Guide to Evagrius Ponticus

edited by Joel Kalvesmaki


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CPG2431 eng Dysinger.TAN TEI.xml
Work
WORK
eng
The Gnostikos, written by Evagrius Ponticus
tag:evagriusponticus.net,2015:cpg2431
tag:kalvesmaki.com,2014:cpg2431
Source
Dysinger's online translation
tag:kalvesmaki.com,2014:external_Evagrius_Gnostikos_eng_Dysinger
tag:evagriusponticus.net,2012:scriptum:dysinger-1990
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title
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The Gnostikos [Knower], or 
One Who is Worthy of Knowledge
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2. The ascetic is one who is concerned solely with the achievement of perfect freedom in the portion of the soul subject to compulsions. 
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3. But the Knower [gnostikos] has the significance [logos] of salt for the impure and light for the pure. (cf. Mt 5:13-14) 
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1. The ascetics will understand the deep purposes of asceticism; the knowers (gnostikoi) will behold matters of knowledge. 
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4. The knowledge that reaches us from external [things] tries by means of the logoi to indirectly teach material [things]. However the [knowledge] which by God’s grace is innate [within us] directly presents matters to the mind; and in beholding them, the nous welcomes their logoi. 
And opposing the first is <error; against the second is> anger and indignation <and what flows from them>. 
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5. All virtues clear the road before the Knower; but superior to all other [virtues] is freedom from anger. Indeed, one who has touched knowledge yet is easily moved to anger is like a man who pierces himself in the eyes with a metal stylus. 
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6. The Knower can remain secure in going down among [the brethren] because he does not make a habit of going down among [them]. 
Additionally, he strives to practice all the virtues, equally, continuously, and in proper order; for there is an orderly sequence among them and within himself; for the intellect is naturally betrayed by that which is weakest. 
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7. The Knower will at all times practice almsgiving and be ready to do good. And, if he lacks money, he will shake the branches of his soul. 
Because in all things it is his nature to do good by means of money. This is what was not done by the five virgins whose lamps went out. 
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8. It is shameful for the knower to be involved in a lawsuit, whether as plaintiff or defendant: if as plaintiff, [it is shameful] because he will not have endured patiently; if as defendent, because he he will have acted unjustly. 
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9. Knowledge, when it is preserved, teaches the one who possesses it how it may be safeguarded and progressively increased. 
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10. If only the Knower could, at the time when he interprets the Scriptures, be free from anger, hatred, sadness, bodily suffering and anxieties! 
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11. Avoid, before becoming perfected, meeting many people or frequenting them overmuch, lest your intellect be filled with images. 
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12. Those things among what relates to praktike, physike, and theologike that are useful for our salvation, [we are] invited to speak about and to perform unto death. But those things that are indifferent it is not necessary to speak about or to perform, because of those who are easily scandalized. 
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13. It is proper for the knower to speak to monks and seculars concerning a proper way of life, as well as to explain in part doctrines concerning physike and theologike "without which no one will see the Lord." (Heb 12:14) 
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14. To priests alone, [and only to those who are among the best, reply if they question you what is symbolized by the mysteries they perform and which purify the interior man: the vessels which they receive designate the passionate part of the soul and the rational part; concerning their inseparable mixture, the power of each, and the accomplishing of the activities of each in view of a single purpose. 
And tell them, too, who is the symbol of that which perfects them, and who they are who, with him, repel those that those who erect obstacle[s] to pure conduct; and, among living beings, who have the memory and some do not. 
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15. Learn to know the logoi and the laws of circumstances ["fitting times"], [ways of] life, and occupations, so that you can easily tell each what is useful for him. 
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16. It is necessary that you have the matter for the explanation of what is said, and that you embrace everything, even if a part escapes you. For it is indeed proper to an angel that nothing of what is upon the earth escapes it. 
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17. It is necessary also to know the definitions of things, especially those of the virtues and vices; this, indeed, is the source [and the beginning] of knowledge and ignorance, of the kingdom of heaven and of torment. 
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18. It is necessary to search, therefore, concerning allegorical and literal passages relevant to the praktike, physike, and theologike. 
 [1] If it is relevant to the praktike it is necessary to examine whether it treats 
 [1a] of thumos and what comes from it, 
 [1b] or rather of epithumia and what follows it, 
 [1c] or again of the nous and its movements. 
 [2] If it is pertains to the physike, it is necessary to note whether it makes known one of the doctrines concerning nature, and which one. 
 [3] And if it is an allegorical passage concerning theologike it is necessary to examine as far as possible whether it provides information on the Trinity and whether it is seen [in its] simplicity or seen as The Unity. But if it is none of these, then it is a simple contemplationor perhaps makes known a prophecy 
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19. It is good to know also the customary [terminology] of the sacred Scriptures, and to establish them as far as possible by means of proofs. 
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20. It is necessary to know this: that all texts of an ethical character do not comprise a contemplation of an ethical character; no more does a text concerning nature [comprise] a contemplation on nature; but such as is of an ethical character comprises a contemplation of nature; and such as treat of nature comprise a contemplation of ethics, and the same for theology. 
