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Desert Christians by
Publication Date: 2004-06-17
In the fourth century, the deserts of Egypt became the nerve center of a radical new movement, what we now call monasticism. Groups of Christians-from illiterate peasants to learned intellectuals-moved out to the wastelands beyond the Nile Valley and, in the famous words of Saint Athanasius,made the desert a city. In so doing, they captured the imagination of the ancient world. They forged techniques of prayer and asceticism, of discipleship and spiritual direction, that have remained central to Christianity ever since. Seeking to map the soul's long journey to God and plot out thesubtle vagaries of the human heart, they created and inspired texts that became classics of Western spirituality. These Desert Christians were also brilliant storytellers, some of Christianity's finest. This book introduces the literature of early monasticism. It examines all the best-known works,including Athanasius' Life of Antony, the Lives of Pachomius, and the so-called Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Later chapters focus on two pioneers of monastic theology: Evagrius Ponticus, the first great theoretician of Christian mysticism; and John Cassian, who brought Egyptian monasticism to theLatin West. Along the way, readers are introduced to path-breaking discoveries-to new texts and recent archeological finds-that have revolutionized contemporary scholarship on monastic origins. Included are fascinating snippets from papyri and from little-known Coptic, Syriac, and Ethiopic texts.Interspersed in each chapter are illustrations, maps, and diagrams that help readers sort through the key texts and the richly-textured world of early monasticism. Geared to a wide audience and written in clear, jargon-free prose, Desert Christians offers the most comprehensive and accessibleintroduction to early monasticism.
The Desert Fathers on Monastic Community by
Publication Date: 1993-06-24
Graham Gould studies the life and thought of the Christian monks of fourth and fifth century lower Egypt. He works from collections of their sayings and stories which were compiled in the late fifth century and which are known collectively as the Apopthegmata Patrum. These texts show that theDesert Fathers were deeply concerned with the nature of the monastic community which they formed and with the problems which might affect relationships between individuals within it. Successive chapters of the book centre on the text of the Apopthegmata itself as a witness to the community's senseof its own history and identity; on the relationship between teacher and disciple in the context of which the practices and virtues of the monastic life were taught; on the importance of good relationships between a monk and his companions in the monastic life; on the problems of anger, judgement,and praise which interfere with good relationships; on the tension between the desire for solitude and the necessity of inter-action with others; and on the connection between relationships with others and a monk's own life of prayer. The overall conclusion is that the Desert Fathers saw communityas an integral part of their monastic ideal and rarely regarded solitude as a way of life to be pursued at the expense of community.
The Lives of the Desert Fathers by
Publication Date: 1981-04-01
Eyewitness accounts of the lives and teachings of the fourth-century Desert Fathers from the Historiamonachorum in Aegypto.