Saturday, 5 November 2005

The Ladder of Divine Ascent

In the Orthodox Church, the Ladder of Divine Ascent is the standard textbook of monastic asceticism. During Great Lent, it is read in every monastery in the refectory during meals. While the Ladder is not included in the Philokalia, it is to be taken for granted as a supplement to the Philokalia. When we pose the question, ‘Well, how do I attain to purity of heart?’, to find an answer we start with the Ladder. Much of the Ladder is based on the ascetical theology of Evagrius Ponticus, although the author keeps his distance from Evagrius’ cosmological theories, which were condemned by the Church. People have remarked on the deep psychological insight of the author of the Ladder. This arises from his forty years of experience as a Hesychast.

St John of the Ladder (523–603), also called St John of Sinai, wrote the Ladder of Divine Ascent.

Here is an edition of the Ladder:

St John Climacus. The Ladder of Divine Ascent. (Translation of Archim. Lazarus Moore.) Revised Edition. 1978. Boston, MA, USA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery.

This is the most accurate translation presently available in English. Archimandrite Lazarus Moore prepared the translation and donated it to Holy Transfiguration Monastery, which prepared an introduction and published it and the translation.

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