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Introduction - Part 2c

In regard to this question of whether Layer 3 constitutes immature foreshadowings of Evagrius’ later mystical doctrine, let us consider the following excerpt from Passage A:

Because this is so, again, in the Acts of the Apostles, to his disciples who are asking, ‘When will you restore the Kingdom to Israel,’ he says ‘It is not yours to know times and seasons which the Father has set in his own authority.’ That is, this sort of knowledge (gnosis) of the Kingdom is not for those who are joined to flesh and blood. This contemplation the Father has placed in his own authority, calling ‘authority’ those who are subjected to his authority, ‘his own’ those who do not participate in ignorance of the lower things. [25] Do not understand sensible ‘times’ and ‘seasons’ for me, but certain dimensions of knowledge (gnosis) occurring under the intelligible sun.

Consider this passage of the Kephalaia Gnostica:

III, 44 The intelligible sun is the reasonable nature which contains in itself the first and blessed light.

Here we have a passage of the Kephalaia Gnostica which explains terminology used in To the Caesareans…. Are we to take this to mean that Evagrius wrote Passage A in a groping way in Constantinople and throughout the remainder of his life kept the notion of ‘intelligible sun’, returning near the end of his life to provide a definition in the Kephalaia Gnostica? Or that Passage A was written by Evagrius near the end of his life? Or that someone else who had read the Kephalaia Gnostica wrote Passage A?

This excerpt from Passage A contains a succinct description of the mature Evagrian doctrine that the spiritual knowledge (gnosis) of God that is the seeker’s goal depends not on the Christ but on the Father. That is the significance of the ‘authority of the Father’; the ‘ignorance of the lower things’ seems to refer either to those who are accomplished in natural contemplation or to those who have surpassed it. Moreover, in the doctrine of the Kephalaia Gnostica, the only intelligible sun (and even in Evagrius there is only one sun, not a plethora) is the Christ.

Can this excerpt from Passage A legitimately be called a mystical groping brought to fruition in Egypt under the tutelage of the Desert Fathers?


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