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. The excerpt below is from Evagrius’ Skemmata (Reflections).
- If any would see the state of their nous, let them deprive themselves of all concepts (noemata): and then they will see themselves like a sapphire or the color of heaven (Exod. 24.10); but this cannot be accomplished without apatheia [dispassion] since it requires the cooperation of God who breathes into them the kindred light.
- Apatheia is the quiet state of the reasoning soul composed of gentle temperance.
- The state of the nous is the noetic [spiritual] height like the color of heaven, upon which the light of the holy Trinity comes at the time of prayer.
Skemmata, Gnostic Chapters 1-3