The following is a translation of one of the chapters of John Bekkos’s treatise On the Procession of the Holy Spirit. Bekkos here treats of an important text from Book Two of St. Basil’s early work Against Eunomius (Adv. Eun. II.34); the text is in fact the first patristic text cited by Bekkos in his treatise On the Union and Peace of the Churches of Old and New Rome, at least in its original form (he later made a revision of this work, and the Basil citation was moved to a different place in the narrative). The prominent place given to the citation is no doubt a reflection of the importance, for Bekkos, of the theological principle Basil therein spells out: that any causality ascribed to the Son is referred back to the Father, in such a way that there is no “polyarchy” in God, no division of the ultimate divine source or “monarchy.” For Bekkos, that principle applies both to the economy (God’s dealings with the creation) and to theology in the strict sense, that is, to an understanding of eternal trinitarian relationships. In both cases, Bekkos argues, the Father is able to exercise his causality through the Son, without there being any division of the principle of divine monarchy, rooted in the person of the Father. Bekkos thinks that Basil, in the passage cited, supports this claim.

To be sure, others argued in Bekkos’s own day, and have argued subsequently, that St. Basil is not saying this. They maintain that Basil, in the passage in question, takes Eunomius’s own supposition that the Holy Spirit is a creature of the Son’s as a basis for his refutation of Eunomius’s position, and that his argument cannot be extended back into trinitarian theology properly speaking. Most of Bekkos’s concern, in the chapter translated below, is to refute that counter-claim.

The treatise On the Procession of the Holy Spirit (De processione Spiritus sancti, PG 141, 157B – 276A) was initially conceived by Bekkos as a series of eleven self-contained essays dealing with disputed questions surrounding the interpretation of particular patristic texts; to this series a twelfth chapter was later added, that originally had stood independently. The work dates to the period of Bekkos’s patriarchate (1275-1282); beyond that, it is impossible to specify more precisely the date and occasion of its composition.

Whatever else may be said about the text translated below, I think it shows clearly, as I have argued elsewhere, that Bekkos was no mere “anthologist,” clumsily stringing patristic texts together without any insight into their meaning or regard for their context. Bekkos is a serious reader of the fathers, and he gives below a close reading of Basil’s text, relating the citation in question to what came before and after it, and expounding Basil’s intention in a pretty convincing manner. He points out the obvious, that, if Basil’s aim were specifically to defeat Eunomius’s view that the Holy Spirit is a creature of the Son’s, he could have done so most simply and effectively by telling Eunomius that the Holy Spirit is not from the Son at all. The fact that he doesn’t take this approach, Bekkos says, is a sign that Basil does not feel that that option is open to him; it is not in respect of holding that the Holy Spirit is, in some sense, from the Son that Basil and Eunomius differ. (Both of them, I would claim, are intellectually the great-grandchildren of Origen, and their quarrel is largely framed within the terms of that theological inheritance.) Instead, Basil focuses on Eunomius’s claim that the Holy Spirit is from the Son alone. Towards the end of the chapter, Bekkos makes an astute comment, noting that Basil saw, in Eunomius’s claim about the Spirit being the creature of the Son, an attempt to demean the Son in relation to the Father, to deny to the Son any equality of rank; by contrast, Basil’s connecting of whatever is from the Son back to the Father, the first cause, shows that Father and Son share the same divine nature and rank. Arguably, Bekkos’s exposition illuminates, not only his own thought about the Trinity, but St. Basil’s thought as well. His claim that Adversus Eunomium II.34 shows that Basil saw the Spirit as, in some sense, from the Son is founded on a serious reading of the text, and is not easily dismissed.

John Bekkos, De processione Spiritus Sancti, ch. 4 (PG 141, 200C – 208C).

Against those who raise doubts as to whether the expression “to be through the Son” carries a reference to the Father 

1. But again, those who are disputatious raise doubts and attempt to contradict the statements of the saints which show that the Spirit is from and out of the Son, and say, “And in what way shall we be able to learn that the phrase ‘from the Son’ carries a reference to the Father?” In reply to this, since we have nothing that better serves to demonstrate the things whereof they demand an explanation than those things which Basil the Great said towards the end of Book Two of his Against Eunomius, we shall here set them forth; they go like this:

But to whom [200D] of all people is it not apparent, that no activity of the Son is separated from the Father, nor does there exist anything among the things in the Son that is alien from the Father? For, he says, ‘all that are mine are thine, and thine are mine’ (John 17:10). Why then does Eunomius ascribe the cause of the Spirit to the Son alone, and take the making of him as a reproach against his nature? If then, in saying these things, he sets two causes in opposition to each other, he will be the comrade of Mani and Marcion; but if the statement that ‘all things came to be through’ the Son connects existing things to a single cause, it implies a reference back to the first cause. So that, even though we believe that all things were brought into being through the Word of God, nevertheless [201A] we do not deprive the God of the universe of being the cause of all things.”
Basil of Caesarea, Adv. Eunomium, II.34; PG 29b, 652 A-B. 

The reason why we present this passage here in our treatise is to make it clear that “the cause of the Spirit” refers back to the Father, even if the Spirit is said to be “from the Son.” 

2. But again they hound us with objections, and say: “But, so far as can be gathered from the words quoted, Basil the Great did not say these things in a theological sense about the Spirit’s Godhead, so that the text should provide a resolution of the matter in question. But since Eunomius was blaspheming the Spirit, calling him a creature of the Son’s, and saying that he was a creature of the Son’s alone so as to separate him from the Father, for this reason the saint first sets forth the premise that ‘No activity of the Son’s is separated from the Father, nor is there anything, among [201B] those things which exist in the Son, that is foreign to the Father’; then, on this basis, he infers that Eunomius wickedly and clumsily ascribes the cause of the Spirit to the Only-begotten alone, and takes his creation as a reproach against his nature.” When they give such a reply to our teaching, we in turn say: And what do you suppose, gentlemen? Was it really for this reason that the most wicked Eunomius seemed to our father Basil to be saying that the Spirit is from the Son alone, because he said that the Spirit is a creature of the Son’s? And so, for this reason, according to you, the unstated, unambiguous consequence would follow that, if Eunomius had said that the Spirit is from the Son alone while he took him to be, not a creature, but God, then our father Basil would not have [201C] criticized him. For either, according to Eunomius, the Spirit is a creature, and it is on that point that the blasphemy turns, or else, in line with the truth of theology, the Spirit is not a creature; and if it is on account of his doctrine of the Spirit’s creaturehood that Eunomius is to be condemned when he says that the Spirit is from the Son alone, then, manifestly, someone who thinks that the Spirit is God is not to be condemned if he says that he is from the Son alone. And take care lest, in running from the smoke, you fall into the fire. For while you contend that the Spirit is from the Father alone (as though you forget that he is not the Spirit of the Father alone), observe how you oppose Basil in his refutation of Eunomius when, [on your reading,] he affirms the Spirit to be from the Son alone according to his divine substance.

3. For I say once again that if, according to your reading, it was because [201D] Eunomius took the view that the Spirit is a creature that his statement that the Spirit is from the Son alone was denounced, then plainly he would not have been criticized for saying that the Spirit is from the Son alone if he had thought that the Spirit is God; and it fails to occur to those who maintain that the Spirit is from the Father alone that, when their interpretation of this text is extended to its unspoken implications, they end up affirming that the Spirit is from the Son alone. But if the absurdity and contradiction thereby revealed shows plainly that, when Basil the Great takes the heretic Eunomius to task for saying that the Spirit is from the Son alone, it was not because of Eunomius’s opinion about the Spirit’s creaturehood, but, rather, specifically for his claim that the Spirit was from one and from one alone — whether as a creature, as blasphemously alleged by Eunomius, or else [204A] as God (since, in line with true theology, the Holy Spirit is God) — then there remains no pretext of ambiguity: as you can see, the saint appears to be virtually saying to Eunomius that, though in fact the Holy Spirit is, in his divine nature, not from the Son alone, separated from the Father, nevertheless even supposing that the Spirit were a creature of the Son’s, in accordance with your view, Eunomius, you should not even in that case have ascribed the cause of him to the Only-begotten alone and separated him from the Father, on account of the fact that “everything which is made by the Son carries a reference to the Father, the first cause.” And as it has been unambiguously shown that it was not for his view of the Spirit’s creaturehood that Eunomius was taken to task by Basil the Great for saying that the Spirit is from the Son alone, but solely for his claim that the Spirit is from [204B] the Son alone and from no one else, this likewise clearly refutes those who raise doubts as to whether the expression “to be from the Son” carries a reference to the Father. 

4. But if this refutation does not seem sufficiently clear to you, nevertheless, by carefully examining the things which the saint goes on to say following the above-cited passage, you will still be able to comprehend what the argument has already plainly shown you through many cited texts. For after refuting Eunomius, and virtually saying to him that, even if the Spirit were a creature of the Son’s, in accordance with your view, Eunomius, all the same you should not have ascribed the cause of him to the Son alone, on account of the fact that everything created through the Son has reference back to the Father, the first cause, [204C] the saint interjects some remarks concerning the divinity of the Spirit and, desiring to show that, according to his divinity, the Spirit exists from the Father and the Son, as proceeding ineffably from the Father through the Son, he says the following things: 

“And why is it not manifestly dangerous to separate the Spirit from God? since the Apostle has passed this thing down to us in a connected way, at one time calling him ‘of Christ,’ at another time ‘of God,’ where he writes, ‘If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his’ (Rom 8:9), and again, ‘But ye have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God’ (1 Cor 2:12). Again, the Lord calls him the ‘Spirit of Truth’ (Jn 15:26), since he himself is the Truth (Jn 14:6), and he proceeds from the Father (Jn 15:26).”
Basil of Caesarea, Adv. Eunomium, II.34; PG 29b, 652 B-C. 

That is what the saint says, word for word. But [204D] note the phrase, “Why is it not manifestly dangerous to separate the Spirit from God?” For the saint did not say, “Why is it not manifestly dangerous to connect the Spirit to the Son, when he exists neither through him nor from him, but from the Father alone?” But he said, “Why is it not manifestly dangerous to separate the Spirit from God?” such that his entire concern was how he might show the Spirit to be connected to the Father when, according to Eunomius, he was separated from him. And this is clear from the testimonies which he then subjoins from both the Apostle and the Gospels, from which he shows the Spirit to be likewise “of the Son” and “of the Father,” and that it is not the case that, because he is “of the Son,” he is therefore not also “of the Father,” nor that, because he is from the Father, he is therefore not [205A] through the Son or from the Son. For the saint exhibits the gospel statements, both the one which says “the Spirit of Truth” and the one which says “he proceeds from the Father,” as a testimony to the connection about which he has just been speaking, knowing as he does very definitely that, just as the term ἐκπορεύεται (proceeds) is able to shed light upon the natural relationship and affinity of the Spirit with the Father, so also the phrase “Spirit of Truth” is able to shed light upon the natural relationship and affinity of the Spirit with the Son. 

And if anyone may still be doubtful about the equivalence of these expressions, which Basil the Great has presented as a testimony in order to show that the Spirit is jointly of the Son and of the Father, let such a person seek out those passages in Basil the Great’s [205B] writings, in which he is observed to say, “I acknowledge his affinity with the Father, since he ‘proceeds from the Father,’ and likewise with the Son, since I hear, ‘If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.’” And this defense of ours to those who raise doubts as to whether the statement that he is “from the Son” carries a reference back to the Father has now, I trust, been sufficiently given. 

