Saturday, July 16, 2011

"'If you will, you can become all flame.'"

"Abba Lot went to see Abba Joseph and said to him, 'Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts.  What else can I do?'  Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven.  His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, 'If you will, you can become all flame [(γεγόνασιν οἱ δάκτυλοι αὐτοῦ, ὡς δέκα λαμπάδες πυρός·  και λέγει αὐτῷ·  Εἰ θέλεις, γενοῦ ὅλος ὡς πῦρ)].'"

Abba Joseph of Panephysis 7 (PG 65, col. 229).  This one doesn't appear in the Collection systématique (SC 387, 474, and 498), or, at least, not in the Concordance (SC 498, pp. 217 ff.) under Joseph de Panépho.  The desert Christian:  sayings of the Desert Fathers:  the alphabetical collection, trans. Benedicta Ward (New York, NY:  Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1975), 103.


Edith Humphrey said...

I am working on this apothegm/story, and have noticed several things:
first, it follows the lines of Jesus' interchange with the rich young ruler.
second, it emphasizes the (super?)physical aspect of tranformation.
third, the transformation renders Abba Joseph a source of light (lamps) for the inquirer.
Finally, the transformation takes place in the context of prayer (so it is a gift) and yet Abba Joseph stresses the factor of holy desire/freedom

Question: you have missed, in transcribing Migne's Greek, the ei theleis. However, most who comment on this story stress the aspect of freedom, so it might be good to add it.

Steve Perisho said...

Thanks for catching that, Dr. Humphrey!!! I started out reproducing only what I was interested in at the time, namely, the "becoming-fire" language in two separate parentheses, but then decided that that would disrupt an Internet search for the passage in English, and, so, gathered them together at the end, but in process neglected to insert the ei theleis. How embarrassing!!! Gratefully,