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.

3 Responses to “Pages from a lost book”

  1. T. Chan Says:

    I am struck by how “personal” the response is — but I don’t think Bekkos is unique in this. One finds “ad hominem” remarks in the writings of the Church Fathers, no?

  2. bekkos Says:

    Ted,

    Roger Pearse, an English patristics scholar, has pointed out in a recent post on his blog that some ancient books have been lost to the ravages of time because they deserved to be, because they were not very good to begin with. And your observation on the “ad hominem” quality of Bekkos’s prose in this work brings that point to mind, and raises the question: does this work exhibit Bekkos as the equivalent of a medieval blogger, venting his annoyance at another writer (an anonymous “lurker”) in ways that perhaps shed more heat than light on the substantive issues between them?

    Undoubtedly, a question like that could only be answered on the basis of a reading of the book as a whole. It is, I think, worth noting that, in these opening paragraphs of the book, Bekkos acknowledges that he does not enjoy verbal mudwrestling and that it differs from his usual writing style (though I suspect he does derive some hidden pleasure from calling his unknown adversary an “addle-pated ignoramus”); he pointedly states that he would not use this sort of language if circumstances had not forced him to reply to personal attacks that were being made anonymously against him. If one bears in mind that the person who was charging him with being a “Macedonian” (that is, a Pneumatomachian, a heretic who denies the divinity of the Holy Spirit) was actually his own ecclesiastical subordinate, a man with an important teaching position in the patriarchal academy, and that Bekkos may well have suspected such a thing, one can appreciate why he may have felt particularly annoyed.

    I began editing the book because I expected it would shed an important light on Bekkos’s history and the history of his times, and on his own theology and that of his opponents. Having now transcribed the Greek text, I find that that original expectation was fully justified. As mentioned in an earlier post, there are things in this work that suggest a theological critique of Palamism, written at a time when St. Gregory Palamas had not yet been born. One begins seeing some of that critique even in these opening paragraphs: Moschabar maintains that Bekkos has confused the “procession” of the Holy Spirit with the Spirit’s being supplied, to the creation, through, from, or by the Son; Bekkos answers, first, that he does not deny the distinction between “procession” and “supply,” but, unlike his opponent, he thinks this “supply” is relevant for identifying the Spirit’s existential source. When one examines carefully what his opponent is saying, Bekkos in effect says, one finds that he denies that the Spirit himself is supplied though the Son, or indwells the believer, or is sent; all references to “the Spirit,” in such contexts, in fact refer (according to Moschabar) to an energy. Bekkos here says that, if that is true, then you undercut the very identification of the personhood of the Spirit in John 15:26, for that same Paraclete or Comforter who is said there to “proceed from the Father” is the one whom Jesus says he will “send” from the Father. If “sending” refers merely to an energy, not to a person, then “proceeding” there refers also to an energy, not to a person. In this way, Bekkos says, the charge of Pneumatomachianism falls back on the accuser; Moschabar effectively denies any basis for knowing the Spirit to have a personal existence.

    There is much argumentation like this in the book; the question of what is personal/hypostatic and what is energetic figures in it in a large way. That continues to be an important theological question, and it is important also to see historically how that theological question emerged. For both of these reasons, I think this book deserves to be made available to those who may want to read it. As for the personal invective, it is part of the rhetorical apparatus of the work, but it is not the chief reason why anyone would be interested in reading it. (And, to answer your question: Yes, one finds plenty of “ad hominem” remarks in the writings of the Church Fathers; St. Basil and St. Gregory of Nyssa, in their polemics with Eunomius, give many choice examples, not to mention St. Jerome.)

    Peter

  3. T. Chan Says:

    Dr. Gilbert, thank you for your long reply! I don’t doubt that this work of Bekkos is valuable. My comment was more of a tangent than something directly addressing the content of the work. I hope you don’t mind.

    I think it is true that many Americans have been formed in a social environment that values niceness and sensitivity, and denigrates anger. We are often quick to criticize such ad hominem remarks as intemperate and uncharitable. Some might even dismiss the arguments that have been given not because they are unsound, but because they believe that those remarks discredit the author morally and therefore his arguments. A fallacious conclusion, but one that is nonetheless drawn.

    We have ended up at one extreme. Do the Church Fathers and bishops like John Bekkos offer us an example of righteous anger? Or are they merely the unenlightened, angry sectarians that moderns love to portray them as? Not being familiar with all such remarks I cannot say for sure that none did not go overboard in their (written) judgments of others (as it seems to often be the case today in online and real-world polemics), but I would be surprised if all of them did. Maybe the Fathers and saints do have something to teach us American Christian men about not being afraid to speak our mind and to judge others, for the sake of fraternal correction, when the circumstances warrant it.


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