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Disciples of the Desert

Monks, Laity, and Spiritual Authority in Sixth-Century Gaza

Jennifer L. Hevelone-Harper

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On the periphery of the Roman empire, the sixth-century desert city of Gaza served as a crossroads between Palestine and Egypt. The nearby village of Tawatha was home to the thriving monastery of Abbot Seridos and the renowned anchorites Barsanuphius, known to the people as the Great Old Man, and his disciple John. The laity of the area looked to the monks for spiritual leadership, as did their brother monks, bishops, and religious leaders from as far away as Jerusalem and Constantinople. Having adopted a life of physical isolation, the monks communicated with others by letters, offering…

On the periphery of the Roman empire, the sixth-century desert city of Gaza served as a crossroads between Palestine and Egypt. The nearby village of Tawatha was home to the thriving monastery of Abbot Seridos and the renowned anchorites Barsanuphius, known to the people as the Great Old Man, and his disciple John. The laity of the area looked to the monks for spiritual leadership, as did their brother monks, bishops, and religious leaders from as far away as Jerusalem and Constantinople. Having adopted a life of physical isolation, the monks communicated with others by letters, offering guidance in such matters as treatment of slaves, distribution of alms, interpretation of visions, and social relations with pagans and Jews.

This extraordinary correspondence opens a window into the spiritual world of the desert monastery and the lay community it served. In Disciples of the Desert, Jennifer Hevelone-Harper uses a careful study of the letters to reveal fascinating insights into the monastic community and sixth-century Christian spirituality.

Hevelone-Harper explains the network of spiritual authority that was created to lead the monastic community and discusses how monastic leaders responded to challenges to authority, appointed successors, and chose and mentored disciples. She reveals the immense love that Abbot Seridos, Barsanuphius, and John had for their fellow monastics and for the lay community in Tawatha, Gaza, and beyond.

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Disciples of the Desert

Jennifer L. Hevelone-Harper

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Reviews

An important contribution and a welcome addition to the burgeoning study of Palestinian monasticism in general and of Gaza in particular.

This little book should not only be on the shelves of every monastic library, it should also be read by anyone with an interest in the give-and-take between monastic and everyday life inside and outside monasteries.

An important contribution to the understanding of the development of the early desert literature and a fine introduction to the relationships among monastics and laity in the sixth century.

Groundbreaking work... Provides an informative, engaging interpretation of a daunting body of evidence that, in turn, makes an important contribution to an understudied form of monasticism in the Gaza region.

An important contribution and a welcome addition to the burgeoning study of Palestinian monasticism in general and of Gaza in particular that we witness in recent years.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
224
ISBN
9781421413860
Illustration Description
3 halftones
Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
1. Gaza: Crossroads in the Desert
2. Tawatha: Looking for God in the Desert
3. Dorotheos: From Novice to Spiritual Director
4. Lay Disciples: Social Obligations and Spiritual Concerns
5

Preface
Introduction
1. Gaza: Crossroads in the Desert
2. Tawatha: Looking for God in the Desert
3. Dorotheos: From Novice to Spiritual Director
4. Lay Disciples: Social Obligations and Spiritual Concerns
5. Bishops and Civil Authorities: Rulers of Church and Empire
6. Aelianos: Leader for the Next Generation
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio