Ascetical Theology Bleg

A comrade has asked for recommendations for modern authors on ascetical theology. Unfortunately, I couldn’t point him to much…

I’m woefully lacking in modern bibliography in this area. The best I could do was to suggest modern translations of Evagrius and John Cassian and suggest that those who study these authors might cite some useful material.

Because of the place of virtue in ascetical theology, though, I was thinking some of the recent works on virtue ethics (perhaps along the line of Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue) might be helpful.

Does anybody have some other suggestions?

11 thoughts on “Ascetical Theology Bleg

  1. Anastasia

    I have heard really good things about Gavin Flood’s The Ascetic Self. Not theology exactly, but I have heard really good things.

  2. Donald Schell

    I’ve twice taken congregational study groups through Oliver Clement’s Roots of Christian Mysticism. It’s both contemporary and ancient, a modern synthesis of readings of the teachers of the ancient church. There are a couple of places where he says what a conservative Orthodox is supposed to say on ordination of women for example, but in the big picture it’s quite amazing.

  3. John-Julian, OJN


    From the Julian Shop catalog:

    Bloom; Beginning to Pray
    Davies: Celtic Spirituality
    Pennington; Centered Living
    Bourgault; Centering Prayer: Inner Awakening
    Tvedten: How to be a Monastic and Not Leave your
    Day Job
    Newell; Listening for the Heartbeat of God
    Llewelyn; Prayer and Contemplation
    Neame; The Hermitage Within
    Hall; Too Deep for Words: Rediscovering Lectio Divina

    Anything by Robert Llewellyn is fantastic.

  4. Derek the Ænglican

    Thanks for the suggestions, all, and keep them coming!

    What I’m noticing is the fluidity of boundaries that occurs when we discuss ascetical theology. Some of the works here I’d consider “Spirituality”, some “Christian Practices”; I myself consider ascetical theology as incomplete with “Mystical Theology” as the logical second part…

    It might be worth taking some brain cycles to sketch out how some of these related items fit together…

    (As far as practices that nurture ascetic spirituality goes, my all-time favorite is Charles Cummings, Monastic Practices that I latched onto as an undergrad and haven’t let go of since.)

  5. Brian M

    I second your recommendation of Br. Cummings’ book–I found it helpful to read it in tandem with Fr. Thornton’s CHRISTIAN PROFICIENCY. MONASTIC PRACTICES a certain joy that Thornton sometimes lacks (he tends to see Office and Mass Catholicism as something of a grim duty IMO) while Thornton does a good job of keeping the focus on the BCP.

  6. J. A. Frazer Crocker, Jr.

    Out last year is Robert Davis Hughes, III “Beloved Dust, Tides of the Spirit in Christian Life”. My copy only came last week, and I have
    only dipped in and paged, but I think this bids fair to be the updated equal of Thornton’s “English
    Spirituality” or Richard Foster’s
    “Streams of Living Water”. In the terms Derek uses, I think he covers both ascetical and mystical. There is a good review by Julia Gatta in the current “Sewannee Theological Review”.

  7. marshmk

    In the Heart of the Desert by John Chryssavgis is a beautiful book on desert ascesis.

    Being Still by Jean Leloup provides a good overview of the ancient practices.

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