Samuel Rubenson

Authority, community and individual freedom – Latin monastic culture and the roots of European educational ideals

What is the ultimate purpose of education: to form free individuals or obedient citizens? The tension between authority and freedom, between personal and communal interests, runs like a thread through the history of Western civilization and in particular the history of education. This history is intimately connected with medieval monasticism and its background in the classical Greek educational culture and in the early monastic tradition of the Eastern Mediterranean world.
This project investigates how these ideals and tensions are expressed and negotiated in the texts attributed to the three most important transmitters of that heritage to the Latin monastic world: Jerome of Stridon, Rufinus of Aquileia and John Cassian. As bilingual authors they contributed through their translations and works to the creation of a literary corpus and culture that had a decisive impact on education and social formation for centuries. On the basis of questions about how and why their texts were translated and transmitted, how crucial ideals and concepts were translated, interpreted and transformed, and how a culture of reading and usage developed, the project looks for answers to fundamental questions about why Latin monasticism and through it Western education was formed in a direction in which authority and rules, as well as emphasis on communal needs were promoted above ideals such as individual freedom and personal development, which were more prominent in the earlier Greek tradition.
Grant administrator
Lunds universitet
Reference number
SEK 6,817,000.00
Religious Studies