On Nicetas of Maroneia

January 28, 2009

Nicetas of Maroneia was a chartophylax (i.e., chancellor and archivist) of the Church of Constantinople who later served as Archbishop of Thessalonica, probably sometime during the first half of the twelfth century. Of his Dialogues on the Procession of the Holy Spirit, in six books, book one was edited by J. Hergenröther and published in Migne’s Patrologia Graeca, vol. 139, cols. 169-202, along with excerpts from the other five books in cols. 201-222. An edition, with Latin translation, of books two, three, and four was made by Nicholas Festa and published in a series of articles in the journal Bessarione between the years 1912 and 1916. Books five and six have never, to my knowledge, been published, although there is a dissertation on them that I have not seen (C. Giorgetti, Nicetas de Maronée et ses dialogues V et VI sur la procession du Saint-Esprit, Lateran University, Rome, 1965). The entire work is contained in codex Vaticanus graecus 1115. It is significant as being the first known literary attempt, by a Greek and in the Greek language, to give an accurate and sympathetic account of the Latin position on the chief issue that divided the churches, the procession of the Holy Spirit. The “Greek” in Nicetas’s dialogue ends up acknowledging that the “Latin’s” position is orthodox, but he still insists that the offending term Filioque needs to be taken out of the Creed.

Nicetas’s Dialogues exercised a decisive influence upon both Nikephoros Blemmydes and John Bekkos. I am presenting an excerpt from them today, a passage which I think is especially significant for the claim it makes concerning the need to take substance and personal property in God together, and the inference it makes from this coherence, that it is legitimate to speak of the Holy Spirit proceeding from the substance of the Father and the Son, just as various Greek fathers in the fourth century had spoken of the Son being begotten from the Father’s substance. Both of these points are made repeatedly in John Bekkos’s writings. Indeed, this passage from Nicetas of Maroneia may have been, for Bekkos, the source of an insight that I believe is vital for understanding his theology. As I have said elsewhere, I think Bekkos’s theological position effectively reappropriates, in a thirteenth-century Byzantine context, the doctrine of those whom various patristic scholars have called “Old Nicenes.” Although Bekkos himself would not have called himself that, and would have said that he was simply giving the common and constant doctrine of the Church, I do think that, by exercising his own, thirteenth-century sort of ressourcement, he managed to bring into focus a view of substance that had deep roots, but had effectively been forgotten in the Christian East. He was, perhaps, a scribe bringing out of his treasury things old and new; in arguing for the harmony of the Latin and the Greek teachings on the procession, he certainly brought forth some things that were very old, and needed to be thought about again.

The Greek text of the following passage from Nicetas’s third Dialogue is transcribed from N. Festa, “Niceta di Maronea,” Bessarione 29 (1913), pp. 300-302. The translation is my own.


Third Discourse concerning the procession of the Holy Spirit

by Nicetas of Maroneia

(Greek) As we once again set forth on a new start of our discussion concerning the Holy Spirit, tell me, how is it not absurd to say that it is not from the Father alone, but also from the Son that he proceeds? For in fact it is necessary that what proceeds from the Father should be either from the Father’s substance or from his individuating property. But if it is from the substance, then, since the substance is common and the same to the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, the Spirit will proceed, not from the Father and the Son alone, but also from himself: which thing is not true. But if it is from the individuating property, and property is not substance, but around the substance, how will what he is according to himself, that is, the Spirit, be from that which is not according to himself, but which is contemplated around another, that is to say from the property? Either then he simply does not proceed, or, if he does proceed, and proceeds from the Father and the Son, he will proceed also from himself — which is never the case.

(Latin) Your argument shows, not that the Spirit does not proceed from the Son, but that he neither proceeds from the Father, nor indeed proceeds at all. For, indeed, if it is necessary for the Spirit to proceed either from the substance of the Father or from his individuating property, then, since the substance of the three is one and the same, if he proceeds from the substance he will proceed also from himself; but, if he proceeds from the property, then what is properly his own will come from what is not properly his own but is around another. For, one might say, as is the Spirit, so is his property. On account of these things he will not proceed in any manner; but that is absurd. The argument, therefore, is invalid. For the absurdity you attempt to demonstrate from our doctrine which says that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and from the Son, this very absurdity will follow also from your doctrine that says that he is from the Father alone.

For it might be said: Neither is he from the substance simply, nor from the individuating property alone. For neither is the property separated from the substance, nor is the substance without the property. Thus, he would be either from the substance according to the property, or from the property according to the substance. But to be from the property according to the substance is also absurd. For, in that case, what is substantial and subsisting would, again, be from what is around the substance, something which is impossible and is said by none of the fathers. Therefore he is from the substance; for the fathers in fact say this. But he is from the substance according to the individuating property; for this reason he will not be also from himself. Now the individuating property of the Father is to beget the Son from himself and, simultaneously, to emit the Spirit through the Son; just as it is the individuating property of the Son to emit the Spirit from himself immediately in his being begotten from the Father — that is to say, it is his property both to be begotten of the Father, and to emit the Spirit immediately from himself. For the Son is a mean between the Father and the Spirit, as John of Damascus says. But the individuating property of the Spirit is to proceed from the Father through the Son, which is as much as to say, from the Son or out of the Son. And, in this way, the Spirit comes forth from both, while the individuating property is preserved unchanging for each of the three — the property according to which each possesses, in a unique way, the existence of his own hypostasis.

