Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




In the thought of Evagrius Ponticus, we discern an interdependent relationship between prayer and theological belief, particularly between prayer and divine sovereignty and divine providence. We find that Evagrius's teachings on divine sovereignty and divine providence inform and govern his teachings on prayer, specifically the forms of prayer known as petition and pure prayer. And conversely Evagrius's teachings on prayer inform and deepen his teachings on divine sovereignty and divine providence, thereby demonstrating the full interdependence between spiritual practice and theological belief in the thought of one of the early Church's monastic masters.

The first chapter is divided into two sections. The first introduces the project; the second briefly explains Evagrius's definition of prayer, focusing primarily on pure prayer, which for Evagrius marks the goal of monastic spirituality.

Chapter two focuses on prayer and divine sovereignty. We begin by briefly defining Evagrius's understanding of divine sovereignty, which finds its expression in creation, providence, and judgment. We then move to the relationship between prayer and divine sovereignty. The primary purpose here was to demonstrate that Evagrius's teachings on divine sovereignty inform and govern his understanding of and approach to prayer.

The third chapter turned specifically to divine providence and pure prayer. The chapter begins by giving a fairly detailed exposition of Evagrius's definition of divine providence, a concept which occupies a central role in his theological thought. The heart of the chapter focuses on the intrinsic relationship between divine providence and pure prayer. For Evagrius, pure prayer represents a special dispensation of divine providence. For Evagrius, the monk cannot enter the realm of pure prayer apart from the gracious provision of the Divine King.

Chapter four turns to divine providence and prayer as petition. Specifically we notice that Evagrius's teachings on divine providence inform his teachings on petition. The first part of the chapter focuses upon general petitioning, and the second examines divine providence and petition as they relate to spiritual warfare against demons and their "thoughts." Here we find that petitioning against demons assumes the sovereignty and providence of the Holy Trinity, as does all petitioning.

The fifth and final chapter attempts to illustrate the full interdependence between theological belief and spiritual practice in Evagrius. Here we find that Evagrius's teachings on prayer inform, shape, and deepen his teachings on sovereignty and providence.

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