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OTT (Commentary) -- 13

34 Since there also occur successions of demons—

The argument of Evagrius in this chapter is this: As he has stated in TPL 72, when we struggle with the demon—an objectively existent evil mind (nous) without a body that approaches us to excite the particular passion that corresponds to its type—we are afflicted but, struggling against the thoughts sown by the demon, we afflict the demon in turn. This hurts the demon; it grows weaker and ultimately can do nothing against us. What happens then? That demon that we have defeated of that passion gives its place up to another, stronger demon of the same passion and goes elsewhere. Evagrius is somewhat ambiguous as to whether the demon which succeeds is necessarily of the same passion; we have the impression that he thinks that it is.

the first during the war having grown weak and not being able to set in motion the passion which is dear to it—

A demon of fornication is always a demon of fornication, not sometimes a demon of avarice and sometimes a demon of fornication.

having observed these things closely, we find them to be thus:

Palladius, in his Lausiac History, in the chapter concerning Evagrius,[1] remarks on Evagrius’ great experience of and understanding of the different types of demons.

When the thoughts of a certain passion are rare for a long time

Let us say that I am not assaulted by thoughts of fornication for a long time. However, it is clear that this is true for any of the eight passions. Moreover, recall OTT 20, above, which discusses why a demonic thought might be easy to rebut. Here, however, the thoughts are not so much easy to rebut as absent or rare for a long time.

and there suddenly occurs a boiling

A great stirring.

and movement of this passion, although we have given no cause at all through negligence,

Recall that an excess of food is a cause of a stirring of the passion of fornication, while anger indulged causes disturbances of the temper. Moreover, recall TPL 44:

44 When the demons, battling against the monks, are unable to accomplish anything, then, withdrawing for a bit, they keep watch which of the virtues is in the meantime neglected, and, suddenly making an attack on that virtue, they tear the wretched soul to pieces.

Hence, before a monk concludes that a succession of the demons is involved in a sudden stirring of a passion, let him assess his possible negligence.

then we know that a worse demon has received us in turn from the first,

The reader should grasp that this is something that happens over a period of months. Against Gehin et al., we do not consider that this has anything to do with Evagrius’ assertion that thematically or structurally opposed demons such as those of vainglory and fornication[2] cannot assault us at the same time. That is true, but in that case, the alternation of demons can occur over the space of seconds. What we mean is this: I am assaulted by the demon of vainglory. Since the demon of vainglory promises honour, I cannot at the same time be assaulted by the demon of fornication, since that demon promises dishonour. However, that does not mean that over the space of a few seconds, the first demon cannot leave, to be replaced by the second. However, in this chapter, Evagrius is discussing something else: I am not troubled by thoughts of fornication for let us say several months. Suddenly, without my having been negligent, there starts a severe battle with the demon of fornication: I am continually assaulted night and day by thoughts of fornication. I am bewildered. What has happened? This chapter is Evagrius’ answer to my question.

and that this new demon,

Of the same passion. The argument lacks coherence if the demons are different. The old demon, say of fornication, has not prevailed and is withdrawn and sent elsewhere, whereas a stronger demon of fornication is sent in to battle the ascetic. This applies to each of the eight passions.

keeping watch with its own wickedness, has filled up the place of the demon which has departed. But this new demon also altogether understands our soul,

Evidently, it is briefed beforehand by the departing demon. The demons are minds (noes).

warring against it with a much greater violence than is customary,

It is a stronger, heavier demon, more violent than the departing demon. Hence, ‘customary’ refers to the war of that passion to which we had grown accustomed with the now-departed ineffectual demon.

our soul having fallen all at once from the thoughts of yesterday and the day before,

Recall the definition we gave of the monk’s spiritual condition, as referring to the monk’s habitual sense of the presence of Grace in him, his serenity, the elevation of his mind to divine thoughts, his good disposition. This is what Evagrius means by the ‘thoughts of yesterday and the day before’. Suddenly the demon that has come attacks and our habitual spiritual condition is gone. TPL 59 states: ‘…and this, those know who more quickly give their attention to the temptations and see the dispassion which lies before them being levered out by the demons which succeed’.

