complicated by the fact that the current site has never been thoroughly excavated and surveyed (see below, nn. 31, 36–40). Emmel dates the church to about 450 (or sometime in the preceding decade) based on the datable events chronicled in the texts about the building and inscriptions in the extant building at the site. Archaeologist Peter Grossmann dates the church to 455 C.E. based on inscriptions and preliminary archaeological research. Crum, W. E., “Inscriptions from Shenoute's Monastery,” Journal of Theological Studies 5 (1904): 554–56; Emmel, , “The Historical Circumstances of Shenute's Sermon God is Blessed,” in ΘEMEλIA: Spätantike und koptologische Studien Peter Grossmann zum 65. Geburtstag, eds. Martin, Krause and Sofia, Schaten (Wiesbaden: Reichart, 1998), 9394; Grossmann, , Christliche Architektur, 528–29.

11. According to the monks at Deir Anba Shenouda, before becoming patriarch, Pope Cyril VI (d. 1971) lived for a time in a cave overlooking Deir Anba Shenouda.

12. See nn. 36–37 below.

13. Dale Martin lays out the multiple ancient philosophical and medical understandings of body, flesh, spirit, and soul as well as Paul's own views on the body. The Corinthian Body (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1995), 337, 128–29. A person's pneuma, or vital spirit, was a part of the body that coursed through flesh in the form of blood and sperm. Rousselle, Aline, Porneia: on Desire and the Body in Antiquity, trans. Pheasant, Felicia (New York: Basil Blackwell, 1988), 1315, and on female “sperm,” 27–32.

14. Shaw, , Burden of the Flesh, 23, 2933.

15. Several examples of Shenoute's discourse of the flesh also occur in his letters to the women monks. In these letters, he chastises the monks for continuing to honor the bonds of the flesh (for example, family ties, friendship), and he accuses some of the women of showing favoritism to female relatives and friends or of desiring to visit male relatives in the men's community. Shenoute exhorts the women to transform their relationships into bonds of the spirit, in which all monks are equal in companionship and status to all others (except Shenoute). For an analysis of Shenoute's letters to women and models of kinship in the monastery, see the recent work of Krawiec, Rebecca in Shenoute and the Women of the White Monastery, 161–74.

16. Shenoute calls his community a “congregation” (or “congregations”): (synagoge) in contrast to Pachomius's koinonia.

17. Studies on religion and the body in late antiquity have flourished in recent years. Most influential on my work, as well as the field, remains Brown, Peter, The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988). Brown does not treat Shenoute, likely because of the inaccessibility of Shenoute's texts until recently.

18. Since Shenoutean texts continue to be identified among Coptic manuscripts, we may learn more about the context of Canon 7.

19. Emmel's codicological reconstruction of Canon 7 appears in his “Literary Corpus,” 214–62.

20. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XL 273–74, unpublished, France, Bibliothèque nationale ms. copte (hereafter FR-BN), 1304 ff. 139V–140R: . The other buildings include “other places” and laundries or baths, XL 274, unpublished (FR-BN 1304 f. 140R): ЄBOλ TωN ; ; cf. Emmel, , “Historical Circumstances,” 83.

21. Shenoute, If Everyone Errs, XL 282, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 3:216.

22. Shenoute, The Rest of the Words, Canon 7, GO 392, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 3:6768: “The rest of the words in this book, or the others which we spoke and we wrote in the second year after the building of this house at the time when the barbarians were despoiling, until they invaded the city called Koeis, at the time when this great multitude dwelled among us as they were fleeing from the Cushites.” Cf. Eng. trans. and discussion in Emmel, “Literary Corpus,” 846, and “Historical Circumstances,” 85.

23. As there is no complete, published edition of God Is Holy, I follow the codicological reconstruction of the extant manuscripts of the text in codices DG, GO, XG, XL, XU, YH, YR, ZS, and ZV in Emmel, “Corpus,” 587–88, 626–27, 652, 663, 680–82, 699, 723, 725, 847–48, and the synoptic table 1060–63. I have examined all the witnesses to God Is Holy (apart from cases of textual parallels) reported by Emmel. On the context of the text, see Emmel, “Historical Circumstances,” 82.

24. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 1, in Wessely, , Texte, 1:97; cf. the Eng. trans, in Emmel, “Corpus,” 848. This introduction may have been written when Canon 7 was compiled and serves as a summarizing foreword or prologue. This may still form a portion of the “authentic” Shenoutean corpus, since Shenoute may have compiled the Canons himself. Emmel, , “Shenoute's Literary Corpus,” 810–11, 844–45.

