however, existed only until the fall, when sense perception came to prevail over reason. As a consequence reason has become inoperative and human beings have been dragged down to the level of non-rationalbeasts. This defines the task for them: they must return to the state of rational beings that God intended for them at their creation and thus regain their true humanity. As such Gregory's statements are completely traditional.63 However, for a hesychast the choice of this framework is startling because it makes no provision for the supernatural dimension that is central to the hesychastic experience and it clashes with the positive role that sensation is given in this experience.
There can be no doubt that Gregory's choice of 'rationality' is of great significance: the first chapter and in particular the first word of a collection often introduce the dominant theme.64 Analysis of the text reveals that Gregory engaged in a controversy with monks who regarded intellectual activity as an integral part of spiritual ascent and who drew on the discourse of 'rationality' to justify their lifestyle. Gregory accepted this discourse as part of the Christian tradition but challenged its appropriation by his opponents and instead claimed it for the hesychasts themselves. In the second chapter he states: 'Only the saints have been seen to be rational beings according to nature because they are pure; for none of the "wise in the word" (tqv ev Aoyu ao^uv) has had pure speech (Aoyov... KaOapov), having from the start [allowed] evil thoughts (Aoyio^oi) to corrupt their rational faculty (AoyiKov). For the material and many-worded spirit of worldly wisdom brings abstract reflections (Aoyous) to the more intellectual (yvwcTiKWTEpoi) and evil thoughts (Aoyio^oi) to the more uncouth, thus denying the cohabitation of the hypostatic wisdom and vision with undivided and uniform knowledge (yvwcis).'65 This passage takes up the theme of 'rationality' as the natural state of human beings. Gregory now introduces the 'saints' as a concrete group who have attained this state and juxtaposes them with a second group, 'the wise in the word', who have failed to do so. His argument pivots on the concept of 'purity' that first appeared in the first chapter as the precondition for the preservation of or the return to human rationality. This quality is now attributed to the 'saints' whereas 'the wise in the word' are said to have corrupted their rationality through 'thoughts' or Aoyic^oi, which in the monastic discourse have connotations
63 See E. Hisamatsu, Gregorios Sinaites als Lehrer des Gebets [Miinsteraner theologische Abhandlungen 34] (Altenberge: Oros, 1994), 201-16.
64 E.g. the theme of'love' inMaximos's Chapters onlove, in PG 90, 66ia, and that of'sobriety' in Hesychios's Chapters on sobriety, in PG 93, 1480D. Gregory appears to have been the first author of spiritual chapters to opt for this particular topic.
65 Gregory of Sinai, Words, in PG 150, 1240A [= ed. Beyer, 39].
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