But, for your part, bring on again your claim that I am introducing, as an absurd consequence, two origins of the Spirit, as though you were consigning the belief to the realm of absurdity, and were thinking you had therefore pushed it aside, as you are still not content with the things I earlier stated upon this subject. And, if you like, add on again your point about inferiority, and enumerate what is direct and immediate, and all the other things which seemed to you to follow in that case. But, as for me, avoiding all excessive, repetitive speech, I will give you a brief argument. Do you not say that the creation both exists from God, and by God the Father’s agency, having been brought out of nothingness into being through the very Word of God — who exists together with him and shines forth out of him — and in the Holy Spirit? But you also say that it is “from” the Son and by his agency that the world has taken its being, and “from” the Spirit and by the Spirit’s agency; and thus there is source and source and source for the world’s creation, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit; and yet there are not three sources, but one source, and the Father, on the one hand, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit has created all things, while, on the other hand, the Spirit, co-creating with the Father and the Son, has brought to perfection the creation of all things. And there is no inferiority at all in any of the three, but each of them, in one nature, is recognized by right believers as activating each thing according to those properties which pertain to him. And as for the words “through” and “from” and “in,” these appellations neither divide the one source or origin into many, nor do they divide the nature into greater and less. But neither, again, does the term “through,” which introduces the notion of immediacy, distance the Spirit from the Father; nor does “greater,” nor “first,” nor “prior,” when taken in respect of the individuating characteristics, involve absurdity. But we shun absurdities, and we understand and interpret these things piously and, one might say, in the way the saints take these expressions in their own writings. Thus also understand in the case of the procession of the Holy Spirit, only this: that the Spirit is from the existing Father, through the coexisting Word, as from a single substantial, natural source in both, a source not manufacturing him or making him or creating him; nor again as though he had some beginning in time, but beginninglessly, as being eternal and above time, he proceeds from the Father and from the Son from before all ages; but the creatures are from without, out of nothingness, and have commenced their existence afterwards. As therefore, in the case of the creation of creatures, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are source, and source, and source, yet one single source of all things, so also in the case of the procession of the Spirit, the Father is source, the Son also is source, but there is one source. But it is one thing for things to be called later into being out of non-being; another thing is he who is always with the Father and the Son and always shining forth together with both of them, as substantially proceeding from both of them, that is, from the Father through the Son. If then you are able to refute this doctrine in some other way, give it a try. But, for the present, leave insults aside.

* * * * *

(Γρ.) Ἔτι ταύτην ἀρχὴν καὶ αὖθις τιθέμενος τῆς μεθ᾽ ἡμῶν περὶ τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος συζητήσεως, λέγε, πῶς οὐκ ἄτοπον τὸ λέγειν τοῦτο μὴ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐκ τοῦ Υἱοῦ ἐκπορεύεσθαι. καὶ γὰρ ἀνάγκη ἢ ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας εἶναι τοῦ Πατρὸς τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορευόμενον, ἢ ἐκ τῆς ἰδιότητος. ἀλλ᾽ εἰ μὲν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας, ἐπεὶ ἡ οὐσία κοινὴ καὶ ἡ αὐτὴ τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ καὶ τοῦ Πνεύματος, οὐκ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Υἱοῦ μόνον ἐκπορεύοιτ᾽ ἄν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ τὸ Πνεῦμα· ὅπερ οὐκ ἔστιν. εἰ δὲ ἐκ τῆς ἰδιότητος, ἡ δὲ ἰδιότης οὐκ οὐσία, ἀλλὰ περὶ τὴν οὐσίαν, πῶς τὸ καθ᾽ ἑαυτό, ἤγουν τὸ Πνεῦμα, ἔσται ἐκ τοῦ μὴ καθ᾽ ἑαυτό, ἀλλὰ περὶ ἕτερον θεωρουμένου, τουτέστι τῆς ἰδιότητος. ἢ οὖν οὐδὲ ἐκπορευ·τὸν ὅλως· ἢ εἰ ἐκπορευτόν, ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ ἐκ τοῦ Υἱοῦ ἐκπορευόμενον, ἔσται καὶ ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ ἐκπορευόμενον· ὅπερ οὐδέποτε.

(Λα.) Οὗτος ὁ λόγος δείκνυσιν οὐχ ὅτι μὴ ἐκ τοῦ Υἱοῦ, ἀλλ᾽ ὅτι μηδὲ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται, μηδὲ [ὅτι] ὅλως ἐκπορευτόν ἐστιν, εἰ γὰρ ἀνάγκη τὸ Πνεῦμα ἢ ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεσθαι ἢ ἐκ τῆς ἰδιότητος, εἰ μὲν ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας, διότι αὕτη μία τῶν τριῶν καὶ ἡ αὐτή, καὶ ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ ἐκπορεύσεται· εἰ δὲ ἐκ τῆς ἰδιότητος, ἔσται τὸ καθ᾽ αὑτὸ ἐκ τοῦ μὴ καθ᾽ αὑτὸ ἀλλὰ περὶ ἕτερον. τοιοῦτον γὰρ ὡς εἰπεῖν τὸ Πνεῦμα· τοιοῦτον δὲ καὶ ἡ ἰδιότης. διὰ τὰ αὐτὰ δὲ οὐδὲ ἐκπορευτὸν ὅλως ἔσται· ἀλλ᾽ ἄτοπον τοῦτο. ἀνίσχυρος οὖν ὁ λόγος. ὃ γὰρ ἄτοπον ἐπιχειρεῖς δεῖξαι τῷ καθ᾽ ἡμᾶς δόγματι ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ ἐκ τοῦ Υἱοῦ λέγοντι τὸ Πνεῦμα ἐκπορεύεσθαι, τοῦτο ἕψεται καὶ τῷ ὑμετέρῳ λέγοντι ἐκ μόνου τοῦ Πατρός.

