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The Desert Fathers on Monastic Community$
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Graham Gould

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198263456

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198263456.001.0001

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The Abba and his Disciple

The Abba and his Disciple

(p.26) 2 The Abba and his Disciple
The Desert Fathers on Monastic Community


Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the relationship between the abba and his disciple, exploring the demands of teaching and personal relationships. It describes the nature of the teaching relationship as the Desert Fathers understood it, drawing both on explicit discussions on the importance of teaching and on illustrations of how it worked in practice. The primary responsibility of the abba or the ‘old man’ was to teach his disciple how to live the monastic life and face up to the problems and temptations to which any monk was exposed. For the disciple, the process of learning required self-disclosure, endurance, and obedience. These attitudes were also required of an abba, in a different form, if he was to teach with integrity and efficiency which the Desert Fathers demanded as an ideal.

Keywords:   abba, old man, disciple, teaching, Desert Fathers, obedience, submission

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