Modern Christians and early Christians wrestled with very similar questions. The Pre-Reformation Spirituality Collection presents a broad selection of Christian writings from the church’s first 15 centuries—from Origen in the postapostolic era, to Johannes Tauler and the eve of the Reformation. This collection, which incorporates a wide diversity of theological perspectives, provides titles from famous authors and more obscure writers, as well as anthologies of poetry, mystical writing, apocalyptic literature, and other spiritual writings.
In the Logos editions, these valuable volumes are enhanced by amazing functionality and features. Scripture and ancient-text citations link directly to English translations and original-language texts, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. The Topic Guide lets you perform powerful searches to instantly gather relevant biblical texts and resources. Tablet and mobile apps let you take the discussion with you. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.
Athanasius (c. 295–373), bishop of Alexandria, spiritual master, and theologian, was a major figure of fourth-century Christendom. The Life of Antony is one of the foremost classics of asceticism. The Letter to Marcellinus is an introduction to the spiritual sense of the Psalms.
The Life of Moses has special significance because it reflects Gregory’s “spiritual sense” of the Scriptures. Gregory frames an immensely significant synthesis of the earlier Hellenistic and Jewish interpretive tradition in this work. He describes the spiritual ascent as taking place in three stages, symbolized by the Lord's revelation of himself to Moses, first in light, then in the cloud and, finally, in the dark.
The Ladder of Divine Ascent was the most widely used handbook of the ascetic life in the ancient Greek Church. Popular among both laity and monastics, it was translated into Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, Old Slavonic, and other languages. Written while the author was abbot of the monastery of Catherine on Mount Sinai, it portrays the ascetical life as a ladder which each aspirant must ascend, each step being a virtue to be acquired, or a vice to be surrendered. Its thirty steps reflect the hidden life of Christ himself. Pierre Pourrat in his History of Christian Spirituality calls John Climacus the “most important ascetical theologian of the East.”
This volume includes a translation of four spiritual treatises of Maximus the Confessor (c. 580–662), plus an account of his trial. Included are The Four Hundred Chapters of Love, Commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, Chapters on Knowledge, The Church’s Mystagogy, and Trial of Maximus.
Origen: An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer and Selected Works
This volume consists of the important and influential writings of Origen (c. 185–254), a Christian mystic and early Church Father. Origen was born in Alexandria and lived through the turbulent years during the collapse of the Roman Empire. Selections include An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer, First Principles: Book IV, Prologue to the Commentary on the Song of Songs, and Homily XXVII on Numbers. This volume also includes a preface by Hans Urs von Balthasar.
Philo of Alexandria: The Contemplative Life, The Giants, and Selections
Available for the first time in one volume is the basic vision of Philo (c. 20 BC–AD 50), the greatest Jewish mystic, philosopher, and theologian of the Greco-Roman period. This anthology allows Philo to speak in his own words, and opens the door to further explore his writings. This volume includes Philo's The Contemplative Life, The Giants, and selections from the other treatises are presented by theme.
The real identity of the person who chose to write under the pseudonym “Dionysius the Areopagite” is unknown. Even the exact dates of the writings have never been determined. The texts themselves, though relatively short, are at points seemingly impenetrable and have mystified readers for centuries. Yet the influence of this shadowy figure on other mystical writers from the early middle ages on is readily discernible. The author’s formulation of negative theology stresses the impotence of human attempts to penetrate the “cloud of unknowing,” and is a perennial favorite of spiritually minded believers. Brief essays from top scholars exploring the main themes of Pseudo-Dionysius’ work accompany the primary texts, and include contributions by René Roques, Jaroslav Pelikan, Jean Leclercq, and Karlfried Froehlich.
Pseudo-Macarius: The Fifty Spiritual Homilies and the Great Letter
The writings of Pseudo-Macarius, a Syrian monk of the fourth century, bring to Western Christianity a holistic “heart” spirituality that offers a necessary complement to the “head” spirituality of the West. The Fifty Homilies, in the form of a practical, monastic pedagogy, reveal the typical traits of Eastern Orthodox asceticism, with particular emphasis on the spiritual combat, the action of the Holy Spirit, and the importance of interior prayer. The Great Letter discusses the purging of the passions to bring the Christian into a state of tranquility and integration, and addresses the monastic community with instructions regarding organization, humility, and prayer.
This collection of Augustine’s writings includes excerpts from his Confessions, On the Trinity, The City of God, and Homilies on the Psalms, along with the complete texts of the Rule of St. Augustine, On Seeing God, and On the Presence of God.
John Cassian’s Conferences is a study of the fourth and fifth century Egyptian ideal of the monk. At the turn of the sixth century the Roman rule that formed the bedrock of civil order was in decline. During the chaos of those years, there arose in the deserts of Egypt and Syria monastic movements that offered men and women a radical God-centered alternative to dominant Roman society.
