A collation - the Desert Ascetics of the Fourth & Fifth Centuries
Web Publication by Mountain Man Graphics, Australia
The Desert Ascetics of the 4th & 5th Centuries - resource notes
In other papers related to the thesis that Constantine invented christianity in the fourth century, and implemented it in the Roman Empire with effect from his military supremacist council of Nicaea, we have emphasised that the field of this thesis is ancient history. An alternative theory of the history of antiquity is being explored in which the christian "Biblical History" was inserted into the political history of the Roman Empire no earlier than the rise of Constantine. Arnaldo Momigliano comments that the invention of (christian) ecclesiastical historiography is attributable to Eusebius, and that the invention of the christian biography of the saints is attributable to Athanasius, in his "Life of St. Anthony". Our position is somewhat similar ...
Between Eusebius and Cyril stands Jerome who translated Pachomius from the Coptic to Latin, and added the fact that he underwent a christian baptism before retiring into the wilderness for many years with his spiritual ascetic master Palamon. I have commenced a draft article about Pachomius here. My position is that Pachomius was never a christian in any way, shape or form, and that he foresaw the political necessity of establishing places of refuge in the desert for the ancient lineages of ascetic priests whom had been dispossessed of their heritage by Constantine 324 CE. It will be argued that later christian ecclesiatical "historians" forged into the record that Pachomius was a christian in the sense that EUsebius of Caesarea was a christian. It will be argued that Jerome, and others, who preserved and translated the literature of Pachomius, fashioned Pachomius as an authodox christian "ascetic hermit".
It will also be argued that Life of Anthony by Anathausius is simply a romantic fiction that has served to establish an historical link and correspondence between the early fourth century desert dwelling ascetic movement (such as Pachomius', and a number of others) and the history of early christianity. Pachomius is the historical figure, and was a non-christian. Anthony was the subject matter of the biography of a saint, and represents nothing but propaganda. It was an expedient means to "christianise" the great movement of the ascetic monks into their remote monasteries.
The traditional aristocracy, the upper classes of the empire of the fourth century, is subject to torture and excessive taxation at the hands of the christian emperors of the fourth century, found it a reasonable option to give away their lands and possessions, and flee to the refuge of the desert communities, far from the roving spies (Bishops) of the emperor and his state.
Pachomius forsaw this. Perhaps he witnessed Constantine's destruction of the oblelisk of Karnack in 324 CE? Perhaps in the same year Constantine's utter destruction of the ancient major temples of Asclepius, in Aegae and elsewhere, and the public executions of his chief priesthood. The possibility that Pachomius was this known as "A Prophet" is presented first. It is by no means sure. But the question is at least supported ... When Constantine prohibited temple service c.324 CE, immediately there begins an influx of monks to monasticism. Numbers are in the tens of thousand by the mid century. Pachomius is also thought to have something to do with the Nag Hammadi Codices. At one stage - in the fourth century - the city of Oxyrhynchus has an utterly monk-filled crowded inner city, and another sprawling outer city surrounding the walls. The authodox reporters are trying to have us believe all these people were authodox christians. Scholars are not so sure. Same with the Nag Hammadi Codices - they are a strange mix of books containing a strange mix of separate tractates.
These foundations (eg: Pachomius' monasteries and others') increased dramatically in size during the period to peak somewhere just after the mid fourth century. These guys may have been reciting holy words, but they were not from the new testament.
For some time these draft notes pages may not be indexed or organised. They will also obviously present information and data which I am in the end going to dispute. This is a collation, and a collection place.
Enjoy browsing ....
