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Translator's Note

We have been negligent in sitting on our translation.  We are therefore publishing it as is even though we would want to review it.  We hope to do that in the near future.  When the translation has been completely reviewed, we will note that in this note.

Scholia on Ecclesiastes

1,  1       <The Words of the Preacher, son of David,
              King of Israel in Jerusalem>
1            ‘Church (ecclesia)’ is true knowledge (gnosis), on the part of pure souls, of Ages and Worlds and of the judgement and providence in them.[1]  ‘Preacher (ecclesiastes)’ is Christ the begetter of this knowledge; or ‘Preacher’ is he who by means of ethical contemplations[2] purifies souls and leads them forth to natural contemplation.
1,  2       <Vanity of vanities, said the Preacher,
              vanity of vanities, all things are vanity>
2            Towards those coming to the intelligible[3] Church and who are in wonder on account of the contemplation of things which have come to be[4], the word says:  Do not think, O men, that this is the final end, that laid up for you in the promises.  For all these things are vanity of vanities beside the knowledge (gnosis) of God himself.  For just as medicines are in vain after perfect health, so after the knowledge (gnosis) of the Holy Trinity, the reasons (logoi) of Ages and Worlds are in vain.[5]
1,  111   <For there is no memory in the first things.>
3            If there is no memory in the first things, how did David say:  ‘I remembered ancient days,’ and ‘I remembered eternal years?’[6]  Or, the forgetfulness of all these things will occur at that time, when the rational nature receives the Holy Trinity, for then God will be all things in all.  For if the mental representations (noemata) of objects, occurring in the intellect, lead the mind (nous) to the recollection of objects, and if the mind (nous) which sees God is separated from all mental representations (noemata), then the mind (nous) which receives the Holy Trinity forgets all those things which have come to be.[7]
1,  134–6         <For a wicked distraction
              God gave to the sons of men
              that they might be distracted in it.>
4            He calls ‘wicked’ the painful, not that which is opposed to the good, for God gives that to no one.  For he is not the cause of evils, being the source of goodness—except if he be said to ‘give’ in the sense that he ‘allows’, in accordance with the reason (logos) of abandonment[8].
1,  15     <The perverted will not be able to be adorned in addition
              and a lack will not be able to be enumerated.>
5            He calls ‘perverted’ the impure mind (nous).  For he says:  ‘A perverted heart builds evils.’  In Proverbs he called wisdom an ‘adornment’, where he says:  ‘Wisdom is an adornment in young women;’  ‘Wisdom will therefore not enter into a soul that uses evil arts.’  He did not say ‘will not be able to be adorned’ but ‘will not be able to be adorned in addition’.  For an upright way of life adorns a man; the wisdom of God adorns him in addition.  On the one hand, then, a perverted mind (nous) can be adorned;[9] on the other hand it cannot be adorned in addition, except if it purifies itself by means of the virtues and makes [itself] a vessel useful to the Master.
6            The number of God with which he numbers the saints declares a certain spiritual and defined order.[10]  For he says:  ‘Numbering the stars and calling names in all of them’.[11]  The Lord also commands Moses to number the sons of Israel with this number.  On the other hand, what does David say concerning the men crawling about and serving the pleasures?  ‘In that place, serpents of which there is no number.’  And in Proverbs Solomon says concerning vice:  ‘For having wounded many it has brought them down and numberless are those whom it has murdered.’  That which is said here—‘lack’ and ‘the murdered’ and ‘the serpents’—is of the same condition, the condition not suited to the spiritual number.  If then David also says that there is no number to the understanding of God, he writes not as though that were unworthy of number, but because of its not being natural to it to be submitted to number on account of the incomprehensibility.  For just as ‘invisible’ is said in two senses, both that for which it is natural not to be seen, such as God, and that for which it is natural to be seen but which is not seen, such as iron in the deep on account of its being covered by the water, thus also ‘innumerable’ is said in two senses: both that which is not naturally numbered and that which is not numbered for a certain reason.
2,  6       <He made for me cisterns of waters
              so as to water from them a forest which is sprouting trees.>
7            This is spoken in an inverted way.  The correct reading of this [passage] is this:  ‘so as to water from them the spouting trees of a forest.’[12]
2,  10     <And whatever my eyes asked
              I did not take away from them;
              I did not deprive my heart
              of any enjoyment.>
8            The soul does not seek knowledge (gnosis) with a word but with purity.[13]  For he says:  ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter into the Kingdom of the Heavens but he who does the will of my Father.’[14]  For in proportion to the [spiritual] condition, we also receive the knowledge (gnosis), if indeed with the measure we mete out it will be measured back to us.[15]  The intelligible request, then, is the dispassion (apatheia) of a rational soul attracting the holy knowledge (gnosis).[16]  Thus, then, he who makes himself receptive of all knowledge (gnosis) takes away nothing from his eyes.  I call ‘all knowledge (gnosis)’, then, that which naturally supervenes to a soul joined to flesh and blood.[17]
9            He, then, who does not sin,[18] does not impede his heart from every spiritual joy.
2,  114   <And behold all things are vanity and the choice of the spirit.>
10 He calls the soul ‘spirit’.  For choice is a certain movement of the mind (nous).  And David:  ‘And into your hands I commit my spirit.’  And Stephen says:  ‘Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit.’  And in Kings it says:  ‘And David did not grieve the spirit of Amnon, his son.’[19]
2,  141   <The eyes of the wise man are in his head.>
11          If ‘the head of every man is Christ’ and the wise man also a man, then the head of the wise man is Christ.  But our Christ is wisdom—‘For there has been born to us wisdom from God’—; the head of the wise man, therefore, is wisdom, in which the wise man has the eyes of his intellect (dianoia), [the wise man] contemplating in it [sc. wisdom] the reasons (logoi) of those things which have come to be.[20]
2,  22     <For it occurs to the man in his every toil
              and in the choice of his heart
              in which he toils under the sun.>
12          Here it is shown that the choice of the spirit is the choice of the heart.[21]
2,  25     <For who eats and drinks without him?>
13          For who without Christ is able to eat his body and drink his blood, which very things are symbols of virtues and knowledge (gnosis)?[22]
2,  264-7          <And he gave a distraction to him who is sinning
              to add and to gather
              so as to give to him who is good before the face of God.
