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The Anonymous Sayings of the Desert Fathers
A Select Edition and Complete English Translation

  • Editor and Translator: John Wortley, University of Manitoba, Canada
  • Date Published: October 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108439022


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About the Authors
  • The Tales and Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Apophthegmata Patrum) are a key source of evidence for the practice and theory respectively of eremitic monasticism, a significant phenomenon within the early history of Christianity. The publication of this book finally ensures the availability of all three major collections which constitute the work, edited and translated into English. Richer in Tales than the 'Alphabetic' collection to which this is an appendix (both to be dated c.AD 500), the 'Anonymous' collection presented in this volume furnishes almost as much material for the study of the late antique world from which the monk sought to escape as it does for the monastic endeavour itself. More material continued to be added well into the seventh century, and so the spread and gradual evolution of monasticism are illustrated here over a period of about two and a half centuries.

    • Provides the first full English translation of these historically important and fascinating texts
    • Presents the first complete edition of the Greek text, only half of which has ever been published before
    • Includes a valuable introduction to an older oral tradition
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Wortley has served up not only a translation but, as he calls it, a 'select edition' of the Anonymous Collection of the Apophthegmata Patrum for Cambridge University Press. It is a collection long awaited by scholars, and Wortley is certainly to be commended for, at last, making available both edition and translation of this important but heretofore understudied body of Greek monastic literature.' Reviews in Religion and Theology

    'Beautifully produced with a concise introduction, select bibliography, and index, this volume inspires hope for comparable, even matching, text and translation editions of the other collections … Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above.' G. R. Thursby, Choice

    'Despite the 'Anonymous' of the title, many of the stories are attached to the names of great monastic saints, but the overall sense is of an almost folkloric world of nameless governors, farmers, ascetics, soldiers, husbands, and wives. There is plenty more research to be done on what this family of texts brings to light, both theological and historical, and this handsomely produced volume is a welcome invitation to further study.' Rowan Williams, Common Knowledge

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108439022
    • length: 659 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 152 x 35 mm
    • weight: 0.97kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Note on the translation
    Text and translation
    Select bibliography

  • Editor and Translator

    John Wortley, University of Manitoba, Canada
    John Wortley is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Manitoba, Canada. He has published widely on the Byzantine era and has completed several translations to date, including Les Récits édifiants de Paul, évêque de Monembasie, et d'autres auteurs (1987), The Spiritual Meadow of John Moschos, including the additional tales edited by Nissen and Mioni (1992), The Spiritually Beneficial Tales of Paul, Bishop of Monembasia and of Other Authors (1996) and John Skylitzes: A Synopsis of Byzantine History, 811–1057 (2010). Professor Wortley has also served as an Anglican priest since 1960.

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