Nikephoros Blemmydes: Oration I on the Holy Spirit (to Jacob, Archbishop of Bulgaria), §§ 1-12

January 17, 2023

The following translation is a work in progress. I am offering here only the first twelve paragraphs of this oration; later, I will add other sections, and will eventually, for ease of access, publish the whole thing as a page on the side bar of this blog. I began translating Blemmydes during the depths of the recent covid lockdowns; his influence upon Bekkos is indisputable, although there is a large debate over the question of whether Bekkos read him correctly. According to Pachymeres, Blemmydes’s two Orations on the Holy Spirit, written in the 1250’s, were given to Bekkos to read while he was in prison in 1273, when his answer opposing Emperor Michael VIII Palaiologos’s plans for union with Rome incurred the wrath of the latter. These orations evidently played a large role in changing Bekkos’s mind and shaping his views about the procession of the Holy Spirit and about the legitimacy of the emperor’s proposed ecclesiastical union.

Blemmydes is a complex writer, and his comments at the beginning of this discourse might well lead one to think that he expresses his views on the subject at hand with some guardedness. For, on the one hand, he states very explicitly that the Latin teaching on the procession of the Holy Spirit, the teaching that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, is wrong and even a heresy; on the other hand, he both states that the teaching that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son is a common teaching of the Fathers which none of them denied and that “from the Son” and “through the Son” are linguistically interchangeable. One should also observe that Blemmydes devotes some attention to the meaning of the patristic expression that the Spirit “appears through the Son”; Blemmydes explicitly says that “appears” implies existence (note the very end of this translation: “‘to appear’ and ‘to proceed’ mean the same thing”). At any rate, I am not convinced, as are some contemporary commentators (e.g., M. Stavrou, Th. Alexopoulos, D. Makarov), that Bekkos thoroughly misread Blemmydes, and that the most authentic and accurate interpretation of Blemmydes’ pneumatological thought was that which was given by Gregory of Cyprus, with his doctrine of an eternal, non-hypostatic, non-existential manifestation of the Spirit through or from the Son.

I translated the following from Laemmer’s 1864 edition, which is readily available online (the bracketed numbers give Laemmer’s pagination, with links to the pages). Later, I consulted Michel Stavrou’s recent Sources Chrétiennes edition of the discourse: Nicéphore Blemmydès: Oeuvres Théologiques, Tome II (Paris 2013), pp. 74-153. In the enumeration of paragraphs, I follow Laemmer, who himself is reprinting the 1652 edition of Leo Allatius (which can be read here).

Note: Early in this discourse, Blemmydes makes extended quotations from two earlier works, the Sacred Arsenal of Andronikos Kamateros and the Dialogues of Nicetas of Maroneia. Both of these works have now appeared in critical editions by Alessandra Bucossi, which unfortunately are not available to me.

One further comment: Because Blemmydes is a very subtle writer, and may possibly be observing some distinction in his use of different terms for “from,” I have tried here to reflect this usage by consistently translating the Greek word ἐκ as “out of,” reserving “from” for other words like παρά. Although this results in occasionally unidiomatic English, it seemed to me worth doing, for the sake of accuracy.

From the most holy and most philosophical among monastics, the presbyter Sir Nikephoros Blemmydes, to Jacob, Archbishop of Bulgaria: First Oration, demonstrating through patristic texts the theological teaching that the Holy Spirit is through the Son and from the Son


There is an ailment which afflicts me, which I shall relate; for in fact my address is directed to a sacred healer, and to as many as share with him the same science. I shall speak freely to the wise, and no fear shall cause me to hide my train of thought; for either a confirmation or a correction would be brought to the things I am about to say by your irreproachable judgment. But I hesitate [L109] when speaking to the unwise, and especially when I make some pronouncement concerning God; for I fear that they will misconstrue it, and will, for this reason, view my discourse with some dangerous suspicion. And if the unwise should also possess a love of contention, in that case I am utterly reluctant and hesitant to speak. For just as no one should give heed to a man who speaks about divine things boastfully and without due consideration (for it is necessary that theology be handled with fear, so that precarious matters be not pushed towards destruction), in a similar way one should oppose and dismiss anyone who hears a matter just for the sake of arguing against it, and with naysaying as his sole aim. For acrimony, an evil joy, muddies and mixes up the truth. Moreover, if many tongues agree in making the same point, how would they not, in their multitude, appear to prevail over one that says something different? And again, if some of them are in positions of authority, how would it go well with someone who, for the truth’s sake, contradicts them, and that openly?

