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The Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

Volume 2: Th–O (Theta–Oméga)

Translated and introduced by Tim Vivian; Foreword by Rick Kennedy

The Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers
The Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

ISBN: 9780879072926, CS292P

Details: 584 pgs, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Publication Date: 10/15/2023
Cistercian Publications
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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.

ISBN: 9780879072926, CS292P

Details: 584 pgs, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Publication Date: 10/15/2023
Cistercian Publications


"Thanks to the indefatigable work of Tim Vivian (and others) the sayings are now easily accessible in English translation. And not only can they be read by all but Vivian's cross-referencing, indexing, and explaining make them understandable even if someone is not a specialist in early monasticism. Scholars of early Christianity can no longer tell the story of the first centuries of the Church without referencing the unique role of the apophthegmata and so much of their availability is because of Tim Vivian."
Greg Peters, Biola University and Nashotah House Theological Seminary

"Speaking to us over a distance of some 1700 years, Tim Vivian continues to bring to life the profound but truly human stories and personalities of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. With his fresh translation and extensive footnotes and commentary, this volume, like the first, provides nourishment for the mind and spirit and transports us to an exciting new place that is strangely compelling! 'For those who are capable of understanding these words and keeping them, there is joy and great profit' (Barsanuphius of Gaza)."
Lisa Agaiby, St. Athanasius College, University of Divinity

"In our time of division, fear, and constant moving, the desert mothers and fathers tell us otherwise. Sit in your place/cell. Don't run here and there. Tim Vivian's lucid translations and discerning commentary brings us the life-giving wisdom of these early monastics, a tremendous gift. We are in their debt, and his!"
The Rev. Michael Plekon, PhD, Professor Emeritus, The City University of New York - Baruch College

"The early ascetics spoke of direction and signposts along the spiritual way. I could think of no better guide in the 'sayings and stories' of the desert fathers and mothers than Tim Vivian. With meticulous veneration and observation, Vivian helps put together fundamental pieces of that distinctive, albeit intriguing puzzle of the fourth- and fifth-century Apophthegmata in a way that brings them to life for our admiration, education, and emulation in the twenty-first century."
John Chryssavgis, author of In the Heart of the Desert and Desert Wisdom for Everyday Life

"First-rate scholarship paired with a contemporary idiom. These enigmatic, provocative, and deeply perceptive 'sayings' of the Desert Christians come to life in Tim Vivian’s work. Like reading graffiti on a subway wall and pondering the wisdom of the ages at the same time. The desert weaves through these pages with characteristic ferocity and unexpected compassion. I love it."
Belden C. Lane, author of The Solace of Fierce Landscapes: Exploring Desert and Mountain Spirituality

“Tim Vivian has accomplished something extraordinary: a technical translation that is also user-friendly for those studying the early Christian movement. He has enriched this resource with his discussions around important early monastic/desert themes; footnotes that often provide more than technical information; and his excursuses. This is a great resource. I highly recommend it.”
Laura Swan, OSB, author of The Forgotten Desert Mothers

"Tim Vivian’s translation of The Sayings and Stories of the Desert Fathers and Mothers offers both scholarly and pastoral insights using contemporary language. The annotations provide valuable revelations into the abstruse aphorisms, rendering it an essential resource for scholars and seekers alike. Vivian emphasizes the practical application of the sagacious wisdom of the desert fathers and mothers in everyday life, making it an indispensable volume for spiritual leaders seeking a profound understanding of early Christian spirituality."
Father Macarius Refela, Presbyter, Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles and Hawaii