Evagrius Ponticus: Mystical Theology

William, S.J. Harmless

in Desert Christians

Published in print July 2004 | ISBN: 9780195162233
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835645 | DOI:
 Evagrius Ponticus: Mystical Theology

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Evagrius Ponticus was one of the great pioneers of Christian mystical theology. He spoke of prayer as “the ascent of the mind to God” and argued that “pure prayer” must be unceasing, imageless, and wordless. At the peak of the mystical journey, the monk encounters what Evagrius called the “sapphire light of the mind,” both an interior illumination and a glimpse of the uncreated light of the Trinity. This chapter sets out both Evagrius’s map of the mystical journey to God and the controversy that it provoked after his death, the so-called Origenist Controversy.

Keywords: Evagrius Ponticus; mystical theology; pure prayer; imageless prayer; unceasing prayer; wordless prayer; sapphire; mind; Trinity; Origenist Controversy

Chapter.  12198 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Christianity

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