Church History

Research Article

Formulas for Salvation: A Comparison of Two Byzantine Monasteries and their Founders

Ann Wharton Epsteina1

a1 Ms. Epstein is assistant professor of history of art in Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

In the Christian world during the late fourth through the sixth centuries various strains of monastic life developed, from extreme eremitic isolation to the communal discipline of the cenobia. These different types of monastic life continued to evolve through the Middle Ages. Though most specialists are aware of the multiplicity of patterns of monastic life which are found within both the Latin and the Byzantine spheres, they have been less concerned with what informs these traditional patterns.1This paper attempts to isolate some differences in modes of monastic life in the eastern empire during the Komnenian period and then to explain those differences in terms of the founders' distinct conceptions of salvation.2 The analysis compares two founders—John II Komnenos and Neophytos—and the monastic life led in their respective institutions—the Pantocrator monastery in Constantinople and the Enkleistra in the provincial milieu of Byzantine Cyprus. These two monasteries have been selected not only because they represent extreme examples of their types, but also because rich artistic and literary documentation survives from both.