But it is necessary to add those things which are still to be said, as a kind of corollary to those things which have been said already. For since the saint was devoting all his care to demonstrating that the Spirit is not a creature of the Son’s, if in fact he had demonstrated that he is not from the Son at all, he would at the same time have been able to demonstrate that he is also not the Son’s creature. For in the case of that which in no way at all exists from some other thing, what reason could there be for saying that it is its creature? For [205C] Eunomius had no other pretext for saying that the Spirit is the Son’s creature apart from the fact that it was affirmed by the theologians of that time that the Spirit is from the Father through the Son and, for that reason, also from the Son. For it is not as from a first cause and principle that the Spirit is from the Son, but as existing from the Father through the Son.

And if the saint had been able to demonstrate that the Spirit is not from the Son, his argument would not have carried this force alone, that it should be possible to draw the inference that the Spirit is not a creature of the Son’s. But it would also have been possible for some other, deeper inference to be observed there by those who study things closely. For when Eunomius says that the Spirit is a creature of the Son’s and less than the Only-begotten, taking the belittling of the Holy Spirit as something already granted, he uses this as grounds for [205D] demonstrating the lesser nature of the Son, as Basil the Great testifies in a passage occurring a little before the one we earlier examined, where he says the following things:

“Now the Lord says concerning the Paraclete, ‘He shall glorify me’ (Jn 16:14), but the accusatory tongue asserts this to be an obstacle against the Son’s being compared with the Father. For since, he says, the Son is the Spirit’s creator (have mercy on us, Lord, for uttering such a thing), and the latter is of such a kind as to add no dignity to his creator, for this reason neither is the Son worthy of being compared with the Father, on account of the [relative] worthlessness of those things which he has created, and has been deprived of equality of rank.”
Basil of Caesarea, Adv. Eunomium, II.33; PG 29b, 649C.

[208A] This is what the saint says, word for word; and, after parading and presenting Eunomius’s blasphemy — that Eunomius intends, from the Spirit’s being created by the Son, to destroy, on that account, the Son’s equality with the Father — he thereupon adds the oft-cited passage, saying: “But to whom of all people is it not apparent, that no activity of the Son is separated from the Father?” and so on. Since therefore the saint understands that, if Eunomius says that the Spirit has been created by the Son, it is for the purpose of lessening the glory of the Only-begotten, and to obstruct his co-equal honor with the Father, if in fact he were able to prove from the Scriptures that the Spirit does not exist from the Son, what other refutation of Eunomius’s blasphemies would be have found necessary [208B], aside from demonstrating that in no way at all does the Spirit exist from the Son? For had it been demonstrated that the Spirit in no way exists from the Son, such a demonstration would have stopped Eunomius’s accusatory mouth when he says that the [relative] worthlessness of the Spirit, created by the Son, does not allow the Son to be of equal honor with the Father. So useful, then, would it have been for the saint to demonstrate that the Holy Spirit in no way at all exists from the Son, in order to defeat Eunomius’s blasphemies; but since the saint was unable to demonstrate this, he does not dispute Eunomius when the latter says that the Spirit is from the Son, since Basil himself makes this same point clear countless times in his own writings; instead, he disputes this most wicked and ungodly man only on one sole point, that Eunomius claims that the Spirit is from the Son alone. [208C] But given that it is not against the claim that the Holy Spirit is from the Son, but against the claim that the Holy Spirit is from the Son alone that the saint directs his argument, how is it not manifest that he confirms the claim that he is from both? For surely no one will say that, in saying that the Spirit is not from the Son alone, the saint proves that he is from the Father alone; nor ought one to reason that, if the Spirit is not from the Son alone, it therefore follows that he is from the Father alone; but one should understand that he who says that the Spirit is not from the Son alone clearly confirms the claim that he is from both. But if someone wants to demonstrate that the Spirit is from the Father alone, he will have no ready means for such a demonstration if he will not undertake to overthrow entirely the claim that the Spirit is from the Son. For this, and nothing but this, will be able to confirm the claim that the Spirit is from the Father alone.

Commentaries on the four gospels, excerpted from the writings of the Church Fathers.

Origen on Adam and Eve

September 15, 2017

Origen, De Principiis, iv. 16 = Philocalia Origenis, p. 24. (Translation, with original text on facing side, in H. M. Gwatkin, Selections from Early Christian Writers, London 1897, pp. 136-139.)

What intelligent person would fancy, for instance, that a first, second, and third day, evening and morning, took place without sun, moon, and stars; and the first, as we call it, without even a heaven? Who would be so childish as to suppose that God after the manner of a human gardener planted a garden in Eden towards the east, and made therein a tree, visible and sensible, so that one could get the power of living by the bodily eating of its fruit with the teeth; or again, could partake of good and evil by feeding on what came from that other tree? If God is said to walk at eventide in the garden, and Adam to hide himself under the tree, I fancy that no one will question that these statements are figurative, declaring mysterious truths by the means of a seeming history, not one that took place in a bodily form. And Cain’s going forth from the presence of God, as is clear and plain to attentive minds, stirs the reader to look for the meaning of the presence of God, and of any one’s going forth from it. What need of more, when all but the dullest eyes can gather innumerable instances, in which things are recorded as having happened which did not take place in the literal sense? Nay, even the Gospels are full of sayings of the same class: as when the devil takes Jesus up into a high mountain, to show him from thence the kingdoms of the whole world and the glory of them. Who but a careless reader of such words would fail to condemn those who think that by the eye of flesh, which needed a height to bring into view what lay far down beneath, the kingdoms of Persians, and Scythians, and Indians, and Parthians, were seen, and the glory men give to their rulers? Countless cases such as this the accurate reader is able to observe, to make him agree that with the histories which literally took place other things are interwoven which did not actually happen.

Note that the above passage is cited in the Philocalia Origenis, an anthology of Origen’s writings made by Saints Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian with the intention of defending Origen’s essential orthodoxy. Compare Gregory the Theologian, Poem 1.1.8 “On the Soul,” lines 97-111 (PG 37, 454-455):

But when the imperishable Son had formed for himself a man,
in order to have new glory, and so that, in the last days,
leaving the earth, man might journey from here to God, as god,
he neither left him at liberty, nor utterly
bound him. But he placed a law in his nature, and engraved good things
in his heart, and set him, thus, in the vales of an ever-verdant
paradise, evenly balanced, observing which direction he’d incline.
Naked he was, without the form of evil and duplicity.
And, as for paradise, it is the heavenly life, it seems to me.
So this is where he placed him, to be a farmer, cultivating his words.
He kept from him one plant, a most perfect one,
having within it a perfect discrimination between good
and evil. For what’s perfect is suited for grown-ups,
but not for beginners; since this would be as hard to take
as were some very powerful dish to infants.

When St. Gregory says here that, “as for paradise, it is the heavenly life, it seems to me” (Ζωὴ δ᾽ οὐρανίη πέλεται παράδεισος ἔμοιγε), and that Adam spent his time cultivating God’s λόγοι — i.e., contemplating the eternal forms of things (cf. orat. 38.12, PG 36.324 B: Adam was placed in paradise “to till the immortal plants, by which is meant perhaps the Divine Conceptions, both the simpler and the more perfect”) — it seems clear that the Theologian basically accepts Origen’s interpretation of Adam and the Garden, as a kind of parable and not as something to be read strictly literally.

Years ago, my parish priest, the late Fr. George Mamangakis, recommended that I read St. Basil’s letters. Having come across this letter “To Chilo, his disciple” today, I can see what he probably had in mind. This is simply the old Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers translation, with the Greek and English in parallel columns. The Greek text is taken from PG 32, 348 A360 B.

