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The Teachings of the H oly Orthodox Church

written by: Fr. Michael Azkoul

edited by: Hieromonk Gregory
iconography and art design by: Hieromonk Gregory
unless otherwise acknowledged
ISBN 0 935889
ISBN 0 - 935889


9, volume 1
7 , set - volumes 1

Copyright 1 986 by Dormition Skete Publications

All rights reserved
Printed in the United States of America

The Teachings of the

Holy Orthodox Church

Published by
D ormition S kete
29060 County Road 1 85
B uena Vista, C O 8 1 2 1 1
1 98 6

Printed with t h e blessing of

His Grace, ALYPY,
Bishop o f Cleveland, and
Vicar of C hicago, Detroit and Middle A merica
Russian Orthodox C hurch
Outside of Russia

Editor's Preface

In this present age when everywhere evil follows upon evil,

and darkness upon darkness, the greatest sorrow facing man is
ignorance. There is no greater ignorance than the ignorance of
Christ, His Church , the salvation He provides, the love He offers,
the purity He demands. This ignorance is an evil for which,
judgment is inescapable, for as St. Paul says, the Lord jesus shall
come and take vengeance on those who know not God.
Yet, it is not an inescapable ignorance. We may turn to the
beautiful words of the Holy Fathers, the teachers of the Church
from all ages, who call us to wisdom and harmony of life. They
show us its beginning, its purpose and its destiny. We are not
left without the knowledge of how our race has fallen and what
we have lost.
We believe that this first of three volumes, which is nothing
less than basic teachings in theology, will inspire the reader to
want more knowledge of these truly beautiful topics. For St.
Isaac the Syrian incites us to read such writings when he says,
"Read often and insatiably the books of the teachers of Divine
Providence, for they lead the mind to discern the order in God's
actions . . . so that, when the sweetness of understanding comes,
you should be aware of this most sweet taste i n your soul, a taste
which surpasses all sensation; and your soul should savor it."
In the summer of 1 984, we asked Father Michael Azkoul to
start work on this present volume of The Teachings of the Holy
Orthodox Ch urch. We wanted a concise study, understandable
to the serious layman, an effort permeated throughout with the
words of the Holy Fathers, proving each point by their teachings.

Father Michael is qualified for the task, having earned a B .A .

degree in philosophy from Calvin College, a B . D . in theology
from St. Vladimir's Seminary, an M.A. and PhD in ancient and
medieval history from Michigan State University. Fr. Michael
has taught at Michigan State, Youngstown State, Washington
University, St. Louis University and Seminex Seminary. He has
contributed to many religious periodicals including Orthodox
Life, Orthodox Word, Greek Orthodox Theological Review, St.
Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, Patristic and Byzantine Re
view, and others. His popular book, Anti-Christianity: the New
Atheism has been translated into Greek and his book, Sacred
Monarchy and the Modern Secular State into French . He also
wrote the Introduction to the translation of St. Photius' Mystag
ogy of the Holy Spirit. He has written text-books for the Holy
Trinity Seminary in Jordanville and lectured at Orthodox con
Fr. Michael is of Lebanese descent, married with two children.
He resides in St. Louis, Missouri, and is associate pastor of the
St. John Chrysostom Orthodox Church.
May this book be a blessing to all that read it.
Hieromonk Gregory and brotherhood in Christ


Author's Preface
"I honor the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the sa ving
Truth which they dogmatized and proclaimed, along with
the holy and God-bearing Fathers, as they were established
by the Holy Spirit Who guides and manages His Church.

-St. Nicephoros, Patriarch of Constantinople

I had originally intended that the three volumes of The
Teachings of the Holy Orthodox Church would be a "church
dogmatic." As I began to do the research, I came to understand
that such a book could not be written, not if the task required
me to "critically interpret the doctrines of the church's faith in
the light of our knowledge of Christian origins and the challenge
of the contemporary situation."1 I would not dare to subject the
Orthodox Faith to "the canons of criticism and research," as i f
I t were a "fallible human work," to use the words o f Karl Barth .2
The nature and purpose of the Orthodox religion will not
allow Her to be treated as any other historical institution and
Her teachings as any other body of learning. To be sure, there
is a "fallible" human, historical side to Orthodoxy, but Her Faith
is infallibly revealed and I ts transmission through the ages is
under the special guidance of the H oly Spirit.
Thus, She is Orthodox - Orthodox not "by the will of man,
but God" ; Orthodox, the word with the double meaning: "true
opinion" and "true glory" or God is truly glorified by the truth .
This truth by which we "know" and "worship" the "only true
God and Jesus Christ Whom He has sent" is not abstract truth,
the truth of and for reason, but the truth that sets us free -


free from soul-destroying error, from death, from the passions,

from the tyranny of the devil . It is the truth by which the baptized
becomes a "new creature."
I am the servant of this truth , not its judge. How could I
presume, then, to offer in this book my personal brand of
Orthodoxy? What arrogance to place, as some have done, "the
faith once delivered to the saints" within an ideological , ecumen
ical or nationalist perspective.
Moreover, the Orthodox Church admits as binding on the
People of God no "original theology" or "private dogmatics,"
not even "symbolic books" (personal confessions of faith) , such
as those produced by Patriarchs Gennadios Scholarios and
Jeremiah II of Constantinople , Patriarch Metrophanes Krito
poulos of Alexandria and Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem and
certainly not the Latinized confession and catechism of Peter
Moghila, the Metropolitan of Kiev.
The Church of God is not guided by the views of one man
no matter how pious and learned: not a Prophet, not an
Evangelist, nor an Apostle and not a Church Father. She has
never had an official theologian, a Thomas Aquinas, a Martin
Luther or John Calvin.
I n any case, I do not want this work to be considered a "treat
ment" of Orthodoxy, but a faithful, comprehensive and clear
"presentation" of Her teachings (didaskalia1) for the intelligent
As much as possible, therefore, I will avoid the usual academic
appartus of technical language, heavy footnoting, untranslated
titles and quotes with their cryptic abbreviations. I promise to
cite as teachers of the Faith only those authors of unquestioned
Orthodoxy which means that the bulk of my references will be
to the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Fathers. I do not promise
that these three volumes will be easy reading.
I am motivated by a great concern for believers living in the
spiritually precarious twentieth century. I confess to have under
taken this task with a certain trepidation . Never was such a work
so necessary, never has the Orthodox Church in Her long two
thousand years of existence ever been so threatened, from within


and without, by "the rulers of darkness of this age, spiritual

wickedness in high places."
She faces not only one heresy," but many; indeed, an alliance
of all the heresies ever pitted against Her, heresies linked to
another more terrible force
the force which
seeks to turn the love of God to the love of man, to substitute
for the sacred everything human and profane and which gives
hope of an earthly paradise instead of the heavenly Kingdom.
As the Holy Fathers have taught us, under such circumstances
the leadership of the Church must explicitly define Her teach
ings that the People might be able to distinguish the saving truth
from error. If they are to "endure sound doctrine" and not be
drawn away from Christ by the falsehoods of this age, they must
know it. Perhaps, too, the non-Orthodox will find something
here that will attract them to Her banner.
I am grateful to Hieromonk Gregory, Superior of Dormition
Skete in Buena Vista, Colorado, for his firm and generous sup
port in editing and publishing this present work.

Fr. Michael Azkoul

List of Illustrations

St. Basil the Great ............................... .


St. Gregory PaJamas ............................. .

39 .

Archangel Michael .............................. .


Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky ................. .

St. John of Dmascus ............................. .

Hospitality of Abraham

.......................... .

Christ, the Ancient of Days

....................... .

St. John Chrysostom ............................. .

St. Gregory the Theologian ....................... .

St. Gregory PaJamas ............................. .

St. Mark of Ephesus ............................. .

St. Clement of Rome

............................ .

St. John of Damascus ............................ .

Creation of Adam ............................... .

St. Cyril of Alexandria ........................... .

Expulsion of Adam and Eve

..................... .

St. Athanasios the Great ......................... .

Righteous Melchizedek, King of Salem ............. .

St. Justin Martyr ............................... .

Prophet Moses ................................. .

Transfiguration of Christ ........................ .

Brazen Serpent ................................ .

Righteous Jesus, Son of Nun ..................... .

Prophet David ................................. .

Christ ........................................ .
Prophet Amos ................................. .

Prophet Hosea

................................ .

Above Enthroned-Below Entombed

............... .

St. John the Baptist ............................. .

Christ, the Wisdom of God

Nativity of Christ

...................... .

.............................. .

St. Cyril of Alexandria .......................... .

St. Maximos the Confessor ....................... .

Agony of Christ ................................ .

Crucifixion .................................... .

Prophet David ................................. .

Resurrection of Christ


St. Photios the Great ............................ .

Christ ........................................ .




Editor's Preface
Author's Preface
List of illustrations .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



1 0.
1 1.

The Apostolic Tradition .

Dogma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Western Heterodox .
Scriptures . . . . . . . . . . . .
Kerygma . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Episcopacy . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Vincentian Canon . .
The Fathers . . . . . . . . . . .
Gnosis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Modern Reason . . . . . . . .
The Return to Tradition



. . 3
. . 4
. . 7
. 11
. 13
. 15
. 17
. 21
. 23
. 26
. 28

. . . . .
1 . The Theologian . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2. The Knowledge of God . . . . . . .
3. God in The Holy Scriptures . . . .
4. The Holy Trinity in the Fathers
5. The U ncreated Energies . . . . . . .
6. God the Creator . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7. Evil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .













. 73
1 . The
. 74
2. The
. 78
3. The
. 82
4. The
. 86
5. The I mage and Likeness of God . 9 1
6 . Adam and Eve : Paradise . . . . . . . 95
7 . The Fall of Man . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 8
8. Providence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . .
Angels . . . . . . . . . .
Devil and Demons .
Physical World . . .
Nature of Man . . .











1 13

I. Abraham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1 15

2. Moses and Christ . . . . . . . . . . . . .

3. Exodus . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1 18

4. Jesus, Son of Nun . . . . . .

5. King David . . . . . . . . . . .
6 . The New Covenant . . . . .
7 . The Messiah . . . . . . . . . .
8. The Apostasy of the Jews

1 39
1 43
1 47
1 53

. . . . . . .

.... .. .

1 24


1 57
1 59
1 64
1 69
1 72
1 82
1 89
1 90
1 95

..... ... .

1 99

FOOTNOTES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


GLOSSARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


I N DEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


JESUS THE CHRIST.. . . . . . . . . . . .

I. The Last Days . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

2. The Saviour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3 . The Second Adam . . . . . . . . . . .
4. The Christ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5. The Passion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6. The Descent into Hades . . . . . . .
7. The Sabbath and the Resurrection
8. The Ascension . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .




"Let us look at the very tradition, teaching and faith of the

Catholic Church which the Lord gave, the Apostles
preached and the Fathers preserved. "

-St. Athanasios the Great

The Apostolic Tradition is the whole body of Christian teach
ings, written and unwritten. It orginated with the Apostles who
were taught directly by Christ. Whatever the neglect or mischief
of men, none of that Tradition has been lost and nothing has
been added to it in its passage from one generation to the next.
The Holy Spirit, the ultimate guarantor of the Apostolic Trad
ition, has appointed holy. men as its special custodians, the Holy
Fathers of the Church who have constantly exhorted "the People
of God, the holy nation to hold fast the Tradition of the Church .
Even a small erosion of what has been handed down to us would
undermine the foundation-stones and in a very short time would
over throw the entire house."1
The Apostolic Tradition is changeless and infallible and the
Church possesses evidence - if such be needed - to show that
there has always been "a great consensus holding together
authors who are widely separated by time and place" which even
non-Orthodox scholars concede. Of course, they often protest
that the idea of "changeless truth" carried to its ultimate conclu
sion would end forever the writing of the history of doctrine
of "history" and "doctrine" - in the sense that the post-Orthodox

West understands these words. The assumption could no longer

be maintained that time and space are master of history and its
content develops in chronological sequence.
But there is "changeless truth" and the Church is in possession
of it. She is the Truth as Christ is the Truth Qohn 1 4 : 6) , for
She is His "body" (Eph . 5 :23) . Like Him, She has two dimensions
- human and Divine - inseparably linked without confusion .
Her divine aspect, as His, never changes, while Her humanity,
as His earthly humanity, has the possibility of external growth .
The growth of the Apostolic Tradition, Her Tradition, occurs
not in the teachings of the Church - which no man can change
- but in their form . I mean it is expressed in different ways
from time to time, place to place, such as synodal or councilior
decrees, their addition to the worship of the Church, liturgical
symbols, etc. In other words, there is no "development" or
"evolution" of the Christian Faith, albeit (for reasons we will
explain later) some may be found among Her customs
(Gr. thesmoi; Lat., consuetudones) and doctrinal formulae (Grk.
horoi; Lat., definitiones).
In the Scriptures the Greek word for "training," "teaching"
(often "education") is didaskalia (Lat. disciplina).2 The common
Greek term for "teacher" is didaskalos (Lat. magister). "' Didache
(Lat. institutio) is anything given to be learned.4 Dogma (Lat.
doctrina) means "teaching," "decree", "ordinance." It bore. the
mark of authority, for in the Old and New Testament dogmata
(pl.) were the resolutions of the community, decrees of the Apos
tles and ordinances of the Mosaic Law. '
In the writings o f the Church Fathers these words are used,
but more and more dogma came to be the term which described
the teachings of the Lord and His Church . Already in the Letter
to the Church at Magnesia ( 1 3 : 1 ) , St. I gnatios of Antioch who
was a disciple of St. John the Theologian employed the expres
sion "to be confirmed in the dogmas of the Lord and His Apos
tles." The Letter of Barnabas ( I :6) speaks of "the dogma of the
Lord"; and in The Instruction (Didache) of the Twelve Apostles

( 1 1 : 3 ) , we read the phrases "the dogma of the gospel" and "the

dogma of the saints and the apostles."
The Fathers always opposed "the dogmas of the Church" to
"the dogmas of the Greeks" (St. John Chrysostom) or "the dog
mas of the Church" to "the falsehoods of heretics" (St. Maximus
the Confessor) . St. Hilary of Poitier wrote in On the Trinity that
heretics "empty this doctrine of all its meaning." Sometimes the
Creed of Nicea was called a "dogma" (St. Athanasios) and the
christological Tome of the Fourth Ecumenical Council ( 43 1 ) was
called a "dogma" (St. Pope Leo I ) . Much later, the Synod of
Constantinople ( 1 34 1 ), defending the theology of St. Gregory
Palamas, declared that it was contending for "dogmas and facts,
not words."
This Synod defended not so much the teachings of St. Greg
ory, but the Apostolic Tradition to which he gave testimony . It
reaffirmed not something of human origin, but, as St.
Athenagoras wrote centuries before, what is "God-uttered and
God-taught."6 Dogmata, synodally defined or not, must never
be compared to philosophical ideas which may be contradicted
or political laws which may be challenged, changed and
amended. In the words of Archmandrite Vasileios, former Abbot
of Stavronikita Monastery on Mount Athos,
"Dogma is the expression of the mystical life of the Church,
the formulation in the Holy Spirit of the trinitarian experi
ence into which the whole man is baptized through the
Church. Dogmas do not concern just experts; they give
guidance and are prerequisites for life; they lead unerringly
to the fulness of life in the Holy Spirit, in Whom 'the Word
reveals the dogmas of the Father' (Third Antiphony of the
Anabathmoi, Tone 4). Dogma is not a matter of scientific
elaboration or legal codification but charismatic formula
tion 'in brief words with great understanding' of in terms
of faith taugh t by God. "7

Put another way, both the dogmas of the Church and the truth
they express are divinely revealed.
Revelation (apokalypsis, revelatio)8 is the communication of
God Himself to the creation . It takes many forms - His Provi
dence, of course, but also walking with Adam in the Garden of

Eden, talking to Noah, appearing as an angel to Abraham, giving

the Commandments to Moses, calling the Prophets, instructing
King David in the writing of the Psalms - and indeed enlighten
ing all the writers of the Old and New Testaments - indwelling
the Mother of God and the Apostles, His dramatic conversion
of St. Paul on the road to Damascus. Of course, the supreme
manifestation of God in history is the Incarnation of God the
Son from which other "communications" followed, such as the
Theophany, the Transfiguration, the Resurrection and Pente
By virtue of His Incarnation also come the experience with
God that none have experienced before and which none can
possess outside that privileged relationship, the "covenant" or
"testament." It is an intimacy which does not exist outside the
Church. That experience is the "Divine Light" (about which we
will learn more later). Suffice it to say, the "Divine Light" given
to the Prophets, Apostles, Fathers and Saints - the "enlighten
ment" (photismos, illuminatio) - was a genuine albeit limited
participation in the Divine. Thus, St. Macarios of Egypt writes
that St. Paul's experience of Light on the road to Damascus was
not metaphorical or psychological, but "the power of the Holy
Spirit shining in his soul, that is, the Spirit in His very Person. " 9
From this contact comes the spiritual knowledge (gnosis) which
allows him who is blessed to discourse on the divine and saving
Thus, the Apostolic Tradition and whatever belongs to it written, unwritten and painted - is the result of gnosis, given
by the presence of the Holy Spirit. When the teachers of the
Faith expounded or executed the Christian truth, when they
reached for the thoughts, the words, the images to articulate
what they had seen or what was delivered to them, they acted
under the influence of the Spirit. For example, when the Apos
tles met in council at Jerusalem, they sealed their decision with
the declaration, "It seemed good to the Spirit and to us" (Acts
I 5 : 2 8 ) ; and St. John the Theologian said, "I was on the island
of Patmos in the Spirit" (Rev. I : I 0). The First Ecumenical Coun
cil is called "the sword of the Spirit" (Sunday of the Holy Fathers,

Vespers, 6th Tone) . The 8th Tone of his feast (Vespers), proc
laims St. Constantine to have "received the knowledge of the
Spirit Who "anointed him priest and king."
The "influence" of the Holy Spirit came upon the Saints in
many ways, sometimes as "Light," often as "inspiration," com
monly in the Mysteries. From one point of view, He is carrying
out the divine Plan (Economy), but, from another, He responds
to those who pray, to His special vessels of grace. He indwells,
enlightens and anoints those who seek and serve God, not the
proud who dare to speculate about Him. The spiritual world is
reached not by research and reason, but by holiness. Holiness
is the action of the Holy Spirit on those who struggle for self-mas
tery (egkrateia) and dispassion (apatheia), in the keeping of
Christ's commandments. Therefore, we say that the holiness
which characterizes the lives of the Saints, the ascetical struggle,
is the holiness which gives them access to "the deep things of
God" (I Cor. 2: 1 0) .
Holiness i s the source of dogma not intellectual prowess.
Whatever may be the results of scientific inquiry concerning the
origin and nature of dogma or doctrine, they will never uncover
the saving truth, not unless the inquiry is undertaken with the
Faith and Grace of the Church, that is, the Spirit. All scientific
discoveries otherwise must be superficial and one-sided while
never leading the investigator or those whom he seeks to benefit
to the worship of the true God.
The Protestant Reformers of the sixteenth century declared
that "the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ" (found only in the
Scriptures) had been polluted by the intrusion of Greek and
Roman ideas, an intrusion commencing in the third century.
According to their historical scenario, the teachings of "the
medieval Church" evolved away from the Old and New Testa
ments with the accretion of human conventions and
philosophies. Luther, for one, looked to what the followers of
the Pope called "oral tradition" for the cause of this distortion
of the Christian Message. He wanted that Message cleansed of

its human - and pagan - increments and, therefore, called

for the "re-formation" of the Church, a return to those centuries
before the Gospel was mingled with Hellenism 10 and the Church
was mated with the Roman Empire.
The Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation lost the battle
with "the Protestant rebels," for instead of approaching the mat
ter of tradition as the Fathers (whose authority the Council of
Trent [ 1 545- 1 552] reaffirmed) , they met their adversary on com
mon ground. The Papists defended the erroneous theory of the
twofold source of revelation - written and unwritten - parallel
sources running side by side, the one confirming the other.
Rather should they have maintained one source of Christian
revelation : the Apostolic Tradition with its several witnesses, i.e.
Scriptures, councils, writings of the Fathers , icons, etc. Although
conceding the primary importance of the Scriptures, the Papists
should have defined their place within the life of the Church as
a divinely-inspired testimony to It.
Unfortunately, they had committed themselves to the
methods and principles of scholasticism, 1 1 especially the "dogma
tic theology" of Thomas Aquinas ( 1 224- 1 27 4) . His momumental
Summa Theologica (Highest Theology) and Summa Contra
Gentiles (Highest Theology Against the Gentiles) presupposed
the twofold revelation theory. Perhaps, worse than this was that,
not without the assistance of Thomas Aquinas, the post
Orthodox Latin Middle Ages conceived revelation to be a body
of truths for reason : God spoke to us as cognitive or intellectual
beings. Roman Catholicism, after its separation from the
Church, bred within its soul the need for rational certainty. It
wanted intellectual respectability for its doctrines which explains
its heavy dependence on Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Cicero, etc.
The ideal was "to elevate faith into reason": "I believe that I
may know" (fides quaerens intellectum). Greek philosophy, then,
was expected to serve as a "handmaiden to Christian philosophy"
in order to give that "theology" unquestioned objectivity and
But too many Western Europeans became disenchanted with
Latin rationalism, a disenchantment which led, in part, to the

Protestant Reformation. Theology had become too philosophical

and legalistic, too remote from the understanding and interest
of the people. No tie between "dogmatic theology" and the wor
ship of the Church was perceived. At the same time, there was
a tradition of rebellion against the established theology, "mysti
cism."12 M ystics were generally pantheists1 3 who sought union
with God in their own way. They did not hesitate to look for
help in their quest from Judaism, Islam as well as Hellenism.
Protestants owed much more to Latin scholasticism than they
were willing to admit, but they were also greatly indebted to
medieval mysticism. Pietism, 1 4 for example, was anti-intellectual
and subjective, laying undue stress on individual conscience and
With unhappy irony the Protestant rejection of the historical
Church as the divine vehicle of salavation, the wreching of the
Scriptures from their liturgical context by the Reformers, and
the turning to the self for "light" ("the internal witness of the
Holy Spirit," as they were fond of saying) brought the final
catastrophe. Those very intellectual forces let loose by the Refor
mation turned on their mother to destroy the very ground on
which she stood. The Scriptures - "the B ible," "the Word"
was, as the claims of the Papacy, methodically and critically
examined: page by page, verse by verse, word by word. Con
sequently, the "liberal" Protestant theologian, Friedrich Schleier
macher ( 17 68- 1 834) would write in his Brief Outline on the
Study of Theology ( 1 8 1 1 ) that neither Scriptures nor "tradition"
concerns the "truth" and Christians should rather deal descrip
tively with those ideas and practices which "serve the profession
and administration of the church."
Protestants faithful to the principles of the Reformation
ignored the attack upon Christianity - a "dogmatic revival"
fully underway only in the next century - but Roman Catholi
cism went on the offensive against "modernism" already in the
nineteenth century. The pontificate of Pope Pius IX produced
not only "the Dogma of the I mmaculate Conception" ( 1 854),
Vatican I and "the Decree of Papal Infallibility" ( 1 87 0) , but "the
Syllabus of Errors" ( 1 864) . The Pope condemned "atheism,"

"pantheism," "naturalism," "socialism," "liberalism," "toleration

and indifferentism," "Errors concerning the Church and the
Papacy," "Errors concerning the Scriptures," "Bible Societies,"
"Civil society ," "Natural and Christian ethics ," "Progress," etc.
He also called upon all loyal Catholics everywhere to come to
the aid of their religion.
From England came Cardinal Henry Newman's Essay on the
Development of Christian Doctrine. He sought, without betray
ing "the Catholic tradition" or appearing to be anti-scientific, to
put "the history of Christian dogma" on a sound and logical
basis. He was not afraid to use 1 9th century ideas to present his
theory. Newman's biggest problems seems to have been an ex
planation of present papal teachings not found in antiquity. He
affirmed that everything Roman Catholicism believes belongs
to "the original deposit of faith. " Circumstance reveals what has
been hidden, he said, making explicit what had been implicit.
Put another way, Christ gave the Apostles "types" and "models"
- seeds, so to speak, which in the course of time have flowered
into the specific doctrines held today. In other words, new beliefs
are merely the "logical consequences" of apostolic premises .
Newman had accommodated the 1 9th century craze of
entrusting to history the explanation of everything. He accepted
the notion that all living things "develop" in a definite and
organic way, as the oak from the acorn, or a man from a fetus .
The papal theologians seemed to have been satisfied, because
Newman's theory remains to this day at the basis of the Roman
Catholic interpretation of Church history. However, this theory
has no patristic support. The Fathers never taught that the Chris
tian Faith evolves so that the Church today does not believe
exactly what the Apostles gave to our first century ancestors to
hold and pass on to succeeding generations. There is only one
kind of "development of dogma" for the Orthodox Church: the
accumulation of formulations or definitions which clarify and
defend the unchangeable Apostolic Tradition.
Moreover, the reason for these new definitions (hor01) of "the
faith once delivered to the saints" was not philosophical specu
lation, the reception of foreign ideas, unexpected revelations,


but a response to the challenge of heretics. As St. Hilary of

Poitiers wrote in On the Trinity ( I I , 2 ) ,
"But the errors of heretics and blasphemers force u s to
deal with unlawful matters, to scale perilous heights, to
speak unutterable words, to trespass forbidden ground.
Faith ought in silence to fulfill the commandments, wor
shipping the Father, reverencing the Son with Him,
abounding in the Holy Spirit; but we m ust strain the poor
resources of our language to express thoughts too great
for words. The errors of others compels us to err in daring
to embody in h uman terms, truths which ough t to be hidden
in the silent veneration of the heart. "

This statement needs further explanation (and it will come), but

for now we should understand that the Apostles and Fathers
taught the Church to keep from the "uninitiated" (unbaptized)
beliefs and practices reserved for the Faithful . That "silence"
was sometimes broken in reply to those who attacked and hoped
to replace the Church. The defense of Her teachings, customs
and Scriptures alone justifies the phrase "the development of
dogma. "

The "holy rule of our tradition" to which St. Clement of

Rome referred the Church at Corinth in his first of two letters
to her (ch. 7 ) includes things written and unwritten. "The trad
ition of the Church," wrote St. John Chrysostom, "is passed on
not only in written documents, but in unwritten form . "'5 Of
course, all the Fathers agree that the greatest testimony to the
events and words by which our salvation has been wrought, is
the Holy Bible . It contains not only "the words of the Prophets
which foretold His Coming" (St. Polycarp of Smyrna), but much
of what the Lord said and did .
The writers o f the New Testament, with the exception o f St.
Paul, were "eye-witnesses" to the words and deeds of Christ. St.
John the Theologian was an "eye-witness," as he tells us in his
first epistle ( 1 : 2 ) , having "heard" and "seen with our eyes" and
"touched with our hands the Word of Life . " U ntil the Gospels,
Epistles, Acts and Book of Revelation were written and, to be


sure, the canon of Scripture assembled by the Church, the

Orthodox community lived by "oral tradition," such as that given
by St. John. As St. Luke wrote in his Gospel, his record (aside
from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) was dependent on "those
things which are surely believed among us, even as they delivered
(paredosan) them to us, which were from the beginning eye-wit
nesses and ministers of the word" ( 1 ;2) .
The first Christians, as St. Luke reports in the book of Acts
2:42 "continued steadfastly in the doctrine of the Apostles, fel
lowship, in the breaking of bread (Eucharist) and prayers." With
the passing away of the Apostles and the first generation of
"eye-witnesses," the following generations only gradually
became acquainted with the writings of the Apostles and
Evangelists. Not until the fourth century, however, were the
books of the New Testament (as we know it) finally collected
and circulated among the churches. Before that time, they lived
by the authority of "oral tradition" and the writings of the early
Fathers - St. I gnatios of Antioch, St. Clement of Rome, S t.
Polycarp of Smyrna, St. Irenaeos of Lyons, St. Cyprian of Carth
age, St. Theophilos of Antioch, St. Athenagoras of Athens, St.
Justin Martyr, etc.
We may state as historically true - contrary to what is com
monly heard today - that the New Testament does not provide
the first account of the life and teachings of C hrist, nor the
Epistles the first reading of Christian doctrine; and, also, that
the New Testament is not the only "scriptures." The nineteenth
century Russian Orthodox philosopher, Alexi Khomiakov ( 1 8041 860) , was right when he wrote that there "are no limits to our
Scripture and every writing which the Church acknowledges as
Her own is Holy Scripture. Such pre-eminently are the Creeds
of the General Councils . . . Wherefore the writing of Holy Scrip
tures has continued to our day, and if God pleases, yet more
will be written." 1 6 Put another way, the Holy Scripture or Scrip
tures, the Bible, belongs to the Church, was written for the
Church, by members of the Church.
The New Testament contains accounts of the life of Her
Head, the Lord Jesus, and the teachings which He gave to His


Apostles and which they gave to the primitive Orthodox commu

nity. Moreover, this collection of sacred writings - along with
the Old Testament - these "divine oracles," as the Fathers some
times called the Bible, cannot be disassociated from the Church
whose privileged property it is. In truth, the Old and New Tes
taments cannot be properly understood outside Her precincts ;
indeed, they lose their meaning for those outside the Church,
the unbaptized being strangers to Her life, Her sacred customs,
Her Mysteries and Her sanctifying Body . I n a word, the Bible
is based on the Church, not the Church on the Bible.

From the beginning the Church distinguished between Her

"proclamation" or "apostolic preaching" (St. Irenaeos), Her
kerygma, and the "theology" which is reserved for the Faithful.
The latter was connected
with the Mysteries (Sacra
ments). Not everyone was
eligible - and until they had
grown in the faith and love
of Christ - not everyone
was able to contemplate or
"theologize" about the truth
"delivered" to the Church.
The entire matter is sum
marized in chapters 66 and
67 of St. Basil the Great's
superb treatise, On the Holy
"Concerning the dogmas
and matters intended for
public preaching (keryg
maton) preserved in the
Church, we have some
that are written teachings
and others which have
been given to us in the
Mystery. For true religion

St. Basil
Wall Painting, Church of the Dormition,
Dormition Skete, Colorado, 1983


(eusebeian), these have equal force . . . For if anyone were

to attempt to reject the least of the unwritten ecclesiastical
customs on the ground that they lacked written authority,
we would unintentionally strike a mortal blow to the very
heart of the Gospel and render vain our public preach
ing . . . For instance, who has taugh t us in writing about
the sign of the cross . . . to turn to the east in prayer . . . to
invoke the Holy Spirit (epiklesos) at the Eucharist when
the bread (artou) and the cup of blessing are displayed?
For this Mystery, there are not only the witness of the
Apostle and Gospels, but a preface and conclusion, received
from the unwritten teachings (agraphou didaskalias) . . .
Since the unwritten things are so many and have so great
a bearing on 'the Mystery of piety' that not a single word
of the Fathers which has come to us - and, indeed, are
derived from practices preserved in the un perverted
churches - we accept them as contributing in no little way
to the power of the Mystery . . .

Here are several paragraphs rich with meaning. We note first

the liturgical allusions to the Mystery of the Eucharist and the
doctrine of the epiklesis ("invocation of the Holy Spirit"), to "the
Apostle" which is read in the Divine Liturgy before the Gospel.
St. Basil also mentions prayer to the East - Orthodox temples
face East - and other "ecclesiastical customs" which, as he says
in another part of chapter 66, involve "unpublished and secret
teachings which our fathers guarded in silence out of the reach
of meddlesome and inquisitive persons." In fact, "the Apostles
and Fathers laid down laws for the Church from the beginning
in order to guard the aweful dignity of the Mysteries in secrecy
and silence. " " In the same manner," he continues, "the distinc
tion between certain dogmas and public preaching:' the first
observed in silence while the other is proclaimed to the world."
One reason for the obscurity of the Scriptures (e Graphe) is "to
insure the silence which surrounds these dogmas . . . "
Also noteworthy is that St. Basil does not equate the holy
B ible with all "written teachings." The reference to the Fathers
is significant, suggesting that their writings are included among
the "scriptures" of the Church. These other "scriptures" are a
context for the Bible and the criterion of its interpretation. That


criterion, as we know, is "the glorious and holy rule of our

tradition." Without it, the Bible is virtually a closed book. The
best and most clear manifestation of that tradition is found in
the liturgy of the churches. More will be said about this matter
at another time.
Not without interest, too, is that St. Basil relates the "written"
and "unwritten teachings" to the episcopate of "unperverted
churches." He thereby introduces the question of transmission,
that is, not only what is "handed over," but how it is "handed
over" from one generation of believers to the next. He knows,
of course, that what is transmitted is ultimately dependent on
the Holy Spirit, but he also intimates in these chapters that,
since Christianity is an historical religion, She has a machinery
for the "delivery" of what She teaches. St. Basil touches on the
process, but does not give a description of it; other Fathers and
Christian writers do.

Already in the second century, St. Irenaeos tells us in his

Against the Heresies the way in which the Church had from the
time of the Apostles delivered the saving truth from one gener
ation to the next. All that the Lord had commanded them to
observe and to teach (Matt. 2 8 : 1 9-20) , the Apostles deposited
in the churches founded by them, teachings which were faith
fully kept and handed down with complete unanimity in all
places, by the succession of accredited pastors.
"Yet when we appeal again to that tradition which is derived
from the Apostles, and which is safeguarded in the churches
through the succession ofpresbyters (bishops), they (here
tics) who are adversaries of the tradition, claim to be wiser
not only than the presbyters but also the Apostles, and to
have discovered the truth undefiled . . . Thus it comes
about that they now agree neither with the Scriptures nor
with the tradition itself . . . Those who wish to discern the
truth may observe the Apostolic Tradition made manifest
in every church throughout the world. We can enn umerate
those who were appointed bishops in the churches by the
Apostles, and their successors down to our own day, who


never taugh t and never knew, absurdities such as these

men produce . . . "1 7

The subject of "apostolic succession" will be treated in another

chapter, but for now it is sufficient to understand that the stew
ards of Christ's teachings are the bishops of the Church (often
called "presbyters" or "elders" in early Christian literature) . To
them, as successors to the teaching office of the Apostles, the
title didaskaloi peculiarly belongs.
St. Athanasios of Alexandria meant nothing more when he
wrote to Bishop Sera pion ( 1 :33),
"In accordance with the Apostolic Faith delivered to us
through the tradition of the Fathers, I have delivered the
tradition without innovation, without adding anything
extraneous to it. What I learned, I have written, keeping
in mind always the Holy Scriptures. "

Similarly, St. Sophronios of Jerusalem will write in his Synodal

Epistle read during the eleventh session of the 6th Ecumenical
"An apostolic and ancient tradition has prevailed in the
Holy Churches throughout the world so that those who
are consecrated into the hierarchy of the Church sincerely
refer everything they think or believe to those who have
been bishops before them . . . All their activity would be
pointless if any change were to be made in their faith. "

Whatever heresies arose to challenge the Church , whatever

errors tried to creep in to Her tradition , whatever caused some
of Her bishops to fall away, 18 the Church can never surrender
to what seeks to overwhelm Her. If She did, if She added and
subtracted from the Apostolic Tradition - if the bishops could
legitimately innovate or join something extraneous to it and if
they could be indifferent to the faith delivered to them by their
predecessors , what advantage would the Church have over here
tics? In what sense does the Holy Spirit protect Her from soul
destroying error? How have "the gates of hell" not prevailed
against Her? Would not the existence of the episcopacy be point



The Christian Faith may be handed down in the churches

through the episcopate, but when it is challenged by heretics,
some people, even bishops, are not always able to distinguish,
as the Latin Father, St. Vincent of Lerins (France) says, between
Orthodoxy and "the degraded falsehoods of heresy. " Thus, he
sought in his famous Commonitories (chapters 3-4) 19 to lay down
a "rule" or "canon" by which to make such a determination.
"In the Catholic Church itself, every care should be taken
to hold fast to what has been believed everywhere, always,
and by all. This is truly and properly 'Catholic, ' as indicated
by the force and etymology of the name itself, which com
prises everything truly universal. This general rule will be
rightly applied if we follow the principles of universality,
antiquity and consent. We do so in regard to universality
if we confess That Faith alone to be true which the entire
Church confes$C:S all over the world. We do so in regard
to antiquity if we in no way deviate from those interpreta
tions which our ancestors and fathers have manifestly proc
laimed as inviolable. We do so in regard to consent if, in
this very antiquity, we adopt the definitions and proposi
tions of all, or almost all, the bishops and doctors.
What, therefore, will the Catholic Christian do if some
members of the Church have broken away from the com
m union of universal Faith? What else, but prefer the sanity
of the body universal to the pestilence of the corrupt
member? What if a new contagion strives to infect not only
a small part but the whole of the Church? Then he will
endeavor to adhere to the antiquity which is evidently
beyond the danger of seduction by the deceit of some
novelty. What if in antiquity itself an error is detected, on
the part of two or three men, or even on the part of a city
or a province? Then, he will take care to prefer the decrees
of a previous ecumenical council (if there be one) to the
temerity and ignorance of a small group. Finally, what if
such an error arises and nothing like a council may be
found? Then, he will take pains to consult and interrogate
the opinions ofpredecessors, comparing those who, though
they live in various periods of time and different places,
nevertheless remained in the communion and faith of the
One Catholic Church, and who therefore have become reli
able authorities. As he will discover, he m ust also believe

without hesitation whatever not only one or two but all

equally and with one and the same consent, openly, fre
quen tly, and persistently have held, written and taugh t. "

Many scholars have criticized the "Vincentian canon" as unrealis

tic, arguing that there was never a time in the history of the
C hristian Church that anything was believed "everywhere,
always and by all."
We would be required to agree with them if we approached
C hurch history as they do, that is, if we recognized everyone
and every group calling itself "Christian" as belonging to the
Catholic Church. If the Gnostics, the Montanists, Manichees,
the Arians, Nestorians, Monophysites, Iconoclasts, if the follow
ers of the Pope, if the Lutherans, Calvinists, Baptists, Methodists,
Presbyterians, Anglicans and Episcopalians, Congregationalists,
Pentecostals, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, Jehovah's Wit
nesses, Quakers, Armstrongites, etc. were all part of the Church
established by Jesus Christ, if all are members of His Body and
guided by the Holy Spirit "into all truth" Qn. 1 6 : 1 3) , then, the
rejection of the "Vincentian canon" would be justified. I f, how
ever, we are willing to admit the existence, since Pentecost, of
only one continuous , reliable body of doctrine, one binding,
uninterrupted and identifiable Apostolic Tradition - "one
Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph. 4 :4) - then, we embrace
St. Vincent's canon and reject those who dismiss it as wishful.
We place no credence in those historians who deny Christ's
promise to His Church that no evil would "prevail" against Her
(Matt. 1 6 : 1 8) - the mischief of men notwithstanding. The Holy
Spirit was sent by Him to safeguard the Faith which He "once
delivered to the saints" Qude 3) so that the faithful would "hence
forth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about
by every wind of doctrine, by the deceit of men" (Eph. 4 :4).
Thus, we affirm One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church
which has ever taught the one true doctrine of Christ. Whatever
Her circumstances, therefore, "the Catholic Christian" may be
assured that the saving truth exists and may be found within
the life of the Orthodox Church. He need only patiently and
humbly seek to find it, the Truth , which false brethren disguise


and strangers replace. And he need not rely entirely upon his
own resources, for he will be "strengthened by the might of the
Spirit" (Eph. 3: 1 6) in his quest.
Yet, this matter must not be oversimplified. The path of
Orthodoxy from the time of the Apostles to the present day has
not been easy. Peace and love have not always reigned in the
C hurch. There were in the past, as there are now, disagreements
between teachers of the Faith - differences which generally
have not been fundamental (or, if they were, someone has even
tually left or been expelled from the Church). Thus, the dispute
between St. Cyprian of Carthage and Pope Stephen over "heret
ical baptism,"20 or between St. Gregory the Great of Rome and
St. John the Faster of Constantinople over the title of "ecumen
ical bishop,"21 and such like altercations had not the effect of
abrogating the Apostolic Tradition or, what is the same thing,
the infallibility of the Church.
From another point of view, if the priest, Origen, the monk,
Pelagius, or the Bishop Apollinarios ; if Nestorios and Eutyches
or Severos, were not anathematized,22 the Faith of the Church
would eventually have been lost. To be sure, from time to time
Christian doctrines have undergone what Fr. Florovsky called
a "pseudomorphosis" - the truth hidden under a "false form"23
- but the Holy Spirit has by some instrumentality always man
aged to cleanse the jewel of Truth. Its glitter is not covered for
long, not for any length of time that would prove injurious to
our understanding of the Orthodox Faith.
The Holy Spirit does not act alone in preserving "the purity
and immutability of the Holy Faith ," writes St. Vincent. Undoub
tedly, God has ordained that it will be kept "in force to all ages,"
but "the Catholic Christian" must love God with his whole heart
and soul, determined never to accept as true what is not taught
by the Church. He must be dedicated to God, putting nothing
above "the religion of the Catholic Faith - neither the affection,
nor the genius, nor the eloquence, nor the philosophy of any
human being." Whatever
". . . has been planted in the h usbandry of God's Church
by the faith of the fathers should, therefore, be cultivated


and guarded by the zeal of their children; it should flourish

and ripen; it should grow and become perfect. For it is
right that those ancient dogmas of heavenly philosophy
should in the course of time be thoroughly kept, filed and
polished; but it is sinful to change them, sinful to behead
or m utilate them. They may take on more evidence, alacrity
and distinctness, but it is absolutely necessary that they
retain their plentitude, integrity and basic character
one tenet of Catholic dogma were renounced, another,
then another, and finally one after the other would be
abandoned, first by custom, and then as though by right.
When one segmen t after the other has been rejected, what
else would the final result be, except that the whole would
finally be lost. On the other hand, once there is a beginning
of mixing the new and the old, foreign ideas and genuine,
profane elements with the sacred, this habit will creep in
everywhere unchecked. At the end, nothing in the Church
will be left untouched, unimpaired, unhurt, and unstained.
Where formerly there was the sanctuary of chaste and
uncorrupted Truth, there will be a brothel of impious and
filthy errors . . . The Church ofChrist, zealous and cautious
guardian of the dogmas deposited with It, never changes
any phase of them. It does not diminish them or add to
them; It never trims what seems necessary nor grafts any
thing superfluous; It neither gives up Its Own nor usurps
what does not belong to It. But It devotes all Its dilligence
to one aim : to treat tradition faithfully and wisely; to n urse
and polish what from old times may have remained
unshaped and unfinished; to consolidate and to strengthen
what already was clear and plain; and to guard what is
already confirmed and defined. After all, what have the
councils brought forth in their decrees but that which has
always been believed plainly and simply and which n ow
might be h eld more diligently; that what before was
preached rather unconcernedly might be preached from
now on more eagerly; that what before was practiced with
less concern might now be cultivated with more care? This
I say, and nothing but this, has the Catholic Church,
aroused by the novelty of heretics, again and again
accomplished by the decress of its councils, i. e., what It
earlier received from our forefathers by tradition alone, It
has handed down to posterity by authoritative decisions,
condensing weighty matters in a few words, and particularly


for the enlightenment of the mind, by presenting in new

words the old interpretation of the Faith " (chs. 20-23).

The "catholic and universal doctrine" remains, St. Vincent adds,

"one and the same through all successive ages in the uncorrupted
tradition of truth" (ch . 24). The Holy Spirit lends the Church
His presence, but also such checks and balances - especially
the Holy Bible or "the divine oracles" and the holy Fathers or
"the harps of the Spirit" - so as to prevent deviation from His

The Orthodox Church holds the Church Fathers - Greek

or Latin, Slavic or Syriac - to be the greatest single witness to
the Apostolic Tradition outside of the Holy Bible whose inter
preters they are. She believes them not to be "original thin kers"
and "ingenious theologians" promoting their personal views of
Christianity, but as propagating doctrines universally possessed
by Her. They testify to the fact that these doctrines have been
delivered and received, not here and there, but everywhere,
al ways, in all the Orthodox Churches. Indeed, no teaching of
the Church originates with them. No Father added to or sub
tracted from what he received and what he has delivered to us.
Orthodoxy honors these didaskaloi as faithful guides and
witnesses to the saving truth , "being like the Apostles and teach
ing the Gospel to all ," "keepers of the Apostolic Tradition . "
They drew not "on their own resources," writes St. Maximus
the Confessor, "but learned these things from the Scriptures
and charitably taught us. For it is not they who speak but the
Holy Spirit Who entirely permeated them."2' They did not " in
vent new ideas as our opponents charge," Maximus continues,
but affirm "the statements of the Fathers ." "Nor do they invent
terms to accommodate these ideas, for this would not only be
presumptuous but the work and contrivance of mad and heret
ical reasoning. We reverently accept as authoritative only those
beliefs proclaimed and delineated by the Saints."26 In a word,
"the divinely guided Fathers of the Catholic Church" have been


instructed by predecessors , even to the Apostles, and maintain

"no private opinions, only the common doctrine of the Catholic
I t i s wrong, therefore, to place i n the ranks o f the Fathers,
as historians often do, those religious writers, of our time or
another, who hold and spread "private opinions," who do not
profess "the common doctrine of the Catholic Church ." It is
worse to foist them upon Her for the sake of some personal
understanding of Church history. For too long, patrologies
(books about the Fathers) and church histories have insisted, for
example, that Origen of Alexandria is a "father" despite the fact
that he, along with Evagrios of Pontus and Didymos the B lind
(also "church fathers") were condemned by the Fifth Ecumenical
Council (553) . The Church is also obliged to accept Clement of
Alexandria, Origen's teacher, as Her spokesman, although She
has never accepted his authority .
Likewise, the Church is supposed to recognize as Her own,
Tatian of Rome, who, as Tertullian of Africa, left the Church.
True, the latter wrote much that is good, but he eventually
joined the Montanist heresy. And , of course, the favorite among
the heterodox is not only a "father," but the greatest of all the
Fathers - Augustine of Hippo, who not only authored a false
doctrine of the Trinity (including the filioque) as well as a false
view of "grace," the monstrous theory of predestination , the
notions of "purgatory" and "original sin ." Yet, some Orthodox
have sought to put him on the patristic roll, saying that the
errors attributed to him were the work of a forger. They have
no proof; but it is clear that Augustine has no public cultus, that
is, no icons, no feast, and his erroneous teachings have been
pointed out by St. VinceneH and others.
Not that anyone can deny the virtues of Augustine (and other
writers), but virtue alone does not qualify them to be called
"mystical trumpets of the Spirit, the God-possessed Fathers, who
speak divine things"29 or "God-inspired soldiers of the divine
army, brilliant lights of the supersensuous firmament, impregn
able towers of the mystical Zion ."3" As St. Cyril of Jerusalem


"True religion consists of two elements: pious doctrine and

virtuous actions. God accepts neither doctrine without good
works nor good works without pious doctrine. There is no
profit in dogmatizing well about God while being a shame
less fornicator; neither in possessing noble temperament
while also being impious biasphemer. A vigilant soul is
required for the learning of dogmas since many would
deceive you by philosophy and vain deceit (Col. 2:8). The
Greeks, indeed, by their smooth tongue have Jed many
astray . . . The children of heretics "by smooth words and
flattery deceive the hearts of the sim pie' (Rom. 1 6: 1 8), cov
ering with the name of Christ the poison of their impious
doctrine. The Lord said concerning all of these alike, "Take
care that no one lead you astray' (Matt. 24:4). "' 1

If it is true what St. Cyril said about being "led astray" by Greek
philosophy - on which the Fathers in general blamed heresy
- then, Augustine was surely a perfect example of its power.
Contrary to what most Western historians think they (the
Fathers) were not, like Augustine, seduced by Platonism - or
as Thomas Aquinas, deluded by Aristotle. They did not, as St.
Anastasios of Sinai wrote in The Guide, "explain the Scriptures"
or "teach the Church" in a " Homeric" or "Aristotelian way"; or,
as St. Gregory the Theologian said, "they taught in the manner
of the Apostles, not as Aristotelians" (Homily 23: 1 2).
The Fathers, from the first to the twentieth century, from
St. Ignatios to the Holy John Maximovitch, were confessors and
contemplatives , "God-minded" (theophroni) , "God-revealers"
(theophanton) who were initiated by virtue of their "dispassion"
(apatheia) into spiritual mysteries. They possessed thereby a
special knowledge (gnosis) by which they were able to "search
all things, yea, even the deep things of God" (I Cor. 2 : 1 0) in
the Spirit.
The idea of spiritual knowledge (or knowledge of the spiritual
world) will be treated in greater detail in another place, but for
now we make the following observations .
Gnosis appears in post-Orthodox Western literature a s "mys
tical apprehension" or "mystical intuition." The "mystics" who

used the word claimed spiritual lineage from the Greek

philosophers , the Jewish Kabbalah as well as Augustine of Hippo
and, as he will be called by modern scholars, "the Pseudo
Dionysios."'' These "mystics" used all the language associated
with the Fathers - "purification ," "quiet," "ecstasy," "contem
plation ," "recollection ," and "gnosis. " The similarity between
heterodox "mystics" and the Holy Fathers of the Church stop
In the first place, heterodox "mysticism" is always elitist, indi
vidual and generally incommunicable to others ; it is not the
common experience of the "church" and never can be. Of course,
the religious doctrine presupposed in their experiences is the
doctrine of their heterodoxy. Yet, they are generally "anti-estab
lishment" ("the visible church") ; he does not need the "church"
for the attainment of "higher consciousness" and "union with
God. " Moreover, the God they seek, if not the filioqued Trinity,
is "the Absolute" of Greek philosophy, He who has two dimen
sions - one of rest, the other of motion or, as Jan van Ruysbroek
( 1 293- 138 1 ) said, "God is tranquillity according to His Essence,
activity according to His Nature: perfect stillness, perfect fecun
dity. "33
Heterodox "mystics" say they know such things not by reason
ing but "illumination" (in truth, by Greek philosophy) . After the
purification of self ( i . e . , ridding the ego of illusion, evil, false
desires, imperfections), the soul is ready for "illumination" or
change of consciousness. The "mystic" receives from God a deep,
intuitional knowledge (gnosis, as some might say). They are
made aware of God's "secret plan," learning more of it as he
penetrates the spiritual world. Francis of Assisi said of his disci
ple, Brother John, that he "deeply gazed into the abyss of the
infinite divine light. "34 The greater the penetration - or "illumi
nation" - the closer the self moves towards "the naked
Godhead" until the whole consciousness is raised by the love of
God to union and the vision "face to face. "
A s should seem obvious, this kind o f "mysticism" is not avail
able to all, even though some, like the English poet, William
Blake, conceived his vocation to be to bring "mystical illumina24

tion" within the range of the entire human race. It is the "mys
ticism" of the few who have gone so far to place themselves
above the "Church" while privy to a "secret plan" unknown to
the Prophets and the Apostles, the Fathers and Councils,
perhaps even to the angels . But their "mystical illumination ,"
their "spiritual journey's," "spiritual discoveries" - their gnosis
- does not belong to the Apostolic Tradition . Their god is not
the God of Christians, for the god of heretics is an "alien god"
and their "innovations make the gospel worthless" (St. Maximus
the Confessor) .
They do not present the gnosis or the mysticism of which St.
Gregory Palamas speaks in his Triads ( I I , 3 : 66) ,
"The knowledge, which is
beyond conception, is com
mon to all who have
believed in Christ. As to the
goal of this true faith,
which comes about by the
fulfilling of the command
ments, it does not bestow
through beings alone,
whether knowable or
unknowable, for by "be
ings" here we understand
"created things"; but it
does so through the
uncreated light which is
the glory of God, of Christ
our God, and of those who
attain the supreme goal of
being conformed to Christ.
For it is in the glory of the
St. Gregory PaJamas
that Christ will
Wall Painting, Church of the Dormition,
come again, and it is in the
Dormition Skete, Colorado, 1 983
glory of their father,
Christ, 'that the just will
shine like the sun ' (Matt. 13:43); they will be light, and will see
the light, a sight delightful and all-holy, belonging only to the
purified heart. This light at present shines, in part, as a pledge


for those who through dispassion have passed beyond all that
is condemned, and through pure and spiritual prayer have
passed beyond all that is pure. B ut on the Last Day, it will deify
in a manifest fashion 'the sons of the Resurrection ', who will
rejoice in eternity and will glory in communion with Him Who
has imparted our nature with a glory and splendor which is
divine. "

The gnosis of God and spiritual things comes to each member

of the Church - to them whose "father" is Christ - according
to his or her capacity. Gnosis comes by dispassion which cleanses
the "heart" or "mind" - a "second initiation" to which baptism
is the first, as St. Photios said. " If "the Catholic Christian" wishes
to penetrate "deeply" into the spiritual realm he must ordinarily
embrace the philosophy of askesis '" - the monastic way. If he
perfects himself, the Holy Spirit brings "Light," "the Uncreated
Light of the Trinity" - "Glory" - the "Light of the Age to
Come," declares St. Peter of Damascus,"7 the "pledge of the
future, the everlasting Day of the Lord, "the Eighth Day."H
The Lord of "the Age to Come" is the Holy Spirit Who dwells
in the Church which, as St. John Chrysostom once remarked,
is "the Age to Come," albeit i mperfectly. The Holy Spirit not
only teaches us to pray, but "to theologize."59 "The Holy Spirit
is light and life, the living Source of spiritual understanding,
the Spirit of Wisdom, the Spirit of comprehension."40 He it was
that gave to the disciples at Pentecost "to speak with strange .
words, strange dogmas, strange teachings of the Holy Trinity" ;
and H e it is that grants not only "mystic newness of gnosis" but
also "wisdom to my reasoning." In a few words, all Christian
teachings are "mystical" and all members of the Church are
" mystics."

