There definately seem to be some Origenist thoughts in some of these sayings on prayer.
More than likely. Evagrios was taught and ordained reader by St. Basil the Great (an Origenist) and taught further and ordained Deacon by St. Gregory the Theologian (an Origenist). In the desert he was taught by disciples of St. Anthony the Great (an Origenist) and by (St.) Didymos the Blind (an Origenist), and again by the two Macarii (both Origenist disciples of St. Anthony the Great). The Origenism shared by all the above teachers/fathers is a polemical device to read Scripture and teach it in such a way as to defend the Nicene Faith and to discern pseudo-knowledge (either Gnosticism, Arianism, Eunomianism, or Apollinarianism). Evagrios associates himself consciously with those who are gathered around St. Athanasius, his catechist Didymos, his friend Serapion of Thmuis (a See once offered to Evagrios by Theophilos of Alexandria), and especially St. Gregory the Theologian.
Origenism attributed to Evagrios (as well as Origen) is a polemical exaggeration or if the doctrines (mistakenly assumed to have been) condemned at the 2nd Synod of Constantinopel in 553 were actually held by anyone they were not faithful heirs of either Origen or Evagrios! The typical Origenist protology and eschatology condemned in textbooks of theology both ancient and modern is absent in the works of both Origen and Evagrios. In fact the one passage from On First Principles
[/b] where Origen seems to clearly speak of pre-existence of souls is a hypothetical reconstruction
created by the German philologist Paul Koetschau (fragment 15) which he inserted into the text of Rufinus' translation. It is not at all a text written by Origen, but rather a text created by someone who already knew Origen held to this doctrine and therefore found it missing in Rufinus' translation and thus felt confident to add the missing doctrine. To be sure their conceptualizations and use of language may be inadequate for our standards today, but in their own time they were at the height of Orthodoxy and in fact pillars of Orthodoxy.
Until then, i'm pretty sure that he was in dialogue with Appolinarius (of Laodicea) who said that the Word of God was the mind of Christ = made all the decisions for Him.
This sounds very much like the idea that God is Spirit (Evagrius) so there may have been an inter-dialogue between them.
In the extant letters of Evagrios (translated into German) there are no letters addressed to Apollinarius. In the (Coptic) Life of Evagrios we do
have a story where Eavgrios refutes a demon posing as an Apollinarian clergyman. We do
have some letters by Basil the Great addressed to Apollinarius asking him about the term homoousion
to which Basil found it very difficult to agree himself. It is Apollinarius who puts Basil on the right track concerning homoousion
and gives him that distinction between ousia and hypostasis that would make Basil famous. Evagrios, at the time, may have been under Basil's guidance (since Evagrios father was a Chorepiscopos under Basil at the time). It is very unlikely (but not impossible) Evagrios had any correspondence with Apollinarius at this time or at any other time.
The christology of Evagrios is wrapped around the concept of a holy and pure mind united with the Word
. The union between this soul and the Word occurs at the Incarnation and the Word reveals God in His Own humanity and accomplishes our salvation on/through the Cross. The important thing here is that there is no point of contact between Apollinarius' teaching of the absence of a "mind" in Christ and the Evagrian affirmation that the Incarnate Lord is fully man (including a mind) and fully God.
I'm not sure if you know or if you just wrote it out of habit but Evagrius is not a saint.
I'm pretty sure he was declared a heretic, or at least anathematized. (not 100% sure on this)
The council in Trullo and the 7th Ec Council have mentioned Evagrios name in their anathemas. They confirm a condemnation that by that time had been assumed an accomplishment of 2nd Constantinopel. The assumption, as we now know, was wrong. Evagrios nor Origen were condemned by name at that council. However the heresies aimed at by the anathemas is certainly worthy of condemnation and cannot possibly be 'restored'. The names of Origen and Evagrios can be. In the Georgian (EO) Church Evagrios is a saint, and he is so for all of the OO communion as far as I know. The Badarak (Armenian Liturgy) commemorates St. Evagrios every time it is celebrated. The RCC has restored Evagrios to it's calebdar as well and celebrates him februari 11th. The only EO's who might be found to celebrate him are the Georgians.
Forgive me, I should have started off this thread by explaining that in my Church Evagrius is still a saint. I think he is also a saint in the Georgian and Coptic Churches. For most EO's (except the Georgians) he was condemned as a heretic at Constantinople II, because he was supposedly into Originism.
The nature of sixth century Origenism
is very unclear and it's major proponents (Leontius of Byzantium and Theodore Ascidas) do not show any of the doctrines that Cyril of Scythopolis (Lives of Kyriakos and Sabbas) accuses them off. Daniel Hombergen in his research into this topic has (accrding to reviews of this work that I have yet to read) concluded that the real issue seems to have been the form
of monasticism. Either more charismatic
or more institutionalized
and Cyril used Origenism as a polemical term to slander his opponents. The use of the term Origenism in this way was by then a well-established custom. Origenism could be stretched into meaning whatever one needed to slander one's opponent. This way of dealing with one;s opponent may seem wholly scandalous to us, but was a well-established rhetorical technique in ancient times. Much like the add-campaings of US politicians today.
It's my understanding, however, that most of his writings, like the Praktikos and Chapters on Prayer, are really O.K. His condemnation was mostly based on a book he wrote called the Kephalaia Gnostica. I once pulled up a copy of it on the internet and tried to read it, but I couldn't understand it at all. I obviously lack the background to make sense out of it.
Evagrios is an aquired taste, and his writings are deliberately obscure. Evagrios wants you to begin with the first steps of the spiritual way and only when you accept this guidance of his will you be able to move on to the more difficult works he wrote. Reading and meditating with Evagrios requires an intimate knowledge of Scripture and the hermeneutical techniques of the desert and of the early Fathers. I would advise you to start with Fr. John Behr's The Way to Nicea
and the 2 volumes of The Nicene Faith
to acquire some of the necessary tools to meditate and pray with Evagrios. Next to Fr. John's works read Fr. Gabriel Bunge's Earthen Vessels: The Practice of Personal Prayer According to the Patristic Tradition
and from there move on to The Word in the Desert
by Burton Christie, and then move on to Fr. Jeremy Driscoll's translation of Ad Monachos
and his Steps to Spiritual Perfection: Studies on Spiritual Progress in Evagrius Ponticus
after which Augustine Cassiday's Evagrius Ponticus
will be accessible to you. Cassiday provides key texts in English translation by Evagrios and is an absolute must for any Evagrios student. From there on you're pretty much set to understand any text by Evagrios put to you. But remember it will take time,.. Lot's of time.