The Mystic Theology of the Desert Fathers and Mothers 06-26-2014

One morning while reading up on the Alexandrian Mystics (Alexandrian Fathers), the hair on my arms stood on end. I realized then and there that I’d stumbled upon the gem of Christian mysticism. I’d speculated that the Alexandrian Mystics were Christianity’s greatest mystic legacy. That Saturday confirmed my hunch and changed everything.

Over the following years I dug into relevant sources and validated the hunch! As I suspected, the influence of the Alexandrian Mystics was profound. In fact, its lineage of teachings on The Jesus Paradox had a weighty influence on the sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers.

In recent years the sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers has enjoyed remarkable popularity. Yet, no one in the West has connected The Jesus Paradox as taught by the Alexandrian Mystics with the sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers. Yet, there’s no question that the Alexandrian Mystics, such as Athanasius (d. 373), had a profound influence on the monasteries and hermitages of Egypt, where the Desert Fathers and Mothers lived.

In the absence of knowledge about the Alexandrian Mystics and their unique lineage, there’s no comprehensive teaching on Christian mysticism. In the vacuum, there are fragments of teachings from isolated mystics. The fragmentary nature of Christian mysticism as it has been taught in the West makes mysticism seem diffuse and unappealing to most Christians.

What I’m saying is there is an authoritative tradition of Christian Mystics, who were both theologians and practitioners of silent prayer. More specifically, there was a recognized lineage of Alexandrian Mystics, whose influence was felt throughout the Egyptian desert, which included the Desert Fathers and Mothers.