              For surely this also is vanity and the choice of the spirit.>
14          This is similar to the proverb which says:  ‘He who gathers his wealth with interests and usuries gathers it for him who gives alms to the poor;’ and:  ‘The envious man rushes to gather wealth and does not know that he who gives alms will rule over him.’  Therefore let us be satisfied with the scholia laid down there.  Except this must be known, that he declared to be vanity the gathering of sins, not the obtaining from God of a good teacher.
3,  10     <I saw the distraction that God gave
              to the sons of men to be distracted in it.
     11     All things which he made good in his season,
              and with the Age he gave into their heart,
              that man not find
              the creation that God has made from the beginning and up to the end.
     12     He knew that there is nothing good in them,
              except to be joyful and to do good in his life.
     13     And indeed every man who eats and drinks
              and sees good in his every toil—
              this is a gift of God.>
15          He says:  I saw the sensible objects distracting the intellect (dianoia) of man, which very objects God gave to men before their purification so that they might be distracted in them.  He says that their beauty is temporal and not eternal.  For after the purification, the pure man sees the sensible objects no longer as distracting his mind (nous) only, but as lying in him towards spiritual contemplation.[23]  For otherwise the mind (nous) is imprinted sensibly when it is paying attention by means of the senses to sensible things[24] and otherwise it is disposed when it is contemplating the reasons (logoi) which lie within the sensible things.  But this knowledge (gnosis) supervenes only to those who are pure, whereas the consideration of  sensible things by means of the senses occurs both to the pure and to the impure.  For that reason he also called this a temporal distraction given by God.  For providentially providing for the impassioned soul, God gave to it senses and sensible objects, so that, being distracted and forming concepts (noematizomene) in them, it elude the thoughts (logismoi) which were going to be thrown into it by those who were opposed.  He says:  He gave to them the Age, that is, the reasons (logoi) of the Age, for this is the Kingdom of the Heavens which the Lord said is within us, which being covered over by the passions is not found by men.[25]  He says:  I knew, then, that it was not the objects that were good but the reasons (logoi) of the objects, for the sake of which it is natural for the rational nature to rejoice and work the good.[26]  For nothing nourishes and waters the mind (nous) like virtue and the knowledge (gnosis) of God.
16          We do the good through the opportune use of those things which have been given to us by God.  For thus all things are good in their season and ‘Behold!  All things are exceedingly good!’
3,  14     <I knew that all things, as many as God made,
              these are to the Age
              there is nothing to add to them
              and there is nothing to remove from them
              and God did it so that they might fear before his face.>
17          If ‘all things, as many as God made, ... are to the Age’, then God did not make vice, and therefore vice is not to the Age.
18          From the multifarious wisdom there is nothing to remove, and there is nothing to add to it.  He says:  God made it [sc. wisdom] so that men, aspiring to knowledge (gnosis), will cease from vice:  ‘For the fear of the Lord inclines every man from evil.’
3,  15     <That which has occurred already is,
              and as many things are to occur, already have occurred,
              and God will seek the persecuted one.>
19          If ‘blessed are the persecuted for theirs in the Kingdom of the Heavens,’ and if the Kingdom of the Heavens is the reasons (logoi) of the Ages which have come to be and will be, then blessed are the persecuted for they will know the contemplation (theoria) of things which have come to be.  This one is said to be him whom God seeks, him whom he [i.e. God] enlightens in the knowledge (gnosis) and this one is said to be him whom he does not seek, him whom he does not enlighten in the knowledge (gnosis).  David says:  ‘I have wandered as a lost sheep; seek your servant for I have not forgotten your commandments.’  For he also was persecuted.  He says:  ‘Many are those who persecute me and press upon me, but I have not inclined from your witnesses.’
3,  18     <There I said in my heart,
              concerning the conversation of the sons of men,
              that God will judge them
              and this to show that they are beasts.>
20          He has now named the ‘conversation of man’ his way of life, if indeed we will give accounts of every idle word in the day of judgement, in which both the pure and the unclean are made known.
3,  19     <And for them the incident of the sons of man
              and the incident of the beasts,
              an occurrence in them;
              as the death of this one, thus the death of this one,
              and one spirit in all.
              And what more was man than the beast?
              Nothing, for all is vanity.
     20     All things go to the dust;
              all things came to be from the dust,
              and all things return to the dust;
     21     And who knows the spirit of the sons of men,
              if it ascends towards the height,
              and the spirit of the beast,
              if it descends down into the earth?
     22     And I saw that there is no good
              except that the man will rejoice
              in his works, for that is his portion;
              for who will lead him to see in that which might occur after him?>
21          He calls ‘incident’ those things which occur in common to all men, both just and unjust, in this world, as life, death, sickness, health, wealth, poverty, loss of limbs, of wives, of children, of possessions, from which things it is not possible before the judgement to distinguish the pious from the impious.  He calls  ‘common’ these aspects of them:  that they are from the dust and that they will again return to the dust and that they have one soul, not in number but in nature—for he says that there is [one] spirit in all.  He has now called ‘beast’ the man who has been created in honour and who does not understand, but who by means of the irrational pleasures has come to be alongside the beasts who are without mind and to be made like unto them.  But neither will the just and unjust be clearly recognizable by means of those things which they do before the judgement, many unjust men having passed over to justice and having been raised on high; and many just men falling off from virtue and having been humbled.  What then is the advantage that I have found in these?  Now he says, nothing.  Everything is vanity except spiritual good cheer, which naturally occur over the works and the virtues of the man.  For he who falls from this good cheer will not return here again, doing those things which contribute to its acquisition.