25. As there is no complete, published edition of A23, I follow the codicological reconstruction of the extant manuscript fragments in codices GO, XL, and YR as enumerated in Emmel, “Corpus,” 626, 663, 669, 848–49, 1063. I have examined all the witnesses to A23 (apart from cases of textual parallels) reported by Emmel.

26. As there is no complete, published edition of This Great House, I follow the codicological reconstruction of the extant manuscripts of the text in codices DG, GN, GO, XG, XL, XU, YH, and YR as enumerated in Emmel, “Corpus,” 587, 623, 626, 651, 663–64, 681–82, 699, 849–51, and the synoptic table in 1063–69. I have examined all the witnesses to This Great House (apart from cases of textual parallels) reported by Emmel except for unpublished folio fragment GO 186–87, France, The Louvre (hereafter FR-PL), E. 9996, and unpublished GO fragment 2, Italy, Biblioteca Nazionale “Vittorio Emanuele III,” ms. (hereafter IT-NB), IB17 f. 4.

27. Shenoute, This Great House, XL 273–74, unpublished (FR-BN 1304 ff. 139V–140R): Cf. Emmel, , “Historical Circumstances,” 83.

28. As there is no complete, published edition of I Myself Have Seen, I follow the codico-logical reconstruction of the extant manuscripts in codices DG, GN, XU, and YR as enumerated in Emmel, , “Corpus,” 587–88, 623, 682, 699, 851–52, and the synoptic table in 1069–70. I have examined all the witnesses to I Myself Have Seen (apart from cases of textual parallels) reported by Emmel. Similarly, there is no complete, published edition of If Everyone Errs, so I follow the codicological reconstruction of the extant manuscripts in codices DG, GN, GO, XG, XL, and XU as enumerated in Emmel, , “Corpus,” 588, 623–24, 626–28, 652, 664, 682, 852–54, and the synoptic table in 1070–74. I have examined all the witnesses to If Everyone Errs (apart from cases of textual parallels) reported by Emmel. As Emmel has suggested, If Everyone Errs may have been the originally intended ending to Canon 7. Its conclusion begins with a summary statement quite similar to the colophon of God Is Holy: “For from the beginning of this discourse (logos) to its end, all the things that are written in this book find fault with us because of the unnatural things that prevailed upon the majority of people, men and women, and also that we are in the house of God, the Christ, and his places so that we might sanctify ourselves in order that they too (the houses) might become holy.” Shenoute, If Everyone Errs, Canon 7, XL 281–82, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 3:216. Emmet's hypothesis is further supported by the abrupt shift in topic that occurs in the last three sermons. Emmel, , “Corpus,” 845–46.

29. As there are no complete, published editions of The Rest of the Words, Continuing to Glorify the Lord, and It Is Obvious, I follow the codicological reconstruction of the extant manuscripts in codices DG, GN, GO, XL, XU, YK, and ZS as enumerated in Emmel, , “Corpus,” 588, 624, 628–29, 664, 699, 723, 854–59, and the synoptic table in 1074–81. I have examined all the witnesses to The Rest of the Words, Continuing to Glorify the Lord, and It Is Obvious in Canon 7 (apart from cases of textual parallels) reported by Emmel. It Is Obvious is an excerpt of a longer sermon found in Discourses 4. Emmel, , “Corpus,” 842, and “Historical Circumstances,” 82.

30. The Coptic Orthodox Church has plans for future growth at the monastery. In 2002, four novices were training to become monks at Deir Anba Shenouda. The Church also recently built a large new guest house, a dining hall and chapel for visitors, and a new church solely for the monks near their cells.

31. Grossmann, , “Dayr Anbā Shinūdah: Architecture” in The Coptic Encyclopedia, ed. Atiya, Aziz S., 8 vols. (New York: MacMillan, 1991), 3:769; Christliche Architektur, 528; and personal conversations June-July 1999, Cairo. Both the original structure and the rebuilt, seventh-century church possessed architectural innovations. Notably, the later structure may have been one of the first Egyptian churches to possess a khurus, or room that separates the nave from the sanctuary. During the medieval period, the khurus rapidly became a feature of all Egyptian churches. “New Observations,” 71–72; “Dayr Anbaā Shinuādah,” 768–69; Christliche Architektur, 534–36).

