Cover image for Journey back to Eden : my life and times among the desert fathers
Journey back to Eden : my life and times among the desert fathers
Gruber, Mark, O.S.B.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Maryknoll, N.Y. : Orbis Books, [2002]

Physical Description:
xiii, 208 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
September : a time of uncertainty -- October : a time of new beginnings -- November : a time to visit Abraham -- December : a time of signs : caelum et terra -- January : a time for celebration -- February : a time to intercede -- March : a time to go on pilgrimage -- April : a time of consecration -- May : a time to press onward -- June : a time to visit new places -- July : a time for farewells.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BX137.2 .G78 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



An American Benedictine monk chronicles the year he lived among the Coptic monks of Egypt, detailing a mysterious, spiritually challenging world saturated in prayer and silence. Original.

Author Notes

Mark Gruber is a Benedictine monk of St. Vincent Archabbey and an associate professor of anthropology at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

As a young monk and anthropology student, Gruber impulsively selected his dissertation topic contemporary Coptic monasteries after leafing through a National Geographic article on the Nile. The Copts, whose ancestors go back to the time of the Pharaohs, today comprise about 10% of Egypt's population; most practice an ancient form of Christianity that is distinct from Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. Coptic monasteries in the Sahara desert became the topic of Gruber's year-long field study and a lifelong focus of personal and professional interest. More than a decade after his year in the desert, he began consulting his notes, letters, interviews and memories in order to create this memoir, whose form is part spiritual journal, part travelogue. It does not entirely succeed in either category. As a spiritual journal, it is distressingly exterior: Gruber reproduces long theological conversations with fellow monks, supplies interesting facts about liturgy and monastic daily life and composes formal prayers, but gives little sense of the interior struggles he must have endured if the year was as transformational as he claims. As a travelogue, his account needs updating; the events depicted took place in 1986-1987, and Gruber nowhere ties them to current Middle Eastern realities. Nevertheless, he tells good stories, like the one about the miracle he inadvertently performed while waiting for a Marian apparition. And who could forget the singing octogenarian who hiked up a mountain with him the week the mercury hit 130 and the thermometers exploded? (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
About the Copts and Their Desert Monasteriesp. xiii
Introductionp. 1
September: A Time of Uncertaintyp. 5
October: A Time of New Beginningsp. 24
November: A Time to Visit Abrahamp. 32
December: A Time of Signs: Caelum et Terrap. 58
January: A Time of Celebrationp. 86
February: A Time to Intercedep. 111
March: A Time to Go on Pilgrimagep. 129
April: A Time of Consecrationp. 148
May: A Time to Press Onwardp. 168
June: A Time to Visit New Placesp. 179
July: A Time for Farewellsp. 194
Afterwordp. 208