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Channels of Imperishable Fire

The Beginnings of Christian Mystical Poetry and Dioscorus of Aphrodito


Clement Kuehn

Ever since the poems of Dioscorus of Aphrodito (ca. 520-ca. 585 C.E.) were discovered on papyri in Upper Egypt, they have perplexed and disturbed scholars. Written largely in an Homeric vocabulary, many appear to be praising dukes and other government officials according to encomiastic conventions. Yet the poems do not adhere closely to these conventions and contain many verses and passages which are nearly incomprehensible. This book demonstrates that many of these problematic passages have mystical significance and that the encomia possibly have an allegorical level of meaning. The study also reveals the valuable contribution these poems make to our understanding of early Christian mysticism and Late Antique culture.