Reading the Philokalia (2)

One of the most often visited posts on my previous blog is the one on the Philokalia . I thought I would update it with some additional links and a subsequent post with some simple points on the use of the Jesus Prayer.

The Philokalia is a collection of texts put together for the use of monks. It contains huge amounts of material on the ascetic life which are interesting and which challenge the undreamed of luxury in which most of us live. However, it would be almost impossible to live such an ascetic life other than in a monastery or as a hermit. So I would still recommend the selections from the Philokalia in the following books as the best place to start:

Writings from the Philokalia on the Prayer of the Heart, Amazon, Faber and Faber, by E. Kadloubovsky (Editor, Translator), G.E.H. Palmer (Translator)

This is a translation of parts of the version by Theophan the Recluse, the Wikipedia article shows how it fits into the historic development of Philokalias.

Philokalia: The Eastern Christian Spiritual Texts, Annotation by Allyne Smith

This contains selections from the Faber version with annotations. The selections are helpfully grouped by theme. This would be a very good pocket version to carry with you.

Much of the material in the fuller Philokalia concerns Watchfulness (nepsis) and the bringing of the mind (nous) into the heart. This material is, I think very useful and I hope that there will be writers who can make this accessible for those of living lives outside a monastery. To some extent Archimandrite Sophrony and a few others have started this process.

All that having been said here are some additional resources for those wanting to read the Philokalia:

A Youtube interview with Metropolitan Kallistos Ware

A lecture from Bishop Kallistos on the Philokalia

There is an interesting blog post on Dumitru Stãniloae and His “Philokalia” which shows how this Romanian work stands in the tradition of Philokalias here.

Kallistos Ware provides a short written introduction to the Philokalia here and suggests the following texts as a guide for beginners:

i. St Kallistos and St Ignatios Xanthopoulos, Directions to Hesy-chasts (Philokalia IV, 197-295, English translation Kadloubovsky and Palmer, Writings from the Philokalia, 164-270)

ii. St Hesychios the Priest, On Watchfulness and Holiness (Philokalia I, 141-73, English translation I, 162-98).

iii. Evagrios the Solitary (alias Neilos the Ascetic: i.e. Evagrios of Pontus), On Prayer (Philokalia I, 176-89, English translation I, 55-71).

iv. A Discourse on Abba Philimon (Philokalia II, 241-52, English translation II, 344-57).

v. St Gregory of Sinai, On the Signs of Grace and Delusion; On Stillness; On Prayer (Philokalia IV, 66-88, English translation IV, 257-86)

There is a useful discussion of the English translations available here. Most of us will use the Palmer et al version so it is good to see some cautionary notes about that.

There is a helpful review of the Bingaman and Nassaf book here, although I disagree that the book is ‘by and for scholars’, while the first is true I have found it invaluable and am not a scholar by any stretch of the imagination.

There is a typically good essay by Andrew Louth on the Philokalia here.

This doctoral thesis on Authority and Tradition gives a good overview of the reception of the Philokalia and is worth reading:


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