I was asked today by my church’s youth director to give a talk on Zoom to some youth. Not knowing what to say, I put together some thoughts. Here are the thoughts that occurred to me.

In your lives, if you are like most people, you will sometimes fall, and perhaps you may even fall so hard that it will feel difficult to get up again. You may not remember this, but you did the same thing when you were very small. Most of the time your parents were watching you, yet they did not always hold you up; they allowed you sometimes to fall. Why did they do this? Because they wanted you to learn how to walk. It is the same thing with us now: God, our heavenly Father, is watching us all the time, he loves us, and yet he allows us to fall. He does this, not out of anger, not to destroy us, but to keep us from destroying ourselves; sometimes it is only by experiencing the pain of falling that we realize how foolish we are, how bad the way is we are going, and that we still need to learn how to walk in the Spirit, in the way of God’s commandments.

Indeed, God wants us eventually to learn, not only to walk, but to run. We call the people who run in the way of God’s commandments, and who win a heavenly crown, saints; these are the people who are most successful in the race of life, even if most people consider them failures. These are the people of whom it can be truly said that they are happy; and God wants us, in fact, to be happy. Yet it should be remembered, even when we are not happy, even when we fall and feel miserable and are far from being saints, that God loves us. We should remember the story of the Prodigal, a son who not only did not run in the way of his father’s commandments, but ran away from his father and rejected him; yet, when he came to himself, when he turned back to ask his father’s forgiveness, his father not only did not reject him, but ran to him, fell on his neck and kissed him, and put on him a precious robe to cover his nakedness. Jesus gives us this story of the Prodigal because it tells us what God is like, and what we, often, are like: sometimes we are like the son who runs away and acts self-destructively, and sometimes we are like the other son, who does not run away, who stays at home and serves his father, but who does so coldly, and who has no real love, either for his long-lost brother or for his father himself; it is all, to him, a matter of self-interest and cold calculation, and at the end of the story we are left not knowing whether the older brother ever comes indoors and celebrates his brother’s return or, instead, stays outside, hardening his heart against the possibility of love. We need to be aware that both of these sons are examples for us of the kinds of mistakes we can easily fall into. And in both cases, the father is patient, and waits for us to return to our senses.

So that is what, God willing, we are doing during this time of Lent which is given to us as a way of preparing for the great celebration of Christ’s resurrection, Christ’s great triumph over sin and death. We are given an opportunity to return to our senses; we are given a course of preparation, of spring training, to encourage us to run again after our many falls and stumblings. We have a Physician on hand who is ready to bind up our wounds; but we also need to recognize our need to bind up the wounds of others; so we start this spring training by asking others forgiveness for the times we have wounded them. Jesus is on hand: not only as our coach, not only as our example, not even only as our Physician, but as someone who will be with us and run with us every step of the way. He wants us to learn how to run, and we only need to trust in him in order to start doing it. We may think of ourselves as complete failures in the race of life; that is not how Jesus thinks of us. He only wants us to get up again, and start running.

Lewis Ayres teaches at Durham University, and is one of the most accomplished patristic scholars currently writing in English. The lecture, linked to below, was delivered at the University of Edinburgh on November 10, 2020; I think it deserves a wide hearing, therefore I am sharing it.

The Haircut

September 22, 2020

The following is a story I wrote last month for a class on American Literature that I am teaching this year at The Lyceum. The moral of the story at the end is taken from Poor Richard’s Almanac.

