Based on: Matthew and John, 12c illum MS, Athos, Protaton. (image modif.)

Spir Friendship;    Book of God;    Light of Nous;    Christ the Bridegroom;    Divine Distraction






Add also texts based on word-searches.

 IN THE SCHOLIA on PSALMS:   SEE ALSO Scholion 5 On Ps 132.3  knowledge unites  (sunaptei) the angels and saints
 and 189 on Prov below: Because spiritual friendship is virtue and the knowledge of God, grace through which we are united in friendship with the holy powers  AND Praktikos 56: ...the food of the soul is knowledge ...which is the only means by which we can normally be united with the holy powers, since our union with incorporeal [beings] naturally occurs because of the similarity of our disposition with theirs.

22:5(1) ἡτοίμασας ἐνώπιόν μου τράπεζαν ἐξ ἐναντίας τῶν θλιβόντων με

      4. πρότερον μὲν ὡς ποιμὴν ὁ Χριστὸς ποιμαίνει τὰ πρόβατα· νυνὶ δὲ λοιπὸν ὡς φίλος καλεῖ τοὺς φίλους ἐπὶ τὴν τράπεζαν. « Οὐκέτι γὰρ ὑμᾶς καλῶ δούλους,» φησὶν ὁ σωτήρ, « ἀλλὰ φίλους.» καὶ δοῦλον μὲν ποιεῖ φόβος θεοῦ, φίλον δὲ γνῶσις μυστηρίων. (sch. 4 on Psalm 22:5, cf. PG 12.1261-1264)

v. 5(1). You have prepared before me a table in the presence of those who afflict me

     4. At first as a shepherd Christ shepherds the sheep; but now henceforth as a friend he calls [his] friends to the table. ‘For I no longer call you servants’, says the savior, ‘but friends’ (Jn. 15:4). For fear of God produces a servant, while knowledge of mysteries [produces] a friend.

          The movement from praktiké to gnostiké, from ‘fear of God’ to ‘knowledge of mysteries’, is here presented as ascent from the status of servant or slave to that of friend. Christ’s gift of knowledge is depicted as an ennobling invitation to share with a new-found friend at table. Evagrius undoubtedly intends his reader to interpret the ‘knowledge of mysteries’ shared at the ‘table’ of Christ as essential knowledge, that gnosis of the Father which Christ alone can share with others, and which is the subject of the christological scholia on Psalms 44 and 104.

          This image of servants elevated by essential knowledge to the status of friendship and table-fellowship with Christ suggests a possible explanation of one feature of Evagrius’ texts on prayer which some commentators have regarded with suspicion: namely, the relative paucity of direct references to Christ in Evagrius’ texts on prayer. In De oratione Christ is unambiguously mentioned by name or title only three times.The title ‘Christ’ appears in De oratione  introduction and ch. 115; the title, ‘Son of God’, is used once in ch. 59. Evagrius’ uses of the title, ‘Lord’, in De oratione are much more ambiguous than in the Scholia on Psalms, where this title generally refers to Christ. In De oratione the majority, if not all of these appear to refer to ‘the Lord of Hosts’; that is, the Father. On closer examination, however, it becomes apparent that Christ is in no sense neglected in this treatise: on the contrary, Evagrius cites Christ’s words on prayer from the gospels fourteen times in De oratione: De orat. 17, 21, 30, 31, 33, 39, 59 (twice), 88 102, 113, 147, 151 (twice).

One who attains that ‘pure prayer’ which Evagrius recommends in De oratione enjoys a state analogous to the ‘friend’ depicted in this scholion. Christ is not as it were ‘in front of’ or ‘above’ the one who prays: the imagery of this scholion suggests that Christ ‘sits beside’ the gnostikos who understands mysteries, sharing ‘as with a friend’ his knowledge of the Father. For the one who ‘prays purely’ it is not so much a question of calling Christ by name or invoking him by title: rather, the friend who ‘sits with Christ at table’ has carefully attended to Christ’s teaching on prayer and now imitates his example. Whereas in the Scholia on Psalms and in the practice of psalmody Evagrius emphasizes the perception of Christ in the ‘richly diverse wisdom’ of salvation history and creation, in De oratione and during the interval for prayer which follows each psalm Evagrius encourages the laying aside of images and words in order to enjoy that ‘immaterial and uniform’ wisdom which is Christ’s gift of knowledge of the Father.


Gehin Scholies aux Proverbes DOCTRINE SPIRITUELLE            53-54 L'AMITIÉ SPIRITUELLE

[FRIENDSHIP: Scholia on Proverbs: 69120143150 157 173189;  304.]

esp 120 and 304 where Friends of CHRIST ARE FRIENDS OF EACH OTHER on mutual friendship and friendship in God: "...friendship is the virtue and the knowledge of God by which we  become friends of God and of the holy powers, for in this friendship the friends of the same person are also the friends of each other." [also in 304]




143 15, 28a  δεκταὶ παρὰ κυρίῳ ὁδοὶ ἀνθρώπων δικαίων· διὰ δὲ αὐτῶν καὶ οἱ ἐχθροὶ φίλοι γίνονται Παύλου κηρύξαντος· οἵ ποτε ὄντες ἐχθροὶ κατηλ λάγησαν τῷ θεῷ διὰ τοῦ θανάτου τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ· πλὴν προσεκτέον εἰ πάντες οἱ ἐχθροὶ διὰ τῶν δικαίων φίλοι γίνονται͵ ἵνα καὶ πᾶσιν εἴπῃ ὁ Χριστός· οὐκέτι ὑμᾶς καλῶ δούλους͵ ἀλλὰ φίλους.





