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The Role of Death in the Ladder of Divine Ascent and the Greek Ascetic Tradition$
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Jonathan L. Zecher

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198724940

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198724940.001.0001

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The Ladder of Divine Ascent: Death Makes the Christian

The Ladder of Divine Ascent: Death Makes the Christian

Chapter:
(p.182) 6 The Ladder of Divine Ascent: Death Makes the Christian
Source:
The Role of Death in the Ladder of Divine Ascent and the Greek Ascetic Tradition
Author(s):

Jonathan L. Zecher

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198724940.003.0007

This chapter examines the memory and practice of death in the Ladder in light of the literature surveyed. Beginning with a re-examination of death scenes in Desert literature, it argues that Climacus deliberately subverts the common topos of a good death by applying it to the penitent monks in a monastic prison. Climacus uses the penitents as archetypes of ascetic life, using their death scenes to model the memory of death for other monks. Analysis of several other important stories in the Ladder reveals that the memory of death defines the monk’s perception of his present activities, future hopes, and past failures. Within this perceptual framework, Climacus elaborates the practice of death to take account of ambivalence and ambiguity, modeling it on Christ’s human passions, his death, and resurrection. The monk dies in failure and rises in humility, imitating Christ ever better through failure and frailty.

Keywords:   monastic prison, testaments, thanatology, apocalyptic, eschatology, penthos, imitation of Christ, repentance

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