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From the Foreword by Kallistos Ware, Bishop of Diokleia— Isaac the Syrian, also called Isaac of Nineveh, lived and wrote during "the golden age of Syriac Christian literature" in the seventh century. Cut off by language and politics from the Churches of the Roman Empire and branded "Nestorian," the Church of the East produced in isolation a rich theological literature whic From the Foreword by Kallistos Ware, Bishop of Diokleia— Isaac the Syrian, also called Isaac of Nineveh, lived and wrote during "the golden age of Syriac Christian literature" in the seventh century. Cut off by language and politics from the Churches of the Roman Empire and branded "Nestorian," the Church of the East produced in isolation a rich theological literature which is only now becoming known to outsiders. Yet over the centuries and in all parts of Christendom, Isaac's works have been read and recommended as unquestionably orthodox. Now, at last, to my great delight, we have at our disposal a single book in English, offering us a balanced and comprehensive overview of Isaac's life, background and teaching. Wisely, Fr. Hilarion Alfeyev has allowed Isaac to speak for himself. The book is full of well-chosen quotations, in which Isaac's true voice can be heard. Saint Isaac of Syria was an ascetic, a mountain solitary, but his writings are universal in scope. They are addressed not just to the desert but to the city, not just to monastics but to all the baptized. With sharp vividness he speaks about themes relevant to every Christian: about repentance and humility, about prayer in its many forms, both outer and inner, about solitude and community, about silence, wonder, and ecstasy. Along with the emphasis that he places upon "luminous love"—to use his own phrase—two things above all mark his spiritual theology: his sense of God as living mystery; and his warm devotion to the Saviour Christ.


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From the Foreword by Kallistos Ware, Bishop of Diokleia— Isaac the Syrian, also called Isaac of Nineveh, lived and wrote during "the golden age of Syriac Christian literature" in the seventh century. Cut off by language and politics from the Churches of the Roman Empire and branded "Nestorian," the Church of the East produced in isolation a rich theological literature whic From the Foreword by Kallistos Ware, Bishop of Diokleia— Isaac the Syrian, also called Isaac of Nineveh, lived and wrote during "the golden age of Syriac Christian literature" in the seventh century. Cut off by language and politics from the Churches of the Roman Empire and branded "Nestorian," the Church of the East produced in isolation a rich theological literature which is only now becoming known to outsiders. Yet over the centuries and in all parts of Christendom, Isaac's works have been read and recommended as unquestionably orthodox. Now, at last, to my great delight, we have at our disposal a single book in English, offering us a balanced and comprehensive overview of Isaac's life, background and teaching. Wisely, Fr. Hilarion Alfeyev has allowed Isaac to speak for himself. The book is full of well-chosen quotations, in which Isaac's true voice can be heard. Saint Isaac of Syria was an ascetic, a mountain solitary, but his writings are universal in scope. They are addressed not just to the desert but to the city, not just to monastics but to all the baptized. With sharp vividness he speaks about themes relevant to every Christian: about repentance and humility, about prayer in its many forms, both outer and inner, about solitude and community, about silence, wonder, and ecstasy. Along with the emphasis that he places upon "luminous love"—to use his own phrase—two things above all mark his spiritual theology: his sense of God as living mystery; and his warm devotion to the Saviour Christ.

30 review for The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian

  1. 5 out of 5

    David

    When I was first learning church history, it seemed the big kids on the block were Augustine, Calvin and Luther. I suppose I was learning from some Calvinists. There were other writers, but these guys got it right. Yet when I read them, I saw a capricious God who chose some for salvation and created the rest for destruction. Praise God? I needed something else. Not the wishy-washy God that was often cast as the only alternative. Thankfully, I kept searching. It’s not too much to be said though, t When I was first learning church history, it seemed the big kids on the block were Augustine, Calvin and Luther. I suppose I was learning from some Calvinists. There were other writers, but these guys got it right. Yet when I read them, I saw a capricious God who chose some for salvation and created the rest for destruction. Praise God? I needed something else. Not the wishy-washy God that was often cast as the only alternative. Thankfully, I kept searching. It’s not too much to be said though, that my faith has been saved by the writings of so many others: Origen, Athanasius, the Cappadocians, Maximus the Confessor, Evagrius, John Acadian, Julian of Norwich and more. Add Isaac the Syrian to that lost. This book brilliantly takes us through Isaac’s thought. Is an emphasis on “God is Love” just a symptom of a weak, sappy, too-gentle modern world? Well, Isaac writing in the 600s might have something to say about that. For Isaac, God is love. All persons, good and bad, Christian and not, will experience Gods love. To some, this is wonderful. To others, it is pain. Hell is the experience of Gods love by those who hate God. Yet Isaac believed that eventually this love would purify all and all would be saved. In the continuing debates on Christian Universalism, it does not seem a person can intelligently enter the discussion without reckoning with Isaac’s teaching.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rusty del Norte

