|St. John Climacus, 13th-century Russian icon|
The Ladder was written somewhere around the year 600 AD, by a monk who had spent his life living with communities of other monks in the region of Palestine and Egypt. As such, it's primarily a text written for other monks. It takes the image of the ladder to heaven from the story of Jacob's dream in Genesis 28, and uses it to enumerate 30 steps of spiritual progress on the way to union with God. From this book, the Eastern Christian tradition learned much of its understanding of the life of Christians as a pattern of askesis, of self-discipline for the sake of spiritual growth. It outlines the particular vices to be on guard for, the ways that demons may try to tempt or undermine the progress made by varying temperaments of people, and offers advice for how to grow in one's habits of prayer and discipline.
|"The Ladder of Divine Ascent," 12th-century icon|