"Desert, City, and Countryside in the Early Christian Imagination," by Claudia Rapp, from Church History and Religious Culture, 2006, Vol. 86, No. 1/4, Special Issue: The Encroaching Desert: Egyptian Hagiography and the Medieval West (2006), pp. 93-112, in 21 bookmarked and searchable pdf pages. Uploaded by Robert Bedrosian. Internet Archive has other works by the distinguished author.
From the Abstract: "This paper isolates the literary motif of the desert as the idealized locus of monastic retreat and shows the transformation of this concept from pagan to Christian literature. Particular emphasis is placed on the development of the notion of the desert as a state of mind of detachment from and indifference to the world. This allows for the practice of monastic virtues even in a worldly environment, and thus bridges the perceived gap between monks and bishops."
The Concept of the Desert in Antiquity Act One: The Old Testament Act Two: The New Testament Act Three: The Monastic Experience of the Desert
Epilogue: The Desert as a State of Mind The Desert as a Typological Landscape Conclusion