Constantine Meliteniotes

March 16, 2012

For those who are interested, I added to the Wikipedia today a short article on John Bekkos’s archdeacon Constantine Meliteniotes.

Yesterday evening I gave a lecture here in Cleveland at the Lyceum School before an audience of ten people. It is, I confess, a somewhat haphazard discussion, having been thrown together in the past few days in the midst of my work teaching six separate subjects; I could wish that it were better. The Q&A that followed the lecture was, however, excellent; some very important topics were raised. The following is the text of the address, with slight revisions.


My name is Peter Gilbert; I have been, for the past three months, a teacher here at the Lyceum School. Because the manner in which I came to be at this school is, in some ways, pertinent to the subject matter of this lecture, I shall very briefly provide you with some historical background. In 2005, at the time that I was still teaching at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but was preparing to leave, I made the acquaintance of Luke Macik, now the headmaster of this school; at that time, Mr. Macik served as a lawyer in Gallup, New Mexico. I had heard of him through a mutual acquaintance, Mr. Joe Cieszinski, manager and proprietor of Cornerstone Books, who one day told me about a project that was underway to found an Eastern Catholic great books college near Chicago; he mentioned Mr. Macik, a parishioner at his church in Albuquerque, as one of the men spearheading this endeavor. Through him I obtained Mr. Macik’s telephone number; I called him, then drove down to Gallup to visit him, and the rest, as they say, is history. Eventually I became closely involved in the project to found what was to be called Transfiguration College; unfortunately, for various reasons, including the downturn in the economy, the college never managed to become a reality. At the time, I found it striking how often people who heard about this college would say what a great idea it was, and how it filled a real need. I still think that such a college is a good idea, that there is a real, felt need for it, and that a marriage of the traditional, theological content of Eastern Christianity with the methodology of great books, liberal arts education makes inherent sense. It is doubtless because he knows that I think this that Mr. Macik asked me, some months ago, to deliver this lecture, to talk about why such an education makes sense.

But I have to preface this talk by stating that to attempt to talk about both liberal education and Eastern Christianity, and to accomplish this in the space of a half hour or 45 minutes, is to undertake a fairly impossible task. There are too many things that must be left undefined and unexamined. What do we mean by “Eastern Christianity”? What do we mean by “liberal education”? One could spend well over 45 minutes trying to define just one of these two entities; to attempt to speak of both is perhaps foolish.

So let me start by saying that it is not my intention this afternoon to spend the time allotted to me making an apologia for this or that brand of Eastern Christianity. I am, myself, an Orthodox Christian, and am grateful for my baptism in the Orthodox Church; but I am also an Orthodox Christian who is convinced that many Orthodox arguments commonly used to justify the continued separation of the Churches do not measure up to scrutiny. I am quite a newcomer to Cleveland, but I have lived here long enough to notice that there are various neighborhoods in town where one finds, at one end of the block, a large church with an onion dome on top of it and a sign on the front gate saying “Orthodox,” while, at the other end of the block or the street, one finds another large church, perhaps equally splendid and ornate, with perhaps even more onion domes on top and a sign on the front saying “Catholic.” I could wish that reasons of frugality, if not the better motives of Christian love and peace, might dictate an end to such unnecessary duplication. It is, indeed, distressing to see Eastern Christianity as a kind of permanent illustration of Jesus’ words about a house divided.

Much of my research over the past half decade or so has been devoted to reading and translating people who also were distressed by this division and who sought to do something to end it. In particular, I have translated some of the works of John Bekkos, who was Patriarch of Constantinople during the short-lived Union of Lyons (1275-1282); he supported that union, and argued at length that it was theologically sound. Most Orthodox do not like John Bekkos; in contemporary Greece, he is commonly portrayed as an arch-villain, a sort of Judas or Benedict Arnold who sold his priceless birthright of Orthodox truth for a mess of Frankish porridge; mythological stories are invented about him having descended upon Mount Athos with Latin mercenaries, wreaking destruction and slaughter upon the courageous monks who resisted his impious doctrines; one particularly strident commentator on my blog maintained last year that he had seen, with his own eyes, John Bekkos’s bones, preserved somewhere upon Mount Athos in some sort of liquid medium, perpetually boiling as a sure sign of his eternal damnation; how John Bekkos’s bones ended up on Mount Athos when he was buried hundreds of miles away in an unmarked grave in Asia Minor, inside a government fortress, the ardent commentator never saw fit to explain, nor how he recognized the bones as actually belonging to John Bekkos and not to some other individual.

For myself, I have no special revelation regarding the eternal destiny of John Bekkos’s soul, but I am persuaded that Bekkos was a sincere Christian and a man who loved peace and truth. Bekkos was, I think, not only a good man, but a good liberal artist; indeed, I suspect that these two things, being a good man and being a good liberal artist, have something to do with each other. What these two things have to do with each other is perhaps the most important thing we need to clarify today. But, to say a bit more about Bekkos: he accepted the Union of Lyons because he sought to inherit Christ’s blessing upon the peacemakers, because he believed it was right, and in accordance with God’s will, to seek the unity of God’s people, and because his studies of the fathers had led him to conclude that the Greek-speaking fathers of the ancient Church were not as dogmatically opposed to Latin Christian formulations of doctrine as were later Greek Christians like Photius and Michael Cerularius; he thought that the later theologians, under the pressure of nationalistic rivalry and dogmatic controversy, had emphasized those things in which the churches seemed to differ and had minimized those things that might allow those differences to be seen in a better light. Bekkos even thought that he could see, in Greek patristic literature, a teaching on the Holy Spirit akin to the Latin doctrine of the Filioque; he found evidence for this in writers like St. Cyril of Alexandria and St. Epiphanius, but also in the Cappadocian fathers themselves, in St. Athanasius, in St. Maximus, and in many others. When St. Cyril says that the Holy Spirit is “poured forth substantially from both, that is to say, from the Father through the Son” (De adoratione et cultu in spiritu et veritate, lib. I; PG 68, 148 A), and that the Spirit is “both proper to [the Son of God] and in him and from him, just as, to be sure, the same thing is understood to hold true in the case of God the Father himself” (Commentarius in Joelem prophetam 35; PG 71, 377 D), and when St. Gregory of Nyssa says that the Son “is conceived of as before the Spirit’s hypostasis only in concept, with respect to causality” (Contra Eunomium I; PG 45, 464 B-C), or when he compares the Trinity to three candles, in which the flame of the first is communicated to the third through the second one (Adv. Macedonianos 6; PG 45, 1308 B), John Bekkos infers from these statements, and others like them, that the fathers in question knew of a certain mediation of being within the Holy Trinity, that the order of the persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is not merely based upon the order of the persons’ manifestation in time, but it has a basis in an eternal order of relationships within the divine Trinity itself. Undoubtedly, there are those who disagree with this interpretation of the Greek fathers; each side has its own set of proof-texts, to which it invariably appeals. But, for the purposes of this lecture, my point is basically this: John Bekkos is one example of an Eastern Christian who is also a liberal artist, a man who makes use of his intellect in the pursuit and defense of truth. He is certainly not the only example, and probably is not even the best one, but he is one whom I happen to know pretty well. He knew that texts have more than one level of meaning, that you cannot always rely upon the currently fashionable interpretation of them, that it is important to go back to the original sources and see for yourself what they are actually saying, and that this activity is not only intellectually but also morally good; it is one of the ways in which Christ the Truth is served. In reading the texts in this way, I think he has some insight into the mind of the fathers; they also were liberal artists, who served the Truth with their intellects; they knew that, while reason cannot get us to faith and knowledge of the triune God, reason does have its proper place in defending faith and in differentiating truth from falsehood. It is not for nothing that St. Peter tells his readers to yearn after “sincere, logical milk” (1 Peter 2:2, τὸ λογικὸν ἄδολον γάλα).

Of course, someone may say that the fathers were much more than liberal artists; they were saints, and their speech about God proceeded, not merely from a mastery of grammar, rhetoric, and logic, but from prayer and spiritual experience. There is a saying commonly cited in works on Orthodox Christianity, a saying which, I think, goes back to the fourth century writer Evagrius of Pontus, to the effect that the theologian is not, primarily, the one who sets forth a propositional system, but the one who prays. The type of the theologian is Moses, the man who ascends Mount Sinai, enters the darkness there, and speaks with God face to face. It is perhaps dangerous to say this in a school called the Lyceum, but it must be acknowledged that Aristotle is not universally held in high esteem in the Christian East; there were various attempts to baptize him (much of St. John of Damascus’s work The Fount of Knowledge, for instance, consists of a summary presentation of Aristotelian philosophy), and the fathers often rely on Aristotelian categories more than they care to admit, but, by and large, the one whom St. Thomas refers to as “the Philosopher” is not, in the Christian East, presented as a model for emulation; St. Gregory the Theologian says that we need to speak of God ἁλιευτικῶς, μὴ ἀριστοτελικῶς, that is to say, like a fisherman, not like an Aristotelian. Greek Christian hymnology is full of lines like those found in the Akathist Hymn, where the Mother of God’s miraculous childbearing is said render eloquent orators as mute as fish, and to shred to pieces the “word-webs of the Athenians.” One may also recall the response of a certain Georgian delegate to the Council of Florence to the Aristotelian argumentation of the Dominican John of Montenero; he said: “What’s this about Aristotle, Aristotle? A fig for your fine Aristotle…. What is fine? St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Basil, Gregory the Theologian; a fig for your Aristotle, Aristotle.” (Cited by Joseph Gill, The Council of Florence [1959], p. 227.) More particularly, the idea that theology should be thought of as a “science of revealed truth,” a rationally adumbrated propositional system, is almost universally looked upon within the Christian East with suspicion and misgivings; this, I think, probably holds true for many Eastern Catholics as well as for most Eastern Orthodox.

All of this makes one wonder whether the subject of Liberal Education and Eastern Christianity is genuinely a fruitful topic, whether these two phenomena can be related otherwise than by mere negation. I think that they can be, although we have to be careful not to misrepresent one or the other. I remember that, when we were having our discussions about a curriculum for Transfiguration College, a proposal was made that we should structure our whole theology curriculum around the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Probably the thought behind this was that some figure was needed comparable to the role St. Thomas plays in Western Catholic thought, that is, someone who gives the East a “Neo-Platonic” synthesis, parallel to the Aristotelian synthesis Thomas supplies the West; the fact that Thomas quotes Pseudo-Dionysius so frequently was probably an added benefit. I fervently sought to shoot down this trial balloon before it got too far off the ground. First, because I am not persuaded that the Dionysian corpus is all that representative of Eastern Christian theology; it probably arose in Monophysite circles, and only became fully accepted in the Byzantine world through the interpretations of St. Maximus. But, secondly, I don’t know how many of you have actually attempted to read the works of the Pseudo-Areopagite, but I have; they make Kant’s and Hegel’s writings appear as models of expository clarity by comparison. This does not mean that one should ignore them; they are in fact important. But, as in mountain-climbing, one should start on smaller hills, and only attempt the Matterhorn or Mount Everest after one has worked one’s way up and gained a certain facility, so likewise it seemed to me folly to be sentencing undergraduates to four years of prolonged exposure to the Pseudo-Dionysius, with his super-this and his hyper-that, and his paradoxical affirmations of God as not-Being and not-Love; I could think of no surer way to guarantee high attrition.

One way to approach this subject of Liberal Education and Eastern Christianity might be to give a brief historical survey of the kinds of education Eastern Christians have actually received over the years, in their various home countries. Such a survey would not be without interest, and perhaps it would help to balance exalted philosophical claims about what constitutes an ideal education; one would like to see such speculations grounded in facts and history. For instance, I find it somewhat curious that even the very expression “Liberal Education” [rather, the expression: “Liberal Arts Education”] seems to be confined mostly to American educational discourse: people in Europe do not seem to know what a “liberal arts college” is, or at least, they have very few institutions that would answer to that description. Earlier in my life, I spent two years studying in England; one of the things I observed there is that the British educational system directs young people into an academic specialization much earlier than the American system does; in America, most students do not choose a college major until about their Junior year; in Britain, students are already taking specialized tests, their “O-Levels” and “A-Levels,” in their mid-teens, at a time when most American students are muddling through high school. It seemed to me at that time that this British system, with its earlier specialization, reflects the fact that Britain is a smaller country, there are fewer openings within the economy and more competition to fill them; thus, the competition perforce starts earlier, and children are allowed a shorter time in which to grow up. They are forced earlier to decide who they are, and are given less opportunity to explore different possible futures. Perhaps that makes for a certain maturity, or perhaps it creates, in some cases, a certain grim acceptance of inevitability, an inability to imagine new possibilities. On this point, I prefer the American system, with all its faults; I like the fact that we allow ourselves a little more time to grow up, in spite of the danger this entails that some of us will never grow up at all.

