Fear as the Existential Background of Asceticism

Patrik Hagman

in The Asceticism of Isaac of Nineveh

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199593194
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595677 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Fear as the Existential Background of Asceticism

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Why do the ascetics feel that the ascetic life is the most meaningful way to live? For Isaac to overcome fear, especially mortality, is the most important existential motivation for taking up asceticism. Fear for Isaac is one of the ways that “the world” is seeking to control people. To overcome fear is thus in important part of the struggle to break the influence of the world. The process of overcoming fear is undertaken in three steps. On the level of the body fear of death manifests itself as fear of diseases, wild animals and robbers. The person that proceeds to the level of the soul experiences fear as fear of the judgment – such a person is more focused on how one lives. Only on the level of the spirit, in union with God is fear overcome completely.

Keywords: fear; mortality; death; judgement

Chapter.  6804 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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