Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Robert Kitchen - Commenting on the Desert Fathers: Dadisho Qatraya on The Paradise of the Fathers

Collections of the sayings of and encounters with the fourth- and fifth-century Desert Fathers abound in a number of languages and formats, particularly in the Christian East during Late Antiquity.  This industry spawned larger collections as in the case of Ananisho (seventh c., Church of the East) who gathered several Syriac translations of apophthegmata under the rubric of The Paradise of the Fathers.  Inevitably someone took to commenting upon this vast corpus - Dadisho Qatraya, a late seventh-century Church of the East spiritual writer, compiled a long list of questions and answers directed by the “brothers” to the “old man” which in some manuscripts is openly Dadisho himself.  This paper will focus on several questions and answers that wrestle with complex theological and ascetical ideas, drawing from a perceived tradition of desert wisdom and the perspective of the Church of the East.

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