Some of the early Christians of the second century went about in the habit of philosophers, like St. Justin Martyr; these men were generally recognized as teachers and accepted students. But it is not till nearly the beginning of the third century that we find the first Christian school, and we find this in Alexandria; the catechetical school there, founded by a man named Pantaenus, featured in time famous teachers like Clement and Origen, and, later, Didymus the Blind. Of Origen’s teaching methods we have a detailed description from his student St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, who gave a panegyric on Origen in the year 238; by this time, Origen had relocated to Caesarea in Palestine, but his teaching there probably followed the same pattern as at Alexandria. St. Gregory describes Origen as an inspired teacher who brought people to Christ, not by keeping secular knowledge from them, but precisely by engaging with it, accepting in it whatever was good and rejecting what was bad, but all the while subordinating all worldly knowledge to the inestimable prize of knowing Christ. At times, St. Gregory compares Origen to Socrates, probing the students’ ideas and cutting down anything of feeble growth, so that the ground could be cleared for genuinely worthy fruits. He says that, along with giving instruction in dialectic and in the mathematical and physical sciences, Origen also introduced his students to every school of Greek philosophy, “selecting and setting before us all that was useful and true in all the various philosophers, and putting aside all that was false.” “He deemed it right for us to study philosophy in such wise, that we should read with utmost diligence all that has been written, both by the philosophers and by the poets of old, rejecting nothing, and repudiating nothing (for, indeed, we did not yet possess the power of critical discernment), except only the productions of the atheists, who, in their conceits, lapse from the general intelligence of man, and deny that there is either a God or a providence.” (In Originem oratio panegyrica, 13; PG 10, 1088 A-B; tr., Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 6, p. 34.)

Origen’s Christian school, nevertheless, was not widely emulated in later times. It cannot be stressed enough that, in the Christian East, the idea that Christians should avoid secular schools never obtained much currency; quite the opposite. In the fourth century, it was quite normal for Christian teachers to teach secular subjects, and numerous saints of the Church attended secular schools and had pagans among their teachers; this was the case, for instance, with St. John Chrysostom, who studied under the pagan rhetorician Libanius, as well as with St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory the Theologian, who studied at Athens during the decade of the 340’s; one of their teachers of rhetoric was the Christian Prohaeresius; the other was a pagan named Himerius. Among their fellow students was a member of the imperial family, named Julian; while at Athens he became a secret pagan, and he openly espoused paganism at the time that he became emperor (360/361). One of Julian’s acts was to issue an edict commanding that all public teachers be approved by the emperor; the intention of this was to exclude Christians from the teaching profession. Julian’s reasoning was that the ancient classics are pagan literature, and do not belong to the Christians; Christians have no right to teach such things. St. Gregory of Nazianzus retorted that classical literature belongs to us in respect of our being human; letters are a gift from God, just as language is, and the proper cultivation of the mind cannot be rightfully withheld from any person. One result of Julian’s edict was that Christians increasingly sought to provide Christian substitutes for the classical literature that was the traditional basis for instruction; two men named Apollinarius, father and son, set to work translating the Bible into classical meters, St. Gregory the Theologian, likewise, composed great quantities of classical verse, and, in the Latin-speaking world, men like Pope Damasus and Prudentius and St. Ambrose wrote hymns and poems and epigrams; even St. Augustine tried his hand at this, producing some verses against the Donatists.

Nevertheless, in spite of all this literary work, the basic classical curriculum did not change much. Nearly a thousand years after the Cappadocians and St. John Chrysostom, John Bekkos, in the thirteenth century, still received basically the same kind of liberal education as these fathers did when he studied under his tutor George Babouskomites; he read Homer and the other Greek poets, studied grammar, logic, rhetoric, perhaps a bit of mathematics and the sciences; a similar kind of education was received by Bekkos’s chief adversary, George of Cyprus. Neither of them saw such an education as conflicting in any way with traditional Orthodox belief. One has to remember that, until the final capture of Constantinople by the forces of Mehmet the Conqueror in the year 1453, the Eastern Christian world had never known the same sort of extinction of classical learning that the West had undergone in the succession of barbarian invasions from the fifth century onward, until learning finally began to revive under Charlemagne. The East did not experience such a hiatus, and consequently the Church was not looked upon in the same way as the sole repository of knowledge — although later, during the Ottoman period, it was indeed the parish priest who was mainly responsible for keeping the Greek language alive.

* * *

Is there, then, a specifically Eastern Christian form of education? Should there be? Or should an Eastern Orthodox or Eastern Catholic believer simply receive the best education that is available, from whatever source, and leave the specific details of Christian doctrine to what can be picked up at home or in church?

As mentioned earlier, I still think that the idea of an Eastern Christian great books college, or some application of great books methodology to the study of Eastern Christianity, is a good idea. There have been at least two attempts that I know of to make that idea a reality; one of them, Transfiguration College, I have already spoken of; an earlier, Orthodox attempt, Rose Hill College, actually opened its doors in Aiken, South Carolina in the late 1990’s for about the space of a year; it finally had to close down because the president of the college, a man named Owen Jones, who had bankrolled the whole operation, had essentially spent all his fortune on it and was going broke. Currently, an Orthodox professor of philosophy named Bruce Foltz, who teaches in St. Petersburg, Florida, is one of the main people pushing the idea; he makes the claim that an Orthodox Christian, by virtue of being an Orthodox Christian, will be a better reader of the great books than other people, a claim which seems to me theoretically bold but not easily verifiable; it is not, in any case, a claim that I would be prepared to defend. Another man who still publicly argues in favor of Eastern Christian great books education is the sometime dean of Rose Hill College, Dr. James Cutzinger; my worry is that he seems a bit too enamored of the religious theosophy of Frithjof Schuon, whose works are sometimes to be seen in New Age bookstores and which teach the doctrine that all religions are one.

My own claims about the liberal arts and liberal education, claims that were embodied in the Transfiguration College Statement on Educational Policy and which I would still be prepared to defend, are the following:

Education is necessary for our humanity. Unlike frogs, which cannot be more or less frogs, or oak trees, which cannot be more or less oak trees, human beings can become more or less human; being human is a task to which we are called. We can fail to live up to our nature. One way of speaking about this difference is to say that, unlike frogs and oak trees, human beings are created in the image of God; we possess that image as our birthright, but we can also fail to live up to it, in which case we are judged by our Creator.

Part of our being made in the image of God consists in our ability to speak; the first thing we find Adam doing is that he gives names to the animals. We have what the Greeks call λόγος; we have reason. This reason pertains to our being in the image of God; just as God speaks, so do we, and we are, perhaps, most rational when we recognize God’s speech, echoing in manifold ways in the world around us, when we hear God’s word and do it.

In hearing and doing God’s word, all of us, children of Adam, have fallen short, all of us have in various ways disfigured the image of God that dwells within us. To restore that image, God sent his Image, his Word, his Son, into our midst, so that we, by believing in him, might again be rendered reasonable and be reckoned children of God.

Being restored to the image of God is not a thing which any liberal education, as such, is able to deliver. The only truly liberal education, that is able to free us and restore us to our proper humanity, is that education which is afforded in Christ’s Church, that school in which Christ is not only the Teacher, but the daily bread on which the students feed.

But this does not mean that liberal education, in the common sense of the term, is useless. Our nature as thinking, deliberating, moral beings has to be educated; we cannot make right choices if we deprive ourselves of the means of knowing what choices there are to make. We need to learn how to read, to weigh evidence, to test possibilities; this also is part of learning to recognize God’s word in the creation. And we need to learn how to speak, so as to persuade others of the truth and dissuade others from fallacy and wrong; this also is part of doing God’s word. We cannot do these things, or at least, cannot do them well, if we are illiterate and ignorant.

St. Paul is very clear: the world, by its wisdom, did not know God (1 Cor 1:21); and, he says, he does not come to the Corinthians with excellency of speech, or enticing words of man’s wisdom; he knows that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Cor 1:25). Those of us who are in the business of education need to remember this, that there is no inherent guarantee that a person who studies the liberal arts, who has read all the Great Books backwards and forwards, who perhaps speaks with the tongue of men and of angels, may not turn out to be an utter scoundrel. It is a sad fact about the fallenness of our nature, that intellectual excellence is able to coexist with moral depravity. But St. Paul also says that “that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them: for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made” (Rom 1:19-20). Even if the world, in its wisdom, did not know God, it had no excuse for not knowing God; God had, in fact, left sufficient evidence of himself in the world, for anyone who had eyes to see. It pertains to a Christian education to have the eyes to see, to point out the hand of God in his works, to remind those who might not see or hear that there is in fact a Creator who will judge us. If that is what a Christian education is supposed to do, then that is also what an Eastern Christian education is supposed to do.

I need to end this talk; there is much more that could be said about this subject; we have hardly touched at all upon large questions, like the meaning of “freedom” that is implied in the word “liberal” (what is it that liberal education purports to free us from?). And much could also be said about the ambiguous stance that various thinkers, both within Byzantium and in later Russia, took towards the value of the liberal arts; if Dostoevsky famously said that, “Two and two makes four; yes, but, ‘Two and two makes five’ is sometimes also very charming,” what does this tell us about his estimation of the claims of rationality? But these are eternal questions, and a lecture, fortunately, is not eternal, but has a time limit, so I shall herewith bring this talk to a close. Thank you.

Nearly four months ago, I pointed out that Hugo Laemmer’s 1864 edition of some of John Bekkos’s major writings (Scriptorum Graeciae Orthodoxae bibliotheca selecta) is now available on Google Books. Over the course of the past two weeks, I have discovered that some even older Bekkos resources, dating back to the seventeenth century, may be found on the same source. Below, I provide links to the three earliest printed versions of Bekkos’s writings, the editions that both Laemmer and Migne relied upon in their nineteenth-century reprintings of Bekkos’s works. These are, Leo Allatius’s Graeciae Orthodoxae, volumes 1 (1652) and 2 (1659), and Peter Arcudius’s Opuscula aurea theologica (1670; a reprint of the 1639 [1629?] edition). The last-mentioned book is especially interesting insofar as it contains, on pp. 98-159, an early work by Bekkos that was never again republished, a collection of patristic texts that, in Greek, is titled the Συναγωγὴ ῥήσεων γραφικῶν. In an article published in 1977, Vittorio Peri speculated that Bekkos, late in his life, may be alluding to this work when he states, in his work De libris suis, §4, that, at a certain, early point in his career, he defended the orthodoxy of the Filioque by speaking about the Holy Spirit being from the Father and the Son “as from one God” rather than by using the more controversial expression “as from one cause” (see V. Peri, “L’opuscolo di Giovanni Vekkos ‘sull’infondatezza storica dello scisma tra le chiese’ e la sua prima redazione,” Rivista dei Studi Bizantini e Neoellenici, new ser., 14-16 (1977-79), pp. 203-207, esp. p. 209).

The images of title pages below are links; if you click on any one of them, it will cause the corresponding Google Book to open in another window.




George Pachymeres, in his History of the reigns of Michael VIII and Andronikos II Palaiologos, relates the death of John Bekkos in the following way (Pachymeres, History IX, 29 [Failler, ed., Georges Pachymérès: Relations Historiques, III (Paris 1999), pp. 296 f.]):

At that time John, the chief of the Lazoi, who was also the emperor’s brother-in-law as was indicated earlier, finished his life, leaving two children: of these, the one, Alexis, inherited his father’s authority, while as for the younger of the two, his mother Eudokia took him and went to live in the city near her brother, the emperor.

John Bekkos, the former patriarch, died as well, in the prison at the fortress of St. Gregory, at the end of the month of Kronion [March]; he was buried there in some random spot in his own cell. But the news of this was one more source of grief for the emperor, since there had not been time to bring about what had been arranged between the emperor and Bekkos’s party, that is, to organize discussions aiming at agreement and peace, with wise and spiritual men (not your everyday random know-nothings) serving as judges. As for Meliteniotes, he was brought back from there and given lodging with Metochites, who was in the city; since it proved impossible to make peace with them, they were incarcerated, in keeping with the demands of the emperor’s people and the leaders of the Church, at the Great Palace, there where John Tarchaneiotes also, later, would be locked up.

