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The Rule of Saint Benedict

(Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library)

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  5,655 ratings  ·  246 reviews
Composed nearly fifteen hundred years ago by the father of Western monasticism, The Rule of St. Benedict has for centuries been the guide of religious communities. St. Benedict's rules of obedience, humility, and contemplation are not only prerequisites for formal religious societies, they also provide an invaluable model for anyone desiring to live more simply. While they ...more
Paperback, 112 pages
Published March 24th 1998 by Vintage (first published 530)
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Luca "Codex 914" in the monastic library of St. Gall in Switzerland is considered to be the "most authentic" for a few reasons. Charlemagne commissioned th…more"Codex 914" in the monastic library of St. Gall in Switzerland is considered to be the "most authentic" for a few reasons. Charlemagne commissioned the copy, and there is a surviving letter from a monk called Paul Warnefried that accompanied the copy to Aachen, Charlemagne's imperial capital in present-day Germany, stating the "Codex 914" was copied from Benedict's original at Monte Cassino, which also happened to be St. Benedict's monastery. The copy traveled with Grimault to St. Gall in 841, where it has remained ever since.

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Aug 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you read this for entertainment you will be sorely disappointed. If you read this as a guide to life, and you are not a monk, you will be sorely disappointed. If you read this with an eye toward how one might live a more calm and disciplined life, adjusting what was written in to Sixth century, to the present day, you might just find what you are looking for.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a set of rules that St. Benedict came up with for cloistered orders. Much of it holds true today and should be used in non cloistered life as well.

The key word in this writing was Humility.
Bryce Wilson
May 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
I've often thought that the monastic order is the high-point of my religion. No power, no ambition, just simple and just service to God and man.

Therefore I thought I'd read the beginning of that order. My sympathies are much more in align with the Franciscans then the Benedictions which is to put it gently, a little harsh. A surprisingly large amount of the book deals with Benedict's disdain for laughter and or grumbling.

Alot of this slight volume is simply not very useful to the layman, unless
One of my favorite things about the Rule of St. Benedict is how kind it is. I think that the popular perception of medieval monks is still filled with hair shirts and flagellation, or, at best, an authoritarian abbot lording over servile monks. Those things aren't made up and they certainly had their place in a medieval monastery. But Benedict's writing gives a much better idea of what it was actually like most of the time - a rather difficult life, and a daunting lack of privacy, but overall a ...more
Carsten Thomsen
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
My planned reading of spiritual classics have been quite slow. But here's one that I can recommend. These Rules have greatly influenced monasteries around the world until this day.

They begin with some general reflections on piety that all Christians can benefit from - then he goes on with more specific rules for the monks. There's a spirit here of love and humility and grace - but a lot of the Rules do seem very strict (specially on not talking and not laughing).

OK, there are also some funny Ru
Read all my reviews on

I'm nearing the end of the Little Black Classics collection and The Rule of Benedict was next up.

Ever wondered what rules you would have to follow as a medieval monk?
- Me neither.

Part of this book is which prayers need to be said by whom at what hour on what day during which period of the year. This would maybe be interesting for people very much into this topic, but I got very little from it. Some more general parts on how one should
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
It encourages me to grow in the life of faith. The more we have progress in our active faith, the greater we expand in our hearts. The Rule of Saint Benedict says, "When faith makes that progress, the heart is expanded, and is borne along with the indescribable sweetness of love." Lord, grant me such happiness that may expand, stretch and launch out into the deep in You as you asked Peter to. Bring Your own life to my faith and make it such living, vibrant faith, so that I may conquer and gain Y ...more
May 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mooc, religion
I don't think I'm going to be joining a nunnery anytime soon.
Nov 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
For most of us to read this work is to enter another world. Not only is this written in the 6th century AD but it is written about a kind of experience, the truly monastic life, that few of us will experience, much less understand. So what is the worth of this work?

First of all, the choice of a monastic life is the choice to pursue a greater love of God and holiness of life through poverty, simplicity, submission, and stability in a community. For those who don't choose monastic communities, it
I purchased this kindle version of the Rule of St. Benedict after reading about this religious text in The Cloister Walk, and wanting to see for myself what was contained in this book that the Benedictines base their lifestyle on.

I find the monastic lifestyle facinating, and can highly respect their ascetic beliefs, and their reasonable, moderate, balanced approach to faith and life. The book is a guide written by St. Benedict, which covers basically everything relating to the monastic lifestyle
Eye of Sauron
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, christian
You might think me strange, but I've always found monastic life appealing. Liberated from material worries, the unraveling catastrophe of popular culture, and really bad pop music, and free to spend all day in contemplation and prayer.

Yes, I know that's an odd worldview for a virtually reincarnated Lord of Evil, but let's just say I've seen the Light.