32. The listing of these two monasteries on the World Monument Fund's World Monument Watch list is due in large part to the efforts of Dr. Elizabeth Bolman, assistant professor of Art History at Temple University. She is coordinating an international and interdisciplinary consortium of scholars who are pursuing research and conservation at the monasteries.

33. “A much larger settlement and a new church was required by the flourishing monasticism of that age, under Saint Shenudeh. A fresh site was adopted, outside of the existing town, which was partly deserted; the old church was taken down, and the more important parts of it re-used in the great new basilica …, and the less useful stone was burnt for lime for the new building…. Such seems to have been the growth of the place which became celebrated as the home of the great saint Shenudeh, whose life has been preserved to us.” Flinders Petrie, W. M., Athribis, British School of Archeology in Egypt 14 (London: London School of Archaeology in Egypt, 1908), 15.

34. Petrie, , Athribis, 1315. Other early studies of the site include Lefebvre, G., “Deir-el-Abiad,” in Dictionnaire d'sarchéologie Chrétienne et de liturgie, 15 vols. (Paris: Librairie Letouzey et Ane, 19031953), vol. 4, part 1:459502; de Villard, Ugo Monneret, Couvents près de Sohâg (Deyr el-Abiad et Deyr el-Ahmar) (Milan: Tipografia Pontificia Arcivescovile S. Giuseppe, 19251926). Lefebvre provides illustrations dating from 1895 to 1913.

35. Deichmann, F. W., “Zum Altägyptischen in der koptishen Baukunst,” Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts—Abteilung Kairo 8 (1938): 3437.

36. Grossmann, , Christliche Architektur, 533.

37. Ibid., 534–35.

38. Grossmann, , “New Observations in the Church and Sanctuary of Dayr Anbā Šinūda—the So-Called White Monastery—at Sūhāğ: Results of Two Surveys in October 1981 and January 1982,” Annales du Service des antiquités de I'Egypte 70 (1984): 6973; Christliche Architektur, 528–36, and figures 150–54. The results of his most recent work, including new site plans, are forthcoming in Dumbarton Oaks Papers.

39. Grossmann, , Christliche Architektur, 534.

40. Ibid., 532; Coquin, René-Georges and Martin, Maurice, “Dayr Anbā Shinūdah: History,” in Atiya, , ed., The Coptic Encyclopedia, 3:761.

41. Among many such descriptions, see Petrie, , Athribis, 14.

42. Krautheimer, Richard, Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture, rev. ed., Pelican History of Art (New York: Penguin Books, 1981), 122–24. Krautheimer has suggested that the feature of the tri-conch sanctuary may derive from Italy or France.

43. Grossmann, , “Dayr Anbā Shinūdah: Architecture” 3:769; cf. Christliche Architektur, 535–36.

44. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, YH frag. 1, in Pleyte and Boeser, , Manuscrits, 318. That this sermon probably celebrated the church's inauguration has been established by Emmel, , in “Historical Circumstances,” 8283.

45. Grossmann has observed that it is physically impossible for the number of monks estimated to have resided there to have built the church in four to five months. Personal conversations, Leiden, August 2000.

46. A hypothesis proposed by Emmel. Personal conversations, Leiden, August 2000.

47. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 88, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres 2:145.

48. 1 Cor. 6:15–19; 12:12–26; cf. Romans 12:4–5. I follow Martin's interpretation of Paul's ideology of the body in The Corinthian Body; see esp. chap. 6–7 on the body and pollution.

49. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, GO 25, unpublished, Great Britain, British Museum, Oriental Collection (hereafter GB-BL), 3581A f. 66R: .

50. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, GO 52, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:1. For “despise,” Amélineau's text here is , which I read as Amélineau translates it as “souillent,” suggesting he reads as CωωЧ, meaning to pollute or defile.

51. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, GO 88, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:145. I have translated ПPωMЄ (lit. “the person” or “the man”) as a “humanity” to reflect its usage as a collective singular noun. This should not be confused with the abstract noun that means the abstract quality “humanity.” Cf. the use of ПPωMЄ in This Great House, Canon 7, XG fragment 1aV (n. 53 below), where Shenoute clearly refers to all people.

52. I do not identify Shenoute's opponents “Gnostic,” although they subscribe to philosophies that have been characterized as “Gnostic.” The “Gnostic” label has frequently been applied to theologies involving an inferior creator god or “demiurge.” On the modern creation of “Gnosticism” and a reevaluation of the “Gnostic” label, see Allen Williams, Michael, Rethinking “Gnosticism”: an Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1996).

53. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XG fragment 1aV, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 1:304–5.

54. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XG fragment 1aV-fragment lbR, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 1:305.

55. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XG fragment lbR, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 1:305.

56. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XU 304, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:4.

57. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, DG 331–32, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:31.

58. On Shenoute's use of kinship language to construct a new, spiritual monastic family, see Krawiec, , Shenoute and the Women of the White Monastery, 161–74. On familial language that denotes specific ranks in the monastery, also see Layton, , “Social Structure,” 2829.

59. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, GO 52–53, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:12. “Members of a prostitute” reads literally, “prostitute members”

60. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XU 333, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:25.

61. Schroeder, Caroline T., “Prophecy and Porneia in Shenoute's Letters,” paper delivered at the symposium, “Living for Eternity: The White Monastery and Its Environs,” Minneapolis, Minn., March 69, 2003; Behlmer, Heike, “The City as Metaphor in the Works of Two Panopolitans: Shenoute and Besa,” in Egberts and others, Perspectives on Panopolis, 1329.

62. Cop. П or (unnatural things or acts).

63. See nn. 24, 55, 57, 59, and 60 above and nn. 115 and 127 below. Notes 24, 55, and 57 are examples of these general references to sinfulness.

64. For a review of scholarship on Romans 1, see Brooten, Bernadette J., Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), esp. 195–302.

65. Clark, Elizabeth A., “Ideology, History, and the Construction of ‘Woman’ in Late Ancient Christianity,” Journal of Early Christian Studies 2 (1994): 167–68. Cf. Wallace-Hadrill, D. S., The Greek Patristic View of Nature (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1968) on how early Christian authors positioned the person within the larger system of the created world.

66. “Woe to us, because we have defiled ourselves and we have defiled all the earth including even the houses of God and his places. The earth was filled with adultery, fornication, rape, violence, every impiety, like these lands where every defilement that you can enumerate or that you can think of lives.” Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, YR 290, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:483–84. See also God Is Holy, Canon 7, DG 154, in Catalogue of the Coptic Manuscripts in the British Museum, ed. Crum, (London: British Museum, 1905), 8081: “I said verily and I knew that they are people who commit fornication among themselves or by themselves in every worthless, unnatural act so that they need purity and worthiness.” Crum provides the transcription for only a part of this unpublished folio (GB-BL 3581A f. 62).

67. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, DG 105, unpublished (FR-BN 1305 f. 16R):

68. See n. 55 above: “And humanity is the race (genos) of God. We use it badly, in unnatural things without fear. For sin made humanity ignorant that it was from God and that it was a child of God.”

69. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, GO 52, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:1; cf. n. 50 above.

70. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XV 1, in Wessely, , Texte, 1:97.

71. See the entry for OYOП in Crum, Walter E., A Coptic Dictionary (Oxford: Clarendon, 1939), 487–88, esp. the qualitative This is true in other languages, as well, such as the Greek hagios.

72. “In whom will God rest … ? I will say also, 'What defiled person will provide an opportunity in him for every uncleanness, Satan, and does not encounter much suffering?” Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XV 1, in Wessely, , Texte, 1:97.

73. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 1, in Wessely, , Texte, 1:97.

74. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 78, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:144. See also n. 106 below.

75. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 78–79, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:144.

76. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 93, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:147–48.

77. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 79, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:145. Cf. 1 Pet. 2:4.

78. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, DG 132, in Wessely, , Texte, 1:118. Re “spirit,” Wessely reconstructs the text in as which may be a good reading of a damaged manuscript but makes little sense when read in this passage. I suggest instead

79. Similarly, in A23, Shenoute reminds his monks that God watches over the heart and mind of those who keep their bodies holy and pure in the places of God: “The Lord shall watch over the heart and the minds of the people who will keep their body holy in the places of the holy one, the king, God the almighty.” Shenoute, A23, Canon 7, XL 272, unpublished (FR-BN 1304 f. 139R):

80. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 88, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:145–46.

81. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XU 313, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:11.

82. Shenoute, If Everyone Errs, Canon 7, XG 347, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 4:19.

83. Shenoute, I Myself Have Seen, Canon 7, DG 341–42, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 3:213.

84. “How will they ever escape from the curse of the anger of the wrath of the Lord? Is God patient with those who commit unclean acts in his places, until they come to his hands and he does to them according to their sins, or even he gives their retribution to them from this place—the one belonging to the person who is pained and who groans over his acts. One appeals to God so that he might give over the soul of the one who defiled his house or his houses to a transformation into their despicable passions and to a dwelling-place of demons, just as Jerusalem was once given over to a transformation and a dwelling-place of dragons—Jerusalem, on the one hand, so that people might not dwell in it because it did not obey, but the soul that will do unnatural things, on the other hand, so that God will not dwell in it, nor his spirit, because of its ignorance.” Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XU 307, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:67. Cf. Jer. 9:11, where Jerusalem becomes a den of jackals. Shenoute's rhetoric in Canon 7 also frequently resembles the temple oracles in Jeremiah 7 and 8.

