Imageless Prayer and the Theological Vision of Evagrius Ponticus

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2001


Evagrius Ponticus (ca. 345–399), practitioner and theologian of monastic prayer, brought his deep knowledge of both Hellenistic philosophy and Christian thought (especially the work of Origen) to bear on his tracing of the human journey back to perfect union with God. His several writings on prayer, and particularly his teaching about “imageless prayer,” must be situated within that philosophical and theological framework. The emphasis on imageless prayer creates a tension with the Christian and monastic focus on biblical texts. Examining Evagrius’ theories of mental operation and biblical exegesis helps in understanding both the imperative of imageless prayer for Evagrius and its problematic aspects.


DOI: 10.1353/earl.2001.0035

Also published as a book chapter in A History of Prayer: The First to the Fifteenth Century, edited by Roy Hammerling. Boston: Brill, 2008.