In 1926, Vitalien Laurent published an article (V. Laurent, “La date de la mort de Jean Beccos,” Échos d’Orient 25 [1926], 316-319) in which he conclusively argued that the year in which John Bekkos died was 1297. But what about the place of his death and burial, the prison where he spent the last twelve years of his life, this fortress of St. Gregory? Where was it? Does it still exist?

Those are questions I have been asking for a long time. Using Google Maps, I some time ago came to the conclusion that the prison must have been located on a jetty of land that sticks out into the Gulf of Nicomedia, close to the present-day town of Hersek (the ancient Helenopolis); Pachymeres notes that the fortress was on your right as you enter the gulf, and this, it seemed to me, was the landmark he must have been referring to. Recently, however, I came across an article that convinces me that I was wrong about this: not about this being the landmark to which Pachymeres was referring, but about the fortress being located directly on this strip of land. The article, written by the editor of the critical edition of Pachymeres’s History, Albert Failler, collects the various known facts about the fortress provided by the three Byzantine historians who mention it (Pachymeres, George Metochites, and Nikephoros Gregoras). The reason why the fortress is not to be sought on this strip of land is a simple one: this jetty is quite flat, while the fortress of St. Gregory is described by Metochites as having perched upon a high, inaccessible hilltop. Still, it could not have stood too far from this neck of land, since this is clearly the landmark that marks the entrance to the Gulf of Nicomedia. Failler narrows down the site to a hilly area between Hersek and the modern-day town of Karamürsel (a town whose old, Greek name was Prainetos).

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, Failler’s article, published in 1990 in the scholarly journal Revue des études byzantines, is now easily available: a link to it is given here in the following bibliographical information: Albert Failler, “Chronologie et composition dans l’Histoire de Georges Pachymérès (livres VII-XIII),” Revue des études byzantines, 48 (1990), 5-87. Below, I have translated a passage from pp. 21-23 of this article, where Failler discusses the location of the fortress.

Before continuing, it would be opportune to determine the site of the fortress of St. Gregory, which has often been confused, without any reason, with the fortress of St. George on the lake of Nicaea. George Pachymeres alone names the citadel, which, in George Metochites’ narrative, is indicated by the general name of “fortress”; moreover, he alone indicates its approximate location. The fortress of St. Gregory is mentioned three times in [Pachymeres'] History as a place of detention, of Irene-Eulogia Palaiologina and her daughter Theodora, in the first case, and of John Bekkos and his archdeacons in the two other cases.[1] Only the second passage contains data concerning the site of St. Gregory’s: “the fortress that is found on one’s right when one enters the Gulf of Astakos”[2]. The information is precise: the fortress is found upon the southern shore of the Gulf of Nicomedia (the Astakenos Gulf, or Gulf of Astakos). Without expressly stating this, George Pachymeres suggests that it was situated alongside the sea. In an otherwise vaguer account, Nikephoros Gregoras confirms the coastal position of the unionists’ place of detention: “Bekkos and his companions were sent to a fort on the shores of Bithynia”[3]. Though he never supplies a name for the fortress, George Metochites stresses five times the isolation of this veritable eagle’s nest, perched upon a steep height, inaccessible to travelers.[4] The itinerary followed by the emperor, who debarked at Helenopolis and went towards Nicaea, serves to complete these scant pieces of information. The fortress must necessarily be sought to the east of Helenopolis, upon the portion of mountainous coastline that extends for some twenty kilometers, of which about five are on this side of Prainetos (the contemporary Karamürsel) and fifteen beyond it, since the rest of the coastline is bounded by a coastal plain. In fact, the town of Prainetos is the normal point of call for the voyager who is traveling from Constantinople to Nicaea by crossing the Gulf of Nicomedia off the coast of Helenopolis. To my knowledge, one can supply no more precise location for the fortress of St. Gregory, which was doubtless situated to the west of Prainetos, even if one were not, properly speaking, “at the entrance of the Gulf” of Nicomedia.[5]

In chapter 15 of Book III of his Dogmatic History, George Metochites gives a more detailed account of the negotiations between the emperor and the unionists and better traces the steps of the imperial journey, after having nevertheless omitted the first of these steps, that is, the emperor’s visit to John IV Laskaris; once he had arrived in the East, Andronikos II spent some time in a village which was found at the foot of the fortress in which John Bekkos and Constantine Meliteniotes were imprisoned.[6] From there, he sent a message to the prisoners; they were allowed to come down to the village; they met with Theodore Mouzalon and with the emperor, and gave their agreement to the holding of a conference at Lopadion, to which George Metochites, from his own place of detention, would also come; after having received a kind reception, they returned to the fortress. As for Andronikos II and Theodore Mouzalon, they made their way to Nicaea, then to Lopadion, where the conference which had been expected did not take place. At the start of chapter 17, George Metochites notes that, after their stay at Lopadion, the sovereign and his entourage arrived at Nymphaeum.[7]

Notes

[1] Bonn ed., vol. II, p. 15, line 9; p. 103, lines 4-6; p. 270, line 15.
[2] τὸ κατὰ δεξιὰ εἰσπλέοντι τὸν Ἀστακηνὸν κόλπον φρούριον (Bonn ed., vol. II, p. 103, lines 4-6). The formula may be an echo of Thucydides (I, 24,1): Ἐπίδαμνός ἐστι πόλις ἐν δεξιᾷ ἐσπλέοντι τὸν Ἰόνιον κόλπον.
[3] ἔς τι πολίχνιον τῶν περὶ Βιθυνίαν παραλίων πέμπεται ἅμα τοῖς ἀμφ’ αὐτῷ (Bonn ed., vol. I, p. 171, lines 2-3).
[4] Metochites, I, 122; III, 6, 9, 11, 15: Cozza-Luzi, p. 175; p. 322, 324, 325, 327. He is very specific that the prisoners were brought there by boat upon their departure from Constantinople (I, 122; p. 175), even if this information does not, of itself, imply that the trip was made by boat all the way to the end and that the fortress was situated alongside the sea.
[5] It is true that that the verb εἰσπλέειν does not have so precise a meaning. To preserve for it a sense of greater indetermination, one might translate it using some vaguer form of words: “to go in” (to the gulf), “to sail forward” (into the gulf). The fortress of St. Gregory probably was found in the vicinity of Kavak Iskelesi.
[6] Metochites, III, 15 (Cozza-Luzi, p. 327): κατασκηνοῖ μὲν ὁ κρατάρχης ἔν τινι κώμῃ περὶ τοὺς πρόποδας τοῦ ὄρους ἐφ’ οὗ περιίστατο τὸ πολίχνιον.
[7] Metochites, III.17; Cozza-Luzi, pp. 328-329.

Linked is a picture of some of the hill country above Karamürsel: indeed, the foreground of the picture shows what looks like the foundations of an old building. Perhaps the fortress of St. Gregory stood on some such spot as this.

Bekkos on Google Books

February 4, 2011

Yesterday I discovered an on-line resource which, if it had been available some years earlier, would have made my studies of John Bekkos much easier. The resource is Hugo Laemmer’s Scriptorum Graeciae Orthodoxae Bibliotheca Selecta, published at Freiburg-im-Breisgau in sequential parts in the years 1864-65. I photocopied this book in, I believe, the year 2006 from a copy found at Harvard’s Widener Library (the copy which also, it seems, served as the basis of the Google Book); it is the text I mainly used when translating John Bekkos’s On the Union and Peace of the Churches of Old and New Rome, his Epigraphs, and the short work Sententia synodalis. The book is the first volume of a projected four-volume work; the other three volumes never appeared. It mostly consists of reprintings of texts of Greek authors favorable to ecclesiastical union which had been edited and translated into Latin by Leo Allatius in his Graeciae Orthodoxae Tomi II (Rome 1652-53); Laemmer adds to these texts various exegetical and polemical notes (at least some of which are also by Allatius); his actual revision of the texts on the basis of original manuscripts appears to have been minimal. In fact, Laemmer makes more typographical errors than Migne does (PG 141), although, because of the clearer typeface, Laemmer’s edition is much the easier to read.

The Greek text of Bekkos’s De unione ecclesiarum, with Allatius’s Latin translation, will be found in this book on pp. 197-406. Aside from the De unione and Bekkos’s Epigraphae (pp. 445-652), Sententia synodalis (pp. 411-422), and Apologia (pp. 426-438), the book also contains the text of Nikephoros Blemmydes’ two Orations on the subject of the procession of the Holy Spirit (pp. 108-186), as well as the debate between Gregory Palamas and Bessarion of Nicaea over Bekkos’s Epigraphae (published as running commentary under the text of that work).

Last week I attended a conference at Fordham University on the theme of “Orthodox Constructions of the West.” The conference took place at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, and lasted for three days, Monday through Wednesday, June 28-30. I drove in each day from my home in Northern New Jersey, and acted as a driver for two other scholars, one of whom lives in New Jersey, another of whom was visiting from Greece and stayed at my home during the conference. Because I woke up around 5:00-5:30 a.m. on the days of the conference, and nevertheless went to bed at my usual hour (midnight – 1:00), by the end of it I was thoroughly exhausted. But the conference was well worth the effort made to attend it.

The organizers, Drs. Aristotle Papanikolaou and George Demacopoulos, professors of theology at Fordham University, have managed to turn Fordham into a thriving center for Orthodox studies. Both of them are relatively young, probably not much past their mid-30’s. They are a dynamic pair of scholars, all evidence suggests that they strongly support Orthodox-Catholic ecumenism, and one can only expect further good things from them in the years to come. The themes of the two conferences they have hosted so far — Orthodox Readings of Augustine in 2007 and Orthodox Constructions of the West this year — point to a settled desire to foster a more positive Orthodox reception of the West and its theology, or at least, a more critical stance toward standard Orthodox portrayals of the West as irredeemably Other.

I took many notes at the conference, and made use of a small digital recording device, which will allow me to provide some extended, verbatim quotations. (I hope that that will not involve me in any legal difficulties.) At present, I expect to follow up this present post with at least one or two more on the conference’s proceedings.

(1) Fr. Taft’s address

The tone of the conference was ably set by the first speaker, Fr. Robert F. Taft, SJ, the world’s foremost living scholar on the Byzantine liturgy. (Dr. Demacopoulos, in introducing him, noted with amazement that he has over 800 publications to his name.) His keynote address, delivered on Monday morning, was titled, “Perceptions and Realities in Orthodox-Catholic Relations Today: Reflections on the Past, Prospects for the Future.” The title, phrased in such general terms, does not do his talk justice. It was, in fact, a passionately argued plea to both sides for historical objectivity and fairness when dealing with the problem of the continuing breach of communion between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. Near the beginning of his talk, Fr. Taft stated the following:

I have on more than one occasion made clear in print the positions I am happy to repeat here: that I consider the Orthodox Churches the historic, apostolic Christianity of the East, and sister Churches of the Catholic Church; that I recognize and rejoice in the fact that Orthodox peoples remain Orthodox, that the Catholic Church should support and collaborate with the Orthodox Churches in every way, foster the most cordial relations with them, earnestly work to restore communion with them, recognize their legitimate interests, especially on their own ground, avoid all proselytism among their flocks there or elsewhere, not seek in any way to undercut them, nor rejoice in or exploit their weaknesses, nor fish in their pond, nor seek to convert their faithful to the Catholic Church. But I espouse with equal explicitness the view that it is counterproductive for the cause of Christian unity and ecumenism to roll over and play dead in the face of any Catholic or Orthodox misbehavior, misinformation, or outright lying with regard to our dolorous past or to the problems that exist between us in the present. On these issues I speak from a lifetime of personal experience and proven love for Orthodoxy and its tradition, as clearly demonstrated by over half a century of studies, scholarship, and innumerable publications, both scholarly and popular.

A large portion of Fr. Taft’s talk was devoted to showing that “misbehavior” in the dolorous past — the use of secular force in support of religious objectives, the suppression of ancient Christian traditions foreign to one’s own — had been a practice common to all sides, and no one, certainly not the Jesuits, and certainly not the Orthodox, could pretend that their own Church had not engaged in it. From listening to him, one gets the sense that Fr. Taft, in his long and distinguished academic and ecumenical career, has had considerable experience of Orthodox selective memory — the sort of mentality that recalls the Fourth Crusade as though it had happened yesterday, but completely blocks out other significant historical facts, e.g., the fact that, not many years before the Fourth Crusade, some thousands of Latins were slaughtered in Constantinople in cold blood, and the papal delegate’s severed head was tied to a dog’s tail and dragged through the streets. For Fr. Taft, the lies we tell about our own and each other’s histories are a more important source of estrangement than theological ideas as such. By uncovering those lies, genuine scholarship forces us to question our demonizing of the Other, our self-representation as mere victims of history and persons needing no repentance.

