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Desert ChristiansAn Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism$
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William, S.J. Harmless

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195162233

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195162234.001.0001

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The Apophthegmata Patrum: Text and Context

The Apophthegmata Patrum: Text and Context

(p.167) 6 The Apophthegmata Patrum: Text and Context
Desert Christians

William, S.J. Harmless (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The Apophthegmata Patrum (Sayings of the Fathers) is a collection of more than 1,000 brief stories about and sayings by the desert fathers. Some are terse aphorisms, others portray dramatic encounters in which young monks come to their elders, begging: “Abba, give me a word by which I might be saved.” This collection, dating from the late fifth or early sixth century, is the best known and most influential work of desert Christian literature and has been preserved in a variety of ancient languages and editions. This chapter provides an introduction to the Apophthegmata’s literary style and its historical setting—especially its roots in the ancient monastery of Scetis.

Keywords:   Apophthegmata Patrum, Sayings of the Fathers, desert fathers, abba, languages, Scetis

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