Isaac of Nineveh

Vat. sir. 125

See entry in Assemani

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  • f. 1r-145r Isaac of Ninevah, Selected Ascetical Discourses from Part 1 (16, 18, 22-48, 50-53, 57-58, 64, 60-63, 66-67, 69-70, 72-74, 78, 80, 82, 25-26, 81)
  • f. 145r-158v Philoxenus, Bishop fo Hierapolis, Response to the question of Patricius
  • f. 158v-211v John of Dalyatha, Ascetical Discourses (1-27)
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Isaac of Nineveh

Complete Translations


  • English from Syriac: 

    • A. J. Wensinck, Mystic Treatises by Isaac of Nineveh. Amsterdam: De Akademie, 1923.
      • Chapters 1-6: Six Treatises on the Behaviour of Excellence1
      • Chapter 7: On other subjects, chapter by chapter, in short sections, on the character of trust in God and for whom it is becoming to trust in God, and further: when a man trusts, he will have power according to [the state of] his mind. And who trusts foolishly and without discernment (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 8: What it is that helps a man to come near unto God with his heart and why it is that help comes near unto him secretly and what it is that causes a man to come near unto humility (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 9: On sins [committed] intentionally and with evi lwill and on those [committed] accidentally (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 10: On the words of the Scriptures being spoken as it were to patients in moderation lest they should wholly abandon the Living God. But this should not be taken by us as a reason for greater freedom regarding sin (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 11: Whereby the beauty of solitary life is to be preserved and how it can be a cause of God's being glorified (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 12: That it is not beautiful for the servant of God who has renunciated the world and has gone forth to seek even the truth, out of fear that he shall not find the truth to desist from seeking it or from the fervour which is born from the desire of divine things, or from the inquiry after their mystic secrets which are described mysteriously. that, by this seeking, the mind may desist from evil distraction and recollections of the affections (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 13: On the varying states which come to those who live in solitude, as is justly ordered by God concerning this [spiritual] way: now sadness and psychic suffocation, then, suddenly, gladness and joy and hot fervour and unusual strength. Praise to him that has ordered our way, amen (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 14: As to when those who live in solitude begin to know, even to a slight extent, how ar they have advanced in their service in the unfathomable sea of solitary life so that they are able to have confidence somewhat on their labours that they begin to bear fruit (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 15: On the course of the solitary career, succinctly and without prolixity, and on the question how and at what time its virtues are born one from the other (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 16: How profitable it is for the soul while in solitude to be free from works and how intercourse harms the mind of the novice which has but lately begun to have insight for itself and how it is clear that bodily works necessarily bring about in the solitary a deficiency in divine works (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 17: On the short paths towards God which are revealed to one from the sweet works in vigils, and that those who are given to vigils are supported by honey their whole lifetime (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 18a: Things which I have heard from old men and stories of holy people, their pious words and wonderful behaviour. May God preserve us by their prayers. Amen (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 19: On the revelations an powers which happen to the saints in images (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 20: On various intelligible forces of the mind in connection with the action of revelations and spiritual visions (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 21: On that which happens during prayer [unto those who live] in solitude (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 22: On various [experiences] during prayer and on the limits of the power of the mind. And in how far it has power to move its arbitrary impulses by the various habits of prayer. And what is the limit prescribed to nature during prayer, the limit which prayer is not allowed to surpass. And how when it has passed it and has proceeded farther, it is no longer prayer, even though what happens is called by the name of prayer (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 23: On the speech of true knowledge (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 24: On the things a brother is provided with in his cell (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 25a: The opportunities of the soul that seeks profound contemplation to immerse itself in it and so to escape from bodily deliberations which arise from things recollected (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 26: Against those who say: If God is good wherefore has He made these things? (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 27: In how many different ways the sight of incorporeal beings is received by humna nature (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 28: A symbolical demonstration concerning the theory of Sabbath and Sunday (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 29: On the different excellent methods of wise providence in educating pupils (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 30: On the power and the evil action of sin and concerning those in whom it maintains itself and those in whom it is annihilated (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 31: The struggle or rather the danger of falling that excellent works incur (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 32: On the aim of guarding the heart and on subtle speculation that looks into the apartment (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 33: On the action of divine love (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 34: On the natural children of virtues and the like (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 35: A treatise in questions and answers considering constant behaviour and every kind of excellence which is eminently useful for those who have stripped off the world and dwell in the wilderness, for recluses and for those who in voluntary mortification at all times expect the crown of righteousness (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 36a: On the various ways in which Satan wars against those who tread the narrow way which is above the world (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 37: On the things that exact use of which I have learnt by the knowledge of discernment (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 38: Short sentences concerning the distinction of the mind's impulses (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 39: Helpful advice based on love (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 40: Exposition concerning the degrees of the path, namely concerning the power of ministration of each of them (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 41: A letter which he wrote to one of the brethren who loved solitude concerning how Satan contrives to divert the zealous from constant solitude under the pretext of the love of relatives and honoured men; and that it is becoming that all should be despised in the eyes [of the solitary] compared with the knowledge of God which is found in solitude as may be seen in the example of our ancestors (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 42: The answer he sent his natural and spiritual brother who had tried to persuade him in letters that he should visit him in the inhabited world because he longed to see him (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 