Five Models of Spiritual Direction in the Early Church

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“This work explores, with detail and insight, the discipline of spiritual direction in the early Church, providing a fascinating study of 'what happened when monks became bishops.' George Demacopoulos offers us thoughtful, and thought-provoking, analyses of the individual figures concerned, the developing roles of the pastor in antiquity, and the practice of pastoral care itself. This book is sure to advance our understanding of all these fields.” —Fr. John Behr, St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary “George Demacopoulos has given us a learned and eminently readable study of five major patristic theologians. His book considers the subtle differences in style and policy adopted by leading bishops and ascetics as they considered the best way to advocate for a Christian polity that could command general allegiance. St. Gregory Nazianzen called his project the governance of souls, describing it as 'that art of arts and science of sciences.' This book considers early Christian 'spiritual direction' in its most ample and politically relevant form.” —John McGuckin, Nielsen Professor of Early Ecclesiastical History, Union Theological Seminary "The introduction offers a masterful treatment of the growth of the ascetic movement and the growth of ecclesiastical offices, and the requirements and expectations of leadership in both contexts. It is these expectations of a leader’s responsibility for those entrusted to him that show most clearly the demands of pastoral care." —Claudia Rapp, University of California, Los Angeles Five Models of Spiritual Direction in the Early Church explores the struggles of five clerics (Athanasius, Gregory Nazianzen, Augustine of Hippo, John Cassian, and Pope Gregory I) to reconcile their ascetic idealism with the reality of pastoral responsibility. Through a close reading of Greek and Latin texts, George E. Demacopoulos explores each pastor's criteria for ordination, supervision of subordinate clergy, and methods of spiritual direction. He argues that the evolution in spiritual direction that occurred during this period reflected and informed broader developments in religious practices.

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"The introduction offers a masterful treatment of the growth of the ascetic movement and the growth of ecclesiastical offices, and the requirements and expectations of leadership in both contexts. It is these expectations of a leader's responsibility for those entrusted to him that show most clearly the demands of pastoral care." —Claudia Rapp, UCLA

About the Author:

George E. Demacopoulos is assistant professor of historical theology at Fordham University, and is translator of St. Gregory the Great’s The Book of Pastoral Rule (2007).

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