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Chapter III -- 22

There is in this one among all the beings who is without name and of which the region is not known (II, 37). We do not know what this means. There is a passage similar to it in the Letter to Melania which seems to Parmentier to integrate two chapters of the Kephalaia Gnostica, II, 37 and III, 70, and to be a reference to the Christ:[1] according to Parmentier, the Christ is the only naked mind (nous), since in the Movement he was the only mind (nous) to have remained entirely in the contemplation of the Unity; and he is the one to whom the present chapter, KG II, 37, refers.[2]

We are not persuaded. First of all, Frankenberg’s Greek retro-translation of the passage of the Letter does not map so easily to Parmentier’s translation: Parmentier has translated the Letter with a particular point of view in mind. Frankenberg, who is notable for the care of his translations, takes ‘naked mind (nous)’ to refer to a future state, as indeed does Fr Bunge.[3] In Frankenberg’s translation, the condition of the naked mind (nous) without a name and whose region is unknown could very well refer to the henad of naked minds (noes) in the Restoration.

Second, while it is undoubtedly true that in the Evagrian system, the Christ has the gnosis of the Unity inseparably in him and that after the Movement he is the only mind (nous) in that condition, by incarnation the ‘Christ has departed from his Paradise’ (KG V, 1) into the various worlds for the salvation of all the minds (noes), and it is therefore not clear that the appellation ‘naked mind’ is appropriate to him any longer, until the Restoration. This characterization seems more appropriate to the Evagrian Christ: ‘There is only one of these who has acquired common names with the others.’ (KG II, 24.)

Third, in his interpretation, Parmentier ignores the ascetico-contemplative dimension of the Kephalaia Gnostica: the Restoration can be anticipated by the ascetic in contemplation; the ascetic can experience the gnosis of the Unity in this life and hence attain to a (relative) nakedness of mind (nous). On this, see below the passage of St Isaac the Syrian that we discuss that interprets Evagrius’ ‘naked mind’ from the contemplative point of view. It is in this contemplative condition that the ascetic can answer the question what is the nature of his mind (nous)—but in that condition there will not even be the question.[4] Moreover, we ourselves see KG I, 65, quoted by Parmentier, as equally applicable to the contemplative experience of the Unity, not just to its experience in the Restoration.[5]

Finally, there is no sense in the Kephalaia Gnostica that the minds (noes), even that of the Christ, are divine, as Parmentier seems to understand.[6] Indeed, we have seen in the chapters of the Kephalaia Gnostica quoted in the Section 3, above, that Evagrius quite clearly distinguishes between the divinity of the Word, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, and the created nature of the mind (nous) which became the Christ and which has the Word inseparably in itself. It is not even clear that the Letter teaches the divinity of the minds (noes), even that of the Christ.

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[1] Melania 1 191 or Melania E ll. 199–200.

[2] Melania E pp. 31–2.

[3] Bunge p. 312.

[4] Cf. KG III, 70.

[5] We discussed that chapter above. See also KG III, 41 and the chapters presented by us just below.

[6] Melania E p. 32.


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