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ASCETICAL HOMILIES SAINT ISAAC GLOSSARY   28/11/2020 12:00 πμ
THE ASCETICAL HOMILIES OF SAINT ISAAC THE SYRIAN
GLOSSARY OF VARIOUS MEANINGS DEFINED.




Excerpt from Translator's Introduction (pp. cviii ff);

Before discussing the terminology used in the Ascetical Homilies, we quote the perceptive words of the German translator, Gustav Bickell:




Further, we must ask special indulgence for this translation, not only because Isaac of Nineveh is one of the most difficult Syriac authors, but also because of the many psychological and mystical terms which are extremely difficult to translate into German, since German often has no equivalent term, or only one which would not be understood by most readers (Bibliothek der Kirchenvater, fasc. 204, p. 290).









Saint Isaac employed a terminology which he inherited from Syriac spiritual writers who preceded him and from Syriac translations of Greek ascetical and theological works. His terminology, therefore, is not original, but it is used, for the most part, with precision. Some of these terms are unique to Syriac, some are common to both Syriac and Greek. We have explained a number of these within the context of the text, but some will be mentioned here:




—limpid purity; Syriac; shapyutha, which means clearness, limpidity, transparency, serenity. A clear sky is also serene. Some say that this term is equivalent to the Greek dispassion. For Saint Isaac, the soul's primordial state is one of limpid purity, and resembles Adam's state before he tasted of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Worldly knowledge and passions cause one to lose the limpidity that is both natural and proper to the soul. Later East Syrian ascetical writers used the term shapyutha in a more technical sense, referring to a stage in spiritual life.




—temptation; the basic sense of the word is a trial; it will be sometimes translated in this way according to the context. The Latin equivalent is tentatio, an attack, also a trial: hence the English temptation.




Saint Isaac employs four Syriac terms to distinguish the soul's mental and spiritual faculties. These terms are translated into Greek by three, which is not unjustified, because one of the Greek terms is translated into Syriac by two. The terms are: intellect, understanding, mind, and thinking.




The English translation of these terms is, by necessity, arbitrary because English- speaking people are unfamiliar with the precise epistemological and psychological definitions of the ancient world. For the distinction of intellect and mind we have followed the usage in the new English translation of the Philokalia (see G.E.H. Palmer, The Philokalia, the Complete Text I (London, 1979) pp. 361, 363). We have used understanding to translate the Syriac mad'a when the latter occurs together with hauna; otherwise we have translated both by intellect. With some reluctance we have frequently employed the word thinking to translate tar'itha.



It is necessary to explain to the English-speaking reader how to conceive of the difference between these terms. First is intellect. In Homily 66, Saint Isaac gives his most clear explanation of what one might call his spiritual epistemology. He writes 'The intellect mad'a is spiritual perception that is conditioned to receive the faculty of divine vision, even as the pupils of the bodily eyes into which sensible light is poured'. He proceeds to say that divine grace is like the sun which provides light for the intellect; purity is translucence of the noetic air through which the rays of grace penetrate into the intellect; and passions are, on the contrary a hard substance which obstruct the light of grace from reaching the intellect. Elsewhere he defines the intellect mad'a as the spiritual nature of a man. The intellect hauna is also an active faculty which beholds spiritual things, is engaged in pure prayer, and stands still when struck by awe in divine vision. Its purification comes to pass by the revelation of mysteries, it is the steward of the senses and the thoughts and the powers of the soul. From these passages we may also form an idea of the difference between mad'a and hauna. Etymologically mad'a seems to mean the knowing faculty (from id, to know—for which reason we have sometimes used the




understanding to translate it); it is the pupils of the spiritual eyes, whereas the power that employs these pupils to see is the hauna. If we unite these two powers into one, or say that they are two aspects of the same thing, we have a Greek word vous. Although Saint Isaac thus distinguishes between these two terms, he will occasionally use mad'a where one would expect to find hauna and vice-versa. Therefore we feel that it is not greatly misleading to translate both by intellect.