The condition of reason (dianoia, ratio) depends on the

spiritual condition of the individual. If he is "reborn," his reason
will be "renewed." Otherwise it is "darkened" (Eph. 4 : 1 8) . The
"renewal" of human reason follows the "renewal" of the spirit
or mind; indeed, of the soul to which they both belong. "Re-


newal" or "rebirth" is a work of God; "the process of deification"4 1

is initiated in Baptism (St. Gregory of Nyssa). This process, this
road to perfection, occurs in the Church, most especially in the
monastic life. N evertheless, the function of reason is the same
in or out of the Church - to compare, connect, analyze, distin
guish thoughts and things. In theology, reason has the power
to tell us what God is not (apophatike) . If reason presumes to
do more, it produces an "idol," as St. Gregory of N yssa declares.
Neither can reason, even in the believer, give a total picture of
reality, as some philosophers have tried to do.
Yet, one must not conclude from what has been said that the
Orthodox should abandon his reason ; indeed not, it is, to use
the B ishop of Nyssa's vivid metaphor, "the charioteer who bridles
the wild horses of the passions." Reason is the faculty of the
soul which stands as sentinel of the heart against "false images"
and "ideas" ; it is the power of discrimination. Moreover, reason
is a discipline which allows us to honestly investigate the visible
world. Mathematics and science depends on reason. We could
not do research without it. St. Basil the Great tells us that the
Prophets Moses and Daniel were highly skilled in the use of
reason which prepared their minds to ascend to spiritual heights.
This attitude towards reason seems to have changed in some
quarters of the Orthodox world, especially since the nineteenth
century. Many Orthodox religious writers ("dogmaticians"),
unduly influenced by their Western educations, seemed to
ignore the simple truth that the Apostolic Tradition is not essen
tially subject to the canons of reason. An Orthodox does not
doubt his Faith in order to prove it. He assumes that it is correct
and seeks to defend it. "Dogmatics" ought to be another word
for "apologetics."42 There is nothing wrong in this approach to
reason or research, for every scientist, philosopher and historian
comes to his object of study with a "faith" ; it simply is not always
the "faith" of the Fathers. Those who claim loyalty to the
Orthodox Church must never read Tradition as if it could be
examined like sociology or economics. Reason , reborn or not,
is not the final judge of its value.
Unfortunately, the Church has had Her share of rationalists.


The lay Greek "theologians" at the turn of the century - largely

educated in the West - were "broad in the horizon of their
sympathies" and "in touch with modern thought and condi
tions.""'' We can see those "sympathies" very clearly in the "dog
matic theology" of Chrestos Androutsos, Constantine
Dyobouniotes, Zekos Rhosse, I. Mesolora, etc. The consequence
of their "modernity" was precisely to throw the pure Orthodoxy
of the Fathers out of focus. The Apostolic Tradition was cast in
a rationalistic and legalistic mold. No wonder, then, it was pos
sible for them to write erudite treatises on "the validity of Ang
lican orders" and "the Roman Catholic Sacraments. "
With the acceleration o f secularism44 in the twentieth century,
so the acceleration of rationalism in "Greek theology." Only this
can explain why the Greek Orthodox Church was the first to
adopt the new calendar and the first to officially endorse
ecumenism. Furthermore, secularism also accounts for the
"modernism""" of certain schismatic elements from the Russian
Orthodox Church , a "modernism" which is the heritage of
nineteenth century westernization. One current of that religious
heritage stems from the philosophy and mysticism of Vladimir
Solov'ev ( 1 849- 1 900). The recipients of these currents of religi
ous thought have become ecumenist in the twentieth century,
the result, to be sure, of their departure from the patristic men
tality and their increased involvement with the contemporary
religious mind. Their only hope is repentance and the return
to tradition.


The Apostolic Tradition has never been absent from the

Orthodox Church, even if often sequestered in monasteries and
sheltered by the Divine Services. No theories of church history
and culture are able to smother it. N either the false ideas of
converts who enter the Church with the intellectual baggage of
their former confessions nor the vainglorious distortions of those
"born" i nto Her can alter Her destiny. Even now God has placed


Her defense in the hands of His faithful children. The public

revival ofTradition has been led by such modern Church Fathers
as Metropolitan Antony K hrapovitsky ( 1 864- 1 936) and Fr. Jus tin
Popovich ( 1 894- 1 979) who had struggled a lifetime to purge the
Apostolic Tradition of"Latin" and Protestant (and "ecumenical")
Their work is being con
tinued by all the monasteries
and convents of the "Russian
Orthodox Church outside
Russia." There is, too, a new
generation of "theologians"
and "dogmaticians" among
the Orthodox Greeks whose
writings have the ring of pat
ristic authenticity. We have
yet to be certain whether
they are inspired by the love
of the Fathers or by some
fierce national and/or "con
fessional loyalty." Likewise,
the recent English transla
tions of the Fathers (e.g. , the
Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky,
Philokalia) may have been
1 863-1 936
motivated by reasons other
than a return to Tradition ; nevertheless, all these labors have
benefited those who have no other desire than to embrace pris
tine Orthodoxy.
Is there not a certain irony in the contemporary religious
situation? How is it that there seems to be so much interest in
the spiritual past in an age that eagerly looks for a materialistic
future? Why is there so much curiosity in Orthodoxy by non

Orthodox when so many of Her own children have ceased to

believe i n Her divine mission? To be sure, why are there so
many Orthodox who have conceived a religious particularism
i n an era of religious universalism?
More and more of the Apostolic Tradition is becoming known


to the "Gentiles." I n this, there is an incredible irony: first

because such knowledge is spread under the auspices of the
ecumenical movement; and second, because it is a knowledge
often made known to outsiders by false Orthodox who them
selves no longer believe that their Church is "the Catholic
Church" ; and, finally, the Apostolic Tradition is being given
away by these "false brethren" to outsiders to the damnation of
both: the former for betraying Orthodoxy and the latter for not
taking Her claims seriously.
In all this, the "traditional Orthodox" is the beneficiary. The
revival of Tradition is taking place against the background of
disbelief, betrayal and confusion.
May these three volumes contribute in some small way to the
revival begun and continued by the Orthodox Saints of these
last days.


God: The Holy Trinity

"It is truly meet to praise the super-divine Trinity, the

all-creating, beginningless Father, the co-eternal Word
begotten of Him before the ages without emanation, and
the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father. "

-Sunday Midnight Service-6th Tone

. .}

Writing a chapter on Orthodox theology (triadology) ' is dif

ficult for several reasons. First, because there is so little knowl
edge about God. He has revealed very little about His inner life
(which is the original meaning of the word "theology"). God has
disclosed as much about Himself as our limited minds are able
to grasp. Second, because those Orthodox raised in the
heterodox West or in countries under its intellectual influence
have acquired ideas which are basically wrong and need to be
In this chapter, we want to address both aspects of this prob
lem, even though it will not be our central concern. Perhaps,
too, the wrong way to understand God can be erased by an
appreciation of the right way. We will discuss, then, the Christian
doctrine of God - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit:
three Persons in one God. God is one in essence, but three
Persons share equally in it (homoousios). 2 The Father is the
"source" or "cause" of the Son and the Spirit.
The Trinity is the Creator of the world : the Father plans , the
Son executes, the Spirit gives life. The creation was made good,

as something new, separate from but wholly dependent u pon

God for its existence and continuance. It has two dimensions,
spiritual and physical, invisible and visible, the two related to
each other without confusion. The presence of evil in the crea
tion is a mystery ; it is a parasitic element. Ahead is a treatment
of these matters, one which , incidentally, will not be completed
until Chapter I I I .

Before we examine Orthodox theology, we must consider
another related matter: the man who has traditionally explained
the doctrine of God to us: the theologian.
St. Gregory the Theologian tells us that the study of theology
is a privilege and a aweful responsibility. It is not a subj ect for
academic debate, nor a sport, nor should it be part of a casual
after-dinner conversation. Neither should everyone presume to
discourse on it; not before every audience or under any cir
cumstances. The subject of theology is not "so cheap and com
mon." Only he should "speak" or "philosophize" or "theologize
about God" who is a "past master of meditation" and, if not
purged completely of his passions, is at least "being purified."
"It is not safe, I say for the impure to touch the pure, even as
it is unsafe to fix weak eyes on the rays of the sun" ( Theol. Ora.
I , 4) .
Theology is not a matter of speculation and research; it is
not a "science" nor a "discipline." Theology is a "knowledge"
which leads to "union with God" (henosis tou Theou). Moreover,
theological knowledge is a special kind of knowledge to which
the name gnosis is given. Gnosis is not a knowledge which comes
by the senses; it is not a reasoned knowing which is proper to
the scientist, mathematician and logician ; nor is gnosis what
philosophers call "intuition" or the immediate certainty about
the thing felt or perceived or conceived . Gnosis is a "spiritual"
or "noetical knowledge," an experience of the human "heart"
(kardia) or "mind" (nous) or "spirit" (pneuma), all synonyms for
the cognitive aspect of the human soul.3 By gnosis the human
mind enters the spiritual world and obtains directly a knowledge
of God (theognosis) .

Entrance into the realm of the spirit and the acquisition of

"God-knowledge" requires purity of heart, the degree of pene
tration relative to the degree of sanctity. The sanctity of the
theologian (and Saint) involves "true faith" or the faith of the
Church. Then, he is indwelt by the Hqly Spirit Who gives him
passage beyond reason and the senses . The carnal person cannot
follow this path, even if he or she were so inclined. As the
Scriptures say,
"God has revealed deep things to us through the Spirit.
For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of
God . . . The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of
the Spirit, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to
understand them because they are spiritually discerned (kai
ou dynatai gnonai, oti pneumatikos anakrinetai). The
spiritual man judges all things, but is himselfjudged by no
one . . . " (I Cor. 2 : 1 0 , 1 4- 1 6) .

Put another way, gnosis brings a "second initiation" - baptism

being the first - as St. Photios the Great writes in his Mystagogia
of the Holy Spirit (ch . 20), an "initiation" given to the pure of
heart, the dispassionate (apatheia), those enlightened by the
Spirit and, consequently, enabled to behold "things unseen" (ch .
30). The theologian, then, begins his climb towards God which
means, at the same time, that all his ideas, feelings and mental
images of Him fall away ; they are "negated" or stripped away
by the ascent or, as St. Gregory PaJamas states, Saints and theolo
gians undergo "the way of negation; "4 and, also, as St. Maximos
the Confessor says, they are being deified.'
I n addition, we must remember that the theologian (and
Saint) is a member of the Church, because his theology is the
theology revealed to the Church; it is the "knowledge of God
given by the Spirit of God to those who belong to Christ, Who
is Himself the Son of God . "6 Outside the Church, the man who
calls himself theologian, rational or mystical , must expect a lonely
. search for the truth. If he is the first, a theologian, like Thomas
Aquinas or Karl Barth, who uses human reason to defend or
systematize or elucidate his faith, he will find that he trods a
path futilely trod before, that he is only restating old ideas in a


new way, putting old positions in a new dress; and that the
certainty and objectivity he so desperately wants eludes him.
If he thinks of himself as a "mystic," he will soon begin to
feel his distance from ordinary folk, that his religious experience
is different if not superior to theirs. Often his "mystical w ay"
will put him at odds with established teaching and conventional
authority. Not uncommon will be his possession of ideas and
experiences which make him spiritually akin to "theologians" of
other religions, Christian or not. And, to be sure, it is historically
true that "the history of mysticism" offers a picture of inter
dependence between "Christian," Jewish, pagan Greek and
oriental ideas. i
Also, let i t b e said that the "mystical theology" o f the Fathers
and Saints of the Orthodox Church have nothing in common
with the "mentality" of an Anselm or Aquinas, Duns Scotus or
Luther or Glanville, a Ritschl or Karl Rahner; nor, indeed, with
the "mind" of Plotinos, the Jewish Kabbalah, the Sophia-mysti
cism of Jacob Boehme, the eroticism of Catherine of Sienna or
the purgatorial mysticism of John of the Cross. If some analogy
of theological language and concepts may be shown between
Orthodoxy, heterodoxy, Judaism, Islam and paganism, we
ascribe it to historical circumstance; but, fundamentally, their
theological experiences provide no "agreement" ( I I Cor. 6 : 1 6) .
Orthodox theological experience and reflection originates
with Christ and the Apostles, but Roman Catholic theology,
mystical and rational, begins to develop in the eleventh century
while Protestant speculation, although rooted in the Latin theol
ogy of the late Middle Ages, manifests independence of thought
only gradually, probably in the eighteenth century, with the
Moravians.H Both Papists and Protestants, incidentally, were
greatly indebted to Augustine, especially the Reformers who
took advantage of the ambiguities of his "theological system" to
stress human depravity, predestination and the irresistability of
grace .
I mportant to recognize, also, is the fact that the God of the
heterodox West is not the God of the Prophets, Apostles and
Fathers.9 He is not the God of the "initiated," but the God of


the philosophers. No wonder, then, that Aquinas, Luther and

the rest, having abandoned the "apophatic" or "negative way ,"
defined God as being - "the Supreme Being." They described
and understood by His "attributes" - God is "good" or "simple"
or "love" or "mercy" or "eternal," that is, whatever seems to
define human nature was applied to God modo sublimiori, that
is, perfectly, transcendently, "in a sublime way." The spirit of
rationalism blinded them to the fact that what is said in a "positive
way" or "cataphatically" about God refers to His Uncreated Ener
gies or, more precisely, the manner in which the Energies impact
on us.10
Rationalism was the force by which the heterodox West con
structed its new philosophies and theologies. Theology, in gen
eral, became a "science" and theologians - even those who
prayed - offered their individual perceptions of God rather
than cling to the tradition of the Fathers. In truth , the new
influx of pagan learning in the twelfth century had such influ
ence on the universities because its scholars welcomed it as a
way, as they saw it, to rejuvenate Christian society in the West.
I t is also true that changes in the idea of God preceded the
reception of the "new humanism" whatever further changes it
may have percipitated in Scholastic theology. As if refering to
it, St. Hilary of Poitier wrote, "Their impiety consists in measur
ing God, not by His revelation, but by a standard of their own
choosing; they forget that it is as impious to refashion God as
it is to deny Him."1 1
According to the teachings of the Orthodox Church , theology
deals exclusively with God, the Trinity, the triune or triadic God ;
whereas the word economy or dispensation refers to the activity
of God outside (ad extra) the intra-divine Life of the Father, the
Son and the Holy Spirit. The word "economy" (oikonomia)
means literally "the organization and maintenance of the house"
- or, in the present instance, to God's creation, providential
care and salavation of the cosmos. His ad extra activity is com
monly the activity of what the Orthodox Greek Fathers call "the

divine or uncreated energies" and the Orthodox Latin Fathers

(although they had less to say about them) "the divine opera
tions . "
Yet, the word "economy" had a more special meaning i n
Christian literature ; i t i s associated not with the movement o f
God's energies, but with the action of a divine Person: the
appearance of God in history, that is, "the enfleshment of the
divine Logos," the Incarnation of the Son for the purpose of
realizing the Father's plan of salvation. As St. Paul wrote to the
Church at Ephesus, God "having made known to us the mystery
of His Will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed
in Himself, that in the economy of the fulness of times He might
gather together in one all things in Christ, both what is in the
heavens and on the earth" (Eph. l :9-l 0). 12 The salvation of men
necessarily involved a knowledge of God.
The Fathers teach that God, unless He reveals Himself, is
u nknown and unknowable. The ordinary levels of human know
ing are limited to being - to created physical being and, under
special circumstances, to created spiritual being; but God is not
being - not "most real being" (ens realissimum) or "true being"
( verum esse) nor "total being" ( totum esse) , as the Scholastics
thought. "He is not a being, for He is above all beings . . . ,"
asserted St. Gregory PaJamas, " . . . no single thing that has ever
been, is or will be created can have the slightest communion
with Him or achieve to the slightest proximity to that transcen
dent Reality." 1'' Before him, St. John of Damascus wrote that
God "does not belong to the class of existing things" which
means that He is not being and "what is above being is also
above knowledge. " 1 4
After St. John, St. Peter of Damascus affirmed that God is
beyond all understanding, "known only to Himself one God in
three hypostases, unoriginate, unending, beyond goodness,
above praise. All that is said about God in the divine Scriptures
is said with the sense of human inadequacy, that though we
know that God is, we cannot know what He is; and in Himself
He is incomprehensible to every being endowed with mind and
reason. " 1 5 St. Dionysios the Areopagite declares that He may be


compared to nothing, "inasmuch as the all-perfect and unique

Cause of all things transcends all affirmation, and the simple
pre-eminence of His absolute nature is outside of every negation
- free from every limitation and beyond them all."15 Thus , we
confess with St. Hilary of Poitier the one God Who "alone is
good , alone Creator, alone eternal, alone unoriginate, alone
immortal, alone Ordainer and Disposer of all things , unchange
able and unalterable, righteous and beneficent, the God of the
Law and the Prophets and of the N ew Testament. " 1 7
S t . Hilary makes the point that needed to be made: God is
unknown and unknowable; therefore, if He is known, it is only
by revelation. According to the Fathers, God has made Himsel t
known in three ways: first, as St. John of Damascus said, "the
knowledge of God is implanted in us by nature" and if anyone
denies His existence, as some have, it is because "the evil one
has prevailed so mightily against human nature . " 18 Second, God,
as the Creator of the world, has left His mark on His handiwork
or, as St. Paul avows, "the invisible things of Him from the
creation of the world are clearly seen, being u nderstood by the
things that are made" (Rom. 1 :20). We need to be cautious here :
to infer the existence of God from "the things that are made"
is to say very little. On the basis of so little knowledge, we must
not imagine that, in terms of that knowledge, we may build a
system of truth and a life of virtue.19
Furthermore, such limited knowledge of God by "the things
that have been made" is fruitful only for those whose "heart"
has not been overwhelmed by the power of the devil. Likewise,
reasoned "proofs" (argumenta, epidexieis) are useful only to
them who listen to their "heart," to the "voice" within . Thus,
many of the Fathers employed such "proofs" to strengthen, if
not to arouse, the heart. These are "proofs" known by every
student of philosophy. They were first stated by the Greeks.
The heterodox West has put more faith in them than the Fathers.
Plato's "argument from the contingency of the world" seems
to have been highly favored by the Fathers. I f, the argument
runs, things in the world come into and pass out of existence
("contingency" ) , then, the world itself must have at one time


come into existence. Thus, there must have been a time when
the earth and universe did not exist. The whole is not greater
than the sum of its parts. Therefore, the universe did not cause
itself; and that cause must exist outside the creation, lest we wish
to think that the cause existed before itself in order to start itself.
Moreover, the cause must be uncaused, a cause produced by no
other. For if it has a cause, then, it is not uncaused and is not
the source of the universe. Necessarily, then, we must explain
the existence of things by an uncaused Cause. "And what else
could this be," asks St. John of Damascus, "but God?"2"
Of course, such argu
ments may assure us that
God is, not what He is. From
reason we have no knowl
edge of His Will, or His Plan
for the creation. This H e
revealed through direct and
personal communication,
the climax of which was His
dwelling among us accord
ing to the flesh (John 1 : 14).
H ere, then, is the third kind
of knowledge. Without it without His speaking to us
and finally joining us - we
would not have become
privy to God's commands
and promises, nor would we
have received the Holy
Spirit, "the Comforter, the
Spirit of Truth" (John
St. John of Damascus
1 4 : 1 6- 1 7) ; nor would we
achieve eternal life. "For this is eternal life," the Lord proclaimed,
"that they may know (ginoskos1) Thee the only true God and
Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent" (John 1 7 :3). The Incarnate
One is "the Way, the Life and the Truth" (John 1 4 : 6 ) : the "way"
to God, the "life" in Him, and the "truth" about Him.


God prepared the human race for His coming by the Law
and the Prophets - and as we shall see - by types and anti-types,
even among the Gentiles. In this manner, "He has disclosed to
us the knowledge of Himself as far as that is possible for us,"
St. John of Damascus cautions. In other words, we are not free
to theorize and speculate beyond those things which God has
graciously given to us. "All things, therefore , that have been
delivered to us by the Law and the Prophets, the Apostles a d
Evangelists , we receive, know and honor, seeking nothing
beyond these. " "As knowing all things, and providing for what
is profitable for each," John continues, "He revealed that which
it was to our profit to know; but what we were unable to bear
He kept secret. Let us be satisfied then and let us abide in them,
not removing everlasting boundaries , nor overpassin g the divine
tradition. "21
The most important witness to the existence and activity of
God is the Holy Scriptures. To be sure, the Old and New Tes
taments presuppose unwritten traditions (agrapha1) . Before the
books of the Testaments were composed and collected, God
spoke directly to His chosen ones as He s poke to the writers of
the Bible. "Surely the Lord will do nothing," wrote the Prophet
Amos (3 : 7) , "but he reveals His secrets to His servants and
prophets. " Thus, we know that Moses, the author of the first
five books (Penteteuch) of the Old Testament was not present
at the creation, in Eden , with Noah and Abraham. The Hebrew
People were taught by oral tradition: stories and sayings about
God and His relation with them and the rest of the world were
repeated generation after generation. Under the inspiration of
the Holy Spirit, Moses was able to discern the truth and also to
receive a "new" knowledge. So it was with the writers of the
New Testament.
a. The Old Testament
Everywhere in the pages of the Old Testament is to be found
hints of the Holy Trinity. The righteous of the Hebrews must
have known that God had not told them everything about H im39

self ("theology") and about His relationship to the world ("eco

nomy" ) . The theological declaration of God to Moses - "I am
Who am" (Ex. 3 : 14) - and the persistent reference to His
unfathomability ( lsa. 40 : 2 8 ; Ps. 1 45 : 3 ; Job 1 1 : 7-9, etc.) were
clearly a different wisdom from the Ten Commandments or the
new Covenant revealed to Jeremiah.
From the beginning, whether the Hebrews recognized it or
not, God had disclosed something about His triadological
Nature. " Let Us make man in Our image," He proclaimed (Gen.
1 : 26). This is not, as some scholars insist, the reflection of primi
tive Hebrew polytheism; nor, as the Arian heretics said, God
the Father speaking to the created Logos about Adam; because
in the very next sentence (Gen. 1 : 2 7 ) , Moses employs a plural
noun and a singular verb - "God (Elohim) made man in His
own image." Man was made in "the image of God," writes St.
Hilary of Poitier, in the Word of God Who, according to Hebrews
1 : 3, is "the express I mage of God." He had His "origin" in the
Father and, therefore, is God.22
The S pirit, too, is God and Creator. As St. Ambrose of Milan
"As we are instructed in the psalms (Ps. 32:6) concerning
the work of the Word, which is the work of God, and on
the power which the Holy Spirit bestowed, so is echoed
here the prophetic oracle, namely, that 'God spoke' and
'God created' and 'the Spirit of God moved over the waters. '
Wltilt adorning the firmament of the heavens, the Spirit
flitcingly moved over the earth, destined to bear fruit,
because by the aid of the Spirit it held the seeds of new
birth which were to germinate according to the words of
the prophet: 'Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be
created and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth '
(Ps. 1 03:30). Finally, the Syriac text, which is close to the
Hebrew, agrees with it in word for the most part, expressed
the matter in this fashion : 'And the Spirit of God brooded
over the waters, ' that is, gave life in order to help the birth
of new creatures and by cherishing them gave them the
breath of life. For the Holy Spirit, too, is called Creator, as
we read in Job (33:4): 'The divine Spirit which made
me . . . "'23


There is another intimation of the Trinity in the first book

of the Scriptures. When God saw that the people in the land of
Shinar wished to build "a tower that will reach to heaven," H e
said, "Come let Us g o down and confound their language . . .
So the Lord scattered them" (Gen. 1 1 : 7). The verse uses the
plural "Let Us" but later turns to the singular, "the Lord scattered
them" which plainly suggests that one Person was speaking to
another. The "Us" could not have been God and the angels or
God with another or lesser deity, a thought Moses would never
have entertained. He wrote "let Us" and "the Lord scattered
Again, the existence of the Trinity is shown in the Old Tes
tament by numerous types, that is, figures or happenings which
foreshadow or point to persons and events in the New Testa-

" H ospitality of Abraha m , " painted by Photios Konoto g lou

ment. Perhaps, the clearest type of the Trinity in the Old Tes41

tament is "the Hospitality of Abraham," the appearance of the

three "men" or "angels" at Mamre.
"And God appeared to him by the oak of Mamre, as
A braham sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day.
He lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold three men
stood before him. When he saw them, he ran from the
door of the tent to meet them. He bowed himself down to
the earth and said, 'Lord (sing.), if I have found fa vor in
Thy (sing.) sight, do not pass by Thy (sing.) servant "' (Gen.
1 8 : 1-3).

Abraham recognized him as "the judge of all the earth" (v. 25).
I n this type, the three men or angels sybolize the Trinity, to be
sure, but it contains another truth : the "Lord" Whom Abraham
addressed was God the Son, the God of the Old Testament,
Yahweh, for which reason, incidentally, the icon of the "Hospi
tality" shows the angel in the center with a nimbus crucifixus
or "halo of the cross." He appears here as "the Angel of Great
council," "the Angel of Yahweh," the same One Who came to
Moses in the bush (St. Hilary of Poitiers, On The Trinity IV,
24-34) .
Another Old Testament type is found, according to the Holy
Fathers, in the book of Daniel - the story of Shadrach, Meschach
and Abednigo in the fiery furnace (Dan. 3 : 8-30) - which the
Church celebrates. In the Matins of the Feast of the Exlatation
of the Cross the following Katabasias in the 6th Tone is chanted.
"0 you youths equal in number to the Trinity, bless the
Father, God the Creator; praise the Word Who did descend
as the Angel to turn the fire to a dewy breeze; and exalt
more and ;? ore the all-Holy Spirit Who gives life to all for

I n the Stichera of the Vespers of the Sunday of the Holy Fore

fathers, the same triadological type is mentioned:
"The youths of God walking forth amidst the flame of the
furnace, rejoicing in the dew of the Spirit as though in a
garden, did go before and foreshadow thereby the mystery
of the Trinity and the Incarnation of Christ. "

The fact that the Scriptures refer to God as a "consuming fire"


(Deut. 4 : 24 ; Heb. 1 2 : 29) only clarifies the type. We ought to

note that th_e Angel that descended into the flame is The Word
(Logos) . of God.
The Trinity is foreshadowed or typified in Isaiah's vision of
God on His Seraphic throne. The threefold repetition of the word
"holy" (agios, sanctus, qedosh) is not accidental; neither the fact
that the trisagion was incorporated into the Church's liturgy.
"And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died,
that I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne,
and the house was full of His glory. And seraphim stood
round about Him : each one had six wings: and with two
they covered their face, and with two they covered their
feet, and with two they flew. And one cried to the other,
and they said, Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts: the
whole earth is full of His glory. " (Isa. 6: 1 -3)

While implying three, the Prophet stresses one - and the

one God of the Old Testament is God the Son, He Who was
later to become man and is rejected by " His Own." On the Feast
of the Presentation of the Lord, in which these verses from the
book of Isaiah are read, the One Who sits upon the throne is
God the Son. "He Who rides upon the Cherubim and is praised
by the Seraphim," declares St. Andrew of Crete, "today is offered
according to the Law of Moses" (Vespers, Qoxastikon of the
The Prophet Daniel also has a vision of one who sits upon a
throne, "the Ancient of Days" ( 7 : 9) or "one like unto the ancient
of days" (7 : 1 3 ) - an expression used to contrast the true God
with the idols, the new gods - "Whose garment was white as
snow and the hair of His head like pure wool." He is "ancient"
and, therefore, venerable and wise, a fact which links him to the
theology of the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament. The
extra-Biblical Henoch (46 : 1 ) also mentions "the Head of days,
whose head is white as wool" and refers to "Mine Elect One,
sitting on the throne of Glory" (53 : 3 ) , the "glory" of which Isaiah
spoke (John 1 2 :4 1 ).
Daniel associates "the Ancient of days" (or "one like unto")
with "one like unto the Son of man," a plain allusion to "the
Son of man" in the Gospels.

"I beheld in the night vision, and, lo, One coming with the
clouds of hea ven as the Son of man, and He came on to
the Ancient of days, and was brought near to Him. And
to Him was given the dominion, and the honour, and the
kingdom; and all na tions, tribes, and languages, shall serve
Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall
not pass away, and His kingdom shall not be destroyed"
(Dan. 7: 1 3, 1 4).
Jesus identified Himself with "the Son of man" and St. John the
Theologian ties
him to the figure of
"the Ancient of
days" in the book of
Revelation ( 1 : 1 3-20),
like unto the Son of
man, clothed with a
garment down to
the foot . . . His
head and hairs were
white as wool, as
white as snow . . . ;"
and St. Matthew
(25 : 3 1 ) shows Him
U pon a throne "Christ, the Ancient of Days , " St. Sergi us Cathedral,
j udging the world.
Cleveland, Ohio painted by Bishop Alypy, 1 984

In the Matins of the Presentation, the association between

Jesus and "the Ancient of days" signifies the two natures of the
Lord - Divine (Son of God
God) and human (Son of man
Man). "Verily the Ancient of days becomes a babe for my
sake, " exclaims St. Andrew, "and the all-pure God shares in the
impure to save me in the flesh which He took from the Virgin"
(Third Kathisma, 4th Tone) .
Finally, the so-called Wisdom literature of the Old Testament
- Psalms, Proverbs, Wisdom of Sirach, Song of Songs, etc. provide intimations of the Trinity through its description of a
divine Person who seems to be other than God - namely, Wis
dom (Sophia Sapientia, Kochmah in Hebrew) . "She4 is crying


at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming at the doors"
(Prov. 8 :3). The most controversial verses - at least in the fourth
century, durin g the Church's struggle with Arianism - reads,
"The Lord pGssessed Me in the beginning of His way, before
His works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the begin
ning, before the earth was" (Prov. 8 : 22-23) . A few ancient man
uscripts have, "The Lord made Me . . . . " St. Athanasios the
Great and the other Fathers argued that whichever verses are
allowed ("possessed" or "made Me" ) , they do not portray the
Word or Wisdom as a creature. If they do not refer to the "divine
economy" or the I ncarnation, they, with the most inadequate
language, point to the eternal generation of the Son from the
Another sect of heretics, the followers of the Patriarch of
Constantinople, Macedonios, denied the Divinity of the Holy
Spirit. He taught that the S pirit was not God; "it" was nothing
more than a "force" or " power" of God Who is "spirit" O ohn
1 4 :28). The patristic defense of the Holy S pirit pursued the
same method as the defense (apologia) of the Son : the Spirit is
found in the Old Testament under symbols and types as well
as in such expressions, "the Spirit spake through the Prophets"
(Isa. 1 1 :2), "the Holy Spirit moved over the waters" at creation
(Gen. 1 :2), in the allusions to His conserving power (Ps . .I 04:29-30)
or in prayers, "Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me" (Ps. 5 1 : 3 ) .
A type o f Pentecost i s found i n the gathering o f the Hebrew
elders and their infusion by the Holy Spirit ( Num. 1 1 : 1 6- 1 7) or
in God's promise to "pour out my Spirit on all flesh" Qoel. 2 :23).
St. B asil equated Him with "the finger of God" Who wrote the
Ten Commandments (Ep. VII, 3) and St. Anatolios the H ymnog
rapher typified the Holy Spirit as "the pillar of smoke" that
blocked Pharoah's path near the sea (Sunday After Nativity,
Matins, 8th Tone) .
The Holy Spirit worked with God the Son in the Old Testa
ment as He does in the New. He is "the S pirit of God," "the
Spirit of Christ," - in the creation, providence and salvation of
the universe. He is the Spirit of Yahweh - God the Son - a
name which the translators of the Septuagint ( = LXX) rendered


Kyrios; and He, like the Father and the Son, is Adonai or Master
(despotes, domiunus), El Shadday or the Almighty (pantocrator,
omnipotens), El Olam or the Eternal (aionion, aeternus), Elohim
or the Most H igh God ( hypsistos, altissimus) , etc. "By these
names God is called," St. Aphrahat explains. "The great and
honorable names of the Godhead He would not keep from the
righteous ones though He is the great king . . . "25 The divine
names generally apply to the action of the three Persons, not
to their super-divine Essence.

b. The New Testament

With the Coming of the Lord J esus Christ, more knowledge
of God was revealed to those who confessed Him as God and
Savior and who were "initiated into the mysteries of the faith."
To them who belonged to Christ was given the power - the
Holy Spirit - to understand the types, symbols and allegories
in the Old Testament concerning the Holy Trinity. The New
Testament writers, taught by Christ and inspired by His Spirit,
gave us further insight about the Nature and Purpose of God,
B ut the Evangelists and Apostles did not disclose all that might
be learned about Him - for gnosis increased with the soul's
advance towards union. Neither were the Scriptures composed
to clarify that basic trinitarian formula : the Persons of the Holy
Trinity are the same in all respects, save that the Father is
unoriginate, the Son is begotten of and the Spirit proceeds from
the Father.26
Nevertheless, the New Testament provides the believer with
some very important facts about their God. Beginning with the
writings of St. John the Theologian, we learn, "No one has seen
God at any time ; the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom
of the Father, He has declared Him" Uohn 1 : 1 8) . Likewise, it
is the Son Who sends the Spirit. "And I will pray the Father,
and He will give you another Comforter, that He may abide
with you forever; even the Spirit of Truth . . . Uohn 14: 1 6- 1 7 ) .
"But when the Comforter i s come," the Lord tells His disciples,
"Whom I will send you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth,
which proceeds from the Father, He shall testify of me" U ohn
1 5 : 26). Economically, He is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit Who

imparts not the wisdom of men but the Wisdom of God, "inter
preting spiritual truths to those who possess the S pirit" (I Cor.
2: 1 3).
The Spirit both inspired the Scriptures and gives understand
ing to them who in true faith read and meditate "the divine
oracles," as the Fathers sometime call the Bible. Without the
Spirit, moreover, none would call J esus "Lord," nor would He
be our brother and God our Father. As St. Paul says,
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the
sons of God. For you have not received again the spirit of
bondage to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adop
tion, whereby we cry, 'Abba, Father. " The Spirit itself bears
witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
and if children, then, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with
Christ; if so be we suffer with Him, that we may be also
glorified together" (Rom. 8: 1 4- 1 7).
Those who belong to God in Christ are members of the Church
whose unity depends on the Spirit.
The New Testament is replete with words, idioms, figures of
speech and statements which assert the Divinity of Christ. H e
i s "Emmanuel, God with us" (Matt. 1 : 2 3 ) ; and "the image of the
invisible God, the first-born of all creation" (Col. 1 : 1 7) ; or He
is the One in Whom "the fulness of the Godhead dwells bodily"
(Col. 2 : 9 ) : or He Who "reflects the glory of God and bears the
very stamp of His Nature" (Heb. 1 : 1 3) . St. Paul writes to St.
Titus that the Church awaits "the appearance of the glory of
our Great God and Savior J esus Christ" (Tit. 2: 1 3).J esus pointed
to Himself as the God of the Old Testament with the provocative
words, "Amen, Amen, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I
am" Qohn 8 : 58). He further offended the J ews by saying, "The
Father and I are one" Qohn : 30). After the Resurrection, St.
Thomas worshipped Him as, "My Lord and M y God" Qohn
There is no more famous affirmation of Christ's Divinity than
the prologue to the Gospel of St. John. "In the beginning was
the Word (Logos) . . . " of the first verse was a conscious imitation
of Genesis 1 : 1 , "In the beginning God . . . . " Listen to what St.
John Chrysostom writes about these words of the prologue,


"The Word . . . is a distinct Person, issuing from the Father

Himself without alteration to either. He Uohn the Theolo
gian) has indicated this, as
I have said, by the appel
lation 'the Word. ' There
fore, just as the expres
sion, 'In the beginning
was the Word' reveals His
eternity, so 'He was in the
beginning with God' reve
als His co-eternity. And,
also, that on hearing 'In
the beginning was the
Word, ' we are not led to
think that He was not
exactly eternal and the
Father was older by some
interval - i.e., inferring
thereby that the Only
B egotten had a beginning
- the Evangelist added
the sen tence: 'He was in
the beginning with God. '
Wall painting, Church ofthe Dormition,
In other terms, He was
Dormition Skete, Colorado, 1 983
eternal even as the Father
Himself; for the Father
was never with out the Word: God was with God, though
each in His own Person. "27

The Johannine prologue - the Gospel according to St. John

I : I - I 4 - presents us with two Persons of the Holy Trinity, but
not the Third, the Holy Spirit. His absence must not be misun
derstood: the purpose of the prologue was not a demonstration
of the Trinity, but a presentation of the One Who became incar
nate for our salvation.
Moreover, this unveiling of God the Son as the Incarnate Lord
does not ignore the H oly Spirit, not if the prologue is read in
Biblical context. Neither in the creation of the world nor in its
"re-creation" is the Spirit separated from the Son. The same
prologue says that those who receive Christ will be reborn as
sons of God (Jn. I : I 4) ; and we know that the H oly Spirit is the
divine means by which we become a member of Christ and an

"adopted" son of the Father (Rom. 8 : 1 4 , 23; Gal. 5 : 5 ; II Cor.

1 : 22 ) . Furthermore, in the divine Plan, the Son and the Spirit
are inseparable. In the words of St. Irenaeos, they are "the two
hands" of the Father. He is no less God than the Father or the
Son (Acts 5 : 3-4). He is omnipotent and the sovereign disposer
of all things (I Cor. 1 2 : 6 ; Dan. 4: 35). The Spirit is eternal ( Heb.
9: 1 4) . He is the Glory of God (I Pet. 4 : 1 4) .
Let u s summarize the nature and function of the Holy Spirit
with a quote from the fourth century Latin Father who ended
his days in the wilderness of medieval Serbia, St. Niceta of
"We know that the Holy Spirit is a Person of the Trinity
in the proper and true sense of the word. He is the source
of sanctification, the light of souls, the distributor ofgraces.
The Spirit sanctifies; He is not sanctified. He illumines;
He is not illuminated. No creature, without the Spirit,
reaches eternal life nor may properly be called holy. "28

The H oly Spirit is a divine Person. His Personhood is implied

whenever the names of the Father and the Son, whether together
or separately, are mentioned.
The Scriptures, however, provide more than an implicit
relationship between the three Persons of the Trinity. Not a
hint of polytheism is to be found in the New Testament. Nothing
is clearer than the last verse of St. Matthew's Gospel - "Go you,
therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of
the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them
to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you : and,
lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen"
(Matt. 2 8 : 1 9-20). St. Basil points out that the Lord, in this great
commission to the Apostles, uses the word "name" not "names,"
because God is one and not many. "Names" could have been
taken as indicating not one God but many. We must affirm, St.
Basil says, that there are three Persons in one God, each with
His own "distinctive qualities which must not be confounded" ;
therefore, the Lord mentions each Person, but uses the singular
"name" to show the oneness of God. 29
Finally, we mention St. Paul's prayer, "The grace of the Lord


J esus Christ and the Love of God the Father and the communion
of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (II Cor. 1 3 : 1 4) . The remarks
of St. John Chrysostom on this text are not without interest. He
explains the change in the customary order of names. Why did
St. Paul, he asks, place the name of the Son before the Father?
It was in fact not the first time that the Apostle had transposed
the Persons (and their gifts) in the trinitarian formula.
"For having said, 'the grace of Christ, and the love of God
the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit; ' he, in
another place speaks of 'the communion of the Son, ' and
also 'the love of the Spirit' (Rom. 1 5:30). And in the first
letter to the ch urch at Corinth, 'God (the Father) is faithful,
by Whom you were called into the communion of the Son '
(I Cor. 1 :9). Thus, the things of the Trinity are not divided;
and whereas our 'communion ' is in the Spirit, it has been
grounded in the Son; and whereas grace comes by the Son,
it is also the grace of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Have
we not read, 'Grace be to you from God the Father'? And
in another place, the Apostle, having ennumerated many
forms of it, adds, 'But all those things are inspired by one
and the same Spirit Who apportions to each one individu
ally as He wills ' (I Cor. 1 2: 1 1). Such things are said not to
confuse the Persons but to show the individuality and dis
tinctness of each in the unity of their common essence. "30

St. Chrysostom teaches here not only the individuality and same
essence (homoousios) of each Person in the Trinity, but their
absolute equality. Each has the power to do what the other can
do. And, if the Persons are equal, then, aside from the properties
which give them their distinctive identity, what belongs to one
belongs to all.
By virtue of historical circumstances, the Fathers of the East
(writing in Greek and Syriac) and the Fathers of the West (writing
in Latin) often approached the same topic from different sides.
Thus, in the case of the Trinity, the former were far more
concerned with the "transcendent Trinity" than the latter who
seemed to pay more attention to God - "the economic Trinity"
- in His relation to the Church and the world. Put another

way, the Eastern Fathers tended to look at religious matters

from a metaphysical and cosmological perspective ; and the West
ern or Latin Fathers viewed religion from a "political"3 1 and
ethical perspective. Nevertheless, all the Fathers share "one faith,
one baptism" and the above distinction must not be taken too
Many scholars deny the unity of patristic thought, because,
as it seems to them, the Fathers do not always agree and often
contradict one another. A case in point is the ostensible theolog
ical conflict between Greek East and Latin West over the
filioque.32 I am not persuaded any such conflict exists or that
the Latin Fathers rejected the monarchy of God the Father. Not
only do most investigators pay little attention to the triadological
distinction between the state of the Trinity in eternity and Their
activity in time, but, with few exceptions, they seem unaware
that of the theological distinction between the "coming forth"
of the Son and the Spirit and Their "manifestation," e.g., that
in time the Spirit appears or is manifested after the Son.33
Because the Church Fathers do not always express all these
aspects of Christian triadology in the same manner is no reason
to maintain that they did not hold them in oneness of mind.
Let me illustrate this matter from the writings of St. Paulinus
of Nola, St. Hilary of Poitiers and St. Pope Gregory II. In their
statements about the "order" of the Trinity, we cannot always
be certain whether they refer to the "transcendent" or "economic
Trinity" and whether, as their brothers in the East, they felt any
necessity to make fit and extensive comment on "the order of
procession" and "the order of manifestation" of the Persons.
In one Poem, St. Paulin us writes that there is one God "only"
whose power is "threefold ."
'There is one God the Father, and in Him one Son, and
from Him Who is the Word, the one Spirit. These three
Persons are one God forever. The single nature of God is
God, consisting of Son, Spirit and Father; but the Son is
born of the Father and the Spirit proceeds from the Father.
No nature in the created order has anything in common
with or may be compared to the divine nature " ( Poem XIX,
1 40).


First, Paulinus says that the Spirit is "from" the Word; and, then,
he asserts that "the Spirit proceeds from the Father." What must
we think? Is he referring to the Trinity in time or eternity?
perhaps both?
In another Poem (V, 43), he gives the same order to the
divine Persons, but in relation to Their act of creating the world.
"Thou art the Father of the Only-Begotten Lord and God," he
says, "and intermingly with both the Spirit Who flitted over the
waters." The word "intermingly" may allude to their common
essence or to a moment of common action or manifestation. In
another Poem, h e appears to address the manifestations o f the
Son and the Spirit.
"The Holy Spirit comes forth from the Only-Begotten Son
and Father, and is Himselfproceeding from God34 Though
the Spirit is everywhere, His fiery presence was actually
visible as He quickly passed over the place where the young
Apostles gathered in harmonious council" (Poem XXVI I ,

Paulinus' lack o f clarity, a s some have suggested, may have been

his rational attempt to reconcile for himself the "transcendent
Trinity" of the N icean Creed with the order of the "economic
Trinity" as it acts and appears in the world ; but, more likely, in
his struggle with heretics, he had in mind to defend the Holy
Trinity .
Unlike Paulinus, St. H ilary of Poitiers i s more concise . In the
eighth chapter of his classic work, On the Trinity, he states that
Christ sends "from the Father the Spirit of Truth, which pro
ceeds from the Father" (VI I I , 1 9) . Here he mingles an
"economic" and "transcendent" truth . He seems nowhere in his
writings to speak of one without the other. In the same chapter
(VIII, 26), Saint H ilary writes,
"The Spirit of Truth proceeds from the Father; He is sent
by the Son and receives from the Son. Now, all that belongs
to the Father belongs to the Son, and for tha t reason He
who receives from Him is the Spirit of God; but, at the
same time, He is the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit possesses
the same nature as the Son and both are identical in nature
with the Father. He is the Spirit of Him Who raised Christ

from the dead; but this is no other than the Spirit of Christ.
The divine Persons of Christ and the Father can be shown
to differ in some respects if also it can be shown that the
Spirit which is from God the Father is not the very Spirit
of Christ, "
In the conclusion to his discourse, St. H ilary addresses the
Father, saying that he will never call the Holy Spirit a creature,
"seeing that He proceeds from Thee and is sent through Him"
(Son) . Then, he exclaims,
"Bu t I cannot describe Him whose plea for m e I cannot
describe. As in the revelation that Thy Only-begotten was
born of Thee before times eternal, when we cease to strug
gle with the ambiguities of language and difficulties of
thought, the one certainty remains; so I hold fast that the
Spirit is from Thee and through Him, although I cannot
comprehend it with my intellect . . . " (XII, 56).

H ilary admits but one principle or cause of the Trinity : God the
Father, but he says the Spirit proceeds from the Father through
the Son. He was not the only church father to accept this formula.
We may mention St. Pope Gregory I I , Bishop of Rome, who
in his Confession of Fiath to St. Germanos of Constantinople,
states that "the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father by the
mediation of the Son (a Patre vera, medianti Filio) ." He adds
the Holy Fathers have always understood the relation of the
Persons in this way.:Js The Saint was right. Many fathers, East
and West, adopted such a formula. St. Cyril of Alexandria, St.
Gregory the Theologian, St. John of Damascus and others
allowed that in eternity the Spirit, although proceeding only
from the Father, "abides" in the Son. "Mediation" may indeed
bear that connotation.%
The one, unalterable premise of Christian theology is the
monarchy of the Father. Questions about the procession of the
Spirit in time or eternity, with or through the Son, however
important, are secondary. Yet, it may have been the lack of
precision in these "secondary" matters that permitted Augustine
of H ippo (354-430) to initiate a new way for theology in the
Latin West. Western medieval and modern church historians
mistakenly assign to him a preeminence in the "development"

of patristic thought he does not deserve . Augustine has been

called "the greatest genius the Church has ever possessed.":1 7 In
fact, he may have been her greatest heresiarch ,H the major
source of every Roman Catholic and Protestant error. No wonder
when his teachings began to be known in the West, they were
immediately condemned."v
Augustine's innovations were largely the result of his attrac
tion for Greek philosophy, mingling the Christian Faith with
Platonism . He abandoned the apophatic theology of the Church
for a new way of understanding God. H is initial error was to
ignore the advice of the Fathers to avoid making comparisions
between the creature and the Creator - "the analogy of being"
(analogia en tis) as this theological method has come to be known.
H e thought he could achieve a true notion of God by studying
If man is the "image of God" (imago de1), Augustine said,
we should be able to know something about the Prototype God - from the creature who is H is copy. One of his favorite
analogies was drawn from human love . It has three aspects:
lover, beloved and, of course , the love or affection with which
the lover and beloved love each other. Thus, the Holy Trinity:
God the Father is the Lover, the Son is the Beloved and the
Love with which the Father and the Son love each other is the
Holy Spirit. So, then, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father
and the Son as the love which proceeds from and unites the
lover and the beloved.
To put Augustine's opinions in more "theological" language,
the Holy Spirit is the unity and fruit of the Father and the Son's
love. In this role He is differentiated from Them. He could not
be a distinct Person, moreover, if He did not proceed from both.
I n other terms, the only way to distinguish one Person from the
Other (and safeguard the Trinity) is to call the Father the
"source" of the Son and the Spirit - in this Augustine was
Orthodox ; but, then, he insisted that the Spirit must proceed
from the Son if there is to be a difference between Them, since
both come of the Father. Augustine's formula is as neat as it is
wrong. Aside from ignoring the apophatic theology of the


Fathers and the distinction between the Trinity in eternity and

the Trinity in time, his model is unprecedented.
The filioque, according to St. Photios, is the offspring of the
devil, "the enemy of the human race. " '" He faced his opponents
- the "audacious" and "presumptuous" advocates of this "inven
tion" - with the tradition of the Church. He reaffirmed "the
mystical teaching" of the Church: the Father is the only source
of the Son and the Spirit, the one begotten eternally from Him
and the other proceeding eternally from Him. As St. John of
Damascus wrote in his An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox
Faith ( 1 , 1 8 ) more than a century before Photios,
"For the Father alone is ungenerate, no other subsistence
accounts for His existence. And the Son alone is begotten,
for He was generated of the Father's essence eternally. And
only the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father's essence,
not having been generated but simply proceeding. For this
is the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures. The nature of this
generation and this procession is quite beyond our under
standing. "

What distinguishes the three Persons of the Trinity cannot be

lost, altered or exchanged. Listen to the words of St. Gregory
of Nyssa,
"It is impossible to call by the name ofGod what is different
in nature41
the names of Son and Father signify what
is joined together in the same nature. Now it is absolutely
necessary, if two are by nature conjoined to one, that they
are in no way different from each other. That is to say, if
the Son is by nature united to the Father, and if the Holy
Spirit has been shown not to be alien to the Son on account
of the identity of energies, it necessarily follows, I say, that
the nature of the Holy Trinity has been demonstrated to
be one, although, of course, what is characteristic of and
peculiar to each Person be not confused. Their special fea
tures cannot be exchanged. Th us, what belongs to the
Father cannot be transferred to the Son or the Spirit, nor,
on the other hand, can what belongs to the Son be given
to the other Persons; nor indeed can wha t belongs to the
Spirit be attributed to the Father or the Son. But, again,
the incommunicability ofPerson properties does not outlaw
a common nature. It is characteristic of the Father to be


the causeless cause12 which is a property shared by neither

the Son nor the Spirit. The Son went out from the Father
Uohn 1 6:28) . . . and the Spirit proceeds from God, from
the Father Uohn 1 5:26). Neither the Son or the Spirit may
be described as 'causeless, ' a property which describes the
Father only; and also the character or property of the Son
and the Spirit as 'caused' may not be applied to the Father.
Yet, the idea of issuing from the Father common to both
the Son and the Spirit ought not be a source of confu
sion . . . For the Son is Only-begotten 13 of the Father . . . a
term which establishes His special property. And the Holy
Spirit is said also to be 'caused' by the Father, but not in
the same way as the Son. Hence, the Spirit is from God
and, economically speaking, is the Spirit of Christ; but the
Son, Who is from God, is never said to be of the Spirit . . .
the Trinity is numbered as Persons, not parts, ofa differen t

The Father is "the source of Divinity" (pege theotes) , the one

an only (monos) cause (arche) of the Trinity. This is the mystery
of the doctrine of "the divine monarchy."
The Fathers admonish us to avoid thinking that their formula
of the Trinity provides us with a final explanation . Again, their
use of philosophical language to defend what has been revealed
to the Church by God concerning Himself does not justify the
conclusion that Orthodox theology may be compared to or be
seen to depend on the theology of philosophers. In his Theolog
ical Orations ( I I I , 2), St. Gregory the Theologian declares,
"Monarchy is what we hold in honor. It is not, however, a
monarchy without qualifications; it is not the kind of
monarchy which en ters into the condition of plurality
through self-opposition. It is a plurality of equals, sharing
the same nature, a union of mind, identity of action, a
con vergence of the many in one - a thing impossible to
created nature - so that what is distinct may yet have no
division of their common essence. Therefore, unity, having
from all eternity arrived by some inexplicable action at
duality, found its rest in a third. This is wha t we mean by
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Father is the begetter,
timelessly and dispassionately, incorporeally generating the
Son. The Son is begotten while the Spirit proceeds from
the Father - I do not know how else to express the Trinity

except in terms familiar to us. I refuse, however, to speak

of the paternal causation as an "overflow of goodness, " as
one of the Greek philosophers (Plotinos) dared to say, as
if the Father were a fountain . . . Let us never look, as the
philosopher did, at the Son and the Holy Spirit as some
kind of excess which the Father could not retain. We m ust
rather confine ourselves to the limits which our h uman
nature imposes and speak only of the unbegotten (Father),
the begotten (Son) and He Who proceeds from the Father
(Spirit), as the Lord jesus Himself asserted. "

The errors of philosophers,

St. Gregory and the other
Fathers observe, is not
always peculiar to them.
They are not alone in failing
to avoid those habits of mind
which puts the Trinity in the
context of time, as if calling
the Father "source" or
"cause" or "first," signifies
that He was "before" the Son
and the Holy Spirit "after"
Them both. There is no
interval or sequence, no
"then" and "now," "before"
and "after" in the Life of the
Such a theory would Wall painting, Church of the Dormition,
imply, writes St. Athanasios,
Dormition Skete, Colorado, 1 983
that at one time the Father
had no Son. "But the Father is everlasting and His Word and
Wisdom must be everlasting."45 To argue that the Son did not
at one time exist is to say that at one time the Father was not
Father. Neither must the language employed to describe the
Son's emission from the Father lead us to conclude that the Son
was not at one time a Son. Thus, when St. Paul calls God the
Word "the first-born of all creation" (Col. 1 : 1 5) , he did not mean
that He came into existence after the Father as if the first thing

produced by Him. If, as we have learned from the Scriptures,

the Son is H imself the Creator of all things, He H imself cannot
be a creature, for then He will have created H imself.4'; Thus,
when the Apostle referred to H im as "first-born of all creation, "
h e does not "show that He i s a creature, but offspring o f the
Father. For all things were created by the Father through the
Son, but the Son alone was eternally begotten from the Father,
wherefore God the Word is 'first-born of all creation'."47
Likewise, the Holy Spirit is no creature nor did He proceed
from the Father "after" the Son was begotten. He also, acting
with the Son, created the spiritual and material worlds ; and He,
too, could not have created H imself. Thus, concerning the Spirit,
David the King wrote, "Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit and they
are created" (Ps. 1 02 :30) ; and again, "By the Word of the Lord
were the heavens made ; and all the host of them by the breath
(Spirit) of His mouth" (Ps. 3 3 :6 ) . "Now the Spirit which is sent
and makes and establishes and conserves," wrote St. John of
Damascus, "is not mere breath that dissolves, any more than the
'mouth' of God is a bodily member. For the conception of both
must be such as to harmonize with the divine Nature."4H
I f, in discussing the Trinity, the Fathers seem to be saying
the same thin g in so many different ways, it is precisely because
they are dealing with a mystery, a mystery about which little has
been revealed and much must be defended. Not one of them
has failed to confess his impotence before it, especially the Person
of the Father about Whom almost nothing is known. Therefore,
the teachers of the Faith, unlike Augustine, wisely refused to
tamper with a mystery. Human ignorance about God the Father
led St. John Chrysostom to cry,
"Let us call Him the inexpressible, the unthinkable God,
the invisible, the inapprehensible; Who quells the power
of h uman speech and transcends the grasp of all mortal
thought; inaccessible to the Angels, unbeheld by the
Seraphim, unimagined by the Cherubim, in visible to Prin
cipalities and Authorities and Powers and, in a word, to all
creation. He is known and revealed only by the Son and
the Spirit"49

This is the universal teaching of the Fathers.


