Chapter III -- 10
We now begin to see some fundamental features of the Evagrian Christology:
The Christ is he who alone has in himself the Unity and has received the judgement of the reasonable nature (III, 2). Only the Christ now has the Unity, the Father, in himself, and to him has been given the judgement of the minds (noes) after the Movement. This comprises the First Judgement after the Movement, when all the minds (noes) were given bodies and worlds, and all subsequent judgements which, according to Evagrius, will occur until the Resurrection:
The transformation of bodies, of regions and of worlds makes known ‘the just judgement’ (2 Thess. 1, 5) of our Christ; the demons, who battle against virtue, make known his long-suffering; and his compassion, above all, those who are objects of his providence without being worthy of it (II, 59). ‘The transformation of bodies, of regions and of worlds’ refers to the intermediate judgements between the First Judgement after the Movement, and the Resurrection. This is a doctrine that to be intelligible presupposes a doctrine of reincarnation. It forms the basis of Evagrius’ doctrine of the mobility of the minds (noes) among the various orders of angels, men, souls and demons that is addressed in Anathema 5 of the Fifth Ecumenical Synod.
We are now in a position to address some very difficult aspects of the Evagrian soteriology:
The Christ is inherited and he inherits, but the Father is inherited only (IV, 78).
The heritage of Christ is the gnosis of the Unity; and, if all should become coheirs of Christ, all will know the Holy Unity. But it is not possible that they should become his coheirs if they have not previously become his heirs (III, 72).
The heir of Christ is he who knows the mental representations of all the beings posterior to the First Judgement (IV, 4).
The ‘coheir of Christ’ (Rom. 8, 17) is he who arrives in the Unity and takes delight in the contemplation with the Christ (IV, 8).
If one is the heir and another is the heritage, it is not the Word who inherits, but the Christ who inherits the Word, which is the heritage, because whoever inherits thus unites himself to the heritage and because the Word of God is free of union (IV, 9).
The preceding passages are difficult to grasp. In the first chapter, KG IV, 78, the Father is inherited, because he is inherited as the gnosis of the Monad or Unity in which a mind (nous) can participate. That participation in that gnosis is the inheritance. To be able to inherit the Father in this way—to become thus a ‘coheir’ with the Christ—a mind (nous) must first come to the gnosis related to the contemplation of the beings posterior to the First Judgement after the Movement (cf. KG III, 72 and IV, 4). These beings are all the bodies of all the minds (noes), and all the corresponding worlds, that were created by the Christ in the First Judgement. To participate in this latter contemplation, which Evagrius calls second natural contemplation, is to inherit the Christ. This is the program of mystical ascent which can be realized either in this world through ascesis or in other worlds after death. It continues up to the attainment of the state of the ‘coheir of Christ’, wherein the mind (nous) attains to the gnosis or contemplation of the Unity (cf. KG IV, 8).
In the fourth chapter, KG IV, 9, the Christ inherits the Word of God because he too, a mind (nous) like all the others, receives the gnosis of the Unity. But the fact that the Christ inherits the Word of God excludes the possibility that he is the incarnate Word of God: we again see the non-Orthodox nature of the Evagrian Christology.
The two chapters, KG III, 72 and IV, 9, taken together demonstrate clearly that the Word of God is to be identified with the gnosis of the Unity.
The Christ is he who from the essential gnosis and from the incorporeal nature and from the corporeal nature has appeared to us; and he who says two Christs or two Sons resembles him who calls the wise man and wisdom two wise men or two wisdoms (VI, 16). The significance of this passage is that in the Evagrian system, the Christ has adopted by incarnation not only a human body, but also a body appropriate to each of the worlds which he has created. Moreover, the passage accounts for the theophanies in the Old Testament in which God appears to men through the ‘Angel of Presence’: that Angel of Presence is the Christ in his incarnation as an angel, prior to his incarnation as man. However, Evagrius says, despite that, there is only one Christ. We take the statement that the Christ has appeared to us from ‘the essential gnosis’ to mean that the Christ is united to the gnosis of the Unity; we have already seen that other chapters exclude the possibility that Evagrius means that the Christ is the incarnate Word of God. In this, see also Skemmata 1.
