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TOM XV 2010
No. 1

Editura Universităţii „Alexandru Ioan Cuza” Iaşi

Preafericitul Părinte Daniel, Patriarhul Bisericii Ortodoxe Române,
Membru de onoare al Academiei Române
Înaltpreasfinţitul Părinte Teofan, Mitropolitul Moldovei şi Bucovinei
Academician Prof.dr. Emilian Popescu Viorel Sava – decan Gheorghe Popa Nicolae Achimescu Petre Semen Ioan C. Teşu
Prof. Joseph Famerée – Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain - la - Neuve, Belgia
Prof. François Bousquet, Faculté de Théologie et de Sciences Religieuses de l’Institut
Catholique de Paris, Franţa
J.A. McGuckin, Universitatea Columbia, New York, USA

CONSILIU DE REDACŢIE: Gheorghe Petraru Ion Vicovan
Conf.dr. Vasile Cristescu
Conf.dr. Carmen-Maria Bolocan
Conf.dr. Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu Alexandrel Barnea Ilie Melniciuc-Puică Dan Sandu Adrian-Lucian Dinu Daniel Niţă-Danielescu
Lect.dr. Merişor Dominte
Lect.dr. Stelian Onica

Prof.dr. Nicoleta Melniciuc-Puică

Valentin Grosu

Str. Cloşca, nr. 9 Tel: 0040 232201328;
Iaşi, 700 066 0040 232201102 (int. 2424)
România Fax: 0040 332816723; 0040 232258430

Clarification of the opponents’ destination countered by Saint Mark

The Ascetic in his dogmatic work Adversus Nestorianos
Assist.Prof.PhD. VASILE CRISTESCU ...................................................5

The Holy Scripture and the Idea of Holiness in Literature – general overview
Assist.Prof.PhD. CARMEN-MARIA BOLOCAN ....................................21

Orthodox Monasticism: Applying Authority Democratically

Rev.Lect.PhD. DAN SANDU ...............................................................41

The Foreign Policy of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia and Its Influence upon
the Romanian Orthodox Church in the Romanian Principalities
Rev.Lect.PhD. DANIEL NI ŢĂ-DANIELESCU ......................................47

“Unless you change and become like little children...” (Matthew 18, 3). To
Become Children: an Attitude, a State and a Spiritual Act
Rev.Lect.PhD. ADRIAN DINU .............................................................69

The relation between the internment of sick persons feelings of them

Assist.Prof.PhD. CARMEN-GABRIELA LĂZĂREANU ..........................93

Biblical statements in the forth and fifth articles of Niceean Creed

Rev.Lect.PhD. ILIE MELNICIUC-PUICĂ ............................................113

The study of Sacred Art and of Cultural Patrimony at the Faculty of Orthodox
Theology of the “Al. I Cuza” University in Iasi
Lect.PhD. MERIŞOR G. DOMINTE.....................................................131
The Solomonar: An Enigmatic Figure of the Romanian Folk Mythology
PhD.Cand. CONSTANTIN-IULIAN DAMIAN .......................................143

The Monument Church “Assumption” from Borzeşti.

New Painting in "Fresco" Technology
Lect.PhD.Cand. VASILE TUDOR .......................................................159

The problem of compatibility between middle age and today pedagogical

methods in teaching of iconography
Lect.PhD. TODOR MITROVIĆ............................................................171
Clarification of the opponents’ destination countered by
Saint Mark The Ascetic in his dogmatic work
Adversus Nestorianos

Vasile Cristescu

Faculty of Orthodox Theology,
”Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, ROMANIA

In his work Adversus Nestorianos, St. Mark the Ascetic combats a Christology of
the separation which expresses the origenistic doctrine held in its basic lines: the pre-
existence of Christ’s soul and his incarnation, emptying this way Christ’s reference and
history by their action. At the same time St. Mark also rejects other origenistic
statements that attributed saving events to Christ’s spirit. For St. Mark the saving events
are attributed to the incarnated Son of God. Through this there is also challenged the
origenistic idea that considered Christ a simple man, denying thus the hypostatic union
between the Son of God and humanity in a single hypostasis. According to St. Mark
only by confessing this hypostatic union in all saving events and emphasizing the identity
of the same subject, God-the Man, the Christology of the separation or the origenismul
can be combated.

Keywords: God-the Man, origenism, pre-existing soul, identity, subject

In a previous study (Cristescu 2009a: 42-59) we have showed that

Saint Athanasius the Great has a catalog of heresies in which he speaks
about a christology of Jesus separation (Saint Athanasius the Great 1887:
1052C) characteristic to the origenism, about which there are serious
indications as being a determined reaction against it in the work Adversus
Nestorianos of Saint Mark the Ascetic.
Next we will follow other sources in order to find more information
about the origenism and its partisans fought by St. Mark the Ascetic in
this work. In order to achived this we willl take into consideration the
research made by A. Grillmeier to this effect (Grillmeier 1997: 292). The
first question is whether Saint Mark became aware of the origenist
Christology and of the opponents faced in his work, Adversus
6 Vasile Cristescu

Nestorianos, from St. Epiphanius of Salamis. Of the 72 paragraphs of

Chapter 64 of his work Panarion, written between 374-377, 51 are an
excerpt from Saint Methodius of Olympus. Three paragraphs (6, 7 and
10) are an excerpt of Origen and of his commentary on Psalm 1. Only the
paragraph 19 comes from St. Epiphanius.
Some researchers believe that from Saint Epiphanius little
information can be found regarding the origenism of the fourth century,
even if he provides the basis for later stories about origenism. This is
because Origen should be seen as the father of arianism and anomoeans
when stating the teaching of the pre-exististence of the soul, when
teaching certain heresies about the body and bodily resurrection. Nothing
can be found at Saint Epiphanius regarding the strange doctrine of the
opponents, about which Saint Mark the ascetic talks, meaning the
teaching about Christ’s soul as a vehicle of Incarnation.
Only a foreign education is appointed or dismissed by St.
Epiphanius and Saint Mark. It means cancelling the holly connection
with the body of Christ or destroying the body of Christ. A. Grillmeier
states that there is no dependency of Saint Mark to Epiphanius.

Theophilus of Alexandria and Saint Mark The Ascetic about

Another antiorigenist representative is Patriarch Theophilus of
Alexandria (385-4129). Is has to be established whether the description of
the origenist Christology made by Patriarch Teoctist clarifies the
destination of the opponents from St. Mark’s work Adversus Nestorian
and the peculiarity of his teaching.
The following points of view have to be taken into consideration:
the matter of Christ’s “soul” as the subject of Incarnation and the
characterization of the enemies, “Christology partisans of separation” as
separatists and rationalists. The question is whether the origenists are
being put by Theophilus under the same question mark as St. Mark’s
opponents. The point of gravity lies here on the question whether St.
Mark talks about the same origenists against whom Patriarch Theophilus
is fighting against. In case of asserting this identity it has to be found who
inspired this dispute.
Clarification of the opponents’ destination countered by Saint Mark The Ascetic… 7

Following other researchers, Grillmeier states that between St. Mark

the ascetic and Theophilus of Alexandria there has been found a spiritual
exchange regarding the problem of heresies rejection. In the letter written
in 402 when celebrating the Easter, Patriarch Theophilus writes about
such issues: no. 8: “…nec carnem deduxit de caelo nec animam, quae
prius subsisterat et ante carnem eius condita erat, suo corpori copulavit,
sicut Origenis nituntur docere discipuli, si enim anima salvatoris,
antequam ille humanum corpus adsumeret, in caelorum regionibus
morabatur et necdum erat anima illius, impiissimum est dicere ante
corpus eam fuisse domini agentem aliquid et vigentem et postea in
animam illius conmutatam, alliud est, si possunt de scripturis docere,
antequam nasceretur ex Maria, habuisse hanc animam deum verbum et
ante carnis adsumptionem animam illius nuncupatum, quodsi et
auctoritate scripturarum et ipsa suscipere ratione coguntur Christum non
habuisse animam, antequam de Maria nasceretur-in adsumptione enim
hominis et anima eius adsumpta est-, perspicueconuincuntur eandem
animam et illius et non illius fuisse dicentes.
Sed cessent illi a novorum dogmatum impietate furibundi! nos
scripturarum normam sequentes tota cordis audacia praedicemus, quod
nec caro illius nec anima fuerant, priusquam de Maria nasceretur, nec ante
anima in caelis sit commorata, quam sibi postea iunxerit; nihil enim
nostrae condicionis e caelo veniens secum dominus deportavit”
(Theophilus 1945: 192).
As regards the place of Philippians 2, 5-7, Patriarch Theophilus
writes: No... 14: “ille ausus est dicere, quod anima salvatoris se
evacuaverit et formam servi acceperit, ut Iohannes mentitus esse credatur,
qui ait: verbum caro factum est similem nostrae condicioni ingerens
salvatorem, dum non est ipse, qui se evaquavit et formam servi accepit,
sed anima illius, et fidem, quae omnium confessione firmata est, sua
impietate dissoluit, si enim anima salvatoris est, quae fuit in forma dei et
aequalis deo, juxta Origenis insaniam, aequalis autem deo filius dei est,
et, quod aequale deo est, eiusdem conuincitur esse substantiae, ipse nos
disputationis ordo perducit, ut unius naturae animam et deum esse
credamus…verum non est ita, fratres, nec anima salvatoris, sed ipse filius
dei, cum esset in forma deiet aequalis deo, se exinanivit formam servi
accipiens, et Origines in profundum impietatis demersus caenum non
8 Vasile Cristescu

intellegit se gentilium esse participem… (cit. Rom 1, 22-23)…sic et iste

inmutavit gloriam incorruptibilis dei in forma illius et aequalitate animam
salvatoris adserens, quae creata est, et hanc se evacuasse et non verbum
dei ad terrena venisse, sicut apostoli adfirmat auctoritas”.
No. 16 (partially preserved in Greek): “Aliam rursus filio dei nectit
calumniam et his verbis loquitur, sicut pater et filius unum sunt, ita et
anima, quam adsumpsit filius dei, et ipse filius dei unum sunt, nec
intellegit patrem et filium unum esse propter communionem substantiae et
eandem divinitatem, filium autem et animam eius diversae et multum
inter se distantis esse naturae, etenim, si, sicut pater et filius unum sunt,
unum erit pater et anima salvatoris et ipsa dicere poterit: qui vidit me,
vidit parem, sed non est ista-absit hoc ab ecclesiastica fide!-filius enim et
pater unum sunt quia non est inter eos diversa natura; anima autem et
filius dei et natura inter se discrepant et substantia, eo quod et ipsa a filio
condita sit nostrae condicionis atque naturae. (it follows a place from De
Principiis, IV, c. 4, 4 of Origen; Koetschau, p. 353, 18-354, 3), Matthew
26, 38: “Tristis est anima mea usque ad mortem”, and Joh. 12, 27: “Nunc
anima mea turbata est”. Theodoret has preserved the Greek text: “ergo si
melior est et potentior filius dei anima sua, quod nulli dubium est,
quomodo anima illius in forma dei esse poterat et aequalis deo, quam cum
dicat se evacuasse et servi adsumpsisse formam, omnes hereticos
magnitudine blasphemiae superat? Si enim in forma dei et aequalis deo
verbum dei est, in forma autem dei et aequalitate eius anima salvatoris est,
quomodo potest inter aequalia aliud esse maius, aliud minus ea enim,
quae inferioris naturae sunt, sublimiorem naturam atque substantiam sui
defectione testantur”.
From the comparison of the origenism described by Patriarch
Theophilus and St. Mark the following observations can be made: the 8th
epistle from Easter talks about a pre-existence of Christ’s soul. This pre-
existence is being defended by “Origen’s disciples”. Unlike Theophilus,
St. Mark keeps himself away from the issue of the pre-existence of the
soul. This problem is known by him and rejected by his teachings in his
Adversus Nestorianos. Paragraph 9 of this work can be understood from
paragraph 14 of the paschal epistle of Patriarch Theophilos. In connection
with the place of Philippians 2, 7, Theophilus shows the difference
Clarification of the opponents’ destination countered by Saint Mark The Ascetic… 9

between the origenist interpretation and the teaching of the Church

regarding Incarnation.
According to Origen, not the Logos, but the soul of Christ is first in
God’s face in order to comply with the emptiness. St. Mark does not
accept “being in God’s image”, but talks about the same understanding of
the Incarnation as the origenists when he says: “Because they haven’t
conffessed during baptism that through the intercession of God the Word
became body and human soul” (Cristescu 2009b: 22-53), and then
appointed in this connection all the saving events of Christ.
Patriarch Theophilos clearly sees that here the subject of Incarnation
is being established in a false manner. Not a pre-existent soul is in the
image of God and with God, but the Son of God Himself (ipse filius dei).
He is the one who taking a human soul created and the body from Mary
becomes a man and subject of emptiness.
While Theophilus follows even the last implications of the
distinction between Church teaching and origenistic interpretation of
Incarnation, for St. Mark it is enough to show “that God the Word became
body and man by means of the soul”. His effort doesn’t consist in
discovering false speculative effects of the origenist addition regarding
the report of the pre-existing soul with God (as seen by Theophilus no. 14
and 16) but is part of the soteriological field. The fact that all christian
events are related to a false point, meaning the soul of Christ and not God
-the Word, St. Mark’s opponents clear the sending and the history of
Jesus by their action.
Because of this the listing of the saving events from the life of
Christ is being made by the enemies since they belong only to the soul.
As Theophilus, St. Mark puts things on their right line because all these
redeeming events are attributed to the Son of God (filius dei). Here it is
being considered the destination of the Same, meaning of the Son of God
as keeper of history, which Theophilus briefly outlines them by reference
to the place of Philippians 2, 5-7 and St. Mark by listing the single
redeeming events confessed in Article 2 of the Symbol of faith.
Both Theophilus and St. Mark point out a fundamental difference of the
origenistic interpretation of the person of Christ. According to the
origenists, Patriarch Theophilus shows, both the Logos and the pre-
existing soul are “in God’s image ... and with God”. “How can between
10 Vasile Cristescu

«those who are alike» one to be greater and the other one smaller?”. This
means crushing the unit of Jesus. Theophilus argues in his epistle taking
an anti-arianistic position. St. Mark reaches the same position even if in
another approach. His position is that through this central location of a
human soul created between word and body is being broken the unity
between the Word and the body “meaning that on the one hand they
separate the body from the word, and on the other hand the word from the
body”. The opponents are representatives of a Christology of separation
which is being defeated in the work of St. Mark, Adversus Nestorianos.
As regards this issue St. Mark goes clearly beyond Patriarch Theophilus.
St. Mark’s opponents argue that the Word as Son is truly God. But
because they do not accept the union “after hypostasis” of this word with
the human nature in Jesus, they make Jesus a “simple man”. St. Mark
does not accuse his opponents of Arianism, but rather of Nestorianism.
Both Theophilus and St. Mark find at the enemies an attitude outside the
Church as one can see in the letter written in 402 during the Easter:
“Unde, qui Origenis erroribus delectantur, festivitatis dominicae non
spernant praeconia nec unguenta, aurum et margaritas quaerant in luto ne
que matrem suam ecclesiam, quae eos genuit et nutriuit, in magnis
urbibus lacerent, qui aliquando nostri nunc propter illum et discipulos eius
gentilium in nos odia superant et in delectatione eorum in nos maledicta
congeminant divitumque obsident fores…illi, qui quondam iactabant se
solutidinis amatores, saltim paruulam ad occultanda maledicta super labia
furoris sui aedificent cellulam… quamquam effeminatis auribus et
gentilium odiis se nostri detractatione commendet carpentes
ecclesiasticam disciplinam et patientia nostram quasi quodam temeritatis
formite abutentes, tamen aliquando taceant et quiescant…deisiderentque
ea sapere, quae digna sunt vita solitaria, et ecclesiae principem ac
magistrum non contristent deum…” (Theophil 1935: 207-208). No. 23:
“indignatur et saeviunt contra ecclesia medicamina, quibus vulneratis
sanitas redditur. Nos, quae scimus, loquimur, et quae didicimus,
praedicamus orantes, ut, qui ecclesisticas despiciunt regulas, normam
recipiant veritatis nec propter hominum confusionem, per quam difficulter
errantes corrigi solent, perdant utilitatem paenitentiae, et nunc dicimus et
ante praediximus et idem frequenter ingerimus: vagari eosnolumus nec
per alienas errare provincias, sed ad extorres et furibundos cum propheta
Clarification of the opponents’ destination countered by Saint Mark The Ascetic… 11

clamamus et loquimur (Ieremia 28, 50)”. Patriarch Theophilus talks about

wanderer monks who spread the origenisic teachings without praising
God’s holiday (praeconia festivitatis dominicae), meaning the Easter.
They criticize the Patriarch in wealthy homes and refuse obedience to the
church life. They have separated themselves from the church meeting and
not take part in “the common fraternal joy” (fraterna in commune
laetitia). Once they preferred solitude, says Patriarch Theophilus, and
they should build a cell over their lips (cellula) to no longer give free rein
to defamations about him in front of opponents.
As in case of St. Mark, Patriarch Theophilus’s opponents are
portrayed as representatives of “new dogma”, against whom he must
oppose the Scripture as a norm. The image depicted by St. Mark about his
opponents is being induced more by the Christological issues and not by
the attitude towards the church authority. However as Patriarch
Theophilos describes the situation, the same tension can be seen between
Church tradition and opponents points of view. As shown in paragraph 9
of St. Mark’s work, Adversus Nestorianos, his opponents are
intellectualists who want to enter by means of sharp questions the union
manner after hypostasis of the Son of God with the human nature.
Their continual insistence on the way the union took place is being
characterized by St. Mark as a useless act as an unnecessary action.
Because of the fact that they do not understand this way they lose their
faith. Through this they get into conflict with the Scripture. They also
omit the common confession of faith. They should be ordered: mavqe toV
khvrugma, kaiV antilevgwn ai*scuvnϑhti . Even the deny of their preaching
is a consequence of their pedantic subtileties: ou* diafeuvxh thVn tou~
khruvgmatoς a[rnhsin.
Several times St. Mark speaks of the baptismal symbol. For his
research he showed an increasing interest. The baptismal symbol is the
correct answer to all pedantic subtleties and questions about the union
manner. Instead of an useless research of God’s union with humanity in
Christ, the believer “fulfills the commandments. The research regarding
the union is certainly related to the teaching about Christ’s soul presented
by St. Mark in paragraph IX, meaning an origenistic teaching as described
by Patriarch Theophilus.
12 Vasile Cristescu

The comparison between the work Adversus Nestorianos and the

description of the origenists made by Patriarch Theophilus leads to the
finding that one can talk about representatives of origenistic Christology
who are in conflict with the Scripture, Kerygma and Confession of the
Church, who dedicate themselves to a life without peace in a zealous
advocacy for their ideas. They are origenists and this is proved by the fact
that both St. Mark and Theophilus fight the same false doctrine according
to which the Incarnation is attributed to the soul of Christ. Because in all
his work Adversus Nestorian, St. Mark speaks about the same opponents
whose main teaching is just this strange destination of the incarnation
topic, A. Grillmeier certainly founds out that the work of St. Mark is an
antiorigenistic writing.
In order to show that this finding is true, Grillmeier asks whether
the origenists may be representatives who may be considering a
Christology of separation in Christ, because it seems that some features
used by St. Mark in Adversus Nestorianos when describing the opponents
match rather others than the origenists.

Saint Mark the Ascetic vis a vis of origenism of Evagrius Ponticus

In order to prove the truth that the origenists are those who separate
the person of Christ, he refers to the relationship between St. Mark and
Evagrius Ponticus. The first direct evidence for that Christology,
attributed by Theophilus to the origenists and criticized by St. Mark, can
be found in Evagrius. Grillmeier says that as a disciple of St. Basil and St.
Gregory of Nazianzen, Evagrius was initiated in the work of Origen.
Here we should note that what was not made clear in the studies regarding
this theme including Grillmeier’s, is that Cappadocian parents never
undertook the wrong teachings of Origen, but they have left them behind
and even drew the attention on their threat, as does St. Basil in his treatise
On the Holy Spirit. Moreover they have corrected such teachings without
appointing Origen. Through this way of discerning the claims of Origen’s
work, they brought Evagrius in right Confession of faith of Nicaea. After
he came to Egypt, Evagrius got to the desert of Nitria and then in Kellia
under the influence of the origenists, particularly of long brothers and
Clarification of the opponents’ destination countered by Saint Mark The Ascetic… 13

The question is whether the Christology of Evagrius is a subject of

criticism for St. Mark. A text from the comment to the Psalms (Psalm
131, 7) of Evagrius corresponds to the teaching described by St. Mark:
“We love the Savior’s body not because of its nature, but because Christ
is in it, but the body is worthy of worship due to Christ, but Christ
because of God - the Word that is in him. But here I name Christ the
rational and holy soul, which together with God-the word lived a human
life because a simple body by nature is unable to receive God because our
God is Wisdom. In good heart, as Solomon says, rests wisdom” (Wisdom
14, 33). But anything which is composed of four elements cannot receive
knowledge. But our God is knowable (is knowledge) (Evagrie Ponticul
1883: 330). The wording is strange. “Christ is in this body”. The body of
Christ (rational soul) together with the Logos forms the incarnated one
that is the Savior. In the text there is a definition of Christ. Evagrius
considers that Christ is identical to the rational soul. According to
Evagrius, the rational soul is the starting point in understanding Christ.
God the Word is together with this spirit. This soul can clearly mediate
between word and body.
The soul of Christ is the subject of Incarnation. Evagrius is
apollinarist considering that: “There are heretics who speak evil of the
soul of Christ and deny it” (Evagrie Ponticul 1883: 225).
When Palladium says in Historia Lausiaca that Evagrius was taken
in a cross-fire by three demons, namely one dressed like arian other as
eunomian other as apollinarist, the apollinarists (Palladius 1898-1904:
121) are being taken into account. Evagrius gives Christ’s soul the central
place in Christ because he needs this as a mediator between word and
body. Evagrius emphasis more the union of the Word with the Father:
“The Body of Christ is united to our body and his soul is the nature of our
souls, but the word that is in him is united to the Father” (Evagrius
Ponticus 1884: 251).
A. Grillmeier correctly points out that the Christ of Evagrius is a
concession made to the medium Platonism, no less evil than the one made
by Arius, although with a completely different interpretation of Christ’s
nature. Above there is a divine monad united to God the Word. Then
follows the pre-existing soul of Christ, which is linked to the God- the
14 Vasile Cristescu

word through the knowledge of the monad. This soul comes into the body
and with him comes the Word of God (Guillaumont 1962: 151-156).
In the case of Evagrius is being proven that idea, regarding the
position of Christ’s soul in the Incarnation event, combated by St. Mark
the ascetic. This is linked to the definition of the person of Christ. At
Evagrius there are three other texts containing this definition of Christ,
though with no equal emphasis on the soul of Christ as in his Comment
on Psalm 131. The first text is the comment on Psalm 44, 8 “Effusa est
gratia in labiis tuis: propterea unxit te Deus tuus in saeculum” (let the
grace pour out on your lips. For this God anointed you forever): “Each
heavenly power is anointed by the contemplation of heavenly things in
the making. But Christ was anointed before any attendant because he was
anointed with the knowledge of the monad. This is the reason why it is
being told that Christ is the only one to stay at the Father’s right hand. I
called Christ the Lord who stays (between us) together with God the
Word” (Evagrie Ponticul 1883a: 40-41).
In the Commentary to Psalm 104, 15, “Nolite tangere christos
meos” (Do not touch my anointed), Evagrius said: “these anoined persons
are being called Christ (the anointed) for being participants in Christ. But
Christ is called the Christ (Anointed), for participating in the Father. I call
Christ the Lord who with God the word remains (with us)” (Evagrie
Ponticul 1886a: 1264C).
In the commentary to Psalm 118, 3 “Non enim qui operantur
iniquitatem in viis eius ambulaverunt” (They did not walk in his ways,
those who are making lawlessness), Evagrius adds: «Solomon says in
Proverbs that truth is the beginning of the ways of Lord (Proverbs 8, 22),
which is Christ. But I call Christ the Lord who together with God the
word remains (to us)» (Evagrie Ponticul 1886b: 1588D). All these texts
show that in the case of Evagrius there can be given a definition of Christ
calling him the soul that remains with God the word in the body. The soul
sets the center of this whole structure. Even if in the last text the soul is
not expressly named, it remains the subject of Incarnation. In all four texts
Logos comes into the world only accompanying. Evagrius refuses to
appoint the Incarnated Word, because the body is unable to receive God.
The fifth text comes from Capita gnostica. It is interesting the fact that in
the Syriac translation version which, as it was proved, is based on the
Clarification of the opponents’ destination countered by Saint Mark The Ascetic… 15

authentic Greek text, the text is different from the one of the first version.
Here it is the text translation made by A. Guillaumont of both versions:
Syriac version: “Christ is not united to Trinity. Indeed he is not the
essential science, but he only has in him in an inseparable manner the
essential knowledge. But Christ, I mean the one who came up with God
the Word and in spirit is God, is inseparable from his body and is by unity
connected to his father because he is the essential science” (Guillaumont
1958: 223).
The first version called a purified one is as follows: “The body of
Christ is part of human nature, he in whom «the whole fullness of the
Godhead wanted to live bodily». But Christ is God over all as says the
word of the Apostle”.
According to the authentic text of the Syriac version, Evagrius
cannot say that Christ is connected to others third. Christ is the incarnated
spirit and in this connection “Lord” who has the knowledge of the divine
nature, possessed by the Word. Categorically expressed here is the fact
that this Christ is not the knowledge of the divine nature, but he only has
it in himself in an indivisible way. This Christ who came (soul) is
together with God the Word, one, inseparable by his body. The fact that
this understanding was suspected is being shown by the text of the
purified version or newly designed, in which Christ is described in the
meaning of the orthodox Christology.
Towards the authentic text of the Syriac version there has been
rightly taken a position being recognized in it the origenism. This proves
that St. Mark has a good understanding when combating a concept that
made from Christ’s soul the subject of incarnation. Through this Evagrius
also comes in the battle field of St. Mark.

Saint Mark the Ascetic in his fight against origenism

St. Mark brings an authentic clarification when talking about those
who divide Christ, “so they split up according to the parts on the one hand
the body from word, and on the other hand the word from the body”
(Saint Mark The Ascetic 1895: 12). In addition, he reproaches to his
opponents that they teach a “separation” or “sharing” of Christ. This
criticism appears always in his work Adversus Nestorianos.
16 Vasile Cristescu

Researchers such as J. Kunze, said that between 381-431 there

hadn’t been other representatives of the separation of the person of Christ
except for some Antiochians, such as Diodorus of Tarsus, Theodore of
Mopsuestia and his followers. They were seen as enemies of St. Mark. L.
Abramowski states that a comparison of the terms of Diodorus of Tarsus
and those of St. Mark from his work Adversus Nestorianos has as a result
the fact that St. Mark’s opponents and Diodor represent the same
Christology (Abramowski 1949: 58). Grillmeier fairly notes that this
finding needs is a strong differentiation, namely “the notion of
«antiochiens has to be differentiated»”.
Diodorus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Theodoret of Cyr, Nestorius
and Andrew of Samosata are different in common concepts and trends. If
one of the Antiochians would belong to the opponents of St. Mark, “the
prosopon” unity term would have been certainly discussed upon”. In this
case, says Grillmeier, “Antiochians” opponents would have been very
pleased with St. Mark finding, according to whom God the word took ‘the
perfect man’ as seen by St. Mark, while he would have been more
cautious in case of a dispute with the word sunavfeia.
Since the separation of Christ made by the opponents of St. Mark is
given by the centering of the image of Christ on the soul of Christ, it
results an entirely different structure of their doctrine of separation than
the one of the Nestorians who are appointed in the full title of the work XI
of St. Mark. In addition, together with the doctrine of separation
supported by the opponents of St. Mark other disposals have to be seen:
the trend towards bold speculations, strange exaggerations and love of
“knowledge.” However all these the Antiochians lack.
Different expressions and reproaches through which the Antiochian
doctrine has been characterized, such as for example the blame often put
on St. Mark’s opponents who used to call Christ a mere man ... according
to the mentioned researchers seem to show their teaching. However the
opponents mentioned by St. Mark in his work Adversus Nestorian are
being assigned other teachings. These do not fit the Antiochians.
In paragraph 9 of this work St. Mark often finds out that the
receivers of his writing, place in parallel “the mere word” ... and “the
mere body” of Christ. They do this with the desire of not letting the body
events to approach the word. So, for instance in order to interpret the birth
Clarification of the opponents’ destination countered by Saint Mark The Ascetic… 17

of Christ the opponents seem to avoid the sharing of Christ. According to

St. Mark the born One is no “mere Logos” or “mere man”, but “The Only
Christ”. His opponent would have to agree that Christ is One, a unit,
entirety. However he is not honest, because as one can see in paragraph
14 of St. Mark’s work, he says - changing the words of Apostle Paul “we
preach the crucified Christ” (I Corinthians 1, 23) - “we preach the
crucified body”. According to this enemy it “would be an unreasonable
thing to believe in the crucified as being the Son of God”.
To this, St. Mark responds that the Saint Apostle Paul calls the
crucified “power and wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1, 24). This apostle
doesn’t speak about two Christs, but One. “The mere word” as opponents
call it, cannot be crucified, but neither “the mere man” can be “power and
wisdom of God”. The true response to this matter is according to St.
Mark, receiving the true union between God- the Word and the body,
which means that Christ is therefore chosen as the name of the union.
The opponents did not agree to the union in the person of Christ, seeing in
the crucified to death but “a simple man and a dead body”. They are
guilty of necrology, because “a simple man and a dead body cannot be the
Lord of glory and the power of God”. The adversaries understand their
faith in “the Crucified God” as the faith in God who lives. The conception
about the word that lives in the body would fit the above listed
However the reasoning is being extended further, because only one
group is being questioned, meaning the group that wants to cancel the
entire order of the Incarnation and Crucifixion. It cannot see the
Incarnation and death of Christ as an expression of Christ’s saving power.
Therefore St. Mark replied: “the claims that He became body for us, died
for all men, «that through death he defeated the one who dominates death,
meaning the devil» (Hebrew 2, 14) that saves all people who believe in
Him (John 3, 16) and that through Incarnation gives believers the
kingdom of heaven, are somehow the work of a mortal, as you say, or if,
on the contrary, of the power and wisdom beyond comprehension, as the
Apostle was saying?”.
Grillmeier says that the assessment of the whole behavior of Christ
from Incarnation until crucifixion seen as a work that aims only to death,
instead of a proof about the power of life and wisdom of God can never
18 Vasile Cristescu

be attributed to the Antiochians. It can be attributed to groups that have a

negative opinion on the subject and body and have also a negative
relationship with them. This is not the case of the Antiochians.
From this negative attitude towards Incarnation the opponents of St.
Mark believe in a limitation of Christ’s human nature. Against this St.
Mark underlines several times the eternal importance of assuming the
human nature by God the word “in the body for all time inseparable and
immortal? The son of God is and remains in the body. “Over all He made
ways of being of the body, not only on earth, now, but forever in heaven”.
St. Mark sees all creation crowned by Incarnation, because in Christ all
shall be reviewed as in a head (Eph. 1, 10). These truths should not be
underlined when talking about Antiochians, but when talking about
origenists. In addition, St. Mark describes an entire series of happenings
regarding the monastic origenistic circles.
On the first hand it is about the disturbances of the aspiration
towards rationalism and an emphasis on knowledge. They are present in
the entire work Adversus Nestorianos. In addition, those who produced
them opposed to the recognition of the crucified Christ as a “Lord of
glory”, and “Wisdom and power of God” and refused to accept the union
of God the Word and the human nature in Christ. The fundamental
rationalist attitude of the opponents is characterized by St. Mark as
fusiologein (natural-philosophical consideration) towards Christ as
God’s wisdom and power.
The opponents always make St. Mark’s wonder about how a Logos
united with the body by hypostasis can do the passions its own in a
passionless way. Such a question is a blasphemy before God. From such
an attitude the opponents put the Incarnation and the whole work of
salvation under the sign of necrology. Towards any question about how
this occurs, St. Mark stresses that failure to know the divine work.
Because the opponents do not see the power that Christ as God achieves
the union in him, they dare to divide Christ. Because they share the power
of Christ as measured through the fact seen in humans, they share Christ:
on the one hand the mere body acting for itself and on the other hand only
the word.
To the opponents’ question about the work of salvation in Christ,
St. Mark responds with a reference to the baptismal confession. A
Clarification of the opponents’ destination countered by Saint Mark The Ascetic… 19

peculiar interest in this context it consists of a reference to the Gnostic

attitude of the opponents regarding the question about the purpose of
Christ’s coming in the world: “What (else) than to learn the truth (fully),
which no one else learnt, in order to believe in the Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit – of course by fulfilling the commandments and not by vain
So the opponents put salvation under “mere knowledge” as opposed
to fulfilling the commandments. This does not fit Antiochians, but “the
circles around Evagrius”. Their desire of knowing instead of believing,
pure knowledge rather than active fulfillment of Christ’s words, lead
these Gnostics to a futile act, lacking sincerity, instead of honest
endeavors. St. Mark always brings this reproach. By this he refers to both
overstated knowledge and unnecessary speculation about the nature of
Christ and the question regarding the union with human nature of the Son
of God in Christ towards the faith that came by hearing and a spiritual life
in obedience towards the commandments of God.
The verb periergavzesϑai used to support the site II Thessalonians
3, 11 and the nouns derived from it periergasia v and periergiva are “in
the literature of the fourth century techniques for an exegesis of excessive
subtlety. About this issue there were warnings of John Chrysostom and
Basil”. Periergavzesϑai and the nouns related to it appear in St. Mark
for 11 times. St. Mark uses them in order to express the blame towards
the opponents’ thinking, expressed in these terms: Opus IV (Saint Mark
The Ascetic. 1886a: 958B), Opus V (Saint Mark The Ascetic. 1886b:
958B), Opus Opus VII (Saint Mark The Ascetic. 1886c: 1101A). The
reproach made by St. Mark regards the Christological conception of the
opponents that separates Christ.
In his Adversus Nestorianos are being claimed the origenist circles
whose Christological doctrine, attitude toward preaching and Holy
Tradition of the Church, rationalism and trend towards gnosis, are being
observed and controlled by St. Mark step by step. In the Christological
origenistic doctrine combated by St. Mark “shines a Neoplatonic thought
that can understand the word Incarnation only by means of an
intermediate being between word and body, and has special difficulties to
keeping close to the final reality of the Incarnation”.
20 Vasile Cristescu

References :
- Abramowski, L. 1949. Der theologische Nachlaß des Diodor von
Tarsus. In Zeitschrift für Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, 42.
- Cristescu, Vasile. 2009a. Hristologia Sfântului Marcu Ascetul în
lupta Bisericii împotriva învăţăturilor greşite. Teologie şi
Viaţă, nr. 5-8: 42-59.
- Idem. 2009b. Aspecte dogmatice ale hristologiei Sfântului Marcu
Ascetul.. Teologie şi Viaţă, nr. 1-4: 22-53.
- Evagrie Ponticul. 1883. Comentar la Psalmul 108, 19. In col. J.B.
Pitra. Analecta Sacra III. Venetii.
- Idem. 1883a. Comentar la Psalmul 44. 8. In col. J.B. Pitra.
Analecta Sacra III. Venetii.
- Idem. 1886a. Comentar la Psalmul 104. 15. P.G. 12.
- Idem. 1886b. Comentar la Psalmul 118. 3. P.G. 12.
- Evagrius Ponticus. 1884. Capita gnostica, VI, 79. P.G. 28.
- Grillmeier, A. 1997. Fragmente zur Christologie. Freiburg im
Breisgau: Hg. von Th. Hainthalter.
- Guillaumont, A. 1958. Le six centuries des “Kephalaia Gnostica”
d’Evagre le Pontique, VI, 4. In Patrologia Orientalis, 28.
- Idem. 1962. Le “Kephaleia Gnostica” d’Evagre le Pontique.
- Palladius. 1898-1904. Historia Lausiaca. Ed. de C. Butler. The
Lausiac History of Palladius. Texts and Studies, VI, 1-2.
- St. Athanasius the Great. 1887. Ep. către Epictet, cap. 2. P.G. 26.
- St. Mark The Ascetic. 1886a. De baptismo. P.G. 65.
- St. Mark The Ascetic. 1886b. Ad Nicolaum praecepta animae
salutaria. P.G. 65.
- Idem. 1886c. Disputatio cum quodam causidico. P.G. 65.
- Sfântul Marcu Ascetul. 1895. Adversus Nestorianos. Text grec
editat de J. Kunze. Marcus Eremita. Ein neuer Zeuge für das
altkirliche Taufbekenntnis. Leipzig.
- Theophil, Al. 1935. Ep. Fest. anni 402. In Ieronim, Ep. 98. Ed.
Hilberg. In col. “Corpus Sanctorum Ecclesiasticorum
Latinorum”, 55.
The Holy Scripture and the Idea of Holiness in Literature
– general overview

Carmen-Maria Bolocan

Faculty of Orthodox Theology,
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, ROMANIA

The Book of Books has always been a sourse of inspiration for authors and artist
of all the centuries. Still, the aesthetic value of the text of the Bible has never been
considered until now. But to speak about the aesthetic value of the text we have to decide
whether the text of the Bible is literature in itself or is affiliated to a certain kind of
literature. Is it acceptable to call a sacred text literature? Can we use the Bible outside
the sacred favourite place which is the Church and the religious services? These are
only a few aspects of a complex problem that we are trying to solve within this paper.
How should we consider the Bible is a question for which we offer a valid answer taking
into account the difficulty and complexity of such an issue.

