Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity: The Early Church to the Reformation. Revised and Updated ed. Vol. 1. New York: HarperCollins, 2010. Kindle Electronic Edition.
Ch. 15, “The Monastic Reaction” Loc. 2927-3213.
While some, like Eusebius of Caesarea, were enthusiastic about Constantine’s openness to Christianity, there were others “who bemoaned what they saw as the low level to which the Christian life had descended” (Gonzalez 2010, Loc. 2931). There was a strong temptation to become comfortable in indistinct witness. By leaving society, a sort of martyrdom was possible (Ibid., Loc. 2948). This was the root of the monastic movement. Celibacy as a sign of the heavenly future, as well as attempts to mortify the flesh, became common, partly as a result of Greek philosophical influences (Ibid., Loc. 2970). To pursue this life, the desert of Egypt became a popular destination (Ibid., Loc. 2982). Gonzalez describes the monastic origins by discussing Jerome’s account of Paul and of Anthony, two early monasts (Loc. 3000). Monasticism tended to coalesce into communities, as evidenced by Pachomius (Ibid., Loc. 3066), an early organizer of the communal monasticism described as “cenobitic.” various such communities began to form around the start of the fourth century. The monastic ideal spread throughout Christianity from Egypt (Ibid., Loc. 3140). Gonzalez notes strong monastic influences in Jerome, Augustine, and Martin of Tours. “The ideal Christian life was one of personal poverty and sharing of goods” (Ibid., Loc. 3204).