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Late Antique Letter CollectionsA Critical Introduction and Reference Guide$
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Cristiana Sogno, Bradley K. Storin, and Edward J. Watts

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520281448

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520281448.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

The Letter Collection of Barsanuphius and John

The Letter Collection of Barsanuphius and John

(p.418) Twenty-Five The Letter Collection of Barsanuphius and John
Late Antique Letter Collections

Jennifer L. Hevelone-Harper

University of California Press

The voluminous letter collection of Barsanuphius and John of Gaza contains 850 letters written by the two sixth-century anchorites who lived in cells near the monastery of Abbot Seridos in Tawatha a village a few miles southwest of Gaza. Barsanuphius and John, referred to as the Old Men of Gaza, were ascetic colleagues who wrote letters of spiritual direction to a wide group of disciples. The earliest manuscripts containing this correspondence date to the eleventh century; however, the collection was originally compiled by a member of Barsanuphius and John’s own monastic community (perhaps Dorotheos of Gaza) shortly after the death of John and the complete seclusion of Barsanuphius. The monk who compiled the collection followed a traditional practice among ancient editors, grouping the letters according to addressees, rather than chronologically. The collection begins with letters to individually named monks and continues with letters addressed to unidentified monks or the brothers of community collectively. The collection contains a series of letters to Aelianos, a layman newly elected as abbot of the monastery, and a large group of letters to lay Christians who sought spiritual guidance from the anchorites. The collection concludes with letters concerning episcopal elections in Gaza and Jerusalem and correspondence to civic officials and bishops in the region.

Keywords:   Jennifer Hevelone-Harper, Barsanuphius of Gaza, John of Gaza, Aelianos, Dorotheus of Gaza

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