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The Role of Death in the Ladder of Divine Ascent and the Greek Ascetic Tradition$
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Jonathan L. Zecher

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198724940

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198724940.001.0001

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John of Sinai and the Quest for Unity

John of Sinai and the Quest for Unity

(p.29) 1 John of Sinai and the Quest for Unity
The Role of Death in the Ladder of Divine Ascent and the Greek Ascetic Tradition

Jonathan L. Zecher

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces the man, John Climacus, and his life. It discusses the events of his life and briefly explores the vexing and unanswerable matter of dating his lifetime, opting for c.579–649, which reflects a scholarly consensus. After introducing the Ladder as a work of monastic spiritual direction, it introduces the problem of structure. The Ladder’s thirty rungs reflect multiple structures: a dyadic structure that highlights the entanglement of vices and virtues; and a triadic structure that highlights the stages of progress to spiritual maturity. Both highlight the existential emphasis of Climacus’ spirituality, which focuses not on a system of vices, virtues, and practices, but on the unification of the individual in the love of God. In light of that, Climacus’ consistent development of the monk’s engagement with death suggests itself as a principle that organizes dyadic and triadic structures, and generates Climacus’ spirituality.

Keywords:   St Catherine’s Monastery, John of Raithou, Daniel of Raithou, dyothelitism, logismoi, ascetic psychology, Christian formation, aretology

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