Φαίη γὰρ ἄν τις· ἀλλ᾽ οὔτε ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας ἁπλῶς, οὔτε ἐκ τῆς ἰδιότητος μόνης. οὔτε γὰρ ἡ ἰδιότης τῆς οὐσίας χωρίς, οὔτε ἡ οὐσία ἄνευ τῆς ἰδιότητος· λοιπὸν εἴη ἂν ἢ ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας κατὰ τὴν ἰδιότητα, ἢ ἐκ τῆς ἰδιότητος κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν. ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν ἐκ τῆς ἰδιότητος κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν καὶ ἄτοπον. ἐκ γὰρ τοῦ περὶ τὴν οὐσίαν πάλιν τὸ οὐσιῶδες καὶ ὑφεστηκός, ὅπερ ἀδύνατον καὶ παρ᾽ οὐδενὸς τῶν πατέρων ῥηθέν. ἐκ τῆς ούσίας ἄρα· τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ οἱ πατέρες εἶπον· ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὴν ἰδιότητα· διὰ τοῦτο οὐκ ἔσται καὶ ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ. ἰδιότης δὲ τοῦ Πατρὸς τὸ γεννᾶν μὲν ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ τὸν Υἱόν, τὸ δὲ Πνεῦμα ἅμα προβάλλεσθαι διὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ· ὥσπερ ἰδιότης τοῦ Υἱοῦ πάλιν τὸ ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ ἀμέσως προβάλλεσθαι τὸ Πνεῦμα ἐν τῷ γεννᾶσθαι ἐκ τοῦ Πατρός, ἤγουν τὸ γεννᾶσθαι μὲν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρός, ἅμα δὲ καὶ ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ ἀμέσως τὸ Πνεῦμα προβάλλεσθαι. Μέσος γὰρ ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ τοῦ Πνεύματος, καθώς φησιν ὁ ἐκ Δαμασκοῦ, τοῦ δὲ Πνεύματος ἡ ἰδιότης τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς διὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ, ταὐτὸν δὲ εἰπεῖν καὶ παρὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ ἢ ἐκ τοῦ Υἱοῦ, ἐκπορεύεσθαι· καὶ οὕτω πρόεισιν ἐξ ἀμφοῖν τὸ Πνεῦμα φυλαττομένης ἑκάστῳ τῶν τριῶν τῆς ἰδιότητος ἀκινήτου, καθ᾽ ἣν ἕκαστον ἰδιότροπον ἔχει τὴν ὕπαρξιν τῆς ἑαυτοῦ ὑποστάσεως.

Σὺ δέ μοι πάλιν τὸ δύο εἰσάγειν ἀρχὰς τοῦ Πνεύματος ὡς ἑπόμενον ἄτοπον ἔπαγε, ὡς εἰς ἄτοπον ἀπάγων τὴν δόξαν, καὶ διὰ τούτου δοκῶν ἀναιρεῖν· οὐκ ἀρκούμενος οἷς περὶ τούτου πρότερον διείλεγμαι. εἰ δὲ βούλει καὶ τὴν ὕφεσιν αὖθις προτίθει, καὶ τὸ προσεχὲς ἀπαρίθμει, καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ὅσα σοι ἐδόκει προσίστασθαι· ἐγὼ δὲ τὴν περιττολογίαν καὶ ταυτολογίαν ἐκκλίνων, σύντομον λόγον ἐρῶ σοι· ἆρα οὐ φὴς καὶ τὴν κτίσιν ὑπάρξαι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ Πατρός, ἐκ τοῦ μὴ ὄντος εἰς τὸ εἶναι παραχθεῖσαν διὰ τοῦ συνόντος αὐτῷ καὶ ἐκλάμποντος ἐξ αὐτοῦ θεοῦ Λόγου καὶ ἐν ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι; ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐκ τοῦ Υἱοῦ καὶ παρὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ λέγεις εἰληφέναι τὸ εἶναι αὐτὴν καὶ ἐκ τοῦ Πνεύματος καὶ παρὰ τοῦ Πνεύματος· καὶ ἔστιν ἀρχὴ καὶ ἀρχὴ καὶ ἀρχή, ὁ Πατήρ, ὁ Υἱὸς καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα πρὸς τὴν τῆς κτίσεως δημιουργίαν· ἀλλ᾽ οὐ τρεῖς ἀρχαί, ἀλλὰ μία ἀρχή· καὶ ὁ μὲν Πατὴρ διὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ ἐν ἁγίῳ Πνεύματι τὰ πάντα ἔκτισε· τὸ δὲ Πνεῦμα συνδημιουργοῦν τῷ Πατρὶ καὶ τῷ Υἱῷ τὴν τῶν πάντων ἐτελείωσε κτίσιν· καὶ ὕφεσις οὐδαμοῦ τῶν τριῶν οὐδενί, ἀλλ᾽ ἕκαστον ἐν μίᾷ φύσει κατὰ τὰς προσούσας ἰδιότητας ἐνεργοῦν ἕκαστα τοῖς εὐσεβέσι γνωρίζεται. καὶ τὸ διὰ καὶ ἐξ καὶ ἐν, αἱ προθέσεις αὖται οὔτε τὴν μίαν ἀρχὴν εἰς πολλὰς κατατέμνουσιν, οὔτε τὴν φύσιν εἰς μεῖζον καὶ ἔλαττον· ἀλλ᾽ οὐδὲ τὸ διὰ πάλιν, τὸ προσεχὲς παρεισάγον, τὸ Πνεῦμα διίστησι τοῦ Πατρός· οὐδὲ τὸ μεῖζον, οὐδὲ τὸ πρῶτον οὐδὲ τὸ πρότερον, κατὰ τὰς ἰδιότητας ἐκλαμβανόμενον, ἔχει τὸ ἄτοπον· ἀλλὰ τὰ μὲν ἄτοπα φεύγομεν, εὐσεβῶς δὲ ταῦτα καὶ νοοῦμεν καὶ ἑρμηνεύομεν, καὶ καθὼς ἂν φαῖεν καὶ οἱ τὰς λέξεις ταύτας ἐν τοῖς οἰκείοις συγγράμμασι παραλαμβάνοντες ἅγιοι. οὕτω δὴ νόει καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος ἐκπορεύσεως, πλὴν ὅτι τὸ μὲν Πνεῦμα ἐξ ὄντος τοῦ Πατρὸς διὰ τοῦ συνόντος Λόγου ὡς ἐξ ἀρχῆς μιᾶς ἀμφοῖν οὐσιώδους καὶ φυσικῆς, οὐχὶ τεχνικῆς ἢ ποιητικῆς ἢ δημιουργικῆς, οὐκ ἀρχὴν ἔχον χρονικήν, ἀλλ᾽ ἀνάρχως ὡς ἄχρονον ὂν καὶ ὑπὲρ χρόνον ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ ἐκ τοῦ Υἱοῦ προαιωνίως ἐκπορευόμενον· τὰ δὲ κτίσματα ἔξωθεν ἐκ τοῦ μὴ ὄντος καὶ ὕστερον τοῦ εἶναι ἀρξάμενα. ὡς οὖν ἐπὶ τῆς τῶν κτισμάτων δημιουργίας ἀρχὴ καὶ ἀρχὴ καὶ ἀρχὴ ὁ Πατὴρ καὶ ὁ Υἱὸς καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα, ἀλλὰ μία ἀρχὴ πάντων, οὕτω καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς τοῦ Πνεύματος ἐκπορεύσεως ἀρχὴ ὁ Πατήρ, ἀρχὴ καὶ ὁ Υἱός, ἀλλὰ μία ἀρχή. ἕτερον δὲ τὸ τὰ μὲν ὕστερον εἰς τὸ εἶναι ἐκ τοῦ μὴ ὄντος κληθῆναι· τὸ δὲ ἀεὶ συνὸν Πατρὶ καὶ Υἱῷ καὶ ἀεὶ συνεκλάμπον ἀμφοῖν, ὡς ἐξ ἀμφοῖν, ἤτοι ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς διὰ τοῦ Υἱοῦ, οὐσιωδῶς ἐκπορευόμενον. οὐκοῦν εἰ ἄλλοθεν τουτὶ τὸ δόγμα ἐλέγχειν ἰσχύεις, ἐκεῖθεν ἐπιχείρει. Τῶν δὲ μέμψεων ἀπόσθητι τουτωνί.