Gehin Scholies aux Proverbes DOCTRINE SPIRITUELLE            53-54 L'AMITIÉ SPIRITUELLE



      We would like to end this statement by evoking one of the most original themes of these Scholia, that of spiritual friendship (h( pneumatikh\ fili/a)   schol. 69, 120, 143, 150, 157, 173, 189 and 304).  It is marked out, as Evagrius himself emphasizes in scholion 304, by the frequent mention of friends and the friendship in the book of Proverbs, as in Prov. 19:4:  “Wealth increases the number of friends”, or again Prov. 25: 10:  “Grace and friendship liberate.”

                Nous voudrions terminer cet exposé en évoquant un des thèmes les plus originaux de ces Scholia, celui de l'amitié spirituelle (! 7:V£u~”T6XN t”: schol. 69, 120, 143, 150, 157, 173, 189 et 304). Il est appelé, comme Évagre le souligne lui-même dans la scholion 304, par la mention fréquente des amis et de l'amitié dans le livre des Proverbes, comme Prov. 19, 4: “ La richesse augmente le nombre des amis )>, ou encore Prov. 25, 10: “ La grâce et l'amitié libèrent. )>

      The friends who comfort and console are the saints and angels to which men are linked through the virtues and knowledge.  According to the definition of scholion 189, “Spiritual friendship is virtue and the knowledge of God by which we are united (sunapto/meqa) in friendship with the holy powers.”  This bond causes some from here below to “eat the bread of angels” (schol. 103), without nevertheless leaving the human condition;  the former will become angels in the age to come.  The same doctrine is expressed, with different biblical references, through a related theme, that of the fraternity that unites angels and saints having received the same spirit of adoptive filiation (Rom. 8, 15:  schol. 78 and 163);  it is found equally suggested by the Pauline expression  “ fellow citizens with the saints) > (lc~phe's. 2, 19:  schol. 157).

                Les amis qui réconfortent et consolent sont les saints et les anges auxquels les hommes se lient par la vertu et la science. Selon la définition de la scholion 189, “ I'amitié spirituelle est la vertu et la knowledge de Dieu par lesquelles nous nous lions (~w”7rro~0”) d'amitié avec les saintes puissances ». Ce lien fait que certains peuvent dès ici-bas “manger le pain des anges)> (schol. 103), sans toutefois quitter la condition humaine; ceux-ci deviendront des anges dans le siècle à venir. La même doctrine est exprimée, avec des références scripturaires différentes, à travers un thème voisin, celui de la fraternité qui unit les anges et les saints ayant reçu le même esprit de filiation adoptive (Rom. 8, 15: schol. 78 et 163); elle se trouve également suggérée par l'expression paulinienne de “ concitoyens des saints )> (lçphés. 2, 19: schol. 157).

      If angels and saints are friends of the man, the friend par excellence is the Christ.  By his death, He has reconciled men with God, and enemies that they were, it some has [p.54] friend fact (Rom. 5,10:  schol.120).  It has told to his diseiples:  (I no longer call you servants, but friends » (Jn 15, 15:  schol. 69, 143, 189 and 304).  In this other perspective, <( spiritual I'amitie' is the knowledge of God, in which saints receive the title (xp~a”X~4Ou~C) of friends of God)).  It is this title that have received Moses to that God spoke in the face of face as to a friend (Ex. 33, 11), John - called Baptist “ I'ami of the Spouse » (Jn 3, 29), and also apostles (Jn 15, 15).  It is naturally this title that will receive all these that will be judged deserving of the knowledge of the Christ.

                Si les anges et les saints sont les amis de l'homme, I'ami par excellence est le Christ. Par sa mort, il a réconcilié les hommes avec Dieu, et d'ennemis qu'ils étaient, il en a [p.54] fait des amis (Rom. 5,10: schol.120). Il a dit à ses diseiples: ( Je ne vous appelle plus serviteurs, mais amis » (Jn 15, 15: schol. 69, 143, 189 et 304). Dans cette autre perspective, <( I'amitié spirituelle est la knowledge de Dieu, dans laquelle les saints reçoivent le titre (xp~a”X~4Ou~C) d'amis de Dieu )). C'est ce titre qu'ont reçu Moïse à qui Dieu parlait face à face comme à un ami (Ex. 33, 11), Jean-Baptiste appelé “ I'ami de l'Époux » (Jn 3, 29), et aussi les apôtres (Jn 15, 15). C'est naturellement ce titre que recevront tous ceux qui seront jugés dignes de la knowledge du Christ.

      This friendship that links to the Savior is not exclusive, as terrestrial friendships.  It does not unite only one who receives the knowledge to Him Who gives it, but unites between them (aX~Xtov) all these that have share to the same science, that they are again in the human condition or that they are angels, “ because in this friend friendship of the same person are also friends them some of others » (schol. 120 and 304).

                Cette amitié qui lie au Sauveur n'est pas exclusive, comme les amitiés terrestres. Elle n'unit pas seulement celui qui reçoit la knowledge à celui qui la donne, mais unit entre eux (aX~Xtov) tous ceux qui ont part à la même science, qu'ils soient encore dans la condition humaine ou qu'ils soient des anges, “ car dans cette amitié les amis de la même personne sont aussi les amis les uns des autres » (schol. 120 et 304).

