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The monastic life according to saint Nilus

Kornarakis, Constantine J. (1991) The monastic life according to saint Nilus. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The present dissertation comprises an introductory section and four main chapters. The introductory section deals with the life of St Nilus, focusing especially on the problem of his historical identity which has been debated since the closing years of the last century, i.e. whether he is Nilus Ancyranus or Nilus Sinaita, and with St Nilus' theological method in his indisputable identity as master of monks. This leads on to the main topic of the dissertation which is examined in the following four chapters: monastic life. Chapter I examines the essence of the monastic life as it can be detected in the extant writings of St Nilus. The main themes here are those of: self-renunciation, as the principle which leads to the differentiation between true and false personality, and, the science or art of being a leader or a follower of the spiritual path which specifies the true person. Chapter II examines the basic theme of passions, providing first a sort of spiritual anatomy of the human psyche, looking in some detail into the meaning and use of such terms as soul, heart, mind, perception, and also into the interrelationships of the soul’s powers and functions. This becomes the basis for analysing Nilus' theory of passions, including the role of the devil and the function of demonic deceit. Chapter III examines the positive method of the masters of the desert in fighting passion and demonic deceit. This includes such themes as the scriptures, the saints, the icons, the desert and dispossession. Particular attention is given to the theme of silence which is closely related to that of the desert and to self-understanding. Chapter IV concentrates on what might be called the most essential function of the life of the ascetic when he arrives at the more mature level of progress. This is the function of nepsis, vigilance and prayer, which is crowed by union with God. Several sub-themes are treated here, such as the study of God by means of participation in the sacramental life of confession and communion and of adoption of the spiritual exercises of prayer, manual labour vigil and psahmody. The last sub-theme of this chapter is that of the martyrdom of nepsis which is connected with the memory of the last judgement and with the gift of tears and penthos. The theses concludes with a brief epilogue and bibliography.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1991
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Dec 2012 12:07

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