What is said, in effect, of the fornication and the adultery of Jerusalem, [cf. Ez. 16:15-34] the animals of dry land and waters, and the birds, the clean and the unclean, [cf. Lev.11:2-19] the sun that "rises, sets, and returns to its place," [cf. Eccl.1:5] relate : 
in the first place to theology; 
in the second place to ethics; 
and in the third place to physics. 
Now the first text relates to ethics and the two others to physics. 
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21. Do not allegorize the words of blameworthy persons and do not seek anything spiritual in them, unless through his divine plan God has acted [through them], as in the cases of Balaam (cf. Num 24: 17-19) and Kaiphas: (cf. Jn 11:49-51) for the former predicted the birth, and the second the death of the Savior. 
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22. It is necessary that the Knower be neither gloomy nor intimidating. For the first is ignorance of the logoi of things which have come into existence; the second is not desiring "that all men be saved and come to Knowledge of the truth." (1Tim 2.4) 
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23. It is necessary sometimes to feign ignorance because those who question are not worthy of an answer: and [in this] you will be truthful, since you are linked to a body and you [thus] do not yet possess complete knowledge. 
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24. Take care that you never, for the sake of profit, well-being, or fleeting glory, talk about those things which should not be revealed, and [thus] be cast out of the sacred precincts, like those selling the pigeon chicks in the temple. (cf. Mt 21, 12-13). 
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25. [Concerning] those who dispute without having Knowledge: it is necessary to make them approach the truth by proceeding not from the end, but from the beginning; and it is not necessary for gnostikoi to tell the young anything, nor to let them touch books of this sort, for they are not able to resist the falls that this contemplation entails. That is why, to those who are still besieged by passions it is necessary to speak not words of peace, but how they will triumph over their adversaries: indeed, as Ecclesiastes says, "there is no discharge [from service] on the day of battle."(Eccl. 8:8) Those, therefore, who are still afflicted with the passions and who peer into the logoi of bodies and incorporeal [beings] resemble invalids who [carry on] discuss[ions] concerning health. For it is when the soul is [only] with difficulty shaken by the passions that it is invited to taste these sweet rays of honey. 
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26. These [should] not be the same occasions: - [1] that of explication and [2] that of [investigative] discussion. And it is necessary to reprimand those who prematurely raise objections; for this is indeed the habit of heretics and those who [enjoy] controversy. 
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27. Do not, without [careful] consideration, speak about God [in Himself]; nor should you ever define the Deity: for it is only of {things which are made or} are composite that there can be definitions. 
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28. Hold in your mind the five causes of abandonment, so that you may perceive the [kinds of] faint-heartedness which are destroyed by affliction. 
 [1] Indeed, abandonment reveals virtue which is hidden. 
 [2] When the former has been neglected, it reestablishes it through punishment. 
 [3] And it becomes the cause of salvation for others. 
 [4] And when virtue has become preeminent, it teaches humility to those who posses it [only] in part. 
 [5] Indeed, he hates the evil which is the cause of the experience. Now experience is the offspring of abandonment, and this abandonment is the daughter of apatheia. 
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[Guil rtrv. 136]¨{ γενικοὶ ἐγκαταλείψεων τρόποι . . . ὅτι μιδεῖ κακίαν ὁ πειραθεὶς κακίαν, πεῖρα δὲ τῆς ἐγκαταλείψεως ἔγγονος ιν Μαχ Ξονφ;} βυτ ηερε προβ; αἰτίαι - εἴδη [1 137] διὰ κεκρυμμένην ἀρετήν, ἵνα φανερωθῃ, . . .[2 138] πρὸς δοκιμήν . . .πρὸς κόλασιν;
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29. Those you teach are saying to you always: "[Friend], go up higher!" (Lk. 14:10). It would, indeed, be shameful (cf. Lk 14:9) having [once] ascended, for you to be brought down again by your hearers. 
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30. Avarice lies not in possessing money, but in longing for it. The steward is said to be a reasoning purse. 
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31. Exhort the elders to mastery of anger and the young to mastery of the stomach. For against the former strive the demons of the soul, and against the latter, for the most part, those of the body. 
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32. Close your mouth to those who slander in your hearing; and do not be amazed when you are accused by many, for this is a temptation from the demons. For it is necessary for the gnostikos to be free from hatred and memory of evil, even when this is not what he wants. 
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33. [Although] unaware of it, he is himself cured - the one healing others through the Lord. For the medicine which the gnostikos applies cures his neighbor insofar as it can, but [it cures] him of necessity. 
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34. You must not interpret spiritually everything that lends itself to allegory, but rather only that which is fitting to the subject; because if you do not act thus, you pass much time on Jonas’ boat, explaining every part of its equipment. And you will be humorous to your listeners, rather than useful to them: all of these sitting around you will remind you of this or that equipment, and by laughing [they] will remind you of what you have forgotten. 
