To many modern people, apatheia (being ""without suffering""/""without passion"") sounds like cold-heartedness and indifference to others, a condition to be avoided. However, in the classical world and for many in the historic Christian church it was a spiritual state to aspire to. What exactly is apatheia? What is its origin? How has it been used in spiritual writings throughout the centuries of Christian practice? And how may it help us today to articulate a Christian understanding of the soul's spiritual well-being? The central aim of the book is twofold: to rediscover the meaning and function of the Greek term apatheia as it was understood and employed by the Stoics in their philosophical and religious writings, and to explore how the theologians of the church--Origen, Evagrius, John Cassian, Maximus, and Ignatius of Loyola--interpreted apatheia for their spiritual practice. Nguyen argues that the concept of apatheia in the Christian spiritual tradition connotes the state of ""spiritual peace"" or ""well-being"" of the human soul wherein excessive and negative emotions--such as lust, excessive desire for food and drink, anger, envy, resentment, self-love, and pride--are replaced by reasonable desires, love, and humility. ""Apatheia by Joseph Nguyen is an agile, yet rigorous introduction to one of the most important, yet often misunderstood concepts in the history of Christian spirituality. Dispassion--a condition of inner tranquility and detachment enabling one to pray and practice the virtues--was pursued by Stoics and Desert Fathers alike, and centuries later it became an important concept in Ignatian spirituality. Nguyen's work will appeal to anyone interested in the history and practice of Christian spirituality."" --Thomas Cattoi, Associate Professor, Jesuit School of Theology, Santa Clara University ""Joseph Nguyen's Apatheia in the Christian Tradition is a superb historical survey of a theological concept--apatheia, or indifference--that has informed western philosophical thought for over two-thousand years. . . Nguyen's research demonstrates how apatheia has been both a pillar of the contemplative life, and a living ideal adaptable to contemporary spiritual discernment and direction."" --Eric Cunningham, Professor, Gonzaga University ""In this insightful book, Joseph H. Nguyen, traced the source of the development of Christian understanding of spiritual disposition for divine union to the Stoics and underscored healthy emotion as necessary in the Christian life. Through comparisons with 'Ignatian indifference' the spiritual experience of apatheia is brought into a new light."" --Patrick Lee, Vice President, Mission and Ministry, Gonzaga University Joseph H. Nguyen, SJ is a Jesuit Priest and Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies at Gonzaga University.
Apatheia in the Christian Tradition
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