A retraction

January 28, 2009

I have removed from the web my last post, an essay occasioned by the murder of children last week at a nursery in Belgium. It was too depressing, and in the end did nothing but stir up bad memories.

Last May, an announcement was made on this blog that Holy Resurrection Monastery planned to move from its current location in Newberry Springs, California to a site in western New Jersey. It now turns out that this move is not to take place. Due largely to the current economic slowdown, the monks have been unable to finance it; however, they have already contracted to sell their property in Newberry Springs to a nearby Coptic monastery, and are therefore looking for another home. According to a recent post on the monastery’s website, they decided this past fall to remain in Southern California, in response to the urgent petitions of local supporters. At present, the monks seek to raise $200,000 to make a down payment on a property in Banning, California. They have set up a foundation to help them in this task. I would ask readers of this blog to consider supporting it and the monks’ mission.

There is no need for me to apologize for printing this. Like millions of people in this country and around the world, I listened to this speech today, after watching Barack Obama be sworn in as president. We live in remarkable times. May God preserve America’s new president and his family from enemies physical and spiritual; may he support his faith, and grant him wisdom and understanding, justice, prudence, and fortitude to guide this people during the days and years ahead. The prayer of a humble American citizen.


My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.

They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Yesterday at liturgy the priest at our church in New Jersey read aloud an address written by the new primate of the Orthodox Church in America, Jonah, Metropolitan of Washington and New York. Several people at the parish, including me, remarked afterward that they wished they had an opportunity to see the address in print, to give it a closer reading. Here, then, is the text of Metropolitan Jonah’s sermon, as published on the OCA website (http://www.oca.org/jonah-2009-0118.html).


Sanctity of Life Sunday

Archpastoral Message of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah

January 18, 2009

To the Venerable Hierarchs, Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America

Dearly Beloved in Christ:

The Lord Jesus Christ emerged from the waters of Baptism, and heard the Word of the Father: “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The Lord’s word to each and every human being, to each and every being which bears the image and can actualize the likeness of God, is the same: You are my beloved. It is the very Word of God who, by His incarnation and assumption of our whole life and our whole condition, affirms and blesses the ultimate value of every human person–and indeed of creation as a whole. He filled it with His own being, uniting us to Himself, making us His own Body, transfiguring and deifying our lives, and raising us up to God our Father. He affirms and fulfills us, not simply as individuals seeking happiness, but rather as persons with an infinite capacity to love and be loved, and thus fulfills us through His own divine personhood in communion.

Our life as human beings is not given to us to live autonomously and independently. This, however, is the great temptation: to deny our personhood, by the depersonalization of those around us, seeing them only as objects that are useful and give us pleasure, or are obstacles to be removed or overcome. This is the essence of our fallenness, our brokenness. With this comes the denial of God, and loss of spiritual consciousness. It has resulted in profound alienation and loneliness, a society plummeting into the abyss of nihilism and despair. There can be no sanctity of life when nothing is sacred, nothing is holy. Nor can there be any respect for persons in a society that accepts only autonomous individualism: there can be no love, only selfish gratification. This, of course, is delusion. We are mutually interdependent.

First as Christians, but even more so, as human beings, we must repent and turn to God and one another, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation. Only this will heal the soul. Only by confronting our bitterness and resentment, and finding forgiveness for those who have hurt us, can we be free from the rage that binds us in despair. Repentance is not about beating ourselves up for our errors and feeling guilty; that is a sin in and of itself! Guilt keeps us entombed in self-pity. All sin is some form of self-centeredness, selfishness. Repentance is the transformation of our minds and hearts as we turn away from our sin, and turn to God, and to one another. Repentance means to forgive. Forgiveness does not mean to justify someone’s sin against us. When we resent and hold a grudge, we objectify the person who hurt us according to their action, and erect a barrier between us and them. And, we continue to beat ourselves up with their sin. To forgive means to overcome that barrier, and see that there is a person who, just like us, is hurt and broken, and to overlook the sin and embrace him or her in love. When we live in a state of repentance and reconciliation, we live in a communion of love, and overcome all the barriers that prevented us from fulfilling our own personhood.

