The desert fathers wanted to get away from a church co-opted by empire and a Christian faith grown cold and listless. They retreated to the desert to do battle against demons and against their own worst desires. They had no intention of being famous; yet ironically their Sayings have inspired millions of imitators over the centuries. This guide is meant to accompany a reading of the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, in hopes that readers with lives quite different than those third- and fourth-century dwellers of the Egyptian desert might nevertheless come to imitate their lives of poverty, chastity, and obedience; and more importantly, that readers might grow more imaginative and passionate in their following of the same Lord.
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Jason Byassee’s An Introduction to the Desert Fathers is an excellent companion to all who seek to glean wisdom from the monks’ encounters with the realities of God and of their sin. By drawing together the world of fourth-century monasticism with our consumerist culture of the twenty-first century, Byassee helps us discern the call of the desert today.
—J. Warren Smith, associate professor of historical theology, Duke Divinity School
In this beautiful, informative, probing, and wise introduction to the spirituality of the desert, Byassee both immerses us in, and invites us to embrace, an older, sometimes alien, way of inhabiting our relationship with the triune God.
—Lauren F. Winner, assistant professor of Christian spirituality, Duke Divinity School
. . . What sets this little book apart from others on desert spirituality is Byassee’s ability to help modern readers understand and practice the wisdom the desert monks offer.
—Evangelical Review of Theology