Libmonster ID: U.S.-1491
Author(s) of the publication: A. B. Vankova

By the middle of the fourth century, monasticism had already established itself quite powerfully as a new phenomenon within the Church. At this time, the formation of the main forms of monastic life - anachoretic and cinovial. The first monastic charters were drawn up, for example, "The Charter of St. John the Baptist". Pachomia", the rules of St. Basil the Great, according to which the whole life of the monastic community was built. This century is a time of rapid growth in the number of monasteries and monks.

Monasteries were established in the late Roman Empire, and monks were members of the Church. How did the secular and ecclesiastical authorities react to the emergence of monasticism? After all, the monastic statutes regulated the life of the monastery as if from the inside, the anchorites did not obey any statutes at all.

We should ask ourselves what was the status of monks and monasteries in the fourth century, when the legislation, both ecclesiastical and secular, concerning monks was only developing: did the state distinguish monks as a separate group within the Church, and if so, did they have any privileges on an equal basis with clerics? What was the relationship between ecclesiastical and secular legislation governing the life of monasteries and monks?

I must say that this topic has not been overlooked by researchers(1), but most of them consider church and secular legislation in isolation from each other. Researchers have come to the conclusion that the status of monks and their associations, as opposed to the status of the Church, is very unclear, but there have been almost no attempts to trace whether legislation changed during the second half of the fourth century. Many scholars have traced the history of monastic terminology(2), but they have not tried to identify the relationship between its development and the definition of the status of monastic communities and monks.

In this article, only monuments of canonical, i.e. ecclesiastical, law and Roman law of the fourth century will be considered.(3) because they create the legal basis for the existence of monasticism in the church and society. Other sources are used only if they contain legislative norms that are not included in the"Feodosian Code".

The position of the monk within the Church at this time is largely ambivalent. A monk is a layman by origin (4). But the main occupation of a monk-prayer and service to the Lord-distinguishes him from the ranks of the laity and brings him closer to the clergy in his position, which "gives monasticism a character different from the position of the rest of the faithful"(5). Interesting information that monks do not just stand out in the ranks of the laity.


(1) Karayannopulus F. Das Finanzwesen des friihbysantinischen Staates. Mdnchen, 1958; Gaudemet./. L' eglise dans Г empire Romain. P., 1958; McLaughlin P. Le tres ancien droit monastique de I'Occident. P., 1935; Frazee Ch.A. Late Roman and ByzantineTegislation on the Monastic Life from Jourth to the Eighth Centuries // Church History. 1982. 51. P. 263-279 et al.

(2) For more information, see below.

(3) See decisions of ecumenical and local councils; Mansi J. Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio. Rev. ed. 54 vols. Graz, 1960. The decrees of the Roman emperors are collected in the Codex Theodosianus (CTh) / Ed. by G. Haenel. Lipsiensi, 1837.

(4) See, for example, McLaughlin. Op. cit. P. Ill: "Monasticism was from its very beginning a laity movement. The first monks were simple lay people ... those who were not in any way part of the church organization as monks, but remained ordinary believers. The monks were dependent on the lay clergy for all their spiritual needs."

(5) Ibid. P. 112.

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a separate group within the Church, but also perceived by the laity as something opposite to them, leads John Chrysostom. When Chrysostom began to demand a pious Christian life from the laity, they directly told him: "It's not our business, it's the monks' business." To this Chrysostom replies: "We have all the precepts of the law in common with the monks, with the exception of celibacy" (6).

The fact that monasticism has become a qualitatively new stage of ascetic practice, which has always existed in the bowels of the Church, was expressed in particular in the emergence of a new terminology for those who lead such a way of life. Without going into the discussion of this issue in detail(7), we note the most important thing. Judge points out that the earliest use of the word is recorded in a papyrus of 324. [8] Among ecclesiastical writers, the word appears for the first time in Eusebius of Caesarea's "Psalm Interpretations". [9] However, as a designation for a specific group within the Church, it has come into widespread use since the Life of Anthony the Great, written by Athanasius The Great (mid-fourth century) (10).

