This book introduces a beautiful fourth-century Coptic discourse on love and self-control in its first English translation. The text's heading attributes it to Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, but this attribution is questionable. Exploring issues of authorship and context, this book locates the origins of On Love and Self-Control in the Upper Egyptian Pachomian monastic community of the mid-fourth century. It then traces the various uses of On Love and Self-Control to the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, when the single surviving manuscript was copied as part of an anthology at the Monastery of St. Shenoute of Atripe. A partial reconstruction of this now dismembered codex is provided.
Carolyn Schneider is associate professor of church history at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Hong Kong, where she serves as a missionary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. She teaches courses introducing the history of the global church in every era but specializes in exploring the theologies of Athanasius in his fourth-century Egyptian context and Martin Luther in his sixteenth-century European context.
"Schneider has written the first thorough study of On Love and Self-Control (with English translation), carefully comparing it to related Pachomian texts and also to similar material in the Apocalypse of Samuel of Qalamun. The detailed review of the monastic manuscripts in which these texts are preserved also raises many interesting questions. Her work will certainly encourage further work on fourth- and fifth-century ascetic contexts in Egypt."
Dr. Janet A. Timbie, The Catholic University of America
"An exemplary work of scholarship and a model of how to situate a religious text in its original historical milieu and interpret it diachronically in light of its change historical contexts."
Catholic Library World
"While impressively clarifying and well-researched, Schneider's concise, accessible prose allows the reader to forget the fear of heady tediousness that the title may provoke. She instead provides the insights and background necessary for the text itself to become accessible to a Western, English-speaking audience."
Englewood Review of Books
"In this excellent book of meticulous scholarship, Carolyn Schneider restores a neglected Coptic text to its original context in early Egyptian monasticism. Schneider persuasively argues that On Love and Self-Control originated within the Pachomian monastic community, probably during the turmoil that followed Pachomius's death in 346, and that the leader Horsiesios could have been its author. She then traces the history of the text and its reception, from late antiquity, to a medieval scriptorium in the White Monastery, to its rediscovery by modern scholars. A clear and accurate English translation makes this rich discourse available to a wide range of readers interested in the history and spirituality of early Christian monasticism."
David Brakke, Joe R. Engle Chair in the History of Christianity and Professor of History, The Ohio State University