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Gnostic -- 1

Appendix 1: The Gnostic (Text)


Évagre le Pontique
Le Gnostic ou A celui qui est devenu digne de la science
Édition critique des fragments grecs…
Antoine Guillaumont et Claire Guillaumont
Sources chrétiennes, No 356
Les Éditions du Cerf
Paris, France.

The Gnostic


Towards Him Who Has Been Found Worthy of Gnosis

1 Men of praktike will comprehend words (logoi) concerning praktike; gnostics, however, will see gnostic things. [Greek]

2 The man of praktike, on the one hand, is he who has acquired the passionate part of the soul alone [so that it is] dispassionate. [Greek]

3 The gnostic, on the other hand, is he who takes the place of salt for those who are unclean, but [the place] of light for those who are pure [cf. Matt. 5, 13–14]. [Greek]

4 The gnosis which occurs to us from without, on the one hand, attempts by means of words (logoi) to make a test of the materials. The gnosis which occurs from the grace of God, on the other hand, presents the objects to the intellect [so that it sees them] with its own eyes, and the mind (nous), seeing them, admits their reasons (logoi). <Delusion> stands against the first; anger and temper <and those things which follow them> stand <against the second>. [Greek]

5 All the virtues make a road for the gnostic; freedom from anger is above all of them. For he who has touched on gnosis and who is easily set in motion towards anger is similar to him who pierces his own eyes with an iron needle. [Greek]

6 Let the gnostic secure himself, then, in his condescensions, lest the condescension become a habit unawares, and let him also attempt ever to accomplish all the virtues, so that in him also they follow each other in order, on account of the fact that it is natural for the mind (nous) to be betrayed by the virtue which is diminished. [Greek]

7 The gnostic will exercise himself always to give alms and will be ready to be beneficent. And, if he lacks money, he will put into action the instrument of his soul. For in every way it is of his nature to give alms, that which the Five Virgins lacked whose lamps were extinguished [cf. Matt. 25, 1–13]. [French]

8 It is shameful for a gnostic to go to court both being wronged and committing a wrong: being wronged, on the one hand, because he did not exercise patient endurance; committing a wrong, on the other hand, because he committed an injustice. [Greek]

9 Gnosis which is conserved teaches him who participates in it how it might be guarded carefully and advance towards the more. [Greek]

10 May the gnostic, at the moment that he teaches, be free from anger, rancour, sorrow, bodily sufferings and cares! [French]

11 Before you have become perfect avoid meeting with many persons and frequenting them often, for fear lest your intellect be filled with imaginations. [French]

12 Among those things which are related to the practical life [or, praktike], to natural [contemplation] or to Theology, it is appropriate to say and to do until death that which is useful to our salvation. But one must not say or do that which among these things is indifferent, on account of those who are easily scandalized. [French]

13 It is just to discourse to monks and to seculars concerning the upright way of life and to clarify in part as many dogmas of natural [contemplation] and Theology as ‘without which no one will see the Lord’ [Heb. 12, 14]. [Greek]

14 To the priests alone, those who among them are the best, reply, if they ask you, concerning what the mysteries symbolize that are accomplished by them and that purify the interior man, the vessels which they receive designating the passionate part of the soul and its rational part; concerning that which is their inseparable mixture, the power of each one of them and the accomplishment of the activities of each one of them in view of a single end. And tell them again who is the figure who accomplishes these things and who are those who with him repel those who make an obstacle to a pure conduct; and that, among living beings, some have memory and others do not. [French]

15 Know the reasons (logoi) and the laws of seasons and ways of life and occupations, so that you are able to say easily to each man those things that are profitable. [Greek]

16 It is necessary that you have the material for the explication of that which is said and that you encompass all things, even if a part should escape you. It is the property of the angel, in fact, that nothing escape him of that which is on the earth. [French]

17 It is necessary to know the definitions of things, above all those of the virtues and of the vices. There, indeed, is the source of gnosis and ignorance, of the Kingdom of the Heavens and of torment. [French]

18 It is necessary to seek to know, on the subject of the allegorical passages and the literal passages, whether they relate to the practical life or to natural [contemplation] or to Theology. If they relate to the practical life, it is necessary to examine if they treat of irascibility and of what is born of it, or of desire and of what follows it, or of the intellect and its movements. If they relate to natural [contemplation], it is necessary to see if they make known some one of the doctrines concerning nature, and which. And if it is an allegorical passage concerning Theology, one must as much as possible examine whether it is giving information concerning the Trinity and whether the Trinity is in view simply or whether it is in view in the Unity. But if it is none of these things, it is a simple contemplation, or it even makes known a prophecy. [French]

19 It is also good to know the customs of the Divine Scripture and to establish them, as much as it is possible, by the means of [textual] witnesses. [French]

20 It is necessary also to know this, that every text of an ethical character does not admit of a contemplation of an ethical character, and no more does a text concerning nature [admit of] a contemplation of nature; but such a passage that is of an ethical character admits of a contemplation of nature and such a passage that treats of nature admits of a contemplation of ethics, and in the same way for Theology. That which is said, in fact, concerning the fornication and the adultery of Jerusalem [cf. Ezek. 16, 15–34], concerning the animals of the dry land and the waters, and concerning the birds, the pure and the impure [cf. Lev. 11, 2–19], the sun which ‘rises, sets, and returns to its place’ [Eccl. 1, 5] correspond in the first place to Theology, in the second place to ethics and in the third place to natural [contemplation]. For the first text answered to ethics and the other two to natural [contemplation]. [French]

21 You will not interpret allegorically the words (logoi) of blameable persons, nor will you seek something spiritual in them, except unless God acted on account of the Dispensation, as in the case of Balaam [cf. Num. 24, 17–19] and in the case of Caiaphas [cf. John 11, 49–51], so that the former would speak beforehand concerning the birth, the latter concerning the death, of our Saviour. [Greek]

22 The gnostic must not be either gloomy or difficult to approach. For the first is of one who is ignorant of the reasons (logoi) of things which come to be; the second is of one who does not wish ‘all men … to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth’ [1 Tim. 2, 4]. [Greek]

23 It is sometimes necessary to feign ignorance, because those who ask are not worthy of hearing. And you will be truthful because you are bound to a body and because you do not now have a complete knowledge of things. [French]

24 Take care to yourself lest on account of profit or ease, or for the sake of a glory which passes, you say something of the secret things and you be cast out of the sacred precincts, as yourself also selling in the Temple the offspring of the Dove. [Greek]

25 It is necessary to make those who dispute without having gnosis to approach the truth not from the end but from the beginning. And it is necessary not to say anything to young men concerning gnostic things, nor to permit them to touch books of that sort, for they are not able to resist the falls that this contemplation entails. That is why it is necessary to say to those who are combated by the passions not the words of peace, but how they will triumph over their adversaries. In fact, as the Ecclesiast says, ‘There is no discharge in the day of battle.’ [Eccl. 8, 8.] Those, then, who are combated by the passions and who examine the reasons of bodies and of the bodiless [powers] resemble those sick men who debate over health. But it is when the soul is moved with difficulty by the passions that it is appropriate to taste these sweet honeycombs. [French]

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