Bishop Alexander Delivers Second Annual Meyendorff Lecture

14 September 2014 • On Campus  

The Rt. Rev. Alexander (Golitzin), alumnus of the Class of 1973 and bishop of Toledo and the Bulgarian Diocese, Orthodox Church in America (OCA), presented the second annual Father John Meyendorff Lecture, "Force Your Mind to Descend into the Heart: Some Resemblances between Byzantine Hesychasm and Merkavah Mysticism." The event crowned a weekend Bishop AlexanderBishop Alexandercommemorating the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross. His Beatitude The Most Blessed Tikhon, primate of the OCA, attended the Sunday evening talk, after presiding over the feast day’s Vigil and Divine Liturgy. (View a photo gallery by Glen Mules of the festal Liturgy.)

“I’m delighted to be here,” Bishop Alexander said in his opening remarks, after St. Vladimir's Dean, The Very Rev. Dr. John Behr, introduced him. “The 'other Fr. John' whom we honor tonight, was such a seminal figure for me. I cherish his memory and continue to profit from his works.”

Metropolitan Tikhon and Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad HatfieldMetropolitan Tikhon and Chancellor/CEO The Very Rev. Dr. Chad HatfieldIn his presentation, Bishop Alexander described the development of the Orthodox Christian hesychast tradition and highlighted its affinities with Jewish Merkavah Mysticism. The Hebrew word "merkavah” meaning “chariot,” was the name assigned to a type of prayerful meditation practiced by early Jewish mystics as they contemplated the prophet Ezekiel's vision of heavenly beings.

According to His Grace, common threads between the Christian and Jewish meditation practices include: invocation of the Divine name as means of entry into the heavenly realm; emphasis on self denial and purification; and similar temple traditions. These two “concurrent and parallel streams,” said His Grace, might provide a basis for productive inter-faith dialogue.SVOTS Dean The Very Rev.. Dr. John Behr introduced His GraceSVOTS Dean The Very Rev.. Dr. John Behr introduced His Grace

Rangos receptionRangos receptionHis Grace had served in academic settings for several decades. At Oxford University, he studied under His Eminence the Right Reverend Kallistos (Ware), metropolitan of Diokleia, and wrote his dissertation on Dionysius the Areopagite. He also spent a year at the Simonos Petras Monastery on Mt. Athos. In 1989, Bishop Alexander assumed a teaching position with the Theology Department at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI, where he supported a dozen Orthodox Christian students in theological doctoral work.

Bishop Alexander is the translator and editor of On the Mystical Life, a three-volume series published by SVS Press. The lecture will be posted on Ancient Faith Radio's podcast, Voices from St. Vladimir's Seminary, as soon as it is available.

(Photos by Leanne Parrott Photography)