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Isaac of Nineveh (Isaac the Syrian): The Second Part, Chapters 4-41 (Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium) [Paperback]

By Sebastian Brock (Translator)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   207
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 6" Height: 9.75"
Weight:   0.9 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 1, 1995
Publisher   David Brown
ISBN  9068317091  
EAN  9789068317091  

Availability  0 units.

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Item Description...
Isaac of Nineveh (Isaac the Syrian): The Second Part, Chapters 4-41 (Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalium) by A.S. Brock

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Mystical reflections in a scholarly edition  May 1, 2010

This is a collection of homilies by Isaac of Nineveh on topics of prayer, monastic life, and eschatological vision. They are full of luminous insights into the spiritual life, obviously the fruit of experience. An overarching theme is the benefits of 'stillness' and the rich spiritual delights that come from this state of humility and contrition for sin. Isaac has a very lyrical style, with poetic turns of phrase and imagery that evoke the writing of Ephrem the Syrian. Yet it is still restrained and sober, a clear and light-filled basking in the abundant grace of God. The movements of the soul in prayer are described with a skilful psychological insight.

This collection is controversial for several reasons. The first is some doubt cast as to whether it truly should be ascribed to Isaac of Nineveh, or whether it is the work of other Syrian monastic writers ascribed to him for political reasons. This discussion does not interest me greatly, but the stature of Isaac is such that a correct ascription would lend weight of credibility to the thoughts found here. This would be important for the second controversy, which is around the final three eschatological homilies, where Isaac argues that the pains of Gehenna are purgative and only a strategy of God in his grace to purify the unrepentant and reconcile them to himself. The value of his theological arguments is not for me to judge, but the doctrine of apocatastasis has always found a difficult reception in the Church and it would make many wary about accepting the value of this book.

This edition is a very dry and scholarly production, with a drab grey cover and copious footnotes on textual variants and Syrian verbs, but no commentary on the content itself. Isaac, or whoever the true author was, deserves better treatment than this, and a popular edition that makes these texts accessible and understandable to a wider audience would be a worthwhile endeavour, because they have much to offer.

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