Once upon a time there was a man named Bob, who lived on the east side of a large, post-industrial American city which, for convenience’ sake, we may call Cleveland. Because a mysterious, deadly virus was then ravaging the world and causing mass hysteria, Bob had not been outside the doors of his house for many months; but one day, when the sun was shining and the sky was uncommonly blue, Bob decided to go outside. And, as he felt the warm sunlight upon his face and breathed in the fresh air and heard the birds singing and saw the chipmunks filling their eager faces with nuts, it occurred to Bob that he needed a haircut. So, putting a government-approved face mask over his mouth and nose, he walked down the road until he came to a barbershop; it was owned by a man known to all the townspeople as Uncle Luigi. Uncle Luigi had been working at the barbershop every day faithfully except Sundays and holidays for at least the past 75 years; no one really knew how old Uncle Luigi was, but he was of a very advanced age, and whether he could see or not was open to question; some said he could, but others were of the opinion that, after so many years in the business, he no longer had any need to; he was able to cut hair now by sheer intuition and habit, repeating mechanically the same actions, just as he would repeat to all the same jokes he had been telling since the Great Depression. When Bob entered the barbershop, since there were no other customers present, he was immediately ushered into the blue, swiveling barber’s chair, an apron was tied about his neck, and, after some perfunctory pleasantries and instructions from Bob about how he wanted his hair to be cut, Uncle Luigi set to work, chopping, combing, snipping, clipping, lathering, shaving, moving with a speed astonishing in a man of his age. Because Bob had not had a haircut for nearly six months, his hair had grown to about a foot in length, and, as his blond tresses now fell about him, drifting upon his apron and onto the floor, they reminded him of sheaves of wheat, seen from afar in a country field on a late summer’s day. But, as Bob was pleasantly contemplating this, remembering people he had known and places he had seen, he suddenly felt a sharp pain on the left side of his head. “Ouch!” said Bob, wincing; then, looking down at his apron, he saw there, horrified, a familiar object in an unfamiliar place. “My ear!” he exclaimed. “That’ll be 20 dollars,” said Uncle Luigi. Reluctantly, Bob paid Uncle Luigi the 20 dollars, without tipping him, wrapped his ear in a napkin, and silently walked out the door, vowing to himself never again to patronize this barbershop.

As he stepped out into the sunlight, he began wondering what to do about his ear. It still hurt; in fact, the pain was more noticeable now, a kind of dull throbbing accompanied by a steady effusion of blood. As he looked about, fortunately he saw that, next door to the barbershop, a new doctor’s office had opened. Stencilled on the window was the name “Theodosius Neanis, M.D., General Practitioner.” Bob entered the office. There was an air-conditioned waiting room, with padded chairs, potted artificial plants, nondescript geometrical paintings on the walls, and racks filled with copies of People magazine. The receptionist’s desk was entirely glass enclosed. Behind the desk a young doctor, who could not have been much older than 20, was busily engaged in a conversation with his secretary. Bob stood patiently at the window for a few minutes, then finally, to get the secretary’s attention, he tapped on the glass. Eventually she swiveled about in her chair, and opened the little hatch at the base of the window. “Yes,” she said, “can I help you?” Bob explained that he had just been at the barbershop next door, where the old barber Luigi had accidentally cut off his ear; it was bleeding pretty profusely, and he thought it needed to be attended to. The secretary turned about in her chair and looked at the doctor; he whispered something to her, then turned and walked back into his office. She turned again to Bob. “Are you already a patient of Dr. Neanis’s?” “No,” Bob replied, “this is my first visit here.” “And what insurance do you have?” Bob had to explain, with some embarrassment, that he did not have insurance, as such, but he was enrolled in a health costshare cooperative, which meant, essentially, that he would pay up front, and hope eventually to be reimbursed. As he was explaining this, he felt weaker and weaker. “Are you already registered in the Cleveland Clinic system? … Have you been tested yet for COVID-19?” The secretary’s words confused Bob, and seemed to be coming from a place farther and farther away; he tried to reply, but was unable to; the waiting room itself seemed to be both revolving and fading into unreality; eventually it disappeared entirely, and all Bob could see were green, pleasant fields with sheaves of wheat, glowing in the late summer’s sun.

Moral: Beware of the young doctor and the old barber. (Franklin, no. 86.)

I was reading 1 Samuel ch. 15 this morning; it is the chapter in which Saul, called upon by God to annihilate the Amalekites, does not fully carry out God’s order, whereupon, in consequence, Samuel is sent to Saul to tell him that the Almighty has rejected him from being king. The chapter raises, most prominently, two theological questions: the question of the morality of the order Saul is given to exterminate a whole people, and the question of God’s repentance, that is, his apparent change of mind. The latter question, in particular, leaps out of the text itself, since the chapter both speaks, twice, of God repenting of having made Saul king (vv. 11, 35), and, once, states that God does not repent (v. 29). A. F. Kirkpatrick has some excellent notes, especially upon this second question.

