"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

So....Is Evagrius a Heretic or Not?

Some years back we ran an essay in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies that reviewed the spate of publications about Evagrius which began emerging early in the last decade. The author of that article, Andriy Chirovsky, began by noting that for some there is still a vague suspicion hanging over Evagrius as, perhaps, a kind of proto-Origenist and therefore a very bad man. Of course, this whole enterprise rests on a cascading series dubious assumptions--about Evagrius himself, about what his "friends" and followers may have done in his name without him knowing (indeed, long after he was dead), and of course about Origen himself. Whether the great teacher of Alexandria was a heretic is, among contemporary scholars, far from univocally or unambiguously settled. And whether his influence "tainted" Evagrius remains similarly debated.

It is, then, a very welcome development to note the publication this week of a book from a very respected scholar who has previously published learned articles about Evagrius, and a book about him in the prestigious Routledge series on the Fathers--as well as other major publications, including one I shall interview the author about presently.

Augustine Casiday's latest book, then, is Reconstructing the Theology of Evagrius Ponticus: Beyond Heresy (Cambridge UP, 2013), 274pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
Evagrius Ponticus is regarded by many scholars as the architect of the eastern heresy Origenism, as his theology corresponded to the debates that erupted in 399 and episodically thereafter, culminating in the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 AD. However some scholars now question this conventional interpretation of Evagrius' place in the Origenist controversies. Augustine Casiday sets out to reconstruct Evagrius' theology in its own terms, freeing interpretation of his work from the reputation for heresy that overwhelmed it, and studying his life, writings and evolving legacy in detail. The first part of this book discusses the transmission of Evagrius' writings, and provides a framework of his life for understanding his writing and theology, whilst part two moves to a synthetic study of major themes that emerge from his writings. This book will be an invaluable addition to scholarship on Christian theology, patristics, heresy and ancient philosophy.

1 comment:

  1. I have always found Evagrius to be one of the most insightful spiritual authors... Looks like a good read.


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