85. Shenoute, I Myself Have Seen, Canon 7, DG 336, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 3:209.

86. “For how or why will Jesus make a house or a place foreign to him if he does not first obliterate the soul or the souls of those who sinned in them before him? Since instead of being filled with the spirit characterized by fear of the Lord, according to what is written, they were filled with the audacious spirit and the unclean spirit.” Cf. Luke 5:26, Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XU 310, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:89.

87. Shenoute, I Myself Have Seen, Canon 7, DG 343, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 3:214.

88. Continuing from the previous quote, “But it is a wasteland and a desert, since there was no one good in them…. Did a spirit of God come to humanity in the season of its impiety in the beginning, before it knew Jesus? If we do not understand that God did not at first leave people in paradise because of a single transgression, then how will we be received by him if we do all these evil things?” Shenoute, I Myself Have Seen, Canon 7, DG 343–44, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 3:214–15.

89. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 95–96, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:149–50.

90. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 96–97, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:150.

91. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 100, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:153.

92. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XG 190, in Wessely, , Texte, 1:88.

93. “But indeed, as for those who asked for him, he saved them from every evil thing, and he guarded his house and his houses from every disturbance if they prayed and they praised him in them until their consummation.” Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XG 190, in Wessely, , Texte, 1:88.

94. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XV 97–99, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:150–52.

95. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 79, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:144–45. Cf. “But I will say in this way that the thing on the outside is that of humans so that they might exist in it; the things on the inside, however, are those of Christ who dwells in them, and his father according to the words of truth of the scriptures, the old and the new.” God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 95–96, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:149. In each analogy, humanity is connected to something different, either the inside or the outside. Both analogies, however, represent hierarchies between interior and exterior or divinity and creation in which the “interior” signifies the element that stands closer to God in the hierarchy of creation.

96. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 79, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:145.

97. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XV 95, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:149.

98. Ibid.

99. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 94, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:148–49. Cf. Eph. 2:12. Similarly, in I Myself Have Seen, Shenoute instructs his monks to worry about spiritual matters, not worldly matters: “For as for those who grieve according to God, God will remove their grief completely, just as also those who mourn will be comforted. As for those who do not grieve according to God, God will give them over completely to grief…. For many are those who grieve according to the world because of the things that belong to them, each one according to his sort. Few are those who grieve because of the things of Christ and who do not have anything that pursues them.” Shenoute, I Myself Have Seen, Canon 7, DG 342–43, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 3:213–14. Cf. Isa. 61:2–3.

100. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 104–5, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:156.

101. Shenoute, A 23, Canon 7, XL 272, unpublished (FR-BN 1304 f. 139R); see n. 79 above.

102. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XU 305–6, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:56. Anyone who does not heed the warnings is damned: “This is the way that the curse that is written in scripture and the anger of the wrath of the Lord will come upon every person who will commit these unnatural acts in this house or these houses or these places because they did not obey the voice of their God.”

103. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XV 311–12, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:10. Shenoute's reasoning here resembles Gen. 18:23–32, where Abraham asks God whether he will destroy the righteous in Sodom along with the wicked. God concedes that he will save Sodom if ten righteous people can be found there.

104. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XV 311–12, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:10.

105. Ibid.

106. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XV 313, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:11.

107. “For what other hypocrisy is more evil than this: that a congregation wanted some people whose pestilential works they know about to dwell with them more than they wanted Jesus to remain with them.” Shenoute, , This Great House, Canon 7, XV 313, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:11.

108. Shenoute, , This Great House, Canon 7, XU 318, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:13. The Coptic text reads Coptic has two verbs χω2, which mean to “touch” or to “smear.” Ezek. 13:10 in the Bohairic reads which means to “anoint” or to “smear.” The Sahidic uses Crum, , Coptic Dictionary, 461, 797; Henricus, Tattam, ed. and trans., Prophetae Maiores in dialecto linguae Aegyptiacae Memphitica seu Coptica, 2 vols. (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 1989; orig. pr. 1852), 2:54.

