“Give Me a Word…”

“Give Me a Word: The Alphabetical Sayings of the Desert Fathers” John Wortley (trans) [St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2014]
Give_Me_a_Word
“When Christians first began living as monks in the Egyptian desert at the beginning of the fourth century, they had few books and almost no learning. As they gained experience, they concentrated that experience in the form of an oral tradition of tales and sayings (apophthegmata). Apart from the Scriptures (also learned by heart) this was the only training manual they had. Consequently, when the onslaught of barbarians drove many monks out of Egypt early in the following century, they found it better to preserve their oral tradition in writing.
Thus, towards the end of the fifth century there eventually emerged a codification of this monastic lore. It was in two parts: one in which the items were arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the monk who either authored the saying or was characterized in the tale; the other in which all the remaining “anonymous” material was arranged under various heads. The present volume is an attempt to provide the reader with a readable translation of the first of those parts.
For many years John Wortley (b. 1934) taught medieval history at the University of Manitoba. Now professor emeritus, he still serves as a priest of the Anglican / Episcopal Church. Of his many translations from Greek he is best known for “John Skylitzes: A Synopsis of Byzantine History 811–1057”, Cambridge University Press, 2010.”

“It is wonderful to see these gems of spiritual wisdom, worked out in the fourth-century Egyptian desert, appearing in the first new English translation for forty years. John Wortley, who has already published extensive translations of other desert literature, has produced a marvelous lively, and readable translation, faithful to the original. It is sure to bring the great spirit-bearing fathers to life, across the centuries, for many readers today.” ~ Fr John Behr
http://www.svspress.com/give-me-a-word-the-alphabetical-sayings-of-the-desert-fathers-pps52/

See also:

“The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection” Benedicta Ward (Translator) [Liturgical Press; Revised edition (1984)]
Sayings Ward
“The fourth-century ascetic flight to the desert indelibly marked Christianity. The faithful who did not embrace the austerity of the desert admired those who did and sought them out for counsel and consolation. The ‘words’ the monks gave were collected and passed around among those too far away or too feeble to make the trek themselves – or lived generations later. Previously available only in fragments, these Sayings of the Desert Fathers are now accessible in its entirety in English for the first time. We have a great deal to learn from their integrity and their unrelenting courage, from their vision of Cod – so Holy, so great, possessed of such a love, that nothing less than one’s whole being could respond to it. These were men and women who had reached a humility of which we have no idea, because it is not rooted in an hypocritical or contrived depreciation of self, but in the vision of God, and a humbling experience of being so loved. They were ascetics, ruthless to themselves, yet so human, so immensely compassionate not only to the needs of men but also to their frailty and their sins; men and women wrapped in a depth of inner silence of which we have no idea and who taught by ‘Being’, not by speech: ‘If a man cannot understand my silence, he will never understand my words.’ If we wish to understand the sayings of the Fathers, let us approach them with veneration, silencing our judgments and our own thoughts in order to meet them on their own ground and perhaps to partake ultimately – if we prove able to emulate their earnestness in the search, their ruthless determination, their infinite compassion—in their own silent communion with God.”
http://www.amazon.com/The-Sayings-Desert-Fathers-Alphabetical/dp/0879079592

“The Anonymous Sayings of the Desert Fathers: A Select Edition and Complete English Translation” (in Greek and English) John Wortley, John, ed. [Cambridge University Press, 2013]
Anonymous sayings
“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.
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.”
http://www.cambridge.org/au/academic/subjects/classical-studies/ancient-history/anonymous-sayings-desert-fathers-select-edition-and-complete-english-translation

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