Along with this term, the old terms continued to exist-such as" hermit"," virgin", but gradually the most commonly used" monk "becomes, if we turn to the" Rules of local councils", we will find a curious thing. Unlike the literature of the fourth century, the canon law of this time practically does not mention "monks". The "Rules" continue to operate with concepts developed by the fourth century, and are mainly devoted to "virgins". The 19th Canon of the Council of Ancyra (314) is dedicated to virgins who have broken their vow (11). The rules of the Council of Gangres (between 360 and 380), aimed at eliminating excesses among monastics, do not use the word "monk" at all (12). The Council of Carthage in 397 mentions only "abstinents" (continentes) and sacred virgins (virgines sacrae) (13). Rule 25 of the Council of Laodicea (between 360 and 370), along with the clergy, is dedicated to some of the "ascetic order"(14). Rule 30 of the same council mentions the"ascetic" 

It should be noted that these local councils dealt with particular issues (16) and ignored extremely important ones that were already overdue by the second half-


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vina IV century problems, for example, the problem of the relationship of monks with the church hierarchy (17). It was partly addressed by the Council of Gangres, which ruled that those who avoid receiving communion from a married priest, who form separate church assemblies (without a presbyter sent by the bishop) - "let them be anathema"(18). Problems related to monasticism were not included in the scope of consideration not only at the First Ecumenical Council of 325, when monasticism was just beginning to spread, but also at the Second Ecumenical Council of 381.

Do the rules of local councils deal with issues related to the position and status of a monk within the church? Of all the rules, only Rule 25 of the Council of Laodicea provides us with some information for reflection. This rule, as we mentioned above, forbids " a consecrated person from being a presbyter to a deacon, and then to anyone from the church rank, even to subdeacons ... or from an ascetic rank, enter a tavern"(19). It follows from this rule that monks were not considered as ordinary laymen, but were not even counted among the lowest churchmen. This shows the duality of their position, noted above. However, it is illegal to draw any far-reaching conclusions from one rule.

It should be noted that all the local councils that mentioned " ascetics "did not address the problems associated with associations of these" ascetics " - monasteries. Judging only by the extant materials of local and ecumenical councils, there were no monasteries in the late Roman Empire in the fourth century, despite the fact that Pachomius the Great founded the first cenobitic monastery in Egypt in the 30s of the fourth century.

Reading these rules also gives the impression that the monks were a peripheral group of the church society and there were no problems with them in the church society. It seems that the problem of the status of monks did not concern the church legislators of the fourth century at all. The above-mentioned rules of the Council of Laodicea speak of ascetics as a certain phenomenon that is well known to everyone and which therefore does not require any explanation(20).

Let us now turn to secular legislation. It seems necessary to first consider how the legal terminology changed during the fourth century. Since the laws we are interested in are written in Latin, the question arises at what time the term "monk"appears in this language. For the first time, this word in the form of monachus, which then becomes common, was recorded in the 70s by Bl. Jerome (21) and in the translation "Vita Antonii" by Evagrius of Antioch. The form monazontes is also found in John Cassian (22).

Wills Act issued by Emperor Valentinian I to Pope Damasus (23 )from 370, - gives an interesting example of the designation of monks in the laws. It refers to the prohibition of entering the homes of widows and orphans "to those who manage the church's property or those from the church, or to those who wish to be called abstainers" (ecclesiastic!


(17) Zh. Dagron notes that contempt for the church hierarchy is a natural tendency of all Eastern monasticism at this time, but the Eustathians make this tendency a principle (Dagron G. Les moines et la ville. Le monachisme a Constantinopole jusqu'au concile de Chalcedoine (451) // Travaux et memoires. 1970. 4. P. 251-252).

(18) Mansi II. 1099-1106. Rules 4-7.

(19) Mansi II. 600.

(20) Granic В. L'acte de fondation d'un monastere dans les provinces grecques du Bas-Empire au V-e et au VI-e siecle. // Melanges Ch. Diehl. P., 1930. P. 101-105. The author states: "At first, the monastery was outside any legal influence. These were private associations of a special kind, whose position and relationships were not legally defined either in relation to the Church or to the Roman Empire " (p. 101).

(21) Hieronimi Epistulae III / Ed. J. Hilberg. Wien, 1918. Ep. 3 ad Rufmum.

(22) Monachi sive monazontes a singularis ac solitariae vitae districtione nominati sunt (Cassien J. Collationes / Ed. Е. Picherry. Sources chretiennes 64. P., 1959. P. 18).

(23) CTh. 16.2.20.

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aut ex ecclesiasticis vel qui continentium se volunt nomine nuncupari) for the purpose of seeking to make a will in their favor. Although the word "continens "has a slightly broader meaning, being used both to refer to people who perform certain types of asceticism while remaining within the church organization, and to monks themselves, in this case, those" who wish to be called abstainers " were meant specifically monks(25). The fact that the law of 370 is directed not only against clerics, but also against monks, was noted, in particular, by V. V. Bolotov(26). In the law of the Emperor Valens of 370, we find another designation of monks-the Greek "monazonles". The following laws, dedicated to monks, appear only in the 90s of the IV century.(27) They already use only the classical term "monachus"(28).

