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John Cassian (ACW No. 57): The Conferences: 057 (Ancient Christian Writers) Hardcover – 1 Jan 1997

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Press; annotated edition edition (1 Jan. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809104849
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809104840
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.7 x 5.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 98,080 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Aquinas on 27 Feb. 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is John Cassian's "reports", having interviewed a number of holy monks in Egypt in the fifth century. The spirtual advice given by the monks is ever new, showing extraordinary psychological insight. It is true that some of the reports may seem strange, with a huge emphasis on ascetics, chastity etc, which is likley to appear strange to the modern reader. But, these guys were true masters of the spiritual life and we do well to sit at their feet and listen attentively to their wisdom.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 11 reviews
66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Must read for all Christians 21 Nov. 2001
By Patrick Oden - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the complete text of all 24 of John Cassian's Conferences, some of which are translated for the very first time. This text could be, and indeed was, considered the advanced text on living the Christian life. While the stories of the desert fathers may sound daunting, their thoughts, as transmitted (and certainly adapted) by John Cassian are surprisingly honest, refreshing, and inspirational. These were people who truly sought, and knew God. As Cassian writes in the preface, we can criticize them as being too extreme, but the evidence of their lives testifies on their behalf. Virtually every aspect of life is covered here in some way, as Cassian relates his "conferences" with various monks in the deserts of Egypt. This book is so refreshing and stirring, especially given the "junk food" spirituality that most modern Christian publishers pump out. This way is not simple or quick, but it does point to a fuller life. All those who say they follow Christ should give this a read.
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Cassian Unsung Hero 14 Jan. 2009
By Theophan Edwards - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
John Cassian, THE CONFERENCES, Boniface Ramsey Translator. Ancient Christian Writers, No. 57. Newman Press, New York N.Y., 1997.

I remember the first time I discovered the writings of St. John Cassian with the freshness as if it were only yesterday. About 15 years ago I was almost done reading through the Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers. St. Cyprian had my affection more than any of the other up to this point, then I began reading Cassian in series 3, volume 11 and discovered what I had been searching for. I have been reading the conferences once per year ever since as well as other times preparing for lectures on the conferences and Institutes.

Each time I read the conferences I fall in love with them all over again. I wish I could read them everyday all year long, but that would preclude me from reading anything else, since the Conferences are about 800 pages in this most recent for the first time in English complete publication.

Ramsay does an excellent translation into modern English. He keeps the flow while remaining true to the text as well as consistently translating particular technical words. Cassian was/is that living bridge between early Egyptian monasticism and that of Southern Gaul, Britain and Ireland. He and his friend Germanus spent about 14 years in Egypt interviewing and training under the most holy, and aged elders. From the abundance of wisdom, He chose to reproduce 24 of the conferences in order to help establish the "best kind of monasticism" in the west. Each conference focus' on a topic necessary to gain "Theoria," or divine contemplation through purity and integrity: in other words, through dispassion acquiring stillness and union with God. Cassian's works are profoundly clear and applicable to just about any situation we may find ourselves in. He writes of setting spiritual goals and objectives, discerning spirits, Biblical interpretation, prayer, patience, the 8 progenitor vices and their opposite virtues; of repentance and mortification of the will.

Not only does Cassian interview such spiritual giants as Paphnutius, Pinufius, Moses, Abraham and others we come across in other sources, but he quotes these elders quoting and sharing stories of their elders - the 1st century Elders such as Antony! Unlike other works of a similar content, Cassian purposely keeps narratives of miracles to a minimum. His primary interest was communicating the teachings of the Elders which serve for example of daily living, rather than wowing his audience with signs and wonders. That said, there is no lack of the supernatural, but only when necessary to drive home a point. He was a strong advocate of "Apostolic brevity."

Cassian is one of the unsung heroes of the faith. His influence, in my opinion is close to, or equals in some respects the blessed Augustine in the West and St. John of the Ladder in the East. Climacus gives due honor to Cassian in his Ladder and Cassian was the first to organize monasticism in the West and his works are found throughout the ancient Celtic Church, which, in turn, re-evangelized Europe after the fall of Rome. This is a long review, I know, but well-worth the read, if I encourage even one person to read even just the first Conference - for then you will be hooked.

42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
The Ancient Christian Writers Series. . . 25 Oct. 2001
By Peter Abelard - Published on
Format: Hardcover
. . .is known for its critical editions of Patristic and Early Medieval writings. Again the series trumps with the addition of this title.
"The Conferences" of John Cassian are perhaps some of the most powerful commentaries on the eremetical, monastic, and spiritual ways of life ever written -- and they are all too often left unappreciated in today's world. This was not always the case. The great saints, monastics and mystics of the medieval period read and respected this work extremely highly.
The "Conferences", set up as though Cassian was in dialogue with the great hermits of his day (and in some cases, perhaps he actually was) deal with the various issues, choices, and crises which beset all Christians -- not merely those to whom the grace of the religious life has been given.
This is a book to be digested slowly, one "conference" at a time and to be meditated upon -- not to be rushed through.
Highly recommended.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
My favorite book 12 Sept. 2006
By D. A. Johnson - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Of all my books, this is my most important - the one I keep by my bed just to open up and read. It is filled with post-it tabs.

I agree with all said in other reviews. But for me, it is not the sort of book one reads cover to cover. It is a source for spiritual nourishment, guidance and encouragement on an as needed basis.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Unconfused Christianity 9 Jan. 2007
By James H. Mckinnon - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Conferences is the Christianity I always thought should exist but could never find amongst the writings and preachings of Western Christianity. It's a practical approach to the type of self improvement implicit in the sayings of Jesus. It is so much more useful to my own peace of mind and spiritual improvement than anything I've ever heard from a modern Christian pulpit that I can only lament not finding it many years ago.
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