Cambridge University Press just released a book Doru Costache coauthored with Bronwen Neil (Macquarie) and Kevin Wagner (Notre Dame), Dreams, Virtue and Divine Knowledge in Early Christian Egypt.
Bronwen Neil is Professor of Ancient History at Macquarie University, Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University and Research Fellow of the University of South Africa. She is co-editor of The Oxford Handbook of Maximus the Confessor (2015), Collecting Early Christian Letters (Cambridge, 2015) and The Brill Companion to Gregory the Great (2013).
Doru Costache is Senior Lecturer in Patristic Studies at St Cyril’s Coptic Orthodox Theological College in Sydney and Honorary Associate of Department of Studies in Religion at the University of Sydney. He is co-author of Știință și Teologie: Preliminarii pentru Dialog (2001) and co-editor of Well-Being, Personal Wholeness and the Social Fabric (2017).
Kevin Wagner is Lecturer in Theology at the University of Notre Dame, Australia. He has been the principal convenor of the Theology at the Beginning of the Third Millennium series of conferences and is the lead editor of the accompanying book series.
The authors of this study posit a specifically Egyptian approach to the questions of whether and how one can see God in dreams. In works of the first to fourth centuries, Alexandrian philosophers – starting with Philo – and theologians – starting with Clement and Origen – developed a new approach to dreams that was to have profound effects on the spirituality of the medieval West and Byzantium. That approach, founded on the principles of Platonism, was based on the convictions that God could send prophetic dreams and that these could be interpreted by people of sufficient virtue. In the fourth century, the Alexandrian approach was expanded to include a more experiential, psychological notion of what dreams meant for spiritual progress. This expanded notion flourished in the context of Egyptian monasticism, and influenced its experiences of sleep and dreaming.