On examining these definitions one things is clear: none of them clearly defines those with whom Basil is dealing as against ‘ordinary Christians’, as the word ‘monk’ does today. Certain texts imply a boundary, but the main boundary, as in Longer Rule 32 on the parents of brothers, is between those who live ‘kata theon’, who are devout, and the worldly. In the Asceticon, composed over two or three decades, we can see various situations and a gradual development of institutions and hardening of boundaries, but Basil’s ascetic teaching, which was also given in all its rigour in Homilies addressed to wider audiences, was addressed to all Christians. It was only in the context of later developments that the Asceticon came to be seen as a purely monastic document.

Augustine Holmes OSB. A Life Pleasing to God. The Spirituality of the Rules of St Basil. London, DLT, 2000.54

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