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Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Apothegmata)


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#1 Guest_James Whittney

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Posted 21 September 2001 - 07:27 AM

Greetings to everyone. I notice that there are a number of different volumes out in the bookstores and on the library shelves, containing the Sayings of the Desert Fathers in various collections and translations.

Is there a single volume, or certain volumes, that are considered 'better' than others, or which are more widely read/accepted by the church?

James


#2 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 13 November 2001 - 06:28 PM

James,

In response to your request for information in printed volumes of the Sayings: the best volume is

Ward, Benedicta SLG (translator), The Sayings of the Desert Fathers - the Alphabetical Collection (Cistercian Studies 59), with preface by Metropolitan Anthony Bloom (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1975).

Here you will find a complete translation of the alphabetical collection of the Apothegmata Patrum, with a brief introductory note on each of the Fathers, a beautiful preface by Metropolitan ANTHONY (Bloom) of Sourozh, and an extremely helpful introduction by the translator to the Desert Fathers, their historical context, and general theological setting.

It is an extremely valuable book, in terms of its contents. It is priced at £12.25, and Amazon.com sells it for $12.95 US (a much better deal; click here for Amazon's offering of the book).

INXC,
Matthew


#3 Guest_Weston Miles

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Posted 29 June 2002 - 01:37 PM

Can I ask about studies on the Desert Fathers? Not the text themselves (I have the book that Mr. Steenberg mentioned in his post: it's very good)... but I'm looking for some actual studies about the fathers of the desert: history, context, background, that sort of thing.

I'd appreciate any pointers!!

Thanks,
Weston


#4 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 30 June 2002 - 11:57 AM

Dear Weston,

Regarding studies on the Desert Fathers, there are a few out there which will help you to set the context you're looking for. Unfortunately, for someone who just wants studies on this group, the options are fairly limited: a good deal of the research on the Desert Fathers comes in the form of introductions to their texts, articles in larger works, etc. The introduction in Benedicta Ward's volume of the Sayings, for example, is extremely good. But among the stand-alone volumes on the subject, you can find:

In English:

Gould, Graham, The Desert Fathers on Monastic Community (Oxford Early Christian Studies: Clarendon Press, 1993).

Pamphos, Stelios, Like a pelican in the wilderness: reflections on the Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2000).

In French:

Guy, Jean-Claude, Recherches sur la tradition grecque des Apophthegmata Patrum (Brussels: Societé des Bollandistes, 1962).

In German:

Lilienfeld, Fairy von, Die christliche Unterweisung der Apophthegmata Patrum (Cairo: Bulletin de la Société d'archéologie copte, 1971).

Müller, Barbara, Der Weg des Weinens: die Tradition des "Penthos" in den Apophthegmata Patrum (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 2000).

I hope some of the above proves helpful to you.

INXC, Matthew


#5 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 20 August 2000 - 06:00 PM

'Pray gently and calmly, sing with understanding and rhythm; then you will soar like a young eagle high in the heavens.'

--Evagrios the Solitary, 'On Prayer' 82.


#6 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 24 October 2000 - 01:56 AM

I have just placed a page on the site that contains several quotes by St Hesychios the Priest, one of the early Fathers presented in the first volume of the Philokalia (though not precisely a Desert Father in the strictest sense).

Those interested can find the text at:
St Hesychios the Priest on Personal Holiness

Matthew


#7 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 25 January 2001 - 09:35 PM

As a correction to the above note, the article on St Hesychios is actually at:

http://www.monachos....hesychios.shtml

Matthew


#8 Guest_Jim

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Posted 25 April 2001 - 09:17 PM

Is there any good online translation of the Philokalia?


#9 Guest_michelmg

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Posted 29 June 2001 - 06:52 PM

I dont see the Bogoroditsa - the Theotokos - in the teachings of the fathers of the desert.
It's a matter of fact I know just a little bit about them. Do you have ideas about that?

Kind regards


#10 Guest_Prof Richard McBride

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 12:38 AM

Michelma asked about the Theotokos in the teachings of the Desert Fathers.

I am wondering if my memory is faulty in assigning the works of the Desert Fathers (as opposed to the Church Fathers) to the first two centuries (AD)? If there is any truth in that, then they would seem to have left themselves out of this picture because so little survives concerning the Theotokos during that period. It seems that after the New Covenant (NT) works were written (would Saint Paul’s epistles mark the end of that effort?), there is an hiatus of textual evidence concerning the new Church’s stand on the Theotokos until the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus, 431.

Considering the Nestorian debate which precipitated that council (“Let no one call Mary, Theotokos, for Mary was only a human being and it is impossible that God should be born of a human being...” as one Nestorian sentiment) -- considering this style of Nestorian pronouncement (without ignoring the Christological implications) such tendentious and heretical subject matter guarantees considerable debate. So, in despite of the lack of evidence, some amount of debate concerning the Theotokos was bound to have preceded the Council.

For instance, Justin Martyr (d.165) and Ireneus (d.202) spoke of her. Origen (d.254) is known to have used the oldest version of the Mary prayer, as did Saint Gregory the Theologian (d.389). And sometime during the Fourth Century the teacher of Gregory and Jerome, called The Blind Twin, advocated the term, “Ever-Virgin” for Mary, as did Saint Athanasius (d.373). We thus know that the position within the Church of the Mother of Jesus was in consideration, before the official title of God Bearer was given to her.