****** Also see Evagrius Ponticus ****** Christianity: Its Sojourn in the Desert The Lives of Our Desert Fathers and Mothers by Moya K. Mason CHRONOLOGY 1) EGYPT (See 2 - Palestine) =========================================== 251 Antony born Paul of Thebes flees into desert. 271 Antony enters ascetic life. 285 Antony to desert fort 292 Pachomius born 293 Macarius the Alexandrian born 300 Macarius the Egyptian born 304 Pambo born Antony emerges, monks join him. 311 Antony in Alexandria to encourage martyrys 311 Amoun enters ascetic life. 313 Antony to Interior Mountain Pachomius baptised Athanasius in household Pope Alexandre 320 Pachomius founds community at Tabennesis 312 Theodore joins Pachomius 328 Athasius Pope Foundation of Faou? 330 Athasius in Thebaid. 330 Amoun moves to Nitria? Macarius the Egyptian to Scetis? 333 Macarius the Alexandrian baptised. 333 Constantine's "Dear Arius Where Are You?" Letter 335 Council of Tyre Athasius' first exile 337 Pachomius moves HQ to Faou. Athanasius returns 338 Antony visits Alexandria and Nitria Foundation of Cells. 339 to 346 Athanasius' second exile. 340 Macarius the E ordained Priest? Athanasius in ROme 340 Pachomian foundations around Panopolis. 341 Paul of Thebes dies 345 Synod of Latopolis 346 Pachomius dies Athasius returns John of Lycoplois enclosed. 351 Orsiesius calls in Theodore to direct Tabennesiote community. 356 Antony dies; Athasius fugitive 357 Hilarion visits Interior Mountain Saracens raid it. Sisoes settles there. Athanasius writes "Vita Antonii". 360 Duke Artemius searches Faou for Athanasius. 368 Theodore dies. Orsiesius resumes headship of community 373 Athanasius dies; Peter flees to Rome. 373 to 375 Rufinus and Melania in Egypt. Pambo dies;bishops and monks in exile. 380 Timothy Pope. 383 Evagrius in Nitria. 385 Evagrius at Cells. Theophilus Pope 388 Palladius to Alexandria 390 Macarius the E dies Palladius to Nitria 391-2 Palladius to Cells Destruction of Serapeum. Temple at Canopus becomes Tabennesiote monastery ('Metanoea') 393 Discorus Bishop of Damanhur Macarius the Alex dies 394 Arsenius to Scetis? John of Lycopolis visited by Palladius and by author of Historia Monachorum 395 John of Lycopolis dies 399 Evagrius dies Theophilus's Paschal Letter against Anthropomorphism Palladius and Cassian leave Egypt. Theophilus turns against Origen 400 Synod at Alexandria condemns Origenism Pilgrimage of Postumian. Surviving exile monks return to desert. 406 Palladius in exile at Syene 407-8 First devastation of Scetis by barbarian tribe of Maziben Moses and companions killed Theodore, Agathon and others leave Scetis 408 Palladius at Antinoe 412 Cyril Bishop of Alexandria Palladius leaves Egypt Palladius Bishop of Aspuna at Galatia 415 Murder of Hypatia Cyril expels Jews from Alexandria 419-420 Palladius writes Historia Lausiac 420 Cyril's Paschal Encyclical condems christological dualism. 420 to 430 Cassian writes "Institutes and Conferences" at Marseille. 424 Cyril Paschal Encyclical condemns Arianism 430 Cyril sends his encyclical "Ad Monachos Aegytii" and "Ad Nestorium I" 431 Cyril returns in triumph to Alexandria Nonnus of Panopolis dies 434 Second devastation of Scetis Arsenius in Troe 435 Isodore of Pelusium dies Nestorius in exile in Oasis of Upper Egypt. 444 Cyril dies 449 Arsenius dies 451 Dioscurus deposed by Council of Chalcedon 2) Palestine NB: ********* imples empire wide data 275 Chariton from Iconius settles at Fara? 293 Hilarion born at Thavatha 304 Hilarion in Egypt vists Antony 308 Hilarion returns to ascetic life near Gaza 330 Monasteries spring up in Palestine eg: Epiphanius at Bessanduk near Eleutheropolis. 333 Arius is somewhere in Syria. 335 Consecration of Anastasis in Jerusalem 348 Cyril of Jerusalem's Catechetical Lectures 350 Cyril Bishop of J. 356 Hilarion leaves Palestine 367 Epiphanius bishop of Salamis in Cyprus. 370 Innocent on Oliver 370 Basil Bishop of Caesarea ********* 375 Egyptian exiles at Diocesarea Melania in attendance. 376 Melania on Oliver 377 Porphyry by Jordan 380 Rufinus joins Melania on Oliver 381 Coincil of Constantinople ******** 382 Evagrius Ponticus on Oliver Porphyry in Jerusalem 385 Jerome & co at Bethlehem 386 John Bishop of J. 392 Porphyry cross-warden. 393 Epiphanius visits J. Jerome turns against Origen. 394 Jerome and Epiphanius break with John and Rufinus. 