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In his new book, “The Pursuit of Salvation. Community, Space, and Discipline in Monasticism” (Brepolis Publishers, 2021), Maxwell School faculty member Albrecht Diem provides a new view on the emergence of monastic life in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages–an institution and form of life that had a deep impact on Western culture.

His book revolves around a hardly studied seventh-century monastic rule for nuns which he was able to identify as the work of the eminent hagiographer Jonas of Bobbio. This discovery profoundly alters the narrative of the impact of Irish monasticism in Europe. Diem shows that the topics addressed in this rule, such as hierarchy, authority, space, love, confession, silence, sleep, mutual care, exclusion and education, lend themselves to writing a new history of monasticism that replaces the traditional narrative. His book also challenges the traditional narrative of monasticism by placing texts related to female religious life in the center and by showing that nuns and abbesses played a formative role for the development of medieval monasticism, male and female alike.

The book was published with open access

Diem, associate professor of history, works on the late antiquity and early medieval periods. He publishes on the history of monasticism, hagiography, theology, pastoral care, gender and queer studies. He received a Ph.D. at the University of Utrecht in 2000.