August 31, 2016
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.
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.
 1. “Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.” 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  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,” 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”), 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.  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.
 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,  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.”
And after the interpretation brought forward by them of the words, in an orthodox sense, he adds:
“Having accepted then those men’s  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.”
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.”
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  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.”
“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.”
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.”
These, then,  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-  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-  beloved and legitimate good of peace. But if, on account of the gospel faith in what is said by two or three witnesses, 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.”  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 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.  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.  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.
June 10, 2012
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;|
“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?”
|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.
January 30, 2011
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?
Read the rest of this entry »
January 25, 2011
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.
January 12, 2011
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.|
January 3, 2011
From John Kyparissiotes, Decades, PG 152, 750 B – 751 B.
Chapter 3: That the symbolic theology which has to do with images is always delineated in a bodily and perceptible way.
The divine Luke says in his holy Gospel:
Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him.
[1.3.1] Lk 3:21-22.
When Gregory the Theologian expounds this text, he says:
For it was fitting that, as the Son had lived with us in bodily form, so the Spirit too should appear in bodily form.
[1.3.2] Gregory Nazianzen, or. 41.11; PG 36, 444 C.
Again, the same father says elsewhere:
As for the angels’ bright attire and brilliance, when these things are expressed in a bodily way, I take this to be a symbol of their native purity.
[1.3.3] Gregory Nazianzen, or. 25.2; PG 35, 1200 A-B.
Moreover, when the divine Chrysostom treats in a general way of this incident, he says:
And if it became possible for the Holy Spirit to be seen with the eyes of the body, under the form of a dove, it was nevertheless in no way necessary that this should have been shown to everyone. For Zechariah, also, saw many things in an image falling under the senses, and so did Ezekiel, while no one else saw the same things that they did; and Moses saw many things which were seen by no one else; and the transfiguration which took place upon the mountain was not witnessed by all the disciples; nor was the vision of Christ’s resurrection made available to everyone. And Luke plainly declares this, when he says: ‘… and [he] showed him openly … to witnesses chosen before by God’ (Acts 10:40 f.).
[1.3.4] Not yet found.
And, again, in homily 26 of his work on the Gospel of John, the same Chrysostom says:
Nothing which falls under the senses is able to declare the substance of angels; it can only declare what is bodily, which has density and three dimensions.
[1.3.5] Not yet found.
From these things, it accordingly becomes clear that the symbolic theology that is expressed by a bodily form is made known to those who are worthy, while, to everyone else, it is left in a mystery and an enigma, because, by those things which are seen, it is signified in an exalted manner.