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ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 44 (2007) 281-283 Caroline T. Schroeder, Monastic Bodies: Discipline and Salvation in Shenoute of Atripe. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007. 237 pages. ISBN 0-8122-3990-3. This is an important book. Interest in the writings of the fifth-century Upper Egyptian ascetic Shenoute has increased considerably in recent years as a result of the clarity brought to the manuscript tradition by Stephen Emmel's 1993 Yale University dissertation on Shenoute's Literary Corpus, subsequently published by Peeters in two volumes under the same title in 2004 (CSCO Subsidia 111-112). Organized into nine Canons and eight Discourses, Shenoute's immense literary output offers investigators direct access into the working world of a late antique coenobitic monastery. While the corpus survives incomplete, what remains offers tantalizing evidence of the practices and struggles of the community both within its walls and beyond. Schroeder's monograph is only the second one published since J. Leipoldt's 1903 Shenute von Atripe und die Enstehung des national igyptischen Christentums, and it moves beyond R. Krawiec's Shenoute and the Women of the White Monastery (2002) in its effort to identify and illuminate the unique nature of Shenoute's ascetic ideology and situate it within the broader context of Upper Egyptian monasticism. Schroeder examines Shenoute's ideology of the communal ascetic life through a well thought out and methodologically sophisticated lens. For Shenoute, bodily asceticism extends beyond the efforts of the individual monk to incorporate the communal body of the monastery as a whole, represented both by the sum of its individual members and by its physical buildings. Shenoute's rise to power within the White Monastery followed his vigorous challenge to the current leader's authority. Shenoute interpreted his predecessor's lack of discipline and leniency towards certain monks as a threat to the community's integrity and its individual members' salvation. His ascetic ideology, which grew out of this early experience, drew on biblical notions of community and purity. Ascetic discipline served to purify the individual's monastic body, which together with the other purified bodies of the community's individual members purified the monastery or social body as a whole. Sin, understood as pollution, in turn threatened not only the individual ascetic, but also the community. As in ancient Israel, the individual's favor with God (and salvation) depended not only on his or her own purity, but on the purity of the community as a whole. The purity of the social body must therefore be guarded lest the pollution of one member spread like a disease, corrupting the monastic body and threatening the salvation of every individual.
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