395 Porphyry Bishop of Gaza. 397 Reconciliation in Jerusalem. Rufinus returns to the west. 398 John Chrysostom Bishop of Constantinople ************ 399 Palladius in Paestine briefly 400 Melania returns tio the west. Tall Brothers etc exiled from Egypt come to Scythoplois. 401 Tall Brothers in Constantinople *********** 403 Epiphanius dies ********* Synod of the Oak ********** 404 Chysostom exiled ******* 404 Paula dies Jerome translates Pachomian Rules, etc Rufinus translates Historia Monachorum 405 Euthymius comes to Jerusalem, settles at Fara. 405 Cassian in ROme. 407 Chysostom dies 410 Alaric sacks Rome Rufinus dies 428 Nestorius Bishopof Constantinople 431 Council of Ephesus (christ indivisible) Nestorius deposed. 438 Bones of Chrysostom brough to Contantinople. 444 Cyril dies. 449 Tome of Leo (2 natures of christ) 451 Council of Chalcedon (Tom eof Leo accepted) ********************* Virgins of God: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity - By Susanna Elm AMOUN ************************ Amoun retired (to a semi-anchorite life) at Nitria in 325 and by the end of the century his disciples had reached a figure of five thousand monks. See Historia Monachorum. Also Palladius (c.410) (Historia Lausiaca) - confirmed by Socrates an account of men and women sharing a cell or living in close proximity in the desert. AMMONIUS One of the more famous desert ascetics who formed part of a group of intellectuals adhering to Origen's teachings. This group called the "Tall Brothers" played a decisive role on the Origenist controversy not only because they attracted such men as famous as Evagrius and Palladius, but also because of their contacts with Melania the Elder, Rufinus, John Chrysostom, and their circle spread the influence of the Origenist monks to Alexandria. Jerusalem, Constantinople and the West. *************************** General History of the Christian Religion and Church By August Neander, Joseph Torrey THE TALL BROTHERS: 1) Dioscurus 2) Ammonius 3) Eusebius 4) Euthymius ************************** CONFERENCE BETWEEN THE TALL BROTHERS AND EPIPHANIUS http://www.copticchurch.net/topics/patrology/schoolofalex2/chapter04.html Ammonius and his companions went to St. Epiphanius, at the permission of the empress. Epiphanius inquired who they were, and Ammonius replied, "We are, O father, the Tall Brothers; we come respectfully to know whether you have read any of our works or those of our disciples?" On St. Epiphanius replying that he had not seen them, he continued, "How is it, then, that you consider us to be heretics, when you have no proof as to what sentiments we may hold?" St. Epiphanius said that he had formed his judgment by the reports he had heard on the subject; and Ammonius replied, "We have pursued a very different line of conduct from yours. We have conversed with your disciples, and read your works frequently, And among others, that entitled ‘The Anchored.’ When we have met with persons who have ridiculed your opinions, and asserted that your writings are replete with heresy, we have contended for you, and defended you as our father. Ought you then to condemn the absent upon mere report, and of whom you know nothing with assured certitude, or return such an exchange to those who have spoken well of you?" St. Epiphanius was measurably convinced, and dismissed them. Soon after he embarked for Cyprus, either because he recognized the futility of his journey to Constantinople, or because, as there is reason to believe, God had revealed to him his approaching death; for he died while on his voyage back to Cyprus. It is reported that he said to the bishops who had accompanied him to the place of embarkation, "I leave you the city, the palace, and the stage, for I shall shortly depart." *********** Historia Monachorum intended for a Palestinian audience. represents the classic example of a family home transformed into an ascetic community, and thus men and women continue to live together. (NB: Rufinus' version has segregated sexes). Macarius the Egyptian ************************ Macarius the Egyptian withdrew to Scethis followed by several disciples. The Kellia were founded in 338, and Paladius spoke of 600 monks there in 390.  