This commemoration is a 2018 addition to A Great Cloud of Witnesses.

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Last updated: 2 December 2018



Isaac of NinevehIsaac of Nineveh
( c. 613 – c. 700) also remembered as Saint Isaac the Syrian, was a 7th-century Church of the East Syriac Christian bishop and theologian best remembered for his written works on Christian asceticism.

Isaac is remembered for his spiritual homilies on the inner life, which have a human breadth and theological depth that transcends the Christianity of the Church to which he belonged. They survive in Syriac manuscripts and in later Greek, Arabic, and Georgian translations.

Isaac consciously avoided writing on topics that were disputed or discussed in the contemporary theological debates. This gives Isaac a certain ecumenical potential, and is probably the reason that he has come to be venerated and appreciated among many different Christian traditions.

Isaac stands in the tradition of the eastern mystical saints and placed a considerable emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit.

Moreover, Isaac's conviction that the notion of God punishing men endlessly through the mystery of Gehenna (the lake of fire, or hell) is not compatible with his all encompassing love can likely be seen as the central thematic conflict in his second treatise of mystical teachings.

Isaac's writings offer a rare example of a large corpus of ascetical texts written by an experienced hermit and is thus an important writer when it comes to understanding early Christian asceticism.

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