The “Ethiopic Collectio Monastica”
The “Ethiopic Collectio Monastica”, also known as “The Ethiopic Paternicon” or “The Wisdom of the Elders of Ethiopia” and which, in the literal translation of its title in Ge’ez or Ethiopic is “The Book of the History of the Fathers and of Their Words, which is called The Paradise”, sometimes abbreviated to “Gannat” (from the Ge’ez title) or “The Paradise”, is a collection of some 450 paragraphs. Most of the text is found in other collections (like the “Apophthegmata patron”), but some 113 sections are unique to the Ethiopian collection. The date of its compilation is unknown, but probably dates to the 6th or 7th centuries.
“The “Ethiopic Collectio Monastica” is a book that includes some original sayings of the Desert Fathers, and which is textually independent of the more well known “Apophthegmata Patrum” (“Sayings of the Desert Fathers”). It was first published by Victor Arras in 1963, based on two separate manuscripts that were likely based on Greek or Coptic sources.
The collection consists of sixty-eight chapter of widely different lengths. Included in the book are collections of Desert Father sayings, most of which have no parallel in the “Apophthegmata Patrum”. The original work appears to have been written by a 5th-century monk who either lived with the Desert Fathers at Scetis, or knew the monks who lived there. He also appears to have known Abba Poemen, because of several unique stories and sayings attributed to him.”
See: Victor Arras “Collectio monastica: Ethiopic text” [Secrétariat du CorpusSCO, Peeters, 1963]
See also: William Harmless “Desert Christians: An Introduction to the Literature of Early Monasticism” [Oxford University Press, 2004] Appendix 8.5 “Ethiopic ‘Collectio Monastica’”
A sample election of sayings from “Ethiopic Collectio Monastica” is found in English translation in: William A. Jurgens (Translator) “The Faith of the Early Fathers. Volume Three. A source-book of theological and historical passages from the writings of Saint Augustine to the end of the Patristic Age” [Liturgical Press, 1979]:256-260. For example:
“A saying about a certain monk. On a journey and while walking down the road he saw some virgin anchoresses, so he turned aside from the road. But the Emma of the ladies’ convent shouted across to him: “You there! If you were a real monk you wouldn’t have even noticed that we are women.”