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Part II - Shenoute as Pastor and Preacher

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 December 2015

David Brakke
Affiliation:
Ohio State University
Andrew Crislip
Affiliation:
Virginia Commonwealth University
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Summary

Introduction

Shenoute normally lived in seclusion, as mentioned previously, and did not journey to the community and church to preach every week. It is plausible that Shenoute's presence and preaching was a special attraction for Christians from local villages and for visitors from farther afield. In reading Shenoute's sermons collected in the Discourses as well as those targeted exclusively to his community in the Canons, it is clear how compelling a preacher Shenoute could be. How many people attended the church on typical Sundays and how many attended when the archimandrite preached is impossible to know. But Shenoute's works indicate that visitors were a common feature of his forays into the community. The number of named dignitaries that visited Shenoute, sometimes repeatedly, is also telling. Clearly Shenoute drew many interested in accessing the spiritual power of this Apa. Many of these dealt with him in his position as preacher and pastor, roles that the Discourses represent. In the former role, he responds to, elaborates on, and digresses from liturgical elements, including the biblical passages read during the service. He also responds to the behavior he perceives among his audience, monastic and lay: their anxious fidgeting as they wait to be dismissed from mass, their apparent consternation at orthodox teaching, their alleged lack of charity, or their lack of seriousness at approaching the Eucharistic mystery. Other Discourses depict Shenoute in a pastoral role on a smaller scale, as he responds to specific questions about morals, church order, and ascetic behavior posed by visiting dignitaries, clergy, and the monks themselves.

The study of early Christian homiletics as a whole is still a developing field, and the past generation of revisionist scholarship has laid bare a “minefield” of methodological problems. But as a source for the history of rhetoric and discourse as well as for more traditional interests such as theology and social history, late ancient homilies are rich and voluminous.

Shenoute's place within (and after) what some have described as a “golden age” of fourth- and early fifth-century homiletics is a ripe area for analysis. Much about his work as a preacher is unknown, not surprising given the highly fragmentary state of his literary remains.

Type
Chapter
Information
Selected Discourses of Shenoute the Great
Community, Theology, and Social Conflict in Late Antique Egypt
, pp. 83 - 90
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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  • Shenoute as Pastor and Preacher
  • Edited and translated by David Brakke, Ohio State University, Andrew Crislip, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Book: Selected Discourses of Shenoute the Great
  • Online publication: 05 December 2015
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139136846.007
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  • Shenoute as Pastor and Preacher
  • Edited and translated by David Brakke, Ohio State University, Andrew Crislip, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Book: Selected Discourses of Shenoute the Great
  • Online publication: 05 December 2015
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139136846.007
Available formats
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  • Shenoute as Pastor and Preacher
  • Edited and translated by David Brakke, Ohio State University, Andrew Crislip, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Book: Selected Discourses of Shenoute the Great
  • Online publication: 05 December 2015
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139136846.007
Available formats
×