22          That the irrational soul is also called ‘spirit’.
4,  1       <And I returned and I saw
              all of the oppressions
              which have occurred under the sun:
              And behold the tear[s] of those who have been oppressed
              And there is not one who consoles them
              And from the hand of those who are oppressing them, power,
              And there is not one who consoles them.>
23          He calls ‘oppressions’ those who are opposed to us.  For he says:  ‘Receive your servant for good; let not the proud oppress me.’  Again he says concerning the Saviour Christ:  ‘And he will humble the oppressor and abide with the sun.’  Those who were oppressed before Christ were those for whom there did not exist he who consoles [parakalo], he who says this:  ‘I ask [parakalo] you, I the prisoner in the Lord, to walk worthily in the calling by which you have been called, with all humility and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing one another in love [agape].’
4,  2       <And I praised those who have died,
              the already deceased, above the living,
              as many of those who live until now;
              and good above these two
              him who has not yet come to be,
              who has not seen the evil deed
              which has been done under the sun.>
24          And I praised those who have died together with Christ and who have been delivered from those who are oppressing them, over those who are living in vice and persisting in it until now.
4,  4       <And I myself saw all the toil
              and all the manliness of the creature
              for this is the jealousy of a man by his friend,
              and this also is vanity and the choice of the spirit.>
25          He says, I saw all vice and the evil one who shows manliness in it.  For he also calls manly this one who is oppressing the poor in impieties; and, again, creature as ‘him who has been created to be mocked at by the angels’ of God.  And I saw all the envy that he has acquired towards men, which envy is vain and  fills his heart with assurance.  For it is necessary that at all events God become all in all and that the prayer of Christ be fulfilled which says:  ‘Give them that they may be one in us, just as you and I are one, Father.’
26          If the hands are symbols of praktiki, then everyone who does not work justice has encompassed his hands, wherefore indeed he also says that such a one eats his own flesh, being satiated with the evils that grow out of his own flesh.
4,  6       <Better a handful of rest
              than two handfuls of toil
              and the choice of the spirit.>
27          It seems to me that the choice of the spirit is impassioned, as being the carnal (psychikon) thing chosen, for which reason he prefers the one handful of virtue over the two handfuls of vice and ignorance and the choice of the spirit.  Of this sort is also the ‘Better is a little for the just man than the great wealth of sinners.’  Similar to these things is also:  ‘I chose to be thrown down in the House of the Lord rather than to dwell in the tents of sinners;’ and the ‘Better to dwell on a corner of the roof than in a communal dwelling with a reviling woman.’  This also follows these:  ‘Better hospitality with vegetables for the sake of friendship and goodwill than a dinner of calves with enmity.’  As if one might say:  ‘Better to learn one spiritual contemplation than a host of contemplations of the wisdom which has been made foolish.’
4,  8       <There is one and there is not two,
              and indeed there is no son or brother to him.
              And there is no limit to all his toil,
              and his eye is not filled with wealth.
              And for the sake of whom do I toil
              and deprive my soul of goodness?
              And this also is vanity
              and an evil distraction.>
28          If someone does not have a brother, he has not received the spirit of adoption; and if someone is not a father, he is wicked.  For he says:  ‘There will not be offspring to the wicked.’  Reasonably, then, such a person, depriving his own soul of the knowledge (gnosis) of God, will not be filled with vices.  Here I say ‘father’ and ‘brother’ in accordance with the sense of the Scriptures.  For I am not ignorant that the propositions which have been set are not true if they are set in regard to sensible brothers and fathers.  If one should wish to construe these sayings in their simple sense too, he will greatly condemn the rich who have no children and who press themselves to gather a mass of money, and certainly if they should also be difficult for friends to approach—for these words are very true when they are taken in a human way.
4,  11     <And if two sleep together, there is warmth for them;
              And the one, how will he be warmed?>
29          Without the Lord, one would not be able to become boiling in spirit.  ‘For the Lord is the Spirit.’
4,  12     <And if the one should prevail,
              The two will stand against him;
              And the three-ply cord will not easily break.>
30          I think that the one who prevails is the Evil One, against whom stand the two, the man and the angel of God, so that having conquered the Devil, the man become worthy of the knowledge (gnosis) of God and become the three-ply cord which does not quickly break.  This is also to be learned from the Patriarch Jacob, who, blessing the children of Joseph, said:  ‘May my angel, who has delivered me from all evils, bless these children.’  Similar to this is what has been set by David:  ‘The angel of the Lord will encamp around those who fear him and deliver them.’
31          The three-ply cord is the dispassionate mind (nous) filled with spiritual knowledge (gnosis), or the spiritual mind (nous) which has an angel of God attending upon it.  It is well that he did not say ‘will not break’ but ‘will not easily break’.  For the rational nature is mutable.
4,  13     <A good child who is poor and wise
              over an old and foolish king
              who no longer knows how to pay attention.>
32          The child is he who has guarded the teaching from his youth.  The old man is he who has abandoned the teaching which is from his youth and who has forgotten the divine covenant and who has grown old in vice.  And the former is of Christ; the latter, of the Evil One.
4,  14     <For he will go out from the house of prisoners to reign,
              For he was born poor in his Kingdom.>
33          The ‘house of prisoners’ is the sensible world, in which ‘each one is secured by the chains of his own sins’.
4,  17     <Guard your foot in the day that you go to the House of the Lord,
              and be close-by to listen.
              Above the gift of the foolish your sacrifice,
              For they are not those who know that they do evil.>
34          They do not know that they do evil, not even that they transgress.
5, 1       <Hasten not with your mouth
              and let your heart not be quick to put a word out before the face of the Lord
              for the Lord is in Heaven and you are on earth.