St. Benedict's Rule has been the foundation for monasteries for centuries, and it's a wonderful set of rules to ensure that the material world does
Jan 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How do you review a book like this? I mean, there are many nuggets of wisdom throughout that can be beneficial for any reader. But the whole purpose of writing it was to create a rule for monks. Thus, many of the rules on excommunication and daily order of life for monks are more difficult to apply to contemporary non-monastic life. It would be tempting to give it fewer stars since I did not enjoy it nearly as much as a book like Foster's Celebration of Discipline. But that is more my problem th ...more
Hannah Notess
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: translated
I mean, there's not a lot of books this old that people are using for guidance to live their daily lives. Everyone gets kitchen duty. Minus one star for the suggestion that if children are out of line, you should beat them, because they won't understand getting excommunicated. I guess times do change.
Apr 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to booklady by: Kathleen Norris
Although I’ve read and listened to The Rule of St. Benedict several times since first being introduced to it twelve or so years ago, a monastic retreat given by Abbot Lawrence Stasyszen O.S.B. from St. Gregory's University at the abbey breathed life into the words of this 1500 year old document. The Rule of St. Benedict, or simply ‘the Rule’ (or RB) was written by St. Benedict of Nursia, considered by some the Father of Western Monasticism and his Rule—which are guidelines for living in communi ...more
Read this as part of a Great Texts course at Baylor that I'm unofficially auditing.

About the Vintage Spiritual Classics
xi: turn from the therapeutic
xii-xiii: lector divina as an act of prayer

xv: Benedict was fed up with Roman paganism [cf. Martin Luther in 1510-11]
xvii: rules can be abused (sadists and masochists); it's interesting how much the Moore stresses an allegorical interpretation of Benedict's rule, as if he knows the stringency will turn many people off
xviii: modern = individual
Sep 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This slim volume is just what it says, a book of rules. Rules for Benedictine monks of the Middle Ages. Which must make it seem an odd choice of reading for a middle-aged housewife of no religious orientation. But, I enjoyed it for it was.
John Angerer
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is the perfect, simple, well translated rule of st. Benedict. Short of the brief history of how the rule came to pass, it is purely the rule with little explication. I highly recommend this book if you are interested in Benedict's order, rule or monastic life.
Some good insights, but monkishness was a bad idea in the first place.
Read for the Great Conversation second semester of freshman year.
Nick Shelton
Jul 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know, how one can really "rate" a book that is a rule for monks?
What does that mean? How well it worked? If so then it's been successful for 15 centuries and gave the world Cluny in it's hay day?
If it brings about sanctity? Not for everyone, because not everyone is called to be a monk, but certainly think of the great monastic saints of the Western Church, or even St. Benedict himself!
Yes it was a incredibly boring read, but it's equivalent to reading to constitution. I was displeased to
Andrew Marr
This is the most comprehensive commentary on the Rule of St. Benedict available in English. It's dry reading but highly informative when read along with Benedict's Rule. Kardong refers to all the major commentators on the Rule world-wide so that this book gives the reader access to a broad range of interpretation of this important document. I make extensive use of this commentary in my book "Tools for Peace: the Spiritual Craft of Benedict and René Girard." You can check out my blog "Imaginary V ...more
Jordan Magnuson
First reading: 2005 (RB 1982)
Second reading: 2016 (Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's contemporary paraphrase)

Almost certainly the most significant work ever written on intentional community living. In a world where Utopian visions and good intentions are plentiful, here we have a rule that has withstood the test of 1500 years of day in, day out practice by communities all over the world.

I enjoyed Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's contemporary paraphrase more than I expected to: it manages to stick quite cl
Blair Hodgkinson
Primary sources always make for some of the best research materials for a student of the Middle Ages and this is a fine example. Reading the Rule of St. Benedict has offered incredible insight into how medieval monks (at least those who subscribed to this Rule) would have acted or seen their role within the context of their society. It is very helpful for understanding the monastic frame of mind. It certainly illustrates how much of the Rule's purpose was to create obedience by crushing oppositi ...more
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christianity
Simple. Pious. Quite enjoyable. An interesting treatise into one of the most influential rules of monastic life. I was drawn in to how holistic and comprehensive a sacrificial (selfless, charitable) life can be. Counter-intuitive to 21st century Western notions of the elevation of the individual. This book outlines a true communal lifestyle.
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is at least the fourth time I have read the Holy Rule, still a phenomenal little guide. I love how much emphasis St. Benedict places on time spent reading, and how reading should be a part of everyone's day.

Just read this again today (10 Nov 2012) and I am struck by how moderate this is, so perfectly balanced between the ideal and real life.
Aug 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a classic, of course, and one that I read regularly every fall just as I'm getting ready for school. I like the Benedictine stress on integrating work, learning and prayer, so I identify with much of what is in here, even if I do work in a secular school. The stress on hospitality is central to the way I approach teaching, so I always like to review.
I found interesting so many references to discipline for misbehavior, to the point of banishing the offender from the monastery. I tend to think of monks as being righteous, and most of them were, but this was a reminder that sin exists everywhere.
Andrew Marr
The translation of Benedict's Rule is not perfect (which one is?) but it is good. The footnotes and accompanying essays of this full edition are valuable & make this book a top priority for anyone interested in reading about Benedictine spiriutality ...more
Rivka D.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it liked it
I'd make a terrible monk. I don't think any of this sounded like fun . And I'm a woman, so...
All this to say, this was very insightful and I don't regret reading it the second time through.
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
I listened to a version of this.
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Benedict of Nursia (Italian: San Benedetto da Norcia) (c. 480 – 543 or 547) is a Christian saint, honoured by the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church as the patron saint of Europe and students.

Benedict founded twelve communities for monks at Subiaco, Italy (about 40 miles (64 km) to the east of Rome), before moving to Monte Cassino in the mountains of southern Italy. The Order of St Benedict i

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“Idleness is the enemy of the soul; and therefore the brethren ought to be employed in manual labor at certain times, at others, in devout reading.” 34 likes
“The first degree of humility is prompt obedience.” 21 likes
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