The Word in the Desert

“The Word in the Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism”
by Douglas Burton-Christie (1993)
word in the desert
“The growing scholarly attention in recent years to the religious world of late antiquity has focused new attention on the quest for holiness by the strange, compelling, often obscure early Christian monks known as the desert fathers. Yet until now, little attention has been given to one of the most vital dimensions of their spirituality: their astute, penetrating interpretation of Scripture. Rooted in solitude, cultivated in an atmosphere of silence, oriented toward the practical appropriation of the sacred texts, the desert fathers’ hermeneutic profoundly shaped every aspect of their lives and became a significant part of their legacy. This book explores the setting within which the early monastic movement emerged, the interpretive process at the center of the desert fathers’ quest for holiness, and the intricate patterns of meaning woven into their words and their lives.”

Winner of the College Theology Society’s 1993 Annual Book Award
“Highly recommended for all serious collections of patristic church history, Christian spirituality, and fourth-century Roman mentality.”–Choice
“An excellent book that focuses attention on hermeneutical questions.”–Brother Ray McManaman, FSL, Lewis University
“[An] excellent scholarly work, superbly lucid as well as careful and thorough. A necessary addition to all collections of church history and a fine text for an advanced course on the same. Or a specialized course in early Christendom.”–Richard Simon Hanson, Luther College
“A valuable textbook for both the study of monasticism and the history of exegesis, as well as an important reminder of the centrality of scripture to early monastic and later medieval spirituality.”–Wanda Cizewski, Marquette University
“An excellent introduction to the role of Scripture in early monasticism, an essential, though often neglected, aspect of the history of asceticism. I recommend it highly.”–Bernard McGinn, University of Chicago


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