The difference between the intellect mad'a; hauna; vous and the mind re'yana is much clearer. The mind is one's faculty of conscious thinking and cogitation which is empoyed continuously in deliberating and reflecting. In the following passages we find mind and intellect contrasted:




—The intellect, hauna, the ruler of the senses, and the mind, that swift-winged and most shameless bird (Homily 23);

—As soon as the passions begin to arise, the mind is suddenly ravished away from them by a certain insight that penetrates into the intellect, hauna (Homily 71);

—Those, however, who have chosen to withdraw from the world in body and in mind so that they might establish their intellect, hauna, in solitary prayer (Homily 21);

—The intellect, hauna, is made fervent by the constant and prolonged rumination of the mind (Homily 68);

—Does wandering in your mind take place at the hour of your prayer?...Is your intellect, hauna, without willing it, continually being rapt away to perceptions of incorporeal things?, (Homily 68);

Such, then, is the clear distinction which Saint Isaac makes between the two terms.




—thinking: The term thinking, tar'itha, is very difficult to define. It seems to mean what is going on in the mind, or the cast of one's thoughts (one's mentality in modern English), or a sort of reservoir of these things. An example of its use is the following: 'Purity of soul is freedom from the secret passions concentrated in one's thinking' (Homily 43).



Although this vague term can safely be translated in different ways according to the context, we have usually kept to thinking. To conclude we shall quote the only passage where all the four mental faculties are used together:

For night vigil is the light of the thinking; and by it the understanding is exalted, the mind is collected, and the intellect takes flight and gazes at spiritual things and by prayer is rejuvenated and shines brilliantly (Homily 75).

—theoria: If one finds these distinctions difficult, one will be more puzzled by the term theoria, or divine vision, because experience of this is the only unerring guide to understanding it. The Greek term theoria was simply translated in Syriac translations of Greek texts. Because of this, we find several places in the Homilies where Saint Isaac uses the technical term theoria and then, for the benefit of his readers, explains it as vision of the spirit (Homily 37), (sometimes Saint Isaac simply uses the word vision, hezatha, which the Greek translators usually rendered theoria). He also translates it as divine vision, defining the latter as 'a non-sensible revelation of the intellect, hauna, (Homily 22; this Homily is found only in Syriac); theoria, he says 'is the perception of divine mysteries' (Homily 2). Fortunately for us, Saint Isaac also gives a description of theoria:

Spiritual prayer is the mystery of the future state and life, for herein a man is raised on high and his nature remains inoperative and unmoved by any motion of memory of things present. The soul does not pray a prayer, but in awareness she perceives the spiritual things of that other age which transcend human conception; and the understanding of these is by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is noetic divine vision, not the movement and entreaty of prayer...And when the Holy Spirit overshadows them [i.e. Those who have reached the perfection of purity], He always finds them in prayer.
He brings them forth from prayer into theoria, which means 'vision of the spirit' (Homily 37).

—theoria: We have translated Greek theoria by the words divine vision, vision, and theoria, but not by contemplation. Although the word contemplation has many of the senses of theoria when properly understood, it has now become synonymous with a quasi-spiritual exercise practiced in the West, and also in the Far East, which is opposed to true theoria and is regarded by the Fathers as a pathway to demonic delusion. Theoria does not signify the creation of images in the imagination, or reflections connected with certain events in the life of our Saviour, or academic theological speculations concerning the nature and attributes of God and created things. Rather, it is that working of the Holy Spirit in a man's intellect which gives him to understand and delve into the mysteries of God and creation hidden to the rational human mind. The knowledge which comes from theoria is supra-conceptual, it is revelation from on high.
Theoria is not intellectual doing, but an operation (energia) of the Holy Spirit whereby the soul's spiritual eyes are opened and she beholds secret things;




Concerning the translation of theoria, I.V. Kireevsky makes the following lucid remarks in a letter to Starets Makariy of Optina: 'Allow me to express my opinion on two words in your translation: sozertsaniye (contemplation) and dobroye (good). Why do you prefer contemplation (sozertsaniye) to the word vision, sight (videniye, zreniye)? The first is newfangled, flavored by Western thinkers, and has more the sense of inspection [or outwardly looking over, viewing] (razsmatrivaniye) than vision. Therefore it is impossible to say, for instance, that the intellect is raised up from prayer to the stage of contemplation, just as it is also impossible to say that the intellect is raised up from

prayer to the stage of inspection. If, in one instance, it is necessary to translate the Greek word theoria by vision, it would not be bad, so it seems, always to give one word one and the same sense.' (Zhizneopisaniya Otechestvennykh Podvizhnikov Blagochestiya XVIII i XIX Vekov, September, p. 486).




—stillness: There are also a few other terms that need to be discussed. We have rendered (novxia/shelya) by the word stillness, following the usage in the new English Philokalia. In both Greek and Syriac this term means quietness of body and soul, a connotation which stillness adequately conveys.