2. Given that my attitude and feelings on these matters are such, and since the present address is directed towards wise men who seek and pursue the peace which is in Christ, I shall speak freely and openly concerning the proposed matter of inquiry. And this is, whether the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, [L110] or is instead directly from the Father, not through the Son. Now the fact that many of our august teachers handed down the first of these as a tradition, but none of them the second, I suppose will be acknowledged by every man familiar with the sacred writers, who is guided by them in uprightness. And it is no less than this about which we have already made some preliminary remarks in three epistles.

3. But while the lack of a clear occurrence of this expression in the gospels is taken by many people as a ready excuse for opposing it, this absence by no means implies that the dogma is unacceptable; the high [L111] credibility of those who have asserted it in their theological statements proves this. For, as the Theologian states in his Invectives, “we are not permitted to disbelieve the things said by godbearing men, but we must take their trustworthiness as a demonstration stronger than any rational or antirational power.” For the same one who inspired the evangelists inspired also the rest of the divine teachers, and the writings of the saints are utterances of God.

➔ Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 4.102; PG 35, 637 B.

4. But the claim that these writings have been corrupted by the Pneumatomachians is stupid, since the confession that the Holy Spirit is, by way of emanation, from the Father through the Son in no way at all gives support to that heresy; rather, quite the contrary, it both overthrows it and demolishes it. For, by the one teaching, the Spirit is blasphemed [L112] as a creature, but, by the other, the Spirit is proclaimed to be out of the very substance of the Son, and consubstantial with the Father and the Son. And what likelihood would there be that so great mischief should befall, simultaneously, the sacred books of so many of the saints throughout the world, and that thus there should have come about a universal corruption of the writings of the great fathers, and that no one of former times should have made mention of this outrage? No, no, it is not so. Such an idea is the invention of a sick mind.

5. And why is it that all those who, after the schism and the separation, polemicized against the Romans opposed, as far as they were able, the claim that the Spirit is substantially out of the Son, but not at all the claim that he is from the Father through the Son? Rather, indeed, the more learned among them both manifestly promoted this claim and, on the grounds of this, sought to refute the teaching “out of the Son.” And that this is in fact the case we learn from the book The Sacred Arsenal; and that this book was held in high esteem by the experts among the learned men of that time, [L113] and that it was much in demand afterwards, even to the present, and that no one, not even among those who are completely shameless, has ever dared to wag his tongue against it, since it very forcefully opposes the Spirit’s emanation from the Son — all these things the facts themselves clearly proclaim.

In this book, the Romans, following the rules of debate, introduce a saying from the most wise Cyril, presenting it in support of their own dogma; it goes like this:

“The Spirit is in no way changeable, or, if he is so infirm as to change, the mockery will reflect back upon the very divine nature itself, since of the God and Father and, indeed, also of the Son is the Spirit who comes forth substantially out of both, that is, out of the Father through the Son.”

➔ Cyril of Alexandria, De adoratione, I, PG 68, 148 A.

So then, let us carefully observe what reply is made to the Romans.

This blessed father Cyril, cutting off beforehand the many pretexts of our speeches, brought a clarification to the sense of an ambiguous locution. [L114] For, in saying that the Spirit comes forth substantially out of both, he straightway added the clause, “that is, out of the Father, through the Son.” Now, the term “through” included in this supplementary clause [implies] nothing else than that the Spirit comes forth out of the Father, not also out of the Son. For if the latter were the case, there would have been no need for the saint to make such an addition.

In response to this, the men of Rome say:

Then neither are we in error when, in line with this divine father, we say that the Spirit proceeds out of the Father and out of the Son, although we understand and interpret “out of” as standing in place of “through” with reference to the Son.

