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John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent (Classics of Western Spirituality) Paperback


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Frequently Bought Together

John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent (Classics of Western Spirituality) + The Philokalia: The Complete Text (Vol. 1); Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Markarios of Corinth + The Sayings of the Desert Fathers: The Alphabetical Collection
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Product Details

  • Series: Classics of Western Spirituality
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Paulist Press (December 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809123304
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809123308
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Greek

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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A beautiful, profound, and challenging work.
Jeffrey L. Morrison
For me the Paulist reads like the NIV version of the Bible while the Transfiguration version reads like King James.
Michael M. Nash
In my opinion this text is one that should be read from an Orthodox perspective.
M. Harrington

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Michael M. Nash on March 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have read both versions of John Climacus' book and have compared the two books line by line on some subjects. I vote
for the Paulist edition.
For example on gluttony the Paulist Press has it "a stuffed belly
produces fornication, while a mortified stomach leads to purity". Meanwhile the Transfiguration version is "Satiety in food is the father of fornication; but affliction of the stomach
is the agent of purity". For me the Paulist reads like the NIV version of the Bible while the Transfiguration version reads like King James. Earth shaking? Not according to the Transfiguration introduction itself. It states
very clearly that it too relies on Mignes' Patrologica Graeca
(like the Pauline). Moreover it goes on to say "Since no
critical text of The Ladder exists to date, the various editions
that have been published present us with variant readings.
Though significant, none of these descrepancies are of a dogmatic
nature." (p.xxx)
The Paulist Press version, the one shown here is easier to read (NIV vs King James again).It contains a scholarly introduction by Kallistos Ware the premier Eastern Orthodox Writer (which you can skip if you are still worried about being polluted by the Latins which he clearly is not). Most importantly I think the Paulist version speaks to you more in what I imagine to be John's true voice. He had a sense of humor and was NOT a pedant.
Having cast my own pedantic vote for the edition shown on the Amazon site, let me make my main point. Comparatively I too find this book to be superior to any other Christian text I have ever read on the pursuit of perfection. Imitation of Christ. Unseen Warfare, Philokalia etc etc. John got it right at Sinai sometime in the 600s. I regularly seek his friendship and guidance both in his words and in spritual/mental communion with him. A kinder, holier, more knowledgeable guide you could not ask for.
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58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By tepi on June 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
I now have a small collection of books from the Paulist Press Classics of Western Spirituality series. All are well-edited and well-translated, and all come as standard glued paperbacks with that lamentably ugly Paulist cover 'art' (which here lost them one star).

The Paulist edition of 'John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent' is certainly scholarly and reads well enough, but I became intrigued by the comparisons other reviewers were making between it and the Holy Transfiguration Monastery translation. And so I decided to obtain a copy of the HTM edition (ISBN 0943405033) since it is once more in print at a remarkably modest price and can be ordered through their web site.

As others have pointed out, the two translations, though equally scholarly, are in very different styles. As physical products the books are very different too, and I'm overwhelmed at the superb quality of the HTM edition -- hard bound in full gilt-blocked cloth and with a durable Smyth-sewn binding that opens flat, well printed in two colors on Sebago Antique paper, illustrated throughout with icons, and with head and tail pieces and many lovely ornaments. The Editors' Foreword informs us that they "have not wished to spare labours or expense in producing an edition that is worthy of this great classic."

The keen student will no doubt want to have both the Paulist and the HTM translations, as each serves to provide what the other lacks and both help clarify their occasional respective obscurities. Bibliophiles and the Orthodox, however, will undoubtedly be more than happy to settle for the superb Holy Transfiguration Monastery edition as an elegant and tasteful vehicle for an important spiritual classic and a real book that will last.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Wyote VINE VOICE on May 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
I haven't read Holy Transfiguration Monastery's translation of this, but I do notice that one of the people who recommended that one over this one (by Paulist Press) credited the Ladder to Maximus. That's a pretty shocking mistake for someone claiming insight into the nuances of translation.
Perhaps HTM's is better, but unfortunately it's really hard to find and expensive when you do. Also, I am familiar with Catholic--Orthodox polemics; and I believe I would have noticed a bias if it were evident. Actually I suspect the reviewers, rather than the translator of this edition, had a distorting bias.
Please let's leave behind those reviewers and consider the text.
The Ladder is certainly a classic of Christian spirituality, especially important in the Greek and Slavic traditions. It was meant to be read by prayerful monks; naturally it is dense compared to the literature we're used to, naturally it's sometimes hard for us to read or understand. The monks' culture and concerns were far different from most of ours; naturally parts of the text are difficult for us to relate to. And yet no one can fail to be challenged by this text--especially we who live in a society that has fully embraced most of the values those monks consciously rejected, and we who attend churches that are often not wise or brave enough to break free of that embrace. It is certainly austere and harsh, and yet the fatherly gentleness and love and wisdom of its author shines through. No one can read this carefully and come away with the common, naive opinion that this work or the spirituality it represents were anything but deeply life-affirming and radically committed to love and justice. No one can read this carefully and come away with their own lifestyle and values unchallenged.
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