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Description of Work

The Psychological Basis of Mental Prayer in the Heart is a three-volume work dedicated to the the study of the foundations of the Jesus Prayer. It has been written by an Orthodox monk, Fr Theophanes (Constantine). The complete text has been published on-line on the Internet, and the links given below are to the actual transcribed texts of the volumes.

The first volume, The Orthodox Doctrine of the Person, is dedicated to the issues in theological anthropology necessary to be understood as a preliminary to an intensive study of the Jesus Prayer.

The volume's first two chapters deal with Orthodox anthropology and psychology according to the teachings of St Gregory of Nyssa.

The volume's third chapter deals intensively with the cosmology of Evagrius Pontikos, on the basis of a rearrangement of chapters of the
Kephalaia Gnostica, newly translated by the author into English from the French of Guillaumont. This chapter includes a detailed discussion of the Anathemas of the Fifth Ecumencial Synod against Origenism, based on a new translation.

The volume's fourth chapter looks at the anthropology and psychology of St Thomas Aquinas for purposes of comparison with the Orthodox doctrine.

The volume's fifth chapter integrates the preceding material in a study of the vocation of man to divinization.

The second volume, The Evagrian Ascetical System, presents five texts of Evagrius in new English translations.

These texts are:

Logos Praktikos (The Monk), called by the author Treatise on the Practical Life;

On the Thoughts;

the Gnostic;

the complete Kephalaia Gnostica;

and the Skemmata.

In addition, the author presents a detailed commentary on Logos Praktikos and On the Thoughts, and a detailed discussion of the parts of the Kephalaia Gnostica that pertain to Evagrius' doctrines of asceticsm and contemplation. In his commentary he integrates material from the Gnostic and the Skemmata, quoting them often.

The third volume, Hesychian Sobriety, comprises a new translation of a text of St Hesychios, On Sobriety, taken from the first volume of the Philokalia, and a very detailed commentary on that text. This commentary draws extensively on the texts of Evagrius that were discussed in Volume II.

This volume ends with an epilogue which summarizes the three-volume work as a whole.

All three volumes contain complete bibliographies.

For those who find this work interesting, or who have a more general interest in Evagrius Pontikos, Fr Theophanes has also recently translated To the Caesareans, apologia concerning his departure. This is an independent publication which is not part of the Psychological Basis of Mental Prayer in the Heart.

To the Caesareans… is a letter that in the Greek manuscript tradition has historically been ascribed to St Basil the Great. It is now ascribed to Evagrius Pontikos. The letter is considered important in the study of the issue of Evagrius’ orthodoxy. Fr Theophanes’ edition comprises an introduction that discusses philological and theological issues; the text of the letter in a new English translation from the Greek edition of Courtonne; and footnotes that continue the discussion. That work can be found here.