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Readers of the Philokalia are probably all acquainted with the wonderful little book, The Way of the Pilgrim, which tells an outwardly charming but deeply serious story of the search by an unnamed Russian pilgrim for a method of prayer that will fulfill the Scriptural command to pray without ceasing. A volume like this one, possibly even the very same texts as contained herein, is said to be the Philokalia that the Pilgrim himself carried on his travels through 19th Century Russia.
The Philokalia is an important collection of writings by Fathers of the Eastern Church dating from the fourth to the fourteenth century. It exists in three versions: the Greek, complied in the eighteenth century; the Slavonic; and the Russian. The Russian text, translated by Bishop Theophan the Recluse in the nineteenth century, and consisting of five volumes (with which a sixth is sometimes associated), is the most complete of all three versions. It is the Russian text that has been used in translating into English this selection, which presents a range of Philokalia writings concerning the Jesus Prayer.