Pachomius ************************ Pachomius began to receive disciples in 324 and their number increased so rapidly that he had to make a foundation at Phbow 329. AMMA TALIS ********************** From Palladius c.410 at Antinoe where there were at least 12 female monasteries. One guided by AMMA TALIS - a woman 80 years old in the ascetic life. ********************** OXYRHYNCHUS Historia Monachorum "The city is so full of manasteries that the very walls resounded with the voices of monks. Other monasteries encircled it outside, so that the outer city forms another town alongside the inner. Monks outnumbered the secular citizens. There were more women that men. Virgins of God: The Making of Asceticism in Late Antiquity: By Susanna Elm According to Hist Monachorum monasticism at Oxyrhynchus was flexible and included a great variety of possible models. That such a flexibility in practice also meant a flexibilty in doctrine is explicitly denied: "Not one of the city's inhabitants is a heretic or a pagan", be they lay or ascetic; RUFINUS adds: "omnes catholici". But such claims could easily suggest that in fact the contrary was the case; given the wide differences in orthopraxy there might well have been the same variety regarding the authodoxy.  Interestingly same comment regarding purity of faith at Oxy is made by 2 local priests MARCELLINUS and FAUSTINUS in a letter to Vanetinian, Theodosius and Arcadius WOmen are mentioned as practicing ascetic life in villages and in the desert, alone, with their mothers, in communities, as anchorites, and as wandering ascetics. Palladius considers ascetics of both sexes as FATHERS. He, like Shenoute, Basil of Ancyra, Gregory of Nyssa characterise ascetic women as having attained a male degree of virtue: they are 'gynaikes andreiai.' ******************* http://www.moyak.com/researcher/resume/papers/var22mkm.htm Palladius, Macarius, the Alexandrian, and MelaniaChristians continued to suffer under the authority of Rome and its emperors, and the reign of Diocletian proved to be catastrophic for them. Empire-wide edicts were issued by Diocletian proclaiming that all churches and sacred books were to be destroyed, and any Christian who held an official position would be stripped of their civil rights, while others were reduced to slavery. In Egypt, Diocletian's army destroyed parts of Alexandria in A.D. 292, and many died as martyrs according to Eusebius, who calculated that sixty Christians were killed everyday for the five years of the persecution in Egypt alone. By the turn of the century, tens of thousands of Christians were living in the desert, and there were men who went to capture the essence of the desert communities and to chronicle the lives of the monks they met. One such man was Palladius, who wrote The Lausiac History, which is a fascinating look at monastic life in Egypt, as well as Palestine, Syria, and Asia Minor.
Palladius was a monk from Galatia, who spent many years in the Egyptian deserts compiling the history of Christian monasticism. He has been called the "Herodotus of the Deserts" since he traveled widely and listened to everyone he could. He went to Egypt in A.D. 388, spending three years around Alexandria visiting the countless hermitages. Wanting to learn more, he went inland to the Nitrian Desert where he stayed for another three years. Five thousand men made up the Monks of Nitria, along with six hundred hermits living in the area. Palladius describes the monastery as having seven bakeries, three date palms, a church, a guesthouse, and many gardens. There were doctors, chefs, and winemakers living there, but most of the monks made linen. Their spiritual father, Amoun, had already passed on, but Palladius met some old men there who still remembered him. Amoun was a contemporary of St. Antony's and had developed the monastic movement in Lower Egypt. As the settlement at Nitria continued to grow, some of the more serious ascetics found they needed more solitude and moved nine miles away into a desolate area of the desert later called Cellia. Palladius spent nine years with the hermits there and recorded many stories about Macarius, the Alexandrian. For instance, one day he was stung by a gnat and so, he killed. Believing that he had acted out of revenge, he sat in a marsh for six months, and was bitten so badly that his swollen body could only be identified by his voice.
