Virtuosity, charisma, and social order : a comparative sociological study of monasticism in Theravada Buddhism and medieval Catholicism /

Main Author: Friedrich-Silber, Ilana.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Series: Cambridge cultural social studies
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Review by Choice Review

This is a study of the place of religious virtuosity in traditional Theravada Buddhism and medieval Christianity. Silber (sociology, Hebrew Univ., Jerusalem) explores particularly the role of gift-giving in establishing a relationship between ascetics and laity. The author looks at virtuoso asceticism as both a way of spiritual perfection and a focus of social integration, criticizing theorists who deliberately neglect the role of ideology in the sociology of religious institutions. The book extends a fundamentally Weberian approach by drawing on the work of Marcel Mauss, Anthony Glidden, and Michael Mann. Although the research in this book is not original, Silber's analysis of the material raises new theoretical questions and suggests some cogent answers. Undergraduates will find it tough going, but specialists in sociology and religious studies will find it well-worth attending to. An important contribution to comparative historical sociology. Highly recommended for graduate libraries. L. E. Nelson; University of San Diego

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.