42.1 Σωτηρίου πράγματος αἴτιος γενήσομαί σοι, ὦ γνήσιε ἀδελφέ, εἰ ἡδέως συμβουλευθείης παρ’ ἡμῶν τὰ πρακτέα, μάλιστα περὶ ὧν ἡμᾶς αὐτὸς παρεκάλεσας συμβουλεῦσαί σοι. Τὸ μὲν γὰρ κατάρξασθαι τοῦ μονήρους βίου πολλοῖς ἴσως τετόλμηται, τὸ δὲ ἀξίως ἐπιτελέσαι ὀλίγοις τάχα που πεπόνηται. Καὶ πάντως οὐκ ἐν προθέσει μόνον τὸ τέλος ὑπάρχει, ἀλλ’ ἐν τῷ τέλει τὸ κέρδος τῶν πεπονημένων. Οὐκοῦν οὐδὲν ὄφελος τοῖς μὴ πρὸς τὸ τοῦ σκοποῦ τέλος ἐπειγομένοις, ἄχρι δὲ τῆς ἀρχῆς μόνης ἱστῶσι τὸν τῶν μοναχῶν βίον· οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ καὶ καταγέλαστον καταλιμπάνουσι τὴν ἑαυτῶν πρόθεσιν, ἀνανδρίας καὶ ἀβουλίας παρὰ τῶν ἔξωθεν ἐγκαλούμενοι. Φησὶ γὰρ καὶ ὁ Κύριος περὶ τῶν τοιούτων. «Τίς, βουλόμενος πύργον οἰκοδομῆσαι, οὐχὶ πρῶτον καθίσας ψηφίζει τὴν δαπάνην, εἰ ἔχει τὰ πρὸς ἀπαρτισμόν; μή ποτε, θέντος αὐτοῦ θεμέλιον καὶ μὴ ἰσχύοντος ἐκτελέσαι, ἄρξωνται ἐμπαίζειν αὐτῷ οἱ παρα πορευόμενοι λέγοντες ὅτι ὁ ἄνθρωπος οὗτος θεμέλιον ἔθηκε καὶ οὐκ ἴσχυσεν ἐκτελέσαι.» Ἡ οὖν ἀρχὴ ἐχέτω τὴν προκοπὴν προθύμως ἐπὶ τῷ κατορθώματι. Καὶ γὰρ ὁ γενναιότατος ἀθλητὴς Παῦλος, βουλόμενος ἡμᾶς μὴ ἐπαμεριμνεῖν τοῖς προβεβιωμένοις ἀγαθοῖς, ἀλλ’ ὁσημέραι εἰς τὸ πρόσω προκόπτειν, λέγει· «Τῶν ὄπισθεν ἐπιλανθα νόμενος, τοῖς δὲ ἔμπροσθεν ἐπεκτεινόμενος, κατὰ σκοπὸν διώκω ἐπὶ τὸ βραβεῖον τῆς ἄνω κλήσεως.» Τοιοῦτος γὰρ ὑπάρχει ὅλος ὁ τῶν ἀνθρώπων βίος, μὴ ἀρκούμενος τοῖς φθάσασιν, ἀλλὰ τρεφόμενος οὐ τοῖς φθάσασι μᾶλλον, ἀλλὰ τοῖς μέλλουσι. Τί γὰρ ὠφελεῖ ἄνθρωπον ὁ χθιζὸς τῆς γαστρὸς κόρος, σήμερον τῆς ἐμφύτου πείνης τὴν οἰκείαν τῆς βρώσεως παραμυθίαν μὴ εὑρισκούσης; Οὕτως οὖν οὐδὲ ψυχῆς κέρδος τοῦ χθεσινοῦ κατορθώματος, τῆς σημερινῆς ἀπολιμπανομένου δικαιοπραγίας. «Οἷον γὰρ εὕρω σε, φησί, τοιοῦτόν σε κρινῶ». 1. If, my true brother, you gladly suffer yourself to be advised by me as to what course of action you should pursue, specially in the points in which you have referred to me for advice, you will owe me your salvation. Many men have had the courage to enter upon the solitary life; but to live it out to the end is a task which perhaps has been achieved by few. The end is not necessarily involved in the intention; yet in the end is the reward of the toil. No advantage, therefore, accrues to men who fail to press on to the end of what they have in view and only adopt the solitary’s life in its inception. Nay, they make their profession ridiculous, and are charged by outsiders with unmanliness and instability of purpose. Of these, moreover, the Lord says, who wishing to build a house sits not down first and counts the cost whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish it, the passers-by begin to mock him saying, this man laid a foundation and was not able to finish. Let the start, then, mean that you heartily advance in virtue. The right noble athlete Paul, wishing us not to rest in easy security on so much of our life as may have been lived well in the past, but, every day to attain further progress, says Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling (Phil 3:13-14). So truly stands the whole of human life, not contented with what has gone before and fed not so much on the past as on the future. For how is a man the better for having his belly filled yesterday, if his natural hunger fails to find its proper satisfaction in food today? In the same way the soul gains nothing by yesterday’s virtue unless it be followed by the right conduct of today. For it is said I shall judge you as I shall find you.
42.2 Οὐκοῦν μάταιος μὲν τοῦ δικαίου ὁ κόπος, ἀνέγκλητος δὲ καὶ τοῦ ἁμαρτωλοῦ ὁ τρόπος, ἐπιγενομένης ἐναλλαγῆς, τῷ μὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ κρείττονος ἐπὶ τὸ χεῖρον, τῷ δὲ ἀπὸ τοῦ χείρονος ἐπὶ τὸ κρεῖττον μεταβληθέντι. Ταῦτα καὶ τοῦ Ἰεζεκιὴλ ὡς ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ Κυρίου δογματίζοντός ἐστιν ἀκοῦσαι. «Ἐὰν γάρ, φησίν, ἐκκλίνας ὁ δίκαιος πλημμελήσῃ, οὐ μὴ μνησθῶ τῶν δικαιοσυνῶν ὧν ἐποίησεν, ἀλλ’ ἐν τῇ ἁμαρτίᾳ αὐτοῦ ἀποθανεῖται.» Τὸ δὲ αὐτό φησι καὶ περὶ τοῦ ἁμαρτωλοῦ· «Ἐὰν ἐπιστρέψας ποιήσῃ δικαιοσύνην, ζωὴν ζήσεται ἐν αὐτῇ.» Ποῦ γὰρ οἱ τοσοῦτοι Μωσῆ τοῦ θεράποντος πόνοι, τῆς ἐν στιγμῇ ἀντιλογίας παραγραψαμένης αὐτοῦ τὴν εἰς τὴν γῆν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας εἴσοδον; Ποῦ δὲ καὶ ἡ τοῦ Γιεζῆ συναναστροφὴ πρὸς τὸν Ἐλισσαῖον, φιλοχρηματίας χάριν λέπραν ἐπισπασαμένου; Τί δὲ καὶ τοῦ πλήθους τῆς σοφίας τῷ Σολομῶντι ὄφελος καὶ ἡ προλαβοῦσα τοιαύτη ἔννοια εἰς Θεόν, ὕστερον ἐκ τῆς γυναικομανίας εἰς εἰδωλολατρείαν αὐτοῦ ἐκπεπτωκότος; Ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ τὸν μακάριον ∆αβὶδ ὁ μετεωρισμὸς ἀφῆκεν ἀνέγκλητον διὰ τὴν εἰς τὴν τοῦ Οὐρίου πλημμέλειαν. Ἤρκει δὲ καὶ ἡ τοῦ Ἰούδα ἀπὸ τοῦ κρείττονος εἰς τὸ χεῖρον μετάπτωσις πρὸς ἀσφάλειαν τοῦ κατὰ Θεὸν πολιτευομένου, ὅς, ἐν τοσούτοις χρόνοις μαθητευθεὶς τῷ Χριστῷ, ὕστερον μικρῷ λήμματι τὸν ∆ιδάσκαλον ἀπεμπολήσας ἑαυτῷ ἀγχόνην ἐπραγματεύσατο. Τοῦτο οὖν γνωστόν σοι ἔστω, ἀδελφέ, ὅτι οὐχ ὁ καλῶς ἀρχόμενος, οὗτος τέλειος, ἀλλ’ ὁ καλῶς ἀποτιθέμενος οὗτος, δόκιμος παρὰ Θεῷ. «Μὴ οὖν δῷς ὕπνον τοῖς ὀφθαλμοῖς, ἀδελφέ, μηδὲ νυσταγμὸν σοῖς βλεφάροις», ἵνα «σωθῇς ὥσπερ δορκὰς ἐκ βρόχων καὶ ὥσπερ ὄρνεον ἐκ παγίδος.» Βλέπε γὰρ ὅτι ἐν μέσῳ παγίδων διαβαίνεις καὶ ἐπάνω τείχους ὑψηλοῦ περιπατεῖς ὅθεν οὐκ ἀκίνδυνον τῷ καταπεσόντι τὸ πτῶμα. Μὴ οὖν εὐθέως εἰς ἀκρότητα ἀσκήσεως ἐκτείνῃς σεαυτόν· μάλιστα μηδὲ θαρρήσῃς σεαυτῷ, ἵνα μὴ ἐξ ἀπειρίας ἀφ’ ὕψους τῆς ἀσκήσεως πέσῃς. Κρεῖσσον γὰρ ἡ κατ’ ὀλίγον προκοπή. Κατὰ μικρὸν οὖν κλέπτε τὰς ἡδονὰς τοῦ βίου ἐξαφανίζων σεαυτοῦ πᾶσαν συνήθειαν, μήποτε ἀθρόως πάσας ὁμοῦ ἐρεθίσας τὰς ἡδονὰς ὄχλον πειρασμῶν σεαυτῷ ἐπαγάγῃς. Ἡνίκα δ’ ἂν τοῦ ἑνὸς πάθους τῆς ἡδονῆς κατὰ κράτος περιγένῃ, πρὸς τὴν ἑτέραν ἡδονὴν παράταξαι καὶ οὕτω πασῶν τῶν ἡδονῶν εὐκαίρως περιγενήσῃ. Ἡδονῆς γὰρ ὄνομα μὲν ἕν, πράγματα δὲ διάφορα. Τοίνυν, ἀδελφέ, ἔσο πρῶτον μὲν ὑπομονητικὸς πρὸς πάντα πειρασμόν. Πειρασμοῖς δὲ ποταποῖς δοκιμάζεται ὁ πιστός, ζημίαις κοσμικαῖς, ἐγκλήμασι, καταψεύσμασιν, ἀπειθείαις, καταλαλιαῖς, διωγμοῖς; Εἰς ταῦτα καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα δοκιμάζεται ὁ πιστός. Ἔπειτα δὲ καὶ ἡσύχιος ἔσο, μὴ προπετὴς ἐν λόγῳ, μὴ ἐριστικός, μὴ φιλόνεικος, μὴ κενόδοξος, μὴ ἐξηγητικός, ἀλλὰ φιλόπιστος· μὴ ἐν λόγῳ πολύς, ἕτοιμος δὲ ἴσθι ἀεί, μὴ πρὸς διδασκαλίαν. ἀλλὰ πρὸς μάθησιν. Μὴ περιεργάζου βίους κοσμικοὺς ὅθεν οὐδέν σοι προσγίνεται ὄφελος. Φησὶ γάρ· «Ὅπως ἂν μὴ λαλήσῃ τὸ στόμα μου τὰ ἔργα τῶν ἀνθρώπων». Ὁ γὰρ ἡδέως λαλῶν τὰ τῶν ἁμαρτωλῶν ἑτοίμως καθ’ ἑαυτοῦ ἐξυπνίζει τὰς ἡδονάς. Μᾶλλον δὲ πολυπραγμόνει τὸν τῶν δικαίων βίον· οὕτω γὰρ ἂν εὑρή σεις ἑαυτῷ ὄφελος. Μὴ ἔσο φιλενδείκτης περιάγων τὰς κώμας ἢ τὰς οἰκίας, φεῦγε δὲ ταύτας ὡς ψυχῶν παγίδας. Εἰ δέ τις διὰ πολλὴν εὐλάβειαν προτρέπεταί σε εἰς τὸν ἑαυτοῦ οἶκον πολλῶν προφάσεων ἕνεκα, μανθανέτω ὁ τοιοῦτος ἀκολουθεῖν τῇ πίστει τοῦ ἑκατοντάρχου ὅς, τοῦ Ἰησοῦ θεραπείας χάριν πρὸς αὐτὸν ἐπειγομένου, παρῃτή σατο λέγων· «Κύριε, οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς ἵνα μου ὑπὸ τὴν στέγην εἰσέλθῃς, ἀλλὰ μόνον εἰπὲ λόγον καὶ ἰαθήσεται ὁ παῖς μου.» Τοῦ δὲ Ἰησοῦ εἰπόντος αὐτῷ· «Ὕπαγε, ὡς ἐπίστευσας γενηθήτω σοι», ἰάθη ὁ παῖς ἀπὸ τῆς ὥρας ἐκείνης. Τοῦτο οὖν γνωστόν σοι ἔστω, ἀδελφέ, ὅτι οὐχ ἡ τοῦ Χριστοῦ παρουσία, ἀλλ’ ἡ πίστις τοῦ αἰτοῦντος ἠλευθέρωσε τὸν κάμνοντα. Οὕτω καὶ νῦν, σοῦ εὐχομένου ἐν ᾧ ᾖς τόπῳ καὶ τοῦ κάμνοντος πιστεύοντος ὅτι ταῖς σαῖς εὐχαῖς βοηθηθήσεται, ἀποβήσεται αὐτῷ πάντα καταθυμίως. 2. Vain then is the labour of the righteous man, and free from blame is the way of the sinner, if a change befall, and the former turn from the better to the worse, and the latter from the worse to the better. So we hear from Ezekiel teaching as it were in the name of the Lord, when he says, if the righteous turns away and commits iniquity, I will not remember the righteousness which he committed before; in his sin he shall die, and so too about the sinner; if he turn away from his wickedness, and do that which is right, he shall live. Where were all the labours of God’s servant Moses, when the gainsaying of one moment shut him out from entering into the promised land? What became of the companionship of Gehazi with Elissæus, when he brought leprosy on himself by his covetousness? What availed all Solomon’s vast wisdom, and his previous regard for God, when afterwards from his mad love of women he fell into idolatry? Not even the blessed David was blameless, when his thoughts went astray and he sinned against the wife of Uriah. One example were surely enough for keeping safe one who is living a godly life, the fall from the better to the worse of Judas, who, after being so long Christ’s disciple, for a mean gain sold his Master and got a halter for himself. Learn then, brother, that it is not he who begins well who is perfect. It is he who ends well who is approved in God’s sight. Give then no sleep to your eyes or slumber to your eyelids that you may be delivered as a roe from the net and a bird from the snare. For, behold, you are passing through the midst of snares; you are treading on the top of a high wall whence a fall is perilous to the faller; wherefore do not straightway attempt extreme discipline; above all things beware of confidence in yourself, lest you fall from a height of discipline through want of training. It is better to advance a little at a time. Withdraw then by degrees from the pleasures of life, gradually destroying all your wonted habits, lest you bring on yourself a crowd of temptations by irritating all your passions at once. When you have mastered one passion, then begin to wage war against another, and in this manner you will in good time get the better of all. Indulgence, so far as the name goes, is one, but its practical workings are diverse. First then, brother, meet every temptation with patient endurance. And by what various temptations the faithful man is proved; by worldly loss, by accusations, by lies, by opposition, by calumny, by persecution! These and the like are the tests of the faithful. Further, be quiet, not rash in speech, not quarrelsome, not disputatious, not covetous of vain glory, not more anxious to get than to give knowledge, not a man of many words, but always more ready to learn than to teach. Do not trouble yourself about worldly life; from it no good can come to you. It is said, That my mouth speak not the works of men. The man who is fond of talking about sinners’ doings, soon rouses the desire for self indulgence; much better busy yourself about the lives of good men for so you will get some profit for yourself. Do not be anxious to go travelling about from village to village and house to house; rather avoid them as traps for souls. If any one, for true pity’s sake, invite you with many pleas to enter his house, let him be told to follow the faith of the centurion, who, when Jesus was hastening to him to perform an act of healing, besought him not to do so in the words, “Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof, but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed” (Mt 8:8), and when Jesus had said to him “Go your way; as you have believed, so be it done unto you” (Mt 8:13), his servant was healed from that hour. Learn then, brother, that it was the faith of the suppliant, not the presence of Christ, which delivered the sick man. So too now, if you pray, in whatever place you be, and the sick man believes that he will be aided by your prayers, all will fall out as he desires.
42.3 Πλέον δὲ τοῦ Κυρίου τοὺς οἰκείους σου μὴ ἀγαπήσεις. «Ὁ γὰρ ἀγαπῶν, φησί, πατέρα ἢ μητέρα ἢ ἀδελφοὺς ὑπὲρ ἐμὲ οὐκ ἔστι μου ἄξιος.» Τί δὲ βούλεται ἡ τοῦ Κυρίου ἐντολή; «Εἴ τις, φησίν, οὐκ αἴρει τὸν σταυρὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀκολουθεῖ μοι, οὐ δύναταί μου εἶναι μαθητής.» Εἰ συναπέθανες τῷ Χριστῷ ἀπὸ τῶν συγγενῶν σου τῶν κατὰ σάρκα τί πάλιν ἐν αὐτοῖς ἀναστρέφεσθαι θέλεις; Εἰ δὲ ἃ κατέλυ σας διὰ Χριστὸν πάλιν ταῦτα οἰκοδομεῖς διὰ τοὺς συγγε νεῖς σου, παραβάτην σεαυτὸν καθιστᾷς. Μὴ οὖν διὰ χρέος τῶν συγγενῶν σου ἀναχωρήσῃς τοῦ τόπου σου· ἀναχωρῶν γὰρ ἐκ τοῦ τόπου σου ἴσως ἀναχωρήσεις ἐκ τοῦ τρόπου σου. Μὴ ἔσο ὀχλοχαρής, μὴ φιλόχωρος, μὴ φιλοπολίτης, ἀλλὰ φιλέρημος, ἐφ’ ἑαυτῷ μένων ἀεὶ ἀμετεωρίστως τὴν εὐχὴν καὶ τὴν ψαλμῳδίαν ἔργον ἡγούμενος. Μηδὲ τῶν ἀναγνωσμάτων κατολιγωρήσῃς, μάλιστα τῆς νέας ∆ιαθήκης, διὰ τὸ ἐκ τῆς παλαιᾶς ∆ιαθήκης πολλάκις βλάβην ἐγγίνεσθαι, καὶ οὐχ ὅτι ἐγράφη βλαβερά, ἀλλ’ ὅτι ἡ τῶν βλαπτομένων διάνοια ἀσθενής. Πᾶς γὰρ ἄρτος τρόφιμος, ἀλλὰ τοῖς ἀσθενοῦσιν ἐπιβλαβής. Οὕτως οὖν «πᾶσα Γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος», καὶ οὐδὲν κοινὸν δι’ αὐτῆς, εἰ μὴ τῷ λογιζομένῳ κοινὸν εἶναι ἐκείνῳ κοινόν. «Πάντα δὲ δοκίμαζε, τὸ καλὸν κάτεχε, ἀπὸ παντὸς εἴδους πονηροῦ ἀπέχου.» «Πάντα γὰρ ἔξεστιν, ἀλλ’ οὐ πάντα συμφέρει.» Ἔσο οὖν τοῖς συντυγχάνουσί σοι ἐν πᾶσιν ἀπρόσκοπος, προσχαρής, φιλάδελφος, ἡδύς, ταπεινόφρων, μὴ ἐκπίπτων τοῦ σκοποῦ τῆς φιλοξενίας διὰ βρωμάτων πολυτελείας, ἀρκούμενος δὲ τοῖς παροῦσι, τῆς καθημερινῆς χρείας τοῦ μονήρους βίου μηδὲν πλέον ἀπό τινος λάβῃς· καὶ μάλιστα φύγε τὸν χρυσὸν ὡς ψυχῆς ἐπίβουλον καὶ ἁμαρτίας πατέρα, ὑπουργὸν δὲ τοῦ διαβόλου. Μὴ προφάσει τῆς εἰς τοὺς πένητας διακονίας σεαυτὸν ὑπό δικον φιλοχρηματίας καταστήσῃς. Εἰ δέ τις πτωχῶν ἕνεκα κομίσει σοι χρήματα, γνῶς δέ τινας λειπομένους, αὐτῷ ἐκείνῳ ᾧ ὑπάρχει τὰ χρήματα ἀποκομίσαι τοῖς ὑστε ρουμένοις ἀδελφοῖς συμβούλευσον, μήποτε μολύνῃ σου τὴν συνείδησιν ἡ τῶν χρημάτων ὑποδοχή. 3. You will not love your kinsfolk more than the Lord. He that loves, He says, father, or mother, or brother, more than me, is not worthy of me. What is the meaning of the Lord’s commandment? He that takes not up his cross and follows after me, cannot be my disciple? If, together with Christ, you died to your kinsfolk according to the flesh, why do you wish to live with them again? If for your kinsfolk’s sake you are building up again what you destroyed for Christ’s sake, you make yourself a transgressor. Do not then for your kinsfolk’s sake abandon your place: if you abandon your place, perhaps you will abandon your mode of life. Love not the crowd, nor the country, nor the town; love the desert, ever abiding by yourself with no wandering mind, regarding prayer and praise as your life’s work. Never neglect reading, especially of the New Testament, because very frequently mischief comes of reading the Old; not because what is written is harmful, but because the minds of the injured are weak. All bread is nutritious, but it may be injurious to the sick. Just so all Scripture is God inspired and profitable, and there is nothing in it unclean: only to him who thinks it is unclean, to him it is unclean. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. “All things are lawful but all things are not expedient” (1 Cor 6:12). Among all, with whom you come in contact, be in all things a giver of no offense, cheerful, loving as a brother (1 Peter 3:8), pleasant, humble-minded, never missing the mark of hospitality through extravagance of meats, but always content with what is at hand. Take no more from any one than the daily necessaries of the solitary life. Above all things shun gold as the soul’s foe, the father of sin and the agent of the devil. Do not expose yourself to the charge of covetousness on the pretence of ministering to the poor; but, if any one brings you money for the poor and you know of any who are in need, advise the owner himself to convey it to his needy brothers, lest haply your conscience may be defiled by the acceptance of money.