Keywords: Holy Scripture, literature, sacred, Church

From the appearance of the first Christian texts the following
problem was put forward for discussion: should these texts be considered
according to their role in comparison with the kerygma of the Church?
Saint Evangelist Luke states this with no doubt when he adresses to
Theophilus, the recipient of his book, that he is writing him in order to
assure him of the solidity of the teaching he had already received
(according to Luke 1, 4). Moreover he thinks it is important to dissociate
his text from the multitude of writings that appeared at the time about the
life and the activity of Jesus Christ, even though he declares, with the
adequate honesty of the author, that many of those served him when
writing his book (acc. Luke 1, 1-3).
The words of Saint Luke offer a base solid enough to believe that he
is no longer writing to retell the story of jesus Christ, but to state and
22 Carmen-Maria Bolocan

transmit a teaching that he considers to be Messianic and vital to be

tought all over the world, to God’s glory and to the redemption of the
people (See also John 20:30-31, 2 Timothy 3:16-17). Second of all, he
draws attention upon several previous attempts to narrate in writing the
facts “that have been fulfilled among us” (Luke 1,1). Taking into account
the fact that, up until the date to which this text was written, only the
Gospels of Saint Mark an Matthew had appeared, it is rather improbable
that Saint Luke reffered only to these two writings. We know that in the
1st century some different versions of the life of Jesus Christ were already
circulating, as well as other documents reffering to His teachings. On the
other hand, St. Luke’s attitude as opposed to the stories in discussion
seems to be rather cautious. The Romanian translators have valuable tried
to preserve this indication hardly perceived even in the Greek text,
translating the Greek text with “many have undertaken temselves to set
down” (a.u.). Luke rarely uses in his texts the verb “to take in hand” with
the meaning of “to subdue”, “to dominate”, “to try”, “to take great pain”,
but he does this in very explicit contexts for us. The verb appears two
more times in The Acts of the Apostles: firstly when he speaks about the
vain attempts of the Hellenistic Jews to kill Paul and Barnabas in
Jerusalem (Acts 9,2); and once more when the author mentiones the zeal
(ardour) of some itinerary exorcists to take out deamons, abusing the
power of Jesus Christ’s name. Their efforts, sais St. Luke, wil have
unfortunate consequences (Acts 19,13). We may observe that in both
cases he speaks about failed attempts. On the strength of the traditional
hermeneutical principle of the parallel places, we may say as a
consequence that when he speaks about vain attempts of “the many” to
narrate “the facts that have been fulfilled among us” the author implies the
existence of two categoris of texts. Indeed, of all the science that he
alludes to, only a few pieces can be found today within the Holy
Scriptures. The others, without the help of the Church, they either got lost
or didn’t have a great authority or influence.
This happened because the dissociation process started by St. Luke
was continued during the following decades and centuries by the
Church’s representatives, materializing in a few edcisions that establish
two important categories of text: the first caracterizes the corpus of books
recommended to the believers for reading and, more than this, worthy to
The Holy Scripture and the Idea of Holiness in Literature – general overview 23

be called “Holy” or “Divine”; and a second category of good books,

instructive and thus acceptable, but not “holy” (Floca 1992a: 50, 230-231,
252-253, 335-336) [See the Canons: 85 Apostolic, 60 Laodiceea, 24
Cartagina, 2nd of St. Athanasius the Great, 1st of St. Gregory the
Theologian and 1st of St. Amphilohius]. To conclude, we may say that the
texts from the first category not only affirm but also celebrate the faith of
the Church, while the second category is accepted because they illustrate
it in an appropriate manner. Of course, there are also the texts fully
rejected, as being “spread by somenone under the sapect of holiness, to
the people’s and the clergy’s loss” (Floca 1992: 38) [The Canon 60
Apostolic]. One may easily observe that the status of each corpus of texts
is given by their relation with the doctrine, with the faith. Some even
affirm and celebrate it, others just illustrate it and the latter alter and even
contradict it.those from the first category are easily accepted right from
the beginnng in the Canon and thus enjoy the status of the sacred letter.
The others are tolerated on condition, if not rejected but some of them
will subsequentl find a shelter in the oral tradition or in what was later on
called “secular literature”.
In the following lines we aim to analyze the evolution of this
relation in the 20th century. The new hypothesis, if not even shocking for
some, that we will try to check on is that in the 20th century the Bible has
a rather paradoxical status: on one hand it is assimilated to the sacred
literature, on the other hand it is aborbed by the secular literature. Along
with this process of appropriation another one also develops, that of the
sacralization of the literature mainly recongnized as secular.
In an incipient state of the process, the Bible holds the monopoly of
the statement and celebration of the faith, as presented by St. Luke, thus
joining without rest in what Adrian marino calls, according to Jeronimos,
sacred literature (Lat. sacris lettris) (Marino 1987: 62); now, the other
texts have for the better an illustrative-didactic role of the doctrine. In a
subsequent phase, starting with the Renaissance and coming to a head
with the Enlightenment, the secular literature, strongly influenced by the
biblical pattern presents obvious signs of (self)sacralization. From
“handmaid of Piety” – as John Wesley considered it in 1780 (Wesley
1990: passim), the literature tends to become, especially with the romantic
ideas of the 19th century, “the Mistress of Truth – the noblest Handmaid
24 Carmen-Maria Bolocan

in her train” – accordin to Wordsworth, only a few decades later

(Wordsworth 1810: passim). If oru hypothesis proves, then the
continuation of this process lead, in the 20th century to the construction of
a new modality of perceiving both the Bible and the literature.
In modernism the term “secular” doesn’t necessarily or strictly
describe a reality that is extra ecclesiam and thus in a situation of
apostasy, but rather a world that is situated outside a consacrated palce
but already impregnated with its values. In a fundamental book published
at the beginning of the 20’s, Carl Schmitt stated that “all the significant
concepts of the modern history of the state are secularized theological
concepts” (Schmitt, trans. Stan and Turcescu: 1996: 56). And at the end
of the Second World War Jacques Maritain (Maritain, trans. Petrina 1999:
43) also stated that “it is not in the elevations of theology but in the depths
of the profane conscience and existence that Christianism has an effect
upon”. It is known that modernism supposes a certain weekness of the
frontiers that facilitates a great deal the mixture of the sacred and the
secular and if we were to give credit to Mircea Eliade, even the sacred
hidden within the profane.
An approach about the way in which the Bible is revalued by the
Romanian literature in the second half of the 20th century is yet to be
expected. Any attempt may draw the attention upon the role played in
literature by the founding texts of Judeo-Christianism and upon the
sometimes surprising results to which the scouring of some literary works
may lead.
We are fully aware of the difficulties and even of the risks of such
an approach in our country. Up untill now in Romania only very few
works were written on the relation between Bible and literature. A notable
study which while speaking about the realtion of the divine with the
literature also approaches this problem was lately published by the
American professor of Romanian origin, Toma Pavel (Pavel, trans.
Mancaş 1999: passim). Romanian scientists were especially concerned
with the linguistic aspect of the problem. We can mention here the names
of some great researchers such as Eugen Munteanu, Virgil Cândea, I.C.
Chiţimia, Viorica Pamfil, Florica Dimitrescu, Dan zamfirescu, Alexandru
Andriescu, Vasile Ţâra, Vasile Arvinte, etc. who wrote important studies
upon the contribution of the Bible to the evolution of the Romanian
The Holy Scripture and the Idea of Holiness in Literature – general overview 25

language. Regarding the importance of this translations for the evolution

of literature, most of the papers only mention historical information.

The Holy Scripture and the literature – theoretical perspectives

We would like to discuss, within the following, the relation between
Bible and literature from a theoretical point of view. When we consult,
even superficially, the specialized bibliography, we may observe the
presence, among the specialists, of two important trends: one according to
which the Bible belongs to literature; and another, according to which the
Bible is literature.
The statement according to which “the Bible belongs to literature”
establishes, right from the start, a well determined hierarchy and comes
along with two important problems. None of these received a satisfactory
answer until now. First of all, by compressing the field of discussion this
statement rises the problem of the affiliation of the bible to a certain
literature. Second of all, proving to be tributary to the trend that equates
the idea of literature with that of belles lettres, it proposses for discussion
the aesthetic value of the Scripture, thus rising a series of questions which
the more interesting the more difficult they are.
Nowadays it would be difficult to say exactly to which national
literatureb belongs the Bible. Or to which historical period. The answer
that it belongs to everyone is not far from reality, but not very clear either.
The most tempting answer for the first problem would be: the Bible
belongs to the ancient literature. Or another, more precise: the Bible
belongs to the ancient Hebrew literature. But the problem gets more
complicated when we realise, we say this with the risk of repeating what
we have already stated, that we are not dealing with a regular book, but,
in fact, with a collection of books having th proportions of a real library.
Books written by different authors, in different ages and even in different
languages. Some are poetical, others narrate historical facts or meaningful
fictions. The authors are: moralists, theologians, poets, bitter critics,
historians, politicians; some of the are sensitive, other seem to have a taste
for arguing all the time; some are just insinuating, while others call a
spade a spade. The Bible is book just from a convetional point of view, to
which we automatically subscribe. In fact, we have to deal we a whole
26 Carmen-Maria Bolocan

literature concentrated, through a typographical artifice, between the

covers of a single volume. And then again, is this literature ancient or
More than that, along with the appearance of Christianism, the
biblical Hebrew literature is enriched with a new corpus of founding
texts: the Christian texts. And because of the universal character of what
in the beginning was thought to be just a new sect detached from the
Temple, the Scriptures go beyond its margins and, implicitly, beyond the
margins of the ancient Hebrew literature. From now on the Bible can be
read either as a part of the ancient Hebrew literature, or as a part of the
Christian literature. And this only complicates the problem further more.
To answer the second question, we are obliged to speak about the
aesthetic value of the Scripture’s text. When the literature is defined by
criteria which are mostly, if not exclusively aesthetic it stands to reason
that no text, not even a sacred one, is accepted in its department
depending on the extent to which it satisfies certain criteria taking into
account the artistic beauty, too.
If in the 60’s – 70’s almost no one took seriously a study refering to
the literary characteristics of the Bible, on the grounds that this book is
strictly religious, during the last decades, especially after the publication
some works by foreign authors, many researchers and literary critics have
begun to study the text of the Scripture from a not so usual perspective.
Of course, the study of the Bible from a literary point of view has to deal,
from the very beginning, with difficulties of essence. Firstly we find
ourselves mnot in front of a book, but of a whole library, written during
several centuries; then, it is impossible to speak here of a unity of the
style, not even of the language; last but not least – and this is another
hypothesis to be demonstrated - , because as soon as it enters the field of
letters, the Bible requires, even in an apparently neutral space (Johansen,
trans. Jinga 1993: 16), confessions of faith: we cannot support such an
approach, which after all is exegetical, without mentioning from the very
beginning what the literature represents.
In a pioneer’s essay, The Art of Biblical Narrative, Robert Alter
stated that, in order to understand the narrative art of such an old text as
the Bible, we should focus, firstly on the stylistic methods present within
the text. In the given case, we would be speaking about the frequent use
The Holy Scripture and the Idea of Holiness in Literature – general overview 27

of the analogy and secondly about the rich expressive function of the
syntax (Alter 1981: 21). The solution proposed by Alter, it was later
proved, is viable only if we consider the aesthetic value to be a foregone
conclusion. This is almost impossible to achieve in the case of the Bible,
at least for as long as we linger in what Tzvetan Todorv called “our
modern parishism”. The aesthetic value of the Bible in itself is not an
obvious thing for everyone. For some, for example, the Bible is a sacred
book and as a consequence it is forbidden to analyse its text from a
stylistic point of view and a literary approach would only betray its
meaning. As radical as it may seem, such a position cannot be ignored.
Others consider, and they may not be so far from the truth, that it
wouldn’t be out of the question for ome expressions which to us,
nowadays, seem beautiful, to have had a certain weight at the time, or to
have been only translation mistakes. In a relatively recent study Louis
Panier tates that the biblical authors don’t create figures of speech on
purpose, but use formulasfrom the daily language. However, the biblical
texts are written in an approachable language.
An interesting solution, opposite from that proposed by Louis
Panier, is that of the Oxonian professor G.B. Caird. Right from the
appearance of the first studies on this theme, Caird observed that we
cannot speak about artistic values in the case of the Scriptures, unless we
discover in the biblical text enough clues so as to support the hypothesis
that the authors use certain expressions with a precise stylistic intention.
He even offers some suggestions in order to discover their stylistic
conscience. Here are some of them: the author explicitly indicates the fact
that he uses a figure of speech (such as in Galatians 4,24, for example);
there are passages which we can be sure that cannot be considered ad
litteram (as in Amos 9, 2-3); it is the same case for the juxtaposition of
images (see Isaiah 33,11) etc. (Caird 1980: 183-193). But Caird’s position
also proved to be criticable. He chooses rather uninspired the quotation
through which he tries to exemplify the first indication of stylistic
intention. The fragment from Galatians 4, 24 reffers to two characters of
the Old Testament, Sarah and Agar. St. Paul revaluates the story in a
theological way: he illustrates, by alluding to the story of the two women,
the specific of the two promises made by God to His people (on Sinai and
Jerusalem). In a similar way we may qoute the fragment from 1
28 Carmen-Maria Bolocan

Conrithians 10, 11, where St. Paul applies a similar interpretation

technique, this time referring to the post-Egyptian history of the hebrews:
“these things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were
written down to instruct us”. Based on these examples one could only say
that Paul is able to recongnize the figures of speech from a text and to use
them. But this would be very little: in fact, Paul doesn’t relate to the text
this much but to the historical event. Paul’s skill depends on his ability to
see the history as a discourse of the divinity and to translate this discourse
in a common language. Things would probably be easier if we were able
to aproximate as correctly as possible the function of these figures as part
of the culture and civilisation of the time. Was it an ornamental function?
A didactic one? Or a doxological one? We are told that an essentially
aesthetic text from the Bible is The Song of Solomon (Song of Songs).
But even here: among delicate descriptions of the bride and groom, we
also find a rather contrary one, where Shulammite’s hair is compared to a
flock of goats and her teeth to a flock of shorn ewes that have come up
from the washing (Song of Songs 4, 1-2). We must admit the fact that this
image is not capable to produce an intense aesthetic emotion to a reader at
the end of the 20th century, perhaps still sensitive to Sonnet 15 (Whatever
might restrain me when I feel drawn…) from Dante’s Vita Nova or to
Eminescu’s poem So delicate… - not to mention other examples. It is
obvious the fact that beauty was defined according to different criteria
back then. But this only brings us back from where we started.
From Panier’s point of view the skill of these authors consists of
their ability to revaluate the daily language, to grant it a theological
meaning (Panier). The observation is true for some of the books from the
Old and the New Testament. But most of the biblical writings would
argue against the ideas of the French scientist refering to the simpleness
of the language or, to do justice to Anerbach, to the fact that Louis Panier
lets us understand that a simple language doesn’t have much in common
with the aesthetics. But, apart from this, learned authors such as Isaiah or
Daniel, for example, not tomention the authors of the sapiential books,
express in a very elegant manner. On the other hand, the poetical texts
from the Scriptures are not to be ignored too easily in such a discussion.
The publishing in the 18th century of Robert Lowth’s book, De Sacra
poesis Hebraeorum meant not only the rediscovery of parallelism, as a
The Holy Scripture and the Idea of Holiness in Literature – general overview 29

fundamental principle of the Hebrew prosody, but also the realizing of the
fact that the biblical poetics function according to criteria which are very
different from the European ones (A detailed presentation of Robert
Lowth’s work at Prickett 1986: 106-123; Alter 1992: 171-190).
We can speak about the literare, aesthetic value of the Bible only
after we have stated our principles. Moreover, our fear is that, when
trying to speak about the Bible as literature in the sense of belles lettres,
instead of succeeding to get out of “our modern parishism” in order to
share the beauty of the Scripture’s text, we only struggle in vain to
overlap the translucent surfaces of some paradigms that don’t have too
many things in common. We believe that in the literary character of the
Bible is to be looked for in another direction, of which we will speak in
the following.

The Bible is literature

As a sacred text, the Scripture produced in time multiple forms of
literature. The first responsables for this were, of course, the authors of
the first attempt of interpretation. It would be difficult enough to mention
here the Targums although paraphrases can also be read like this [We are
thinking especially at Targum Jonathan]. But the midrashes already offer
us a very good example. Generated by the necessity to explain certain
contradictions, to offer biblical fundaments to new laws or to establish the
sense of of certain passages according to different cultural contexts, the
midrashes developed on two main directions: halakah and haggadah
while the halakah midrashes indicate the fulfilling of the Law in
particular situations, the haggadah midrashes are initially homiletic
structures, meant to clarify the receiver upon different aspects of the Tora
especially, and also of the Scripture in general. Most of the haggadah
midrashes are characterized by an elaborate discourse, full of imagination,
using generously the parables in a very entertaining manner. These occur
mostly in the form of narrations starting from a given biblical fragment an
retell it, bringing out certain aspects, which are considered to be important
(a very good work on this theme in Romanian is that of Petercă 1999; see
also the monumental work of Ginzberg 1911-1938; or the studies of
Vermes 1973). Analysing among other ways of reading the Scriptures, the
30 Carmen-Maria Bolocan

haggadah midrashes the researchers will draw the interesting conclusion

that they present all the necessary elements for us to consider them both
as factors which contributed substantially to the consolidation of the
Canon ans as incipient forms of transforming the Bible into literature
(Wadsworth 1981: 11-15). For the researchers, entire fragments from
Dante’s Divine Comedy, or other works such as Joseph and His Brothers
by Thomas Mann should be conceived as ample haggadah midrashes for
the correspondent biblical passages (Wadsworth 1981: 20-21). Thus, one
may observe that a great part of the iterature developed in relation with
the Scriptures and finally from a hermeneutical necessity.
The statement according to which “the Bible is literature” places the
two terms on positions of equality and proves as we are going to see, a
wider understanding of the concept: the Bible is a written text, so it is
literature and it belongs to literature in the same time. On the other hand,
the Bible may be considered a literature in itself, a literature which, along
the centuries, continued to influence the universal thinking. Indeed, there
are very few national literatures and epochs that don’t have any creations
inspired by the Bible or works which are more or less related to the Bible.
From a literary point of view the Scriptures represent the inevitable book.
Great authors are inevitable in literature, and great books such as the
Bible enjoy an astonishing immanence.
If we were to give credit to George Florovsky, then the discussion
should be moved in the field of iconography. Referring to the style of the
evangelists, Florovsky observes that they didn’t mean, as we saw before
in the discussion about the words from the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, to
realte faithfully, step by step, all the deeds of Jesus Christ. Let’s not forget
that realism appeared much later. According to Florovsky, the authors of
the gospels write in order to transmit a doctrine and an image, but not one
that is historical and divine in the same time. We will not find in the
gospels a protrait of Jesus Christ as a historical person, instead we will
find His icon (Florovsky 1972: 25). And in our opinion this technique can
be generalized for all the biblical authors. None of them abunds in details,
most of them prefer to suggest the characters’ qualities han to describe
them. It is also the case for the narrative fragments. This lead some
researchers to to conclude that the Bible is written in a simple rough style
with no aesthetic value whatsoever.
The Holy Scripture and the Idea of Holiness in Literature – general overview 31

Some researchers stated that, especially in the historical Book, the

events are described in terms of action, and the characters are presented
rather sketchy, without too any details. We can characterize a personage
or another, mostly by analysing its reactions in a difficult situation. And
most of the events narrated in the Bible are, in fact, difficult situations.
The biblical authors are very selective in their descriptions, they note only
what is essential and narrate strictly events of great importance. The
explanation offered would be that they write, in fact, at a notable distance
in time from the moment when the related event actually took place.
Could it be only this? The researchers had already spoken about the
laconicism of the biblical authors and had remarked with ood reason that
most of the details in a biblical text don’t have a pragmatic value, but a
theological and moral one. He notes the profoundness of the biblical
details and the fact that such a concise style suggests, in fact, much more
the complexity of life and always opens to something else (Alter 1992:
24; Henn 1970: 21-23; Auerbach, trans. Negoiţescu 2000: 13-16).
According ot Florovsky, we have to deal with a rather concentrated
language, such as the one that poetry uses. Each element of a biblical text
has its precise place and role, similar to the details of an icon. And an icon
doesn’t necessarily offer a faithfull image of the historical reality, but it’s
neither far from it. In its turn, the biblical text offers a multitude of
suggestive significant elements that are suited to many ways of reading,
but will never fully correspond to a given historical reality because it is
not a text meant to inform but to discover. If things were different, the
hermeneutic would be useless. In exchange, we interpret in order to
understand the text, to illustrate a faith teaching, to distinguish moral
advices etc. in the case of the process of interpretation, the exegete is
called to distinguish the significance of the text at the moment of its
writing from that viable for the context where it is interpreted. In the case
of the Bible it is also interesting what its authors wanted to say but, more
than that, speaking about a reference canonic inevitable text, its content is
especially what its books continue to say, even independently from the
intentions of some authors of conjuncture (Eco, trans. Mincu end Bucşă
1996: 101). If the details that signified the text in the past and those which
signify it in the present belong to the mythological paradigm of the
century, than we may say that the interpret destroys the myth and then he
32 Carmen-Maria Bolocan

recreates the mythology of the text. Well, the art often deals with similar
translations. It is not by chance that the scientists consider art in general
as an alternative form of hermeneutic. “We can imagine Moses not as he
was, says T.R. Henn, but the way Michelangelo sculpted him” (Henn
1970: 183).
If for the west the 15th century meant the beginning of the
Renaissance, for the Eastern part of the continent, the same century
marked the beginning of the Turkish domination. According to
Schneidau, we may say that in the West the process involved manifest
especially after the Reform, as a natural consequence of the Judeo-
Christian theology that was at the time in continuous expansion. The
movement is from within towards the exterior, from the heart of the
Church towards the diverse and polymorphous area of the century. The
invention of the printing press, the philological discussions about the
variants of the manuscripts, the translation of the Book in the vernacular
languages lead to what we called the democratization of the text and
implicitly to the taking out of the Bible from the ecclesiastical space. On
the other hand, in the East, the secular pression comes from a foreign
culture and civilization, the muslim one. The phenomenon has specific
consequences even on a spiritual level. Here one may observe on one
hand attempts to continue the politics of symphony, characteristic for the
Byzance, between the Church and the civil authority and on the spiritual
level, a pronounced interior muster. During the following period
hesychasm appeared, we believe, as a natural reaction in such a
configured situation. Also, the structures and the doctrine of the Church
enter a real regime of survival and preserves the institutions of the sacred,
almost miraculously, in their original form (the history of the
phenomenon and its analysis at Schmemann, trans. Moorhouse 1996: 116
sq). The result is that in the Eastern Churches, the Scriptures never leave
the ecclesiastical space. Here, the Bible is still Holy, and its reading and
interpretation are mediated liturgically. The favourite place for the
reading of the Book of Books remains the Church, the time time is that of
the religious services and the person who performs the reading must be
one from the cult personnel [We refer, of course, to the function of
reader/anagnostis from the minor orders of clergy] (Branişte 1993: 104-
105; Kucharek 1971: 435-437).
The Holy Scripture and the Idea of Holiness in Literature – general overview 33

The liturgical hymns are just comentaries to certain biblical

fragments which aim along with finding the meaning, to encourage a
doxological disposition in the mind and in the heart of the ministry
(Breck, trans. Jinga 1998: 76-77; Lecca 1999). A very interesting
composition of the Oktoih says: “ The tree once in eden brought us
bitterness and the wood of the Cross bloomed sweet life; for when Adam
ate he fell into death and now we delight with Christ’s body and acquire
life and mysteriously become gods, receiving the eternal kingdom of God.
For that we raise our voices with faith: Glory to your sufferigs, Word”
(Oktoih 1975: voice 8, Wednesday, Matins, Sedealna after the 3rd
Kathismata). The biblical fragments to which this text alludes are
obvious. It is very interesting the waythey are put together according to a
logic unusual to us we have to admit, if we don’t identify its typological
- The tree of knowledge and the Cross, proving to be the tree of
- Adam, the old man, and Christ revealed as a new Adam restorer
of the human being;
- The forbidden fruit from which adam ate and Christ’s body i.e.
the Eucharist;
- The parallel tree-man, familiar to the Hebrew mystic is meant to
reinforce the discourse, to draw the the attention upon its
mystical value and to prepare the final doxology.
The whole history of the fall and of the delivering of the human
being as well as the doctrine about sin and redemption are concentrated in
these lines.
Finally, this state of facts represents only a reflex of the balance
between the two ways of transmition of the divine Revelation, confessed
by the traditional churches: the Scripture and the tradition. We adopt here
the observation made by George Florovsky (Florovsky 1972: 79), who
defined the Tradition firstly as a “hermeneutical principle and a method”.
Of course, his statement is entirely trueonly if we refer strictly to the
primary Church, to the period before the first ecumenical synnods. The
situation doesn’t change completely after the validation of the first
synodical decrees and the anrichment of the tradition with the documents
that will form the corpus of canonical texts. But the apostolic century still
34 Carmen-Maria Bolocan

remains the period when this phenomenon may be best observed because
now the relations of continuity between the Christian and the Jewish
hermeneutic are still obvious [In this respect see a classical work: C.G.
Montefiore, where the author makes an extremely interesting paralell,
supported by analysis on the text between rabbinic and Christian canonic
writings in the apostolic century. Luke’s Gospel, for example, is analyzed
comparatively almost verse by verse, and in the appendix of the book he
presents rabbinic texts from the same epoch, clasified tematically: about
faith, about deed and about repentance] (Montefiore 1930); [as important
as this we consider the book of Jacob Neusner, where the methods of the
midrashes’ exegesis are discussed. Even is Neusner doesn’t refer
explicitly to Christian texts, from his analysis one may recognize some of
the techniques used in the patristic literature (we think especially to
Maxim the Confessor, Origen or in general, to authors who belong to the
Alexandrian school)] (Neusner 1983). This is where the idea comes from,
in the East, that the Bible can only be understood in the light and the
frame of the Tradition. In the West this conception will only be kept by
the Roman-Catholics. Florovsky (Florovsky 1972: passim) underlines the
fact that the Tradition was “the living context and the comprehensive
perspective that lead to the perceiving and the appropriation of the true
intentionof the Scripture and of the divine plan”. In other words, the
Tradition doesn’t add anything to those already revealed by the Holy
Scriptures, but it offers the optimum ambient and indispensable in order
to uncode the divine message which is, thus, accesible to everyone who is
looking for it with a corresponding state of the spirit. This ambient has to
be appropriate, similar to the Scripture, to those that are heavenly, but to
such an extent so as to transfigure those wh are earthly. The final
message, as we may see, is the same but its transmission or, more
precisely, its fulfilling can be achieved corectly only through the
comunion of the two ambients.
After the fall of Byzance and setting up of the Ottoman domination,
the most faithfull and accesible expression of the Tradition understood as
such remains the Liturgy (Golitzin, trans. and preface by Ică jr. 1998: 6).
The Church becomes the real saving ark, floating over the whirling
history of the century, and similar to the model of the Holy Virgin, it is
called “spiritual refuge”. Now, here it is kept the true Clavis Scripturae
The Holy Scripture and the Idea of Holiness in Literature – general overview 35