Thus, it follows from the above-mentioned laws that the secular authorities notice the emergence of a new social force quite late, which for a long time, up to the 90s, did not have a fixed name in the law.

In the fourth century, Christians (corpus Christianorum) were already clearly divided into two groups: laity and clergy. What group did monks belong to in secular legislation? Were they considered part of the clear? We don't think so. For example, the Law of 319 defines clerics as "Those who perform services for the divine cult, i.e. those who are called clerics" (qui divino cultui ministeria religionis inpendunt, id est hi, qui clerici apellantur) (29). And in subsequent laws, when determining clerical positions, monks are also not mentioned.

Under Roman law, monks were not counted among the laity either. For example, the Law of 390 deals with those who are "sub professione monachi" (30). Although we can agree with Godmay, who writes that in legal texts we do not find a clear regulation for "monks"(31), but the state, as can be seen from the above examples (despite the fact that there is really no such clear definition for monks in the laws, as for clerics), already clearly distinguishes monks from monks. the general mass of Christians. Legislators, apparently, also felt the ambivalence of the position of monks, as well as the church authorities, but so far they have not gone beyond the simple statement of the existence of a group of people "sub professione monachi".

We said earlier that local councils do not mention monasteries. Let us now consider whether the existence of associations of monks, i.e. monasteries, was reflected in Roman legislation. During the fourth century, many laws of the emperors were issued regarding the status of the Church, but the status of the monastery as an institution, which by the middle of the fourth century had become a fairly common form of organization of monks, is also not determined by the legislation. The Law of the Emperor Valens (370 or 373) (32) is the first known law not just about monks, but about associations of monks. In him


(24) Ducange's dictionary gives a number of examples from the same time, from which it is clear that the term "continentes" referred to monks. For example: "Because we do not wear silk robes, we are considered monks; because we are sober, we are called abstemious and sad" (Nos, quia serica veste non utimur, Monachi judicamur, quia ebrii non sumus ... Continentes vocamur et Tristes) (Hieronimus. Ep. 24 ad Marcellam) and" How many abstainers there are in the Church and monasteries " (Quam multi continentes in ecclesia et monasteriis) (Augustinus. Contra Faustum. Lib. V. Cap. 9). The last example shows that the term "continentes" is also used in relation to those who work in monasteries.

(25) Bolotov V. V. Lectures on the History of the Ancient Church, Vol. 3. St. Petersburg, 1913: "The Emperor, by an edict addressed to Pope Damasus, forbade clerics and monks to enter the homes of widows and orphans. Any bequest in favor of clergy or monks was considered invalid " (p. 109).

(26) CTh. 12.1.63.

(27) CTh. 11.30.57; 16.3.1; 16.3.2; 16.2.32.

(28) In the Law of 398 (CTh. 11.30.57), there is another designation for a particular group of monks: "nulli clericorum vel monachorum, eorum etiam quos synoditas vocant".

(29) CTh. 16.2.1.

(30) CTh. 16.3.1.

(31) Gaudemet. Op. cit. P. 201.

(32) CTh. 12.1.63.

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it is ordered to return the Egyptian monks to the performance of the "munia patriarum". Egypt at this time, as is known, became the center of Cinovial monasticism(33). However, in the law, associations of monks are not called monasterium, but coetus mona-zonton.

Hieromonk Mikhail believes that in the legislation the word " coetus "is synonymous with the terms" collegium"," consortium", and"corpus" (34). If this is true, then it automatically follows that even in this, but from the earliest laws, Roman law recognizes the monastery as a corporation, i.e. a legal entity. We will refrain from discussing in detail the use of the word "coetus" in monuments of the fourth century, but we will give some examples of the use of this word in the Codex Theodosianus. For example, the law of 410 states: "Those who voluntarily joined the assemblies of the curia" (qui ultro se curiarum coetibus inseruerunt) (35); 386 - "Tax collectors and treasurers in the most glorious assembly of the curia" (exactores vel susceptores in celebemmo coetu curiae) (36); 353 - "So that the community of churches may be multiplied by the influx of capable people" (ut ecclesiarum coetus concursu populomm ingentium frequentetur) (37); 409 - " group, community of navarchs "(coetus nauachorum) (38); 376 (378) - "heretical gatherings" (coetus haeretici) (39).

A number of other similar examples could be given. But as can be seen from the above, the word "coetus" means either an "assembly" or a group of people and is in no way synonymous with the word "corpus". Frazee (40) translates the "coetus" of Valens ' law of 370 with the word "band": "They go out into the desert to join groups(colonies) of Eremites"(41).