Adam is ‘the figure’ of Christ (Rom. 5, 14), and that of the reasonable nature is Eve, on account of whom the Christ has departed from his Paradise (V, 1). The Paradise is the gnosis of the Unity from which the Christ has departed in order to become an angel to angels and a man to men for the sake of their salvation. This is the Evagrian version of the kenosis of the Christ in his multi-stage incarnation.
This kenosis is the basis of the following chapter: There is only one of these who has acquired common names with the others (II, 24). What is meant is that through incarnation into all the various ranks of minds (noes) after the First Judgement, the Christ is all things to all minds (noes) in all the worlds created after the Movement, and the only mind (nous) that is so.
There was a time when the Christ did not have a body; but, in this, there is not a time when the Word of God was not in him. It is with his genesis, indeed, that the Word of God also has resided in him (VI, 18). We can see in this passage that the Evagrian doctrine of the relation of the Christ to the Word of God is that that the Word of God has ‘resided in him’ from his genesis. This again is not consistent with the Christ’s being the incarnate Word of God, but it is consistent with the Christ’s being a mind (nous) in which the Word of God has resided, perhaps in a special way, from that mind’s genesis. And we have already seen that all the minds (noes) were created in a single act of God.
This passage seems to conflict with KG IV, 18, quoted above: it says that there was not a time when the Word of God was not in the Christ, while KG IV, 18 asserts that Christ was not the Word in the beginning. The conflict is resolved if we consider that, yes, the Word of God was in the Christ from his genesis as a mind (nous), but, no, the Christ never actually was the Word of God in the beginning: he only contained the Word of God in himself. The question we ourselves have is this: Did all the minds (noes) have the Word of God in them from their genesis in the same fashion as the Christ, or was the mind (nous) that was to become the Christ in some way distinguished from the other minds (noes)? As we have already remarked, Peri Archon seems to teach the second doctrine.
Alone of all the bodies, the Christ is adorable for us, because he alone has the Word of God in him (V, 48). This seems clear enough. As we have said, for Evagrius, the Word of God is the essential gnosis of the Unity.
The body of Christ is connatural with our body, and his soul is of the same nature as our souls; but the Word which essentially is in him is coessential with the Father (VI, 79). This seems clear enough. As we have seen, however, the presence of the Word ‘essentially’ in the Christ cannot be taken to mean that the Christ is the Word of God in the beginning. It is quite possible that these passages reflect difficulties in the transmission of Evagrius thought either in the manuscript tradition or in the complex chain of translations, or else that these passages reflect an inconsistency in Evagrius’ own thought. For they seem to us inconsistent. Note that the body of Christ referred to in this chapter cannot be his spiritual (resurrection) body since that is not of the same nature as our ordinary human body; this chapter must refer to the condition of the Christ before his resurrection.
The anointing either indicates the gnosis of the Unity or designates the contemplation of beings. And if more than the others Christ is anointed, it is evident that he is anointed with the gnosis of the Unity. On account of that, he alone is said ‘to be seated at the right’ (Mark 16, 19) of his Father, the right which here, according to the rule of the gnostics, indicates the Monad and the Unity (IV, 21). He who alone is seated ‘at the right’ (Mark 16, 19) of the Father, alone has the gnosis of the right of the Father (II, 89). These passages seem clear enough. The only thing to note is that the anointing is either the gnosis of the Unity or the contemplation of beings (natural contemplation). However, the Christ is above all anointed with the gnosis of the Unity, to be identified with the Word of God.
 See Appendix 3 of Volume II. Skemmata 1 is quoted near the beginning of Section 4, below.
 To receive a ‘common name’ is to receive the same nature—here to be understood in the sense of the Christ’s incarnation into each and every world and type of body. Hence the Christ has incarnated into all the ranks of angels and so on.
 It appears that only in the Second Coming will the Christ incarnate into the demonic worlds in order to save the demons.
 Cf. KG IV, 18.