42.4 Τὰς ἡδονὰς φεῦγε, τὴν ἐγκράτειαν δίωκε, καὶ τὸ μὲν σῶμα τοῖς πόνοις ἄσκει, τὴν δὲ ψυχὴν τοῖς πειρασμοῖς ἔθιζε. Τὴν σώματος καὶ ψυχῆς ἀνάλυσιν ἀπαλλαγὴν παντὸς κακοῦ τιθέμενος ἐκδέχου τῶν αἰωνίων ἀγαθῶν τὴν ἀπόλαυσιν ἧς πάντες οἱ ἅγιοι μέτοχοι γεγόνασι. Σὺ δὲ ἀδιαλείπτως ζυγοστατῶν ἀντιπαρατίθεσο τῇ διαβολικῇ ἐννοίᾳ τὸν εὐσεβῆ λογισμόν, ὥσπερ ἐπὶ τρυτάνης τῇ ῥοπῇ τῆς πλάστιγγος τούτῳ παραχωρῶν. Καὶ μάλιστα ὅταν ἐπαναστᾶσα ἡ πονηρὰ ἔννοια λέγῃ· «Τί σοι τὸ ὄφελος τῆς ἐν τῷ τόπῳ τούτῳ διαγωγῆς; Τί σοι τὸ κέρδος τῆς ἀναχωρή σεως τῆς ἀπὸ τῶν ἀνθρώπων συνηθείας; Ἢ οὐκ ἔγνως τοὺς παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τεταγμένους ἐπισκόπους τῶν τοῦ Θεοῦ Ἐκκλησιῶν τοῖς ἀνδράσι συνήθως συνδιαζῶντας καὶ τὰς πνευματικὰς ἀδιαλείπτως ἐπιτελοῦντας πανηγύρεις ἐν αἷς μάλιστά που τοῖς παραγενομένοις γίνεται ὄφελος; Ἐκεῖ γὰρ ἀποκαλύψεις παροιμιακῶν αἰνιγμάτων, λύσεις ἀποστολικῶν διδαγμάτων, εὐαγγελικῶν νοημάτων ἔκθεσις, θεολογίας ἀκρόασις, ἀδελφῶν πνευματικῶν συντυχίαι μεγάλην τοῖς ἐντυγχάνουσιν ἐκ τῆς θέας τοῦ προσώπου τὴν ὠφέλειαν παρεχόντων. Σὺ δὲ τοσούτων ἀγαθῶν ἀλλό τριον σεαυτὸν καταστήσας κάθησαι ἐνθάδε ἐξηγριωμένος ἴσως τοῖς θηρσίν. Ὁρᾷς γὰρ ἐνταῦθα ἠρεμίαν πολλήν, ἀπανθρωπίαν οὐκ ὀλίγην, ἀπορίαν διδασκαλίας, ἀδελφῶν ἀλλοτρίωσιν καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα περὶ τὴν ἐντολὴν τοῦ Θεοῦ ἀργίαν ἔχον πολλήν.» Ὅταν οὖν τοιαύταις καὶ τοσαύταις εὐλογοφανέσι προφάσεσιν ἐπαναστᾶσα ἡ πονηρὰ ἔννοια καταρρῆξαί σε θέλῃ, ἀντιπαράθες αὐτῇ διὰ τοῦ εὐσεβοῦς λογισμοῦ τὴν πεῖραν τοῦ πράγματος λέγων· «Ἐπειδὴ σὺ λέγεις μοι καλὰ τὰ ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ εἶναι, διὰ τοῦτο ἐγὼ ἐνταῦθα μετῴκησα ἀνάξιον ἐμαυτὸν κρίνας τῶν τοῦ κόσμου καλῶν. Παραμέμικται γὰρ τοῖς τοῦ κόσμου καλοῖς τὰ κακά, καὶ μᾶλλον ὑπεραίρει τὰ κακά. Παραγενόμενος γάρ ποτε ἐν ταῖς πνευματικαῖς πανηγύρεσιν ἑνὶ μὲν ἀδελφῷ μόλις ποτὲ περιέτυχον, τὸ μὲν δοκεῖν, φοβουμένῳ τὸν Κύριον, κρατουμένῳ δὲ ὑπὸ τοῦ διαβόλου, καὶ ἤκουσα παρ’ αὐτοῦ λόγους κομψοὺς καὶ μύθους πεπλασμένους εἰς ἀπάτην τῶν ἐντυγχανόντων. Πολλοῖς δὲ μετ’ αὐτὸν συνέτυχον κλέπταις, ἅρπαξι, τυράννοις. Εἶδον μεθυόντων σχῆμα ἄσχημον, τὰ αἵματα τῶν καταπονουμένων. Εἶδον δὲ καὶ κάλλος γυναικῶν βασανίζον μου τὴν σωφροσύνην. Καὶ τὸ μὲν τῆς πορνείας ἔργον διέφυγον, τὴν δὲ ἐμαυτοῦ παρθενίαν ἐμόλυνα κατὰ διάνοιαν καρδίας. Καὶ πολλῶν μὲν ἀκήκοα λόγων ψυχωφελῶν· πλὴν παρ’ οὐδενὶ τῶν διδασκά λων εὗρον ἀξίαν τῶν λόγων τὴν ἀρετήν. Μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο πάλιν μυρίων ἤκουσα τραγῳδημάτων μέλεσι τεθρυμμένοις ἐνδεδυμένων. Πάλιν ἀκήκοα κιθάρας ἡδὺ ἠχούσης, τῶν κρότων τῶν ἁλλομένων, τῆς φωνῆς τῶν γελοιαστῶν, μωρίας πολλῆς καὶ εὐτραπελίας, ὄχλου ἀμυθήτου βοῆς. Εἶδον τὰ δάκρυα τῶν συληθέντων, τὰς ὀδύνας τῶν ἀπαγομένων ὑπὸ τῆς τυραννίδος, τὴν οἰμωγὴν τῶν βασανιζομένων. Καὶ εἶδον, καὶ ἰδοὺ οὐκ ἦν πανήγυρις πνευματική, ἀλλὰ θάλασσα ἀνεμιζομένη καὶ ταραττομένη πάντας ὁμοῦ τοῖς αὐτῆς κύμασι καλύψαι σπουδάζουσα. Λέγε μοι, ὦ κακὴ ἔννοια, καὶ ὁ τῆς προσκαίρου ἡδυπαθείας τε καὶ κενοδοξίας δαίμων, τί μοι τὸ ὄφελος τῆς τούτων θεωρίας τε καὶ ἀκροάσεως, μηδενὶ τῶν ἀδικουμένων βοηθῆσαι ἰσχύοντι, μήτε δὲ τοῖς ἀδυνάτοις ἐπαμῦναι, μήτε τοὺς σφαλλομένους διορθώσασθαι συγχωρουμένῳ, τάχα δὲ μέλλοντι καὶ ἐμαυτὸν προσαπολλύειν; Ὥσπερ γὰρ ὀλίγον ὕδωρ καθαρὸν ὑπὸ πολλῆς ζάλης ἀνέμου καὶ κονιορτοῦ ἀφανίζεται, οὕτως ἃ νομίζομεν καλὰ ἐν τῷ βίῳ ποιεῖν ὑπὸ τοῦ πλήθους τῶν κακῶν καλύπτεται. Αἱ μὲν γὰρ τραγῳδίαι ὥσπερ σκόλοπες τοῖς κατὰ τὸν βίον δι’ εὐθυμίας καὶ χαρᾶς ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις αὐτῶν ἐμπήσσονται, ἵνα τῆς ψαλμῳδίας ἐπισκοτίσῃ τὸ καθαρόν. Αἱ δὲ οἰμωγαὶ καὶ ὁ ὀδυρμὸς τῶν ἀδικουμένων ἀνθρώπων παρὰ τῶν ὁμοφύλων ἐπάγονται, ἵνα δειχθῇ τῶν πενήτων ἡ ὑπομονή. 4. Shun pleasures; seek after continence; train your body to hard work; accustom your soul to trials. Regarding the dissolution of soul and body as release from every evil, await that enjoyment of everlasting good things in which all the saints have part. Ever, as it were, holding the balance against every suggestion of the devil throw in a holy thought, and, as the scale inclines do thou go with it. Above all when the evil thought starts up and says, What is the good of your passing your life in this place? What do you gain by withdrawing yourself from the society of men? Do you not know that those, who are ordained by God to be bishops of God’s churches, constantly associate with their fellows, and indefatigably attend spiritual gatherings at which those who are present derive very great advantage? There are to be enjoyed explanations of hard sayings, expositions of the teachings of the apostles, interpretations of the thoughts of the gospels, lessons in theology and the intercourse of spiritual brethren, who do great good to all they meet if only by the sight of their faces. You, however, who have decided to be a stranger to all these good things, are sitting here in a wild state like the beasts. You see round you a wide desert with scarcely a fellow creature in it, lack of all instruction, estrangement from your brothers, and your spirit inactive in carrying out the commandments of God. Now, when the evil thought rises against you, with all these ingenious pretexts and wishes to destroy you, oppose to it in pious reflection your own practical experience, and say, You tell me that the things in the world are good; the reason why I came here is because I judged myself unfit for the good things of the world. With the world’s good things are mingled evil things, and the evil things distinctly have the upper hand. Once when I attended the spiritual assemblies I did with difficulty find one brother, who, so far as I could see, feared God, but he was a victim of the devil, and I heard from him amusing stories and tales made up to deceive those whom he met. After him I fell in with many thieves, plunderers, tyrants. I saw disgraceful drunkards; I saw the blood of the oppressed; I saw women’s beauty, which tortured my chastity. From actual fornication I fled, but I defiled my virginity by the thoughts of my heart. I heard many discourses which were good for the soul, but I could not discover in the case of any one of the teachers that his life was worthy of his words. After this, again, I heard a great number of plays, which were made attractive by wanton songs. Then I heard a lyre sweetly played, the applause of tumblers, the talk of clowns, all kinds of jests and follies and all the noises of a crowd. I saw the tears of the robbed, the agony of the victims of tyranny, the shrieks of the tortured. I looked and lo, there was no spiritual assembly, but only a sea, wind-tossed and agitated, and trying to drown every one at once under its waves. Tell me, O evil thought, tell me, dæmon of short lived pleasure and vain glory, what is the good of my seeing and hearing all these things, when I am powerless to succour any of those who are thus wronged; when I am allowed neither to defend the helpless nor correct the fallen; when I am perhaps doomed to destroy myself too. For just as a very little fresh water is blown away by a storm of wind and dust, in like manner the good deeds, that we think we do in this life, are overwhelmed by the multitude of evils. Pieces acted for men in this life are driven through joy and merriment, like stakes into their hearts, so that the brightness of their worship is be-dimmed. But the wails and lamentations of men wronged by their fellows are introduced to make a show of the patience of the poor.
42.5 Τίς οὖν ὠφέλεια ἐμοὶ ἢ δηλονότι τῆς ψυχῆς ἡ βλάβη; ∆ιὰ τοῦτο οὖν ἐγὼ μεταναστεύω ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη ὡς στρουθίον. Ὡς στρουθίον γὰρ ἐρρύσθην ἐκ τῆς παγίδος τῶν θηρευόντων. Καὶ γὰρ ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ ἐρήμῳ διάγω, ὦ κακὴ ἔννοια, ἐν ᾗ ὁ Κύριος διέτριβεν. Ἐνταῦθα ἡ δρῦς ἡ Μαμβρή, ἐνταῦθα ἡ οὐρανοφόρος κλίμαξ καὶ αἱ τῶν ἀγγέλων παρεμβολαὶ αἱ τῷ Ἰακὼβ ὀφθεῖσαι, ἐνταῦθα ἡ ἔρημος ἐν ᾗ ὁ λαὸς ἁγνισθεὶς ἐνομοθετήθη καὶ οὕτως εἰς τὴν γῆν τῆς ἐπαγγελίας εἰσελθὼν εἶδε Θεόν. Ἐνταῦθα τὸ ὄρος τὸ Καρμήλιον ἐν ᾧ Ἠλίας αὐλιζόμενος τῷ Θεῷ εὐηρέστησεν. Ἐνταῦθα τὸ πεδίον ἐν ᾧ ἀναχωρήσας Ἔσδρας πάσας τὰς θεοπνεύστους βίβλους προστάγματι Θεοῦ ἐξηρεύξατο. Ἐνταῦθα ἡ ἔρημος ἐν ᾗ ὁ μακάριος Ἰωάννης ἀκριδοφαγῶν μετάνοιαν τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἐκήρυξεν. Ἐνταῦθα τὸ ὄρος τῶν ἐλαιῶν εἰς ὃ ὁ Χριστὸς ἀνερχόμενος προσηύχετο ἡμᾶς διδάσκων προσεύχεσθαι. Ἐνταῦθα ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ τῆς ἐρήμου φίλος. Φησὶ γάρ· «Ὅπου εἰσὶ δύο ἢ τρεῖς συνηγμένοι εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα, ἐκεῖ εἰμι ἐν μέσῳ αὐτῶν.» Ἐνταῦθα ἡ στενὴ καὶ τεθλιμμένη ὁδὸς ἡ ἀπάγουσα εἰς τὴν ζωήν. Ἐνταῦθα διδάσκαλοι καὶ προφῆ ται, οἱ ἐν ἐρημίαις πλανώμενοι καὶ ὄρεσι καὶ σπηλαίοις καὶ ταῖς ὀπαῖς τῆς γῆς. Ἐνταῦθα ἀπόστολοι καὶ εὐαγγε λισταὶ καὶ ὁ τῶν μοναχῶν ἐρημοπολίτης βίος. Ταῦτα τοίνυν ἑκουσίως καταδέδεγμαι, ἵνα λάβω ἅπερ τοῖς μάρτυσι τοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις πᾶσιν ἁγίοις ἐπήγγελται, ἵνα ἀψευδῶς λέγω· «∆ιὰ τοὺς λόγους τῶν χειλέων σου ἐγὼ ἐφύλαξα ὁδοὺς σκληράς.» Ἔγνων γὰρ τὸν μὲν θεοφιλῆ Ἀβραὰμ τῇ τοῦ Θεοῦ φωνῇ πειθόμενον καὶ εἰς τὴν ἔρημον μετοικοῦντα, καὶ Ἰσαὰκ καταδυναστευόμενον, καὶ Ἰακὼβ τὸν πατριάρχην ξενιτεύοντα, Ἰωσὴφ τὸν σώφρονα διαπι πρασκόμενον, τοὺς τῆς ἐγκρατείας εὑρετὰς τρεῖς παῖδας πυρομαχοῦντας, ∆ανιὴλ δεύτερον εἰς λάκκον λεόντων παραβαλλόμενον, τὸν παρρησιαστὴν Ἱερεμίαν εἰς λάκκον βορβόρου καταδικαζόμενον, Ἡσαίαν τὸν τῶν ἀποκρύφων θεατὴν πριζόμενον, τὸν Ἰσραὴλ αἰχμαλωτιζόμενον, Ἰωάννην τὸν τῆς μοιχείας ἔλεγχον ἀποτεμνόμενον, ἀναιρουμένους τοὺς Χριστοῦ μάρτυρας. Καὶ ἵνα τί μακρολογῶ, ὅπου γε καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ Σωτὴρ ἐσταυρώθη ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν, ἵνα τῷ ἑαυ τοῦ θανάτῳ ἡμᾶς ζωοποιήσῃ καὶ πάντας ἡμᾶς πρὸς τὴν ὑπομονὴν ἀλείψῃ καὶ ἑλκύσῃ; Πρὸς τοῦτον ἐπείγομαι καὶ πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα καὶ τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον. Γνήσιος εὑρε θῆναι ἀγωνίζομαι, ἀνάξιον ἐμαυτὸν κρίνας τῶν τοῦ κόσμου καλῶν. Πλὴν ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ ἐγὼ διὰ τὸν κόσμον, ἀλλ’ ὁ κόσμος δι’ ἐμέ.» Ταῦτα οὖν ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἐπιλογιζόμενος καὶ τελῶν αὐτὰ σπουδαίως κατὰ τὸ εἰρημένον σοι, ἀγώνισαι ὑπὲρ τῆς ἀληθείας ἕως θανάτου. Καὶ γὰρ ὁ Χριστὸς ὑπήκοος γέγονε μέχρι θανάτου. Ἀλλὰ καὶ ὁ Ἀπόστολός φησι· «Βλέπετε μήποτε ἔσται ἔν τινι ὑμῶν καρδία πονηρὰ εἰς τὸ ἀποστῆναι ἀπὸ Θεοῦ ζῶντος, ἀλλὰ ἀλλήλους παρακαλεῖτε καὶ εἷς τὸν ἕνα οἰκοδομεῖτε ἄχρις οὗ τὸ σήμερον λέγεται.» Τὸ γὰρ σήμερον σημαίνει ὅλον τὸν χρόνον τῆς ζωῆς ἡμῶν. Οὕτως οὖν πολιτευόμενος, ἀδελφέ, καὶ σεαυτὸν σώσεις καὶ ἡμᾶς εὐφρανεῖς καὶ τὸν Θεὸν δοξάσεις εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. 5. What good then do I get except the loss of my soul? For this reason I migrate to the hills like a bird. I am escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers. I am living, O evil thought, in the desert in which the Lord lived. Here is the oak of Mamre; here is the ladder going up to heaven, and the stronghold of the angels which Jacob saw; here is the wilderness in which the people purified received the law, and so came into the land of promise and saw God. Here is Mount Carmel where Elias sojourned and pleased God. Here is the plain whither Esdras withdrew, and at God’s bidding uttered all the God inspired books. Here is the wilderness in which the blessed John ate locusts and preached repentance to men. Here is the Mount of Olives, whither Christ came and prayed, and taught us to pray. Here is Christ the lover of the wilderness, for He says “Where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them. Here is the strait and narrow way which leads unto life (Mt 7:14). Here are the teachers and prophets “wandering in deserts and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth” (Heb 11:38). Here are apostles and evangelists and solitaries’ life remote from cities. This I have embraced with all my heart, that I may win what has been promised to Christ’s martyrs and all His other saints, and so I may truly say, Because of the words of your lips I have kept hard ways. I have heard of Abraham, God’s friend, who obeyed the divine voice and went into the wilderness; of Isaac who submitted to authority; of Jacob, the patriarch, who left his home; of Joseph, the chaste, who was sold; of the three children, who learned how to fast, and fought with the fire; of Daniel thrown twice into the lion’s den; of Jeremiah speaking boldly, and thrown into a pit of mud; of Isaiah, who saw unspeakable things, cut asunder with a saw; of Israel led away captive; of John the rebuker of adultery, beheaded; of Christ’s martyrs slain. But why say more? Here our Saviour Himself was crucified for our sakes that by His death He might give us life, and train and attract us all to endurance. To Him I press on, and to the Father and to the Holy Ghost. I strive to be found true, judging myself unworthy of this world’s goods. And yet not I because of the world, but the world because of me. Think of all these things in your heart; follow them with zeal; fight, as you have been commanded, for the truth to the death. For Christ was made obedient even unto death (Phil 2:8). The Apostle says, “Take heed lest there be in any of you an evil heart…in departing from the living God. But exhort one another…(and edify one another [1 Thess 5:11]) while it is called today” (Heb 3:12-13). Today means the whole time of our life. Thus living, brother, you will save yourself, you will make me glad, and you will glorify God from everlasting to everlasting. Amen.

The Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique is a massive and invaluable theological reference work, which was begun in 1898 under the editorial direction of Jean Michel Alfred Vacant and continued to appear under successive editors (E. Mangenot, E. Amann) and with various revisions until work on it ended in 1950. Much of it is now in the public domain; the complete text of at least an early version of it is available online, on Internet Archive. Below I provide links to these volumes, and to a few articles from them.

Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 1, part 1 (Aaron – Apollinaire)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 1, part 2 (Apollinaire de Saint-Thomas – Azzoni)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 2, part 1 (Baader – Cisterciens)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 2, part 2 (Cajetan – Cisterciens)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 3 (Clarke – Czepanski)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 3, part 2
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 4, part 1 (Dabillon – Emser) (Note: this copy is missing cols. 941-948)
(another copy of this)
[fascicle: Dieu – Dogme]
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 5 (Enchantement – Fiume)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 5, part 2 (Eucharistie – Fiume)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 6, part 1 (Flacius Illyricus – Hizler)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 6, part 2 (Géorgie – Hizler)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 7, part 1 (Hobbes – Immunités)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 7, part 2 (Impanation – Irvingiens)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 8, part 1 (Isaac -Jeûne)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 8, part 2 (Joachim de Flore – Latrie)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 9, part 1 (Laubrussel – Lyre)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 9, part 2 (Mabillon – Marletta)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 10, part 1 (Maronite – Messe)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 10, part 2 (Messe – Mystique)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 11, part 1 (Naaséniens – Ordinales)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 11, part 2 (Ordéric Vital – Paul [Saint])
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 12, part 1 (Paul Ie – Philopald)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 12, part 2 (Philosophie – Prédestination)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 13, part 1 (Préexistence – Puy [Archange de])
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 13, part 2 (Quadratus – Rosmini)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 14, part 1 (Rosny – Schneider)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 14, part 2 (Scholarios – Szczaniecki)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 15, part 1 (Tabaraud – Trincarella)
Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, vol. 15, part 2 (Trinité – Zwinglianisme)


