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Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great$
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Conrad Leyser

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208686

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208686.001.0001

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The Weakness of Gregory

The Weakness of Gregory

Chapter:
(p.131) 6 The Weakness of Gregory
Source:
Authority and Asceticism from Augustine to Gregory the Great
Author(s):

Conrad Leyser

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208686.003.0006

In the modern era, Gregory the Great is often depicted as a man at the border, poised between the Roman and the Germanic worlds, between East and West, and above all, perhaps, between the ancient and medieval epochs. Certainly, in stationing Gregory at the frontier, this chapter begins to acknowledge the immense future influence of his account of Benedict of Nursia, as of all his writings, in the medieval Catholic Church and beyond. However, this acknowledgement is frequently based on the assumption that Gregory, as a hinge figure engaged in cultural transmission, has no original point of view. Gregory tends to be typecast as a ‘moral’ thinker, whose assimilation of the texts of Augustine of Hippo and John Cassian was of critical import — but who was himself less capable of analytical or innovative thought, and who therefore concentrated his energies on reducing the complexities of earlier patristic writings for consumption by a future medieval audience. This chapter also looks at Gregory's views on monasticism and asceticism.

Keywords:   Gregory the Great, Benedict of Nursia, Catholic Church, Augustine of Hippo, John Cassian, monasticism, asceticism

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