Symeon the New Theologian in the Context of the Studite Monastic Tradition
The monastery of Stoudios played a decisive role in the life of Symeon the New Theologian. It represented a new kind of urban monasticism in comparison with early Christian monasteries, whether cenobitic or eremitical. The unique history of the Studite monastery, its location in the Byzantine capital, its significance for the defence of the veneration of icons, its liturgical and hymnographical activity, its role in the spiritual direction of people, its influence on Byzantium's politics, its richness and grandeur, and, of course, the great personalities of Theodore and other hegumens and elders gave the Stoudion the central position which the monastery occupied in Byzantine monasticism for several centuries. Although we have no evidence that learning Scripture by heart was compulsory in Studite monasticism, reading books was encouraged and even required. Early monks read books in a contemplative manner just to gain profit for their own souls, whereas the Studites were supposed to be able to bring profit to others, particularly to seculars who asked for spiritual direction.
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