Lecture: David A. Michelson, "Was There a Syriac Lectio Divina? The Development of Contemplative Reading in the Monasteries of the Church of the East (400-700 C.E.)"

Feb 8, 2024, 4:30 pm6:00 pm



Event Description

Contemplative reading is a spiritual practice developed by Christian monks in the early Middle Ages. This talk traces the history of monastic reading in sixth- and seventh-century Mesopotamia. Ascetics belonging to the Church of the East pursued a form of contemplation which moved from reading, to meditation, to prayer, to the ecstasy of divine vision. The development of this Syriac tradition can be seen through three phases: its establishment as an ascetic practice, the articulation of its theology based upon “Egyptian” sources, and its maturation and spread beyond Mesopotamia to other regions of Eastern Christianity.

David A. Michelson is Associate Professor of the History of Christianity at Vanderbilt University. His research focuses on the history of Syriac culture. He is most recently the author of The Library of Paradise: A History of Contemplative Reading in the Monasteries of the Church of the East and co-editor (with Petre Guran) of Faith and Community around the Mediterranean: In Honor of Peter R. L. Brown. He is also general editor of multiple digital projects including Syriaca.org and Syriac Manuscripts in the British Library: A New Digital Edition of Wright’s Catalogue.

Image: “Congregation of the Chaldean Daughters of Mary Immaculate MS 18, folios 8v-9r. Source: © Hill Museum & Manuscript Library in partnership with CNMO, Ankawa, Iraq. Image may not be reused without permission.”

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Cosponsored by the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies