I am currently reading through St Philxenos' Ascetic Discourses
. The particular passage I assigned for today's reading seems pertinent to this thread. From 'Discourse 1' (i.e. the prologue):
Quote:Now those lusts which fight against us in the beginning of our youth are well known, and also those which war against us in the middle of youth, and at the end of the period of youth. And those which fight against us in the beginning, and middle, and end of [our] manhood, and those [which fight against us] in the stage which is after manhood in the self-same manner, even from the beginning until the end of this period, are well known; and also those passions, which in the time of old age war against us until our going forth from the world, and also what are those which come into being from us in infancy and childhood in emotions and natural movements, before the discernment of freewill hath been moved in it, and before we arrive at the knowledge which distinguisheth virtues from vices.
St Philoxenus is obviously using some very loaded terms here. He uses the term "passion", which he seems to equate with "lust" and other desires which "fight against us" (and which are hence "sinful"?)--though that equation does not necessarily preclude the existence of "good" or even "neutral" passions. He then goes on to state that these passions "come into being from us", which possibly suggests that, though they affect us early on in life, we are not in fact "born with" them since they are subsequent to our birth (and hence their being "born" from us in a sense). Then there is his use of another loaded expression, "natural movement", which clearly suggests involuntariness, but which otherwise is unclear. I guess there are a number of anthropological conclusions that can be drawn. I am inclined to reading this in light of St Severus' anthropology as summarised by Roberta Chestnut in her Three Monophysite Christologies
, but do not want to risk imposing my prejudice on the text.
Needless to say, a Philoxenian scholar who is well-acquainted with the wider context of St Philoxenus' anthropology and particularly the Syriac context of this work, would be very helpful to us at the moment. But for now, I have simply tagged this particular passage with a bright yellow marker and am hoping that further reading may shed more light on it.
"Come and incline your ear to the voice of your Mother who gives you life by the sweet music of her voice. Come and suck the sweet milk of Orthodox doctrine from the living breast of the Mother who bore you" - St Philoxenus of Mabug