The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks
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The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks

4.19 of 5 stars 4.19  ·  rating details  ·  187 ratings  ·  10 reviews
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 go...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published July 29th 2003 by Penguin Group (USA) (first published March 27th 2003)
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David Withun
Of course the sayings of the Desert Fathers are great. I couldn't have enjoyed reading them more and I certainly was edified along the way many times over. My reason for rating this book at 3 stars is the translation itself, with which I was very disappointed, and the introduction of the book, also written by the translator. The introduction of the book entirely ignores all Eastern monasticism; how you can write an introduction on the relevance of the Desert Fathers and skip over Mount Athos I'l...more
♥ Ibrahim ♥
Benedicta Ward is the nun scholar who wrote all kinds of medieval studies that often point to Jesus our Lord as the exalted King of Heaven. This book of hers is a real classic that you would want to read over and over again, and you might end up memorizing some of the sayings in it. This book shows you how there are people who sought the Lord's face for His own sake and enjoyed him enternally, regardless of what might come out of that. I think this book should be read at least once a year. I hav...more
This is a collection of, as the title suggestions, of sayings by early Christian monks, mostly from Egypt. This particular collection was transmitted in Latin and remained as part of the monastic toolbox in the West through the influence of figures like John Cassian. The sayings themselves are classic Desert Fathers: frequently cryptic, sometimes deeply insightful, but sometimes completely opaque or outrageous. Like any literature of 'wise' people, the insights are very culturally bound, so ther...more
I don't come from a religious background, and I stumbled upon this book rather by accident; but I found parts of it sagacious and insightful. As a collection of aphorisms from many different authors, it is often repetitive or contradictory. Yet I can't help but think that if contemporary Christians acted—in any small degree—like the desert fathers (and mothers), the world would be changed for the better.

In our present times, there is a baffling overlap between Christianity and capitalism. Maybe...more
Nicholas Whyte[return][return]Simply gives the complete text of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers compiled by Pelagius in the early fourth century. There is an uneasy and sometimes consciously very funny tension running through the writings, between on the one hand being deeply devout and determined, and pulling up the other monks who are not trying hard enough; and on the other hand not showing off one's own piety. But at the same time you can't help but be impressed wit...more
In any collection of sayings like this, one will discover a great variety. Some of the sayings are strange, others extremely ascetic in their application, while still others beautifully incisive in their wisdom. It's that last group that makes this book such a treasure.

What comes across most strongly to me is the patience and trust exhibited in the stories of these men. They were willing to allow themselves to be put upon by those with evil intentions, yet they did not complain. Instead, they en...more
The Desert Fathers, often called the Desert Fathers and Mothers (108 fathers and 3 mothers quoted in this book), started the first major Christian ascetic movement in 4th century Egypt. They lived in an inhospitable wilderness; they isolated themselves in monastic cells; they fasted; they prayed; they fought the demons of temptation. They essentially died both to human civilization and to their own bodily needs. Their monastic cells functioned as premature graves.

I feel kind of guilty for not th...more
Thomas Irby
I like a lot of what the sayings in this book have to tell us. However, I don't like that it is organized by topic. I feel like the collection cherry picks quotes that are out of context to serve a purpose that they may not have originally meant.
However, there is good diversity here and a lot of good information.
Mark Payne
Not a bad thing to have this on your bookshelf at all times. I haven't read every single page yet though, it's not that kind of book really.
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The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection (Cistercian studies 59) Harlots Of The Desert: A Study of Repentance in Early Monastic Sources Wisdom of the Desert Fathers The Venerable Bede Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers

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“Macarius said also, ‘If you are stirred to anger when you want to reprove someone, you are gratifying your own passions. Do not lose yourself in order to save another.” 1 likes
“It is dangerous for a man to try teaching before he is trained in the good life. A man whose house is about to fall down may invite travellers inside to refresh them, but instead they will be hurt in the collapse of the house. It is the same with teachers who have not carefully trained themselves in the good life; they destroy their hearers as well as themselves. Their mouth invites to salvation, their way of life leads to ruin.” 1 likes
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