Medical metaphors in byzantine spiritual direction

Journal article


Zecher, Jonathan. (2022). Medical metaphors in byzantine spiritual direction. The Journal of Religion. 102(4), pp. 529-554. https://doi.org/10.1086/721356
AuthorsZecher, Jonathan
Abstract

John of Sinai, better known as John Klimakos (sixth or seventh century), wrote two enormously popular works: the Ladder of Divine Ascent, and its short sequel, To the Shepherd. In these he frequently invoked medical, pedagogical, and judicial metaphors to articulate a synoptic view of monastic spiritual direction. While scholars have noted John’s medical language, they have not attended to the cultural and epistemic contexts of medical knowledge and practice in late antiquity that recent studies in early Christian medical metaphors have highlighted. This study engages Paul Ricoeur’s work on metaphor to analyze the lengthiest and most detailed medical metaphors in the Ladder and Shepherd and to demonstrate that an intimate familiarity with medical theories and clinical practice constrains, organizes, and constructs spiritual direction in his work. The conclusion develops the idea of Byzantine monasteries as textual communities, in which the Ladder plays an important formative role, and shows that medical metaphors were integral to the constitution of Byzantine monastic communities and subjectivities.

Year2022
JournalThe Journal of Religion
Journal citation102 (4), pp. 529-554
PublisherUniversity of Chicago Press
ISSN0022-4189
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1086/721356
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85141870725
Page range529-554
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online2022
Publication process dates
Deposited25 Jan 2023
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