My overall thesis is quite simple. Contrary to what one might think, the main problem we Catholics and Orthodox face in our ecumenical dialogue is not doctrine, but behavior. The issue is not that Catholics and Orthodox do not know how to pray and believe and live Christianity in the right and true apostolic way; the problem is that we do not know how to act. Learning to do so will mean adopting what I call “ecumenical scholarship and theology.” Ecumenical scholarship is not content with the purely natural virtues of honesty and fairness, virtues one should be able to expect from any true scholar. Ecumenical scholarship is a new and specifically Christian way of studying Christian tradition in order to reconcile and unite, rather than to confute and dominate. Its deliberate intention is to emphasize the common tradition underlying our differences, which, though real, are usually the accidental product of history, culture, language, rather than essential differences in the doctrine of the common, apostolic faith. Of course, to remain scholarly this effort must be carried out realistically, without glossing over real differences. But even in recognizing differences, this ecumenical effort must remain a two-way street, with each side judging itself and its tradition by the exact same criteria and standards with which it judges the other. Eschewing all scapegoating and a double-standard, ecumenical scholarship seeks to describe the beliefs, traditions, and usages of other confessions in ways their own, objective spokespersons recognize as reliable and fair. So ecumenical scholarship seeks not confrontation, but agreement and understanding; it tries to enter into the other’s point of view, to understand it, in so far as possible, with sympathy and agreement. It takes seriously the other’s critique of one’s own tradition, seeking to incorporate its positive contributions into one’s own thinking. It is a contest in reverse, a contest of Christian love, one in which the parties seek to understand and justify not their own point of view, but that of their interlocutors. Such an effort and method is not baseless romanticism; its theological foundation is our common faith, and God’s Holy Spirit is always with his Church, protecting the integrity of its witness, especially in the millennium of its undivided unity. Since some of the issues that divide us go right back to the first millennium, one must ineluctably conclude that these differences do not affect the substance of the apostolic faith, for, if they did, then, contrary to Jesus’ promise in Matthew 16, the gates of hell would indeed have prevailed against his Church.

As for myself, I am not sure that I agree with Fr. Taft’s assessment, that behavior and not doctrine is the chief impediment to Christian unity. But I accept his fundamental claim, that a conversion of hearts is necessary, and that ecumenical scholarship, in the sense that he uses the term, must play an important role in any such a conversion. I hope that my own work on John Bekkos will eventually deserve to be seen as one manifestation of what he calls “a contest of Christian love.”


(2) Symposium I: Byzantium and Beyond

Before going on, I should mention that much of my own interest in the conference centered upon meeting various of the participants. One of them was an Englishman, a Catholic priest, who goes by the internet name of “Fr. Paul,” with whom I had in fact corresponded for two or three years, since both of us are currently working on John Bekkos. He was the scholar, mentioned above, who was visiting from Greece and who stayed at my house in New Jersey for the duration of the conference. I met him for the first time last Monday, after Fr. Taft’s address, and had lunch with him. On Thursday, after the conference was over, I brought him into New York City, and, after taking him to see the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the World Trade Center site, and the Strand Bookstore, put him onto a subway train headed for Grand Central Station. As I have not heard back from him yet, I hope he reached his intended destination.

When the conference reconvened after lunch, Aristotle Papanikolaou introduced Dr. Demetrios Katos of Hellenic College, who chaired the first symposium, devoted to readings of the West in Byzantium and afterwards.

Dr. Tia M. Kolbaba of Rutgers gave the first lecture of the symposium, titled “The Tenth Century: Orthodox Constructions of the West in the Golden Age of Byzantium.” She noted that she approaches this subject of Byzantium primarily as a historian, not as a theologian, and that her lecture would be chiefly historical in nature. The chief things I learned from hearing it are, first, that a concern with the question of “azymes” (i.e., the use of unleavened bread in the eucharist) formed no part of the Byzantine critique of the West prior to the eleventh century, and that it first occurred in polemics, not against the West, but against the Armenian Church. Secondly, I learned that certain scholars now believe that the quarrel on the Mount of Olives in the early ninth century between Greek and Latin monks that is usually seen as a significant milestone in the history of the Filioque controversy actually never took place, that it is the fabrication of a later Latin author. I asked Dr. Kolbaba about this later, and she referred me to two works:

  • Claudia Sode, Jerusalem, Konstantinopel, Rom. Die Viten des Michael Synkellos und der Brüder Theodoros und Theophanes Graptoi (Stuttgart 2001), esp. pp. 171-187, “Excursus: Der sogenante Jerusalem Filioquestreit.”
  • Daniel Callahan, “The Problem of the ‘Filioque’ and the letter from the Pilgrim Monks of the Mount of Olives to Pope Leo III and Charlemagne. Is the Letter another Forgery by Adhemar of Chabannes?” Revue bénédictine 102 (1992), 75-134.

Thirdly, I learned that Dr. Kolbaba thinks that the Mystagogy of St. Photius is not one work, and that at least part of it, or perhaps even the whole of it, is not by St. Photius himself. She argues this point in a new book of hers, Inventing Latin Heretics: Byzantines and the Filioque in the Ninth Century, which I have not yet seen. I am interested to read the book and assess her argument, but I confess that, until I am persuaded by evidence, I remain skeptical.

* * *

The next lecturer was Dr. Marcus Plested, Vice Principal of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies at Cambridge University, who will be spending the next year at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton here in New Jersey; he gave a talk titled, “‘Light from the West’: Byzantine Readings of Aquinas.” As a Greek Orthodox Christian who, in my undergraduate work and afterwards, has spent much time reading St. Thomas and who has a real admiration for him, I was predisposed to hear the lecture with great interest.

Perhaps the high point of the lecture, for me, was when Dr. Plested quoted, in translation, a Byzantine canon in honor of Aquinas, written by one Joseph of Methone. (Dr. Plested unfortunately neglected to mention that Joseph of Methone was a fifteenth-century Greek bishop who supported the Union of Florence.) The passage went something like this:

As a light from the West, he has illumined the Church of Christ,
the musical swan and subtle teacher, Thomas the All-Blessed,
Aquinas by name (Ἀκῖνος τῇ κλήσει), to whom, gathered together, we cry,
“Hail, O universal Teacher!”

If I were to sum up the theme of Dr. Plested’s lecture, it would be that the usual assumption that East and West operate with fundamentally different theological methodologies is “an assumption of relatively recent provenance”; it was by no means taken for granted in the late Byzantine empire that the kind of systematic analysis of theological questions displayed by Thomas in his writings is a form of theological reasoning that should be off-limits to Greek theologians. Not only was it emulated by the Kydones brothers, Demetrios and Prochoros, who translated numerous of Aquinas’s works into Greek, but it was also emulated by such Palamite, anti-unionist writers as Nilos Kabasilas and, later, George Gennadios Scholarios.

If I have a criticism of Dr. Plested’s lecture, it would chiefly be that his account of Thomas’s influence on the East was confined almost exclusively to questions of methodology, leaving out most questions of theological substance. It is all very well that a writer like Nilos Kabasilas (not to be confused with his nephew, Nicholas Kabasilas, who, though also a Palamite, eschewed theological controversy) uses scholastic method to undermine Thomas’s own postulates. From my own point of view, it is equally important to note that some Byzantines, like Manuel Kalekas and John Kyparissiotes, thought that Kabasilas was wrong, and they thought he was wrong, not on the basis of some abstract philosophical principles, but on the grounds that his theological postulates (e.g., the existence of four really existent “natures” in God) disagreed with the unanimous testimony of the fathers. In other words, a case could be made that Aquinas is himself a patristic theologian, and that that is how at least some of the Byzantines read him.

* * *

The next speaker was Dr. Norman Russell, now of London University. He gave a talk titled, “From the Shield of Orthodoxy to the Tome of Joy: the Anti-Western Stance of Dositheos II of Jerusalem (1641-1707).”

I had some slight acquaintance with Dr. Russell many years ago when I was a student at Oxford and he was living nearby at Campion Hall, and I confess that my first impressions centered less on the substance of his talk than on his marked change in appearance. His hair has gone mostly white, he now wears a close-cropped white beard that reminded me of someone I couldn’t quite place, probably some major literary figure from the late nineteenth century. But what most impressed me was his distinctly Orthodox appearance, Orthodox of a certain definite school or type. It would not surprise one, seeing him for the first time, to learn that this was a man who had written a major contemporary study of deification in the Greek fathers. When, at length, I spoke with him, he was very gracious to me; and, throughout the conference, he carried himself with a certain quiet dignity.

Near the beginning of his talk, Dr. Russell summed up the chief point of his argument in the following words:

What I wish to do in this paper is to suggest reasons why we should see Dositheos, not merely as an accomplished apologist, bound by the confessional mentality that characterized so many of his contemporaries, but as a man fired by a vision of Orthodoxy’s ecumenicity.

I will have to listen to the lecture again, to see if I can discern that point as emerging out of Dr. Russell’s narrative. Most of the actual notes I jotted down were more pedestrian in nature; I had known very little about Patriarch Dositheos II of Jerusalem before hearing this lecture, and so I wrote down whatever intriguing facts seemed to me worth remembering. I learned, for instance, that Dositheos wrote against one of my favorite authors, Leo Allatius, the original editor of most of Bekkos’s works, depicting him as someone who “uttered extreme blasphemies against the Eastern Church.” I learned that Dositheos’s Tome of Reconciliation was written against the Council of Florence, that his Tome of Love was written against Baronius, Bellarmine, and others, and that his Tome of Joy took a yet “more shrill” tone, in inveighing against Uniatism as the supreme danger for the Orthodox Church (this at a time when the Ottoman Turks had finally been turned back at the Battle of Vienna, and Western forces, having managed to take back some of Southeastern Europe, were imposing Western ecclesiastical jurisdiction in these territories, e.g., in Transylvania). He wrote a work against papal primacy, which was rebutted by the historian Le Quien (best known as the author of the work Oriens Christianus). He published a number of Palamite texts for the first time. He was pro-Russian, but disapproved of Peter the Great’s ecclesiastical policy. He was ordained a deacon at the age of eleven, and was raised to the office of Patriarch of Jerusalem at the age of 28. Finally, Dr. Russell said, Dositheos should be seen as standing in continuity with the Palamite, anti-unionist writers of the last Byzantine centuries. I suppose that that is a recommendation, though I cannot help thinking that the assessment given by Gerhard Podskalsky, cited by Dr. Russell early in his lecture, remains accurate: “Dositheos is remembered chiefly as a church politician of a high order, and an organizer and patron of Orthodox apologetics against the West.”


Because this is the hottest day New Jersey has seen in nearly a decade, with temperatures approaching 100º Fahrenheit, and there is no air conditioner in my home, I will now leave off reporting the proceedings from last week’s Fordham Conference, and will go seek shelter from the heat wave at the public library.

Pages from a lost book

June 12, 2010

As mentioned in a recent post, I have lately been editing and translating a book by John Bekkos that has remained in manuscript for some seven hundred years. It was written around the year 1280 against an anonymous writer who, perhaps in the year 1279, had published against Bekkos, and against the union of the Churches, a collection of some 49 theological chapters. When the Emperor Michael VIII died in December 1282, and the political/ecclesiastical situation radically changed, the anonymous writer made himself known: he was George Moschabar, professor of exegesis at the patriarchal school. Informally, I will refer to the work Bekkos wrote in 1280 as Against George Moschabar instead of using the long, cumbersome title given by Bekkos himself (Refutations of the recently-discovered chapters which were written anonymously against the ecclesiastical peace). But it is worth bearing in mind that Bekkos later wrote yet another work against Moschabar, which has unfortunately not survived; perhaps I could refer to that later work as Against George Moschabar, Part II.

In any case, I have decided to present here a few paragraphs from the beginning of the book, including both the Greek text and my English translation. And, although I would like to think that no reader of this blog would be so unscrupulous as to lay claim to another person’s work, in this fallen world I cannot assume this; so I hereby assert copyright protection over these writings, as their translator and editor.

