Talk:Rule of Saint Benedict

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Collaboration here of Benedictine "specialists" and "non-specialists"[edit]

Is it possible for secular Wikipedians who wish to understand the historical importance of the RB, and for ecclesiastical Wikipedians who wish to portray the message of the RB, to work together and create an article that accomplishes both? Stbalbach 05:29, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

Yes. JHCC 17:09, 10 May 2005 (UTC)

This spirit had been presupposed by this new Wikipedian nun... so that Christ "may bring us ALL TOGETHER to Life Eternal" (cf. Rule ch. 72.12)!! Many thanks for adding headings - great improvement. Have gratefully built on it. Also restored certain explanation to show compassion for those concerned with women's issues (see e.g. the official OSB website). Hope to have ruffled no feathers.

hello, some edits and rationals below under the assumption that the typical reader of this article has no religious background (or, no Christian background), Wikipedia is afterall a general resource for the world at large. These may sound like basic/dumb comments to those whose lives are devotees but for the rest of us we need hand holding and clarification.

"..a book of precepts"

Precept is not a commonly known or used word outside of religious circles. Can we clarify this for the general reader? It is afterall, the "Rule". Thats what it is, rules. Laws so to speak. And its not just any book of precepts, it was the first I believe.

"..under the authority of an abbot."

Is this important to be in the lead section? How come this and not other facts about Benedictine life? Are Benedictines ever not under an Abbot? Lead section is high level summary of most important information.

"..For the past 1500 years its moderation has made it a leading religious Rule for both monks and nuns."

Moderation seems POV, perhaps we should not expand on why its been so popular, historically, in the lead section, without further historical exposition in the body.

..Today it is normative for many religious communities worldwide that, after their Rule giver..

copy edit for clarity for your approval.