THROUGH this beautiful theme happens all the spiritual adventure of the man:   after having escaped the enmity (£X (3PX) of the devil and demons, it finds, by the virtue and the science, the friendship of angels and the Christ and receives the title of friend of God.  The theme kisses also the destiny of all reasoning natures that will be at the end of times re-established in the friendship of God.

                A travers ce beau thème passe toute l'aventure spirituelle de l'homme: après avoir échappé à l'inimitié (£X(3PX) du diable et des démons, il retrouve, par la vertu et la science, l'amitié des anges et du Christ et reçoit le titre d'ami de Dieu. Le thème embrasse aussi la destinée de toutes les natures raisonnables qui seront à la fin des temps rétablies dans l'amitié de Dieu.





 He that conceals injuries seeks love; but he that hates to hide them separates friends and kindred.

 17.9 < ὃς κρύπτει ἀδικήματα, ζητεῖ φιλίαν· ὃς δὲ μισεῖ κρύπτειν, διίστησιν φίλους καὶ οἰκείους.>

 157. By justice we conceal injustice, by continence intemperance, again by charity hatred, and by disinterestedness greed. We also hide pride by humility , and by gentleness insolence. Thus we search for spiritual friendship , which signifies sacred knowledge. As Paul told some to be fellow-citizens with the saints and household-members of Jerusalem, erected on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.

 {οριγ}157. Διὰ μὲν τῆς δικαιοσύνης, τὴν ἀδικίαν κρύπτομεν· διὰ δὲ τῆς σωφροσύνης, τὴν ἀκολασίαν· καὶ πάλιν διὰ τῆς ἀγάπης, τὸ μῖσος· καὶ διὰ τῆς ἀφιλαργυρίας, τὴν [17.200 πλεονεξίαν· κρύπτομεν δὲ καὶ διὰ τῆς ταπεινοφροσύνης τὴν ὑπερηφανίαν, καὶ διὰ τὴν πραΰτητα, τὴν θρασύτητα· ζητοῦντες τὴν πνευματικὴν φιλίαν, ἥτις τὴν ἁγίαν γνῶσιν σημαίνει· καὶ παρὰ τῷ Παύλῳ δὲ συμπολῖται τινὲς τῶν ἁγίων λέγονται γεγονέναι, καὶ οἰκεῖοι τῆς ἄνωἹερουσαλὴμ, ἐποικοδομηθέντες ἐπὶ τῷ θεμελίῳ τῶν ἀποστόλων καὶ τῶν προφητῶν.







19, 4 Wealth acquires many friends;
but the poor is deserted even by the friends he has.

19, 4 < πλοῦτος προστίθησιν φίλους πολλούς, ὁ δὲ πτωχὸς καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ ὑπάρχοντος φίλου λείπεται. >

 189. The wealth of knowledge and wisdom gains for us many angels; but the impure is separated even from the angel he was given in childhood. Because spiritual friendship is virtue and the knowledge of God, grace through which we are united in friendship with the holy powers, if it is true that men that convert become a cause of joy for the angels (cf. Lk 15.10). Thus the Savior calls his servants friends (Jn 15.15) when they are judged worthy of receiving greater contemplations.

 189. Πλοῦτος γνώσεως καὶ σοφίας προστίθησιν ἡμῖν ἀγγέλους πολλούς· ὁ δὲ ἀκαθαρτος καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ δοθ́εντος αὐτῷ ἐκ παιδὸς ἀγγέλου χωρίζεται. Ἡ γὰρ πνευματικὴ φιλία ἐστὶν ἀρετὴ καὶ γνῶσις θεοῦ, δι' ὧν συναπτόμεθα πρὸς φιλίαν ταῖς ἁγίαις δυνάμεσιν, εἴγε οἱ μετανοοῦντες ἄνθρωποι χαρᾶς αἴτιοι γίνονται τοῖς ἀγγέλοις. Οὕτως καὶ ὁ σωτὴρ φίλους καλεῖ τοὺς δούλους ποτὲ τῆς μειζονος αὐτοὺς θεωρίας καταξιώσας.

Thus Abraham who was rich in knowledge prepared this mystical table for friends who appeared to him at midday (Gen 18.1-8).

Οὕτω καὶ Ἀβραὰμ πλουτήσας ἐν γνώσει τὴν μυστικὴν ἐκεινην παρατίθησι τράπεζαν τοῖς κατὰ τὴν μεσημβρίαν φίλοις φανεῖσιν αὐτῷ.

But Saul is separated even from the friend he had because of his evil, as it is written: And the Spirit of God departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him (1Sam 16.14). Here the angel is said to be the spirit the Lord, because [scripture] says: For He makes His angels spirits and His servants a burning fire (Ps 103.4).

Σαοὺλ δὲ καὶ ἀπὸ τοῦ ὑπάρχοντος φίλου διὰ τὴν κακίαν χωρίζεται· γέγραπται γὰρ < καὶ ἀπέστη πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἀπὸ Σαοὺλ > καὶ πνεῦμα πονηρὸν παρὰ κυρίου ἔπνιγε τὸν Σαούλ͵ πνεῦμα κυρίου λέγων τὸν ἄγγελον· < ὁ ποιῶν γάρ͵ φησίν͵ τοὺς ἀγγέλους αὐτοῦ πνεύματα καὶ τοὺς λειτουργοὺς αὐτοῦ πῦρ φλέγον. >

 That the angels are in charge of human beings the Lord teaches in the Gospels when he said, Take care not to despise any of these little ones. because their angels continually see the face of my Father Who is in heaven (Mt 18.10). And Jacob,  too, said The angel who delivers me from all the evils (Gen 48.16), and Zachariah said, And the angel who speaks in me said (Zach 1.9).