τοῦ αὐτοῦ ἀντιρρητικὰ τῶν κατὰ τῆς ἐκκλησιαστικῆς εἰρήνης ἀνεπιγράφων εὑρεθέντων κεφαλαίων :~ By the same author: Refutations of the recently-discovered chapters which were written anonymously against the ecclesiastical peace.
Πάλιν ἡμῖν ἀγῶνες καὶ πάλιν περὶ τὸ λέγειν ὁρμαί· ἂν δ’ οἱ νῦν ἀγῶνες τῶν προτέρων διάφοροι, οὐχὶ διάφορον καὶ τὸ ὑποκείμενον· ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν ὑποκείμενον ἕν· ἡ δὲ τῶν ἀγώνων χρῆσις διάφορος, ὅτι διαφόρως τῷ ἑνὶ τούτῳ ὑποκειμένῳ οἱ πρὸς οὓς ἡμεῖς τοὺς ἀγῶνας καὶ ἐποιησάμεθα καὶ ποιοῦμεν ἐχρήσαντο. ἀλλ᾽ εἰς τί μοι ταῦτα καὶ λέλεκται; τὴν διάστασιν τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν τῆς παλαιᾶς φημι Ῥώμης καὶ τῆς νέας τε καὶ ἡμετέρας, ἀγνοεῖ τῶν ἁπάντων ὅστις οὐδεῖς· ἀγνοεῖ δὲ ὡσαύτως οὐδείς, καὶ τὴν ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις ἡμῶν μεταξὺ αὐτῶν γεγονυῖαν εἰρήνην. καὶ ὁ περὶ τῆς διαστάσεως ταύτης καὶ εἰρήνης τῶν ἐκκλησιῶν λόγος, τὸ τῶν ἀγώνων ἡμῖν ὑποκείμενον· ἡ δὲ τῶν ἀγώνων διάφορος χρῆσις, ὅτι τοῖς τῶν πρὸ ἡμῶν συγγράμμασιν ἐντυχόντες ἡμεῖς οἷς ἐπὶ συγκροτήσει τοῦ ἐκκλησιαστικοῦ ἐκεῖνοι ἐχρήσαντο σχίσματος, οὐκ ἐφ’ ὕβρει ἐκείνων καἰ καταφορᾷ ὡσπερεὶ μανιώδει, τοῖς κατ’ ἐκείνων ἀντιρρητικοῖς ἐχρησάμεθα· ἀλλὰ προσηνῶς καὶ ἡμέρως καὶ τὸ πᾶν εἰπεῖν ἀδελφικῶς, τὸν κατὰ τοῦ ψεύδους ἐκείνων ἀγῶνα ἐνευρησάμεθα. νῦν δὲ χρείας καλούσης κατὰ τῶν νῦν ἀντιλεγόντων διαγωνίσασθαι, οὐκ ἔχομεν μετὰ τῆς αὐτῆς τοῦτο μεταχειρίσασθαι διαθέσεως· καὶ τὸ αἴτιον, ὅτι οἱ πρὸ ἡμῶν τοῖς Ἰταλοῖς ἀντιλέγοντες ὑπὲρ ὧν ἡμεῖς τὸν τῆς ἀντιρρήσεως πρὸ μικροῦ ἐνεστησάμεθα, οὐχ οὕτω βλασφημίαις ἐκτόποις καὶ ἀλλοκάτοις κατὰ τῆς εὐσεβείας ἐχρήσαντο· οὐδ’ οὕτω τὰς θεολογικὰς φωνὰς τῶν ἁγίων παρεξηγήσαντο, ὡς οἱ τοῦ νῦν καιροῦ ἐπὶ τῷ ἐκκλησιαστικῷ σχίσματι ζηλωταί. καὶ παρὰ τὴν αἰτίαν ταύτην, φθάνομεν ἑαυτῶν ἐν τοῖς νῦν ἀγῶσιν ὑπεραπολογούμενοι, καὶ αἰτούμενοι, μηδένα τῶν τούτοις ἐντυγχανόντων σκαιᾶς τινος καὶ ἀπαιδεύτου γνώμης ἡμᾶς γράψασθαι, ἀπὸ τοῦ τοῖς ἡμετέροις ἐμφέρεσθαι γράμμασι παρ’ ἡμῶν τὰς ἀξίας τῆς κακονοίας αὐτῶν δυσφημίας. ἀνὴρ γάρ τις τῆς εὐσεβείας ὢν ζηλωτὴς καὶ ἀσεβὴς ἀκούων καὶ βλάσφημος παρὰ τοῦ ἀληθῶς βλασφημοῦντος καὶ κακῶς διαβάλλοντος τὴν ἀλήθειαν, πῶς ἂν ἄλλως ἢ κατὰ τὸν ὅμοιον τρόπον τοὺς τῆς ἀληθείας συκοφάντας ἀμείψαιτο; καὶ τοῦτό ἐστιν ἡ ἐπὶ τῷ αὐτῷ ὑποκειμένῳ διάφορος χρῆσις τῶν ἀγώνων ἡμῶν ὑπὲρ ἧς ἡμᾶς δυσχεραίνομεν, ἀποτρόπαιόν τι νομίζοντες καὶ τῆς ἡμῶν προαιρέσεως ἀλλοτριώτατον τὸ δυσφήμως τοὺς προσδιαλεγομένους ἀμείβεσθαι· καὶ οὐκ ἄν ποτε εἰς τοῦτο ἔργον προήχθημεν, εἰ μὴ ἡ κατὰ τῆς εὐσεβείας λύττα καὶ μανιώδας τούτων παραφορὰ τὴν ἡμέτερον εἰς τοῦτο ζῆλον ἀνέκαυσαν· καὶ τὸ ἔτι κατ’ αὐτῶν ἐκκαῦσαι ἡμᾶς, ὅτι πάσης ἐρεσχελίας πλήρη ἀπερευγόμενοι καὶ ῥήματα καὶ νοήματα, ἀνεπιγράφης παραμεῖναι τῷ βίῳ τὰς αὐτῶν ἀντιρρήσεις ἐμηχανήσαντο· κακούργως διανοησάμενοι τὸ σατανικὸν τῆς κακίας κέρδος ἐντεῦθεν πορίσασθαι· ἔχει γάρ τε πρὸς τὴν σκοπὸν αὐτῶν τὸ ἀνύσιμον εἰ μὴ ἐξ ὀνομάτων τὰ βλάσφημα συγγράματα τούτων γινώσκοιντο· ἀλλ’ εἰ καὶ μέχρις ὀνόματος ἔλαθον, ὁ δὲ δρασσόμενος τοὺς σοφοὺς ἐν τῇ πανουργίᾳ αὐτῶν, οὐχὶ καὶ αὐτὰ λαθεῖν ἀφῆκε τὰ τῆς πονηρᾶς αὐτῶν διανοίας ἐκτόκια, τῶν τῆς ἀληθείας ἐλέγχων ἀνώτερα· μήποτε τῷ ἀνεξελέγκτῳ, ἕξουσιν ἴσως ὀψὲ τοῦ χρόνου δόξαν ὑγιαινόντων ἔχειν δογμάτων. τοιγάρτοι χωροῦντες ἤδη ἐπὶ τῷ λέγειν, τοὺς ἐντευξομένους τοῖς παροῦσιν ἡμῶν ἀντιρρητικοῖς θερμῶς ἱκετεύομεν ἐν διανοίᾳ νηφούσῃ καὶ ἀπροσπαθεῖ διαγνώσει τοῖς ἑκατέρωθεν εἰρημένοις ἑαυτοὺς διανεῖμαι. Again we are faced with contests, and again there is the urge to speak. But our immediate contests differ from those which came earlier, although their subject matter differs not at all. But, whereas the subject matter is one and the same, the format of these contests differs, because our former combatants and our present ones have treated of this one subject matter in different ways. But what is it about which I am speaking? That it is the division between the churches, the churches of Old Rome, namely, and of our New Rome, that is in question, there is no one who is unaware. And, likewise, no one can be unaware of the peace which has come about between us and them in our own days. And the essential reason or rationale for the division and the peace of the churches — that constitutes the subject matter of our contests. But the reason why these contests take a different shape is that, when we came across the writings which were produced by those of earlier times in support of the schism, we did not, in our refutations of them, reply in kind to their hybris and violent, even maniacal language, but meekly and mildly and, in a word, in a brotherly way, we were found combating against their lie. But need now calls that, in confronting these present deniers, we cannot carry on in the same attitude; the reason is that those who, formerly, contradicted the Italians, and whom we earlier endeavored to refute, did not employ such bizarre and outlandish blasphemies against godly teaching, nor did they misinterpret the theological statements of the saints so brazenly as do the zealots for schism who are writing at this time. And, given this cause, we have been beforehand in this contest in making a self-defense, and in entreating all who may encounter these writings not to ascribe to us a perverse and uneducated frame of mind because of our allowing the rancorous character of these writers’ vindictiveness to be brought in by us into our own writings. For, when a man who is, in fact, zealous for orthodoxy hears himself being called “impious” and a “blasphemer” by someone who, in truth, blasphemes and wickedly maligns the truth, what other course ought he to follow than to answer those who attack the truth in a style like their own? And we would never have been led to undertake this work if our own zeal for orthodoxy had not been enflamed by these people’s fury and raving fanaticism against it. And if it still burns against them, it is because, when they belched forth words and notions full of sophistry, they contrived that their refutations be brought into the world with no indication of authorship, conceiving thereby wickedly to reap the satanic gain of malevolence: for there is, indeed, something effectual in these blasphemous writings towards accomplishing their goal, even if their authors are not known by name. But, although they are hidden as to their name, he who “takes the wise in their own craftiness” has not allowed the offspring of their wicked reasoning to remain hidden, so as to escape Truth’s refutations, lest, in the absence of a full rebuttal, their ideas should at some future time gain the reputation of being sound doctrines. However it may be, in commencing this discourse, we fervently entreat those who shall encounter these disputations to focus carefully, with sober reasoning and unbiased judgment, upon the things that have been said by both sides.
ὁ γάρ, καὶ οὐκ οἶδα τί ἂν αὐτὸν καὶ καλέσω, συκοφάντης δὲ ὅμως καὶ τῆς ἀληθείας ἐχθρὸς ὡς αὐτὰ παραστήσει τοῦτον αὐτοῦ τὰ συγγράματα, εἰς οὐκ ὀλίγα κεφάλαια τὰς ἑαυτοῦ διεῖλεν ἐρεχελίας· καὶ ὥσπερ δὴ νόμος τοῖς περιέργως πάντα καὶ φρονοῦσι καὶ πράττουσιν, ἄλλως καὶ ἄλλως περὶ τῶν αὐτῶν συνεγράψατο. ἐγώδε τὰ πάντων αὐτῶν ἀπολεγόμενος καιριώτερα καὶ οἷς ἂν καὶ ὁ τῶν σιωπωμένων συμπαρεκτείνοιτο ἔλεγχος, ἐπὶ τοῦ μέσου ἂν προτιθοίμην καὶ σαφῶς διασκευαζοίμην τὸν ἔλεγχον. For this man — for how I should address him, I don’t know, though that he is a caviller and an enemy of the truth is shown by these very writings of his — has divided his sophistry into not a few chapters. And, as is customary for those who act and think as perpetual busybodies, he has written over and over again about the same things, now in this way, now in that. But, for my part, I would structure my refutation in a clear manner and present it to the public in such a way as to reply only to those chapters that are most essential to his argument; thus, the refutation of these would apply also to those chapters which are passed over in silence.
ἐξ αὐτῆς γὰρ οὗτος αὐτίκα βαλβίδος, ἐπιγραφὴν τοῦ πρώτου κεφαλαίου ποιεῖται, ὅτι οὐ ταυτὸν ἐκπόρευσις καὶ χορηγία· ἔννοιαν ἐντεῦθεν ὑποτείνων τινὰ τοῦ λέγειν ἡμᾶς ταυτὸν εἶναι ἐκπόρευσιν καὶ χορηγίαν. μετὰ δὲ τὴν ἐπιγραφὴν τῶν λόγων ἀρχόμενος, οὕτως ἐπὶ λέξεων λέγει· Right from his point of departure, he composes this title for his first chapter: That procession and bestowal are not the same thing. In saying this, he implies that we in fact say that procession and bestowal are the same thing. Then, after beginning with this chapter heading, he goes on to say the following:
Οἱ τὴν τοῦ παναγίου πνεύματος ἐκπόρευσιν χορηγίαν εἶναι τιθέμενοι καὶ ἀποστολὴν ἢ πρόχυσιν ἢ πρόπεμψιν, ἀθετηταὶ ἂν εἶεν τῆς τούτου χαρακτηριστικῆς ἰδιότητος καὶ τῆς τοῦ Μακεδονίου δόξης ἀφιστάμενοι κατ’ οὐδέν· καὶ γὰρ ὥσπερ ἐκεῖνος τὴν ἐνυπόστατον τοῦ θείου πνεύματος ὕπαρξιν ἀθετῶν ἐνέργειαν χορηγουμένην ἐδογμάτιζε τοῦτο τοῖς μετειληφόσι καὶ δεκτικοῖς πρόσφορον καὶ εἰς ἀνυπαρξίαν κατῆγε τὴν πάσης οὐσίας καὶ ὑπάρξεως τοῦ θείου πνεύματος ὑπερούσιον οὐσίαν καὶ ὕπαρξιν, οὕτω καὶ οὗτοι τῆς ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ὑπὲρ αἰτίαν καὶ λόγον τοῦ θείου πνεύματος ὑπάρξεως ἀθετοῦσι τὴν ἀφοριστικὴν ἰδιότητα τὴν ἐκπόρευσιν ἣν ἡμεῖς καὶ δεδιδάγμεθα παρὰ τοῦ σωτῆρος Χριστοῦ καὶ πιστεύομεν· καὶ ὁμολογοῦμεν σημαντικὴν εἶναι τῆς τοῦ παρακλήτου θεοῦ ὑπάρξεως, ὅπως ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἔχει τὸ εἶναι ὅτι ἐκπορευτῶς ὥσπερ καὶ τὴν γέννησιν ἀφοριστικὴν τοῦ υἱοῦ ἰδιότητα· ὅπως καὶ οὗτος ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἔχει τὸ εἶναι καὶ γὰρ γεννητῶς. Those who would posit the All-Holy Spirit’s procession to be a bestowal and a mission or a shedding-forth or a sending-forth set aside his characteristic identifying feature and, without reason, take a stand with the doctrine of Macedonius; for in fact, just as Macedonius set aside the real, personal existence of the divine Spirit and taught that it is an activity (energy) bestowed upon participants and conveyed to its recipiants, and thereby reduced the superessential essence and existence of the divine Spirit, who transcends all essence and existence, to the rank of the non-existent, so also these people set aside the procession from the Father, which is the defining particularity of the divine Spirit’s existence, an existence which transcends cause and reason. We have been taught by Christ the Savior and we believe and confess that this defining particularity indicates God the Paraclete’s existence, so that he possesses being from the Father, which he has in a proceeding way — just as “begottenness” is the defining particularity of the Son, so that he also possesses being from the Father, having it in a begotten way.
Οὕτω μὲν οὖν ἀφανὴς οὗτος θεολόγος καὶ τῆς γωνίας ὄντως ἐπάξιος· ἡμεῖς δὲ διαφορὰν χορηγίας τε καὶ ἐκπορεύσεως ἐν πολλοῖς τῶν ἡμετέρων συγγραμάτων ἐκδηλότατα εἰρηκότες, οὐδενὸς ἄλλου λόγου ἐν τῷ παρόντι δεηθησάμεθα εἰς ἀποσκευὴν τῆς καθ’ ἡμῶν ἐπὶ τούτῳ διαβολῆς καὶ διὰ βραχέων οὕτω τὴν πρότασιν ἀνατρέποντες ἐξ ἧς ὁ γενναῖος οὗτος τῆς ἀληθείας ἀντίπαλος τὸ καθ’ ἡμῶν τῆς Μακεδονίου δόξης ἔγκλημα συνάγειν διενοήθη, ἐξ ἄλλων ἀναντιρρήτων καὶ ἀληθῶν ὑποθέσεων μᾶλλον ἂν αὐτὸν ἀποδείξαιμεν τὸ τοιοῦτον ἔγκλημα ἐπισυρόμενον ἑαυτῷ· ἅτε τὴν ἐνυπόστατον τοῦ θείου πνεύματος ὕπαρξιν ἐνέργειαν τοῖς μετειληφόσι χορηγουμένην δοξάζοντα καὶ εἰς ἀνυπαρξίαν κατάγοντα τὴν πάσης οὐσίας ὑπερούσιον τοῦ θείου πνεύματος ὕπαρξιν. ἐπεὶ γὰρ οἱ τῆς ἐκκλησίας φωστῆρες τῆς ἀκριβοῦς θεολογίας διδάσκαλοι τὰ τοῦ παρακλήτου πνεύματος θεία χαρίσματα τῇ τοῦ πνεύματος κλήσει καθ’ ὁμωνυμίαν καλεῖσθαι δογματίκασιν, ὁ γενναῖος οὑτοσὶ θεολόγος συνιέναι μὴ δυνηθεὶς ὅπως τὲ αὐτὸν τὸν ἐνυπόστατον παράκλητον δηλοῖ ὁ τοῖς δεκτικοῖς αὐτοῦ χογηγεῖσθαι λέγων αὐτόν· καὶ ὅπως ἡ χωρηγία εἰ καὶ μὴ ταυτὸν τῇ ἐκπορεύσει ἐστί, σχετικὴ γάρ ἐστι τοῦ χορηγουμένου ἐνοίκησις· ὅμως τὴν ἐκ τοῦ χορηγοῦντος παραστῆσαι δύναται ὕπαρξιν ὡς καὶ ἐν ἄλλοις ἀποδεδείχαμεν, θείας γραφῆς ἁπάσης καταυθεντῶν, νομοθετεῖ ὅποιπερ ἂν εὑρίσκηται πνεῦμα ἅγιον χορηγούμενον καὶ διδόμενον, τὸ σημαινόμενον ἐκεῖσε τοῦ πνεύματος μὴ τὸν παράκλητον εἶναι θεὸν· ἀλλὰ τὴν πνευματικὴν αὐτοῦ χάριν, καθ’ ὁμωνυμίαν πνεῦμα ἅγιον λεγομένην. καὶ ταῦτα λέγων ὁ παραπλὴξ καὶ ἐμωράντητος· καὶ τί γὰρ ἂν ἄλλο καλέσαιμι αὐτὸν προσφυέστερον, ἀγνοεῖ αὐτὸς εἶναι ὁ τῇ Μακεδονίου περιπίπτων δόξῃ κακῶς καὶ ἐπισφαλῶς· εἰ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος ἐνέργειαν ἀνυπόστατον τοῖς μετειληφόσι χορηγουμένην τὸ πανάγιον ἐδογμάτιζε πνεῦμα· καὶ οὗτος δὲ τοιαύτην διαβεβαιοῦται πνευματικὴν δηλοῦν ἐνέργειαν τὴν κλῆσιν τοῦ πνεύματος ὀπηνίκά τις λέγει πνεῦμα ἅγιον χορηγούμενον καὶ διδόμενον, πῶς οὐκ ἂν εἴη οὗτος Μακεδονιαστὴς ὡς νενομοθέτηκεν, ἐὰν ἡμεῖς μὲν αὐτὸν τὸν παράκλητον τοῖς δεκτικοῖς ἐνοικεῖν ἀποδείξωμεν, οὗτος δὲ κατὰ τὴν αὐτῷ προσοῦσαν ἀνοησίαν τὴν δηλοῦσαν αὐτὸν τὸν παράκλητον κλῆσιν τοῦ πνεύματος, ἀνυπόστατον εἶναι ἐνέργειαν τερατεύεται; Thus far our unseen theologian, someone truly worthy of a dark corner. But as for us, having most clearly stated, in numerous of our writings, that there is a difference between bestowal and procession, we shall be in need of no new argument, in the present work, to frame our response to the slander that is lodged against us on this point, and in this way we may briefly overthrow the premise which this eminent adversary of the truth has supposed he could use to draw down upon us the charge of holding to the view of Macedonius; rather, from other irrefutable, true postulates, we shall show that he has drawn this charge upon himself, forasmuch as he supposes the real, personal existence of the Holy Spirit to be an energy bestowed upon those who partake of him, and he has dragged the superessential existence of the divine Spirit, surpassing all essence, down to the level of non-existence. For since the luminaries of the Church, the teachers of exact theology, teach the doctrine that the divine gifts of the Paraclete Spirit are called, equivocally, by the title “Spirit,” this eminent theologian, in his inability to understand how it is the person itself of the Paraclete which is signified when he is said to be bestowed upon those who receive him, and how this bestowal, even if it is not the same thing as the procession — for it is the relational indwelling of the one who is bestowed — nevertheless is able to make known his existence from the one who bestows, as we have fully established in other writings — since, as I say, he is unable to understand this, he lays it down as a law that, wherever the Holy Spirit is found being bestowed and given, the object there signified by the word “Spirit” is not God the Paraclete, but his spiritual gift, which, by equivocation, is called “Holy Spirit.” And, when he says these things, this addle-pated ignoramus (for I am at a loss to know by what more apposite a title to call him), he fails to recognize that it is he himself who falls, wickedly and clumsily, into the mindset of Macedonius. For if Macedonius dogmatized that the All-Holy Spirit is an impersonal energy bestowed upon those who receive [him], and if he himself stoutly maintains that the title “Spirit” indicates just such a spiritual energy whenever anyone says that the Holy Spirit is bestowed and given, how is it not he himself who is the Macedonian, according to his own legislation, if, while we demonstrate that it is the Spirit himself who indwells those who receive him, he, on the contrary, talks prodigiously, in keeping with his own proper foolishness, that the title “Spirit” (which indicates the Paraclete himself) is an impersonal energy.
καὶ ἡ ἀπόδειξις, ἔχει μὲν τὴν ἰσχὺν καὶ ἐκ πολλῶν ῥήσεων πατερικῶν· ὡς καὶ ἐν ἄλλοις ἡμῶν συγγράμασι παρεστήσαμεν· ἔχει δὲ αὐτὴν βεβαιότερον ἐξ αὐτῶν τῶν ἐν εὐαγγελίοις τοῦ κυρίου φωνῶν. ὁ γὰρ κύριος τὸ πνεῦμα πέμπειν ἐπαγγελλόμενος, οὐ χάριν τινὰ πέμπειν ἁπλῶς ἐπηγγείλατο· ἀλλ’ αὐτὸν ἔφη τὸν παράκλητον πέμπειν, αὐτὸ τῆς ἀληθείας πνεῦμα ὃ παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται· εἰ γοῦν ὁ παράκλητος τὸ πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας ὃ παρὰ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται, ἐνέργειά τις ἐστὶν ἀνυπόστατος, εἴη ἂν κατὰ τὴν φλυαρίαν τοῦ εἰπόντος καὶ τὸ πεμπόμενον καὶ χορηγούμενον τοῖς πιστοῖς πνεῦμα, ἀνυπόστατός τις ἐνέργεια. εἰ δὲ πνεῦμα μὲν πεμπόμενον καὶ χορηγούμενον ἐστὶν ὁ παράκλητος, ἡ δὲ τοῖς δεκτικοῖς ἐγγινομένη σχετικὴ αὐτοῦ ἐνοίκησις πρὸς τὰς διαφόρους τῶν χαρισμάτων ἰδέας τὰς διαφόρους δέχεται κλήσεις πνεῦμα λεγομένη σοφίας ὅταν ὁ ἐνοικήσας τινὶ τῶν πιστῶν παράκλητος κύριος σοφίαν παράσχοι· καὶ πνεῦμα γνώσεως ὅταν γνῶσιν παράσχοι· καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ἅπερ διὰ τὸ μικροῦ πᾶσι κεῖσθαι εἰς γνῶσιν τῷ λόγῳ οὐ διαλαμβάνομεν, οὐδὲν ἄρα λειπόμενον ἔσται τοῖς ἀγαθοῖς καὶ εὐσυνειδήτοις διαγνῶναι, ἢ ὅτι ὡς ὁ μετὰ πολλῆς τῆς αὐθεντίας νομοθετῶν τὸ διδόμενον καὶ χορηγούμενον πνεῦμα, μὴ τὸν παράκλητον αὐτὸν εἶναι θεὸν ἀλλ’ ἐνέργειαν αὐτοῦ ἀνυπόστατον, καθ’ ἑαυτοῦ τὴν ψῆφον τῆς τοῦ Μακεδονίου δόξης ἀποίσεται. And the proof [of this] has force also out of many statements of the fathers, as we have also shown in other writings of ours. And it has this force most emphatically from the very things said by the Lord in the gospels. For, when the Lord promised to send the Spirit, he did not announce that he would send simply some grace, but he said that he would send the Paraclete himself, the very Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father. If, therefore, the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, is an impersonal energy, this would accord with the nonsense of him who states that the Spirit who is sent and bestowed upon the faithful is an impersonal energy. But if the Spirit who is sent and bestowed is the Paraclete, and his relational indwelling, which comes about in those who receive him, is given various names according to the various ideas of his gifts, being called a “spirit of wisdom” when the Lord the Paraclete, in indwelling one or another of the faithful, provides wisdom, and a “spirit of knowledge” when he provides knowledge, and so on with the rest of the titles which, because a knowledge of them may be easily had by anyone, we do not here recount word by word, then any honest person of good conscience will lack nothing to discern that he who legislates, with a great air of authority, that the Spirit who is given and bestowed is not God himself, the Paraclete, but his impersonal energy, takes the side of the viewpoint of Macedonius, his own protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

