What kinds of contributions did the monks make to European society?
Without monks, western society would not be what it is. Their constant practice of physical labor changed the views of the common citizen from perceiving physical labor as a job for slaves into a manly and rewarding job, fit for the best. The monks’ famous practice of repairing religious and secular documents into beautiful readable condition contributed greatly to the preservation and advancement of European society’s knowledge base. Members of religious orders were actually the most learned people of their time. Their devotion to knowledge led to the construction of many schools. Huge leaps and bounds in agricultural and technological discoveries allowed them to live independently, which in turn saved much of their technology even while kingdoms fell and rose around them. They even practiced metallurgy, nearly an unheard of practice in their time. But for monks, the fall of Rome would’ve knocked out all of our wifi because no technology would have been saved from the dark ages and beyond.
What was the attitude of most Christian writers toward the philosophers of ancient Greece?
Although some oddball Christian writers scoffed at the philosophers of ancient Greece, most of these writers loved their fellow Greek authors’ work. They believed that everyone should read the ancient texts for their educated and perceptive content. The Christian writers believed that the Greeks were groping at something that Christianity fulfilled. Remember Plato and his “Allegory of the Cave”? Plato pointed out that most people only see what they can divine with their senses and are not aware of reality or truth—but Christian writers took that further and said that reality and truth are the belief in Christ and the following of his teachings. Even though the known world at the time was governed by the Romans, the culture remained essentially Greek so the Christians were not influenced much by the Romans. Therefore, with the exception of a few, the Christian writers were drawn in by Greek philosophy and further expanded it to include moralistic thinking with what they knew about Christ as God.