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Chapter III -- 13

We now begin to address the question of Christ’s spiritual body, the one that, according to Evagrius, he had after his resurrection:

Moses and Elijah are not the Kingdom of God, if the latter is contemplation and the former are saints. Why, then, did our Saviour, after having promised to the disciples to show them the Kingdom of God, show them with a spiritual body himself, Moses and Elijah on the mountain? (Cf. Luke 9, 27–36; etc.) (IV, 23.) We are not sure of the answer to Evagrius’ question. The significance of this for us here is the notion of Christ’s spiritual body. This very important doctrine of Evagrius, condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Synod in Anathema 10, was taken from Origen. In Peri Archon, the spiritual body seems to be a spherical, etherealized body not based on the actual physical body of man.

The ‘first-born from among the dead’ (cf. Col. 1, 18; Rev. 1, 5) is he who has been resurrected from among the dead, and he has assumed a spiritual body (IV, 24). This is a clear statement of the doctrine of the spiritual body that, according to Evagrius, the Christ assumed in the resurrection.

It is not the Word of God from the beginning which has descended to Sheol and is ascended to Heaven, but the Christ, who has the Word in him; indeed, the gross body is not susceptible of gnosis, and God is known (IV, 80). This passage appears to contain the answer to the question that we could not answer in the chapter just above: to know God, one must be separated from the gross body—by ascesis, not by suicide; Evagrius is quite emphatic on that point—and then ascend by contemplation to the gnosis of the Unity. Hence, for Evagrius, in the Transfiguration of Christ on Tabor, Christ showed his spiritual body to the disciples so as to bring them by contemplation to the gnosis of the Unity. For in Evagrius the Kingdom of God is the gnosis or contemplation of the Holy Trinity, or, equivalently, the gnosis or contemplation of the Unity. As for the reference to the Word of God, we have already seen Evagrius’ doctrine of the relation of the Word of God to the Christ. Here, the difference between the Word of God and the Christ is explicit. This chapter was condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Synod in Anathema 9.

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