1 This paper was first presented at the 24th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI on May 4, 1989.

2 Vita S. Macrinae [hereafter cited as VSM], in Gregorii Nyssani Opera Ascetica , ed. Virginia Woods Callahan, vol. 8/1 of Gregorii Nyssani Opera, ed. Werner Jaeger, (Leiden : Brill, 1952). There is a fine text and translation by P. Maraval , Grégoire de Nysse : Vie de Sainte Macrine , introd., texte critique, trad., notes and index, Sources Chrétiennes 178 (Paris: Cerf , 1971). For English translations see K. Corrigan, The Life of Saint Macrina , Peregrina Translations series (1987; rpt. Toronto: Peregrina Publishing, 1989); Virginia Woods Callahan, Saint Gregory of Nyssa: Ascetical Works, The Fathers of the Church: A New Translation, 58 (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1987). All translations from the VSM are from the Corrigan translation.

3 Patrologia Graeca , 28. cols . 1488–1557, secs . 1–113. To the best of my knowledge the only translation of this work is in French, Vie de Sainte Synclétique [hereafter cited as VSS], trad. Sr. Odile Bénédicte Bernard, Spiritualité Orientale , 9 (Solesmes : Abbaye de Bellefontaine, 1972).

4 See, for example, Roger Gryson , The Ministry of Women in the Early Church, trans. J. Laporte and M. L. Hall (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1976); Women of Spirit: Female Leadership in the Jewish and Christian Traditions, edd . Rosemary Ruether and Eleanor McLaughlin, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1979); Jean Laporte , The Role of Women in Early Christianity, (New York and Toronto: Edwin Mellen , 1982); Margot H. King, The Desert Mothers, (1985; rpt. Toronto: Peregrina Publishing, 1989); Jo Ann MacNamara , A New Song: Celibate Women in the First Three Christian Centuries, (Binghamton, NY: Harrington Park Press, 1985); Elizabeth A. Clark, Ascetic Piety and Women's Faith: Essays on Late Ancient Christianity, (New York and Toronto: Edwin Mellen , 1986); Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988).

5 See Rosemary Ruether , “Mothers of the Church: Ascetic Women in the Late Patristic Age,” in Women of Spirit, p. 75.

6 On the Thekla theme see especially Ruth Albrecht, Das Leben der heiligen Makrina auf dem Hintergrund der Thekla-Traditionen: Studien zu den Ursprungen des weiblichen Mönchtums im 4. Jahrhundert in Kleinasien (Gottingen : Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht , 1986); Patricia Wilson–Kastner , “Macrina : Virgin and Teacher” Andrews University Seminary Series 17 (Spring 1979): 105–118.

7 See, for example, the assessment of Dom Lucien Regnault in the introduction to Vie de Sainte Synclétique : “On supposerait volontiers que l'auteur a `rassemblé ' dans le cadre factice de la biographie d'une sainte monial – nommeé précisément pour cela 'Synclétique '! – les leçons ascétiques et morales qu'il voulait donner à son public" (p. v, note 2).

8 On this see Regnault , p. 111, note 6. The authorship of the Life of Anthony, however, has been disputed, on which see T. D. Barnes, “Angel of Light or Mystic Initiate? The Problem of the Life of AnthonyJournal of Theological Studies, n.s . 37, (1986): 353–368.

9 For the dating of Macrina's life see P. Maraval , Grégoire de Nysse : Vie de Sainte Macrine , p. 45, note 1.

10 De Anima et Resurrectione , PG 46, cols. 11–160; translated by Virginia Woods Callahan in Saint Gregory of Nyssa: Ascetical Works, The Fathers of the Church Series 58 (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1967): pp. 195–272.

11 Cf. Palladius , Lausiac History 46.6.

12 For the Thekla motif see Corrigan, pp. 27-28, note 1; for Macrina's early education, pp. 28-29; and for her moving, dying prayer, pp. 48-49.

13 The Lausiac History 55, ed. Dom Cuthbert Butler (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1898–1904); translated by Robert Meyer, Ancient Christian Writers 34 (Westminster: Newman Press, Westminster, 1965) and cited by Ruether , “Mothers of the Church,” p. 85.

14 See Regnault , p. viii, note 6.

15See particularly PG 28, ss . 28, 29, 45, 46, 49, 79, 80, 85 and passim.

16 For an account of the principal motifs in Evagrius ' thought see A. Louth , The Origins of the Western Mystical Tradition, From Plato to Denys (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981); for an accessible introduction to the text of Evagrius ' Praktikos see Évagre le Pontique : Traité Pratique ; ou Le Moine , 2 vols., introd ., edition critique, trad ., comm. by A. Guillaumont and Claire Guillaumont , Sources Chrétiennes , (Paris: Éditions du Cerf , 1971). The eight logismoi are as follows: gastrimargia (gluttony), porneia (fornication), philarguria (avarice), lupe (grief), orge (anger), akedia (accidie or listlessness), kenodoxia (vainglory), hyperephania (pride). See also Traité Pratique 2, p. 536 ff.

17 PG 28, ss . 32-39, 92, 72.

18 PG 28, ss . 96, 89–91. The terminology here is, directly or indirectly, influenced by Plato's Phaedo , probably indirectly through Evagrius . For example, the phrase melete thanatou (“the practice of dying” from the Phaedo ) occurs in the VSS, s. 76, and also in Evagrius , Traité Pratique 2, p. 618, s. 52, 3. Similarly, for the thought structure behind the “three heads of the devil,” see Traité Pratique 2, pp. 546–549, s. 19 and note to line 19; cp. also p. 515, note to line 10.

19 PG 28, ss . 81–88. This insight will have a noble lineage. In Thomas More's Utopia, Book 2, for instance, belief in the immortality of the soul and belief in providence are asserted to be fundamental beliefs for the preservation of the basic dignity of human nature.

20 PG 28, see especially s. 82.

21 PG 28, s. 41.

22 Peter Brown, The Body and Society, p. 278.