Sacrae of the East. The works of the father circulate on a small area but
the essence of the patristic hermeneutic was already concentrated in the
texts of the prayers recited during the services and also in the liturgical
objects and robes. We may say that from now on the Church becomes in
its whole the true world of the text [It is interesting the fact that, after a
few decades the anglican bishop of Monmouth discovers in this action of
rediscovery of the liturgical hermeneutic a possible solution for the way
of the biblical disciplines in an already post-modern world] (According
Rowan Williams 2000: 52-53). For example the diskos on which the
particles are set may symbolize the place of Jesus Christ’s birth and in
another liturgical moment, His tomb. The Epitrachelion of the priest
symbolizes the lost sheep, rescued by the good shepherd. It is a symbol of
the minister but also of the greatness of the office. The prayer that the
priest says when he dresses the epitrachelion is very significant: “Blessed
is God, Who pours out grace upon His priests: as the chrism upon the
head, which ran down unto the beard, the beard of Aaron, ran down even
to the hem of his garment”. The text of this prayer refers to the moment of
aaron’s consacration as priest of the chosen people (Exodus 29, 21;
Leviticus 8, 30) thus affirming the ancestry of the Christian priesthood
and the fact that Christ’s followers form the new Israel, so they are called
to fulfill man’s destiny according to the divine law.
We can see clearly that in the Orthodox space we have to deal with
an approach both hermeneutical and doxological in the same time. From
the Eastern point of view, the two cannot function separatly. Thus, the
relation between Bible and literature supports a specific development. For
example, in the British cultural space we could speak about an
appropriation of the Bible by literature especially after the publishing of
the Authorized Version (1611) facilitated a great deal by the fact that it is
mass diffused and entire passages from it are taken over by the spelling
books of the time, so that whole generations will learn how to write and
read starting from the Scripture. In the East, the Bible is not used as a
support for teaching writing and reading , but it is replaced by the Lives
of the Saints or by other religious books or even the Breviary, now
famous because of the memories of Ion Creanga. The specific literature
for this cultural area tends to imitate and to take over, at the beginning of
the text of the cult and much later (during the 19th and 20th centuries) the
36 Carmen-Maria Bolocan

text of the Bible. Here it is not the Scripture which is taken as a model,
but the Lives of the Saints, Alexandria or the Breviary. Of course, things
are different with the linguistic level. The specific hieratism, the
abundance almost Baroque of figures and the the preference for an
archaic language also come from here.
Learned people, they revaluate in a detached manner biblical
passages as well as texts of the cult which they frequent assiduousness
very often both in a liturgical ambient and in order to taste their aesthetic
beauty. There are also politically engaged authors or confessors of
political creeds, such as Nichifor Crainic, whose literature of clear
Christian inspiration is placed in the service of national ideals and even
ideologically exploited susequently. Finally, a less researched field is that
of the literary production which aspires to the status of cult text. Euthors
such as Hieromonk Daniil Tudor fully assume this experience of the
Scripture and then transpose it into religious is not by chance the
fact that a part of this poet’s work has been accepted by the Romanian
Orthodox Church in the corpus of liturgic texts.
The effects upon the cult literature are very interesting. First of all
we note the appearance of some works which aim to illustrate faith but
they achieve this by using as a model Western pious narrations and thus,
they relate to the Scriptures in an indirect manner. A good example in this
case would be Al. Lascarov-Moldovanu. It is an apologetic luterature but
belongs to what we would call mass literature. More frequently, the
literary productions of this type are received with great caution by the
ecclesiastic authority. Then, there are authors who write religious
literature or literature of religious inspiration in order to affirm a personal
belief. As in the case of vasile Voiculescu or of rev. Mihail Avramescu,
this literature is not even by far in contradiction with the Church’s
doctrine. We could rather speak in their cases about subjective
illustrations of some personal efforts to assume faith.
The Holy Scripture and the Idea of Holiness in Literature – general overview 37

As a conclusion of what we have presented so far, we may say that
the Biblehas been for ages a real inspiration sourse for art in general and
for literature in particular. Because of the means of expression and of the
manner of text organization privileged by the authors of the texts present
in the Canon, the Bible has been and continues to be an endless sourse for
the creators of art of all times. There is an impressive number of
narrations, parables, proverbs which, during all this time have
impregnated the European literature and have stood, many times, at the
basis of the foundings of new artistic forms. No doubt, the handiest
example is offered by the Romantic literature where, at least in the anglo-
saxon space, the Bible succeeds in replacing the Classics as a literary
model, and from this point on, it becomes the metatype of the Western
Romantic culture, in its effort to distinguish not just a sacred text, but
already to find the meaning of a world more and more changeable (Henn
1970: 80) [Prickett draws this conclusion by analysing the implications of
the spreading of the authorized version of the Scripture in England, a
phenomenon conjugated with the influence of Schleiermecher and Fr.
Schlegel’s ideaas in shaping the romantic sensitivity. See an overview of
the phenomenon in the work of Jeffrey 1992]. Indeed, starting with the
18th century, the literature authors feel called not just to enchant the spirit
with their creation but also to look for an answer to the great questions of
the mankind, parabolically transfiguring the moment.
In the East, the literature appeared in the light of the Bible aims to
the status of sacrality either joining a political creed, like in the West, or
even entering the library of the Church’s institutions. The pious literature
and the literature of religious origin will never aspire to becom sacred text
for the simple fact that here, any such decision belongs to the Church. The
role of these literary productions will always be, at best, an illustrative
one. Only certain writings can affirm or celebrate faith. On the other
hand, because it isn’t appropriated by the secular literature, the Bible
doesn’t leave the liturgical space, unless it is absolutely accidental and it
continues to be venerated as such.
38 Carmen-Maria Bolocan


- Oktoih. 1975. Bucureşti: Editura Institutului Biblic şi de Misiune

al Bisericii Ortodoxe Române. Ediţia a II-a.
- Alter, Robert. 1981. The Art of Biblical Narrative. London,
Sydnei: George Allen & Unwin.
- Alter, Robert. 1992. The World of Biblical Literature. London:
- Auerbach, Erich. 2000. Mimesis. Reprezentarea realităţii în
literatura occidentală. Translation by I. Negoiţescu. Polirom.
- Branişte, Rev.Prof.Dr. Ene. 1993. Liturgica generală, cu noţiuni
de artă bisericească, arhitectură şi pictură creştină. 2nd
edition. Bucureşti: Editura Institutului Biblic şi de Misiune al
Bisericii Ortodoxe Române.
- Breck, Rev. John. 1998. Principii ortodoxe de interpretare a
Bibliei. Trans. Constantin Jinga. In Altarul Banatului.
Revista Arhiepiscopiei Timişoarei. Episcopiei Aradului şi
Caransebeşului. Year IX (XLVIII), new series, no. 1-3,
- Caird, George B. 1980. The Language and Imaginary of the Bible.
London: Gerald Duckworth.
- Eco, Umberto. 1996. Limitele interpretării. Translation by
Ştefania Mincu and Daniela Bucşă. Constanţa: Ed. Pontica.
- Floca, Archideacon Prof.Dr., Ioan N. 1992. Canoanele Bisericii
Ortodoxe. Note şi comentarii. Sibiu.
- Florovsky, Georges. 1972. Bible Church, Tradition: An Eastern
Orthodox View. Volume One in the Collected Works of G.F..
Belmont, Massachusetts: Nordland Publishing Company.
- Ginzberg, L. 1973. The Legends of the Jews. Volumes I-VII.
Philadelphia: 1911-1938.
- Henn, T.R. 1970. The Bible as Literature. London: Lutterworth
- Ică jr., Deacon Ioan. 1998. Părintele Alexander, mistagogia şi
teoria marii unificări în teologia ortodoxă. Introductive study
to Hieromonk Alexander Golitzin: Mistagogia experienţa lui
The Holy Scripture and the Idea of Holiness in Literature – general overview 39

Dumnezeu în Ortodoxie. Studii de teologie. Trans. and

presentation deacon Ioan Ică jr. Sibiu: Ed. Deisis.
- Jeffrey, D.L. 1992. A Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English
Literature, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids.
- Johansen, Jorgen Dines. 1993. Literatura ca model al existenţei
umane. Translation by Constantin Jinga. In the magazine
Orizont, No. 8/April.
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John Chrzsostom. Its Origin and Evolution. Alleluia Press.
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Sfinţilor Părinţi. Bucureşti: Ed. Sophia.
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Napoca: Ed. Dacia.
- Maritain, Jacques. 1999. Creştinism şi democraţie. Translation by
Liviu Petrina. Bucureşti: Ed. Crater.
- Montefiore, C.G. 1930. Rabbinic Literature and Gospel
Teachings. London: Macmillian.
- Neusner, Jacob. 1983. Midrash in context. Exegesis in formative
Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
- Panier, Louis. From Biblical Text to Literary Enunciation and Its
- Pavel, Toma. 1999. Arta îndepărtării. Eseu despre imaginaţia
clasică. Translation by Mihaela Mancaş. Ed. Nemira.
- Petercă, Mgr. Vladimir. 1999. Regele Solomon în Biblia Ebraică
şi în cea Grecească. Contribuţie la studiul conceptului de
midraş. Preface by Francisca Băltăceanu. The Collection
“Plural. Religie”. Iaşi: Ed. Polirom.
- Rowan, Williams. 2000. On Christian Theology. Blackwell.
- Schmemann, Alexander. 1996. Introduction to Liturgical
Theology. Transl. by Asheleigh E. Moorhouse. London: The
Faith Press Ltd.; Potland: The American Orthodox Press.
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Lavinia Stan and Lucian Turcescu. Postface by Gh.
Vlăduţescu. Ed. Universal Dalsi.
40 Carmen-Maria Bolocan

- Stephen Prickett. 1992. Words and the Word. Poetics and Biblical
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The Harvester Press.
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for the Use of the People called Methodists (1779). U.S.:
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22 Feb. 1810 in Coleridge’s journal “The Friend”.
Orthodox Monasticism: Applying Authority

Dan Sandu

Faculty of Orthodox Theology,
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, ROMANIA

It is not easy for the contemporary person to accept authority as such, unless
he/she judges and experiences it in all its aspects. A different approach is to live out with
the authority which one did not know previously in the so called “monastic settlement”
where one cannot speak of “democracy” or “rights”. According to the monastic
regulations, a monastic community is based on an authority which is freely accepted by
and large, and starts with the nomination of the Father Superior in the office by his
bishop. Beyond the authority of God who is the key concern for the monastic’s sense of
life, there is a freely accepted authority of the Spiritual Father and the Abbot. This
authority is based on love of both sides, and above all, love for God, for whose sake
somebody renounces the world and accepts a life often full of renunciation. The study
above is a short exposure of how the land of Eastern Romania came to experience the
monastic vocation along its history and how it is lived out now within an every day more
secularized world.

Keywords: monasticism, renounciation, authority, reclus, abbot, spiritual father, hermit,

monastery, disciple

Monasticism in the Orthodox understanding has two meanings:

1. Withdrawing from the world aiming to work for the salvation of
the world
2. Assuming an ascetical life for the sake of personal salvation, too
monasticism being often called the “angelic likeness”.
Monasticism in the Orthodox Church claims its roots in the example
of Saint John the Baptist who was wondering in the wilderness and
proclaiming the coming of Jesus, in continence and hard lifestyle, freely
42 Dan Sandu

accepted. Following in his steps an ascetic, be it a monk or a nun, should

deny himself/herself and proclaim the Risen Lord throughout his/her life.
The first known name of monasticism was Anthony the Great, in
Egypt, in the 4th century who lived the monastic life away from the world
and who made the first disciples. The first to organize monasticism as a
community (cenobitic life) was Pachomius in the same 4th century.

Historic insight
Monasticism appears in the Romanian history as early as the 4th
century when the first archaeological evidences have revealed an
organised monastic life. The first monks known in this century seemed to
have come from a Christian population that was dislocated in Cappadocia
by the Goths. Some are believed to have been disciples of Basil the Great,
whose Regulations they were observing, in South-Eastern Romania,
which was called Scithhia Minor (present Dobruja). They were
proclaiming the Gospel among pagan dacians. There are caves in Dobruja
where Christian symbols were found on the walls. One should also
mention the “psalm singing” of which a martyr of the 4th century, Sava
the Goth, was accused by prosecutors. From the very beginning they were
organized in monastic communities, and not as solitary individuals,
sharing all in common, according to the apostolic tradition.
Monasticism developed throughout history in an uninterrupted
succession to the present days. Today monasticism is flourishing given
the new context of freedom. The number of monks and nuns number is
decreasing and the commitment to the real asceticism is harder to assume
individually, as the monasteries are becoming places of interest for
tourists or even retreats, where people are bringing with them influences
of the modern secularized world.

Profession into monasticism

A candidate to monasticism must first and foremost apply to enter a
monastery out of a real vocation to serve God with absolute commitment.
The vocation for monasticism is the key point and weights when the
decision to be accepted must be taken by the superior of a monastery. It is
for this particular reason that a candidate is first questioned about the
reasons to join in that community, then follows a period of tests. This
Orthodox Monasticism: Applying Authority Democratically 43

includes: three months of “temptation”, followed by the blessing to start

practicing the obedience which normally takes 3 years; it can be extended
if necessary. This period is followed by a training in theology, in a
monastic seminary, ending with the monastic tonsure, or the profession
into monasticism, which is a life lasting decision. During this testing
period, the novice should have daily talks with his/her confessor, and
must practice piety, obedience and faith.
The service of profession itself is similar to both: a wedding and a
burial. First because the candidate is engaged with the community and
takes over the entire stewardship of Christ and His Church. Second
because he/she dies to the world in order to be born again into a new life.
It is the reason for which the name is changed. Being dressed up, after the
vow, he/she receives every piece of clothing with a special meaning and
symbolism for the future monastic life, which should never be abandoned.
Every person professed into monasticism should observe the three
vows for the rest of his/her life:

1. Unlimited obedience
2. Absolute chastity
3. Complete poverty

Ora et Labora
Similarly to monastic life of other parts of the Christian world, the
monk/nun should have certain preoccupations and so called “obediences”
in the monastery. Among the most important, it is worth mentioning:

Monastic community prayer in Romania follows the pattern of the
ancient Byzantine style. Offices are ordered in such a way that the whole
day and night must be marked by prayer and meditation, fragmenting the
normal activity in order to avoid passion for a particular activity. It is the
reason for which the “obediences” are often rotating from a member to
another to avoid routine or hobby. The only passion of the monastic
should be prayer for himself/herself and for those in the world who do not
have time to pray and meditate. An Orthodox religious will spend
between 7 and 8 hours in church every day.
44 Dan Sandu

Private prayer plays an equally important role and aims at directing

his/her solitude to the personal dialogue with God. The normal personal
office of a monk takes about one hour every morning and evening.
Additionally, they must read psalms, various literature on piety and

Almost every monastery in Romania has an agrarian piece of land
on which vegetables and crops are growing for the community needs.
Consequently, all members are expected, to work in the field or practice
other activities, for two reasons: to keep busy and avoid dissipation in
worldly thought, and to earn their living. Other activities include: wood
carving, painting, tapestry, embroidery, carpet weaving, icon painting etc.
Today there have developed other activities such as computing,
publishing, translating, social programmes etc.

A normal day in a monastery include two light meals. There is no
breakfast at all. An important role in the monastic life plays the strict
continence from animal products and strict fasting. Fasting is o observed
every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as well as the four fasting periods
of the year: Lent, Advent, Dormition and Saint Apostle Peter and Paul’s

The monastic life is organised in three ways:
1. Cenobitic - a monastery where everything is shared and is lead
by an abbot or egoumenos.
2. Idiorithmic – life around a monastery, organized in smaller
communities which provide their own living, but share in the
liturgical life of the community and submit a superior.
3. Heremitic – the solitaries that abandon the world and live an
austere life in wilderness, especially in the caves of the
mountains. Their only concern is prayer but they keep a regular
link with the nearest monastery where they take the Holy
Orthodox Monasticism: Applying Authority Democratically 45

Monastic life in Moldavia

This kind of monastic life has grown everywhere, but especially
from the 14th century on it developed rapidly. Stories speak about the
“hermits that were abundantly populating the Mountains of Neamtz”. Due
to innumerable invasions, earthquakes and poor quality in construction,
the ancient monastic settlements have disappeared, were pulled down or
burnt. Other churches and monasteries fortress-like monasteries were
being erected on hardly accessible places, in order to protect against
invasions; many last to these days. The monasteries with the outside
frescoes or the monasteries in Neamtz region are a proof of the new
The 18th century was the very important up-raise e of the monastic
spirituality in Moldavia caused by the movement initiated by Paisius
Velicikovsky in Dragomirna, Secu and Neamtz monastery which came to
know the most important part of their history: the monastery reached an
incredible number of 900 disciples, translations from Greek and Slavonic
were made, liturgical books were printed with great impact on the
Romanian society and the neighboring countries.
A dramatic year was 1959 when the communist authorities have
forcibly expelled more than 3000 monks and nuns from the monasteries.
They had to give up their vocation, monasteries were demolished or
abandoned, and the difficult time for monasticism began. There were
times when young people were banned to enter the monastic
communities, when older monks had to hide in the forests, when censure
and control from the authorities was imposed to monasteries.
The new monasteries that are now being built are not new
enterprises, but a re-construction of what had existed before.

Relation with the parish

The Romanian Orthodoxy ordains two categories of priests:
1. Parish priests that must necessarily be married before they are
2. Hieromonks or the priests of the monastery, who must be
professed into monasticism before ordination.
One could thus speak of tho kind of communities: the parish
community and the monastic community. They are in a interdependent
46 Dan Sandu

conection, supporting one another: the traditional family offers the

monateries material donations, and future candidates to monastic life. In
the opposite sense, the monastics have alsays been militant supporters of
the family values such as love, understanding, tolerance, children birth.
History has proved that when the family was strong, the monatic life was
flourishing and the oposite.
The priests are come to the monastery often with groups of pilgrim
people regularily to streghten their faith. The faithful are saying regularly
their confession in monasteries, organise pilgrimages, or simply go to
visit and have retreats. When a parish comes to temporary vacancy, the
priest’s responsibilities are taken over by the hieromonks of the nearest

Authority in a monastery
According to the monastic regulations, a monastic community is
based on an authority which is freely accepted. Beyond the authority of
God who is the key concern for the monastic’s sense of life, there is a
freely accepted authority of the Spiritual Father and the Abbot. This
authority is based on love of both sides.
The Spiritual Father is always an experienced monk who guides a
few novices individually. He is invested with an authority which is not
dictated. Every novice can choose his confessor, and can change him if he
does not feel a satisfactory spiritual progress. The Confessor is only
concerned with the individual life of the novice which sould be guided to
live the Gospel in the personal life.
The Abbot/Staretz is the administrative responsible for all members
of a monastic community, and he is given full obedience, in his quality of
the “Parent” of the community. He will always be called “Father” and
given a priority as the one who cares and works for the spiritual welfare
of his spiritual disciples, novices or monks/nuns.
Very often, authority in a monastery is also given by the ordination
to priesthood. They all have to observe the Regulations valid for all
monasteries and aim continuously to the service of God and personal
The Foreign Policy of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia
and Its Influence upon the Romanian Orthodox Church
in the Romanian Principalities

Daniel Niţă-Danielescu

Faculty of Orthodox Theology,
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, ROMANIA

At the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the next one, the diplomatic
confrontations between the Christian powers and the Ottoman Empire increase their
intensity and complexity, especially after the Turks’ defeat in 1683, under Vienna’s
walls, and the founding, the next year, of the Holy League under the Pope’s protection.
An important role in this context starts to be played by Russia, after tsar Peter the
Great’s rise to power. The Romanian Principalities are motivated in asserting their own
interests on the side of the new Eastern power, out of both a will of emancipation from
the Ottoman rule, whose excesses had led to consequences that needed to be removed,
and an Orthodox solidarity that had been consistently manifested up until then as well.
The desire to cultivate a policy of equilibrium between the Great Powers holding
interests in the Romanian area was also to be considered, given the necessity to preserve
specificity and identity. Yet, the Russian politics of the time, particularly in the aftermath
of the failed anti-ottoman campaign of 1711, beyond the official rhetoric and the
propaganda gestures, still focuses on the efforts to consolidate domination in the
northern territories, near the Baltic Sea, where the capital of the Russian Empire is
transferred in 1713.

Keywords: Church, Romanian Principalities, Russia, Peter the Great

The failure of the daring Ottoman offensive on Vienna in 1683,

followed by the impetuous counteroffensive of the Christian powers,
brought together under the roof of the Holy League (initiated on 21 March
1648 through the Treaty of Linz and protected by Pope Innocent XI; the
treaty established the political and military collaboration between the
Habsburgs and the Poles, next to whom came Venice and, in 1686,
Russia. The parties were going to carry on exclusively anti-Ottoman
48 Daniel Niţă-Danielescu

military actions and the treaty stipulated the acknowledgment of the each
ally’s dominion over the “liberated” territories, except for the case when a
territory belonged to a different party, which was thus entitled to
“historical rights” - Rezachevici 1989: 10; Istoria românilor 2003: 10),
will have major effects on the diplomatic and military confrontations
related to the fate of the peoples in the Balkan area and in south-eastern
Europe. The Romanian Principalities had now an international juridical
status defined, in relation to Turkey, as a vassalage one (acknowledging,
at the same time, a wide domestic autonomy), but in the chancelleries of
the European powers they are seen as mere completing parts of the
Ottoman Empire.
Thus, the Austrian Empire, after having succeeded in annexing
Transylvania and having it sanctioned in 1699, by the Treaty of
Karlowitz, directs its attention on the possibility to annex Moldavia and
Walachia, whose controlling, from a strategic point of view, would have
ensured the new possession in the best possible way. On the other hand,
during the preliminary negotiations of Karlowitz, a firm interest of Poland
for Moldavia is obvious. Poland had been the main rival of the Ottoman
Empire in the area. In the political Polish calculations, the Romanian
Principalities could have constituted, under its protection, a buffer state in
the way of the Turkish and Tartar danger. In the second half of the 17th
century, France supports Poland in achieving a wished for Swedish-
Polish-Ottoman barrier, against both Russia and the Austrian Empire
(Boicu 1986: 26). These efforts are competing with Poland’s attraction,
by the Habsburgs and the Papacy, in the newer crusade projects (in the
middle of the century, such a plan had been imagined, including the
Romanian participation, which was however not finalized – Andreescu
1984: 147 sqq). Domestically weakened and passing through a
devastating war period with the Cossacks, the Tartars, the Swedes, the
Danes and the Russians, Poland gets out the “flood era” feeble, but
nourishing the ambition to gain back the lost prestige. In 1654, the
territory of Little Russia (with Kiev and Chernigov) is annexed to the
Russian Empire (the new possessions being sanctioned by the treaty of
1686). In 1655, Poland starts the war with Sweden, and one year later,
with Brandenburg, whose right to rule over Prussia is acknowledged by
Sweden. The polish state cedes to Russia, in 1667, the territories left the
The Foreign Policy of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia… 49

Dnieper. But the Cossacks rise, asking for Turkish aid, being eventually
defeated with the help of the Moldavian princes, who pursue a philo-
Polish policy. Jan Sobieski is brought to the throne, and under him the
Russian-Turkish was for the territory right the Dnieper takes place. The
Turks win and install here, between 1681-1683, Gheorghe Duca, who,
besides the rule of Moldavia receives the Hetmanate of Ukraine. In 1683,
Jan Sobieski parts with France’s policy, intervening, in a salutary manner,
in Vienna’s relief, and joining, one year later, the Holy League. In 1686,
Poland signs peace with Russia and focuses on the war with the Ottoman
Porte, on which basis it wants to annex the whole Moldavia, not only
Kamyanets and Podolia, territories that the Turks had taken in 1672.
Supported by Louis XIV, Sobieski would have wanted to install on
Moldavia’s throne (and on Walachia’s one as well, if possible) his older
son, Jakub, who was going to marry a French princess. By fulfilling the
Danubian-Pontic project, Poland would have been removed from alliance
with Austria and would have reacquired its status of great power.
Between 1684 and 1691, the Polish campaigns in Moldavia follow one
after the other almost each year, but, although they enjoy the support of a
party of young and enthusiastic boyars, they do not succeed in obtaining
decisive victories (Istoria românilor 2003: 25-31; Ciobanu 1997: 133-
136). Prudent, Constantin Cantemir will avoid joining military
campaigns, trying, following the model of the Walachian princes, to send
the Poles away from Moldavia, with a view to signing a peace meant to
keep the country together. In fact, the prince was following a political
conduct that Miron Costin was briefly stating as “faith for the Turks,
praise for the Christians”. The Poles occupy strategic areas of the country
– the fortresses and monasteries from the mountain zone – and the
occupation armies provoke considerable loss (Papacostea 1971: 119). The
Jesuit Philippe Avril, the imperial envoy to Constantin Cantemir, notes in
1689 “the ruin of this country which, waging no war with anyone, is
today the most devastated of all European countries” (Călători străini
despre Ţările române 1983: 107). The same Jesuit remarks the Romanian
prince’s initiative to sign an alliance treaty with the Austrians, to balance
the Polish influence in Moldavia and avoid the consequences of a separate
peace between the Poles and the Turks. The text stipulates the emperor’s
obligation to force the Turks to sign the peace and recognize the
50 Daniel Niţă-Danielescu

hereditary character of the Cantemirs’ rule and leave the Orthodox

believers the “free practice of their religion and never force the
Moldavians to unite with the Church of Rome”; it also stipulated the
dispatching of a sufficient number of troops to chase the garrisons that the
Poles had placed in the cities of Moldavia (Călători străini despre Ţările
române 1983: 107. The treaty was concluded at Sibiu on 15 February
1690; the Jesuit envoy’s relation tells the essential, but is subsequent). At
Karlowitz, during the preliminary negotiations, “the Poles were
insistently asking for Moldavia, but the Turks answered for Moldavia that
they cannot give them Moldavia, as it is free; that it submitted itself to the
Turks, and was not taken by sword. So the Poles, seeing this thought this
way: the cities of Moldavia and the monasteries, everything they took,
they should give back to the Moldavians. And Turkey will give
Kamyanets to the Poles, with the whole territory and Ukraine (…). And
the Turks will never decide for Hotin, and will never make city in
Moldavia, and will never name pasha here. The same for Walachia”
(Neculce 1982: 396-397).
After 1699, in Poland the stagnation process became more marked.
In 1704, Sweden imposes Stanislaw Leszczynski as a king, replacing
August II. The process of “subordinating foreign interests” continue,
culminating with the imposition, in 1717, of the Russian protectorate and
the passive and docile August III’s bringing to the throne by the Russians,
in 1733 (Davies 1986: 334; Rady 2002:123 sqq). Poland, as Russia’s
political rival in the area eliminated in the 18th century, being the object of
several successive divisions among the great powers ((Davies 1986: 334
At the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the next one, a
new powere emerges in Eastern Europe, nourishing the ambition to be
recognized as a great power –tsarist Russia. For the Romanians, the
“Russian factor will take the place of the Polish one in the balance policy;
it is with the Russians that our princes will search for support against the
more and more oppressing Turkish regime, and a counterweight to the
Austrian imperialism, whose annexionist desires were not hidden any
more” (Papacostea 1971: 194). After 1684, when the offensive of the
crusade started under the auspices of the Holy League is threatening for
the Romanians, the interest for Russia becomes a major one. The contacts
The Foreign Policy of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia… 51

already established in the first decades of the 17th century (in Moldavia
Gheorghe Ştefan had concluded, on 29 June 1656, a treaty project with
Russia, eventually ineffective – Zahariuc 2003: 97-99), are intensely
resumed. In the second half of the 17th century, especially after Vienna’s
siege and the Ottoman military retreat, the Romanian political class enters
“a game as dangerous as unavoidable, whose purpose was both the
removal of the Ottoman suzerainty and the avoidance of the pretensions
that the neighbour great Christian powers could have had on the
Romanian Principalities” (Georgescu 1989: 69). In Walachia, Şerban
Cantacuzino and Constantin Brâncoveanu, understanding the peril of the
Austrian and Polish actions in relation to the interests of their country,
will try to establish good relationships with Russia, to counterbalance the
equilibrium of forces. A mission sent to Moscow in 1688 let the Tsar
know the prince’s and the Metropolitan’s wish, which was also the wish
of the Orthodox peoples from the Balkan area, to “take the crusade on the
Orthodox Christianity” (at Moscow is sent the archimandrite Isaiah). The
envoy presents the dramatic situation of the country – an object of dispute
between the Turks and the Catholics – and the Tsar, although he had
concluded in 1686 an “eternal peace” with the Austrians, encouragingly
writes to the Romanian prince: “we shall take care of you (…); do not
sign submission acts, do not take oaths and do not make vows of
submission, but prepare, you and your people, as well as other Christian
armies, and come against Crimea”. It was noticed, with good reason, that
the Russians were now pursuing a local policy, paying no attention to the
great project of Constantinople’s liberation, and even considering Şerban
Cantacuzino “voivode and sovereign of all Christian Orthodox”
(Bezviconi 1962: 116; Papacostea 1971: 95). Constantin Brâncoveanu,
with prudence and tact, will pursue the same policy, dispatching on 5
March 1700 the first permanent diplomatic agent to Moscow.
A similar policy is promoted in Moldavia. Under the Poles’
pressure to join the crusade, crossing an unfavourable moment,
Constantin Cantemir, who had previously been a military in the Polish
army, considers it proper to answer this way: “who could be the so sinful
one, among Christians, who knowing the possibility of the future
situations and the common usefulness for the Christians, would not want
to shed his last drop of blood under Christ’s flags? But the Turks and the
52 Daniel Niţă-Danielescu

Tartars gathered a big army (…) and they crossed the Danube and the
Tartars are ready at Moldavia’s boarders. Who, if they hear the prince
went on the emperor’s side, will sack the whole country of Moldavia (…).
So if it is done, who will answer in front of God’s Power, for so many
Christian souls? So His Majesty the Emperor should choose to weigh this
better in his mind, not to engender, this way, instead of Christian liberty,
eternal slavery and the biggest hurts” (Cantemir, trans. Albala 1960: 56-
57). The Prince maintains this prudent attitude, although the Polish
assurances, the Catholics’ manoeuvres and the Russian policy had
considerably strengthened the philo-Polish boyar party.
Worried by the situation, the Moldavians send, in January 1684, a
mission to Moscow, led by metropolitan Dosoftei and collector Lupu,
who ask for Russian protection, showing that the country does not want to
submit itself to the Poles, “who are not constant in their nature” (it is also
said that the Romanians live with them in “peace and brotherhood, and
not submission”). In the letter, written in the name of all inhabitants
“bishops, boyars and all together, regardless of the age and status (…),
hieromonks, monks and priests of the holly monasteries” and addressed to
Russia’s tsars, Ivan V and Peter I, support is also required against “the
harms that threaten us, as we are now approaching the big end, because of
the Turks and of the Tartars without God, who started to shed their
barbarian poison and are ready to devastate our country, out of hate and
envy, seeing their power weakened and decreased by Christ’s servants,
before the armies of the Germans and the Poles. That is why (…) seeing
God’s anger upon the Turks and the Tartars, we do not want them to rule
on us any more”. In the discussions had with the voivode of Kiev, Alexa
Saltâkov (the mission of Moldavia is stopped here because of the pest
epidemics, and the message to the tsars is transmitted by Alexa Saltâkov),
it is also stated that the prince of Walachia, Şerban Cantacuzino, pursues a
similar policy (Dragomir 1911-1912: annexes XXXV and XXXVI;
Bezviconi 1962: 107). For the Romanian princes, Russia could have
become an ally in the policy of balance they promote. The argument of
the common Orthodox belonging is often invoked, both as a reason to join
the war against the “pagan Turk” and as a means to temper the Catholic
crusaders’ boldness. Not openly uttered, but implicated in the very
assuming of this political-diplomatic strategy, the Romanian claims, of
The Foreign Policy of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia… 53

getting back the territories previously lost, of eliminating the Ottoman

influence and those who applied it, as well as of re-establishing the old
country costumes, start to be related to the new Orthodox power,
emerging in the East. This alternative, cultivated with much diplomatic
tact and prudence, is part of Şerban Cantacuzino’s and Constantin
Brâncoveanu’s options in Walachia, and of Antioh’s and Dimitrie
Cantemir’s ones in Moldavia.
As far as the attitude of the high hierarchs of the Church towards the
opportunities of the foreign policy, one can notice continuity with the
previous options, on the one hand, and new orientations, on the other,
which reach however no end. Thus, the wish to banish the “pagan”
Ottoman rule remains unchanged, as well as the concern to observe local
identity and specificity. Yet, the sacking of many of Moldavia’s
monasteries (especially those in the North) by the occupation armies
determine some of the superiors and of the bishops to look after Orthodox
Russia’s support. Their older relationships with Kiev represent a good
passage way. With this cultural and spiritual centre, the Romanians had
had strong relationships; from the standpoint of the Church policy and
diplomacy, the issue was that of stopping the Roman Catholic proselytism
in sub-Carpathian Ukraine, after at Brest-Litovsk, in 1595-1596, the
Uniate formula had been introduced among the eastern Slavs. At Kiev,
the Romanian metropolitan St. Petru Movila had worked, who had
managed, through the new institutions he created, to organize the fight for
the preservation and assertion of the Orthodoxy. In Constantinople’s
relationship with Kiev, the Romanians play the role of mediators, as the
ecumenical patriarch or their representatives stop and find support at
Bucharest and at Iasi in their way to Poland. The relationships with Kiev
will continue after its passing under the Russian rule. At the beginning of
the 18th century, of the Romanian pilgrims to Kiev, the most famous one
is Saint Pahomie, bishop of Roman and founder of the hermitage of
Pocrov, near the monastery of Neamţ, disciple of Saint Dimitry,
metropolitan of Rostov (Voicescu 1972: 596 sqq; Crăciunaş 1959: 633
The same mediating role is played by the officials of the high clergy
in Moldavia in the effort of re-establishing the connections with
Muscovite Russia and the Athonite monasteries (Bezviconi 1962: 68;
54 Daniel Niţă-Danielescu

