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Section 2 — ¶6 [19] – 7 [26]

6 [19] For you he is even ignorant of the hour and the day of the Judgement; and further, nothing escapes the notice of true Wisdom; all things came to be through it. Neither, then, has any man ever been ignorant of what he has done. But this he manages for the sake of your infirmity, so that neither might sinners fall into despondency at the shortness of the delay, there not remaining a time of repentance; nor again might those who for a long time are giving battle with the opposed power desert on account of the length of time. He therefore manages both by means of the feigned ignorance; for the one, cutting short the time on account of the good struggle; for the other, storing up a season of repentance on account of the sins.[1] [20] And further, in the Gospels he numbers himself together with those who are ignorant, on account of the infirmity, as I said, of the many; however, in the Acts of the Apostles, as discoursing separately with the perfect, he says, excluding himself: ‘It is not yours to know times and seasons which the Father has set by his own authority.’[2] And let these things be said in a grosser way according to the previous introduction.[3] Already it is necessary to examine the meaning of the text in a higher way and it is necessary to knock on the door of knowledge (gnosis), if indeed I should be able to awaken the Master of the House, him who gives the spiritual loaves to those who ask him, since they are friends and brothers whom we endeavour to feast.

7 [21] The holy disciples of our Saviour, coming beyond contemplation[4] as it is possible to men, and having been purified by the word, seek the end, and desire to know the final blessedness, of which very thing our Lord declared both the angels and himself to be ignorant. On the one hand, he called ‘day’ the exact apprehension of the conceptions (epinoiai) of God; on the other hand, ‘hour’ the contemplation of the Monad and Unity, the notification of which things he granted only to the Father. I mean, then, that that which God is, is said to be known by God concerning himself; and that that which he is not, not to be known. For justice and wisdom are said to be known by God, who is ‘self-justice’ and ‘self-wisdom’; and injustice and wickedness not to be known—for the God who made us is not injustice and wickedness. [22] If, therefore, whatever God is, is said to be known by God of himself and that which he is not, not to be known—then our Lord, according to the notion of the Incarnation and the grosser teaching, is not the final object of desire; and therefore our Saviour did not know the end and the final blessedness. ‘But neither the angels know,’ he said—that is, neither the contemplation which is in them nor the reasons (logoi) of their ministries are the final object of desire. For the knowledge (gnosis) of these things is gross in comparison with the ‘person to person’. The Father alone knows, he says, because he [i.e. the Father] is indeed the end and the final blessedness. For when we know God no longer in mirrors, neither by means of alien things, but we come forth to him as to ‘only’ and ‘one’, then we will see the final end. For they say that the Kingdom of Christ is all the knowledge (gnosis) that is implicated in material [objects] and that the Kingdom of the God and Father is the immaterial contemplation, and, as one might say, the contemplation of the very Divinity. [23] Our Lord, however, is himself the end and final blessedness according to the notion of the Word. For what does it say in the Gospel? ‘And I will resurrect him in the last day,’ calling the ‘Resurrection’ the transition from the knowledge (gnosis) which is implicated in material [objects] to the immaterial contemplation, and calling ‘the last day’ this knowledge (gnosis) after which there is no other. For our mind (nous) is resurrected and raised up towards the blessed height at that time when it might contemplate the Unity and Monad of the Word.[5] But because our mind (nous), having being made gross, has been joined to the dust and is mixed up with the clay and is unable to gaze in bare contemplation, therefore, being guided by means of the adornments which are related to the body,[6] it understands the operations (energeies) of the Creator, and in the beginning it understands these from the results (apotelesmata), so that, thus having increased little by little, it might have the strength at some time to advance even to the naked Divinity itself. [24] I think that the following has been said according to this conception: ‘My Father is greater than I’, and ‘It is not mine to give but to those for whom it is prepared by the Father.’ For this is also Christ’s surrendering of the Kingdom to the God and Father, Christ being the beginning and not the end, according to the grosser, as I said, teaching, which is seen as towards us and not towards the Son Himself.[7]

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. For it is necessary that that prayer of our Master be brought to its end. For Jesus is he who prays: ‘Give them that they may be one in us just as you and I are one, Father.’ For being one, God, coming to be in each, makes all one and number is destroyed in the sojourn in the Monad.[8] [26] And I have thus approached the text in accordance with the second argument. If someone, then, might be able to speak in a better way or correct our own [words], let him both speak and correct, and the Lord will repay [him] on our behalf. For no envy lodges with us; for we have commenced this examination of the texts for the sake of neither argumentativeness or vainglory but for the benefit of the brothers, in order that the earthenware vessels that have the treasure of God might not seem to be deceived by the stone-hearted and uncircumcised men, those armed with the foolish wisdom.



[1] This paragraph, with its rather straightforward interpretation of the ignorance of Christ, belongs, in our opinion, to Layer 2.

[2] In the Introduction, when we elided this sentence in our presentation of the notion of the interpolation of the following passage, we did not explain why we elided it. The reason is that although the words introductory, in our opinion, of Layer 3 start in the next sentence, the doctrine in this sentence may be ‘mature Evagrian’. It would be as if the author has put down this ‘mature Evagrian’ thought and then realized that he wants to give a very long, advanced explanation which requires a definite introduction. However, much depends on how one takes the distinction that the author is drawing between Jesus’ statement to the many and his statement to the Apostles: is this something that a pedestrian scriptural commentary would present to explain Jesus’ feigned ignorance, or is it an allusion to an esoteric doctrine for the perfect? In the former case, it could easily belong to Layer 2; in the latter case, it would belong to Layer 3.

[3] This is the beginning of what in the Introduction we called Passage A.

[4] In context, the author seems to mean natural contemplation.

[5] In view of the issue in Evagrius’ mature thought of the relationship between the Christ and the Word, this sentence needs to be studied. The relationship between the Christ, the Monad and Unity, and the Word are addressed in various chapters of the Kephalaia Gnostica.

[6] Evidently, these ‘adornments which are related to the body’ are the beauties of the material world which manifest the operations of the Creator.

[7] This sentence also requires study. It is important to realize that when Evagrius uses ‘as (ς)’, he is normally not being counterfactual. He is normally expressing intention or purpose on the part of the agent. ‘As (ς)’ is not the same as ‘as if (ς ν or ς ε)’, or ‘so to say’ and so on.

[8] Literally, ‘of the Monad’.

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