The Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers offers a new translation of the Greek alphabetical Apophthegmata Patrum, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers. For the first time in an English translation, this volume provides:
- extensive background and contextual notes
- significant variant readings in the alphabetical manuscripts and textual differences vis-à-vis the systematic and anonymous Apophthegmata
- reference notes to both quotations from Scriptures and the many allusions to Scripture in the sayings and stories.
In addition, there is an extensive glossary that offers information and further resources on people, places, and significant monastic vocabulary. Perfect for students and enthusiasts of the desert tradition.
Tim Vivian is professor emeritus of religious studies at California State University Bakersfield and a retired priest in the Episcopal Church. In 2018, he received an honorary doctorate of divinity from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP, Episcopal) for his scholarship and work for social justice. He has published numerous books, articles, and book reviews on early Christian monasticism, including, with Cistercian Publications, The Life of Antony, Words to Live By, The Holy Workshop of Virtue, and Becoming Fire.
“A wonderful book. The introduction on its own ought to be required reading in all theological schools and for those interested in literature generally. This collection of The Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (Vol. 1) is an edition that is destined to become a classic standard. To situate his material, Tim Vivian offers a generous and reflective introduction to the desert tradition that is both scintillating in its intellectual brilliance and moving in its spiritual profundity. The scholarly translations are accompanied at every step by commentary and insight that demonstrate Vivian’s fluent mastery and his status as one of the world’s preeminent leaders in the field. It is a book that scholar and student alike will treasure.”
V. Revd. Prof. John A. McGuckin, Faculty of Theology, Oxford University
“The flow and precision of Tim Vivian’s translation allows for the personalities, messages, and worldview of the Sayings to resonate poignantly today. Moreover, his masterful notes reveal the complex linguistic and spiritual layers of these texts, as well as the degree to which scriptural language and imagery permeated monastic thought. Whether read for academic or spiritual purposes, one will encounter fresh insights and the distilled results of decades of research and reflection on every page of this remarkable volume.”
Maged S. A. Mikhail, Professor of History, California State University, Fullerton
“To understand the parabolic and paradigmatic nature of the apophthegmata (wise sayings) of the desert ammas and abbas, it is best to have a guide as gifted in the ancient languages of the sayings as Vivian, but also to enter into these stories with the contemplative framework of lectio divina, as Vivian recommends in his introduction. In the process, the hidden depths of these elders open up layers in one’s own search for the Holy One and the blessings and pitfalls of the spiritual life.”
Mary Forman, OSB, Prioress, Monastery of St. Gertrude, Idaho
"A consummate scholar, deft translator, and skilled wordsmith, Tim Vivian links ancient insights to contemporary spirituality and the work for justice. In this collection of sayings and stories, he offers a wealth of detail to feed the mind of any scholar and an abundance of wisdom to fill the soul of every seeker."
The Rev. Gary Commins, DD