From the accession of Constantine in 306 to the final fall of Constantinople in 1453, what is both curious and clear is that Byzantine mysticism was closely connected to politics, sometimes frustratingly so. Often it is difficult to distinguish a mystical tradition from a theological position that became aligned with a political faction. Byzantine mysticism itself is difficult to define. Certainly, even a cursory study of the hesychast movement reveals that it was clearly mystical.1 What about other movements? Was devotion to icons connected to mysticism? The intellectual history of Byzantium is theology, and it is usually systematic theology. Mystical treatises, when they do appear, often come from monastic circles. Mysticism, as in a direct personal encounter with the divine, was distrusted by most Byzantine theologians and always had the whiff of heresy. Mysticism could lead one to dangerous ideas, as in the case of Origen. In fact, there...

You do not currently have access to this content.