“God’s repentance is the change of His dispensation.” In the language of the O.T. God is said to repent when a change in the character and conduct of those with whom He is dealing leads to a corresponding change in His plans and purposes towards them. Thus (a) upon man’s penitence God repents and withdraws a threatened punishment (Ex. xxxii. 14; 2 Sam. xxiv. 16): (b) upon man’s faithlessness and disobedience He cancels a promise or revokes a blessing which He had given. The opposite is also true, “God is not a man that he should repent” (v. 29). His repentance is not to be understood as though He who foreknows all things regretted His action, nor is it a sign of mutability. A change in the attitude of man to God necessarily involves a corresponding change in the attitude of God to man.

A. F. Kirkpatrick, The First Book of Samuel (Cambridge, 1880), pp. 142-143.

On the former of these two questions, the question of genocide, Kirkpatrick has an extended note on pp. 240-241, which can be read here.

I learned the other day that Mike Pompeo
has some icons in his home
in a corner of his living room
next to the television set,
icons of Christ, of the archangels Michael and Gabriel,
of St. Nicholas, and of the holy Virgin,

and I said to myself,
Well, perhaps I should pray for this man
whose policies I so detest,
perhaps God may open his eyes
and he may turn from his offenses.

But yesterday, the United States announced
it was sending warships to Venezuela
on the utterly bogus charge
that President Maduro is a drug dealer
and we must remove him by force.

That is to say
we are using the occasion of a
global pandemic
to bully other nations
into subservience.

St. Paul says that
we should pray for those in government
and seats of authority
so that we may live a peaceful and sober life
in all godliness and piety
or something like that

and, surely, the thugs who governed
the Roman Empire in his day
were no better than Mike Pompeo
in fact, they bear to him
a distinct resemblance
both morally and physiognomically

And what about the Democrats?
The child-molesting rapist Joe Biden
the school-marmish Mrs. Pelosi
the vulturous Mrs. Clinton peering from a distance
ever ready to swoop down upon fresh carrion

the seven moral dwarves approved by the DNC
whose names I shall not bother to mention —
do any of these approved leaders
offer a word of protest?
When the US sends in warships

and imposes sanctions
cutting off food and medicine
in a time of plague
then the US itself has become a plague
a plague upon itself, and upon others

and no amount of China-bashing, or
Russophobia, or even
will remove this curse from us.

May God have mercy on us
every single one of us
including Joe Biden, and Donald Trump,
Mike Pompeo, Hillary Clinton,
and Nancy Pelosi

may he have mercy on
the Venezuelans, and on the Iranians
on China, and Russia, and all those nations
we seek to overthrow

may he have mercy on the British
as their country falls apart
may God save the Queen
and her dysfunctional, tawdry family

may he have mercy on Julian Assange
sitting in a high-security prison
for the crime of journalism

may he have mercy on the Palestinians, and on the Israelis
on ISIS, and the American Osiris,

on Bashar al-Assad, his beautiful wife Asma,
and all their long-suffering people

on Jeremy Corbyn, and Bernie Sanders,
Vladimir Putin, Poroshenko and Zelensky,
Nicolas Maduro, and the usurper Guaido,

may he have mercy upon the dying
and those tending to the dying
those who have no respirators
and those who have no toilet paper

may he send the rain of his compassion
upon the just and the unjust
may he cause the sun of his justice
to shine upon us all
and bring us to repentance

Jeffrey Epstein died today
in a Manhattan cell
and whether it was suicide
or murder, we can’t tell.
He’s on that lonesome road to meet
his Lord and God and Maker
and given some employment to
the city undertaker.

Perhaps Ghislane is weeping now
with tears of sad remorse
and Bill and Hill will cast a rose
upon his stiffened corse,
and maybe our dear president
will come down from his tower
to pay respects to one with whom
he spent so many an hour.

But, if they sigh, I must suspect
they do not sigh from grief,
but most of Epstein’s erstwhile friends
are sighing from relief
because his death has set them free
from fear of prosecution
for acting as accomplices
to child prostitution.

We hold that there’s a justice
that controls the course of things
and out of earth’s dark hidden wells
the truth forever springs
and, in that faith, I’ll pray a prayer
that this man’s death may not
hide with him those for whom he worked
but that they too may rot.