Some links to articles in this collection:

Dieu. Sa nature d’après les Pères,” by X. Le Bachelet, in vol. 4. (A partial translation of this article was given on this blog eight years ago in the post “On the Cappadocians and Eunomius.”)
Esprit-Saint,” by A. Palmieri, in vol. 5.
Hypostase,” “Hypostatique (Union),” and “Idiomes (Communication des),” by A. Michel, in vol. 7, part 1.
Le IIᵉ Concile de Lyon,” by V. Grumel, in vol. 9, part 1.
Palamas, Grégoire” and “Palamite (Controverse),” by M. Jugie, in vol. 11, part 2. (A partial translation of the latter article may be found on this blog, beginning here.)
Platonisme des Pères,” by R. Arnou, in vol. 12, part 2.


John Bekkos: Apology

August 9, 2014

I know that I have neglected this blog for a long time: for that, I apologize. There are many reasons for this neglect, perhaps the main one being that my work as a teacher takes precedence. But I thought I would present readers of this blog with a translation I completed recently of a short work titled Apology, by John Bekkos. It was written during the mid to late 1270’s, perhaps circa 1276-77, and, as it takes the form of a public address, it may actually have been a sermon Bekkos delivered, whether publicly or, as some think, before a select audience of Constantinopolitan churchmen. In it, Bekkos rebuts the accusation that he means to add the Filioque to the Greek text of the Creed (though this was, in fact, what the popes who succeeded Gregory X were pressuring him to do, with increasing vehemence as the decade of the 1270’s wore on), and he defends his policy of détente with the West by appealing to the example of the Fathers of the Church, in whose steps he claims he is following. It is curious, and perhaps worth noting, that, in this work, Bekkos compares reconciliation with the West with the policy St. Basil directed in the late fourth century towards reconciling moderate Pneumatomachians, who, while acknowledging the Spirit’s divine attributes, were uneasy about applying to the Spirit the term “God”; the comparison cannot be seen as very flattering towards the Westerners.

Italicized numbers in brackets within the translation refer to pagination of the Greek text as given in Hugo Lämmer’s Scriptorum Graeciae Orthodoxae Bibliotheca Selecta (Freiburg-im-Breisgau, 1864). Lämmer republishes the text that was edited by Leo Allatius and originally published by him in 1659; that text is also to be found in Migne, Patrologia Graeca vol. 141, cols. 1009C-1020B. In one place, towards the end of this work, I have corrected a mistake in Allatius’s text by checking it against the earliest manuscript (Laurentianus plut. VIII.26).

I would only add that this translation, like all other materials on this blog, is copyrighted; if people want to quote from it, that is fine, but those who do so ought to cite their source and acknowledge the translator. I have had the unpleasant experience of finding my own translations quoted verbatim, without attribution, in at least one published academic book; those who do this should know that they risk legal action.


That an acceptance of the union of the Churches does not lead to the destruction of our traditions, but to peace in Christ, because the Churches agree in their understanding of doctrine.

[426] 1. “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.”[1] Today I call upon heaven and earth to hear my words. And how shall I succeed in uttering a voice that should make the ends of the earth resound? And if I fail to come by such a voice, how may I satisfy that desire which [427] has led me today to summon heaven and earth to hear my words? But he who chose the fishermen, and who so strengthened them in their weakness that “their sound went forth into all the earth, and their words were heard to the ends of the inhabited world,”[2] shall strengthen my weakness by the overflowing abundance of his power, and shall prepare the hearts of all who may hear an echo of my discourse, making them open to receiving the truth. For if he is a God of truth, one who rejoices in being called “the truth” (for David also teaches me to address him as “truth”[3]), he will cause our words to be communicated to the Christians throughout the inhabited world. And he will do this, because the promoter of lies has spread the nets of his slander against us upon the whole territory of those who are called by Christ’s name, not confining himself to specific peoples and towns, but ensnaring even those who dwell in caves and in mountains.

2. But what is the slander, and how do we make a defense of ourselves as to those things in which we have been slandered? Come and hear, all you nations; give ear, all you inhabitants of the world.[4] [428] All of you certainly know, and none of you is unaware, how the longstanding hatred between the Churches of Christ, between, I mean, the elder Rome and our new Rome, turned back again into the good estate of that ancient peace, by the favor of Christ the prince of peace, who reunites and links those things that were sundered. But you also know how Satan, who forever eyes the good with malice, who substitutes his own hatred in place of Christ’s peace, who, again, is always plotting and warring against those who belong to Christ, was tireless in whipping up multitudes to oppose the peace; and, although he failed to find a way to circumvent the good of the peace itself, out of all evil stratagems he discovered one worthy of his wickedness. And the stratagem is this: he causes a rumor to sound in the hearings of all, a rumor concerning the addition made by the Romans to the Creed, alleging that the bishop of Constantinople has been co-opted by the Church of Rome to persuade the Church of the Greeks to read this Creed with the same addition. And, once this rumor had taken wing, and had flown with unchecked force throughout the world, it filled everyone’s hearing with the slander against us.

[429] 3. That, then, is the slander. But our apology in response to it, on behalf of which we are summoning a world-wide hearing, will not be composed of plausible arguments of the sort used by those who attempt to win their case by showing off their expertise in employing human wisdom; but for demonstrating the truth it will make use of the things that were done and enacted by the luminaries and teachers of the Church; looking towards those things, as to a pattern, we came across those arguments which have been the occasion for the slander that everywhere resounds against us. For being ourselves simple, and wearing the simplicity of Christ as a coat, we shall make our apology with all plainness, once we have prepared the impartial judgment of the hearers to know and to assess, whether it is in line with the pattern handed down to the Church from the fathers that we advocate for the Church of Rome as regards the addition made by the Romans to the Creed or, instead, we are acting out of some privately adopted opinion and, as those who slander us say, with disrespect towards the fathers’ customs and institutions.

