Martha and Mary: Distraction and Discretion
Cassian inserts quotations from various prophetic books and from Psalms and Proverbs in order to mold those seeking puritas cordis according to an authentic ideal that originates in the Hebrew Bible. Like many patristic texts, Cassian's Conferences refers to the prophetic narratives and wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible with dizzying frequency. For Cassian, practical knowledge refers to all the actions and motivations required of the exterior hominis as the monk progresses along the via regia. For Cassian, Moses' glorious countenance was the result of his intimacy with God. In response to Cassian's concerns over distractions caused by thoughts and images from pagan literature, Abba Nesteros proposes a simple remedy. For Cassian, the monk's very life becomes the hermeneutical medium for understanding divine revelation, an understanding experienced in the light of theoria. As is the case in each of the Conferences, Abba Nesteros is portrayed as the perfect realization of the subject matter at hand.