Ὅτι δὲ καὶ ἄγγελοι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους πεπί στευνται͵ διδάσκει ἐν τοῖς εὐαγγελίοις ὁ κύριος· ὁρᾶτε͵ λέγων͵ μὴ καταφρονήσητε ἑνὸς τῶν μικρῶν τούτων͵ ὅτι οἱ ἄγγελοι αὐτῶν διὰ παντὸς βλέπουσι τὸ πρόσωπον τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν οὐρανοῖς. Καὶ πάλιν ὁ Ἰακώβ· ὁ ἄγγελος ὁ ῥυόμενός με ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν κακῶν. Καὶ ὁ Ζαχαρίας· καὶ εἶπεν ὁ ἄγγελος ὁ λαλῶν ἐν ἐμοί.











       Evagrius adopted Origen’s terminology in his own definition of the book of God as the contemplation of nature.[1]  Unlike Origen, however, Evagrius did not believe that the ability to read the book of creation is reserved to the denizens of heaven; nor did regard the starry firmament as its principal pages.  Rather, Evagrius believed that Ecclesiastes 3:11 attests to the existence of an inner universe, a microcosm within the heart wherein each person may contemplate the divine intentions and purposes (logoi):

Eccl. 3.11: “All the things he has made are beautiful in his time: he has also set the ages in their heart...”

The text states that “he has also given them the ages,” that is the logoi  of the ages; because it is there [in the heart] that we have the “kingdom of heaven within us,” as the Lord has said; (cf. Lk 17.21).[2]

For Evagrius it is the inner world of concepts, temptations, fantasies, and prayers that constitute the principal subject matter for natural contemplation.  God has entrusted each human being with responsibility for an inner universe of thoughts and concepts that must be tended and guarded just as a shepherd guards a flock:

The concepts (noemata) of this present world - these the Lord gave to man, like sheep to a good shepherd: for it is written, He has placed the ages (ton aiona) in his heart; (Eccl. 3:11)  yoking to him indignation (thumos) and desire (epithumia) as helpmates, so that with the first he may drive away the wolf-like concepts, while with desire he may lovingly tend the sheep, assailed as he often is by the rain and winds...  And if, weary from our toil, a certain acedia  overtakes us we should climb up a little onto the rock of knowledge and converse with the Psalter, (cf. Ps 48:5)  plucking with the virtues the strings of knowledge: let us again tend our sheep as they pasture below Mount Sinai, so that the God of our fathers may also call to us out of the bush (cf. Exod. 3:1-6) and grant us the logoi of the signs and the wonders. (cf. Exod. 7:9, 11:9-10)[3]

In this metaphor of shepherd and flock Evagrius portrays his model of spiritual progress: namely, an alternating rhythm of ascetical practice (praktiké) and contemplation (theoria).  Following Plato and the later Aristotelian tradition,[4] he depicts the soul as tripartite, ruled by the “shepherd”, the logistikon or reasoning faculty that is chiefly responsible for developing the virtues of prudence, understanding and wisdom.[5] The “shepherd” makes use of the pathetikon, the passionate portion of the soul and source of the powers of thumos (indignation) and epithumia (desire).  These powers or energies, “yoked to [the soul] as helpmates”, are intended by God to be used “according to nature”; but they will overwhelm the soul as passions if misused or present in excess. When exercised according to nature the epithumetikon contributes the virtues of temperance, love, and continence,[6] while the thumikon provides courage and patient endurance.[7] Through the practice of diakrisis (discernment) the praktikos learns to employ these “helpmates” in the contexts of interpersonal relationships, dreams, and thoughts, especially thoughts that occur during prayer.[8] The Christian ascetic or praktikos learns the nature of the different noemata (concepts, ideas) with which the mind is filled, and is able to distinguish between logismoi, demonic tempting-thoughts, of gluttony, lust, avarice, sadness, anger, acedia, vainglory, and pride;[9] as well as to “tend” the beneficial noemata that come from angels or from neutral sense-perception.[10]  The labors of the praktiké are rewarded by God with the birth of love and the gift of apatheia, “dispassion” or “freedom from compulsion”.[11]

The ascent of the shepherd onto the “rock of knowledge” reflects Evagrius’ hope that the Christian praktikos will, over time, mature into a gnostikos, a biblical exegete and teacher able to contemplate the divine logoi, the inner meanings and purposes of God that are concealed beneath surface appearances.  For Evagrius’ gnostikos learning to read the “Book of God” has less to do with a heavenly record of events than with the divine intentions that inexorably lead all fallen beings towards eventual reunion with God.  It is this “book” that can be read in both the macrocosm of biblical salvation history and in the microcosm of the human heart:

138.16 [2] And in your book all shall be written.

