The question of the Pseudo-Macarius is extremely complex. A new study published by the German publishing house Lit Verlag and penned by the monk Wadid el Macari tries to shed a new and unprecedented light on this subject, after a century of dense literature.
Indeed, it was in the early twentieth century that serious doubts began to arise as to whether a large corpus of writings attributed to Saint Macarius the Egyptian or the Great had actually been written by him. Since then, the scientific literature has been filled with studies that have tried to demonstrate how, in reality, the language used by Macarius (that is, the Pseudo-Macarius, an unknown author who had nothing to do with the historical Egyptian Macarius) possessed a Syriac flavor and that Pseudo-Macarius should have been sought within the Syriac ascetic circles, and in particular in the heretical sect of the Messalians. Since then, a great deal of water has flowed under the bridge, leading, for example, to the refutation of any relationship between Pseudo-Macarius and Messalianism. The latter had manipulated Pseudo-Macarius’s texts for its own heterodox theology.
This new study attempts to demonstrate, for the first time, with abundant scientific evidence, the undeniable Egyptian substratum of the pseudo-Macarian writings, and in particular, of the Spiritual Homilies that have spiritually nourished thousands and thousands of faithful of all churches for centuries.
If there is an evident Egyptian substratum, is it therefore not possible to hypothesize that the author of the pseudo-Macarian corpus is precisely… Macarius the Egyptian, as it has been believed for hundreds of years? The author does not state this directly. Yet, the evidence he brings urges us not to rule out such a possibility.
Prof. Brock, who prefaced the book, writes, “This detailed study provides a very valuable and important contribution to the ongoing study of the Macarian Homilies, and its findings will certainly need to be taken into account in future scholarship. “
The “scales of the heart” (whence the title of the book “La Balance du Coeur”) is a typically Egyptian expression which received paramount importance in the life of Macarius of Egypt. This expression appears five times in the work of Pseudo-Macarius, while no other among the more than 1,800 Greek-language authors listed by the TLG uses it. This fact alone would suffice to raise the suspicion of a particular link between the Macarian writings and Egypt. Countless other clues are added to this study to indicate an original relationship between the Macarian corpus and the Egyptian tradition, both that of primitive monasticism and that of the great School of Alexandria. At the end of the volume, the author proposes a hypothesis that could reconcile the existence of an Egyptian substratum with the various Syriacisms that can be found in the Macarian Corpus.
from the book’s blurb
« While certainly not denying some sort of Syrian connection, the author of the present careful monograph provides clear evidence for the existence of a number of distinctive features in the Homilies which have their closest, and in a few cases, only parallels in early Egyptian sources. This detailed study provides a very valuable and important contribution to the ongoing study of the Macarian Homilies, and its findings will certainly need to be taken into account in future scholarship. »