#profile-container h2.sidebar-title {display:none;}

Skemmata -- 1

Appendix 3: The Skemmata (Text)


Cod. Paris. Graec. 913
J. Muyldermans

Evagriana (pp. 37–68)
and Note Additionnelle A: Evagriana (pp. 369–83)
Text: pp. 374–80
Le Muséon 44 (1931)
Offprint: Evagriana, Extrait de la revue Le Muséon, t. XLIV, augmenté de: nouveaux fragments grecs inédits

Paris, France: Paul Geuthner (1931)

The Skemmata

1 The Christ, in that he is the Christ, has the gnosis which is essential; in that he is the Creator, the reasons (logoi) of the Ages; in that he is bodiless, again the reasons (logoi) of the bodiless [powers].[1]

2 If anyone should wish to see the condition of the mind (nous), let him deprive himself of all mental representations (noemata), and then he will see the mind (nous) similar to sapphire or to the colour of Heaven [cf. Exod. 24, 9–11]. To do this without dispassion (apatheia) is one of those things which are impossible. For there is a need of God who works together and who breathes upon the mind (nous) the light which is related [to God].[2]

3 Dispassion (apatheia) is a tranquil condition of a reasonable soul, which condition is constituted from meekness and chastity.[3]

4 The condition of the mind (nous) is an intelligible height similar to the colour of Heaven, to which [mind (nous)] the light of the Holy Trinity also comes during the time of prayer.[4]

5 The Christ is a reasonable nature having in himself that which is signified by the dove that alighted upon him [cf. Matt. 3, 16].[5]

6 The censer is the pure mind (nous) not touching a sensible thing during the time of prayer. In respect of virtue, we will be one on the eighth day; in respect of gnosis, however, we will be one on the last day.

7 The impassioned mental representation (noema) of a sensible thing is the reprehensible kiss of the mind (nous), for which very reason the Saviour also says to his disciples: ‘Greet no one along the way of virtue.’ [Cf. Luke 10, 4.]

8 The temper (thumos) is a power of the soul destructive of thoughts.

9 Dog-like is the contemplative mind (nous theoretikos)[6] chasing away all the impassioned thoughts by means of the movement of the temper (thumos).

10 Dog-like is the practical mind (nous praktikos)[7] barking at all the unjust thoughts.

11 Discipline (paideia) is the denial of impiety and of worldly desires.

12 Fear is the betrayal of the helps by the thoughts.[8]

13 The demonic thought is an image (eikon) of the sensible man, constituted in the intellect (dianoia), with which the mind (nous), set in motion in an impassioned way, says or does something lawlessly in secret towards the image (eidolon) which steals into the mind in succession to the first.[9]

14 The anchorite is he who piously and justly dwells in the world which is constituted in the intellect.

15 That man (anthropos) is accomplished in the practical life (praktikos)[10] who rightly uses those things given by God.

16 That mind (nous) is accomplished in the practical life (praktikos)[11] which ever receives dispassionately the mental representations (noemata) of this world.

17 There are four ways by means of which the mind (nous) receives mental representations (noemata). And the first way, then, is by means of the eyes. The second, by means of the hearing. The third, by means of the memory. And the fourth, by means of the bodily constitution. And by means of the eyes, then, the mind (nous) only receives mental representations (noemata) which give a form to (morphounta) [the mind]. By means of the hearing, however, mental representations (noemata) which both give a form to (morphounta) [the mind] and do not give a form to (me morphounta) [the mind], so as to signify the word (logos) and things both sensible and contemplative (theoreta). The memory and the bodily constitution follow the hearing, for each gives a form to the mind (nous) and does not give a form to the mind (nous), imitating the hearing.

18 In the [sensible] bodies, then, there is both coessentiality (homoousiotes) and hetero-essentiality (heteroousiotes); in the bodiless powers, however, only coessentiality (homoousiotes). In the [natural] gnoses, then, there is hetero-essentiality (heteroousiotes), for no one of the [natural] contemplations is the same, [12] <if indeed> there is a contemplation of the stars [cf. 1 Cor 15, 41].[13] In [the contemplation of] the Trinity,[14] however, there is only coessentiality (homoousiotes), for again there are not at all various underlying objects [in the contemplation of the Trinity], as in the [natural] contemplations.[15] Again, neither is [the Trinity] constituted from a multiplicity of essences, as among the bodies. Essences (ousies), I say now, are those which contribute to the construction of the definition (oros) which declares the ‘what it is’ (to ti einai) of the underlying object.[16] But neither [is the Trinity] as among the bodiless powers, even if we say that the bodiless powers are coessential (homoousia) on account of their being receptive of the same gnosis.[17]

19 Since the mind (nous) receives thoughts from the five senses, one must observe from which senses the thoughts become rather the worse. It is clear, then, that these are the thoughts from the hearing, if also, indeed, ‘A sorrowful word agitates the heart of man,’ according to the proverb [cf. Prov. 12, 25.]

20 The mind (nous) which is in the practical life (praktike) is in the mental representations (noemata) of this world. The mind (nous) which is in [natural] gnosis sojourns in [natural] contemplation. When the mind (nous) comes to be in a state of prayer, it is in an imageless [state], which very thing is called the place of God. The mind (nous) will therefore see the coessentiality (homoousiotes) and the hetero-essentiality (heteroousiotes) in the [sensible] bodies, the [hetero-essentiality] which is in the [natural] contemplations (theoremata), and the [coessentiality] which is in God, which very thing [sc. hetero-essentiality], concerning God, is clearly among those things which are impossible, the essential gnosis being <immaterial (aülos)>[18] and there being no variation at all in regard to essential gnosis.[19]

21 Of the temptations, some are pleasures while others are sorrows. The latter bring forth bodily pains to men.

22 The mind (nous) at one time passes from a mental representation (noema) to other mental representations (noemata), at another time from a contemplation (theorema) to other contemplations (theoremata), and at another time from a contemplation (theorema) to mental representations (noemata). There is also the time when it even passes from the imageless condition to mental representations (noemata) or contemplations (theoremata) and again runs back from these to the imageless condition. This occurs to the mind (nous) during the time of prayer.

