This is the essay for the 14th week of the 9th Grade Tom Woods Homeschool. In this blog post, I will be answering two questions. The first one is, what contributions did the monks make to European society. The second is what was the attitude of most Christian writers toward the philosophers of ancient Greece?

What contributions did the monks make to European society?

Monks in monasteries devoted their life to God by worshiping God, singing psalms and reading Christian books. Monks not only did this but also had to maintain the monastery, provide for themselves and provide for the other monks in the monastery. If the monasteries were self-sufficient or not, depended on what kind of Christianity the monastery belonged to. For example most of the Orthodox Christian monasteries were self-sufficient and most of the Catholic monasteries contributed to society outside of the monastery. 

The contributions made by monasteries to society were social services. Most of these were education and medicine. The schools made by the monastery were used by boys who would later join the monastery but also children from the surrounding villages. The children would first learn logic, grammar and oratory. When they got older they would also learn mathematics, music and astronomy. Many of these schools became separate universities later on. For medicine, monasteries made pharmacies that studied and stored mendicants. The monks in these pharmacies would learn from medical writings. The pharmacies would treat monks, travelers, the poor, the old and basically everybody that medical needed help. The most important thing that monasteries did for society was, collect and preserve knowledge. While chaos was around them, monasteries were a safe haven of knowledge. Everything the monks did they stored. For example medicine education, agriculture, etc.

What was the attitude of most Christian writers toward the philosophers of ancient Greece?

There is a common misconception that after people became Christian, they would only believe Christian teachings and ignore all other methods of teaching. One of these methods being Greek philosophy. There is a group of Christians who do believe this, but the majority do read these other teaching methods and analyze them. The minority who do ignore these teaching methods believe that whoever read them, are heretics. The irony is that most of the Christians who do believe this become heretics themselves.

Some Christians analyze the writings of the Greek philosophers and try to learn things from them. They found things that they learned from and implemented them into Christianity. The majority of what they read where things that Greek philosophy had in common with Christianity. For example, the death of Socrates is a representation of the death of Christ. The Greek philosophers and Christians weren’t a perfect match, there were also plenty of differences that they read about. For example, the existence of reincarnation.