The Uncreated Energies of God are the means by which
the Three Persons of the Trinity created the world and the way
in which they ordinarily communicate with it - save the Incar
nation which is the actual descent of the Person of God the Son
into the world, "who was made flesh and dwelt among us" (John
1 : 1 4) . The Uncreated Energies differ from both the essence and
the Persons of the Trinity, albeit related to both . They are "move
ment" or "rush of God" out of His essence (St. John of Damascus)
or "the rays of Divinity penetrating the created universe" (St.
Dionysios the Areopagite). According to St. Basil the Great
"the energies are n umerous and the essence of God simple
and wha t we know when we say God is in fact His energies.
We do not presume to approach His essence. His energies
come down to us, but His essence remains beyond our
reach "50

The energies belong to God's essence, and to use a common

patristic simile, proceed from Him as rays from the sun. Here,
too, there is no time sequence.
Furthermore, although God the Father created all things
through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, they acted by the energies
of their common essence. "The energies of the uncreated
essence, " writes St. Cyril of Alexandria, "is a common action
while, at the same time, those energies belong and is a contribu
tion of each Person in a special way."" 1 In other words, the divine
energies are the means by which the Trinity creates and com
municates inasmuch as the divine essence is forever "immobile"
and "incommunicable."
Thus, in reconciling the apparent contradiction between the
words "no man has seen God at any time" and "Blessed are the
pure in heart for they shall see God," St. Gregory of Nyssa says
that "the Lord indeed speaks the truth when He promises that
God will be seen by the pure of heart and St. Paul does not
deceive us when he asserts that none have seen God at any time
nor can see Him. For He is incomprehensible by nature, but
falls within the range of our experience in His energies, that is,
He may be contemplated in the things which point to Him."52

The enrgies are not the essence of the Trinity, but they express
them and are no less divine , coming forth from the essence
through the divine Persons.
Of course , there have been and still are those who deny any
distinction between essence and energy. St. Gregory PaJamas
replied to his contemporary adversaries that such a distinction
is necessary to protect the integrity of both the Creator and the
"If, according to the nonsense ofAkindynos and those with
him, the divine energy is nothing different from the divine
essence, then, the act of creating - which is proper to the energy - will
in no way differ from the
acts of begetting and pro
cession which is proper to
the divine essence. B ut if
to create in no way differs
from begetting and pro
then created
things differ in no way
from Him Who is begot
ten and Him Who pro
ceeds. And if, according
to our adversaries, such is
the case, then, neither the
Son nor the Spirit differ
from creatures, since all
things are begotten and/
God the Father; th us, the
creation will be deified
St. Gregory PaJamas
and the divine Persons
will be ranked with their own creatures. For this very reason
the divine Cyril (of Alexandria), distinguishing between
essence and energy, says, 'The act of generation is proper
to the divine nature whereas the act of creating belongs to
His divine energy. ' Then, stating the obvious, he adds,
'Nature and energy are not the same'. ""3

The only way to deflect St. Gregory's logic while, at the same
time, denying any distinction between essence and energy in
God is to declare the energies - grace and lights, etc. - to be

created and to reassign the positive and moral qualities which

belong to those energies - "mercy ," "goodness," "love,"'"
"patience," etc. - to the divine Nature as "attributes." This is
precisely what the theologians of the heterodox West did; but
not without consequences.
First, with regard to grace, they could no longer safely speak
of salvation as participation in the divine Nature ( I I Pet. l :4).
Otherwise, such participation in the divine Nature would, as it
did in the case of so many medieval mystics, lead to pantheism.
Second, grace in the official theology of the apostate West lost
its cosmological character, having little to do with divine creating
and limited almost exclusively to God's relationship with man.
The Scholastics did not listen to St. Ambrose who said, "Divine
grace reaches even to the life of the locust.""''
The theological literature during the late Middle Ages and
Reformation period show that grace was understood as a created
power of God, His spontaneous, unmerited favor in the "regen
eration," "sanctification" and "salvation" of sinners. The follow
ers of Augustine, both Roman Catholic and Protestant, perceived
grace to be compulsory and irresistable - inasmuch as our
depraved human will would turn away from grace were it not
forced on us. Some theologians connected grace with the Sacra
ments and some did not. They spoke of being "in the state of
grace," but not that grace was a deifying process.
Also, the divine Light came to be conceived in the heterodox
West as God Himself (lux divina) , but distinguished from the
light of nature (lux natura). The first they identified with "the
light of glory," the "light of the Saints" and illumination for
those in "the state of grace ." The "light of nature" accounted
for the spiritual and intellectual accomplishments of pagans and
unbelievers. It was, in fact, the "divine Light" reflected in nature,
in her laws, in the rationality and beauty of the cosmos. I n
modern times, "light" has come to stand for the "light" of reason
- a new idea, clarity, vision.
In Orthodoxy, grace and light have more than a creative and
providential purpose. They are manifested also to realize the
Divine Plan - to sanctify and transfigure all th at God has made.

"God," says St. Maximos the Confessor, "has created us in order

that we may become partakers of the Divine Nature, that we
may enter into eternity, that we may resemble Him, that is,
being deified by His Grace through which all things were
made . """ The Divine Light, too, has the purpose of uniting the
creation with God; but more, it is a visitation from the future,
from "the age to come" and is often called by the Fathers, "the
light of the eighth Day . " Light is usually associated with the
Presence of the Holy Spirit, as St . Seraphim of Sarov and St.
Symeon the New Theologian tell us.
More will be said about the soteriological"7 dimension of the
U ncreated Energies in another chapter, but a few more words
should be said about the Divine Light before we move on to the
next subject.
Both Grace and Light describe the Divine Energies, not the
Divine Essence . Therefore, as St. Gregory PaJamas states, "God
is Light not according to His Essence but according to His
Energy.""H If for no other reason, Light cannot be viewed as a
metaphor and if God dwells in "unapproachable Light," as St.
Paul exclaims (I Tim . 6: 1 6) , He is basking in His Own Energies,
even as the Lord on Mt. Tabor. St . Leo the Great, the Latin
Father, speaks of the glory of the Kingdom of God as Light,
which Christ made visible to the Apostles in His transfigured
body. He also distinguished between the vision of the divine
glory communicated by Christ and "the ineffable and inaccessi
ble vision of Divinity itself,""" that is, between energy or operation
and essence.
Moreover, the countless Scriptural references to Light " God is Light" (I John 1 : 5 ) ; " I am the Light of the world" (john
8: 1 2) ; "the righteous shall shine as the sun in the Kingdom of
their Father" (Matt. 1 3 :43 ), etc. - cannot be understood as
literary similies, for too many Saints have experienced the Light
as the Presence of Divinity . Thus, St. Paul on his way to Damascus
or St. Stephen the Protomartyr or St . Anthony the Great "in his
battle for inner quiet" received now the Light of the Kingdom,
of "the age to come . "60 They received the Light of the Holy
Spirit "shining in their hearts," St . Basil the Great testifies. 61


This teaching about the Divine Light - and Grace - has a

tradition which reaches beyond the Old Testament, to Eden
itself where Adam basked in "the divine illumination and
radiance" (St. Gregory PaJamas) . And later, we know that the
face of Moses, when he came down from Mt. Sinai with the Ten
Commandments, was glorious with the Light of God (Ex . 34:28).
Everywhere in the Scriptures and Fathers one can fine references
to the Divine Light and, therefore, it is unfair to say, as some
have, that this teaching is a "development" of late Byzantine
If literature on the subject were not abundant in the early
Church, we may not justifiably conclude that "the theology of
Light" has late, local and limited tradition. As St. Mark of
Ephesus wrote,
"We m ust not be sur
prised if we do not find
among the ancients any
clear and defined distinc
tion between the Essence
of God and His Energies.
If, in our time, after the
solemn confirmation of
this truth the partisans of
profane wisdom have
created so m uch trouble
in the Ch urch over this
question - and have
polytheism - what mis
chief would not have been
perpetrated in earlier
times against this truth by
those puffed up with vain
learning. This is why our
St. Mark of Ephesus, detail ,
Church o f St. Nicholas, Athens
insisted in the simplicity of God more than the distinction
which exists in Him. It would have been inopportune to
exhibit the teaching concerning the essence and energies
before those who had enough trouble admitting the distinc
tion of hypostases. Th us, by a wise economy this sacred


teaching has become clarified in the course of time, God

using for this purpose the foolish a ttacks of heretics. " 62

St. Mark said no more about the historical formulation of Chris

tian doctrine than St. Vincent of Lerins or St. Hilary of Poitiers.
We rna y speak of four basic cosmologies or views on the origin
of the universe : first, the "scientific theory" which postu
lates the infinity of the universe with or without a creating deity ;
second, the "pantheistic theory" in which the universe is eternal
because it is the deity; third, the belief that the cosmos, although
other than the deity, is His eternal "companion ; " and, last, the
cosmogeny of "the Judea-Christian tradition" which teaches,
"By faith we understand that the ages were created by the Word
of God, the things seen being made out of the things which do
not appear" (Heb. 1 1 : 3 ) .
a. The so-called "scientific theory," depending on human
reason and its instruments, assumes time to be linear, that is,
reaching infinitely into the past and future. The earth originated
millions of years ago, but the universe of which it is part seems
to have had no beginning and probably no end. The earth is
the result of a fortuitous collocation of atoms, some mysterious
interaction between energy and matter. Life on earth follows
an evolutionary plan yet not entirely understood. Although the
life of our planet is uncertain, the universe seems to have no
end; at least, it cannot be proven one way or another.
b. The pantheistic cosmogeny in the West stems from the
so-called " Platonic tradition," most noteably the pagan
philosopher, Plotionos of Lycopolis (204-270). Most of his mod
ern disciples are German and Russian.63 His solution was to
merge God or the One with the cosmos. Theogony ("the birth
of God") and cosmogeny ("the birth of the world") are the same.
At one point in eternity, the Absolute (often identified with God
the Father), compelled by some inner necessity, projected His
"Reason" or "Logos" or "Nous" outward. His quest for their
reunion explains the origin, history and destiny of the cosmos
which, in fact, is no more than a form or manifestation of the

Logos, the "God" becoming Himself through the unfolding or

evolution of the universe. Eventually the Absolute and the Logos
or Nous (or "Son") will be united in the Spirit. The Spirit is the
nexus of the Absolute and his Other. Pantheists are not agreed
on whether the quest of the Absolute is unending, whether it
will end in a union which will only ignite another division and
pursuit a d infinitum.
c. Plato authored a third kind of cosmogeny, a dualistic view
in whch God or the "demiurge" and matter are coincidental and
eternal principles. From this matter (hyle, chaos) , he fashioned
- not created - the universe and the earth. He used a system
of Ideas or paradigmata to give form and order to this "primeval
chaos." One day the world will return to the stuff from which
it was taken and the world (aion) will begin again. The cosmos
will continue to come into and go out of existence, each "cycle"
or "age" inaugurating another. This theory, as the rest, denies
a definite beginning and end to the cosmos.
Interestingly, in all these anti-Christian cosmogenies the deity
involved, if there is one, is a "limited deity." He is an impersonal
organizing mind. Einstein, for example , propounded his " Un
ified Field Theory" in which the God of his Jewish heritage was
reduced to a designer of an infinite cosmos. In all these theories,
he is shackled by the matter out of which he has formed or
ordered the universe. As St. Ambrose of Milan observes, "If
matter is uncreated, then, God is without the power to create
matter and it becomes the condition for His work." In fact, He
"would have found ready for His task more things than He
contributed to it. He could at best do no more than bestow form
and beauty on it."64
d. According to Saint Basil, the Greeks spun their false
theories about the world because they could not rise to a knowl
edge of the true God. They would not allow that a spiritual
cause presided over the birth of the universe. Instead they
accounted for the existence of things by recourse "to material
principles and attributed the origin of the universe to the ele
ments which compose it. Others imagined atoms, and indivisible
bodies, molecules, conduits, forms . . . . "65 Likewise, they could


not admit the possibility of the final and radical transformation

of existence, the "rebirth of the creation" in a new and unimagin
able mode of being.';'; As St. John Chrysostom put it, "Where are
they who disbelieve the resurrection ? Where are they, I pray,
for I am an ignorant man - nay, I certainly know who they
are. Is it the Christians or the Gentiles who deny the work of
creation? The two denials go together: the denial that God
created (ex nihilo) out of nothing and the den ial that He raises
from the dead . "hi
The Greeks believed that things came into being, thrived,
achieved their purpose or end (telos) , decayed and finally disap
peared . They could not believe in an absolute beginning, a
moment in which nothing, not even chaos, existed; and they
could not imagine a time when all things would come to a com
plete termination (eschatos). For them something was always
coming into existence and passing out of it, as Aristotle said .
But, as St. Peter of Damascus taught, "All things that God has
created have an origin and, as He wishes, an end, since they
were brought into existence from non-existence ."';H
The instant the world came into existence, the Scriptures and
the Fathers call time. Time is the first creature of God, the
beginning, the foundation, the commencement of the universe.69
God created time - and all things - out .of nothing: not the
"nothing" or "no-thing" of the Greeks, the primal, unformed
substance or matter, but rather from non-being. "From nothing
nothing was m ade (ex nihilo nihil fit) ," goes the Latin phrase .
As St. Gregory PaJamas wrote, "He created from nothing, not
pre-existent matter."7" St. Dionysios the Areopagite says that
God did not only create the visible and invisible worlds, but
eternity itself.71
According to the Fathers, all three Persons of the Trinity
were involved in the creation, even as all Three will have some
share in its judgment. The Father took no direct role in the
formation of the cosmos, but He devised the plan for it and the
Son executed it. As the anonymous author (2nd c.) wrote in the
seventh chapter of his Letter to Diognetos, God the Father
"sent the very Artificer and Maker of the cosmos, He by

Whom He created the heavens, the One by Whom He

enclosed the ocean in its proper bounds, Him Whose mys
terious la ws all the elements faithfully observe, and by
Whom the measures to the length of days was given to the
sun to guard, Him Whom the moon obeys - the heavens
and things in the heavens, the earth and the things on the
earth . . . the things in the heights and in the depths and
those things between, to them He sent Him . . .

He sent Him to save the world.

Because the Son carried out the work of creation - and with
Him the Holy Spirit - one must not draw the wrong conclusion
about the dignity of each Person . "Let no one imagine that
somehow our faith dims the glory of the Father," cautions St.
N iceta of Remisiana. "Rather it adds to the glory of the Father
to refer the creation of all things to the Word of which He is
Father or to the Spirit to which He is the Source. The fact
remains that when His Word and Spirit create , it is He Who
creates all things. The Trinity, then, creates . . . . "72 There is no
subordination in the Trinity, no rank, only order of action. Why,
in the mysterious council of the divine Community, certain deci
sions were taken , we shall never know.
We must not infer that because one Person is more conspicu
ous than the other, that somehow He is less powerful or less
important. Thus, when the work of creation was performed and
the Scriptures say only a few words about the Third Person "The Spirit of God moved over the face of the waters" (Ge n .
1 : 2) - w e may not conclude that the work o f the Holy Spirit i s
less significant than t h e work o f t h e Father a n d the Son. "The
Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father," writes St. Niceta, " . . .
He creates along with the Father and the Son ; He gives life ; He
has foreknowledge just as the Father and the Son ; He makes
revelations; He is everywhere; He fills the world . . . . "7:1 The
equality of the Spirit to the Son and the Father cannot be denied.
He is the "life-giver" and "sanctifier" of the universe, a function
which neither of the other Persons fulfills.
I n connection with His actions - or more precisely the oper
ations or energies of the Spirit, the Son and the Father - we
must make another observation. Whatever their actions, what67

ever the motive for the creation, the Trinity acted from no neces
sity; in fact, we have no way of knowing why God created, even
if such n oble sentiments as love may be inferred. To be sure,
as the Fathers say , He wanted His creation to share His life , but
God was not lonely and He did not need to create the world to
comfort Himself. Nothing is added to Him by the existence of
the cosmos.
God created mysteriously and freely. He might not have
created at all . His choice was sovereign and what He created
was only one choice in an infinite number. The universe and
its inhabitants might have taken another form . Nevertheless, as
St. Athanasios the Great so often said , God's act of creation was
an act of condescension . Creation was not a tour de force, a feat
of accomplishment, a demonstration of power. It was not, as
the I ncarnation was not, something done for applause. The
existence of the world is an example - even as the Incarnation
- of self-limitation, an act of incredible humility .
7 . EVIL
Evil is a mystery. The ancient religions and philosophies gave
their answsers to the question, "Whence evil ?" but none of them
were satisfactory . Either, like the Hindu and the B huddist, they
believed that evil was the necessary companion of good, the
negative without which there could be no positive ; or, like the
Zoroastrians, they recognized the existence of two eternal prin
ciples, the Light of goodness and the Darkness of evil, antagonists
in conflict, a conflict which would one day end in victory for the
good . Of course , none of these religions offered a personal God
or an existential solution to the problems of death , sin and pain.
The ancient Greeks and Romans fared no better. Far more
inclined to philosophical rationalization, they seemed particu
larly dismayed by the idea that a "good god" or "gods" would
allow evil (i.e., catastrophe, war, death, suffering) in the world
they formed and governed. Some of the ancient philosophers
explained evil as "imperfection" or the distance of the cosmos
from its predetermined end : all that m a n and the universe could
be has not been reached and that gap between where we are


and where we are going is called evil .

Many of the ancients, however, sided with the Greek
philosopher, Epicuros (342-270 BC) who inquired,
"If God is willing to prevent evil, but is unable, then He is
impotent. If He is able, but un willing, then He is malevo
lent. If He is both able and willing, why evil then ?"

They answered that the existence of evil mean s either that there
is no God or gods or He (or they) , like the rest of us, are subject
to a higher power; fate (moira, fatum), they sometimes called
it. But this is an intellectual solution, if a solution at all, and of
little comfort to the sick, the suffering, the orphan and the
In modern times, the Russian philosopher, Nicholas Ber
dyaev, accepted the notion of a "limited deity. " He wrote that
God, freedom and evil all spring from the incomprehensible
"abyss of nothing," what the German philosophers called
Ungrund. God has no control over evil or freedom and, there
fore, is not responsible for evil, what it does or my choice of it.
God, Berdyaev said, does only good and seeks to guide us in
the right use of our free will . I n attemtping to 'justify the ways
of God to man" (theodicy) , he has rendered Him impotent and
emptied the Cross of all its meaning.
The Scriptures and the Fathers dealt with "the mystery of
evil" in another way. They straightforwardly assert that God
made the world ex nihilo and made it "very good" (Gen. 1 : 3 1 ) .
Also, they teach that evil is not necessary or eternal and its
existence does not prove that God is either impotent or malevo
lent. Evil is an irrational fact of cosmic existence. It has no being;
it is a parasite which feeds on being. Human reason can provide
no answer to its origin or ultimate purpose. Every attempt to
explain evil ends with contradictions and paradoxes.
I n the book of Job, God condemns those who presume to
decipher evil by means of human logic or to accuse Him of
either creating, approving or propagating evil. As he said to Job,
"Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowl
edge? Gird up now your loins like a man; for I will demand
of you to answer me. Where were you when I laid the

foundations of the earth ? tell Me if you know? Who has

laid the measures thereof; if you know? or who stretched
the line upon it? Whereupon are the founda tions fastened?
or who laid the corner thereof? When the morning stars
sang together, and all the sons of God shouted forjoy? Or
who sh ut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if
it had issued from a womb . . . . " Uob 38:2-8).

The human mind cannot know the beginning of things and,

consequently, cannot know the origin of evil or why God permits
it to exist. If God allows evil to exist, we can say no more than
that He has good purposes which we are not to judge. "Your
thoughts are not my thoughts nor your ways, my ways. For as
high as the heavens are above the earth , so are my ways and
my thoughts above your ways and your thoughts," the Lord said
to Isaiah (55: 8-9).
Nevertheless, God has revealed to us when evil first appeared
in the creation. It came to the spiritual world when it was chosen
by Lucifer the Archangel (about whom we shall say more) ; then,
through his m ischief, it entered the physical world by the choice
of Adam and Eve . In the words of St. Gregory of Nyssa, "Evil
subsists as soon as it is chose n . It comes into existence whenever
we elect it . It has no substance of its own . Apart from deliberate
choice evil would not exist."74
But what was it that Lucifer and Adam chose ? St. John of
Damascus repeats only what is found in the Apostolic Tradition,
". . . whence comes evil? It is quite impossible that it could
originate from goodness. We answer that evil is nothing
but the absence of good, a lapsing from the natural to the
unnatural; for nothing natural is evil. All things whatsoever
God made are 'very good. ' If therefore they had remained
just as they were created, they would yet be very good; but
when they volun tarily departed from what is natural, they
become what is unnatural; they became evil" (Exact Expos
ition IV, 20) .

Of course, St. John denies that God is the author of evil or that
evil is coercive . Neither Lucifer nor Adam and Eve were compel
led to choose evil. Moreover, evil is "unnatural" and the evil


condition of man is "unnatural." The world after the Fall became

"unnatural ," and it "groans and travails, awaiting deliverance"
from God . The Fall brought death and decay and were it not
for divine Providence, everyting would have fallen back into the
nothingness from whence it came.
God is the deliverer. He has come in the flesh and is the
answer to evil - to its origin, purpose and power. Its final
extinction comes with the realization of the divine Plan. In Christ,
the God-Man , the universe will be recovered from the devil,
"corruption will put on incorruption," all things will become
immortal by participation in the divine Nature ( I I Pet. 1 :4),
death will die and all creation will be transfigured in H im Who
will be "all in all. " Then will appear a new heaven and new earth
and the everlasting Eighth Day.


St. Clement of Rome



The Creation

"For Thou didst manifest the eternal fabric of the world

which Thou hast made through Thy operations. Thou,
Lord, art faithful in every generation; impartial in Thy
judgements, wonderful in Thy strength, prudent in estab
lishing Thy works, good in all things . . .

-St. Clement of Rome

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, created
the heavens and the earth, even the ages themselves . In this
chapter, then, we want to learn what They made with the time
and matter They drew from nothing (ex nihilo), that is, the
spiritual and material realms, angels, men, the brutes and all
the rest of living and insensate things. We want to discover who
was the first man, Adam , and how he was graced with the very
"image and likeness of God . " Also, we must learn how he with
his wife, Eve, through the guile of the devil - " Lucifer," "Satan,"
"the evil one" - in the guise of the "death-bearing serpent" (St.
Paulin us of Nola) lost Paradise and earned death and corruption
as the "wages" for themselves and their posterity.
We must, also, dispel some of the old ideas and myths about
"the ancestral transgression," especially the false theory that
Adam's Fall was the result of an "original sin" - a distortion of
the truth by Augustine of Hippo - by which the human race
became guilty of Adam's disobedience. Rather the Church
teaches that the human race inherited death, becoming enslaved
to the devil through the passions. Moreover, nature itself, which


Adam m ight have ruled, is subject to the same curse (Rom.

8: 1 9-23) . At the same time, God has not left H is creation to fall
back into the nothingness from which He brought it, but in
sentencing Adam and Eve mercifully promised them and the
humanity that issued from them a Redeemer, He Who would
recover them from the devil and return them to fellowship with
God .

God m ade time ("the beginning") and then the spiritual or
noetical or i nvisible realm , where the Light of His Glory shines
most brilliantly. This realm or heaven is the highest of all the
heavens which God made "in the beginning" (Ge n . 1 : 1 ) . After
wards, He made the sexless angels1 or "messengers" (angelos,
mal'ak in - Hebrew), which
He m ade for His Glory (Job.
4: 1 7 - 1 8) . "An angel is a sec
ond light," declares St . Greg
ory of PaJamas, "an effusion
or participation in God, in
the primal Light."2 "God the
Father first conceived the
heavenly and angelic pow
ers, "writes St. Gregory the
Theologian, "His concep
tion was fulfilled by His
Word and perfected by His
The angels, belonging to
that part of creation "which
is not seen," to borrow the
words of the Apostle Paul,
are "immaterial4 and noeti
cal and therefore , writes St.
Archangel Michael
Gregory of Nyssa,
"reside in places above the universe and beyond the firma
ment, dwelling in a condition consistent with their bodiless
natures, that is they are light, clear, agile, unencumbered

by space and time . . . perpetually moving while, their mat

erial opposite on earth - the lowest creature in the hierar
chy of beings (e.g. a rock,) provides no place for spiritual
(noetical) beings to act. For what possible comparison could
there be, on the one hand, between things light and aery
and, on the other hand, between things material that are
heavy and turgid . . . ?"5

Angels sit atop the ladder of being while created and formless
matter rests at the bottom of it.
Summarizing the patristic teaching about the angels, St. John
of Damascus says that God called the angels i nto being out of
"an incorporeal race, a sort of spirit or immaterial fire, or
in the words of the divine David: 'He made His angels
spirits and His ministers a flame of fire' (Ps. 1 03:4); and
by this He has described their lightness and ardor,
enth usiasm, eagerness and acuity with which they serve
Him for Whom they long; and how they are borne to the
regions above and are quite free ofall material thoughts . . .
An angel, then, is a noetical essence, perpetually in motion,
with a free will, incorporeal, subject to God, having obtained
by grace an immortal nature. The Creator alone knows the
form and limitation of its essence. "6
The angels are equal in nature - created, immortal, incorporeal
or bodiless, noetical or spiritual , etc. but the thousands upon
thousands of angels do not have the same rank and order.7
Following the Scriptures,H St. Dionysios the Areopagite
delineates nine such orders, each with three ranks: Seraphim
Cherubim-Thrones; Dominions-Virtues-Powers; Archangels
Angels and Principalities. They form a scale of angelic beings
to the very throne of God, the closer the angel "the more it
shares in the divine Likeness and Illumination . " The "higher
ranks possess the illumination and powers of the lower ranks,"
St. Dionysios states, "but the lower do not participate equally
with those above them."9
Briefly, the six-winged Seraphim, 1 0 standing closest to the
throne of God, "by the hidden, u nquenchable, changeless,
radiant and enlightened power, dispel and destroy the shadows
of darkness . " The many-eyed Cherubim "are filled by the partici-


pation in the first manifestation of Light and Wisdom and boun

tifully outpour to those below them ." The Thrones hover about
the throne of God. The function of Dominions, highest in the
second trilogy of angels, becomes clearer in their relationship
with the earth over which they have been given authority. Virtues
"ascend u nwaveringly towards the superessential Virtue (God)
Who is the source of all virtues." Powers are busy in "the divine
receptions and regulations of noetical and supermundane
power." Highest in the third order are the Principalities who
are entirely "at the service of the Prince of princes." Archangels
share in the duties of the Principalities above them and the
angels below them, announcing to the latter the revelations from
above. Angels are the celestial beings who have the most contact
with men.
The leader of the heavenly host or "the m inistering spirits
of the King of all" (Luke 2: 1 3 ; Heb. 1 : 1 4) is the Archangel
Michael. He is called "one of the chief of princes" (Dan. 1 0 : 1 3)
and "commander of Yahweh's host" (mal'akh-Yahweh) as
declared to Jesus the son of Nun (5: 14). He is to Israel "your
prince" (Dan. 1 0 : 2 1 ) . Thus, during the Feast of the Archangels,
the Church sings,
"Thou art fiery in appearance and wondrous in beauty, 0
Archangel Michael, traversing the spaces with thine immor
tal nature, fulfilling the commands of the Pantokrator, and
known as powerful in war . . . . "

Michael is said to have driven Satan from the heavens. Again ,

"0 Lord, the Word, Who makes Thine angels spirits and,
as it is written, Thy ministers 17ames of fire, Thou hast
manifested Michael, prince of hosts among the myriad
archangels, as a leader submitting to Thy commands, and
raising his voice unto Thy glory with thrice-holy praise"
(Prosomia of Vespers).

The other angels which have been given special attention by the
Fathers and religious writers are Gabriel, Raphael and U riel. 1 1
Gabriel will visit Daniel (Dan. 8 : 1 6) and will reveal to St.
Zacharias the birth of his son, St. John the Baptist (Luke 1 : 1 9)
and announce the I ncarnation to the Theotokos (Luke 1 : 2 6-27).

Concerning him, the Church declares in the Feast of the

"Standing before the Throne of the Triluminary Trinity,
0 Gabriel, leader of hosts and shining with the abundance
of divine illumination. Deliver us from the heavy darkness
of death who on earth joyfully extol thee. Delight them by
illumination, 0 intercessor of our souls. " (Prosomia of Ves

He is also the champion of the Orthodox Faithful,

"Demolish, 0 Gabriel, leader ofhosts, the attack ofheretics
which rise contantly against thy fold. Heal the division of
thy Ch urch; still the tempest of countless temptations, and
deliver from hardships and calamities those who eagerly
celebrate thy memory, who hide under the shadow of thy
protection, 0 intercessor of our souls. " (ibid.)

The intercessory powers of the seven great archangels was

revealed by Raphael, saying, "I am one of the seven holy angels
who carry the prayers of the saints on high, and have access to
the Majesty of the Holy One" (Tobias 1 2 : 1 5 ) . He is also the
angelic physician who healed Sara (Tobias 3 : 8) . Uriel, on the
other hand, is the lord of those angels who guard the u nderworld
( Hades, sheol) and who reported to Enoch the suffering of the
Everywhere in the Old and New Testament the angels sometimes called "sons of God" (Job 3 8 : 7 ) , "the holy ones" (Ps.
89:6), even a "man" (Zech. 1 : 8 ; Luke 24:4) - intervene in the
lives of men to whom, incidentally, they are superior in nature
(Heb. 2 : 7 ; Ps. 8 : 4-6) . We know that after God drove man out
of Eden , He placed a cherub before its entrance (Gen. 3 : 24).
Angels appeared to Abraham (Gen. 1 8 : 1 ) , to Jesus the son of
Nun (5: 1 4) , to Samuel's mother (Judges 1 3 : 6 ) , to Daniel (8: 1 6) ,
to Isaiah (6: 6) , to Ezekiel ( 2 : 5 ) , to Zechariah ( 5 : 9 ) . O f course,
they appeared to St. Zacharias and to the Virgin Mary, but also
to St. Peter (Acts 1 2 : 7) , etc. They serve and punish me'? (Ge n .
1 9 : 1 1 ; He b. 1 : 1 4 ; I I Thess. 1 :8); they are given by God a s guar
dians to persons, cities and nations ( I I King 6: 1 5f; Dan. 1 0 : 1 3 ;
Matt. 1 8 : 1 0 ; Rev . 1 : 20) ; they take part i n the divine Services


and bear our prayers to God (Rev. 8 : 3 ) ; angels contend for the
souls of the deceased with the devil (Jude 9 ) ; and will accompany
Christ at the Judgment (Mark 8 : 38) and gather the elect (Luke
8 : 26), casting evil doers into hell or gehenna (Matt. 1 3 : 4 1 ) ; and
they will enter the heavenly Jerusalem with the saved (Heb.
1 2 : 2 2 ) . They are not to be worshipped (Col. 2: 1 8) . 1 2
Although everywhere, angels are not omnipresent. They have
a mobility unknown to human beings. Whatever most modern
religious thinkers believe, angels are not mythological creatures;
nor are they ideas stolen by the Old and New Testaments from
ancient Near Eastern religions . The fact that many religions,
ancient and modern, have an angelology is no reason to assume
that such beliefs are the common superstition of religions with
a common cultural background. The truth is that Christians and
their Hebrew ancestors were not the only religions to experience
them. For example, the Nephilim (Gen. 6: 4) and Job were not
Hebrew and had contact with angels. The Church knows of
their existence ; in fact, angels belong to the Church.
Demons are fallen angels, angelic rebels "which kept not their
first estate but left their habitation" (Jude 6) to wage war against
God. They were created good, but some, under the leadership
of the archangel, Samael, revolted against Him. The reason for
their revolution was pride, refusing, during God's council with
the angels, to serve the man whom the Almighty intended to
create. Samael or Satan had greater ambition. Isaiah was given
a vision of his fall,
"How has Lucifer, that rose in the morning, fallen from
heaven! He that sent orders to all the nations is crushed
to the earth. B u t thou saidst in thine heart, I will go up to
the heavens, I will set my throne above the stars of the
heavens: I will sit on a lofty mount, on the lofty mountains
toward the north: I will go up above the clouds; I will be
like the Most High. B ut now thou shalt go down to hell,
even to the foundations of the earth. " (Isa. 1 4 : 1 2- 1 4) .

And the Lord Himself revealed, " I beheld Satan as lightening


fall from heaven" (Luke 1 0 : 1 8) .

Samael or Lucifer ("day" or " morning star" i n Latin) became
"the adversary" ("devil"
ho diabolos in Greek; "Satan"
hassatan in Hebrew) of God and man. The "devil" is "the chief
of the wicked demons" who "opposes" or "hinders" the Plan of
God and man's will to cooperate with the Creator (Zech. 3: 1 -2 ;
Ps. 38: 2 1 ; Num. 2 2 : 2 2 : I Sam. 29: 4). H e i s "belial" or "the evil
one," ho poneros in Greek (Matt. 1 3 : 1 9 ; John 1 7 : 1 5 ; Eph. 6: 1 6) ;
he i s "beelzebub" or "prince of demons" (Matt. 1 2: 2 4 ; Luke
1 1 : 1 5 ) . "the prince of darkness" (john 1 2 : 3 1 ) , "god of the age"
(II Cor. 4 : 4), "belial" or "the Antichrist" ( I I Cor. 6: 1 5 ) , "the
Great Dragon" and the ancient serpent (Rev. 1 2 : 9) ; also, "the
accuser" (ho kategor in Greek) of Revelations 1 2 : 1 0 .
After the devil and his angels were driven from the heavens
by the Archangel Michael and his host, the demons filled created
space (Eph. 2 : 2 ; 6 : 1 2) . The heavens were no longer accessible
to them. The Light of God - in which the good angels always
bask - was now painful to them. Neither could they reflect His
Glory anymore . I n Orthodox iconography, therefore, Satan or
the devil is depicted as not only ugly but dark, having lost by
his pride both beauty of countenance and the eternal Light. As
St. Gregory PaJamas explains,

"The race of demons which has fallen away . . . has been

deprived of Light and the power of vision . . . which are
natural to angels. They have not lost, however, the power
of the angelic intellect, for they said to Christ, "I know
thee, 0 Holy One of_ God . . . "13

In another place, St. Gregory indicates the cause of their fall,

"Th e angels were created to serve the Creator and necessar
ily, then, to be under His a uthority. They were not
appointed to rule over beings inferior to themselves unless
their Sovereign assigned them to such a task. Yet, the pre
sumptuous Satan yearned to govern in his own right and
contrary to the will of the Creator. Quitting his station
together with other angels, he rebelled against God Who
rightly abandoned these apostate beings, who lost true life
and illumination and were clothed in death and condemned
to dwell in eternal darkness . . .


They had fallen into the "air" (Job 1 : 7 ; 2 : 2) or the void of created
space which suggests that the angelic rebellion occurred after
God had created the highest heavens. They now turned their
attention to Adam, he who Satan refused to serve and of whom
he was envious for his high position in the creation (Wisdom
2 : 24; Rom . 8 : 7 ) .
"Bu t because man, albeit subject to God, was given to rule
all creatures of the earth, the devil, the originator of evil,
looked with envy upon him and conceived ways to deceive
him and to cause his ruin. Unable to use violence - hind
ered by the Sovereign Ruler Who had fashioned all rational
natures free and self-determining - the devil decided to
use false counsel to abolish man 's dominion. He beguiled
him; or rather persuaded man to neglect and to dismiss
the admonition and commandment of God. In this way,
h e induced him to partake in his own apostasy from God
and hoped also to make him a partaker of his condition of
eternal darkness and death "'4

In other words, since he is "the primal source of evil" (St. Basil

the Great), he without whom evil would not have entered the
creation, the personal and pernicious force of negation, the
adversary of God and man, the existence of the devil had no
other purpose than to destroy the works of God or, at least, to
drag whatever he was able into "the outer darkness," into "the
bottomless abyss" (Rev. 20: 3 ; Matt. 25: 30) which is the destiny
of "the evil one" and his demons.
Executing the fall of Adam, the devil became his cruel task
master. Although God did not permit him to kill the man or to
force him to do evil, the devil could use the passions of his
corrupt nature to spiritually destroy him. Each of the demons
was permitted to teach mankind a particular evil - for which
reason the Fathers of the Church alert us to the demon behind
each passion. A demon could even possess the body of individu
als. Still, neither the devil nor any of his angels may touch the
soul of man directly. "The devil cannot touch the nature of the
soul, " writes St. John the Solitary, " nor draw nigh or harm it at
all . . . for only by agitating the members of the body may he
disturb our thoughts . . . "15 When we discuss the Christian doc-


trine of the soul and its faculities of mind, memory, imagination,

reason and hearl, these few remarks about the devil's influence
on our fallen nature will become clearer.
For now it is important to u nderstand that he has no control
over our human nature, it is under grace. Moreover, the devil
does not know the future and cannot dictate it. In fact, the "evil
one" and his "unclean spirits" have no gift of foreknowledge
and prophecy. They can make accurate surmise on the basis of
their knowledge of human nature and they have been given
permission to act in certain ways towards us - as in the case of
Job - but that is hardly clairvoyance and, most assuredly not
the omniscience they want us to believe they possess. The
demons pretend to know what is to come, but they are deceivers
and the devil is "the father of lies" (John 8 : 44). He is a master
of deception and is an expert in the manipulation of the human
imagination .
From the Fathers, especially the great ascetics, we learn that
the evil spirits never cease to attack human beings. If they do
not approach our pride - wherein we are most vulnerable
they assail us through the desires of the body. If they fail to
make us believe that our sins are harmless, they lead us to forget
them. They may, as Satan did with Eve, enchant both mind and
the senses of the body. Eve was aroused by him to the beauty,
desirability and promise of the fruit on the tree of knowledge:
"the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was a
delight to the eyes, and that the tree was able to make one wise;
thus, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her
husband, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened . . . "
(Gen. 3 : 6-7).
The devil rarely tempts us with absolute falsehoods. He pre
fers the snare of the half-truth, the distortion and the cheap
imitation which explains, incidentally, his not uncommon
appearance as "an angel of light" ( I I Cor. 1 1 : 1 4 ; Gal. 1 : 8) . What
he told Eve about her condition and what he led her to imagine
about the tree and its "forbidden fruit" contained a modicum
of truth . He is the master of deception.



God created the physical universe or cosmos within time and
after the spiritual world. Neither the physical or spiritual dimen
sions of creation shares in the essence of God, as St. Gregory of
Nyssa insists . 1 6 God is the creator of all: He is not the universe,
neither is the universe Him. He is not part of it, nor is any part
of the universe - angelic, human, animal , vegetable or mineral
- divine by nature. All things have a beginning in time and
will have an end, if that is the Will of God . 17 Putting the matter
another way: the universe, beginning with its first moment, flows
i n ages of time to the end for which God has ordained for it
(Eccles. 3 : 1 - 1 1 ) .
The Fathers tell us that time although one and relentless is
divided into seven ages - a reflection of the seven days of
creation - and at their consummation, an eighth and everlasting
d a y" or "age" will dawn. Listen to the fuller description of St.
John of Damascus,
"When there was yet no
sun to divide day from
night, no way existed to
m easure an age; but yet
there was a sort of tem
poral motion and interval,
something, as it were,
coextensive with eternity.
And in this sense, there
was one age, an age that
we may use to describe
God: aionios (eternal) and
even proaionios (pre-eter
nal), for the age of aeon
itself was His creation . . .
God alone is without
beginning . . . whether of
the 'age' or any other exist
ing thing . . . But we may
also speak of 'ages of ages'
inasmuch as the seven ages
St. 1 oh n Damascus
of the present course of
time includes ages in the sense of men's lives and, in a sense,


one age here also embraces all the ages.17 The present and
the future are called 'ages of ages. ' Furthermore, everlasting
(aionios) life and everlasting punishment indicate that the
'age to come' is without end. For that (eighth) age, the period
after the resurrection, will not be counted by days and nights.
There will be no evening but one day only, no evening
because 'the Sun ofRighteousness' (Christ) will shine brightly
on the saved, but the sinful in that age will endure only
profound and limitless night"18

The ages commenced, the Fathers testify, when God the Son the Demiourgos or Builder - began to fashion the "first day"
"the one day" - which will cease when He Who built all things
comes to judge all things.
Before God created the galaxies and planets, He set a boundry
to the physical universe, a periphery or "heaven" to it (Gen. 1 : 8) .
Beyond it are other heavens, the "third" being the one into which
St. Paul was snatched (II Cor. 1 2 : 2) . As St. Irenaeos, bishop of
Lyons writes, there are seven heavens.
"But the earth is encompassed by seven heavens, in which
dwell Powers and Angels and Archangels, giving homage to
the Almighty God Who created all things, not as if He were
in need of anything, but Jest they too become idle, useless
and accursed. Therefore, the Spirit of God in His indwelling
is manifold and is enumerated by Isaiah the prophet in seven
charismata (Isa. 1 1 :21) resting on the Son of God, that is, the
Word, in His coming as man . . . Hence, the first heaven
from the top - and which surrounds the others - is wisdom;
and the one after and within it, understanding; and the one
after, the third, is counsel; and the fourth, counting from
the top downwards . . . fortitude . . . knowledge . . . godliness;
and the seventh, the firmament about the earth, full of the
fear of the Spirit, Who lights up the heavens. For after this
pattern Moses received the seven-branched candlestick always
burning in the sanctuary; since it was the pattern of the
heavens that he received the liturgy, as the Word says to him:
'You shall do according to all the pattern of what you have
seen on the mountain ' (Ex. 25:40)"19

There. are many "heavens" for which reason the Lord taught u s
t o pray, "Our Father Who art i n the heavens (ouranois)" and to


behave as "children of your Father which is in the heavens

(ouranois) ."20
The creation of the spiritual world and the heavens initiated
the "first day" - or, more accurately, "the one day."21 Moses
was right not to call it "the first day," writes St. Hippolytus of
Rome, "since it was not 'first' but 'one day,' in order to show
that the other days will circle on it as their orbit ; and, while
remaining one, the days compose also the week."22 In other
words, because the "day" on which God began to create is one,
immoveable day, it acts as the point from which and to which
the week of days returns.
We will see in another chapter that this "one day" will be
called "the Day of Yahweh," "the Lord's Day,'' and eventually
Sunday. Sunday will not only recall the "day" on which God
began to create, but it will be a type of the "age to come." With
the Resurrection of the Lord, the Church understands that Sun
day is the "one day" to which the seven ages or "days" of history
will return, that is, to eternity; it is the day after the Sabbath
which itself was and is the last of the seven ages or days. Sunday
is the type of eternity, the type of "the eighth" or everlasting
day; both the first and the last "age." The eternity which the
"eighth day" represents is not the start of the "old creation," the
creation of Genesis, but the "new creation," the transfigured
The difference between the creation at the beginning of time
and the new creation at the end of history, is that the latter will
transform what is, while the creation which Moses outlines com
mences with nothing. Then were the angels fashioned, the light
separated from the darkness, the earth formed and Moses was
inspired to say that the time when God began to create is what
we will come to call springtime. "In order to show that the
creation of the world took place in the Spring, the Scriptures
say: 'This month shall be to you the beginning of months and
it shall be for you the first month of the year' (Ex. 1 2 : 2) , calling
the first month springtime," explains St. Ambrose. "It was fitting
that the beginning of the year should be the beginning of life
and that life itself should be fostered by gentler breezes."23


On the "second day" God created the firmament and divided

it from the waters and the firmament of the earth he called
"heaven." On the "third day" He separated the waters from the
dry land, germinating the earth and bringing forth every living
thing after its own kind. "These three days which came into
existence before the luminaries are types of the Trinity, of God,
and His Word and Wisdom," asserts St. Theophilos of Antioch.4
On the "fourth day" God made the galaxies, the planets, the
sun and the moon, saying, "Let them be for signs and seasons,
for days and years. " On the "fifth day," God fashioned the land
and the sea animals, the fowls of the air, and gave them all the
command to increase and multiply. On the "sixth day" God
formed the first human male, Adam, and from him, the first
woman, Eve. He gave them dominion over the physical creation.
And on "the seventh day," the Sabbath, "God finished from His
work which He had done, and He rested from it. And blessed
the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from
all His work which He had done in creation" (Gen. 2 : 1 -3).
All beings now claimed the order He had given them and
followed the laws that He had set to the terrestrial and celestial
elements which composed the universe. In the words of St. Gre
gory PaJamas,
"Th us the excellent Artificer gave such a position to all
aspects of His work as was required for it, adorning the
whole of it. What needed to be swift and what needed to
be in motion He accomplished. He also apportioned suita
ble limits to each thing. Some He placed on high, enjoining
them to move and turn together for all time at the periphery
of the cosmos in a perfect and uniform manner. The things
which are light and active were disposed to serve whatever
lay beneath them. The former were wisely placed after the
world's center region so that they could surround and suf
ficiently dispel the excessive cold at its proper station which
would likewise restrict any excess at the earth's orbit "25

The Fathers in general - fully aware of the science of their

time - believed the earth was the center of the physical universe
and that it had been constructed by God for its benefit. All
commentaries on Genesis and the hexaemerai ("six days of ere-


ation") acknowledged that what God had made was an intelligible

order. The earth and its moon, the other planets and galaxies
form a system. They never questioned the reliability of the
Genesis cosmology. I have found nothing in their doctrine which
allows for the modern theories of cosmic development or, on
earth , of a biological evolution which denies the central position
of the human race which stems from Adam.
The Prophet Moses writes in the first book of the B ible that
on the "sixth day" God created man.

"The Creation of Adam" by Photios Kontoglou, 1 9 60

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, after

Our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of

the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over a ll the earth,
and over every creeping thing that moves upon it. ' So God
created man in His Own image, in the image of God He
created him; male and female He created them. And God
blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and m ultiply,
fill and subdue the earth . . . '. " (Gen. 1 : 26-28).

If God waited until the "sixth day" to create the ruler of the
earth, it was because, as the Fathers explain, man is the center
and synthesis of all things; he is a "little world" (microcosm), a
miniature and composition of the "greater world" (macrocosm)
of nature . He is, therefore, the unity or nexus of the physical
and noetical or spiritual world. As St. Gregory PaJamas writes,
"God did not form the whole man and matter and the other
elements which form the sensible world as He did the other
animals; rather He made only man 's body from these mat
erials, but his soul He took from things supercelestial, even
from God Himself by means of an ineffable in-breathing.
The soul is great and wondrous, surpassing the entire phys
ical world which surrounds him and which he was ordained
to govern. The soul knows God and receives Him and
manifests Him . . . and by Grace the soul is able to unite
hypostatically with Him after a struggle to achieve that
privilege . . . . "26

To symbolize this special place in the creation, St. Gregory of

Nyssa states in On the Making of Man (VI I I , 1 ) , man was made
to stand erect. The "form of man is upright" so that he might
extend towards heaven and look upwards; "and this is the mark
of his sovereignty and royal dignity. For the fact that man alone
among existing things is erect - while other things bow their
bodies downwards - clearly indicates the difference in their
station . . . " Of course, his dignity or position is connected with
his soul - the soul which gives life to each person, the soul
which comes into existence with his body, as St. Jerome of
Bethlehem testified.27
The soul is more precious than the body, for many reasons.
Says St. John of Damascus,
"The soul . . . is a living essence, simple, incorporeal, in vis
ible in its nature . . . immortal, rational and noetical, form-


Jess, making use of an organized body to which it is the

source of life, growth, sensation and generation. Again,
the h uman mind is the highest part of the soul and in no
way alien to it, for what the eye is to the body so the mind
is to the soul. The soul enjoys freedom and will and
energy . . . "2H

On account of its spiritual nature - and because, as we shall

see, the "image of God" in man belongs primarily to the soul
- we must never think that the Fathers, as the pagan Greek
philosophers, taught a body-soul dualism.
Man is not a soul with a body - albeit, as St. Basil the Great
declared, the body is "the instrument of the soul" - but body
and soul form one person. Neither does the Church believe that
the soul lived prior to its body - as the Greeks and Origen of
Alexandria taught - but each body is made for each soul, a
soul is made by God for the body He creates. Furthermore, the
soul does not indwell a body as a punishment for some sin
committed in another life. Also, the Church rejects the notion
of "the transmigration of the souls," that is, "reincarnation" or
Thus, when God created the first man, He breathed "the
breath of life" into a unique body (soma, corpus, basar in Heb
rew). As the Church sings during the Vespers of Meat Fare
"Thou didst create me in the beginning by Thy command;
for when Thou willed to perfect me, Thou didst make me
an animal composed of two natures, visible and invisible.
My body Thou didst create from the earth while my soul
Thou didst grant through Thy divine and life-giving
breath . . . " (Glory of The Prosima) .

And the following week, in the Vespers of Cheese Fare Sunday,

She declares in the first Ideomelon ,
"Verily, the Lord, my Creator, took dust from the earth
and with a life-giving breath gave me a soul and gave me
life, honoring me and setting me on the earth as master
of all things visible . . . "

In the words of St. Leo the Great,


"Man's soul did not exist until it was breathed into his body,
nor was it implanted in that body by anyone save God,
Who is the Creator of both soul and body . . . "2''

As St. Macarius the Great warns us, we must not conclude that
the soul is divine because it exists in the body by virtue of the
divine-inbreathing. It is "a creature noetical, beautiful, great and
wondrous, a fair likeness to and image of God," but altogether
an act of grace .:Jo Indeed, the soul is not even wholly spiritual ,
neither it nor the angels, as St. Faustus once observed. Only
God is completely immaterial.
Here, then, is the meaning of the Genesis anthropology
wherein God created the first man, breathing into his face "the
breath of life," into a body taken from the earth; and "man
became a living soul" (Gen. 2 : 7 ) . The soul - which the Hebrews
believed was seated in the blood - is the source of the will to
live, to thrive and to create. The soul possesses a non-rational
side, an impulse within it which impels the soul towards God
(Ps. 42 : 2; 1 39 : 1 4 ; Deut. 4 : 29). It is the "heart" ( kardia, cordus,
leb in Hebrew) which also judges between right and wrong,
makes contrition, believes and doubts (Ps. 1 5 : 2; 1 9 : 1 5 ; 5 1 : 1 9 ;
Prov. 3 1 : 1 1 ; Job 9 : 4 ; Rom . 1 0 : 9) . And, as the Lord Himself said
about the heart, from it proceeds "evil reasoning, murder, adul
tery, fornication, theft, lying, blasphemy . . . " (Matt. 1 5 : 1 9) and
with which, if it is pure, we "see God" (Matt. 5 : 8) .
In the soul i s man's reason (dianoia, ratio, fikar i n Hebrew)
with its discursive (analytical) and intuitive functions. In the
writings of the desert Fathers, the reason is called "guardian"
or "sentinel of the heart" - aside from its other powers. The
Lord recognized the various faculties of the soul, including
reason, in His command, "You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart (kardia), with all your soul (psyche) and with
all your mind or reason ( dianoia). This is the first and great
commandment" (Matt. 2 2 : 37).31 Finally, reason is also distin
guished from "spirit" (pneuma, spiritus, ruah in Hebrew) . "I
will pray with m y spirit (pneumati) and I will pray with the
understanding ( to n01) ," exclaims St. Paul in his first letter to
the church at Corinth ( 1 4 : 1 5).


Some authors, whether Scriptural or patristic, conceive the

spirit and the soul to be distinct and some hold that the spirit
is only the highest part of the soul. In either case, it is the spirit
which communes with God and it is the spirit which feeds the
soul with "spiritual food," as St. Tikhon of Zadonsk remarked.12
In the Old Testament, the soul is more commonly associated
with the lower processes of life while the spirit is related to the
acts of human knowing and willing. Hence, the Holy Spirit
converses with the spirit and imports wisdom to it, understanding
by which man grasps the meaning of spiritual gifts and truths,
the power to search the heart (I Cor. 2 :9- 1 6) . The "knowledge"
of the spirit, although it may associate with the senses and the
intellect or reason, is a higher knowledge
which it contemplates the world of invisible realities.
Naturally, the spirit deals with knowledge far greater than
the five senses may impart. Philosophers who insist that all
knowledge must be confined to the data which the senses provide
the mind and which reason deciphers, obviously have a far dif
ferent conception of man , God and the universe , than the
Church professes. The senses do no more than receive the man
ifold of impressions from the physical environment, impressions
which are "appropriated in turn by the soul's, that is, the m ind's
image-making faculty (imagination) w hich organizes them into
the forms of rational understanding. "In rational creatures,"
writes St. Gregory PaJamas, "the soul's imaginative faculty is the
boundary between intellect and sensation." It is the latter which
uses the images produced by the imagination in its judgments."
From these thoughts "most virtues and vices, right and wrong
opinions are born. Yet, not every thought in the mind has its
origin in sense impressions, but may come from a source unre
lated to the senses . . . ":l:l
We must be aware that the knowledge of man and his many
ways of knowing are not the same now as they were before the
Fall of Adam. "Originally," states St. Macarios the Great, "the
mind being in a pure state beheld the Lord in His glory, but
now as a result of the Fall, it is in the state of shame . . . . "4 Also,
St. Nicephoros the Solitary says that "the devil has the power


to agitate the rational processes of every man day and

night . . . . "" In other words "the natural state of reason" about
which philosophers speak and which they assume in their pursuit
of truth, is in a very unnatural condition. "For a man to be
rational according to nature," insists St. Gregory of Sinai, "he
must be in the condition Adam was before the fall, a condition
which is impossible now unless one has first been purified from
all the passions."% But dispassion (apatheia) requires "rebirth"
Qohn 3 :6-7), a "pure heart," an "enlightened mind" (Eph. I : 1 81 9) , cleansed of all "darkness" (Rom . 1 :2 1 ; Eph. 4 : 28). The
"image of God" in man must be healed.