23 The mind would not be able to see the place of God in itself not having become higher than all mental representations which are in [sensible] objects. It will not become higher, however, if it does not unclothe itself of the passions, which are what, by means of the mental representations, bind it together with the sensible objects. And the passions it will lay aside by means of the virtues; the mere thoughts, then, by means of spiritual contemplation; and this [i.e. spiritual contemplation], again, when, during the time of prayer, <that> light shines upon the mind <that works in relief the place which is of God>.[20]

24 The demonic thoughts make the left eye of the soul quite blind, the one giving its attention to the contemplations of things which have come to be.[21]

25 We have clearly learned from the holy David what is the place of God. For he says: ‘His place has come to be in peace, and his dwelling place in Zion.’ [Ps. 75, 2.] The place of God, then, is a reasonable soul; the dwelling place, however, is a mind (nous) in the form of light which has denied worldly desires and which has been taught to regard the reasons (logoi) of the soul.[22]

26 Prayer is a condition of the mind (nous) which is destructive of every earthly mental representation (noema).

27 Prayer is a condition of the mind (nous) occurring only from the light of the Holy Trinity.

28 Entreaty (deesis) is the conversation, with supplication (ikesia), of the mind (nous) with God containing [a request for] help or a request for good things.

29 A vow (euche) is the voluntary promise of good things.

30 Intercession (enteuxis) is an entreaty (paraklesis) brought forth to God by a greater one concerning the salvation of others.

previous | Table of Contents | next

[1] Cf. Anathemas 6, 7 and 8 of the Fifth Ecumenical Synod (see Chapter III of Volume I).

[2] Cf. On the Thoughts, Chapters 2, 39 and 40.

[3] Cf. Treatise on the Practical Life, Chapters 56 and 60.

[4] Cf. On the Thoughts, Chapter 39.

[5] Cf. Anathemas 6, 7 and 8 of the Fifth Ecumenical Synod (see Chapter III of Volume I). Cf. also KG IV, 27 and the discussion of that passage in Section 1 of Chapter III, Volume I.

[6] I.e. the mind (nous) which has passed from the practical life (praktike) to the contemplative life of natural contemplation on a more or less permanent basis.

[7] I.e. the mind (nous) engaged in the practical life (praktike).

[8] This chapter can be construed in two ways: either the demonic thoughts betray the helps; or the helps provided by the good thoughts are betrayed by fear. Possibly the first interpretation is the more Evagrian.

[9] Cf. On the Thoughts, Chapter 25.

[10] ‘Praktikos’ means ‘accomplished in the practical life, praktike’.

[11] ‘Praktikos’ means ‘accomplished in the practical life, praktike’.

[12] Emending for sense from the ‘which indeed’ of the manuscript.

[13] Cf. KG VI, 72.

[14] For this reading of ‘in the Trinity’ as referring to contemplation of the Trinity and not to the ontology of the Trinity, compare the use in KG I, 65 of ‘in the Unity’.

[15] Cf. KG IV, 87: ‘Every contemplation appears with an underlying object, with the exception of the Holy Trinity.’

[16] In his Physics, Aristotle uses the phrase ‘to ti en einai’ to convey the same idea as Evagrius does with the phrase ‘to ti einai’. We wonder if there is a connection.

[17] This chapter seems to be a very dense summary of the Evagrian doctrine of contemplation, discussed by us in the Digression and in the Commentary on Chapters 38–43 of On the Thoughts. See also Section 1, Chapter III, of Volume I and the chapters of the Kephalaia Gnostica referenced in fn. 19.

[18] We propose an emendation here from ‘obscure (adulos)’ to ‘immaterial (aülos)’. As can be seen, the difference is a matter of one letter; this could very be a matter of a copyist’s error. The reading of the text does not make much sense in context, nor is it very consistent with Evagrius’ sense elsewhere, whereas the proposed reading is consistent with Evagrius’ doctrine generally.

[19] For the sense of the last sentence, cf. KG IV, 87, KG III 80, KG V, 62, KG V, 63, KG II, 47 and KG III, 27.

[20] For this emendation, cf. On the Thoughts, Chapter 40. The ending of that chapter indicates that the final sentence of this chapter of the Skemmata has been truncated and should read as shown. The ‘spiritual contemplation’ is natural contemplation, a lower stage than the mystical union of Theology conveyed by ‘the light that works in relief the place which is of God’; hence, it too needs to be divested so that the ascetic can attain to the mystical union of Theology.

[21] Cf. On the Thoughts, Chapter 42.

[22] Codex Barberini Gr. 515 (see Muyldermans), a manuscript which in many ways parallels the manuscript being used here, has this same chapter as part of Chapter 12, but with the exception that instead of ‘which has been taught to regard the reasons (logoi) of the soul’ it has ‘which has been taught to regard the reasons (logoi) of the earth’. Some interpreters prefer the reading ‘the reasons (logoi) of the earth’, construing it as ‘the reasons (logoi) of (the things on) the earth’. In the case of the reading ‘the reasons (logoi) of the soul’, what would be referred to is the contemplation of the reasons (logoi) of the reasonable beings, which Evagrius states in the Kephalaia Gnostica to be the last stage before Theology, mystical union with the Trinity. In the case of the reading ‘the reasons (logoi) of (the things on) the earth', what would be referred to is second natural contemplation.


Post a Comment

<< Home