—monk (solitary): We have generally translated (ihidaya) by monk, occasionally by solitary. The Greek and Syriac words properly mean one who lives alone, a solitary, but they were extended to include all monastics. Although Saint Isaac wrote this book chiefly for solitaries, that is, monks who dwell not in a monastery but alone, we think that to use the word solitary throughout the text would overly restrict the Saint's meaning.




—discipline: Another term somewhat foreign to the ordinary English reader is discipline. This has been used to translate the difficult term (dubara-dubare), (We have not distinguished between the Syriac singular and plural forms, since even scholars hesitate to do so. There is, however, a subtle difference. Dubara probably refers to a specific ascetical practice, whereas dubare means the sum of the same, i.e. an ascetical way of life.) The Syriac word means the guidance, course, or rule of one's actions, a mode of life, usually with ascetical connotations. The Greek, in patristic usage, means essentially the same. Saint Isaac very often writes about the reading of Scripture. In English this word has come to mean the Bible and nothing else. In Greek and Syriac, however, this is not the case. We may recall Saint Peter's words, 'For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit' (2 Peter 1:21). For the Church, Scripture refers to the writings of all holy men who were moved by the Spirit: the Prophets, Apostles, and the holy Fathers. Therefore, by Scripture Saint Isaac means both the Bible and the writings of the holy Fathers. On a few occasions it is evident from the context that he can only be speaking of the writings of the Fathers; here, to avoid confusion, we have used writings (e.g. Homily 10).

It remains to be said that the Greek translators have sometimes employed Greek words in an uncommon way. Although the translation is not incorrect, the Greek reader misses the intended sense. We have, therefore, in such cases returned to the meaning of the Syriac. The Greek translators often employed (xapic) to translate the two Syriac words grace and gift, since, indeed (xapic) can mean both. But since English is not so fortunate, we have resorted to two words.




From Homily 3; (The Syriac term shapyutha means clearness, limpidity, transparency, serenity. A clear sky is also serene. Some say that this term is equivalent to the Greek; dispassion. For Saint Isaac, the soul's primordial state is one of limpid purity, and resembles Adam's state before he tasted of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Worldly knowledge and passions cause a man to lose the limpidity that is both natural and proper to his soul. Later East Syrian ascetical writers used the term shapyutha in a more technical sense, referring to a stage in spiritual life.




From Homily 18; From activity that demands violence (i.e. fasting, vigil, prostrations, and the like) there is born fervor beyond measure, fired in the heart by glowing thoughts which newly rise to the surface of our mind. This work, and watchfulness, refine the intellect by their fervor and grant it vision. And this vision gives birth to glowing thoughts (those I have just mentioned) by means of the profundity of the soul's vision, which is called theoria (divine vision). But this same divine vision gives birth to fervor, and of this fervor that follows upon the grace of divine vision (Syriac; the vision that is from grace) there is born the flow of tears. At first only to a small degree: that is, repeatedly during the course of a single day tears come over a man, and then leave him again. But from this there comes weeping without cease, and from her unceasing tears the soul receives peace in her thoughts. And from peace of thoughts she is raised to limpid purity ((or clearness, see Homily 3, sub-titled; On the Senses, and on Temptations Also) of the intellect. And through this limpidity of the intellect a man comes to see the mysteries of God, because of the purity that is laid up in peace from warfare. But after these things, the intellect comes to behold that which in Ezekiel the Prophet is indicated by the apparition of the torrent, which depicts the figure of the three stages of soul that draw nigh to things divine, and beyond the third there is no passage (Vide Ezekiel 47:3-5.




The Greek reads here; 'to behold revelations and signs, like those Ezekiel the Prophet saw depicting the three stages in which the soul draws nigh to God'). The beginning of all these things is a good purpose directed toward God, the manifold labors of stillness, and the straightforwardness (undeviousness, unpervertedness) that is born of prolonged separation from the world (This is the Syriac reading. The Greek has numerous variants here). There is no great need to speak of the diverse kinds of labors since they are familiar to all. However, as stating them will do our readers no harm, but rather may be to their profit, we must not (as it seems to us, at least) shirk the task of setting them down.




