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Durham e-Theses
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The passage to immortality: an anthropological insight into an Orthodox hagiorite monastic community

Coubarelis, Anargyros D. (1993) The passage to immortality: an anthropological insight into an Orthodox hagiorite monastic community. Masters thesis, Durham University.



In order to convey the meaning of monastic life style in comparison to its lay context, the thesis will examine the monkish use of metaphors concerning secular images and relationships. Additionally, the thesis will attempt a detailed description of the environment within the monks practice their relationship to the divine, the monastery. The main anthropological discrimination (secular, divine) used to define the distance between man and God is methodologically accurate. However, it is more precise to say that the distinction between man and monk-man, in its native use, corresponds to the opposition between the lay-man (Laikos) and the spiritual-man (Pneumatikos). Respectively, the distinction between the divine and the secular, into the frame of this research, will be based on the opposition between spiritual life and secular one. Entering into a discourse concerning divinity does not necessarily mean attributing the divine exclusively to this vague "morpheme" called "God” (Theos). To my perception, there is a variety of graduations between God and man. Each graduation claims a share of the divine and secular in different proportions, representing the different steps of a ladder uniting heaven with earth. For example, God, Christ, the saints, the living saints, the hieromonks, the monks, the celibate priests, the lay priests and the laity. Divinity starts from sainthood. The distinction between the divine and the secular world is not to be understood merely in the opposition between the monks and the laity. The monks differ from laity and they definitely comprise a category of "others", for, they wish to attain to the saints' qualities by following their life-style. Regarding Orthodox sainthood, we find many cases where the mother of a martyr is considered to be a saint exactly because she witnessed, as Godbirth (Panagia) did, the death of her son. She may also join the sphere of sainthood because her son or daughters were declared saints. The saintly qualities of the descendant are imputed to the ancestor, in other words the usual direction of transmission has been reversed. I propose to call this phenomenon "reversed atavism”; I intend to explain it in reference to the way kinship is perceived in villages. As a matter of fact the use of kinship terminology in Christian context is not a novel. Although it is used to give emphasis on spiritual ties rather than blood relations, it still holds something of the secular context. The moral of the Orthodox monasticism is defined to a significant degree by its theology. Regarding this the Christian Orthodox Dogma functions as a limitation against all kinds of theological novelties.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1993
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Nov 2012 10:54

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