Symeon the New Theologian

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Symeon the New Theologian


Born 949 in Galatia (Paphlagonia); died 1022 in Chrysopolis. Byzantine religious writer and mystical philosopher.

In his youth, Symeon studied in Constantinople and was in the imperial service; he later became a monk. His works develop the themes of deep self-examination, self-purgation, and illumination of the individual who has withdrawn into himself to cultivate spirituality. For Symeon, the authority of the church’s hierarchical institutions receded into the background before the absolute authority of the “spirit-bearing” ascetic, the bearer of personal sanctity. Symeon’s teaching concerning the personal relationship between mentor (“spiritual father”) and disciple (“spiritual son”) as the highest norm of religious life is typologically comparable to the doctrines of Islamic mysticism concerning the link between the murshid and the murid; it is precisely in such a chain of “inheritance” that “tradition” is preserved.

Symeon’s poems are important in the history of Byzantine literature because of the boldness with which the author reformed meters and brought poetic language close to the norms of living speech. Symeon’s mystical philosophy anticipated 14th-century hesychasm.


Greek text with French translation:
Catéchèses, vols. 1–3. Edited by B. Krivochéine. Translated by J. Paramelle. Paris, 1963–65.
Chapitres théologiques, gnostiques et pratiques. Edited by J. Darrouzes. Paris, 1958.
Traités théologiques et éthiques, vols. 1–2. Edited by J. Darrouzes. Paris, 1966–67.
Hymnes, vols. 1–3. Edited by J. Koder. Paris, 1969–73.
In Russian translation:
Slova, fascs. 1–2. Moscow, 1882.


Kazhdan, A. P. “Predvaritel’nye zamechaniia o mirovozzrenii vizantiiskogo mistika X-XI vv. Simeona.” Byzantinoslavica, 1967, vol. 28, no. 1.
Krivochéine, V. “The Writings of St. Symeon the New Theologian.” Orientalia Christiania Periodica, 1954, vol. 20.


References in periodicals archive ?
While "concentration of affectivity" clearly dominates the field in Christian spirituality, there is also a different pathway to center, and one who was onto it was Simeon the New Theologian. His curiously little known essay, "Three Methods of Attention and Prayer," is one of the most important resources available for locating Centering Prayer within the wider tradition of Christian interior prayer and for validating its innovative yet entirely orthodox starting points.
Simeon the New Theologian) love is the highest virtue and the expression of union with God.
Simeon the New Theologian urges his hearers: "Brother, constantly call on God, that he may show you a man who is able to direct you well, one whom you ought to obey as though he were God Himself, whose instruction you must carry out without hesitation, even if what he enjoins on you appears to you to be repugnant and harmful" (Symeon the New Theologian, trans.
Simeon the New Theologian, provided that he had experienced directly the grace of the Holy Spirit in his life.
But if not, do not put if off till evening, but after the morning office exam ine yourself and confess all that has befallen you" (Simeon the New Theologian, 1980, p.