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Imageless Prayer And The Theological Vision Of Evagrius Ponticus

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Chapter Summary

Evagrius Ponticus (ca. 345?399), practitioner and theologian of monastic prayer, brought his deep knowledge of both Hellenistic philosophy and Christian thought (especially the work of Origen) to bear on his tracing of the human journey back to perfect union with God. The emphasis on imageless prayer creates a tension with the Christian and monastic focus on biblical texts. Examining Evagrius? theories of mental operation and biblical exegesis helps in understanding both the imperative of imageless prayer for Evagrius and its problematic aspects. The fundamental element of Evagrius? cosmic vision is the doctrine of the primordial creation of all rational creatures, the logikoi. Evagrius’ teaching on the ascetic dimension of monastic life does not depend on the theological vision outlined in the Kephalaia Gnōstika or Letter to Melania. The internalization of the place of God presents one of the central paradoxes of Evagrius? theology.

Keywords: biblical exegesis; Christian Hellenism; Evagrius? theology; imageless prayer; Kephalaia Gnōstika; logikoi; monastic prayer; Origen



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