This unit will engage students in advanced study of the pioneers and centres of the early monastic movement in Egypt and their impact on the spread of the movement throughout the Late Roman Empire. It will consider the various theological viewpoints that became prominent in Late Antique Egypt, and its impact in Egyptian monastic circles.

Unit code: CH9500A

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Church History

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Identify the protagonists and the centres of the Egyptian monastic movement in Late Antiquity;


Articulate an advanced understanding of the variations in Egyptian monastic practice and the impact this had on a monk’s daily life;


Critically engage with the various theologies that became prominent in Egypt during late antiquity and how this impacted and challenged monastic circles;


Demonstrate critical understanding of the impact Egyptian monasticism had on the spread of the movement throughout the Late Roman Empire.


Demonstrate the capacity to research a specific topic in a critically rigorous, sustained and self-directed manner


Demonstrate skills in written, verbal and conversational forms of research communication

Unit sequence

24 points AH/CH, 72 points any disciplines


Asynchronous video lectures, synchronous tutorials face-to-face and online

Indicative Bibliography

Brakke, David, Athanasius and the Politics of Asceticism. Oxford Early Christian Studies, Oxford 1995. Burmester, O. E. Khs, A Guide to the Monasteries of Wadi ‘n-Natrun, Cairo 1954. Burton-Christie, Douglas, The Word in the Desert. Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism, New York and Oxford 1993. Chitty, Derwas, The Desert a City, Oxford 1966. Elm, Susanna, Virgins of God: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity. Oxford, 1994. Evelyn-White, Hugh G., The Monasteries of Wadi ’n Natrun, Part I-III, New York 1926-33. Frank, Georgia, The Memory of the Eyes: Pilgrims to Living Saints in Christian Late Antiquity, Berkeley 2000. Gabra, Gawdat, Coptic Monasteries. Egypt’s Monastic Art and Architecture. Cairo, 2002. Goehring, James, Ascetics, Society, and the Desert. Studies in early Egyptian monasticism. Harrisburg, 1999. Gould, Graham, The Desert Fathers on Monastic Community. Oxford Early Christian Studies, Oxford 1993. Gregg, Robert C., Athanasius, the Life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus, New York etc. 1980. Meinardus, Otto F. A. Monks and monasteries of the Egyptian deserts, Cairo 1990. Meyer, Robert T., Palladius: The Lausiac History. Ancient Christian Writers 34, New York 1965 Russell, Norman, The Lives of the Desert Fathers. The Historia Monachorum in Aegypto, Kalamazoo 1981 Stewart, Columba, The World of the Desert Fathers: Stories and Sayings from the Anonymous Series of the “Apophthegmata Patrum”, Oxford 1986. Vivian, Tim, and Apostolos Athanassakis, Athanasius of Alexandria, The Life of Antony. The Coptic Life and the Greek Life. Cistercian Studies Series 202, Kalamazoo 2003. Vivian, Tim, Journeying into God. Seven Early Monastic Lives. Minneapolis, 1996. Vivian, Tim, Four Desert Fathers. Pambo, Evagrius, Macarius of Egypt & Macarius of Alexandria. Popular Patristics Series, New York 2004. Vivian, Tim, St Macarius the Spiritbearer. Coptic Texts Relating to Saint Macarius the Great. Popular Patristic Series, New York 2004 Ward, Benedicta, The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection, Cistercian Studies 59, Kalamazoo 1984 Ward, Benedicta, The Wisdom of the Desert Fathers: The “Apophthegmata Patrum” (from the Anonymous Series), Oxford 1986. Wimbush, Vincent L. (ed.), Ascetic Behavior in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook, Minneapolis 1990. Wimbush, Vincent L. and Richard Valantasis (eds.), Asceticism, New York 1995.

Bell, David N., The Life of Shenoute by Besa, Kalamazoo 1983 (pp. 68-79 on e-reserve). Emmel, Stephen, Shenoute’s Literary Corpus, 2 vols., Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium 599 and 600, Subsidia 111 and 112), Leuven 2004. Harmless, William, Desert Christians: an introduction to the literature of early monasticism, New York 2004. Krawiec, Rebecca. Shenoute and the Women of the White Monastery. Egyptian Monasticism in Late Antiquity. New York, 2002. Rousseau, Philip, Pachomius, The Making of a Community in Fourth-Century Egypt, Berkeley 1985. (pp. 77-86 on e-reserve) Rubenson, Samuel, The Letters of St. Antony. Origenist Theology, Monastic Tradition and the Making of a Saint. BHEL 24, Lund 1990. Veilleux, Armand, Pachomian Koinonia. 3 vols., Cistercian Studies Series 45-47. Kalamazoo 1981-1982 Wilfong, Terry G., Women of Jeme. Lives in a Coptic Town in Late Antique Egypt. New Texts from Ancient Cultures, Ann Arbor 2002.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)
Essay 37500 50.0
Essay 3750 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Maggie Kappelhoff on 5 Oct, 2020

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:50 +1000