Eremitism


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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Eremitism

 

(anchoritism), rejection of communication with other people for religious reasons; an eremite retreats to a desert. In antiquity, eremitism was a sporadic phenomenon in Judaism (among the Essenes) and among the followers of the philosophical schools of the late classical era (the Neoplatonists). It is a more widespread phenomenon in the religions of India, China, Japan, and other Oriental countries (such as Buddhism and Taoism).

Eremitism attained particular development among the Christians. It originated in Christianity in the third century in the Egyptian deserts as an escape from the persecution of the Roman emperors. The first of the well-known Christian eremites was Paul of Thebes, who retreated to the desert to escape the persecution of the Christians by the emperor Decius. In the early fourth century, Christian eremites, following the example of Anthony the Great, Pachomius, and other ascetics, retreated to the Egyptian desert of Thebes. In the same century, eremitism spread to Palestine, Cappadocia, and Armenia and then to Gaul, Spain, and Italy.

During the Middle Ages, eremitism was gradually supplanted by monasticism. The church aided the process by striving to replace eremitism, which was inaccessible to church control, with the organized forms of monasticism.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Certainly these Chinese literati built on a painterly legacy of masters, yet eremitism was also form of silent protest against the powers that be in the outer world.
Shannon's treatment of ascetic practice seeks to reconceive the well-known individualistic strain of eremitism as a spiritual model for intersubjective relationships between friends.
It was only beginning in the Han dynasty, however, that the lives of fully historical recluses began to be recorded; and it was only after the Han that a clear distinction was finally made between recluses and other men of uncompromising principle who were not, as Berkowitz puts it, "substantive recluses." This process climaxed with the compilation of Huangfu Mi's (215-282) Lives of High-Minded Men (Gaoshi zhuan), which for the first time defined the recluse as someone who resol utely shunned office and chose eremitism as a way of life, and which set the standard for a genre that spawned at least sixteen other similar compositions by the mid-sixth century.
No statement could more clearly depict the very different concept of eremitism in Chinese culture as compared to Buddhism and Christianity.
The concept of Chinese eremitism continues in the present.
In part I, the author deals with Syrian asceticism before the rise of eremitism. Here he consulted the early Syrian Fathers including, among others, the author of the Acts of Thomas, and Aphrahat, who is our main source for the Covenanters (bnay and bnath qiama).
And third, there was an equally dramatic increase in eremitism, sanctioned by the Classic of Filial Piety's injunction to pao-ch'uan.
74 I suggest below that eremitism also occurred when the individual found himself unable to decide between conflicting goals of equal weight.
Hearkening back directly to Han "exemplary eremitism,"(14) during the Six Dynasties the nomination of candidates whose forte was feigning the lofty conduct of a man-in-reclusion continued as a sort of mutated vestige of the earlier recommendatory system.
Approbation of men in reclusion led many of the scholar-official class to assume, simulate, or affect the conduct and rationale of such exemplars, and led to the recognition of "exemplary eremitism" (see below) within the official recommendatory system; the sanctioning of "exemplary eremitism" in turn fostered the entrenchment of topoi of reclusion in the scholar-official ethos.
Vervoorn writes about "hermits" and "eremitism," in his terminology, but most of his conclusions are in terms of officialdom and the role of the "eremitic tradition" in political culture; indeed, a very substantial number of the "hermits" he treats, in point of fact, were office-holders.
Approbation of men in reclusion led many of the scholar-official class to assume, simulate, or affect the conduct and rationale of such exemplars, and led to the recognition of "exemplary eremitism" within the official recommendatory system; the sanctioning of "exemplary eremitism" in turn fostered the entrenchment of topoi of reclusion in the scholar-official ethos.