Ὁ Φιλοπρωτεύων

September 17, 2018

Last week, the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, sent two exarchs into Ukraine for the purpose of setting up an independent patriarchate there, in what the Church of Moscow regards as, historically and canonically, its own territory, and where a third of its parishes are found. This action was taken by the Ecumenical Patriarch without consultation with the Orthodox Church at large, and in spite of clear statements from the Moscow Patriarchate that it considered such an action uncanonical, and that it would respond by breaking off communion. On Friday, the Holy Synod in Moscow declared that it was removing Bartholomew’s name from the diptychs, and would no longer commemorate him in hierarchical liturgies or participate in joint liturgical services with hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Constantinople; it further declared that it would “break off the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in the Episcopal Assemblies and in the theological dialogues, multilateral commissions and any other structures chaired or co-chaired by representatives of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.” Any further moves by the Patriarch of Constantinople to establish a separate patriarchate in Ukraine, its communiqué stated, would result in a complete break in communion, i.e., the faithful under the Patriarch of Constantinople would not be allowed to receive the sacraments in churches under the Patriarch of Moscow, and the faithful under the Patriarch of Moscow would be directed not to receive sacraments at churches affiliated with Constantinople. Since there are many Russians resident in Turkey, this might mean the creation of a separate ecclesiastical organization upon Constantinople’s immediate territory (although, since the Turks do not allow Christians to build new churches, it may be that, within Turkey itself, such an organization would be strictly limited in its activities).

These are dismal, soul-destroying events, and I would agree with the Moscow Patriarchate that, behind them, there stands a new theory being asserted by the Patriarch of Constantinople about his own authority. As an example of what I mean by this, I would note a recent paper by the Metropolitan of Bursa, Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, which, in place of the usual Orthodox description of the authority of the primus as “first among equals,” pointedly characterizes the Patriarch of Constantinople as “first without equals,” primus sine paribus.

In response to these events, yesterday I composed a troparion, which I herewith present to readers of my blog, along with a translation and a recording. For the reference to “Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first,” see 3 John 9.

Ὁ φιλοπρωτεύων Βαρθολομαῖος εἰς τὴν Οὐκραϊνὴν δύο ἐξάρχους ἔστειλεν,
ὁ καὶ νέος Διοτρεφὴς αἰτία νέου σχίσματος ἐγένετο.
Νῦν κλαίουσι πάντες ἰδόντες τὴν Ὀρθοδοξίαν σπαραττομένην ὑπὸ τοῦ κοσμικοῦ κράτους,
νῦν στενάζουσιν, διότι τὸν μέγαν καὶ φιλόχριστον λαὸν τῆς Ῥωσσίας ἠτίμασεν.
Ὦ φιλάνθρωπε Χριστέ, δώρησαι τῷ κόσμῳ τὸ μέγα σου ἔλεος.
Bartholomew, who likes to put himself first, has sent two exarchs to Ukraine,
and the new Diotrephes has become the cause of a new schism.
Now all weep when they see Orthodoxy torn apart by the worldly power;
now they groan, because he has dishonored the great and Christloving people of Russia.
O Christ, lover of mankind, grant the world your great mercy.


The corpus of Letters of Gregory II of Cyprus, Patriarch of Constantinople from 1283 to 1289, was edited by Sophronios Eustratiadis and published in the journal  Ἐκκλησιαστικὸς Φάρος between the years 1908 and 1910. It is hard to come by, so, earlier this year, I uploaded to archive.org parts 3 through 5 of this corpus (parts 1 and 2 could already be found online). Below I supply links to all of the letters individually. Someone may perhaps find these links useful.


  • Letter 1 : To the bishop of Neocaesarea

Letters 2-45

Letters 46-65

Letters 66-115

The letters of the same most holy Patriarch, published during his patriarchate:

Letters 116-130

Letters 131-141

Letters 142-166

Letters 167-173

Letters 174-184

Letters 185-187

Letters 188-197; also, “Proclamation of his orthodoxy by those who supported him”

R. Janin’s article on Metrophanes of Smyrna in the Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 10/2 (Paris, 1923), cols. 1627-1628:

Metrophanes of Smyrna

Metrophanes of Smyrna: metropolitan of that city (9th century). He was born probably at Constantinople. Baronius, Annales, an. 843, n. 2 and 3, following John the Curopalate, reports that his mother had been the woman who, by a payment of money, had been successfully persuaded by the adversaries of Patriarch Methodius to accuse the latter of having formerly violated her. Nothing is known either about Metrophanes’ childhood or about his youth. He was already Metropolitan of Smyrna when St. Ignatius was deposed in 857. He showed himself an implacable adversary of Photius and placed himself at the head of the bishops who remained faithful to Ignatius; they excommunicated the intruder, who excommunicated them in turn (Baronius, an. 859, n. 54, and 860, n. 1). This courageous attitude earned Metrophanes the harsh attentions of Michael III. This prince had him first thrown in prison, then exiled. After the first deposition of Photius (867), Metrophanes was able to retake possession of his see. He attended the Eighth Ecumenical Council (869) and took an active part in its deliberations. During the fourth session (13 October), he put forward the motion of the patrician Baanes, the imperial commissary, demanding that two bishops, ordained by Methodius and partisans of Photius, be introduced into the assembly so that they might there learn the reason for their condemnation. The pontifical legates were opposed to this, but he ended up having his way. During the same session, he professed that he himself had been momentarily deceived by Photius who pretended to have been recognized by the pope and by the eastern patriarchs (Mansi, Concil., vol. X, cols. 55-73, passim; Baronius, Annales, an. 869, n. 27-28). During the sixth session (25 October), he gave an important speech and refuted the arguments of Zacharias, metropolitan of Chalcedon, a partisan of Photius (Mansi, ibid., cols. 89 sq.). At the end of the council, he was one of two bishops designated to read solemnly, at Hagia Sophia, the fathers’ profession of faith (Mansi, col. 179 A; Baronius, an. 869, n. 29-30). In 870, Metrophanes wrote, at the request of the patrician Manuel, Logothete of the Course or prefect of the imperial posts, an exposé of Photius’s conduct (Mansi, col. 413-420; Baronius, an. 870, n. 44-51). It was perhaps in the years following this that Photius wrote an ambiguous letter to Metrophanes (published by A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, Ss. Patris Photii … Epistolae XLV, St. Petersburg, 1896, pp. 18-19). Upon the death of St. Ignatius, Metrophanes did not want to recognize Photius as patriarch and refused, under the pretext of illness, to attend the council held during the winter of 879-880 to pacify the Church. After the third warning, John VIII’s legates declared him cut off from the Church (Mansi, vol. XVII A-XVIII A, cols. 496 sq.). At this council of 879 there was seated a certain Nicetas with the title of Metropolitan of Smyrna; he must have been ordained by Photius during Metrophanes’ exile. All trace of Metrophanes is lost after 880. The date of his death is unknown, nor is it known if he was able to retake possession of his see after Photius’s second deposition (886). Certain manuscripts of his works give him the title of saint and even that of martyr; nevertheless, no service seems to have been composed for his veneration.

The works of Metrophanes of Smyrna are quite numerous and varied. John Bekkos, in his Epigraph VIII, PG 141, 692 (L. Allatius, Graecia orthodoxa, 1648, vol. II, p. 605), cites the beginning of his commentary on the first epistle of St. John. A Georgian translation exists of his commentary on Ecclesiastes, K. S. Kekelidze, Thargmanebay Eklesiastisay Mitrophane zmwrnel metropolitisay (Commentarii in Ecclesiastem Metrophanis, metropolitae Smyrnensis), Tiflis, 1920; the Greek text has not yet been reported. Allatius, De libris ecclesiasticis graecis, n. 67, says that Metrophanes is the author of the canons to the Holy Trinity that are sung in the office of Sunday (Fabricius, Bibliotheca graeca, 1722, vol. v, p. 49; A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, Ἱεροσολυμιτικὴ βιβλιοθήκη, vol. I, ms. 249, p. 320, vol. II, mss. 257, 434, and 468, pp. 383, 548, and 559); from him are also sticharia on the same subject (A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, op. cit., vol. II, ms. 434, p. 548); diverse hymns (ibid., vol. II, ms. 106 and 342, pp. 118, 464); canons and sticharia in honor of the Holy Virgin (Theotocarion, ed. Venice, 1808, pp. 15, 47, 65, 91, and 105; A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, vol. II, ms. 435, pp. 547-548). He also left an instruction on the manner of transcribing hymns (A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, vol. II, ms. 106, p. 188). We spoke above about his letter to the patrician Manuel on Photius’s conduct; it is found in Latin in Baronius, op. cit., an. 870, n. 44-51, in Greek and in Latin in Mansi, op. cit., vol. XVI, cols. 413 E-420. B. Georgiades has published (in Ἐκκλησιαστικὴ Ἀλήθεια, vol. 3, 1882-1883, pp. 298-302) a panegyric by Metrophanes on St. Polycarp; another by the same author on the archangels likewise appeared in the same review, vol. 7 (1887, 2nd ed.), pp. 386-393. Finally, a treatise against the Latins on the subject of the procession of the Holy Spirit has been attributed to Metrophanes: L. Allatius, De Ecclesiae occidentalis et orientalis perpetua consensione, 1648, vol. II, c. 6, col. 575; but J. Hergenröther, Photii liber de Spiritus Sancti mystagogia, Ratisbon, 1857, has proven that this work is by Photius.