              In addition to this let your words be few,
              for a dream comes to pass in a surfeit of temptation
              and the voice of the fool in a surfeit of words.>           
35          ‘For we do not know what we should pray as is proper.’  Or perhaps he does not now wish to say that but orders that we do not incautiously speak of God (theologein).’  For it is not possible for him who is in sensible things and receiving the mental representations (noemata) from these things to discourse faultlessly concerning the God who is in intelligible things and who escapes all sense perception.  On account of this he says:  ‘And let your words be few,’ that is, true and well-considered.  For ‘few’ seems to me to signify something of this sort, as also:  ‘Better a little to the righteous than the great wealth of sinners;’ and:  ‘Better the receiving of a little with righteousness.’  To those who do not guard this saying, he says:  ‘ ...for a dream comes to pass in a surfeit of temptation and the voice of the fool in a surfeit of words,’ calling ‘dream’ the demon which stands by the sleeping souls with a surfeit of temptations and agitates the soul, concerning which (demon), Job says to the Lord:  ‘You frighten me with dreams and you agitate me in visions;’ and David, turning away from this enemy, asks the Lord,saying:  ‘Enlighten my eyes lest I sleep unto death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed against him;”’ and in Proverbs:  ‘Do not give sleep to your eyes, neither be drowsy in your eyelids, so as to be saved just as the gazelle from the snares and the bird from the trap.’  He also calls ‘the voice of the fool’ the demon which approaches with false words and deceives the soul; and this is the:  ‘from the voice of him who berates and speaks bitterly against’.  It is also possible to adapt to ‘voice of the fool’ these words:  ‘He will not avoid sin in a multitude of words.’  And the Saviour in the Gospels orders the man to keep vigil and to pray, so as not to fall into temptation.  For the sleep of a rational soul is ignorance and vice, whence Paul also says:  ‘Rise up you who sleep and be resurrected from the dead; and Christ will shine upon you.’
5,  3       <Whenever you might vow a vow to God
              do not delay to render it,
              for this is not a thing intended among fools,
              you then as many things as you vow, render.
              It is better for you not to vow
              than for you to vow and not to render.>
36          Of the good gifts, then, some are offered to God from the soul, some from the body and some from around the body.  And from the soul we offer to him correct faith and true dogmas, righteousness and manliness and chastity (sophrosyne); from the body, temperance and virginity and marriage but once; from the things around the body, sons and daughters and slaves and money and possessions.  Let us therefore look at the ‘to promise and to delay’.  Perhaps ‘delay’ does not mean the great interval of this time but the complete renunciation of the promise?  For it seems that Jacob after many years rendered to God the tithes that he had promised to give to him while he was walking to Mesopotamia; and Anna after much time brought Samuel forth to God.  In regard to the gifts that are around the body, things are thus.  In regard to the gifts which are from the soul and the body, however, how is it to be construed?  I think that he who promises correct faith and then says that one of the [persons] of the Holy Trinity is a creature delays; and he who makes a profession of confessing that all things have come to be through God and again introduces automatism delays; and in regard to the other dogmas similarly.  In regard to the virtues, in this way:  He who promises righteousness and then commits injustice delays to render [his vow].  And he who promises chastity and again commits fornication delays.  In regard to the body, then:  He who vows temperance and again partakes of varied foods delays; and he who vows virginity or marriage but once, and who then marries or marries a second time, delays.  We will solve how ‘It is better for you not to vow than for you to vow and not to render,’ by introducing the Gospel passage that the slave who did not know and did not do will be thrashed with a few [blows], while the slave who knew and did not do will be thrashed with many.
5, 5        <Do not give to your mouth to cause your flesh to sin
              and do not say before the face of God that it is ignorance,
              so that God not be enraged at your voice
              and destroy the works of your hands.
              For in a multitude of dreams and vanities and many words.>
37          He says that a man comes to be in a multitude of evil dreams and vanities and false words when his works are destroyed by abandonment by God, which very thing has happened to him through his own transgression.
5, 7        <If you see the oppression of a poor man and the seizure of judgement and justice in a country
              do not wonder in the thing,
              for one who is high above the high keeps watch
              and those who are on high [keep watch] on them
     8       and the abundance of the earth is for every man,
              a king of the cultivated field.
     9       He who loves silver will not be filled with silver
              and who has loved produce in his abundance?
              For this also is vanity.
     10     In an abundance of goodness they have been filled who eat it
              and what manliness is there for him who is by it?
              For the beginning of seeing is in his eyes.
     11     The sleep of the servant is sweet
              whether he eats a little or a lot
              and for him who has been filled with the gathering of wealth
              there is none who lets him sleep.>
38          He says:  If you see among men those who are being oppressed and those who are wronged in judgement, and others who are bartering justice, do not wonder at those things which happen as if there were not a Providence.  For know that God through Christ watches over all things and he [sc. Christ] again provides for all things through his holy angels, who have a surfeit of knowledge (gnosis) of the things which are upon the earth.  For God is the King of the world which has come to be through him [sc. Christ], and he [sc. Christ] will render affliction to those who prefer avarice and the vanity of this life over the knowledge (gnosis) of Christ, but to those who have lived in goodness and in manliness, and who have served righteousness, he will give the knowledge (gnosis) of God and sweet repose, even if they have known few or many of the reasons (logos) of the things here, in part knowing and in part prophesying.  And to the latter will succeed such an end; as for the former who are filled with vice, the worm which is engendered by that vice will not allow them to rest.  That this world has been entrusted to angels, Moses has shown:  ‘When the Most High divided nations, at the time that he dispersed the sons of Adam, he set the boundaries of the nations according to the number of angels.’  Our Lord himself also called the world a field in the Gospels, saying, ‘“Field” is the world.’  The abundance of the earth is the knowledge (gnosis) of the things upon the earth, if indeed, ‘Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.’  And what other inheritance is there for the rational nature except the knowledge (gnosis) of God?  He said the angels were ‘on high’ for they partake of the Lord on High.  For it says:  ‘The Lord is on high over all the nations of the earth.’
5, 12      <There is a sickness that I have seen under the sun,
              wealth which is guarded to his evil by him who is by it.>
39          On the one hand, the abundance of evil is now made known by ‘wealth’; on the other, this evil is signified by ‘sickness’.  No man who guards, then, this wealth for himself will know the wisdom of God; neither will he apply his heart to understanding, neither will he apply it to the admonishment of his son.  For neither has he accepted the sayings of the commandments of God nor has he hidden them in his heart.
