ï~~Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 44 (2007) 277-279 Jitse Dijkstra and Mathilde van Dijk (eds.), The Encroaching Desert: Egyptian Hagiography and the Medieval West (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2006). viii + 288 pages. ISBN 90-04-15530-9. (Reprinted from Church History and Religious Culture 86, 2006, 1-288.) This volume represents the fruitful results of an expanding vision that began with an invitation to David Frankfurter to attend the public defense of Jitse Dijkstra's dissertation on Religious Encounters on the Southern Egyptian Frontier in Late Antiquity (AD 298-642) at the University of Groningen and to give a lecture while there. Given the presence of two additional experts on Egyptian hagiography at the defense, Jacques van der Vliet and Peter van Minnen, the plan expanded to include their responses to Frankfurter's lecture from the perspectives of their respective fields. Further discussions within the Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Groningen uncovered an interest in the continuing influence and use of the Egyptian desert material in the medieval west (Mathilde van Dijk), which led to the further expansion of the program into a two-day workshop exploring the nature of Egyptian hagiography and its abiding influence in the early and later Middle Ages. The papers presented at the workshop became the basis for this volume. As in the workshop, they divide rather sharply between the first three on Egyptian hagiography and the final six on various examples of its continuing influence in the early and later Middle Ages. In order to better connect the two halves of the volume, the editors invited an additional paper by Claudia Rapp on the "Desert, City, and Countryside in Early Christian Imagination." Her paper takes the reader from the narrower focus on Egypt found in the first three papers to the broader reach of Egypt in later Christian imagination evidenced in the final six essays. Given the origin of the volume, it comes as no surprise that the first three papers are more integrally connected than the others. In his lead essay, "Hagiography and the Reconstruction of Local Religion in Late Antique Egypt: Memories, Inventions, and Landscapes," David Frankfurter continues his efforts to uncover evidence of local Egyptian religion through the examination of select episodes found in sources of Egyptian hagiography. While his careful approach underscores the difficulty in separating useful evidence of an earlier period from later authorial elaboration and fancy, his conclusions have remained the subject of considerable debate as evidenced by the following two papers. Jacques van der Vliet ("Bringing Home the Homeless: Landscape and History in Egyptian Hagiography") borrows from Frankfurter's notion
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