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Christe Eleison!

The Invocation of Christ in Eastern Monastic Psalmody c. 350-450


James Frederick Wellington

For centuries the Jesus Prayer has been leading Orthodox Christians beyond the language of liturgy and the representations of iconography into the wordless, imageless stillness of the mystery of God. In more recent years it has been helping a growing number of Western Christians to find a deeper relationship with God through the continual rhythmic repetition of a short prayer which, by general agreement, first emerged from the desert spirituality of early monasticism. In this study James Wellington explores the understanding and practice of the psalmody which underpinned this spirituality. By means of an investigation of the importance of psalmody in desert monasticism, an exploration of the influence of Evagrius of Pontus and a thorough examination of selected psalm-commentaries in circulation in the East at this time, he reveals a monastic culture which was particularly conducive to the emergence of a Christ-centred invocatory prayer.
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Chapter Five: The Development by Diadochus of Photice


← 104 | 105 → CHAPTER FIVE

The Development by Diadochus of Photice

The purpose of this chapter is to deal with the question as to whether those passages relating to the invocation of Jesus in the Capita centum de perfectione spirituali by Diadochus of Photice owe anything to the legacy of Evagrius of Pontus. In particular, the investigation will explore the linkage between those passages and Evagrius’ understanding of the role of psalmody, as described in Dysinger’s Psalmody and Prayer in the Writings of Evagrius of Pontus.

I. Diadochus and Evagrius

Born around 400 and dying before 486, Diadochus was Bishop of Photice in northern Greece. He was a supporter of the Council of Chalcedon, but little more is known of his biography. In their Introductory Note to ‘St Diadochos of Photiki’ the editors of the English translation of The Philokalia make this observation with regard to the Diadochus-Evagrius relationship: ‘St Diadochos borrows many of the Evagrian technical terms, but his work contains certain features not found in Evagrios: an emphasis, for instance upon the primacy of love (see especially chapters 90–92), upon the sacraments, and upon the heart as well as the intellect’ (nous).1

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