5, 13      <And that wealth will be destroyed in an evil distraction;
              and he engendered a son and there is absolutely nothing in his hand.>
40          ‘Evil distraction’ is ignorance with chastisement separating the impure from spiritual contemplation.
5, 14      <Just as he went out of his mother’s womb naked,
              he will return to go as he came.
              And he will take nothing in his toil
              so as to go [with something] in his hand.
     15     And this too is an evil sickness;
              for just as he has arrived, thus also will he depart.>
41          Job also says:  ‘I myself came out of my mother’s womb naked; naked will I also depart there.’  But here:  ‘Just as he went out of his mother’s womb naked, he will return to go as he came.’  But Job, as a just man, departed naked of vice and cunning.  This one, however, will depart there with the very ignorance with which he came into this world.
5,  17     <Behold!  What I myself saw that is good, that is fine:
              to eat and to drink
              and to see goodness
              in all his toil
              in which he might toil under the sun,
              the number of days of his life
              which God gave to him;
              for that is his portion.
     18     And indeed every man to whom God gave
              wealth and possessions and authorized him
              to eat from it and to take his portion
              and to rejoice in his toil,
              this is a gift of God.
     19     For he will not remember much the days of his life
              for God distracts him in the good cheer of his heart.>
42          The knowledge (gnosis) which is of God is called both the food and the drink of the mind (nous), and ‘goodness’ and ‘portion’ and ‘possessions’ and ‘good cheer’ and ‘distraction of God’ and ‘light’ and ‘life’ and ‘gift’.  And the Holy Spirit applies to knowledge (gnosis) many other names, which very names it is not possible to catalogue now, the rule of the scholia not permitting it.
43          The phrase ‘and authorized him’ is said for the sake of a distinction with those who receive a wealth of wisdom and knowledge (gnosis) but do not preserve it.  For even the traitor Judas received intelligible ‘wealth’ and spiritual ‘possessions’ but he did not exercise authority over them, having betrayed for the sake of profit the wisdom and the truth of God.
44          When a man receives spiritual knowledge (gnosis) from God, he very little recalls this way of life and the life of sensible objects (aisthete zoe), his heart ever being occupied with contemplations.
45          The ‘distraction of God’ is true knowledge (gnosis) separating the purified soul from sensible objects.
6, 1        <There is an evil which I have seen under the sun
              and in regard to men it is much:
     2       a man to whom God will give
              wealth and possessions and glory
              and there is nothing which is lacking to his soul
              and God does not authorize him to eat from it,
              for a strange man eats it.
              For this too is vanity and an evil sickness.
     3       If a man begets one hundred and lives many years
              and the multitude, whatever they will be, of the days of his years,
              and if his soul not be filled with goodness,
              and even if the grave has for him not come to pass
              I said, an aborted thing is better than him
     4       for it came in vanity and goes in darkness
              and its name will be covered over in darkness,
     5       and indeed it has not seen and has not known the sun—
              reposes to this one beyond that one.
     6       And if he has lived cycles of a thousand years[27]
              and has not known goodness,
              is it not that all things go to one place?>
46          In this chapter he speaks of those who have been found worthy of dispassion (apatheia) and knowledge (gnosis) and who have again fallen, through the envy of the Devil.  The second chapter, however, contains the long life of an unclean man who has many children and who has not known God, over whom he sets the aborted thing to be preferable, even though it is obtains after death the same place as him.
47          He who destroys the wealth which has been enriched in every wisdom and every knowledge (gnosis) is the Evil One, whom he calls ‘strange’ and ‘foreign’ from the knowledge (gnosis) of God.  ‘To eat’ is said in regard to knowledge (gnosis) and in regard to destruction.  He says:  ‘If you wish and you hear me you will eat the goods of the earth; if you do not wish and neither do you hear me, a sword will devour you [instead of “destroy”][28].  For the mouth of the Lord has spoken these things.’  Moreover, this stranger also, coming to David, has persuaded him to sacrifice the lamb of the poor man, for Nathan the Prophet at that time called him ‘stranger’.
6, 7        <Every toil of man is in his mouth
              and yet his soul will not be filled.>
48          All the vice of a man remains in his heart and he shall not say:  ‘From his fullness we have all received.’
6, 8        <And what advantage to the wise man over the fool?
              For the poor man has known to go before the life.>
49          [The Life] who said:  ‘I am the Life.’
6, 9        <Better the vision of the eyes than he who goes by soul
              and this also is vanity and the choice of spirit.>
50          Better he who follows the knowledge (gnosis) of God than he who follows the intentions of the soul.  Or, better the knowledge (gnosis) of God than perishable pleasure.  According to Symmachos:  ‘Better to look to the future than to make merry in present things.’
51          It is not proper to apply ‘vanity’ and ‘evil distraction’ and ‘choice of spirit’ to everything in this chapter, but, one the one hand, to apply them to blameable things and, on the other hand, not to apply them to praiseworthy things.  I say this because he does not impute ‘vanity’ and ‘distraction’ and ‘choice of spirit’ in common to the whole chapter, in which there are also certain praiseworthy things.  For the poor man who goes before Life is not ‘vanity’, but he who has lived cycles of a thousand years and has not seen goodness.  Again, neither is the good vision of the eyes ‘vanity’, but he who follows the soul.
6, 10      <If something has occurred, its name has already been called,
              and it was known what a man is,
              and he will not be able to be judged with him who is stronger than he;
     11     for there are many words which multiply vanity.
              What more for man?
     12     For who knows what is good for man in his life
              the number of days of his life of vanity?