From Homily 52; a footnote;

Question: Whom does the man resemble that has been deemed worthy to taste the sweetness of faith and who afterwards turns again to unspiritual knowledge?, (a lengthy footnote in Homily 72 is referenced here, to whit; (Greek; Literally; pertaining to the soul, soulish. It is translated by the word natural in the Authorized Version (Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14). English has no suitable equivalent for this term. The sense, as it is used here, is given by the following quotations which explain Saint Paul's usage in First Corinthians: 'The man who is psychikos is he who lives according to the flesh and whose mind is not yet illumined by the Spirit; he possesses only that innate human insight which the Creator has placed in the souls of all men' (Saint Cyril of Alexandria Commentary On First Corinthians [PG 74.865b]). 'The Apostle calls psychikos the man who is satisfied with his own thoughts alone, who does not accept the teaching of the Spirit, and is not even able to understand it' (Theodoretos of Cyrus Commentary on First Corinthians [PG 82.245a]). In this sense psychikos can be translated: carnal, unspiritual, profane, material- minded).




Answer: He resembles the man who has found a pearl of great price and exchanges it for a copper obol, who has abandoned self-sufficient freedom and turned to a state of destitution, filled with fear and slavery.
GLOSSARY OF VARIOUS MEANINGS DEFINED.




Excerpt from Translator's Introduction (pp. cviii ff);

Before discussing the terminology used in the Ascetical Homilies, we quote the perceptive words of the German translator, Gustav Bickell:




Further, we must ask special indulgence for this translation, not only because Isaac of Nineveh is one of the most difficult Syriac authors, but also because of the many psychological and mystical terms which are extremely difficult to translate into German, since German often has no equivalent term, or only one which would not be understood by most readers (Bibliothek der Kirchenvater, fasc. 204, p. 290).




Saint Isaac employed a terminology which he inherited from Syriac spiritual writers who preceded him and from Syriac translations of Greek ascetical and theological works. His terminology, therefore, is not original, but it is used, for the most part, with precision. Some of these terms are unique to Syriac, some are common to both Syriac and Greek. We have explained a number of these within the context of the text, but some will be mentioned here:




—limpid purity; Syriac; shapyutha, which means clearness, limpidity, transparency, serenity. A clear sky is also serene. Some say that this term is equivalent to the Greek dispassion. For Saint Isaac, the soul's primordial state is one of limpid purity, and resembles Adam's state before he tasted of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Worldly knowledge and passions cause one to lose the limpidity that is both natural and proper to the soul. Later East Syrian ascetical writers used the term shapyutha in a more technical sense, referring to a stage in spiritual life.




—temptation; the basic sense of the word is a trial; it will be sometimes translated in this way according to the context. The Latin equivalent is tentatio, an attack, also a trial: hence the English temptation.




Saint Isaac employs four Syriac terms to distinguish the soul's mental and spiritual faculties. These terms are translated into Greek by three, which is not unjustified, because one of the Greek terms is translated into Syriac by two. The terms are: intellect, understanding, mind, and thinking.




The English translation of these terms is, by necessity, arbitrary because English- speaking people are unfamiliar with the precise epistemological and psychological definitions of the ancient world. For the distinction of intellect and mind we have followed the usage in the new English translation of the Philokalia (see G.E.H. Palmer, The Philokalia, the Complete Text I (London, 1979) pp. 361, 363). We have used understanding to translate the Syriac mad'a when the latter occurs together with hauna; otherwise we have translated both by intellect. With some reluctance we have frequently employed the word thinking to translate tar'itha.

It is necessary to explain to the English-speaking reader how to conceive of the difference between these terms. First is intellect. In Homily 66, Saint Isaac gives his most clear explanation of what one might call his spiritual epistemology. He writes 'The intellect mad'a is spiritual perception that is conditioned to receive the faculty of divine vision, even as the pupils of the bodily eyes into which sensible light is poured'. He proceeds to say that divine grace is like the sun which provides light for the intellect; purity is translucence of the noetic air through which the rays of grace penetrate into the intellect; and passions are, on the contrary a hard substance which obstruct the light of grace from reaching the intellect. Elsewhere he defines the intellect mad'a as the spiritual nature of a man. The intellect hauna is also an active faculty which beholds spiritual things, is engaged in pure prayer, and stands still when struck by awe in divine vision. Its purification comes to pass by the revelation of mysteries, it is the steward of the senses and the thoughts and the powers of the soul. From these passages we may also form an idea of the difference between mad'a and hauna. Etymologically mad'a seems to mean the knowing faculty (from id, to know—for which reason we have sometimes used the




understanding to translate it); it is the pupils of the spiritual eyes, whereas the power that employs these pupils to see is the hauna. If we unite these two powers into one, or say that they are two aspects of the same thing, we have a Greek word vous. Although Saint Isaac thus distinguishes between these two terms, he will occasionally use mad'a where one would expect to find hauna and vice-versa. Therefore we feel that it is not greatly misleading to translate both by intellect.

