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Roots of Christian Mysticism: Texts from Patristic Era with Commentary Paperback – January 25, 1996

4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French

From the Publisher

A book of uncommon interest and importance...a new vision of the meaning of Christian doctrine and the scope of Christian prayer and life
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: New City Press (January 25, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565480295
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565480292
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Wyote VINE VOICE on December 2, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Olivier Clement is a French Eastern Orthodox Christian theologian. He has gathered selections from the Church Fathers (and some Mothers too) by topics. Some selections are just a sentence or two, others are several paragraphs. His commentary is brief and usually helpful, but the book's real greatness is that the spirit of the Fathers is so accessible. In this book, everyone can have easy access to the spirituality of ancient Christians. There is deep theology, but also extensive practical sections on prayer and virtues. The English title is inappropriate; the French title is simply "Christian Sources." Clement does not present Christian esotericism but mainstream ancient Christian thought.
I strongly recommend this book to everyone. If you think you are familiar with Christianity, it will open your eyes to the true depths of Christian wisdom. If you are not familiar with Christianity, this book presents the heart of God and the ancient Christian path with clarity, compassion, and wisdom.
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Excellent, excellent book. Clement does an outstanding job of bringing together quotes by early church fathers. They are organized in a cohesive manner with useful commentary by Clement.
My first reaction as I began to read the book was, "Awesome." I have read some of the early church writings, but generally got bogged down in their style of writing. Clement brings out the richness of what they wrote and said. I am analytical and tend to think a lot, but was blown over by the depth of thought of some of these fathers. They wrote of things I never even considered. They contemplated mysteries and concepts in a way which brings out the shallowness of modern Christian thought.
This is a scholarly work, but which reads more like a devotional. I usually read through a book in a matter of days. However, this one took months. There is such depth that it requires reading a few pages and setting it aside to contemplate what was said. In terms of its value to me, I would place this book second only to the Bible.
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Orthodox Theologian Olivier Clement's book is nothing short of a masterpiece. I read this book almost three years ago while in a directed study by one of my professors as I was conducting a research paper for a conference. Their is so much to say, but it would require a lengthy review because the information in this book requires great consideration - I cannot do this book justice here. I will, however, touch on a couple of chapters.
In Chapter 4 of Part 2, titled "Passions Transfigured, Thought Transcended" one learns the importance to purifying his or her heart, so they "can see God." He quotes at length early Church Fathers from Augustine to Chrysostom, from Diadochus of Photike to Climacus. This little chapter is truly mind blowing and heart provoking. Enstasy-Ecstasy which is chapter three of Part three titled "Approaches to Contemplation" is a brilliant chapter.
There is so much that is powerful and enlightening about this book, with commentary after quotes from many Church Fathers that a serious Christian needs to read this book and contemplate the material to grow in the Holy Spirit. One will find themselves referring to this book often.
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Raised a nominal Presbyterian, at best, immersed later into the wild world of charismatic Pentecostalism, then on to the other side of the non-denominational evangelical variety of Christianity, I began to have a real nagging feeling that the Christianity in which I found myself was theologically and spiritually impoverished, that it had become a glorified self-help gospel.

I considered many times abandoning it for something else but kept returning to Jesus, each time digging deeper and deeper into the Bible. But it was when I picked up my own set of writings of the early Church Fathers that I realized what was missing. I was missing the depth and experience of the generations who had come before me.

I would eventually encounter this book. This is not the pseudo-mysticism that passes as "spirituality" today. This is Trinitarian mysticism. As the writer points out:

"It is not a question of thinking about the Trinity, but in it, starting from the Trinity as the unshakeable foundation of all Christian thought." (p. 69)

Laid out in very orderly fashion, the writer takes you deeper and deeper into the mystery, from the beginnings of understanding to the end goal of the deification of humanity through grace. He has chosen an amazing assortment of quotes from the early Fathers such as Irenaeus to the 7th century Fathers such as Maximus the Confessor to provide substance to his basic outline.

I continue to read, and re-read this book, gaining deeper understanding each time and thus enriching and deepening my faith not just intellectually but allowing it to affect my daily walk. My copy is filled with underlining, many pages rabbit eared for quick reference. If you wish to go deeper, this is an invaluable guide to moving beyond the emotionalism and often culturally driven "spirituality" of much of modern Christianity.
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By A Customer on October 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is the best book I've read on this subject. This type of Christian thought certainly attracts a lot of pseudo-Christians and there seems to be more books written on Christian mysticism by non-Christians than real ones nowadays, but this book is not one of them. It's basically a compendium of mystical Christian thought from the first millenium. This is a book that needs to be read more than once, the information in it is incredibly complex and engaging. When reading this book the Truth of it can be felt on every page; nothing less than the science of love.
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