When Moses relates that God made man in His own Image
(eikon, imago, selem in Hebrew) and Likeness (homoisis, simil
tudinem, demu t in Hebrew) , he did not mean that man was the
analogy of God. The notion that God and man are alike - albeit
God is absolute, perfect and sublime - belongs to the Greek
philosophical tradition. This ostensible similarity or analogy
allowed the human mind - wherein the kinship to the divine
lay - to pass from the visible and changing world below to the
invisible and unchanging world above. The most famous expo
nent of this theory, as students of philosophy know, is Plato who
taught that everything in the visible world is only a replica or
copy of everything in the ideal or invisible world.
This theory has been treated with intellectual sophistication
by some and vulgar naivete by others. Thus, Augustine of H ippo
tried to prove the existence of the Trinity from the nature of
the human soul which he believed to be the analogy of God.
The soul, he said, possesses memory, reason and will - three
aspects of one reality just as Father, Son and Holy Spirit form
one God. Some thinkers, whether in antiquity, the middle Ages
or modernity, have held that, since God made male and female
in His "image and likeness," one must assume that God has male
and female characteristics. They usually assign masculinity to
the Son and femininity to the Holy Spirit. Contrary to this v iew,
St. Gregory of N yssa states that "the distinction between male


and female has no place in the divine Archetype."7 Still others

deny the Trinity, because, they say, since man was made in the
"image of God," he should have three heads.
These errors are all based on the assumption, usually uncon
scious, that between God and man there is some comparison
and the words "image" of or "image and likeness of God" are
supposed to prove it. Such a falsehood does not belong to the
Apostolic Tradition but was conceived by the pagan Greeks,
adopted to Christianity by Augustine and developed with logical
precision by Thomas Aquinas and the Scholastics of the post
Orthodox West. Of course, in modern times man and God are
not matched, but the idea that human reason can know ultimate
reality has not been lost.
Rather should we follow the witness of the Holy Fathers in
their explanation of the phrase "the image and likeness of God."
First of all, we ought to understand that, according to these
teachers of the Faith, the "image of God" applies to both the
human body and soul. "The word 'man' is not applied to either
soul or body separately, but both together," writes St. Gregory
Palamas, "since together they have been created in the 'image
of God' ." This fact, incidentally, gives man a certain dignity
which the angels do not possess, because, having a body, man
has a lifegiving energy which noetical beings do not.:> H St.
Irenaeos asserts that "the Architect of the universe," in making
man according to His own image, conferred "godlikeness" not
only on the soul but on his "visible appearance, for it was as the
image of God that man was fashioned and set on earth ."''9
Secondly, we must be aware that bestowing the "image and
likeness of God" on man did not mean that he was therefore
perfect and immortal. Rather he had a "pledge of immortality"
if he struggled for perfection, as St. Ambrose tells us.40 God
"made them neither immortal nor mortal, but, as we said before,
capable of either state," affirms St. Theophilos of Antioch, "in
order that if he inclined to immortal things by keeping the
commandments of God, he might by way of reward obtain
immortality from Him and so become divine."4 1
Thirdly, although the body and soul share, each i n its own


way, in the "image of God," the soul is preeminent, a preemi

nence and primacy of value
which is clearly demon,0
strated by the fact, writes St.
11[ 1
Cyril of Alexandria, that
God breathed "the breath of
life" into the soul. Moreover,
this "in-breathing" must not
be understood to imply that
the Holy Spirit is part of
human nature. He could not
become "the nature of the
soul or become its mind," if
for no other reason than that
such a relationship between
man and the Spirit would
suggest a change in the
Spirit; and, also, if the
nature of the Spirit partici
St. Cyril of Alexandria, 1 98 1
pated in the nature of man,
either man could not sin or, i f he could (as h e does), the Spirit
would be Himself guilty of evil. St. Cyril writes,

"It follows that this living being was animated by God's

ineffable might and was made in likeness to Him, and
accordingly was born to be good, righteous and capable of
all virtue; but he was also hallowed by partaking in the
divine Spirit, a gift that man lost by sin. For God declared
in one passage, 'My Spirit shall not abide in these men
because they are flesh, ' meaning tha t their thinking is
fleshly. B ut seeing that God the Father was fleased 'to sum
up all things in Christ ' (i.e., bring them bac to the original
state in which the Holy Spirit was given to us, but then
quit us on account of sin), Christ breathed Him into the
HolyApostles with the words, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'. "42

There is nothing about human nature which is uncreated.

Nothing about it may be said to be without a beginning. The
Spirit gives life to man; He is not the element of life in him,
not, as some have said, his "divine spark."

Finally, the "image of God" cannot be examined without tak

ing into account his "likeness" to God. In the writings of St.
Cyril of Alexandria and other Fathers, the "image" and "likeness"
are virtually the same; nevertheless, "image" and "likeness" are
not two words describing the same reality. As St. John of Damas
cus puts it, "the phrase 'after His image' clearly refers to the
side of human nature which consists of mind and free will,
whereas 'after H is likeness' means similarity in virtue as far as
that is possible."4 In other words, the "image" exists in us so
that we may achieve "likeness" to God, that is, become "divine"
- perfect and immortal by v irtue.
Let us summarize this entire matter with a pertinent even if
lengthy quote from St. Gregory of Nyssa"s On the Making of
Man (XV I , 7- 1 0) ,
"We m ust, then, examine the words of Genesis carefully
so tha t we may understand tha t to be created 'in the image '
is one thing and our present wretchedness is another. 'God
created man, ' it says, 'in the image of God He crea ted him, '
are the phrases which indicate the end of creating was made
'in the image. ' Then, the words 'male and female He created
them ' as the next step . . . Th us, the creation of h uman
nature is twofold: one made like unto God, one divided
according to a distinction which is not always clear . . . by
these words Holy Scriptures conveys a great and profound
doctrine . . . While the two natures - the Divine and incor
poreal as well as the irra tional nature of animals - are
separated from each other as extremes, h uman nature is
the mean between them. Man is a compound nature in
which the extremes are mediated: the Godlike, the rational
and noetical elements which belong to both male and
female; but also the irrational and bodily form and structure
in which male and female are divided . . . For Moses says
first tha t 'God created man in the image of God' (indicating
what St. Paul meant by the words 'there is neither male
nor female ' [Gal. 3:28] in Christ); and, then, he adds . . .
'male and female He created them. ' What do we learn from
this? . . . God is good or rather transcends whatever we
conceive good to be . . . From His goodness God created
man . . . a goodness which is seen both by bringing man
into being from nothing and supplying him with every
good gift, a list which would be too long to enumerate here.

The Scriptures recapitulates it with the words that man was

made 'in the image of God '; for this is tantamount to saying
that He made h uman nature for participa tion in the good,
for if God is the fulness of God and we are in His image
and seeking His likeness, then, to be in His image means
to share in the goodness of our Archetype. "

St. Gregory adds that the "image of God" (and the "likeness"
we must achieve) apply to "our human nature, from the first to
the last," that is, all human beings share in the one and only
"image of God" through our first-parents (XV I , 1 8) . The Fall
of Adam meant the breaking (not the loss of) the "image" the loss of human solidarity however. Christ came to restore the
"image" and to "sum up under one head" ("anakaphaloisasthai,
recaptiulatio) humanity divided by sin (Eph. 1 : 1 0 ) . Only in
Christ, too, was the "likeness" to God made possible once again.

The first person created by God was the man , Adam. He

bears this name for two reasons : a) in the Hebrew language, the
first man is adama, "of the earth," having been drawn from it;
b) h e was the universal man , the man in whom the human race
originates. Therefore, says St. Peter of Damascus,
"The name ofAdam is composed offour letters, each letter
(A-D-A-M) the initial letter of the Greek words for East
(Anatole), West (Dysis) , North (Arktos) and South (Mesem
brinos) . . . For the whole human race is descended from
one man , just as from a single lamp one can light as many
others as one wishes without suffering any loss"44).

The fact that the reproduction of the human race involved

another person - "the woman," Eve - does not alter the fact
that Adam is the unique source of all his progeny. As St. John
Chrysostom explains,
"Adam was the one head ofall. For this reason each person
does not spring out of the earth nor appear full grown as
he was. That his descendents were born of each uther . . .
only binds us together. For this cause neither did God make
the woman out of the earth; and because He knew that
being born of the same substance would not shame u s into


unanimity, God provided us with the same progenitor,

Adam; since now, merely separated by place we consider
ourselves alien to one another, imagine what would ha ve
happened had our race begun with two heads. Thus, we
are bound together by ha ving the same head . . . "45

After he was formed, God placed Adam in the Garden, Paradise

- sometimes called Eden46 - the beginning of his kingdom, of
his rule over the earth. St. John of Damascus maintains that
God made Adam a kingdom "in which he should live a life of
happiness and prosperity. And that is the divine paradise, plan
ted in Eden by the Hands of God, a veritable storehouse of joy
and gladness of heart."47
Was Paradise a real place? The Damascene replies in the
same chapter,
"Some have pictured Paradise a site apprehended by the
senses, and others a realm grasped only by the mind. But
it seems to me, that, just a s man is composed of both five
senses and a mind, so man 's most holy temple must have
been comprised of both aspects . . . "

St. Ambrose of Milan adds,

"In this garden, therefore, God put the man He had for
med. Notice that He placed man there not with respect to
the image of God, but respecting his body. The incorporeal
does not exist in a place. He situated man in Paradise, just
as He set the sun in the sky, awaiting lordship over the
heavens, even as the creation awaits the revelation of the
sons of God"4H.

In the same treatise, St. Ambrose mentions that Paradise was a

land watered by many rivers and was "appropriately situated in
the East . . . This reference to the East is significant for the rising
sun may be compared to Christ Who flashed forth a gleam of
eternal Light which exists in Eden, that is, in a land of delight."49
No wonder St. Gregory Palamas testified that Adam, before the
Fall "partook of the divine Illumination and Resplendance,
clothed, as i t were, i n a raiment woven of glory."50
St. Symeon the N ew Theologian made another important
observation about Adam in Paradise: God


". . . assigned seven days that they might be an image of

the ages which would subsequently come to pass. But
Paradise He established after the seven days that it might
be an image of the age to come. Moreover, the Holy Spirit
did not count the eigh th day with the seven days, since it
was not fitting that the seven days or ages - which proceed
in a cyclical movement - should be numbered with the
eighth day which belongs to no cycle but is 'one day"'"1

Paradise was a type or image of the day or age to come, the

everlasting day, the future which has no cycle of seasons, years,
months, days, minutes or day following night. Paradise was one
glorious day in which no routine or work was done nor sleep
required. Rather, as St. Irenaeos said, Adam walked and talked
with God, "prefiguring what was to come in the future, how He
would become man's fellow, and talk with him, and come among
men teaching them justice."'2
Finally, St. Ambrose tells us not only why "the woman" was
taken from Adam's rib, but the reason that she, unlike him, was
formed by God inside Paradise.
"Not without significance, too, is the fact that the woman
was made out of Adam 's rib. She was not made of the same
earth as he, in order to show tha t the physical nature of
man and woman is identical and that together they were
the one source for the propaga tion of the h uman race.
Thus, neither was man crea ted together with a woman,
nor were two men nor two women created at the beginning,
but first a man and after a woman. God willing that h uman
nature m ust be established as one. Therefore, from the
very inception of our race He eliminated the possibility
that different natures should arise"53

Moreover, Eve was taken from Adam's substance while he slept

- a type, as we shall see , of Christ and the Church - in order
that no one could argue that the variety within the human species
was evidence that the peoples of the earth were not a single
family. The differences between them were not intended to
produce rivalry and strife, not any more than the difference
between Adam and his woman ; indeed, they were made as com
plem ents.
Why was Adam created outside of Paradise and later transfer97

red to it? To show, says St. Ambrose, the great power and wisdom
of God : that he who was made from nothing could become
perfect by God's grace, to become divine. The creation of Eve
in Paradise teaches us,
"that each person acquires grace by reason of virtue not
locality or nation. Hence, although created outside of
Paradise - an inferior place - man is found superior,
whereas woman - created in a better place - is found to
be inferior. She was the first to be deceived and was respon
sible for misleading man. Wherefore, the Holy Apostle
Pa ul has related that women in olden times were subject
to the stronger vessel and recommends that they obey their
husbands as their masters. And St. Paul says, 'A dam was
not deceived but the woman was deceived and was in sin '
(I Tim. 3 : 1 4) . This is a warning that no one ough t to rely
on himself; and she who was made as man 's assistant needs
his protection. The head of the woman is the man, who,
while he believed that he would have the help of his wife,
fell beca use of her . . . "54

Also, we learn from this story that she is the mother of the
h uman race which was intended to become perfect and achieve
the beatitude, as we have mentioned, was the purpose for Eden.
Her offspring there would have become gods, a fact that will
produce bitter irony.
"The woman" was created for the man as his h elper. She was,
in no sense, his slave, neither in Paradise was she wholly subject
to him. Adam was "preeminent," the "leader," but only after
the Fall was she in submission to him. "Equality," writes St. John
Chrysostom, "is known to produce strife and therefore, God
allowed the human race to be a monarchy, not a democracy;
but the family was constructed similar to an army, with the
husband holding the rank of monarch, the wife as general and
the children also given stations of command."'' Intriguing, too,
is the fact that God seems never to have spoken directly to Eve
but delivered His commands to her through Adam.'" Also, it
was the man who named "every living creature" (Gen. 2: 1 9) .
Adam and Eve "were naked and were not ashamed" (Gen.


2 : 25), for "their thoughts were innocent and childlike," writes

St. Irenaeos, "and they had no conception or imagination of the
sort which engenders evil in the soul." She walked with Adam
as "a h elper, the equal and peer of Adam, " "persevering their
natural state, for what had been breathed into their frame was
the spirit of life ."'7

In order that they should have no hopes of grandeur, God

forbade their eating "the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil," although Adam already had dominion over the
earth. St. Gregory Palamas gives an additional reason for the
prohibition ,
"It was not to the profit of our first parents to ea t from
the tree, for as St. Gregory the Theologian writes, 'The
tree, as I understand it, was a condition of divine vision
(theoria)"" which only those who have reached a greater
perfection can approach, but which it is not good for those
who are spiritually immature and not in control of their
passions, just as solid food is not good for those who are
tender and require milk ' (On the Theophany, 12). But even
if one should understand the tree and its fruit to be alleg
ory"9 of divine vision; yet, it is not at all difficult, as it seems
to me, to think of eating the fruit of the tree as providing
any benefit whatsoever to our first-parents . . . In other
words, to have looked at that fruit with bodily eyes and to
imagine how sweet it m ust be in comparison to the fruit
on the other trees in Paradise is understandable, but they
should have realized that however delightful it might be
to taste the forbidden fruit, it was, whatever its flavor and
appeal to the senses, vastly inferior to those things which
are truly and forever good. This is a nourishment that is
good for us and which gives glory to the Creator; and,
indeed, that any lesser good m ust finally prove inimical to
us . . . I suspect that here is the reason that this special tree
was called 'the tree of the knowledge of good and
evil' . . . " 60
They might have thought in this way, but they were tempted
and succumbed to the wiles of the "evil one."
The devil, envious that a lesser creature should have found
so much happiness, devised a scheme whereby Adam and Eve
might be lured to their destruction. H e saw that the woman had


a lower position than her husband and therefore approached

her first. The agent of temptation was the serpent. It inquired
of Eve,
"Did God say 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden ? '
And the woman said t o the serpent, 'We may eat of the
fruit of the trees of the garden, but God said, 'You shall
not eat of the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden,
neither shall you touch it, lest you die. ' But the serpent
said to the woman, 'You will not die, but God knows that
when ye eat of it your eyes will be opened, and ye will be
like Him, knowing good and evil. So when the woman saw
that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight
to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired for wisdom,
she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her
husband and he a te " (Gen. 3 : 1 -6).

The serpent was shrewd. He told no patent lies, but twisted the
truth. First, God did indeed not tell the woman directly that she
must not eat of the tree. The devil tricked her. "Did God say,
'You shall not eat . . . "' and Eve replied, "We may not eat . . . "
and "neither shall you touch it lest you die." In fact, writes S t.
Gregory PaJamas, Eve was outwitted, led to draw conclusions
about the words of God by the sagacity of the devil. She began
to think that God is not the supreme good, but rather the author
of death.
"We m ust understand from His words that God 'did not
make death ' (Wisdom 1 : 13), whether of the body or of the
soul. For when He first gave the command, He did not
say, 'On the day you eat of it, die:, but "In the day you eat
of it, you will surely die' (Gen. 2 : 1 7) . He did not say after
wards, 'Return now to the earth, ' but 'you shall return '
(Gen. 3: 1 9) , for telling in this way wha t would come to
pass. " 61
The serpent, having led Eve to doubt the word of the Creator,
enticed her further with a slander against Him, saying that God
was not only not good, butjealous and selfish - "For God knows
that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you w ill
be like H im , knowing good and evil." There is a modicum of
truth in his words, for the plan of the Lord was precisely to
elevate an obedient Adam and Eve to the plane of divinity, as
1 00

St. Athanasios declares. She believed the serpent and her eyes
were opened. Her passions were aroused and she did eat.
She gave the fruit to her husband he also ate. Why did Adam
follow his wife, knowing first hand that God had forbidden him
to eat of the mysterious fruit and aware, too, what the conse
quence of disobedience would be?
"Attend carefully, " urges St. John Chrysostom. "The
woman said, 'The serpent beguiled me. ' But the man did
not say to God, the woman deceived me, but 'she gave me
of the tree, and I did eat. ' Now it is not the same thing to
be deceived by a fellow-creature . . . as by an inferior and
subordinate animal. This is truly to be deceived. Compared
therefore with the woman, there is no word that Adam was
'deceived. ' But she was 'beguiled' by an inferior and subject
creature, but he by an equal. Again, it is not said of the
man that he 'saw the tree was good for food, ' but the woman,
and that she 'did eat and gave it to her h usband': so that
he transgressed, not captivated by appetite, but merely
from the persuasion of his wife. The woman taugh t once,
and ruined all"62

What she m ight have said to Adam to persuade him, we do not

know; nevertheless, he listened to her and brought "ruin" on
the human race. Adam was the head of it and therefore he was
to blame for its fall; Eve was only the occasion for the calamity.
I f Adam had not been persuaded, we may only conjecture that
Eve alone would have died and perhaps been replaced by
another woman. But we can only deal with the historical facts.
Next the Genesis account relates that our first-parents "knew
they were naked ; and they sewed fig leaves together and made
themselves aprons" (Gen. 3 : 7 ) . They had lost their innocence,
becoming aware of their sexual difference; and they were
ashamed. Their shame and sense of guilt caused them to hide
when they heard the "voice of God" in the rustling of the leaves.
He asked Adam what he had done and who told him he was
naked? The man replied by blaming God for having given him
the woman who had tempted him. Eve blamed the serpent whom
God does not question because his guilt is p lain. How did the
Fathers of the Church construct the events that transpired in


Eden? Listen to St. Gregory Palamas,

"The mediator and cause of death, twisted in character and
full of guile, once clothed himself as a serpent and slipped
into God 's Paradise. He did not become a serpent, but took
its form, fearing that he would be detected if he entered
and conversed openly. Thus, taking this visible disguise,
he pretended to be a friend, obscurely and deceitfully pro
pounding hateful things. Also, by the extraordinary charac
ter of his proposals (for neither was the physical serpent a
rational being, nor is it likely that his voice was physically
audible), he astonished the woman and drew her to his side
by this device which made her easy to dominate. These
things he did in order to deprive the woman of her dignity
and thereby subject her to inferior creatures which she,
like Adam, had been worthily alloted to rule, honored by
God Who created her with His Own hand and word, fash
ioning her after His Own image. Moreover, God did not
interfere with the serpent 's machinations, seeing that the
council which was proposed to her were the words of a
creature inferior to Himself . . . and to permit our first
parents to understand that it was not to their profit to
submit to the degradation which the serpent 's proposals
entailed. Indignantly rejecting them, they would have pre
served their integrity through obedience to the Creator's
command. Man also would have gained easy victory over
every other spirit which had fallen a way from the true life
and would justly achieve the blessed life of immortality by
which they would have enjoyed the life in God forever. "63

Adam made his choice and the judgment of God followed. I f

he had acted differently God would have confirmed that choice
The Lord addressed the serpent first, for he had introduced
Adam and Eve to the evil which had been brought upon the
"And the Lord God said to the serpent, 'Because you have
done this, you are cursed above all cattle, and above every
beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust will
you eat all the days of your life: And I will put emnity
between you and the woman, and between your seed and
her seed; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise
his heel. "
1 02





"The Expulsion of Adam and Eve" by Photios Kontoglou, 1 960

We must notice that the serpent lost his upright position and
condemned to crawl on his belly; but more importantly, in the
words of God are the "proto-evangel," the first promise of a
To the woman He said,
"I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain
you shall bring forth children, and your desire shall be for
your husband, and he shall rule over you . "

As St. Gregory of Nyssa once said, God would have multiplied

the human race in one of a thousand ways had Adam and Eve
not fallen from fellowship with H im and lost their "likeness" to
Him, but now they lose their virginity and Eve must produce
1 03

children sexually and painfully. Also, she must obey her hus
band; indeed, he became "lord" over her (Eph. 5 : 22).
And to Adam , He said,
"Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and
have eaten of the tree of which I command, 'You shall not
eat of it, ' cursed is the ground because ofyou; in toil shall
you eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it
shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the
field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you
return to the ground out of which you were taken; you are
dust and to dust you shall return " (Gen . 3 : 1 4- 1 9) .

After God gave His judgment , Adam called "the woman" Eve
"because she was the mother of all the living" (Gen. 3 : 20 ) . She
was to be the mother of a fallen race, instead of one with the
promise of perfection and immortality, a promise which now
belongs to the Church, "the new Eve." We will discuss the entire
matter of the new Eve in the next volume and show it's connec
tion with the Mother of God.
But why were our first parents expelled from Eden? The
answer is not as simple as it may seem . God did not curse the
ground of Paradise, but only the ground on which Adam and
Eve must henceforth live. The entire earth would have eventu
ally become paradisical if they had remained faithful to God.
Before the Fall, as the Latin Fathers used to say, man was able
not to sin and able not to die, but now Adam and Eve were
unable not sin and unable not to die . They had lost the glory
(kabod in Hebrew) of God and their evil, according to St. Gregory
Palamas, '.'would have contaminated that divine place" were they
allowed to remain.64
Outside of Paradise, that is to say, no longer in communion
with God, Adam and Eve became subject to the law of corruption.
They were no longer lords of nature. Thus, during the Matins
of Meat Fare Sunday, we hear Adam lament,
"Woe is me, I cannot bear this disgrace. I who was formerly
king over all earthly creatures, Behold I am now captive
to death beca use of unlawful counsel. And I who was for

1 04

a time robed witlh the glory of immortality have become

like one dead, wrapped pitifully in the rags ofmortality . . . "
(Einos, 5th Tone)).

Having turned, writes St. Athanasios of Alexandria, "from things

eternal to things cmrruptible, by the counsel of the devil, they
became the cause of their own corruption and death," whereas
formerly, although created mortal, they did not die and did not
decay, because of "1the grace of their union with the Word"
which permitted the m to escape death and corruption . He con
"The presence of the Word with them shielded them even
from natural corruption, as also the book of Wisdom says,
'God created man for
incorruption and as an
image of His own eter
nity; but by the en vy of
the devil death entered
into the world' (Wis.
2 : 23f). When this hap
pened, men began to die,
and corruption spread
unchecked among them
and held sway over men
to more than a natural
degree, beca use it was the
which God had fore
warned would be the
reward of transgressing
the commandment"65

The death and corruption

or decay of human nature,
St. Athanasius, Walll painting,
this "sickness unto death"
Dormition Skeve, 1983
Adam passed to his pos
terity. In the words of St. Cyril of Alexandria,

"But since he procduced children after falling into this state,

we, his descenden1ts, are corruptible as the issue ofa corrup
tible source. Th u.s it is that we are heirs of Adam 's curse.
Not that we are p1unished for having disobeyed God's com-

1 05

mandment along with him, but that he became mortal and

the curse of mortality was transmitted to his seed after him,
offspring born mortal ofa mortal source . . . So corruption
and death are the universal inheritance of Ada m 's trans
gression . . . "66

Discoursing on Romans 5 : 1 2 ("Wherefore as by one man sin

entered into the world, and through sin death; so death passed
to all men, on account of (death) all have sinned"),67 St. John
Chrysostom says little more than St. Cyril and the rest of the
Fathers : . the consequence of Adam's sin is death, a death which
became the heritage of all his children,
"Bu t wha t does it mean, 'for all have sinned' (Rom. 5: 12)?
This: he having once fallen, yet they that had not eaten of
the tree, inherited mortality . . . From this it is clear that it
was not Adam 's sin, his transgression - that is of the Law
- but by virtue of his disobedience that all have been
marred. Wha t is the proof of this? The fact that even before
the Law all died: for 'death reigned, ' St. Paul says, 'from
Adam to Moses, even them who had not sinned '
(Rom.5: 1 4). How did it 'reign '? After the manner ofAda m 's
transgression, he who is the type of Him that was to come. '
Thus, when the Jews ask, how was it possible for one Person,
Christ, to have saved the world? you will be able to reply,
in the same way that the disobedience ofone person, Adam,
brought its condemnation "68

St. Cyril and St. John were not alone in defining the consequence
of Adam's Fall as death. St. Theophilos of Antioch affirms,
"So also the first man, by disobedience gained his expulsion
from Paradise. Not as if any evil existed in the tree of
knowledge, but from the fact of his disobedience did man
draw, as from a fountain, labor, grief and, at last, fell prey
to death "69

St. Cyprian of Carthage wrote in his letter to Fidus ,

"If, then, even to the most grievous offense one had sinned
much against God, when afterwards he believed, remission
of sins is granted, that is, no one is debarred from baptism
and grace, how much more ough t not an infant be forbid
den, who, being newly born, has in no way sinned, but only
having contracted the contagion of the old death . . . "70

And St. Methodios of Olympus maintains,

"For Adam also was created without corruption, that he
might honor the King and Maker ofall things, responding
to the shouts of the melodious angels which came from
heaven. But when he transgressed the Commandment of
God, he suffered the terrible and destructive fall. He was
reduced to a state of death . . . "71

And St. Justin Martyr concurs ,

"Bu t He (Christ) did it (i. e., was born and crucified) for
the race of men which, from the time of Adam, had been
subject to death and the deceit of the serpent, each of us
having committed sins of our own " 72

Mankind is captive of death through the devil, declared St.

Macarios the Great.
"When Adam transgressed the commandment of God,
hearkening to the wicked serpent, he was sold, or sold
himself; to the devi/" 73

Similarly writes St. Peter Chrysologos, the Archbishop of

Ravenna, in Italy,
"The Devil has reigned, sin has reigned, death has reigned,
and the human race has long been captive. Consequently,
we ask that God may reign in His Kingdom, the Devil may
be subject, sin may fail, death may die, and the captive
h uman race maybe recaptured (by Christ) so as to reign as
free men unto everlasting life "74

Quotations from the Fathers, East and West, could be multiplied

almost indefinitely, but these are sufficient to show that the great
consequence of the Fall is the bondage of man to death and
corruption, forces controlled by the devil. But, also, they tell us,
contrary to the teachings of Augustine, that man is not guilty
of Adam's sin ; his children are not being punished for it. Men
are not so much scoundrels as victims. Human beings sin on
account o f their mortality. To be sure, our first-parents commit
ted the first sin - the "original sin" - the wages of which is
death (Rom. 6 : 23 ) , but on account of death's "contagion" all
men " have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Rom.
2 : 23).

Unfortunately, Augustine lost sight of the Church's teaching

on the nature of man during his struggle against the heretic,
Pelagius,75 and becoming so preoccupied with the moralistic
problems of this controversy, obscured the truth with the false
issues of original sin and its transmission. Even the devil was pushed
into the background. Naturally, then, the place of death and
corruption in human life became less important, if not sometimes
ignored altogether by both Augustine and Pelagius. Instead of
adhering to the Apostolic doctrine that man becomes a sinner
because he is yoked to the power of the devil through death
and its consequences, Augustine - and the Papists and Protes
tants who have followed him - teach that each man dies because
he is guilty for the sin of Adam.76 Such ideas will have grave
implications not only for his ideas of the Church and the Mys
teries but the very concept of salvation as taught to his time.
We will return to this matter in another chapter.
I f all we have said is true , then, we understand that God is
not responsible for Adam's fatal choice - neither for the loss
of man's "likeness" to God ,77 neither for the division and aliena
tion between men - "Satan has scattered u s" (St. Maximos the
Confessor) - neither for the darkening our m ind nor for
unleashing the passions which have brought sexual perversion,
sickness of body and soul; nor for hatred, the spirit of rebellion,
nor for atheism , idolatry, heresy, racism, violence and slavery.
Rather God had made provision in eternity for what did in
fact come to pass. He prepared for the day in which He would
Him self become humanity's champion. The very same God Who
created man and passed judgment on our first-parents, He
became man for the salvation of Adam and his progeny. He
entered history to overthrow the devi l , to recover and heal His
creature, to eliminate sin, death's "sting" (I Cor. 1 5 : 56 ) ; indeed,
to destroy death itself, "the last enemy" (I Cor. 1 5 : 26). God did
not become incarnate, as we shall see, to die vicariously for the
sins of each man nor to satisfy the offended majesty of an imperi
ous God the Father, as the Scholastic theologians held. His pur
pose was the return of man to Eden and the fulfillment of His
promises to the creature.

1 08


Properly speaking, the Christian doctrine of Providence (pro

noia, providentia)1H belongs to the Church's teaching about his
tory (historiosophy) ; nevertheless, certain elements of it need to
be treated here. Specifically, the answer to the question: did
God prepare the world for the coming of Christ?
As we learn from the Apostolic Tradition, God used the
Greeks, the Romans, the cultures of the Middle East and espe
cially Old Israel to prepare the h uman race for the Gospel. The
"economy of Israel" we will save for the next chapter, but the
others will be discussed in this section.
a. The many religions of the Near East - including J udaism,
albeit the Jews were not confined to Palestine9 - exhibited what
the Scriptures and the Fathers called "anti-types" of Christ and
the Church. For example, "the mystery religions" of the Middle
East, such as the worship of Cybele, the Great
Mother, and her god-son, Attis; or the Egyptian Osiris and his
sister-spouse, Isis. In both of these religions are found ideas of
death and resurrection as well as the conquest by the god of h i s
initiates supernatural enemies. Very popular, too, w a s Mithra,
the sun-god, victor over darkness. Not unlike the other mystery
religions, Mithraism involved a "sacred banquet" in which the
flesh of the god was eaten. Among these Easterners, too, the
mark of "divinity" was immortality, a destiny achieved through
the gods victory over the evil powers, of which the most implac
able was death.
b. When Christ was born, the Roman Empire was in control
of His world. Rome also had its mystery religions, generally
imported from the East. For example, the Emperor Varius
Avitus Bass ianus became a priest of the Syrian god Elagabal and
consequently is known to history as Elagabulus . From the Egyp
tians and Persians they took the idea of the emperior's "divinity."
Much of what the Romans believed was taken from the Greeks,
especially the pantheon of gods. They borrowed such ideas as
the voyage of the soul into Hades over the River Styx and the
Isle of the Blessed for the heroic and virtuous soul after death.
Many Romans adopted the ethic of the Greeks Stoics who taught
1 09

that happiness was to be found in resignation, meeting every

sorrow without grief and emotion, or every good fortune without
joy (apatheia). The poet, Seneca, and the Emperor Marcus
Aurelius were Rome's most famous Stoics.
But even more, the Fathers saw in the Roman Empire a futile
human effort to build an eternal kingdom - an idea first con
ceived by Alexander the Great. St. Justin Martyr contrasted the
false Roman empire (basileia) with the true and heavenly empire,
the Kingdom of God (basileia tou Theou). Yet, by its law and
order, by projecting before the nations the belief in "one king,
one empire, one world," Rome pointed to the truth. As St. Ger
manos of Constantinople declared in his Nativity Matins h ymn,
"When it was time for Thy presence on the earth, the first
enrollment of the world took place. Then, too, Thou didst
enroll the names of men who believe in Thy Nativity. Yea,
Caesar did proclaim his decree because Thy everlasting
empire had been inaugurated. Wherefore, we offer not
tax-money, but the Orthodox truth. Glory to Thee, 0 God,
Savior of our souls " (Glory of the Ideomelon) .

In other words, the pagan Roman Empire was a parody of God's

empire and the gods of the Romans were demons, but they were
anti-types of the heavenly Kingdom and the true God. More
will be said about the eventual mating of the Church and the
empire in another chapter.
c. Greece was also a "tutor unto Christ." Not only the Jews
foreshadowed the Incarnation , writes St. Paul, but also "the
Greeks and the barbarians" and he was "indebted" to both (Rom.
1 : 1 4) . They also had mystery religions, but the "debt" of Chris
tianity to the Greeks was their "wisdom ." Not that the Scriptures
and the Fathers failed to condemn Hellas as a "false tutor," but,
nevertheless, it contained elements of truth by virtue of Him
Who "enlightens every man that comes into the world" O ohn
1 : 1 4) . Indeed, many Greek ideas, such as the "divine Logos,"
prepared the world for the incarnation o f the true Logos or
Word of the Father.
Many of the Fathers insisted that Greek philosophers "en
lightened" or not, stole truths from the Old Testament. For

1 10

instance, they pointed to the "soul of the world" which was a

burlesque of the Holy Spirit; and Plato, writes St. Justin Martyr,
when he read that Moses fought the poisonous beasts of the
desert with a brazen serpent shaped in the form of a cross (Num.
2 1 :9), thought that the Prophet had formed an X "and said that
the power next to the first God was placed in the universe in
the figure of the letter X. "Ho The philosopher misunderstood
what Moses had done, but his theft and his misunderstanding
provided the world with another anti-type of the Cross. And,
of course, the Greeks taught a world behind and beyond the
visible universe. They openly affirmed belief in the end of the
ages. Later we shall see in more detail what the Fathers said
about Greek philosophy and theology.
d. Many people, now and in the past, believe that Christianity
is really a hodge-podge of beliefs, ideas and values appropriated
by the creators of the Christian religion from their environment.
The Church teaches that what the unbeliever sees are "anti
types" of the truth. These "anti-types," moreover, are the work
of demons who are "the gods of the nations" (Ps. 96 : 5 ) . They
"slander" the truth, "slander" which the God of history permits
to the advantage of His Church and the realization of His Plan.
They were bad imitations of Christian beliefs and institutions
planted by demons to conceal the forthcoming Incarnation of
the Word ; nevertheless, these ancient and unholy parodies
oriented the nations - the "ecumene" - to the truth which
finally came (St. John Chrysostom) . In sum, then, the Fathers
contended that the similarities between the Faith of the
Orthodox and the pagan religious environment present at the
birth of the Church are the result of God's permissive Provi
dence. He Himself sowed other analogies or types for the good
of His Plan - in Old Israel.


Righteous Melchizedek, King of Salem (Peace), by Photios Kontoglou

1 12


The Economy of Old Israel

"For Christianity did not believe in judaism, but Judaism

believed in Christianity. "
- St. Ignatios of Antioch

The Old Testament or Covenant (diatheke), the pact between

God and the tribes of Israel, as we have already mentioned, was
a prelude to that great and wondrous moment when the God
of Sinai and Zion, the One to Whom "the prophets bore witness"
(Acts 1 0 : 23 ) , directly and personally established a new Covenant
between Himself and His new People, central to which was the
"remnant" of the Jews; but to which was added both "barbarian
and Greek," the Gentiles.
The prophets1 conveyed the "word of God" to His ancient
People, a "word" which involved the promise of a Redeemer,
Deliverer, the Messiah, "the Servant of God," who would be a
priest like Melchizedek, a prophet like Moses and a king like
David. The Messiah would bring a new Covenant and establish
by it the everlasting Kingdom of God. He would save His People
from their sins. Indeed, He would be God Himself "born of a
woman, born under the law , to redeem those who are under
the law," wrote the Apostle Paul, "so that we might receive the
adoption of sons" (Gal. 4 : 4-5).
Thus, the Lord Jesus, after the Resurrection, on the road to
Emmaus, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets expounded
to them, in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself'
(Luke 24 : 2 7 ) . Later to the Apostles He spoke about those things

1 13

"which were written in the Law of Moses and in the prophets,

and in the Paslms concerning Me" (Luke 24 : 44). St. Paul also
discoursed about the Kingdom of God and "explained to his
listeners about Jesus, both from the Law of Moses and the
prophets" (Acts 2 8 : 23 ). Likewise St. Peter explained "the salva
tion which the prophets foretold" about Christ, His suffering
and subsequent glory (I Pet. 1 : 1 1 ) .
The constant reference t o Moses was not accidental, for even
the Lord said, "For had you believed Moses, you would have
believed Me; for he wrote of Me" Qohn 5 : 46). I f, then, He and
the Apostles both compare the Lord and Moses, if their names
are linked in the Old and New Testaments, the reason is clear:
"the Exodus experience" of the Chosen People : Moses leading
the Jews out of the land of Egypt as a type of the Lord Jesus
leading the Church out of the world. He was, therefore, the
"new Moses," the Church "the new Israel" and Her Exodus not
from Pharoah but the devil.
In other words, the Old Testament or Covenant was never
intended to be permanent; it existed as a shadow to "the salvation
which the prophets foretold." Like Hellenism, as we shall see,
Judaism was a "tutor unto Christ." Recalling the words of
Jeremiah, chapter 33, St. Paul said, "For if the first covenant
had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a
second . . . In speaking of a new covenant, he treats the first as
obsolete ; and what is becoming obsolete and growing old, is
ready to vanish" (He b. 8 : 7 , 1 3 ) . Consequently, there is no reason
for modern Judaism to exist ; it is an anachronism if not an
implicit denial of Christianity.2
The following chapter undertakes t o examine Old Israel as
a type and promise of Christ and the Church. Our guide will
be the patristic principle that the New Testament is hidden in
the Old Testament while the Old Testament is revealed by the
New . Thus, we begin with the "promise" of God to Abraham,
Isaac and J acob, the Covenant with Moses during "the Exodus
experience" of the Chosen People, i ts reaffirmation under Jesus
son of Nun and its renewal with David; then, the prophecy of
the Messiah and H is new and eternal Covenant, the denial of

1 14

them by the Jewish nation, the call of the Gentiles to form with
"the remnant of Joseph" the new Israel .
We know that from the very beginning God had a plan of
salvation , even before "the foundation of the cosmos" (world)
(Eph. 1 :4). Was it a contingency plan in case Adam failed to
endure the test of Eden? We cannot say ; nevertheless, when our
first-parents fell away from communion with God, He did not
abandon their posterity, but, as we have already learned, pre
pared for the deliverance of the human race (Gen. 3 : 1 5) . The
first major step in that direction, Moses tells us in the first book
of the divine Scriptures, was the appearance of God to Abraham
in Hebron, saying,
". . . I am thy God, be well-pleasing before Me, and be
blameless. And I will establish My covenant between Me
and thee, and I will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram
fell upon his face, and God spoke to him, saying, And I,
behold! My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father
of a multitude of nations. And thy name shall no more be
called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham, for I have
made thee a father of many nations. And I will increase
thee very exceedingly, and I will make nations of thee, and
kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish My coven
ant between thee and thy seed after thee, to their genera
tions, for an everlasting covenant, to be thy God, and the
God of thy seed after thee. And I will give to thee and to
thy seed after thee the land wherein thou sojournest, even
all the land of Canaan for an everlasting possession, and I
will be to them a God. (Gen. 1 7 : 1 -8)
God will renew H is Covenant with Isaac (Gen. 26: 2-5) and jacob
(Gen. 28: 1 3- 1 5).
Particularly interesting in the life of Abraham are the types
of the Messiah, such as the incident at Moriah where he is com
mand by God to offer up his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to Him
(Gen. 22: 1 - 1 4) . The "sacrifice" of Isaac on the wood was a type
of God the Father "sacrificing" H is Son on the wood of the cross
Qohn 3 : 1 6) . Another type is found in the meeting of Abraham
with Melchizedek, King of Salem, "a priest of the most High"
1 15

who brought out bread and wine to the patriarch (Gen. 1 4 : 1 8) .

The Messiah o r Christ, a s the Psalmist declares, will b e "a priest
forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (Ps. 1 09 : 1 -7).
"We remember the type of the Mysteries which came before the
time of Abraham," observes St. Ambrose, "when holy Mel
chizedek, the type of Christ - having neither beginning nor
end of days - offered the sacrifice of bread and wine ."
Isaac and J acob, the son and grandson o f Abraham, were
types of Christ. St. J ustin Martyr points out that the marriages
of J acob to Lia and Rachel are figures of Christ's first union,
the synagogue, and His second and permanent union, "the
Church of the Gentiles."4 J ustin also mentions the typology of
J acob's "wrestling" with a "man until the break of day ." He
asserts that the "man" was God, for J acob declares, "I have seen
God face to face, and my life is saved" (Gen . 32: 24-30) . After
this encounter, the crafty J acob became "Israel. "
"The name Israel, then, means a man who overcomes
power, for Isra is 'a man who overcomes' and El is 'power. '
Tha t Christ would do this when He became a man was
thus foretold by the mystery ofJacob 's wrestling with Him
Who appeared to him, in that Christ ministered to the Will
of God, yet He is God, the First-begotten of all creation.
Thus, after His Incarnation . . . He was approached by the
devil (that 'power' which is also called 'Serpent ' and 'Satan '),
who tempted Him and tried to overcome Him by demand
ing that He worship him. But he was utterly crushed and
overcome by Christ . . . By touching]acob's thigh and mak
ing it numb (Gen. 3 2 : 25 ) , Christ showed tha t He, too, would
grow n umb . . . at His Crucifixion. But His name from old
times was Israel - a name which He conferred upon the
blessed Jacob when He blessed him with His own name,
announcing thereby that all who come to the Father
through Him are part of the blessed Israel . . . "5

Put another way, the Messiah will come and be put to death and
in His Resurrection another people will blossom forth and "many
nations shall flee unto the Lord in that day for a people ; and
they shall dwell in the midst of the whole earth" (Zech. 2: 1 1 ) .
Writes St. Justin,

1 16

"And we Christians are not only a people, but a holy

people . . . 'And they shall call it a holy people, redeemed
by the Lord' (/sa. 62: 1 2). Wherefore, we are not a contemp
tible people, nor a tribe of barbarians, nor just any
nation . . . but the chosen people of God, Who appeared
to those who did not previously seek Him. 'Behold, ' He
said, 'I am God to a nation which has not called upon My
name' (/sa. 65: 1). For here is really the nation promised to
Abraham by God, when He told him that He would make
him a father of many nations . . . Notice how He made the
same promise to Isaac and Jacob . . . If you were to think
over the blessing ofJudah, you would know wha t I mean.
For the seed is divided afterJacob and comes down through
Judah and Phares and jesse to Da vid. Now, this is surely
a sign that some of you Jews are surely the children of
Abraham, and that you
will share in the inheri
tance of Christ; but . . . a
greater part of your
people . . . drink of bitter
and godless doctrine
while you spurn the word
of God. For in passages
relating toJudah, He says,
'A Prince shall not pro
ceed, nor a Ruler from his
thighs, un til that which is
laid up for Him shall
come; and He shall be the
expectation of the Gen
tiles ' (Gen. 49 : 1 0) . It is
eviden t that the expected
One was not Judah, but
Christ. For the Gentiles
Judah, but jesus, Who
also delivered your forefathers from Egypt . . .
David speaks ofChrist . . .
'His name shall be blessed
unto the ages, before the
sun doth His name con
tinue. And in Him shall be blessed all the tribes of the
earth, all the nations shall call Him blessed. ' (Ps. 7 1 : 1 7- 1 8) .

1 17

Zechariah affirms, 'The East is His name' (Zech. 6 : 1 2) and

'They shall mourn, tribe by tribe ' (Zech. 1 2 : 1 2) . But if He
was so brillian t and powerful at His first Advent (when,
without honor or comeliness, He was scorned) that He is
known in every nation, and some men of every nationality
have repented of their former wicked manner of life; and
even the devils are subject to His name, and all the powers
and kingdoms fear His name more than they fear all the
dead, shall He not at His return in glory completely destroy
all who hated Him and maliciously turned their backs on
Him, while bestowing upon His faithful followers
rest and the ever promised blessings? We, therefore, were
endowed with the special grace of hearing and understand
ing, for we are being saved by Christ and know all truths
the Father has revealed to Him. Thus, He says to Him: 'It
is a great thing for Thee, that Thou should be my Servant
and to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to gather Israel
from dispersion. I have given Thee to be the light to the
Gentiles, that Thou may be their salvation, even to the
farthest part of the earth ' (I sa. 49:6)"6

This, then , is the meaning o f the words o f the Lord to the

multitudes when He said, "And I say to you, that many shall
come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens. But
the chldren of the (earthly) kingdom shall be cast into outer
darkness . . . " (Matt. 8: 1 1 ) . In like manner did the Apostle Paul
exclaim, ". . . even as Abraham believed God and it was
accounted to him for righteousness. You must know, therefore,
that those who have the faith of Abraham are the children of
Abraham. And the Scriptures, farseeing that God would justify
the Gentiles through that faith, preached before the gospel unto
Abraham, ' In you shall all nations be blessed . . . "' (Gal. 3 : 8) .
The similarities between Moses and Jesus the Christ are truly
astonishing. The typology leaves no doubt that the Prophet held
a special place in the history of the Old Testament even as the
Savior holds a unique place in the h istory of the New Testament
- "places" not simply parallel, but typological : Moses was the

1 18

Old Testamental window, so to speak, through which Christ can

be forseen . In Him the Jews should have seen the Covenant of
Moses fulfilled.
No one shows the analogy between Moses and Christ more
clearly than St. Cyril of Alexandria. He points to the fact that
the parents of Moses, Amram and Jochebed, belonged to the
priestly house of Levi (Exod. 6 : 20). We know that Christ was a
priest (He b. 3 : 1 - 2 ; Zech. 6: 1 3 ) . Also, beyond his name and paren
tage, we know very little about the youth of Moses; so it was
with Jesus. When Pharoah decreed the death of the Hebrew
first-born, J ochebed placed her son in a basket and set him adrift
on the N ile, hoping to hide his identity. The child was rescued
by the barren daughter of Ramses I I . According to St. Cyril,
she represents the Gentiles who embraced Christ after the Jews
had rejected Him.
His name was called "Moses" - from the Egyptian verb "to
draw" - because Pharoah's daughter "drew him from the Nile
River (Ex. 2 : 1 0) which was sacred to the Egyptians. St. Cyril, in
his Elegant Comments on Exodus, does not want us to miss the
reference to Moses' mysterious birth; nor, indeed, to the subtle
allusion to baptism. Also, the fact that the Egyptian princess
found him, we have a type of Jesus' reception by the Gentiles.
Yet, because Jochebed, his real mother, was allowed to care for
the babe (Ex. 2 : 9) , we have to understand that Jesus would be
nurtured in the religion of his own race.
A grown Moses, after killing Pharoah's overseer, fled to
Midiah w here he met and married Zipporah, the daughter of
Jethro, a priest of Midian. Henceforth, the typology becomes
more frequent and obvious. Moses tended Jethro's sheep ; he
became a shepherd - a type of Christ as the "good shepherd."
From where they grazed, Moses could see Sinai, "the Mountain
of God ." Drawn to it by God, he met Him in "the Burning B ush"
(Exod. 3 : 3-4) . St. Cyril was not the only Father to recognize this
as a figure of the Lord's Incarnation.
For the first time, God reveals His Name - "I am" (Exod.
3 : 1 4) . It is the very Name which Jesus will ascribe to Himself
to the consternation of the Jews; a N arne ("I am"
the eternally

1 19

Existent One) which, incidentally, is commonly found in the

halo of the Lord's icon (0 WN in Greek). God gave Moses a
commission, a command to which he was obedient, even as that
God Who became flesh obeyed His Father. Like Jesus, Moses
"was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face
of the earth" (Num. 1 2 : 3 ) . He want to his people in Egypt, as
the Lord came to His Own in the world, for He "had surely
seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have
heard their cry because of their taskmasters" (Ex. 3 : 7 ) . By Moses
would the God of Sinai deliver Israel from her cruel bondage
and lead them to "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exod.
3 : 8) ; so Jesus will lead His People, the New Israel, from the
cruel bondage of the devil (typified by Pharoah) to the "promised
land" - "the meek shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5 : 5) - of
eternal life.
The Prophet returns to Egypt, therefore, not only as a Law
giver, but the Redeemer of
God's People. He will release
them from their captivity
(and also give them the Ten
Commandments) as the
Lord will deliver the Church
from captivity to death and
the devil (and teach Her the
Beatitudes) . No wonder,
then, that the prophets
relate the Coming of the
Messiah to "the Exodus
(I sa.
Hosea 6 : 6 ) . Not without
purpose, then, was it
divinely ordained that Moses
would "loose the captives"
on the night in which God
established a Covenant beWall painting, Dormition Skete, 1 9 8 1
tween Himself and Israel. The Passover Meal - the eating of
the Spring-lamb with unleavened bread - was the sign of their

pact, a pact by which through Moses, He made Israel His Own,

His People, His Bride. In this Covenant, the very life of Israel
was guaranteed, the annual festival of the Passover recalling to
the memory of the Chosen People, their supernatural birth and
fellowship with God.
The Passover, which the Israelites will eat on the sixth day
(liturgically Friday) , is a perfect type of the Eucharist. It is a
type, according to St. Cyril of Alexandria, of "the lamb fore
known before the foundation of the world" which will be sac
rificed and consumed for the salvation of our souls. 7 The Saint
referred, of course, to "the Lamb of God" Qohn 1 : 29) about
which the Church chants during the Matins of Holy Pascha
(pasch in Hebrew, Pascha in Greek) or Passover. "0 great and
most sacred Pascha, Christ; 0 wisdom and Word and Power of
God! Grant unto us that we may partake of Thee more fully in
the unwaning day of Thy Kingdom ."K
Jesus i s the "lamb" which is eaten in "the mystical supper"
- in the Holy Communion - the very lamb whose blood was
shed on the altar of the Cross. The Lord, while celebrating the
Jewish Passover, proclaimed a "new covenant," as the prophets
foretold. Wonderful is the way in which the typology of the
Mosaic Passover was realized in "the new and holy Passover" of
Christ. The basic difference between them, of course, is that the
first is only a type of what was to come; and the second was far
more than a memorial.
As the Mosaic Passover, the Christian Passover took place in
"the beginning of months" (Nisan = late March or early April).

1 20


"The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,

'This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it
shall be the first mon th of the year for you. Tell all the
congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this mon th
they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers'
houses, a lamb for a household; and if the household is
too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbor next to
his house shall take according to the number of persons;
according to what each can eat you shall make your count
for the lamb. Your lamb shall be a yearling male without
blemish . . . and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day
of this month, when the whole assembly ofthe congregation

Existent One) which, incidentally, is commonly found in the

halo of the Lord's icon (0 WN in Greek). God gave Moses a
commission, a command to which he was obedient, even as that
God Who became flesh obeyed His Father. Like Jesus, Moses
"was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face
of the earth" (Num. 1 2 : 3 ) . He want to his people in Egypt, as
the Lord came to His Own in the world, for He "had surely
seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have
heard their cry because of their taskmasters" (Ex. 3 : 7 ) . By Moses
would the God of Sinai deliver Israel from her cruel bondage
and lead them to "a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exod.
3 : 8) ; so Jesus will lead His People, the New Israel, from the
cruel bondage of the devil (typified by Pharoah) to the "promised
land" - "the meek shall inherit the earth" (Matt. 5 : 5) - of
eternal life.
The Prophet returns to Egypt, therefore, not only as a Law
giver, but the Redeemer of
God's People. He will release
them from their captivity
(and also give them the Ten
Commandments) as the
Lord will deliver the Church
from captivity to death and
the devil (and teach Her the
Beatitudes) . No wonder,
then, that the prophets
relate the Coming of the
Messiah to "the Exodus
(I sa.
Hosea 6 : 6 ) . Not without
purpose, then, was it
divinely ordained that Moses
would "loose the captives"
on the night in which God
established a Covenant beWall painting, Dormition Skete, 1 9 8 1
tween Himself and Israel. The Passover Meal - the eating of
the Spring-lamb with unleavened bread - was the sign of their

pact, a pact by which through Moses, He made Israel His Own,

His People, His Bride. In this Covenant, the very life of Israel
was guaranteed, the annual festival of the Passover recalling to
the memory of the Chosen People, their supernatural birth and
fellowship with God.
The Passover, which the Israelites will eat on the sixth day
(liturgically Friday) , is a perfect type of the Eucharist. It is a
type, according to St. Cyril of Alexandria, of "the lamb fore
known before the foundation of the world" which will be sac
rificed and consumed for the salvation of our souls. 7 The Saint
referred, of course, to "the Lamb of God" Qohn 1 : 29) about
which the Church chants during the Matins of Holy Pascha
(pasch in Hebrew, Pascha in Greek) or Passover. "0 great and
most sacred Pascha, Christ; 0 wisdom and Word and Power of
God! Grant unto us that we may partake of Thee more fully in
the unwaning day of Thy Kingdom ."K
Jesus i s the "lamb" which is eaten in "the mystical supper"
- in the Holy Communion - the very lamb whose blood was
shed on the altar of the Cross. The Lord, while celebrating the
Jewish Passover, proclaimed a "new covenant," as the prophets
foretold. Wonderful is the way in which the typology of the
Mosaic Passover was realized in "the new and holy Passover" of
Christ. The basic difference between them, of course, is that the
first is only a type of what was to come; and the second was far
more than a memorial.
As the Mosaic Passover, the Christian Passover took place in
"the beginning of months" (Nisan = late March or early April).

1 20


"The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,

'This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it
shall be the first mon th of the year for you. Tell all the
congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this mon th
they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers'
houses, a lamb for a household; and if the household is
too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbor next to
his house shall take according to the number of persons;
according to what each can eat you shall make your count
for the lamb. Your lamb shall be a yearling male without
blemish . . . and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day
of this month, when the whole assembly ofthe congregation

of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening. Then they

shall take some of the blood, and put it on the doorposts
and the lintel of the houses . . . They shall eat the f7esh
that night, roasted; with unlea vened bread and bitter herbs
they shall eat it"' (Exod. 1 2 : 1 -8).