All the sins against humanity, abortion, euthanasia, war, violence, and victimization of all kinds, are the results of depersonalization. Whether it is “the unwanted pregnancy”, or worse, “the fetus” rather than “my son” or “my daughter;” whether it is “the enemy” rather than Joe or Harry (maybe Ahmed or Mohammed), the same depersonalization allows us to fulfill our own selfishness against the obstacle to my will. How many of our elderly, our parents and grandparents, live forgotten in isolation and loneliness? How many Afghan, Iraqi, Palestinian and American youths will we sacrifice to agonizing injuries and deaths for the sake of our political will? They are called “soldiers,” or “enemy combatants” or “civilian casualties” or any variety of other euphemisms to deny their personhood. But ask their parents or children! Pro-war is NOT pro-life! God weeps for our callousness.

We have to extend a hand to those suffering from their sins, what ever they are. There is no sin that cannot be forgiven, save the one we refuse to accept forgiveness for. Abortion not only destroys the life of the infant; it rips the soul out of the mother (and the father!). It becomes a sin for which a woman torments herself for years, sinking deeper into despair and self-condemnation and self-hatred. But there is forgiveness, if only she will ask. We must seek out and embrace the veterans who have seen such horrors, and committed them. They need to be able to repent and accept forgiveness, so that their souls, their memories, and their lives, might be healed.

Most of all, we must restore the family: not just the nuclear family, but the multi-generational family which lives together, supports one another, and teaches each one what it means to be loved and to be a person. It teaches what forgiveness and reconciliation are. And it embraces and consoles the prodigals who have fallen. In this, the real sanctity of life is revealed, from pregnancy to old age. And in the multi-generational family each person finds value. This is the most important thing that we can possibly do.

The Blessed Mother Teresa said that the greatest poverty of the industrialized world is loneliness. Let us reach out to those isolated, alienated, alone, and in despair, finding in them someone most worthy of love; and in turn, we will find in ourselves that same love and value, and know indeed that God speaks to us in the depths of our souls, You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased.

With love in Christ,

+JONAH
Archbishop of Washington and New York
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

The following passage from Didymus the Blind, a fourth-century Christian writer who lived and taught in Alexandria, is given as a follow-up to last week’s Apollinarius translation. Both texts, I think, read chapter 16 of the Gospel of John in a fairly consistent way; if anything, the Didymus passage is even more explicit on the point that what is communicated by the Son to the Holy Spirit is nothing other than the divine nature itself. Didymus wrote this work On the Holy Spirit during the decade of the 370s; it was used by St. Ambrose in writing his own treatise on the Holy Spirit (380), and, sometime after 385, it was translated by St. Jerome into Latin. Because the original Greek text has perished, Jerome’s Latin translation is the only version of it extant. St. Augustine evidently read the work, in Jerome’s Latin translation, at some point during the period when he was writing his own work De Trinitate (see Irénée Chevalier, Saint Augustin et la pensée grecque: les relations trinitaires [Fribourg-en-Suisse 1940], p. 154). It is hard not to think that he saw, in this Greek writing, a confirmation of his own views about the Holy Spirit’s origins.


Didymus the Blind, De Spiritu Sancto, §§34-37. Latin text in Louis Doutreleau, S.J., ed., Didyme l’Aveugle: Traité du Saint-Esprit (Paris 1992) [= Sources Chrétiennes nº 386], pp. 284-296; also in PG 39, 1063C – 1066A. Traditional numbering in bold print; Doutreleau’s numbering in brackets.

