Evagrius Ponticus: “If you are a theologian you truly pray.”

Evagrius Ponticus (c. 346-399) – was originally from Pontus, on the southern coast of the Black Sea in what is modern-day Turkey. He served as a Lector under St. Basil the Great and was made Deacon and Archdeacon under St. Gregory of Nazianzus. He was also greatly influenced by Origen of Alexandria and St. Gregory of Nyssa.  In about 383, Evagrius left Constantinople, eventually retreating to the Egyptian desert and joining a cenobitic community of Desert Fathers. As a classically trained scholar, Evagrius recorded the sayings of the desert monks and developed his own theological writings.

 

Evagrius-of-Ponticus

 

“If you are a theologian you truly pray.  If you truly pray you are a theologian.”

from “The 153 Chapters on Prayer”, Chap. 60.

 

 

 

Note:  This chapter is one of the key passages for the full understanding of the Evagrian identification of contemplation with prayer.  It is also important to understand what Evagrius meant by the term “theologian”.  According to David W. Fagerberg, associate professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, to Evagrius, a “theologian is someone who has been shaped by the cooperative exercise of grace and ascetical submission, whose eyes can see after their light has been restored, whose heart wills only one thing, whose mind has changed, whose life has been reconnected to the source of life. This does not require a PhD, it requires a conversion of life.”

 

 

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