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[Guil retrv.152-153]¨...πάντα οἷα ἀλληγορίαν ἐπιδέχεσθαί ἐστι ... πρᾶγμα ...τῶν σκευῶν τῶν ἐν τῷ πλοίῳ
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35. Invite the monks who come to you to speak concerning ethics, but not concerning doctrine, unless there are found some who could be devoted to these matters. 
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[Guil retrv..154-155] ... παρακάλει ... περὶ ἠθικῆς ... περὶ τῶν δογμάτων ... ὕλαι
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36. [You must] keep hidden from seculars and from the young the exalted logoi concerning judgement, for this easily engenders [their] contempt: for they do not understand the suffering of the reasoning soul condemned to ignorance. 
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37. St. Paul afflicted his body, reducing it to servitude (cf. ICor. 9:27): you, therefore, must not neglect your diet throughout your life; and do not { humiliate } apatheia with a thickened body. 
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38. Do not worry about food or garments: remember rather Abner the Levite, who after receiving the Ark of the Lord became rich out of poverty, and renowned out of ["after being held in"] contempt. 
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39. A Bitter accuser of the gnostikos is his own conscience, and he cannot hide anything from it because it [sees] into the [secret] knowledge of the heart. 
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40. Be on your guard with regard to the fact that for each created thing there is not only a single logos, but a large number, according to the measure of each one. For the holy powers attain to the true logoi of the objects, but not unto the first, that which is known solely by Christ. 
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41. Every proposition has a predicate or a genus, or a distinction, or a species, or a property, or an accident, or that which is composed of these things. But on the subject of the Blessed Trinity, nothing of what has been said [here] is admissible. In silence let the ineffable be adored! 
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42. The temptation of the Knower is a spurious conjecture which presents itself to the intellect either as [really] existing { when it does not exist, as not existing when it does exist, or as existing } in some manner which it is not. 
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43. The sin of the gnostikos is false knowledge concerning matters themselves or their contemplations, which is caused by some passion or because this is not in sight of the good that is being [investigatively] discussed. 
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[Guil retrv..170-171] ἁμαρτία γνωστικοῦ . . . γνῶσις ψευδὴς αὐτῶν τῶν πραγμάτων ἢ τῆς θεωρίας αὐτῶν . . . τὴν ζήτησιν[29] ποιεῖσθα
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44. There are four virtues necessary for contemplation, according to the teaching of the just Gregory: prudence, courage, temperance, and justice.
 (1) The work of prudence, it is said, is the contemplation of the holy and intelligent powers apart from their logoi; for this latter belongs to wisdom alone, according to the tradition we have received. 
 (2) Courage is steadfast perseverance in the truth, even to the point of combat, as well as refraining from entry into that which has no existence. 
 (3) The reception of the first sower’s seed and the rejection of what is sown secondarily - this is the proper work of continence, according to [Gregory’s] explanation. 
 (4) Justice’s task is to give to each, according to his worth, a word: that is, proclaiming some things darkly; using parables to make other things known; and clearly explaining still others for the benefit of the simple. 
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45. That column of truth, the Cappadocian Basil has said: the Knowledge which comes from men is strengthened by careful meditation and diligent exercise; however the [knowledge] that by God’s grace has come to be within us [is strengthened] by justice, by the refusal to indulge anger, and by compassion. The first [Knowledge] can be received by those still subject to passion; the second [Knowledge] is received only by those [who have achieved] apatheia - those who are also able at the time of prayer to contemplate the illuminating gentle radiance proper to their nous. 
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46. The holy luminary of Egypt, Athanasius, said: "Moses received the command to place the table standing towards the North. The Knowers must know which [temptation] blows against them: and they are to stand firm against all species of temptation; and with eager zeal feed those who appear. 
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47. IT was said by the angel of the church of Thumis, Serapion, that the intellect by drinking spiritual knowledge is perfectly purified; Charity heals the burning parts of the irascible self The flux of evil desiring is stanched by self-control. 
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48. "Exercise yourself continuously in the logoi of providence and judgment," said the great Knower and teacher Didymus, "and strive to bear in your memory their material [expressions]: for nearly all are brought to stumbling through this. And you will discover the logoi of judgment in the diversity of bodies and worlds, and those of providence in the means by which we return from vice and ignorance to virtue or to knowledge." 
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49. The goal of the praktike is to purify the intellect and to render it free of passions; that of the gnostike is to reveal the truth hidden in all beings; but to distance the intellect from matter and to turn it towards the First Cause - this is a gift of theology. 
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[Guil rtrv.190-191] ... τὴν ἀλήθειαν κεκρυμμένην ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς γεγονόσιν . . . τὸ ἀφίστασθαι τὸν νοῦν ἀπὸ τῶν ὑλῶν καὶ τρέπεσθαι πρὸς . . .πρὸς τὴν πρώτην αἰτίαν . . . θεολογική [θεολογία]
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50. Gazing fixedly upon the archetype, I strive to engrave the images without neglecting anything which might accomplish the gaining [back] of the fallen-away.