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Chapter III -- 42

In the world to come, no one will evade the prison in which he will fall, for it is said ‘You will not depart from there, until you have given the last coin’ (Matt. 5, 26), which is a minimal suffering (IV, 34). This clearly refers to the succession of worlds and to the punishment that awaits the wicked. Afterwards, however, there is the General Resurrection, the granting of a spiritual body, and, finally, the Restoration. Hence, contrary to the Orthodox doctrine, the giving of the last coin implies that there is a last coin to give: the torment of Hades has an end for all.

In the world to come, the irascible man will not be counted with the angels, neither will there be entrusted to him a principality. Indeed, he does not see on account of the passion; easily he becomes angry with those who are guided by him; he falls from the vision; and he casts those whom he guides into danger. For these two things are foreign to the angelic order (IV, 38).

If in the worlds to come, God shows his wealth to the reasonable beings, it is evident that he will do that in those who will be after him who comes, because before his coming, the reasonable beings will not be able to receive his holy wealth (IV, 39). ‘After him who comes’ is a reference to the Second Coming of Christ. Evagrius wants to say that a precondition for the return to the contemplation of the Unity, attained not directly but through an ascent guided by the returned Christ through the contemplation of all the worlds, is the reception from the returned Christ of a spiritual body which will be the ‘gnostic organon’ that enables the mind (nous) to make the contemplative ascent. This is the significance of the chapter above which stated that what would be given to each mind (nous) would be a gnostic organon. That is, the spiritual body is the gnostic organon or tool which makes possible the eschatological mystical ascent in contemplation through all the worlds to the contemplation of the Unity. Before entry into the contemplation of the Unity, the mind (nous) will divest this spiritual body so as to contemplate the Unity anew as a naked mind (nous). As we have already pointed out, however, there is a sense in Peri Archon in which during the final mystical ascent the spiritual body is not so much divested as progressively etherealized.

In the second natural contemplation, it is said, by necessity some are chiefs and others are subjected to the chiefs. But in the Unity, there will not be those who might be chiefs, nor those who might be submitted to the chiefs, but all will be gods (IV, 51). This is a statement of the conditions which will obtain in the contemplation of the Unity in the Restoration. While we have found a certain ambiguity in how Evagrius conceives of the state of the minds (noes) in the contemplation of the Unity in the Restoration, here he is clearly saying that hierarchical relations among the minds (noes) will be abolished. Moreover, it is well to recall Evagrius’ doctrine that when the mind (nous) has engaged in the contemplation of the Unity, then it is called God.[1] The doctrine of this chapter was implicitly condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical Synod in Anathemas 12, 13 and 14.

The resurrection of the body is the passage from the bad quality to the superior quality (V, 19). This seems to be speaking about the nature of the spiritual body. It also seems to be related to the idea that the spiritual body will not be the same for all: it will be better for each mind (nous), but, evidently, of various degrees: this is how we understand the use of the comparative ‘superior’ rather than the superlative ‘best’. As we have already remarked, the notion that after the General Resurrection the spiritual body will not be the same for all is consistent with Peri Archon.

Just as Paradise is the habitation of the just, so Hades is the place of punishment of sinners (VI, 8—Greek fragment as emended).

Just as this word here teaches concerning the objects in this world, so the word of the spiritual body will make known the objects of the world to come (VI, 23). This asserts that in the sensible world cognition occurs in a different fashion from in the world after the General Resurrection. If ‘word’ is here taken to mean ‘reason (logos)’—a good possibility in the Greek—then Evagrius is saying that after the Resurrection, the mind (nous) clothed in the spiritual body will cognize the world in which it finds itself by means of the powers inherent in its spiritual body, and these powers will not be the same as those the human mind (nous) now has in its sensible body. This is consistent with the notion that the spiritual body is a gnostic organon or tool.

If those who in the world to come will be angels ruling also ‘over five’ or ‘over ten cities’, it is evident that they will also receive the gnosis that can push the reasonable souls from vice to virtue and from ignorance to the gnosis of God (VI, 24). This seems to refer to men who become angels in the world to come: they will be given the requisite gnosis so that they too can push—urge or impel—those over whom they have charge, towards virtue and away from vice. We have already seen that this is one of the main works (erga) of the angels, and of the saints who have attained to the ranks of the angels, this providential ‘pushing’ of men towards virtue. What is not clear, however, is where the world to come of this chapter is to be positioned in the Evagrian eschatological scheme. For the only plausible place it might be put is in the succession of worlds prior to the General Resurrection, when all will receive spiritual bodies and commence the upward ascent to the contemplation of the Unity. It is conceivable, however, that it refers to the ascent of gnosis after the General Resurrection and is stating that the more advanced minds (noes), including those of men, will help the less advanced minds (noes) to progress.

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[1] KG V, 81, discussed in Section 1.


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