Sunday, 15 March 2015

James Goehring: "Talking Back" in Pachomian Hagiography: Theodore's Catechesis and the Letter of Ammon

Theodore's catechesis as presented in the Pachomian Letter of Ammon involves his clairvoyant knowledge of individual monks' situations and the use of scriptural citations to correct them. This communication will explore Ammon's account through the lens of the Evagrian model of "Talking Back." While there is not much talking back in the Pachomian text, a number of biblical passages cited correspond to those in Evagrius's work. I am intrigued by the parallels and what they mean in terms of the use of scripture in early Egyptian monasticism. Could there be a distant connection between these sources, and if so, how does the hagiographic nature of Ammon's text impact his presentation of the practice? All of this raises yet another issue with respect to Ammon's reliability as a Pachomian source. Does his account reflect an actual Pachomian practice or is it simply a product Ammon's creative memory influenced by his later years in Lower Egypt?

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