The Soul's Powers and the Process of Knowledge in the Writings of Simon Taibuteh
Between Anatomy and Spirituality
In the line of the ascetical tradition, the knowledge of God is the very aim of spiritual life. Divine knowledge is possible, on the one hand, because of God’s revelation and, on the other hand, due to human’s anatomical and spiritual structure. Thus, one may find specific cognitive powers of the body and, in correspondence, of the soul, that stand at the very basis of the process of knowledge, worldly or spiritual. Simon Taibuteh is one of the mystical writers of the East Syriac Church who, having also a medical education, describes spiritual life and, in consequence, divine knowledge, using an anatomic terminology next to the anthropological-theological language, specific to his religious community. His special merits focus on the endeavour of creating bridges between these two domains and, eventually, to describing the soteriological itinerary as a process of healing both physically and spiritually. He is an example of the medical preoccupation in the monastic communities. This paper is divided into three sections, following a general short introduction, dealing firstly with the process of knowledge as described by the author himself, then a synthesis of the way of using the concept “powers of the soul” by some representative Syriac authors, and, finally, the use of the same concept in Simon’s writings and the way he involves them in the very process of knowledge.
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