Gorovei, 1994:604; for the relationships from the first half of the 17th
century, see also L.E. Semenova 1994: 561-570). Later, Vasile Lupu as
well will cultivate cultural relationships with Moscow, asking for painters
to assist the painting of the Three Hierarchs monastery church in Iasi, and
so will the metropolitan Dosoftei, to whom patriarch Joachim sends, in
September 1679, a printer.
In the war period of the last decades of the 18th century and
especially after the sacking of the Moldavian monasteries by the Polish
and Cossack armies, several Romanian priests start relationships with the
Russians. Monks Filotei and Antonie from Putna go to Moscow, in 1692,
to get the necessary help for the repairing of the monastery, affected by
the foreign troops’ stay; here again, we find the bishop of Rădăuţi,
Nicolae Vasilievici, who accompanied in his refuge to Stryi the former
metropolitan bishop of Moldavia, Dosoftei (Dan 1912: 97). After them
comes, in 1695, superior Varnava from Suceava, who is also given
charity, and, in 1703, the prince of Moldavia, Constantin Duca,
recommends to the Tsar Isaia, the superior of the monastery of Humor,
also in search for the necessary charity to renovate his monastery,
plundered by the Turks and the Tartars. In 1707, superior Pavel of the
monastery of Râşca also reaches Moscow (the monastery had also been
plundered by the Tartars). Two years later, in 1709, here comes Gavriil of
Coşula, together with archimandrite Pavel Işpanovici from the monastery
of Bisericani, the nephew of the metropolitan Dosoftei (Păcurariu 2006:
246-250; Bezviconi 1962: 124-125; Constantinescu-Iaşi 1954: 170-171).
Pavel will settle down in Russia, becoming later the bishop of Voronezh.
These travellers’ way to Moscow is also opened by the good relationships
that the scholar metropolitan Dosoftei cultivate with the Russian
Patriarchy (Elian 2003: 117-118).
Under tsar Peter the Great (1682-1725; sole ruler starting with
1696), Russia starts a period of domestic reorganization, characterized by
the effort to introduce reforms able to develop, following the western
model, the traditional society, economy and mentalities from the Russian
Empire, who still preserve a strongly Asian specificity. The development
of the small-scale industry and of manufactures is attempted, the fiscal
system is reformed, commerce is encouraged and attempts to introduce
elements of occidental legislation take place. The system of granting titles
The Foreign Policy of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia… 55

of nobility is reformed, the focus being moved upon the promotion of the
new nobility, organized after the European model and who owe their
social ascension to the tsar. The slaves and the muzhiks keep the same
degrading status. The administrative machinery is reorganized, the
Empire being divided into governorates (guberniyas) and, starting from
1711, the Senate begins to function, composed of functionaries who
replace the boyar Duma. The colleges, equivalents of the European
ministries, work in accordance with new principles, a well-organized
bureaucracy being soon composed, dealing with current affairs. In the
Church, Peter the Great, exponent of the autocracy, replaces the
institution of the Patriarchy with the Synod. Special attention is paid to
the army, reorganized in accordance to the European model as well. The
system of compulsory recruitment is introduced, as well as the uniform
and the fight exercises. Infantry, cavalry, artillery and navy are all well-
equipped with weaponry, a permanent combative atmosphere being
fostered. The tsar himself, in 1721, takes the Emperor title (Kaрташeв
2005: 694-732; Histoire du christianisme des origines à nos jours, tome
IX , L’âge de raison 1997: 509-515; Dvornik, trans. Stanciu 2001: 465-
481). In foreign policy, under Peter I two major expansion directions
stand out: towards the Baltic Sea, where the tsarist Empire collides with
the interests of the Swedish and Polish Kingdoms, and towards the Black
Sea, where dominated the interests of the Ottoman Porte, represented by
the Tartar rule (Marshall, trans. Stoica 2002: 26sqq). For the direct access
the Baltic Sea, Peter I starts a long war with the Swedish king, Charles
XII, who had managed to bring to the Polish throne a faithful pretender.
In July 1709, Peter defeats the Swedes at Poltava, managing thus to win
the Northern War and ensure the Baltic Sea access; on its shore, he will
build a new capital, Sankt Petersburg, following the western model again
(Troyat 1994: 82 sqq; Warnes, trans. Şendrea 2001:101 sqq). As far as the
second expansion direction is concerned, towards the south, with a view
to the opening of a new strategic corridor towards the Black Sea, this is
not a priority in the Russian politics of the time. Yet, a constant interest is
asserted, at the level of a propaganda rhetoric. At Karlowits, in 1699,
Russia is acknowledged, as member of the Holy League, the rule over
Azov. Discontent with the manner in which the negotiations take place,
the Russians withdraw and sign a separate peace with the Turks on 25
56 Daniel Niţă-Danielescu

July 1702 (among other provisions, the treaty stipulated the Orthodox
believers’ right to pilgrimage to Jerusalem). Here is how Ion Neculce
presents the tsar’s attitude towards the peace negotiations from 1699:
“then, at that time, the Muscovite Emperor, Peter Alexeyevich went alone
to the German Emperor Leopold and asked him insistently not to sign
peace with the Turks. Because then he had started to order the army, like
at the Germans, as they did afterwards. But the German emperor could
not satisfy his will, not to sign peace with the Turks, because he had very
much weakened and he said to the Muscovite: ‘Even if you agree and
give me the army’s control for several years, but I cannot, because now he
asks me, but after, who knows, he might ask me or not, as he can prolong
the battle for many years. And I have weakened, as I do not fight the Turk
only, but also the French, and there, the fight is greater than the one with
the Turk’. So the Muscovite emperor, returning to his country, started to
shave his boyars’ beards and those of his subjects and started to change
their clothes and make German customs and order. And they even brought
some Germans, to show them how to do, and that is how they do up until
today” (Neculce 1982: 397-398). This attitude gives a favourable image
of the tsar in the Orthodox world. In the following years, Peter dedicates
himself to solving the northern issues. The Russian projects, quite
realistic, do not exceed, yet, in the southern policy, the wish to have direct
access to the Black Sea, a rather limited programme. N. Iorga remarks
that “we must unhesitatingly forget the idea of a Russian policy aiming, at
the time, to conquer the Balkans and to bring to Constantinople a Slav
emperor” (Iorga 1985: 294). Peter is not only insufficiently initiated in the
Balkan issues, but such a project could only have appeared in “the mind
of those whose nationalism had not yet developed enough”, particularly
the Greek members of the high clergy (Neculce 1982: 397-398).
Though it had been part of the Holy League, Russia does not
participate in the signing of the Karlowitz treaty, preferring to conclude a
separate agreement with the Porte. In 1700, the tsar sends to Istanbul a
permanent diplomatic official, and on 25 July 1702, Ukrainschi, Peter the
Great’s plenipotentiary signs the treaty with the Ottoman Empire. Among
other things, this stipulated the acknowledging of the Russian rule upon
the city of Azov and of the territories left the Dnieper (conquered during
the previous war), the acceptance for the Russian trade vessels to cross
The Foreign Policy of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia… 57

the Dardanelles and of the war ones to navigate on the Black Sea, as well
as the Russians’ right to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem (Xenopol 1997:
15). Peter the Great, seeing thus his access to the southern seas ensured,
does not let himself attracted again in an insufficiently prepared military
expedition to the Balkans. His attention directs almost exclusively
towards the Northern War, to open the second window to the Baltic Sea.
In the war he wages with Sweden, the tsar is defeated on 30 November
1701, in the battle of Narva. The Swedish king, Charles XII, will not
fructify the victory, focusing on the Polish problems, and thus offering
Peter the time to extend his rule upon the Finnish territories. After he
installs Stanislaw Leszczynski to the Poland’s throne, Charles XII
resumes the anti-Russian war. His strategic plan provided direct attack
against Moscow, relying upon the Zaporozhian Cossacks’ support, led by
Hetman Mazepa (who saw in the Russian power’s development the
greatest danger for his people). The military campaign, started through
Ukraine, faces however food supplies difficulties. Charles XII has to
besiege the city of Poltava, where he thinks he could have his armies
recuperated, but the energetic intervention of the army led by the tsar will
bring the latter a decisive victory (8 July 1709). The Swedish king and
hetman Mazepa with the decimated troops retreat on the territory of
Moldavia, eventually finding Turkish hospitality at Bender (the old
Romanian city of Tighina). Here, he tries to convince the Sultan about the
necessity of a common anti-Russian action, a proposition that had been
rejected, a few years before, by the Ottoman diplomacy (Iorga 2008:
75sqq: Niţă-Danielescu 2009: 43sqq). In November 1709, due to the
ability of the Russian ambassador to Istanbul, Peter Tolstoi (who will
later become the governor of Azov), a 30 year Russian-Turkish peace
treaty is signed (Bezviconi 1962: 126). With the support of the French
diplomacy (especially of the Ambassador Pierre Desalleurs), interested in
tempering the Russian ambitions, the Swedish king manages to provoke
the replacement of the Grand vizier with Baltaci Pasha, known for his
anti-Russian views. Rumours are taken over and amplified about the
Russian propaganda among the Christians of the Principalities and from
the Balkans, as well as the danger as far as the Ottoman interests were
concerned, of the construction of a Russian navy in Azov. The proper
moment appears when the tsar reproaches Turkey through an official
58 Daniel Niţă-Danielescu

message dispatched to Sultan Ahmed III, the fact that he had hosted the
Swedish king and he conditions the peace on the latter one’s banishing.
For peter the Great, the Northern War was not closed, as long as Charles
XII was not definitively removed.
The evolution of the Russian-Swedish hostilities, as well as their
transfer on the Ottoman territory were attentively observed by the
Romanian princes. Pseudo Nicolae Muste tells that “many Moldavians
went to that war, some of them to the Swedes, some to the Muscovites,
who, after the war ended, came here in the country to the prince to tell
him in detail about their war, how it was” (Pseudo-Neculai Muste 1874:
40). The Russians’ victory at Poltava impressed, and many started to
believe in a quick crash of the Ottoman Empire. In Moldavia, Mihail
Racoviţă “seeing Moscow’s strength, thought that in a short while it will
become the Christianity’s joy and glory” (Neculce 1982: 482. Nicolae
Iorga thinks that now the Moldavian prince is initiated in the philo-
Russian policy), and in Walachia Constantin Brâncoveanu’s prudence
seemed to be overwhelmed by the bold asserting of the pro-Russian
orientation by the Cantacuzinos’ party. Realistic, Nicolae Costin notices
that since Charles XII’s coming to Bender “other harms had been stirred,
breaking the peace between the Turks and the Muscovites, with plunder,
slavery and much oppression, so that everything seemed to approach the
end” (Costin 1990: 348). Because of a Russian-Sweden incident taking
place on Moldavia’s territory, Mihail Racoviţă is deposed, being
suspected of philo-Russian attitudes (Racoviţă-Cehan 1942: 145 sqq;
Grigorovici 1942: 157-158. Ion Neculce tells that Antioh Cantemir could
have returned to the throne if he had given, as required, 300 bags (while
he had only offered 100). The information has little credibility, as the
Turks are now looking for a faithful man on the Moldavian throne).
Under these tense circumstances, Turkey sends to Moldavia Nicolae
Mavrocordat. A significant fact is the absence of any money pretensions
coming from the Turks for this rule, and an even more significant one is
that the one they install on the throne of Iaşi is a career Ottoman
functionary (Nicolae Mavrocordat was a dragoman, so a member of the
Ottoman diplomatic body).
The deposition of Mihail Racoviţă and the firm measures that the
Turks take in order to stop any Russian interference in Moldavia aroused
The Foreign Policy of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia… 59

the locals’ suspicions that the country was going to become a pashalik:
“all the boyars gathered at Iaşi and went in to demand that no pasha be
sent from the Porte and no boyars be sent to the Porte”. In this situation,
Brâncoveanu’s advice was asked for, who reassures them, stating that
their fears were groundless (Neculce 1982: 492). Nicolae Mavrocordat,
who did not speak Romanian (though he was blood-related to the
Muşatins – for the Mavrocordats, see vezi Alexandre A.C. Stourdza
1913), stands out, during his first rule at Iaşi (1709-1710), with a tough
anti-boyar policy, as well as with a correct administration. The fact
displeases some, who accuse him of “relying too much on the Greeks”. A
conflict with the Polish armies, who are Charles XII’s allies and have a
discretionary conduct in Iaşi (but “the prince stood his ground for the
locals”) will contribute to his relationships with the protectors from
Istanbul growing colder.
The French diplomacy, who supports the Swedish king’s plans,
understands that the great danger for the anti-Russian war project does not
come from Moldavia, but from Constantin Brâncoveanu, whose relations
to the Russians start to be better known (after hetman Mazepa’s death, his
correspondence had been taken by the Tartars), as well as the
commitments that the Romanian prince hade made in a planned anti-
Ottoman campaign. That is why the problem of his replacing is raised, a
difficult thing to do, as his rule was a strengthened one, and Brâncoveanu
had also mobilized a strong army.
The one who will know how to take advantage of this confused
situation is Dimitrie, Constantin Cantemir’s younger son. His good
relationships with the Tartar khan’s representative with the Sultan, Ismail
Efendi, will be decisive in his propelling to the throne of Iaşi. On Ismail
Efendi’s request, the khan recommends the Sultan to consider Dimitrie as
the best person to take Moldavia’s throne. Neculce, who is well-advised
in the political matters of the time, shows us that the khan counsels the
Sultan saying that “Brencovanul-vodă is a rich and strong man, he has a
big army and has been the Muscovites’ friend for too long”. That is why
“he must not remain Prince at this time, as he can become wicked and
injure the imperial army. But he must be caught, as he will not come to
the Porte by himself. And no one is able to get him, but the younger son
of the prince, of Cantemir vodă. He is a faster man than his brother,
60 Daniel Niţă-Danielescu

Antiohie vodă. And your Highness should install him prince in Moldavia,
he will manage to administrate it. Neculai vodă, who is now in Moldavia,
is Greek and will not be able to do this job. And I don’t like it either,
working with the Greeks” (Neculce 1982: 510-511). Convinced, Ahmed
III quickly makes the shift of princes in Moldavia, Dimitrie Cantemir
being sent to Iaşi to follow, from here, Constantin Brâncoveanu’s moves
and, if possible, capture him. The shift of princes is made discretely; they
meet at Galaţi, promising to each other to maintain a neutral attitude. On
10 December 1719, Dimitrie Cantemir enters Iaşi, where he is anointed
prince by the metropolitan bishop Ghedeon (Neculce 1982: 514). The
Turks preparations, assisted by the French diplomacy, to start a war with
the Russians were finalized. By this habile move of isolating Constantin
Brâncoveanu, the possibility that a Russian occupation army might be
supported by the locals seemed baffled, and Charles XII could hope in a
spectacular overthrow on the field of the Northern War. The young
Romanian prince installed at Iaşi will however deceit his protectors’
expectations. Having lived, for a long time, in the cosmopolitan
atmosphere, man of a remarkable culture (Panaitescu 1958; Zub 2003: 9-
12), Cantemir knew very well the internal realities of the Empire. His
historical formation had convinced him that the Ottoman power was now
on a descending slope, near its imminent collapse. As a Christian prince,
he understands very well the meaning of the wars waged by the Russians
in Europe and is aware of Russia’s aspirations, with whose ambassador he
has secret connections. He was at Constantinople when the Sultan
received the Muscovite mission, who had come on sea; and he
understands that “the Turks were not very happy to see them coming on
water, that they opened the water way and learned to make galleys them
too [the Russians – our note]. And the people was astonished and came in
big numbers to see that Muscovite galley, coming to Tzarigrad; and they
had heard before that the Muscovites made galleys, but they did not
believe it, and now they saw it with their own eyes”. So for the Turks, in
fact, Cantemir is not at all a trusting person, but an uncertain one, ready to
make, unlike Constantin Brâncoveanu, imprudent political gestures,
having no experience of power (though he had been anointed prince for a
while, immediately after his father’s death), and understanding politics
more from the readings’ standpoint. Neculce makes him a brief
The Foreign Policy of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia… 61

characterization: “He was a learned man. But he was not very good with
trials, maybe because he had lived at Tzarigrad for a long time, abroad.
He was not greedy, he liked the others to praise his things” (Neculce
1982: 516-517). Once at Iaşi, he finds here a strong philo-Russian party,
reproaching the old prince the rule through the Greeks. Breaking the
promise made at Galaţi, Nicolae Mavrocordat accuses Cantemir of having
released the boyars he had imprisoned for pursuing a pro-Russian policy
(Mavrocordat exaggerates, as Iordache Ruset had been arrested for the
intrigues through which he had managed to change many princes).
Cantemir answers, reproaching the former prince alleged fiscal abuses,
and the critical situation will eventually be overstepped.
Moldavia’s prince is at first received with reserves, not necessarily
for coming as the Turks’ man, but because of the “bad name he made in
his first rule”, when he proved, in front of the boyars, “impatient and
furious (…) when drinking”; but he will soon gain everybody’s trust
through “mercy and modesty”. He develops an intense diplomatic
activity, collecting news and dispatching them to Istanbul. Pressed by the
Tartars to start a campaign against Constantin Brâncoveanu, he manages
to diplomatically elude it. Moreover, he gets the Porte’s agreement to play
a double game, being allowed to “go the Muscovites and whatever he sees
and understands, he tells to the Porte” (Neculce 1982: 523). Meanwhile,
the Russian-Turkish war starts. The Russian ambassador to Istanbul is
arrested, and the tsar answers by opening the hostilities. At Moscow, on
21 February 1711, a religious service is officiated for the blessing of the
red flag under which the war “in the name of the Saviour and of
Christianity” was going to be waged, above the inscription being a cross
surrounded with rays, reading in hoc signo vinces (Xenopol 1997: 17). A
manifesto spread in the Balkans was calling to fight the “Greek,
Walachian, Bulgarian and Serb Christians who sigh under the barbarians’
yoke and prove, with their deep misery, how much the Turks observe
their treaties” (Xenopol 1997: 17). The official propaganda had started,
the military hostilities were following. Peter the Great chooses to cross
the Romanian Principalities, where Constantin Brâncoveanu had
promised the Russians military support and food supplies. In Moldavia,
several boyars, joined by metropolitan Ghedeon, denounce the prince to
the tsar, asking the latter “not to believe Cantemir, as he as a Turk and he
62 Daniel Niţă-Danielescu

in on the Turks’ side”. But the prince knows how to gain trust, sending to
Moscow news from the Russian ambassador imprisoned at Aedicule.
Thus, “Dimitrie vodă was much appreciated and loved by Peter
Alexeyevich (…). As no one else dared making those jobs, because the
envoy was under great guard” (Neculce 1982: 523).
Consulting the boyars as for the attitude he might adopt, Cantemir
finds out that opinions differed. Later accused that he advised the prince
to go on the Russians’ side, Ion Neculce, who will be promoted big
hetman, exculpates himself: “because then all Christians were grateful to
the Muscovites, not me only; and before, others had called the
Muscovites, before Dimitrie vodă: Walachians, Serbs, Moldavians, so
many years before! But the wicked enemies invented insult against me,
and the stupid and the enemies believed it about me. But I could not tell
the secret of my master, one whose bread I ate, as I looked in the Holy
Scripture what the angel told to Tobit and Tobias saying ‘Hush up your
emperor’s secret, and assert God’s deeds at His apparition’ ” (Neculce
1982: 538). The prince, who had gathered around several young boyars,
announces the country’s Assembly that he called the Russians. Among
the boyars, only the high official charged with domestic affairs, Iordache
Ruset, shows reserves, reproaching him that “you hurried, your Highness,
to call the Muscovites. You should have waited until their power could be
seen, how they were” (Neculce 1982: 540).
Before this gesture, that the Russians ask insistently, Dimitrie
Cantemir had sent Ştefan Luca the treasurer, the brother in law of Hetman
Ioan Neculce, at Jaroslav and then at Luck, where tsar Peter was. Here is
signed, on 24 April 1711, a Moldavian-Russian agreement, stipulating
that the Russians “should not conclude peace with the Turk, and if this
happens, to sign peace and for Moldavia to enter again the Turkish rule”,
the Romanian prince was to receive protection and material support in
Russia or wherever he decides to settle (Neculce 1982: 526-528). The
form in which the treaty is concluded, strictly stipulating the observance
of the boarders, the principle of the local dynasty and the ensuring of the
local noble regime’s privileges, expresses, in general traits, the desire to
preserve the old customs of the country, with an autonomy ensured by an
ally who this time was Christian and which the previous one had not
observed. It was also stated that “the prince should not lose the boyars
The Foreign Policy of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia… 63

regardless of the mistakes they might do, without everybody’s council

and the metropolitan’s signature”.
The Russian troops enter the country on 10 June 1711, and their
conduct brings back to mind the drawbacks from the previous military
occupations. Nicolae Costin tells that at a table of Russian militaries,
where the boyars were invited too (and where they ate meat, although it
was the Saint Apostles’ Lent) over the night “almost no boyar remained
unrobed by the Muscovites, no boyar and no servant” (Costin 1990: 396).
Opposing Cantemir’s politics, Nicolae Costin concludes: “that is the good
that Dimitrie vodă brought to the country, with his hasty decision, one
that will never be repaired again” (Costin 1990: 396). The Moldavian
Prince’s betrayal brought forth the Turkish reprisals: the prince’s
representative to Istanbul, Iane, who mediated the relationship with the
Russian ambassador, is decapitated, and Antioh Cantemir is imprisoned.
In the country, Dimitre Cantemir addresses the inhabitants a
proclamation, urging them all to “follow our steps”. He explains the
reasons of his betrayal against the Turks by the fact that they were guilty
of “so many forced occupations of Moldavia, when they brought down
cities and fortresses, took the control over others and allowed the Tartars
to plunder the country”. It is with the tsar, who fight for the liberation of
the Christian peoples, that “we have unite quickly, with all our hear, with
all our fortune, going towards the Danube and facing the assault of the
Turkish tyranny and invasions”, the manifesto read, calling on the
prince’s side the metropolitan bishop and the bishops, the boyars, the
soldiers, the servants and all the country’s inhabitants. Those who did not
come to join the army until 15 June – the proclamation says – were
“anathematized and cursed” (Iorga 2008:100-102). Thus, “great army”
gathers, especially that the tsar’s envoys pay, but the new detachments are
not quite ready for a serious confrontation. In June, Peter, accompanied
by the tsarina and the suite, visits the capital of Moldavia. The Russian
army is also joined by the Walachian contingent led by Toma
Cantacuzino. Under these circumstances, when the Romanian military
defection occurs so quickly, the Grand vizier asks the patriarch of
Jerusalem, Hrisant Nottara, to convince Constantin Brâncoveanu to
intermediate the starting of the peace negotiations. The mission is
entrusted to Gheorghe Castriotul, who will go to Iaşi, with no success
64 Daniel Niţă-Danielescu

however. The strategic military plan adopted by the Russians is wrong.

The force dispersion and the lack of food supplies will weaken much the
combative capacity of the armies.
The decisive battle will take place at Stănileşti between 9 and 11
July. The Russian armies are placed in a critical situation, thus
determining the tsar to convoke, on 10 July, a War council. The
counterattack that marshal Sheremetev tries is rejected and the Russian
camp is bombed (see the Tsar’s letters and the diary of chancellor
Golovkin and that of Peter the Great, the latter wrote later, after
Constantin Brâncoveanu’s death, as the tsar says – referring to the
Romanian prince – that “all betrayers were punished with awful death” in
Călători străini despre Ţările române 1983: 551-574). Caught in an
impossible situation, the tsar asks for the resuming of the peace
negotiations, failed one month before at Iaşi. The negotiations end on 23
July, “near the crossing of Huşi”. Among the stipulations, one can notice
the lost of the city of Azov and its hinterland by the tsar, the demolishing
of the fortress of Troitse that the Rusians had built in the area and the
ensuring of free access to Poland for the Sweden king and his faithful
armies (a thing that Charles XII will not accept, accusing the grand vizier
Baltaci pasha of betrayal). The tsar refuses to give Dimitrie Cantemir,
suggesting the Turks that the prince would have passed on their side. The
army led by Toma Cantacuzino, undefeated yet, will retrocede to the
Turks the city of Brăila, which they had succeeded in conquering.
Accompanied by a group of faithful servants, Toma Cantacuzino will take
refuge, through Transylvania, to Russia, where he will settle down
The Russian army retreats without glory. Cantemir goes to Russia,
hidden in tsarina Catherine’s coach, thus starting a long exile, where he
will never come back from. He is accompanied by several boyars, among
whom Ion Neculce, Savin Zmucilă, Iordachi Aristarh, Pavel Rugină şi
alţii (Neculce 1982: 601-602).
So ended not an “Orthodox crusade”, but a collateral episode of the
Northern War. Moreover, this was the northern project that tsar Peter had
opted for, since the very beginning, starting already, in 1703, his future
capital, Saint Petersburg, on the Baltic Sea’s shore.
The Foreign Policy of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia… 65

For the Romanian Principalities, the defeat of this last military rise
opens the period of affirmation, through almost exclusively diplomatic
means, of local interests, that the Romanian political elites do not give up.
Vlad Georgescu seizes very well the fact that “at the beginning of the 18th
century it was clear for everybody that the political direction that
preached for the changing of the Sultan’s suzerainty with that of a
Christian Emperor was wrong, both because of the practical difficulties in
achieving it, and because of the obvious annexionist Christian projects.
(…) If the independence was not possible, staying with the Turk was the
preferred option, together with his moderation by the means of the
European Empires’ influence” (Georgescu 1987: 308-309).


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“Unless you change and become like little children...”
(Matthew 18, 3). To Become Children: an Attitude, a State
and a Spiritual Act

Adrian Dinu

Faculty of Orthodox Theology,
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, ROMANIA

During His earthly activity, Christ the Deliverer often talked about children and
about the state of spiritual and bodily purity that those who want to follow Him should
have (Matthew 18, 2-6; 19, 14). Here are a few aspects we are going to study here:
Christ and children; parents who have become children again in their soul due to God’s
learning or about people’s spiritual (re)evolution.

Keywords: parents, children, evolution, spirituality

Lord Christ and the Children

During His earthly activity, Christ the Deliverer often talked about
children and about the state of spiritual and bodily purity that those who
want to follow Him should have (Matthew 18, 2-6; 19, 14). Here are a
few aspects we are going to study here: Christ and children; parents who
have become children again in their soul due to God’s learning or about
people’s spiritual (re)evolution.
Christ Himself, when He was a Child, stayed among the grown ups
“listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him
was amazed at his understanding and his answers” (Luke 2, 46-47).
Children are His “favorite” when He blesses people (Mark 10, 13;
Matthew 19, 13: “Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to
place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked
those who brought them”); they are given as examples of obedience and
fulfillment of God’s commandments (Mark 9, 37: “Whoever welcomes
one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever
70 Adrian Dinu

welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me”); and the
love for them, as in fact love for any other person in this world, is
included in a model of authentic living if the principle of God’s presence
priority is complied with (Mark 10, 29-30: “I tell you the truth, Jesus
replied, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or
father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a
hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters,
mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age
to come, eternal life”). Moreover, the Saviour wants to show us, in a
precise and amazing way, that people’s love for their children may also be
guilty to Him if it isn’t lived the way it should be (Luke 14, 26: “If anyone
comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and
children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be
my disciple”). The negative form of the salvation idea presented in this
text shows the exigency of the way leading to Him, exigency and
seriousness in front of which nothing remains at random, not even
children’s natural innocence.
We notice that the Savior often calls to Him the parents and the
children, in a sweet and natural way, the way the latter ones’ behavior is:
“Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for
the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19, 14, Luke
18, 16). Others also refer to children as a beneficent and necessary
presence in the family, for example the Sadducees who didn’t believe in
resurrection, and Christ the Deliverer didn’t reject this idea but showed
people’s place both on earth and in heaven, but especially the fact that
“for to him all are alive” (Luke 20, 38), parents and children, following
the natural order without mixing the realities or overlapping human habits
in God’s Kingdom.
The Saint Apostles and their disciples always mentioned children
and the innocence state resulting from their presence or at least from our
comparison to them. Thus, St. Paul always said to the disciples from the
towns where he traveled that he considered them as his sons, as his
children whom if he rebuked he infinitely loved due to Christ’s presence
in their heart. He knows that their child state is associated with many
things that may be wrong before God, but he loves them and urges them
to constancy and faith (1 Corinthians 4, 14: “my dear children”; 1
To Become Children: an Attitude, a State and a Spiritual Act 71

Corinthians 14, 20: “Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to

evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults). We could give such
examples from the Scripture endlessly, but what we consider to be very
important is this idea: Jesus Christ and the children form more than a
unity in a pious icon of Christian devotion or one of the numerous aspects
of His life. When we speak about Christ the Deliverer and about children
we notice that the spirituality, the eternal life or the need for salvation
come first. That is why I think topical the approach of this theme is of
present interest within the religious formation of the youth. In this study
we are going to address three directions concerning children and their
family and spiritual role. I think that for better understanding of this
theme we should show which is the Church learning concerning
children’s coming into this world, the attitude of those giving birth to
them and their evolution and their parents’ evolution in relation to Christ.
That is why the structure of this material is seen in a crescendo through
which we better understand what children represent in our life and we go
beyond appearances, valuing them and educating them into our Lord
Jesus Christ because their upbringing is also our upbringing, and our
evolution is the foundation of their evolution.