 8. The book of God is the contemplation of corporeal and incorporeal beings, in which the pur[ified] nous comes to be written through knowledge. For in this book are written the logoi of providence and judgment, through which book God is known as [1] creator, [2] wise, [3] provident, and [4] judging:

16 [2].  καὶ ἐπὶ τὸ βιβλίον σου πάντες γραφήσονται

 8.  Βιβλίον Θεοῦ ἐστιν ἡ θεωρία σωμάτων καὶ ἀσωμάτων ἐν ᾧ πέφυκε διὰ τῆς γνώσεως γράφεσθαι νοῦς καθαρός· ἐν δὲ τούτῳ τῷ βιβλίῳ εἰσὶ γεγραμμένοι καὶ οἱ περὶ προνοίας καὶ κρίσεως λόγοι, δι' οὗ βιβλίου γινώσκεται ὁ Θεὸς ὡς δημιουργὸς καὶ σοφὸς καὶ προνοητὴς καὶ κριτής·

[1] creator through the things that have come from non-being into being;

[2] wise through his logoi, concealed within them

[3] provident, through what is accomplished for our virtue and knowledge;

[4] and furthermore judge, through the variety of bodies of the reasoning beings, and through the multiform worlds and the ages they contain. [12]

 δημιουργὸς μὲν διὰ τὰ γεγονότα ἀπὸ τοῦ μὴ ὄντος εἰς τὸ εἶναι

σοφὸς δὲ διὰ τοὺς ἀποκειμένους λόγους ἐν αὐτοῖς·

προνοητὴς δὲ διὰ τὰ συντελοῦντα πρὸς ἀρετὴν ἡμῖν καὶ γνῶσιν

κριτὴς δὲ πάλιν διὰ τὰ διάφορα σώματα τῶν λογικῶν καὶ τοὺς ποικίλους κόσμους καὶ τούτους περιέχοντας τοὺς αἰῶνας.


In this scholion Evagrius identifies the “Book of God” with natural contemplation (theoria physiké), “the contemplation of bodies and incorporeal [beings];” however his emphasis is not on angels or those in heaven, but rather on “the purified nous”, that is the inner world of the contemplative, that “has come to be written”, and can thus be read in the Book of God.   A preceding scholion (Scholion 6 on Psalm 138) links “this same book” with both the saving passion of Christ and the particular needs of the fallen soul. Thus “reading” the Book of God entails contemplation of sacred scripture together with the both macrocosm of salvation history and the microcosm of the individual soul’s unique spiritual journey.  He further condenses his definition by emphasizing “the logoi of providence and judgment”. This uniquely Evagrian formula[13] recurs throughout his writings, and is found in the Gnostikos, in ten passages of the Kephalaia Gnostica,[14] in Evagrius’ first, sixth, and seventh Letters, and in all the collections of his scholia that have been edited to date, that is, his scholia on Psalms, on Proverbs, and on Ecclesiastes. Since these two logoi are keys to interpreting the Book of God it is important to be clear what Evagrius means by them.

Evagrius employs the term “providence” (pronoia) to highlight both the divine gift of free will[15] and God’s ongoing provision to reasoning beings (logikoi) of what each requires in order to return to divine union.[16] God’s providential care is always mediated, transmitted to the different ranks of the logikoi chiefly by other (usually higher-ranking) logikoi.  All the logikoi, especially those above the human level, are entrusted with responsibility for mediating divine providence to those beneath them. [17]  At the summit of this great cascade of divine compassion is Christ “who keeps watch over all”.[18] The gnostikos’ progress in contemplation enables him to share in the providential “angelic practice”[19] of praying for others,[20] aiding them in their spiritual struggle,[21] and curing[22] by teaching them how to increase in virtue and knowledge. The knowledge he communicates carries with it, in turn, an impulse, almost a compulsion, to assist others.[23] Thus the logos of providence enables the gnostikos both to bear in mind God’s constant ministering presence in all human circumstances and to recall that grace is mediated, often by friends, acquaintances, abbas and ammas and even angels who facilitate those acts of free choice that enable reasoning beings to make spiritual progress. In serving as a spiritual guide the gnostikos always proceeds from the conviction that God’s providential guidance is somehow perceptible, however obscurely, in all human circumstances, even in what is perceived as abandonment by God. [24]

For Evagrius the logos of “judgment” (krisis) does not refer to punishment or condemnation: it describes, instead, God’s gift to all reasoning beings of the bodies and environments (“worlds”) they require in order to make spiritual progress.[25] “Judgment” describes a series of progressive transformations. The first ‘judgment’ was God’s original, providential creation of the material universe in response to the kinesis or fall of the reasoning beings he had brought into being. Subsequent to this first judgment all reasoning beings undergo a series of transformations at which each receives a new body and environment suited to its changed spiritual state. The final “judgment” designates that complete transformation which will restore all things to union with God. Evagrius’ use of the term judgment, krisis, may reflect ancient medical vocabulary, where Hippocrates and Galen used it as a technical term to describe a “critical period” that heralds a change leading either to improvement or deterioration in the patient’s condition.[26] Evagrius similarly uses krisis to describe a fundamental transformation that facilitates movement either upwards towards virtue and knowledge or downwards into vice and ignorance. Meditation on the logos of judgment thus enables the gnostikos to interpret the rich diversity of the cosmos, including the unique qualities and circumstances of each person, as God’s gracious gift of a specific environment and body that will best facilitate the return of each reasoning being to that divine unity from which all have fallen. The complexity and variety of creation and of human experience thus should serve as a constant reminder to the gnostikos of the diverse paths and circumstances that lead to God.


[1] Evagrius, scholion 8 on Psalm 138:16 (cf PG 12.1662), cited below.

[2] Evagrius, scholion 15 On Ecclesiastes 3:11 (18-21), SC 397 (Paris, 1993), 82.

[3] Evagrius, Peri Logismon 17: 1-8, 32-39, SC 438 (Paris, 1998), 208-212.

[4] The beginning of chapter 89 of Evagrius’ Praktikos is modeled closely on an anonymous first-century peripatetic treatise, On Virtues and Vices, ed. Bekker, Aristotelis opera, v. 2 (Berlin, 1891), 1249a 26 - 1251b 37.

[5] Evagrius, Praktikos 89; SC 171, 680-4.