34 [153] … Consequently, in the things which follow, the Savior — who is the Truth — says concerning the Spirit of Truth who is sent by the Father and is the Paraclete: “For he shall not speak of himself” (Jn 16:13), that is, not without me and without the counsel of me and my Father, for he is inseparable from my and the Father’s will. For he is not from himself, but from the Father and me. For the very fact that he exists and speaks comes to him from the Father and from me. I speak the truth: that is, I inspire those things which he speaks, if indeed he is the Spirit of Truth. [154] But “to speak” and “to talk” should not be taken, in the case of the Trinity, according to the way in which we are accustomed to converse and talk with each other, but in keeping with the form of incorporeal natures and especially of the Trinity, who places his will in the heart of believers and those who are worthy to hear it; this is “to speak and to talk.” 34 [153] Dehinc in consequentibus de Spiritu ueritatis qui a Patre mittatur et sit Paracletus, Saluator — qui et ueritas — ait: «Non enim loquetur a semetipso», hoc est non sine me et sine meo et Patris arbitrio, quia inseparabilis a mea et Patris est uoluntate, quia non ex se est, sed ex Patre et me est: hoc enim ipsum quod subsistit et loquitur a Patre et a me illi est. Ego ueritatem loquor, id est inspiro quae loquitur, siquidem Spiritus ueritatis est. [154] Dicere autem et loqui in Trinitate, non secundum consuetudinem nostram qua ad nos inuicem sermocinamur et loquimur accipiendum, sed iuxta formam incorporalium naturarum et maxime Trinitatis, quae uoluntatem suam inserit in corde credentium et eorum qui eam audire sunt digni; hoc est ‘dicere et loqui.’
35 [155] In fact, when we human beings speak about something to another person, we first conceive in our mind, wordlessly, what we intend. Next, desiring to transmit this to another’s intellect, we move the organ of the tongue and, striking the teeth, as one would strike a string with a plectrum, we let loose a vocal sound. Then, in the same way as we strike palate and teeth with the tongue, measuring out diverse phrases with it, and producing a modulation of the air, so that we might communicate to others those things which are known to us, so also it is necessary for the hearer to have his ears open and not, because of some defect, keep them closed to those things which are said; in this way, he may know those things which are set forth, just as he who speaks them knows them. [156] But God, since he is simple and of an uncompounded, unique nature, has neither ears nor organs by which he emits a voice, but, being a solitary and incomprehensible substance, he is composed of no members or parts. And these things must similarly be granted as true concerning the Son and the Holy Spirit. 35 [155] Nos quippe homines quando de aliqua re ad alterum loquimur, primum quod uolumus mente concipimus absque sermone. Deinde in alterius sensum uolentes transferre, linguae organum commouemus et, quasi quoddam plectrum chordis dentium collidentes, uocalem sonum emittimus. Quomodo igitur nos linguam, quam palato dentibusque collidimus, et ictum aerem in diuersa eloquia temperamus ut nobis nota communicemus in alios, ita et auditorem necesse est patulas praebere aures et nullo uitio coartatas in ea quae dicuntur erigere, ut possit ita scire quae proferuntur quomodo ea nouit ille qui loquitur. [156] Porro Deus, simplex et incompositae specialisque naturae, neque aures neque organa quibus uox emittitur habet, sed solitaria incomprehensibilisque substantia nullis membris partibusque componitur. Quae quidem et de Filio et de Spiritu Sancto similiter accipienda.
36 [157] If ever, therefore, we read in Scripture, “The Lord said to my Lord” (Ps 110:1), and, elsewhere, “God said, Let there be light” (Gen 1:3), and any other things similar to these, we ought to take such things in a way that is worthy of God. [158] For it is not the case that the Father announces to the Son his will as though the Son, who is Wisdom and Truth, were ignorant, since everything which [the Father] speaks he possesses in wisdom and in substance, as he is wise and truly subsisting. For the Father, therefore, to speak, and for the Son to hear, or, vice versa, for the Son to speak to the Father, signifies the identity of nature and of volition that is in the Father and the Son. [159] And also the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth and the Spirit of Wisdom, cannot hear the Son speaking things which he does not already know, since he himself is that which is put forth from the Son, [that is, the Spirit of Truth proceeding from the Son, Paraclete coming forth from the Paraclete (cf. Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:7; 1 Jn 2:1), God proceeding from God.*] [160] Finally, lest anyone should separate him from the will and communion of the Father and the Son, it is written, “For he shall not speak of himself, but, as he shall hear, so shall he speak” (Jn 16:13). And the Savior also says something similar to this about himself: “As I hear, so I judge” (Jn 5:30), and elsewhere, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but only that which he sees the Father doing” (Jn 5:19). [161] For if there is one Son of the Father, not according to the error of Sabellius who conflates Father and Son, but according to the inseparability of essence or substance, he can do nothing without the Father, since diverse works belong to things separated; but, when he sees the Father work, he himself works, and this, not as though he were working at a secondary level and afterwards. In fact, we will start to see some works belonging to the Father, others belonging to the Son, if they are not done [by them] equally. [162] For it is written: “For those things which he (doubtless, the Father) does, those same things the Son does likewise” (Jn 5:19). So that if, when the Father and the Son work — not in an order of first and second, but in a simultaneity of working —, all those things which they make exist as identical and undifferentiated, and the Son cannot do anything of himself because he cannot be separated from the Father, so also the Holy Spirit, who is never separated from the Son in respect of his communion of will and of nature, is believed to speak, not of himself, but he speaks all that he speaks in line with the Word and Truth of God. [163] The Lord’s words that follow confirm this opinion, when he says, “He (i.e., the Paraclete) shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine” (Jn 16:14). Once more, this term, “to receive,” must be understood in a manner befitting the divine nature. 36 [157] Si quando ergo legimus in Scriptura: «Dixit Dominus Domino meo», et alibi: «Dixit Deus: Fiat lux», et si qua his similia, digne Deo accipere debemus. [158] Neque enim ignorante Filio qui sapientia et ueritas est, Pater suam nuntiat uoluntatem, cum omne quod loquitur, sapiens uerusque subsistens, in sapientia habeat et in substantia. Loqui ergo Patrem et audire Filium, uel e contrario Filio loquente Patrem, eiusdem naturae in Patre et Filio consensusque significatio est. [159] Spiritus quoque Sanctus, qui est Spiritus ueritatis Spiritusque sapientiae, non potest Filio loquente audire quae nescit, cum hoc ipsum sit quod profertur a Filio, [id est procedens a ueritate consolator manans de consolatore Deus de Deo Spiritus ueritatis procedens.*] [160] Denique ne quis illum a Patre et Filii uoluntate et societate discerneret, scriptum est: «Non enim a semetipso loquetur, sed sicut audiet loquetur.» Cui simile etiam de seipso Saluator ait: «Sicut audio, et iudico», et alibi: «Non potest Filius a se facere quicquam, nisi quod uideret Patrem facientem.» [161] Si enim unus est Patri Filius, non iuxta Sabellii uitium Patrem et Filium confundentis, sed iuxta indiscretionem essentiae siue substantiae, non potest quicquam absque Patre facere, quia separatorum diuersa sunt opera, sed uidens operantem Patrem, et ipse operatur, non in secundo gradu et post illum operans. Alia quippe Patris, alia Filii opera esse inciperent, si non aequaliter fierent. [162] Scriptum est autem: «Quae enim ille facit — haud dubium quin Pater —, hanc eadem Filius similiter facit.» Quod si operante Patre et Filio, non iuxta ordinem primi et secundi sed iuxta idem tempus operandi, eadem et indissimilia subsistunt uniuersa quae fiunt, et Filius non potest a semetipso quid facere quia a Patre non potest separari, sic et Spiritus Sanctus nequaquam separatus a Filio propter uoluntatis naturaeque consortium, non a semetipso creditur loqui, sed iuxta uerbum et ueritatem Dei loquitur uniuersa quae loquitur. [163] Hanc opinionem sequentia Domini uerba confirmant, dicentis: «Ille me clarificabit — id est Paracletus — quia de meo accipiet.» Rursum hic ‘accipere’ ut diuinae naturae conueniat intellegendum.
37 [164] For just as the Son, in giving, is not deprived of those things which he bestows, and does not confer upon others to his own loss, so likewise the Spirit does not receive what he did not have before. For if in fact he receives what he did not previously have, with the gift being transferred from one to another, then the giver is made empty, ceasing to have what he bestowed. [165] Accordingly, in the same manner as we understood earlier when discoursing of incorporeal natures, so also now we should acknowledge the Holy Spirit’s “receiving” from the Son to mean that which pertains to his nature, indicating, not one who gives, and one who receives, but the one substance. Since, indeed, the Son, too, is said to “receive” from the Father those same things, by which he exists. For neither is the Son anything apart from those things which are given to him by the Father, nor is there any other substance belonging to the Holy Spirit besides that which is given to him by the Son. 37 [164] Quomodo enim Filius dans non priuatur his quae tribuit neque cum damno suo impertit aliis, sic et Spiritus non accipit quod ante non habuit. Si enim prius quod non habebat accepit, translato in alium munere, uacuus largitor effectus est, cessans habere quod tribuit. [165] Quomodo igitur supra de naturis incorporalium disputantes intelleximus, sic et nunc Spiritum Sanctum a Filio accipere id quod suae naturae fuerat cognoscendum est, et non dantem et accipientem sed unam significare substantiam, siquidem et Filius eadem a Patre accipere dicitur quibus ipse subsistit. Neque enim quid aliud est Filius exceptis his quae ei dantur a Patre, neque alia substantia est Spiritus Sancti praeter id quod ei datur a Filio.

