Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Deans as leaders of a group of ten

I am reading a book by Joan Chittister, The Rule of Benedict, A Spirituality for the 21st Century.

I find it interesting that a manual written many hundreds of years ago has so much to tell us about how to live a measured life. Joan Chittister's commentary explains how we can learn from Benedict's wisdom.

The idea is to read one section each day, but I've fallen behind and today arrived at the entry for February 26, where I  noticed this:
If the community is rather large, some chosen for their good repute and holy life should be made deans. They will take care of their groups of ten...
Whoa, I said to myself - 'groups of ten.' Hmm...dean does seem to have some resemblance to the Greek word for 'ten, or the Latin word.

So I looked it up in the Online Etymology Dictionary, and bingo! It means someone who has charge of ten people.

dean (n.)early 14c., from Old French deien (12c., Modern French doyen), from Late Latin decanus "head of a group of 10 monks in a monastery," from earlier secular meaning "commander of 10 soldiers" (which was extended to civil administrators in the late empire), from Greek dekanos, from deka "ten" (from PIE root *dekm- "ten"). Replaced Old English teoĆ°ingealdor. College sense is from 1570s (in Latin from late 13c.).

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