An Introduction to the Desert Fathers
Christian monasticism emerged in the Egyptian deserts in the fourth century AD. This introduction explores its origins and subsequent development and what it aimed to achieve, including the obstacles that it encountered; for the most part making use of the...
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Christian monasticism emerged in the Egyptian deserts in the fourth century AD. This introduction explores its origins and subsequent development and what it aimed to achieve, including the obstacles that it encountered; for the most part making use of the monks' own words as they are preserved (in Greek) primarily in the so-called Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Mainly focussing on monastic settlements in the Nitrian Desert (especially at Scete), it asks how the monks prayed, ate, drank and slept, as well as how they discharged their obligations both to earn their own living by handiwork and to exercise hospitality. It also discusses the monks' degree of literacy, as well as women in the desert and Pachomius and his monasteries in Upper Egypt. Written in straightforward language, the book is accessible to all students and scholars, and anyone with a general interest in this important and fascinating phenomenon.
John Wortley is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. He has published widely on the Byzantine era and has completed several translations to date, including Les Recits edifiants de Paul, eveque de Monembasie, et d'autres auteurs (1987), The Spiritual Meadow of John Moschos, including the additional tales edited by Nissen and Mioni (1992), The Spiritually Beneficial Tales of Paul, Bishop of Monembasia and of Other Authors (1996) and John Skylitzes: A Synopsis of Byzantine History, 811 1057 (2010). Professor Wortley has also served as an Anglican priest since 1960.
- 1. Desert Fathers; 2. Beginnings; 3. Becoming A Monk; 4. Impediments To Progress; 5. The Object Of The Exercise; 6. Prayer; 7. Discretion; 8. Work; 9. Eating And Drinking; 10. Hospitality And Neighbourliness; 11. Women In The Desert; 12. Literacy; 13. Heresy; 14. The Pachomian Experiment.