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Saint John Cassian on Prayer

Author: St John Cassian

Translator: A. M. Casiday

Saint John Cassian (c. 360 - 435) is believed to have been born in the region of Scythia Minor, close to what is now the Romanian-Bulgarian border. As a young man he travelled to Palestine and lived in a hermitage in Bethlehem, moving to Scete in the Egyptian desert, where he visited a number of monastic foundations. After further travels and ordination to the priesthood, he arrived in Marseille in southern Gaul, where he founded the Abbey of St Victor for both men and women, one of the first dual monasteries in the West. Cassian’s writings include his major works, the ‘Institutes’ and the ‘Conferences’, which transmit the wisdom of the Desert Fathers. The Rule of Saint Benedict (c. 530), which has defined Western monastic life over 1500 years, clearly reflects Cassian’s influence.

Augustine Casiday is Lecturer in Historical Theology and Director of the MA Monastic Studies programme at the University of Lampeter, prior to which he was Leverhulme Fellow in the Department of Theology at the University of Durham. His areas of interest include monasticism, patristic theology, orthodox theology, prayer, Christian Platonism and exegesis in early monastic literature. His published works include books on Evagrius Ponticus and John Cassian.

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John Cassian is considered by the Church in the East and West to be one of the greatest of the early monastic writers. The breadth of his experience of eremitical life in the Egyptian desert, his distinction as a theologian and churchman, and his veneration for the Desert Fathers are conveyed in the ‘Institutes’ and ‘Conferences’. Augustine Casiday provides a new translation of the two classic conferences on ‘Prayer’, together with a critical introduction.


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