              And he has passed them in shadow;
              for who will announce to the man
              what will be after him under the sun,
              and who will announce to him how it will be?>
52          Some names are of the bodily nature while the others are of the bodiless [nature].  And, on the one hand, the names of the bodily nature signify the quality of each object, which itself is composed of size and colour and shape; on the other hand, the names of the bodiless make known the condition of each rational [being], which is either praiseworthy or blameable.  But the first names are applied to objects simply, while the second [names are] not [applied] simply, for they depend on choice.  For it is of the free-will to incline to virtue and to be found worthy of knowledge (gnosis) which makes one an angel or archangel or throne or principality, or to incline to vice and to be filled with ignorance which makes one a demon or a Satan[29] or some other ‘world-ruler of this darkness’.  He says:  If, then, something has come to be at the season of the making of the world, it received a name signifying its condition; and man has received the name proper (oikeion) to his condition.  He says:  Let not the man say, ‘For what reason have I been yoked to such a body, and why have I not become an angel;’ —Except if therefore there be partiality of persons with God.  Or have we not come to be with free-will?  For words of this sort multiply vanity.  For how will that which is made say to him who made, ‘Why have you made me thus?’  Or how will he reply to God?  But let him cease from these words and, inasmuch as he is in this shadowy Age, let him do those things which contribute to virtue and knowledge (gnosis), estimating that all things here are vanity and shadow, and that the things of this course of life will be covered over with forgetfulness after the departure.
7, 1        <A good name is over good olive oil
              and the day of his death over the day of his birth.>
53          Names by their own nature are neither good nor evil.  For names are constituted of letters and no letter is either good or bad.  Applied to good things they are good; applied to evil things they are evil.  Therefore, here, ‘good name’ signifies a good thing.  None of the things which have come to be, Solomon is saying, is good except virtue and knowledge (gnosis) of God.  ‘Olive oil’ now signifies bodily pleasure, which seems good to those who are enjoying it.  For on the one hand that which is good by nature is said to be good, as virtue; on the other hand, that [which is good] to some [is also said to be good], as gold and silver.  Thus also the rich man enjoyed his good things in this life, while ‘Lazarus similarly [enjoyed] the bad.’  That ‘olive oil’ is employed instead of ‘pleasure’ David has shown in saying concerning men that:  ‘They have multiplied from the fruit of their grain, wine and olive oil.’
54          If the praiseworthy death according to which the righteous die together with Christ by nature dissolves the soul from vice and ignorance, thus again the birth which is opposed to this death joins the soul to vice and ignorance.  Therefore such a death is preferable to such a birth.
7, 2       <It is better to go to a house of mourning
              than to a house of drink.
              Because this is the end of every man
              and the living will give good to his heart.>
55          The end of man is blessedness.  If, then, the Lord blesses mourning in the Gospels (he says:  ‘Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted;’) well does Solomon say that mourning is the end of man, which very end fills the men who live in it with spiritual goods.
7,  3       <Anger is better than laughter
              For in the misfortune of the face the heart will be of good cheer.
     4       The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning
              and the heart of the fool in the house of mirth.
     5       It is better to hear the rebuke of a wise man
              than a man to hear the song of fools.
     6       For as the sound of thorns under the pot
              thus is the laughter of fools;
              and this also is vanity.
     7       For oppression maddens the wise man
              and destroys the vigour of his heart.>
56          When on the one hand the temper boxes with the demons contending on behalf of virtue, it is strong and praiseworthy; when on the other hand it contends with men on behalf of perishable things, it becomes blameable.  Therefore, what he is saying here is this sort of thing:  On the one hand, the fool is of good cheer in vice and laughs and on account of [vice] is full of mirth, forswearing neither shameful songs nor occasions of laughter, and destroying his soul like a fire lit among thorns.  On the other hand, the righteous man both grows angry and waxes indignant at such passions and considers mourning to be preferable to such good cheer and the rebuke of the wise man to such songs.  He names such a life ‘vanity’ and ‘oppression’ easily deceiving the heart of the wise man and weakening its vigour in the virtues.
7, 8        <Better the last of words than their beginning.>
57          He says:  Better the doer of the Law than the hearer of the Law.  For the first words are called ‘words of the teaching’ but the last words are called ‘the words of works’, if indeed ‘words’ are also said to be ‘good words’ on account of the good works.
7, 9        <Do not hasten in your spirit to grow angry,
              for anger will repose in the bosom of fools.>
58          It should be noted that here he clearly calls the soul ‘bosom’.  For no one would say that anger reposes in the sensible bosom.
7, 10      <Do not say: what has happened
              that the former days were better than these?
              For you have not asked in wisdom concerning this.>
59          If the fear of the Lord adds days, it is up to us to enjoy the good or better days of holy knowledge (gnosis).  To think that the first places of knowledge (gnosis) are given to those who are elder in time is not  of wise men.  For if something is ancient it is not necessarily worthy of honour, since vice is in every way old but not also worthy to be honoured on account of the time, if indeed ‘Those who are of many years are not wise; neither do old men know judgement.’
7, 11      <Wisdom is good with an inheritance
              and an advantage to those who view the sun;
              for wisdom is in its shadow as the shadow of silver
              and an abundance of knowledge (gnosis) of wisdom
              will give life to him who owns it.>
60          Just as those who view the sun have a certain advantage over those who have viewed the sun but view it no longer, thus they who attain to wisdom and master it—for this is the ‘with an inheritance’—have acquired a certain advantage over those who receive [wisdom] and fall from it through their own transgression.  For every one who has acquired wisdom and lost it has, first, acquired the shadow of wisdom and not wisdom itself; next, he is also similar to a man who has acquired the shadow of silver and but who has not acquired silver.  For by nature wisdom, which is not received but which cohabits, vivifies through knowledge (gnosis) him who has acquired it.
7, 15      <There is the just man who is destroyed in his justice,
              and there is the impious man who remains in his vice.>
61          Abandonment for the sake of a test is also said to be ‘destruction’, as in reference to Job who said:  ‘I was destroyed and I have come to be without a house.’
62          David says:  ‘My feet were almost shaken, my steps were almost poured out; for seeing the peace of sinners I was jealous of the lawless.’
7,  16     <Do not become very righteous
              and do not become wise in excess.
     17     Do not greatly practise impiety and do not become hard,
              so that you do not die at a time not your own.