Parents and Children

One of the most profound texts of the New Testament is this: “He
called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell
you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will
never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself
like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever
welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone
causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better
for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned
in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18, 2-6).
This text has, in my opinion, a central element: the verb “change”.
This emphasis should also be correlated with other two ones: the calling
to Him of the child and the establishment within the community. We
already imagine Lord Jesus, full of tenderness, saying the incentive words
for the very young person he had in front of Him and blessing him/her.
Concerning this matter, we should recall Lord’s gestures for the people
72 Adrian Dinu

around Him because they include in themselves an entire religious

theology. It seems that nothing, not even words are more convincing than
some of the gestures or actions He performs. They are always sublime,
full of meanings, beneficent and, especially, leading to fulfillment.
Another central “element” concerns the association between “humility-
babyhood”, and the last element we would like to mention here is related
to receiving or rejecting the babies our salvation depends upon. Maybe
the latter idea is the most important one. The researchers of the Scriptures
think they should pay more attention to it, because it isn’t just a metaphor
as it may first seem. Placing a baby in the middle of some people who
listen to and see what God does is something concrete, something relevant
in time and which reunites in it the whole respective category. Babies,
exactly due to their innocence and to the fact that they are entirely
depended on us the grown ups and especially due to their spiritual state
profoundly related to God, are a very special category of people that He
values to maximum in the mutual relationship we establish. Therefore,
our spiritual involvement has to be in kind. And they are, in a certain way,
the measure of our salvation.
To carry on we should make a few remarks from the pastoral-
religious point of view on the parents-children relation. From the pastoral
theology we know how important the parent’s role is in the life of its own
child, but also in the life of its grandchildren, great-grandchildren or even
great- great-grandchildren (Clement Romanul 1995: 37). A parent with an
irreproachable behavior from a material but also spiritual point of view is
a light in its own family, a powerful example and someone working with
God. But a parent who had a proper material conduct but not a spiritual
one doesn’t enjoy the same appreciation in God’s eyes as a parent who
didn’t take care of its life living in a disorderly manner because it creates
a lot of suffering around it. We could even say that to a greater or less
extent it has certain moral values in its heart (generally related to good,
beauty, truth etc.). However, such a parent remains its entire life with
something missing because it doesn’t try to reach depths of meaning and
life. Things are as valuable for the parishioners of a parish, spiritual
children of the vicar, children that have to be convinced to take seriously
God’s gifts and the true values in life.
To Become Children: an Attitude, a State and a Spiritual Act 73

This theme has been approached during time, at least tangentially,

by many Saint Parents and theologists: John Chrysostom (Ioan Gură de
Aur 2006), Saint Basil the Great (Vasile cel Mare 2004), Saint Athanasius
the Great (Atanasie cel Mare 1987), Saint Clement Romanus (Clement
Romanul 1995), The Elder Paisios (Paisie Aghioritul 2003) and others. Of
the Orthodox theologists from more or less ancient times we mention:
John Breck (Breck, trans Pop 2003), Paul Evdokimov (Evdokimov, trans.
Moldoveanu 1994), Ioan C. Teşu (Teşu 2002), Arsenie Boca (Boca 2005)
or laymen such as Jean-Claude Larchet (Larchet, trans. Bojin 2003) and
many others.
We often read in the Scripture or listen in churches to such texts “Be
fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1,
28); “An you gave me the shield of your redemption and Thy right hand
supported me” (Ps. 17, 38); “Thy hand may lay on all thy enemies, Your
right hand may find all those who hate You” (Ps. 20, 8); “Thy right hand,
O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath
dashed in pieces the enemy” (Exodus 15, 6); “Thy hand may lay on all thy
enemies, Your right hand may find all those who hate You” (Ps. 20, 8)
(Kovalevsky, trans Mezdrea: 1996, 82). In the book of Genesis we are
told that God blessed Adam and Eve, giving them many gifts and
especially spiritual force and freedom: “Be fruitful and increase in
number; fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1, 28). We could derive the
idea that the blessing is above nature, because it transforms it. Tradition,
being founded on divine blessing, teaches us that a child’s upbringing is
not only the parents’ work but also a gift from the Holy Spirit, a holy
mystery (Kovalevsky, trans Mezdrea 1996: 84). We don’t insist on certain
details concerning the human being’s multiplication on the entire earth (as
a consequence and response to the divine commandment), but on the
dilemma that the human being, called to be creator together with God,
ostentatiously raises lately: if this commandment still has the same
opportunism and priority and the attitude it should have in this matter.
The reason that torments him is not even by far one that may result from a
religious conscience.
The babies’ birth, for a Christian family, is a need and a desire
resulted from the grace power of heavenly blessing. The need is part of
God’s plan for His creation, and the desire is the gift given to the creation
74 Adrian Dinu

to attain perfection (Kovalevsky, trans Mezdrea 1996: 86). God the

Creator shares with His creature the creative gift and God’s love and
desire to create reflect upon His creature as an answer to and a continuity
of His love. The commandment to multiply and to be fruitful is the divine
wish of synergy. God wants the man to collaborate freely with Him, to
fulfill by his own will the number mankind has to attain (Kovalevsky,
trans Mezdrea 1996: 88).
The command represents the power that someone invested as
leader, communicates to someone else, in order to focus the will of the
one receiving it to a well defined purpose. The way the law establishes the
co-ordination or subordination relations of communion between several
people, as a means of living together in an ordered manner, the command
supposes the responsible authority of a person who deserves our trust, that
this person shows to its collaborators or to its subordinates to consciously
lead them to a well defined purpose, purpose that brings spiritual and
material content to both parties. Specific to our mind, often characterized
by the timidity of some audacious curiosities, if we analyze the verse of
the Book of Genesis (1, 28), we distinguish four successive stages, which
although they may seem distinct as time and value, they complete each
other and result one from the other: being fruitful, multiplying, filling the
earth and subduing it.
As argument we mention here Saint Basil the Great’s words for
whom being fruitful means the plenitude of grace to which man, created
in God’s image has to aspire. We are made in His image, and after falling
into sin to attain the resemblance with God we have to carry out a
continuous and incessant fight, we have to work out “with fear and
trembling” (Philipians 2, 12) with time and without time for our salvation
(Vasile cel Mare 2004: 217).
Man is really man in all his plenitude he was created with, provided
he remains in a permanent relation of communion with the Prototype, and
his being fruitful doesn’t become a purpose in itself but the opportunity to
make him receive one blessing after another (John 1, 16) and which
confers him merit in God’s eyes, because he has the quality of being a
creator together with the Holy Father. From a religious point of view we
may say that the human being, the most superior of God’s creatures, also
receives the blessing of giving birth to children, only if it remains in a
To Become Children: an Attitude, a State and a Spiritual Act 75

filiation relationship with its Creator, in a permanent relation of religious

becoming. That is why, we could say that we are parents only to the
extent that we recognize God, we pray to Him, because otherwise we
limit ourselves only to the role of transient leaders of some extraordinary
situations that are often beyond us (I believe that misunderstandings in
the family between spouses, the concubinages, leaving the children in
orphnages and other tares of the nowadays society come especially from
not understanding the role of “creators toghether with God”). These
words are not mere metaphors or theological speculations because in the
entire Scripture we find evidence showing that giving birth to children,
both from the bodily and the spiritual point of view, is a responsible act,
involving God’s direct work within people. How else could we
understand, for example, the biblical references to the birth of the
patriarchs Isaac (Genesis 17, 19-21), Jacob (Genesis 25, 21 and the
following), even to the Savior’s Birth (Luke 2).
We could see that along history when the man also tried to create,
but without God, forgetting in fact his divine roots, he remained just a
body, and his development or his people multiplication became even
contrary to God’s will: “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for
he is mortal” (Genesis 6, 3); “But you, like people die and like one of the
commanders fall” (Ps. 81, 7); “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign
Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they
turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will
you die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33, 11).
The main idea is this: as long as the religious development of the
human being stops, then multiplying, filling and subduing the earth may
turn into ugliness in God’s eyes: “The Lord saw how great man's
wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the
thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The Lord was grieved that
he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the
Lord said, I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the
earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and
birds of the air-for I am grieved that I have made them” (Genesis 6, 5-8).
This is how the Scripture shows us as clearly as possible that without
spiritual evolution that is without becoming saints, people’s creation stops
being in accordance with God’s commandment. Here we point out the
76 Adrian Dinu

uniqueness and the sublime of the fact that man may carry out the
commandment of multiplying his kind and may enjoy the entire creation,
provided that he remains God’s faithful minister. The patriarchs
mentioned here: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Noah and so many other
people with a holy life are examples to us through which we see that God
chooses to save not only their people, but the entire mankind. It is due to
the fact that they were blessed by God, being just and pure people
(Genesis 6, 8-9), that their life continues through their children’s life, the
life of the nation they belong to. But the simple quality of patriarchs’
offspring doesn’t mean to inherit the Kingdom, because the spiritual
evolution of offspring is “…For not all who are descended from Israel
are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's
children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be
reckoned” (Romans 9, 6-8).
That is why, we have the only and the ultimate example of being
fruitful in God in the economy of Christ’s Embodiment from Virgin Mary
and of mankind salvation; and through Him, God gave the divine blessing
to everyone, because God blessed Him more than he had previously done
it for His chosen ones: “... for I have made you a father of many nations. I
will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will
come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant
between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations
to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you”
(Genesis 17, 5-7); “He said to me: You are my Son; today I have become
your Father!” (Ps. 2, 7); “In the past God spoke to our forefathers
through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last
days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things,
and through whom he made the universe” (Hebrews 1, 1-2).
We have seen that Abraham found blessing before (Genesis 8, 5),
that God gave him strength and supported him to fulfill His command and
made his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand
on the seashore (Genesis 22, 17) to cover the earth He gave him to
subdue: “The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will
give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you;
and I will be their God” (Genesis 17, 8).
To Become Children: an Attitude, a State and a Spiritual Act 77

If we considered these examples only, we could get the idea that a

theology of creation cannot be considered only from a biblical and
patristic perspective, assumed in the spirit of the Holy Fathers. Through
Christ we are what we are, that is God’s children and in our turn we can
give birth to spiritual children following the words of the Scripture: “The
promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not
say and to seeds, meaning many people, but and to your seed, meaning
one person, who is Christ” (Galatians 3, 16); “If you belong to Christ,
then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise”
(Galatians 3, 29).
Therefore, not the great number of children saves us the same way
as not having them doesn’t doom us. Marriage may be considered as
having the unique purpose to give birth to bodily children, evidence being
the existence of sterile couples who are legally blessed through the
Sacrament of Marriage. Between every family (husband and wife) and
God there is a private and unique relationship because each of them has
its gift and weakness. Sterility should be felt as an abnormality which
may raise many questions, and when it is a voluntary one it becomes an
attempt against God’s blessing, because the abnormality tends to
substitute normality, and normality is considered with suspicion. In this
respect we should say a few words about sterility or non-fruitfulness.
This reality is seen in the Holy Scripture as an affliction, being
often referred to by the prophets as a form of curse against those who
don’t fulfill God’s will. Here are a few arguments. Hosea asks God: “Give
them, O Lord what will you give them? Give them wombs that miscarry
and breasts that are dry!” (Hosea 9, 14); and Jeremiah says: “So give
their children over to famine; hand them over to the power of the sword.
Let their wives be made childless and widows; let their men be put to
death, their young men slain by the sword in battle” (Jeremiah 18, 21).
It also appears as God’s punishment, for example when, because of
Sarai, Abraham’s wife, God had closed up every womb in Abimelech’s
household (Genesis 20, 18). We know that God cuts off to the enemies all
“offspring and descendants” (Isaiah 14, 22), the person working for the
evil has “no offspring and descendants” (Job 18, 19). Several times
having children is presented as God’s gift, which becomes even clearer,
despite the initial non fruitfulness of both spouses or of one of them.
78 Adrian Dinu

Sarai, Abraham’s wife was barren and she had no children (Genesis 11,
30), Manoah’s wife was sterile and remained childless “…the angel of the
Lord appeared to her and said, You are sterile and childless, but you are
going to conceive and have a son” (Judges 13, 2-5), and Rebekah, Isaac’s
wife was barren but because “Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his
wife, …the Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became
pregnant” (Genesis 25, 21).
An eloquent example, full of moving beauty and also encouraging
and giving hope is the one of the prophet Samuel’s mother who was cured
of sterility after her fervent prayers and the blessing of the priest Elijah (1
Kings 1, 1-20). Joachim and Anna represent a family model who although
they could have no children, in response to their prayer they receive John
as a gift, the one who was going to fulfill a providential mission that is to
prepare God’s paths, and to announce the Savior’s coming into the
world: “But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they
were both well along in years.... But the angel said to him: Do not be
afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will
bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy
and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth” (Luke 1, 7,
13-14). Then it is pointed out God’s grace to go beyond the limits of
nature: “Elizabeth… is going to have a child in her old age… she who
was said to be barren” (Luke 1, 36-37).
We should notice the fact that in many such cases sterility appears
as a negative fact only in the first stage. It is a temporary state, which has
to be overcome, God manifesting His might through it. Just like illness
has to be miraculously healed (“This sickness will not end in death. No, it
is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it”, John 11,
4) sterility is also presented as a disease of nature in which God’s grace
manifests the One who is the doctor of souls and bodies (Molitvelnic
1992: 118). Paraphrasing the words of a contemporary theologist, the
deacon Dominique Beaufils we also assert that we will not get into details
concerning this subject which is vast, difficult and painful and which
would lead us outside the issue of illness and death. “Still, we would like
to ask a question which seems essential: is sterility an illness or a state?
In other words: is it beyond the limit and, in this respect, should it be
treated or is it beyond limit and in this case it represents an analogical
To Become Children: an Attitude, a State and a Spiritual Act 79

medical means? Should it be treated, improved or assumed? These

questions can be answered only in a schematic way, not taking into
account the fact that each case is particular and different from the
others” (Beaufils, trans Dinu et all.2009: 223).
An interesting idea is that the gift of children conception given to
the barren wives of the patriarchs of the Old Testament is God’s will to
make their line of descent up to Christ be given by grace not by nature
(Larchet, trans. Bojin 2003: 27). No one can say that sterility is a state
due to sin, because we read in the Holy Scripture that Sarai, Rebekah,
Rahila, Anna, Manoah’s wife and other families lived in a profound state
of morality and obedience to God. God allowed it to make the people
concerned aware of the fact that they received children not due to nature
power, but to grace power, and the children received as a gift were going
to fulfill a mission worthy of their calling.
Sterility, as a normal state of nature, is often seen nowadays and
there are not few those who receive the gift of having babies in response
to their spiritual problems: “Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his
wife, because she was barren. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife
Rebekah became pregnant” (Genesis 25, 21). Therefore, we have to learn
a practical thing, that the force of the prayer is great (The same
Dominique Beaufils said that the prayer helps us to get a profound
awareness in all the facts of our life , in all the thoughts of the fact that
we are always before God’s eyes, with Him, of the fact that we do
everything in union with Him, the way the prayer asks it at the beginning
of work faptului: “Help me the sinner, with your gift, to finish what I start
now”; cf. Beaufils, trans Dinu et all.2009: 72). The spiritual profit of the
prayer is indisputable, leading to a profound change in the life course to
the Mystery of Christ’s Kingdom. It is regrettable that some husbands,
contrary to the vocation they were called for, the union with Christ
(Ephesians 5, 32) and one’s perfection through the other in the mystery of
the Church, are not willing to fulfill the prayer, to make the spiritual
sacrifice of leaving the passions aside. Through a palpable egoism they
refuse God’s work in their life, considering that they can do everything by
their free will because “who still believes nowadays in the miracles of
children fallen as the fruits from the tree of love?” (Godin, trans. Popescu
2003: 109). Today many people follow the idea that man can do
80 Adrian Dinu

everything, and apparently he is also helped by the results of the scientific

discoveries of modern medicine, which determine the modern man,
emptied of everything representing any resemblance to God, so of
everything that life might give him, to adopt a position of rage against
God, living as an egoist and individualist person. But the Saviour tells us
that “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather
with me scatters” (Matthew 12, 30), and correlating this learning with our
theme we could conclude that we have to see the purpose of marriage in
giving birth to children and keeping out of debauchery, then that the
spouses’ union is a form of community life based on love, and its
concrete manifestation is represented by children (Larchet, trans. Bojin
2003: 93). John Crysostom considers the marital union as a “sacrament”
similar to the union of Christ with the Church, and family as a small
church. Just like the Church gives birth to children of the Eternal
Kingdom the same way the family has to give birth in a responsible way
to children that it has to prepare to consolidate the Church (Larchet, trans.
Bojin 2003: 92). The commandment: “Be fruitful and increase in number;
fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1, 28) has to be considered, first of
all, as a way of perfecting. When we speak of children and implicitly of
parents, we have to notice that they are close by their nature to that
natural womb in which God created man, placing in him propensity to
good, truth and beauty. The child always has in itself propensity to what
is good and I think that through this inner quality it is very close to the
initial state with which man was created by God. It is justified said that
young people or children may be perverted very early, and even too soon
nowadays, but the more so we should trust God’s power and work. An
argument to it is the fact that the Church ordered the Confession
Sacrament for children starting with 7 years old. In this parental care for
them it isn’t only the desire to prevent and combat the spiritual and bodily
perverting which are unavoidable sometimes, but it is especially the
desire that they should be with Christ, to share Him, taking Him fully
aware of it and with the necessary preparation.
To Become Children: an Attitude, a State and a Spiritual Act 81

Parents who have become children again

Saint Apostle Paul, with a certain quality and authority of spiritual
parent, shows several times the duty he has towards his children born by
grace and manifests an attitude characterized by profound spiritual
wisdom resulted from his total devotion to Christ: “And I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2, 20).
Starting from this natural parental concern for our children we could
get to the finality and the purpose of our life and our children’s life:
spiritual evolution in Christ or spiritualization. The idea expressed here by
the Immortal Apostle is more than a personal feeling. It proves that for the
person who has faith and works the virtue becomes “another” person that
is God is discovered in His being. In fact, it is about the religious
babyhood, the spiritual childhood and not being perverted by sin under
any form. There is an enormous distance to the Old Law. If then they
could only get to legal understanding of the state of spiritual guilt now,
through Lord Jesus, man has the possibility to be similar to God by the
gift won with faith and good deeds: “You have sons? Teach them and
burden their necks since early childhood” (Ecclesiastes 7, 24); “But I am
afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds
may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to
Christ” (2 Corinthians 11, 3); “…For you know that it was not with
perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the
empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the
precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect…” (1 Peter 1,
Man receives salvation as a gift from God but also through the
concern and responsibility manifested towards God. This situation is also
transposed for the parents who have towards their children a
responsibility taken in the spirit of love for trinity, and they are also called
to sacrifice on the family altar and to praise the Lord. In short, the
children brought up with decency and with fear of God become a blessing
for all mankind, not only for their parents; and the parents who show a
profound Christian conscience and who are fully aware of the role they
have one through the other in the mystery of salvation, become spiritual
children, that is people showing their “sincere and pure devotion to
Christ” (2 Corinthians 11, 3).
82 Adrian Dinu

In a society where man willingly deviates from obeying God’s

commandments the question the young man from the Gospel asks God
acquires a strong resonance in the souls of the people willing to follow the
example of saints and to become innocence before Him: “Now a man
came up to Jesus and asked, Teacher, what good thing must I do to get
eternal life?” (Matthew 19, 16).
If we speak nowadays of a secularized society (Stăniloae 1993: 46),
without the inner yearning for attaining the whole measure of the fullness
of Christ. (Ephesians 4, 13), a great part of the guilt is incumbent to the
parents: on one hand as an inheritance received from the forefathers, and
on the other hand as an attitude of total indifference to the Gospel and to
God’s words who urges “Let the little children come to me, and do not
hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”
(Matthew 19, 14) (Ioan Gură de Aur 2001: 176). The one who prepares its
child to be the honest member of the Church, becoming himself a model
of spiritual life, proves above all to have a life pleasant to God. Very
often, when children are concerned parents have a praiseworthy attitude
because irrespective of their material, intellectual or even religious-moral
status, they see in their children their investment and fortune. It is exactly
to this fortune that God through the voice of the Holy Scripture urges us
to focus. God blesses the family to the extent it spiritually enriches
through children. The first concern they have to show to children is to
teach them how to obey the commandments. Saint Apostle Paul urges as
follows: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them
up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6, 4). The
Savior Himself answers the young man “…If you want to enter life, obey
the commandments” (Matthew 19, 17).
Obeying the commandments leads the man to a total (but at the
same time voluntary and conscientious) obedience to God, and this
obedience doesn’t suppose obsessive and destructive fear, but a fear
resulted from love. The child obeys its parent due to the authority the
parent exercises on it. But this authority has to be transferred to the
heavenly Father for the child to become aware of the origin, the mission
and the purpose it was born for. Being educated to obey the
commandments, the man gradually gets into a relation of obedience
towards God, and the interest and love to Him will determine him to trace
To Become Children: an Attitude, a State and a Spiritual Act 83

his spiritual ascent. The parents have to watch both the bodily and the
spiritual development: “So if from the beginning and from the early age
we place them within good limits, we won’t need to make many efforts,
but their habit will become law from then on” (Ioan Gură de Aur: 2001,
56). In a world where infringing and denying God’s laws tend to become
a state of normality, the parents are called in a very responsible way to
teach the child to obey the law. If the human law often perturbs man due
to the imperfection of its welters, God’s law is very clear, without any
ambiguity, and places man ever since the first moments of his life on the
way leading to salvation. He who doesn’t plant in the child’s heart the
pure seed on God’s laws is himself a violator of the law because “If
anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his
immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an
unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5, 8).
The love the parent has for its child has to involve a true
discernment of the criteria he himself grows with and that he should apply
to the little ones. Teaching them to obey God’s law, the parents
themselves acquire a spiritual state that positively reflects on the whole
family. Only this way we may say that the parents have obedient and
good children, and children have responsible parents. The concern that
passes from parent to child, determines the two spouses to continuously
remain on their guard and this way the path the family will traverse in life
is pleasant to God having as finality the inheritance of eternal life. Paying
attention to child’s habits, the parent will cultivate a way of life in
accordance with Christ’s Gospel (Tihamer, trans. Sociu 2002: 177): “Take
to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that
you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this
law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you
will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess”
(Deuteronomy 32, 46-47).
There is not parent who wouldn’t like good children and, the same
way, there are no children who wouldn’t feel or think, especially when
they grow up, of the spiritual state of their parents. In fact, we should say
that there are no “good” or “bad” parents and children, because no one no
matter how small or big it would be by itself or by virtue of its power, but
everyone becomes, transforms in certain occurrences and acquires those
84 Adrian Dinu

qualities that make them be one way or the other. That is why, when the
value scale of the way of living doesn’t have eternal life as perspective,
pain also appears because the children become parents’ reflection. Some
parents, characterized by indifference to Church and the holy things, often
brag that their children are good and praiseworthy. But what does it mean
to be good? It means to attain the resemblance with God because no one
is good, only One (Matthew 19, 17). The good person who doesn’t
behave in a holy manner sins before God, and his children will do the
The true target of the parents is precisely to prepare themselves to
become spiritually mature, to procreate and to prepare their children how
and in what way to wish trying to be in God’s image; I really think that
many families live in suffering today precisely because they didn’t
prepare as it should the foundation of a family and the result is that their
offspring also suffer. The youth has to be advised very early in its life to
respect the holy values and God first of all because only this way its
behavior as future member of the church will be one worthy of a
Christian’s calling. It is said that we invest in children, but in fact we
should invest in ourselves working for our own salvation for the answer
we will receive, our children, to be materialized in good not in evil: “And
thou my son …know the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect
heart, and a willing mind: for the Lord searched all hearts, and
understand all the thoughts of minds. If thou seek him, thou shall find
him: but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever” (1
Paralipomenon 28, 9).
After having got it used to obeying commandments for God’s fear,
parents have the moral obligation to their own child to teach it obedience
and submission: “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is
old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22, 6) (Ioan Gură de Aur 2001:
178). As I said the first example of perfection in obedience is Saint Virgin
Mary, Joseph the Just and, of course, Christ Child: “Then he went down to
Nazareth with them and was obedient to them” (Luke 2, 51). Young
people’s education into obedience represents the parents’ belief that their
authority on children will be respected in time, and later on advice will be
received with devotion and respect. It will also be easier to them and they
To Become Children: an Attitude, a State and a Spiritual Act 85

will be motivated to remain in obedience to the Church and implicitly to

the father confessor.
To the end of this study we should say a few words about the state
of our nation, of our family and children. The Romanian society is
confronted at present with profound changes both from the economic and
mentality point of view. The Church, together with other national
institutions, is called to keep awake the religious-moral conscience of its
children and to urge them to remain in a pure and faithful communion,
with God, as well as the fact that the true benefit in life is not to
accumulate material goods, but it is a truly superior, spiritual one: “Do not
store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy,
and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6, 19-20). Man yearns for
happiness and this is often mistaken for material enriching. The parents
dominated by a wavering and “warmly” faith communicate to their
children the same scale of values, which proves to be many times one
which is not in accordance with the law and precepts of the gospel.
The phenomenon of migration to other countries for a better life
creates an extremely difficult and sensitive situation concerning the time
given to youth’s education and to their care for them, not to say how
serious this is from a spiritual point of view. The sacrifice many people
make acquires huge proportions, and the parents must have the force to
discern: what, how much and how they sacrifice. The departure of one or
both spouses from the family often risks bringing disappointment. It may
become from joy a great disillusionment leading sometimes to a family
instability and in the end from a transient happiness to a difficult trial for
parents. This happens because they strive for compensating the physical
and psychological absence with offering material goods under any form
(usually something that may make the young person respected or
appreciated by the group members). The children become disoriented,
getting the wrong perception on life. The parents’ endeavor to piety often
transfers as a model to the children and this way they learn to make the
difference between what is good or bad for the soul. They inherit this
spiritual state and they wish to attain the model, as gratitude for their
parents. Saint Apostle Paul marvels at the faith Timothy receives from his
mother and grandmother: “…I have been reminded of your sincere faith,
which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice
86 Adrian Dinu

and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also” (2 Timothy 1, 5). By their

ordered life the parents give good example to their children: (He did what
was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done (2
Kings 15, 3); and leaves to them God’s blessing because “but showing
love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my
commandments” (Exodus 20, 6).
For an “evolution into being”, as the famous Romanian philosopher
C. Noica said, I think the parents have to aspire to a balanced life and to
avoid as much as possible an aggressive language and behavior that might
harm the child’s conscience. A also parent becomes spiritual in the
family, because the family environment represents the land into which he
throws the seed or the good learning and it is in both spouse’s power to
raise and gather the fruits: “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or
they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3, 21); “For you know that we
dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children,
encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who
calls you into his kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 2, 11-12). It is
known that starting from the birth and Baptism to maturity, children’s
upbringing and education are closely related both within the family which
is the “small Church” and within the Church which is the “large family”
of Christians.
For our spiritual evolution, that of our parents, we have to avoid
coercive methods both for us and for the other members, but there is an
element we shouldn’t ignore: reprimand. This appears to them as
something natural in their education and correction: what child is not
scolded by its father? Parental authority shouldn’t be abusively used in
the family; the education has to be made with wisdom and love. The
essence of Christianity is love. That is why an authentic Christian
education has to be made with love. The natural love between spouses has
to be directed to children and Christ, at the same time, only this way they
attain the purpose of a good “upbringing” in God’s spirit.
The parent has to watch that after placing the religious and moral
upbringing on the foundation of God’s commandment, to make the child
be aware of the fact that being God-fearing it will be protected and will
avoid mistakes: “Listen, my sons, to a father's instruction; pay attention
and gain understanding. I give you sound learning, so do not forsake my
To Become Children: an Attitude, a State and a Spiritual Act 87

teaching” (Proverbs 4, 1-2); “…For my days vanish like smoke; my

bones burn like glowing embers. Like a father is merciful with his sons,
God is merciful with those who fear Him” (Ps. 102, 3).
One of the classic examples of the parents’ but also of children’s
spiritual evolution is Job. The Holly Scripture presents him directly and
simply: “In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. This
man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil. He had
seven sons and three daughters…He was the greatest man among all the
people of the East. His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their
homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with
them. When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and
have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt
offering for each of them, thinking, perhaps my children have sinned and
cursed God in their hearts. This was Job's regular custom” (Job 1, 1-5).
We notice in Job’s case that we have to do with a very special
situation. He is a just and good parent whose faith resists even if he is
taken everything because Satan is not after his goods but also after his
children: “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at
the oldest brother's house… and they are dead” (Job 1, 18). And Job
answers: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of
the Lord be praised” (Job 1, 21). The Lord may put the just people to test
through illness. This test may have as a purpose a greater purity, but it
may be given to test the faith or to avoid vain glory. It may also be given
by God to test the faith of the just people and it is the situation when
Tobit was blind. The illness may be given by the evil one, which tries to
turn the just person away from God, like in Job’s case, but with His
permission and under His control, because it is a test of faith. That is why,
God first allows Satan to take from Job everything representing his good
status, his material wealth, his happiness “but on the man himself do not
lay a finger” (Job 1, 12). Then, after the failure of the test of taking him
everything (“Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I will
depart”, Job 1, 21), Satan promises to lay hands on Job leaving his life
(Job 2, 6)” (Beaufils, trans. Dinu et all.2009: 127).
Taking this “case” and applying it to our situation, we may notice
that as far as we are concerned we also often think like Job, accepting
suffering, but hypothetical suffering, when we are in a state of happiness,
88 Adrian Dinu

welfare and healthy, and when, din fact, in our soul we are convinced that
something bad may not happen to us. But, our life and especially this way
of acceptance have no real value, except when man, unavoidably being
put to tests, overcomes them by Christ’s calling which becomes an
existential reality. Only then we may speak of the vase in which the gold
of faith is purified, of the man whose request in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy
will be done” involves his being and “modifies” his existence in good.
Man becomes a “child” that is the man of a profound conscience appears
for whom only God is is our healing and salvation, the protection of the
beloved ones, prosperity, spiritual enrichment and content: “But he knows
the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold” (Job
23, 10).
From this example, from Tobit’s example, from the story of Nain
widow’s son funeral, who took her child to be buried, her only support in
old age and from many other similar stories we may notice that God’s
mercy or love is what transforms man, it is what comes over man and
defeats death, giving help for God’s glory. Through these examples we
are aware of the fact that our spiritual death is more dangerous than the
death of our body because it may distance us from God. Because of this,
parents have to take care of their children: to protect them by their own
example and the skill of their learning from everything that may lead to
the death of the soul: “as long as I have life within me, the breath of God
in my nostrils, my lips will not speak wickedness, and my tongue will utter
no deceit” (Job 27, 3-4). And also in Job’s book we find an answer to the
issue analyzed here: the meditation to God’s works, the invocation of His
name, the love for Him: “…Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God's
wonders!” (37, 14). These have as result the metanoia, the change in
being and the confirmation of Christ Child in us. In front of the vanity
which dominates our being and reason, if we have the strength and use the
means recommended by the Church, then we will be able to give up our
reasoning: “…Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too
wonderful for me to know” (Job 42, 3-4) and through a revelation and
God’s calling who always shows His mercy to us, we will open our eyes
(Tobit 11, 16). Once we opened our eyes we understand that by
completing God’s mysteries which are the source of faith and hope we
can also get into the depth of these spiritual mysteries that may come
To Become Children: an Attitude, a State and a Spiritual Act 89

upon us that is to try to live them without breaking them. Only then the
spiritual people, with normal preoccupations, capable of wise attitudes
because from the state of obedience and humbleness towards God and
Church we get to the mutual state of wellbeing, is being warmed by the
gift of the Holy Spirit. We won’t become children again due to nature, but
gradually and kindly, we will sensitively show our true nature that we
should show to God and even to the whole world. This state is God’s true
will, the One who pours out His grace on spouses (mother and father) and
will soon fill their heart with the desired happiness: spiritual peace (Luke
24, 36).

In a consumption society as our present modern society, in which
God’s commandments are seen with so much suspicion and sometimes
even an aggressive attitude and in which Christian values are replaced by
immediate bodily needs and pleasures, our theme on the spiritual attitude
we should discover in ourselves is of present interest. We call the Church
the “body of Christ” (Colossians 1, 18) and it is made of many “limbs”
and they have to be spiritually united and rediscovered, as we read in the
Bible: “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every
supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does
its work” (Ephesians 4, 16).
In Christ’s “Law” (Romans 5, 20-21), the family sanctified by the
Sacrament of Marriage “in Christ and in Church” (Ephesians 5, 32) has
the duty through the other and through children to keep the flame of faith
alive and to climb the scale of virtues to the “the knowledge of the Son of
God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of
Christ” (Ephesians 4, 13). All of us: men, women, children can realize in
ourselves Christ’s conscience, thought and deed, that is to “grow up into
Him” (Ephesians 4, 15).
90 Adrian Dinu


- Beaufils, Dominique, translation from French by Ph.D Pr. Lect.

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The relation between the internment of sick persons
feelings of them

Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu

Faculty of Orthodox Theology,
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, ROMANIA

During this particular research study, we tried to emphasize the significance and
the role of the religious feeling during situations of crisis and hardship. One of the
most difficult situations in somebody's life is illness and hospitalization and the efect it
has on the individual.
After a short review of the attitudes towards illness over time, the presentation of
the theological perspective tries to explain the symbolism and meaning of disease in the
process of redemption by bringing Jove's case into focus. From this point of view,
redemption signifies the acceptance of the Cross and of the suffering.
Up to this moment there was disease, associated with loss in Jove's life, because
of his sins, in this situation, though, the suffering is beyond any human under-
standing, becomming a means for redemption.
From the social work pespective, the role of the social worker and the importance
of the role expectancy is significantly underlined when it comes to helping and
assissting the sick individual through this ordeal.
The study tries to catch a glimpse of the way in which hospitalization influences
the patient's behaviour and the individual's evolution afterwards. It also aims at defining
the connection between illness, hospitalization and the religious feeling.

