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St Isaac's monastic anthropology has a major influence on all of Byzantine spiritual literature. The way toward God, in his writing, was threefold: the way of the body, the way of the soul, and the way of the spirit.
This is the first book to provide an affordable translation of the major doctrinal poems of St. Gregory of Nazianzus. Included are poems on the Trinity, Creation and Providence, Angels and the Soul, the Person of Christ, Human Nature and poems debating the Christian understanding of marriage and virginity.
The three documents translated in this volume, "Against the Monophysites," "Concerning the Three Chapters," and On the True Faith," are significant imperial documents reflecting the conclusion reached in that theological program. Although they failed to convince the monophysites or reconcile them to the imperial Church, they articulate the interpretation of Chalcedon's Christological definition, upheld by Orthodox theologians even today, and set the stage for the Christological definitions of the Fifth Ecumenical Council.
St. Athanasius stood contra mundum for the Trinitarian doctrine 'whole and undefiled,' when it looked as if all the civilized world was slipping back from Christianity into the religion of Arius, into one of those 'sensible' synthetic religions which are so strongly recommended today and which then, as now, included among their devotees many highly cultivated clergymen.
The eighth-century document Historia Ecclesiastica of Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople (715-730), was for centuries the quasi-official explanation of the Divine Liturgy for the Byzantine Christian world. Although "allegorical" in content, its interest lies in its historical value, for it appeared at a time of great flux in the life of the Byzantine Church, at the outbreak of the iconoclastic controversies, a period which marked a strong shift in theology and piety.
The theological significance of this document and its usefulness in understanding the form of the liturgy celebrated in the eighth century is discussed in an extensive introduction by the translator, Paul Meyendorff. The introduction includes an exposition on mystagogical catecheses and the development of an historicizing system of liturgical symbolism.
Letters from the Desert is part of the POPULAR PATRISTIC SERIES.
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