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Contextualizing CassianAristocrats, Asceticism, and Reformation in Fifth-Century Gaul$
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Richard J. Goodrich

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199213139

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199213139.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Contextualizing Cassian

Richard J. Goodrich

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents a short biography of late Roman writer, John Cassian, and introduces the purpose of the book. Cassian was an important 5th-century writer with remarkable connections to the churches of three significant areas: Constantinople, Rome, and south-eastern Gaul. While his work was one of the cornerstones for the western monastic tradition mediated by Benedict of Nursia, it was also Cassian's entry in a competition for the hearts and minds of Gallic ascetics. Competition, authority and self-justification are as present in Cassian's works as in his teaching on psalmody. Lastly, he prescribed a programme centred on the concept of renunciation, one more socially radical and rigidly dogmatic than anything proposed by his contemporaries. The purpose of this study is to make connections between Cassian's thought, work, and the much-larger milieu of later Roman society.

Keywords:   John Cassian, Gaul, renunciation, asceticism, monasticism

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