Keywords: sick personc, feelings, role of patient, hospitalization

1. Religious support and its value for the healing process

Starting from the many diseases that can influence not only the
evolution of peoples, but also the life of the individual, it should be
pointed out that the humans can have a variety of reactions to a disease:
- they can acknowledge and admit the disease, which allows for the
initiation of an efficient treatment. Sometimes the treatment can rely on
scientific methods, sometimes it can rely on inappropriate grounds
94 Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu

- they can ignore the disease, due to the lack of symptoms or

through lack of culture and general knowledge;
- they can deny the state of illness and can simulate health.
Besides the reaction to disease, two types of attitude can be
identified: naive and elaborating. In the former case, the prevailing
feelings are anxiety, expectation from others, disappointment, or, on the
contrary, of peace, hope and fantasy. In the latter case, a number of value
assessments are operated, of references to existential landmarks, of search
for the meaning. The person who elaborates on the disease does not see
the disease as a random phenomenon, but rather seeks for a symbolical
meaning. Is the disease just a misfortune, a stroke of bad luck or is it one
element in a longer line of coherent events? As Laplace mentioned
(Athanasiu 1983) – each event has its place in the way the world unfolds,
a sway of the humans’ answer between two poles, substantiated in
Oedipus myth – the victim of implacable influences representing the fate
or destiny, and the Biblical Job representing the principle of supernatural
Job’s poem of the Bible includes not only the interpersonal
relationship between the diseased and the Creator, but also absolute faith
in the Creator’s gestures, in His higher reason, even when this is
inaccessible for the creature. Chapter 1 and 2 of “The Book of Job” relate
the celestial encounter between God and Satan, when the latter questions
Job’s faith and asks God to fall on everything that belongs to him, to see
whether he will curse You in Your face.” God allows him to do so, “to
fall on everything that is Job’s possession, as long as he does not lay
hands on him.” The consequences of this agreement are devastating for
Job, but even if he does not grasp the higher meaning of the events, he
declares in resignation: “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb
and naked I shall return to the ground, the Lords hath given, the Lord hath
taken back, may His name be blessed for ever.”
In Chapter 2, Satan asks God: “Afflict his bone and his flesh. Let us
see then if he will curse You openly.” God accepts this, too, with the only
provision that “his life should not be endangered.” A parallel can be
drawn here with Goethe’s Faustus, when Mephistopheles asks for
permission to tempt Faustus, “and we’ll see how he’ll be able to save
himself and how You will be able to bring him into the light.” In this
The relation between the internment of sick persons feelings of them 95

episode, Faustus does not represent mankind at large, but the individual in
its humanity which strives towards a goal, just as Job does not represent
mankind at large, but the chosen man; the issue at stake here is not
mankind in general (Nae Ionescu 1996).
Job is infected with leprosy – the interpretation of the phrase
“Afflict his bone and his flesh“ and thus he was sitting on a heap of dung
outside the city walls. However, Job does not reject God, although his
relatives and friends interpret his misfortune as divine punishment for
some serious sin and drive him out of town, while his wife accepts the
generally held opinion of the citizens and advises him to put an end to his
misery by cursing God.
His three friends, Eliphas, Bildad and Zofar, previously of equal
status to Job, members of the group of the rich and the wise of the region,
on seeing his suffering, “sat on the ground next to him for seven days and
seven nights in a row, without uttering a word, for they saw his great
Chapter 3 contains Job’s crying, that huge “Why?”, “why didn’t I
die...why did that pair of breasts feed me?” This is followed by Eliphas’
opinion, then by Job’s answer and Bildad’s reprimand followed again by
Job’s answer and defense. This first set ends with Zophar’s address and
Job’s answer. The conversation between Job and his friends proves the
incapacity of traditional theology to provide explanations in extreme
cases such as Job’s. The concept of the individual’s trial appears here for
the first time, the disease equally representing an experience in
knowledge and self knowledge which is accomplished by opening this
window towards the world of pain and suffering. At this stage, like any
sick person, Job seeks some cause for his disease, a scapegoat, and he
dares God to reveal his sins and “if anyone holds anything against me,
then he will gladly remain dumb and await his death”.
In turn, Job’s friends accuse him of inequity and of hypocrisy. Job
has an answer for them, although their accusations exasperate him,
however, they bring him increasingly closer to God, preparing him for the
divine revelation. God finally rewards Job for what he suffered, while all
who had known him were amazed to see him in restored health, with his
wealth doubled, and to see that God blessed him with children. In the
climactic point, when God answers to Job, proclaiming His almightiness
96 Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu

and not some ethics, Job is satisfied. He realizes that his idea of God is
limited. The book of Job contradicts the concept according to which there
is some equivalence between God’s justice and prosperity. The book
actually proclaims a God that transcends the finite human mind. The
suffering goes through the specific stages associated to any crisis
appearing at the onset of a disease. Denial appears in Chapter 10:7, 8
“when you know well that I am innocent and that nobody can save me
from Your hands? Your hands have made me and You entirely destroy
me.” The man’s fury is expressed in that “Why?” in Chapter 3:11, 12
“Why did I not die while I was still sucking at my mother’s breast”, “Why
did I not expire when as I came out of the womb? Why did her lap receive
me and her two breasts feed me?” Negotiation, the third stage in a sick
person’s crisis is manifested in Job’s case through his request that his sins
should be revealed, in Chapter 13:18. “I have started a judgment and I
know that I am righteous. Can anyone say anything against me? Then, I
will rather remain silent and wait for my death.” His state of depression
is revealed in Chapters 13, 14, and 15, but especially after his
conversation with his friends, who blame him for many things,
considering that God’s kindness can be only in relation to an individual’s
behaviour, hence Job has committed some sin since he has been punished
so severely. Acceptance is present at all moments; although Job
complains, he accepts the situation. Hope is manifest in Chapter 19, when
Job comforts himself with the hope of resurrection.
Apart from the story of Job of the Old Testament, several cases of
miraculous healing are presented in the New Testament, performed by
Jesus: the healing of the weakling in Capernaum, whom Jesus ordered:
“Take your bed and walk”; a woman who had had a blood drain for
twelve years who touched on the margin of His robe and whom He told:
“Be of good courage, daughter, your faith has healed you”; Iair’s daughter
who, having died, was subsequently brought back to life, the two blind
men and the dumb boy possessed by a demon. In the region of Tyre He
healed the Canaan woman’s daughter, then the dumb and deaf man, in
Bethsaid a blind man was healed and Lazarus was resurrected, then the
man sick with hydropics and the ten lepers, of which only one returned to
thank Him.
The relation between the internment of sick persons feelings of them 97

The miraculous healings that Jesus performed were the more

spectacular because those diseases were considered to be incurable
(leprosy, blindness, dumbness, cancer). As job did not deny God, his
suffering goes through various stages, of which disease is the last one.
The story is rich in ideas, as are other stories from the Bible, it reflects a
large part of human experience and suffering and of life’s mysteries.

2. The role of a patient and the types of sick people

In the past, life and death, sickness and health were considered to be
natural continuous processes, all events being attributed to God, while the
promise of a possible reunion with the deceased freed the survivors from
Disease or disability presents itself in three general stages: acute,
chronic, and terminal; the features of each of these individual types can
influence the professional’s activity. The progress of the disease into a
terminal phase can occur when the patient’s family have gained
knowledge of the evolution of the disease, while a prolonged chronic
stage may have exhausted the family’s physical, psychological and
financial resources.
Each family reacts to disease in their own manner, displaying
weakness or strength, using various ways to cope with the stress induced
by the disease. The age of the patient when the disease was contracted
deeply influences the type of problems that the family have to cope with.
Depending on the various stages of the disease and the family’s financial
resources, the family can have different behaviours such as guilt, anger,
helplessness etc. By observing the ways in which the family responds to
the needs of the patients, Parsons (1951) describes the characteristics of
the role as a patient, emphasizing the duties and the things from which
people in this role are exempted from. Such exemptions can be classified
as follows: the exemptions of the patient with physical disabilities and the
exemptions of the patient with psychic disabilities. The duties incurred by
the patient refer to being exempted from the specific tasks associated to
the role previous to the disease, duties that refer to accepting competent
help, cooperating with the others in the recovery process, manifesting
dependency on the others, tolerance and patience.
98 Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu

Whenever the strictly somatic disability occurs, the patient is not

responsible for being ill. When the disability is of a psychological type or
is considered to be the result of a deviant social behaviour, such as
alcoholism, the person in the patient’s position can be considered
responsible for inducing the disability.
The main exemptions of the patient with psychological disabilities
refer to partial responsibility in the tasks the patient had in the role before
the disease.
In this case, the duties are:
- the obligation to accept competent assistance;
- the obligation to cooperate in the healing process;
- the obligation to accept the stigma of psychiatric labelling.
The nature of a disease, the identity of the family members and the
context in which the disease manifests itself are the factors that influence
the manner in which the role of the patient is adopted by the sick person
and the manner in which the other members of the family associate with
and approach this role. An overall evaluation in order to create a strategy
should consider five dimensions of the family as emphasized by Howells
- the family dimension
- the aspect of the family’s internal communication
- the aspect of the family’s external communication
- the dimension of the psychological features of the family
- the dimension of the physical circumstances of the family.
Family composition is one of the factors with a major influence on
the experience of its members, as each member individually and
collectively interacts and thus generates the internal dimensions of the
family. Even if the composition of the family may change (fluctuation in
the number of members), the characteristics of the dominant interactions
will remain unchanged (the mother). The dominant characteristics of
these interactions define pessimism, the intro- or extra-verted character
and influence all internal relations.
Each family has several communicational and interpersonal features
that are typical for all the systems that constitute it, however, in the
overall picture, the configuration is unique in each family (Mîndrilă,
2003). The borders of the family, within which communication takes
The relation between the internment of sick persons feelings of them 99

place, are permeable to a greater or smaller extent, so that the members of

the family can communicate with the macro-system. Such reactions and
interactions represent the external communicative dimension of the family
and its possible ways to access the outer world. Depending on the
family’s reactions of response during the crisis, the strong and weak
points of the family can be evaluated.
If the feelings of some of the family members are warm when a
member of the family is in the terminal stage, the sense of the imminent
loss will be deeply felt. In this case, the patient may wish to hide the
suffering in order to protect the people he/she loves and to diminish the
burden. When the members of the family have hostile feelings, the patient
may be inclined to have excessive requests from the healthy members,
while they, in their turn, may provide the services in a detached or even
hostile way. The members of the family who have never actually
communicated with each other will realize that the disease increases this
difficulty in communication.
Depending on the type of patient, six types of the social assistant’s
management have been identified (Janosik 1994).
The lonely patient tends to avoid social interactions, they read or
sleep most of the time, does not talk about the disease, but does not totally
avoid the social implications of certain favourite persons, does not adhere
to support groups and does not communicate with other patients, accepts
affectionate care meant to support the healing process. The behaviour of
the social assistant or of the people who look after this type of patient
should be kind and should take into account the patient’s need for
The active person interacts with the others, is directly involved in
issues related to the disease, is enterprising, is an active member in the
support group, has visitors and is interested in periodicals or newspapers
presenting programs or information related to health. The behaviour of
the social assistant or of the staff should be careful in order to avoid
overtaxing the patient.
The victim is the patient who has excessive requests from and
depends on the others. It is a flexible person, at the same time full of
anger, dissatisfied with the situation. It consistently has the tendency to
100 Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu

manipulate. The behaviour of the health personnel should be calm, they

should be able to communicate clearly in order to prevent being divided.
The Stopwatch organizes his/her life constantly in wait for
something to happen. The day goes according to a certain schedule. The
behaviour of the social assistant or of the staff should be careful, the
patient should be involved in pleasant activities: conversation, musical
interludes, lectures on art or discussions within the support group on
topics of interest to him/her. The patient should be entrusted with small
tasks and the way in which he accomplishes them should be followed.
The mystic spends a great amount of time reading religious
literature, meditating or praying. Death is not seen by such patients as a
frightful event, but as a passage from this world to the world beyond. The
behaviour of the social assistant or of the staff involves a spiritual rather
than medical approach, the acceptance of the religious doctrines that are
agreeable with the patients and an avoidance of using the time for
theological debates on various topics.
The doctor is the patient who uses medical concepts and follows the
evolution of the disease. He/she collects medical information, takes part
in lectures and seminars related to the disease. He/she is reasonable,
pragmatic and does not want to be physically, emotionally or
intellectually dependent. The behaviour of the social assistant or of the
staff should be careful, the answer should be honest, and the patient’s
problems should be treated in earnest. While knowing the type the patient
belongs to, both the family and the social assistant or the health personnel
can support them and react adequately to the patient’s request.
The chronic or terminal disease puts stress in all dimensions of
family life. In the case of terminal diseases, for instance, the family
supports the sick member, thus becoming “the suffering unit”. The crisis
becomes imminent when the family suspects the disease and the diagnosis
confirms their suspicion. Each of the family members is afraid of what
lies beyond life and, in their turn, questions their own ability of
anticipating the future. The patient is afraid of the pain and suffering, of
death and the loss of control, while family members are afraid of taking
part in this sequence of suffering and pain.
Life would never be as before, since the family members will have
to face great challenges with one of its members diagnosed with a severe
The relation between the internment of sick persons feelings of them 101

disease. The need to adapt to the disease and its symptoms, to the altered
everyday condition is a challenge. The diagnosis of the disease will be a
test for all emotional or behavioural resources of the patient and his

3. The role of the social assistant in the hospital

The hospital social service was initiated by the students of the High
school of social assistance doing practice in this area. The students did
surveys on patients in order to check their material status in the hospital.
In Romania, the social service in hospitals was first organized in
1929 at the Colţea hospital. The factors that contributed to the creation of
this service were: the concern of the sponsors of the civil hospitals to
provide better management and, as it was mentioned, the special interest
of the High school of social assistance to organize practical training in the
hospitals for students. Between 1930 and 1933 ten social services were
operating in Romania, one in every hospital (Mănoiu and Epureanu,
1996). Based on the same authors, a short history of the development of
social services in our country will be provided.
The role of the hospital social assistant as it was taken over by
students during their practical training period was outlined by the family’s
financial status, the transportation of patients to sanatoria, homes etc., the
issuing of transportation vouchers for poor patients who went home, visits
to the patients’ home after being released, financial and other forms of
material support, hospitalizing patients with TB in sanatoria etc. Between
1938 and 1940, about 70% of the sick persons admitted in hospitals in
Romania had free health care and all applicants were offered free medical
In the Pediatric hospital a system of files was initiated in
collaboration with the students, where the doctors’ prescription were
mentioned along with the financial support given for medicines, food and
money received by patients when released from hospital.
Professor D. Danielopolu founded The Society of patients with
heart conditions, with the aim of ensuring the suitable diet and drug
treatment, the appropriate lifestyle and working conditions that was
necessary for the patients. The same Social assistance services helped
102 Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu

detecting the sick students in the colleges in Bucharest; they were freely
and immediately forwarded to specialised hospitals.
Later the social assistance service was created in the Maternity
hospitals in Bucharest to provide assistance for abandoned women and to
provide financial support through the social service within the hospital. In
1933, the sponsors’ committee founded a social service with every
hospital in Bucharest, with the task of checking all the applications for
free services in the hospital and – after checking them following a social
enquiry – of suggesting a manner to provide support. In the same year a
social service was created at the Brâncovenesc hospital, the Colentina
hospital for patients with neuro-psychological diseases and The Central
hospital for patients with mental diseases. In 1934, a social service was
created at Dr. I Cantacuzino hospital for all the departments and, a year
later, for the patients with venereal diseases at the Pantelimon hospital. A
similar service was created at the TB hospital in Sinaia in 1935.
The role of these services and of the social assistants working there
was to provide financial and material support and drugs to the needy
patients after they were released from hospital, to provide two-way tickets
and transportation for convalescent patients who had been recommended
a programme in certain sanatoria or health resorts and could not afford
them; the patients admitted to hospital who could not afford to pay for the
hospitalization were given financial and material support and free
Currently, social services in the hospital are under-represented, and
they are provided by NGO-s or Associations such as “Link România” that
operated between 1998 and 2008 at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Iaşi, where it
had various programmes, a play room for children under the “Open arms
project” and renovated the surgery wing in the same hospital. The activity
in the play-room comprises counselling meant to alleviate pre- and post
surgery trauma and the integration of children hospitalized in the surgery
In 2000, the same foundation started a programme for children with
diabetes in the “Primăverii” Placement Centre, Iaşi, with the title “Sweet
life without sugar” which aimed at providing the children food
supplements that were adequate to the disease. Another project, initiated
The relation between the internment of sick persons feelings of them 103

by ASCOR association, was named “The School in Hospital” and aimed

at the recuperation of children of school age that were being hospitalized.
In order to assess the consequences of hospitalization on patients
and the role of faith in alleviating the trauma induced by the disease and
by hospitalization, research was conducted at the Military Hospital in Iaşi
in 2008. The study was applied on a sample of 27 individuals of which 14
(52%) were female and 13 (48%) were male. The sample – chosen
randomly – is not representative, so the results cannot be extrapolated; it
is, however, homogeneous regarding age, with individuals belonging to
all age categories in fairly equal proportion, the lower limit being 25
years, which implies a degree of maturity with respect to the questions
presented in the questionnaire; the individuals also belonged to various
income resources (most of them, 55.5% being state employed with
income from salaries, 44.4%, with other sources of income from real
estate and 33.3% with no financial resources); the individuals also had
various qualifications (18.5% individuals with elementary education, the
majority of 48.1% having pre-higher education and 33.3% having higher
education); marital status was represented as follows: most of them were
married (66.6%), 25.0% were single and 7.4% having a deceased spouse.
Background was also represented in equal proportions (47% form the
urban area and 52% from the rural area). In terms of housing, 40.7%
owned a house, 22.2% rented a flat and 33. 3% owned a flat in a block.
The results of the survey are presented in Table 1, 2, and 3.

Table 1
Sample chosen at the Military Hospital in 2008
sex age background
























104 Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu

Table 2
The characteristics of the sample chosen the Military Hospital in 2008
education housing
Pre higher- Higher Owned Owned flat
elementary rented
education education house in block
nr. % nr. % nr. % nr. % nr. % nr. %
5 18.5 13 48.1 9 33.3 11 40.7 6 22.2 9 33.3

Table 3
The characteristics of the sample chosen the Military Hospital in 2008
income Marital status
Land worker
Salary from

Widow (er)


















The data presented by the questionnaire refer to hospitalization 0

conditions, adaptation to hospital environment and the way in which the
disease can influence the patient’s religious feelings. Tables 4, 5, 6, and 7
present the consequences of hospitalization.
Table 4
Adaptation to hospitalization conditions
Length of hospitalization
Hospitalization conditions Previous hospitalization
satisfactory unsatisfactory short long Yes no
nr. % nr. % nr. % nr. % nr. % nr. %
12 44.4 15 55.5 20 74.8 7 25.9 18 66.7 9 33.3
The relation between the internment of sick persons feelings of them 105

Table 5
Adaptation to hospitalization conditions
Material and
Adaptation to hospitalization treatment after
financial support
























Table 6
Adaptation to hospitalization conditions
Relations with other Relations with the Relations with the
patients medical staff family
yes no yes no yes no
nr. % nr. % nr. % nr. % nr. % nr. %
21 77.7 6 22.2 24 88.8 3 11.1 23 85.2 4 14.8

Table 7
Adaptation to hospital conditions
Visits Number of children
yes no seldom 1-2 3-4 Over 4 no












The manner in which the patients adapt to the hospital environment

is appreciated by most respondents as unsatisfactory (55.5%).
106 Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu

The role of the patient implies a relationship with an individual –

the doctor – and with an institution – the hospital, as well as acquiring
certain elements from the culture (subculture) of the service that received
him/her if hospitalized. Adapting to this environment is difficult for
various reasons and sometimes even a “hospital neurosis” can appear.
Adaptation is determined by a complex set of factors: breaking the
relations with the family, administrative decisions, restrictions, a
sedentary lifestyle, routine in social every day activity, a loss of the
proprietary instinct (symbolized by the loss of clothes and effects and by
the standardized clothing, much like a uniform). Under such
circumstances, the ego is systematically altered, as several psychologists
have shown.
Similarly, the stress factors that the hospitalized patient is under:
anamnesis, isolation, social distance, the medical jargon, the inferior
position in the hospital hierarchy (the last, right after the door keeper), the
evolution of the disease or the demise of other patients, the lack of
information and obedience can represent causes of inadequate adaptation.
From among the patients included in the sample mentioned, 25.9%
indicated psychological factors, 40.7% of them indicated material factors,
18.5% of them considered that the disease itself and its evolution
contribute to inadequate adaptation and to a state of discontent regarding
hospitalization conditions. Certain patients – 7.4% of them – mentioned
all three factors (psychological, material biological), 3.7% only the
psychological and the biological, 3.7% indicated material and biological
factors, 3.7% mentioned the psychological and the material factors, while
3,7% indicated no factor.
Besides the already mentioned causes, the hospitalization period
contributes to an increased stare of stress and discontent (74.8% of the
patients were hospitalized only for a short period of time and only 25.9%
for a longer period.) From among the individuals under investigation,
33.3% came again due to a relapse of the same disease, which emphasizes
the chronic character of the disease.
The chronic character of the disease raises a very important issue,
namely reinsertion into normalcy, rehabilitation, as there is great danger
of the preservation of a pathological mental organization (Athanasiu
1983). Under the circumstances, we witness a durable alteration of the
The relation between the internment of sick persons feelings of them 107

identity, which occurs in several stages: anxiety, fear, revolt, an alteration

of the social sense, a reduction of intellectual life and the individualistic
tendency towards conservation (possessive). The patient’s profile
changes, he/she becomes difficult, dissatisfied, bitter, demanding, very
sensitive towards the attention he/she is given.
The disease is a social state that is not only pathological through
the alteration of the relations with the family, but it can also frequently
generate tensions within the family in terms of time, income and the
family’s need to readjust. The parents’ reactions towards a child with a
chronic disease (abnormal or with some disability) are: mental shock
(stress) with feelings of guilt, desolation, despair, followed by a stage
where solutions are sought for and by a stable state of equilibrium.
However, a latent tension remains, a state of testiness, neurotic reactions
and a state of depression. In many cases, survival practically depends on
the support of the family. The patient’s relations with the family, with the
other patients are a form of socialization, of adaptation to the new
conditions and at the same time the family’s visits represent a form of
support for the patient. 77.7% of the patients questioned mentioned that
they had been visited by the family and only 14.8% did not receive any
visits, while 7.4% mention that they had been seldom visited. From
among those questioned, 85.2% mentioned that they had a family and
only 14.8% said that they had no family. As a rule, each patient has
someone at home who compassionately shares the suffering, is afraid for
his/her life and acts to support healing, visits him/her to the hospital
occasionally, sends food or letters, calls etc.
The topic of religiousness in the questionnaire brings to light the
role of religion as a support for the patients and the manner in which
religiousness can be influenced by disease. According to the formal
ritualistic element, 51.85% of respondents fast regularly, 40.74% do not
fast and 7.4% fast only seldom. 70.37% go to church regularly, while
29.62% never go to church; of those who do go to church, 55.5% go to
the Sunday service, while 29.62% go to church only on important
holidays. Of all those who were interviewed, 62.96% burn candles, while
37.03% do not. The informal side emphasizes that 88.8% say prayers,
while 11.11% do not say prayers at home; of those who pray, 18.51% do
so daily, 40.74% do this mainly in the morning and 59.92% do this in the
108 Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu

evening; some pray both in the morning and in the evening. 62.96 go to
the graveyard, 25.92% do not go, while 11.11% do so but only rarely
(Tables 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

Table 8
The relation between religiousness and disease

Religion Faith in God

Other religions, other
Orthodox Yes no
nr. % nr. % nr. % nr. %
22 81,4 5 18,5 27 100 0 0

Table 9
The Orthodox ritual – religious practices
How frequently they go to They take They burn
They fast
church confession candles
On Sunday



































The relation between the internment of sick persons feelings of them 109

Table 10
The informal element and the ideological element
How frequently they Other people’s
How frequently they pray
go to the graveyard evaluation



I don’t





























Table 11
The intellectual element

Prayer books Biblical topics

yes no yes no
nr. % nr. % nr. % nr. %
20 74.1 7 25.9 15 55.5 12 44.4

Table 12
The normative element
They pray for others Good deeds
For For I don’t
For them No yes no
friends strangers know
















110 Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu

Table 13
The experiential element

The experience involving God and the disease

yes no sometimes
nr. % nr. % nr. %
17 62.7 7 25.9 3 11.1

According to the ideological element, 29.69% people have a

positive appreciation of Christians who do not belong to the Orthodox
denomination, 44.4% have a negative appreciation of them and 25.92%
do not know what to answer. The intellectual element emphasizes that
74.07% of the respondents read religious books, while 25.92% do not.
Conversations on Biblical topics are preferred by 55.5%, while 44.4% do
not show any interest for conversations on this topic. According to the
experiential element, 62.96% have had an experience related to knowing
God, 25.92% say that hey have not had a special experience, while
11.11% consider that they sometimes have a special relation with God.
This has been enhanced by disease, as to some, faith in God and
miraculous healing have acquired a special importance.
The normative element shows that 62.96% pray for themselves
only, 81.48% pray for those they love and 51.85% pray for strangers and
only 7.4% do not pray at all. Those who pray for people who are not close
friends or relatives show an internalization of the command “Love thy
neighbour” that The New Testament is founded on. Health, the state of
harmony between the body and the soul is often related to God, while the
disease often takes the meaning of the cross for various sins. Often the
body suffers for and on the account of the soul, although several
psychiatrists say that there are diseases of the body that hinder the soul;
however, there are ingenious debates over this issue, as the spiritual side
of the person may remain unaltered even in the case of psychoses.
Suffering, disease are attributed the significance of the cross,
although in both the New and the Old Testament God uses various
methods of eliminating physical pain – as it happens in the case of Adam,
who was made to sleep (anaesthetized) when his rib was removed that
Eve was made of (Then God brought a heavy sleep upon Adam and when
The relation between the internment of sick persons feelings of them 111

he was asleep, He took one of his ribs and filled the place back with flesh)
– or psychic, as in the case of Elijah when Jezebel sends the message that
his life will be taken because he had killed Baal’s prophets. Elijah goes
away into the desert where he has a depression and the angel of God
alleviates his pain by the same methods used by the psychiatrist: food and
rest. “And he went to sleep under the juniper bush. And lo! An angel
touched him and told him: Wake and eat and drink!” and Elijah looked
and under his head was a flat cake baked in the oven and a jug of water.
And he ate and he slept again.” God treats Elijah as a perfect physician, as
food and rest are a very good antidote for fatigue. The time while Elijah
was asleep is not known, but the result was that he was invigorated.
In the New Testament, Jesus Christ heals many sick people and
institutes the sacrament of the Holy Unction with a healing purpose. In his
second epistle to the Corinthians, Paul the Apostle explains which can be
the reason for a certain suffering in some people’s spiritual evolution.
“And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the
revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of
Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I
besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto
me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in
weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that
the power of Christ may rest upon me.” The advice of the Saviour is:
“Choose life with Me, the other way is a road to death.”

The differing behaviour of the individuals when faced with a
disease, be it serious or not, does not exclude, but rather implies the
intervention of the social assistants which can reduce the impact resulting
from the pathological state, either through the attention directed – through
sympathy or through physical support, or through psychological and
religious elements which are meant to alleviate both physical and
psychological suffering. Within this context, the social assistants’ good
qualifications and training contributes to an increased efficiency of their
activity by intensifying the therapeutic effect and by inducing a serene
state of mind within the patient, which allows him/her to have an
optimistic perception of the future.
112 Carmen-Gabriela Lăzăreanu


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Biblical statements in the forth and fifth articles of Niceean

Ilie Melniciuc-Puică

Faculty of Orthodox Theology,
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, ROMANIA

The confession of Christian Creed turn around the belief that Jesus Christ
suffered, was crucified was buried and on the third day he resurrected from death.
Rotted in biblical and traditional confession about Jesus the Savior, the Nicean-
Constantinopolitanus Creed in fourth and fifth articles proclaims the orthodoxy
expressed by each believer.
Analyzing the fourth article it’s underlined the historical survey and universal
consensus, beginning with biblical confession about Jesus crucify under the rule of
Pontius Pilate, by quoting Apostolic and Apologetic writers from indivisible Church. The
uniformity of confession was a long processus, showed around Pilate, of that –like a
historical person- is linked or the crucifixion or the resurrection.
Searching on background of fifth article, it’s demonstrate that “third day” and
“was raised” – understanding the resurrection event – are rooted in 1 Cor 15:4
Palestinian formula credendi, pointing that Greek verb “egeiro” are replaced by
“anistemi” in Nicean Creed.

Keywords: third day, confession, resurrection, Jesus, Pilate

From history we know that the earliest Creeds, some of which we
can also read in the Bible, were very short and concise, expressing only a
few aspects of the faith. For example when somebody says, “I believe that
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (Jn 11:27; Mt 16:18; Acts 8:37), he
gives the answer to the question: who is Jesus in his person. In this case
the statement “I believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God is our Saviour”
is the answer to the following question: what did Jesus do, and who is He
in His acts. After apostolic times, during the period of great theological
debates, when newer problematic questions came forth, the detailed
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creeds were formulated, which were sketching out the teaching about
salvation, detailing each article.
The last criterion should be formulated by the early church: no
confession of faith can be considered orthodox if is not based on “a
demonstrable correlation with Scripture”.

A. The fourth article of Nicaea Creed:

He was crucified for us in the time of Pontius Pilate, He suffered
and was buried.
Articles Christological of “Nicaea Creed” follows a certain pattern
set by the biblical narrative. Following testimony about the creative
activity of God and Father, its use johannine language to talk about the
relationship between Father and Son (“God”, “begotten Son of God
[monogenes] begotten of the Father”, “Light”, “true God”, Jn 20: 18.28;
1: 14.18; 3: 16.18; 4: 5.8.12; l Jn 4: 9; 5: 20 etc).

Biblical Pattern
Essential or conceptual model is the “descent/Ascension” the
Incarnation, Crucifixion and ascent to heaven. Thus, it could be
considered particularly johannine (cf. Jn 3: 13: “And no one has ascended
to heaven, than which came down from heaven, the Son of Man”). But
this one is actually common to many “forms” of the New Testament, from
the oldest claims first confessing liturgical hymns, as illustrated by the
following examples.
In the following I shall present those parts of the Christological
passages from the earliest Creeds, which discuss the passion, death and
resurrection of our Lord in some detail, beginning with confession: “was
crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and
the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures”.
The early church saw in Isaiah 53 the telling about “human
suffering”, a typological image of the Incarnation, death and resurrection
of Christ himself.

Testimony of patristic writing in Early Church

a. We find one of the earliest Creeds — following the apostolic age
— in the letters of Ignatius of Antioch: “avlla. peplhroforh,sqai evn th/|
Biblical statements in the forth and fifth articles of Niceean Creed 115

gennh,sei kai. tw/| pa,qei kai. th/| avnasta,sei th/| genome,nh evn kairw/| Ponti,ou
Pila,tou pracqe,nta avlhqw/j kai. be,baioj u`po. VIhsou/ Cristou/ [...] but may
be fully accomplished of the birth, the passion, and the resurrection which
happened in the time of the governorship of Pontius Pilate, which things
were truly and surely done by Jesus Christ” (Ignatius of Antioch, trans.
Schaff 2001, vol. I: 64).
We can observe in this fragment that the name of Pontius Pilate
Ignatius are linked not the crucifixion, but rather the resurrection of the
Lord Jesus Christ, apparently because he wanted to demonstrate that the
resurrection of the crucified Lord was a real and historical fact. St.
Ignatius of Antioch not enclose the Lord's passion into a specific time-
frame, and from this one may presume that he saw the Passion as a chain
of events which began with the birth of Jesus Christ. The same idea can
be seen in the Epistle to the Ephesians as well:
“For our God, Jesus the Christ, was conceived in the womb by
Mary according to the dispensation, of the seed of David but also of the
Holy Spirit; and He was born and was baptized that by His passion He
might cleanse water” (Ignatius of Antioch, trans. Schaff 2001, vol. I: 57).
In the Epistle to the Trallians one may observe that Ignatius,
describing the events endured by Jesus Christ under Pontius Pilate, does
not use the verb pa,scw, but the passive voice of diw,kw (to persecute):
“avlhqw/j evdiw,cqh evpi. Ponti,ou Pila,tou - He was truly persecuted under
Pontius Pilate” (Ignatius of Antioch 2001: Trallians 9). In the epistle to
the Smyrnaeans we read: evpi. Ponti,ou Pila,tou kai ~Hrw,|dou tetraarcou/
kaqhlwme,non u`pe.r h`mw/n evn sarki, - in the time of Pontius Pilate and
Herod, the tetrarch, he was truly crucified for us in the flesh” (Ignatius of
Antioch, trans. Schaff 2001, vol. I: 86).
b. In his writings Justin Martyr uses the verb stauro,w (= crucify) to
denote the events which happened during the time of Pontius Pilate:
“[...]VIhsou/n Cristo.n, to.n staurwqe,nta epi. Ponti,ou Pila,tou - [...] Jesus
Christ, who was crucified in the time of Pontius Pilate” (Justin Martyr,
trans. Schaff 2001: vol. I: 166-167, 183). In Dialogue with Trypho Justin
make distinction between the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ and the
crucifixion which he endured under Pontius Pilate: Kata. ga.r tou/
ovno,matoj auvtou/ tou,tou tou/ ui`ou/ tou qeou/ kai. prwtoto,kou pa,shj kti,sewj,
kai. dia. parqe,nou gennhqe,ntoj kai. paqhtou/ genome,nou avnqrw,pou, kai.
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staurwqe,ntoj epi. Ponti,ou Pila,tou u`po. tou/ laou/ u`mw/n - ... for against
the name of this same Son of God and Firstborn of the whole creation,
who became man by the Virgin, who suffered, and was crucified under
Pontius Pilate by your nation, ...” (Justin Martyr, trans. Schaff 2001: vol.
I: 241).
We can see that in this fragment the verb pa,scw refers to the whole
life of Jesus, and denotes those sufferings which the apostle Paul
described as keno,sij. In the background of this usage we find Isaiah's
prophecy, according to which the Messiah who will deliver his own
nation from their sins, will be “a man of sorrows and familiar with
suffering” (Is 53:3).
c. The next important stage in our research concerning the early
creeds about the Suffering Messiah is represented by the work Adversus
haereses of Irenaeus of Lyon, bishop of ancient Lugdunum, († 202). Here
we encounter for the first time the expression passus sub Pontio Pilato
(Irenaeus, trans. Schaff 2001, vol. I: 417). In the 16th chapter of the same
work he uses the verb patior without dating:
Non ergo alterum filium hominis novit evangelium nisi hunc, qui ex
Maria, qui et passus est — The Gospel, therefore, knew no other son of
man but Him who was of Mary, who also suffered; and no Christ who
flew away from Jesus before the passion; but Him who was born it knew
as Jesus Christ the Son of God, and that this same suffered and rose again
(Irenaeus, trans. Schaff 2001, vol. I: 442).
With the expression “passus est” Irenaeus seems to refer here to the
sufferings endured in the time of Pontius Pilate. This usage differs from
that of the aforementioned authors, since he denotes the events of Great
Friday with the verb pa,scw - patior, which in the previous tradition has a
more general meaning. It probably would have been more appropriate to
use the more specific and accepted verbs like stauro,w — crucifigo, or
diw,kw — persequor, or even crudo (= to inflict torture upon, to torment)
(diw,kw in Kittel and Friedrich 2000) when referring specifically to the
events of Jesus death.
d. In North-Africa, Tertullian († around 220), the younger
contemporary of Irenaeus, denoted the suffering of the Lord under
Pontius Pilate with these words:
Biblical statements in the forth and fifth articles of Niceean Creed 117

Credendi [...] et filium ejus Jesum Christum, natum ex virgine

Maria, crucifixum sub Pontio Filato — to believe in His Son, Jesus
Christ, who was born by the virgin Mary, and under Pontius Pilate he was
crucified” (Tertulian, trans. Schaff 2001, vol. III: 633).
Furthermore, in his work Adversus Praxeam, whilst speaking about
the “passion” of the Lord, i.e. referring to His whole human life,
Tertullian uses the verb “patior”:
Hunc missum a patte in virginem ex ea natum, hominem et deum,
filium hominis et filium dei, et cognominatum Jesum Christum; hunc
passum, hunc mortuum et sepultum, secundum scripturas... – He was sent
by the Father into the Virgin, He was born from Her, He is man and God,
son of man and Son of God, the above named Jesus Christ. He suffered
and died, [after that] He was buried according to the Scriptures”
(Tertulian, trans. Schaff 2001, vol. III: 598).
e. The Apostolic Creed, in use from second Christian century, state:
“Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead, and buried; He
descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead…”.
f. In the first book of his De principiis Origen uses the verb patior in
the same sense, although by him the accent falls on the fact that the
passion of the Lord was real, and not an illusion or phantasy: “[...] passus
est in ventate, et non per phantasiam — He suffered truly, and not by
appearance” (Origen, trans. Schaff 2001, vol. IV: 240).
Speaking about the final passion of the Lord in the creeds of
Adamantius and Alexander of Alexandria (Kelly 1972: 152) we can find
the verb stauro,w: “evpi. suntelei,a| tw/n aivw,nwn eivj avqe,thsin Îth/jÐ
a`marti,aj evpidhmh,saj tw/| ge,nei tw/n avnqrw,pwn, staurwqei,j kai. avpoqanw.n
- in the fullness of times He arrived to the human race in order to abolish
sin, He was crucified, and died...” (from the creed of Alexander of
Alexandria) (Papp 2008: 705).
g. The Nicaea Creed confirm: “and was crucified also for us under
Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose
again, according to the Scriptures”. Finally, the Athanasian Creed affirm
in words of the 38 sentence: “who suffered for our salvation, descended
into hell, rose again the third day from the dead”. All references about
confession of the Christian orthodoxy remind the soteriological worship
of Jesus Christ, from fallen humanity under sin.
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h. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, and Augustine used both versions.

