John of Dalyatha (690-780 CE) was a monk from a monastery near the Turkey-Iraq border. After living in the monastery for only seven years, he received permission to live a solitary life in the over 9,000 ft high mountains of Dalyatha where he spent most of his life. When he became too old to live on his own, he came down from the mountains, formed a community around himself and wrote these works. In them, John outlines the life itinerary of those who are baptized, the "Way of Wonder" - leading to the vision of God.
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The author of these Letters, John of Dalyatha, (or John Saba, the “Elder”) was born in northwest Iraq and during the eighth century was a monk in a monastery at Qardu, near the Turkish border. After seven years in community, he received permission to live the solitary life in the mountains of Dalyatha, where he remained most of his life.
John outlines the itinerary of those who are baptized: purification through repentance; fasting; prayer; struggle with demons; sanctification through silence; tears; wonder; divine light; union through contemplation; praise; assistance of the angels--leading to the vision of God. The Christian life after baptism is presented as an "anticipated resurrection"--a new life in the New World. Throughout the Letters, John speaks intuitively with great fervour, perhaps due to Macarian influence. But he always speaks with clarity, not analytically, but never imprecisely, perhaps revealing Evagrian influence. He speaks about God in human language.
Mary Hansbury received her Ph.D. from Temple University in Philadelphia, specializing in Early Christian Studies in a World Religions context. She has taught at La Salle University in Philadelphia and at Bethlehem University in Palestine. Previously, she translated On the Ascetical Life of St. Isaac of Nineveh and hymns On the Mother of God of Jacob of Serug.