Stbalbach 02:25, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

Good morning!
Agreed: the entry needs to be clear even to the non-specialist reader, or rather: especially to the non-specialist reader, as (s)he is the only one likely to look up the topic.
a) Re: "precepts":
Prologue 1 in Latin has (cf. Timothy Fry, RB 1980): "Obsculta, o fili, praecepta magistri". So the loan word "precepts" [of the master] is a satisfactory rendering, not least in view of the fact that - after the delightful turn of phrase "et inclina aurem cordis tui" ("and incline the ear of your heart") - the text continues as follows: "et admonitionem pii patris libenter excipe et efficaciter comple" ("and willingly accept and effectively carry out the admonition/reminder/friendly caution given by a loving father") and in Prologue 3 has: "Ad te ergo nunc mihi sermo dirigutur" ("To you then my words are now addressed").
The Prologue concludes with an aside: "Regula appellatur ab hoc quod oboedientum dirigat mores" ("It is called Rule because it directs/guides straight the lives of those who obey").
In the concluding chapter 73 we read: "Regulam autem hanc descripsimus" (verse 1, "We have written this Rule") and "Quisquis ergo ad patriam caelestem festinas, hanc minimam inchoationis regulam descriptam, adiuvante Christo, perfice" (verse 8b, "Therefore whoever you are who are hastening toward the heavenly fatherland, first with the help of Christ carry out fully this very small Rule for beginners that we have written").
For this reason I had proposed to say that "the Rule of St Benedict is a book of precepts", on the assumption that it is not acceptable in an encyclopedia entry to go into the detail of the fatherly tenderness that is expressed in the opening of the Prologue, and that comes through again towards the end in the turn of phrase "this very small Rule". It reminds one of Christ's words that his yoke is light... The Rule of St Benedict is not intended to be a law ("lex") to chafe under but a "plank"/pattern/model whereby one allows oneself to be guided [in the way to the heavenly fatherland].
The sources of RB (i.e. the Rule of St Benedict) is still an unresolved question (see e.g. article on the subject in Timothy Fry, RB 1980). Instead of saying a "collection of precepts" I therefore considered it safer to say a "book of precepts", which refers to what we now have and may not be misunderstood as an indication of the process of its coming into existence.
As regards your assumption that RB is "not just any book of precepts, it was the first", this view is difficult to defend. In addition to Timothy Fry's RB 1980, may I refer you to "Early Monastic Rules" by C. V. Franklin, I. Havener and J. A. Francis (trs.), Collegeville 1982.
2) Re: "under the authority of an Abbot".
This Rule was intended not for just any monk but for a very specific kind of monks, the "cenobites", who he goes on to explain are "those who live in a monastery, serving under a rule and an abbot" (cf. Rule ch. 1.13). For the other of the four kinds of monks identified by St Benedict see Rule ch 1.3-12: e.g. the "third kind of monks", "the dreadful Sarabaites", are said there to be "without a shepherd", i.e. an abbot.
Therefore I advocate to reinstate in the opening paragraph "under the authority of an abbot" as a crucial characteristic.
3) Re: "Moderation seems POV".
Forgive my ignorance: I have no clue what POV is - politically overtly vicious??? The term "moderation" has nothing to do with any bias. It is often encountered in the specialist literature where it is argued that RB was crafted precisely to temper the excessive zeal of earlier Rules that tended to kill the spirit with the letter (for what St Benedict has to say on "good zeal" and "bad zeal" see Rule ch. 72), and to make it feasible to live by the precepts whilst upholding the purpose of the monastic vocation.
So, unless someone has the time to write a paragraph about the beginnings of Christian monasticism, the term "moderation" nicely sums up the need for RB and the reason for its subsequent success.
4) Re: "after their Rule giver".
I am no native English speaker. My apologies, and many thanks for improving my English!
P.S.: Also sincere apologies for not yet having worked through the Wiki user instructions. Seems I have to order in some mid-night oil and elbow grease to acquaint myself with them...
God bless!
Portress X, 11 May 2005.
P.P.S.: Please note that there was an overlap: first para and under the heading Significance. It seemed better placed in the latter position. If desirable, maybe change the heading from Significance to Influence?
Portress X, 11 May 2005, 0656.
P.S. once more: In case the problem of RB's possible source(s) interests you: You can also look at L. Eberle (tr.), "The Rule of the Master", Kalamazoo 1977.

JHCC - the precepts link is probably not appropriate to this article, would you not agree?

It would be hard for me to agree, considering that I wrote the Precepts article! (The link previously redirected to Pancasila.) If we want to "clarify [what a precept is] for the general reader", why not in a separate article? If there is a specifically Benedictine meaning to "precept" (which there is not, of which I am aware), then we can add that in the Precept article, just as I already did for the Pancasila/Five Precepts. Otherwise, as Portress's remarks above make clear, the content of the Precepts article is exactly on point.
This is especially true if you consider the passage that Portress quotes from the Prologue: "Regula appellatur ab hoc quod oboedientum dirigat mores". Here, I would disagree with the translation Portress provides. Mores (from Mors) is does not mean lives so much as custom, usage or practice generally or, in a particularly moral context, as conduct, behavior, or morals [1]. (Think of Cicero's lament O tempora! O mores!; "What times! What morals!") Hence, the Rule directs the morals and behaviour of the one who obeys it. JHCC 20:44, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

Portress(?) - Per the Wikipedia "guidelines", on how articles should be structured, the opening lead section (the part before the Table of Contents) should be a summary of what is contained in the article. It is a summary of the most important points of the article. It should be entirely a repeat of what is contained in the article. Usually it is the last part written after the article is allready done, so we are still working on it.

Everything you have written here in "Talk" should be in the article. The problems of sources and authorship. I dont know anything about it, but its relevant and important. Did St.Benedict not write the Rule?

Regarding "Moderation" this needs to be explained more clearly so the reader understands what it means, we are not experts. We assume the reader knows nothing, the more simple explanation the better.

