Shenoute of Atripe

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Shenoute or Schenoudi, second abbot of the famous White Monastery, called also the Deir Auba Chenouda (Monastery of Shenoute) after him; b. c. 348; d. 466. He was a strict disciplinarian and had a towering temper. He ruled the monastery for 83 years, from 383 until his death. His pupil and successor Besa says that Shenoute had under his rule 2,200 monks and 1,800 nuns. An outstanding organizer, Shenoute did not hesitate to modify the rule of Pachomius, which Shenoute held in many places to be too lax. Shenoute forced his monks to sign a monastic profession in which they swore to obey the inflexible rule he had drawn up. On one occasion he killed with his own hand a monk guilty of a theft and a small lie. He gave permission to individual monks to withdraw to the desert after a few years of cenobitic life without completely severing their ties with the monastery. Shenoute made numerous lengthy journeys to combat heretics and pagans; notably, he accompanied cyril of alexan dria to the Council of ephesus in 431. His prolonged absences destroyed the continuity of his influence over his monks, and he often complained of their refractoriness and disciplined them severely for it. Though little liked by his monks, he enjoyed great prestige in Egypt, where he was regarded as a saint, though the church has never given him that title.

Shenoute wrote many letters and sermons that have been preserved. The letters, mostly addressed to monks and nuns, deal with monastic questions; some are polemics against pagans and heretics. The sermons are vivid in language and eschatological in character. Several apocalypses and visions are attributed to him. There are presently Ethiopic, Arabic, and Syriac versions of his works, but it has been difficult to distinguish the authentic writings from the spurious.

Bibliography: j. leipoldt and w. e. crum, eds., Sinuthii archimandritae vita et opera omnia, Lat. tr. h. wiesmann, 3 v. (Corpus scriptorum Christianorum orientalium 4142, 73, 190613; repr. as v. 96, 108, 129; 195154), v.1, 45 of Scriptores Coptici, ser. 2; repr. as v. 8, 12, 16. j. leipoldt, Schenute von Atripe und die Entstehung des nationalägyptischen Mönchtums (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 25.1;1903). l. t. lefort, "Athanase, Ambroise et Chenoute: Sur la virginité," Muséon 48 (1935) 5573, use of Athanasius; "La Chasse aux reliques des martyrs en Égypte au IVe siècle," La Nouvelle Clio 6 (1954) 225230. k. h. kuhn, "The Observance of the 'Two Weeks' in Shenoute's Writings," Studia patristica v.2 (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 64;1957) 427434.

[a. g. gibson]

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Shenoute of Atripe

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