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Knowledge and Experience in the Writings of St. Isaac of Nineveh


One of the most popular monastic authors with a nearly universal spread over time is Isaac of Nineveh, a mystic of the late 7th century, who belonged to the East Syriac Church. This book is dedicated to the doctrine of knowledge, as described in Isaac of Nineveh’s discourses, in its double dimension, worldly/philosophical and theological (the former considered to be more discursive/intellectual and the latter intuitive/ experiential) and the rapport established between these two, prolonged in the concept of vision, as the highest form of spiritual experience.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-3905-3
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Apr 19,2018
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 347
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-3905-3
$95.00
$57.00

One of the most popular monastic authors with a nearly universal spread over time, Isaac of Nineveh was a mystic of the late 7th century, who belonged to the East Syriac Church. The great importance of Isaac is seen in three aspects: he is a good example of the ecumenical role played by the East Syriac monastic literature, he belongs to the “third theological tradition”, the Syriac (Semitic) school (next to Byzantine and Latin), at a time of synthesis with the Byzantine tradition, and his writings provide important information about the religious monastic ambience in the Persian territory, at a time of turbulence caused by the arrival of the Muslim powers, as well as by internal schisms or the proselytism of the Western Syriac community.

This book is dedicated to the doctrine of knowledge, as described in Isaac of Nineveh’s discourses, in its double dimension, worldly/philosophical and theological (the former considered to be more discursive/intellectual and the latter intuitive/ experiential) and the rapport established between these two, prolonged in the concept of vision, as the highest form of spiritual experience. The topic becomes even more interesting if one places it within the Christological development of the East Syriac theology in the Arab conquered territories of the 7th-8th centuries and the Messalian controversies revealed in different accusations of the Church authorities and academic theologians directed towards isolated monastic influent authors. One can identify different positions and, occasionally, three representative categories – the Church leaders, the academic theologians and the charismatic monastics. The main question refers to a possible existence of two opposite positions: theologians and Church authorities, on the one hand, and the charismatic monastics, on the other. A second thesis might be expressed as an opposition between a scholastic and a practical-mystical theology, professed occasionally by representatives of these three categories.

One of the most popular monastic authors with a nearly universal spread over time, Isaac of Nineveh was a mystic of the late 7th century, who belonged to the East Syriac Church. The great importance of Isaac is seen in three aspects: he is a good example of the ecumenical role played by the East Syriac monastic literature, he belongs to the “third theological tradition”, the Syriac (Semitic) school (next to Byzantine and Latin), at a time of synthesis with the Byzantine tradition, and his writings provide important information about the religious monastic ambience in the Persian territory, at a time of turbulence caused by the arrival of the Muslim powers, as well as by internal schisms or the proselytism of the Western Syriac community.

This book is dedicated to the doctrine of knowledge, as described in Isaac of Nineveh’s discourses, in its double dimension, worldly/philosophical and theological (the former considered to be more discursive/intellectual and the latter intuitive/ experiential) and the rapport established between these two, prolonged in the concept of vision, as the highest form of spiritual experience. The topic becomes even more interesting if one places it within the Christological development of the East Syriac theology in the Arab conquered territories of the 7th-8th centuries and the Messalian controversies revealed in different accusations of the Church authorities and academic theologians directed towards isolated monastic influent authors. One can identify different positions and, occasionally, three representative categories – the Church leaders, the academic theologians and the charismatic monastics. The main question refers to a possible existence of two opposite positions: theologians and Church authorities, on the one hand, and the charismatic monastics, on the other. A second thesis might be expressed as an opposition between a scholastic and a practical-mystical theology, professed occasionally by representatives of these three categories.

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Contributor

Valentin Vesa

Table of Contents (v)
Foreword (ix)
Introduction (1)
1. Isaac of Nineveh: an ecumenical figure of the East Syriac Church (11)
   1.1 Biography and bibliography (11)
   1.2 The spreading of Isaac’s discourses (18)
   1.3 The theological world of Isaac of Nineveh (20)
   1.4 Conclusion (26)
2. Isaac of Nineveh’s Christology and the internal disputes within the East Syriac community between the 6th to the 8th centuries (29)
   2.1 Isaac’s Christological phraseology (30)
   2.2 The Christological disputes of Isaac’s time in the East Syriac Church (38)
   2.3 The process of the mystics (787–790) (60)
   2.4 Isaac of Nineveh and the theological disputes in the East Syriac community (79)
   2.5 Conclusion (86)
3. The history of divine Economy from Creation to Eschatological Time: Incarnation as foundational event for divine knowledge (89)
   3.1 General aspects (89)
   3.2 God’s revelation in creation and divine knowledge (91)
   3.3 Man and his ability to know God. Elements of anthropology (97)
   3.4 The Incarnation of Christ – the inaugural event of eschatological knowledge (109)
   3.5 Conclusion (122)
4. Isaac’s cognitive terminology (123)
   4.1 Three ascetical stages (123)
   4.2 The cognitive faculties (128)
   4.3 Secondary terms (142)
   4.4 Forms of knowledge (146)
   4.5 Conclusion (160)
5. The process of knowledge (161)
   5.1 General aspects (162)
   5.2 Ascetical itinerary (166)
   5.3 Ascetical knowledge (181)
      5.3.1 Bodily asceticism (190)
      5.3.2 The noetic asceticism (195)
   5.4 The Powers of the soul and the process of knowledge (204)
   5.5 The worldly and the spiritual knowledge (217)
   5.6 The knowledge out of creation, out of Scripture and the spiritual knowledge (222)
   5.7 Knowledge and faith (235)
   5.8 Knowledge and un-knowledge (242)
   5.9 Knowledge and vision (246)
      5.9.1 The concept of vision in the East Syriac Mystics (247)
      5.9.2 The concept of vision in Isaac’s theology (256)
   5.10 Knowledge and spiritual prayer (277)
   5.11 Conclusion (285)
6. The Dogmatic position on spiritual knowledge (287)
   6.1 The possibility of divine knowledge (287)
   6.2 The cause of spiritual knowledge (289)
   6.3 The content and the forms of spiritual knowledge (292)
   6.4 The scope of spiritual knowledge (295)
   6.5 Conclusion (307)
Conclusion (309)
Bibliography (315)

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