Back to work

May 28, 2010

I have been on the road recently. Last week I drove down to Florida to visit my sister and her family and to attend my nephew Michael’s graduation from medical school, which occurred last Saturday in Gainesville; he was one of a class of 130 students, and received honors for research. The trip took me through parts of the country I had not been to before, and was, indeed, undertaken partly with a view towards seeing them, partly, also, to visit old friends, some of whom put me up on various stages of the journey. One of these previously unseen places was Charleston, South Carolina, the original home of states’ rights political philosophy, a major port of entry for the slave-trade, and the place where the Civil War began; I made a stop there on my way down, sat for awhile contemplating a statue of John C. Calhoun, which stands on top of a pillar at the edge of a public park, visited the old Marketplace and the museum of the Confederacy which sits above it, and made my way briefly down to the Battery, a rectangular sea wall enclosing a remarkably beautiful park lined with palm trees and old mansions, from which I was able to catch sight of Fort Sumter, faintly visible on the horizon. Animating all this sightseeing was a desire to understand the South, a world that remains quite foreign to me and to whose merits I generally give insufficient recognition; I am, in most ways, an archetypical Northerner, in my habits of mind and body and speech, and, like most of us, I take on such habits from my surroundings without fully understanding how the societal form which I instantiate got to be what it is.