But (they say, moving on to refute these men) the conjunction “and,” added by you with reference to the Son, does not allow you to say such things; for it plainly demonstrates that, when you say that the Spirit proceeds out of the Father and out of the Son, in whatever sense you take “out of” in the case of the Father, you both understand and speak this term in the same sense in the case of the Son. Therefore, either you are claiming that the same meaning “out of” applies with reference to “both” (that is, to the Father and to the Son) — and how are you not in opposition to the divine father, who expressly takes “out of” as applying to the Father, and “through” as applying to the Son — or else with reference to “both,” you are taking “out of” as equivalent to “through,” and are saying that the Spirit proceeds through the Father and through the Son; and, accordingly, you imply that there is someone else out of whom the Spirit is said to proceed through these two. For since the same preposition is to be employed in one sense in the case of the Father and in another sense in the case of the Son, you are forbidden from taking this unitive conjunction in a violent way, as we said before. For to say or to write, without any conjunction, “out of the Father, out of the Son,” is something you yourselves reject as barbarous and unintelligible.

➔ Andronikos Kamateros, Sacred Arsenal, Monac. gr. 229, f. 25.

So much, then, out of the Sacred Arsenal.

[L115] 6. But another of those who are distinguished and who was himself involved in dialogue with the men of Rome, since he had made it his intention to prove that the statements made by the saints are, according to the truth, in no way opposed to each other, even if they appear to be to those who are inconsiderate, said:

“They would be opposed if, while referring to the same thing, in the same respect and at the same time [cf. Aristotle, Metaphysics Γ.3, 1005b19-20], they were rejected by some of them and approved of by others.” Among such, therefore, is also Christ’s statement that the Spirit proceeds out of the Father (Jn 15:26); and perhaps all [L116] [the patristic texts would take Christ to be] referring [here] to the Father as to the first cause, and attribute the Spirit’s procession to him. And Athanasius the Great spoke in this way:

“The Spirit [is] out of the Father, as proceeding from the Word who is out of the Father.”

[Probably a paraphrase of a text which is cited more fully below, Athanasius, Epistola I ad Serapionem 20, PG 26, 577C – 580A. Same text had been cited by Andronicus Camaterus, Sacrum armamentarium, ch. 1, secs. 72, 73.]

And after the bishop of Nyssa said

“The Son is immediately out of the first, that is to say, the Father,”

he thereupon says:

“the Spirit is through the one who is immediately out of the first.”

➔ Gregory of Nyssa, Ad Ablabium quod non sint tres dei, GNO vol. 3,1 p. 56; PG 45, 133 B-C.

The wise Cyril plainly has said “out of both” (namely, the Father and the Son). But, going on to clarify in what sense he said “out of both,” he added, “that is, out of the Father through the Son.”

➔ Cyril of Alexandria, De Adoratione et Cultu in Spiritu et Veritate, lib. I, PG 68, 148A.

As for John of Damascus, who uses the expression “out of the Father” in the sense of out of the primal origin and the first cause, he says that [we do not say] “out of the Son” in the sense of out of the first cause, and he does not prohibit the expression “out of the Son” in the sense of out of him who is immediate, or through him who is immediate. For the preposition “through” (διά) and [L117] the preposition “out of” (ἐκ) have an identical force. And this is both a habitual usage of Scripture itself, and something that was not unknown to the holy fathers.

➔ John of Damascus, De fide orthodoxa I.8 (PG 94, 832 B).

If then [one can say that the Spirit is] “out of the Son,” in the sense that he is out of the Father through the Son, and, similarly, [that he is] “out of both,” and [that he is] on the one hand out of the first cause, the Father, and on the other hand out of him who is immediate, the Son, which things are said by Athanasius the Great, by Cyril the Great, and by Gregory of Nyssa, then the wise John would not be contradicting them, but would himself also say that, in this sense, the Spirit is out of the Son. For he himself likewise says that [the Spirit is] through the Son, insofar as [the terms] “through” and “out of” are equivalent. But if someone were to say that [the Spirit] is “out of the Son” as out of the first cause, something which not one of the saints has said, he, too, would speak against this, and with a loud voice.

➔ Nicetas of Maroneia, Sixth Dialogue between a Greek and a Latin on the Procession of the Holy Spirit, ed. V. Giorgetti, pp. 379-381.

So much, then, for these matters.