Unfortunately, the Theotokos is also included in the so-called “apocryphal Gospel of James” (not to be confused with the authentic Epistle of Saint James), and I believe it is from this apocryphal source that so much of the detail of her (otherwise unknown) life is fantasized: The stories of Mary’s dedication by her mother, Anna, to a life given to God; the details of her betrothal to Joseph in accord with a miracle revealed to the high priest; and so much more, which has been generated to fill in the gaps on one of history’s most revered subjects -- yet, one of its most enigmatic. In truth, we do not even know if the Theotokos’ parents were really named Joachim and Anna.

This misleading and false source of Mariology, Mariolitry, Marianists, etc. -- the “Gospel of James”-- is also at the source of the Roman Church’s doctrine of her Immaculate Conception (1854), which the Orthodox do NOT accept. Similarly, the Orthodox also reject the Roman doctrine of Mary’s Assumption. Father Patrinicos, in The Dictionary of Greek Orthodoxy, says: “The Orthodox belief is to the effect that though as the Mother of God, Mary’s prayers for us are efficacious, neither was she conceived without the stain of the original sin nor was she taken bodily to heaven at the time of her death.” [p.246]

Since so much confusion reigns over this subject, I hope no one minds taking this chance to urge a small degree of clarification.

subdeacon richard


#11 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 03 September 2001 - 02:02 AM

In response to the lack of space paid to the Mother of God in the sayings of the Desert Fathers: it is true that the Theotokos receives far less space in these writings than in other texts of the Church, but this is largely explained by reference to the pragmatic character of the sayings -- they are principally aimed at delivering practical advise on living the ascetic life of virtue and devotion, and in general do not deal with 'theological' or exegetical teachings on the Faith or persons within it. Discussions on the precise attributes of the holy Mother of God lie outside this general purview, and so they receive little time.

But there is a notable and important exception. We find in saying 144 of Abba Poemen the Shepherd: "Abba Joseph related that Abba Isaac said, 'I was sitting with Abba Poemen one day and I saw him in ecstasy and as I was on terms of great freedom of speech with him, I prostrated myself before him and begged him, saying, "Tell me where you were." He was forced to answer and he said, "My thought was with St Mary, the Mother of God, as she wept by the cross of the Saviour. I wish I could always weep like that."'

It is especially noteworthy that Abba Poemen uses the title 'Mother of God' for the holy Mary, demonstrating that what would later be conciliarly and doctrinally 'approved' as an appropriate theological title was already in popular use among the simple and holy folk of the Egyptian desert.

It is also interesting to note that Mary is already being called 'Saint', even at this early date.

INXC,
Matthew


#12 Guest_Michel Depiesse

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Posted 30 October 2001 - 06:04 PM

Thanks to Richard and Matthew for their explanations on the Theotokos

In the light of Jesus
Michel


#13 Guest_Michel Depiesse

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Posted 09 November 2001 - 10:29 PM

I am looking for some texts of Evagrius Ponticus:
- Antirrheticos
- Treatise on the Eight Spirits of Wickedness
and Commentary on Psalms

In the light of Jesus
Michel


#14 Guest_moses

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Posted 10 November 2001 - 04:10 AM

Michael,
You might find what you're looking for at www.ccel.org. I know that they have online the works of the early church fathers.

HIS Servant,
Reader Moses


#15 Guest_Michel Depiesse

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Posted 11 November 2001 - 09:59 PM

Thank you, Moses, but those texts don't exist in www.ccel.org. There are difficult to find. For exemple, Miss Rondeau works on a edition of the commentaries on psalms of Evagrius but she began in 1960! And nothing seems to be available yet!

The interpretation of the psalms made by desert's fathers and hesychast seems very deep. Do you have information about?

s bogom


#16 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 11 November 2001 - 10:14 PM

Greetings Michel,

You will be able to find selections of the Antirrheticos in the printed volume:

Evagrius & M O’Laughlin. "Antirrheticus (Selections)" in Ascetic Behavior in Greco-Roman Antiquity - a Sourcebook, ed.Vincent L Wimbush (Mineapolis: Fortress Press, 1990) 243-62.

I do not know of a text of the Antirrheticos currently available online.

Yours INXC,
Matthew


#17 M.C. Steenberg

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Posted 27 November 2001 - 11:00 PM

Michel, did you ever find the texts for which you were searching? For what kind of project are you looking for them?

Matthew


#18 Guest_michel

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Posted 04 December 2001 - 07:35 PM

Hello Matthew,

I didn't found this text yet. I am busy now with the book of Hilarion Alfeyev on Saint Isaac the Syrian.

I study Evagrius because Briantchaninov and others contemporary startsi say : "If you don!t find a starets, read books"

I like the scientific mind of Evagrius because I think that philocaly is a science. Not an ideology, or poetry or psychopatology as others "spirituality traditions"

His teachings are less difficult to understand and apply that those of others hesychasts.

In the light of XC

Michel


#19 Guest_A Desert Aspirant

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 03:01 PM

"When a person is spiritually awakened, even if something irritates him, the bond of love is not dissolved; rekindling himself with the warmth of the love of God, he quickly recovers himself and with great joy seeks his neighbor's love...." St. Diadochos


#20 Guest_A Desert Aspirant

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Posted 30 July 2003 - 03:23 PM

"A person who through the grace of God partakes of divine blessings is under an obligation to share them ungrudgingly with others. For scripture says, 'Freely you have received, freely give'." St. Maximos





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