About the Moses, Mount Sinai, and Early Christian Mystics course
The Exodus narrative of Moses’s experiences on Mount Sinai fascinated early Christian mystics. They scoured it for clues about the practice of prayer and contemplation, drawing on difficulties in the biblical text to argue for a higher, spiritual meaning.
In this in-person day course, we will be looking at four episodes from the book of Exodus:
1) Moses’s entry into the darkness (20:18-21)
2) the elders’ vision of the sapphire pavement (24:9-11)
3) God’s placing of Moses into the cleft of the rock (33:11-23)
4) Moses’s shining face (34:29-35).
We will explore how these intriguing passages inspired four early Christian writers – Gregory of Nyssa, Evagrius of Pontus, Pseudo-Macarius and Dionysius the Areopagite – as they reflected on such topics as the unknowability of God and the state of a mind at prayer.
The day will introduce some unfamiliar biblical texts, along with the techniques of early Christian exegesis. We will discover the influence of scripture on the development of the Christian mystical tradition.