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The Letters of Ammonas: Successor of Saint Antony
Author: Saint Ammonas
Translator: Derwas Chitty
Translator: Sebastian Brock
Saint Ammonas spent several years in the Egyptian desert of Skete in the fourth century, during which time he visited Saint Antony the Great and became his disciple. After Antony’s death in 356, Ammonas acted as spiritual director to the monastery of Pispir. He is believed to be the author of spiritual exhortations preserved in different languages in the form of letters, and may be the same Ammonas who was consecrated bishop by Saint Athanasius.
Derwas James Chitty (1901-71), an Anglican priest and Church historian with a particular interest in Orthodoxy, devoted much of his life to the study of early Egyptian and Palestinian monasticism, summing up the fruits of forty years’ research in his notable book, ‘The Desert a City’. He spent the last three years of his life in retirement at Llangwnadl on the Lleyn Peninsula in North Wales.
Sebastian Brock was born in 1938 and is generally acknowledged as the foremost and most influential academic in the field of Syriac language today. He is a former Reader in Syriac Studies at the Oriental Institute of the University of Oxford and currently a Professorial Fellow at Wolfson College. His books include: ‘The Luminous Eye: The Spiritual World Vision of Saint Ephrem the Syrian’ and ‘The Syriac Fathers on Prayer and the Spiritual Life’.
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This book contains the fourteen surviving letters of St Ammonas, one of the disciples of St Antony the Great. The main topics of these letters are the gifts of the Spirit, spiritual direction and discernment of the will of God. Derwas Chitty made a draft translation of these letters from the Greek and early Syriac versions; after his death, Dr Sebastian Brock carried out a thorough revision and added an introduction and a bibliography.