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These letters of the two Old Men of Gaza - the "Great Old Man" Barsanuphius, and the "Other Old Man" John - were written to hermits, to monks in the community, to those in the choir, to priests, and to lay persons. Some were intended for advanced instruction, while others were intended for novices according to the capacity of the inquirer. These questions and answers evoke the image of the Christian tradition being passed from elder to disciple, and the contemporary reader will be able to appreciate the method - and possibly be inspired to imitate the message.
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.
At the head of this collection stands a new translation of On Pascha by Melito of Sardis, a liturgical work deriving from Quartodeciman circles in Asia. Alongside this is an extensive introduction and annotation pointing out not only that parallels to Jewish practice, but also offering an analysis of the work in terms of classical rhetoric.
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.
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 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.
The position which Gregory and Macrina eventually reach corresponds essentially to that of St Paul, namely that our bodies will rise again as bodies, but in a finer and more glorious form than we have now. Expressing this belief in terms of Greek silence, the dialogue assumes that the same physical elements which compose our present bodies must be reassembled in our resurrection bodies; otherwise our bodies would be recreated rather than raised.
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