There are countless under-studied or ignored authors from the byzantine Empire awaiting scholarly attention. In the area of Byzantine spirituality the twelfth century as a whole has received little consideration, primarily owing to the perceived lack of any significant or noteworthy author. While the tenth-century mystic Symeon the New Theologian and the fourteenth-century hesychast Gregory Palamas have been the focus of much academic industry, little serious attention is paid to figures from the intervening centuries.
Recognizing that literature on monasticism and empire in the twelfth century is extensive, this book hopes to fill the void that appears to have marked the study of spirituality of the same period by taking as its subject the twelfth-century monk and spiritual theologian Peter of Damascus. Peter of Damascus: Byzantine Monk and Spiritual Theologian seeks to renew interest in a figure who was an important contributor to the larger field of Byzantine monasticism and spirituality. Using unedited manuscripts, prosopographical evidence, and published sources, this study attempts not only to recover the shape of Peter's life and work but also to elucidate his spirituality through a detailed examination of both The Admonition to His Own Soul and The Spiritual Alphabet, demonstrating the ways in which that spirituality remained accessible both to monastics and non-monastics.
Greg Peters is Associate Professor of Medieval and Spiritual Theology in the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University, La Mirada, California and an Assisting Priest at All Saints' Anglican Church in Long Beach, California. He is also a visiting professor of monastic studies at St John's School of Theology in Collegeville, Minnesota and has been a Visiting Assistant Professor of Church History at Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin and an Adjunct Professor of Anglican Church History at the Haggard School of Theology of Azusa Pacific University in California. He earned his doctorate in theology from the University of St Michael's College, Toronto. His main research interests are the history of monasticism and spirituality.
“Despite his central place in the Philokalia, St Peter of Damascus has too often been ignored – even the scholars who have commented on his work have tended to dismiss it as a disordered hodgepodge. This disservice to a subtle and profound theologian has now been happily righted by Greg Peters’s excellent monograph. Dr Peters sets St Peter’s writings in their historical and spiritual context, with careful judgement and a wide-ranging knowledge of the Byzantine tradition (and its successors). Through patient and attentive engagement with The Admonition to His Own Soul and The Spiritual Alphabet, Peters offers an overview of their teachings that will no doubt be valued by those whose interest in St Peter reading this book will surely whet. This splendid book not only vindicates St Peter of Damascus as a major figure in the articulation of Byzantine ascetic and spiritual theology, but also stands as a testament to the skilful and informed interpretation of that theological tradition. It is most welcome.”
- Augustine Casiday, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David