The Desert Fathers: Wisdom and Philosophy

The unit The Desert Fathers: Wisdom and Philosophy introduces students to the lives and literature of the Desert Fathers and Mothers, teaching them to read desert texts closely and critically with a view to better understanding their philosophical worldview in its ancient context and in relation to contemporary issues. It provides an introduction to philosophy in the Coptic tradition and establishes a base for further philosophical studies within that tradition. The unit is an elective unit and forms part of a Specialisation in Philosophy within the postgraduate awards.


Study Level



Humanities in the Christian Tradition

Sub Discipline


Credit Points






Learning Outcomes

At the end of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Analyse the range of concepts associated with the various philosophical schools of thought and leading figures of Desert Christianity
  2. Analyse a range of representative ancient ascetic texts to address hermeneutical and philosophical issues
  3. Evaluate the concepts of the Desert Wisdom tradition in terms of their ongoing significance and relevance
  4. Write a philosophical essay using acceptable methodological conventions to incorporate primary and secondary literature
  5. Apply philosophical ideas gained from reading to issues of contemporary philosophy, theology and/or Christian ministry.
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