Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

MA Theology




Gregory Y. Glazov, DPhil


Dianne M. Traflet, JD, STD


Jeremiah 1:10 and Carmelite Spirituality, John of the Cross and Jeremiah, Biblical Spirituality, Purgative Illuminative and Unitive Way, Spiritual Journey, Origen’s Reception of Jer 1:10, Reception History of Jer 1:10, To Uproot Tear Down Destroy Demolish Build and Plant, Jeremiah’s Call and Turning the Heart, OT Spirituality


The aim of this study is first, to identify resonances between Jeremiah 1:10 and the three stages of the spiritual journey as defined by the Carmelites such as John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila (i.e., the stages known as purgative, illuminative and unitive) and then, in light of an in depth understanding of the spiritual senses attributed to Jeremiah 1:10 in its reception history, to evaluate the impact of Jer 1:10 upon the Carmelite conception of the spiritual journey.

A comprehensive Word Study is undertaken of six task verbs from Jer 1:10, presented as three pairs: to root out (נתש) and to pull down (נחץ), to destroy (אבד) and to throw down (הרס), to build (בנה) and to plant (נטע). This analysis offers support for the alignment and resonances of the task verbs with the three stages of the spiritual journey. The Word Study also suggests that for the spiritual sense, the Hebrew text may provide a typology of a three-stage progression, in which two stages of purification (described by two pairs of negative task verbs) are necessary before the holiest and whole-hearted stage of unification is effected (described by the positive pair of task verbs). In addition, the repeated proximate position of task verbs to the themes of “turning” and “the heart” suggest that the verbs may work to turn the heart to the Lord, who continues to love his people despite their spiritual adultery and other sins.

The evidence reviewed in the Word Study is supported by the reception history and indicates that Jer 1:10 may offer a significant and early spiritual model. This verse directly impacts upon Paul and Origen in the early era of Christianity. Based on Origen’s interpretation, it is possible that Jer 1:10 offers a biblical model for the tri-partite spiritual journey which precedes the conception of spiritual stages by Pseudo-Dionysius, who is often considered the originator of the purgative, illuminative and unitive concepts. In a number of ways, Origen’s spiritual interpretation seems to be carried through Christian tradition and may challenge oft-assumed Platonic or Neoplatonic sources of the spiritual journey.

However, the impact of Jer 1:10 upon the Carmelites Saints John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila is diffuse and indirect. No direct citation or echo of Jer 1:10 has been identified in their writings. Nonetheless, like Origen’s interpretation of Jer 1:10, John recognizes successive stages of spiritual “destruction” (purgation and illumination) designed to open space in the soul for God, allowing for a third phase of “construction” (i.e., union). Jer 1:10 may offer insight into the earliest theological seeds of the spiritual journey, with echoes and resonances throughout the ages.