Moses was the high priest o f the first Passover - in "a kingdom
of priests" (Exod. 1 9 :6 ) - but Jesus was both priest - "high
priest" of a "royal priesthood" (I Pet. 2 : 9) - and victim ("the
lamb of God") who shed His blood9 on the wooden altar of the
Cross, an event which took place during the celebration of the
Jewish Passover in the same month of Nisan after the vernal
equinox of the moon.
Moreover, as Moses sprinkled hyssop on the paschal lamb,
so "they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it
to His mouth" Qohn 1 9 : 29). The Gospels also record that, like
the lamb of the ancient Passover, not a bone of His body was
broken (Exod. 1 2 : 43 ; John 1 9 : 29) . And, to be sure, "the Angel
of Death" passed over the houses which bore the blood of the
covenantal lamb ; and Christ, by His blood, destroyed death. 1 0
A new era began for Old Israel, a new life for Christians who
"have the blood of the Lamb imprinted on their souls" (St. Hip
polytus of Rome) .
By their Passover the Jews escaped the bondage of Pharoah,
wrote St. Aphraat, "while we on the day of the Crucifixion are
delivered from the bondage of the devil. They sacrificed a lamb
and were saved by its blood from the Avenger while we are
delivered from evil deeds and death through the blood of the
Well-Beloved Son . " 1 1 As the blood painted on the entrances to
their houses, St. Cyril of Alexandria concurs, forbade the entr
ance of death to them, "the Mystery of Christ indeed forbids
the entrance of death and renders the believer inaccessible to
it. This is why we also, anointed with the sacred blood of Christ,
shall become stronger than death and despise corruption."12
As we said, the Mosaic Passover was an annual event, while
the Church "remembers" His Sacrifice, as the Lord commanded,
whenever She assembles, especially on Sunday - the Day of
His Resurrection, "the Lord's Day" (, Rev. 1 : 1 0). We will have

1 22

occasion to say more about "Sunday" later. Again, the Jews ate
their paschal lamb as a symbol, a way of recalling the Mercy of
God, the day Israel became His "first-born," but Jesus described
participation in His Passover as the eating of His Body and the
drinking of His Blood. "Take, eat; this is My body . . . Drink of
it, all of you ; for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is
poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matt. 26: 2628). At another time, Jesus said, " H e who eats My flesh and
drinks My blood has eternal life and I will raise him up at the
last day" Qohn 6 : 56).
The solemn eating of "the paschal lamb" - whether in Egypt
or at the Mystical Supper (or, yes, the Eucharist) - are types.
The first is a type of the second and the second (in which the
Eucharist shares) is a type of the great wedding feast of the
Lamb at the end of the world when the Church, His Bride, will
be joined to Him forever (Rev. 1 9 : 7- 1 0) . The types include Moses
and Christ.
The Gospel of John read at Pascha include the words, "the
Law was given by Moses, but Grace (charis in Greek) and Truth
(aletheias in Greek) come through Jesus Christ" Qohn 1 : 1 7) .
Charis and aletheia correspond t o the Hebrew hesed and
we'meth, the language of the old Covenant. Hesed describes the
enduring and faithful love of those joined in the Covenant; and
we'meth signifies the fidelity to covenant promises. We must
not forget that the Covenants include a common meal or feast.
We notice, too, the next verse of the Gospel lesson wherein
St. John states, "No one has ever seen God, but the only-begotten
Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, He has revealed (more
exactly, "led the way," exegesato in Greek) Him (or to H im)." 13
Here i s an unmistakable reference to the Exodus: Christ "leads
the way" to God, to the Promised Land, as Moses "led the way"
(nay, Christ "led the way") to "the land of milk and honey," the
land of Canaan. We note the connection between the Promised
Land and eating ("milk and honey") .
At the same time, we must be aware o f the lonely word
"bosom" in John 1 : 1 8 which by itself suggests the marriage feast
or banquet in heaven, the feast of union between Christ

1 23

(Yahweh) and His Bride (Israel) . We recall that Lazarus the

beggar, who had been excluded from the banquet of the rich
man in this world, reclined "on Abraham's bosom" at the
heavenly feast (Luke 1 6 : 22 ) ; and St.John the Theologian himself
rested his head on the Lord's "bosom" at the Mystical Supper
Qohn 1 3 :23) - the Supper of the new Covenant which , accord
ing to the Fathers, prefigures the Messianic Banquet of the
Kingdom of God. More will be said about the Banquet in another
At midnight God smote the first-born in the land of Egypt.
Pharoah rose up in the night "with all his servants and all the
Egyptians" and summoned Moses and Aaron to the royal court.
He said to them, "Go out from among us! Go forth from our
midst, both you and the people of Israel ! Go and serve the Lord,
as you have said" (Exod. 1 2 : 29-3 2). The time that the People
of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years, from
the time of Joseph. It was a "night of watching by the Lord, to
bring them out of the land of Egypt." Israel, "God's first-born"
left their bondage during the night. "When I srael was a child,
I loved him ," said the Lord to the prophet, "and out of Egypt
I called my son" (Hos. 1 1 : 1 ) .
Two things are significant here. First, that the Passover and
the departure of I srael from Egypt occur at night. St. Cyril of
Alexandria states that these events transpired at night to mark
the end of one era and the beginning of another. St. J erome of
Bethlehem reminds us that the Lord was arrested
"and suffered His Passion at night, that is, at the close of
the age; whence, John says in his first letter (2: 1 8): 'Dear
children, it is the end-time (eschate). ' It m ust be understood,
however, that so long as we are in the world, so long as we
abide in 'Egypt, ' we are not in a clear light but a dark mist.
Although the Church shines as the moon at night;
n evertheless, we cannot yet dwell in the splendor of the
true Sun " (Homily 9 1 ).

Second, the departure of Israel from Egypt was a type, as we

have mentioned already, of Christ's I srael escape from the world,

1 24

away from the devil rather than Pharoah. Not without reason
did St. Matthew ( 2 : 1 5) quote the Prophet Hosea ("Out of Egypt
have I called my son . . . "). The "son" of God was, of course,
the Hebrew People and, in some sense, a person , J acob. We will
see later that Israel as a race - a new race - and a person are
identified with Christ, "the Son of God ."
a. Having fled Egypt, God did not lead Israel directly towards
the land of promise, but guided them "by way of the wilderness
to the Red Sea" (Exod. 1 3 : 1 8) . "And the Lord went before them
by day in a pillar of cloud to guide them along the way , and by
night as a pillar of fire to give them light" (Exod. 1 3 : 2 1 -22).
The "fire" is a type o f the pre-Incarnate Christ, but while the
"cloud" is a type connected with the humanity of J esus, it is also
the "cloud" which "overshadowed" the Virgin Mary at the
Annunciation and also appeared at the Transfiguration and the
Ascension, that is, the "cloud" was a sign of the Holy Spirit (St.
Ambrose, St. Zeno of Verona). The "cloud" as the Holy Spirit
was also suggested by its descent on "the Tent of Meeting" where
God conversed with Moses (Exod. 3 3 : 9 ; Num. 1 1 :25). We shall
see in a moment that the "Tent" was a type of the Incarnation.
With both the "fire" and the "cloud" to direct and protect
them, the Hebrews reached the Red Sea. By now, too, Pharoah
had changed his mind and pursued them (Exod. 1 4 :5-7). When
they saw Pharoah coming with his army and his chariots, with
the Sea before them, the People cried out to Moses, "Is it because
there are no graves in Egypt that you have brought us into the
wilderness to die? What have you done to us in bringing us out
of Egypt? ( Exod. 1 4 : 1 1 ) . And Moses encouraged them to have
no fear for "the Lord will fight for us . . . after this day you shall
see the Egyptians no more" ( 1 4 : 1 3) . God instructed the Prophet
to lift up his rod and stretch out his hand over the sea and divide
it that the people of Israel might go on dry ground through the
sea." When the Egyptians followed, the Sea was closed over
Pharoah and his army (Exod. 1 4 : 1 5-30 ).
Here is a type of the Cross as the first Canticle ( Irmos) of the
Matins of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross proclaims:
"Inscribing the invincible weapon of the Cross upon the
1 25

waters, Moses marked a straight line before him with his

staff and divided the Red Sea, opening a path for Israel
who went over dry-shod. Then he marked a second line
across the waters and united them in one, overwhelming
the chariots of Pharoah. Therefore, let us sing to Christ
our God, for He has been glorified. "

b. Once more we stand before a type, one of the most impor

tant in the Old Testament. With regard to a man the Fathers
agree that the passage of Israel through the Red Sea is a type
of Baptism. Listen to St. John Chrysostom,
"How is the crossing of the Red Sea the type of a future
baptism? I will explain this when you understand the differ
ence between a type and the reality to which it points . . .
Let us take the example of a picture. You have seen the
portrait of a king sketched in black . . . From that sketch
alone, you cannot know very much about its subject . . .
Yet who the king is and who is his enemy, you do not know
with any certainty . . . the rest of the lines and colors m ust
be filled in . . . so likewise when thinking about the
analogies between the Old and New Testaments, you can
not expect the type to anticipate the reality with any exact
ness. Only ha ving grasped the matter in this way can we
now explain the connection between the crossing of the
Red Sea in the Old Testament and Baptism in the New.
In both cases, then, we are dealing with water: in the
first, water is the sea, in the other, it is a bath; but in both
cases, we go down into the water. Now you would like to
know what 'reality' the 'coloring' and other lines bring out.
Once the Chosen People were delivered from Egypt; now
from idolatry; once the sea surrendered Israel and drowned
the Pharoah; now it spares us and drowns the devil; once
it was the Egyptians that were suffocated by the water, now
the ancien t enemy is stifled . . . Do you now understand
the relation between type and reality and the superiority
of the latter? Notice, too, that there is a difference between
them : one is a deliverance from the Egyptians, the other
from devils; one freedom from barbarians, the other from
sin. Of old the Chosen People were called to freedom; so
are we, but our freedom is higher. We ough t not to be
surprised that the freedom to which we are called is greater,
for the reality always excels its type . . . " 1 4

1 26

St. Gregory of Nyssa says,

"The crossing of the Red Sea was a deed prophecying the
Mystery of Baptism. So now when anyone goes into the
water of regeneration, fleeing, as it were, from 'Egypt, ' he
is himself delivered and sa ved from the cruel despot of sin
while the devil and his minions are overwhelmed by the
water and crushed by grieT"15

Concerning the same subject, St. Basil the Great explains,

". . . the narrative of the exodus of Israel typifies those who
are saved by Baptism . . . The sea and the cloud, here and
now, stir up faith, because they evoke great wonder: but
all that belongs to the future, since they foretell in types
the grace to come. 'Who is so wise as to understand these
things?' How is the Red Sea a type of Baptism? The Sea
preserved Israel from Pharoah, as the sacred bath saves us
from the tyranny of the devil. In the Sea the Egyptian
enemy was drowned while in the waters of this Mystery
our separation from God ends. The People emerged from
the Sea whole and unharmed while those who are baptized
rise from the waters as living from the dead, saved by the
Grace of Him Who has called us. The cloud is the shadow
of the gift of the Holy Spirit which quenches the heat of
the passions through the mortification of our mem
bers . . . . " 16

St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, asks,

"What was ofgreater importance to thejewish people than
the crossing of the Red Sea ? Yet they who traversed it are
all dead in the desert. B u t, on the contrary, he who passes
through the font - that is, passes from earthly to heavenly
things - passes over . . . from sin to life; he passes through
this fon t, escaping death and rising again . . . Thus, the
obstinate wickedness of the enemy loses its deadly venom
in the saving waters. This is what we see in the figure of
the malevolent Pharoah . . . who was conquered and
destroyed by the waters of the Red Sea. St. Paul declares
(Heb. 1 1 :29) that this is a type of the Mystery ofBaptism . . .
This takes place today when the rite of exorcism expels the
demon . . . therefore when a person emerges from the sav
ing water, he should have the confidence that he has not
only been sanctified but that the devil is destroyed. In our
new freedom we are consecrated to God b ydivine Grace" 1 7
1 27

Although the crossing of the Red Sea by Old Israel is a historical

event, a true account in every detail, it is also a promise of
something to come, something in the experience of Israel accord
ing to the New Testament, that is, the Mystery or Sacrament of
Baptism or initiation into the Body of Christ, the Church. A
complete explanation of this and other Mysteries must wait for
another chapter.
c. Leaving the shores of the Red Sea, Israel was led into the
wilderness of Sur. They had gone for three days without water.
When they came to the spring of Marah, they discovered its
water to be bitter ; until, under the Lord's direction, Moses threw
a tree into the spring and it became sweet ( Exod. 1 5 : 22-25). In
this type, the Cross and Baptism are coupled. According to St.
"Water without the preaching of the Lord's Cross (tree)
has no value for salvation. Unless it has been sanctified by
the mystery of the saving Cross, it is not ready to serve as
a spiritual bath and healing drink. As Moses cast the tree
into the spring, being a prophet, so does the priest proclaim
over the water (of Baptism) the Lord's Cross whereby it is
replenished with Grace " 111

We recall, too, the words o f the Matins canticle,

"0 good Lord, Thou has sweetened through wood the
exceedingly bitter waters of Marah, prefiguring by this type
the immaculate Cross by which the taste of sin was
deadened" 1 9

Through n o coincidence, the Fathers tell us, after the People

had drunk from the "sweet waters" of Marah, they came to Elim
where they found twelve more springs and seventy palm trees.
Here are figures of the Twelve and Seventy Apostles. As St.
Paul told the Church at Ephesus ( 2:20), the Apostles, along with
the Prophets, are the "foundation" of the Church (St. Gregory
of Elvira, St. Gregory of N yssa, St. Hilary of Poitiers) . How
remarkable that in these and other types we foresee, almost i n
order, t h e entire structure of t h e C hurch begin to emerge.
d. Still grumbling, the J ews demanded of Moses something
to eat. They complained that in Egypt they had at least filled

their bellies with bread, while i t seems, that Moses had "brought
us o ut into this wilderness to kill the whole assembly with hunger"
(Exod. 1 6 :3). Then, the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Behold
I will rain bread from heaven for you and the people shall go
out and gather a day's portion each day . . . On the fifth day
when they prepare what they bring in, let them take twice as
much as they usually gather" ( 1 6 : 5) . The people were not
allowed to "gather" on the Sabbath, for it was a day of rest
consecrated to the Lord. "Now the house of Israel called its
name manna . . . " ( 1 6 : 3 1 ). 2"
The Lord Himself informs us that manna was a type.
Then jesus said unto them, " Amen, amen, I say unto you,
Moses gave you not that bread from hea ven; but My Fa ther
giveth you the true bread from hea ven. For the bread of
God is He which cometh down from heaven, and giveth
life unto the world. Then said they u nto Him, Lord, ever
more give us this bread. And jesus said unto them, I am
the bread of life: he that cometh to Me shall never hunger;
and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst . . . Amen,
amen, I say unto you, He that believeth hath everlasting
life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in
the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which com
eth down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof; and
not die. I am the living bread which came down from
heaven : if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever:
and the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give
for the life of the world . . . Amen, amen, I say unto you,
Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His
blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and
drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him
up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My
blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh
My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. As the living Father
hath sent Me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth
Me, even he shall live by Me. This is that bread which came
down from hea ven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and
are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever. "
Uohn 6:30-58)

Those who heard Jesus were confused not knowing how they
might "eat" Him as their fathers ate manna in the desert, aside
1 29

from the natural revulsion of the Jews for drinking blood. They
did not understand Him, writes St. John Chrysostom, even when
He told them not to "seek the food that perishes," or when He
contrasted for them the manna of Moses and the great Mystery
of the Eucharist.21
St. Ambrose, discoursing on the Mysteries (Sacraments) of
the Church , ties manna, the Incarnation and the Eucharist.
"The manna was a great marvel; it was the food that God
rained down on the fathers. The hea vens nourished them
with this daily food. 'Man ate the bread of angels, ' as it is
written (Ps. 75:25). Yet, those who at this bread died in the
desert while the nourishment you receive, the B read
descended from heaven, comm unicates to you the sub
stance of eternal life. It is the Body of Christ. As the light
is greater than the shadow, the truth than the type, so the
Body of the Creator is greater than the manna from
heaven "22

Before him, St. Cyprian of Carthage, always so concerned with

the unity of the Church, looked upon manna and the Eucharist
in a different light,
"Forifthe day rises on everyone alike, andifthe sun diffuses
its light on everyone equally, how m uch m ore does Christ,
Who is the true Sun and the true day, bestow in His Ch urch
the light of eternal life with equality! Of which equality we
see the Sacramen t typified in the Exodus, when the manna
flowed down from heaven, a figure of things to come and
showing forth the nourishment of the heavenly bread and
the food of the promised Christ"23

The Eucharist as "the Sacrament of unity" is a subject which

will be treated at another time.
e. After having penetrated the wilderness to Sin, the people
oflsrael were thirsty. They found fault with Moses again, saying,
"Give us water to drink." They murmured against him, crying,
"Why did you bring us out of Egypt? To kill us and our children
and our cattle with thirst?" Before they could stone him, the
Lord instructed Moses that He would provide the people with
water. "Behold, I will stand before you, there on the rock of
Horeb; and you shall strike the rock and water shall come o ut

1 30

of it that the people may drink." And the Prophet did as he was
told. the water came and quenched their thirst. "And he called
the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the
faultfinding of the children of Israel, and because they dared
to put the Lord to the test, saying, 'Is the Lord among us or
not"' (Exod. 1 7 : 3-7).
St. Paul was the first to write concerning the typology of the
Rock of Horeb.
"I wan t you to know brethren, that our fathers were under
the cloud, all passed through the sea, and all were baptized
unto Moses (eis ten Mosen ebaptisan to) in the cloud and
in the sea; and all a te the same spiritual food and all drink
the same spiritual drink; indeed, they drank from that
spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was
Christ" (I Cor. 1 0 : 1 -4).

We recall, too, the discussion between Christ and the Samaritan

Woman where He referred to Himself as "the living water"
Uohn 4: 1 0 ) , surely not oblivious of Jeremiah's description of
God as "the fountain of living water" Uer. 2: 1 3) . Also, King
David called the God of Israel "my rock and my redeemer" (Ps.
78). He is the "rock of stumbling" (Isa. 8: 1 4) , the "rock" (Matt.
1 6 : 1 8) and "cornerstone" (Eph. 2 :20) of the Church. He is the
"rock" or "stone" which the "builders" rejected (Isa. 28 : 1 6 ; I
Pet. 2 :6-8). According to St. Gregory of Elvira,
"When the Israelites were thirsty in the desert, Moses struck
the rock with his wooden staff and water gushed forth; and
this foretold the Sacramen t of Baptism. The Apostle
teaches that the rock is a type of Christ when he says: 'They
drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them: and the
Rock was Christ. ' This water which flowed from the rock
was a type of the water which was to issue from the side
of Christ at Crucifixion. In the Sacramen t of Baptism, it is
a saving refreshment to those who were thrsty. We know
that our Lord, the fountain of living water, springing up
into eternal life, when He h ung on the Cross, not only shed
His blood from His pierced side, but also a torrent of
water24: He indicated in this way that His Bride, the Church
was formed from His side, as Eve was formed from the
side of Adam. She (the Ch urch) received two baptisms -


of water and blood, which are in the Church of the faithful

and of the martyrs "25

As with other topics, the doctrine of the Church (ecclesiology)

i s reserved for another time.
f. The Exodus type - or better, anti-type - which shows
very clearly the identity of Christ with Israel - the People of
Israel - is the so-called "Temptation narrative." After His bap
tism by St. John the Baptist in the River Jordan, the Lord was
driven into the wilderness or desert by the Holy Spirit, just as
the nation of Israel, God's "first-born" (Exod. 4 : 22) had been
led into the desert to be tested. In other words, the temptations
of the Lord (Matt. 4 : 1 - 1 1 ) must be understood against the
background of the Old Testament wilderness experience of the
Hebrew people.
As the Scriptures describe it, the Israelites murmured against
God's "failure" to provide them with sustenance, but Jesus, when
tempted by hunger during His fast, refused to turn stones into
bread at the suggestion of the devil. He also quoted the words
of Deuteronomy ( 8 : 3 ) , "Man shall not live by bread alone, but
by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." We
observe, too, that, when tempted, Christ not only succeeds where
I srael failed, but succeeds where Adam failed, for He is not only
the "new Israel" ("new J acob") , but the "second Adam," as St.
John Chrysostom reminds us.26
Old I srael in the wilderness sinned against God by doubting
His power and intention to save them. "They tested God in their
heart . . . " (Ps. 7 7 : 1 8-20) at Massah. But Jesus, taunted by the
devil to test God by casting H imself down from the pinnacle of
the Temple (Matt. 4 :7 ) , rebuffed the Evil one by quoting Moses
once more, "Again it is written , 'You shall not tempt the Lord
your God"' (Deut. 6: 1 6) . Neither Israel nor Adam resisted the
devil , wrote Chrysostom, but the Lord overcame the devil "not
by miracles, but by forebearance and long- suffering, and did
nothing at all for display and vainglory."27
Finally, the devil took Jesus unto a high mountain and showed
Him all the kingdoms of the world, promising that they would
be His - and He could avoid the Cross - if only He would fall
1 32

down and worship him. This incident has a double Old Testa
ment reference: to Israel which, in taking possession of the land
of Canaan, "began to play the harlot"28 with the daughters of
Moab," by worshipping such fertility gods as B aal-eor (Num.
25 : 1 ) ; and, at the same time, we have the picture ofGod granting
Moses a vision of"all the land" which He had sworn " to Abraham,
Isaac and J acob, saying, 'I will give it to your descendents.' I
have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over
there"' (Deut. 34: 1 -4). Whatever sins Moses may have committed
that forbade his entry into the land of Promise, the Fathers all
agree that he could not "go over" the Jordan, because Moses
represented the Law. The Jordan is a type of B aptism and the
Promised Land a type of salvation; therefore, it is not by works
of the Law that we are saved but by faith through grace (Eph.
2 : 8-9). Knowing all these things, J esus replied to the devil, "You
shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve"
(Deut. 6: 1 3 ; Matt. 4 : 1 0).
g. Another Exodus type to which the Fathers invariably refer
us is the battle of Israel with the Amalekites (Exod. 1 7 :8- 1 3) .
No detail of the story seems more important than Moses standing
on the hill above the fray with h is arms outstretched. Whenever
he held them up, Israel prevailed and when he lowered them,
Amalek won. Because his arms became weary, Aaron and H ur
placed stones under his arms. U ltimately, Jesus the son of Nun
routed the Amalekites.
Moses on the hillside with h i s hands outstretched i s
everywhere taught b y t h e Fathers to be a type o f t h e Cross. The
companion of St. Paul, St. Barnabas writes in his Letter ( 1 2 : 2) ,
"God spoke again to Moses, telling him to make a type of
the Cross of Him who would die on it, for unless they
hoped in Him they would be ever at war. Moses kept his
arms outstretched and thus the Israelites gained the advan
tage. Why was this? So that they should realize that there
is no hope of salvation without Him . "

One must not overlook that Jesus was crucified between two
thieves, anti-types of Aaron and Hur.
Following the tradition of the C hurch , St. J ustin Martyr tells

1 33

Trypho the Jew (ch. 9 1 ) ,

"Moses himself stretching o u t both hands, prayed to God
for help. Now, Hur and Aaron held up his hands all day
long, lest when he tired his hands fell to his sides. For, if
Moses changed his posture - which is a figure of the Cross
- the people were defeated (as Moses himself testified),
but as he remained in that position Amalek was conquered,
for the victors derived their strength from the Cross. In
truth, it was not beca use Moses prayed that his people won
the day, but beca use, while the name ofJesus (the son of
Nun) was before him, Moses formed the sign of the Cross. "

St. Cyprian in his three Testimonies Against the Jews ( 1 1 : 2 1 )

declared that "By the sign of the Cross also Amalek was beaten
by Jesus through Moses."
The Fathers find noteworthy the relation between Moses and
Jesus the son of Nun (see section 4) who was general of the
army and the one who, after succeeding to Moses place, took
the Chosen People into the Promised Land. Jesus (Jeshua in
Hebrew, and Iesous in Greek) is a type of the Lord. The s tory
of Israel's victory over the Amalekites typifies the triumph of
the Cross not only by Moses in that pose, but also by Jesus son
of Nun, who fought and defeated them, as Christ won over the
h. Finally, the People of I srael reached the wilderness of
Sinai from whence Moses climbed the great mountain to speak
with the Creator. The "mountain" in the history of the Old
Testament provides us with many types, including the compari
son between Moses receiving the Ten Commandments or words
from God and Christ delivering His Beatitudes to the multitudes
from a mountain. The Commandments were written by the
Finger of God on two stone tablets, but the "new Law," as St.
Paul described it, was "written by the Spirit of the living God
on the fleshly tables of the heart" ( I I Cor. 3: 1 3) .
Yet, there is no type of more consequence than Mount Sinai
as a figure of Mount Tabor or the Mount of Transfiguration.
Here is a type of a type, that is, the Sinai experience - of Elias
as well as Moses - images the Lord's Transfiguration or
metamorphosis on Tabor which is itself a type or image of the
1 34

radical transformation of the whole universe at Christ's Second

Coming. In other terms, Moses and Elias offer a type of a type
of Christ's glory. They beheld "the glory of His Transfiguration ,
the glory as of the only-begotten Son of the Father, receiving
Light from His Light."3" Moreover, He Who spoke to Moses
and Elias. "in symbols on Mount Sinai of old, saying I am Who
am, hath manifested Himself on Mount Tabor to His disciples"
who also became witnesses to His Grace and made "partakers
in His joy and precursors of the Gospel of emanicipation through
the Cross and the Resurrection of salvation."31
During the Matins of the feast, the Church chants the following Kathisma in the 4th Tone,
"Thou hast been transfigured, 0 Savior, on Mount Tabor,
indicating the transformation of mankind which will take
place at Thy dreadul Second Coming. Moses and Elias did
converse with Thee. B u t Thy disciples, whom Thou didst
call, when they beheld Thy Glory, 0 Master, were dazzled
by Thy brightness. Wherefore, 0 Thou Who didst ca use
Thy Light to shine on them, enlighten our souls. "

We must not think that this hymn is the exaggerated rhetoric

of piety. Clear parallels between the theophanies on Sinai and
Tabor can be shown. To be sure, when comparing them, we
understand that there are some differences, not the least of
which is the appearance of the Trinity. Moses spoke to the One
Who, as a man , was transfigured on the mountain. M oreover,
the Fathers view the several encounters of Moses with God on
Sinai as parts of the same experiences; and likewise, Jesus
sojourn into the mountains of Palestine - not only Tabor as part of the analogy with Moses. He is the type of Elias in the
same way: Moses and Elias appear to Him on Mount Tabor not
merely as representatives of "the Law and the Prophets," but
because He, as God, appeared to them on Sinai.
Look at the Gospel narrative. "After six days," St. M ark (9:2-8)
relates, Jesus took Peter and James and John and led them up
into a high mountain "and He was transfigured before them,
and His garments became a glistening white , as no fuller on
earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elias and

1 35

Moses; and they were talk

ing with J esus . . . And a
cloud overshadowed them,
and a voice came out of the
cloud, 'This is my beloved
Son; hear H im." Moses him
self was the first to say, "The
Lord your God will raise up
for you a Prophet like unto
me from among you; H im
you will hear" (Deut. 1 8 : 1 5) .
But even more, w e know
that Moses went up into the
mountain "after six days"
where he spoke with God
even as he and Elias will con
verse with Him on Tabor.
Sinai was covered with a
cloud for the six days. The
disciples watched in amaze
ment as the Lord was bathed
The Transfiguration o f Christ
in Light - the Light of His
Divinity, the Light of Glory (Luke 9 : 3 1 ) which He shares with
the Father and the Spirit - and Moses, when he came down
from the mountain with the Ten Commandments, " the skin of
his face shone because he had spoken with God" (Exod. 34 : 29).
Also, not to be forgotten is the fact that] esus before He was trans
figured had been discoursing on the Kingdom of God and after
wards began to perform miracles, the very signs of the Kingdom.
Before his ascent into Sinai, Moses spoke with God about His
"people" and "nation" and when he returned to the camp of
the Israelites he carried the Commandments, the very constitu
tion of Old Israel.
Also, concerning Elias "who did cleave the River Jordan with
his mantle" (a type of Baptism), undertook a pilgrimage of forty
days into the wilderness (as Moses and Jesus) at a time of national
crisis. He went to Mt. Sinai where God manifested Himself to

1 36

th e great prophet. Like Moses and J esus, he heard "the voice

of God." Elias covered his face as Moses had done (I Kings
1 9 : 8- 1 2). He will later be taken by a fiery chariot drawn by fiery
ho rses into the heavens "without being burned."32 Like the three
Youths in the Babylonian furnace, Elias was not consumed; so
here again we have a figure of the Incarnation. Also, we note
that Elias, as the Lord Himself and, as many believe, Moses,
ascended into heaven from a mountain overlooking the " land."
i. The brazen or bronze serpent lifted up on a pole by Moses
in the desert (Num. 2 1 : 8-9) is everywhere recognized by the
Fathers as "a type of the passion of salvation accomplished by
means of the Cross" (St. Basil, On the Holy Spirit, 1 4) . St. Cyril
of Jerusalem writes in his Catechesis (XIII, 20),


XU Kit

"The Brazen Serpent"

by Photios Kontoglou, 1 960


"This was the figure which Moses completed by fixing the

serpen t to a cross, that who so had been bitten by a living
serpen t, and looked to the brazen serpent, might be saved
by believing. Does the brazen serpen t sa ve when crucified,
and shall not the Son of God incarnate save when crucified
also? On each occasion life comes by means of wood. "

The second century writer, Tertullian (before his apostasy) con

curs with the Fathers and adds that the serpents to which Num
bers refers are an image of the devil "and at the same time the
type of the brazen serpent proclaims the cure of those wounds
of sin, salvation to all those who looked upon the cross" (Against
Marcion I I I , 1 8) . In the first canticle of the canon of the Exalta
tion, we hear this troparion :
"Moses set upon a wooden pole a cure against the deadly
and poisonous bite of the serpents: for crosswise upon the
wood - as a symbol of the Cross - he placed a serpen t
that creeps about the earth, and thereby he triumphed over
calamity. Therefore let us sing to Christ our God, for He
has been glorified.

j. Before leaving the history of the Exodus, we must mention

at least two more types. I refer to the Tent of Meeting or Taber
nacle (mishkam in Hebrew, skene in Greek and tabernaculum
in Latin) and the Ark. David, as Moses, will put the Ark of the
Lord in the Tent, at the far end, the place known - after the
Temple displaced the Tent - as "the holy of holies" (qedosh
ha qudashim) , the "sanctuary" where the king and the priests
offered burnt sacrifices for sin and peace (II Sam. 6: 1 7) . The
Tent of Meeting was the place where the Glory of God abode,
where He "dwelt" among His people. The divine Presence the
Jews called His skekinah which often took the form of light
(Ezek. 43 :2) and sometimes a cloud. "The Glory of God,"
whether in the Tent or the Temple "overshadowed" the area
set aside for it (Exod. 40 : 34-3 5). The Glory or Presence centered
on the Ark wherein lay the tablets, Aaron's rod, the phial of
manna and other sacred obj ects.
The Tabernacle and the Ark are types of Christ and the
Theotokos. St. John the Evangelist makes clear the connection
between them when he announced. "And the Word became

flesh and dwelt (i. e. , pitched His tent

eskenosen) among us"
Qohn I : I 4) . St. Paul had the same image in mind when he said,
"For in Him (Christ) all the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily"
(Col. 2 :9) . On the Mount of Transfiguration , the disciples "saw
His glory . . . a cloud came and overshadowed them ; and as they
entered the cloud they were afraid . . . " (Luke 9 : 32-35). Put
another way, John draws the comparison between God inhabit
ing the Tent (skene) and His human nature; and the reference
to the Ark, albeit involving His humanity, typifies the Virgin
Mary who, like the Ark (and "the mountain") , was "over
shadowed" by the "cloud" (the H oly Spirit). In a sense, she is
also the Tent, because God was present in her and took His
human nature from her. Thus, the Fathers call her "the holy
tabernacle, the living Ark which contained the uncontainable
Word. "33 The Mother of God is "the living tabernacle of God"
as opposed to "the Mosaic temple. "34 In the words of the
Oktoechos, 35 " Rejoice Virgin, the Master of all things has become
incarnate in thee, thou holy tabernacle, as the right
eous David said (Ps. I 32 : 8) . " And the words of Luke I :39 ("the
Power of the Most High will overshadow thee") recalls once
more the image of Exodus 40 : 34 ("Then the cloud overshadowed
the Tent of Meeting, and the Glory of the Lord filled the taber
nacle") , an image which, as the Fathers teach, applies also to
the Church, for the Church is the Body of Christ, the B ody taken
from the Virgin, the Body which, together with all Her members,
will be glorified and transfigured in the H oly Spirit when the
Economy of God is consummated.


As we have seen, Jesus, son of Nun, replaced Moses as the
leader of God's People. He took them over the Jordan. " Moses,
my servant , is dead," the Lord said to Jesus, "now therefore
arise, go over Jordan, you and all this people, into the land
which I have given to them, to the people of I srael" Qosh . I : I-2).
He is the type of Jesus Qeshua), son of Mary, Who will take the
new I srael through the waters of B aptism into the land promise d
to "the poor in spirit. "

1 39

I n his Letter ( XI I : 7 - 1 0) , St. B arnabas testified that Moses

appointed the son of Nun to lead the I sraelites against Amalek,
because God had revealed to the prophet that his general was
the type of Him, Who was to come. Jesus the Christ would fight
evil spirits, as Jesus, the son
of Nun, fought the Amale
kites. Nevertheless, both
Moses and Jesus are types of
the Lord Jesus and nowhere
is that fact better demon
strated than in the war with
the Amalekites. As St. Justin
Martyr says,
"For the one of them
stretched out his hands
and remained on the hill
side until evening, his
arms supported, reveal
ing nothing else but the
Cross; and, the other,
whose name was changed
to Jesus, led the fight, and
Israel conquered. Now
this took place in both
these hoi) men and
Prophets ofGod, that you
may perceive how one of
them could not bear up
the mysteries: I mean the
type of the Cross and the
Righteous Jesus, the Son of Nun
type of the Name. For this
is, was, and shall be the
stre ngcll of Him alone, whose Name every evil power

At the same time, St. Irenaeos contrasted Jesus, son of N un ,

with Moses : the first a s a type o f the New Testament and the
second as the representative of the Law, The " stiff-necked and
unbelieving" Jews, God let die in the wilderness,
"but brought those who believed in Him (Christ) and many
who were children of malice into the heritage of the pat-

1 40

riarchs, which Moses could not. Jesus inherited it and dis

tributed it by lot as a figure of Him Who also frees us from
Amalek by the stretching forth ofHis hands, and on account
of this leads us into the Kingdom of the Father"37

And St. Cyril of Jerusalem states concerning Jesus,

". . . and (esus. the son of Nun was a type of many other
things. WJJen he began his government of the !J. eople, he
began a t the Jordan where, Jesus Christ Himse T, after His
baptim, started to preach th _ Gospel. '!'he sm of Nun
appOIIlted the twelve who divided the mhentance; and
Jesus will send the Twelve Apostles, the heralds of truth,
into the world"38

Jesus' conquest of the Amorite kings and his causing the sun to
stand still was also a type of the Crucifixon. Listen to the third
Kathisma of Matins for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross:
"jesus, the son of Nun, 0 my Savior, in ancient times did
foreshadow Thy Cross mystically as he opened his arms in
the form ofa cross and the sun stood still until Thy enemies
were destroyed, 0 God. B u t now the sun has grown dark,
since it saw Thee on the Cross abolishing the might of
death and taking hades captive. "

The importance of the " sun" in this and other types will become
apparent as we learn the names and titles of Christ.
After the establishment of the monarchy under King Saul,
his tragic death, the passing of the Philistine danger, the new
( anointed) ruler, the thirty year old D avid, wanted to give the
tribes of Israel a symbol of their unity. He chose for that purpose
the founding of a capital, a Canaanite city, formerly occupied
by the Jebusites, between the Valley of H innon and the River
Kedron, with the name of Jerusalem ("the city of Peace"), "the
City of God . " He constructed new fortifications and rebuilt its
citadel or "stronghold," Z ion, which was situated on the city's
southeastern hill. "And David dwelt in the stronghold, and called
it 'the city of David"' (II Sam. 5 : 9) .
David also brought the A r k o f the Covenant to Jerusalem
and planned for it a permanent structure, the Temple, finally


erected by his son , Solomon . With the task accomplished, the

Ark was placed in the H oly of H olies, in the empty space around
the Cherubim which dominated the Mercy-Seat. There
descended the Shekinah, the
mysterious presence in the
fire and cloud which had pro
tected I srael in her sojourn
from Egypt to Canaan . As
Solomon said when he dedi
cated the Temple, "The Lord
has set H is sun in the
heavens, but has willed to
dwell in thick darkness. I have
built Thee an exhalted house,
a place for Thee to dwell for
ever" (I Kings 8 : 1 2) .
Thus with David and the
monarchy had a new era
dawned in Israel. Not only
would Jerusalem be known
henceforth as "the city of the
Great King" (Ps. 47 : 2) ; and
not only would it now be the
Prophet David, b y Photios Kontoglou
place where I srael must go to
renew the Mosaic Covenant, but the king took the role as Covenant
mediator. David was a priest-king who led the people in their
sacrifice and worship of the true God. As He records in a psalm,
"I have made a covenant with My chosen ones, I have sworn
unto David My servant: I will establish thy seed until eternity,
and build up thy throne unto generation and generation. "
(Ps. 88:3-4).

For the Lord had indeed said to King David,

"When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your
fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, Who shall
come forth from your body, and I will establish His kingdom.
He shall build a house for my Name and I will establish the
1 42

throne of His Kingdom forever" (II Sam. 7: 12- 13).

St. Jerome, remarking on these several verses, took note that from
this time "the house of David" became the norm of Messianic
prophecy. The Messiah or Christ is to be born of his "body. " He
will, like David, be priest and king - as well as prophet. Therefore,
it is better to say that the renewed Covenant between God and
Israel was not so much with David as through David - with "the
Chosen One" Who "is evidently Christ. "39
Not by accident, then, did the Lord preach the Kingdom of
the heavens and make the royal procession into Jerusalem on Palm
Sunday and establish the "new Covenant" and, of course, offer
H imself up on the altar of the Cross. Even more, the Lord com
pared H imself to the Temple (albeit the second Temple) when
He said to the Jews at Passover, "Destroy this temple, and in three
days I will raise it. " He meant, as St. John records, "the temple of
His body" (John 2 : 2 1 ). He was also proclaiming that God dwelt
in that body ; indeed, He was the Shekinah, that His body was the
Temple of the Holy Spirit.
His body, as St. Paul testifies, is also the Church and those who
are members of It also partake of the Holy Spirit who inhabits It.
Writing to the church at Corinth the Apostle exclaims, "Do you
not know that you are god's temple and that God's Spirit dwells
in you?" (I Cor. 3: 1 6) . All those have been baptized into Christ
have put on Christ, have joined themselves to Him, for which
reason they constitute "the Temple of the living God," the new

Progressively, God revealed His Plan for the redemption or

recovery of the creation. First with Adam, then with N oah, after
wards with Abraham. He adopted the nation of I srael as His
Own and made a "pact" or "covenant" with them through Moses.
He renewed it with King David. All these, however, were only
prelude to the great and everlasting Covenant which He would
make with Israel. Thus said the Lord,
"Th e people who survived the sword found grace in the
wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared

1 43

to him from afar. I have loved you with an everlasting love;

therefore I have contin ued my fidelity to you. Again I shall
build you and you shall be built, 0 virgin Israel" Uer. 3 1 : 14).

He said again,
"Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, and raise shouts for
the chief of nations; declare, give praise, and say, 'The
Lord has saved His people, the remnant of Israel. Behold
I will bring them out of the north country, and gather them
from the farthest parts of the earth . . . "' aer. 3 1 : 7-8).

His new Covenant with I srael will be a Covenant of the "heart,"

of the "spirit," of the "inner man ,"
"Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will
make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the
house ofJudah, not like the covenant which I made with
their fathers when I took them by the hand out of the land
of Egypt, a covenant which they broke, though I was their
h usband, says the Lord. This is the covenant which I will
make with the house of Israel after those days: I will put
My law within them, I will write it upon their hearts; and
I will be their God and they shall be My people. And no
longer shall each man teach his neighbor and each his
brother, saying, 'Know ye the Lord, ' for they shall all know
Me, from the least of them to the greatest, ' says the Lord;
'for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their
sin no more"' aer. 3 1 :31 -34).

When the Covenant is finally executed, God will provide Israel

with her "king" and "captain" who will be a "branch" from the
house of David,
"In those days and at that time, I will ca use a righteous
Branch to spring forth from David; and He shall execute
justice and righteousness in the land. In those days, Judah
will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this
is the Name of Him which shall be called: 'the Lord is our
righ teousness. " For th us says the Lord: "David shall never
lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, and
the Levitical priests shall never Jack a man in My presence
to offer burnt offersings, to burn cereal offerings, and to
make sacrifices forever"' aer. 33: 1 4- 1 8).

1 44

Th e recipients of the New Covenant will be drawn from the Old

Is ra el, as God promised. "And I will lead forth the seed that
came of J acob and of Judah, and they shall inherit My holy
mountain : and M ine elect and My servants shall inherit it, and
shall dwell there. " (Isa. 65 :9).
At the same time, His people will not be limited to a single
nation, but shall have a new name.
"For ye shall /eave your name for a loathing to My chosen,
and the Lord shall destroy you: but My servants shall be
called by a new name, Which shall be blessed on the earth;
for they shall bless the true God; and they that swear upon
the earth shall swear by the true God; . . . For there shall
be a new heaven and a new earth: and they shall not at all
remember the former, neither shall it come into their mind.
But they shall find in her joy and exultation; for, behold,
I make Jerusalem a rejoicing, and my people joy. " ( I sa.
65 : 1 5- 1 8)

The world will become the Kingdom of God and I srael will have
a new King, Whose reign will never wane. As Daniel previews it,
"And there was given to Him (the Son of Man) dominion
and glory, and a Kingdom that all people, nations and
languages should serve Him : His dominion is an everlasting
dominion which shall not pass a way, and His Kingdom
shall not be destroyed
" (Dan. 7 : 1 4)

His capital will be "Mount Zion and the City of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem, and the company of many angels" ( Heb .
1 2 :22). I n that day
"the living waters shall go out from jerusalem; half of them
towards the sea, and halftowards the hinder sea : in summer
and in winter shall it be. And the Lord shall be king over
all the earth : in that day shall there be one Lord, and His
Name one" (Zech. 1 4 : 8-9).

And David exhaults,

"There is a river, the streams whereof the City of God shall
be made glad, the holy place of the tabernacles of the Most
High. God is in the midst of Her; She shall not be moved:
God shall help Her . . . . " (Ps. 45:4-5).


Israel will have become the world and the heavenly Jerusalem
her "eye" (St. Isaac the Syrian) . The Gentiles will share in the
new Covenant. J erusalem will be their city and they will drink
of its waters, its "mystical waters, " and they will behold His Glory.
"Arise, shine; for the light is come, and the glory of the
Lord is risen above you. For, behold, the darkness shall
cover the earth, and heavy darkness the people: but the
Lord shall arise upon you, His glory shall be seen by you.
And the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the
brightness ofyour shining" (lsa. 60 : 1 -3).

All shall worship in the new Temple, "the temple not made with
hands" ( Heb. 9 : 24). God will find pleasure not in "offerings and
whole burnt offerings" (Mal. I : I O- I l ), but in holiness, "a broken
spirit and contrite heart" (Ps. 50: 1 7) . His new Temple will make
no more animal sacrifices (Jer. 3 : 1 6- 1 7) . Rather the People of
God will be a "living sacrifice" and they will worship God "in
the Spirit and Truth" (] ohn 4 : 2 1 ) . They will be a "habitation of
the Lord," "an holy temple" (Eph. 2 : 20-22), an "spiritual house"
(I Pet. 2 : 5). They will be the Church in which "the glory of the
God of I srael came from the east; and the sound of his coming
was like the sound of many waters ; and the earth shone with
his glory" ( Ezek. 4 3 : 2 ) .
If the language o f Ezekiel seems symbolic, i f not strange; if
the use of such phrases seems mystifying, it (they) must not
distract us, especially since we know that the Lord Himself, as
we have seen , referred to Himself as "living water" (i.e. , "mystical
waters"). Also, the solar ascription - "east" or "orient" - must
not distract us. Whether as some say, such words were borrowed
by Israel from her pagan neighbors ("sun worshippers") is of
no consequence. The prophets were directed to employ this
language in order to identify her new king, the king of all.
Thus, Malachi said, "Behold a man, the Orient is His Name,
unto you that fear My Name, the sun of righteousness shall rise"
( Mal. 4 : 2). St. Luke affirms, "through the tender mercy of our
God, whereby the Orient from on high has visited us" ( Luke
1 : 77-78). And the Lord will say, "As the lightening comes from
the east, so shall the Son of Man appear" (Matt. 24 :27). And St.


Gregory of Nyssa writes, "The great day i not lighted by he

visible sun, but the true light, the Sun of Righteou sness, which
is called the Orient by the Prophets, for it is the "sun which has
no setting. "40
The new Covenant promised in the Old Testament was, at
least from the time of David, linked with the coming of "the
Suffering Servant" (Ebed Yahweh in Hebrew, Doulos tou Theou
in Greek), "the Shepherd," "the King," but most commonly
called the Messiah. 41 He was to be both man and God: a man
as the king-priest-prophet, the charismatically endowed descen
dent of David: God, "the Ancient of Days," Who would finally
manifest Himself to Israel, dwell in her midst, and give eternal
life to the world through her.
The Messiah will be the fulfillment of God's promises which
began after the Fall. He
would rescue the human
race from the Evil One. He
would be one of Eve's
chldren who would "crush"
the head of the devil,
although he would "wound
His heel" (Gen . 3: 1 5) .
Naturally, then , S t . Paul will
assert that the Messiah "was
born of a woman" (Gal. 4 :4).
More will be said about the
"woman" - the Virgin Mary
- and her role in the salva
tion of the human race. Suf
fice it to say here, she shared
in a very profound and
astonishing way in her Son's
conquest of the devil and the
imparting of eternal life.
Before that time, howChrist - Main Icon, Church o f the
Exaltation, Dormition Skete, 1 986


ever, there is another and very specific prophecy about the birth
of the M essiah . It was uttered to King Ahaz, a successor to
David's throne.
"Hear then, 0 house of David! Is it too little for you to
weary men, that you weary God also? Therefore the Lord
Himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive
in the womb, and bear a son, and shall call His name
Emmanuel" (Isa. 7 : 1 3- 1 4) .

St. Matthew will interpret the name - " God with us" ( Matt.
1 : 23 ) . The Evangelist had in mind other words of the prophet
that the "waters"
"will sweep into Judah, it will overflow and pass on . . . and
its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, 0
Emmanuel . . . Be broken, you peoples; and be dismayed;
give ear, all you far countries; gird yourselves and be dis
tra ught. Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing;
speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us " ( I sa .
8 : 8- 1 0) .

As the genealogy of Matthew claims, He is a descendent - a

"branch" or "shoot" or " sprout" - of David. Long before,
Jeremiah announced:
"Behold, the days are coming says the Lord, when I will
raise up for David a righteous Branch, and He shall reign
as king and deal wisely and shall execute justice and right
eousness in the land. In His days, Judah will be saved, and
Israel will dwell securely . . . " Qer. 23 : 5-6) .

And Zechariah prophecied,

"Behold, the man whose name is Branch : for He shall grow
up in His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord,
and shall bear royal honor, and shall sit and rule upon His
throne. And there shall be a priest by His throne, and
peaceful understanding shall exist between them " (Zech.
6: 1 2) .

The true humanity of the Messiah is indicated in such passages.

Interestingly, when the Messiah appears, Judah, the house
of David, will have lost its special place in the land of I srael.
Judah will be humbled ; nevertheless, as God promised long

1 48

before the time of David, "the sceptre shall not pass from Judah"
(Gen . 49: 1 0) . Therefore, on the day the Messiah comes - "On
that day I shall establish and rebuild its ruins; and I shall recon
struct it as the days of old" (Amos 9: 1 1 ) . Likewise, Michah fore
saw that the family of David would not be in power when the
Messiah comes which explains the reason for His birth in the
little town of Bethlehem.
"Now you are walled about with a wall; seige is laid against
us; with a rod they strike upon the cheek of the ruler of
Israel. But you, 0 Bethlehem Ephrata, who though you
are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you
shall come forth unto Me, He who is to be Ruler in Israel;
Whose going forth has been from the beginning, even from
everlasting" ( Mich. 5: 1 -2).

If He came to live in Nazareth and to be called a "Nazarene"

(Matt. 2 :23), this fact does not belie the place of His birth. St. John
Chrysostom contends that many, aware of lost prophetic writings,
knew that the Messiah would live in Nazareth, for which reason
the disciples told N athaniel to come and see what good could come
from Nazareth (John 1 :46) .42
Furthermore, He will, as St. Matthew says (4: 1 2- 1 6), leave
Nazareth after the arrest of St. John the B aptist, to dwell in Cap
ernaum by the sea, the territory of Zebulon and N aphtali, "that
the words of the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled,"
"But there will be no gloom for her that was in anguish. In
the former time He brought into contempt the land ofZebu
lon and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time He will
make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond theJordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light; and those who dwelt in a land of
deep darkness, on them has light shined . . . " (Isa. 9: 1 -2).

He will show Himself a man of wisdom and righteousness.

"There shall come forth a Rod out of the root ofJesse, and
a Branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the
Lord shall rest upon Him, the spirit of wisdom and under
standing, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowl
edge and the fear of the Lord. And His delight shall be in
the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what His eyes

1 49

see, or decide by what His ears hear; but with righteousness

He shalljudge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek
of the earth; and He shall smite the earth with the rod of
His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the
wicked. Righteousness shall be the girdle of His waist, and
faithfulness the girdle of His Joins" (Isa. 1 1 : 1 -4).

If Matthew describes His prophetic office, Luke sees Him as Lord

and king, alluding to the second chapter ( l O- l l ) of his Gospel
("for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is
Christ the Lord . . . a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes . . . in a
manger") and to the prophecy of Isaiah,
"For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the
government will be upon His shoulder, and His name will
be called, "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Father of
the age to come, Prince of Peace. ' His government shall be
great, and of His peace there shall be no end, upon the
throne of David, and over His kingdom to establish it with
justice and with righ teousness from this time forth and for
evermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this . . . "
(Isa. 9 :6)7).

The Messiah will be a Shepherd, as David, who will love His sheep,
even giving His life for them. As God declares to Ezekiel,
"And I will set up over them One Shepherd, My servant
David, and He shall feed them: He shall feed them and be
their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My
servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have
spoken. I will make with them a covenant ofpeace and banish
wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in
the wilderness and sleep in the woods. And I will make them
and the places round about My hill a blessing . . . " (Ezek.
34 : 23-26).

By "David" here is meant "son of David." The king himself referred

to this One as His shepherd, saying, "The Lord is my shepherd . . .
H e makes me to lie down in green pastures" (Ps. 22 : 1 -2 ) ; and
Jesus will say to His disciples, "I am the good Shepherd: the good
Shepherd gives His life for the sheep" Oohn 1 0 : 1 1 ) . And Mark
tells us that after Jesus had departed His ship, He saw "much
people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because
they were as sheep without a shepherd . . . And He commanded
1 50

them to sit down by companies among the green grass" (Mark

6 : 34-39) . Later, when J esus was imprisoned, He quoted the
prophet, "Strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered"
(Zech. 49: 1 1 ; Mark 1 4:27).
The "good Shepherd" imagery continues through His trial,
Crucifixon and Resurrection.
"0 Lord, who has believed our report? and to whom has the
arm of the Lord been revealed? We brought a report as of
a child before him: He is as a root in a thirsty land: He has
no form nor comeliness; and we saw Him, but He had no
form nor beauty. But His form was ignoble, and inferior to
that of the children of men; He was a man in suffering, and
acquainted with grief, for His face is turned from us: He was
dishonoured, and not esteemed. He bears our sins, and is
pained for us: yet we accounted Him to be in trouble, and
in suffering, and in affliction. But He was wounded on
account of our sins, and was bruised because ofour iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and by His
bruises we were healed. All we as sheep have gone astray;
every one ha gone astray in his way; and the Lord gave Him
up for our sms.
And He, because of His affliction, opens not His mouth :
He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before
the shearer is dumb, so He opens not His mouth. In His
humiliation His judgment was taken away: who shall
declare His generation ? for His life is taken away from the
earth : because of the iniquities of my people He was Jed
to death. And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the
rich for His death; for He practiced no iniquity, nor craft
with His mouth. And, The Lord also is pleased to purge
Him from His stroke. If ye can give an offering for sin,
your soul shall see a long-lived seed. " (lsa. 5 3 : 1 - 1 0)

Anyone familiar with the Gospel narratives of the Lord's Passion

is able to identify its elements in this prophecy.
There are other familiar details, such as the Lord's lament
on the Cross ("My God ! My God ! Why hast Thou forsaken
Me . . . ") , His wounding ("they have pierced My hands and
feet") , the parting of His garments and the casting lots over His
raiment, all drawn from Psalm 2 1 . Psalm 6 7 forte lis the Roman
soldier giving Him "gall for My food and in My thirst they gave
M e vinegar to drink. " Amos (8 :9) predicts that "it shall come to

pass in that day, says the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to
go down at noon, and I will
darken the earth in the clear
day" which is little different
from St. Luke's description
(23 : 44-45) that "about the
sixth hour . . . there was
darkness over the whole
land until the ninth hour,
while the sun's light failed. "
Also, o n the Cross, the Lord
utters the words of Psalm
3 0 : 5 , "Into Thy hands I
commit My spirit . . . "
Although suffering a
cruel death, the Messiah
received new life , "For Thou
wilt not abandon My soul in
hades, nor wilt Thou suffer
Thy Holy One to see corrup
tion. Thou hast made known
to Me the ways of life, Thou
wilt fill Me with gladness
with Thy countenance ;
Prophet Amos, by Photios Kontoglou
delights are in Thy right
hand forever." (Ps. 1 5 : 1 0- 1 1 ).
He will not remain in the grave, but "shall be exhaulted and
lifted up and shall be very high" ( Isa. 5 2 : 1 3) . Thus, St. Paul
preached to the Jews at Antioch,
"And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the prom
ise which was made unto the fa thers, God hath fulfilled
the same unto us, their children, in tha t He hath raised up
Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou
art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. And as concern
ing that He raised Him up from the dead, now no more
to return to corruption, He said on this wise, I will give
Thee the sure blessings of David. Wherefore he saith also

1 52

in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One

to see corruption. For Da vid, after he had served his own
generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was added
unto his fathers, and saw corruption : but He, whom God
raised again, saw no corruption. " (Acts 1 3 : 32-37).