Baronius, Annales ecclesiastici, ann. 843, n. 2 and 3; 859, n. 54; 860, n. 1; 869, n. 27-30; 870, n. 44-51; Mansi, Concil., vol. XVI, cols. 55-73, 89 sq., 179; vol. XVII a-XVIIIa, cols. 496 sq.; Fabricius, Bibliotheca graeca, 1721, vol. X, p. 540.

Gerhard Podskalsky, Von Photios zu Bessarion: Der Vorrang humanistisch geprägter Theologie in Byzanz und deren bleibende Bedeutung (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003), pp. 40-41.

Aufs äußerste zugespitzt, aber aus zweifellos schmerzhafter Selbstreflexion über relevante Texte der lateinischen und griechischen Patristik in den Monaten der Einkerkerung erwachsen ist die systematische Kritik des Patriarchen Johannes XI. Bekkos an der Hauptthese der “Mystagogie” des Photios. Bekkos geht es um das hohe Gut des kirchlichen Friedens; darum wollte er in seiner Antwort die umstrittene syllogistische Methode der westlichen Scholastik vollständig vermeiden. Tatsächlich bleibt der Ton in seiner abschnittweisen Widerlegung (aus Kirchenvätern und. Hl. Schrift) sehr maßvoll und unpolemisch. Aber bei aller Irenik sah (der inzwischen als Patriarch abgesetzte) Bekkos sich doch gezwungen, auch der Vermittlungsformel seines ihm gegenüber äußerst antipathisch gesonnen und handelnden Nachfolgers, Gregorios II. Kyprios, dem gleichsam “halbierten Photios” (ὁ τῆς ἀρτιφανοῦς αἱρέσεως ἀρχηγός: PG 141, 865B), entschieden entgegenzutreten: in zwei großen Reden werden einzelne, im Wortlaut zitierte Sätze des Zyprioten auseinandergenommen; auch diesmal möchte sich Bekkos der dialektischen Methode enthalten. Die pneumatologische Position des Patriarchen Gregorios II. wird von modernen Autoren des Orthodoxie als “antinomische” bezeichnet; es stellt sich aber die Frage, ob dieses Prädikat nicht einfach ein Dilemma verschleiert, bzw. ob die gleichzeitige Distanz zu Photios wie zu Bekkos metaphysisch-theologisch überhaupt nachvollziehbar ist. Of an utmost acuity, but born of undoubtedly painful self-reflection on relevant texts of the Latin and Greek Church Fathers in his months of imprisonment, is the systematic criticism of Patriarch John XI Bekkos on the main thesis of the Mystagogy of Photios. Bekkos is concerned with the high good of ecclesiastical peace; therefore, in his reply he wanted to avoid completely the controversial syllogistic method of Western scholasticism. In fact, the tone of his refutation, based on excerpts (from Fathers of the Church and Holy Scripture), remains very modest and unpolemical. But in spite of all irenicism, Bekkos (now deposed as Patriarch) saw himself compelled likewise to oppose resolutely the mediating formula of his successor, Gregory II of Cyprus, who was extremely inimical to him, and who acted as a “semi-Photios” (ὁ τῆς ἀρτιφανοῦς αἱρέσεως ἀρχηγός: PG 141, 865B): in two great treatises individual statements of the Cypriot, quoted verbatim, are dissected; again, Bekkos wants to abstain from the dialectical method. The pneumatological position of Patriarch Gregory II is described by modern Orthodox authors as “antinomic”; but the question arises as to whether this predicate does not simply conceal a dilemma, or whether the simultaneous distancing from Photios, as well as from Bekkos, is at all metaphysically and theologically comprehensible.