The Rule of St Benedict, written around 1500 years ago by the Italian monk St Benedict of Nursia, is a slim handbook for monastic life - a subject many modern readers would regard as relatively niche. It is, however, also a model of the organized and clearly expressed thought produced by good reasoning skills - a mainstay of critical thinking.
Reasoning is all about making a good case for something, through logical arguments, neatly and systematically organised. In Benedict's case, his main concern was to lay out a set of rules and practices that would allow monasteries to run as well-organised communities. Communal living presented huge challenges, and yet it was also, Benedict believed, the best way for monks to sustain themselves, their religion, and the learning and teaching that went with it. His Rule laid out concise but detailed chapters on the best way to achieve this, including provisions for all areas of personal and communal discipline, right down to how tasks might be allotted to individual monks.
Providing a complete roadmap for successfully running a community, the concise brilliance of The Rule has even been suggested by some business professors as useful model for running small businesses today.
Dr Benjamin Laird gained his PhD on the early circulation of St Paul's letters at the University of Aberdeen. He currently teaches in the School of Divinity at Liberty University.
Ways in to the text Who was St Benedict of Nursia? What does Rule of St Benedict say? Why does Rule of St Benedict matter? Section 1: Influences Module 1: The Author and the Historical Context Module 2: Academic Context Module 3: The Problem Module 4: The Author's Contribution Section 2: Ideas Module 5: Main Ideas Module 6: Secondary Ideas Module 7: Achievement Module 8: Place in the Author's Work Section 3: Impact Module 9: The First Responses Module 10: The Evolving Debate Module 11: Impact and Influence Today Module 12: Where Next? Glossary of Terms People Mentioned in the Text Works Cited