Indeed, there are many interesting stories and details concerning individual monks, and they did share some commonalties, one of which was celibacy. In addition, they lived a life based on charity, poverty, and asceticism, but the degrees to which they adhered to these conditions varied with the individual. Charity to the poor was practiced by all of the monks because the need was so great, but some gave more than others. Concerning personal ascetic regimes, there were great differences, often based on friendly rivalries between the monks. For example, when Macarius heard of a mink who ate only a pound of bread a day, he vowed to eat only whatever morsel of his biscuit he could reach from a narrow-necked jar. He did this for three years, consuming the equivalent of five ounces of bread and water a day. Ptolemy was one of the monks who, having found Cellia overinhabited, went to live beyond Scete in a very hostile place. He lived eighteen miles away from a well and collected dew from the rocks with a sponge when he ran out of water. He lived there fifteen years. A Theban named Dorotheus collected stones for dwellings everyday in the desert heat, but ate only six ounces of bread and a small amount of vegetables, with little water. He would stay up all night weaving ropes to earn his food. St. Antony would eat scare amounts every two days and sometimes only one meal in four days. Most monks ate once a day at nine o'clock at night. Many, such as Isidore prided themselves on not bathing, since the baths, particularly in large cities, were thought to be places of immorality by the Christians. They heralded moral cleanliness above physical. Another way they proved their asceticism was by sleeping as little as possible. Macarius decided to conquer his need for sleep and stayed awake outside for twenty days and nights; and Adobius would stay outside all night singing psalms and praying, even in the cold and rain.
The performance of miracles was a common practice by these holy men, who exercised many demons from people who came long distances for help. Macarius of Alexandria was brought a young boy who was possessed. He put one hand on his head, the other on his heart, and prayed. Swelling up, the boy became suspended in the air and began to spray water from all parts of his body. The boy returned to his normal size and the monk anointed him with holy oil. St. Antony and the others were also known for their medical cures. Antony was visited by a man named Fronto, who injured his own eyes and gnawed his tongue. After he had prayed for him, he told Fronto to depart and be healed; soon he was freed from his disease. Macarius of Egypt was asked to change a horse back into the woman it used to be. He blessed water and continually poured it on the horse's head. When he finally made the woman appear, he told her this thing had happened because she had not attended mass in five weeks.
Women were also known to live as hermits in the desert. Many wealthy women freed their slaves and ran away to live a monastic life because they hated their lives and were sick of staying in loveless marriages, living decadent lifestyles. St. Jerome is said to have convinced numerous women from the Roman nobility to enter a life of monasticism. In The Lausiac History, Palladius has a large number of anecdotes about women monks. An ascetic named Elias built a large monastery for women and provided them with all the necessities. Pachomius began a monastery at Tabennisi for men and later built one for women that housed four hundred. They lived on the other side of the river and were supplied with food and supplies by their brethren. Palladius mentions some women saints by name, including, the Roman matron Paula, Veneria, Theodora, Hosia, Adolia, and Basianilla, among others. Much is said of a woman named Melania. She was Spanish by birth and later became a Roman citizen. At twenty-two she found herself a wealthy widow with a son, and having found her son a trustee, she sold her possessions and went to Mount Nitria. Melania traveled around Egypt and met many of the holy men, learning everything she could from them. Later, she built a monastery in Jerusalem and lived there for twenty-seven years with fifty other women.
Like their fellow brethren, these women also practiced extreme asceticism for both saw themselves as "poor in spirit" and in need of redemption. Their disciples and neighbors viewed them as the quintessential holy prophets with purity and goodness flowing out of them, but that is not how they saw themselves. A dimension of their importance was their belief that continuous ascetic cleansing would bring God closer to their lives – a God, who was a real entity, not just the third dimension of the Trinity. These monastic institutions were the "wellsprings of our faith" because they took the doctrines of Jesus Christ to heart, with many trying to live the existence he deemed possible.
These monks had access to many scriptures and gospels that are now lost or survive only in fragmentary form. As the Christian Church established its hierarchy and its power continued to grow, it set up the boundaries of their faith in an attempt to eradicate the Gnostic tendencies of their religion. The Council of Nicaea in A.D. 325 decided which books and religious works were acceptable and proclaiming all others be destroyed. The monks of the Egyptian deserts were so far away from the seat of Christian authority that they were in many ways exempt from the day-to-day decisions of the bishops. They continued to read the works that described Jesus in an unorthodox light and attributed a more human quality to him – he was seen as a mystical and spirited man. By keeping these works in their canon, they retained a far more pure and down-to-earth view of Jesus Christ.
