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Beholding Beauty In Nicetas Stethatos’ Contemplation of Paradise

Pereira, Matthew J.

In Standing in God’s Holy Fire, a jewel of an introduction to the rich heritage of Byzantine spirituality, John Anthony McGuckin rightly affirms the centrality of beauty within the eastern Christian tradition. There is no other concept, McGuckin asserts, that "so summates the ethos or guiding cultural spirit of eastern Christianity as much as that perennial search for beauty which inspired and organised the Byzantine mystical quest." The search for beauty, according to McGuckin, provides the vital organizing principle within the Byzantine tradition. The eastern Christian tradition in all its complexity and continuity, beginning with the likes of Origen of Alexandria, followed by the Cappadocian Fathers ( Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nyssa ), and up through Maximus the Confessor and Symeon the New Theologian, boasts of numerous mystical theologians who have composed writings filled with vivid descriptions of the soul’s ascent toward the beautiful. Beyond the above-mentioned bright luminaries and other notables of the eastern mystical tradition loom numerous lesser-known Byzantine theologians, who in consonance with their more highly touted counterparts, have consistently reflected upon the ultimate reality and importance of divine beauty.


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Union Seminary Quarterly Review
Union Theological Seminary

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Union Theological Seminary
Union Theological Seminary
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September 15, 2015