* The text bracketed in §159 appears in the Migne edition, but is consigned to the margin, as a variant reading, by the editor of the Sources Chrétiennes edition.

Apollinarius on John 16:14

January 9, 2009

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you. — John 16:13-15

The question of the meaning of John 16:13-15 is quite important for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. If John 15:26 declares that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father,” John 16:13-15 indicates a relationship, perhaps an eternal one, of the Spirit with the Son. For numerous fathers, both Greek and Latin, the passage bears a strong interpretation; its language about the Holy Spirit “hearing” from the Son, “glorifying” the Son, and “receiving” from that which is the Son’s is interpreted to mean that, as the Holy Spirit is from the Father, so also is he from the Son, and that in an eternal sense. So St. Epiphanius: “Christ is believed to be from the Father, God from God, and the Spirit to be from Christ, or indeed from both (παρ᾽ ἀμφοτέρων) — as Christ says, ‘Who proceeds from the Father’ (Jn 15:26), and ‘He shall receive of mine’ (Jn 16:14)” (Epiphanius, Ancoratus 67). St. Photius rejected that interpretation of the passage, and claimed that, when Jesus says of the Holy Spirit that “he shall receive of mine” (ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήμψεται), he means only that the Spirit shall receive from him that is mine, i.e., from the Father (cf. Photius, Mystagogy, §§ 22-23).

An examination of the sources would, I think, show that the Holy Spirit’s ontological dependence on the Son was one of the issues on which the Antiochene and Alexandrian schools of Christian thought disagreed, by the early fifth century at the latest. Like Photius, the Antiochenes took a weak view of the Spirit’s relationship with the Son, and were suspicious of attempts to read events in Jesus’ temporal life back into his eternal nature; if Jesus gives the Spirit in time, breathing upon his disciples (John 20:22) or sending him down upon them from the Father at Pentecost (Acts 1:4; 2:1-4), then what follows from this is that Jesus gives the Spirit in time, and nothing more. Writers of the Alexandrian tradition, like St. Cyril of Alexandria, tended to see a great deal more significance in such actions of the incarnate Son. St. Cyril, in particular, thought that one needed to confess that the Holy Spirit does not simply come to Jesus from without, but that the Spirit is, in fact, naturally and eternally the Son’s own (ἴδιον αὐτοῦ: cf. Cyril’s IXth Anathema against Nestorius), that, in performing miraculous works in the Holy Spirit, the incarnate Son was exercising a power which was his by nature and by right, and which flowed from him naturally and substantially, just as this same power flowed naturally and substantially from the Father. People had noticed the affinity of St. Cyril’s language about the Holy Spirit with that of the Latin-speaking Church from at least the seventh century (cf. St. Maximus’s letter to the priest Marinus of Cyprus). And, in the thirteenth century, St. Cyril was one of the writers John Bekkos quoted most frequently for showing the harmony of the Greek and Latin theological traditions.

I give, then, this passage by Apollinarius of Laodicea. Apollinarius was a fourth-century writer and friend of St. Athanasius who was later condemned for a christological heresy, but his trinitarian teaching is generally considered orthodox, and is, arguably, closely linked to that of St. Athanasius on the one hand and that of St. Cyril on the other. Some writers, e.g. Harnack and G. L. Prestige, see him as having had a most important role to play in the Cappadocian fathers’ own theological development; my guess is that they are right, and that the disputed early correspondence between Apollinarius and St. Basil is genuine. At any rate, St. Jerome boasted of having had him as a teacher of Scripture, and, in the passage translated below, it seems to me his interpretation is unobjectionable. His main point is that the temporal language in the text from St. John’s Gospel is a concession to human weakness, that, properly, the Spirit does not pass from a state of ignorance to knowledge. From this it seems to follow that the things said about the Spirit in this passage of the gospel, his “glorifying” the Son and “receiving from” the Son, are eternally true, though what those things mean remains an open question. Apollinarius says here that it is from the Son, as from the Father, that the Holy Spirit “starts moving” (ὁρμᾶται); whether that statement has any implications for the Holy Spirit’s being, or only for his activity (or “energy”), probably cannot be answered without a deeper investigation of Apollinarius’s thought than I am immediately able to supply. Nevertheless, I think the passage is worth reading.


Apollinarius on John 16:14

Translated from the edition of J. Reuss, Johannes-Kommentare aus der griechischen Kirche (TU 89), Berlin, 1966, pp. 48 f.; reprinted in Βιβλιοθήκη Ἑλλήνων Πατέρων καὶ Ἐκκλησιαστικῶν Συγγράφεων, τόμος 72: Ἀπολλινάριος Λαοδικείας, Μέρος Α´ (Athens 1994), pp. 365 f.

The Spirit’s activity and teaching will be to my glory, since it is “from me” that the Spirit’s motion arises. And when I say “from me,” it is clear that I also mean “from the Father,” since all the things that belong to the Father are mine. Thus, again, you should hear the phrase “he shall receive of mine” in the same way, not as though some knowledge were to come upon the Spirit, and that, moreover, at the present time; for it would be a strange thing indeed and might lead to suspicion if, at the time that the Spirit is about to tend to humanity, he should then receive instruction. And, again, it would be strange if one were to maintain that he is taught in any way. For, although he has not yet dwelt within men, when he does enter into them he will entrust them with all wisdom, albeit not a natural wisdom — and here, it is necessary for him to be taught! This is why, instead of saying that the Spirit’s motion completely originates from himself, he said, “he will receive of what is mine and will declare it to you.” For these words are briefer, the better to make the thing known to men, but the Spirit’s glory is greater in that the thing expressed is more proper to the Godhead. Now, God is also said to hear people’s words, and it is clear that this does not mean that they come to God’s knowledge in time; but, even before our words, he knows our prayers, and he created everything according to knowledge from the beginning, from the creation, knowing also the future movements of his own creatures. But, in spite of this, the expression is used, “Hearken, O Lord,” and again, “The Lord hearkened.” And in fact, to speak in terms that are proper to God, nothing like this ought to be taken in a temporal sense or as though some change had come to God from human prayers, nor yet as though some knowledge came to God of the things that were said, but, as I said, the words are spoken in a human way, but are understood by religious people in a divine way, such that the inalterable and unchangeable character of the glory of God will not be besmirched by your suppositions because of God’s hearing people talking. Likewise, then, in the case of the Spirit also, it is not the case that “hearing” and “receiving” indicate any addition of knowledge or any change in the Spirit’s inalterable substance. Εἰς ἐμὴν ἔσται δόξαν ἡ τοῦ Πνεύματος ἐνέργεια καὶ διδασκαλία, ὅτι καὶ παρ᾽ «ἐμοῦ» τὸ Πνεῦμα ὁρμᾶται. Τὸ δὲ παρ᾽ «ἐμοῦ» λέγων δῆλον καὶ τὸ παρὰ τοῦ Πατρός· ἐμὰ γάρ ἐστι τὰ πατρῷα. Τὸ οὖν «ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήμψεται» κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν αὖθις ἀκούει τρόπον, οὐχ ὡς γνώσεώς τινος ἐπιγινομένης τῷ Πνεύματι καὶ ταύτης ἐν χρόνῳ τῷ παρόντι· δεινὸν γὰρ ἂν εἴη καὶ μέχρις ὑπονοίας, εἴ γε τότε πνεῦμα προσλαμβάνει τὴν μάθησιν ἡνίκα εἰς ἀνθρώπους μέλλει κομίζειν. Δεινὸν δὲ καὶ εἰ διδασκόμενον αὐτὸ ὅλως τις θήσεται· οὐκέτι γὰρ ἐνοικοῦν ἀνθρώποις καὶ πᾶσαν εἰς αὐτοὺς σοφίαν εἰσάγον πιστευθήσεται, εἴπερ οὐ φυσική τίς ἐστι σοφία, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτῷ χρεία διδάσκεσθαι. Ὥστε ἀντὶ τοῦ λέγειν ὅλον παρ᾽ ἑαυτοῦ τὸ Πνεῦμα ὁρμᾶσθαι, εἴρηκε τὸ «ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήμψεται καὶ ἀναγγελεῖ ὑμῖν»· μικρότεραι γὰρ αἱ φωναὶ πρὸς τὸ γνωριμώτερον ἀνθρώποις, μείζων δὲ ἡ τοῦ Πνεύματος δόξα πρὸς τὸ οἰκειότερον τῇ θεότητι. Λέγεται δὲ καὶ ἀκούειν Θεὸς ἀνθρώπου ῥήματα καὶ δῆλον ὡς οὐκ ἐν καιρῷ τι προσγίνεται πρὸς γνῶσιν Θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ καὶ πρὸ τῶν ἡμετέρων ῥημάτων οἶδε τὰς ἡμετέρας εὐχὰς καὶ τὸ ὅλον κατὰ διάνοιαν ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἀπὸ τῆς δημιουργίας ἐδημιούργησεν, ἐπιστάμενος καὶ τὰ μεταμέλοντα τῶν ἑαυτοῦ δημιουργημάτων κινήματα, ἀλλ᾽ ὅμως ἐλέγετο τὸ «εἰσάκουσον Κύριε» καὶ τὸ εἰσήκουσε Κύριος· καίτοι κατὰ τὸ πρέπον Θεῷ μηδὲν τῶν τοιούτων ἐκδέχεσθαι χρονικῶς μηδὲ ὡς μεταβολήν τινα περὶ Θεὸν γινομένην ἐκ τῶν ἀνθρωπίνων εὐχῶν, μηδὲ γνῶσις τῶν λεγομένων ἔπεισι Θεῷ, ἀλλ᾽ ἀνθρωπίνως μέν, ὡς ἔφην, οἱ λόγοι, θείως δὲ παρὰ τοῖς εὐσεβοῦσι νοοῦνται καὶ οὐ ῥανθήσεται τὸ ἀναλλοίωτον καὶ ἄτρεπτον τῆς τοῦ Θεοῦ δόξης ἐν ταῖς ὑμετέραις ὑπονοίας διὰ τὸ ἀκούειν αὐτὸν ἀνθρώπων λαλούντων. Οὕτω τοίνυν οὐδὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ Πνεύματος τὸ ἀκούειν καὶ τὸ λαμβάνειν προσθήκην τινὰ δέξεται γνώσεως οὐδὲ μεταβολῆς ἐπὶ τὴν ἀναλλοίωτον τοῦ Πνεύματος οὐσίαν.
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