The difference between the intellect mad'a; hauna; vous and the mind re'yana is much clearer. The mind is one's faculty of conscious thinking and cogitation which is empoyed continuously in deliberating and reflecting. In the following passages we find mind and intellect contrasted:




—The intellect, hauna, the ruler of the senses, and the mind, that swift-winged and most shameless bird (Homily 23);

—As soon as the passions begin to arise, the mind is suddenly ravished away from them by a certain insight that penetrates into the intellect, hauna (Homily 71);

—Those, however, who have chosen to withdraw from the world in body and in mind so that they might establish their intellect, hauna, in solitary prayer (Homily 21);

—The intellect, hauna, is made fervent by the constant and prolonged rumination of the mind (Homily 68);

—Does wandering in your mind take place at the hour of your prayer?...Is your intellect, hauna, without willing it, continually being rapt away to perceptions of incorporeal things?, (Homily 68);

Such, then, is the clear distinction which Saint Isaac makes between the two terms.




—thinking: The term thinking, tar'itha, is very difficult to define. It seems to mean what is going on in the mind, or the cast of one's thoughts (one's mentality in modern English), or a sort of reservoir of these things. An example of its use is the following: 'Purity of soul is freedom from the secret passions concentrated in one's thinking' (Homily 43).

Although this vague term can safely be translated in different ways according to the context, we have usually kept to thinking. To conclude we shall quote the only passage where all the four mental faculties are used together:




For night vigil is the light of the thinking; and by it the understanding is exalted, the mind is collected, and the intellect takes flight and gazes at spiritual things and by prayer is rejuvenated and shines brilliantly (Homily 75).




—theoria: If one finds these distinctions difficult, one will be more puzzled by the term theoria, or divine vision, because experience of this is the only unerring guide to understanding it. The Greek term theoria was simply translated in Syriac translations of Greek texts. Because of this, we find several places in the Homilies where Saint Isaac uses the technical term theoria and then, for the benefit of his readers, explains it as vision of the spirit (Homily 37), (sometimes Saint Isaac simply uses the word vision, hezatha, which the Greek translators usually rendered theoria). He also translates it as divine vision, defining the latter as 'a non-sensible revelation of the intellect, hauna, (Homily 22; this Homily is found only in Syriac); theoria, he says 'is the perception of divine mysteries' (Homily 2). Fortunately for us, Saint Isaac also gives a description of theoria:




Spiritual prayer is the mystery of the future state and life, for herein a man is raised on high and his nature remains inoperative and unmoved by any motion of memory of things present. The soul does not pray a prayer, but in awareness she perceives the spiritual things of that other age which transcend human conception; and the understanding of these is by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is noetic divine vision, not the movement and entreaty of prayer...And when the Holy Spirit overshadows them [i.e. Those who have reached the perfection of purity], He always finds them in prayer.

He brings them forth from prayer into theoria, which means 'vision of the spirit' (Homily 37).




—theoria: We have translated Greek theoria by the words divine vision, vision, and theoria, but not by contemplation. Although the word contemplation has many of the senses of theoria when properly understood, it has now become synonymous with a quasi-spiritual exercise practiced in the West, and also in the Far East, which is opposed to true theoria and is regarded by the Fathers as a pathway to demonic delusion. Theoria does not signify the creation of images in the imagination, or reflections connected with certain events in the life of our Saviour, or academic theological speculations concerning the nature and attributes of God and created things. Rather, it is that working of the Holy Spirit in a man's intellect which gives him to understand and delve into the mysteries of God and creation hidden to the rational human mind. The knowledge which comes from theoria is supra-conceptual, it is revelation from on high. Theoria is not intellectual doing, but an operation (energia) of the Holy Spirit whereby the soul's spiritual eyes are opened and she beholds secret things;