What is involved here is this: I have a good spiritual condition for some time, and I appear to be approaching dispassion (apatheia).[3] Suddenly the demons change their guard and I see the dispassion (apatheia) which lies before me being levered out. Although Evagrius himself does not say so explicitly, there is a caution in all this: when you think you are approaching dispassion (apatheia), be careful: the demons might change their guard.

no pretext having crept in from without.

We have not been negligent. Recall that we are aiming soon to begin On Sobriety: sobriety is obviously opposed to negligence.

What is the monk to do?

Let the mind therefore flee towards the Lord when it sees these things;

Let it not trust in its own dispassion (apatheia).

and, receiving the helmet of salvation, putting on the breastplate of justice, drawing the sword of the Spirit and lifting up the shield of faith [cf. Eph. 6, 14–17],

Note the central role of virtue.

let it say looking up to its own familiar Heaven

This phrase, ‘own familiar Heaven’, although it might refer to the spiritual experience that the ascetic is presumed by Evagrius already to have acquired, depends more essentially on Evagrius’ own heterodox cosmology and as such must be discarded. However, it can be given an Orthodox interpretation: our ultimate home and destination is Heaven.

with tears:

This is one of the very few references in these two works to tears. Indeed, tears are absent also from the Gnostic, the Kephalaia Gnostica and the Skemmata—the sole exception in the Kephalaia Gnostica being their use in a metaphor unrelated to tears in the present sense. As it is presented in the five works under consideration, Evagrian mysticism is not a mysticism of tears and compunction. It is more closely related to the sobriety of St Hesychios, where tears also play a distinctly secondary role, being seen merely as a fruit of the life of sobriety. This makes the emphasis on tears in the 153 Chapters on Prayer 5–8[4] problematical for an ascription of the work to Evagrius. Fr Hausherr’s commentary on the 153 Chapters has a few references[5] to other works of Evagrius, such as Antirrheticus Accidie 10[6] and Exhortation to a Virgin 25 and 39,[7] and a few of the references seem to grant tears an important place in Evagrian spirituality, at least in certain circumstances. However, for the most part the references appear in works addressed to monastics at a rather elementary stage of spiritual growth. Unless we suppose that the 153 Chapters was intended for a monastic at a rather elementary level, or else that it was intended to span the whole gamut of prayer from the most elementary level to the most advanced, then we must conclude that in his spirituality the author of the 153 Chapters had a somewhat different emphasis than Evagrius. For, as we will discuss in Volume III, there is a school of spirituality that emphasizes tears and compunction. But that is not the thrust of Evagrius in the works with which we are concerned in this volume.

‘Lord’ Christ, ‘strength of my salvation,’ [Ps. 139, 8] ‘incline your ear to me, make haste to rescue me, become for me a God who protects and a place of refuge to save me.’ [Ps. 30, 3.] Certainly, with fasts and vigils let it

The mind (nous). That is, the ascetic.

‘polish its sword’ [cf. Ps. 7, 13].

Renewed ascetical efforts. Again we ourselves emphasize that this renewed ascesis must be seen in the context of the virtues to which Evagrius has referred in quoting St Paul’s exhortation. Ascesis without an orientation to the acquisition of virtue is demonic.

For seven whole days

For a fixed time.

it will be afflicted, being battled against and being ‘pierced by the flaming arrows of the evil one’ [cf. Eph. 6, 16]—after the seventh day it will know the demon to have become similar little by little to the demon to which it succeeded—;

That is, after a fixed period during which we get the worst of it, fighting, however, we find that little by little the new demon is growing just as weak as the old demon.

standing its ground, besides, a whole year, for the most part being wounded rather than at all wounding, until the demon should come near which succeeds to this one,

That is, the new demon grows weak and ultimately ineffectual, and is in turn succeeded by a still stronger and more ferocious demon of the same passion. Why? Of course, from the point of view of the Devil, it is a matter of what God allows him to do as regards the ferocity of the temptation which the ascetic experiences at the hands of the demons. The Devil cannot tempt the ascetic beyond his strength—if the ascetic went to the desert with the plerophoria (inner spiritual assurance) that that was pleasing to the Lord and if he has remained humble.

