Chapter III -- 9
3 The Evagrian Christology
The first-born is he before whom no other has been engendered, and after whom others have been engendered (IV, 20). This refers to the Word of God. Given that the minds (noes) had their genesis, from what we have seen, in a single act of God, and given that the Evagrian Christ is one of those minds (noes), it cannot refer to the mind (nous) that became the Christ. Below, we will see this confirmed.
The next assertion is clearly Christological but ambiguous: There is in this one alone who is adorable, he who uniquely has the Unique (II, 53). What is here unclear is whether this refers to the Word of God—the second person of the Holy Trinity, the gnosis of the Unity—or to the mind (nous) that became the Christ and which alone has the gnosis of the Unity, which gnosis is the Word of God. Based on other passages of Evagrius, it refers to the Christ and not to the Word of God.
The Father alone knows the Christ, and the Son alone the Father (cf. Matt. 11, 27), the Christ as unique in the Unity and the Father as Monad and Unity (III, 1). This is clearly Christological. However, one should be careful: the Christ is a mind (nous) like all the other minds (noes) and is in KG IV, 18, presented just below, explicitly stated by Evagrius not to be God or the Word of God ‘in the beginning’. If ‘Son’ is not a mistake somewhere in the line of transmission and translation, then the term does not here have the meaning, ‘Second Person of the Holy Trinity’: we will see just below that Evagrius has a doctrine of the attribution of divine properties to the created mind (nous) which is properly the Christ on account of that mind’s (nous’) union with the Word of God. Here also we see the doctrine that the mind (nous) that is the Christ is unique in the Unity. We understand this in the context of other chapters to mean that whereas the Christ was the only mind (nous) not to participate in the negligence of the Movement and not to turn his face away from the Unity, this is not something that happened by chance to a chance mind (nous) who thus became the Christ, but might be said to be because the Evagrian Christ had the Word of God in him in a special way from the moment of his genesis as a mind (nous). A more cautious interpretation of the passage would be that it merely asserts that now the Christ is the only mind (nous) to enjoy the (full) contemplation of the Unity, the Father, and that only because the mind (nous) that became the Christ did not participate in the negligence of the Movement.
The intelligible anointing is the spiritual gnosis of the Holy Unity, and the Christ is he who is united to this gnosis. And if that is so, the Christ is not the Word in the beginning, so that he who has been anointed is not God in the beginning, but that one on account of this one is the Christ, and this one on account of that one is God (IV, 18). The first sentence of this chapter says that that which makes the Christ, Christ (‘anointed’), is the anointing with the gnosis of the Unity, the supreme gnosis as we have seen. The explanation is this of the connective ‘And if that is so’ which leads into the statement that the Christ is not the Word in the beginning: the spiritual gnosis of the Holy Unity to which the Christ is united is identified by Evagrius with the Word of God; for that reason he can say that since the Christ is united to the gnosis of the Unity, he is ‘not the Word in the beginning’ and ‘not God in the beginning’. This is a clear denial that the Christ is the incarnate Word of God. Note that Evagrius states that the Christ is ‘united to this gnosis’: the implication is that the Christ is a mind (nous) united to the Word of God. Recall that the Holy Trinity is considered by Evagrius to be essential gnosis: the Word is to be construed in this fashion as essential gnosis of the Unity or Father. Since the Christ, according to Evagrius, is not the Word in the beginning, he is equally not God in the beginning—‘but that one on account of this one is the Christ, and this one on account of that one is God.’ It is a little difficult to discern what ‘that one [i.e. the former]’ and ‘this one [i.e. the latter]’ each refer to. However, this final clause is quoted verbatim as part of Anathema 8 of the Fifth Ecumenical Synod and in Anathema 8, the context makes it clear that ‘that one’ refers to the Christ and ‘this one’ refers to the Word of God: the Word of God is the Christ on account of its union with the mind (nous) which is properly the Christ; the Christ is God on account of the Word of God to which that created mind (nous) called the Christ is united. The present passage of the Kephalaia Gnostica has the same meaning: the Christ is not the Word in the beginning, so he is not God in the beginning, but he is God by union with the Word of God. Moreover, the Word of God is the Christ on account of its union with the created mind (nous) which is the Christ proper.