M oreo ver, we have learned that Christ or the M essiah , as "the

Son of Man" has "dominion and glory and kingdom" (IV Esd. 1 3)
and "an everlasting kingship" ( Dan . 7 : 1 3- 1 4). The Old Testa
ment stated that He would not die, but "the M essiah endures
forever. " More than that , those who belong to Him, "the whole
house of I srael," will rise from the dead, for He "will open
your graves , 0 My people. And I will put My S pirit within
you, and you shall live , and I will place you in your land; then ,
you shall k n ow that I , the Lord have spoken , and I have done
it, says the Lord" (Ezek. 3 7 : 1 3- 1 4).
There is no doubt that the prophets of the Old Testament
foretold God's rejection of the Jews. "That the Jews, according to
what had been forseen, have departed from God and have lost
His favor," wrote St. Cyprian of Carthage in Testamonies Against
the jews, "which in times past had been given to them and had
been promised to them for the future; but the Christians have
succeeded to their place, deserving well of the Lord by faith, and
coming out of all the nations and from the whole world."44
The Jews were repudiated by God because they turned from
Christ. "He came to His Own and they received Him not" (John
1 : 1 1 ) . "For they that dwell at Jerusalem and their rulers," said the
Apostle Paul, "because they knew Him not, nor the vioices of the
prophets which are read every sabbath day , they have fulfilled
their words by condeming Him ." And though they found no cause
for death in Him, the Apostle continues, "yet they urged Pilate to
kill Him . And when they had fulfilled all that was written concern
ing Him , He was taken down from the tree and layed in a sepul
chre" (Acts. 1 3 :27-28). But their hope was frustrated, for "the God
of our fathers raised Jesus Who you killed by hanging Him on a
tree" (Acts 5 : 30). "Therefore, let all the house of Israel know
assuredly that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, That
1 53

same Jesus Whom you crucified" (Acts 2 : 36) .

To the Jews, St. Jerome wrote in his homily 94 On the Pascha,
"0 truly unhappy Jews, 0 truly wretched and pitiableJews,
who fa1led to realize that the Stone which Isaiah promised
would be laid in the foundations of Zion (!sa. 28: 16), and
would unite both peoples, was the Lord Savior, the Son of
God! That is the Stone you rejected when you were building
the congregation of the Lord and were custodians of the
sacred rites of the Temple. Rtjected by you, He has become
the cornerstone; and the first Church, gathered from among
the Jews and the believers from the nations, He has united
into one flock and into one divine mystery. 'By the Lord has
this been done; it is wonderful in our eyes' (Ps. 1 1 7:23). It is
wonderful that we who, before the Passion of the Lord, were
without covenant and without law, should be adopted into
the sonship of God, and that while the former loincloth was
disintegrating and falling away (] er. 1 3 : 7- 1 2), God would
weave for Himself another and prepare for Himself another
people. "
When the Jews, at the trial of Jesus shouted, "Away with Him!
Crucify Him . . . let His blood be upon us and our children !" (] ohn
1 9: 1 5 ; Matt. 24 : 25) , say all the Fathers, they condemned them
selves and their posterity.
These words, this curse upon themselves with the very blood
of the Messiah - with all the significance "blood" had for the Jews
- more than anything else led to their estrangement from God.
It was the final act of defiance, the supreme act of disobedience,
a defiance and disobedience with no excuse, because, as St. John
Chrysostom rightly maintained, they had the prophets.
"If they did not have the prophets, they would not deserve
punishment; if they had not read the sacred books, they
would not be so unclean and unholy. But, as it is, they have
been stripped of all excuse. They did have the heralds of
truth, but, with hostile hearts, they set themselves against the
prophets and the truth they spoke. So it is for this reason
that they would be all the more profane and guilty of
blood . . . 45

The prophets foretold that the Messiah would come and under
what circumstances. They could have believed and all the house
of Israel would have been saved ; indeed, she could have entered

1 54

into a new and glorious Covenant with Him, joining Him and the
Gentiles in the divine task of redeeming the human race and
tran sforming the creation. Instead the Jews fulfilled the prophecies
concerning their apostasy. As Malachi said,
'Judah is forsaken, and has become an abomination in Israel
and in jerusalem, beca use Judah profaned the holiness of
the Lord in those things wherein he has loved and courted
strange gods. The Lord will cut off the man who does such
things, and he shall be made base in the tabernacles ofjacob"
(Mal. 2 : 1 1 ).

And Nehemiah prophecied also,

"They have fallen away from Thee, and have cast Thy law
behind their backs, and have killed the prophets which tes
tified against them that they should return to Thee" (Neh.
Likewise, I saiah,
"Israel has not known Me, and My people have not per
ceived Me. A sin[ul nation, a people filled with sins, a wicked
seed, lawless children; ye have forsaken the Lord, and pro
voked the Holy One of Israel" ( Isa. 1 : 3 ,4) .
And Hosea,
"And the Lord said, 'Call his name not Mypeople, and I am
not your God' (Hos. 1 :9) . . . My people are destroyed for
Jack of knowledge; because they have rejected knowledge, I
reject you from being a priest to Me. And since you have
forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your chil
dren!" (Hos. 4 : 6)
And finally, the Prophet Amos, announced the destruction of Old
Israel, but not "utterly."
"Behold the eyes of the Lord God are upon the sinful king
dom, and I will destroy it from the surface of the ground;
except that I will not utterly destroy the house ofjacob, says
the Lord" (Amos 8:9).
In other words, although the Covenant with the Jewish nation has
been nullified, God has not forgotten His promises to Abraham,
Moses and David.
Prophecy has ended in Israel - St. John the Baptist was the
last of the prophets ; the Temple will be destroyed and its rites
1 55

and priesthood abolished (70

A.D.), as the Lord said; the
Jews will be dispersed among
the Gentiles; and the Jews will
lose their unity. Nevertheless,
a "remnant will remain" and
provide the nucleus for the
new Israel Qoel 2 : 32).
Together with the Gentiles,
God will give them a new and
final Covenant. "And I will
sow Her unto Me in the
earth," Hosea said, reporting
the words of the Lord, "and
I will have mercy upon her
that had not obtained mercy;
and I will say to them which
were not My people, 'You are
My people; and they will say
to Me, Thou art my God'."
(Hosea 2 :23) Therefore, St.
Justin Martyr couldjustifiably
Prophet Hosea, by Photios Kontoglou
assert about the Church, the
New Israel,
"We have been led to God through this crucified Christ and
we are the true spiritual Israel, and the descendents of]udah,
Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham, who, though uncircumcized, was
approved and blessed by God because of his faith and was
called the father of many nations"46
All those who hold the Faith of Christ, Jews and Gentiles, compose
the New Israel and share in the new Covenant. As the Lord said,
"Behold I am God to a nation which has not called upon My
Name" (Isa. 65: l ); and "it shall come to pass that whoever calls
upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved" Qoel 2 : 32 ; John 3: 16).
The Church of Jesus Christ, here i s the "nation" promised to the
patriarchs and prophecied by type and vision, a new nation, begun
with the "remnant" of Old Israel, but which welcomes all peoples,
all who confess that Christ is Lord.
1 56


Jesus The Christ

"True God and True Man "

- The Council of Chalcedon

Jesus the Christ or Messiah is "the Word ( Logos) made flesh ,"
God the Son , the Architect of the universe, Who came into His
world to restore the human race to the dignity from whence it
had fallen. His entire purpose was the salvation of all that He
had created. St. Paul meant nothing more when he wrote, " that
in the economy of the fulness of times, He might gather together
under one head in Christ, all things in the heavens and the
earth" (Eph. 1 : 1 0 ) . He recovered them from the devil who had
deceived our first-parents and made himself the god of the age.
Christ then offered the purified creation to His Father.
In other words, "when the fulness of time was come, God
sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to
redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive
the adoption of sons; and because we are sons, God has sent
forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father"
(Gal. 4 :4-6). He was "made of a woman," the ever-Virgin Mary,
the Theotokos (Mother of God), a title which sums up the whole
"economy of salvation" ( St. John of Damascus) , a title so crucial
to the Christian Faith that St. Gregory the Theologian declared,
"If an yone deny that holy Mary is Theotokos, he is estranged
from God." 1
1 57

Icon under the Kovouklion of the Altar Table, Ch urch of the Dormition,
Dormition Skete, 1 985

Mary was the Mother of God, not because she gave birth to
Divinity, but that through her the Word became true man, God
Man (theanthropos) .2 He became - and henceforth shall always
be - true God and true man ; or, more specifically, the Person
and Nature of God the Son united with the nature of a man,
so that now He is God in two natures, united without confusion
or loss of identity as God or man . His humanity was the same
as our own (homoousios to anthropo) and, according to His
Divinity, He was exactly what the Father and the Holy Spirit
are (homoousios to Thea) .
Although His human nature is now "deified" - filled with
the Divine Glory, immortal, incorruptible, perfect in every way
- and ascended to "the right hand of the Majesty on high"
(Heb. 1 : 3 ) , it did not descend with Him. His human nature was
formed normally in the womb of the All-Holy Virgin. We may
say, then, there was a time when Jesus the man did not exist;

1 58

or, again, although Christ was always and forever shall be God,
God was not always the Jewish man and son of Mary. Jesus the
human being did not begin to exist until He was "made of a
woman, made under the law," albeit God the Son Who took that
humanity is forevermore and inseparably identified with it.
Before we undertake our study of Jesus the Christ, we must
remember one thing more : His Incarnation was the beginning
of something unique and incredible. He came to "His Own ,"
the Jews, as a Jew, because He was their God and " salvation is
of the Jews" Qohn 4:22). He appeared among them during the
Old Covenant, in its "last days." He was, therefore a man indeed, a Prophet, King and Priest - of the ancient agreement
made between Himself and Israel of old. Much of what He
accomplished during His earthly ministry belongs to that period.
Although the Resurrection and the Ascension belong to His
New Testament ministry, His Birth, Baptism, Transfiguration,
miracles and Mystical Supper transpired under the old dispen
sation. His Crucifixion carried the universe into the new age.
The Descent into Hades is not an historical event ; it occurs
beyond historical time. Yet, all these "mighty deeds of God" are
types of future realities: the future which immediately followed
the time of Israel, that is the age of the Church ; and the future
beyond it, the eternal age to come, "the Eighth Day. "
In the following pages, w e will concern ourselves with the
redemptive Work of the Lord Jesus. The activity of the Holy
Spirit, "the Comforter," related to that Work, takes place largely
with Pentecost and as the story of the New Testament begins
to unfold. The Holy Spirit is henceforth associated with the life
of the Church or, as St. Irenaeos said, "Where the Spirit is, there
is the Church. " This chapter, therefore, is limited to the Lord's
Incarnation, its purpose and implications. In connection with
this intent, we must take a serious look at the ancient and
m edieval heresies touching on the nature and mission of Christ.


The Greek language has two words for "end" : telos which
m eans that something is "finished" or "completed," e.g. , "I have

1 59

fought the good fight, I have ended (teteleka) my course" ( I I

Tim. 4 : 7 ) ; and eschatos which i s rendered the "last" o r "the last
preceding something else," e.g., "the last state (ta eschata) of
that man is worse than the first" (Matt. I 2 : 45). In the latter
sense, the Scriptures understand the phrase "in these last days"
(ep' eschaton ton hemron touton) or "times" (ep ' eschaton chro
non) . Likewise, does the word eschatos apply to Christ Himself.
"Fear not," says the Lord. "I am the first and the last (ho
eschatos). I am He Who lives, having once been dead" (Rev.
I : I 7) . Indeed, "the last man" has come in the "last days," the
"last" of the H ebrew economy, the "first and the last" of the
final age before the end of the world.
Already the Prophets had predicted His appearance at the end
of the Old Testament era. "Afterwards shall the children of Israel
return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king," Hosea
(3 : 5) foretold; "and they shall fear the Lord and His goodness in
the last days (ep ' eschaton ton hemron)." Also, spoke the Lord to
Ezekiel, saying, that the Gentiles "shall come up against My people
Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the last days (ep'
eschaton ton hemeron), and I will bring you against My land that
the heathen may know Me . . . " (Ezek. 38: I6).
Alluding to these prophecies, St. Paul writes to the Jews, "God,
Who in the past at different times and in many ways, spoke to
our fathers and in the prophets, in these last days (ep ' eschatou
ton hemeron touton) has spoken to us through His Son, He Whom
He has appointed Heir to all things, the One by Whom He created
the ages" (Heb. I : 2) . In a similar manner, St. Peter proclaimed,
"He was foreknown from the foundation of the universe and was
manifested in these last times (ep ' eschaton chronon touton) for
our sakes" (I Pet. I : 20). In other terms, the I ncarnation of the
Lord was the sign that the Old Testament was ending with the
promise of something new, wonderful and final.
The Apostle Paul also calls "the last days" the "fulness of time,"
the time when "God sent His Son, made of a woman under the
Law to redeem them that were under the Law" (Gal. 4:4-5) . St.
Paul's companion, St. Barnabas, wrote that the struggle between
Joshua or Jesus, son of Nun, and the Amalekites was a type vr

1 60

rophecy of the "last days." Jesus the Messiah would come in the
last days" to overcome the "enemies" of Israel. He would destroy
them , h owever, not on the field of battle, but on the Cross.
In oth er words, God promised that He would save His People.
H e Him self, God the Son , the God of the Old Testament, would
com e to them in the "last days" (Ps. 1 1 7 : 2 7 ; Isa. 7 : 1 4 ; Matt.
1 :23) . He came - or better, was sent by the Father, to save not
only Israel but the world. "He did not send a_ servant (wh ther
angel or principality , whether of those who d1rect the affa1rs of
the earth or who are entrusted with the arrangeme nt of the
he avens)," writes the anonymou s author of the Letter to Diog
netos , "but the Father sent the very Artificer and Maker of the
cosmos, the very One by Whom He created the heavens . . . "4
He came as a real man , "the Son of Man," "of the race of David,"
"the seed of Abraham " ( Heb. 2: 1 6) .
He would come in "the last days" when the force of the Old
Testament would expire. Indeed, He would come with a "new testa
ment," a "covenant of the heart" (jer. 3 1 : 3 1 -33), to form a new Israel
from the "remnant" of the old (Isa. 1 0:22). He would come to close
one "age" and open another. "For all things have entered a new
order," wrote St. Irenaeos, "the Word coming in the flesh, arranging
things in a new manner, that He might win back to God that human
nature which had departed from Him . . . "5
Therefore, "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."
He came during the time of the Roman Empire, in Bethlehem of
Judea, in the days of Herod the king (Matt. 2: 1 ) according to the
mysterious plan of God, according to the divine agenda. Following
it, St. Irenaeos tells us, He revealed Himself according to the type
of the fallen Adam. "Searching him out" at the end of the day,
"so in these last times, by means of the same Voice, He also sought
out his posterity to visit them."6 He visited the human race visibly
to rescue it from the misery into which Adam's "transgression"
had cast his children.
Our misery was bondage, slavery to the devil, death and sin
a state of "corruption." "For this purpose the Son of God was
manifested," proclaims St. John the Theologian, "that He might
destroy the works of the devil" (I John 3:8). He appeared on earth


that "He might destroy him who has the power of death, that is,
the devil" (Heb. 2: I 4) . He tarried that He might abolish "death
and to bring life and immortality" ( II Tim. I : I 0) . To use the
language of St. Paulinus of Nola, the Lord came among us to
unite in Himself the human race "scattered in darkness" and to
reverse the process by which "sin governed our bodies, death
governed sin, and the devil governed death. "7
The birth of the Divine Conqueror was preceded by numerous
signs just as at the start of His saving ministry. Any pious or learned
Jew knew them. No prophetic sign was clearer than the appearance
of St. John the Baptist. He was the "forerunner" to the Messiah
about which even Moses spoke (Exod. 23 : 20-2 I ) . Later, the
Prophet Isaiah will announce,
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the
way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. Every
valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be
brought low: and all the crooked ways shall become straight,
and the rough places plains. And the glory of the Lord shall
appear, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God: for the
Lord has spoken it" (Isa. 40: 3-5) .

Isaiah will be quoted by the Evangelists (Matt. 3 : 3 ; Mark I : I -3 ;

Luke 3 :4 ; John I :23). They (Matt. I I : I O; Mark I :2 ; Luke I : 1 7,
76) will appeal to Malachi (3: 1 -2),
"Behold, I send My messenger to prepare the way before
Me, and the Lord Whom you seek will come suddenly into
the temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you
delight, behold, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But
who can endure the day of His advent, and who can stand
when He appears. "

St. Luke, relying on the fourth chapter of Malachi, described

the "Forerunner" as "going forth before Him in the spirit and
power of Elias/ to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,
and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous: to make
ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke I : I 7) . Such facts
signify many things, not the least of which is the end of prophecy
in I srael, the Baptist himself being the last of her prophets.
Nothing more powerfully pointed to the demise of the Old
1 62

N ow, St. John's message was - "Repent! the Kingdom of the

the "last
heavens is at hand" (Matt. 3: I ). He was acutely aware that
days" had arrived and a new age was about
was the only way to share in its promise. The Kingdom _of
and Its pres
_ the complete rule or dominion of God - was near
ence would cause a great
spiritual upheaval; it
would be a winnower
which separates the
wheat from the chaff,
purifying the threshing
floor of the soul with
noetic fire. The time of
judgment (krisis) had
come and the present
age was rapidly evapo
rating. On account of
this vision, St. John
became a man of the wil
derness, an ascetic,
eradicating in himself
the "old man" and mak
ing himself worthy of
the Messianic age. He
dedicated himself to
preparing himself and
St. john the Baptist, 1 985
his Hebrew brethren for
"He Who is to come," the Master of the new age which inaugurates
the Kingdom of God.
Thus, when St. John saw the Lord coming to him at the Jordan
River to be baptized - an incident with immense typological sig
nificance - he knew that here was the Messiah, Jesus, the One
Who would initiate the new age. Why else did He say to the Baptist,
"Suffer it to be so now that all righteousness might be fulfilled"
(Matt. 3 : 1 5)? Jesus was accomplishing all that was required by the
Law and thereby the "axe" was being laid to the tree (Matt. 3:9).
The new age meant a new beginning, a new creation and, there
fore, St. John watched without comment as the typology of the

first creation was realized in his sight. At that moment when Jesus
was baptized all the elements of the drama played out in the first
chapter of creation were present: God the Father calling Jesus
"beloved Son" instead of directing God the Son in the building of
the cosmos; the water of the Jordan instead of the primordial
waters over which the Spirit of God moved; and Christ (as the
"second Adam") surrounded by His Father, the Spirit and the
world He would recreate.
There is another type which John must have recognized: the
descent of the Spirit in the form of a dove recalled Noah's Ark,
an old world destroyed by water and a new one born from it (St.
Sophronios of Jerusalem). The dove returned to the ship with an
"olive branch," a symbol of the Spirit's mercy. That dove was also
a type of the Spirit at the Jordan which showed Jesus to be the
Messiah, "the Anointed One," anointed with "the oil of gladness."
We know, too, that Noah's Ark was a type of the Church, the
Body of Christ (St. Cyprian of Carthage).
As if this were not enough, the Jews should have understood
seeing in the incident of Jesus at the Jordan, the passage of I srael
under Jesus, son of Nun, leading Israel over the Jordan into the
promised land; and, also, the Lord "driven into the wilderness by
the Spirit to be tempted by the devil" (Matt. 4: 1 ) after His departure
from the River as a type of their ancestors in the desert. What
they might not have known - save by the report of believers
was what Jesus faced in the desert or wilderness, i.e. the temptations
of Adam and overcame them. He triumphed over the evil one
and thereby assured the world of new life.
When we call Jesus Christ "the Saviour"9 we affirm that H e
is the O n e Whom the Father has s e n t to recover the universe
from the devil. We confess, also, that He is the only "way, life
and truth" Uohn 1 4 : 6) , that "there is salvation by no other, for
there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby
we must be saved" (Acts 4: 1 2 ) . He is the "Door" Uohn 1 0: I ) ,
the M ediator or the One Who stands between God and man by
uniting them (I Tim. 2 : 5) . In other words, He is "salvation'

1 64

(soteria) and there is no way to separate His role as Saviour from

the means by which we are saved.
B ut how is Christ the Saviour and how does He achieve our
salvation? Part of the question must wait for an answer, but part
demands immediate response. First of all, salvation may not be
defined as satisfying some code of religious justice or making
intellectual assent to a set of theological ideas. N either as


"Christ, the Wisdom of God" - Wall painting, Reception room,

Dormition Skete, 1 984

1 65

Orthodox may we believe that salvation may be viewed as putting

myself in a personal relationship with Christ "through faith"
which leads God, like the judge in a courtroom, to pronounce
me "innocent," i .e . , forgiven of my sins . Salvation is neither a
matter of "right thinking" about nor simply emotional attune
ment with God ; nor any combination of these psychological
states .
Although both Papism and Protestantism, liberal and class
ical, 10 have always had access to the true soteriology (doctrine
of salvation) , they have ignored it for cultural and historical
reasons. The soteriology which Orthodoxy espouses, to which
the Scriptures and the Fathers witness, is "deification" or "divini
zation" (theosis) : man and creation receiving God, as a sponge
accepts water (St. John of Kronstadt) . In the words of St. Peter,
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious prom
ises, that by these you might become partakers of the Divine
N ature, escaping thereby the corruption of the world caused by
passions" ( I I Pet. I : 1 4) . Deification is the soteriological process,
initiated by Christ through the Church, the process by which
those who belong to Him become immortal, incorruptible and
holy . Even now the process has begun, beginning at the moment
of our baptism (St. Gregory of N yssa) .
Because the Son of God became (assumed) the Son of Man,
we may be saved. "He did indeed assume humanity that we might
become gods," writes St. Athanasios the Great. "He manifested
Himself by means of a body that we might perceive the Mind of
the unseen Father. He endured shame from men that we might
inherit immortality ."1 1 In the W est, St . Peter Chrysologus exclaimed
that "through Christ, we became partakers of a heavenly nature,"
but even more "the earth is transformed into heaven, man is
changed by deification that those whose lot is slavery rna y obtain
the rights of dominion."12 The Sticherion by St. Sophronios of
Jerusalem for the First Hour of the Feast of the Lord's Nativity
declares, "And God has appeared to mankind from the Virgin,
taking our likeness and deifying our nature. Wherefore, Adam
and Eve are made new, crying, Thy good will has appeared on
earth to save our race."

1 66

By His appearance on earth in "the form of a servant," God

prepared the universe for its return to the condition of Adam
before the Fall. The first man would have become god (by grace)
had he remained faithful to the Creator. The Lord came to do
for Adam and the human race what he, (Adam) failed to do. As
St. Germanos of Constantinople says,
"Come let us rejoice in the Lord, proclaiming the present
mystery; for He has broken down the middle wall of par
tition, and the flaming spear shall turn about, and the
Cherubim shall admit all to the tree of life. As for me, I
shall ret l}rn to enjoy the bliss ofparadise from which I had
been dnven a way by reason of iniquity; for He Who is in
the likeness of the Father and by His unchangeable Person
share in a common eternity, has taken the form ofa servant,
born from a mother who has known no wedlock For the
love of mankind, He did become man while remaining
always true God . . " 1 8

St. Peter Chrysologus concurs, saying that "the Maker of the

race was begotten, the Creator of nature was born, in order to
repair nature, restore the human race and re-establish the orig
inal state of m an . " 14
When the Fathers teach that salvation is a "return," a "resto
ration" or "re-establishment of man and nature in their "original
state" - communion with God - they do not mean to suggest
that creation will be sent back in time, back to live in the Garden
of Eden; indeed not, they direct us to the future wherein the
privileges of our first-parents will be restored. The Church
accepts no theory of circular or cyclical time, as the pagan Greeks
did. The future for which we look is a "new heaven and a new
earth" (Rev . 2 1 : 1 ) .
A type o f that "blessed state" - the future o f those who
belong to Christ - is found in the Old Testament ministry of
Christ: His Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor. To be sure, this event
is testimony that Christ is "the God of the living and the dead"
(the Matin's Canon of the Feast), a revelation of the Trinity, a
fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, but it is also a type of
eternity. In these "last days," Christ Himself gave us a preview
of the "new Eden" when, as St. Matthew ( 1 7 : 2) records, H e

brought His disciples "up into a high mountain apart and was
transfigured before the m ; and His face did shine as the sun,
and His raiment was w hite as the light." He experienced the
Divine Light from the "eternal age to come," the Eighth Day,
in which the entire cosmos will be bathed and transformed by It.
St. Cosmas the Anchorite calls the Lord's Transfiguration
"the revelation of the mystery hidden before the ages." He,
along with St. Anatolios the Hymnographer, observed that the
Light of the Transfiguration necessarily prefigures the Resurrec
tion . 15 Not without reason did the Lord charge His disciples,
"Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man be risen from
the dead" (Matt. 1 7 : 9). The Transfiguration and the Resurrec
tion are connected surely on account of the U ncreated Light,
that is, the salvation of the u niverse involves both moments. To
be resurrected "on the last day" is also to enjoy the Light of
Divinity. After the Second Coming and the general resurrection
of all flesh, the creation will enter into perfect union with God
Who will be "all in all" (Eph. 1 :23).
Of course, those who will be "partakers of the Divine Nature"
are the members of the Church, the resurrected and transfigured
Body of Christ. The presence of Moses and Elias as well as the
disciples (later, Apostles) - Peter, James and John - all are the
foundations of the new Israel. As branches share in the life of
their vine, so will those ("branches") engrafted into Christ ("vine")
enjoy the Light of the eternal God. Hence, the words of the first
Kathisma of Matins for the Feast of the Transfiguration,
"Thou hast been transfigured, O Saviour, on Mount Tabor,
indicating the transformation of mankind which will occur
at Thy dreadful Second Coming. Moses and Elias did con
verse with Thee. But Thy disciples, Whom Thou didst call,
when they beheld Thy Glory, 0 Master, were dazzled by
Thy brightness. Wherefore, 0 Thou Who didst cause Thy
Light to shine on them, enlighten our souls. "

As we have said already, the Church will become the entire

cosmos in the endless "age to come." The whole of creation will
be joined to Him as limbs to the body which explains how all
things can be deified by the Divine Light and Grace.

Considering, then, what has been said, what else can the title
"Saviour" mean when applied to the Lord Jesus? Postively, as
we have just seen, He is Saviour as providing deification; but,
negatively, He is the Saviour as liberating the human race rom
the evil one and destroying the power of death. More will be
said about this aspect of His mission in the pages ahead.
Christ is the Saviour, but how does He save us? Nowhere in
the Scriptures or the Fathers is salvation accomplished, as some
Protestants sects say, by "faith alone," without any human effort.
The nature of the human predicament as well as the character
of divine revelation requires another solution. The human race
was divided by virtue of Adam's Fall. "Satan has scattered us,"
laments St. Athanasios the Great. When Adam fell, St. Maximos
the Confessor said, the unity of the human race was "shattered."
Following his transgression, the race of Adam suffered "division
and discord," wrote St. Basil the Great, but the Saviour came
"to re-establish its original u nity by bringing us into unity with
Himself' (Ascetic R ules, 1 8) . St. Cyprian of Carthage states that
the reunification of the human race is possible only if united in
"One Person," Christ . . . 1 6
Therefore, one very important reason for the I ncarnation was
to place among men that "One Person" through Whom they could
be reintegrated; or to quote once more the words of the Apostle
Paul, "to gather under one head (anakephaloisasthai
head) all things in Christ, whether in the heavens or on earth"
(Eph. 1 : 1 0). Put another way, the very God Who created the world
entered it and dwelt. among men in order to reclaim what had
been lost to the devil through the fall of the
first Adam. At one time, "all things" were subject to Adam, now
they will be subject to Christ. He came into the world to transform
creation into a "new Eden," that is to say, to restore "the state of
things" to us as they would have been had the first man not fallen.
No wonder the first book of the Scriptures, and the Gospel of St.
John which describes His Incarnation, opens with the words, "In
the beginning." The Incarnation is a "new beginning."


Necessarily, then, Christ is the "new" or "second Adam,"

although "the first man, Adam, was made a living soul while the
last Adam was made a quickening spirit . . . the first is of the earth,
earthy; but the second Man is heavenly" (I Cor. 15 :45, 47). Jesus,
therefore, is the new King of creation even as Adam had once
possessed dominion (Gen. 1 :26). Likewise, God the Word came
to us as Jesus the Christ according to the Plan of God the Father,
re-collecting to Himself all that Adam had lost, a whirlpool, so to
speak, drawing into the Life of God what His anti-type, the first
man, had "scattered" through his transgression. The "second
Adam," writes St. Irenaeos, established Himself as the Head of all
things visible and invisible and following the divine agenda, will
subject them to the Church, which, in the "age to come," will
become the universe while He Himself its "Father."17
This end (telos) for which the creation has been ordained by
God has begun already in the Church. To be more precise, it
began with the Incarnation, with Him Who assumed the place of
the the first Adam. Christ, "the pure Adam," as St. Macarios the
Great referred to the Lord, started afresh "the long line of human
beings, and furnished us with salvation," St. Irenaeos explains, "so
that what we had lost in Adam - namely to exist in the image
and likeness of God - we might recover in Christ Jesus."18
That "recovery" by the second Adam, St. Gregory of Nyssa
places in the perspective of the Resurrection . As the purpose of
His I ncarnation was to die on the Cross - abolishing thereby
all that injured man and separated him from God - rising from
the dead He gave eternal life to His creatures, we assert also
that His resurrection in the body is also "the beginning of the
restoration of man to the original grace," that is, 'just as death
was introduced to all by a single person, Adam, and so passed
to all of human nature, similarly the resurrection of the one
Man, Christ, extends to all humanity," St. Gregory continues.
In fact, He "assumed all things with His own body . . . fusing
by means of His own power once more the different elements
of human nature according to its first formation . . . "19
I n these remarks we also discover the reason why God, on
becoming human, was born of a Virgin and not in the ordinary

1 70

way. Surely not because sex is evil or that He might avoid the
so-called "original sin," but that like the first Adam, He would
be the first of a new race. " For thus, in remodelling what was
from the beginning and moulding all over again through the
Virgin and the Spirit," testified St. Methodios of Olympos, "He
fashioned the same Man ; j us t as in the beginning when the earth
was virgin and untilled, God had taken dust from the earth and
formed, without seed, the most rational being from it."2" St.
Irenaeos gives a more detailed explanation,
"Therefore, as I have said, He ca used h uman nature both
to cleave unto God and to become one with Him. For unless
man could overcome his enemy, the enemy would not have
been rightly vanquished. And again : unless it were God
Who had freely given salvation, we could not possess it.
And unless man had been joined to God, he would not
have become a partaker of His Incorruptibility. For it was
incumbent upon Him Who is Mediator between God and
man - and by His rela tionship to both - to bring both
to concord and friendship, presen ting man to God, while
He revealed God to man. To be sure, in no other way could
we have become partakers of His Son ship unless we had
received from Him through the Son that communion which
refers to Himself; and unless the Word, having been made
flesh, had en tered into comm union with God. Those, there
fore, who think that the Son only seemed to dwell among
us - not really born in the f7esh and not truly having
become h uman - are themselves yet under the old con
demnation holding out pa tronage to sin; for by their per
verse reasoning, death has not been defeated, the death
which 'reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that
had not sinned in the manner of Adam 's transgression '
(Rom. 5 : 1 4) . B u t the La w in coming, which was given by
Moses and testifying that it is the knowledge of sin, did not
take away death 's dominion . . . It laid, however, a heavy
burden upon man, who possessed that sin which showed
his liability to death. For as the Law was not spiritual, it
merely made sin to stand in relief without abolishing it . . .
Thus, it behooved Him Who was to destroy sin and redeem
man from the power of death to become . . . man; to rescue
him who was in bondage to sin through death . . . For as
by the disobedience of one man (Adam) who was originally
moulded from virgin soil, the many were made sinners and

forfeited life; so it was necessary that, by the obedience of

one man (Christ), also born of a Virgin, the many should be
m a de righ t e o u s
and receive salva
tion. So, then, the
Word of God was
made man, as also
Moses says: 'God,
true are His works'
(Deut. 32:4). Clear
ly, then, if He had
not really been
flesh, but only
appeared to be
flesh, His 'work'
would not have
been 'true. ' But as
He was man
ifested, so He was:
God recapitulated
in Himself the
ancient formation
of man, that He
might kill sin, dep
rive death of its
power and give life
"The Nativity of Christ," panel icon,
to man; and there
Holy Protection Cathedral, Chicago,
His works are
by Bishop Alypy, l 9 8 3
indeed true. "21
To summarize: God became man22 to do what no human being
could do: unite God and man which could not have been
accomplished were Christ not man as well as God. In His unique
position, He overcame the devil who held the power of death
through sin, the same death that separated God and man, the
same sin that set men against each other. Jesus the Christ formed
in Himself a race, called by His Name (Isa. 62: 2), a race that
embraced all peoples, a race that signified a new beginning because
He Himself, the second Adam, was the first man of this new race,
a man crucified, resurrected, ascended and deified - the "One
Person," the "One Head" into Whom the saved are incorporated

Whenever we refer to the Lord Jesus as "Christ" or " the
1 72

Christ," St. J ohn of Damascus informs us, we confess "that He

con sists of two natures" united in "one person."23 He is true God
and true man. He received His humanity from the Virgin Mary
and His Divinity from God the Father. As St. Gregory the
Theologian expresses it, "In His human nature He (Christ) had
no father and in His divine Nature He had no mother."24 Later,
St. John of Damascus will write ,
"For the divine Word was not made one with flesh that
had an independent pre-existence25, but taking up His
abode in the womb of the Holy Virgin, He unreservedly
took upon Himself a body of flesh animated with a h uman
spirit, reason and thought . . . so that He is at once a man
Whose flesh is also the flesh of God the Word . . . Where
fore, we speak not ofa man becoming God, but God becom
ing a man. For being by nature perfect God, He naturally
became a perfect man; and He did not change either
nature, nor make the divine economy an empty show, but
became, without confusion, alteration or division, one in
His existence with the flesh He bore . . . He did not change
the nature ofHis Divinity into the essence of flesh, nor the
essence of flesh into the nature of His Divinity; and He
did not confuse His divine Nature with the h uman nature
He assumed. "28

Moreo ver, as man He was like us in every way, save withou t

sm. God the Word "emptied Himse lf' (Phil. 2 : 7)of His Divine
Glory and became a man like the innoce nt Adam . The I ncarna
tion took place at the time of the Annun ciation , after the
Archan gel Gabriel had announced to the Virgin Mary that she
was "highly favored" by the Almig hty and that He had chosen
her to become "the Mothe r of God" ( Theotokos, Deipare) . She
would , as foretold by the Old Testam ent types, be "over
shadowed" by the Holy Spirit and becom e, conseq uently , the
Creator's sanctified vessel for the production of God's human
nature (Luke I : 27-35) .
There fore, the Father s teach that C hrist had two "births " or
"gener ations" - from His eterna l Father , an eterna l generation,
begotten before time, cause and reason, unima ginabl y; and the
other, as a man, from the Virgin Mary, in time and for our
sakes, but in a manne r as incom prehen sible. To quote St. John
1 73

of Damascus again,
"Christ, therefore, is one, perfect God and perfect man :
and Him we worship along with the Father and the Holy
Spirit, with one obesiance, adoring even His immaculate
flesh, and never thinking that the flesh is unworthy of our
worship; for, in fact, it is worshipped in the one subsistence27
of the Word . . . B u t in this we do no homage to wha t is
created. We worship Him not as mere flesh, but as flesh
invested with Divinity, and beca use His two natures are
under the one Person and one subsistence of God the
Word . . . I worship the twofold nature of Christ, because
the Divinity is bound up with the flesh. Neither do I thereby
introduce a fourth person (a h uman person) into the Trin
ity. God forbid! But I confess one Person of God the Word
and of His flesh, and the Trinity remains three Persons in
one essence, even after the Incarnation of God the Son. "28

Further, the Fathers affirm that the I ncarnation involved a total

"enfleshment" (ensarkosis) of God. There is no part of Jesus
which is not also God, nothing in the Son of Man which was
not penetrated by the Son of God. As St. Hilary of Poitiers tries
to express this mysterious intimacy of the two natures,
"The Son of God is born as man; but the Power ofGod is
in the virgin-birth. The Son of God is seen as a man; but
God is present in h uman actions. The Son of God is nailed
to the Cross; but on the Cross God conquers h uman death.
Christ, the Son of Man, dies; but all flesh is made alive in
the Son of God. The Son of God is in hades; but man is
carried back to heaven. In proportion to our praise ofChrist
for these works will the praise pass to Him from Whom
He has received His Godhead. These are the ways in which
the Father glorifies the Son on earth; and in return the
Son reveals the works of power to the ignorance of the
heathen and to the folly of the world, Him from Whom
He is. "29

A precise definition (oros) of the relationship between the

h uman and the divine natures in Christ awaited the Fourth
Ecumenical Council (45 1 ) :
"Following, therefore, the Holy Fathers, we all confess one
and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, perfect in His
Godhead and perfect in His manhood, true God and true
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man, consisting of a reasonable soul and of a body, of one

substance with the Father as touching the Godhead, and
of one substance with us as touching the manhood, like
unto us in everything (except sin); according to the
Godhead begotten of the Father before all time, but in the
last days, for us men and our salvation, according to the
manhood, born of the Virgin Mary, the Theotokos, one
and same Christ, Son, Lord - Only-begotten, recognized
in two natures, without confusion, without change, without
division, without separation, the distinction of natures in
no way ann uled by their union, but rather the characteris
tics of each nature being preserved and coming together
to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or sepa
rated into two persons; rather He is one and the same Son
and Only-begotten God the Logos, the Lord Jesus Christ;
even as the prophets from the earliest times had foretold,
and as our Lord Jesus Christ Himself has taugh t us, and
the creed of the Fathers has been delivered to us . . . "30
Not a few historians view this christological formula as so much
"theological fine-tuning," a further instance of the early
Church's useless preoccupation with philosophical abstractions,
airy ideas which have no relevance to "real life." In point of fact,
the formula is critical to the divine economy.31
To take one example, let us see what "relevance" the so-called
Chalcedonian chris tology has to soteriology, that is, by examin
ing the definition of Chalcedon in the light of the heresies which,
before and after the Council, challenged the Church.
a. Docetism.32 One of the earliest heresies, Docetism, denied
that Christ was really incarnate. They believed the human body
to be an unworthy vessel for the Divine. The opening
paragraph of St. John the Theologian's first epistle was directed
against them - "That which was from the beginning, which we
have heard, which we have seen with our own eyes, upon whom
we have looked, touching with our own hands the Word of
life . . . " (I John 1 : 1 -2). If the Docetists were right, on the other
hand, Christ was not crucified, nor did He shed blood on the
Cross; there is no resurrection of the body, neither His nor ours.
The Church, the Body of Christ, is not the instrument of deifi
cation. The Eucharist is not the body and blood of the Lord.33
The whole economy of God is gutted.

b. Gnosticism .34 Ancient Gnosticism took several forms Greek, J ewish and Christian. To whichever religion they
attached themselves, the Gnostics offered a picture of reality in
which the supernatural realm was filled, along with the
Almighty, with numerous other gods. Jesus Christ was such a
deity, albeit a special envoy of the Creaor. He came with a unique
and saving knowledge (gnosis) for those who would be saved.
If Gnosticism were right, then Christ is not God and no union
with Him is possible. Salvation comes by " knowledge," not by
grace. The Church becomes unnecessary and the Apostolic
Tradition is a lie. St. I renaeos, St. Hippolytos as well as many
ecclesiastical writers, such as the famous Tertullian, undertook
to refute the Gnostics.
c. Arianism. Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria (4th c.), taught
that Christ was not God. "There was a time when He was not,"
went his infamous maxim. He was opposed, among others, by
St. Athanasios the Great, who replied with his celebrated, " God
became man, that man might become god." Simply, if Christ is
not God, we cannot become "partakers of the Divine Nature."
Also, there is n o reason t o b e united i n Christ, that i s , in the
Church which is His Body. If Christ is not God, of what use is
She? She has no power to deify and Her Mysteries (Sacraments)
do not convey grace. Christ is not the Saviour and the claims of
the Chu rch are nonsense.
d. Apollinarianism . Apollinarios of Laodicea (see glossary),
an enemy of Arius, perverted the traditional christology i n
another way. H e denied that Christ had a true humanity, saying
that the mind of Jesus Christ belonged to God the Word. St.
Gregory the Theologian in his Letters to Cledonios, observes
that if Christ had no human mind, our human mind could not
be saved. " What was not assumed has not been healed, " St.
Gregory wrote, "for only what is united to the Godhead is saved.
For example, if Adam had only fallen in part, then, Christ takes
it to Himself and saves it; but if the whole of Adam's nature
fell , it must be united to the whole nature of Him that was
begotten and be saved as a whole. "
H e meant that God took a complete human nature, because

1 76 .

every part of man required "healing." Apollinarios' doctrine,

however, excluded the human mind from the saving work of
Christ. This heretic proposed that God, in becoming m an, not
only did not take a human mind but that the divine Mind
replaced it. I f Apollinarios were right, if Christ had no human
mind, then, it cannot be said that He was truly human or that
He had deified the entire human creature.
e. Nestorianism. Patriarch Nestorios of Constantinople (5th
c.) preached the heresy that, although Jesus Christ had two and
complete natures, they were separate ; they were not linked in
any way ; in fact, the Divinity of Christ passed through His
humanity "like water through a pipe." Consequently, the Virgin
M ary is not Theotokos, but Christotokos, the M other of Christ.
In this third letter to Nestorios, St. Cyril of Alexandria wrote,
"We do not say that the flesh was changed into the nature
of the Godhead, nor that the ineffable nature of the Word
of God was transformed into the nature of fJesh - for He
is unchangeable and unalterable, always remaining the
same, as the Scriptures declare. B u t when seen as a babe
and wrapped in swaddling clothes, even when still in the
bosom of the Virgin who bore Him, He filled all creation
as God, and was enthroned with the Father Who begat
Him. For the Divine cannot be n umbered or measured,
and admits no limitation. So confessing the Word united
hypostatically to flesh, we worship one Son and Lordjesus
Christ, neither pulling apart nor dividing man and God, nor
contending that they are joined by a union of dignity and
a uthority - for this would be an empty phrase and no
m ore - nor speaking ofGod the Word as someone separate
from Christ, and then separately ofHim Who was the issue
of a woman as another Christ. No, we confess only one
Christ, the Word of God the Father, the Word with His
own flesh. For then He was anointed35 in a h uman way like
us, though He Himselfgave the Spirit to those who worthily
receive Him, and by measure, so says the blessed Evangelist
John (3:34). Neither do we argue that the Word of God
tabernacled in Him Who was begotten of the Virgin in an
ordinary manner, Jest Christ should be conceived a mere
God-bearing man. For though the Word did tabernacle
among us, and it is written that in Christ dwells the Godhead
bodily Qohn 1 : 1 4 ; Col. 2 : 9) , yet we understand that when

1 77

He was made flesh, this indwelling of God in Christ is not

to be conceived in the
manner of His presence
in the saints; but being
united by nature, without
changing into flesh, He
may be said to exist in
h uman nature as the soul
of man is said to exist in
its body . . . .

St. Cyril stresses that the

Word of God is united
"hypostatically to the flesh."
The Person of the Son has
joined Himself to a human
nature with a tangible body.
Otherwise, the Saint con
tends, we must speak of two
sons - Christ the Man and
Christ the God - which is
christological nonsense. I n
the o n e Christ i s only one
St. Cyril of Alexandria, wall painting,
Church of the Dormition,
Person, God the Son, to
Dormition Skete, 1 98 3
which a human nature is
genuinely attached. Christ has no human personality - contrary
to the suggestion of Nestorios - or there are indeed two sons
of God. The human personality has been replaced by God the
Son, interlocked with His created nature and not, as some
believe, dwelling in the flesh as God is present to the saints.
In the next century, St. Leontios of B yzantium will speak of
a "communication of idioms," that is, a certain transference of
human characteristics (idios) to the divine Nature while some
divine qualities are transferred to His humanity. Leontios illus
trates this idea with the example of a torch in which the stock
is one thing and its flame another; yet they form one torch and
the flame does not consume the stock.36 St. John of Damascus
uses the word "permeation" (perichoresis) to indicate the
relationship between the Divine and the human in Jesus Christ.

1 78

This "permeation" - sometimes called "inhabitation" or even

" mutual indwelling" of the two natures - is not, however, the
action of the flesh, but the Divinity, "for it is impossible that the
flesh should permeate the Divinity. Rather the Divine Nature,
once permeating the flesh, gives to it the same ineffable power
of permeation; and this indeed is what we call union."37
These ideas by which the Fathers sought to reinforce the
Christian belief concerning the permanancy and intimacy of the
two natures are, as they regularly admit, clumsy and inadequate.
Their words were intended to say only what St. Gregory the
Theologian had said, "What is not assumed is not healed." The
doctrine of N estorios implies that nothing was assumed and
therefore nothing was healed, because there is no bridge between
the human and the Divine. We cannot be deified because "the
Nestorian C hrist" opens no paths to the Divine; he will not allow
God to touch my being.
e. Monophystism. This heresy was a reaction to Nestorianism
that went to the opposite extreme. It denied that C hrist had two
natures and, therefore, two wills and energies. The Lord, said
the heresiarch ,38 Eutyches the priest of Constantinople (5th c.),
has one (monos) nature (physis) and, a s some of his supporters
will say, one will (mono-thelesis). He has only a divine Nature
(and Will). St. Leo I, the Great, Pope of Rome, replied that the
two natures could not be mixed or confused, save to the prejudice
of both His humanity and Divinity. " His Divinity is not changed
by His compassion any more than the manhood is swallowed
by the dignity of the Godhead," he said in his famous Tome.39
Also St. Dionysios the Areopagite, among others, maintains
that Christ has two wills ( dyo-thelesis) which act together, indeed,
as one, and allows us to speak of "theandric (God-man) energy"
in Christ. According to the definition of the Sixth Ecumenical
Council, held in Constantinople (68 1 ) :
"We also preach two natural wills in Him . . . without divi
sion, without change, without separation, without partition,
without confusion. This we preach in accordance with the
teaching of the Holy Fathers. And two natural wills, not

1 79

contrary (God forbid!), as

the impious heretics
assert, but His h uman will
following His divine and
omnipotent will, not
resisting it nor striving of
the flesh had to be
moved, but also to be sub
jected to the divine will,
according to the all-wise
Athanasios. For as His
flesh is said to be, and is
the flesh of God the
Word, so the will of His
fleshly nature is said to
belong to His Divinity,
and does so belong; as the
Lord Himself said, 'I
came down from heaven
not to do my own will, but
the will of the Father that
sent Me' Qohn 6:38), calSt. Maximos, the Confessor
ling His own that will of
the flesh, since the flesh also was made His own. Thus, as
His all-holy and immaculate ensouled flesh was not
destroyed by being deified, but persisted in its own state
and sphere; so also the h uman will was not destroyed by
being deified, but was rather preserved, as St. Gregory the
Theologian says; 'For the "willing" that we understand to
be an act of the Savior's Will is not contrary to God but is
wholly deified. ' "40

The Monophysites conceded that Christ had two natures and

two "natural wills" (i.e., one for each nature) before the I ncarna
tion, but not after. The Fathers recognized at once the falsehood
of this distinction. The Monophysites could not escape the con
clusion that the humanity was absorbed by the Divinity in Christ.
If, as St. Maximos the Confessor said, that Christ is a model and
analogy not only for the Church but the universe (i.e., the union
of the visible and invisible, time and eternity) , then, to insist that
Christ has only one nature is to strip the Church of Her humanity
and also to propound a theory of pantheism (see glossary).

1 80

Un th inkable , too, is the notion that, since Christ has only one
nature, God suffered on the Cross (theopaschism ). How absurd,
said St. Vigilius, Pope of Rome, to believe that God suffered
through the flesh and that "one of the Trinity hung on the
The heretics did not grasp another consequence of their folly :
if Christ has only one will, the divine Will, then, the creature
has no freedom . Where there is no freedom, there is no choice
between good and evil, blame and praise may not be ascribed
to human actions. What, then, is morality? How is growth in
the Spirit possible? Are not all things predetermined? Is not
everyone and everything identified with God? How, then, do
we understand the role of the Church and Her Mysteries?
f. Iconoclasm . Although Iconoclasm or "icon-breaking" was
against icons - generally denying their use in public
and private devotions of Christians on the grounds of idolatry
- it was first of all a denial of the Incarnation. Iconoclasts
tended to have a strong contempt for matter and, therefore,
viewed the portrayal of Christ on canvas or mosaic or relief as
criminal. They recognized no direct connection between spirit
and matter which placed them in the Nestorian camp. Often,
they have been described as Monophysite, because the latter
merged the two natures of Christ into one, the divine nature,
which everyone agreed could not be depicted.
The great defenders of Orthodoxy, the Patriarchs of Constan
tinople, Sts . Germanos, Nicephoros and Photios; the monks, Sts.
Theodore of Studion and John of Damascus, argued persua
sively that not only did God create matter, but assumed a material
body. In other words, the icon portrays only the physical or
human side and, of course , the Virgin, the angels and saints,
making no pretense to capture the spiritual realities they presup
pose, realities apprehended only with "the eyes of faith" and
gnosis. Thus, the Fathers teach that icons or religious images
and their veneration (proskynesis) are justified because God
became a visible man. The Incarnation erected a bridge from
time to eternity which allows the communication between the
two realms. In any case, Christians worship (latreia) God alone.
Iconoclasm implies a false christology, leading not only to

the rejection of icons, but also the rejection of the traditional

understanding of the Church , the universe and man. To be
sure, if matter and spirit are mutually exclusive or antagonistic,
and, as a result, there is no conjoining of God and man, then,
we have a false religious view of things which cannot be recon
ciled with the Divine Economy. Deification by grace becomes
impossible. More about icons later.

Christ, Who is the Son of God became the Son of Man (the
new humanity) - the "heavenly man ," as St. Paul called Him4 1
- in order to recover and reconstitute all of creation . He was
motivated, in part, by compassion. "For God so loved the world
that He gave H is only-begotten Son ," writes St. John the Theolo
gian, "that whoseover believes on Him should not perish but
gain eternal life" O ohn 3: 1 6) . He did not want us "to perish
utterly ," neither to live in the disgrace of slavery (St. Athanasios
the Great) . In fact, He wanted him who had been deceived by
rhe devil to gain the victory over him.
Thus, it was necessary that man take a hand in his own re
demption; at the same time, he could not inasmuch as the entire
human race was subject to mortality and sin. Therefore, God
provided someone "born of a woman" - that is, of Adam's race
- to do what had to be done. Yet, since it was no longer the
uncontaminated world of the innocent Adam, for death and sin
corrupted it and a " tyrant" ruled it, God "Who alone has immor
tality ," became man. The Son of God became the "new man,"
the one who should - and could - reclaim and renovate the
creation. As St. Irenaeos confirms,
"B ut when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth
His Son, born ofa woman (Gal. 4 : 4) . For indeed the enemy
would not have been justly vanquished unless he who con
quered him was born of a woman. For by means of woman
the devil won the ad!,.a l l lage over the first man, even setting
himself as his adversary. And therefore does the Lord pro
fess Himself to be the Son of Man, comprising in Himself
the original man out of whom the woman was fashioned,
in order that as our species went down to death through
a vanquished man, so It might ascend to life again through

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a victorious one; and as through a man death received the

palm of victory a8a ill!> f us, so likewise by a man we might
win the palm of victory over death. ">=

Sim ilarly, the words of the Kathisma for the Matins of Palm
Sunday proclaim ,
"Blessed art Thou, 0 Sa viour, Thou Who didst come into
the world to become a new, spiritual Adam. As Thou didst
consent to rescue Adam from the first curse, and didst
prepare all things for the best, 0 Thou Word, Lover of
mankind, glory to Thee. "

This hymn is interesting from two points of view; it speaks of

the " first curse" as if there were a second; and it refers to the
Saviour as a "second Adam" Who has come into the world to
rescue "Adam" (i.e., the human race) from both curses.
Which curses? We mention first the Law, the Law of Moses
which is "the power of sin" (I Cor. 1 5 : 56), for "all who rely on
works of the Law are under a curse ; as it is written, 'Cursed be
everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book
of the Law to do them' " (Gal. 3 : 1 0 ; Deut. 27 : 26). In other words,
the Law must be kept in every detail, but no person has such
wisdom and strength; therefore , that by which we ought to live
is the means of our destruction; it is a "curse" ( Rom. 5 : 1 6) . But
when Christ died on the Cross, "He redeemed us from the curse
of the Law" (Gal . 3: 1 3) . Until the time of Christ, however, the
Law was a " schoolmaster," a " tutor" unto the One Who would
bring the faith and grace o f true life .
The second and greater curse is death to which the first is
related inasmuch as "the Law is the knowledge of sin ." Sin is
the consequence of death , for as St. Paul said, "The sting of
death is sin" (I Cor. 1 5 : 56) and "sin reigned in death" (Rom.
5 : 2 1 ) . The elimination of the Law and sin can only follow with
"the death of death . " Indeed, the supreme purpose of the
Crucifixion was to slay the death by which the devil kept us in
bon dage to sin and corruption, to the power of the Law, as St.
Ignatios of Antioch wrote to the church at Ephesus (ch. 1 9) .
Because death i n the hands o f the Evil One is the cause of sin,
the tyranny of the devil and sin is destroyed by " the abolition

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of death ." Contrary to what is ordinarily believed, men sin

because they die and mortality is the condition for our sin and
decay. Strike the "curse" of death , sin would vanish and the Law
has no meaning.

