On April 7, 2016, the Very Rev. John A. McGuckin, Ph.D., presented the Kay Butler Gill Lecture in Christian Spirituality to a crowd of around 120 in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at The General Theological Seminary. The lecture was entitled "The Jesus Prayer: From Desert Contemplatives to Modern Urban Spirituality." McGuckin examined the origins of the Jesus Prayer in earliest Christianity, with monastic philosophers in the deserts of Egypt and Palestine developing the theory of the "Prayer of the Heart." He went on to describe late Byzantine ideas on the explicit role of the "sharpening" of new forms of consciousness (noesis) during prayer, and then spoke of the role of the Jesus Prayer in late modernity and in contemporary forms of lay, urban asceticism.
After speaking, McGuckin led a 10-minute exercise demonstrating the communal Jesus Prayer in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. McGuckin then joined attendees at a reception and booksigning.
The written text of McGuckin's lecture can be downloaded here.
John Anthony McGuckin is the Ane Marie and Bent Emil Nielsen Professor in Late Antique and Byzantine Christian History and Professor of Byzantine Christian Studies at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. He is an Archpriest of the Romanian Orthodox Church, and for over 30 years has taught in numerous European and American university settings. He is a specialist in early medieval Christian thought and history, and has published 25 books on topics ranging from New Testament history to Byzantine mysticism, several of which have won awards. He has long followed a special interest in the culture of monasticism. McGuckin is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society of Great Britain, and a recipient of the Romanian Order of St. Stephen, the Cross of Moldavia and Bukovina. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from St. Vladimir’s Academy and Sibiu University.