Concerning the translation of theoria, I.V. Kireevsky makes the following lucid remarks in a letter to Starets Makariy of Optina: 'Allow me to express my opinion on two words in your translation: sozertsaniye (contemplation) and dobroye (good). Why do you prefer contemplation (sozertsaniye) to the word vision, sight (videniye, zreniye)? The first is newfangled, flavored by Western thinkers, and has more the sense of inspection [or outwardly looking over, viewing] (razsmatrivaniye) than vision. Therefore it is impossible to say, for instance, that the intellect is raised up from prayer to the stage of contemplation, just as it is also impossible to say that the intellect is raised up from

prayer to the stage of inspection. If, in one instance, it is necessary to translate the Greek word theoria by vision, it would not be bad, so it seems, always to give one word one and the same sense.' (Zhizneopisaniya Otechestvennykh Podvizhnikov Blagochestiya XVIII i XIX Vekov, September, p. 486).




—stillness: There are also a few other terms that need to be discussed. We have rendered (novxia/shelya) by the word stillness, following the usage in the new English Philokalia. In both Greek and Syriac this term means quietness of body and soul, a connotation which stillness adequately conveys.




—monk (solitary): We have generally translated (ihidaya) by monk, occasionally by solitary. The Greek and Syriac words properly mean one who lives alone, a solitary, but they were extended to include all monastics. Although Saint Isaac wrote this book chiefly for solitaries, that is, monks who dwell not in a monastery but alone, we think that to use the word solitary throughout the text would overly restrict the Saint's meaning.




—discipline: Another term somewhat foreign to the ordinary English reader is discipline. This has been used to translate the difficult term (dubara-dubare), (We have not distinguished between the Syriac singular and plural forms, since even scholars hesitate to do so. There is, however, a subtle difference. Dubara probably refers to a specific ascetical practice, whereas dubare means the sum of the same, i.e. an ascetical way of life.) The Syriac word means the guidance, course, or rule of one's actions, a mode of life, usually with ascetical connotations. The Greek, in patristic usage, means essentially the same. Saint Isaac very often writes about the reading of Scripture. In English this word has come to mean the Bible and nothing else. In Greek and Syriac, however, this is not the case. We may recall Saint Peter's words, 'For prophecy came not in old time by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit' (2 Peter 1:21). For the Church, Scripture refers to the writings of all holy men who were moved by the Spirit: the Prophets, Apostles, and the holy Fathers. Therefore, by Scripture Saint Isaac means both the Bible and the writings of the holy Fathers. On a few occasions it is evident from the context that he can only be speaking of the writings of the Fathers; here, to avoid confusion, we have used writings (e.g. Homily 10).

It remains to be said that the Greek translators have sometimes employed Greek words in an uncommon way. Although the translation is not incorrect, the Greek reader misses the intended sense. We have, therefore, in such cases returned to the meaning of the Syriac. The Greek translators often employed (xapic) to translate the two Syriac words grace and gift, since, indeed (xapic) can mean both. But since English is not so fortunate, we have resorted to two words.




From Homily 3; (The Syriac term shapyutha means clearness, limpidity, transparency, serenity. A clear sky is also serene. Some say that this term is equivalent to the Greek; dispassion. For Saint Isaac, the soul's primordial state is one of limpid purity, and resembles Adam's state before he tasted of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Worldly knowledge and passions cause a man to lose the limpidity that is both natural and proper to his soul. Later East Syrian ascetical writers used the term shapyutha in a more technical sense, referring to a stage in spiritual life.




From Homily 18; From activity that demands violence (i.e. fasting, vigil, prostrations, and the like) there is born fervor beyond measure, fired in the heart by glowing thoughts which newly rise to the surface of our mind. This work, and watchfulness, refine the intellect by their fervor and grant it vision. And this vision gives birth to glowing thoughts (those I have just mentioned) by means of the profundity of the soul's vision, which is called theoria (divine vision). But this same divine vision gives birth to fervor, and of this fervor that follows upon the grace of divine vision (Syriac; the vision that is from grace) there is born the flow of tears. At first only to a small degree: that is, repeatedly during the course of a single day tears come over a man, and then leave him again. But from this there comes weeping without cease, and from her unceasing tears the soul receives peace in her thoughts. And from peace of thoughts she is raised to limpid purity ((or clearness, see Homily 3, sub-titled; On the Senses, and on Temptations Also) of the intellect. And through this limpidity of the intellect a man comes to see the mysteries of God, because of the purity that is laid up in peace from warfare. But after these things, the intellect comes to behold that which in Ezekiel the Prophet is indicated by the apparition of the torrent, which depicts the figure of the three stages of soul that draw nigh to things divine, and beyond the third there is no passage (Vide Ezekiel 47:3-5.




