on May 31, 2004
Orthodox Theologian Olivier Clement's book is nothing short of a masterpiece. I read this book almost three years ago while in a directed study by one of my professors as I was conducting a research paper for a conference. Their is so much to say, but it would require a lengthy review because the information in this book requires great consideration - I cannot do this book justice here. I will, however, touch on a couple of chapters.
In Chapter 4 of Part 2, titled "Passions Transfigured, Thought Transcended" one learns the importance to purifying his or her heart, so they "can see God." He quotes at length early Church Fathers from Augustine to Chrysostom, from Diadochus of Photike to Climacus. This little chapter is truly mind blowing and heart provoking. Enstasy-Ecstasy which is chapter three of Part three titled "Approaches to Contemplation" is a brilliant chapter.
There is so much that is powerful and enlightening about this book, with commentary after quotes from many Church Fathers that a serious Christian needs to read this book and contemplate the material to grow in the Holy Spirit. One will find themselves referring to this book often.
on April 22, 2003
Excellent, excellent book. Clement does an outstanding job of bringing together quotes by early church fathers. They are organized in a cohesive manner with useful commentary by Clement.
My first reaction as I began to read the book was, "Awesome." I have read some of the early church writings, but generally got bogged down in their style of writing. Clement brings out the richness of what they wrote and said. I am analytical and tend to think a lot, but was blown over by the depth of thought of some of these fathers. They wrote of things I never even considered. They contemplated mysteries and concepts in a way which brings out the shallowness of modern Christian thought.
This is a scholarly work, but which reads more like a devotional. I usually read through a book in a matter of days. However, this one took months. There is such depth that it requires reading a few pages and setting it aside to contemplate what was said. In terms of its value to me, I would place this book second only to the Bible.
on December 2, 2000
Olivier Clement is a French Eastern Orthodox Christian theologian. He has gathered selections from the Church Fathers (and some Mothers too) by topics. Some selections are just a sentence or two, others are several paragraphs. His commentary is brief and usually helpful, but the book's real greatness is that the spirit of the Fathers is so accessible. In this book, everyone can have easy access to the spirituality of ancient Christians. There is deep theology, but also extensive practical sections on prayer and virtues. The English title is inappropriate; the French title is simply "Christian Sources." Clement does not present Christian esotericism but mainstream ancient Christian thought.
I strongly recommend this book to everyone. If you think you are familiar with Christianity, it will open your eyes to the true depths of Christian wisdom. If you are not familiar with Christianity, this book presents the heart of God and the ancient Christian path with clarity, compassion, and wisdom.
on October 9, 2003
This is the best book I've read on this subject. This type of Christian thought certainly attracts a lot of pseudo-Christians and there seems to be more books written on Christian mysticism by non-Christians than real ones nowadays, but this book is not one of them. It's basically a compendium of mystical Christian thought from the first millenium. This is a book that needs to be read more than once, the information in it is incredibly complex and engaging. When reading this book the Truth of it can be felt on every page; nothing less than the science of love.
on December 1, 1998
This is an astonishing book, read it slowly, it's mind-blowing. With immense skill and sensitivity, Clement weaves together quotations from most of the greatest spiritual writers of all time, many unfamiliar in the West, to explore in a profound way the soul's journey into God.