This chapter places Cassian's monastic programme within the milieu of Nitrian asceticism and redresses the arguments that have recently been advanced against Cassian's reliability as an historian. It brings to bear in the study of Cassian's works the significant results from contemporary scholarship that have effectively demonstrated that the Fathers of the Egyptian desert were possessed of a theological culture of considerable vitality, and that stereotypes about the pursuit of intellectual activity (not least allegorical interpretation of Scripture in the manner of Philo, Origen, and others) cleaving along ethnic lines are simply unsound.
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