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Next to the Bible, The Imitation of Christ is the most widely read devotional work within the Christian community. Thought to be compiled by fifteenth-century cleric Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380–1471), this spiritual classic focuses the contemporary God-seeker on a religion of the heart—a vital connection with God in our innermost being. It advocates the cultivation of virtues, like humility and purity of intention, by inviting the spirit of Jesus to dwell richly in our lives. It emphasizes the need to translate that life of love into daily action.

Now you can experience the timeless wisdom of this spiritual classic with no previous knowledge of late medieval Christianity. This SkyLight Illuminations edition, based on John Wesley’s popular 1741 abridgment, renders these meditations on the life and teachings of Jesus in a way that is accessible to the contemporary reader. A substantive introduction and facing-page commentary places the work in its original context; clarifies the text’s roots in the Bible, the early Church, and medieval mysticism; and explains its influence—spanning five hundred years—on spiritual luminaries from saints to popes and its continuing significance today.

Author Bios

Thomas à Kempis

Thomas à Kempis

Thomas à Kempis (c. 1380–1471) was a late-Medieval Catholic monk and the probable author of The Imitation of Christ—a classic in Christian literature and one of the best-known books on Christian devotion. His name means “Thomas of Kempen,” his hometown, and in German he is known as Thomas von Kempen. He also is known by various spellings of his family name: Thomas Haemerkken, Thomas Hammerlein, Thomas Hemerken, and Thomas Hämerken.

As he traveled with his brother to attend school in the Netherlands, he was introduced to the Brethren of the Common Life—followers of Gerard Groote's Modern Devotion movement. After finishing school, he joined the Mount St. Agnes monastery, where he spent the rest of his life in devotion and prayer.

Thomas' sermons, meditations, and prayers—compiled in The Works of Thomas à Kempis (7 vols) have influenced many Christian writers.

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Paul Wesley Chilcote

Paul Wesley Chilcote is author of Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Advent and Christmas with Charles Wesley. He is president of the Charles Wesley Society and professor of historical theology and Wesleyan studies director, Center for Applied Wesleyan Studies, at Ashland Theological Seminary.

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This title is also included as a part of the following collection

  1. SkyLight Paths Illuminations Series (46 vols.)