Stbalbach 19:00, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

Re: Opening para.[edit]

To the best of my knowledge, the Benedictines ("Confoederatio Benedictina Ordinis Sancti Benedicti") are NOT an "order" in the sense as lay people understand this term (despite frequent assertions to the contrary), so that the use of the term "Order of St Benedict" in an encyclopedia without a mention at least of this important crucial distinction my well be misguiding the non-specialist reader. (Incidentally, Benedict of Nursia did not found an "order", again despite assertions to the contrary.) The Benedictine Houses are autonomous, as are the Congregations into which they have affiliated themselves (cf. [[2]]; also the rudimentary article Benedictine). When a week or so ago I had been hurridly tinkering with an earlier version of this article that betrayed a great deal of enthusiam but not the same amount of authoritative insight, and without wanting to be drawn into the details, I had therefore been treading rather carefully by circumventing the whole question of "order". If the version that I proposed at that time of this particular issue is not to be restored – and I admit that there is ample scope for improvement – (... under the authority of an abbot. For the past 1500 years its moderation has made it a leading Rule for both monks and nuns. Today it is normative for many religious communities worldwide ... Benedictine Confederation based in Rome.), I strongly recommend to express this point more pertinently than in the present version. Portress 11:13, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

No argument with any of this, except to point out that a discussion of the "Order" issue is more pertinent in the Order of Saint Benedict article. No harm in mentioning it here, but keep the full explanation at OSB. JHCC 14:04, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

Also this present version of the opening para has removed the express mention of nuns that, during my earlier editing, I had combined with another point, thereby avoiding the lengthier explanation given further down. Political correctness had not been on my mind, when I proposed the version I did, but the peculiarity of the fact that a Rule expressly written for men has been embraced for 1500 years as a guide for religious living by both men and women. Portress 11:32, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

It seems to me that we should keep the intro as simple as possible, with fuller explanation below. I'll change to "monks and nuns" to make that a little more explicit, but I don't think more than that is needed in the top paragraph.JHCC 14:04, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

The Protestants have to be mentioned separately, since they (on the Continent and elsewhere) are not Anglicans. Portress 11:38, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

Are there any non-Anglican Protestant Benedictines? If so, yes, include them, but I was under the impression that the only non-RC Benedictines were Anglican (or Episcopalian, as we say over here). JHCC 14:04, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

The present juxtaposition of "social interaction" and "hermits" may suggest to some readers that the latter are misanthropists. According to the Rule, Saint Benedict considers it more helpful that only those who have been fortified first by life in the community proceed to live as hermits. He himself started out as a hermit and therefore knows the difficulties this poses, hence advocates the reverse process. Portress 11:48, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

This would be good to include in the "History" section. I'll give it a stab, but please don't hesitate to edit it yourself. JHCC 14:04, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

Stbalbach, good edit on the opening. I've made a few changes, in particular that the RB was the first Western ascetic rule. It was not. The RB was preceded in the West by the Rules of Augustine, Cassian, and the Rule of the Master, and it shows their influence. JHCC 23:34, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

It is my understanding that the rule was originally written for Lay individuals and it wasn't untill the benedictines we converted (for lack of a better term) into an order that the Rule was used by monks. I am not sure it is correct to say it was written for monks living in community. It would seem more correct to write that it was written for lay people seeking to live the Biblical principles out in everyday life.

St. Anthony[edit]

Christian monasticism originated in the East a few generations before Benedict, under the leadership of Saint Anthony the Great (251-356) in the deserts of Egypt.

Is this accurate? From what little I know he didnt actually organize (ie. lead), he was solitary ascetic who gave advice and influenced others wanted to be like him, but without living solitary under such extreme conditions. It was St. Marcarius who created the first proto-monestary cells and Pachomious who organized these cells into the first monestary. Stbalbach 23:54, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

Revisiting after a few hours absence on a Wiki-detour I am flabberghasted to find an expansion on origins before St Benedict. Is is not adequate to refer the reader to the article Christian Monasticism? Otherwise, there is no end to editing the same stuff in various contexts.

