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Dorotheos of Gaza and the Discourse of Healing in Gazan Monasticism

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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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Praise for Dorotheos of Gaza and the Discourse of Healing in Gazan Monasticism

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“In this fresh, contextualized examination of Dorotheos of Gaza’s collected works, Kyle A. Schenkewitz explores how Dorotheos created a new understanding of healing in monastic communities. Parting ways from much of Christian monastic thought, and certainly from his Gazan setting, Dorotheos views the monk’s body as the positive locus of health because of its position as the soul’s home. Schenkewitz analyzes Dorotheos’s corpus in its Gazan monastic context by comparing it to the letters of Barsanuphius and John, the Asceticon of Isaiah of Scetis, and the Apophthegmata Patrum. Through his comparative literary analysis, Schenkewitz lucidly reveals Dorotheos’s unique contributions to Gazan monastic thought. In reading Dorotheos’s works through the lens of his position as the consummate physician, Schenkewitz widens our understanding of how Christianity appropriated Greco-Roman medicine to understand the ascetic body. This volume will stand alongside recent literature on monastic medicine and Gazan asceticism as a key analysis of Dorotheos and his novel medical theology of the ascetic body.”

Zachary B. Smith, Resident Assistant Professor of Theology, Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska

“Kyle A. Schenkewitz revives interest in the life and teaching of Dorotheos of Gaza as an innovative theologian and spiritual guide. By combining medical and philosophical perspectives of health and healing in the ancient world, Schenkewitz explores the importance of the integration of body and soul in the discourse of the monastic school of Gaza as representative of early Christianity. Dorotheos’s distinctive contribution was an ascetic spirituality that emphasized the health of...

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