The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: From Plato to Denys

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9780198266686: The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition: From Plato to Denys

Scholars of the patristic era have paid more attention to the dogmatic tradition in their period than to the development of Christian mystical theology. Andrew Louth aims to redress the balance. Recognizing that the intellectual form of this tradition was decisively influenced by Platonic ideas of the soul's relationship to God, Louth begins with an examination of Plato and Platonism. The discussion of the Fathers which follows shows how the mystical tradition is at the heart of their thought and how the dogmatic tradition both molds and is the reflection of mystical insights and concerns. This new edition of a classic study of the diverse influences upon Christian spirituality includes a new Epilogue which brings the text completely up to date.

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Review:

One reviewer of this book wrote, "it is not often that we chance to meet with a book so rich that it would be impossible to discuss it in full without writing another one at least as long." Originally given as a series of lectures in the Faculty of Theology at the Oxford University, The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition is a superb introduction to the sometimes fog-filled subject of Christian mysticism. Focusing on the early centuries of the faith, Louth first explores the influence of Plato and Platonism on Christian writers, and then devotes individual chapters to key theologians: Athanasius and Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, and Denys the Areopagite, also known as Pseudo-Dionysius. In his final two chapters he looks at the relationship between the mysticism of the early church fathers and that of St. John of the Cross, perhaps the most influential mystic in the history of the church, and he explores the distinctive character of Christian mysticism.

While challenging reading, Louth is a clear and straightforward thinker and writer. The Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition will lead the discerning reader onto a path through some of the most exciting and ecstatic spiritual writing in any tradition. --Doug Thorpe

About the Author:


Andrew Louth is Professor of Patristic and Byzantine Studies, University of Durham.

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