The Philokalia

Feast of St Macrina, Grandmother of St Basil the Great
The Philokalia – 4 volumes (of projected 5) compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth; translated from the Greek and edited by G. E. H. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware

THE PHILOKALIA is a collection of texts written between the fourth and fifteenth centuries by thirty-six spiritual masters of the Orthodox Christian tradition. Compiled by Sts. Nikodemos and Makarios of Mt. Athos and published in 1782, with other versions and variations published thereafter (e.g., Slavonic, Russian, Romanian, and Finnish), The Philokalia has had an influence far greater than that of any book other than the Bible in the recent history of the Orthodox Church. In the Introduction (which is essential to read before entering into the text itself) Bishop Kallistos Ware poses the question of what determined the choice of texts contained in The Philokalia, and offers the following explanation: “‘Philokalia’ itself means love of the beautiful, the exalted, the excellent, understood as the transcendent source of life and the revelation of Truth. It is through such love that, as the subtitle of the original edition puts it, ‘the intellect is purified, illumined and made perfect.’” As such, “The Philokalia is an itinerary through the labyrinth of time, a silent way of love and gnosis through the deserts and emptinesses of life, especially of modern life, a vivifying and fadeless presence…”

Volume One contains the earliest writings of the entire corpus, including selections from Isaiah the Solitary, Evagrios Ponticus, St. John Cassian (this selection includes one of the earliest descriptions of the “Eight Vices,” which evolved in Western spirituality into the Seven Deadly Sins), St. Mark the Ascetic (a text of special note: On Those who Think that They Are Made Righteous by Works), St. Hesychios the Priest, St. Neilos the Ascetic, St. Diadochos of Photiki (St. Nikodemos claimed that his On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination reveals “the deepest secrets of the virtue of prayer”) and St. John of Karpathos.

378 pp. paper $19.95

Volume Two is dominated by a selection from the writings of St. Maximos the Confessor, whose theological and spiritual depth and precision is increasingly recognized among contemporary theologians, both within and without the Orthodox tradition. Included are his Four Hundred Texts on Love, Two Hundred Texts on Theology Written for Thalassios, and On the Lord’s Prayer. The aforementioned Thalassios is represented here by a short work, On Love, Self Control, and Life in Accordance with the Intellect. This volume also contains A Discourse on Abba Philimon (late sixth century), the earliest text to mention the Jesus Prayer in its standard form, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”

414 pp. paper $21.00

Volume Three presents to us St. Philotheos of Sinai, Ilias the Presbyter, a spiritual predecessor of St. Gregory Palamas, St. Peter of Damaskos (eleventh century), whose Treasury of Divine Knowledge occupies more space in The Philokalia than any other writer save Maximos, and St. Symeon Metaphrastis’ Paraphrase of the Homilies of St. Makarios of Egypt. Its themes of unseen warfare in the human heart, of synergeia or co-operation between divine grace and human will, and the possibility of conscious assurance of the indwelling grace of the Holy Spirit, foreshadow the spirituality of St. Symeon the New Theologian.

379 pp. paper $19.00

Volume Four begins with the writings of St. Symeon ‘the New Theologian’ (this title placing him in the select company of St. John the Evangelist and St. Gregory Nazianzen), specifically his One Hundred Fifty Three Practical and Theological Texts. Next come three treatises from St. Symeon’s disciple and biographer, Nikitas Stithatos. This volume culminates with ‘the two Gregories’ of the fourteenth century: St. Gregory of Sinai and St. Gregory Palamas, who together (though ‘in the flesh’ independently) articulated and defended the validity of the experience of those who through unceasing prayer and stillness (hesychia) saw the uncreated light of the Godhead. St. Gregory Palamas’ important One Hundred Fifty Chapters and Declaration of the Holy Mountain in Defense of Those who Devoutly Practice a Life of Stillness are presented here.

457 pp. paper $21.00

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