     18     It is good for you to adhere to this
              and do not defile your hand from that,
              for he who fears the Lord will go out from all things.>
63          He says:  Do not let impious thoughts (logismos) pass much time in your heart, lest, having been impious, your soul die in ignorance (agnosia).  The men of Sodom and Gomorrah died at a time not their own.  And if this [present] time is a time of accomplishment, those who die in this [present] time and who are separated from the life which said, ‘I am the Life,’ die at a time not their own.
64          It is good for you to adhere to not being very righteous, and, indeed, for you not to defile your heart with impiety, for he who fears God will go out from every vice.
8, 2        <Guard the mouth of the King.>
65          He now calls ‘mouth’ the word (logos) or the commandment.
8,  12     <For I myself also know
              that there will be good for those who fear the Lord
              that they may fear before his face.
     13     For there will not be good for the impious man
              and he will not extend his days in shadow,
              he who is not fearing before the face of God.
66          He now calls ‘good’ the knowledge (gnosis) which is of God.
8,  14     <There is a vanity which has been made upon the earth,
              For there are righteous men to whom it arrives
              as the work of the impious
              And there are impious to whom it arrives
              as the work of the just;
              And I said that this is indeed also vanity.>
67          He says:  There is a vanity which occurs upon the earth, that there are righteous men who as impious fall into calamities and there are impious men who as righteous enjoy good things.  Concerning these, the Prophet says to the Lord:  ‘Except that I will speak judgements to you:  why is it that the way of the impious prospers?’  And David says:  ‘My feet were almost shaken, my steps were almost poured out; for seeing the peace of sinners I was jealous of the lawless.’
9, 1        <For I gave all of this into my heart
              and my heart saw all of this.>
68          The man presents the objects to his heart, inclining towards their investigation; after these things the heart knows the object.  And this is the ‘I have surrounded, and my heart, so as to know.’  For he also surrounds the object who presents it to his heart through the examination, and the heart again knowing it.  Except that this must be known, that not everything that a man surrounds the heart also knows—for we examine many things and know few.
9, 10      <For there is not deed and thought (logismos) and knowledge (gnosis)
              and wisdom in Hades, there where you are going.>
69          If there is not thought (logismos) in Hades, how does the rich man ask Abraham that he send Lazarus to him?
9, 12      <And indeed the man did not know his season (kairos).>
70          The man did not know that ‘season (kairos)’ is the time of accomplishment, for he makes known by ‘season (kairos)’ the opportunity.
11, 9      <And walk in the ways of your heart blameless
              and in the vision of your eyes.>
71          In action (praxis) and contemplation (theoria).
11, 10    <And put temper at a distance from your heart
              and lead wickedness away from your flesh.>
72          Here we know that the temper is joined to the heart and that the desire to the flesh.
73                    He now calls fornication and gluttony ‘wickedness’.

[1]   Note the definition of the Church as natural contemplation, defined here, just as in the Kephalaia Gnostica, as ‘true knowledge (gnosis) … of Ages and Worlds and of the judgement and providence in them’.  This is hardly a Cappadocian definition of the Church.  For Evagrius’ views on judgement and providence, see KG V, 23 – 24;  and Gnostic 48. 
[2]   Usually Evagrius does not treat the purificatory stage as a matter of ‘ethical contemplations’ but as a matter of the keeping of the commandments: see Logos Praktikos 81: ‘Charity is the offspring of dispassion. Dispassion is the flower of the practical life. The observance of the commandments constitutes the practical life. The guard of the commandments is the fear of God, which very thing is the offspring of correct faith. Faith is an indwelling good which very thing exists by nature even in those who have not yet believed in God.’  However, he does remark in Logos Praktikos 79 as follows:  ‘The operations of the commandments are not sufficient towards healing completely the powers of the soul, if contemplations appropriate to these commandments do not also succeed to the mind.’
[3]   ‘Intelligible’: noeten/νοητήν.  This is a very important concept in Evagrius.  There is a fundamental contrast in his scholia here—and in his thought in general—between the sensible (aesthetos/αισθητός) and the intelligible.  True knowledge (gnosis)—see Scholia 1—is by its very nature intelligible.  Hence, since ‘Church’ is the true knowledge (gnosis) of Ages and Worlds and of the judgement and providence which is in them, the true Church is by its very nature an intelligible reality.
[4]   The contemplation of things which have come to be (theoria ton gegonoton/θεωρία των γεγονότων) is natural contemplation.  ‘Things which have come to be’ is our unwieldy circumlocution to convey the following concept: these are beings—either with mind or without—which are not eternal, beings which had a beginning.  In the Greek philosophical tradition to which Evagrius is heir, an object which has a beginning normally will eventually have an end.   The concept clearly plays an important role in the Arian controversy, where what is in issue is whether the Son and the Holy Spirit are beings in this category—that is, beings that have a beginning—; or beings co-eternal with the Father, who is identified with the God of the Old Testament; and if so how.  In Evagrius’ thought only the three persons of the Holy Trinity are eternal; all other beings and worlds are ‘things which have come to be’.  The basic form of natural contemplation, which seems to be what Evagrius here has in mind, is the intuitive apprehension of the reasons or essences (logos/λόγος) embedded in objects.  This intuitive apprehension is not a matter of discursive reasoning based on propositions concerning the nature of the things which have come to be, but a direct spiritual sight of those reasons—in the measure that a man is capable of this.  In Scholia 1, Evagrius has extended the concept, which is of second natural contemplation, to the whole of natural contemplation.  The other part of natural contemplation is the contemplation of the angelic beings and of their own reasons (logos/λόγος).  Again, this is a matter of the direct apprehension or cognition of the spiritual being and/or its reason.  The reason of a spiritual being is the ‘why it’s there’ of the spiritual being.
[5]   What Sch. 2 is saying is that as deep as natural contemplation might be, in comparison to ‘theology’, the direct mystical knowledge of God himself, it is vanity.
[6]   One might wonder whether Evagrius has in mind the condition of the minds before the Movement (see KG VI, 75), but the suggestion here that ‘all these things’ will be forgotten when the soul receives the Holy Trinity indicates that he is referring to material objects, even natural contemplation, which is the contemplation of the reasons or essences (logoi/λόγοι) of material objects.  These reasons or essences are encountered as mental representations (noemata/νοήματα) in the mind.   