After driving on Interstate 95 for twelve wearisome hours on Monday and spending most of Tuesday in the nation’s capital and Annapolis, I arrived back in New Jersey late Tuesday night, and have since been trying to resume my work on John Bekkos. Some readers of this blog may be wondering where this work currently stands, and why they haven’t heard more about it recently.

For much of the past three months, I have been transcribing the Greek text of John Bekkos’s unpublished work Against George Moschabar from a microfilm copy I acquired of a manuscript owned by the Biblioteca Laurenziana in Florence, Italy. On May 4th I completed a handwritten transcription, and since then I have been entering the text onto my computer, checking it against the microfilm as I go along. This is one of the few works of Bekkos that have never been edited, and it has, accordingly, remained largely unknown and unread for most of the past 700 years. I began reading it with the expectation that it might help clarify certain obscurities in Bekkos’s history; in particular, there are questions about exactly when John Bekkos began publishing books in defense of the Union of Lyons; from the evidence of the work Against George Moschabar, it is clear that there never was a hiatus in his writing, as might be supposed from the testimony of George Pachymeres’ History. (Pachymeres, Book V, ch. 28, states that Bekkos, probably around the year 1276, promised a friend of his, Theodore Xiphilinos, that he would not write in reply to the attacks that were being made against the Union in various tracts that were being circulated anonymously at the time. This testimony has generally been interpreted to mean a promise not to write at all in favor of the Union, a promise which, according to Pachymeres, Bekkos eventually broke, around the year 1280. But in his work Against George Moschabar, written around 1280, Bekkos refers repeatedly to other, earlier writings of his, and gives no indication that, in writing this new book, he is taking up his pen again after a long intermission; the only difference he indicates is a difference of manner: in this new book, he says, he will not be so deferential as in previous writings, but will give a plain counterattack to this new disseminator of lies.)

The work to which Bekkos’s book was a response was published by George Moschabar anonymously around the year 1279. Moschabar was, in fact, a member of Bekkos’s own clergy, a man who held the official position of professor of scriptural exegesis at the patriarchal school at Constantinople. Bekkos does not know the author of the work which had been written against him — he refers to the writer sarcastically as “the Philosopher” or “the Aristotelian”; later, he found out who had written it, and he cites it as Moschabar’s in his Notes on his own writings (written sometime around 1286-1288). In the Florentine manuscript, Bekkos’s work against Moschabar is titled as follows: τοῦ αὐτοῦ ἀντιρρητικὰ τῶν κατὰ τῆς ἐκκλησιαστικῆς εἰρήνης ἀνεπιγράφων εὑρεθέντων κεφαλαίων, By the same author: A refutation of the anonymous chapters that have been found, which were written against the ecclesiastical peace. The fact that this title gives no indication of Moschabar’s being the author of the opposing work, something that was later widely known, corroborates Vitalien Laurent’s view that the Florentine manuscript (Laurentianus pluteus VIII.26) is an official copy of Bekkos’s works dating from the time of his own patriarchate.

About the content of this work Against George Moschabar, I would prefer, for the time being, to remain reticent. But I hope soon to write an article about it; I think it is theologically an important work, which raises issues that would reappear over a half a century later during the Palamite Controversy. Indeed, I might make the claim that it is the earliest statement of Antipalamite theology that was ever written, appearing some sixteen years before Gregory Palamas was born. For this reason, if for no other, it deserves to be published; my guess is that it may shed an important light upon the origins of that later controversy.

On Physiognomy

March 17, 2010

Aristotle says that thinking does not occur without images (De Anima III.7, 431a17). In support of this observation, I would note my own curious habit, when reading, to form mental pictures of persons whom I have never seen and of whose appearance I actually have no notion. Often these mental pictures are later found to bear little resemblance to reality. Orthodox iconography appeals to this natural human tendency by presenting standard ways of representing people: St. Paul is always represented as balding and dark-haired, with a dark beard, a somewhat thin man, as befits a scholar; St. Peter is usually shown with a full head of greying, curly hair and a short, curly beard, a stocky, muscular man, as befits a fisherman. The Three Great Hierarchs have their own recognizable physiognomies; no one familiar with Orthodox iconography would confuse an image of St. Basil the Great with an image of St. Gregory the Theologian, or, again, an image of either of them with one of St. John Chrysostom. It is possible that these iconographic traditions go back to portraits drawn from life; it is also possible that, in some cases, they are imaginary representations. Whether the iconographic tradition of representing female saints is as well developed as this, I would not venture to say; I can recognize an image of St. Xenia of St. Petersburg from afar and can differentiate it from, say, an image of St. Mary of Egypt or from an icon of St. Macrina, more however because of their respective manners of dress than from their physiognomies as such.

So what do I imagine people like John Bekkos, Gregory of Cyprus, George Metochites, Constantine Meliteniotes, George Moschabar, the Emperor Michael Palaiologos, and all the rest of the characters I am engaged in studying looked like?

I used to think that Gregory of Cyprus looked like Vice President Dick Cheney with a beard. That is to say, someone with an ingrained scowl, someone whose long experience in secret dealings behind other’s backs to overthrow political and personal enemies had left recognizable traces upon the face that God gave him, leaving a kind of public testimony to a life shaped by arrogance and resentment. I have no way of demonstrating the truth of this intuition, and probably if I were better versed in the Cypriot’s own writings I would have to revise this picture in various ways, but I am simply stating for the record how I have imagined his appearance.

Is it not a remarkable thing how the mind shapes the body? If one looks at a picture of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy and compares it to a picture of Rush Limbaugh, does one not detect a certain spiritual resemblance: the pudginess of the face, the beadiness of the eyes? One would think that holding certain political views for long periods of time effected changes in one’s bodily structure: the eyes and brain shrink from lack of use, the jowls expand….

What about Bekkos? I am not sure. There is a representation of him made by an anonymous artist in the seventeenth century to accompany Jacques Goar’s Euchologion; some months ago I scanned this image and added it to the Wikipedia article on Bekkos. The image shows a medieval Greek bishop, holding the wide-brimmed hat then in use, leaning slightly backward on his episcopal staff, as if poised either to declaim against some injustice or perhaps to hurl the said episcopal staff down on the ground in a fit, as Bekkos once did in the presence of the Emperor Michael when the latter refused to pardon a man. The expression on his face is somewhat ambiguous, and might even be read as a smile, but more likely it is an expression of defiance in response to some affront or to some egregious statement of untruth. The dramatic poise suggests that the artist was acquainted with the acting conventions of seventeenth-century Italian opera.

I have no idea if this image looks anything like Bekkos’s actual appearance. It conveys a certain type: an image of a Greek bishop, forthrightly glaring at his foes, passionately rejecting the perpetuation of Christian division. In some ways, that is all that an image of a person one has never seen can be expected to do: to give a visual representation of the fundamental idea that shaped the person’s life. The image serves as a kind of play actor. One does not have to see a production of the play King Lear to know that the leading role has to be performed by a man who can convey both authority and instability at the same time. An image of King Lear is already present in our minds before we see Richard Burton or whoever else performs the role on stage take it upon himself for a certain season. And few people can actually perform this role convincingly because, quite simply, few of us have the internal resources of character to represent greatness. There are few things more pathetic than to see a convention of Lincoln impersonators, men who think that, by merely donning a beard and a stovepipe hat, they can cover the mediocrity of their own lives and represent this man to other people. One cannot put on a love of justice and truth quite so easily as a hat and a beard; without that, the external representation rings hollow.

Whatever the external lineaments of John Bekkos’s face, it is clear to me that a love of justice and truth formed part of the internal lineaments of his mind and heart; given the nature of things, these internal lineaments probably manifested themselves upon his countenance in some way eventually. It is also fairly clear that the man had his limitations: at the show trial of early 1283, he consented to sign a document condemning his own teaching, and much of the final years of his life are marked by an unmistakable sense of bitterness towards the man who succeeded him as Patriarch of Constantinople. For myself, I do not make Bekkos my “idol,” as one reader of this blog charged earlier this year. I see Bekkos as someone, first of all, whose thought I would like to understand, since the fundamental problem which he confronted, the problem of Christian division, has not gone away; I presume to think that, as he analyzed the causes of this problem carefully and at great length, I might learn something from him. I altogether doubt that the solution for all the problems faced by Christianity in the present world, or even for the specific problem of Christian disunion, is to be found in a reenactment of the Union of Lyons. And I similarly doubt that, for many of the spiritual issues that confront me personally, John Bekkos has all that much to say; anyone who thinks that one can receive adequate spiritual nourishment by reading a steady diet of polemics over the Filioque issue surely has some self-examination to do. But I believe that Bekkos was an honest man, and an intelligent reader of the fathers, who rightly, I think, pointed out that the position of most of the early Greek fathers of the Church on the subject of the Holy Spirit’s procession was not as absolutely inimical to the Latin Church’s position on this subject as Photius and his followers represented it, and continue to represent it. And I also think that the debate between Bekkos and his opponents had important implications for the direction Byzantine theology would take in the next generation; questions of how the divine presence and activity in us are to be understood were already being argued over by Bekkos, Melitentiotes, and Metochites, on the one hand, and men like George Moschabar and Gregory of Cyprus, on the other. Both as an historian and as a Christian, I would like to understand the terms of that debate, and see how it unfolded.

So, in brief, while I do not have in my mind a clear picture of what Bekkos looked like, a photographic image is not the point of my reading him. One reads authors in order to perceive the truth that they perceived, and to be shaped internally by it. It would of course help me in my studies if I had a clearer mental picture of the streets of Constantinople in the late thirteenth century, of daily life, of the ritual of the imperial court, of what it was like to attend a liturgy in Hagia Sophia in the days before it became a mosque. My understanding of these things is necessarily limited, in part by the fact that I live seven hundred years later. But perhaps it is just as well that we don’t see the past with perfect vision; perhaps it would cause us to forget that life is actually lived in the present, and one emulates the life of the righteous, not by wearing the same clothes, but by serving the same God, who is the ever-living source of life to all.

Sententia synodalis

January 29, 2010

Below is presented a translation of a formal declaration made by a synod held in Constantinople on Friday, May 3rd, 1280 under the presidency of Patriarch John Bekkos. The synod dealt with the case of the referendarius Michael Eskammatismenos, who had erased the word ἐκ (“from”) from a theologically-significant passage of St. Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Lord’s Prayer, found in an ancient manuscript belonging to his brother-in-law, Penteclesiotes (a modern, critical text of the passage is found in J. Callahan, ed., Gregorii Nysseni de oratione dominica; de beatitudinibus [Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1992], pp. 42-43). Penteclesiotes’ manuscript originally read as follows: “Now the Spirit both is said to be from the Father, and is further testified to be from the Son” (Τὸ δὲ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον καὶ ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς λέγεται, καὶ ἐκ τοῦ Υἱοῦ εἶναι προσμαρτυρεῖται). By erasing the second ἐκ, Eskammatismenos changed the sense of this to, “Now the Spirit both is said to be from the Father, and is further testified to be of the Son” (or, “to belong to the Son”). When Eskammatismenos later confessed to the erasure, it presented a dilemma to John Bekkos, who reasoned that, if the word were written back into the manuscript, the obvious difference in handwriting would raise suspicions as to the word’s genuineness. The synod decided to leave the passage as it stood, that is, lacking the second ἐκ, but to place the synodal act in the book as an annotation, declaring to future readers what had happened there to the text.