Around these desert communities, rich and lush landscapes took shape through the hard work and love the monks put in, and some cities actually sprung up around these "Gardens in the Sand." They had entered a hostile environment with God as their only possession and as a result, proved themselves to be true believers in their religion. It was one thing to go to mass on Sunday and try to live a Christian life, but it was quite another to dedicate your life to God and believe in him so completely that your daily survival counted on his existence. These men and women proved that a world of religion, peace, and love could exist and survive even against such powerful resistance (physical, social, and emotional); one that was based on democracy and equality. These mystics took the hope and possibility that God existed and cemented it into a reality they proved by their very survival – how else could they live so far past the average mortality rates of the time, with so few comforts? Their comfort was God. Their grace, love, and spirituality influenced men like St. Augustine, Basil, and others, whose lives gave hope to humanity throughout the darkness of the Middle Ages.
Bibliography Anson, Peter F. The Call of the Desert. London: S.P.C.K., 1973. Athanasius, translated by Charles Kingsley. Kingsley, Charles. The Hermits. London: Macmillan and Co. Ltd., 1905. Meyer, Robert T. Ancient Christian Writers. London: The Newman Press, 1965. Palladius, as translated by Robert Meyer. St. Jerome, translated by Charles Kingsley. Vivian, Tim. Histories of the Monks of Upper Egypt. Kalamazoo: Cistercian Oublications, 1993. Wellard, James. Desert Pilgrimage. London: Hutchinson & Co. Ltd., 1970. ********************** http://www.innerlightproductions.com/thoughts/aug0199.htm Abba Pambo: His Life and WorksOn July 18, the Orthodox Church commemorates Abba Pambo, a Desert Father of the fourth century who has always been one of my personal “favorites.” Normally in these weekly newsletters, I like to focus on a particular theme, but in today’s edition we will focus on Abba Pambo himself. First, a bit about his life and works, and then a look at his teachings on a variety of subjects.
An Egyptian ascetic on the Nitrian mountain, Abba Pambo was a contemporary of St. Anthony the Great and himself great in monastic asceticism. Born about A.D. 303, he was one of the first to join Amoun in Nitria. He was illiterate until he was taught the Scriptures as a monk and ordained priest in 340. He had two characteristics by which he was especially known; by long training, he sealed his lips, so that no unnecessary word passed them, and he never ate any bread other than that which he gained by his own labour, plaiting rushes. He was like an angel of God and, in old age, his face shone as did the face of Moses in ancient times, so that the monks could not look on it. He did not give a quick answer even to a simple question, without prayer and pondering in his heart. At one time, Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, was visiting the Nitrian monks. The monks begged Pambo to “give a word” to the Patriarch. The silent Pambo replied, “If my silence is of no help to him, neither will my words be.” Abba Pambo was once travelling around Egypt with some monks. When they came to a group of people who remained seated as the monks passed them, St. Pambo said to them: “Get up and greet the monks, and ask their blessing, for they converse unceasingly with God and their lips are holy.” This wonderful saint had clear discernment into the destiny of the living and the dead. He entered into rest in the Lord in the year 374.
There was a monk named Pambo and they said of him that he spent three years saying to God, “Do not glorify me on earth.” But God glorified him so that one could not gaze steadfastly at him because of the glory of his countenance. -- Two brethren came to see Abba Pambo one day and the first asked him, “Abba, I fast for two days, then I eat two loaves; am I saving my soul, or am I going the wrong way?” The second said, “Abba, every day I get two pence from my manual work, and I keep a little for my food and give the rest in alms; shall I be saved or shall I be lost?” They remained a long time questioning him and still the old man gave them no reply. After four days they had to leave and the priests comforted them saying, “Do not be troubled, brothers. God gives the reward. It is the old man’s custom not to speak readily till God inspires him.” So they went to see the old man and said to him, “Abba, pray for us.” He said to them, “Do you want to go away?” They said, “Yes.” Then, giving his mind to their works and writing on the ground he said, “If Pambo fasted for two days together and ate two loaves, would he become a monk that way? No. And if Pambo works to get two pence and gives them in alms, would he become a monk that way? No, not that way either.” He said to them, “The works are good, but if you guard your conscience towards your neighbor, then you will be saved.” They were satisfied and went away joyfully.
