Faculty Publications


The Practices of Monastic Prayer: Origins, Evolution, and Tensions

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Conference Proceeding

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What can we know of how Egyptian monks prayed? This overview of Egyptian monastic prayer suggests that their “contemplation” was primarily reflection upon biblical texts, expressed in verbal response and accompanying gestures. Visual meditation upon the Cross provided another dimension of reflection, and the use of gesture and special places for prayer shaped a physical environment that reinforced intention and practice. The emphasis upon repetition of brief, monologistic, prayer formulae laid the foundations for later monastic prayer traditions such as the Jesus Prayer and is the background for analogous forms of devotion in Latin Christianity such as the Hail Mary and Rosary.

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