John Climacus and the spiritual tradition of the IV-VII centuries
The main purpose of the thesis is to present the theology of John Climacus as a synthesis of the ascetic and mystical tradition of the IV-VII centuries, which was the period of the spiritual formation of monasticism. Although Climacus does not present a systematic anthropology, he consistently uses anthropological vocabulary to convey spiritual experience, and shows the role of the body in it. (Chs. I&II). A monk is primarily someone who prays. Why and how should one pray? What happens to man when he prays? How can one follow the commandment to pray unceasingly? What is the importance of tears? In his section dedicated to prayer, as well as throughout the book, Climacus provides a theology of prayer by answering these questions (Ch. III).Angels and demons participate in the spiritual life of an individual, and Climacus is keen to explain to his readers the nature of this participation, with special reference to demons and their guile. (Ch. IV).The Scala Paradisi is the first treatise to deal in a systematic way with the subject of what it means to be a monk. Becoming a monk is impossible in isolation from the tradition, which passes on the experience of the preceding generations to those that follow, thus spiritual fatherhood is of utmost importance (Chs. V&VI). What is the true significance of love, its relationship with fear, and the importance of nuptial imagery? Climacus' discussion on love embraces all the preceding topics, and summarizes his entire doctrine (Ch. VII).