"Agony of Christ" - detail, panel icon,

Church of the Dormition, Dormition Skete

But how did Christ accomplish the death of death ? How did
He "destroy sin, overcome death and give life to man"? to use
the words of St. I renaeos. As the Scriptures say, "the Son of
Man is come . . . to give His life a ransom (lytron)43 for many"
(Mark 1 0 :45), a " ransom for all" (I Tim. 2: 1 6) . The "ransom"
is payed to the grave. As the Lord revealed to the Prophet Hosea
( 1 3 : 1 4 ) , "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will
redeem them from death ." Moreover, the ransom is the very
life of Christ, the shedding of His blood. " I n H im we have
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redem ption through His blood, " the Apostle says (Eph. l : 7).
Without the shedding of blood, as we have already learned,
there is "no remission of sin" (Heb. 9 : 22). This teaching, as we
also know, is associated with the covenant made between God
and Israel in Egypt, the Mosaic Passover. In Christ, the shedding
of His blood on the Cross, signifies the establishment of a "new
testament" or "covenant." The Lord spoke of His "blood of the
new testament, which is shed for many" (Mark 1 4 : 24). He was
"the Lamb of God" (John l : 36) Who, like the animal slaughtered
by the Chosen People in Egypt as a sin-offering, whose blood
was protection against death , Himself laying on "the altar of the
Cross" for the same reason. Jesus, however, was Himself both
priest and victim, He that "offers and is offered," to quote St.
John Chrysostom's Liturgy. He offered Himself to God the
Father as a "gift and sacrifice" ( Heb. 8 : 3) that we might be freed
from the devil and death and be reconciled to the Almighty.
Let there be no mistake, however, when He went to H is
voluntary Passion, He did not go, as the heterodox West thinks,
to pay, in our place, "a debt of honor" to His angry Father. The
Orthodox Church has never endorsed the opinion of Anselm
of Canterbury ( l l th c.) that Adam's sin was an offense to the
Majesty of God, an offense which must be erased with reparation
of His sullied honor. But sinful man cannot "satisfy" God's
demand. Therefore, it was necessary for God to restore what
the disobedience of man had taken from Him. Yet, it was man's
duty. The only solution, Anselm argued, was that God become
man and pay the price, to pay "the debt of honor" with His own
human life.
As the modern Father, Metropolitan Antony Khrapovitsky
explained, "the Latin theory of satisfaction was taken by Roman
Catholicism not from divine revelation but from Roman law . . .
from the feudal laws of knighthood."44 Those " laws" show up
clearly in Anselm's theory : crime, compensation, punishment,
vindication. In other terms, sin is breaking the moral and natural
law of God. Thus, man (everyone has inherited the guilt of
"original sin") is worthy of death, for "the wages of sin is death. "
If the condition of man i s to be altered and God compensated

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for His lost honor, someone "must make, according to the inj ury,
restitution, in some way , to the satisfaction of the person (in this
case, God) injured," Anselm insisted.4" Man was vindicated by
Christ, the God-man, who payed the price of our transgression
on the Cross.
Anselm challenged and, at least for some, changed a doctrine
held by Christians for a thousand years without question or
doubt, reinterpreting that doctrine according to scholastic theol
ogt6 and on the grounds that "nothing was more reasonable"
than the notion of "satisfaction."47 In the teachings of the Church,
however, the redemption of Christ has no legalistic dimensions.
Rather, as already suggested, He shed His blood as the Good
Shepherd Who lays down His life for His sheep Qohn 1 0 : 1 1 ) ;
a s the divine Warrior fighting the army o f the demons (Isa .
1 6- 1 9) . He acted from mercy and condescension, not legal obli
gation . He took on human flesh to engage the devil in mortal
combat, proving triumphant at the great battle of the Cross.
Death , too, was killed, rejoices St. Athanasios, and we have now
"the hope of the resurrection ."4H
At the same time, we ought not to forget that the drama of
the Cross was typified in Eden. All the elements of Adam's
tragedy were present during the Lord's Passio n: "Adam," "Eve"
- born from His side4!' - a garden, temptation, mankind
("thieves") , God, the devil and "the tree of the Cross." Further
more, as if God wanted to add greater pathos to the scene, Jesus
was crucified on the hill of Golgotha which in Hebrew means
"the place of the skull" (ho topos tau Kraniou, in Greek) ; and
in Latin, Calvaria, from whence the English "Calvary" derives.
The head of Adam as buried there, which explains, inciden
tally, the reason that Adam's skull is depicted beneath the Cross
on all icons of the Crucifixion. Moreover, when the earth quaked
an opening or crater was made in the ground beneath the Cross
and Christ's blood fell upon the skull and thereby Adam and
his race were symbolically renewed.
Why did Jesus submit to the Cross? "If I be lifted up, I will
draw all men to Myself," He said Qohn 1 2 : 32). " How could He
have called us if H e had not been crucified?" St. Athanasioc>

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asks, "for it is only on the Cross that a man dies with arms
ou tstretched .""" But also Jesus "hung on a tree" as a "curse," for
as it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree" (Gal.
3: 1 3 ) . The "curse," according to the Jewish understanding of
th e Scriptures, was put by God on everyone who betrayed the
Faith of I srael.
Jesus was accused of "blasphemy," accused by the Sanhedrin
(Mark 1 4 : 64) for calling Himself "the Son of God" and, there
fore, betraying that faith . He was crucified in observance of the
Law . But, as the Fathers tell us, His being "lifted up" carried a
certain irony ; for in this way , H e was "exalted" and the "curse"
became a blessing for all . The "curse" was death, St. John
Chrysostom writes, but by "dying He rescued from death those
who were dying, so by taking upon Himself the curse, He deliv
ered them from it."51 The Jews that condemned Him were them
selves condemned while their brethren who believed on Him
were saved along with the Gentiles who, as promised by God to
Abraham, would be blessed in his "seed" (Gen. 2 2 : 1 8 ; Gal . 3 : 1 4) .
The "blessing" i s eternal life and Abraham's "seed" i s Jesus the
Christ, His Ch urch .
But Jesus was "lifted up on the Cross" for another reason .
He was "lifted up" into the air, in the sphere where , as we saw
in chapter I I , the devil and his angels fell after their expulsion
from heaven. At His Crucifixion , He cleansed the air from the
evil influences of the enemy. Thus, just before He went to His
death, the Lord, said to His disciples, "Now is the judgment of
this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out" O ohn
1 2 : 3 1 ) . On the Cross, writes St. Peter Chrysologus, Christ was
"captured" by the devil, "the author of death," but in so doing,
he himself was conquered by Him Who "although slain . . .
op en ed the way for His sheep to conquer the devil and death"
(Sermon 42). In the words of St. Gregory the Theologian, "by
overcoming the tyrant, God set us free and reconciled us to
Himself through His Son . "
How were we "reconciled" to the Father through the blood
of His Son? First of all, let us erase from our minds any idea
that this reconciliation was effected by a substitutionary punish-

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ment: Jesus was no more

punished in our place than
were the animals of the Old
Testament who were types
of Christ's sacrifice.52 Accord
ing to St. John Chrysostom,
Christ identified Himself with
It! "'
the creation and returned it
to His Father as a "gift." The
"gift" was purified with "the
blood of the Lamb" on "the
altar of the Cross." He
"sprinkled" His blood on us
as Moses sprinkled "the taber
nacle and vessels of his priest
hood with the blood of sacri
ficial animals. Of course, the
Old Testament rite of purifi
cation only cleansed the sur
face while the shed blood of
Christ "cleanses body and
"The Crucifixion" by
Photios Kontoglou, 1 948
In this connection, what
do the words mean, "He bare our sins" ? St. John answers,

'Just as in the Oblation (Liturgy), we confess our sins and

say, 'Whether we have sinned voluntarily or involuntarily,
do Thou forgive, ' that is, we make men tion first of our sin
and then we ask forgiveness; so also was it done here.
Where has Christ done this? Hear Him say, 'An d for their
sakes I sanctify myselF Qohn 1 7 : 9) . Lo! He bore the sins.
He took them from men and bore them to the Father, not
that He might accuse men, but that He might forgive
them. "58

Jesus, therefore, took our sins upon H imself. He died taking

those sins with Him. They existed no more and "all creation
was renewed" (St. Athanasios) . He "trampled down death by
His death" and when He rose from the grave the creation rose
with H im. He could not remain in the grave, for it is written,

"Thou will not leave My soul in hades, neither will Thou permit
Thy Holy One to see corruption" (Ps. 1 6 : 1 0 ) .
In other words, the Lord surrendered Himself to the grave
as "ransom" in exchange for those who had been lost to it.
Th e final obstacle to a complete victory was the devil, the keeper
of the grave. The Cross was devised as a lure. When the devil
saw Christ hanging on the tree, laden with our iniquities, he
thought Him another sinner for his prison. He did not know
that hidden in the body of the Crucified was His Divinity."4 He
snatched Him up and the devil was snared by "the hook of
Divinity." As St. Gregory of Nyssa says ,
"For he who first deceived man by the bait of pleasure is
himself eceive by the c mouflage of h uman nature . . .
The devil/racticed deceit to ruin our nature but God
being goo , just and wise, used a clever device o sa ve th
creature who had been despoiled. Acting as He did, God
benefited not only the one who had perished but also his
postenty. For when death came into contact with life dark
ness wit ligh , corruption with incorruption, the wrse of
thes thmgs disappeared into a state ofnothing to the profit
of him who was fi-eed fi-om these evils. "'"

It seems only just that he who used deceit to snare the first
Adam was himself baited and caught by the second Adam. The
devil was trapped, however, not so much by God as by his own
evil conceit .
During the period of His burial, the Lord descended into
hades55 to the surprise of God's angels who guarded its gates
and the demonized host within. The words of Psalm 23 (entitled,
"A Psalm of David, on the First Day of the Week.") Verse 9- 1 0 :
"Lift u p your gates, 0 ye princes; and be ye lifted up, ye ever
lasting gates, and the King of Glory shall enter in. Who is this
King Glory ? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord, m ighty in
w ar," are applied by St. Epiphanios of Salamis to this awesome
in cident. 57
At the Matin Service of Great Saturday, the Church sings,

1 89

"Hades in welcoming Thee, 0 Word, m urm urred at behold

ing a deified Man marked with wounds, Who is yet Almighty.
Wherefore at that terrible sight it shouted in fear. "5H

Jesus, His human nature

already deified, entered into
hades to deliver bodiless souls
from the "tyrant." According
to St. Macarios the Great,
"death holds fast the souls of
Adam and the thoughts of
each lies imprisoned in dark
ness." The Saint composes aw
imaginary dialogue between
Christ and the devil. The
Lord says to him,


"Therefore, I purchase
the body that was sold
to you by the first
Adam; I cancel the
bonds. I paid the debts
of Adam, when I was
crucified and descended into hades; and I command you, '0
hades and darkness and death, bring out the imprisoned
souls of Adam. Thus, the evil powers, struck with terror, gave
back the imprisoned Adam. "59

Like Jonah in the belly of the whale, Christ descended into hades
"to visit those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, certain
that He goes to loose Adam, the captive, and his co-captive, Eve,
from affliction, He that is both God and her Son." Did He save
all? "In no wise," replies St. Epiphanios, " . . . He saved them that
believed.""" "And thus after He had freed those who had been
bound for ages," adds St. John of Damascus, "straightway He rose
again from the dead, showing us the way of resurrection.""'
After His death on Friday, "the day of preparation" (paras
keve), the Lord's body was placed in a "new tomb" which was
situated in a garden where He was crucified Qohn 1 9 : 4 1 ) . St.

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Joseph of Arimathea, "who also himself was awaiting the King

dom of God" (Luke 2 3 : 5 1 ), following Jewish law, took the
crucified body down from the cross and buried it the same day
(D e ut. 2 1 : 23 ) . The body lay in the grave over the Sabbath, the
seventh day, signifying that one age of history had closed and
another was opening.
In the Orthodox "theology of history,"62 Friday represents
the age of the Old Testament, but also the sixth day of the
Genesis week, the day on which He made man. The Sabbath
on which the Lord was entombed refers not only to the seventh
day of Genesis, but also the seventh age of history, the age of
the Church. On the other hand, the entombment is the sign of
the Lord's rest." As the Doxastikon of the Einos for the Matins
of the Great Holy Sabbath acknowledges,
"The great Moses foreshadowed this day mystically by his
saying, 'God blessed the seventh day, ' for this is the day of
quiet and rest, on which the only-begotten Son of God
rested from all His works, keeping the Sabbath in the body,
thereby realizing in His death the mystery of the divine
economy. Returning through the resurrection to what He
had been, He granted us eternal life; for He alone is good
and the Lover of mankind. "

Clearly, the Sabbath or "rest" (anapausis) of the Lord Jesus is

another kind from the one mentioned in Genesis or the Ten
As St. John Chrysostom expresses it, the "rest" of Christ is
the third of which the other two are types. The first is the "rest"
or Sabbath of God when He finished making the world; the
second is "rest" of the Chosen People under Jesus (son of Nun)
in the wilderness Qosh. 4 : 6-8) ; and the third is the "rest" of
Christ in the grave.63 Moreover, the first two "rests" are temporal,
the "rest" of the Crucified Lord points to the eternal Sabbath
into which the People of God are already entering (He b. 4: 1 - 1 0).
The God of David gave to him a vision of this day on which he
and his house would "rest from all thine enemies" and his king
dom would be established forever ( I I Sam. 7 : 1 1 ) . Of course that
vision was nothing else than the "rest" - and the kingdom of the I ncarnate, crucified and risen God.

That the VISion alluded to Jesus as the "true Sabbath" is

demonstrated in several ways from the Scriptures. The prologue
to the Gospel of St. Matthew - the recitation of Christ's ances
tory from David - is arranged in six groups of seven persons
each. In this way, He bridges two ages: the sixth age which
terminates in His Passion and the seventh age or day of "rest,"
His burial, which is a type of our "eternal rest." The genealogy
given by St. Luke is founded on the number seven, although
somewhat differently from Matthew. The former gives seventy
seven names from Adam to Jesus, a parallel which is more than
coincidence. In addition, the Lord Himself refers to Himself as
"the Lord of the Sabbath" (Mark 2 : 28). "Come to Me all you
who labor and are heaven laden," He says in another place,
"and I will give you rest (anapa uso) . Take My yoke upon you
and learn from M e, for I am meek and humble of heart; and
you will find rest (anapa usin) for your souls" (Matt. 1 1 : 2 8 ) .
The "rest" o f the Lord i n the grave i s the end of something
old and the promise of something new. Not simply the grace to
do "works of righteousness" and "to cease from evil rather than
work,""4 but more especially the inauguration of a "new crea
tion." Here is what St. Athanasios of Alexandria testifies,
"B ut when a new people was created . . . it was no longer
required for them to celebrate the end of the first creation
(Sabbath), but rather to seek the beginning of the second
(Sunday). And what is this beginning but the day on which
the Lord rose from the dead. It was at this moment that
the new creation began. As St. Pa ul wrote, 'If any man be
in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away;
behold, all things have become new' ( I I Cor. 5: 1 7) . God
ceased making the first creation and the day on which He
rested, men of former generations observed His Sabbath
on the seventh day; but the second creation has no end;
God has not ceased His work, but acts continuously. There
fore, we do not 'keep the Sabbath ' - we do not 'rest' on this day as if keeping the memory of it, but we await,
so to speak the Sabbath of Sabbaths to come, the age in
which the new creation does not have an ending, but which
we show forth and celebrate perpetually. The Sabbath of
the old creation was given to them who were formerly God's
people so that you would know the end of one and the
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"Reurrection of Christ," by Bishop Alypy, 1 984

1 93

Again, the first Sunday was the Pascha (Christian Passover),

the day which previews the end of the present history, the day
which, although foreshadowed in the Church, begins with the
Return of the Christ, Judgment, transfiguration and the "per
petual rest" (St. Irenaeos) . Pascha is "the Sunday of Sundays"
and the "image of the eternal age to come" (St. Basil the Great),
just as Christ's resurrection is a type and image of our own
resurrection. Jesus is, therefore, "the first-born from the dead"
(Rev. 1 : 5 ; Col. 1 : 1 8) . He is "the first-fruits of those who have
fallen asleep" (I Cor. 1 5:20), the first person to enter the eighth
day. To use the language of St. Gregory the Theologian,
"The Sunday of Pascha is the day of salvation . . . the fron
tier between burial and resurrection ; it belongs entirely to
the second creation; for as the first creation began on a
Sunday (the Sabbath falling seven days later . . .), so the
new creation began on the same day - which is at once
the first in relation to those which succeed it and the eighth
in relation to those preceding it. As the eighth day, Sunday,
is more sublime than the sublime day and more wonderful
than the wonderful day: for it is an image of the life above.
This is what . . . the divine Solomon wishes to symbolize
when he commanded to give a part, seven to some, that is
to say, this life; and to others, eight, that is to say, the future
life: he was speaking of doing here what would be the
restoration of the life beyond . . . "66

If we may summarize a very difficult subj ect: the activity of

Jesus the Christ embraced three ages: 1 ) the sixth age or the
age of the Old Testament economy in which He was born and
during which He preached, performed miracles and sacrificed
Himself on the Cross. His I ncarnation and sacred ministry pre
pared humanity for the next age. 2) He ushed in the seventh
age, the age of the Church, the age of imperfect "rest" which
leads the creation to the final age of the world, the eternal "age
to come. " In this last age before the end of the world, the shadow
of eternity has already fallen, for Christ said to His Apostles
before the Ascension, "and lo, I am with you always, even to
the close of the age" (Matt. 2 8 : 20).
In a word, the Resurrection of Christ was a type and image

1 94

of the 3 ) eighth age, the third of the ages in which H e was

involv ed. The Church, as His Body, is also implicated. His rising
from the dead was a visible "earnest" or mark of the general
resurrection in which those who have "fallen asleep" in the Lord,
the Church, will rise first (the others to follow) for judgment.
The righteous will enter into His "rest" wherein dwells the Holy
Spirit, Who had also partaken of the Lord's economy during
the seventh age, first at Pentecost. Pentecost, as we shall see, is
a type of the universal gathering and sanctification of God's
_ pro
People after the resurrection and judgment, a type of their
ce ssion into eternity, the "perpetual rest. " The "new creation"
will be joined to Christ - as the Church is now united to Him
- and the Kingdom of God will have come. Then, God the
Father will possess all creation purified, holy, unending, as it
was supposed to have been from the very beginning.


With the Ascension of the Lord into the heavens and His
session "at the right hand of God" (Mark 1 6 :20) , His earthly
ministry came to an end . The pattern of salvation layed down
by Christ for His "brethren" includes their ascension to the
Father and "sitting down" in Christ at "the right hand of God ."
Christ now makes constant intercession for His Own, wrote St.
Gregory the Great in his first Dialogue.
The Ascension of the resurrected and deified Christ into
heaven was visible to the naked eye, even "the cloud which
received Him out of their sight" (Acts 1 : 9) . He ascended into
the East, The Doctrine of the Apostles ( I I , 5 7 : 5) informs us, a
fact which also justifies, in part, the worship of the Church
towards the East. When He returns to judge the world, the
angels announced to His Apostles and disciples on the Mount
of Olives, He "shall come in like manner as you have seen Him
go into heaven" (Acts 1: 1 1 ) . He will return in might and majesty,
as the deified Man, the everlasting Man, the incorruptible Man
into whose side St. Thomas had thrust his hand, the transformed
Man who met the Apostles at the Sea of Tiberias after the Resur
rection, the Man bearing recognizable human features, a Man
now capable of feats which ordinary flesh could not do .
1 95

Of His Ascension, we learn something very interesting. When

He reached the third heaven, the angels there did not know
Him. St. Irenaeos says that they were not all aware of God's
plan for the salvation of the human race.
"But because the Word descended to His creatures in visibly,
He was not known to them; but the Word had become
incarnate, He was therefore visible in His Ascension; and
when the principalities saw Him, the angels beneath called
to those above, 'Lift up your gates, and be lifted up, 0 you
eternal gates, that the King of glory may enter in. ' And
when these wondered and said, 'Who is this King ofglory?'
those who had already seen Him testified a second time,
'The Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory'. "67

Psalm XXI I I which St. Irenaeos and the other Fathers who
describe the journey of the Lord up through the heavens (St.
Athanasios, St. Ambrose, St. Justin, etc.) drew on the picture of
the ancient procession into the Temple at Jerusalem which, as
we know, is a type of the Church which is an image of the
Temple of the heavenly Jerusalem. The first to use this figure
was St. Paul in his letter to the Hebrews where the Apostle
speaks of Christ seated at "the right hand of the Majesty on
high ," a place of exaltation prepared for His triumphant return
to the Throne of His glory.
As the Lord approaches His Father next to Whom He will
sit, now as eternal God-Man, once more He acts with the Spirit
Who proceeds from the Father, sending Him as Comforter to
His People according to His promise Qohn 1 5 :26). "The Spirit
of Truth" Himself commands all the heavenly host to welcome
the victorious Christ. As the Church chants during the Vespers
of the Ascension,
"The Lord ascended to the heavens to send the Comforter
into the world. Wherefore, the heavens made ready His
Throne, and the clouds His mounting. The angels wonder
as they see a man more exalted than themselves. The Father
receives into His Bosom Him Who is eternally with Him.
The Holy Spirit commands all the angels, 'Lift your heads,
0 princes, and all nations, clap your hands; for Christ has
ascended to rest where He was before. ' s

1 96

Jesus will leave H i s Throne once mar, "in is glry and all the
a n gels with Him" (Matt. 25:3 1 ( , to judg the hvmg an the
dead." He will not appear, however , until the other details of
the divine plan have been fully realized. St. Jus tin Martyr avows,
"God the Father raised Christ to the hea vens after the
Resurrection, and He will remain there un til He has struck
down the demons, Their enemies, and until the number
of the elect should be complete, for whose sake He has not
yet consigned the universe to flames. Hear the Prophet
David predict these things, 'The Lord said to My Lord, Sit
at My right hand until I make Thy enemies Thy foot
stool'. "69

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1 98


Because the name of Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, appears so often in

comparing Western religion to Orthodoxy , I have asked Fr. Michael to add
an ap pendix to this volume, showing from Augustine's own words, how h e
differed from the teachings of the Church Fathers, and the subsequent
effect it had on the West. I hope this will help all concerned to come to a
better understanding of this early Western bishop.

Augustine of Hippo


If we give special attention to this 5th century North African

Orthodox bishop, it is not because, as most post-Orthodox West
ern historians and religious writers think, Augustine was "the
father of fathers" and "the greatest genius the Church has ever
produced. " He was neither. Rather, this appendix speaks to the
controversy which, in recent years, has surrounded his name
among a growing number of Orthodox.
We agree that Augustine might well be distressed by Western
theological developments of the last millenium, yet it is impor
tant to keep in mind that there would have been no such develop
ments without him. His writings lie at the basis of every heresy
which now afflicts the religion of the West. Every major religious
writer and movement in Europe has claimed indebtedness to
him. Thomas Aquinas, Joachim of Flores, the Spiritual Francis
cans, the Protestant Reformers, etc. described themselves as "Au
gustinian. "
W e should be aware, too, that Augustine achieved a certain
reputation in Russia - largely on account of his Confessions
and Soliloquies, - and some of the most eminent names in
Russian ecclesiastical history (especially since the time of Peter
the Great) have quoted him with favor. They might have been
more reluctant to invoke his authority had all of his works been
known to our Russian Saints and Fathers. It would then have
been evident to them, as it is becoming increasingly clear to
many now, that Augustine had departed significantly from the
Apostolic Tradition. Anyone armed with the writings of the holy
Fathers will discover that, from the beginning his opinions were
challenged, with good reason, in both the East and West. Admit-

1 99

tedly, the Fathers and teachers i n the East were not everywhere
familiar with his writings, but Augustinian opinions were found
wanting by those who did encounter them.2
a. Augustine's theory of original sin evoked consternation
everywhere in the West, but most especially among the monks
of southern Gaul (France). The leader of the monks, St. John
Cassian, who had been ordained to the diaconate by St. John
Chrysostom, took exception to Augustine's views on God, man
and grace. In this he was joined by St. Vincent of Lerins, St.
Gennadius of Marseilles, St. Faustus of Riez (Rhegium), the
ecclesiastical writer Arnobius the Younger, as well as the
churches of Ireland and B ritain. They all declined to accept
Augustine's teaching that every person is guilty of and is being
punished for - or saved in spite of - Adam's sin. The B ishop
of Hippo had proclaimed that in Adam "was constituted the
form of condemnation to his future progeny, who would spring
from him by natural descent."3 He believed that baptism elimi
nates the guilt of original sin, but not all of its consequences,
j ust as the wound remains albeit the lance has been removed.4
Driven, as it were, by the force of his own logic, Augustine
i nsisted that man is sufficiently evil, whether because of the sin
inherited from Adam or the personal i niquity ("actual sin")
added to it, that God alone can save him. Since not all men are
saved, it is obvious that God has mysteriously chosen to reward
some and punish others. As Augustine wrote,
". . . owing to one man all passed into condemnation who
are born to Adam, unless they are reborn in Christ, even
as God has appointed to regenera te them before they die
in the body. For He has predestinated some to evelasting
life as the most merciful Bestower of grace; while to those
whom He predestinated to eternal death, He is the most
righteous Awarder ofpunishment. They are punished not
on account of the sins which they add by the indulgence
of their own will, but on account of the original sin, even
if, as in the case of infants, they had added nothing to tha t
original sin. Now this is m y definite view on the question,
so that the hidden things of God may keep their secret,
without impairing my own faith5".


Put another way, once saved or damned, always saved or

damned ; for, as Augustine theorized in the treatise that seemed
to have caused the greatest stir among the monks of Gaul, On
Rebuke and Grace (chap. 34),
"I speak thus of those who are predestinated to the King
dom of God, whose n umber is so certain tha t none may be
added to or subtracted from it . . . while those who do not
belong to this most certain and blessed n umber are most
righteouslyjudged according to their deservings. For they
lie under the sin which they have inherited by original
generation and so depart hence with the inherited debt . . .

As John Calvin would say later, the saved are "chosen" or

"elected" irresistably by God's grace, "while He consigns others
to eternal death ."6 Augustine said that the damned are "righte
ously" condemned for their "inherited debt."7
What, then, is the place of human choice or free will i n the
divine Plan for our salvation? Augustine argues,
"I think, too, tha t I have so discussed the subject tha t it is
not so much myself as the inspired Scriptures which have
spoken to you in the most vivid testimonies of truth; and
if this divine record be looked into carefully, it reveals that
God Himself converts the will of man from evil to good
and tha t once converted, He directs them to good actions
and eternal life; but also, that those who follow the world
are so a t the disposal of God tha t He turns them wherever
and whenever He wills - to bestow kindness on some and
heap punishment on others, as He Himselfjudges rightly
by a counsel most secret to Himself

In his last major work, The Perseverence of the Saints, Augustine

maintained, with undeniable consistency, that those who are
truly saved will remain faithful to Christ and the Church to the
very end. Their fidelity, however, is ultimately not their own
choice, but the grace by which they were predestinated or preor
dained to the Kingdom of God. Likewise, those predestinated
to damnation would eventually reflect their destiny in their lives,
whether by making a profession of faith without zeal, leaving
the Church, or never joining Her. And these, too, as all men,
deserved to be condemned to the fires of hell.


These ideas of Augustine are inconsistent with the teachings

of the Church. Speaking for Her, St. Faustus of Riez declares
that the number of the saved and the damned are not fixed,
"for he that is saved was in danger, and he that has perished
could have been saved."9 I n his commentary on the Spistle to
the Hebrews (PG 63 99) , St. John Chrysostom testifies that sal
vation and damnation are not the arbitrary acts of God.
"All is in God's power, but not in such a way that He allows
it to infringe upon our freedom . . . His action depends on
us as well as Himself We m ust choose beforehand the good
and to what we choose God will contribute whatever
depends on Him. He does not anticipate our desire that
He might not iryure our will. Only after our decision will
He bring us the great help. "

I n the same manner, St. Ambrose of Milan says, "If you claim
grace, believe in its power; if you reject the power, do not ask
for grace" ( The Holy Spirit VII , 64.)
Likewise, on the question of predestination, which is necessar
ily tied to the issues of saving grace and free will, the Church
denies that God eternally predetermines some to salvation and
others to damnation. His knowledge of all things (omniscience)
does not involve pre-determination. As St. John of Damascus
expresses this matter,
"We ough t to understand that while God knows all things
beforehand, He does not predetermine them. For He
knows already those things that are in our power, but He
does not predetermine them. It is not His way that there
should be wickedness, but neither does he compel virtue.
Th us, predetermination is the work ofthe divine command
based on fore-knowledge. On the other hand, God pre
determines those things which are not within our power
in accordance with his fore-knowledge. In this fashion, God
has pre-judged all things according to His goodness and
justice. " 1 0

St. John summarized the theology that was the common inheri
tance of the entire Church until Augustinianism, making gradual
inroads, finally became the dominant thinking in the 9th century
West . "


b. Augustine had a deep-rooted contempt for sex - possibly

the result of his early M anichaeism (see glossary), an erroneous
conception of evil and matter which he seems never to have
been able to discard completely. In Marriage and Concupiscence,
he taught that sex was the means by which original sin was
transferred from parents to offspring. Fearing that God would
be accused of promoting evil by creating the soul and directly
injecting it into the body, Augustine adopted the position that
the father gives the soul (indirectly from God) and the mother
provides the body of their issue (traducianism) . ' 2 His ideas are
necessarily founded on a flawed theology and cosmogeny (see
glossary) , for God forms, each in its own way, the human body
and soul of the individual at the same time, as St. John of Damas
cus tells us, "not first one and then the other. "'3
c. The errors of Augustine were not limited to his teachings
on original sin, compulsory grace and double predestination.
He is also the author of the Filioque, the theory which would
negate the monarchy of the Father and unbalance the Trinity.
"B ut the Holy Spirit does not proceed from the Father into
the Son, " A ugustine maintained, "and then proceed from
the Son for our sanctification; but He proceeds from both
at the same time, although the Father has given this to the
Son, that just as the Holy Spirit proceeds from Himself; so
He also proceeds from the Son. "14

We have examined already in chapter two the teaching of the

Fathers. They recognize a distinction between God in Himself and
God in relation to the creation. According to the first, the Spirit
proceeds from the Father alone, while in time the Spirit proceeds
from the Father through the Son "for our sanctification." I n
The Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit, S t . Photios the Great points
o ut that the Filioque, among other things, gives the Father and
the Son what it denies to the Spirit - the power of generation
which , according to the Scriptures and the Fathers, belongs to
the Father alone: He is the only (monos) cause (arche) in the
Trinity. Moreover, if Augustine were right, the Father would
lose what makes Him Father, while the Son, generating the
Spirit along with the Father, has a power added to His Person.


Wall Painting, Church of the Dormition, Dormition Skete,

H e is, then, superior to the the Father, sharing in His power

while the Father does not share in the power (begottenness) of
the Son; and, also, the Holy Spirit is inferior to the Son because
He has been deprived of something in which the Father and
the Son participate without Him.
e. Also belonging to the Greek and Platonic tradition is the
myth of the "golden age," which, rendered in Christian terms,
becomes the thousand-year rule of Christ and His saints on earth
(millenialism or chiliasm). "The eighth day signifies new life,"
Augustine declared, "while the seventh day or age signifies the
future rest of the saints on earth . For, indeed, the Lord will
reign on the earth with the saints . . . when the sixth day has
passed, then the rest will come, after the winnowing of the
threshing-floor, and the saints of God will keep the Sabbath . . . "
(Sermon 259 PL 38 1 1 97[). We will discuss Orthodox eschatology
("last things") later. Suffice it to say here, that the Church now
is the "seventh day" or "age." What must follow is the Second
Coming of the Lord and eternity, "the eighth day ."
f. Finally, in connection with the Mysteries, we touch on his
attitude towards "heretical baptism," a subject to be treated at
great length later (vol . 2). Augustine held, contrary to the Apos204

tolic Tradition, that heretical baptism is true ("valid") baptism.

"But we do not remove baptism from heretics," he exclaimed.
"Why? Because they possess baptism as a mark in the same way
as a deserter from the army possess a mark. So, too, do heretics
h ave baptism." 1 7 If a heretic were simply a fallen away Christian,
Augustine's argument would have some value; but it is not relev
ant to heretics who set up a "church" against the Church .
Although initially "deserters," they have formed another army.
g. We must not ignore the fact that, after his death, the univer
sal Church did not everywhere begin to compose hagiographies
for him. We have no knowledge of any miracles connected with
his grave, no odor of sanctity emanating from his body, no
dreams or visions of him by the faithful. He was not represented
on icons, save in southern Gaul (6th c.), where his disciples (e.g.,
Caesarius of Aries and Prosper of Aquitaine) promoted his doc
trine and the case for his sanctity. Their efforts were not to bear
full fruit until the 9th century, when, during the Carolingian
Renaissance, Augustinianism became the "philosophy and theol
ogy" of Charlemagne's realm. 1 8
I n the East, even after that time, Augustine was little known.
He was mentioned by serveral councils and Fathers. With the
4th Crusade ( 1 3th c.) , an icon of Augustine seems to have
appeared in Constantinople - not at all a remarkable occurence,
considering the fact that the Latins were in control of the city.
Thereafter, his name is occasionally encountered (e.g., the writ
ings of St. Mark of Ephesus, St. Gennadios Scholarios, Patriarch
Dositheos of Jerusalem , Eustratios Argenti, St. Tikhon of
Zadonsk, St. Dimitry Rostov, etc.) with little or no analysis of
his actual theological opinions. Finally, St. N icodemos of the
Holy Mountain included Augustine's life in his Synaxarion (Lives
of the Saints).19 Imitating him, the Russian Church added Augus
ti ne to her calendar (under 1 5 June). It is also true that not
many years ago, Photios Kontoglou painted an icon of Augus
tine, but not from any iconographic model. U ntil recently, in
Greece, for example, Orthodox temples were not dedicated to
him and the clergy and the people did not take his name.
Regardless of the growing interest in Augustine over the past


two hundred years, his thought has made no real impact on

Orthodoxy. I t is safe to say that Augustinianism has not altered
the Faith of the Church ; nevertheless, it has been part of the
general "pseudomorphosis" about which Fr. Georges Florovsky
has written so much. Still, it should be pointed out that there
has been at least one serious attempt to introduce Augus
tinianism into the body of Orthodox doctrine, namely Cyril
Lukaris ( 1 572- 1 642) , Patriarch of Constantinople, whose lamen
table career and violent death signalled a new "theological inva
sion" from the heretical West.
We need not be reminded that the Orthodox Church has
implicitly condemned the teachings of Augustine in Her rejec
tion of all "Western innovations." The Orthodox councils of the
1 7th and 1 8th centuries gave unquestioned expression to the
Church's mind. Ought we not to see in the case of Cyril Lukaris
the folly of flirting with Augustinianism in the guise of Calvinism
or under any other form? His condemnation by the Councils of
Bethlehem and Jassey constitutes a clear repudiation of the prin
ciples of Augustinianism, without which there could have been
no Calvinism,20 the Calvinism which contaminated Lukaris' Con
fession of Faith.2'
Why it is, that, Augustine is ranked by some Orthodox writers
as among the Fathers of the Church, is difficult to understand,
unless their attitude can be ascribed to an inadequate study of
his writings. Augustine's sincerity is not questioned, nor can it
be denied that much of what he said is good and wise and
preceptive ; yet, considering the present state of the Church, it
would be inappropriate to hold him up as a teacher whom the
people ought to follow.



Augustine of Hippo


Much of the material below has been covered already in the second
and third chapters of this volume.


Thanks to the persistence of Augustine's followers, the E mperior

Theodosios the Younger invited Augustine to the Third Ecumenical
Council. The Bishop of H i ppo died the year before the bishops assem
bled at Ephesus (43 1 ) . Yet, those who familiarized themselves with
his teachings, such as Theodore of Mopsuestia, attacked them. Augus
tinianism had no influence on the decisions of Ephesus.


On Merits and Forgiveness ofSins, and the Baptism ofInfants I, 1 4 .

Op. cit., 2 5 .
O n the Soul and Its Origin I V , 1 6 .
Institutes of the Christian Religion (vol. 2 ) . trans. from th e Latin b y
F.L. Battles. Philadelpia, 1 960, I I I , 2 1 .
On Rebuke and Grace, ch. 3 1 -33.
On Grace and Free Will, 4 1 .
Letter t o Lucidum , PL 53 683.
Exposition of the Orthodox Faith II, 30. St. John cites the authority

1 0.

of St. Justin Martyr, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Theologian,
St. Jerome and St. Maximos the Confessor.


The Synod of Aries (4 7 3 ) condemned the Augustinian propositions

"that the labor of human obedience is not joined with the grace of
God" and "that after the fall of Adam free choice was extinguished
in his posterity. " Despite the heavy lobbying of his disciples, the West
ern Council of Orange (529) anathematized the doctrine of predesti
nation to damnation. (See H. Bettenson, ed. , Documents of th e Chris
tian Ch urch, New York, 1 947, pp. 84-87).

1 2 . J . M . Colleran states that Augustine "inclines" towards "spiritual

traducianism" or "generationism," since "he thinks that it accounts
better for the transmission of original sin" (see Augustine's Letter
1 66). At the same time, traducianism raises other questions for which
he had no answers, such as the sinlessness of Christ (translation of
Augustine's The Greatness of the Soul, in Ancient Christian Writers
(no. 9). Westminster (Md.), 1 950, p. 1 95 footnote 2 ) .


1 6.

Exposition o f the Orthdox Faith II, 1 2 .

On the Trinity X V , 27.
See R . Kelley, 'The Relation o f Philosophy t o Faith in the Teachings
of Augustine," in Studia Patristica (vol. 2). ed. by K. Aland & F. Cross.
Oxford, 1955; and Etiene Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St.
A ugustine. New York, 1 960. The third volume of this work will offer
a patristic discussion on the relationship between the Christian Reve
lation and worldly wisdom.
For example, The City o f God l , 3 5.


1 7.

The Creed for Catech umens VIII, 1 6 . See also his Retractions (chap
44) ; and On Baptism, Against the Donatists (bk. I ) .

1 8.

Archmandrite Sergy's Complete Menologion of the East (See "The

Holy East" (vol. 2). Moscow, 1 876) finds the name "Augustine" in the
Neopolitinae). The name appears once (28 Aug) as A ugustini without
indicating "of H ippo" or "of Canterbury" or, perhaps, some unknown
local A ugustini. The calendar (a large sculpture) was engraved not
before 840 and not later than 850. In other words, near the end of
the Carolingian period in Western Eugope and northern Italy. Naples,
the capital of the southern province of Campania had freed itself from
Byzantine control at the beginning of the 8th century and established
a Re publican form of government (duchy). It underwent its own "Cam
panian Renaissance" in the 9th century . Interestingly, N aples has no
icons, no churches, no baptistries, no oratories, no liturgies, no pave
ments, etc. dedicated to A ugustini; only the calendar mentions the
name (See Dictionarie d'a rcheologie chretienne et de liturgie (vol. 2.
pt. 2). Paris, 1 925, pp. 1 5 8 7 , 1 59 3 ; and (vol. 1 2 , pt. 2). Paris, 1 935,
pp. 69 1 -776). Very strange, indeed, if Augustine of H ippo was so
bright a luminary in the patristic firmament. One is led to believe that
the Church was not so enamoured of Augustine as was Charlemange.

1 9.

Augustine's name traditionally has found no place in the Church's list

of Saints. However, recent editions of the Greek liturgical books, such
as lera Synopsis, Synaxaristes and the Syndesmos include him. The
inclusion is suspicious because, contrary to general practice, many
persons who lived after him appear before him in the text. Again,
Augustine has never had a Service until recently, the earliest being
that com posed in Greek by Archmandrite Ioannes (?) Danielides (about
1 9 1 4) and a Church Slavonic service composed thirty years ago by
H ieromonk Ambrose (Pogodin), as commissioned by the late John
(Maximovitch), then Archbishop of Brussels and Western Europe
( 1 955).


John Calvin's ( 1 509- 1 564) dependence on Augustine is beyond dis

pute. With little exaggeration we may call Calvinism a systematized
Augustinianism. See the Introduction to F.L. Battle's translation of
the Institutes, lvii-lxxi.


The "Calvinist Patriarch" in his Confession of Faith attempted to fuse

Orthodoxy and Calvinism (i.e., a Protestant version of Augus
tinianism). See the interesting discussion of Cyril Lukaris in Steven
Runciman's The Great Church in Captivity. Cambridge (Eng.), 1 968,
pp. 259-288.


Chapter I - Introduction


St. John of Damascus, On the Divine Images, book 2 (commentary ).


Matt. 8 : 1 9 ; Luke 3 : 1 2 ; Acts 1 3 : 1 .

Rom. 1 5 : 4 ; II Tim. 3 : 1 6 .


Mark 4 : 2 ; 1 2 : 2 8 .


Dan. 2 : 1 3 ; II M accab. 1 0 : 8 ; 1 5 : 3 6 ; Acts 1 6: 4 ; Eph. 2 : 1 5 ; Col. 2 : 1 4 ;

2 : 20.
Supplication for the Christians, chapter 1 1 .


Hymn o f the Entry. trans. b y E. Briers, N e w York, 1 984, p. 1 9.


See glossary.


Spiritual Homilies VI, 1 39.

1 0.

S e e volume I I , chapter 7 .

1 1.

S e e glossary.


See glossary.


See glossary.


See glossary.


On the Incomprehensibility o f God I , 23.

The Ch urch is One. trans. b y Bishop Gregory (Grabbe). Seattle n.d.,


Against the Heresies bk. I I I , ch. 2 , sec. 1 -2 , i.

1 8.

See vol. I I , ch. 7 .

1 9.

The Commonitorium was written in the fifth century to oppose the

doctrinal errors of Augustine, Bishop of H ippo.


St. Cyprian and his Synod of Carthage (258) declared that all heretics
coming into the Church must be baptized. The Bishop of Rome dis


St. Gregory wrote to the Patriarch that any bishop who "seizes u pon
this ill-advised name" takes u pon himself a "singularity" which "denig
rates his brethern" (Epistle 1 8, 5 ) .


Apollinarianism was condemned by t h e Synods o f Alexandria and

Rome (362) and the Synod of Constantinople in 3 8 1 .


S e e h i s The Ways o fRussian Theology (part I ) . trans. b y R.L. Nichols.

Belmont, Mass. , 1 97 9 , p. 72f.


Aposticha - Vespers of the Holy Fathers of the Sixth Ecumenical



Theological and Polemical Works, chapter 28 P G (Mign's Collection

or Patrology of the Greek Fathers) 9 1 (volume) 320 (page BC (sections).
The Latin Fathers in M igne use the abbreviation PL.


Theol. and Pol. Works, 1 9 PG 91 224B-225A.

Report on My Movements, 6 PG 90 1 20C.

p . 10.




See my "Peccatum Originate: The Pelagian Controversy," The Patristic

and Byzantine Review III, 1 -2 ( 1 984), p. 42.


Doxasticon of the Sticher for Vespers of the Sunday of the H oly

Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council.


Doxasticon of the Praises for Matins of the Sunday of the Holy Fathers
of the Seventh Ecumenical Council.


Catechism. IV, 2 PG 33 456B.


Most modern scholars believe that St. Dionysios was not a disciple of
St. Paul and never wrote the books attributed to him. They describe
h im as a sixth century Monophysite, Syrian monk, who stole the name
of St. Dionysios for his own writings. The fact that The Celestial
Hierarchy, The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, The Divine Names and The
Mystical may not have surfaced until the sixth century and tried to
explain the Tradition of the Church in the language of Plato means
only that the editor ofthese works tried to give them a "modern" look.


On True Contemplation, chap. 1 2 .

The Little Flowers, chap. 68.
On The Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit. trans. by Holy Transfiguration


S e e glossary.


A Treasury o f Divine Knowledge, bk. I (Philokalia vol. 3 ) . trans. by


G.E.H . Palmer, etc. London, 1 984, p. 1 4 3 .

See glossary.


Monastery. New York, 1 983, p. 7 7 .


Prayers of the Kneeling Service of Pentecost.


Stichera for Vesper Kneeling Service of Pentecost.


See glossary.


See glossary.


Gavin, F. Some Aspects of Contemporary Greek Orthodox Thought,

Milwaukee, 1 936, XXIV.
See glossary.


See glossary.


See glossary.

Chapter II

God, The Holy Trinity


See glossary.


This topic will be discussed in detail in the next chapter.


Triads of Defense of the Hesychasts II, 3 : 6. "Negative theology" leads

to union through the discovery of what God is not.


Questions to Thalassus, 22 PG 91 324B.


V. Lossky, The Mystical Theology o f the Eastern Church, p. 9.


See the interesting work by R. Otto, Mysticism, East and West (New
York, 1 957) in which the author compares, for example, the H indu


Sankara with the 1 3th century German mystic, Meister Eckhart; and,
Evelyn Underhill's Mysticism (New York, 1 955) in which she contends
that the mystical experience is a bond between particular kinds of
persons, whatever limitations ordinary life may seek to impose on

The German Moravian sect is commonly associated with the name of

Count Zinzendorf ( 1 7 00- 1 760) and the religious movement known as
"Pietism." This movement was, in part, a reaction to abstract and
rationalistic theology ; it called for an "inner religion, " attaching little
significance to doctrines, rites and rules.


See my "The Western God,"' in Saint Nectarios Orthodox Conference

Uuly 22-25, 1 980), Seattle, 1 980, pp. 1 3-2 1 .

I 0.

See section 5 of this chapter.


Homily on Psalm I, 8 .

1 2.

A discussion of christology (see glossary) must await chapter I V.


One Hundred and Fifty Physical, Theological, Moral and Practical

Chapters, 78 PC 1 50 1 1 7 6B.
A n Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, I , 3 .
Philokalia (vol. 3 ) , p . 1 43 .
The Mystical Theology, ch. 5.
On The Trinity V I , 5.
An Exact Exposition . . , I , 3 .

1 6.
1 8.

1 9.

In the late Middle Ages and, to be sure, in the modern world, many
theologians and philosophers taught that human reason could bring
sufficient knowledge of God to enable anyone to achieve the certainty
of human knowledge and to lead a life of saving piety. Such a notion
has no place within the Orthodox Faith.


An Exact Exposition . . . , I, 3 .
Op cit., I , I . S e e Proverbs 2 2 : 2 8 .
On the Trinity I I I , 2 ; V I I I , 5 1 .
Hexaemeron I , 8 : 29.


"Wisdom" is both "he" and "she," a seeming contradiction to be cleared

up later.


Select Demonstrations XVI I , 5 [(in Nicene and Post-Nicene Ch urch

Fathers (vol. 1 3) . New York, 1 898].
St. John of Damascu s, A n Exact Exposition . . , I, 8.
Commentary on the Gospel ofjohn, homily 4.
The Power o f the Holy Spirit, 5.
Ep. C C X , 3-4.
Commentary on Second Corinthians, homily 3 0 .



T h e word "political" i n the thinking of the Fathers did not carry its
modern sense; it meant, in both East and West, "what pertains to the

21 1

city" (polis, civitas), that is, the effect of something on the total life of
a person or, in the case of a Christian, his Church and t h e Empire.

T h e addition t o the Nicean Creed : the H o l y Spirit proceeds from the

Father and (que) the Son (filio).


The order of coming forth from the Father (the generation of the
Son and the procession or spiration of the Holy Spirit) is not the same
as the order of manifestation - especially in time - a manifestation
which is described as "the radiance of God's Glory." Thus the Lord
Jesus declares that He has "manifested" the Father's Name (Person)
and prays to possess once more the Glory they shared before the
creation of t he universe (J ohn 1 7 : 5, 22, 24). The Son is the Brightness
of the Father's Glory and the Spirit the S pirit of His Glory (He b. 1 : 3 ;
I Pet. 4: 1 4) and what may have happened between Them in eternity
may not be predicted of time. Thus, the Glory appeared as the powe r
that created the universe, the "word" that appeared in Old Israel, as
the Light of the Saints and Prophets. And, of course, there is the
supreme "manifestation," the Incarnation of the Word ("the glory of
Thy People Israel," exclaimed St. Symeon); and, too, the manifestation
of His Glory on Mt. Tabor with the Light of the Age to come and the
voice of God the Father; and the Baptism of the Lord after which the
S pirit appeared in the form of a dove, and the voice of God the Father;
and Pentecost in which the Holy Spirit came u pon the Church after
the Ascension of the Lord to Glory (See footnote 36). More will be
said about this topic in chapter IV.


In both t h e Scriptures and the Fathers when the word "God" appears
unqualified by some other word or phrase, it refers to the Father ("I
believe in one God, the Father Almighty . . . ").


PG 9 1 1 020A.


Vladimir Lossky mentions t h a t " i t would n o t be exact t o say," as some

Orthodox polemical writers have sometimes said, that the procession
"through the Son" (dia Uiou) signifies only the temporal mission of
the Holy Spirit . . . " In fact, quite independent of the creation and
from all eternity the Son has "manifested" the S pirit. The poverty of
human language, Lossky continues, sometimes made it necessary for
the Fathers to "simultaneously employ expressions relating to the
Person existence of the Holy Spirit and to the eternal manifestation
of the Divine N ature in the Holy Spirit, even when defining his Person
character, or distinguishing H i m from the other Persons." Lossky cites
St. Basil and refers us also to St. Gregory of N yssa as evidence of his
opinion (See "The Procession of the Holy Spirit in Orthodox Triadol
ogy," The Eastern Ch urches Quarterly: Supplementary Issue VII, 2
( 1 948}, p. 5 1 .


J . Tixeront, A Handbook of Patrology. St. Louis, 1 95 1 , p. 260.


The author or founder of a heresy.


3 9.

For example, St. John Cassian and the monks of Gaul; St Vincent of
Lerins, St. Faustus of Riez, etc. His ideas were, at first, rejected by the
Church of Ireland. Augustinian "theology" did not prevail in the West
until the 9th century and even then it met resistence, particularly
among the Slavs evangelized by Sts. Cyril and M ethodios.


Mystagogia, 1 7 . Interestingly, St. Photios did not want to believe that

Augustine was responsible for the filioque. When he was not making
excuses for him, he was arguing that his works were altered by some
unknown hand. But St. Photios knew no Latin and read only excerpts
from Augustine's writings in translation.


See glossary.


God the Father is "cause" (aitia, causa) of the Son and the Spirit,
because they are eternally and ceaselessly coming out of Him. The
Father is not "cause" in the sense that the artist is the cause of the
painting or the falling rock is cause of my broken leg. Neither does
the word "cause" imply the slightest superiority.


The Son is "begotten not made" declares the Creed of Nicea. The
idea the Fathers wanted to convey was that the Son issues from the
substance of the Father in the same way as a mother be gats her child.
He is not "made" as a carpenter makes a house. The Son is the Father's
only Son.


The Lord's Prayer, Sermon 3 .

Discourse Against the Arians I, 2 : 9.
Op. cit., II, 2 1 :63.
Statement of Faith, 3.
A n Exact Exposition . . . . . , I , 7.
On the Incomprehensibility of God I l l, 5.
On the Holy Trinity, 6 PC 7 5 1 056A.
On the Lord's Prayer, Sermon 6.
Physical, Theological . . . . Chapters, 96 PC 1 50 1 1 89B.
Lossky says that we ought to speak of a "love-energy" ( The Mystical
Theology . . . . , p. 8 1 ), but Dr. Alexander Kalomiros may also be right


that "love," for example, may be the way in which we experience the
energy (See his "'The River of Fire , " in The Saint Nectarius Orthodox
Conference . . . , pp. 1 03 - 1 3 1 ).
55 .

Hexaemeron V, 23 : 82.
Ep. XLIII PC 91 640BC.


Soteriological i s the adjective of soteriology. S e e glossary.


Against Akindynos PG 1 50 823A.

Sermon LI PL 54 3 1 OB .
St. Gregory PaJamas Concerning the Holy Transfiguration PG 1 5 1

5 9.






Against Eunomios, 5 PG. 29 640AB ; and St. M acarios of Egypt,

Spiritual Homilies V 8 PG 3 2 5 1 3B .
Quoted in M. Jugie, " PaJamas," in The Dictionaryo fCatholic Theology
(vol. 1 1 ) . Paris, 1 93 1 , p. 1 759f (French edition).
T h e Russian thinkers include Vladimir Solov ' ev ( 1 853- 1 900) and his
many followers. One of them was Fr. Serge Bulgakov who became
Dean of the St. Sergius Theological Academy in Paris ( 1 924).
Hexaemeron II, 1 : 2 .

Hexaemeron I , 2 .
Op. cit. , I , 4.
Commentary on the Acts o f the Apostles II, 4 PG. 60 3 1 .
Philokalia (vol. 3), p. 255.
Hexaemeron I , 4 : 1 2 ; I, 6:20.
Physical, Theological . . . . Chapters, 2 PG, 1 50 1 1 2 1A . See also the
first century Shepherd of Hermas I, 6; the Trisagion and Anaphora
Prayers of St. John Chrysostom ' s Liturgy ; St. Maximos the Confessor,
Ambiguous Questions PG 9 1 1 1 64BC, etc.
On the Divine Names I I , 1 0 PG 3 673D.
The Power o f the Holy Spirit, 8-9.
Op. cit., 1 8 . St. Ambrose, Hexaemeron I, 8 : 29 .
The Beatitudes, Sermon 5 .
Chapter I I I - The Creation


I n all of Biblical literature, there is only one instance in which angels

took female form (Zech. 5 : 9) . They were not called "messenger"
( mal'ak) however. In any case, angels are neither male nor female.
They have never appeared in their true form nor ever taken a body
of flesh (St. John Chrysostom); but rather in special forms suitable to
the apparition (St. John of Damascus).


One Hundred and Fifty Chapters, 67 PG 1 50 1 1 68D.

Ora . , 38 PG 3 6 320A.


Strictly speaking, only God is immaterial and wholly spiritual; yet

sometimes the word "immaterial" is employed by the Fathers as a
synony!T! for invisible and bodiless, often applied to angels, the human
soul and demons (St. John of Damascus, Exact Exposition . . . II, 3).
On the Early Death o f Infants PG 46 1 7 2C.


