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What does it Mean to Call the Monasteries of Gaza a ‘School’? A Reassessment of Dorotheus’ Intellectual Identity

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This paper investigates the pedagogic theory and practice reflected in the Instructions of Dorotheus of Gaza. Recent scholarship has emphasised the school-like character of Palestinian monasticism in the sixth century, but failed to define in what respects the monks’ activity in the coenobia near Gaza resembled teaching in the ancient schools. Taking the education system of the Neoplatonic schools as a starting point, this article systematically analyses Dorotheus’ conceptualisation of his community, his methods in the formation of the brothers and the role of intellectual activities in the daily life of the monks. It is demonstrated that Dorotheus implemented a curriculum of medico-philosophical therapy that followed the pedagogic pattern in philosophical schools and circles. However, what distinguishes his pedagogy from that of ancient philosophers is the strong emphasis on communal psychagogy and the role of practice in the progress to virtue.

Affiliations: 1: Classics, School of Humanities, University of Glasgow Glasgow G12 8QQUnited Kingdom


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