109. “I will overturn the wall that you have daubed. I will cast it down upon the earth so that its foundations will be revealed and will collapse…. I will fulfill my anger upon this wall so that it will not only collapse very hard on itself, but also upon others that touch it, like a house that fell upon other houses.” Shenoute, , This Great House, Canon 7, XU 318–19, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:1314.

110. Shenoute, , This Great House, Canon 7, XU 319, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:14.

111. Matt. 7:1, Luke 6:37, Rom. 14:10.

112. Shenoute, , This Great House, Canon 7, XU 324, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:18.

113. Ibid.

114. Shenoute, , This Great House, Canon 7, XU 324–25, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:18.

115. Shenoute, , This Great House, Canon 7, XU 327–28, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:21. While this Gospel passage was popular among Shenoute's ascetic contemporaries for its antifamilial bent, Shenoute uses it to urge a divorce not from biological family but from sinning monastic fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters. Cf. Clark, Elizabeth A., Reading Renunciation: Asceticism and Scripture in Early Christianity (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1999), 197–98.

116. Shenoute, , This Great House, Canon 7, XL 274, unpublished (FR-BN 1304 f. 140R): Cf. the parallel text in YH fragment 1, in Pleyte, and Boeser, , Manuscrits coptes, 318–20. Also see XU 304, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:4, where Shenoute asks who is more polluted than people who are “pestilential” or “enslaved to demons.”

117. “If we are ignorant because we are people who are not able to know that many are the members of the body in which this disease grows, the one who knows it gives testimony that it moves among them like these snake poisons. As long as it was quiet in these members, it was appearing in these other members.” Shenoute, , If Everyone Errs, Canon 7, XG 347–48, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 4:1920.

118. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XU 327–28, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:21. Shenoute describes sick and neglected limbs that fall away in if Everyone Errs, Canon 7, XG 347, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 4:19.

119. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XU 328–29, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:2122.

120. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XU 464, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:27.

121. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, YR 289–290, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:482–84.

122. Cf. Shenoute's use of the trope of porneia in Canon 1, n. 61 above.

123. Shenoute, This Great House, Canon 7, XL 279–80, unpublished (FR-BN 1304 f. 142R/V):

124. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 100–101, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:153.

125. Those who have succeeded in renouncing their families “are ashamed of the ones who do these things, especially some unclean ‘great men’ and some pestilential ‘great women’ who love unnatural things in order to fulfill them more than they love the God who created them. It is not one time that I said, ‘Woe to us in the day that Jesus will judge us with them.’” Shenoute, , God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 101, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:153. “Great men” and “great women” are titles of ranks in the monastery. Layton, , “Social Structure and Food Consumption,” 29. Layton translates the titles as “senior men” and “senior women.”

126. Continuing from the text in the previous note: “Truly, some sons and daughters— those who have loved God more than their parents and more than their siblings and more than taking a wife and more than taking a husband and who have condemned ‘great men’ and ‘great women’ who have grown old in the works of the demons—will raise themselves up on the day of judgement. If there is one who is zealous for souls to present themselves before Christ, then they make known their purity and they will pray for him to strengthen the men who renounced their wives and the women who separated from their husbands so that they might be fulfilled.” Shenoute, , God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 101–2, in Amelineau, , Oeuvres, 2:153–54.

127. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 99–100, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:152–53. Cf. 2 Tim. 2:20–21, regarding gold, silver, wood, and clay utensils in a “large house,” and the “treasure in clay jars” in 2 Cor. 4:7.

128. Shenoute, God Is Holy, Canon 7, XU 100, in Amélineau, , Oeuvres, 2:153. See n. 91 above.

129. Shenoute, , If Everyone Errs, Canon 7, XG 349, in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 4:21.

130. See Douglas, Mary, Purity and Danger: An Analysis of the Concepts of Pollution and Taboo (New York: Ark Paperbacks, 1966), esp. 114–39; Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology, with a New Introduction (London: Routledge, 1996), 5487.

131. The clearest description of this comes in Shenoute's Continuing to Glorify the Lord in Canon 7, published in Leipoldt, , Opera Omnia, 3:6974. See also Emmel, , “Historical Circumstances,” 8691.

