The Ladder of Divine Ascent was the most widely used handbook of the ascetic life in the ancient Greek Church. Popular among both laity and monastics, it was translated into Latin, Syriac, Arabic, Armenian, Old Slavonic, and many modern languages. It was written while the author (579-649 CE) was an abbot of the monastery of Catherine on Mount Sinai. As reflected in the title, the ascetical life is portrayed as ladder which each aspirant must ascend, each step being a virtue to be acquired, or a vice to be surrended. Its thirty steps reflect the hidden life of Christ himself. This work had a fundamental influence in the development of Christian monasticism generally, and particularly the Hesychastic, Jesus Prayer, or Prayer of the Heart movement.
John Climacus (c. 579-649) was abbot of the monastery of Catherine on Mount Sinai. His Ladder was the most widely used handbook of the ascetical life in the ancient Greek Church.