Talk:Desert Fathers

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Does anyone know the logical relationship between Desert Fathers and Sowha? Are they the same, or is one a subset of the other, or are they separated in history, or completely diffrent? I'll post this at both talk pages. Melchoir 09:50, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

I've never even heard of the Sowha (though, admittedly, my knowledge of Christian monastacism isn't flawless). The article on them is pretty sketchy, but it sounds like a modern sect of Coptic Christians. And, from looking at the review on Amazon.com, my assumption seems correct. I imagine the Sowha feel themselves to be successors of the desert fathers, but I don't think there's any real connection. -- Merope 13:41, 7 September 2006 (UTC)


Not much discussion here, so I'll just post this without a heading. I changed the line "Many individuals who spent part of their lives in the Egyptian desert went on to become important figures in the Church and society of the fourth and fifth century, among them Athanasius of Alexandria, John Chrysostom, John Cassian, and Augustine of Hippo," to remove Augustine. He never went to the desert. He was both influenced by the stories of the desert hermits and a supporter of their work, so I left him in the following line. I don't know about the rest of the list, so I make no claim that it is now either correct or generally inclusive. Windthorst (talk) 16:07, 16 July 2009 (UTC)

Proper name?[edit]

Should "desert fathers" be capitalized? That is, was there an organization called the Desert Fathers, or is it a generic term? If the latter, the title of this article should be changed to Desert fathers, per WP:MOS#Article titles. I have found some justification on the web for using lower-case (e.g., in the second paragraph of this article in OrthodoxWiki. It seems to me that this term is pretty similar to church fathers, but I think we are getting it wrong there, too. Peter Chastain (talk) 15:27, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

I think it should remain capitalized based on the fact that everything single thing written about them always refers to them in capital letters. Every book and every scholarly paper. There was no "organization" but the hermits that lived during this period who had an enormous impact on Christianity were given that honorable title. It is a well known and accepted title to describe those monks and hermits of that particular period. Sbs108 (talk) 17:33, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Desert mothers[edit]

In recent years, some authors have used the term Desert Mothers (e.g., here). The term is also used in our Melania the Elder article. Should we consider moving this article to Desert fathers and mothers or perhaps just putting something about this usage in the lead paragraph? Peter Chastain (talk) 15:27, 31 July 2009 (UTC)

Yes, that term is getting increased usage in reliable sources. I've added 'nuns' to the lead, and added the term 'Desert Mothers' to the section heading that describes the notable Fathers and Mothers. Because the vast majority of reliable sources still use "Desert Fathers", the article title should still reflect that. First Light (talk) 17:46, 13 September 2010 (UTC)
Note: there is now a separate Desert Mothers article. First Light (talk) 17:09, 6 August 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure how much cause there is for this. That they have a separate page implies that they were separate or unrelated; in truth we know that female hermits has as much in common with their male counterparts as they might have with their own gender, and no such segregation was institutionalized (which is, in fact, an important aspect of the early Church -- both a lack of formal gender segregation and a lack of Institution in general). The sources themselves do not set aside desert mothers as an independent or otherwise different body, why should we?
The 'Desert Mothers' page also implies a widespread and intentional stifling of female voices by male writers and historians, without credible evidence. That idea of gender antagonism feels like one assigned by revisionist voices establishing their contemporary stances -- the information is historically important, but let's not get carried away. I don't know enough about wiki stuff to say more, but I would suggest the articles be merged, with a prominent subsection devoted to Desert Mothers. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 68.173.226.103 (talk) 05:30, 4 March 2013 (UTC)
You're quite mistaken - just look at the references used in the Desert Mothers article. Five of the seven books and journal articles have "Desert Mothers" in their title. A sixth is an encyclopedia article from Encyclopedia of Monasticism that is titled "Desert Mothers." These are all high quality academic sources which treat Desert Mothers as a distinct subject. The Desert Mothers article is sourced from those high quality references, which do indeed treat the Desert Mothers as a distinctly separate, though related, topic. I don't see any antagonism in either article, just an explanation (from the sources themselves) of why academics treat them as separate subjects. Wikipedia only treats subjects in the way that the best quality sources do. First Light (talk) 05:45, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

Reorganizing of philosophy/teachings/practices sections[edit]

I've reorganized and retitled those sections from what I found here, since what the Fathers taught were far more often called 'teachings' then 'philosophy', according to reliable sources. The sections that are more of a 'teaching' from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers are now under the "Teachings" section, and the "Practices" of the Fathers are under that section. I also retitled two of the subsections. Reliable sources invariably lead with describing their regular and frequent practice of reciting the scriptures as just that, not as "meditation", though that term is also used sometimes and is appropriate in the text. I also changed the "No Christian state" title, since that is not normally considered a core teaching or practice of the Fathers, except as mentioned in the context of their withdrawal from society - which was indeed a core practice. First Light (talk) 18:58, 14 September 2010 (UTC)