7. Furthermore, we find many other more recent writers who, while they oppose the teaching “out of the Son,” postulate, in a very noble way, the teaching “through the Son,” in keeping with the account which we provided earlier. For this reason, I fail to understand what is the matter now with some people who do not uphold the Spirit’s coming-forth from the Father through the Son. But let us observe what sort of things Athanasius, worthy of his name (“Immortality”), [L118] teaches the bishop Serapion on this matter, by way of an epistle.

“Just as the Son is an only-begotten offspring, so, too, the Spirit, who is given and sent from the Son, is himself also one and not many, nor one out of many, but a unique, selfsame Spirit. For the sanctifying and illuminating Life of the one living Word, who is the Son, must be one, perfect and complete, being his energy and gift, which indeed is said to proceed out of the Father, since from the Word who is out of the Father it confessedly shines forth and is sent and is given.”

➔ Athanasius, Epistola I ad Serapionem 20, PG 26, 577C – 580A.

8. Some people cling to the expression “shines forth,” and say that it is indicative of manifestation, not of existence: for, they say, the term “proceed” had already indicated existence. So then, since it is on the grounds that the Spirit is manifested from the Word that he is said to proceed from the Father, it would follow that, if there were not this manifestation, he would not be said to proceed out of the Father. What then? Prior to the coming-into-being of the creation (whether the sensible creation or the noetic one), to which the Holy Spirit had been manifested by the [L119] Word, would it not have been said that the Spirit proceeds out of the Father? For just as, if someone were to say that man is a sentient being possessing a soul because he is an animal, then, if someone else were to remove the cause, this would simultaneously remove what is inferred from it: in the same manner, if one were to dismiss the hypothesis of these people, then the inference from it, to the extent that it depends thereon, would also be destroyed.

9. And let these people still seek out a reason why the Spirit is said to proceed from the Father; but, as for us, arguing on the basis of the word’s true significance, we shall reason as follows. The Spirit comes forth from the Word, that is, through the Word, out of the Father, just as an illuminating radiance, through [a beam] of light, comes out of the sun. And, since this is the case, and the Word is confessed to be out of the Father, through this [Word] also the Spirit is said to proceed from the Father. And the teacher has employed the term “shine forth,” as corresponding to the illuminating Life. For this reason the saint has also named the Holy Spirit the living and subsisting energy of the Word, knowing as he does that the Word and Son is the subsistent power of God. But since energy is through power, and the power is confessedly out of God, for this reason the energy is out of God. For this is what the teacher [L120] has in mind when he says, “he is said to proceed,” since the procession of the Spirit is said and proclaimed to be out of the Father on account of its reference to the first cause. Therefore, as the energy of the Son and Word of God, the Holy Spirit eternally shines forth from him, which is the same as to say, through him, out of the Father; and as a gift he is naturally both sent and given.

10. But that “manifestation” in theology is indicative of passionless and timeless existence, Basil the Great also shows when he speaks in this way in the second book of his Antirrhetics:

“There similarly exists a presupposition common to all Christians, among those who are truly worthy of this title, concerning the fact that the begotten Son is shone forth out of the unbegotten light.”

➔ Basil, Adv. Eunomium II.25; PG 29, 629 A-B.

And again:

“From a good Father [there shone forth] a good Son, and from the unbegotten there shone forth the eternal light.”

➔ Basil, Adv. Eunomium II.27; PG 29, 636 A.

And Gregory the wise hierarch of the people of Nyssa speaks thus in the first book of his Antirrhetics:

“The Father is understood to be beginningless and unbegotten and always Father. And from him, in an immediate way without interval, [L121] the Only-begotten Son is understood together with the Father. And through him and with him, before any vain and non-subsisting concept interposes through the midst, straightaway the Holy Spirit is conjointly understood, not coming in second place after the Son according to his existence, as though the Son might be thought of without the Spirit, but being from, on the one hand, the God of all things, and having the cause of his being from the same source whence also the Only-begotten is a light, but shining forth through the true Light, he is not cut off from the Father or the Only-begotten by either interval or otherness of nature.”

➔ Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium I, 1 § 378; PG 45, 369.

Again, Basil the Great writes to him concerning the difference between hypostasis and ousia:

“But the Son, knowing through himself and with himself the Spirit who proceeds from the Father, [L122] and shining forth from the unbegotten light alone in an Only-begotten way, has no sharing with the Father with respect to any particularizing characteristic, or [L123] with the Holy Spirit.”