43: Profitable words full of spiritual wisdom (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 44: Concerning how many degrees knowledge has and concerning the degrees of faith (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 45: Profitable advice (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 46: Other Considerations (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 47a: On the angelic emotions stirring in us by divine providence for the education of the soul in spiritual things (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 48: On the varying states of light and darkness to which the soul is subject at all times and on the training it acquires in things of the right hand and of the left (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 49: On the gloomy darkness which during solitude befalls those who walk in the discipline of knoweldge (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 50: Short sections containing various considerations which is shown the injury caused by foolish zeal under the pretext of fear of God and the profit originating in quietness; together with other subjects (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 51: On the three degrees of knowledge and the discrimination between their service and the impulses and on the faith of the soul and the treasures of mysteries hidden in it and to what extent worldly knowledge in its means is opposed to the simplicity of faith (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 52: Short sections on a different subject on the distinction of the impulses of knowledge (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 53: On prayer and the other things which are necessarily to be sought in constant recollection and which it is very profitable for a man to recite with discrimination and to retain (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 54: Other explanations concerning maggenanutha (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 55: How the hidden alertness within the soul is to be preserved. How sleepiness and coldness enter the mind banishing the holy fervour from the soul killing the desire of God that tends towards spiritual and heavenly desirable things (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 56: Beautiful considerations concerning the life of man (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 57: How patience for the sake of the love of God acquires help from God (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 58: On those who live in the neighborhood of God and pass all their days in a life of knowledge (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 59: A profitable discourse (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 60: That without necessity we should not desire nor ask that any sign should manifestly happen through us or unto us (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 61: For which causes God admits temptations to his friends (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 62: That by the thoughts which stir in a man he knows to which degree he belongs and which thoughts follow (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 63: Why is that people who are in the psychic state of knowledge consider spiritual things in accordance with [their] bodily grossness and how it is possible that the mind be elevated above this and what is the cause why we are not freed from it and when and how it is possible for the mind to remain without images at the time of prayer (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 64: On the many varying states which cling to the mind and are purified by prayer (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 65: Good advice giving instructions concerning watchfulness and directions concerning the way of discipline by which a man may acquire a high rank (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 66: A letter which he sent to his friend in which he expounds some things concerning the mystery of solitude and how it is that many neglect this wonderful service because they are not acquainted with it whereas the main part of them cling to sitting in the cell because this is current monkish tradition. Together with a collection of short sayings useful for those who practice solitude (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 67: An elucidation with examples concerning the distinctions between intelligible things [showing] which use there is in each of them (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 68: Short sections (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 69: How the intelligent have to dwell in solitude (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 70: That we can understand the degree of our behaviour by the varying states of our mind without childishly judging by the many distinctions of our labours only that we should recognise the degree of our soul as sages by the joy which day by day is secretly perceived in it. The subtle order of initiated knowledge (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 71: On the influences proceeding from grace (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 72: On the true knowledge and on temptations and that it is becoming to know exactly that not only weak and insignificant and uneducated people but also those who have been deemed worthy of temporary apathy and have reached perfection of mind and have approached partial purity as far as this is compatible with mortality and have gained exaltation above affections – in so far as in this world it is allowed by God in combination with life in affectible flesh- have to struggle and are injured by the affections because of the body and that to them also are continually permitted [temptations] in mercy because of the danger of haughtiness in some degree and that many times they transgress and heal themselves by repentance grace accepting them again (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 73: The concise sense of the [foregoing] section together with explanations of what has been said (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 74: On the discrimination of virtues and the scope of the whole course and the greatness of the love unto mankind and the spiritual aim which it reaches in all the saints creating within them a divine likeness by the rich love which he pours out upon mankind (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 75: On hidden states and the powers and influences which are in them (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 76: Short sayings (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 77: This chapter is full of life (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 78: On the profit [arising] from the flight from the world the method of which has been thought out by the fathers through prudent examination (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 79: How the hidden impulses vary along with the variation of outward behaviour (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 80: On vigils and on the many different kinds of labours during them and that it is not becoming that the aim of our labours should be the fulfilling of a quantity but [to work] in freedom and with discrimination as children of God who work with their Father in the alertness of love and how precious the labour of vigils is more than that of all other duties and what this labour imposes on those who choose it and how they have to walk in it and on the gifts of which they are deemed worthy by God and on the battles against them on the part of the principal of this world (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 81: An answer to a brother who had asked him why when our Lord has defined mercy as similitude to the greatness of the Father in heaven the solitaries honour solitude more than it? And an apology of this point and that it is not becoming to neglect the distressed and sick when they are near (Syriac-Bedjan)
      • Chapter 82: How much honour humility possesses and how high its rank is (Syriac-Bedjan)
  • German from Syriac:  

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