This book is the outcome of an attempt to understand certain aspects of the teaching on the ideas and practice of the monastic life of the Apophthegmata Patrum, a collection of sayings, dialogues, and short narratives which preserve the words of the fourth and fifth century Egyptian monks known as the Desert Fathers. The widely acknowledged importance of the Apophthegmata as a source of our knowledge of early Christian monasticism, and as a document of considerable interest in the history of Christian spirituality, is a sufficient justification for a study of the teaching of this text. Analysis will be confined, of necessity, to the outlook of the Apophthegmata only on a comparitively limited range of subjects. But those which have been chosen are of central importance to the monastic life as the Desert Fathers understood it, and in some respects they dominate and inform the character of the Apophthegmata as a whole.
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