➔ Ps.-Basil (= Gregory of Nyssa), ep. 38.4, 29-34; ed. Courtonne, vol. 1, p. 85.

John the wise Poet in hymns to the most holy Mother of God:

“You, Mother of God, [L124] without conjugal intercourse gave birth to him who shone forth from the incorrupt Father.”

➔ Beginning of the theotokion of the 3rd ode of the canon for Sunday Orthros, 1st plagal mode (or, Tone 5).

[L125] On which the interpreter, held in admiration by many, who is also the first expositor of the sacred canons, says:

“The term ‘who shone forth’ [L126] indicates the supernal, passionless begetting of the Son. For as the brilliance comes forth passionlessly out of the sun, in the same way also the Son has passionlessly been begotten by the Father; and the Poet teaches, through the ‘shining forth,’ the Son’s being eternal and, in this respect, beginningless. For just as a light and the brilliance that comes from it are both simultaneous, in the same way, simultaneously with the thought of the Father, there is the thought also of the Son that accompanies it.”

➔ John Zonaras, an unpublished commentary on the Sunday canons of John of Damascus.

But these things, perhaps, go beyond what is necessary. For wherever a word is seen to admit of a well-considered and well adapted meaning, when taken in one sense, but is suspected of another meaning, one which involves much irrationality and lack of harmony, what need is there to seek any more for an explication of the truth in the latter?

11. But the claim that it is in order that no one should suppose that it is as an origin of the Spirit that the Son manifests the Spirit through his teaching and gives him as one connatural with himself [and] that, for this reason, the Spirit is said to proceed from the Father, is beside the point, but is easy enough to refute. For what kind of suspicion of “origin” would [the terms] “manifest” and “give,” as such, introduce? Or why, given that the Word has [L127] confessedly “appeared out of the Father,” should not all things that the Word possesses be confessedly out of the Father? And why, finally, should the Word be considered an origin of the Spirit? I know that, to such a vain disputer, you yourself might say, “Away with such misrepresentations!” Now as for the fact that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, Basil the Great also asserts this in many places, and in fact also in his Antirrhetics, where he says:

“How then should inseparable things be separated, the Word of God and the Spirit, who is out of God through the Son? If the Spirit is not believed in, then the Word also is not believed in.”

➔ Ps.-Basil, Adv. Eunomium V, PG 29, 737 B.

Concerning this also the most perceptive Epiphanius in his Ancoratus expresses himself in this way:

“Therefore the blessed Peter says to those who were with Ananias, ‘Why has Satan tempted you, that you should lie to the Holy Ghost?’ And he said, ‘You have not lied to a man, but to God.’ There the Spirit, who had been lied to by those who had purloined a portion of the tribute money, is God, out of the Father and the Son.”

➔ Epiphanius, Ancoratus 9, 2-3, ed. Karl Holl, p. 16 (PG 43, 32 C).

And again:

“The Father is Father of a true Son, who is wholly Light, and Son of a true Father, Light [L128] out of Light. Nor is it in the manner of a handiwork or creature that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, a third Light from the Father and the Son. But all other things are by position or opposition or appellation.”

➔ Epiphanius, Ancoratus 71, 2, ed. Holl, p. 88 (PG 43, 148 B).

These things, then, are said by the most perceptive Epiphanius, who employs the phrase “out of the Father and the Son” instead of “out of the Father through the Son.”

Likewise also the most wise Cyril in his Thesaurus is observed to speak in this manner:

“That which the blessed Moses maintained to have been breathed by God into the man, the same thing did Christ, renewing it in us according to his revivification out of the dead, breathe into his own disciples saying, ‘Receive the Spirit,’ so that, having been formed anew into the image that was from the beginning, we might appear conformed with our Creator through the participation of the Spirit. Since therefore the Holy Spirit, when he has come to be in us, shows us to be conformed with God and, again, comes forth out of the Father and the Son, it is manifest that he is of the divine substance, coming forth substantially in it and out of it.”

➔ Cyril of Alexandria, Thesaurus 34; PG 75, 585 A.

