Writing and Communication in Early Egyptian Monasticism


As senders of letters, copyists of literary texts, compilers of accounts, readers, and teachers, the monks of late antique Egypt articulated their interactions with their ascetic and secular environments via their role as authors, scribes, and owners of written text. This volume edited by Malcolm Choat and Maria Chiara Giorda examines the presence and practice of writing, modes of written communication, and the symbolic and spiritual value of the written word in monastic communities. Contributions cover evidence from papyri and inscriptions to literature transmitted in manuscripts, positioned within the shift in recent scholarship away from literature such as hagiography as a source of positivistic history, towards evidence that derives more directly from the monk or period in focus.

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Maria Chiara Giorda, PhD (2007), is a research fellow at the Dipartimento di Studi Storici, University of Torino, and Assistant Professor in History of Christianity and History of Religions. She has published monographs and many articles on Egyptian monasticism.

Malcolm Choat, PhD (2000), is Associate Professor at the Department of Ancient History at Macquarie University, Sydney, and has published extensively on monasticism and the papyrological evidence for early Christianity in Egypt, including Belief and Cult in Fourth Century Papyri (Brepols, 2006).

Contributors are: Malcolm Choat, Paul Dilley, Esther Garel, Maria Chiara Giorda, Lillian Larsen, Maria Nowak, Fabrizio Vecoli, Jacques van der Vliet, Jennifer Westerfeld, and Ewa Wipszycka.

' In this handsomely produced, slender volume, the editors [...] provide a welcome addition to recent studies of writing practices and communication networks in Egyptian monasticism from the fourth to eighth centuries. [...] a wonderful set of case studies that shine light on the theme from different angles and are sure to stimulate further research.' Jitse H.F. Dijkstra, University of Ottawa, Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 55 (2018) ' ... a fascinating collection of essays, well-balanced [...] which will be of great help for students of literacy and education in early monasticism and Egyptian Chistianity and for anyone interested in the broader subject of late antiquity.'
Elena Chepel, Russian Academy of Sciences, Scrinium Volume 13, 2017 ' ... We are dealing here with an important book, which might easily slip through the net of scholars with their eyes elsewhere. Anything that tells us more about the Christian empire as a reading and writing society, with its breadth of vision, its itchy feet, the economic and social ventures that it was ready to risk, will find in these pages further detail to add to the stockpile of creative energy that literate Christianity thrived on; and that is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss.' Philip Rousseau, Journal of Ecclesiastical History (2018)
Contributors: Elizabeth Davidson, Paul Dilley, Maria Nowak, Fabrizio Vecoli, J. Van der Vliet, Jennifer Westerfeld, Ewa Wipszycka
All interested in the history of Monasticism and Christianity in Egypt, and anyone concerned with late antiquity in general, including scholars, students, educated lay readers, and university and institute libraries.