Friday, 24 May 2019

Robert Kitchen: Teaching Perfection Monastic Education in Dadisho‘ Qatraya’s Commentary on the Paradise of the Fathers

An unmined source for Syriac asceticism is found in the Commentary on the
Paradise of the Fathers by Dadisho‘ Qatraya (Church of the East; late 7th c.), organized into 399 questions and answers from the brothers or monks to an elder, in most cases Dadisho‘, centering around the stories and sayings of the Egyptian Desert Fathers (translated into Syriac), which were compiled by an older contemporary ‘Enanisho‘, and used for the monastic education of Syriac and later Ethiopian monks.Two aspects of this educational document will be examined. First, this Commentary is a rare witness to the continued existence of the ascetical level of Perfection (gmīrūtā) and its
practitioners, the Perfect (gmīrē), along with the lower consecrated
level of Uprightness/Upright (kēnūtā/kēnē), generally limited to The
Book of Steps and The Discourses of Philoxenos of Mabbug. Second, while the questions and answers roughly follow the order of Enanisho‘’s Paradise,
a pattern becomes discernible through the answers of a gradual progression for
the monks towards the status of Perfection, a spiritual and physical way of
life that is the result of the grace of education.

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