    The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian is a book that seeks to understand both the writings & the world that Isaac lived in. This book is not a translation of his writings. So if that is what you are looking for, then this will leave you dissatisfied. However, if you are seeking a primer into his thought processes, then this might be the place. Isaac is a saint in the Syriac churches in the east. Think of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Malankara Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East, etc. Jacobite The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian is a book that seeks to understand both the writings & the world that Isaac lived in. This book is not a translation of his writings. So if that is what you are looking for, then this will leave you dissatisfied. However, if you are seeking a primer into his thought processes, then this might be the place. Isaac is a saint in the Syriac churches in the east. Think of the Syrian Orthodox Church, Malankara Orthodox, Assyrian Church of the East, etc. Jacobite churches (those that did not accept Chalcedon), Maronites (accepted Chalcedon), & Melkites (accepted Third Council of Constantinople) & even different Eastern Orthodox churches view him with favor. This writings favored those of Evagrius & Theodore of Mopsuestia. Both of those tended to lean more toward Nestorius. But they didn't necessarily view their theologies as being like his. This background is important as his later career in the Levant probably influenced his move towards asceticism. Isaac viewed God as a God of love & humility. To be closer to God, one must renounce the world & instead focus on God. This involved things like prostration, kneeling, hitting oneself in the head during prayer, confession of sin, fasting, recitation of Scripture & Patristic writings. Almost anything to withdrawal oneself from the world - to be ostracized by one's contemporaries so they will not take your focus off of God. This book has a lot going for it in understanding his thought & understanding. Background information, while good, needs a bit more. This was a period in dramatic theological & political change as the rise of Islam happened during his lifetime. Yet, we have no understanding as to how this affected Isaac personally. Nor do we have a lot of direct quotes from Isaac. More of that & even some translation would help. Overall, a solid book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Fr. Ted

    St. Isaac is often magnificent to read, and this book is a good introduction to his worldview. I'm not always fond of Alfeyev's writing style, but for the most part the content is excellent. St. Isaac's worldview is inspired by the God who is love and for Isaac nothing, not sin or death or evil can alter God's love for His creation.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    The structure of the book seemed like it should have been in reverse. Much of the last chapter was illuminating on the rest of the book, and I wished I had read it first. Still, the explanation of St. Isaac’s idea of God and salvation and his concept of how to pray to get there is interesting and bought provoking, particularly the idea that punishment for sin is not retribution but a get one closer to God. Much of his ideas of how to pray also seem to overlap with meditation and the idea of stil The structure of the book seemed like it should have been in reverse. Much of the last chapter was illuminating on the rest of the book, and I wished I had read it first. Still, the explanation of St. Isaac’s idea of God and salvation and his concept of how to pray to get there is interesting and bought provoking, particularly the idea that punishment for sin is not retribution but a get one closer to God. Much of his ideas of how to pray also seem to overlap with meditation and the idea of stilling the mind to be able to hear God. It’s worth reading whether one is a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church or not, although there is a lot of academic analysis of Orthodox theology that might put off someone who is not used to it

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maria Virginia

    Highly recommend! Read my full review here: http://www.saintsandrecipes.com/st-is... Highly recommend! Read my full review here: http://www.saintsandrecipes.com/st-is...

  6. 4 out of 5

    Isaac Linder

    This was a very good commentary on the original source material. The original quotes, translated by the author into English from both common and rare sources, make up at least a third of the book, yet are presented topically to present the religious and world view of St. Isaac of Syria as the title suggests. It also has a thought provoking introduction by Bishop Kallistos Ware about the life and importance of the great Orthodox Saint.

  7. 5 out of 5

    s

  8. 5 out of 5

    Justin •••

  9. 4 out of 5

    Frdavid Abernethy

  10. 4 out of 5

    Gregory Wassen

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

  13. 4 out of 5

    Roxanne

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brian

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joseph Richard

  16. 5 out of 5

    Coleen--Marie Hanson

  17. 5 out of 5

    Erik

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Duffy

  19. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  20. 5 out of 5

    ~Eric~

  21. 4 out of 5

    Eddie

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  23. 4 out of 5

    David Jonas

  24. 5 out of 5

    A.L. Stumo

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maximus

  26. 4 out of 5

    Anna

  27. 4 out of 5

    Franklin

  28. 4 out of 5

    Abouna Samaan

  29. 4 out of 5

    ♥ Ibrahim ♥

  30. 4 out of 5

    Steven-John Harris

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