A Web-Based Bibliography on the emergence of early Christian cosmology
"In the fourth century a.d. the deserts of Egypt, Palestine, Arabia and Persia were peopled by a race of men....
They sought a way to God that was uncharted and freely chosen, not inherited from others who had mapped it out beforehand. They sought a God whom they alone could find, not one who was 'given' in a set stereotyped form by somebody else."
...Thomas Merton, The Wisdom of the Desert
Development of Monastic Communities in Egypt in the 4th Century