Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism / Edition 1

Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism / Edition 1

by William Harmless
     
 

ISBN-10: 0195162234

ISBN-13: 9780195162233

Pub. Date: 06/17/2004

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA


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…  See more details below

Overview


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 the subtle 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 the Latin 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 accessible introduction to early monasticism.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195162233
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
06/17/2004
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
512
Sales rank:
784,911
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Pt. IThe world of early monasticism
1Roman Egypt3
2Patriarchs, councils, and controversies : 300-45125
Pt. IIAntony and Pachomius
3The Life of Antony : text and context57
4The Life of Antony : themes and influence85
5Pachomius115
Pt. IIIThe desert fathers
6The Apophthegmata Patrum : text and context167
7The Apophthegmata Patrum : portraits193
8The Apophthegmata Patrum : themes227
9The histories275
Pt. IVMonastic theologians
10Evagrius Ponticus : ascetical theory311
11Evagrius Ponticus : mystical theology345
12John Cassian373
Pt. VReflections
13Monastic origins : perspectives, discoveries, and disputed questions417

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