In the first place, then, we find that the most great Athanasius – that extraordinary man, the sun of the ecclesiastical firmament, whose word is unconquerable, [430] whose manner is inimitable – when in his days no minor scandal had broken out between these very same Churches which are the subject of our present discourse, brought about a reconciliation between them no otherwise than by acting as an advocate for the Roman Church (since the Easterners had judged those belonging to that Church to be their adversaries). And what was his advocacy? Let him be present here himself, and by the words expressed by his own tongue let him announce to us what it was. For in his Tome to the Antiochenes he speaks thus:

“For as to those whom some were blaming for speaking of three hypostases, on the ground that the phrase is unscriptural and therefore suspicious, we thought it right indeed to require nothing beyond the confession of Nicaea; but on account of the contention we made enquiry of them, whether they meant, like the Arian madmen, hypostases foreign and strange, and alien in essence from one another, … or whether, like other heretics, they meant three Beginnings and three Gods.”[5]

And after the interpretation brought forward by them of the words, in an orthodox sense, he adds:

“Having accepted then those men’s [431] interpretation and defense of their language, we made enquiry of those blamed by them for speaking of one hypostasis, whether they use the expression in the sense of Sabellius, to the negation of the Son and the Holy Spirit.”[6]

Then in his discourse he inserts also the apology these people made in response to this, and, in what follows, divinely adjuring [us] by the harmony of conception in the interchangeability of the words, he says:

“Well, thereupon they who had been blamed for saying there were three hypostases agreed with the others, while those who had spoken of one hypostasis also confessed the doctrine of the former as interpreted by them.”[7]

And going forward, he adds to those things already said:

“Those things then being thus confessed, we exhort you not hastily to condemn those who so confess and so explain the phrases they use, nor reject them, but rather to accept them as they desire peace and defend themselves, while you check and rebuke, as of suspicious views, those who refuse so to confess and to explain their language. But while you refuse toleration to the latter, counsel the others also who explain and [432] hold aright, not to enquire further into each other’s opinions, nor to fight about words to no useful purpose, but to agree in the mind of piety. For they who are not thus minded, but only stir up strife with petty phrases, … do nothing except ‘give their neighbor turbid confusion to drink,’ like men who grudge peace and who love schisms.”[8]

And again:

“Irreligiousness is utterly forbidden, though it be attempted to disguise it with artful expressions and plausible sophisms; but religiousness is confessed by all to be lawful, even though presented in strange phrases, provided only they are used with a religious view, and a wish to make them the expression of religious thoughts.”[9]

And again, after some other things:

“Therefore if they … make an excuse that the terms are strange, let them consider the sense in which the Council so wrote…, that, even if the expressions are not in so many words in the Scriptures, yet, as was said before, they contain the sense of the Scriptures, and expressing it, they convey it to those who have their hearing unimpaired for religious doctrine.”[10]

These, then, [433] are the echoing sounds that reverberate from Athanasius’s thunderous tongue. But, for our part, because we observed that that shining light of the inhabited earth effected a reconciliation of the Churches in his own days, using such acts of economy and such reasonings, and because we deemed it a great thing to walk in his footsteps and be illuminated, as by a guiding light, by those things which he effected for the edification of the Church, whose cornerstone and linking keystone is Christ God, we gave ourselves to the reconciliation with the Roman Church, despising empty logomachy and contentions over terms as utterly useless, given that we understood the Church of Rome to be in agreement with us in its conception of orthodoxy; we cast such logomachy away, so that we might not hear ourselves being called those who “stir up strife with petty phrases,” and who “give their neighbor turbid confusion to drink, like those who grudge peace and who stir up schisms.”

4. Come therefore, you hearers of my words, judge impartially before the Trinity itself, before every heavenly power, if those people who charge us with advocating for the Ro- [434] man Church, as though it were the greatest of accusations, cast their votes against us justly, given that that Church, as far as the meaning goes, confesses [the faith] in a most orthodox manner; for, although they are accused of thinking there are two origins and two causes in the blessed Trinity, they dispel that accusation insofar as they revere and confess one origin and one cause. Athanasius served as advocate for the Roman Church, although he had no pattern for his advocacy, and although, in advocating, he looked towards no other paradigm; and he did this when the Italians seemed to have erred with respect to the weightiest of matters. For their confession of “one hypostasis” in the Trinity presented a suspicion of Sabellianism. And, as for us, we are charged with transgressing the ordinances of the fathers, although we follow the teacher Athanasius as his disciple, and direct our actions by looking towards his, as to a paradigm and archetype.

Now I suppose no further arguments will be required of me to demonstrate that we did not act in error by advocating for the Roman Church, overlooking the lack of agreement in words, and grasping hold of the agreement in meaning, for the sake of the God- [435] beloved and legitimate good of peace. But if, on account of the gospel faith in what is said by two or three witnesses,[11] I be required to produce yet other advocates among orthodoxy’s teachers, advocates who indeed did not go so far as to change the opposing side into that for which they made advocacy, but advocates who directed the whole point of their own position towards the peace of both parties, as imitators of Christ the prince of peace who joins and unites things separated – both Basil, great in divine things, will here be presented, and Gregory who rightly bears the name Theologian will show his agreement with the things that are said. As for Basil, then, great in divine things, he eagerly strives to reconcile those who do not say that the Spirit is God with those who, in explicit language, proclaim him to be God and consubstantial with the Father and the Son. And Gregory also, pursuing the same path of reconciliation between these parties, adds to the things that Basil says. For he says that he would not reject the Jewish people if they wished to be united with us but sought, for awhile, to use the term “Anointed” rather than “Christ.”[12] [436] But neither did Athanasius, great in divine things, when advocating for those who said “one hypostasis,” advocate for them to the point that those who taught three hypostases should have adopted the confession of the others; nor did Basil the Great, when he was seeking a reconciliation between those who unequivocally confessed the Spirit to be God and those who did not say that he is God, hoping to effect a peace agreement by exhibiting the equality in other terms, so serve as advocate for those who did not call the Spirit God that he changed those who do call him God into adopting that other persuasion; but neither did he who is called the Theologian, when accepting, as far as it was up to him, the people of the Jews if they decided to be united with us but chose the word “Anointed” instead of “Christ,” so advocate for this word “Anointed” as though meaning to persuade those who did not yet say this to start employing this term. And therefore, when we advocate for the Church of Rome, we do not[13] advocate for them to this point, that those who from the beginning and up till now have read in the Symbol of Faith that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father should change this and start saying that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. [437] But just as those lights of the world showed their own zeal as advocates for peace by looking towards the harmony of meaning, so we too, as disciples following those teachers, make our whole advocacy for peace and reconciliation with the Church of Rome in this way, favoring not the word, but the concept. But as for those people who are eager to accuse, and are quick to slander all things, let them accuse, let them slander. There is a God who will judge. It is he, the ultimate arbiter, to whom we shall have to render account, both for our words and for our actions. But if we have spoken thus in making our present apology, it is so that those who are preaching nothing sound against us may place no stumbling-block in the way of the souls of simpler folk, who have been summoned by my discourse to give it a hearing. For, as stated at the outset of this present apologetic speech, we made our self-defense, not with plausible arguments of the sort used by those who attempt to win their case by showing off their human wisdom; but, in demonstration of the truth, we exhibited the things done and accomplished of old by the lights and teachers of the Church. [438] As for you, if, after receiving this apology of ours, you still require other witnesses beside the divine witness himself, may you not give heed to those who have readied their tongues for slander; but may you become discerning seekers of the truth, and may you hold to the peace of the Churches, knowing that a great reward is laid up for those who support it in the day of recompense from Christ, the prince of peace.


1) Deut 32:1; cf. Isa 1:2.
2) Ps 19:4.
3) Cf. Ps 31:5.
4) Cf. Joel 1:2.
5) Athanasius, Tomus ad Antiochenos 5, PG 26, 801A.
6) Athanasius, Tomus ad Antiochenos 6, PG 26, 801C.
7) Athanasius, Tomus ad Antiochenos, 6 PG 26, 801D.
8) Athanasius, Tomus ad Antiochenos 8, PG 26, 805 A-B; tr. NPNF ii.4, p. 485.
9) Athanasius, De Decretis 18; PG 25b, 448 B-C; tr. NPNF ii.4, p. 162.
10) Athanasius, De Decretis 21; PG 25b, 453 A-B; tr. NPNF ii.4, p. 164.
11) Cf. Mt 18:16; 2 Cor 13:1; 1 Tim 5:19.
12) See Gregory of Nazianzus, Or. 43.68; PG 36, 588C. Two sentences before this, Bekkos appears to summarize St. Gregory’s account, in this same Funeral Oration on Basil, of Basil’s attempts to reconcile the Pneumatomachians.
13) Reading οὐκ ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον συνηγοροῦμεν, from the text at Laurentianus plut. viii.26, fol.45. Published editions lack the word οὐκ.

A passage at the end of Book II of Pope Gregory the Great’s Dialogues on the Life and Miracles of the Italian Fathers reads as follows (PL 66, 204B and 203B):

Cum enim constet quia Paracletus Spiritus a Patre semper procedat et Filio, cur se Filius recessurum dicit, ut ille veniat, qui a Filio nunquam recedit?

Φανερὸν οὖν ὑπάρχει, ὅτι τὸ παράκλητον πνεῦμα ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς προέρχεται, καὶ ἐν τῷ Υἱῷ διαμένει. Τίνος οὖν χάριν ἑαυτὸν ὁ υἱὸς πορευθῆναι λέγει, ἵνα ἐκεῖνος ἔλθῃ ὅστις οὐδέποτε ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐχωρίσθη;

The Latin text may be translated as follows:
“For since it is certain that the Spirit, the Paraclete, always proceeds from the Father and the Son, why does the Son say that he is going to go away, so that that one (the Paraclete) may come, who is never absent from the Son?”

The Greek translation presents a significantly different meaning:

“It therefore stands as clear that the Spirit, the Paraclete, comes forth from the Father, and rests in the Son. For what reason, therefore, does the Son say that he himself is going away so that that one (the Paraclete) may come, who is never separated from him?”
A note on this is found in Migne, loc. cit.:

Hoc loco animadvertat lector, verba illa, Φανερὸν οὖν ὑπάρχει, ὅτι τὸ παράκλητον πνεῦμα ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς προέρχεται, καὶ ἐν τῷ Υἱῷ διαμένει, id est, Aperte igitur patet, quod Paracletus Spiritus a Patre procedit, et in Filio permanet, longe aliter legi apud Gregorium Latine, nempe : Cum enim constet, quia Paracletus Spiritus a Patre semper procedat et Filio. Ex quo manifeste apparet, a Græcis postea Zachariæ papæ versionem fuisse depravatam, ut bene notavit Joannes diaconus lib. IV de Vita ejusdem B. Gregorii, cap. 75, de Dialogis loquens, his verbis : Quos libros Zacharias, sanctæ Ecclesiæ Romanæ episcopus, Græco Latinoque sermone doctissimus, temporibus Constantini imperatoris, post annos ferme 175, in Græcam linguam convertens, Orientalibus Ecclesiis divulgavit : quamvis astuta Græcorum perversitas in commemoratione Spiritus sancti a Patre procedentis, nomen Filii radens, abstulerit. Hæc Joannes diaconus. Hanc censuram attexere curarunt Romani sub Sixto V editores, et alii deinceps. Vide quæ de hoc argumento in præfatione jam præmisimus num. 26. At this juncture let the reader note that these words, Φανερὸν οὖν ὑπάρχει, ὅτι τὸ παράκλητον πνεῦμα ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς προέρχεται, καὶ ἐν τῷ Υἱῷ διαμένει, that is, It therefore stands as clear that the Spirit, the Paraclete, comes forth from the Father, and rests in the Son, are read in a far different way in Gregory’s Latin text, namely: Cum enim constet, quia Paracletus Spiritus a Patre semper procedat et Filio (“For since it is certain that the Spirit, the Paraclete, always proceeds from the Father and the Son…”). From this it clearly appears that Pope Zacharias’s translation was afterwards corrupted by the Greeks, as John the Deacon properly notes in Book IV of his Life of the same Blessed Gregory, ch. 75, where, speaking about the Dialogues, he says: “Zacharias, the bishop of the Holy Church of Rome, a man most learned in both Greek and Latin, during the time of the Emperor Constantine, about 175 years afterwards, turned these books into Greek and published them in the Eastern Churches; nevertheless, the crafty perversity of the Greeks, erasing a word, caused the Son’s name to be taken out when mention was made of the Spirit’s proceeding from the Father.” Thus John the Deacon. The Roman editors under Sixtus V, and others afterwards, took care to add this censure in a footnote. See what we have already said upon this subject in the preface, par. 26.

