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The Desert Fathers

Sayings of the Early Christian Monks

by Benedicta Ward

The Desert Fathers were the first Chris­t­ian monks, liv­ing in soli­tude in the deserts of Egypt, Pales­tine, and Syr­ia. In con­trast to the for­mal­ized and offi­cial the­ol­o­gy of the found­ing fathers” of the Church, they were ordi­nary Chris­tians who chose to renounce the world and live lives of celiba­cy, fast­ing, vig­il, prayer, and pover­ty in direct and sim­ple response to the gospel. First record­ed in the fourth cen­tu­ry, their Say­ings — con­sist­ing of spir­i­tu­al advice, anec­dotes, para­bles, and reflec­tions on life — influ­enced the rule of St. Bene­dict, set the pat­tern for West­ern monas­ti­cism, and have inspired cen­turies of poet­ry, opera, and art.

Orga­nized around key themes — Char­i­ty, For­ti­tude, Lust, Patience, Prayer, Self-con­trol, and Visions — this edi­tion of the Say­ings is fresh, acces­si­ble, and authoritative.

2003

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