Many readers of St. Gregory of Nyssa’s sermon have doubted that the second ἐκ, the reading favored by Bekkos, was in fact what Gregory of Nyssa wrote. The general editor of Nyssa’s works, Werner Jaeger, devoted much attention to the subject, and concluded that the word doesn’t belong there. John Callahan, who produced the GNO edition of the work (Gregorii Nysseni Opera, VII/2), agrees with Jaeger that the word is probably not what Gregory of Nyssa wrote, but stresses that that is not a conclusion one would reach on palaeographical grounds alone. Comparing the Greek manuscripts with an early Syriac version of the text, Callahan sees the word ἐκ as already present in the earliest witnesses to the textual tradition; it was certainly there, in some manuscripts, before the eighth century, that is to say, well before the major conflicts between the Greek and Latin Churches over the Holy Spirit’s procession. Callahan writes:

“…regarding the text tradition itself, we must conclude that the ἐκ belongs in the text as far as we can be guided by strictly palaeographical evidence. But, in the second place, it is very difficult to justify its presence in the text from the standpoint of Gregory’s own line of argumentation, as Jaeger has indicated.” (Callahan, op. cit., p. xii.)

In his own edition of the work, Callahan retains the word, but places it within brackets to stress that he finds its presence in the text dubious.

One may note that Eskammatismenos later went back on his support for union; he was one of the signatories to the Tome that condemned John Bekkos in 1285; later, Gregory of Cyprus made him his chartophylax, that is, his archivist and secretary, although, apparently, he ultimately turned on him, too.

I have translated the following synodal act from the Greek text edited by Leo Allatius in the seventeenth century and reprinted by J.-P. Migne, Patrologia graeca 141, 281-290, and H. Laemmer, Scriptorum graeciae orthodoxae bibliotheca selecta I (Fribourg 1864), pp. 411-422.

Annotation by the synod

On the third day in the month of May, the sixth day of the week, [i.e., Friday], the eighth indiction [1280], with his All-Holiness, our most-holy master, Lord John, Patriarch of Constantinople, New Rome, presiding in his rooms adjacent to the church of St. Theophylact, and, meeting in synod with him, the most reverend high priests: the most honorable Nicholas of Chalcedon, the most honorable Meletios of Athens, the most honorable Nicander of Larissa, the most honorable Leo of Serrai, together with Theodore of Cherson, Theodore of Sougdaia, Nicholas of Proeconesus, and Leo of Berrhoea, as well as the imperial magistrates, most beloved of God, who were also present:

1. Even the tiniest of hairs, if it should fall into the eye, produces both a darkening of the eye itself and considerable damage to the rest of the body. For if the eye is the light of the body, when it is in a bad state it follows of simple necessity that the whole body must be in conformity with its bad condition, and, as the body’s light has been quenched, there must be an obscuring of its ability to direct its own steps, which it derived from that light. And in the same manner, if by chance Holy Scripture should be damaged, and should suffer either addition or subtraction even to one tittle (cf. Mt 5:18), no slight damage would accrue to the whole body of the Church. In fact, what else is reckoned to serve the order and function of the eyes in that Body whose head is Christ if not the writings of the holy fathers, which have gained, from that head, principles of [spiritual] vision, and which illuminate the way for those who encounter them? What then ought to be done in the case of the bodily eye, and what is to be understood in the case of this spiritual eye of which it is said that no one who lacks rightness in respect of it shall see the Lord (cf. Heb 12:14; Mt 5:8)? Undoubtedly, just as it is the custom of those who are skilled in such matters to cleanse that physical eye and restore it to its function of benefiting the whole constitution of the body, so also it is fitting to make sure, as far as possible, that whenever there may appear a mote or, more seriously, a very beam in this other eye, it should be taken away with a view to doctrinal propriety and authenticity, so that, this eye being again healthy and restored to its former state, the light may shine and darkness may be banished. And to whom else is such a business a matter of concern if not to us who, by the mercy of the God of the fathers, have been accorded administration over such matters and over all the other written and paternal traditions that have been passed down, so that we may be shown to be genuine sons who grieve when we see the fatherly testaments falsified, or rather when we see the injustice done to ourselves in respect of that truly great and ever-abiding inheritance which, from the fathers, we possess — and so much the more when, in these texts, we see the blessing of peace shining forth and the reconciliation of the Churches confirmed? And perhaps such injustice occurs exactly to the extent that these texts become corrupted. For there are many incidental consequences when people mangle the truth and alter texts to suit their purposes; as a result, not only is their sinning with regard to the truth left uncorrected for them, but it is even thought to be supported out of the divine writings. And if the one who is wronged is the light of the church of Nyssa, and the book which suffers falsification is old and reliable, how much anguish of soul does this cause to those who have been betrayed even as touching their own souls, since, for the sake of the peace of the Church, they would wish that no one should have had to face a stumbling-stone. And, again, how vital is it that this issue should be addressed, and how solicitous ought we to be that the truth may find open expression, and, in the future, may be completely secure in all respects. And how fitting it is that we should devote our energies to matters of this kind and, to our ability, bring them to a just conclusion. In what way, then, the matter unfolded, and what sort of origins it had, will be most clearly shown in the following sections of this report.

2. When with God’s help the ecclesiastical peace had now already been consummated, and the perennial scandal had been put aside by the grace of the Spirit (for it had to be that, at some point, such dark raving madness would be nullified, and the light of concord would again shine, and the God of peace would triumph in a great plenitude of victory), it was our own task to contribute to this peace to the extent of our abilities, and to support it out of the sacred Writings, as was proper, so that we should not be accused of speaking out of our own belly (cf. Isaiah 8:19 LXX), but out of rivers divinely struck, and from bellies that have been filled with living water (cf. Exod 17:6-7; John 7:38). Thus it was that, receiving into the hearing of the ear now this text and now that one, then again yet another, and, simply put, all of them, we were, by God’s mercy, while going through these one by one, granted a fair voyage towards the peace that has been consummated, and were pointing out to others the way. And if in some way there remained some scandal for these others, by reason of a commendable fear, we had no trouble in holding such people as lacking faith, and as bearing no serious opposition to us and to those who supported our position. But (O the envy and the cunning wiles of Satan!) even some of our own people took a stand with the opposing side, and, as they took it to be a good thing, and something glorious, if they should wage war against the peace, they separated themselves from our Church and became a sect unto themselves. It is true that, burdened at all times by the weight of those Holy Writings that make for peace, they were at some point going to come forward and put aside obstinacy and enmity, and would cherish peace with us and be joined to the whole body of the Church; that, in fact, took place later. But, at that time, as long as their obstinacy still held sway, and they set their own preferences before the wealth of truth, what else was left for them to do when faced with texts of this kind except to act as occasion presented itself to them? For these men were versatile in speech and understanding, able to reconstrue some texts, interpreting them in another sense, as though they accorded with their own position, while other texts they claimed were inauthentic; and again, in the case of some texts, although they admitted that they were written by the fathers (which was the sole point about them that they got right), they would bring forth the excuse — a miserable excuse indeed and wholly unworthy of the fathers’ purposes — that, since the fathers produced these writings in opposition to the arguments that were being circulated back then by the heretics, there exist places where the fathers fell short of what is fitting; although it fails to register with the people who make this claim that it is in no way to God’s glory and to the upholding of the truth when arguments are compounded of falsehoods and of things unworthy of the Spirit. But, as we were saying, these aforesaid men, being at that time entirely given over to their own will, acted cunningly against their own best interests, and were fearless in producing arguments that only aggravated their lack of what is beneficial, while the many and various things they spoke were all directed towards the same end, the impugning of peace and a warring against the truth of the Scriptures; so many were the ways in which they labored to procure their own ruin. But all these things were tolerable to us, that is to say, to the Truth, so long as the Scriptures were preserved whole and they merely gave them such false interpretations as they would. But when someone resorts to a piece of iron, and scrapes off writing, one immediately understands that this is done for no other reason than the soul’s mere appetite; and anyone who gives due consideration to this will discern that, since such people had no grounds upon which they could contradict so clear a truth, they decided to expunge it. In what manner this was done, and by whom, and how, our report will now relate.

3. Along with other books belonging to a certain son-in-law of the grand economos Xiphilinos, a man named Penteclesiotes, who, together with his fellow son-in-law, the referendarius of our Church, Eskammatismenos, at that time stood with the opposing party, there was a book that was much revered on account of its antiquity; in it were various divinely-wrought treatises by the great and wonderful father Gregory, the light of the people of Nyssa. One of the works contained in it was his sermon On the Lord’s Prayer, which begins, “When the great Moses had brought the people of Israel to the mystical initiation at the mountain.” At the point in this work where this father had come to speak about matters of theology and to teach concerning what is common and what is particular among the hypostases of the Godhead, he went on to say: “But the Holy Spirit both is said to be from the Father, and is further testified to be from the Son.” So then, when the aforesaid grand economos, Xiphilinos of blessed memory, had gone through this book and had arrived at this passage, after he had borrowed this book of Penteclesiotes’ in order to read it, he concluded by bringing this section of the discourse, and its agreement with the peace, into common awareness. And it became known to everyone, and known to us, too, as well as to the owner of the book, even though he was opposed to our position. And so it was that no little support for peace came about for the fulness of the Church on account of this, by the mercy of God. So when the referendarius, who was brother-in-law to the book’s owner and who shared the same opinions, had seen this text with his own eyes and had no other way of coping with it, since it was obvious, and its reliability was supported by many features of the book, he determined to erase this plain refutation, in his then-opposition to our views, and so he takes a piece of iron and scrapes off the word ἐκ (“from”), failing to take account of the fact that the same reading was given by still other copies of the book, that these likewise contained this text and supported the word ἐκ, and that the uncorrupted reading had escaped destruction.

4. But when at length his self-satisfied obstinacy had abated in him, and he had come to be on the side of peace, and had held communion with us, as many others also did, then did we, in our Mediocrity, frequently take counsel with him about various things. And it so happened that, on a certain occasion, we in our Mediocrity were reminded of the aforesaid book. But the referendarius, as though constrained by some inward pressure, praised the book, and said such things about it as seemed to him appropriate; but in the midst of this, while he was talking about the book, he confessed that, in the place where the text had read “and is further testified to be from the Son,” he had taken a knife and had scraped the word ἐκ (“from”) from the discourse [yielding the reading, “and is further testified to be of the Son”]. I don’t know just why he confessed this, or what cause impelled him. But, however it was, this came entirely from the Truth and from the God of the fathers. What then was to be done under these circumstances? An anxious consideration and a moth eating away at the bones befell us, in our Mediocrity, how it could have happened that this statement was corrupted, that this text, which had greatly contributed to the ecclesiastical peace, had lost its reliability, and how, although it had escaped damage for so long a time during the days when warfare was being waged against the Church of Old Rome, it had just now been debased by a slapdash cutting, so that henceforth neither would the text, left as it stands, give the authentic sense, nor would it still possess reliability and authenticity even if the word were put back in its place again, since people would conclude that the word had been added later on, given the suspicion engendered by the erasure.

5. We therefore, in our Mediocrity, conferred about this matter with our brothers and concelebrants, the most reverend high priests who were found near at hand, and sought to remedy the situation; with them, we considered how the Church’s rightful possession might be preserved for it. And there came about a common counsel and a synodal determination, that the place where the word ἐκ had lay should be left empty — for it would not be safe to write this word back in again, since this would raise suspicions for those who should come later, given the more recent character of the writing — but that notice should be made of the circumstances of the incident, and that there should be, in that place, a common testimony and certification, for the safety of future generations, explaining how the word that was written there had been erased. For thus, with the truth having been indicated in this way, there would not be cause for anyone to become distrustful on account of this passage, and to frame improper arguments against the authenticity of the text.

This thing seemed good to all, and now, this day, it is brought to pass by this present synodal act, while the referendarius confesses again, and makes not the least denial, that the word ἐκ (“from”) was crossed out by him, and he seeks pardon, for he did such a thing during the time when he was divided from us in schism. Whence also the present synodal act, which has come about for the sake of making clear what happened, has been entrusted to our chartophylax, for the security of those who shall come afterwards, and for a help to those who shall encounter the book, who, from this, may learn the pure and unadulterated truth.

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