Evagrius beyond Byzantium: The Latin and Syriac Receptions
My subject is the reception of Evagrius’ writings and thought in the Latin and Syriac traditions. This survey reveals a range of receptions, from the eventual Latin near-effacement of Evagrius, to the well-known mixed reception in Greek, and finally into the warm and enduring Syriac embrace of Evagrian literature. The Latin Evagrian tradition is weak in surviving texts and little studied, but important for being the first language into which Evagrius’ writings were translated. The Syriac tradition features many still-extant translations and is important for launching the translation of Evagrius’ works into Armenian, Arabic, and even Sogdian: fragments of Evagrius’ Antirrhētikos, found among the manuscripts at the Turfan oasis in the Xinjiang province of northwestern China, testify to the ultimate reach of Evagrian literature into Central Asia and even beyond through the Syriac missionary efforts along the Silk Road. Comparing the Evagriana latina and Evagriana syriaca will reveal particular historical circumstances that affected the reception of Evagrius’ thought and the transmission of his works, and cast new light on the controversies surrounding Evagrius and his association with Origen. Many of the distinctive features of these two traditions, as well as the differences between them, will be explained by the century-long interval between the first Latin and the first Syriac translations.
Evagrius and His Legacy brings together essays by eminent scholars who explore selected aspects of Evagrius’s life and times and address his far-flung and controversial but long-lasting influence on Latin, Byzantine, and Syriac cultures in antiquity and the Middle Ages. Touching on points relevant to theology, philosophy, history, patristics, literary studies, and manuscript studies, Evagrius and His Legacy is also intended to catalyze further study of Evagrius within as large a context as possible.
Stewart, Columba. “Evagrius beyond Byzantium: The Latin and Syriac Receptions.” In Evagrius and His Legacy, edited by Joel Kalvesmaki and Robin Darling Young, 206-235. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2016.
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