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Crossroads in the Desert

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Chapter Summary

The greater part of what follows is based on the evidence of the Apophthegmata Patru best known in the Greek versions which, to a large extent, probably reflect an oral tradition in Coptic. Almost as soon as the Greek versions appeared, translations into the various languages of Levant began to circulate and to inform the emerging monasticism of each country. The best-known examples of the kind of monastic community were at Nitria, Kellia and Skete in Northwestern Egypt. "The most celebrated fathers of monasticism, the ultimate in excellence, were to be found in the desert of Scete", wrote Ioannes Cassianus. The theory of monastic hospitality was fine and noble but, as seen, the monks did not always treat everybody alike, especially those who had the disadvantage of being high and mighty. In conclusion is a story showing that the same could be true on occasion for the poor and humble.

Keywords: Apophthegmata Patru; Coptic; crossroads; desert of Scete; monasticism; monks

10.1163/9789004258273_016
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