Portress 03:18, 15 May 2005 (UTC)

No its relevant context needed to understand the origin of RB, you cant assume the reader is going to click to other articles, people re-use Wikipedia in various ways (this article may be printed on paper by someone), each article stands on its own. The concern of endless editing is un-warranted, irrelevant material can easily be deleted on grounds of being irrelevant. A single paragrah summary of the history of monasticism is appropriate and needed. Its in chronological order like any history article, there should be no concern of favoritism or placement as a sign of importance. Stbalbach 04:37, 15 May 2005 (UTC)

Editing advice to avoid "edit conflicts" and losing work[edit]

Dear Stbalbach, endless editing (such as knocking the same material into shape in more than one place) is a waste of time. Maybe you are not accountable for yours, but I am for mine.

Now, why I am here right now: not yet having had a wink of sleep so far (0655 hrs) because of Wiki matters, I have just been startled by the warning that there is an editing conflict, that someone else worked on the same file since I have started editing it. Fair enough. But then I noticed that what I have done has simply vanished. I understand that work can subsequently be altered, in which case there is a complete record in "history". But in this case, I have no record at all of the corrections I had made. Maybe the programmers can do something about it, e.g. that one can at least print out the emendations before they disappear altogether, so that one can restore them later on from the hard copy. - Otherwise I cannot take the risk to contribute editing efforts.

Portress 06:08, 15 May 2005 (UTC)

Portress, that is a common problem, sorry to hear you lost work. Next time that happens, what you do is use the web browser back button, back up till you get back to the edit page. It will be there saved. Then you cut and paste your work to save it, then re-paste it in. Its a problem for everyone. I might suggest also this. When you are working on an article, create a tag at the top of the page to let people know you are working on it, and to not make any changes until you are done.

For example this tag {inusefor|a few hours by Stbalbach} shows up like this:

In this place Stbalbach had displayed – by way of demonstration only – the green "inusefor" box; but its side effect was that it caused a "Category" box at the foot of this Talk Page appearing that said that this article is undergoing major editing. This is useful in the case of an article, but not an appropriate category for a Talk Page; and the demo has therefore now been deleted. However, any other visitor to this Talk Page interested in using the "inusefor" tag can easily re-create it (and/or the demo) by following Stbalbach's supplementary information given below:

You can replace the "a few hours by" with what whatever. Make sure to use {{ not a single { when adding to the article so it shows up (I used a single { for illustrative purposes). Stbalbach 15:59, 15 May 2005 (UTC)

Dear Stbalbach, very many thanks for your commiseration and generous advice that lifted the gloom. Such a nice community, the Wikipedians! – As to the present state of the article, I have noticed it listed by the Searchy engine; and, until someone comes along with some sound expansions – and so much more can be said about this subject –, in this beginner's opinion it now seems both a factually correct/defensible and rounded enough presentation – thanks to all who have laboured at bringing about this stage in the true Wikipedian spirit!

Portress 17:32, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

Your welcome Portress, it is rewarding to see the article improve and be noticed on search engines. Hopefully this will be of some use for someone for whatever reason. We never hear when people benefit. If it shows up in high ranking on Google, that means there are web sites which link to it, which is a good sign. Stbalbach 04:48, 17 May 2005 (UTC)


I'm changing "The RB by SB purports to be a book of precepts..." to "The RB by SB is a book of precepts..." It doesn't purport to be, it is. If the question is the issue of SB's authorship, we should say "The RB, attributed to SB, is a book of precepts...", but the RB does not purport to be a book of precepts any more than Wikipedia purports to be an online encyclopedia. I'm also going to try to untangle some of the syntax a bit lower down. JHCC 14:47, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

Dear Stbalbach & JHCC, (Had chanced upon the website of Montecassino and rushed to provide a link to an early title page of the Rule that they display and only belatedly realised that Wiki has an article on the monastery and a link to it, so had to correct myself on this page. Sorry!!!) Thanks for the little touches here and there! I am happy with "is". As regards the change of commas into semi-colons, em, well, I accept that there may be different schools... Concerning the "syntax": thought it was grammatically ok; but had not intended to torture the language. Mea culpa. Many thanks for your patience & help!