This volume contains writings by two thirteenth-century Dominicans, both doctors of the church. The two writers are St. Albert the Great (1200–1280), patron saint of natural scientists, and the “common doctor,” St. Thomas Aquinas. Both are famous for their contributions to philosophy and theology, but they are also both important in the history of spirituality.
Anchoritic Spirituality: Ancrene Wisse and Associated Works
In the first quarter of the thirteenth century a number of works were written for anchoresses, women who lived as religious recluses in cells adjoining churches. The most influential is Ancrene Wisse (A Guide for Anchoresses), which discusses in great detail the daily life of the anchoress, both outer and inner. This work gives a detailed sense of a powerful and multifaceted spirituality different from that of other mystics.
Angela of Foligno (c. 1248–1309) is one of the most outstanding representatives of the Franciscan and Christian mystical tradition. Her book, published here in English for the first time, describes her passionate love affair with the “suffering God-man,” and her teachings in the form of letters and exhortations to her spiritual progeny.
Angelic Spirituality: Medieval Perspectives on the Ways of Angels
Anglo-Saxon Spirituality presents a wide-ranging selection of Anglo-Saxon writings both in poetry and prose. There are sermons extolling the heroism of saints, homilies explaining church festivals and customs, poetical paraphrases of excerpts from the Bible, visions of Judgment Day, allegories, hagiographies and didactic pieces, as well as the celebrated Dream of the Rood and Cædmon’s Hymn, the earliest known English poems.
Apocalyptic Spirituality: Treatises and Letters of Lactantius, Adso of Montier-en-der, Joachim of Fiore, the Spiritual Franciscans, Savonarola
Apocalyptic Spirituality makes available major texts of Christian apocalyptic literature from the fourth to the sixteenth centuries. The apocalyptic tradition is that of traditional philosophy based on Revelation and concerned with the end of the world.
Featuring a new translation by G.R. Evans, Bernard of Clairvaux’s writings have played a major role in shaping the Western monastic tradition and influencing the development of Roman Catholic mystical theology. Together with an introduction by the master of Bernard studies, Jean Leclercq, they comprise a volume that occupies a place of special importance in the chronicle of the history of the Western spiritual adventure.
This volume contains four key documents of Birgittine literature: the Life of Blessed Birgitta, the complete fifth and seventh books of her Revelations, and her Four Prayers. Of the present volume, Birger Bergh, prominent Birgittine textual critic, writes: “This translation, done by a translator with a sensitivity of style and with genuine understanding of the Birgittine world, gives a perfect picture of the Latin original and its fluent diction.”
Bonaventure: The Soul’s Journey into God, The Tree of Life, The Life of St. Francis
Named “The Prince of Mystics” by Leo XIII, Bonaventure (1217–1274), friar and professor at the University of Paris, was considered a great spiritual master in his own lifetime. These great works show the core of his vision.
Carthusian Spirituality: The Writings of Hugh of Balma and Guigo de Ponte
Catherine of Genoa Catherine of Genoa (1447–1510), a married lay woman, was a mystic and a humanitarian, and a constant contemplative who cared for the sick and destitute. Purgation and Purgatory is a collection of sayings on spiritual purification in this life and the next. The Spiritual Dialogue gives us a readable and coherent inner history of Catherine.
Catherine of Siena (1347–1380), mystic and doctor of the Roman Church, wrote The Dialogue, her crowning spiritual work, for “the instruction and encouragement of all those whose spiritual welfare was her concern.”
This volume offers translations of numerous texts from the Celtic tradition from the sixth through the thirteenth centuries, in a cross-section of genres and forms, including saints’ lives, monastic texts, poetry, devotional texts, liturgical texts, apocryphal writings, exegetical texts, and theological treatises.
This volume consists of basic texts that reveal the spirituality of the Modern Devout, especially during the early years of the movement from 1380 to 1430. The “Modern Devotion” movement, which was originated by a Dutchman, Master Geerte Grote, is the classic expression of later medieval religious life.
The spirituality of St. Dominic and his early followers was a force in thirteenth-century Europe. This volume contains a selection of works that represent the simplicity, ruggedness and clarity of the Dominicans’ biblically based, Christ-centered spirituality.
This volume contains the complete works of Elisabeth of Schönau (1129–1165), a Benedictine nun and visionary whose prophetic message brought consolation to the people of her day and a call for firmness of faith and the moral life.
Francis and Clare: The Complete Works
Authors: Francis of Assisi and Clare
Translators: Regis J. Armstrong and Ignatius C. Brady
Francis (c. 1182–1226) and Clare (c. 1193–1254) together shaped the spirituality of early thirteenth-century Europe. This volume contains their complete writings, brought together in one volume in English for the first time.