From the point of view of the ascetic, the result is that as he conquers each demon which succeeds he has become that much more spiritually advanced—and spiritually strong. Recall that we ourselves observed in our commentary on TPL 42, where the concept of rebuttal was introduced, that the strength of the ascetic’s rebuttal is in direct proportion to his level of spiritual attainment. Here, we can clearly see how this is to be understood. As I conquer each demon in succession, my spiritual strength grows—if, indeed, I fight and conquer and do not give myself over to negligence, surrendering myself to the passion—and the power of my rebuttal, whether vocalized or merely in thought, grows in direct proportion to my spiritual strength. When I have conquered the new demon, then my power of rebuttal is such that it would have sent the old demon ‘flying’. That is what happened to the woman who was rebutted by the well-known ascetic in the situation that we referred to in TPL 42: the woman took a spiritual punch that would have sent a hefty demon flying. And that is why the word of the saint has such strength. We are reminded here of another well-known ascetic, since deceased, who with his word of consolation, saying ‘You will be happy; you will have joy,’ could relieve a disciple[8] of the thought of sorrow. Evagrius remarks in TPL 58 that a dispassionate man can defeat the demonic thought with a human thought; in the immediate case that we are referring to, the ascetic defeated with his human thought the demonic thought of sorrow that was afflicting not himself but his disciple—and that not with a thought in supposition of an opposed passion (the first case in TPL 58) but with a thought of the virtue opposed to the passion afflicting his disciple (the second case in TPL 58). We can now understand the import of Skemmata 9 and 10:

9 Dog-like is the contemplative mind (nous theoretikos) chasing away all the impassioned thoughts by means of the movement of the temper (thumos).

10 Dog-like is the practical mind (nous praktikos) barking at all the unjust thoughts.

What Evagrius means is this: In the practical life, the ascetic uses rebuttal—this is the barking at the unjust thoughts—in order to repel demonic thoughts (logismoi). In the gnostic life of contemplation, a mere movement of the irascible part of the soul, without the formulation of a rebuttal even in thought, is sufficient to chase off the demon. It is a matter of the greater spiritual strength that the ascetic has acquired. We will see in Volume III that St John of Sinai says the same thing.[9]

if, really, according to Job, ‘We fall at their hands for a fixed time and our houses are pillaged by the lawless.’ [Cf. Job 12, 5.]

This chapter does not correspond to any chapter of Peri Diakriseos in the Philokalia.

The next chapter, very important, deals with temptations (from the right side, we say) to an excessive ascesis.

While we are somewhat reserved about the quality of Palladius[10] on matters of detail—for example, he has Evagrius ordained deacon by St Gregory of Nyssa and not by St Gregory the Theologian, and his list of Evagrius’ literary works is deficient—we think it useful to set the stage for what follows by Palladius’ description of Evagrius’ ascesis:

· One pound of (dry) bread per day (the bread was weighed dry and eaten after it was soaked in water). This is the Roman pound of 12 ounces or 340 grams. As St John Cassian has an Abba say in one of his Conferences:[11] if it seems a lot, eat only so much once a day, and nothing else—and you will see.

· ½ Litre of olive oil over three months (i.e. two litres per year).

· Water by measure (Palladius does not say how much).

· No vegetables, fruit, grapes, meat, wine or bread (evidently, fresh bread), and nothing cooked. There is an exception for certain raw vegetables.

· Nothing at all is said about salt.

· No baths.

(We will ignore Evagrius’ ascesis towards the end of his life when he was ill.)