132. Emmel, , “Historical Circumstances,” 88.

133. I exclude symbolic interpretations of church buildings that do not appear in ascetic literature, such as book 10, chapter 4 of Eusebius's Church History, which records a dedicatory address celebrating the building of a cathedral at Tyre. The church symbolizes Christianity s triumph over paganism; despite its fantastic appearance, its “marvels pale” in comparison to the beauty of the “spiritual edifice” that is Jesus Christ, who dwells among the Christians and even inside their souls, 10.4.2–72; Eng. trans, in Eusebius: the History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, trans. Williamson, G. A., rev. and ed. with a new intro. by Andrew, Louth (New York: Penguin Books, 1989), 306–22.

134. Paulinus's life and literature has received increased scholarly scrutiny in recent years, beginning with Lienhard, Joseph T., Paulinus of Nola and Early Western Monasticistn (Köln: P. Hanstein, 1977), and continuing with Conybeare, Catherine, Paulinus Noster: Self and Symbol in the Letters of Paulinus of Nola, Early Christian Studies Series (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), and Trout, Dennis E., Paulinus of Nola: Life, Letters, and Poems, The Transformation of the Classical Heritage 27 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), esp. 23–52 on Paulinus's life.

135. Trout, , Paulinus of Nola, 53–103.

136. Trout, , Paulinus of Nola, 150. On the resources that enabled the construction of the basilica complex at Nola, also see 153.

137. Paulinus, , Epistle 32.1017, Carmen 27.360–595, 28.7–59, 180–217, and Eng. trans, in Carel Goldschmidt, Rudolf, Paulinus' Churches at Nola: Texts, Translations, and Commentary (Amsterdam: N.V. Noord-Hollandsche Uitgevers Maatschappij, 1940), 3847, 5265, 7275, 8083. The most prized relic at the Basilica Nova was a piece of the “true cross” given to Paulinus by Melania the Elder. Epistle 32.11 and Eng. trans, in Goldschmidt, , Paulinus' Churches, 3841. Conybeare has found Paulinus's descriptions “reticent,” particularly when compared to Prudentius's depiction of an imagined Temple of Wisdom. She characterizes Paulinus as exhibiting “relatively little interest in describing material objects as such,” Conybeare, , Paulinus Noster, 9293. When judged against the almost complete lack of particulars regarding the physical space and material appearance of the church in Shenoute's, Canon 7, however, Paulinus's ekphrasis seems awash with details.

138. “This present of the Lord, this symbol by means of which through Christ's gift the same person comes into being young and dies to his old self, behold it here, in the double church of Felix, now that the buildings have been restored.” Paulinus, Carmen 28.196–98, and Eng. trans, in Goldschmidt, , Paulinus' Churches, 8283.

139. “And let us avoid not only committed sin but also the thought of sin, like the morbific smell of a rotting body, a nasty odour, with nostrils pinched together.” Paulinus, , Carmen 28.241–43, and Eng. trans, in Goldschmidt, , Paulinus' Churches, 8485.

140. Paulinus, , Carmen 28.223–40, and Eng. trans, in Goldschmidt, , Paulinus' Churches, 8485.

141. Paulinus, , Carmen 28.279–81, and Eng. trans, in Goldschmidt, , Paulinus' Churches, 8687.

142. Carmen 27 contains two exceptions: a brief hope that the paintings will distract people from food and wine, and a fleeting plea for freedom from “sinful love.” Paulinus, , Carmen 27.585–95, 623–29, and Eng. trans, in Goldschmidt, , Paulinus' Churches, 6467.

143. Trout, , Paulinus of Nola, 90103; see 91, 95–98 for a discussion of Jerome's correspondence with Paulinus in Jerome's epistles 53 and 58.

144. Trout, , Paulinus of Nola, 153–54.

145. Ibid., 133, 154.

146. For a review of the archaeological evidence at Pbow as it pertains to the literary evidence in the Pachomian chronicles, see Goehring, , “New Frontiers in Pachomian Studies,” in Ascetics, Society, and the Desert: Studies in Early Egyptian Monasticism, Studies in Antiquity and Christianity (Harrisburg, Penn.: Trinity, 1999), 185–86. This article was originally published in Pearson, Birger A. and Goehring, James E., eds., The Roots of Egyptian Christianity, Studies in Antiquity and Christianity (Philadelphia, Penn.: Fortress, 1986), 236–57. The later version should be consulted because it contains additions and emendations that pertain to the archaeological site at Pbow. See the Addendum in the version in Ascetics, 184–86; and “Introduction,” in Ascetics, 9.

