First the Darkness, then Théosis. An Inquiry into St. John of the Cross’ Dark Night of the Soul Through the Perspective of Théosis


This thesis is an analysis of St. John of the Cross’ treatise The Dark Night of the Soul from an Eastern Orthodox perspective, focusing on elements of classical theology of théosis and liminality within the text. Using Vladimir Lossky’s view on Orthodox mystical theology as well as ritual theory and theories of liminality from Victor Turner and Arnold van Gennep the study examines whether or not it is possible to speak about théosis in Western mystical teachings and practises, and if Dark Night can be viewed as an example of such a teaching. This thesis thus seeks to answer two main questions, namely whether St John of the Cross’ treatise can be said to be an example of théosis theology written in Western form, and if the trials of the Dark Night can be said to be a form of socio-­‐ontological process of change, either partially or completely. The method used in the work is a modified version of the textual analysis described in Carl-­‐Henric Grenholm’s book Att förstå religion: metoder för teologisk forskning, focusing on central themes and ideas, and key words related to théosis. The theoretical perspective for the thesis has been based in Eastern Orthodox mystical theology, and the central aim has been to offer a response to Vladimir Lossky’s critique of the Western Church as having forgotten its mystical roots. Key findings are that the Dark Night as a process has strong elements of both liminality and socio-­‐ontological transformation, and that the language of St. John is very similar to that of early Orthodox theologians, with clear apophatic terminology

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