35 When the demon of gluttony, fighting many times and in many things, should not have the strength to destroy the continence which has been established, then it casts the mind into the desire of the most extreme ascesis, among which things it also brings forth those who were around Daniel and that poor life and the seeds [cf. Dan. 1, 6–16];

‘Seeds’ is the Greek of the Septuagint. One translator of the Septuagint[12] translates it ‘pulses’—the seeds of leguminous plants such as the chick pea, bean or lentil—; the RSV,[13] translating from the Hebrew, has ‘vegetables’.

and it brings to remembrance certain other ascetics who have always lived in this way or who have begun to live thus; and it coerces the anchorite to become an imitator of these, so that, pursuing an immoderate continence, he fall short even of a moderate continence, the body not being sufficient on account of its native weakness—in reality blessing with the mouth and cursing in the heart [cf. Ps. 61, 5]—not to be persuaded by which demon I think to be just, neither to abstain from bread and oil and water.

See above, Evagrius’ own ascetical program.

For this very diet the brothers have found by experience to be extremely good, and this not towards satiety

See above, and also TPL 94, where Evagrius reports his discussion of the matter with St Makarios the Alexandrian.

and once a day.

That was certainly the norm among the Egyptian Fathers: they ate once a day after the ninth hour, or even after sunset.

For I wonder if someone satiated with bread and water will able to take upon himself the crown of dispassion, dispassion, I say, not that which impedes sins in act—for this is called continence—

A basic distinction. Throughout these two works, Evagrius presupposes that sin in act is no longer an issue with the monk, although he certainly treats of temptation and of the evolution of the temptation through sin in thought to sin in act. St Hesychios’ On Sobriety is pitched at about the same spiritual level. These are not works for beginners.

but that which cuts off the impassioned thoughts in the intellect, which very thing Saint Paul called the spiritual circumcision of the spiritual Jew [cf. Rom. 2, 29].

It is necessary to understand Evagrius’ ascetical psychology soteriologically.

If one is discouraged by what has been said,

That is, by Evagrius’ insistence on the necessity not to eat bread and drink water to satiety.

let him remember the Apostle who was the ‘vessel of election’ [Acts 9, 15] and who completed his course ‘in hunger and thirst’ [2 Cor. 11, 27].

Evagrius’ moderate asceticism, it should be apparent, was quite severe.

Evagrius now passes from his first case, a temptation from the right side by the demon of gluttony to excessive fasting, to his second case, a temptation from the right side by the demon of accidie to excessive solitude.

The demon of accidie also imitates this demon, suggesting to him who is exercising patient endurance the taking up of the most extreme life of solitude and calling him to jealousy of St John the Baptist and of the first fruit of anchorites, Anthony, so that, not having supported the chronic and inhuman solitude,

In the Cells, where Evagrius lived, the monks met on Saturdays and Sundays for a vigil and the Divine Liturgy.[14] During the week, visits from one anchorite to another—Orthodoxy is flexible—were possible. Recall that in OTT 23, above, Evagrius cautions the monk who is troubled by thoughts of anger, pride or sorrow on no account to flee the brothers. Here, in this chapter, it is not a matter of a monk from Nitria, of a monk from a cœnobium, or even of a layman, taking up for the first time the semi-eremitic life of Evagrius and his brothers of the Cells, as it was in the first sentence of OTT 23. Here, the temptation is for someone living in the Cells and experienced in the semi-eremitic life to withdraw into complete solitude.

he flee with shame, abandoning the place,

This could mean, the place of absolute solitude, but it could also mean the monastic state, that is, by returning permanently to the world.

We would like to remark here on two aspects of Evagrius’ thought.

First, although Evagrius sees his own ascesis both in regard to food and water and in regard to the degree of solitude practised in the Cells as moderate, it should be understood that it was severe. Every ascetic sees his own program, if it is successful, as moderate.

The next remark concerns the flexibility of Orthodox monasticism. Without meaning to disparage in any way the Carthusian Order, which has always had an excellent reputation, the Orthodox monk finds the regimented, rigid—rationally derived, he would say—program of an order like the Carthusians to be foreign to the Orthodox spirit of asceticism. The Orthodox monastery—and in a place like Mount Athos, the whole environment—provides niches and accommodations (acts of economy) so that each monk’s life style can be adjusted to his needs as a person and as a monk.

and that demon,

Of accidie, the one that sent the monk into extreme solitude.

boasting, should further say: ‘I prevailed against him.’ [Ps. 12, 5.]

