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By K evin C orrigan. T his is the first scholarly attempt to compare the spiritual anthropology of Evagrius of Pontus and Gregory of Nyssa. According to Kevin Corrigan these two towering figures of the late fourth-century church brought to birth a new understanding of Christian thought and practice by their innovative interpretation of the tradition they both received.

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Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume He fell gravely ill and only after he confessed his troubles to Melania, and accepted her instruction to become a monk was he restored to health. After being made a monk at Jerusalem in , he joined a cenobitic community of monks in Nitria in Lower Egypt in around , but after some years moved to Kellia. There he spent the last fourteen years of his life pursuing studies under Macarius of Alexandria and Macarius the Great who had been a disciple of Anthony the Great , and lived at the monastic colony of Scetis, about 25 miles away.

Most Egyptian monks of that time were illiterate. Evagrius, a highly educated classical scholar, is believed to be one of the first people to begin recording and systematizing the erstwhile oral teachings of the monastic authorities known as the Desert Fathers.

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Eventually, he also became regarded as a Desert Father, and several of his apothegms appear in the 'Vitae Patrum' a collection of sayings from early Christian monks. Evagrius rigorously tried to avoid teaching beyond the spiritual maturity of his audiences. When addressing novices, he carefully stuck to concrete, practical issues which he called praktike. For example, in Peri Logismon 16, he includes this disclaimer:. I cannot write about all the villainies of the demons; and I feel ashamed to speak about them at length and in detail, for fear of harming the more simple-minded among my readers.

The most prominent feature of his research was a system of categorizing various forms of temptation. This list was intended to serve a diagnostic purpose: to help readers identify the process of temptation, their own strengths and weaknesses, and the remedies available for overcoming temptation. The eight patterns of evil thought are gluttony, greed, sloth, sorrow, lust, anger, vainglory, and pride.

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While he did not create the list from scratch, he did refine it. Some two centuries later in AD, Pope Gregory I , "Pope Gregory The Great" would revise this list to form the more commonly known Seven Deadly Sins, where Pope Gregory the Great combined acedia discouragement with tristitia sorrow , calling the combination the sin of sloth; vainglory with pride; and added envy to the list of "Seven Deadly Sins". In Evagrius' time, the Greek word apatheia was used to refer to a state of being without passion. Evagrius wrote: "A man in chains cannot run. Nor can the mind that is enslaved to passion see the place of spiritual prayer.

It is dragged along and tossed by these passion-filled thoughts and cannot stand firm and tranquil.

Evagrius taught that tears were the utmost sign of true repentance and that weeping, even for days at a time, opened one up to God. Even in his own day, Evagrius' views had been criticised. A controversy over how to conceptualise God that broke out in the Nitrian desert in saw dispute in which one side was influenced by Origenist views.

Although Evagrius was not mentioned in this dispute, in Jerome 's Letter accuses Evagrius of being a prominent Origenist, and critiques his teaching on apatheia. The accusations with the most long-lasting influence, however, emerged in the mid-sixth century. Origen's speculations on these matters were declared heretical by the Second Council of Constantinople in AD.

Although Evagrius is not mentioned by name in the Council's 15 anathematisms, in the eyes of most contemporaries, the Council did indeed condemn the teachings of Evagrius, together with Origen and Didymus the Blind. His innovative collections of short chapters meant for meditation, scriptural commentaries in the form of scholia, extended discourses, and letters were widely translated and copied. Condemned posthumously by two ecumenical councils as a heretic along with Origen and Didymus of Alexandria, he was revered among Christians to the east of the Byzantine Empire, in Syria and Armenia, while only some of his writings endured in the Latin and Greek churches.

A student of the famed bishop-theologians Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil of Caesarea, Evagrius left the service of the urban church and settled in an Egyptian monastic compound.

Evagrius and Gregory

His teachers were veteran monks schooled in the tradition of Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Anthony, and he enriched their legacy with the experience of the desert and with insight drawn from the entire Greek philosophical tradition, from Plato and Aristotle through Iamblichus. Evagrius and His Legacy brings together essays by eminent scholars who explore selected aspects of Evagrius's life and times and address his far-flung and controversial but long-lasting influence on Latin, Byzantine, and Syriac cultures in antiquity and the Middle Ages.

Touching on points relevant to theology, philosophy, history, patristics, literary studies, and manuscript studies, Evagrius and His Legacy is also intended to catalyze further study of Evagrius within as large a context as possible. Table of Contents. Cover Download Save. Title Page, Dedication, Copyright pp. Contents pp. Abbreviations pp.