The Invocation of Christ in Eastern Monastic Psalmody c. 350-450
The picture which emerges from this extensive investigation presents us with an intriguing alternative to the narrow depiction of the monastic milieu as presented by Hausherr. In this picture words such as dialogue, partnership, and meeting-place play significant roles, both in relation to the Psalter and to the Christ who lies hidden among so many of its verses.
On the basis of what has been unearthed in this excavation, it is possible to describe a spiritual and theological environment which was particularly conducive to the emergence of a prayer which was centred on the invocation of Christ and a plea for divine assistance. A re-evaluation of Hausherr’s Noms du Christ et voies d’oraison is certainly in order. On the one hand, we may reaffirm his basic hypothesis that the Jesus Prayer developed from within desert monasticism as a result of a similar quest to that which gripped the author of The Way of a Pilgrim. However, on the other hand, we need to draw on the wealth of insights generated by subsequent publications, and allow them to provide us with a broader understanding of the background and context of that quest, thereby correcting the omissions which have been identified in Hausherr’s work.
We may therefore conclude that the Jesus Prayer developed from within a culture in which late fourth- and early fifth-century Eastern monastic psalmody:
The weight of evidence assembled in this study would suggest that when Diadochus of Photice sought to...
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