This chapter does not correspond to any chapter of Peri Diakriseos in the Philokalia.

The next chapter, 36, Gehin et al. take, with justification, to refer to homosexual behaviour on the part of the monk. Evagrius wishes to cloak his meaning by use of a scriptural allegory. We can take the sense of the chapter to be the following: When the monk is still passionate in regard to the passion of fornication, his mind roams over great expanses in his intellect on behalf of the passion. As he proceeds to acquire ‘in some way or other’ purification, then his thought is rather more narrowly compassed about. That is, the passion of fornication is weakened in him. But then, because of the very weakness of the passion, his temptation is then to sexual acts contrary to nature—let us not restrict ourselves only to homosexual behaviour—whereas, when he was younger and more impure, the vigour of the passion presented him more with temptations to sexual acts according to nature—with a member of the opposite sex.

Be careful, says Evagrius, because if you fall, the demon of sorrow will ever bring during the time of prayer the act of sin before your mind’s eye (‘is ever jumping into the pupils of the eyes’—we have liked this literal translation and left it). This, Evagrius implies, will ruin your prayer and drive you to despair. This is indeed a serious affair—see OTT 12 for the possible consequences of despair.

36 The unclean thoughts favourably accept many materials towards their increase and are extended over the span of many objects. For in the intellect they cross great seas and they do not beg off journeying long journeys on account of the great heat of the passion. But those who in some way or other have been purified are rather more straitened than these first, being unable, because of the weakness of the passion, to be extended over the span of many objects. Whence, also, they are moved contrary to nature, rather, and, according to the wise Solomon, ‘roam for a certain time outside’ [cf. Prov. 7, 12], and collect reeds for their unlawful brickmaking, no longer receiving straw [cf. Exod. 5, 7–12].

The allusion is to the slavery of the Israelites to Pharaoh (type of the Devil), who obliged the Israelites to make bricks, and, when they complained, obliged them to find their own straw (a required component of the ancient brick). The Israelites made use of reeds for that purpose. We do not know precisely what Evagrius intends with the symbols of the reed and the straw, unless it is merely to indicate the contrary-to-nature character of the sin involved. We also do not know what Evagrius means to convey with the quotation from Solomon.

It is necessary therefore with every guard

Again, sobriety.

to keep watch over the heart [cf. Prov. 4, 23] so that it be saved ‘as a gazelle from the net and as a bird from the snare’ [Prov. 6, 5]. For it is easier to purify an unclean soul

For example, a Christian sinner who for the first time repents and seeks to enter the monastic state.

than it is to recall a soul once again to health which has been purified and then wounded once more, since the demon of sorrow does not permit it, but is ever jumping into the pupils of the eyes and bringing forward, during the time of prayer, the image of the sin.

This chapter does not correspond to any chapter of Peri Diakriseos in the Philokalia.

The next chapter, on how the demons know, if they know, what is in us, is an amplification of TPL 47, and it draws certain moral consequences that are not addressed in that chapter.

37 The demons do not know our hearts, as certain men think. For the Lord alone is he who knows the heart [cf. Acts 1, 24; 15, 8], ‘he who understands the mind of men,’ [Job 7, 20] and ‘who moulded by himself their hearts’ [Ps. 32, 15]. From the spoken word and from the movements of the body of such a sort the demons detect the greater part of the mental representations of the heart.

This is a significant set of assertions by Evagrius:

1. The demons do not know our hearts.

2. God alone knows our hearts.

3. The demons detect the greater part of the mental representations of our hearts from our words and our gestures similar to words.

