Reading John Climacus

Project: Dissertation

Layman's description

The PhD project Reading John Climacus is a study of The Ladder of Divine Ascent, an early Christian monastic text from Sinai (6th - 7th century),with a radical new view of the text's literary composition and the author's use of the tradition

This PhD-project is a study of the literary composition and genre of The Ladder of Divine Ascent by John Climacus (6th - 7th century), and how the author uses the tradition to form his reader.
The project has four parts. In the first one the text's literary composition is investigated from detailed text analyses. These analyses show that the material in the chapters of the text is not arranged at random, as scholars have claimed earlier, but ordered according contemporary rhetorical conventions of argumentation in order to lead the reader along a specific trail of teaching.
In a second part the genre is investigated. From a comparison with moral treatises by Seneca the Younger and Plutarch of Chaironeia, it is argued that we need to revise our understanding of the literary genre of the text. The Ladder of Divine Ascent is not a gnomic collection, but an argumentative moral treatise.
In a third part the literary style is investigated. It is shown that the composition of the text, largely conforms to contemporary stylistic ideals. The fragmentary impression of the text, it is argued, is likely the effect of what has been called the jeweled style of late antique poetry and prose.
In a fourth part it is demonstrated how the author uses texts and textual patterns of the earlier tradition, not in order to sum it up, as it has been argued, but for a specific purpose and a specific argument; to make a text that prepares the reader, the monk in the monastery, for solitude.
Effective start/end date2000/09/012007/12/31