He has frequently been portrayed by modern writers (starting with Gibbon) as a pagan who was forced by circumstances to play at being a clergyman, but neither his writings nor church tradition bear this out; rather, he was struggling with what seemed to him to be the irreconcilable conflict between Chritstian doctrine and his sophisticated Greek education. The outcome of this struggle was far from certain, but according to the Spiritual Meadow of St. John Moschus, as well as other ancient sources, he finally attained the gift of faith.
Obviously, Synesius should not be considered a Church Father in the strict sense of the term; his writings are a mixture of Orthodoxy and Neoplatonism. In spite of their well-known theological shortcomings, they were always extremely popular in Byzantium, being valued for their literary and scientific content, their occasional genuine spiritual insight, and their amazingly honest presentation of an educated (and completely sincere) Hellene's wrestling-match with God. Read them in this light rather than for doctrinal content.
Norman Hugh Redington
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