[6] Evagrius, Praktikos 89; SC 171, 680.

[7] Evagrius, Praktikos 89; SC 171, 680.

[8] Evagrius, Praktikos 25; De oratione 12, 13, 24, 25.

[9] These roughly correspond to the divisions of the Platonic tripartite soul, beginning with the epithumetikon, moving through the thumikon and concluding with intellectual temptations of the logistikon.

[10] Evagrius most commonly uses the term logismoi to designate the tempting thoughts inspired by demons, and noemata to describe thoughts which are benign or angelic in origin. However, this distinction does not always apply; and the terms are occasionally used in the opposite sense: i.e., malignant noemata (Praktikos 42; SC 171, 596) and neutral or beneficial logismoi (Praktikos 30; SC 171, 570. Eulogios 8, R. E Sinkewicz, Evagrius of Pontus. The Greek Ascetic Corpus (Oxford, 2003), 5, 314f.

[11] Apatheia does not mean freedom from temptation, since Evagrius emphasizes that certain temptations will continue until death. (Praktikos 36); rather, it refers to freedom from the inner storm of “passions’ irrational drives which in their extreme forms would today be called obsessions, compulsions, or addictions.(Praktikos prologue 8 and chapter 81).

[12] Evagrius, scholion 8 on Psalm 138.16, cf PG 12.1662.

[13] Hans Urs Von Balthasar considered this formula a reliable indicator of Evagrian authorship, ‘Die Hiera des Evagrius’ Zeitschrift für katholische Theologie 63 (1939), 104.

[14] Evagrius, Kephalaia Gnostica I.27; II.59; V.4; V.7; V.16; V.23; V.24; VI.43; VI.59; VI.75.

[15] Evagrius, Kephalaia Gnostica VI.43: “The providence of God accompanies free will; but his judgment considers the order of the logikoi.” Guillaumont, Les six Centuries des ‘Kephalaia Gnostica’ d’Évagre le Pontique Patrologia Orientalis 28.1, Nº 134 (Paris, 1958), 235

[16] Evagrius, Kephalaia Gnostica IV 89; Guillaumont, 175.

[17] Evagrius, Kephalaia Gnostica V 4 and V 24.

[18] Evagrius, scholion 38 on Ecclesiastes 5:7-11, SC 397, 128.

[19] Evagrius, De oratione 142; Simon Tugwell, Evagrius Ponticus: De oratione (Oxford, 1981), 26 (= PG 79,1197). There exists as yet no critical edition of Evagrius’ On Prayer.  The best available version is that of Simon Tugwell: Evagrius Ponticus, De oratione , (Oxford Faculty of Theology, 1981); based on six MSS and PG 79.1165-1200; Philokalia I ,(Athens, 1957), 176-189. 

[20] Evagrius, De oratione 40 (9 Tugwell = PG 79,1176).

[21] Evagrius, Kephalaia Gnostica VI 90.

[22] Evagrius, Praktikos 100; SC 171, 710. De oratione 117-25.

[23] Evagrius, Kephalaia Gnostica VI 76; scholia 5 and 5b on Psalm 134.7(3).

[24] Evagrius, scholion 8 on Psalm 93:18 (= PG 12,1553). Palladius writes that he and ‘the blessed Evagrius’ received this and other teachings concerning God’s providential abandonment from the reclusive Abba Paphnutius. Palladius, Lausiac History 47. J. Driscoll provides a detailed discussion of Evagrius’ teaching on providential abandonment in: ‘Evagrius and Paphnutius on the Causes for Abandonment by God’: Studia Monastica 39 (1997), 259-86.

[25] Evagrius, Scholion 275 on Proverbs 24:22; SC 340 (Paris, 1987), 370.

[26] This doctrine was based in part on the theory of pepansis, “coction” or digestion (literally “ripening”) of ingested substances, which when incomplete or unsuccessful was believed to be responsible for many diseases. The successful calculation and prediction of critical days seems to have depended on the time thought to be required for pepansis as well as classical numerology, including musical theories of harmonic intervals: V. Langholf, Medical Theories in Hippocrates: Early Texts and the Epidemics (New York, 1990), 79-103.

Light of the Nous




Evagrius undertook a journey in the company of Ammonius to consult with John of Lycopolis (or “of the Thebaid”) on the question whether the inner “light of the nous” perceived during contemplation is a reflection of the divine light, or whether  it arises from the inherent luminosity of the nous itself (Antirrhetikos 6.16). John did not commit himself to a definitive answer; however, in this kephalaion Evagrius suggests three possible sources of the light: [1] reflection (“knowledge”) of or “mixture with” the divine light (cf. KG 1.35, 2.29; 3.52; Skemm.27); [2] the incorporeal nature of the nous (KG 3.44); [3] the act of contemplating beings (KG 5.15; 1.81). On the light of the nous: cf. KG 1.74;  KG 1.81; Sc.Prov.258; On Prayer 74 & 75.; P.Log. 17, 39, 40 & 42; Skem 24;  23; 25; 27; Letter 39.5.

[summary:]On the light of the nous and its possible origins: cf. KG 1.35, 1.74; 1.81, 2.29; 3.44, 3.52, 5.15; Sch.258 on Prov. 23.22 ; Prak. 64; Gnost. 45Prayer 75; Thoughts/Peri.Log. 17, 39, 40, 42; Skem. 2, 42325, 27; Letter 39.5; Antiret. 6.16.

.”  In several texts Evagrius describes this “spiritual vision” of “purified nature” as the light or radiance of the nous[1],

Praktikos 64: “The proof of apatheia is that the nous begins to behold the gentle radiance proper to it,” SC 171,648.