Evagrius now goes on to say something mysterious:

In regard to those very things which I was now intending to disclose clearly, our holy priest

St Makarios the Alexandrian.

hindered me, saying that it was unworthy to publish things of this sort

We ourselves are not sure what.

and to cast them into the hearing of the profane, if, indeed, it says, he who has commerce with a woman during her period is accountable under the Law [cf. Lev. 20, 18]. Except that on the basis of such symbols the demons detect those things which are hidden in the heart and from these symbols they take their starting-points against us.

St Makarios permitted Evagrius to say that much. We wonder why Evagrius did not simply say that much without referring to St Makarios’ prohibition. Some hidden meaning must be in what Evagrius has said, but we do not know what it might be.

Many times, at any rate, we censured certain persons who were speaking evil, not having ourselves charitably disposed towards them.

Gehin et al. interpret this as: ‘Many times, then, in speaking ill of certain persons, we have established that we were not charitably disposed towards them.’

And that is why we have fallen into the hands of the demon of rancour

On our interpretation, the lack of charity that he happened to show when he quite properly rebuked certain persons who were speaking evil[15] opened the door to the demon of rancour to attack Evagrius. On Gehin et al.’s interpretation, it is because of the mere fact that Evagrius spoke ill of certain persons, and that without charity, that the demon of rancour found its opportunity to attack him.

and we immediately received evil thoughts against those persons, which thoughts, previously, at any rate, we did not know to occur to us.

What is certain is that in Evagrius’ view the demon of rancour saw what was in him by his words, and took its starting-point from that. This is an important aspect of Evagrius’ psychology: Evagrius emphasizes that prior to speaking he did not have such thoughts of rancour. The import is that he had not yet demonstrated by word or by gestures similar to words the content of his heart, so that, until he spoke, the demon of rancour had no way to know what was in his heart, nor that it had material to work on by approaching him to excite the passion of rancour.

Evagrius has never explained how the excitation of the passion leads to those particular mental representations or thoughts, except to say that it is through the agency of the memory. We ourselves understand the mechanism to be this: the demonic excitation is a general stimulation of the passion (for any of the eight) and, under that general stimulation of the passion, the memory finds, with a net as it were, the most appropriate memories of objects of sense to bring before the mind in the intellect. However, the ascetical literature does refer to cases in which the demon casts a specific image or idea or thought into the consciousness of the ascetic. Of course, in Eve’s case, Eve spoke with the serpent, type of the Devil, in an extended conversation. This more specific, concrete temptation is reported even in modern ascetical literature and in narratives that we have ourselves heard concerning Athonite Elders.

For which very reason, the Holy Spirit quite well also brings a charge against us, saying: ‘Having sat, you spoke against your brother and placed a stumbling block against the son of your mother’ [Ps. 49, 20] and you opened the door to the thoughts of rancour and you greatly disturbed your mind during the time of prayer, ever imagining the face of your enemy and making a god of this—for what at all events the mind sees while it is praying, this it is worthy to confess to be a god.

Evagrius’ meaning is that having given the demon its opportunity by his words, the ascetic can be distracted with demonically inspired thoughts at the time of prayer. It is interesting to see here one aspect of why the mind must be free of mental representations, both impassioned—as here—and dispassionate, in order for the ascetic to pray: the mental representations are idols.

But let us flee, brothers, the sickness of slander, and let us never remember anyone evilly nor distort our faces upon the remembrance of our neighbour.

I grimace, for example, when I hear a certain person’s name. The demons say ‘Aha!’ and begin to plot.

For the wicked spirits take more than enough pains about all our gestures, and they leave nothing of the things which pertain to us unexamined, not a reclining posture, not a sitting posture, not a standing posture, not a word, not an entrance, not a glance. They study everything; they set everything in motion; all day long they meditate treacheries against us so that they might slander the humble mind during the time of prayer and so that they might extinguish that blessed light.

Compare KG III, 90:

III, 90 The demons do not cease to slander the gnostic, even when he is not at fault, to the end that they attract to themselves his nous. Indeed, a cloud holds itself over the thought and chases the nous far from contemplation, at the moment that the gnostic reproves the demons as slanderers.

