John Chryssavgis explores the ascetic teaching and theology of St John Climacus, a classical and formative writer of the Christian medieval East, and the author of the seventh-century Ladder of Divine Ascent. This text proved to be the most widely used handbook of the spiritual life in the Christian East, partly because of its unique and striking symbol of the ladder that binds together the whole book. It has caught the attention of numerous readers in East and West alike through the ages and is a veritable classic of medieval spirituality, whose popularity in the East equals that ofÂ The Imitation of Christ in the West. Chryssavgis follows the development and influence of earlier desert literature, from Egypt through Palestine into Sinai, and includes a discussion of the theology of tears, the concept of unceasing prayer, as well as the monastic principles of hesychia (silence) and eros (love).
'A truly excellent survey of one of the most seminal classics in the history of Eastern Christian spirituality' Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury 'St. John Climacus writes for the stout of heart: for many reasons the work can be a challenge to the modern reader. The Ladder has been a steady companion and inspiration to eastern Christian monasticism. Dr. John Chryssavgis shows us why. Chryssavgis uses his knowledge as scholar and translator of the early monastic tradition to bring the teachings of the Ladder into conversation with sources, parallels, and later developments. Providing both path and food for the journey, he reveals the Ladder's full significance to both spiritual seekers and students of early monasticism.' Columba Stewart O.S.B, St John's University, Collegeville, USA 'There is […] a real need for a serious study of Climacus, which is fulfilled by this book in a distinctive way…This is […] much more than an academic monograph, though it is rarely less than that: it is an introduction to a spiritual master for those who wish to learn from him how to pray, and find union with God in stillness and simplicity.' Journal of Ecclesiastical History '… surprisingly little scholarly work has been done on this ascetic, who followed in and extended the tradition of the early Desert Fathers. John Chryssavgis has begun to redress this situation with this important study of the teachings of John Climacus. Chryssavgis provides a useful introduction to his topic… Readers will learn a lot from this study…' Church History
Contents: Introduction; John Climacus and the Ladder; Appendix: biographical note; Soma-Sarx: the body and the flesh; Kardia: the heart; Nous: the intellect; 'Joyful Sorrow': the double gift of tears; Ascesis: the ascetic struggle of the monk; The ascetic at prayer; Conclusion; Bibliography; Indexes.