147. Paralipomena 32, in Sancti Pachomii Vitae Graecae. Subsidia Hagiographica 19, ed. Francisci, Halkin (Brussels: Société des Bollandistes, 1932), 157–58; Eng. trans, in Veilleux, , Pachomian Koinonia, 2:5556. On the use of the term “oratory” to characterize the structure, see Grossmann, , “Kirche oder ‘Ort des Feierns’: zur Problematik der pachomianischen Bezeichnungen des Kirchengebäudes,” Enchoria 26 (2000): 4153.

148. Goehring, , “New Frontiers in Pachomian Studies,” in Ascetics, 185.

149. Again, see Goehring's review of the literature on the site of Pbow in “New Frontiers in Pachomian Studies,” in Ascetics, 184–85.

150. Goehring, , “New Frontiers,” in Ascetics, 185–86, esp. n. 111.

151. Chitty, Derwas, The Desert a City: An Introduction to the Study of Egyptian and Palestinian Monasticism under the Christian Empire (Oxford: Blackwell, 1966; reprint Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1995), 22; also cited in Goehring, “New Frontiers,” 185. Chitty, writing decades prior to the archaeological excavations at Pbow, associates the text with the monastery at Tabennese.

152. van Lantschoot, Arn., “Allocution de Timothée d'Alexandrie prononcée à l'occasion de la dédicace de l'église de Pachome a Pboou,” Muséon 47 (1934): 1356. Van Lantschoot provides the Arabic version of the text, a French translation, and a commentary. The text is believed to be translated from an earlier Coptic manuscript. Only one known fragment of the Coptic text survives, van Lantschoot, , “Allocution,” 14.

153. Van Lantschoot admits that the text, presumably due to its style, content, and original language (Coptic), could not have been read by Timothy at the dedication of the church. He finds it likely, however, that it was written before the Arab conquest of Egypt since there is no mention of those events or a similar social disruption. Scholars throughout the twentieth century have objected to attributing the text to Timothy for a variety of sound, historical reasons outlined by van Lantschoot, . “Allocution,” 1423.

154. Van Lantschoot, , “Allocution,” 3942.

155. Ibid., 42–44.

156. Ibid., 44–45.

157. Ibid., 45–46.

158. Ibid., 46–52.

159. Ibid., 52–56.

160. Ibid., 26, 39, 38, 56.

161. Goehring's groundbreaking work on the theological and ideological bent of the Pachomian corpus has demonstrated an increasing concern with the “orthodoxy” of the community and its founders as well as the monasteries' relationship with the Alexandrian episcopacy. See esp. “Pachomius's Vision of Heresy: The Development of a Pachomian Tradition,” Museon 95 (1982): 241–62; reprint in Goehring, Ascetics, 137–61.

162. Van Lantschoot, , “Allocution,” 50, 52.

163. Conybeare, , Paulinus Noster, 95.

164. Ibid., 99.

165. Bolman, , “Joining the Community of Saints,” 43.

166. Ibid.

167. Conybeare, , Paulinus Noster, 95.

168. Bolman, , “Joining the Community of Saints,” 46.

1 In the research and writing of this essay, I have become indebted to many individuals and institutions for their insight and support. I am deeply grateful for the critical evaluations of the two anonymous Church History readers, whose knowledgeable suggestions greatly improved this piece. Sincere thanks go to Peter Grossmann for granting me permission to reproduce his site plans of Deir Anba Shenouda. I thank Catherine Chin, Elizabeth A. Clark, Stephanie Cobb, George Demacopoulos, Andrew Jacobs, Eric Johnson, Rebecca Krawiec, Dale Martin, Mel Peters, Gil Renberg, Lucas van Rompay, Tina Shepardson, and Orval Wintermute for comments on earlier drafts. I also benefited from the responses of audiences at the International Association of Coptic Studies Congress in 2000, the Archaeology and Texts from Late Antiquity Consultation at the Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting in 2000, and the 2003 January meeting of the American Society of Church History, where earlier versions of this work were presented. I thank James E. Goehring and Annabel Wharton for pointing me to the pseudo-Timothy panegyric and Paulinus of Nola, respectively. Funds from the Duke University Graduate School, Department of Religion, and Women's Studies Program supported research in Egypt and the purchase of micro-films of unpublished manuscripts cited here. My fieldwork in Egypt was successful only thanks to assistance from Elizabeth Bolman, Stephen J. Davis, Peter Grossmann, the staff of the American Research Center in Egypt (particularly Amira Khattab, Amir Khattab, and former Director Mark Easton), Bishop Ioannes of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the monks of Deir Anba Shenouda (especially Abouna Shenouda and Abouna Pachomius), and fellow pilgrims to Sohag Bassem Botros and Mina Awad Karam.

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