It seems likely that Augustine learned of the version in which the passion
of the Lord is expressed by “passus sub Ponto Pilato” in Milan.
Nevertheless, in Hippo Regius, presumably according to the local
practice, he followed the version which says: “qui crucifixus sub Pontio
Pilato, et sepultus est.” All the Churches of North-Africa confessed their
faith concerning the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ with the following
words: “crucifixus est sub Ponto Pilato”.
i. In the tradition of the Gallic Churches we can find both versions.
The Creed of Phoebianus of Aginnum from the 4th century and the creed
of Caesarius of Arles uses the expression “passus sub Pontio Pilato”, and
in a creed found in Paris dating from either the sixth or the seventh
century we can read “crucifixus sub Pontio Pilato”. We have to mention
also the creed of Gregory of Tours, which omits reference to the passion
“Credo in Jesum Christum, Filium ejus unicum, dominum deum
nostrum. Credo eum die tertia resurrexisse... - I believe in Jesus Christ, in
His only Son, our Lord and God. I believe that He resurrected on the third
day…” (Hahn 1897 reprint 2005 apud Papp 2008: 706).
j. All the creeds of the Oriental Churches are using the expression
staurwqe,nta epi. Ponti,ou Pila,tou or its synonyms in order to express
the passion of the Lord. Here we can enumerate the creed of Eusebius of
Caesarea (Socrates: Historia Ecclesiastica 1:8), Cyril of Jerusalem (Cyril
of Jerusalem trans. Telfer 1955: 35), Epiphanius of Salamis (Young 1992:
10-11), the creeds of the Syrian Churches (Laodiceea, Antioch) (Bray
1984: 102), the creeds of the Churches from Asia Minor. In these creeds
the name of Pilate does not occur with the verb pa,scw, but always with
stauro,w. In the Nestorian creed the verbs pa,scw and stauro,w occur side
by side, and the verb stauro,w may refer to the events which happened
under the government of Pontius Pilate, and the word pa,scw could denote
all sufferings, which the Lord has endured in his whole life (Hahn 1897
reprint 2005 apud Papp 2008: 721).
Finally, I proceed to the analysis of the passages concerning the
passion of the Lord in the Creeds of the Ecumenical Councils. In the
Nicene Creed the word paqo,nta probably does not refer only to the events
of Great Friday, but rather expresses his passions in a more general sense.
Biblical statements in the forth and fifth articles of Niceean Creed 119

The text of the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitanum Creed, however, is more

problematic, since it reads: “staurwqe,nta te u`pe.r h`mw/n epi. Ponti,ou
Pila,tou kai. paqo,nta kai. tafe,nta - He was crucified for us in the time of
Pontius Pilate, He suffered and was buried...” The Latin translation omits
the verb paqo,nta, and we read the following: “crucifixus est pro nobis sub
Pontio Pilato, et sepultus est — He was crucified for us in the time of
Pontius Pilate, and He was buried...”

B. Fifth article of Nicaea Creed:

On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures
The relation between Jesus passion, death and resurrection,
underlined in historical form of Creed, both in Orient and Occident, are
based for biblical statement confessed in johannine and Pauline canonical
Paul writes of Jesus Christ, not with the disconnected manner of
attributes, but by continuing a well-known story.
Jesus is best described as the Second Adam. Even the heady
statements of Colossians 1 read in a narrative manner and are relayed as
the events of the creation and incarnation.
Jesus Christ is God. He also is a man, but as a “man of this world”
and as the main character of this world's human story.

1 Cor 15 3:4 - source of Nicaean testimony

The clearest presentation of the doctrine of the resurrection is found
in 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul defends and explains it to the church at
Corinth. There were those teaching that there is no resurrection of the
dead. But Paul begins the chapter by reminding them of the Gospel that
Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, was buried, and rose
again according to the Scriptures (15:3.4). Elsewhere Paul had preached
strongly from the Old Testament (Ps. 16) that Jesus had indeed been
raised from the dead (see Acts 13:13-48; and 23:1-11). He then proceeded
to remind them of all the appearances that Jesus made to people after his
resurrection, so that there were abundant witnesses to the fact. The Lord
also appeared to him, Paul, as well (v. 5).
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a. The structure of Pauline testimony

Quoting the kerygma, Paul is conscious of a genuine continuity
between his own preaching and the primitive proclamation of the
Jerusalem community concerning the major events that gave life to the
Christian church. The two main parallel affirmations are (a) “Christ died”
and (b) “he was raised.” Each is modified by a prepositional phrase, “for
our sins” and “on the third day,” and each has the addition, “according to
the Scriptures” (Fitzmyer 2008: 541).
Most commentators agree that 1 Cor. 15 opens with an exordium
(Witherington 1995: 46; Fee 1987: 385). Some believe it consists of the
first two verses; others need to include the verse 3a. We opt for the first
hypothesis. We argue that the two sections, 1 -2 and 3-11 start and end the
same way:
- v. 1-2: Verb at first person sg. + o] kai. parela,bete... + evpisteu,sate
- v. 3-11: Verb at first person sg. + o] kai. pare,labon... +
Recall that the preface could be, depending on the type of cause,
directly or indirect. It is therefore important to try to discern what kind of
question Paul defends. Clearly, belief in the resurrection of the dead is
doubtfully in Corinth. The reasons why the Corinthians not have strange
belief in resurrection remains uncertain. Perhaps the delay of the parousia
has played a role in the birth of the doubt just for a part of the community
denies the resurrection (cf. τινές in 12 and 34).
The direct exordium will give priority to capture the goodwill of
the readers. Verse 2 makes the audience able to understand the rest of the
speech since Paul hypothesized a difference in the community on a
specific point of the Gospel [The adj. “first,” is not to be taken in a
temporal sense, but in a qualitative sense]. This is far from inadequate as
pointed out both proposals conditional propositions: “eiv kate,cete( evkto.j
eiv mh. eivkh/| evpisteu,sate”.
These demand the attention of the Corinthians.
The two conditional affirmations in verse 2 allow Paul to recall the
content of the Gospel proclaimed by him and received from Corinthians.
The Gospel mentions the death of Christ for the forgiveness of sins, his
burial, his resurrection on the third day and that the Risen appeared to
Peter and the twelve (v. 3-5). The kata. ta.j grafa.j at the end of verses 3
Biblical statements in the forth and fifth articles of Niceean Creed 121

and 4, which shows the epistrophe [Figure of speech that consists of

repeating a word or words in the end of sentences or phrases], seems to
indicate a sort of versification of credo. The second member can accredit
this hypothesis, because use evta,fh and w;fqh.
Each affirmation is concluded further with a short parallel assertion
(a') “he was buried” and (b') “he appeared to Cephas.” The words kai. o[ti
may be Pauline additions to emphasize the individual items and he is also
correct in insisting that Kephas belongs with w;fqh as part of the original
formula. To the fragment of the kerygma quoted in vv. 3b–5a, Paul has
added part of a list of early witnesses of the risen Christ in vv. 5b–7
(Thiselton 2000: 1265).
Verses 6-8 of narratio provide a list of witnesses to the resurrection
of Christ. The anaphore, e;peita w;fqh, supports the entry of such valuable
witnesses. Narratio is never neutral. As noted Quintilian, his “purpose (...)
is not only to inform the judge, but rather to get them to agree with us”
(Quintilian 1921 (trans.) H.E. Butler: 143).
But the whole argument of Paul in following verses is based on the
resurrection of Christ. For the list of testimonies, Paul put the Corinthians
on the ground that it will disprove their hypotheses about the resurrection
of the dead: hundreds of people witnessed the resurrection, things that can
not be denied. Paul confirms his personal witness at last (v. 8).
Schmitt (Schmitt 1974: 178), arguing that first Christians keep an
oral tradition, says: “As Paul says explicitly, there is no doubt that it
“sends” something that he first “got” what the internal analysis of
vocabulary and content also confirm easily. But what is the extension of
this tradition? The transition to the first one that occurs in v. 8 calls not to
exceed v. 7, and two literary features provide some formal coherence to
vv. 5-7: a) the provision chiasmus of two Greek adverbs [ei=ta, e;peita], b)
the almost perfect correspondence between v. 5 and 7 [...]. However, a
gap entirely between the net v. 5 and 6 required the attention: the verbs of
v. 3a can order more w. 6-7 (there isn’t more o[ti), where several
independent proposals are different manifestations of the Risen. The base
of this traditional unity is manifested in 1 Cor. 15:3 b-5, which it is no
longer decomposable. Most scholars underlined the base on many simple
formulas referring of death and on the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Davis
1993: 241). St. Paul, in response to the denial of the resurrection of the
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dead, build his argument on the basis of recognized authority cited

tradition, founding necessary to persuade the truth of his views on
freedom from the Law, to this time before the authority conferred on it
own the “revelation of Jesus Christ”. Sometime, when scholars (Barrett
1968: 211; Morris 1958: 138) search St. Paul position about Christian
tradition, they compare 1 Cor. 15: la.3a - gnwri,zw de. u`mi/n( avdelfoi,( to.
euvagge,lion o] euvhggelisa,mhn u`mi/n [...] pare,dwka ga.r u`mi/n evn prw,toij( o]
kai. pare,labon with Gal. 1:11-12 -nwri,zw ga.r u`mi/n( avdelfoi,( to.
euvagge,lion to. euvaggelisqe.n u`pV evmou/ [...] ouvde. ga.r evgw. para. avnqrw,pou
pare,labon auvto.. They admit in the letter to the Galatians several
traditional elements! There is no need to conclude, forcing surely about
Paul that the tradition recorded in 1 Cor 15:3b-5 is the “norm” of the
Gospel or, conversely, that it “regulates any tradition”. It seems more
appropriate to retain for the apostle of the principle of coexistence of two
authorities, convened alternately and mutually supportive, rather than the
systematic subordination from one to another. What matters ultimately in
St. Paul tradition elements use is that interlocutors draw all the
consequences of the formulas of faith confessed for the sake of argument
and why he allows himself to stop “correct” interpretation.
The appearance to James and the apostles is a parallel to Cephas
and the Twelve. “It is clear that the enumeration is meant as a historical,
chronological one” (Conzelmann 1966: 23).
Joachim Jeremias (Jeremias 1966: 101-105) cited six items that he
maintained were not Pauline formulations and hence derived from a
Semitic original:
(1) u`pe.r tw/n a`martiw/n h`mw/n, “for our sins”;
(2) kata. ta.j grafa.j, “according to the Scriptures”;
(3) the perf. verb evgh,gertai, “was raised”;
(4) postpositive ordinal number th/| tri,th| “third”;
(5) the verb w;fqh, “appeared”; and
(6) oi/ dw,deka, “the Twelve”, a term not otherwise used by Paul.
Others, however, have not been so sure about its original
formulation in a Semitic language, even though they are willing to trace
the verses to a Palestinian origin, especially since there is no known
Semitic equivalent of kata. ta.j grafa.j. Moreover, the verb w;fqh occurs
in many theophanies in the LXX (Gen 12:7; 17:1; 18:1; Exod 3:2–3), and
Biblical statements in the forth and fifth articles of Niceean Creed 123

th/| h`me,ra| th/| tri,th| is found in LXX Hos 6:2). Even if the formula is
rooted in a Palestinian tradition, as is quite likely, this Greek form of it
could well have taken shape in a Hellenistic Christian community.
The kerygma affirms the salvific effect of Jesus’ death u`pe.r tw/n
a`martiw/n h`mw/n; Paul himself will link to it an affirmation of Christ’s
resurrection in Rom 4:25 (see also 1 Tes 4:14; Gal. 1:4a; 1 Pet. 3:18)
(Tenney 1963: 54).
1. The prepositional phrase kata. ta.j grafa.j, “according to the
Scriptures,” it’s a formula used into a standard Greek phrase, referring to
the Hebrew Scriptures (LXX 1 Chr. 15:15; 2 Chr. 30:5). The phrase is
problematic, because the kerygmatic fragment does not indicate where
Christ’s death for our sins would be found in the Old Testament.
Commentators generally understand it as an implicit reference to the
fourth Servant Song of Isaiah, especially LXX Isa 53:5 (dia. ta.j a`marti,aj
h`mw/n) 6. 8–9. 12. This phrase is added in order to call attention to Christ’s
death as something that has happened in God’s plan for the salvation of
humanity. However, in the Old Testament Scriptures isn’t write someone
point that the Messiah rise the third day. There are only hints at this idea,
but done in an almost imperceptible to the reader who does not mind the
New Testament message. A hint is also Hosea 6, 2: “After two days he
will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before
him”. “On the third day” (th/| h`me,ra| th/| tri,th) is a traditional phrase,
which often occurs elsewhere (Mt. 16:21; 17:23; 20:19; Lk. 9:22; 18:33;
24:7. 46; Acts 10:40), and which counts both ends, i.e., the day of Jesus’
death and burial, an intermediate day (Sabbath, Mk. 16:1), and “the first
day of the week” (Mk. 16:2), which is the day of the discovery of the
empty tomb.
In detail, on Mt. 16:21 at first prophecy about His end, is write:
“From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to
Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and
scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” Christ said He
would rise on “the third day”. On second revelation about His passion,
after descent from Mountain of Transfiguration, announce: “Now while
they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about
to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the
third day He will be raised up.’ And they were exceedingly sorrowful”
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(Mt. 17:22-23). To leave no doubt in anyone’s mind, Jesus compared His

impending resurrection with the experience of the prophet Jonah: “For as
Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so
will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the
earth.” He meant 3 literal days and 3 literal nights (Mt. 12:40). The third
and last prophecy about His death is expressed in Mk. 8:31: “He began to
teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected
by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three
days rise again”.
Even His enemies remembered those words: “On the next day,
which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees
gathered together to Pilate, saying, ‘Sir, we remember, while He was still
alive, how that deceiver said, “After three days I will rise.” Therefore
command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His
disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, `He
has risen from the dead.' So the last deception will be worse than the first”
(Mt. 27:62-64).
We can observe that two those phrases “the third day” and “after
three days” say and mean the same thing. They are further clarified by
Christ’s words “three days and three nights” (Evans 1970: 21-26).
In biblical terms, a day was 12 hours (Jn. 11:9), referring to only
daylight hours, which is typically from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. So one day
and one night would be equal to one 24 hour day by our clock or calendar
(Augustine, trans. Schaff 2001: 75 - In the work itself this particular
chapter is introduced as treating of: ‘De triduo quo impleto dominus
resurrexit.’ (“On the three days on the completion of which the Lord
arose”). In the context, Augustine is interested in certain numbers,
particularly the number six in its single and multiple forms, which
explains the easy transition from the numbers forty and thirty-six (the
ones that interest us) to other considerations. Augustine is quite aware of
the problems arising from the various times mentioned with regard to the
crucifixion and death of Christ in the Gospels (hora tertia, Mk 15:25;
hora sexta, Jn 19:14; hora nona, Mt 27:46). Despite this, Augustine can
speak of forty hours between Christ’s crucifixion and his resurrection, and
of his being thirty-six hours in the tomb) (see also McNamara 2003: 205-
Biblical statements in the forth and fifth articles of Niceean Creed 125

No New Testament text describes Jesus’ resurrection itself as a

perceptible event. Given the ancient way of counting both ends of a time
span, it was easy for early Christians (Tertulian, trans. Schaff 2001, vol.
III: 649) to see Christ’s resurrection as a fulfillment of Hos. 6:2, “After
two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we
may live before him.” The prophet’s words in their original context
expressed the hope that in a short time God would restore the fortunes of
Israel, after repentance for its involvement in the cult of Baal. The text
itself ignore the concept of resurrection, pointed the necessity of a cure
from a sick nation. In Hosea 6, 2 the image, even if it believed somehow
like inspired by history of religion, becomes as a proverbial expression
from a healing in a very short period of time. Hence this use of “on the
third day” would have a literary reminiscence of the prophet’s words,
which are now applied to the resurrection of Christ in such an
interpretation (Dupont 1959: 746-748).
The same Greek phrase, h/ h`me,ra| h/ tri,th however, can be found
elsewhere in the LXX (Exod 19:11.16; 2 Kgs. 20:5), and so one should
not press any specific Old Testament text too much to explain the
kerygmatic “according to the Scriptures”. The reference to Jonah 2:1
(recall Mt. 12:40) is related, thinking rather to Gen 1:11–13, when the tree
of life was planted on the third day of creation. However, Metzger has
called attention to an analogous set of phrases in 1 Macc 7:16–17, where
evn h`me,ra| mia/| “on one day,” is followed by another kata. to.n lo,gon o]n
e;grayen auvto,n, “according to the word, which he wrote,” which
introduces a quotation of Ps. 79:2–3, a quotation that has only little
connection with the topic, to which it is supposed to be related (Fitzmyer
2008: 549).
2. The second element of the kerygma thus stresses the reality of
Jesus’ death is expressed in faithfully confession that he was buried. Faith
in the resurrection and the proclamation of it are set forth in the context of
Jesus’ death, which cannot be neglected, and his burial. Canonical
Gospels records at end of passion narrative his burial (Mk. 15:46; Mt.
27:60; Lk. 23:53; Jn. 19:42) using Greek formulation avpe,qanen …kai.
evta,fh (“died … and was buried”).
3. The third element of the kerygmatic fragment preserves the
primitive affirmation of the resurrection of Christ, using the perfect
126 Ilie Melniciuc-Puică

passive verb evgh,gertai, “he has been raised”, understanding by God the
Father, as in 1 Cor.15:14.16–17.20. The aorist passive forms evgerqh/,|
evgerqei.j are the more usual Pauline formulation (Rom. 4:25; 6:4.9), as
well as act forms that express the Father’s efficient causality of the event.
The verb evgh,gertai denote the act of resuscitation (as in the case of
Lazarus, who was restored to physical life on earth in Jn. 12:1), but also
implies exaltation (Phil. 2:9: kai. o` qeo.j auvto.n u`peru,ywsen, “and God
exalted him”). Verbal forms of evgei,rai are used in New Testament: with
sense of “rise up” (Mk. 4:38; Ac. 12:7), “to rise up strengthened” (in Mt.
17:7; Ac. 9:8); “to stand up whole” (in Mt. 8:15; 9:6); “to rise up”:
evgei,retai evk tou/ dei,pnou, Jn. 13:4 or “to begin an action” (evgh,gerqei.j
para,labe, Mt. 2:13.20; Jn. 14:31 evgei,resqe( a;gwmen - “arise, let’s go”)
(evgei,rai in Kittel and Friedrich 2000). The sense “to raise the dead,” or
passive “to be raised,” “to rise from the dead” is uses in connexion with
Jesus resurrection in Mt. 27:52; Mk. 16:6; Mt. 28:7; Lk. 24:34; Jn. 21:14.
Kittel affirm that New Testament prefers evgei,rein and evgei,resqai to
avni,stanai and avni,stasqai because it brings out better the concrete nature
of the divine action. The idea of the self-resurrection of Jesus is first
found in Johannine theology (Jn. 2:19, 21; 10:17, 18). Evgei,rein are
parallel development along avni,sthmi in LXX and New Testament
(Melniciuc-Puica 2005: 158). Moses word from Deut 18:15.18 (profh,thn
avnasth,sw) was expressed by Peter his Christian apology (Acts 3:22) with
ambivalent sense: “to rise up” and “to rise from death”. Paul use in 1 Cor.
15: 4 evgh,gertai underlining the external divine action. Avni,sthmi suggest
a self-action and a new life, spiritual of the Reisen. Perhaps this was the
means of Nicean Creed words who records not Pauline verbal form, but a
biblical and Hellenic concept of potentia per se:
1 Cor. 15:4: kai. o[ti evta,fh kai. o[ti evgh,gertai th/| h`me,ra| th/| tri,th|
kata. ta.j grafa.j;
Niceean Creed: kai. paqo,nta kai. ta,fenta, kai. avnasta,santa th/|
tri,th| kata. ta.j grafa.j.
The mention of the risen Christ’s appearance to Paul (v. 8) once
again elicits a defense of his apostolate (15:9–10), as he recalls his role as
a persecutor and God’s gracious call that turned him into a Christian
apostle. Even if he now emphasizes that he is the “last” and the “least” of
Biblical statements in the forth and fifth articles of Niceean Creed 127

the apostles, he implies that he is on equal footing with Cephas and the
Twelve, who have just been mentioned. He has just cited the traditional
gospel and regards the interpretation of it as part of his apostolic authority
(Fitzmyer 2008: 543).
This passage is usually regarded as preserving the oldest record of
the Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. 1 Thess. 1:10
and Rom. 4:25; 6:3–4 echo the same pre-Pauline kerygma like 1 Cor.
15:3. These last references are older than any of the reports in the four
Gospels, and for that reason is highly esteemed. Paul’s argument in vv. 1–
11 stresses that Christ’s resurrection has been the essence or core of the
preached gospel.

In 1 Corinthians 15 we find specifies both Jesus’ burial and his
resurrection. The burial testifies to Jesus’ death, since (normally!) we
bury only those who have died; the appearances testify to Jesus’
Jesus’ death and his resurrection are tied together in history: the one
who was crucified is the one who was resurrected; the body that came out
of the tomb, as Thomas wanted to have demonstrated in Jn 20:25.28, had
the wounds of the body that went into the tomb. This resurrection took
place on the third day: it is in datable sequence from the death. The cross
and the resurrection are irrefragably tied together.
Barrett has called attention to the keryma’s passive formulation,
Christ “was raised” (evgh,gertai), i.e., by God (a divine passive; but note
the act formulation in v. 15; 6:14), which is an affirmation about God
which historical evidence as such cannot demonstrate (or, for that matter,
disprove) (Barrett 1968: 215). Yet it is not unrelated to history, for the
affirmation began to be made at a particular point in time, which can be
dated by historical means, and it was motivated by occurrences which can
be described in historical terms. These occurrences Paul goes on to list in
outline… [They] cannot prove more than that, after the crucifixion,
certain persons believed that they had seen Jesus again; they cannot prove
the Christian doctrine of the resurrection, since this involves a statement
about the action of God incapable alike of observation and demonstration.
128 Ilie Melniciuc-Puică

…[Paul] includes them [the names] as part of the primitive testimony

which he begins to quote at verse 3b” (Fitzmyer 2008: 341).
Even though Paul’s point in vv. 1-11 is not to prove the resurrection
of Jesus in any formal sense - instead it is to remind the Corinthians of
what they hold in common with Paul and the whole church - it is certainly
imperative to be reminded of the fact that for Paul the resurrection of
Jesus Christ is an objective space-time reality. For Paul (and the whole
New Testament), it would have been utterly inconceivable to argue as
some have done in our own day that the resurrection belonged to the
category of myth, or that the explanation of it was found in some
individual and/or collective hallucinations, or that Jesus’ disciples went to
the wrong tomb, or even worse, an intentional deceit by these early
witnesses including himself (Dragoman 2003: 273-278). Rather, for Paul
and the whole church, what was believed and proclaimed, what had been
received and passed on was that Jesus Christ had died, been buried, and
now, by God’s mighty action in human history was alive ruling and
reigning as Lord in fulfillment of God’s salvific plans. This fact is part of
the non-negotiable of the Christian faith. To deny Christ’s resurrection
and then attempt to retain the name “Christian” is simply a contradiction
in terms (Wellum 2002: 78-80).


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Fathers, series 1, vol. 3. Grand Rapids: Christian Classics
Ethereal Library.
- Barrett, C.K.A. 1968. Commentary on the First Epistle to the
Corinthians. Harper's New Testament Commentaries. New
York: Harper & Row Publishers.
- Bray, Gerald. 1984. Creeds, Councils and Christ. Leicester: 1VP.
- Conzelmann, H. 1966. “On the Analysis of the Confessional
Formula in 1 Corinthians 15: 3-5”. In Int 20.
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Biblical statements in the forth and fifth articles of Niceean Creed 129

- Davis, St.T. 1993. Risen Indeed: Making Sense of the

Resurrection. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company.
- Dragoman, Pr. I. 2003. Învierea Mântuitorului. Alba Iulia: Ed.
- Dupont, J. 1959. „Ressuscité "le troisième jour”. In Biblica 40.
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2nd Series. London: SCM.
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Introduction and Commentary. New Haven; Yale University
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Fathers, vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing
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Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids.
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- McNamara, Martin. 2003. Christ Forty Hours in the Tomb and the
Forty Hours Devotion, Celtica 24.
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în scrierile lucanice / The Use of Old Testament in Lukan
writings. Iaşi: Ed. Performantica.
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Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company.
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- Papp, Gyorgy. 2008. The Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ in Early
Christian Confessions. In Reformatus Szemle, 101, no. 6.
- Quintilian 1921. Institutio oratoria, H.E. Butler (trans.)
Cambridge, Harvard University Press.
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Cor. XV, 3b-5”. In Resurrexit. Ed. Dhanis ed.. Rome:
Libreria Editrice Vatica.
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York: Harper & Row.
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3. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company.
- Thiselton, A.C. 2000. The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A
Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek
Testament Commentary, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing
- Wellum, Stephen J. 2002. Christ’s Resurrection and Ours (1
Corinthians 15). In SBJT 6.
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Rhetorical Commentary on 1 and 2 Corinthians. Grand
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The study of Sacred Art and of Cultural Patrimony at the
Faculty of Orthodox Theology of the “Al. I Cuza”
University in Iasi

Stelian Onica,
Merişor G. Dominte

Faculty of Orthodox Theology,
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, ROMANIA

One can every time discover with new eyes the byzantine values, bringing to
contemporary ages their Christian message, the iconographic education offering the
balanced path of observing ,practicing, and sharing the diversity within unity and the
unity within diversity. The same iconographic subject with the same representation
canon even if might be similar in different places, will always be distinct and special,
energetically charged – individually and differentiate by the inner stage of the one that
represents it.

Keywords: Sacred Art, Cultural Heritage

Since 1993, at the ‘Dumitru Staniloae’ Faculty of Orthodox

Theology (opened in 1860 and re-opened in 1990) of the A.I Cuza
university of Iasi – at the Cultural Heritage Department ( now named
Sacred Art in Undergraduate studies and Cultural Heritage in Ma studies)
the study of art and byzantine painting has continues today through its
polarization within more disciplines of artistic specific, that exist at the
department of the Church Painting as well as at the Conservation-
Restoration for Polychrome Wood Icon and at the Book- Document
Consequently, the study of the Byzantine painting implies the
concomitance of the Classic study of Drawing and Artistic Anatomy, the
Color and the Composition of the natural and created forms – linked to
the byzantine age, as well as History of Arts and Christian Art together
132 Stelian Onica, Merişor G. Dominte

with the study of artistic traditional techniques and the realization and
visual rendering materials, the Specialty work, etc.
Primordial and concomitant we also find to be the theological study,
absolutely necessary not only to the church painter but also to the
conservation and restoration of the ecclesiastic goods. There is also the
pedagogy module that can be attended by the students that seek the
chance to be teachers in the pre-university teaching system, as well as the
possibility to work in studios or on the field, for new painting or for
restoration activities of cultural goods that are to be found in the
collections, museums, monuments, etc.
At a undergraduate level as well as at a master level, the disciplines
with the artistic specific and the ones that can be correlated to them are
offering us an ensemble of students education in the meanings of
preparation for the ecclesial art practice. At the same time, at the
directions of Conservation restoration of document-book and
conservation restoration icon polychrome wood, a direct link can be made
to the practical work through the study of the specific materials and of
graphic techniques and also the iconographic ones. The preservation of
goods also need knowledge of Chemistry and Physics, Biology,
Etiopathology and active conservation, Restoration Methodologies,
Museum studies, General Theory of Restoration, Specialty practices, etc.
All these issues are studied independently, on stages, theoretically
as well as practically.
The emeritus results are systematically communicated and exposed
during manifestations and student exhibitions organized in the faculty,
monuments, museums, art galleries and other.
The art of byzantine painting is present in the laic context, not only
in the religious one, and miniatures, icons, mural panels etc. can be
admired by the public as an alternative of creativity, a subtle one on
comparison to the shocking modern experiments.
A profound stylistic search is offered to the ones that truly
understood the meaning of the traditional expressions, and to the ones that
present or respect the percepts of Orthodoxy.
After the university studies, the graduates from Sacred Art –
Cultural Heritage can find a job not only in the laic context but also in the
The study of Sacred Art and of Cultural Patrimony… 133

“Resurrection” Center of the Metropolitanate of Moldavia and Bucovina,

where the three specialization subjects during studies are to be found.
In its ensemble, at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology form Iasi, the
formative and informative preparation in the meanings of developingthe
artistic aptitudes for the ecclesial painting, as well as the preparations for
the patrimony preservation is oriented in the traditional way – miniatures
and icons on wood, glass, mosaic, as well as in the direction of learning
and the specifics of the mural painting, al secco and al fresco.
For a comparative study and iconographic realizations, the used
documentation comes from the Christian areal, the Orthodox one
comprising Greek, Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Romanian models.
The traditions finds this way a convincing way of creative
refreshing, the students being guided to start the subjects of the
iconographic themes, adapting them to the working formats and the found
architectural styles, after they have finished the study of natural forms,
their composition stages and also the artistic modalities used during these
stages; they also have to compose the elements of artistic language and
the techniques of iconographic expression.
The formation and developing of students’ aptitudes for the
byzantine painting as well as for the preservation of cultural patrimony
goods is realized simultaneously and then independently at specialization
courses and practical themes that must be accompanied by documentation
in libraries, monuments, museums, art galleries, private collections; visits
to studios and on the field where church painting is done also useful, as
well as in laboratories of conservation restoration. All these are
accompanied by essays and speeches, different local and international
exhibition, participations to workshops, conferences, symposiums, study
bursaries in different university centers and other actions that help the
realization of the theoretical and applicative licenses and the university
Thanks to the high church and academic patronages, the visual
education that promotes the iconographic values of the Orthodoxy, is very
appreciated and sustained in Iasi since 1990 at the Dumitru Staniloae
Faculty, it’s results being in fact the mirror of the teachers’ and
administration’s hard work, that guide the aptitudes and efforts of the
students at the section of Sacred Art – Cultural Heritage.
134 Stelian Onica, Merişor G. Dominte

In present time, the Image finds through Orthodoxy an elevation

and a recovery of sacred contexts in the world. The Image becomes the
bridge for the divine through the transcendence stage, transmitted to all
the people that want to restore their being in order to obtain inner
freedom. That’s why the responsibility of transmitting and practicing the
Orthodox iconography, with its used canons has a maximum importance,
especially for the fact that the human being perceives the reality
especially visually, the image being in fact the modality of
communication that transmits not only the information, but also the subtle
For the Orthodox belief this aspect is the essential one, that’s why
the Church painting needs a recollection state of being, of divine grace
and unconditional giving, which can be produced only after a profoundly
receptive apprenticeship. One can every time discover with new eyes the
byzantine values, bringing to contemporary ages their Christian message,
the iconographic education offering the balanced path of observing
,practicing, and sharing the diversity within unity and the unity within
diversity. The same iconographic subject with the same representation
canon even if might be similar in different places, will always be distinct
and special, energetically charged – individually and differentiate by the
inner stage of the one that represents it.
This way, for the Orthodox Iconography, the act of creation is a
cumulus of feeling and actions, where matter is subsuming to the creator;
the creator through his faith and art of visual rendering converts to the
image the ephemeral stage to an open message, that canons that is
respected being in fact the gate that invites us to holiness and absolute.
In the spirit of knowledge, of collaboration and experience
exchange, through the patronage, the care and the blessing of I.P.S.
Teofan, the Metropolitan Bishop of Moldavia and Bucovina,between 16-
20.11.2009 and 11-12. 03. 2010,the International Studio of Church
Painting was held in Iasi, the second edition, an event that has moved a
step forward through the exchange of knowledge that took place between
the participant specialists, another step made in the effort of spiritual
restoration of humanity by the means of authentic creation on the
religious art.
The study of Sacred Art and of Cultural Patrimony… 135

Concept poster: Stelian Onica, Merişor G. Dominte and student Mihaela Stoica
136 Stelian Onica, Merişor G. Dominte

Works of the students from Sacred Art and Cultural Heritage


Lucrări ale studenţilor de la secţia Artă Sacră (studii după modele,

schiţe anatomice, izvoade, icoane)
The study of Sacred Art and of Cultural Patrimony… 137
138 Stelian Onica, Merişor G. Dominte
The study of Sacred Art and of Cultural Patrimony… 139

Secvenţe din expoziţia “ Icoana- artă şi teologie” (a

specializărilor Artă Sacră şi Patrimoniu cultural),20.10.-30.11.2009,
Facultatea de Teologie Ortodoxă “Dumitru Stăniloae”, Iaşi
140 Stelian Onica, Merişor G. Dominte
The study of Sacred Art and of Cultural Patrimony… 141

Pictură murală în sălile T4 şi T1

142 Stelian Onica, Merişor G. Dominte
The Solomonar: An Enigmatic Figure of the Romanian
Folk Mythology

Constantin-Iulian Damian

Faculty of Orthodox Theology,
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, ROMANIA

One of the most enigmatic figures of the Romanian folk mythology is the
Solomonar. It is a fact that nowadays there are more hypotheses than certitudes
concerning this personage. The present article does not try to advocate for a theory or
another, but to depict the image of the Solomonar as depicted in various Romanian folk
legends. Although these “myths” are sometimes contradictory, especially concerning the
nature of the Solomonar, following the mythological scenario: initiation, testing
villagers’ philanthropy, drawing off the dragon from the lake, mastering the elements,
and, finally, returning to the lake, can offer to the reader a clear or at least a coherent
image of the Solomonar.

