Pachomius, who died in 346, has long been regarded as the "founder of monasticism." Available again, Philip Rousseau's careful reading of the available texts reveals that Pachomius's pioneering enterprise has been consistently misread in light of later monastic practices. Rousseau not only provides a fuller and more accurate portrait of this great teacher and spiritual director but also gives a new perspective on the development of monasticism. In a new preface Rousseau reviews the scholarly developments that have modified his views and emphases since the book was published. The result is to make Pachomius an even less assured pioneer, a man likely to have been more involved in the village and urban society of his time than previously thought.
Philip Rousseau is Associate Professor of History at the University of Auckland. He is the author of Basil of Caesarea (California, 1995).