Monday, September 28, 2015

Why St. Neophytos the Recluse Wrote His "Hexaemeron" ("Six-Days of Creation")

In his introduction to his Interpretation of the Hexaemeron, St. Neophytos the Recluse (+ 1215) explains the following reason as to why he undertook this work:

It seems good to tell as to what caused me to reach the decision to write this book. When I was enlightened by some divine sunrise from above and I turned far away from the vanities of life, and my feet were led along the straight path and way of peace, so as to follow the monastic life, I secretly left my parents and my seven siblings, both male and female, and I arrived at a certain holy monastery. There it happened that I heard the prophetic words which say: "In the beginning God created heaven and earth," and all the words which follow these. And as I listened I was amazed because I had never heard these words before, for I was illiterate and did not even know the alphabet, being a child of eighteen years of age.

And I was in such amazement over these words that I heard and my soul came to love them so much, that I hoped others would read such things, and I wanted to understand their meaning, for besides "God created everything in the beginning and whatever He saw was good," I did not understand what anything meant. Nor did I want to ask anyone to explain it to me, but I kept this miracle secretly within my heart.

And it was as if the elders told me to prune the vine, that I undertook to learn certain letters with the help of God and the prayers the monks said night and day. The grace of God granted to me even more than this, so that I was able to learn the entire sacred Psalter. It was as if more divine illumination came to me to leave the noise of the coenobium, to go find quietude, and having found it, and I had in my memory the divine words I stated earlier, I searched to find out more about that prophetic book. And having found it, I memorized the entire thing with the help of God, and with the longing I had for all that it said. And I learned not only about the six day creation of the world, but all that it said about Paradise and the Fall, about the Flood and the destruction by fire, until Abraham the friend of God, and I was in great admiration over the divine words of Scripture.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.