He comes forth, he says, out of the Father and the Son, that is, from the Father through the Son. [L129] And that beacon light of the people of Nyssa and of the whole world, in how many different ways does he clearly show that the Holy Spirit is out of the Father through the Son? To begin with, in the first book of his Antirrhetics, he says these things concerning the Spirit:

“Being again joined to the Father in respect of his being uncreated, he is separated in not being, like him, a Father; and, while joined with the Son in respect of being uncreated and in that he has the cause of his existence out of the God of all things, he stands apart, again, in that which is unique to him, in that he exists out of the Father not in an only-begotten way, and in that it is through the Son himself that he has appeared. And again, since the creation exists through the Only-begotten, in order that the Spirit might not be thought to have something in common with it by reason of the fact that he has appeared through the Son, the Spirit is distinguished from the creation in respect of his invariability and unchangeableness and his lack of need of any external goodness.”

➔ Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium I, 1, 280-281, ed. W. Jaeger, vol. I, pp. 108-109 (PG 45, 336).

12. Some people are puzzled about the expression “to appear,” saying, Perhaps it indicates manifestation, not hypostasis. Now in point of fact, even if they had failed to notice that the word is active both in voice and in meaning, they ought to have comprehended the signification of the word on the basis of [L130] other patristic texts, and not to have set themselves up as calumniators of the truth to no purpose. For, to begin with, Basil the Great says these things about the Spirit:

“… possessing in himself nothing extrinsically acquired, but eternally possessing all things as Spirit of God, and as having appeared out of him.”

➔ Basil of Caesarea, Adversus Eunomium PG 29, 772

And the most wise Cyril, concerning Christ:

“We say that the mediator of God and men is compounded, according to the scriptures, of our own humanity, which is possessed by him in his own unique way, and of him who appeared from God as Son according to nature, that is to say, the Only-begotten.”

➔ Cyril of Alexandria, De Incarnatione, PG 75, 1208 CD.

And again:

“The Spirit is proper to the Son, not only inasmuch as he is the Word that has appeared from the Father; but even if he is understood as having become man like us, it is manifest that the Spirit is God, the one who chiefly and naturally [receives] from him as God. But other things, as creatures, have appeared in an improper sense from the one from whom they are said to be, as from a Maker and Creator.”

➔ Cyril of Alexandria, De Incarnatione, PG 75, 1241 B.

So that, plainly, “to appear” is indicative of existence, the Scripture thus narrating concerning the Spirit that,

“just as the creator Word established the heavens, so also [did] the Spirit of God who proceeds from the Father, that is to say, from his mouth.”

➔ Basil of Caesarea, Homilia in Ps. 32; PG 29, 333 B.

And again:

“Nor is the Spirit, having appeared in an ineffable way from an ineffable mouth, foreign to the glory of God.”

➔ Ps-Basil of Caesarea, Homilia de Spiritu Sancto, PG 31, 1433 BC.

Does this not clearly show that, in the case of the Spirit, the words “to appear” and “to proceed” mean the same thing?

6 Responses to “Nikephoros Blemmydes: Oration I on the Holy Spirit (to Jacob, Archbishop of Bulgaria), §§ 1-12”

  1. bekkos Says:

    To restate Blemmydes’ argument in §8: the people against whom Blemmydes is arguing, who dismiss the claim that the Holy Spirit is through the Son, read St. Athanasius’s passage (cited at the end of §7) and become fixated upon the term “shining forth,” saying that this means mere “manifestation” but has nothing to do with the Spirit’s existence. Blemmydes replies that, if this were so, then, prior to the creation of the world, whether the spiritual or material creation, there would have been no one to whom the Spirit would have needed to be manifested. And, given that Athanasius states that the Spirit is said to proceed out of the Father because he is manifested from the Word who is out of the Father, then, take away the manifesting, and you take away the proceeding. The unspoken conclusion is that, therefore, “shining forth” does not indicate mere manifestation; it must indicate existence, if the Spirit’s procession is eternal…. I need hardly point out that Blemmydes’ argument not only does not agree with, or “foreshadow,” Gregory the Cypriot’s doctrine of an eternal, non-hypostatic manifestation of the Holy Spirit through or from the Son, but it undercuts its whole rationale. The “shining forth” of the Spirit, in the Athanasian text, has to imply (hypostatic) existence, Blemmydes says, otherwise, if it meant merely some form of (non-hypostatic) manifestation, there would have been no one, prior to the creation, for the Holy Spirit to have been manifested to.

