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Dorotheos of Gaza and the Discourse of Healing in Gazan Monasticism


Kyle A. Schenkewitz

Serving as a dynamic figure in the monastic school, Dorotheos of Gaza transformed the traditional understanding of healing in the spiritual life. Gazan monastic teachers, Isaiah of Scetis, Barsanuphius, John, and Dorotheos, utilized this discourse of healing to instruct and guide their followers in the monastic life.
As a predominant part of human existence, sickness and suffering were sought to be understood and interpreted. For some teachers, healing was purely a metaphor for spiritual renewal brought about through illness and pain. For others, physical distress was instructive for renewed endurance and trust. Driven by a new distinction, Dorotheos pursued the concept of healing as an extension beyond the metaphor and into the physical reality experienced in the body. Encouraging his followers to pursue this idea, he further developed the importance of healing in his tradition by emphasizing the significance of physical and spiritual well-being. The life of healing he envisioned was a life full of virtue, carefully navigating all disruptions of life, and strengthening the soul and the body.
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Chapter Seven: Conclusion


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This work has sought to revive Dorotheos’s importance among his monastic contemporaries by providing a fresh perspective from which to demonstrate his contribution to his tradition. Our goal was to compare the Gazan monastics’ use of the discourse of healing in their monastic guidance with a focus upon Dorotheos’s distinctive approach. His contribution lay in his stressing the centrality of Christ as physician and teacher in the drama of salvation, the role of virtue in living the healthy life, and the positive role of the body for his monastics. Dorotheos articulated his distinctive contribution within a common discourse. The discourse of healing was a shared discourse in which Dorotheos and his contemporaries expounded their visions of the monastic life and established a connection between the conceptual frameworks of the members of the monastic school of Gaza. Important differences in spiritual direction arose from within the discourse of healing and reflected the particular emphases of each monastic. On Dorotheos’s part, the discourse of healing was a traditional means to elaborate upon his view of the healthy life of humanity as inclusive of soul and body. The subtle distinctions highlighted in this study indicate that Dorotheos of Gaza was a decisive figure in the monastic school of Gaza who transformed his tradition and inaugurated a renewed emphasis on the interrelatedness of the health of soul and body for the healing of humanity through the discourse of healing. ← 133 | 134 →

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