It is doubtful that Valens ' law was directed only against the Eremites, because unlike in other areas of the empire, the predominant form of monasticism in Egypt was Cinnabal monasticism. It is natural to assume that here the monastery (even if it is a kellyote monastery) is not perceived by the authorities as an association with the rights of a legal entity, as a corporation. Subsequent laws, as discussed above, also do not mention monasteries as subjects of law, but only individual monks.

In addition to the above-mentioned evidence of legislation, we can cite two interesting passages from the writings of St. Basil the Great, which deal with the taxes that monks must pay. They also show the ambivalence of the monk's position. Rule 94 of the "Rules of Summary" (42) reads as follows: "Question: If a person enters the brotherhood without paying the phorosus, and his household suffers harassment for him, will this not cause proceedings or cause any harm to him or to those who have accepted him? Answer: If you have brought something belonging to Caesar to the brotherhood (i.e., any property that should be taxed - A. V.), let him be liable to pay the phorosus, and if you have left your own people, leaving everything to them, let there be no doubt either to him or to those who accepted him."


(33) See, for example: Kazansky P. History of Orthodox Monasticism in the East, Part 2, Moscow, 1854; Rousseau R. Pachomius: the Making of Community in 4th Egypt. Galiphax, 1985.

(34) Jerome. Michael. Legislation of the Roman-Byzantine Emperors on the external rights and privileges of the Church (313-565). Kyiv. 1901. p. 46.

(35) CTh. 12.1.172.2.

(36) CTh. 12.6.20 [=BREV. 12.2.1].

(37) CTh. 16.2.10.

(38) CTh. 13.5.32.

(39) CTh. 16.5.4.

(40) Frazee. Op. cit. P. 265.

(41) "bands of hermit monks" (p. 264).

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In this passage, it is interesting, in our opinion, that the tax is paid not by the brotherhood, as it would be logical to assume if a person contributed his property to the monastery, but by the one who brought it.

It should be noted that these two passages are practically the only sources that allow us to judge the tax policy of the state in relation to monks and monasteries.

This passage also shows that monks, unlike clerics, were not immune. On the other hand, the lack of immunity of monks brings them closer to the laity, while it cannot be said that the state treats them as laity. It considered them " sub professione monachi "(as we discussed above), but they paid taxes as ordinary subjects of the empire.

So, monasteries could have property and income that were actually considered as the property of the monastery, but taxes, taxes and some kind of duties were distributed by the state not on the monastery, but on the monks. They paid these taxes as ordinary lay people. Thus, in those places where it is a question of taxes collected by the state, the monastery is considered not as a legal entity, but as a set of separate individuals, each of which is an independent subject in relation to the fiscal service.

Roman legislation of the fourth century, as well as ecclesiastical legislation, did not regulate either the internal life of the monastery or its relations with ecclesiastical and secular authorities(45). The monastery was governed on the basis of its own charter. For secular legislation, associations of monks did not seem to exist. The lack of development of legal norms was accompanied by uncertainty and terminology related to


44 Gain B. L'eglise de Cappadoce au IV-e siecle d'apres la correspondance de Basile de Cesaree (330- 379). Roma, 1985. P. 314.

45 Hieromonk Michael believes that "...monasteries originated in the Church at the behest of private individuals and at first were private corporations-privata collegia. Their legal status was determined by the general laws on permissible collegiums of a religious nature" (Uk. soch. p. 47).

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monks and their associations, although in the literary monuments of this time it is distinguished by its elaboration.

The regulation of monastic life, the development of legislative norms that determine the position of monks in society, their relations with the outside world, and the recognition of the status of a legal entity for monasteries were the work of the V - VI centuries.

SOME NOTES ON THE STATUS OF MONKS AND MONASTERIES ACCORDING TO SECULAR AND CHURCH LAW OF THE 4th c. AD

A.B. Vankova

The article deals with some questions considering the status of monks and monasteries in the 4th c. AD tracing the genesis of secular and Church laws referring to monkhood. The author pays special attention to the problem of correlation between Church and secular laws considering monks and their unions. She stresses the ambiguity of monks' status (noticed earlier by some scholars), certain delay in working out the necessary legislative norms and the legal vacuum in which monasteries had to live, being ruled practically by their own regulations. The author raises the question of congruence between the development of terminology denoting monks and their unions and the legislation, drawing a conclusion that poor development of legal norms is accompanied by poor development of the relevant terminology denoting monks and their unions in the legislative documents, elaborated as it is in literary sources.


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