Gnostikos 45: “... those who are also able at the time of prayer to contemplate the light of their nous illuminating them.,” SC 356, 178.

On Prayer, 75: “The angel of the Lord [...] moves the light of the nous to undeviating activity.’ PG 79,1183.

Antirrhetikos 6.16: “the intellect also cannot be illuminated while praying without the grace of God,” Frankenberg, 525.  [John of Lycopolis offers his opinion here]:

  6.16. For the mind that does not believe that the [tempting-] thoughts of acedia remaining in him can disturb his state and at the time of prayer darken the holy light in his eyes.

  16. προς διανοιαν ουκ επισταμενην οτι χρονιζοντες εν αυτηι οι ακηδιας λογισμοι την  αυτης καταστασιν θορυβουσι και προσευχης καιρωι το αγιον φως εν τοις αυτης οφθαλμοις αμαυρουσιν.

   It was about this very light that we, I and the servant of God Ammonius, wished to know whence it comes: and so we asked the holy John of the Thebaid whether the nature of the intellect is [itself] luminous and thus of itself gives off this light, or whether some other [light] from without shines upon and illuminates it. 

περι δε αυτου τουτου φωτος εβουλομεθα μαθειν το ποθεν εστιν εγω και δουλος του θεου Αμμωνιος και ηρωτησαμεν τον αγιον Ιωαννην της Θηβαιδος ει δη ͅ η νοος φυσις φωτεινη εστιν τε και το φως εξ αυτου εκδιδωσιν η τι αλλο εκτοσθεν φαινεται αυτον φωτιζον· αυτος

   He answered: “Human beings are not in a position to judge this; and the nous  also cannot be illuminated while praying without the grace of God, once it is freed from the numerous and fearful enemies trying hard to destroy it.”

 δε απεκριθη λεγων ουκ εστιν ανθρωπος δυνατος τουτο διακριναι ουδε παλιν χωρις θεου χαριτος ο νους εν τηι προσευχηι φωτισθηναι δυναται πολλων και δεινων εχθρων εις την απωλειαν αυτου σπευδοντων απελευθερωθεις

+ Ps 37:11  My heart is troubled, my strength has failed me, and the light of my eyes is not with me

+ ψ 37,11  ἡ καρδία μου ἐταράχθη, ἐγκατέλιπέν με ἡ ἰσχύς μου, καὶ τὸ φῶς τῶν ὀφθαλμῶν μου καὶ αὐτὸ οὐκ ἔστιν μετ' ἐμοῦ.

Skemmata 2: “If any would see the state of their nous, let them deprive themsel[ves] of all concepts (noemata)[:] and then they will see themselves like a sapphire or the color of heaven; (Exod. 24:10) but this cannot be accomplished without apatheia, since it requires the cooperation of God who breathes into them the kindred light,” Muyldermans, “Evagriana,” Le Muséon 44, 38.

Letter 39.6: “... another heaven, where the vision is of light and of the “spiritual place,” where the grand logoi of beings are seen and where the holy angels gather among those who are worthy.

most clearly in Peri Logismon:

When the nous  has stripped off “the old man” and put on that [which comes] from grace, (cf. Col. 3:9-10)  then it will see its own state at the time of prayer, like a sapphire or the color of heaven, which Scripture calls the place of God that was seen by the elders under Mount Sinai (cf. Exod. 24:20).Peri Logismon 39 SC 438, (1998) 286-288 (cf. Skemmata 2).

            In the next sentence Evagrius describes this vision of the sapphire “place of God” as the consequence of the ascetical practice and successive replacement of thoughts he has recommended to Anatolius:

The nous is incapable of seeing the place of God within itself unless it is raised above all the concepts [noemata] of external objects.  But it will not be raised up unless it strips off the passions chaining it down with concepts [noemata] of sensory objects.  And as it lays aside passions through the virtues, the more subtle tempting-thoughts are laid aside through spiritual contemplations; and these, in turn are laid aside when there appears to it the light that imprints it with the place of God at the time of prayer.[3]

            Evagrius elsewhere calls this vision of the nous as the place of God “resurrection”.  In the Kephalaia Gnostica he describes a threefold resurrection: from vice to virtue, (“resurrection of the body”); from subjection by the passions to apatheia,(“resurrection of the soul)  and from ignorance to the state of spiritual knowledge (“resurrection of the nous).[4]



[2] Evagrius,

[3] Evagrius, Peri Logismon 40 SC 438, (1998) 288-290.

[4] Evagrius, Kephalaia Gnostica V.19, 22, 25; It is noteworthy that within this chain KG V.21 describes vision of the worlds of Jerusalem and Mount Zion, while V.23-24 concern the logoi of providence, judgment and the primordial fall (“movement). Guillaumont (1977) 185, 187.





Letter 25:6.b. Nevertheless, “fight the good fight” (1Tim 6:12), in order to be “crowned with the wreath of justice” (2 Tim 4:8) and to behold Christ the bridegroom, (Mt 25:1) whom you now seek through good works, which is in actuality the search for the Lord.


