John Cassian
(c. 365 - c. 433)


CASSIANUS, Johannes, b. between 359 and 360; d. between 440 and 450; was educated in a monastery at Bethlehem, under the tutelage of abbot Germanus. In 390 the master and his pupil, now two friends, made a pilgrimage to the Egyptian hermits; and this oasis of stillness and quiet, situated on the very confines of the confusion and restlessness of the ancient world, made so deep an impression on the two wanderers, that they remained there for seven years. Leaving Egypt, they repaired to Constantinople, where Cassianus was consecrated a deacon by Chrysostom; but after the overthrow of Chrysostom (404) Cassianus went to Rome alone. Of Germanus nothing more is heard. The sack of Rome by Alaric, made upon Cassianus, as upon so many others, the impression that peace and safety could not be attained except by leaving society and the stir of the multitude, and settling down in solitude. he went to Massilia, founded two monasteries (one for men and one for women), and wrote, for the instruction of his pupils, De Caenohioruni Institutis Libri XII., and Collationes Patrum XXIV. In the former of these works he gives first the external rules after which a hermit’s life is led, and then he describes the internal labor by which the final goal is reached. In the latter he gives his experiences from the Egyptian hermits. By these books, and by his two foundations, he introduced monasticism in the Western Church.

Also from another side the Western Church was deeply moved at that moment, namely, by the genius of Augustine. But the discrepancy between the ideas of Augustine and the theological system of the Eastern Church, in which Cassianus was educated, was so great, that he never felt able to adopt such doctrines as those of predestination, the irresistibility of grace, etc. He did not separate himself, however, so far from the views of Augustine as to embrace those of Pelagius. On the contrary, on the instance of Leo the Great, he wrote his De Incarnatione Libri VII., directly against Nestorianism, but indirectly against Pelagianism; and thus he became the founder and first representative of semi-Pelagianism. The best collected edition of his works is that by GAZAEUS, Douai, 1616, which has been often reprinted, latest at Leipzig, 1733. An accurate analysis of his stand-point has been given by G. Fr.WIGGERS: Darstellung des Augustinismus und Pelagianismus, 1833, II. pp. 6-183. [There is an Italian translation of Cassianus’s work, Venice, 1663, and a French, Paris, 1667.]

Thiersch,"CASSIANUS, Johannes," Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn., Vol. 1. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. p.413.

Primary Sources

Book or monograph John Cassian, Nicene & Post Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, Vol. 11. E.C.S. Gibson, translator. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1894. pp.161-621.
Book or monograph John Cassian, Selection from Conferences in Owen Chadwick, Western Asceticism, J. Baillie et al. Library of Christian Classics, Vol. 12. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1953-1966. pp.190-289.
Book or monograph John Cassian: ConferencesC. Luibheid, translator, John Cassian: Conferences, R.J. Payne, et al, Classics of Western Spirituality. New York: Paulist, 1985. Pbk. ISBN: 080912694X. pp.201. {CBD}

