Monahi, episcopi și conceptul de autoritate în spiritualitatea deșertului

19 Octombrie 2021

This paper explores the theme of the authority in the spirituality of the desert. More exactly, we will analyze the relationship between ascetic authority and ecclesiastical authority as it appears in desert monasticism. We divide this paper into two sections. Section one explores the relationships between ascetics and bishops in monastic literature. If asceticism is a sign of the spiritual status of the monk, ordination represents a locus of ecclesiastical authority (bishops and priests). Several examples from ascetic literature reveal a significant tension between the two sphere of authority. Examining each of these spheres we will understand that this tension generated a fluid and ambiguous relationship between ascetics and bishops in early ascetic tradition. Finally, we will promote a vision based on cooperation between monks and bishops. Section two examines the relationship between ascetic clothing and spiritual authority. Clothing was a visible marker of spiritual authority in late monasticism. In this sense, the most known example is Life of Antony, a popular and influential text in Late Antiquity. Focusing on the Antony’s mantle, this section argues that the monk’s clothing was a symbol of wisdom and ascetic authority. Building upon this premise, my purpose is to examine how the monk’s mantle participated in discourse concerning spiritual authority in late ascetic tradition. With this paper, we hope to bring out the complexity of the theme of spiritual authority and to demonstrate the major importance of this theme for early monasticism.