The sayings of the desert monks of the fifth and sixth centuries amaze, and startle, readers by their wisdom. They teach us- among other things- that the first step in overcoming our sinfulness is an honest perception of things as they are. Rather than reading through them quickly in gulps or dismissing them as fascinating, but far-distant and now irrelevant, historical texts, people today who read them as the ancients did, slowly and reflectively, will still learn from the insights they offer us across the centuries.
By arranging these 'words' in short daily readings, Tim Vivian invites modern readers to savor the monks' advice, as did those men and women who visited the monks and nuns and who collected their sayings as guides to Christian living.
Tim Vivian, a priest of the Episcopal Church, teaches Religious Studies at California State University, Bakersfield, and is the author of numerous articles and books on early Christian Desert Monasticism, including "Words to Live by: Journeys in Ancient and Modern Egyptian Monasticism."