Secondary Sources

Article in Journal or Book Augustine Michael Casiday, "Apatheia and Sexuality in the Thought of Augustine and Cassian," St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 45.4 (2001): 359-394.
Article in Journal or Book D. Burton-Christie, "Scripture, Self-Knowledge and Contemplation in Cassian's Conferences," Studia Patristica 25 (1993): 339-45.
On-line Resource John Cassian (Christian Classic Ethereal Library)
Book or monograph Owen Chadwick, John Cassian: A Study in Primitive Monasticism, 2nd edn. London: Cambridge University Press, 1968. Hbk. ISBN: 0521046076.
Article in Journal or Book G.J. Crites, "John Cassian and the Development of Early Irish Christianity: A Study of the State of the Literature," American Benedictine Review 53.4 (2002): 377-399.
Article in Journal or Book C. Folsam, "Anger, Dejection and Acedia in the Writings of John Cassian," American Benedictine Review, Vol. 35 (1984): 219-248.
On-line Resource John Cassian (Maurice M. Hassett)
Article in Journal or Book M.S. Laird, "Cassian's Conferences Nine and Ten: Some Observations Regarding Contemplation and Hermeneutics," Recherches de théologie ancienne et médiévale 62 (1995): 145-66.
Article in Journal or Book J.T. Lienhard, "On 'Discernment of Spirits' in the Early Church (1 Cor 12:10 for Chrysostom, Origen, Athanasius; Cassian," Theological Studies 41 (1980): 505-29.
Article in Journal or Book John J. Levko, "Incessant Prayer and John Cassian," Diakonia 28.2 (1995): 71-90.
Article in Journal or Book John J. Levko, "Patience in a Life of Prayer for John Cassian," Diakonia 28.3 (1995): 167-172.
Article in Journal or Book John Levko, "The Relationship of Prayer to Discretion and Spiritual Direction for John Cassian," Vladimir's Theological Quarterly 40.3 (1996): 155-171.
Article in Journal or Book John J. Levko, "Temptation and Its Relationship to Prayer for John Cassian," Diakonia 29.2 (1996): 85-94.
Article in Journal or Book John J. Levko, "Self-Control in a Life of Prayer for John Cassian," Diakonia 29.2 (1996): 142-154.
Article in Journal or Book John Levko, "Inside Prayer with John Cassian," Diakonia 30.2-3 (1997): 165-173.
Article in Journal or Book John Levko, "The Spiritual Journey from Lukewarmness to Steadfastness for John Cassian," Diakonia 31.1 (1998): 5-13.
Article in Journal or Book D.J. MacQueen, "John Cassian on Grace and Free Will with Particular Reference to Institutio XIII and Callatio XII," Recherches de théologie ancienne et médiévale, Vol. 44 (1977): 5-28.
Article in Journal or Book Peter. Munz, "John Cassian," The Journal of Ecclesiatical History 11.1 (1960): 1-22.
Article in Journal or Book J. Rippinger, "The Concept of Obedience in the Monastic Writings of Basil and Cassian," Studia monastica, Vol. 19 (1977): 7-18.
Article in Journal or Book Philip Rousseau, "Cassian, Contemplation of the Cenobotic Life," Journal of Ecclesiastical History. 26 (1975): 113-126.
Book or monograph Philip Rousseau, Ascetics, Authority and the Church in the Age of Jerome and Cassian. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1978. Hbk. ISBN: 0198218702. pp.153-234.
Article in Journal or Book Edward Sellner , "Cassian and the Elders: Formation and Spiritual Direction in the Desert," Studies in Formative Spirituality 13.3 (1992): 305-322.
Article in Journal or Book Columba Stewart, "The Monastic Journey According to John Cassian," Word and Spirit 15 (1993): 29-39.
Article in Journal or Book Columba Stewart, "Writing about John Cassian in the 1990's," American Benedictine Review 48.4 (1997): 341-346.
Article in Journal or Book Rebecca Harden Weaver, "The Experience of Scripture: The Anti-predestinarian Argument of John Cassian," Insights 109.2 (1994): 39-47.

Related Subjects

Alexander of Alexandria | Ambrose | Aristides | Arnobius | Athanasius | Athenagoras | Augustine | Basil | Boethius | John Cassian | Celsus | Clement of Alexandria | Clement of Rome | Constantine | Cyprian | Cyril of Alexandria | Cyril of Jerusalem | Ephraem the Syrian | Epiphanius | Eusebius of Caesarea | Gregory of Nazianzus | Gregory of Nyssa | Gregory Thaumaturgus | Hermas | Hilary of Poitiers | Hippolytus | Ignatius of Antioch | Irenaeus of Lyons | Julius Africanus | Jerome | John Chrysostom | Josephus | Justin Martyr | Justinian I | Lactantius | Leo the Great | Marcellus | Martin of Tours | Melito | Methodius | Minucius Felix | Novatian | Origen | Pachomius | Papias | Philo | Polycarp | Tatian | Tertullian | Theodore of Mopsuestia | Theodoret | Theophilus | Tyconius | Ulfilas | Victorinus | Marius Victorinus