In Letters and Asceticism in Fourth-Century Egypt, Bernadette McNary-Zak analyzes collections of ascetic letters written by prominent fourth-century Egyptian bishops, ascetics, and monks arguing that this neglected body of evidence deserves primary source recognition alongside hagiographic sources. Focusing principally on the works of Ammonas, Antony, Athanasius, Horsisios, Pachomius, Serapion of Thmuis, and Theodore, Letters and Asceticism begins with the analysis of the current state of scholarship on ascetic letters. McNary-Zak then moves into a discussion of the Antonian and Pachomian movements and assesses the authorship of the Life of Antony. She concludes with a succinct summation of the value of the ascetic letters in relation to the traditional, contemporary, hagiographic desert ascetic sources. A powerful argument for the use of ascetic letters, this book will be a boon to professors of theology and history as well as students interested in research of Egyptian asceticism.
Bernadette McNary-Zak is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN.
Chapter 1 Abbreviations Chapter 2 Introduction Chapter 3 The Status of the Ascetic Letters as Historical Evidence Chapter 4 The Line of Succession: Antony and His Followers Chapter 5 Group Ritual: Pachomius and His Successors Chapter 6 The Episcopal Perspective: Athanasius and Serapion of Thmius Chapter 7 Conclusion