The Abba and his Disciple


in The Desert Fathers on Monastic Community

Published in print April 1993 | ISBN: 9780198263456
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191682551 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

The Abba and his Disciple

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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

Chapter.  32000 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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