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This study presents a comparative analysis of a vision that both Athanasius of Alexandria (in his Life of Antony) and Palladius of Helenopolis (in his Lausiac History) report of the monk Antony, renowned as first and greatest standard-bearer of Christian anchoretic asceticism, as it emerged in late antique Egypt. Based on comparison of vocabulary, imagery, and literary framing, contextualized against late-Roman Egyptian mortuary practices and beliefs, it will be shown that the vision recounted originates not with Palladius or Athanasius, but that both record, independently, an oral tradition originating with the monk Antony or his circle. It is probable that Palladius records faithfully a version that he learned from Cronius (or, Cronides), a longtime compatriot of Antony, and that Athanasius offers a subtly modified version. Athanasius’ version is distinguished by its lack of distinctively Egyptian elements, which are present in Palladius. Both theological and cultural explanations will be tentatively offered for this situation.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Journal Article

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