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Shenoute and the Women of the White Monastery$
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Rebecca Krawiec

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195129434

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195129431.001.0001

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Acceptance and Resistance

Acceptance and Resistance

The Women's Power

(p.73) 4 Acceptance and Resistance
Shenoute and the Women of the White Monastery

Rebecca Krawiec (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Women's power in the White Monastery lay in their ability to accept, resist, or even manipulate Shenoute's authority. A model of complete acceptance occurs in Shenoute's hagiography, written by his follower and successor, Besa, where Shenoute appears in almost the exact language and imagery he used to present himself. So too there are moments when female monks, who seem to mostly have been those high up in the hierarchy of the female community, accepted and at times manipulated Shenoute's authority over their community, which was exercised either in person or through male envoys sent in Shenoute's place. The nature of the evidence, however, is geared more towards moments of resistance and indeed outright rebellion against Shenoute. The female monks, especially the leaders, could use the space from Shenoute and secrecy among their community to guard their own authority, both of which Shenoute worked actively against. At least one letter attests to both female and male monks joining in rebellion against Shenoute and his excessive leadership.

Keywords:   female, hagiography, hierarchy, monks, power, rebellion, resistance, secrecy, space, women

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