Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




This thesis examines four prominent works of monastic literature composed during the third through the sixth centuries and contrasts the representations of salvation within them. The Lives of Constantine and Antony, The Lausiac History and The Sayings o f the Desert Fathers discussed conceptions of salvation in some of the earliest forms of monastic literature. The contention of this thesis is that in relation to the major works of monastic literature composed during the same period, The Sayings, articulated an existential dimension of salvation experienced as deliverance from sin and manifested in restored communion between God and the believer. Using genre as its primary unit of analysis, this study reveals the unique theology of salvation found in The Sayings o f the Desert Fathers.

While this study focuses on the early monastic community, it has much broader implications in the study of historical theology and Late Antique religion. This study’s theological focus contributes to the existing discussions on the holy man of Late Antiquity. At present, such scholarship remains focused on the sociological implications of ancient religion. This thesis provides a point of departure for studies of theological texts as works that describe the intellectual history of Late Antiquity.

The present discourse on the history of Christianity places much of its emphasis on Western Christendom. Saint Augustine and Aquinas remain the exemplars of Christian thought, and the reformation the pinnacle of the church’s impact on the course of history. This thesis contributes to a growing body of schokirship which probes Eastern foundations of Christian spirituality through the monastic movement and its rich intellectual history.