The solution to this sense of being watched, if the reader feels that is what Evagrius is conveying, is sobriety, which we are soon to take up systematically. Evagrius continues:

Do you also see what St Paul says to Titus? ‘In the teaching, incorruptibility, a healthy word not to be condemned, so that he who is opposed might feel shame, having nothing mean to say concerning us.’ [Tit. 2, 8.] The blessed David also prays, saying: ‘Deliver me from the slander of men,’ [Ps. 118, 134] calling the demons also ‘men’ on account of the rationality of their nature.

Although the demons are fallen angels, they still have the rational nature that men and angels have—this is the Orthodox teaching.

But the Saviour also called the enemy in the Gospels a man, the one who had sowed with seeds the weeds of vice in us [cf. Matt. 13, 25].

This is the parable of the wheat and the tares. The seeds of the tares are the demonic mental representations.

This chapter does not correspond to any chapter of Peri Diakriseos in the Philokalia.

OTT 38–43 turn to the subject of advanced spiritual states and prayer. They are rather densely written, and we are obliged first to present a summary of Evagrius’ doctrine of contemplation as derived from the Kephalaia Gnostica. The Kephalaia Gnostica is the work of Evagrius that deals par excellence with his theory of contemplation. Moreover, Evagrius pitched the level of the works that concern us here to accord with his perception, his discernment, of the spiritual level of his intended audience, and the Kephalaia Gnostica is clearly intended for the advanced ascetic. The Kephalaia Gnostica is a difficult text and its interpretation certainly is difficult. We will present as much material from the Kephalaia Gnostica as concerns Evagrius’ theory of contemplation, material that for the most part we omitted from our presentation of the Kephalaia Gnostica in Chapter III of Volume I, where we were concerned with the cosmology of that work. We will not repeat ourselves concerning the cosmology; the reader is expected in the following Digression to be familiar with Chapter III of Volume I, especially with the material concerning contemplation in Section 5, ‘The Evagrian Doctrine of the Minds (Noes)’. Moreover, he is expected to be familiar with our introductory remarks in Chapter III of Volume I, where we explain our method of selecting and arranging the chapters of the Kephalaia Gnostica according to theme, our method of referencing the chapters of the Kephalaia Gnostica, and other such matters. We are also bearing in mind that St Hesychios retains, along with St John of Sinai, only the broad outlines of Evagrius’ doctrine of the mystical ascent after praktike, the practical life. That is, the School of Sinai retains only the broad outlines of the Evagrian doctrine of contemplation. Hence, we will not dwell on the more obscure aspects of the Evagrian doctrine of contemplation—for there are certainly areas where we are not sure just what Evagrius meant. We might also remark, most importantly, that the series of chapters in OTT that we will continue to comment on after we finish with the following digression, supplements the material in the Kephalaia Gnostica on the Evagrian doctrine of contemplation, since that series in OTT contains material on the psychology of the mystical ascent that is not included in the Kephalaia Gnostica. Of course, in some chapters of the Kephalaia Gnostica, Evagrius repeats what he has said either in TPL or in OTT, or even elsewhere.

To turn to the matter at hand, the reader will recall TPL 1: ‘Christianity is the dogma of our Saviour Christ composed of practical, natural and theological parts.’ We are now going to look more carefully at the natural and theological parts.

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[1] Palladius Chapter 86, pp. 368–79.

[2] TPL 58.

[3] Say, using the tests in TPL 55–7 and 63–7, and the method of OTT 20.

[4] Philokalia G pp. 177–8.

[5] E.g. Hausherr fns. 48, 54, 55, pp. 19, 21.

[6] Antirrheticus p. 523.

[7] Sinkewicz pp. 133, 134.

[8] Not us.

[9] See the commentary before On Sobriety 87 in Volume III.

[10] Palladius, Chapter 86, Evagrius.

[11] Cassian C.

[12] Brenton.

[13] RSV.

[14] The primary sources are ambiguous about the program for Saturday.

[15] Cf. Gnostic 32.


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