  2. Stefano Says:

    Hi Peter,
    I’m curious why you didn’t start your translation with the Stavrou critical edition from Sources Chretiennes as it is the latest, instead of the Laemmer version from 1864. Are the Sources Chretiennes copyrighted? Is permission needed to make a translation from their Greek or Latin text?

  3. bekkos Says:

    Hello Stefano,

    I suppose my reasons are, first, Laemmer’s text was available to me at the time when I started the work (I had the first volume of Stavrou’s Sources Chrétiennes edition, but the Epistle or Oration to Jacob of Bulgaria is found in the second volume, which I didn’t purchase till later); Laemmer’s book is universally accessible on Google Books, and thus I could refer to it wherever I happened to be and could provide links to it within the text; secondly, I wanted to avoid the temptation to rely too much on Stavrou’s French translation when reading the Greek; thirdly, there may be copyright issues involved, I am not sure; fourthly, I have in fact made use of Stavrou’s edition when checking my translation, and have found some places where his text differs from that of Laemmer; when I adopt Stavrou’s readings, I will make note of that. Also, I should say, this translation is being offered to the public gratis, as part of my research on Bekkos, since I have come to realize that one cannot make a just assessment of his significance as a theologian without taking into account the influence upon him of earlier writers; since a number of Orthodox scholars in recent years have accused Bekkos of misreading Blemmydes, I thought it incumbent upon me to examine their claim. If Blemmydes himself were the central focus of my research, then doubtless I would be working exclusively from Stavrou’s critical text; but since this translation is what, in Greek, is called a πάρεργον, that is, a bye-work or ancillary preoccupation, I did not feel it necessary to address too closely critical issues about the text. Laemmer’s text is not so different from Stavrou’s as to be useless, and, as mentioned, where I have found significant differences, and adopted Stavrou’s readings, I will make note of it.

  4. Stefano Says:

    Hi Peter,
    Thank you for your response. Please don’t think I was being critical. I know nothing about translating. I was curious because when I read a translation (I’m nerdy so I collect translations of Patristic and Byzantine writings) the author tends to go on about the inadequacies of the previous edition and the need for a new critical edition. (You know what I mean!)
    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the oration when you finish.

  5. DCF Says:

    Hello Dr. Gilbert,
    Thanks for this. I just happened to be reading Papadakis’ book on Gregory of Cyprus and thought of this blog and thought I’d check it to see if you had ever written a review of the Papadakis book. Would love to hear your thoughts on his analysis of the controversy as well as his incessant ridicule of Beccus…

  6. bekkos Says:

    Hello DCF,

    I don’t have a full review of Papadakis’s book, but an article I wrote some years ago does criticize his dismissal of Bekkos as nothing but an “anthologist.” (That article can be read here.) The claim which is made on the back cover of the book, that “there is not a line of polemic in his study” (an accolade by Yves Congar), has been recognized by many readers as patently false; you correctly note that the book’s stance toward Bekkos is one of “incessant ridicule,” an attitude which I think detracts from its value as an objective study. Papadakis gives a useful and largely factual overview of events surrounding the Second Synod of Blachernae and the subsequent controversies surrounding Gregory of Cyprus’s Tome; however, his judgments regarding Bekkos, Meliteniotes, and Metochites, both as theologians and as moral agents, are shallow and are marred by his hagiographical interest in promoting Gregory of Cyprus as giving the final word for Orthodox theology on the Holy Spirit’s procession. To cite one example of a shallow judgment: Papadakis represents the document signed by Bekkos in 1283, in which Bekkos formally acknowledges himself to have erred in writing on theology and renounces his unionist views, as Bekkos’s own composition and as a freely given personal statement, not something extracted by the immediate threat of violent death at the hands of a hostile mob. I am quite sure that Papadakis is wrong about that. And no one wishing to assess Bekkos’s theological views fairly and objectively would make that extracted confession the centerpiece around which his presentation revolves, in the way Papadakis does.

    Anyway, for more on Papadakis’s claims about Bekkos, I would refer to the above-mentioned article. I have put a link to it also now on the right hand column of this blog.

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