It should be noted that Martin Jugie disagreed with this assessment about a corruption of the text of Pope Zacharias’ translation. In his work De processione Spiritus Sancti (Rome 1936), pp. 222-227, Jugie argues that the text we have is what Pope Zacharias wrote. However, he thinks that Zacharias’s interpretation means essentially the same thing as what Pope Gregory wrote: that is, he sees “rests in the Son” as implying a proceeding from both. Here is Jugie:

Ergo ad hanc devenimus conclusionem, quae nobis videtur omnino certa, scilicet quod ipse Zacharias proprio motu formulam latinam Gregorii ita graece reddendam iudicavit. Nec de hoc triumphum agere habent Photius eiusque sequaces. Formula enim graeca a Zacharia usurpata apud plures Patres graecos occurrit, quos ut disertos doctrinae catholicae testes supra laudavimus, v. g., apud Athanasium, Didymum, Cyrillum Alexandrinum, Ioannem Damascenum. Et revera haec quoad sensum formulae latinae: A Patre Filioque procedit respondet, quamvis aliqua obscuritate involvatur. Significat enim Spiritum Sanctum ex Patre quidem tanquam ex fonte originali, ex principio primordiali oriri; at vero per Filium quasi transire ut ad existentiam prodeat, nec ultra vel extra illum progredi, sed in ipso et quasi in eius sinu permanere ac requiescere, sicut ipse Filius in Patris sinu quiescit. Est alius modus exprimendi conceptum Graecorum eorumque diagramma trinitarium. lmmerito ergo ad auctoritatem Gregorii et Zachariae Photius provocavit, ut suam sententiam haereticam de processione Spiritus Sancti a Patre solo firmaret. “Therefore we are led to this conclusion, which appears to us entirely certain, namely, that Zacharias himself, on his own initiative, deemed that Gregory’s Latin expression ought to be rendered in Greek in this way. Nor on this account do Photius and his followers have the right to celebrate. For the Greek formula borrowed by Zacharias occurs in numerous Greek fathers, whom we earlier praised as express witnesses to the Catholic doctrine, e.g., in Athanasius, Didymus, Cyril of Alexandria, John of Damascus. And, in fact, it corresponds to the Latin formula A Patre Filioque procedit so far as its sense goes, even though enveloped in a certain obscurity. For it indicates that the Holy Spirit arises from the Father as from an original fount, as from a primordial principle; but also, that he, as it were, goes forth through the Son so that he may come forth into existence, nor does he go forward any further or beyond him, but he remains and rests in him, as it were in his bosom, just as the Son rests in the bosom of the Father. This is another way of expressing the concept of the Greeks and their trinitarian diagram. Without justification, therefore, did Photius appeal to the authority of Gregory and of Zacharias, so that he might establish his heretical proposition concerning a procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone.” Op. cit., pp. 225 f.

What, one might ask, does Pope Zacharias’s translation imply for the Filioque debate?

One possible reading of it, perhaps the simplest reading, is that Zacharias, knowing that controversy had already arisen over this issue and that an accurate translation of the passage was likely to offend many Greek readers of Pope Gregory’s Dialogues, chose to tone down Gregory’s language; that is, he substituted a theologically milder statement for a theologically more forceful one, not with the intention of denying Pope Gregory’s original claim, but simply because he knew that that original claim would be poorly received. If that is in fact what happened, then the differences between the Greek translation and the Latin original are not, theologically, very significant, because the translator, while not denying the truth of the original text, simply chose to say something else. The translator, in this case, would have made a prudential judgment; or, to put it differently, he purposely fudged the text to avoid stirring up a controversy.

On another reading, Pope Zacharias would have translated Pope Gregory’s language in this way because he believed he was accurately representing his predecessor’s meaning and intention. That is, he would have understood St. Gregory the Great to have been speaking only about a temporal going-forth of the Spirit when he wrote that the Paraclete “always proceeds from the Father and the Son.” One may note that the Greek translation not only replaces the “from the Father and the Son” language, but it also drops the semper: it suppresses the implication that what is being spoken about is an eternal coming forth. (One may further note that nothing in the manuscript tradition, aside from Pope Zacharias’s translation, gives any grounds for thinking that Pope Gregory did not write semper.) This is the reading that Photius favored. Perhaps there is some merit to it; if I say that I always drive on the right-hand side of the road, it doesn’t imply that I eternally drive on the right-hand side of the road; “always” here must be understood within a certain frame of reference (during my lifetime, when I am driving, when I am not in England or Japan…). On the other hand, one would not normally restrict the meaning of “always” to a temporal frame of reference when this term is applied to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, since they are, in fact, eternal, divine persons. It thus seems to me very unlikely that, when Pope Zacharias translated Pope Gregory’s text in this way, dropping the word “always” as well as modifying the language about the Spirit’s being from the Father and the Son, he did not know that he was subtly changing what his predecessor had said. He doubtless did not think he was saying something opposed and contradictory to what his predecessor had said. But, in his concern for ecclesiastical peace, he was willing to lay the more controversial language aside, at least for the purposes of his translation.

One other thought suggests itself. If Pope Zacharias is not simply fudging his translation to avoid a controversy, but if he actually wishes to make a doctrinal point, and is saying that, when the Latins say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, they mean precisely what the Greeks do when they say that the Holy Spirit comes forth from the Father and rests in the Son, then it would seem that, dogmatically, the Filioque amounts to the claim that the Son is logically implied when the Holy Spirit proceeds; the Son must already be present, as a recipient, if the Holy Spirit is to rest upon him. This would be like pointing out that, because the one from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds is called “Father,” the relationship to the Son is already presupposed. The likelihood of this interpretation satisfying both sides in the centuries-old debate may be doubted; but it is, at any rate, worth noting that this interpretation seems to have some measure of papal authority behind it.

Translation of: Jean-Philippe Houdret, O.C.D., “Palamas et les Cappadociens,” Istina 19 (1974), pp. 260-271.

In the course of this brief article, our aim is to bring up the vast problem of the relations that exist between the thought of Gregory Palamas and that of the Cappadocian fathers. The celebrated Byzantine theologian sought to be a faithful follower of the teaching of the saints, and the great Cappadocians are among the godbearing fathers to whom he frequently refers in his writings. This is why we prefer to limit ourselves here to the examination of a precise but fundamental question: Do we already find, among the Cappadocian fathers, the beginnings of the distinction in God between essence and energies, such as Gregory Palamas later would understand and defend it?
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Poem 2.1.90 On his own and his parents’ death (PG 37, 1445-1446)

Πρῶτος Καισάριος, ξυνὸν ἄχος· αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα
Γοργόνιον· μετέπειτα πατὴρ φίλος· οὐ μετὰ δηρὸν
μήτηρ. Ὦ λυπρὴ παλάμη καὶ γράμματα πικρὰ
Γρηγορίου! γράψω καὶ ἐμοῦ μόρον, ὑστατίου περ.

First it was Caesarius, our common sorrow; then
Gorgonia; after this, my beloved Dad; and not long afterward,
Mom. O mournful hand and bitter writing
of Gregory! I shall write my own death, too, though last of all.

✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜

Poem 2.1.98 Another (PG 37, 1450-1451)

Ἔκ με βρέφους ἐκάλεσσε Θεὸς νυχίοισιν ὀνείροις.
Ἤλυθον ἐς σοφίης πείρατα. Σάρκα Λόγῳ
Ἥγνισα καὶ κραδίην. Κόσμου φλόγα γυμνὸς ἄλυξα.
Ἔστην συνααρὼν Γρηγορίῳ γενέτῃ.

From childhood God called me by dreams of the night.
I arrived at the boundaries of wisdom. For the Word I hallowed
flesh and heart. Naked I fled the world’s flame.
I stood in Aaron’s order with Gregory my father.

✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜ ❉ ✜

Poem 2.1.99 Another (PG 37, 1451-1452)

Ἄγγελοι αἰγλήεντες ἀπειρέσιον κατὰ κύκλον,
Τρισσοφαοῦς Θεότητος ὁμὸν σέλας ἀμφιέποντες,
Γρηγόριον δέξασθ’ ἀνάξιον, ἀλλ’ ἱερῆα.

Brilliant angels in your measureless circle
round and round attending the one light of thrice-shining Godhead:
receive Gregory, unworthy, but a priest.

A comparison between Bible-reading and gardening. From St. John Chrysostom, Homilia de capto Eutropio et de divitiarum vanitate, §1, PG 52, 396-397.

Sweet is a meadow and a garden, but much sweeter the reading of the divine Scriptures. For, there, there are flowers that fade, whereas here there are thoughts at their full peak; there, a blowing zephyr, but here the breeze of the Spirit; there, thorns which serve as a hedge, but, here, God’s Providence supplying protection; there, grasshoppers chirp, but here prophets cry aloud; there, there is pleasure from the sight, but here there is profit from the reading. A garden exists in one place, while the Scriptures are to be found in all the world. A garden is subject to necessary, seasonal cares, but the Scriptures, both in winter and in summer, are thick with leaves and laden with fruits. Let us therefore have a care for reading the Scriptures; for, if you pay attention to Scripture, it casts out your low spirits, it implants your enjoyment, it destroys evil, it roots in virtue, it does not leave you adrift in confusion because of business, like people tossed about by the waves at sea. The sea rages, but you sail in peace, for you have as your helmsman the reading of the Scriptures. For the trials that come from much business do not snap this cable. Ἡδὺς μὲν λειμὼν καὶ παράδεισος, πολὺ δὲ ἡδύτερον τῶν θείων Γραφῶν ἡ ἀνάγνωσις. Ἐκεῖ μὲν γάρ ἐστιν ἄνθη μαραινόμενα, ἐνταῦθα δὲ νοήματα ἀκμάζοντα· ἐκεῖ ζέφυρος πνέων, ἐνταῦθα δὲ Πνεύματος αὔρα· ἐκεῖ ἄκανθαι αἱ τειχίζουσαι, ἐνταῦθα δὲ πρόνοια Θεοῦ ἡ ἀσφαλιζομένη· ἐκεῖ τέττιγες ᾄδοντες, ἐνταῦθα δὲ προφῆται κελαδοῦντες· ἐκεῖ τέρψις ἀπὸ τῆς ὄψεως, ἐνταῦθα δὲ ὠφέλεια ἀπὸ τῆς ἀναγνώσεως. Ὁ παράδεισος ἐν ἑνὶ χωρίῳ, αἱ δὲ Γραφαὶ πανταχοῦ τῆς οἰκουμένης· ὁ παράδεισος δουλεύει καιρῶν ἀνάγκαις, αἱ δὲ Γραφαὶ καὶ ἐν χειμῶνι καὶ ἐν θέρει κομῶσι τοῖς φύλλοις, βρίθουσι τοῖς καρποῖς. Προσέχωμεν τοίνυν τῇ τῶν Γραφῶν ἀναγνώσει· ἐὰν γὰρ τῇ Γραφῇ προσέχῃς, ἐκβάλλει σου τὴν ἀθυμίαν, φυτεύει σου τὴν ἡδονὴν, ἀναιρεῖ τὴν κακίαν, ῥιζοῖ τὴν ἀρετὴν, οὐκ ἀφίησιν ἐν θορύβῳ πραγμάτων τὰ τῶν κλυδωνιζομένων πάσχειν. Ἡ θάλασσα μαίνεται, σὺ δὲ μετὰ γαλήνης πλέεις· ἔχεις γὰρ κυβερνήτην τῶν Γραφῶν τὴν ἀνάγνωσιν· τοῦτο γὰρ τὸ σχοινίον οὐ διαρρήγνυσι τῶν πραγμάτων ὁ πειρασμός.