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Simple and Bold: Ephrem’s Art of Symbolic Thought


Ephrem the Syrian is known as one of the greatest Christian poets and as a unique author whose mode of thought is usually described as “symbolic.” In this work, Kees den Biesen explores the literary, intellectual, and theological mechanisms at work in Ephrem’s writings with the specific aim of identifying the exact nature of his “symbolic thought” and evaluating its contemporary relevance. Den Biesen elaborates a comprehensive approach that integrates a variety of methods into a genuinely theological methodology. He then proposes his own comprehensive understanding of the nature and merits of Ephrem’s symbolic thought.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 1-59333-397-8
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Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Oct 20,2006
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 464
ISBN: 1-59333-397-8
$102.00
$61.20

Ephrem the Syrian is known as one of the greatest Christian poets and as a unique author whose mode of thought is usually described as “symbolic.” In this work, Kees den Biesen explores the literary, intellectual, and theological mechanisms at work in Ephrem’s writings with the specific aim of identifying the exact nature of his “symbolic thought” and evaluating its contemporary relevance.

Critically reviewing modern research into Ephrem, den Biesen develops the avenues opened up by scholars such as Robert Murray, Sebastian Brock, Tanios Bou Mansour and Phil Botha, and elaborates a comprehensive approach that integrates a variety of methods into a genuinely theological methodology. He exemplifies and fine-tunes this methodology through an analysis of the polarity “word vs. silence” in Ephrem’s madrāšē and of the way Ephrem constructs his thought in the epistemological treatise comprised in the First Discourse for Hypatius.

On the basis of these innovative explorations, den Biesen examines the most important scholarly interpretations of Ephrem’s theology. With great vision, den Biesen then proposes his own comprehensive understanding of the nature and merits of Ephrem’s symbolic thought. Thanks to his mastery of the art of the word and his familiarity with the world of sacred ritual, Ephrem develops open symbols and concepts into a carefully articulated system whose intelligence far surpasses the cleverness of analytic and logical thought. Ephrem’s symbolism constitutes a linguistic, artistic and intellectual model for a Christian theology that wishes to overcome today’s rationalism and fundamentalism and wisely express and celebrate the mystery of God and life.

Kees den Biesen is a theologian with a special interest in symbolism and poetry, a patristic scholar of early Syriac literature and the spirituality of the Christian Orient, and a specialist in architectural theory and liturgical form. He has lectured and conducted research in the Netherlands, Ireland, Egypt and the Ukraine and has published the Bibliography of Ephrem the Syrian. He now lives in Italy and works as a freelance translator in the field of contemporary spirituality and psychology.

Ephrem the Syrian is known as one of the greatest Christian poets and as a unique author whose mode of thought is usually described as “symbolic.” In this work, Kees den Biesen explores the literary, intellectual, and theological mechanisms at work in Ephrem’s writings with the specific aim of identifying the exact nature of his “symbolic thought” and evaluating its contemporary relevance.

Critically reviewing modern research into Ephrem, den Biesen develops the avenues opened up by scholars such as Robert Murray, Sebastian Brock, Tanios Bou Mansour and Phil Botha, and elaborates a comprehensive approach that integrates a variety of methods into a genuinely theological methodology. He exemplifies and fine-tunes this methodology through an analysis of the polarity “word vs. silence” in Ephrem’s madrāšē and of the way Ephrem constructs his thought in the epistemological treatise comprised in the First Discourse for Hypatius.

On the basis of these innovative explorations, den Biesen examines the most important scholarly interpretations of Ephrem’s theology. With great vision, den Biesen then proposes his own comprehensive understanding of the nature and merits of Ephrem’s symbolic thought. Thanks to his mastery of the art of the word and his familiarity with the world of sacred ritual, Ephrem develops open symbols and concepts into a carefully articulated system whose intelligence far surpasses the cleverness of analytic and logical thought. Ephrem’s symbolism constitutes a linguistic, artistic and intellectual model for a Christian theology that wishes to overcome today’s rationalism and fundamentalism and wisely express and celebrate the mystery of God and life.

Kees den Biesen is a theologian with a special interest in symbolism and poetry, a patristic scholar of early Syriac literature and the spirituality of the Christian Orient, and a specialist in architectural theory and liturgical form. He has lectured and conducted research in the Netherlands, Ireland, Egypt and the Ukraine and has published the Bibliography of Ephrem the Syrian. He now lives in Italy and works as a freelance translator in the field of contemporary spirituality and psychology.

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Kees den Biesen