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Harlots of the Desert: A Study of Repentance in Early Monastic Sources

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  94 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Beauty consuming itself like incense burnt before God in solitude: these stories of penitent women from the fourth- century egyptian desert fascinated Christians in antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages.
Paperback, 128 pages
Published November 1st 1987 by Liturgical Press
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Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion
Five women who have a common story background with similar themes, though not all have been prostitutes, and one makes a journey from pious life to brothel to back to pious life. Each has a man in their life that is important (and the men are also different in character from each other) - all leave their wealth behind. In each story: repentance and going into the desert for the rest of their life. These stories are from early monastic texts, translated eventually to Latin from Greek, and influen ...more
Jul 28, 2020 marked it as to-read
7jane’s review of this book brought it to my attention and I really want to read it.
Oct 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is my kinda 5-star book, although to be VERY honest, I knew a lot of this required more of my attention than I was willing to give right now -- hormones, time of year, juicy Fall fiction distracting me. I don't know. But I took a lot of notes and was kindly guided to some of the good bits by highlights made by the owner of this book. It's a 5-star book, even though I only gave it a 3-star effort. ...more
Elizabeth Andrew
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
Out in the Egyptian desert, meditating in caves along with the various abbas and immas during the early centuries after Jesus's death, were an amazing assortment of "harlots," women who'd abandoned the towns and their men to pray. Of course most of them (with one clear exception) were prostitutes because they were destitute, so the conversion stories told about them (and revered for centuries) are hard to unpack. Benedicta Ward does a great job. I'm happy to now claim these passionate women as p ...more
Dec 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This is quite an interesting book about monastic writings on several women from Christian writings, however it looks at it from a Christian perspective and in relation to repentance. So if looking for that bit extra on women in Christianity, you won't find it in depth here. The women looked at are Mary Magdalene, Mary of Egypt, Pelagia, Thaïs, and Maria the Neice of Abraham the Hermit.

Included are the monastic stories about these women and our author Benedicta Ward SLG gives some analysis as to
Ancuta Clim
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Când am început să citesc această carte, am văzut că e cazul să fac niște notițe. Dar nu le-am făcut tocmai ca să trebuiască s-o mai citesc o dată. :)
Un fragment din final, o prezentare a esenței cărții făcută de autoarea însăși: „Păcatul este tragedia uriașă a umanității; el ispitește, fascinează și îi atrage pe oameni să se gândească la păcatele și la eșecurile din ei înșiși într-o autocontemplare ce poate numai să sporească disperarea; iar acolo unde există cea mai mică urmă de disperare, exi
Jackson Hager
Deeply moving are the stories of compassion and mercy found within this short text. I was always so
distressed that stories like St. Anthony the Great and St. Augustine never impacted me the way it seemed to impact others, yet this little book has struck me in the heart. I will have to keep book close to my heart always.
Robert Heckner
Jun 09, 2020 rated it liked it
An interesting and well-written study of the theme of repentance in som early female monastics.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Short, approachable, and chock full of solid spiritual, theological, and historical meditations.
Petro Kacur
May 21, 2020 rated it liked it
The theme of repentance is one that the desert fathers of the early Christian (and specifically Eastern Orthodox) faith often emphasized. Stories of those who turned from an old way of life to a new one were often told by the monastics of the region known as Palestine. This book is a collection of texts featuring women that the church holds up as examples of penance. The central story of St. Mary of Egypt is one of extreme sin and extreme repentance. The Orthodox church highlights her story duri ...more
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