-- Four monks of Scetis, clothed in skins, came one day to see the great Pambo. Each one revealed the virtue of his neighbor. The first fasted a great deal; the second was poor; the third had acquired great charity; and they said of the fourth that he had lived for twenty-two years in obedience to an old man. Abba Pambo said to them, “I tell you, the virtue of this last one is the greatest. Each of the others has obtained the virtue he wished to acquire; but the last one, restraining his own will, does the will of another. Now it is of such men that the martyrs are made, if they persevere to the end.”
-- Athanasius, Archbishop of Alexandria, of holy memory, begged Abba Pambo to come down from the desert to Alexandria. He went down, and seeing an actress he began to weep. Those who were present asked him the reason for his tears, and he said, “Two things make me weep: one, the loss of this woman; and the other, that I am not so concerned to please God as she is to please wicked men.”
-- Abba Pambo said, “By the grace of God, since I left the world, I have not said one word of which I repented afterwards.”
-- He also said, “The monk should wear a garment of such a kind that he could throw it out of his cell and no-one would steal it from him for three days.”
-- They said of Abba Pambo that as he was dying, at the very hour of his death, he said to the holy men who were standing near him, “Since I came to this place of the desert and built my cell and dwelt here, I do not remember having eaten bread which was not the fruit of my hands and I have not repented of a word I have said up to the present time; and yet I am going to God as one who has not yet begun to serve him.”
-- He was greater than many others in that if he was asked to interpret part of the Scriptures or a spiritual saying, he would not reply immediately, but he would say he did not know that saying. If he was asked again, he would say no more.
-- Abba Pambo said, “If you have a heart, you can be saved.”
-- The priest of Nitria asked him how the brethren ought to live. He replied, “With much labor, guarding their consciences towards their neighbor.”
-- They said of Abba Pambo that he was like Moses, who received the image of the glory of Adam when his face shone. His face shone like lightning and he was like a king sitting on his throne. It was the same with Abba Silvanus and Abba Sisoes.
-- The said of Abba Pambo that his face never smiled. So one day, wishing to make him laugh, the demons stuck wing feathers on to a lump of wood and brought it in making an uproar and saying, “Go, go!” When he saw them, Abba Pambo began to laugh and the demons started to say in chorus, “Ha! Ha! Pambo has laughed!” But in reply he said to them, “I have not laughed, but I made fun of your powerlessness, because it takes so many of you to carry a wing.”
-- Abba Theodore of Pherme asked Abba Pambo, “Give me a word.” With much difficulty he said to him, “Theodore, go and have pity on all, for through pity, one finds freedom of speech before God.”
Abba Pambo’s “Life” is from Bishop Nilolai Velimirovic, “The Prologue From Ochrid,” (Birmingham: Lazarica Press, 1986), pp. 77 - 79. This book is available on line!
Abba Pambo’s “Teachings” are from Sr. Benedicta Ward, “The Desert Christian,” (New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1975), pp. 195 - 198.
*************** Cyril of Alexandria and the Nestorian Controversy: The Making of a Saint and of a Heretic By Susan Wessel What were the historical and cultural processes by which Cyril of Alexandria was elevated to canonical status while his opponent, Nestorius, bishop of Constantinople, was made into a heretic? In contrast to previous scholarship, Susan Wessel concludes that Cyril's success in being elevated to orthodox status was not simply a political accomplishment based on political alliances he had fashioned as opportunity arose. Nor was it a dogmatic victory, based on the clarity and orthodoxy of Cyril's doctrinal claims. Instead, it was his strategy in identifying himself with the orthodoxy of the former bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius, in his victory over Arianism, in borrowing Athanasius' interpretive methods, and in skilfully using the tropes and figures of the second sophistic that made Cyril a saint in the Greek and Coptic Orthodox Churches.