Exact Exposition . . . II, 3 .

T h e term "angel" is generic, usually applied t o all "the messengers o f
God." "Angel" i s also t h e peculiar name o f the lowest rank. Likewise,
"archangel" belongs to another rank of "angels" in the lowest order.
Again, the title "archangel" is not found in the Old or New Testament,
but first appears in the extra-Biblical book or Enock or H enoch (9: 1 )

2 14

which mentions four archangels: Micheal, U riel, Raphael and Gabriel;

in the twentieth chapter of the same record two more are mentioned,
Raguel and Sariel. The fourth book of Ezdras mentions the Archangel
Phanuel. Fin ally, the name of Powers is the name of a single rank,
but also applies to all ranks of angels with regard to their activities
(See St. Peter of Damascus, in the Philokalia (vol. 3), pp. 250-25 1 .

See IV Kings 1 8 : 1 8 ; I sa. 6 : 2 ; Ezek. I : 5 ; Rom . 8 : 3 8 ; Eph. I : 2 1 ; Col.

I : 1 6 ; I Thess. 4 : 1 6 .


The Celestial Hierarchy IV, 2 .

Ibid., V I , 2 : 1 -9. N o t all angels have wings. They are usually described


in the Scriptures as appearing in the form of men, without wings. Only

a few passages, as in Isaiah and Ezekiel , are they depicted with them.
Moses made two cherubs for the Ark with wings ( Ex. 25: 1 8) .
I I.



The names o f angels include the letters "el" (from elohim

Thus, Rapha-el ("God heals"), Micha-el ("Who is like God?"), Gabri-el
("Man of God") and; Uri-el ("fire of God"). This may account for the
fact that they are sometimes called "gods" and "sons of God" (bene
Elim). The angels are also "holy ones" ( qedosim), "set aside" for the
service of "the H oly One" in Whose Light they participate.
The Fathers say little more about the names, nature and activity of
angels. For example, St. Ignatios of Antioch, Lelter to the Trallians
I I I , 5; Hermas, Visions I I I , 5 ; St. Clement of Rome, First Letter to
the Corinthians, 3 5 : 5 ; St. Irenaeos, Against the Heresies IV, 3 4 : 1 - 1 6 ;
St. Justin M artyr, I I Apology, 7 ; St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter to
Demetria, 2 2 ; St. Athanasios the Great, Against the Arians I , 1 6 ; St.
Jerome, Commenta ry on jeremiah 6, 7; St. John Cassian, Conferences
7, 1 3 ; St. John Chrysostom , Sermon on the Resurrection, 3 ; St. Gregory
the Theologian , Oration 38, 1 7 ; St. Ambrose, Commenta ry on Luke
I , 1 2 ; St. Gregory the Great, Dialogues 4, 58, etc.

Defense of the Hesychasts I I I , 2 : 1 6 .

S t . Gregory PaJamas, One Hundred and Fifty Chapters, 4 4 P G . 1 50
1 1 5 2D. See also St. Irenaeos, Explanation of the Apostolic Preaching.
1 6 ; St. Ambrose of Milan , On Paradise X I I , 5 4 ; St. Gregory of Nyssa,
The Great Catechism, 6; St. John of Damascus, Exact Exposition . .
I I , 4, etc.



Dialogue with Thomasios, 6 .

Against Eunomios I , 26.


Observe the prayers and litanies of the liturgical services concluding

with "unto ages of ages."

1 9.

Exact Exposition . . . I I , l .
Explanation of the Apostolic Preaching, 9 .


Matt. 6 : 1 , 9 . Such verses d o n o t mean t o suggest that God i s confined

to a space above the universe, but simply that He is not "of the earth,"
that He is not, like the Roman emperors, an earthly and political ruler;

2 15

nor is His Kingdom, like the Roman Empire, a human empire (See
St. J us tin Martyr, I Apology, I I ). God is the God Who reveals H i mself
and His Kingdom.
2 1.

I n the Greek translation of the Old Testament (Septuagint) and several

English verions, the H ebrew of Gen. I :5 is rendered not "first day"
but "one day" (emera mia).


Commentary on Genesis, verse 1 : 5 [Ante-Nicene Fathers (vol. 5), p.


Hexaemeron I , 4 : 1 3.
To A utolycos II, 15 PG 6 I 077B. This sentence contains two important

1 63 ] .

things: a) the word "Trinity" is used for the first time in Ch ristian
literature; and b) the Holy Spirit is given the name "Wisdom" which
ordinarily belongs to God the Son or Logos (I Cor. I : 24). Only St.
Theophilos and St. Irenaeos call the Spirit "Wisdom of God" ( Sophia
tau Theou). Some scholars want to find in this a disagreement between
the Fathers and/or the Scriptures and the Fathers. But the Spirit is
"Wisdom," as St. Irenaeos argues, because He "manifests the Word."
He is the "Spirit of the Word" ( The Explanation of the Apostolic
Preaching, 5). The Spirit, then, is "wisdom," in an economic sense,
because He gives the "gift" or "charism" of wisdom and, as St. Basil
states, He gives the "right understanding of Christ" ( Ep. VII, 3). If,
after the second century, we no longer hear the Spirit identified as
"wisdom," it may well have been for the sake of the Church's general
defense of the Trinity.

One Hundred and Fifty Chapters, 23 PG ! 50 1 1 3 6B.

Ibid., 24 PG 1 50 1 1 3 7A.
To Pammachios Against john ofjerusalem, 22 PL 2 3 3 89B.
Exact Exposition . . . II, 1 2 .
Ep. XV, 10 PL 54 684C.
Spiritual Homilies I, 7.
There are many words in Greek and Latin for reason. Sometimes the
same word is used in different ways by different writers, e.g., "mind"
is often another word for "spirit" or "heart" and "reason. " H ere we
have tried to give the most common use of these words.


S e e Vladimir Lossky, The Mystical Theology o f the Eastern Ch urch,

pp 1 27 - 1 29.


One Hundred and Fifty Chapters, 1 7 P G ! 50 1 1 32D.

Spiritual Homilies X L I V , 1 .
Sermon Concerning the Atten tion t o and Guarding o f the Heart PG


1 4 7 959A-960A.

Acrostic Chapters on Spiritual Meditations PG ! 50 1 240A.

O n the Making of Man XVI, 1 4 .
One Hundred and Fifty Chapters, 38-39 PG ! 50 1 1 45A- 1 1 48A.

2 16


Explanation o f the Apostolic Preaching, 1 1 .

On Paradise V, 29.
To A uto/yeas I I , 2 7 .
Doctrinal Questions and Answers, 2 (L.R. Wickham translation in The
Select Letter of St. Cyril of Alexandria, Oxford, 1 983).
Exact Exposition . . . . I I , 1 2.
In the Philokalia (vol. 3), p. 276.
Commentary on First Corinthians XXXVI, 6.
Eden means "luxurious" according to St. John of Damascus and St.
Basil the Great. Hence, Adam 's Paradise was a "luxurious garden."

Exact Exposition . . . II, 1 1 .

On Paradise I, 5.
Ibid., V, 2 3 .
One Hundred and Fifty Chapters, 67 PG 1 50 1 1 68BD.
Spiritual Homily XLV, 1 .
Explanation of the Apostolic Preaching, 1 2 .
On Paradise IX, 48.
Ibid., XXV, 9.
Commentary on First Corinthians XXXIV, 7.


According to St. Ambrose, we have "no statement that God ever spoke
to the woman" ( On Paradise XIII, 5 4 ).


Explanation of the Apostolic Preaching, 1 3 - 1 4.


See glossary.

6 0.

See glossary.


One Hundred and Fifty Chapters, PG 1 50 1 1 57A.

Ibid., 5 1 PG 1 50 1 1 57A- 1 1 60A.
Commentary on First Timothy, homily 9.
One Hundred and Fifty Chapters, 42 PG 1 50 1 1 52A.
Ibid., 50 PG 1 50 1 1 57C.
On the Incarnation of the Word, 5 PG 26 1 05C.
Doctrinal Questions and Answers, 6 (Wickham text).


This verse is usually mistranslated as "Wherefore, as by one man sin

entered into the world and death by sin; therefore, death has passed
to all men, for all have sinned."

6 8.

Commentary on Romans X, 1 PG 60 4 74.

To A uto/yeas II, 25.
Ep. LVI I I , 2.
Symposium or Banquet of the Virgins III, 6 PG 1 8 69A.

70 .
7 2.

Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 88.

Spiritual Homilies I , 7.
Sermon 6 7 .



See glossary.


See especially Augustine's On Nature and Grace, On Rebu ke


Grace, On the Grace of Christ and Original Sin, On the Merit and
Remission of Sin for the Baptism of Infants.

Human beings have retained "the image o f God," albeit tainted.

S e e glossary .


In the Scriptures the J ews living outside of Palestine - in the "dias

pora" or "dispe sion" - were called "the Greeks. " They ordin
hved m the maJor ctttes of the Roman empire: Alexandria, Rom
Athens, etc. See W. W. Tarn, Hellenistic Civilization. Cleveland, 1 96
chapter 6 .


I Apology, 60.
Chapter IV - The Economy o f Old Israel


The Old Testament prophet was a "man of God" (I Sam. 2 : 2 7 ) , a

"servant of God" (I Kings 1 7 : 1 8), a "messenger of God" (lsa. 4 2 : 1 9)
and a "watchman" Uer. 6: 1 7). He "spoke for" (which is the literal
meaning of the name) God and foretold, under His inspiration, things
to come. The last and greatest of the Old Testament prophets was St.
John the Baptist. There were also five prophetesses: Deborah, Huldah,
Noadiah, Miriam, the sister of Moses, and Anna. Israel had many false
prophets and prophetesses.


T o hold the view that the Jews are n o longer "the Israel o f God"
or, indeed, that they are repudiated and cursed by Him is not to be
"anti-semitic," surely not with the onus that word carries today. Of
course, that rejection does not apply to Jews who join the Orthodox
Church; and in no case does it justify persecution , indifference to or
hatred of them.


On the Mysteries V , I .
Dialogue with Trypho, 1 34 ; and see S t . Ambrose, Jacob and the Happy
Life 5 : 25 .
Dial. with Trypho, 1 25 .
Ibid., 1 1 9- 1 29.



Elegant Comments on Exodus II, 2 PC 69 424B.


The Canon of Pascha. Ode 9.


For Semites the blood (dem) is the place wherein resides t h e element
of life (nephesh) . "The life of all flesh is blood ," the Lord said to Moses
(Lev. 1 7 : 1 4) .

1 0.

See Exodus 1 2 : 1 -2 7 ; and Matt. 2 6 ; Mark 1 4 : Luke 2 2 ; John 1 9.


Demonstrations XII, 8 .
Worshipping in Spirit and Truth PC 68 I 069A.
Exegesate is the perfect form of exegeomai which means literally "to

1 2.
1 3.

lead the way" or "to guide;" it also means "to expound" or "interpret ; "


hence, t h e English word i n this verse "to reveal" t h e Scriptures. There

may be a deliberate play on words here.
1 6.
1 8.
1 9.

Concerning the Apostolic Words, 4 PG 51 2 47-248.

Sermon on Christ's Baptism PG 45 589D.
On the Holy Spirit, 1 4.
On the Mysteries I, 1 2 ; Epistle 6 8 : 1 5.
Ibid., III, 1 4 .
Oktoechos, 5th Tone of Sunday.


Moses ordered that a portion of the manna be placed in a small jar

or phial (Exod. 1 6 : 3 3 ) . It was kept in the Ark of the Covenant. The
people ate of the manna until it ceased in the plains of Jericho when
they consumed the produce of the land (Josh. 5: 1 0- 1 2) .


Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, homilies 45-4 7 .

On the Mysteries II, 4 6 . M a n y o f t h e Fathers also teach that manna


was a type of the miracle of the loaves in which Christ fed the 5000
(Matt. 1 5 :3 8 ; Mark 8 : 9 ; Luke 9: 1 4 ; John 6: 1 0). Since the miracle of
the loaves itself belongs to the period of the Old Testament, it may
have been a type of the Eucharist.

Ep. 75 to Magnus, 1 4. For a summary of the types hitherto discussed,

see St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogical Catechesis I, 2-3 PG 33 1 068A.
The Fathers ofthe Ch urch series has an English translation. (vol. 64).


This is the reason that, during the Proskomedie or preparation of the

Gifts for the Luturgy, that the priest adds water to the wine. At the
time of the consecration, h e adds hot water to the wine, signifying
thereby Christ's humanity, that is, warm blood is characteristic of the
human body.


Treatise on the Origin of the Books of Sacred Scriptures, homily 1 5 .

See also St. Cyril o f Jerusalem, Catech. X III, 2 1 P G 3 3 800A.


Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew, homily XIII, 3.

Ibid., 4.


The images of Israel are mixed. Sometimes it is called "son" and

sometimes "bride" of God or Yahwe h . Thus, when "she played the
harlot," the people of Israel were being "unfaithful" to Him, that is,
she/he worshipped false gods. In this sense, "adultery" and "idolatry"
are the same .


See St. Irenaeus, Explanation . . . . 4 6 , and Vesper Service for the

Exaultation of the Cross ( 1 4 September) .
Litiya o f the Vespers, for the Feast o f the Transfiguration in the 5th
Tone (6 August).


Aposticha of the Vespers i n the 4th Tone.


Exaposteilarion of the Matins of the Feast.

Presentation of Our Lady, Vespers in the 1 st Tone (2 1 November).


Annunciation, Magnifications of the 9th Ode of Matins (25 M arch).




T h e Oktoechos i s t h e book of8 ordinary musical tones ofthe Church.

Dialogue with Trypho, I l l .

Explanation . . . . , 46.
Catechesis X, I I .
Homily 66 on Psalm 88.
Against Eunomios 11, 5 PG 45 505A. See Rev. 2 2 : 5 .
" Messiah" i s the anglicized form oft he Greek and Latin messias, which
itself is an adaptation of the Aramaic (Syriac + Hebrew) meshaha
which is derived from the Hebrew rna mashiah, "the Anointed One."
Being anointed on the head with consecrated oil (as were the kings
of Israel) meant to be dedicated to God. The word Messiah is fou nd
in the Old Testament only in Psalm 2 : 2 ; and in other Hebrew literature
not before the building of the second Temple. In the New Testament,
the word is applied to the Lord J esus in John I : 4 2 ; 4 : 2 5 ; otherwise
the corresponding Greek - Christos - is used. Jesus Himself seldom
employed the title Messiah because t he Jews of His era packed it with
political hopes (See P. Heinisch, Theology of the Old Testament. St.
Paul (Minn.), 1 955, pp. 337-338.

Commentary on the Gospel of St. Matthew, homily IX, 6.

No matter what the opinion of Vatican II (Acta apostolicae sedis 5 8
( 1 966), 740-744), the Jews who have not embraced Jesus as Messiah,
as Lord and God, have been repudiated by the God of Israel. They
not only rejected Him but crucified Him. Interestingly, there is not a
Roman Catholic writer to my knowledge who will not concede t hat
the Fathers taught unanimously the apostasy and rejection of the J ews
as a nation by God (See P.W. H arkins' preface to his translation of St.
John Chrysostom's Discourses Against the Judaizing Christians (vol
ume 68 of the Fathers of the Ch urch series. Washington D .C., 1 979,
x.). See also the Services of the Orthodox Church for Holy Week.


Introduct ion to Book I .

Discourse Against the Judaizing Christians I, 5 : 6 .

Dialogue with Trypho, I I .
Chapter V



Jesus the Christ

Letter (101) to Cledonios.

God the Son became a male (aner), but also took a human nature
(anthropos), that is, comprehended within Himself both male and
female; hence, the Creed of Nicea - "He became man" (enan



Letter o f St. Barnabas XII, 9- 1 1 .

Letter to Diognetos, 7 ; S e e Isaiah 6 3 : 9.
Against the Heresies III, 1 0, ii.
Against the Heresies Vv, 15, iv.



Poem 3 1 :69.


It seems not to b e a coincidence that the name of t h e Baptist's mother

was Elizabeth (Eiia-beth
house of Elias).


Christ is called Saviour (Soter) - or Deliverer (from the evil one)

in Luke 2 : 1 1 ; Acts 1 2 : 2 3 ; Eph. 5 : 2 3 ; Phil. 3 : 2 0 ; Tit. 2 : 1 3.

1 0.

"Papism" (from the Greek papas

father) is a word often used to
describe Roman Catholicism; it refers specifically to the heresy of
elevating one bishop to be visible head of the universal Church. The
Fathers customarily identified a heresy with its founder or leading
principle. Thus, the many sects which broke with the pope - and
eventually from each other - in the 1 6th and 1 7th centuries are
"Lutheran" (after Martin Luther) or "Calvinist" (after John Calvin),
"Anabaptist" (re-baptism of adults baptized in childhood), etc.
Together these denominations are "Protestant" having "protested" or
rejected the papacy and many of its teachings. " Classical Protestantism"
encompasses those religious groups which have remained generally
faithful to the ideals of 1 6th century R eformation ; but "liberal Protes
tanism" has adjusted its beliefs to the demands of modern philosophy
and science.


On the Incarnation of the Word of God, 54.

Sermons 67, 1 1 5.



Ideomelon for the Great Vespers o f the Nativity o f Christ.


Sermon 1 64.

1 5.

Ideomelon and Glory o f the Vespers for the Feast o f the Transfigura
tion. Since Christ's Resurrection is a type of our own, it follows that
we too shall be transfigured after the general resurrection.

1 6.

On the Lord's Prayer, 2 3 .


Isaiah and the Fathers describe Jesus as "the Father of the age to
come" (the eighth day), because, as we shall discuss later, the eternal
"age to come" will be the Church. The Church is His Bride and the
Mother of His children, the elect, the saved. Therefore, Jesus will be
then, as He is in fact already, our "Father." (See St. Gregory PaJamas,
Defense of th e Hesychasts II, iii, 1 8).

1 8.

Against the Heresies III, 1 8, i.

Address on Religious Instruction, 1 6.
Symposium I I I , 4 .
Against the Heresies I I I , 1 8 , vii.

1 9.

To indicate His God-humanity, the Fathers used the word, thean

thropos; and for His maleness, theandros.


In patristic vocabulary, "nature" (physis) i s something a number o f

individuals have in common while " person" (hypostasis) i s something
special, unique. Thus, Jesus had two "natures," human and Divine.
He shares a common humanity with us and a common Divinity with


the Father and the Spirit. But Christ, in His " personhood" or " person
ality," is God the Son . He has no human personality. See glossary.


Theological Orations III, 1 9.


Jesus Christ is the union of created man and uncreated God. Although
the man Jesus was always God the Word and remains now the same,
the Son of God was not always Jesus the man ; neither did His humanity
come down from heaven with Him. It did not exist prior to its birth
from the Virgin Mary.

2 6.

Exact Exposition . . . . III, 2.


St. John and the other Fathers used the expression "one subsistence
of the Word," because they do not want us to think that because Christ
has two natures He leads two lives. "Subsistence" was employed to
convey the idea that, although the Lord had two natures, He had one
Exact Exposition . . . . III, 8.





the Trinity III, 1 5.

The Council of Chalcedon, Act 5 (In J.D. Mansi, The Sacred Councils
(vol. 7). Venice, 1 795, 1 1 6f.) .
I n another volume, w e hope to show the application of the Chalcedo
nian christology to the Church , the Mysteries, the construction of the
universe, man and culture, history and politics.
See glossary.
St. Ignatios o f Antioch, Letter to the Samyrneans, 2-6. One can deny
that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ by thinking Jesus
to be a phantom; but the reverse is also true, that is, one can imply
that Christ is a phantom by denying that the Eucharist is truly His
body and blood. The charge of Docetism may, therefore, be levelled
at those Protestants who deny the "real presence" in the Eucharist.
See glossary.


As man, Christ received t h e Spirit Whom as God H e bestows. H e was

anointed at the Theophany (Epiphany) and adopted as God's human
son. When we are baptized into Christ, we are anointed with the oil
of the Spirit and become adopted sons of God and co-heirs with Christ
( Rom. 8 : 9- 1 7).


Against Nestorios and Eutyches II P G 86 1 267- 1 394.

Exact Exposition . . . I I I , 1 8.
T h e founder of a heresy.
The Tome was originally a letter to St. Flavian, Patriarch of Constan
tinople in June of 449. It was later read at the Council of Chalcedon
as an official exposition of the Orthodox Faith.


Mansi (vol. 9), 635f.


St. Paul's "heavenly man" i s the "Son o f Man" found i n the Prophets
and the Gospels. Outside of Palestine the Semitic expression "Son of
Man" would have had no meaning. St. Paul, as we know, travelled


throughout t h e Roman Empire.



Against the Heresies V, 2 1 , I .

A "ransom" (lytron, antilytron) was, in th e ancient world, th e price
payed for prisoners of captives; to ransom is to redeem, to give some
thing in exchange.

The Dogma of Redemption . Montreal, 1 979, p. 4. For the term

"feudal" or "feudalism," see glossary.


Why God became Man? (Cur Deus Homo?). LaSalle, I 1 1 . 1 953, chap
ter I I .


See "scholasticism" in the glossary.

See the excellent study b y the Lutheran G.A. Aulen, Christus Victor:

A History of the Three Main Types of the Idea of the Atonement,

London, 1 93 1 . Whatever the faults of this work, Aulen shows clearly
how the West deviated from the Scriptural and patristic teaching.


The Incarnation of the Word of God, 1 0.

We will discuss in the next volume Eve as the type of the Church and
the Virgin Mary.


The Incarnation . . . . , 2 5.
Homilies on Galatians III, 1 3 .
Metropolitan Antony, The Dogma o f Redemption, p. 42.
Homilies on Hebrews XVI, 4.
St. Ignatious of Antioch, Letter to the Ephesians XIX, I .
Address on Religious Instruction, 26.


Homily on the B urial of the Lord i n The Lamentations for Matins of

Holy and Great Saturday. translated by Holy Transfiguration Monas
tery. Boston, 1 98 1 , p. 48. The same Psalm is also applied to angels
who dwell in the heavens (See section 8)


The Greek word "hades" means the abode of the dead. Its H ebrew
equivalent is "Sheol." Strictly speaking, hades is not hell (Gehenna)
which is the state reserved for the devil, his angels and the wicked
(Matt. 5 : 2 2 ; 2 3 : 3 3 ) . As the condition of eternal torment, Gehenna
belongs to the age after the Judgement. Both the Scriptures (II Pet.
2 :4) and the Fathers sometimes used the word "Tartaros" as a synonym
for hell. This word had also borrowed from pagan Greek mythology
where it was described as a subterranean prison lower than hades.
Z eus put his enemies there. See also Job. 41 :24; H enoch 2 0 : 2 . Aside
from Gehenna and Tartaros, Abyss is another word for hell.

Hermos of the Fourth Ode.

Spiritual Homilies XI, I 0- 1 1 .

Homily on the Burial of the Lord, p. 34.
Exact Exposition . . . III, 29.
For a complete delineation of this subject, we must wait for the last
chapter of our third volume.



Homilies on Hebrews IV, 8.


St. J ustin Martyr points out that many forefathers, such as Abraham,
never observed the Sabbath as a no-work day and yet were saved (Dial.
with Trypho XIX, 6 ; XXI, 1 ) . As St. Athanasios remarked, "And the
Sabbath is not idleness, but confession and humility" (On the Sabbath
and Circumcision PG 28 1 3 7 A). The "spiritualization" of the Sabbath
began already with the Prophets, especially Isaiah ( 1 : 1 3 - 1 9) . See Col.
2 : 1 6.
On the Sabbath . . . . , 1 3 3BC.


Homily on Pentecost PG 36 6 1 2C-6 1 3A.

Explanation of the Apostolic Preaching, 84.


Ideomelon in th e Sixth Tone.


I Apol. XLV, 1 -3 .


Uncertainty about the existence of God.

Unlike the

ATHEIST, the Agnostic does not deny His existence.


The use of symbols and stories to explain a spirtual truth.

3. ARISTOTELIANISM The philosophy of the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle

(384-322 BC).

Revelatio (Lat.). The disclosure of saving truth by God to

man. Revealed truth is ordinarily given to God's People,
especially the Prophets and the Apostles.


A defense, usually written, of something believed to be true.

Many Christian writers have written apologies.

6. APOLLI NARIANISM The heresy of Apollinarios, Bishop of Laodicea (d. 392). He

denied that Christ had a human mind: it was replaced by
Mind of the Word or Logos of God, the Incarnate Son of



The life of the monk; the ascetic struggle; asceticism.


A rule or statute written or approved by a synod or council of

the Church, local or ecumenical, by which the clergy and the
faithful are governed and disciplined. Many of the Fathers
wrote canons.


The teachings of the Church concerning the nature and

mission of Christ.


The nature of the cosmos or universe; its origin, meaning

and structure.


The birth or creation of the cosmos; its origin and develop



From the Greek word dokei (it seems). One of the oldest
heresies: the opinion that C hrist's body was unreal, a


The teaching of the Church about Herself; Her nature,

power and mission.


The teaching of the Church about "the last things" (eschatm)

especially the Return of Christ, Resurrection, Judgment,
Deification. Also applied to the demise of any age or epoch.


The social and economic system of the Latin M iddle Ages. In

its final shape, feudalism was characterized by: a) a moral and
legal relationship between the peasant or vassal and his
lord; b) every holder of land was a tenant and none was an



Homilies on Hebrews IV, 8.


St. J ustin Martyr points out that many forefathers, such as Abraham,
never observed the Sabbath as a no-work day and yet were saved (Dial.
with Trypho XIX, 6 ; XXI, 1 ) . As St. Athanasios remarked, "And the
Sabbath is not idleness, but confession and humility" (On the Sabbath
and Circumcision PG 28 1 3 7 A). The "spiritualization" of the Sabbath
began already with the Prophets, especially Isaiah ( 1 : 1 3 - 1 9) . See Col.
2 : 1 6.
On the Sabbath . . . . , 1 3 3BC.


Homily on Pentecost PG 36 6 1 2C-6 1 3A.

Explanation of the Apostolic Preaching, 84.


Ideomelon in th e Sixth Tone.


I Apol. XLV, 1 -3 .


Uncertainty about the existence of God.

Unlike the

ATHEIST, the Agnostic does not deny His existence.


The use of symbols and stories to explain a spirtual truth.

3. ARISTOTELIANISM The philosophy of the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle

(384-322 BC).

Revelatio (Lat.). The disclosure of saving truth by God to

man. Revealed truth is ordinarily given to God's People,
especially the Prophets and the Apostles.


A defense, usually written, of something believed to be true.

Many Christian writers have written apologies.

6. APOLLI NARIANISM The heresy of Apollinarios, Bishop of Laodicea (d. 392). He

denied that Christ had a human mind: it was replaced by
Mind of the Word or Logos of God, the Incarnate Son of



The life of the monk; the ascetic struggle; asceticism.


A rule or statute written or approved by a synod or council of

the Church, local or ecumenical, by which the clergy and the
faithful are governed and disciplined. Many of the Fathers
wrote canons.


The teachings of the Church concerning the nature and

mission of Christ.


The nature of the cosmos or universe; its origin, meaning

and structure.


The birth or creation of the cosmos; its origin and develop



From the Greek word dokei (it seems). One of the oldest
heresies: the opinion that C hrist's body was unreal, a


The teaching of the Church about Herself; Her nature,

power and mission.


The teaching of the Church about "the last things" (eschatm)

especially the Return of Christ, Resurrection, Judgment,
Deification. Also applied to the demise of any age or epoch.


The social and economic system of the Latin M iddle Ages. In

its final shape, feudalism was characterized by: a) a moral and
legal relationship between the peasant or vassal and his
lord; b) every holder of land was a tenant and none was an


owner until the highest rank (the king); c) tenure was con
ceived as an honorable service to the rank above; d) mutual
obligations of loyalty, protection and servicewere binding on
all classes of medieval society; e) the contract between lord
and his tenant was the basis of all feudal law.

The teaching about spiritual knowledge, whether of the

Church or heretical. In the Church gnosis was viewed as the
product of holiness and grace.


An ancient rel igious movement which existed side by side

with Christianity; it also took jewish and Greek forms. The
basic tenent of this very complex theology is a redeemer-god
who, with a special knowledge (gnosis), rites, sacred for
mulae, promised salvation to his initiates.


An Uncreated Energy of God by which He created, main

tains and saves the world. It is a free gift, an act of God's con
descension and mercy.


The name given by the Church to ancient Greek life and

thought; often used to describe its philosophies.


A false teaching about any aspect of the Christian Revelation.

Unlike SC HISM (the violation of canons which leads to a
break with the lawful government of the Church), heresy
means a loss of membership and alienation from Christ.

2 1 . ICON

A holy image of Our Lord , Jesus Christ, a feast, of a partic

ular saint painted in traditional manner and style.

2 2 . I M AGE

From the Latin imago; eikon in Greek; it refers to some

thing which acts as a model, copy or pattern for another.
Thus, it describes sacred artistic represenations of Christ,
the Virgin, angels and saints; it refers to man as "the image
and likeness of God; as the semblance of something, e.g.,
the Church is the image ofthe future l ife.


In the religious sense, understanding the mission of Christ

and the Christian Faith in legal or j uridicial terms, e.g.,
perceiving the death of Christ on the Cross a payment for
the human breaking of divine Laws.

24. LIGHT, D I V I N E

An U ncreated Energy of God; the radiance, splendor and

effulgence of the Divine Nature; a visible sign of His


A word most commonly u sed with reference to the inter

pretation (exegesis) of the divine Scriptures. The most ob
vious sense of a verse or passage as the only understanding
of it; no hidden meanings.


26. MODE R N I S M

The attempt to change the teach ings and/or practices of

the Orthodox Church in order to conform Her to the
moral and intellectual climate of opinion. I t also suggests
that the special and exclusive claims of the Church be
denied; Her worship altered.


The christological heresy that in Christ there is only one na

ture (physis) and one will or energy (Monotheletism).


In the post-Orthodox Western sense, mysticism means a

direct and super-intellectual knowledge of ultimate reality.
In this sense, the life of the Church is not required ; it may
even be an obstacle to the mystic. Orthodox mysticism pre
supposes membership in the Church and participation in
Her Mysteries. The purpose of mysticism is union with God;
hence all members of the Church are mystics to some degree.


When not referring to the physical world, the word has

another and more technical meaning: "nature" is what sev
eral or more things have in common, e.g., all men, women
and children have a human nature. Christ had two natures:
one in common with us and one in common with His Father
and the Holy Spirit. "Nature" is sometimes used as a syn
onym for "essence" (ousia, in Greek).


The heretical christology of Patriarch N estorios of Constan

tinople (d. 45 1 ). He denied any connection between the
Divine and human natures in Christ.


The philosophical opinion that God (theos) is everything

(pan): all space and time is God; all reality is divine by nature.


The English monk who lived in Rome at the beginning of the

5th century. He denied the necessity of Grace and true Faith
for salvation.


Whatever makes the individual different from others. Thus,

the Person of the Son is different from the Persons of the
Father and the Holy Spirit: the Son is begotten of the Father;
the Father begets and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the


The philosophy of Plato (427-347). His 3rd century AD

follower, Plotinus, made some drastic changes; in his system;
hence, the name, N EO-PLATONISM.

35. POLE M I C

An attack or criticism, often written, against another belief or

theory. The Fathers wrote many polemics against the


Pronoia in Greek. It refers to God's general care of the




From the Latin word for reason (ratio). The attitude that
reality can be understood by the human intellect; and some
times it means that nothing is true unless it passes rational


In modern terms, PLURALI S M ; the notion that everyone

1s right in his moral and religious beliefs; the denial of abso
lute truth; values change from time to time and place to


A term commonly used to denote the most typical products

of medieval philosophy and theology. Developed in the
post-Orthodox Western universities and schools, the Scho
lastics hoped by uniting the Christian Faith with Greek
philosophy and Roman law to prove that C h ristianity was
wholly compatible with human reason.


The elimination of the sacred and the revealed from all

human life and thought; the belief that religion ought not
to be introduced into human affairs.

4 1 . T H EODICY

The rational attempt to justify the ways of God to man,

e.g., explaining that human sufferin g does not mean that
God is uncaring, im potent or malicious.


The doctrine of God. I t has two aspects : a) what God is not

(apophatic or negative theology ) ; and b) what God has
been revealed to be (cataphatic or positive theology).


Grace-filled and pious meditation and pondering on spir

itual truths and events.


A book or essay written about any subject; a reasoned

apology or polemic or explanation of a philosophical orre
ligious topic.


In Greek "triad" refers to the n u mber three; hence, the

triadology of the C hurch is Her doctrine of the Trinity.


In Scriptural i nterpretation, the method which u ncovers

future realities hidden in the l iteral and historical truth. A
TYPE is a favorable comparision between two or more per
sons or events, e . g . , Moses and Christ. An ANTI-TYPE is
an unfavorable comparison between two or more persons
or events, e.g., Christ and Anti-christ. Typology differs
from allegory in that the parallel figures of any TYPE are
always historical.


ABRAHAM (see types)
Adam (see types)
aion (age) 65, 82-83, 163, 1 94- 1 95
agios (holy) 7, 42, 1 38
Agnosticism 225
agraphai (unwritten Tradition) 3 9

CALVARY (see Golgotha)

Calvin, John 20 1 , 220
Canon 225
Chiliasm 204
charis ka aletheia 1 2 3

Christ ( Messiah) 1 1 3 , 1 1 6, 14 7- 1 53 ,

Allegory 4 6 , 2 2 5

1 54 , 1 63 , 1 7 2- 1 75 , 197, 220

analogia encis 5 4

Ancient of Days 43, 147

Ascension 1 94, 1 95- 1 9 7 , 2 1 2
Descent into Hades 1 89- 1 90
Father 22 1
Holy One 1 5 2 , 1 55 , 1 57 , 1 89
Incarnation 1 39 , 1 60 , 1 69, 1 74 ,

anapausis 1 9 1 , 1 92

Ancestral transgression 7 3 , 98- 1 09

Ancient of Days (see Christ)
Androutsos, Chrestos 28
Angels 42, 58, 74-7 7, 1 7 3, 2 1 4-2 1 5
Angel of Yahweh
(Great Counsel) 42
Anselm of Canterbury 1 85- 1 86
apatheia (dispassion) 7, 2 3 , 3 3 ,

181, 212

Logos 4 3 , 47, 64, 1 1 0

Orient (East) 1 46- 1 4 7
Passion (Cross) 1 22 , 1 2 5 , 1 2 8 ,

80, 9 1

1 3 1 , 1 3 3- 1 34, 140, 1 4 1 ,
5, 225

1 60, 1 82- 1 89

Apollinarios of Laodicea 1 7 6- 1 7 7 ,

Passover 1 2 1 , 1 7 2, 1 94
Resurrection 4 7, 1 90- 1 95
Saviour 1 64- 1 72
Second Adam 1 32 , 1 69- 1 7 2 , 1 8 3,

209, 225
apologia (apology) 45
apophatike (see theology)
Apostolic Succession 1 5 - 1 6
Apostolic Tradition 2-4, 1 6 , 27-30,

1 89

Second Coming 168

Shepherd 1 50- 1 5 1 , 1 86
Son of David 1 50, 1 92
Son of Man/Son of God 42, 43, 46,

70, 176, 199, 204-205

Aquinas, Thomas 8, 33, 1 99

Archmandrite Sergy 208
Archmandrite Vasileios 5
Arianism 45, 1 7 6
Aristotle 8 , 1 76
Aristotelianism 23

145, 153, 1 6 1 , 1 8 2, 1 84, 1 8 7,

220, 222-223

Suffering Servant 14 7
theandros 1 58
theanthropos 1 5 8

askesis 26, 225

Augustine of Hippo 22, 2 3 , 24,

53-54, 73, 9 1 , 10 8, 1 99-206

Aulen, Gustaf 223

BAPTISM 1 26- 1 27 , 1 2 8 , 1 3 1 , 1 36 ,
1 39 , 204-205, 22 1

Barth , Karl iii, 3 3

Berdyaev, Nicholas 6 9
Bulgakov, Fr Serge 2 1 4

Word 4 5 , 47-48, 57, 222

Christology 1 7 5 - 1 8 2 , 222, 225
Church (see Israel)
City of God 145
Communication of Idioms 1 7 8
consuetudiones (customs) 4, 1 4
Cosmogeny (birth of creation) 64,
66, 69, 7 3- 1 1 2 , 225


Cosmology (ordero fcreation) 82-85
Council o f Chalcedon (45 1 )
1 74- 1 75 , 222
Council of Carthage (258) 209
Council of Constantinople (38 1 )
Council o fConstantinople (553) 22
Council of Constantinope (68 1 )
1 79- 1 80
Council of Ephesus ( 43 1 ) 207
Council of Nicea (325) 6, 220, 222
Council of N i cea (787) 2 1 0
Council o f Trent ( 1 545- 1 563) 8
Covenant (Testament, dia theke)
1 1 3 , 1 40 , 1 42, 1 43 - 1 47, 1 5 6, 1 6 1
Creation (see cosmogeny)

DAVID THE K I N G (see types)

Deipare (see Mother of God)
Devil 80, 99, 1 90
Accuser 79
Adversary 79
Evil One 7 3 , 79, 1 83
Great Dragon 79
Lucifer 70, 7 3 , 78
Satan (Samael) 73, 76, 78, 8 1
Serpent 1 00, 1 02, 1 1 6
Definition (horos) 4, 1 74
Deification (see theosis)
dianoia (see reason)
didaskalia (teaching) 4
didaskalos (teacher) 4, 1 6 , 2 1
Didache 4 , 1 95
Docetism 1 75 , 22, 225
Dogma 4-7
Dositheos, Patriarch of Jerusalem iv
Dyobouniotes, C. 28
Economy (dispensation) 35-36, 40,
1 82

Eden (Paradise) 63, 96, 1 0 2, 1 0 8 ,

1 67 , 1 69 , 1 86, 2 1 7
egkrateia (self-mastery) 7
Eighth Day (see Lord's Day) 26, 62,
7 1 , 84, 97, 1 59, 1 68 , 1 93 , 204
Einstein, Albert 65
ens realissimus 36
Epicurios 69
epidexeis 1 4
epiklesis 1 4
Epiphany (Theophany) 1 63- 1 64,
eschatos 66, 1 60 , 225
eskenosen (see Tabernacle)
Essence 59, 62-63
Eve (see types)
Evil, 68-7 1
Eucharist 1 2 3 , 1 24, 1 30, 1 7 5
ex nihi/o (nihil fit) (see cosmogeny)
exegaseto 1 2 1 , 1 23 , 2 1 8-2 1 9

FATE (fatum) 69
Feudalism 1 8 5 , 225
fides quaerens intel/ectum 8
filioque 2 2 , 5 1 , 5 2 , 55, 203-204, 2 1 2

Florovsk y , Fr George I 9 , 206

Friday (Day of Preparation) 86-87,
1 90
GLORY (doxa, kabod) 1 04, 1 3 8,
1 96, 1 97
Gnosticism 1 7 6, 226
gnosis 6, 23-26, 32, 46, 90, 226
God 3 1 -72, 2 1 4
Adonai 46
Altissimus 46
Demiourgos (Creator) 40, 64-68, 83
Despotes 46
Dominus 46
Elohim 40
El 0/am 46
El Shadday 46


Gentiles (nations) 1 44 , 1 46 , 1 7 2 ,
1 96
Jews (Old) 47, 54, 1 1 2 , 1 3 2 , 1 44 ,
1 5 2 , 1 54 , 1 59 , 1 62 , 1 8 7 , 2 1 2 , 2 1 8
Rejection 1 5 3- 1 5 6
Anti-semitism 2 1 8 , 220

God, (continued)
Emmanuel 47
God the Father 46, 54, 56, 64, 66
God the Holy Spirit 26, 46-48, 52,
58, 65, 67, 9 1 ' 93, 1 64, 1 96, 203,
2 12, 2 1 6
God the Son (See Christ)
Godhead 46
0 WN 1 1 8- 1 1 9
Hypsistos 46
Kyrios 46
Monarchy 53, 56-57, 203
Trinity 3 1 , 4 1 , 46, 50-5 1 , 55-56
Yah weh 42, 45, 2 1 9
Golgotha 1 86
Grace (see U ncreated Energies)
graphe (written Tradition) 1 4
HADES 7 7 , 223
Heart (see kardia)
Heaven (s) 83-84
Hell (gehenna) 79, 223
Hellenism 8, 1 1 0, 226
henosis tou Theou 32
Heresy (heterodoxy) 7- 1 1 , 24, 6 1 ,
1 80, 1 8 5, 204-205, 2 1 2 , 226
hesedlwe 'meth 1 23
hexaemera 85
homoo usios 3 1 , 50, 1 58
hyle (matter) 65
ICON OCLASM 1 8 1 - 1 82
Icons 1 8 1 , 205, 226
Ideas (see Platonism)
Illumination (see photismos)
Incarnation (see Christ, economy)
Israe l (ch. 4)
Chosen People 1 44 , 1 85
Church ( New) 1 04, 1 20, 1 2 8, 1 3 2 ,
1 39, 1 4 3 , 1 5 6, 1 59, 1 7 5 , 1 76,
180, 1 8 1 , 1 87 , 22 1 , 222
Exodus 1 24- 1 3 9

Job 69-70, 8 1
Jonah 1 90
Judgement ( Krisis) 1 63
kardia (heart) 3 2 , 89
kataphatike (see theology)

Khomiakov, Alexi 1 2
Khrapovitsky, Metropolitan
Antony 29, 1 8 5
Kingdom of God (basileia tou Thou)
43, 62, 1 1 0 , 1 95 , 20 1
Kontoglou, Photious 205
kyriake (see Lord's Day)

kerygma (preaching)

LA TRElA (worsh i p) 1 8 1
Legalism 226
Letter to Diognetos 66-67 , 1 6 1
Light (See Uncreated Energies)
Literalism (biblical) 226
Logos (see Christ)
Lord's Day (Day of Yahweh) 84, 1 22 ,
1 93
Lossky, Vladimir 2 1 0, 2 1 2, 1 93
Lukaris, Cyril 206, 208
Luther, Martin 220
lytronlan tilytron (ransom) 1 84 , 223
lux divinallux natura 6 1
MAGISTER (see didaskalos)
mal'ak (see angels)

Man 86-94
body 88-93

23 1

Man, (continued)
creation 85, 86
image and likeness 40, 54, 9 1 -95,
1 03 , 226
fall 98- 1 08
soul 88-93
m i nd (see nous)
Melchizedek (see types)
Mesolora, I 28
Metrophanes (Kritopolis), Patriarch
of Alexandria iv
Modernism 226
Moghila, Peter iv
moira (see fate)
Monophystism 1 79- 1 8 1 , 20 1 , 226
mono-thelesisldylo-thelesis 1 7 9
Moses (see types)
Mother of God (Virgin Mary) 76,
1 3 8- 1 39 , 147, 1 57 , 1 73 , 1 77 , 222
Mystical Supper (see Eucharist)
Mysticism 23-24, 34, 2 1 0-2 1 1 , 226

NATURE 6 1 , 7 1 , 1 73 , 22 1
Neapolitan Calendar 208
Nestorianism 1 77 - 1 79, 1 8 1 , 226
Newman, Cardinal Henry 1 0
nimbus crucifixus 42
Nisan 1 2 1
nous (mind) 32, 64, 89, 1 76, 2 1 6
OIKONOMIA (see economy)
Oktoechos 1 39

Original Sin 7 3 , 1 0 7 , 1 85 , 200,

203, 207
Orthodox (Church) iii-v, 27-30, 6 1 ,
7 7 , 1 1 0, 1 66, 1 8 1 , 1 85 , 1 9 1 , 1 99,
205, 206, 2 1 1 , 220, 222
ouranos (see heaven)

P APISM (Roman Catholicism) 34,

54, 1 08 , 1 66, 1 8 5
Paradise (see Eden)
paradosis (see Apostolic Tradition)
paraskeve (see Friday)

pascha (Passover)

Moses 1 20- 1 22, 1 8 5

see Christ
pege Theotes 56
Pelagius 1 0 8 , 227
Penteteuch 39
Person 48, 1 69 , 1 72 , 22 1
perichoresis (permeation) 1 78
photismos 6, 24, 6 3

Plato iii, 8 , 3 7 - 3 8 , 6 5
Platonism 23, 5 4 , 6 5
Plotinos 3 4 , 5 7 , 6 4
Pluralism (see relativism)
pneuma (spirit) 32, 9 3 , 2 1 6
Polemic 226
polis (city) 5 1 , 2 1 1 -2 1 2
Pope Pius I X 9
Popovich, Fr J ustin 29
proskynesis (veneration), 1 8 1
Predestination 200-20 1
Protestantism 7, 9, 29, 34
Providence (pronoia) 1 09- 1 1 1 , 226
Pseudo-Dionysios (see St. Dionysios
the Areopagite)
pseudomorphosis 1 9 , 206
QEDOSH (see agios)
RA TID (see reason)

Rationalism 8, 35, 228

Reason 26, 61, 89, 2 1 6
Recapitulation (anakephalaiosastha1)
1 69 , 1 72
Relativism 228
revelatio (see apokalypsis)

Rhosse, Sekos 28
Ruysbroek, Jan van 24
SABBATH 84, 85, 1 29 , 1 90- 1 95 ,
204, 224
St. Ambrose of Milan 40, 6 1 , 65, 92 ,
96, 1 1 6, 1 25 , 1 27 , 1 28 , 1 30, 1 96,
202, 2 1 4 , 2 1 5
St. Anastasios of Sinai 2 3


S t . Anthony the Great 6 2
St. Andrew of Crete 43, 4 4
S t . Anatolios t h e Hymnographer 4 5
St. Apharaat 4 6 , 1 22
St. Athanasios the Great (Alexandria)
3, 1 6, 45, 57, 68, 1 0 1 , 1 05, 1 66 ,
1 76, 1 86- 1 87 , 1 88 , 1 92 - 1 93, 1 96,
2 1 5 , 224
St. Athenagoras of Athens 5
St. Barnabas 4, 1 3 3, 1 40 , 1 60
St B asil the Great 1 3- 1 5, 49, 59, 62,
65, 1 27 , 1 69, 1 94 , 2 1 2
St. Clement of Rome 73, 2 1 5

St. Cosmas the Anchorite 1 68

St. Cyril of Alexandria 59, 60, 93,
1 05- 1 06 , 1 1 2, 1 1 9, 1 22 , 1 77- 1 78
St. Cyril of Jerusalem 22, 1 3 7 - 1 38 ,
St. Cyprian o f Carthage 1 9 , l 07,
1 30 , 1 34, 153, 1 64, 1 69, 2 1 5
St. Dionysios the Areopagite 24, 3637, 38, 59, 66, 75, 1 79, 2 1 0
St. Epi phanies of Cyprus (Salamis)
1 89, 1 90
St. Faustus of Riez 89, 200, 202
St. Gennadios Scholarios iv
St. Germanos of Constantinople 53,
1 1 0, 167, 1 8 1
St. Gregory of Elvira 1 28 , 1 3 1 - 1 32
St. Gregory the Great (Dialogist) 1 9 ,
53, 1 95
St. Gregory II (Pope) 5 1 , 5 3
St. Gregory of N yssa 27, 55-56, 5 9 ,
70, 82, 8 7 , 9 1 -92, 103, 1 4.7, 1 66 ,
1 70 , 1 89 , 2 1 2
St. Gregory PaJamas 25, 3 3 , 60-6 1 ,
62, 66, 74-75, 79-80, 85, 8 7 , 90,
92, 94-95, 99, 1 00, 1 02, 1 04
St. Gregory the Theologian 2 3 ,
56-57 , 74, 1 73 , 1 76, 1 79, 1 80 , 1 87 ,
1 94 , 207
St. Gregory of Sinai 9 1

St. Hilary o f Poitiers 5 , 1 1 , 3 7 , 40,

42, 52-53, 1 74, 193
St. Hippolytos of Rome 84, 1 22 , 1 76
St. Ignatios of Antioch 4, 1 1 3, 1 83 ,
2 1 5, 222
St. Irenaeos of Lyons 1 6, 49, 83, 92,
99, 1 40- 1 4 1 , 1 59, 1 6 1 , 1 70- 1 7 1 ,
1 76 , 1 82 - 1 8 3 , 1 84, 1 94, 1 96, 2 1 5
St. Isaac the Syrian i, 1 4 6
St. Jerome of Bethlehem 1 24, 1 4 3 ,
S t . J o h n the Baptizer 76, 1 55 , 1 62
St. John Cassian 200
St. John Chrysostom 1 1 , 47-48, 50,
58, 66, 95-96, 98, 1 0 1 , 1 06, I l l ,
1 26, 1 32, 1 54 , 1 87 , 1 88, 1 9 1 , 202,
207, 2 1 4
St. John of Damascus 36, 3 7 , 38, 39,
55, 58, 59, 70, 7 5 , 82, 87, 94,
1 73- 1 7 4, 1 78 - 1 79, 1 90, 202, 203
St. John Kronstadt (Cronstadt) 1 66
St. John the Solitary 80
St. Justin Martyr 1 07 , I l l , 1 1 6- 1 1 8 ,
1 40, 1 56 , 1 96, 1 9 7 , 2 0 7 , 2 1 5, 224
St. Leo of Rome (Pope) 5 , 62, 88-89,
1 79
St. Leontios of Byzantium 1 7 8
St. Macarios the Great 89, 90, 1 90
St. Mark of Ephesus 62-63, 205
St. M aximos the Confessor 2 1 -22,
33, 62, 1 08 , 1 80 , 207, 2 1 4
St. Methodios ofOlympus 1 07 , 1 7 1
St. Nicephoros of Constantinople

iii, 1 8 1
St. Nicephoros the Solitary 90-9 1
St. Niceta of Remesiana 49, 67
St. Paulinus of Nola 5 1 -52, 73, 1 62
St. Peter Chrysologus l 07, 1 66,
1 6 7 , 1 87
St. Peter of Damascus 26, 36, 66
St. Photios the Great 26, 33, 55,
181, 213


St. Seraphim of Sarov 62
St. Sophronios of Jerusalem 1 6 ,
1 64 , 1 66

St. Symeon the New Theologian 62,


St. Theophilos of Antioch 85, 92,

1 06, 2 1 6


Tikhon of Zadonsk 90
Vincent of Lerins 1 7 , 1 9 , 200
Vigilius of Rome (Pope) 1 8 1
Zeno of Verona 1 2 5
santus (see agios)
Schleiermacher, Friedrich 9
Schism 226
Scholasticism 8 , 6 1 , 92, 1 86, 228
Scriptures (Bible) 8 , 9 , 1 1 - 1 3 , 14,
15, 1 6 , 2 1 , 39-50

Secularism v, 228
Seventh Day (see Sabbath)
shea/ (see hades)

Theology (theo/ogia ) 2 7 , 3 1 , 32-3 3 ,

5 4 , 228

Theologian 32- 35, 63

theophan tori 23
theophroni 2 3
theoria 9 9 , 2 2 8
theosis (deification) 2 7 , 6 1 , 1 58 ,

1 66, 1 6 8 , 1 69 , 1 76, 1 8 2
Theotokos (see Mother o f God)
thesmos (custom) 4, 1 4
Tome (see St. Leo o f Rome)
topos tou kraniou (see Golgotha)
tatum esse 36

Traducianism 203, 207

Transfiguration 65, 1 35 - 1 36,
1 67 - 1 68

Triadology (Trinity) 5 1 , 228

Types/anti-types 228
Abraham 42, 47, 1 1 5 , 1 24,
161, 187

Adam 5, 70, 73, 80, 85, 95, 9 7 ,

Shepherd of Hermas 2 1 4, 2 1 5

Sixth Day (see Friday)

1 0 1 , 1 04 , 1 6 1 , 1 66- 1 6 7 , 1 76, 1 82 ,

skene (see Tabernacle)

1 8 5 , 1 8 6 , 1 89 , 207

Solov'ev, Vladimir 28, 2 1 4

Soteriology 62, 1 76, 2 1 3
spirit (see pneuma)

Amalekites 1 3 3-144
Ark of the Covenant 1 38 , 1 4 1
Brazen Serpent 1 3 7- 1 38
Burning Bush 1 1 9
Cloud 1 2 5 , 1 2 7 , 1 39
Egypt 1 20, 1 2 5 , 1 8 5
Elias (Elijah) 1 36- 1 37 , 1 62 , 1 68
Elim 1 2 8
Eve 7 0 , 8 1 , 8 5 , 97-98, 1 0 1 , 1 04 ,

Summa Theologicalcontra Gen tiles

(see Thomas Aquinas)

Sunday (see Lord's Day)
Syllabus ofErrors (see Pope Pius IX)
Symbolic Books, iv
Synaxarion 205

147, 1 86, 222

Tabernacle (see types)

Tartaros (see Hell)
telos (end) 1 5 9 , 1 7 0
Tertullian 2 2 , 1 38 , 1 76
Theodicy 69, 228
Theodore of Mopsuestia 207
theognosis (see gnosis)
Theogony (birth of God) 64

Isaac 1 1 5
Hospitality of Abraham 42
Jacob (Israel) 1 1 6, 1 2 5 , 144, 1 55
Jerusalem 1 4 1 , 145, 1 46
Jesus, Son of Nun Qoshua) 1 3 3,
1 34, 1 39- 1 4 1 , 1 60, 1 64

Jordan 1 3 3, 1 36
King David 58, 1 4 1 , 143- 1 44, 1 4 7 ,
149, 1 9 1

2 34

Types/anti-types (continued)
Manna 1 29
Marah 1 2 8
Melchizedek 1 1 5
Moses 1 1 8- 1 24, 1 35 - 1 36, 1 6 8 , 1 9 1
Mt. Sinai 1 34, 1 36
Noah's Ark 1 64
Pharoah 1 1 4, 1 1 9, 1 2 2 , 1 2 5 , 1 26
Pillar of Fire 1 2 5
Promised Land 1 2 3
Red Sea 1 25 - 1 27
Rock 1 3 1
Shekinah 1 38 , 1 4 2
Tabernacle 1 38
Waters of Marah 1 2 8
Zion 1 4 1 , 1 4 5
59-64, 1 35 , 2 1 2 , 226


WISDOM (OT) 2 1 1
X (see Plato)
ZIN ZENDORF, Count 2 1 1

2 35

Be To God
For All Things!


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