[7]   This is a very concise outline of Evagrius’ doctrine of the relations among the mental representation (noema/νόημα) of a sensible object, the remembrance of the sensible object and the sight of God.  See especially Peri Logismon 40.
[8]   The reason (logos/λόγος) of abandonment.  Just as, in Evagrius’ thought, created material objects have an essence which can be apprehended intuitively, just so other aspects of God’s plan or dispensation have reasons (logoi/λόγοι) which can be apprehended intuitively.
[9]   We do not know what Evagrius means by this.  It seems to mean that an impassioned man can lead an upright life.  We do not know why Evagrius would say that, however.
[10] The notion that the Creation has a defined ‘number’ has a hoary history in Greek philosophy.  What is meant is that something created, something that exists, has a particular form, that which makes it what it is—a particular number as it were.  That which does not intrinsically exist does not have such a particular form: existence is a matter of existing as something specific and definite.  Hence, when the mystic engages in the natural contemplation, the intuitive apprehension, of the reason or essence (logos/λόγος) of a created thing, he does not encounter the object as something indefinite; he encounters it as having a completely particular form which he intuitively apprehends as the object’s reason or essence (logos/λόγος).  As we have already pointed out elsewhere, this intuitive apprehension of the particular form or essence of the created object is not an intellectual reasoning about propositions formed concerning the material object: it is a direct encounter of the mystic’s mind with the material object’s reason or essence.  This reason or essence enters the mystic’s mind as a mental representation.  However, God being beyond this, the intuitive apprehension of God in unitive contemplation does not bear such specific mental representations (noemata/νοήματα) into the mystic’s mind: as Evagrius puts it here, God is not naturally subject to number on account of his incomprehensibility.  As for the notion that those following the passions, and the demonic in general, do not have number, Evagrius’ doctrine should be understood in the sense that he writes in the Gnostic that the Gnostic does not occupy himself with what intrinsically does not exist—with the demonic, that is.  Hence, there is a tension between what comes from God, things that have a definite shape and form; and that which comes from the demons, that which does not have a definite shape and form.  That is why the demons are always changing shape.  This is expressed even today by saying that the demons are without hypostasis.  On the contrary, however, that which is of God is ‘enhypostatic’.
[11] Consider KG VI, 88 where the stars are treated as an order of angels.
[12] We do not see any hidden meaning here.
[13] This is the fundamental assumption of the whole Evagrian system of the three stages of the mystical journey.  It is explained in great length in Logos Praktikos.
[14] In Logos Praktikos, the primary method of purification is the keeping of the commandments of God—what Jesus himself says is the ‘will of my Father’.
[15] Here Evagrius seems to be saying that partial purification leads to partial knowledge, whereas elsewhere he seems to want to say that one must be completely purified before he can enter into natural contemplation.  As we have discussed, the most probable explanation is that it’s a bit of both: partial purification does lead to partial gnosis, but at some point the mystic takes a ‘giant step’ with the help of God, entering into a state of dispassion (apatheia) that enables him to concentrate on natural contemplation.
[16] The role of dispassion (apatheia) in the attainment to knowledge (gnosis) is one of the basic themes of Logos Praktikos.
[17] This is an important qualification.
[18] While this could be taken in a moralistic way, surely what Evagrius is alluding to is dispassion (apatheia).
[19] Evagrius’ emphasis on personal choice, so present in all of his system, comes through explicitly here.  This personal choice is the basis of this remark of St Barsanuphios:
   Concerning the Heavenly orders, Holy Scripture closes their mouth, saying everything:  ‘He spoke and they came to be; he ordered and they were created; he established them to the Age and to the Age of Ages.’  And does what God has established suffer alteration?  For there is no alteration with him according to the Scripture.  For where have you found that the zeal of such-and-such an angel has led him to progress?  (Question 600.)
       For it is not only the personal choice of men that is in question, but the personal choice of the angels and demons: all the minds (noes) are faced with the return journey to God, a journey whose progress depends on the personal choice of each mind (nous) in whichever condition it finds itself.
[20] It should be recalled that in the Evagrian system, Ecclesiastes is a book which is par excellence for the mystic in natural contemplation.  Hence the great emphasis throughout on natural contemplation.  Elsewhere, Evagrius (KG IV, 3) identifies Christ with the reasons or essences (logoi/λόγοι) of the minds (a stage of first natural contemplation where the mystic apprehends intuitively what the angels ‘are all about’, apart from apprehending them individually as bodiless minds that can be encountered), in the sense that the ‘meaning of Christ’ is found in the meaning of the minds, but here Evagrius is emphasizing second natural contemplation, the intuitive apprehension of the reasons or essences of created material objects.
[21] This is a useful remark for an understanding of psychology in the Evagrian mysticism.
[22] Compare Gnostic 14.  This statement here in Scholia and the statement in Gnostic 14 do lead to a question about the orthodoxy of Evagrius’ sacramental theology concerning the body and blood of Christ.
[23] This would position the ascetic in the transition from praktiki, having attained to dispassion (apatheia), to second natural contemplation.  Evagrius is saying that the man no longer sees the objects as perceptions distracting his mind but as supporting contemplations of the reasons (logoi) of those same objects.  This is not perceptual but intelligible—although, as we have said, not a matter of discursive reasoning with concepts about the objects; rather it is a matter of apprehending intuitively the reason (logos) of the object through direct sight.  If that seems difficult, recall that the presupposition is full moral purification.
[24] This triple repetition of ‘sensible’ and its cognates is in the original.
[25] This is an echo of Plotinus.
[26] I.e.  It is not the objects as perceived sensibly which are good, but the objects as supporting the contemplation of their reasons or essences (logoi) in second natural contemplation which are good.
[27] Liddell-Scott reads this, with reference to Photios: ‘a thousand years twice told’.  A long time.
[28] This is Evagrius’ own remark.
[29] The syntax seems to make ‘Satan’ here a type of demon, not another name for the Devil.