Portress 23:57, 18 May 2005 (UTC)

P.S.: Is the "Category" still considered ok and complete, pls?

(Sorry, deleted the query that I had put here and subsequently found to be irrelevant in the form I had put it, and am now restoring an internal link lost owing to my tinkering. My apologies!)

Portress 21:28, 25 May 2005 (UTC) & 21:51, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

Picture of St Benedict[edit]

1) It is not fair on unsuspecting readers (e.g. first-time visitors who may not be familiar with the copyright info symbol) to entitle the picture "St Benedict...", for they might reckon with the possibility that this is a true likeness of him, perhaps a retouched copy of a contemporary mural, when in fact this is nothing but one of the many artist's impressions of him. Should the artist and date not also be stated below the picture to make this clear?

2) Nice to have a picture of St Benedict in Wiki. But why does it have to be used in more than one article? It may seem a bit overwhelming. Are there no other representations of him around that may be reproduced without copyright infringement?

Portress 22:25, 30 May 2005 (UTC)

"monks ... living in community"[edit]

Have restored "living in community", furthermore changed a link to connect to Christian monasticism (as the previous editor Stbalbach obviously intended) in order to overcome the redundancy of the adjective "monastic" (in view of the presence already of the term "monks", "monastic" being derived from the same root Grk monos, conveying the notion of "single", apparently not in the sense of solitary living but as regards the aim of this way of living, namely its focus being solely on God) which was creating here a wrong emphasis (owing in no small measures also to the fact that, intended to provide a link, the adjective happened to be underlined) where used by same previous editor. These emendations are no nit-picking but reflect the RB concept of monks living in community, which is the only type of monks RB concerns itself with. Among the "four types of monks" listed in RB there are also the "anchorites"/"hermits", which are monks living in the desert (i.e. "monastic desert living"), the contrast in RB therefore being community-desert rather than, for example, monastic-political. In other words, in the context of this present paragraph it is not a matter of the adjective "monastic" qualifying "community living", although in another context, e.g. a non-RB context, that turn of phrase may be appropriate, i.e. in an article dealing with the types of living in community (e.g. "political community living"). 09:33, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

Added info on two stout monks[edit]

I added a section on the popular (and false) urban legend that the Rule of St Benedict instructs that "two stout monks" to be used to expel unruly or disruptive pilgrims. --EngineerScotty 03:03, 18 January 2006 (UTC)

Les Miserables[edit]

Victor Hugo's famous work had a lot to say on the Rule of St. Benadict. Add some of it? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 16:39, 28 December 2006 (UTC).

The Urban Legend[edit]

Is this really necessary?

After all, it seems that the author that added it also said that it was inaccurate. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 19:38, 7 March 2007 (UTC).


Sorry I did not post an edit summary. I'm new to this; I just noticed the vandalism and wanted to fix it. I just chenged the article back to what it had been previously.

--RowellSK 04:12, 1 May 2007 (UTC)


Is the Rule in the public domain? I could not see it in Wikisource? Is it? Clarification will be appreciated. History2007 (talk) 15:22, 19 November 2011 (UTC)

It would be in public domain. Randy Kryn (talk) 23:02, 7 January 2018 (UTC)

Benedictine involvement in education[edit]

Would it be worth mentioning the contributions of the Benedictine order to academia? Could also add link to "list of Benedictine colleges and universities" as well as explain the hallmarks of benedictine education. Sodaheto (talk) 18:17, 7 November 2017 (UTC)sodaheto

The version of 09:56, 10 October 2018 has misspellings and complete phrase changes[edit]

09:56, 10 October 2018 and the revisions after 09:45, 10 October 2018 need review and edits by a caring Wikipedia user.

Keithchristian (talk) 17:46, 26 October 2018 (UTC)