The textbook and pulpit notion that all Christendom is divided between Greek East and Latin West overlooks an ancient and still continuing third stream of tradition: Syriac Christianity.
Cut off from the rest of the Christian world by theological controversy in the fifth century, Arab conquest in the seventh, and Mongul invasions in the thirteenth, Syrian Christians continued to celebrate the christian mysteries, to meditate on Scripture, and to apply its teachings to their lives.
Some of them, attempting to realize here on earth their baptismal potential to re-enter paradise, chose a life of asceticism and single-minded devotion to Christ. Their reflections created across the centuries a rich literature. Some passed into the byzantine tradition; some remained unknown to other Christians and have never until now been translated into a modern language.
These Syriac fathers offer the modern heirs of both latin and greek Christendom new, yet ancient and enduring, insights on prayer and the spiritual life.