Evagrius Ponticus (346-99) was ordained deacon by Gregory of Nazianzus and was a well-known preacher in Constantinople. In 382 he became a monk in the Egyptian desert. He occupies a central place in the development of Christian spirituality, and his writings exercised a great influence on John Cassian and Maximus the Confessor among others. For Evagrius, “if you are a theologian you pray truly, and if you pray truly, you are a theologian”. He put forward an understanding of knowledge or 'gnosis' as a partaking of the life of divinity. For him the metaphysical or supernatural was indissolubly locked with the physical, the divine and the contingent. For Evagrius, true knowledge puts one on the right road toward the perfection to which the Scriptures point. This talk will consider Evagrius’ understanding of reality, and what he teaches about how one mounts up the ladder of divine ascent to know and contemplate God through contemplation of the books of Nature and of Scripture.
Julia Konstantinovsky is a research fellow in the Faculty of Theology and Religion and lecturer in early Church history, Patristics and Byzantine history and theology. She is the author of Evagrius Ponticus: The Making of a Gnostic.