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Apophthegmata Patrum

An anonymous collection of ascetic sayings and anecdotes which illustrate early monastic thought, especially in Egypt. A Greek edition, produced probably in the sixth century, ranks the material in alphabetical order according to the names of speakers. The basic core stems from Coptic* monks in the Wadi Natron, and their words and deeds have been added to from other areas. The sayings or examples arose when inquirers induced ascetics to break their accustomed silence with the request, “Grant me a word.” The reply was recorded orally and later in writing with the veneration given to divine revelation. Corresponding disregard for biblical teaching is illustrated by Amoun: “We prefer to use the Sayings of the Fathers and not passages of the Bible; it is very dangerous to quote the Bible.”

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