Other patristic/late antique texts I’d like to study: monks and letters

Last night I had my first academic job interview — over Skype! It went well, and I believe that I gave them accurate and coherent answers that reflected me positively. The question is whether I am what they want for the job. I do think, though, that I stumbled a little on one question, and I’m not sure why. The question was what patristic or late antique authors I’d like to study besides Leo.

I answered that I would like to study Cyril of Alexandria and the Acts of the Council of Chalcedon, as well as autobiography, such as Augustine’s Confessions and Rutilius Namatianus.

That answer was not untrue, but I feel that I could have said the first part better, for one thing — that I am interested in studying Christological controversy from Chalcedon (451) to the Istrian Schism (553-700) in the West and the Sixth Ecumenical Council in the East (681).

But I wonder (because, even after a good interview, one can’t help but wonder these things!) if I might have done better to emphasise the breadth of my interest. I have a long-running interest in things monastic, you see. Indeed, it was the Desert Fathers that drew me into the study of Patristics; having had an interest in St Francis and St John of the Cross in undergrad, I wanted to hunt down the roots of the monastic tradition.

So, other patristic authors I would like to study are, in the West, John Cassian, The Rule of the Master, The Rule of St Benedict, the Latin transmission of the Life of St Antony, and the Rule of St Augustine. In the East, I want to study the Apophthegmata of the Desert Fathers, John Climacus, Evagrius Ponticus, Simeon the Stylite, the letters of Barsanuphius and John —

Letters. Epistolography is another area of interest. Cyprian, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome, Symmachus, Sidonius, Ruricius in Latin, Basil and Cyril of Alexandria in Greek.

But I answered truthfully, at least! And remembered to smile, which always helps.

We’ll see what they decide.

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