Francisco de Osuna (c. 1492–c. 1540), Spanish Franciscan and mystic, wrote a series of maxims as a practical guide for recollection. These were arranged into a series of “spiritual alphabets,” this being the third.
This volume contains revelations given by God to Gertrude of Helfta, a German Benedictine nun, in the thirteenth century concerning his great love for sinful man and the way in which man should respond to that love.
This volume contains the seminal writings of Jean Gerson (1363–1429), chancellor of the University of Paris, academic, humanist, Christian teacher and reformer, and one of the greatest theologians and mystical writers of the Middle Ages.
John Ruusbroec: The Spiritual Espousals and Other Works
This volume contains witty and startling perceptions of the “feminine” nature of God by one of the greatest of all English mystics. Julian of Norwich (1342–c.1423) was an anchoress who lived in solitude in Norwich, England.
Late Medieval Mysticism of the Low Countries
Editors: Rik Van Nieuwenhove, Robert Faesen, and Helen Rolfson
This volume contains the first English translation of the major works of Margaret Ebner (1291-1351), fourteenth-century German Dominican nun and mystic. Her Revelations record the events of her spiritual journey for over 50 years of her life and reveal her gradual growth in holiness and deeper conversion to Christ.
Margaret Porete (ca. 1310) was a beguine from Hainaut who was burned at the stake as a relapsed heretic. This volume contains the first modern English translation of the complete text of The Mirror, written between 1296 and 1306. It is a theological treatise that analyzes how love in humans is related to divine love and how the soul may experience a lasting union with God in this life.
Mechthild of Magdeburg: The Flowing Light of the Godhead
This volume contains the first English translation of The Flowing Light of the Godhead, the sole mystical visionary work of Mechthild of Magdeburg (c. 1260–c. 1282/94), a thirteenth-century German beguine. This challenging work of deep religious insight reflects Mechthild’s inner life, and God’s as well, employing a great variety of traditional medieval literary forms and genres in prose and verse.
Meister Eckhart: The Essential Sermons, Commentaries, Treatises, and Defense
Meister Eckhart (c. 1260–1327) was a Dominican philosopher and spiritual master whose thought is among the most daring and difficult in the history of western mysticism. This volume contains his technical Latin writings and popular German sermons.
This volume consists of texts that illustrate the diversity of one of the most enigmatic and influential mystics of the Western Christian tradition. Meister Eckhart (c. 1260–1327) is represented here as teacher, with commentaries, and preacher, with sermons.
For the first time in one volume in English are the spiritual writings of Nicholas of Cusa (1401–1464), this outstanding intellectual figure whose work anticipated modern problems of ecumenicity and pluralism, empowerment and reconciliation, and tolerance and individuality.
This volume contains a collection of writings, appearing for the first time in English, pertaining to the spirituality of the twelfth-century Norbertines. They are also known as the Order of Premonstratensians, the religious order founded by St. Norbert of Xanten.
Richard of St. Victor: The Twelve Patriarchs, The Mystical Ark, Book Three of the Trinity
This volume contains the writings of Richard of St. Victor (?–1173), the man who was the great link between the early Christian mystics and the mystical awakening in medieval Europe. Richard was born in Scotland and joined the Abbey of St. Victor in Paris, where he became superior and prior.
This volume includes a translation of the major prose works, several of the ascribed lyrics and a selection of the commentaries written in English by Richard Rolle (c. 1300–1349), fourteenth-century English mystical writer and hermit.
The Pursuit of Wisdom and Other Works, by the Author of The Cloud of Unknowing
This volume contains spiritual writings of Walter Hilton (c. 1343–1396), fourteenth-century English Augustinian Canon. Hilton speaks for himself in The Scale of Perfection, and the introduction and notes give the reader orientation.
The Venerable Bede: One the Song of Songs and Selected Writings
This volume contains the first English translation of Bede’s allegorical commentary On the Song of Songs, along with selections from his homilies, his Ecclesiastical History, and an introduction to his spirituality.
Gregory Palamas (1296–1359), monk, archbishop and theologian, was a major figure in fourteenth-century Orthodox Byzantium. This, his greatest work, presents a defense in support of the monastic groups known as the “hesychasts,” the originators of the Jesus Prayer.
One of the most influential German mystical writers of the fourteenth century, Johannes Tauler (c. 1300–1361) spent his life as a mendicant preacher in the Order of Preachers. These selected sermons show Tauler’s emphasis on the via negativa together with his insistence on the importance of cataphatic mysticism and the merits of an active life.
Written by an anonymous English monk during the late fourteenth century, The Cloud of Unknowing puts forth a method of contemplation that stresses the importance of the understanding to break through the cloud of unknowing that separates God and humanity.
St. Symeon (942–1022), abbot, spiritual director, theologian and church reformer, was the great spiritual master of Eastern Christianity. His Discourses, the central work of his life, were preached to his monks during their Matins ritual.
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