In a final sequence of biblical citations Evagrius concludes his letter by joining the military and competitive imagery of praktikē to the contemplative vision of “Christ the bridegroom.”    This brief catena of three texts, which he repeats verbatim with the same explanation in Letter 20.1is a coded reiteration of the threefold ordering of both spiritual progress and biblical exegesis: praktiké; physiké; theologiké.  The “good fight” of 1 Tim. 6:12 describes praktiké, the “fight” against tempting thoughts to attain apatheia.  The “crown of justice” is a metaphor Evagrius frequently employs as a symbol of contemplation and spiritual knowledge.[2]  Since Origen’s third-century commentary and homilies on the Song of Songs “Christ the bridegroom” had become a widely-used means of describing the soul’s union with of God. [3]  However, despite this increasing popularity of nuptial metaphor among Christian thinkers, Evagrius is surprisingly sparing in his own use of spousal imagery: it is only here and in seven other texts that he deliberately invokes the image of Christ as bridegroom:

Sentences for Virgins, 11, 43, 52, 55;

Peri Logismón 42;

Letter 20,1;

Scholion 256 On Proverbs 23:18.

  Of these a close parallel to his use here is Peri Logismon 42, where Evagrius describes the allegorical “eye” of the nous that is able at the time of prayer to “contemplate the blessed light of the holy Trinity” and thus “ravish the heart of the bridegroom.”Peri Logismon 42, SC 432 (1998), 296-297

[2] Evagrius, Scholion 12 On Psalm 5:13 “And the knowledge of God is divided into two parts, practice and contemplation. To practice belongs the shield of favor, while of contemplation is the crown,” cf. PG 1173.8.  Scholion 7 On Prov. 1:9 “here crown and necklace signify knowledge”.  Scholion 44 On Prov. 4:9 “The crown of graces and the crown of delights are the knowledge of God.”.  Ad Monachos 27: “An ornament for the head: a crown; an ornament for the heart: knowledge of God.” Kephalaia Gnostica III,49: “The nous will not be crowned with the crown of essential knowledge, if it has not cast far from it ignorance of the two struggles.” Guillaumont (1977) 117.

[3] Cf. Gregory of Nyssa’s Commentary on the Song of Songs,and the frequent use of texts from the Song by Ambrose and Cyril of Jerusalem in their catechetical homilies.



 DIVINE (God-given) DISTRACTION  περισπ     νοῆμ


[Central/focal image in Thoughts - Sheep to Shepherd - seek to see the logoi in created things - striveto look further  upwards to apprehend true logos.  [In spir dire do this with people and their histories]

Schol.42 on Eccl.5.17; knowledge of God is joy, food of soul, divine distraction

Schol.45 on Eccl.5.19  Distraction of/from God is true knowledge that separates from objects of sense

Schol.15 on Eccl 3; God gives distractions that become like biblical texts, leading to contemplation of the logoi

[Schol.40 on Eccl.5.13; Evil distraction]   [FIND ALSO - IMPASSIONED empathe distraction peispasmos - or is it impassioned noemata? esp. in On Prayer

[Good Logismoi and Theorémata]

Add Scholion 256 on Prov. 23.18: Proper logismoi and spiritual contemplations (theorémata) are said to be the descendants of the nous; and thus the soul is said to be barren (childless) that does not have these descendants, which are naturally engendered by the spiritual bridegroom

Thoughts 4Thoughts 8 .  diff, betw, angelic, human, and demonic thoughts (logismoi);    There is also an activity of the memory that is not demonic: it is caused by ourselves or by the angelic powers;  28, angelic dreams reveal logoi;  28, contemplation of all ages, from apatheia to "wings of knowledge" from "Holy Dove" [?=angels/Holy Spirit?;]  31;  logismoi: angelic, freely-willed, natural;   41 imprinting and non-imprinting noemata;   17 Noemata of this worls given as sheep to shepherd;  l

:Schol 1 on Ps 137.1   (psalm/hymn; chant without distraction - attend to meaning - or .. .;  [[cf Sch 79 on Pd 118.71;  stamped and unstamped  Sch 1 on Ps 140.2(1)]]


UNDISTRACTED PRAYER On Prayer 17; On Prayer 35; On Prayer 118  [75 Angel with single word moves light of nous to UNDEVIATING activity;  142 not simply words but angelic practice and divine knowledge]]
Praktikos 63, Praktikos 69    [24 on angels suggesting spiritual desires.hedone;    76 on presence of Angels give spiritual contemplation; 80 cannot withstand angelic logismoi];

Schol.15 on Eccl 3.;  Schol.40 on Eccl.5.13Schol.42 on Eccl.5.17Schol.45 on Eccl.5.19

:Schol 1 on Ps 137.1   (psalm/hymn; chant without distraction - attend to meaning - or .. .;  [[cf Sch 79 on Pd 118.71;  stamped and unstamped  Sch 1 on Ps 140.2(1)]]

On Prayer 17; On Prayer 35; On Prayer 118  [75 Angel with single word moves light of nous to UNDEVIATING activity;  142 not simply words but angelic practice and divine knowledge]]

Praktikos 63, Praktikos 69    [24 on angels suggesting spiritual desires.hedone;    76 on presence of Angels give spiritual contemplation; 80 cannot withstand angelic logismoi];

Thoughts 4Thoughts 8 .  diff, betw, angelic, human, and demonic thoughts (logismoi);    There is also an activity of the memory that is not demonic: it is caused by ourselves or by the angelic powers;  28, angelic dreams reveal logoi;  28, contemplation of all ages, from apatheia to "wings of knowledge" from "Holy Dove" [?=angels/Holy Spirit?;]  31;  logismoi: angelic, freely-willed, natural;   41 imprinting and non-imprinting noemata;   17 Noemata of this worls given as sheep to shepherd;  l



This Webpage was created for a workshop held at Saint Andrew's Abbey, Valyermo, California in 2001....x.....   “”.