The Greek reads here; 'to behold revelations and signs, like those Ezekiel the Prophet saw depicting the three stages in which the soul draws nigh to God'). The beginning of all these things is a good purpose directed toward God, the manifold labors of stillness, and the straightforwardness (undeviousness, unpervertedness) that is born of prolonged separation from the world (This is the Syriac reading. The Greek has numerous variants here). There is no great need to speak of the diverse kinds of labors since they are familiar to all. However, as stating them will do our readers no harm, but rather may be to their profit, we must not (as it seems to us, at least) shirk the task of setting them down.




From Homily 52; a footnote;

Question: Whom does the man resemble that has been deemed worthy to taste the sweetness of faith and who afterwards turns again to unspiritual knowledge?, (a lengthy footnote in Homily 72 is referenced here, to whit; (Greek; Literally; pertaining to the soul, soulish. It is translated by the word natural in the Authorized Version (Cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14). English has no suitable equivalent for this term. The sense, as it is used here, is given by the following quotations which explain Saint Paul's usage in First Corinthians: 'The man who is psychikos is he who lives according to the flesh and whose mind is not yet illumined by the Spirit; he possesses only that innate human insight which the Creator has placed in the souls of all men' (Saint Cyril of Alexandria Commentary On First Corinthians [PG 74.865b]). 'The Apostle calls psychikos the man who is satisfied with his own thoughts alone, who does not accept the teaching of the Spirit, and is not even able to understand it' (Theodoretos of Cyrus Commentary on First Corinthians [PG 82.245a]). In this sense psychikos can be translated: carnal, unspiritual, profane, material- minded).




Answer: He resembles the man who has found a pearl of great price and exchanges it for a copper obol, who has abandoned self-sufficient freedom and turned to a state of destitution, filled with fear and slavery.



Page Size
HOMILIES ST ISAAC FROM THE SEVENTH CENTURY
-FROM THE SEVENTH CENTURY.

7:1The noetic renewal of the saints is the crown of the intellect and the understanding which have communion with God through the revelation of His glorious mysteries, but the universal renewal is the general resurrection of all.
HOMILIES ST ISAAC FROM THE SEVENTH CENTURY
HOMILIES ST ISAAC Epistle to Abba Symeon


Part II – An Epistle to Abba Symeon of Caesarea.
(The Greek printed text addresses this epistle to Symeon the Wonderworker, while the Greek manuscripts have Abba Symeon of Caesarea. Judging merely by the content of the epistle it seems most unlikely that it was written to Saint Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain (Near Antioch) who is also called the Wonderworker).

Your Epistle, O Holy Man, is not simply written words, but as in a mirror you have depicted therein and made manifest your love for us. As you think us to be, so have you written; and you have shown by your very actions that you love us exceedingly, so that on account of your great love, you forget our measure. For that which it were meet for us to write to your holiness and to ask, so as to learn the truth from you (if we were solicitous over our own salvation), this you have anticipated and written to us by reason of the magnitude of your love. But probably you did this with the art of [[divine]] philosophy, so that by means of the subtle and spiritual questions you ask me, my soul

HOMILIES ST ISAAC Epistle to Abba Symeon
HOMILIES ST ISAAC First Epistle Saint Makarios
Makarios The Great). [451]



APPENDIX C – The First Syriac Epistle of Saint Makarios of Egypt.
(Translated from the Syriac text edition by W. Strothmann in Die syrische Uberlieferung der Schriften des Makarios 1 (Wiesbaden, 1981) pp. 74-84).

Abba Makarios writes to all his beloved sons, exhorting and greeting them before all else. When a man wishes to know himself, to seek God, and to repent of what he has done in the time when he was heedless, God by His grace gives him sorrow over his former deeds.
Hereafter God, in His tender mercy, gives him bodily hardship through fasting and vigil, through a multitude of many prayers and renunciation of the world. And he grants him to bear abuse, to despise bodily comforts, and to love weeping more than laughter.
After this a man is given mourning, weeping, humility of heart and of body, and the ability not to see another man's failings, but only his own. Further he is granted to recollect the day of his departure from this world and how he must needs come before God, to have always before his eyes the torments to come, and to have depicted before his heart the glory and honor which those who love God will receive.
HOMILIES ST ISAAC First Epistle Saint Makarios
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