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“Was There a Syriac Lectio Divina? The Development of Contemplative Reading in the Monasteries of the Church of the East (400-700 C.E.)”

David A. Michelson, Vanderbilt University

Thu, 2/8 · 4:30 pm6:00 pm · 103 Scheide Caldwell

The Committee for the Study of Late Antiquity; Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies

Contemplative reading is a spiritual practice developed by Christian monks in the early Middle Ages. This talk traces the history of monastic reading in sixth- and seventh-century Mesopotamia. Ascetics belonging to the Church of the East pursued a form of contemplation which moved from reading, to meditation, to prayer, to the ecstasy of divine vision. The development of this Syriac tradition can be seen through three phases: its establishment as an ascetic practice, the articulation of its theology based upon “Egyptian” sources, and its maturation and spread beyond Mesopotamia to other regions of Eastern Christianity.

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