The experience of Deification in the Spiritualities of the Night: from Early Eastern Christianity to Saint John of the Cross



Abstract: According to the mystical Christian tradition, the utmost point of union with the Divine is experienced by humans as “deification”. In this study, I show the continuous trend of values and experiences proposed by what we can call “Spiritualities of the night”. For the spiritualities of the night, the knowledge of God is concealed to the mind unless the human person undergoes a process of purification and union with God in love, this culminates in ecstasy as an experience of ultimate union. The darkness involved in the senses and understanding is, nonetheless, valued as an itinerary of growth. The study traces the continuity of this tradition from Saint Gregory of Nyssa, then moves into Evagrius Ponticus, then on Pseudo Dionysius the Areopagite, to Saint Symeon the New Theologian up to Saint John of the Cross.


Keywords: Spirituality of the night, John of the Cross, Deification, Eastern Christian Spirituality