KG VI, 14 has the same meaning:
The Christ is not connatural with the Trinity. Really, he is not also essential gnosis; but he alone always has the essential gnosis inseparably in himself. But the Christ—I (Evagrius) wish to say: he who is come with the Word of God and who in spirit is the Lord—is inseparable from his body and by union he is connatural with his Father, because he, the Father, also is essential gnosis (VI, 14). The Christ is a mind (nous) which has the essential gnosis inseparably in himself—we have seen that this is tantamount to his having the Holy Trinity or Unity in him—and which ‘is come with the Word of God’. One would have to labour to assert that what is being referred to is the human nature of the Christ, taken himself to be the incarnate Word of God: it is clear from what we have seen of the creation of the minds (noes) that Evagrius has a completely different Christology from the Orthodox one. Moreover, we shall see that the (resurrection) body that the Christ has, has a completely different sense with Evagrius.
The relation between the Word of God and the Father is quite ambiguous here: while the Christ has the Word of God in him, it is by union with the Father that he is connatural with his Father. Moreover, although the Christ is connatural with his Father, he is not connatural with the Holy Trinity. The meaning of the chapter is this: by union with the Word of God, that is, by union to or anointing with the gnosis of the Unity or Father, the Christ is connatural with his Father, although he is not connatural by essence or substance with the Holy Trinity. Note both that the statement that the Christ ‘is not also essential gnosis, but he alone always has the essential gnosis inseparably in himself’ really only makes sense if ‘essential gnosis’ is the substance of God; and that, moreover, the statement excludes the possibility that the Christ is the incarnate Word of God.
Let us look again at the notion that the Christ is connatural with his Father on account of his union with the Word of God, although he is not connatural with the Holy Trinity by essence. In contradistinction to the Orthodox doctrine, what Evagrius is saying is that the created mind (nous) called the Christ has divine attributes on account of its union with the Word of God, whereas the Word of God has the attributes of the Christ on account of its union with the mind (nous) called the Christ. This is not the Orthodox doctrine of the transfer of attributes between the human and divine natures of the incarnate Word of God, taught for example by St John of Damascus: the Evagrian doctrine depends not on the two natures of the incarnate Word of God but on the union between a created mind (nous) and the Word of God, taken to be gnosis of the Unity.
The above passages render problematical the Christology found in Part 2 of the Letter to Melania: the two Christologies are simply inconsistent. There is no notion in the preceding passages of the Kephalaia Gnostica that the Word of God has incarnated into human flesh: in the Kephalaia Gnostica, the connection between the mind (nous) which is the Christ and the Word of God is that of a union between a created mind (nous) and the Word of God, to be understood as the gnosis of the Unity.
While it is far beyond the scope of this work to discuss the difficulties raised by the Letter, we wonder whether the Letter reflects Evagrius’ (mature) thinking; or whether it is a work by another hand that has been given his name and the name of Melania in the Syriac manuscript tradition; or, assuming that the work is genuine, whether it has suffered the same fate as the version commune (S1) of the Kephalaia Gnostica: a translator who has made wholesale changes in the interests of ‘orthodoxy’. For not only is the Christology of the Letter inconsistent with that of the Kephalaia Gnostica, but the passages in Part 1 of the Letter concerning the relations among the body, soul and mind of man, and their relations with the Son and Holy Spirit and, through them, the Father, while in some respects illuminating, diverge from the doctrine of the Kephalaia Gnostica. This is particularly evident in the passage concerning the assimilation in the Restoration of the body and the soul of man into the Godhead along with the mind (nous), and in the imagery, that Evagrius does not use in the Kephalaia Gnostica, of the minds’ (noes’) becoming one with the Godhead in the way that rivers flow into the sea, so ‘that in the unification of the rational beings with God the Father, they will be one nature in three persons, without addition or subtraction’: the doctrines as expressed in the Letter are simply not consistent with the doctrines in the Kephalaia Gnostica of the spiritual resurrection body, later put off in the Restoration, which spiritual resurrection body is not our ordinary human body transformed; and of the henad of naked minds which contemplate the Unity both before the Movement and after the Restoration.
Our view is that the Kephalaia Gnostica should be taken as the normative expression of Evagrius’ thought. It is the work that in Antiquity was quoted and disputed. However, by contrast, there have been saved as far as we know no Greek fragments that bear witness to the Letter. There is a small exception in that a few passages of the Letter parallel chapters of the Kephalaia Gnostica, but this could very well indicate that the Neoplatonist author of the Letter had merely read, but not fully assimilated, the Kephalaia Gnostica.
 Emphasis added.
 In this, compare KG IV, 18, discussed just above.
 Melania 2 pp. 22 ff. or Melania E ll. 430 ff.
 Melania 1 189aβ ff. or Melania E ll. 113 ff.
 Melania 1 190aα–190aβ or Melania E ll. 195–6.
 Melania E ll. 202–4, Parmentier’s translation; in general, Melania 1 191aα–191bβ or Melania E ll. 202–36.
 We ignore here such questions as the masculine gender of the addressee of the Letter.