John Cassian: The Conferences

John Cassian: The Conferences

John Cassian: The Conferences

John Cassian: The Conferences

Synopsis

Long awaited by medievalists, monastics, and patrisic scholars, these are the complete conferences of Cassian, a major spiritual writer, a precursor of Benedict, and a bridge between the desert and the West. The conferences are a record of his dialogues and focus on the cultivation of virtue and purity of heart. Annotations include scholarly addenda, notes, textual reference, commentaries, and an index.

Excerpt

The present volume contains the first complete translation of The Conferences of John Cassian to appear in English, as well as the first extended commentary on and annotation of that work to have been published since that of the learned Benedictine Alard Gazet (known in Latin as Gazaeus) in 1617. Gazet (on whom more can be found in DTC 6.1.1174-1175 and DHGE 20.186) wrote his commentary to accompany his edition of Cassian's works, and it is reprinted with The Conferences themselves in PL 49.477-1328. This massive study is characterized by an immense erudition and by the fact that its author did not hesitate to address virtually every question that the text posed him and that would have interested his contemporaries. Although often polemical, it is still worthwhile to consult, and it has been referred to several times in the pages that follow. But for those who do not read Latin, the language in which it was written, the great learning that it demonstrates is valueless. Moreover, even impressive scholarship such as Gazet's must occasionally be reverently supplemented by subsequent efforts. The commentary and notes at hand, much shorter than Gazet's, intend to serve that role.

The reader will notice that the text of Cassian's work itself is divisible into three parts—the conferences themselves, the chapters of the conferences, and subdivisions within the chapters. When a particular place in The Conferences is referred to in the course of the commentary and annotations, this reference ordinarily occurs in numerical form alone, following the division just mentioned—as, for example, 14.9.3. But when there might be some doubt that the reference is in fact to The Conferences rather than to some other work, it occurs as, for example, Conlat. 14.9.3. (Conlat. is the abbreviation used here for Conlationes, which is the Latin title of the treatise.) References to patristic and other ancient writings are usually not accompanied by any indication of . . .

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