Keywords: Romanian folk mythology; Solomonar; Countersolomonar

„I know everybody’s thoughts, I know their name;

I ceaselessly learn from thick books, from which nobody else can read.
I subdue the clouds with a bridle and they blindly obey and accomplish
my commands.
I will forgive no one who offends me, because I have the power to
shatter his crops through hail;
I can undo anybody.” (Gherman 2002: 143)

It is a fact that the Romanian folk mythology abounds in fictional

beings which populate the sky, the underground or the settlements.
Although for many of these beings and beliefs we have certitudes
considering their genesis, evolution and influences they supported in time,
others, because of the absence of sources and information, at least for the
moment, remain a mystery. One such enigmatic figure of the Romanian
folklore is the Solomonar, an ambiguous character in his nature, function
144 Constantin-Iulian Damian

and evolution. This situation is due, first of all, to the fewness of sources:
the first ethnological written records appeared only in the second half of
the 19th century. Secondly, these folk stories are contradictory when
relating about the origin and the nature of the Solomonar. Thirdly, the
image of the Solomonar resulted from the interference and superpose of
numerous cultural and mythological strata: Dacian priests with
meteorological attributions, folk legends of King Solomon,
meteorological sorcery, and the traditional image of the Jew in Romanian
folk mythology (Evseev 1998: 431-432; Oişteanu 2004a: 179; Oişteanu
1997: 199-200).
According to the principle “less information, more theories”, today
we have more hypotheses than certitudes concerning this character of the
Romanian folk mythology. When approaching the Solomonar, the
researcher has to resolve a puzzle with an incomplete set of pieces.
Considering these, the purpose of the present article is not to advocate for
a theory or another, but rather to present the image of the Solomonar as it
results from the written folk tales. Anyway, during the presentation, we
will mention a theory or another which we considered that might
contribute to a clearer understanding of this mysterious figure.

1. A short history of the term and etymology

Andrei Oişteanu (2004a: 223-226) postulates that the term
Solomonar is not as old as we might think: it is first written recorded in
1795 (posthumously published in 1875-1877), in Budai-Deleanu’s first
version of Ţiganiada. The fact that Budai-Deleanu explains the term in a
foot note suggests that the presence of Solomonar in the 18th century
Romanian vocabulary was of quite recent date. We find the next mention
of the term in Samuel Micu-Klein’s Dictionarium valachico-latinum
(1801). Subsequently, the Buda Lexicon (1825) translates şolomonariu
with the Latin imbricitor, Magyar garabantzás deák, and with the
German der Wattermacher, Wettertreiber, Lumpenmann. The fourth
mention of the Solomonar is more complete: in Foaie pentru minte, inimă
shi literatură (1840), Dr. V[asici] speaks about the initiation of the
Solomonar in thirteen schools, about his power to control the clouds, his
collaboration with the demons and the Solomonar’s book. Two decades
later, Fr. Müller, in a legend written recorded from Sighişoara area, makes
The Solomonar: An Enigmatic Figure of the Romanian Folk Mythology 145

the first association between the Solomonar and King Solomon. Here, the
biblical king is depicted as a sorcerer with meteorological powers and the
Solomonars as his heirs. In 1866, W. Schmidt publishes some legends
from Făgăraş and Sibiu and here we find the main elements of the legend
of the Solomonar. But only from the last three decades of the 19th century
we have the first complete version of the legends of the Solomonar,
written recorded by various ethnographers not only in the ethnological
area of Transylvania, but also in Bucovina. As Andrei Oişteanu suggests
(2004a: 226), although this chronology does not have absolute value,
corroborated with some other arguments – on which we will not insist
here – can determine us to conclude that the Solomonar is quite a recent
term, which arisen approximately between 1650-1750, in Transylvania
(Oişteanu 2004a: 222).
Once with the systematic Romanian Ethnology, in the second half
of the 19th century there were few attempts to find the semantic origin of
the term Solomonar. In an article from 1870, Simion Florea Marian
derives the Solomonar from Solomoneus (the Greek mythological king of
Elis). Later, in a foot note of an article of the same author (1878), taking
into account that the Solomonar has to graduate an initiation school, Iosif
Vulcan considers that Solomonar or Şolomonar derives from the German
Schulmänner (Marian 2000: 54). In 1884, Moses Gaster advances a
combined etymology: the term derives from şolomanţă (from Salamanca)
and solomonie (from Solomon). In the first half of the 20th century, N.
Cartojan, I.-A. Candrea, and some others, analyzing the image of King
Solomon in the Romanian folklore [1], etymologically related the
Solomonar to the legendary biblical king (see Oişteanu 2004a: 221-222).
Nowadays, it is a certitude that the term Solomonar derives from
Solomon attached with the Romanian occupational suffix -ar (see
Oişteanu 2004a: 225-236; Oişteanu 1989: 206-220).

2. Between good and evil: the Solomonar’s uncertain nature

The fact that is more than one version of the legend of the
Solomonar makes it impossible to delineate a single portrait of this
character. In some ethnological areas, the Solomonar is imagined as a
demonic being, an enemy of the people, while in others he is imagined as
146 Constantin-Iulian Damian

essentially a benevolent figure, which with good reason punishes the

communities from time to time.
The negative portrait depicts the Solomonars as mortals cursed by
God, who sold their souls to the devil in exchange of power over the
elements. According to the belief of the Romanians from Bârgău, they are
“a kind of mischievous men, a kind of wraiths” (Marian 2000: 28). Or
they are the souls of men who had a violent death (Gherman 2002: 144).
In other stories, they have a positive image: are sent by God to test and
punish those who do not keep the holy days or the sinners, in general.
According to this second version, the Solomonars are holy long-bearded
old men who hold a book in their hand; they are learned men, who know
the stars and can read the sky. For this reason, sometimes the astronomer
was identified with the Solomonar (Gherman 2002: 144). Another belief
is that the power to master the sky is innate; accordingly, some men are
born Solomonars. The Solomonar is borne with a skin shirt on, which is
buried by his parents. Later, when he becomes an adult, the Solomonar
dig-up (exhume) the shirt and when he wears it he has the power to enjoin
to the sky and dragons. In Bucovina, the Solomonars are chosen by Judas
from the most mendacious Jews (Gherman 2002: 146; for a detailed
account about the association between the Solomonar and the Jews in the
Romanian folklore see: Oişteanu 2004b: 315-320).
We have to notice that in the majority of Solomonar’s “evil nature”
scenarios, he is not “fully” a human – at least not a body and spirit living
human being – and his nature migrates rather to the spiritual-demonic
sphere. Anyway, this perspective is quite limited to few legends. On the
contrary, in the scenario of the Solomonar as a beneficent figure, he is
imagined as a human being with special powers. As we will see when we
will detail the legend(s) of the Solomonar, almost all of them refer to the
Solomonar as a human being, regardless his beneficent or maleficent
character. This is the reason why Antoaneta Olteanu rejects any parallel
between the Solomonar and the spirits of demonic origin with
meteorological attributions from the folklore of other Eastern European
countries (e.g. Polish planetnik) (Olteanu1999: 445).
Yet, some clues indicate that the Solomonar was initially a positive,
beneficent figure. Later, under presumed influences (the identification –
in attributes – of the Solomonar with the dragon, the pressure of the
The Solomonar: An Enigmatic Figure of the Romanian Folk Mythology 147

Christian doctrine over the folk beliefs etc.) the negative attributes of the
dragon transferred over the Solomonar (Oişteanu 2004a: 199-201).
Consequently, the Solomonar moved from the “list” of the beneficent
figures to the one of the hostile figures. This transfer might explain the
contradiction of sources considering the nature of Solomonar.

3. The Classical Scenario(s)

The sequences of the “myth” of the Solomonar are almost identical
in all remote villages where the belief in the existence of the Solomonar
was still present at the beginning of the 20th century. These are: 1.
initiation; 2. testing countrymen’s philanthropy; 3. drawing off the dragon
from the lake; 4. mastering the elements; 5. returning to the lake or killing
the dragon.

3.1. Initiation.
According to Andrei Oişteanu, the Solomonar is the only figure of
the Romanian folk mythology whose initiation is clearly and expressly
mentioned (Oişteanu 2004a: 180). But, as in the case of the nature of the
Solomonar, considering his initiation there are more versions which
depict the beneficent or the maleficent character of the Solomonars.
According to one of them, this school is subterranean located. Seven men
(brothers) enter the school; in Maramureş it is believed that an older
Solomonar kidnaps young boys and brings them to the underground
school of “solomonary”. For three, seven or nine years they learn from
books which others cannot and do not have the knowledge to read, learn
how to call and ride the dragons, how to change the weather, all kinds of
spells and incantations to bring or drive away the rain etc. After seven
years they came to light

[E]nveloped into the mist, hanging from a long tow cloud, which
takes them out from the other world, dressed with the same
vestment they entered. And from there they receive a book, a
wooden staff or a hook and a bridle made from birch bark which
they always wear. One of them perishes in there and only six return.
(Gherman 2002: 145)
148 Constantin-Iulian Damian

According to another version, the Solomonars learned in this school

until their 20s. Besides knowledge, their courage is on trial: “millstones
hanging by thin threads imminently threaten to fall. Only those who are
not afraid to pass under these stones can become Solomonars.” The
candidates learn sitting on a fast spinning wheel. Only eight of them
return as Solomonars because the ninth – the one who spins the wheel –
disappears, being taken by the demon (Gherman 2001: 145-146; Olinescu
2001: 253). Considering this atmosphere of the underground school of
Solomonry, Victor Kernbach hypothesizes that it represents an echo of
the Hermetic or Eleusian ancient Mysteries (Kernbach 2002: 265).
Although this daring theory is very fascinating, it supports only on the
fairy-like aspect of the Solomonars’ school. Anyway, it may have an
interesting future development.
As in the case of Solomonar’s nature, the versions of initiation
legends are divergent concerning the nature of their knowledge.
According to Marcel Olinescu, the Solomonarian school is under God’s

After they learned all the books which are in our country, they left
eastward, somewhere in the realm of the Muscovite or maybe
further, where King Porus reigned; there they stay in a cave and at a
stone table they write in a great book all the science and knowledge
of the world. There they are in a school and are so many, but not all
of them became Solomonars, because they have to pass harsh try-
outs and God makes Solomonars only those who pass […]. Then,
because they lived [behaved] all the time as saints, God gives them
power to rise to the clouds and to master the clouds and the
dragons (emphasis added). On clouds they return to our country and
to their village. (Olinescu 2001: 253)

As we can observe, Solomonars’ initiation is somehow made by

God and their power over the elements is a divine gift. On the contrary,
Simion Florea Marian evokes another story, where the Solomonars are the
disciples of the Devil. They

[C]easelessly spend seven years underground, in the darkness,

without seeing the light of the sun. It is said that underground it is a
school called “Solomonărie”. In here, the parlance of all living
The Solomonar: An Enigmatic Figure of the Romanian Folk Mythology 149

beings, all the mysteries of the nature, all the solomonies, spells,
witchcraft and incantations from all over the world are learned. But
only ten individuals are accepted in this school and devil himself
impart the knowledge to them (emphasis added). Devil, for this
effort, withholds one of them as a disciple. Only this one will
become Solomonar. (Marian 2000: 28)

Despite these divergent scenarios, we can conclude that through

initiation – divine or demonic – the Solomonar overstep the natural
human bounds; the initiation, understood here as knowledge, makes him
superior to other humans. As source of his power, knowledge is not
inborn, but acquired. To summarize, initiation transforms an ordinary
human being into a Solomonar. Mihai Coman speculates that

By this peculiarity, he is positioned somewhere at the boundary, in

an uncertain space, somewhere between the human and the sacred.
The Şolomonar is nor a deity, nor a common human being (as the
witches are). From this arises his strange mythological status,
placed between nature and culture, human and divine; from this
arises his unpredictable appearances, his anger and fury (as a token
of his humanness), but also the power to punish through the
medium of the elements (as a token of his sacral valences). The
school is the mythic topos which expresses, in an accessible and
familiar image, his ambivalence by placing it in a chronological
outlook: the Şolomonar is an ordinary human being who, by contact
with an occult “science”, acquires magical powers and marks a rise
from the human condition to the divine (or semi-divine) one.
(Coman 1983: 121)

3.2. Testing the villagers’ philanthropy.

After they “graduate”, the Solomonars usually live alone in the
mountains, forests or near mountain-lakes and never sleep inside a house;
according to other sources, they live in the clouds and descent from time
to time to test the people (Gherman 2002: 147; Olinescu 2001: 253).
Although they prefer to live in solitude, the Solomonars are not
completely isolated from the community. It seams that in the Romanian
countryside the Solomonars performed the role of “moral regulators”; it
was believed that by walking and begging for food from door to door, the
150 Constantin-Iulian Damian

Solomonars were in fact testing the generosity of the peoples. On the

other side, the villagers were aware that they are subjects of a charity test.
Traian Gherman clearly describes the relation between the Solomonar and
the villagers:

In the Romanian villages you can often see a sturdy, clean-limbed,

and healthy man panhandling from house to house, whom
everybody greets with open arms; the Romanians’ munificence –
proverbial as a matter of fact – would rain upon him all the dainties
of the larder. And you’ll never see him booed from a house, you’ll
never hear somebody making a dead set at him; they [the villagers]
do not look at this beggar with commiseration, but, on the contrary,
with a kind of bashfulness and meekness which rise from the
conviction that they are in the presence of a different, superior
human being. If you would be in the know that this beggar is not
just a beggar, but a Solomonar, and if you would be in the know
about the peoples’ strong believe in [the existence of] Solomonars
[…] your bewilderment would vanish. (Gherman 2002: 142)

Although the Solomonar is disguised as a beggar, not any beggar is

perceived as a Solomonar, because he Solomonar has special marks
which individualize him:
- a terrible look;
- protruding red eyes;
- large corrugated forehead;
- disheveled wiry pig-like hair;
- broadly backed;
- strong body;
- small or middle size;
- two tails: one of feathers, under his arm, and the other one as a
continuation of the spine;
- in general, he is a healthy men, without any physical infirmity,
but sometimes is imagined with a major defect (e.g. he is a
cripple, blind of one eye etc.);
- wearing patchy and dirty clothes;
- carrying an axe with a short thick helve and a birch bark made
(or a golden) bridle in his pouch;
The Solomonar: An Enigmatic Figure of the Romanian Folk Mythology 151

- a wooden toaca (a wooden or metal plate which, being sounded,

calls people to church) hangs by his neck;
- in one hand he carries a book and in the other a wooden staff;
- he wears seven sleeveless fur coats even in the summer
(Gherman 2002: 143-144; Marian 2000: 30).

A Christianized version of the legend tells that the Solomonars

descend from time to time into the villages to see if the peoples respect
the Christian principles and the power of their believe. Under the same
Christian influence, the Solomonars can be recognized by their fully
biblical and Christian inspired verses which they sing at the house-doors.
And if they receive alms, they give thanks by singing verses about the
twelve Apostles and the beggar Lazarus (Olinescu 2001: 253; Gherman
2002: 145).
Interestingly, according to some legends, the Solomonar does not
consume the received food, but he puts it on the water. Thereby, we can
conclude that the main and maybe single purpose of the Solomonar’s
begging activity is not to feed himself, but to test the villagers’ charity
(Oişteanu 2004a: 182). Considering the valences of the water as a link
between the realm of the living and the realm of the dead, Mihai Coman
suggests that the villagers’ alms have a double signification: it is a
sacrifice meant to placate the Solomonar, but also an alms gift for the
souls of the ancestors (Coman 1983: 129).
If the Solomonar is pleased by the alms he receives or by the moral
status of the villagers, he leaves somewhere else, to another village. If not,
from the humble beggar he turns into a merciless vengeful figure that
destroys the villagers’ crops through storm and hail.

3.3. Drawing off the dragon from the lake

Concerning this episode, the legends are quite similar, so we will
try to synthesize. After he leaves the village that he decided to punish, the
Solomonar goes near a mountain-lake, a lake etc. (generally a backwater)
where he knows that dragons live and starts reading from his magic book.
While he reads, the water freezes. Then the Solomonar walks in the
middle of the lake, breaks the ice with his axe, and shake the bridle. From
the water appears a dragon; if it is too small, the Solomonar sends it back
152 Constantin-Iulian Damian

by hitting it with the hook (wooden staff) and starts to read again. After a
while, he repeats the procedure and if the dragon is big enough, he bridles
and straddles it. He makes a sign on the sky with the wooden staff and
black clouds appear. Riding the dragon, the Solomonar soars into the
clouds altogether with the water of the lake and the ice previously grinded
under the dragon’s steel boots (Marian 2000: 29; Pamfile 1997: 293-294;
Gherman 2002: 147-148; Olinescu 2001: 254).
In this episode appears a new figure: the dragon, by far the preferred
negative character of the Romanian legends and folk tales. A devil’s
creature, the dragon is doomed by God to live in the depth of the sea and
to wander in the clouds (see Dragoslav 1994: 26). Unleashed, the dragon
is a principle of chaos and destruction. In the above-mentioned legend,
the Solomonar activates the dragon as a symbol of a chaotic force and
controls it; this is the signification of the dragon bridling. In this equation,
the Solomonar is the maintaining principle of order or at least the one
who domesticates the wild forces of the elements (Oişteanu 1989: 189,
205; for the relation between the dragon and the storm see Pamfile 1997:
292-293; for a wider discussion about the association between the
Solomonar and the dragon see Oişteanu 2004a: 197-220).
Another element of this episode is the book. As we can see, this is
essential for the Solomonar’s mission: his power to control the elements
is not intrinsic, but it resides in his capacity to read from this magic book.
A legend states that

Once, a Solomonar asked a man to take him in his cart. Being tired,
he felt asleep. The man took the Solomonar’s book – a big book
written with ancient letters – and started to read. When he looked
around he saw that the cart was in the sky; it imperceptible risen
from the ground. Than the Solomonar woke-up […] and
immediately started to read backwards and slowly they got down.
(Niculiţă-Voronca, apud Olteanu 1999: 191)

In the version written recorded by Simion Florea Marian, after the

revenge episode, the Solomonar hide his book in a secret safe place,
where nobody except him could find it, because the Solomonars never
carry their books with them (Marian 2000: 30).
The Solomonar: An Enigmatic Figure of the Romanian Folk Mythology 153

Andrei Oişteanu considers that the Solomonar’s book is in fact a

talisman, a magical written amulet, and not a book in the modern sense of
the word (for his arguments see Oişteanu 2004a: 249-258). Whether the
Solomonar possesses a stone amulet or a book in the common sense of the
word, yet he remains, through initiation, the master of a secret knowledge
and this knowledge is greatly symbolized in the folk imagination by the

3.4. Mastering the elements

After he raises the dragon into the clouds, the clouds start to
“seethe” and the Solomonar makes his way towards the tilled lands of the
communities or villagers who infuriated him. Once he reaches there, he
throws off the hail and destroys all the crops, condemning one or more
families or even the whole community to destitution and famine. But he
always takes care not to destroy the crops of those villagers who treated
him well (Gherman 2002: 147-148; Marian 2000: 29-30). An interesting
aspect we can find in Simion Florea Marian’s version: if the Solomonars
have nobody to punish, they “boil the ice” only for their own pleasure and
unleash the hail in wild, uninhabited places, as mountains, desert fields,
into the sea or somewhere else, where nobody will be prejudiced. If we
correlate this version – independently of peoples’ moral status, the
Solomonar is bringing at least the rain – with Oişteanu’s opinion
(Oişteanu 1989: 188), we might conclude that the Solomonar was initially
related to an ancient beneficent celestial deity or at least to a mythological
character with meteorological attributions (see Oişteanu 1989: 187 sq;
Oişteanu 2004a: 199). Anyway, this relation cannot be a direct one for
few reasons: first of all, the Solomonar is a body and flash being, not a
spiritual one; secondly, there is not a single Solomonar, but many; even in
his area of “expertise”, the Solomonar is not omnipotent and he can be
defeated by Contrasolomonars (Countersolomonars) or through magic. It
is more probably that the Solomonars are the descendants of an archaic
priesthood with meteorological attributions or dedicated to a celestial
deity. In sum, the Solomonar cannot be defined as a “divine entity, but
rather as an initiated man, endowed with supernatural powers. A man
(sorcerer, priest) but whose attributes and acts are reflections, at a human
scale, of a deity of the storm” (see Oişteanu 2004a: 196-197). [2]
154 Constantin-Iulian Damian

3.5. Returning to the lake or killing the dragon

After the villagers’ bereft of reason is punished, the scenario ends in
different ways. According to Gherman, the Solomonar rides the dragon
till a hot realm (somewhere in the South-East or Jerusalem, according to
other stories) where he kills it and sells its meat on a very high price
(Gherman 2002: 148; Pamfile 1997: 294). In this single-use dragon
version, we cannot speak about a special, magical relation between the
Solomonar and the dragon. On the contrary, according to Simion Florea
Marian’s version, after the storm the Solomonar rides the dragon back to
the lake. Here he dismounts and, while keeping the dragon with the
bridle, he starts to read again from his book(s) until the lake fulfils with
water again. After that he unbridles the dragon which quickly sinks into
the bottomless lake and stays in there until the Solomonar – his master –
will draw him off again (Marian 2000: 30). In this version of the story,
the circle closes: following the same scenario, the Solomonar makes his
way towards another village and peoples to punish.

4. The Countersolomonars
The rural community was not helpless against the Solomonars’
moodiness, as we might think. Except the simple magical procedures and
incantations at hand for everybody (chiming the bells or thrusting a
digger/knife/axe in the ground), in the folk mythology we can find the
Countersolomonars (Rom.: contra-solomonari), “specialists” who
“professionally” stand-up against the Solomonars. They came into scene
when the other means do not work. As in the case of the Solomonar, we
have at least two versions concerning the Countersolomonar’s origin.
According to one of them, the man who wants to be a Countersolomonar
has to fast in the Eves of Christmas, Saint Basil’s day, and Theophany
until the evening. In the evening of these three days he lays the table and,
holding a hazel bough in his hand, symbolically invites the Solomonars to
[…] Come today and dine
For nothing you to damage
When the spring will come […].
The Solomonar: An Enigmatic Figure of the Romanian Folk Mythology 155

After that, holding the bough in his hand, he starts to taste from all
the dishes. Once he finishes, the Countersolomonar admonishes the
Solomonars for not answering the invitation. In the summer, when the
villagers see they have no chance to chase away the hail clouds, they call
the Countersolomonar and pay him well to save their crops. The
Countersolomonar, pointing his hazel bough to the hail cloud, threatens
the Solomonar. Evoking the invitations he made for three times in the
[…] But you swaggered
And didn’t come to me;
Therefore don’t you come now,
To this village don’t you draw near […].

Otherwise, the Countersolomonar, having power over the

Solomonar, chase him away in a desert place and kills both him and his
dragon by crashing them under a knoll of ice (Marian 2000: 30-34).
According to another version, the Countersolomonars are retired
Solomonars, because it is the belief that the Solomonars do not remain
like that all their life, but only for a limited number of years. After that,
“they became honourable people and leading householders in their
village” (Olinescu 2001: 254). In this version, the Countersolomonar does
not need a special initiation; he is already initiated and somehow he
defeats the Solomonars with their own weapons. The fight scenario
differs a little from the previous one. In the first stance, the
Countersolomonar tries to chase away the Solomonar through magic (acts
and incantations). If this does not work, he has to kill the Solomonar by
throwing an iron knife in the middle of the cloud. If he hits the dragon’s
heart, both the Solomonar and his beast crash and die (Olinescu 2001:
254-255; Gherman 2002: 149; Coman 1983: 135).
Mihai Coman observes that the Solomonar can be chased away or
defeated only through the magic of iron. This states an interesting
opposition. The Solomonar is by his nature the exponent of the nature: he
lives in caves and forests, wears patched and dirty clothes (a kind of non-
clothing), his instruments are made of wood, he manifests his fury
through elements (storm, hail etc.). On the other side of this opposition is
the cultural man, technique, technical knowledge, represented by the iron.
156 Constantin-Iulian Damian

This opposition between nature and culture lies right in the heart of the
myth of the Solomonar (Coman 135). Killing the Solomonar, the
Countersolomonar suggests the superiority of technique over the chaotic
forces of the elements, the superiority of the culture over nature.

5. Conclusions
As we have mentioned at the beginning of the present article, there
are more hypotheses than certitudes concerning the Solomonar. Anyway,
we have at least a single certitude: quoting Mihai Coman, “we can
identify more strata rather parallel than superposed”: the motif of
initiation, epic dimensions associated with the image of King Solomon in
the folk tradition (omniscience, objects with magical qualities etc.),
Christian themes (the sacred book, devil as initiatory teacher, the selling
of the soul), clues about a descend from a celestial deity (Coman 1983:
136). We are convinced that future researches, re-considerations and
reinterpretations of the sources will shed more light on this enigmatic
figure of the Romanian folk mythology and certitudes will dominate over

[1] Oişteanu systematized the agencies which might facilitated the
transfer from King Solomon to a Romanian sorcerer: 1. the presentation
of Solomon in “hronografs” (folk apocrypha) as the master of a
“complete” knowledge, including the sorcery; 2. the offensive of the
Orthodox Church against sorcery determined the sorcerers to operate (at
least symbolically) under the patronage of a Church-accepted figure and,
considering his image, King Solomon was the most suitable such figure;
3. the similarities between the Solomonar and King Solomon concerning
their attributes (Oişteanu 2004a: 226-236).
[2] It was hypothesized that the Solomonars are the descendants of
the kapnobatai or pleistoi Dacian priests (Oişteanu 2004a: 181-187). With
the information we have until now, this theory is quite ventured,
especially because the Dacian priesthood is much foggier than the
The Solomonar: An Enigmatic Figure of the Romanian Folk Mythology 157


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mitologică. Bucureşti: Albatros.
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românească. Timişoara: Amarcord.
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- Kernbach, Victor. 2002. Universul mitic al românilor. Bucureşti:
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cultura tradiţională românească. Bucureşti: Minerva.
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Saeculum I.O.
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published as Duşmani şi prieteni ai omului), Ed. M. A.
Canciovici. Bucureşti: All.
The Monument Church “Assumption” from Borzeşti
New Painting in "Fresco" Technology

Vasile Tudor

Faculty of Orthodox Theology,
“Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iaşi, ROMANIA

From the initiative of the Roman Diocese and with support from the Ministry of
Culture, starting with 2002 and until 2005, the church, a historical monument from
Borzeşti – Bacǎu – Romania, was painted. The implementation of the painting was
entrusted to the painter Grigore Popescu, considered one of the most representative
artist of religious painting in Romania.

Keywords: Romanian, Church, Painting, Fresco, Borzeşti

“I, Stephen Voivode, by God's mercy Prince of Moldavia, and his

beloved son, Alexander, have built this church, which is in Borzeşti on
Trotuş, «The Assumption of the Blessed Mother of God», praying for
themselves and in full remembrance of their holy deceased ancestors and
parents, and whose building began in the year 7001, July, the 9th and
finished in the year 7002 and the 38th of his reign, October, 12”.
So says the inscription placed on the West side of the church, to the
right of the entrance. Having a memorial character, this church introduces
some new elements into the Moldavian architecture which will be taken
subsequently by other foundations of the Stephanian era.
As Vasile Drǎguţ says in his “Romanian Art”: “…This building
brings the novelty of adaptation to the rectangular plane of the vaulting
system with domes, two in the narthex and one in the nave, all located on
the East-West axis alignment” (Drăguţ and Florea 1982, vol. I).
Respecting the basic rectangular plan, with the polygonal chancel apse to
the exterior, the impetus specific to the Stephanian monuments is
suggested as well , and the interior vaults’ sequence, treated in a manner
160 Vasile Tudor

hitherto not met, reveals interferences with the conch plan. The result is
an original building of mixed type, imitated after two years at Rǎzboieni
and developed with great subtlety in 1497, in the “Saint John” church in
Piatra Neamţ.
The façades are of gross stone and as Prof. Dr. Arch Cristian
Moisescu observes: “But, in the initial phase, they were plastered with a
sticky film of white – yellowish cement. Decorative elements are
common to that period, namely: three belts of bricks glazed in shades of
red and green, below the windows of the narthex and also above and
below the first row of holes” (Moisescu 2008).
The Monument Church “Assumption” from Borzeşti 161

The façade of the altar is decorated “... on the outside, three quarters
of its height, with 13 niches whose long lezene and arches were of face
brick initially, probably, polychromely glazed. Between the arches of the
lower larger niches there are three glazed discs arranged around three
cornered pieces. The discs, with bumble, are colored in pastel green,
yellow, brown or orange” (Moisescu 2008).
At the entrance, the portal has got a broken arch shape, with profiles
specific to the Gothic style, which is based on the slope of the sockets.
The portal-like, large windows of the narthex have got ogive profiles and
“... a Gothic decoration with rays consisting of intersecting circular
shapes and a vertical menou in the median area” (Moisescu 2008), with
much larger dimensions than those of the nave, which provides a rich
natural lighting inside.
Although a voivodal foundation, the “Assumption” church became,
in time, a simple village church, as described and by PS Dr. Joachim
Băcăuanul: “Because of the damages caused by earthquakes or fires, the
church was repaired several times. The most important intervention
occurred in the eighteenth century when they added a wall-iconostasis,
which would be painted. Partial repairs were undertaken between 1904-
1905, then in 1952, when the church was restored to the Orthodox
worship community formed around it. During the earthquake of March 4,
1977 the church suffered considerable damage, which required
conducting extensive building works, executed in several stages until
1992, when the church celebrated 500 years of its foundation and its
founder had been passed among the saints by the Romanian Orthodox
Church” (Băcăoanul 2008).
As regards the veil of the wall, it was painted in the technique of
“fresco” in 1776 by the painter Nifon from Neamţ and was restored on
numerous occasions, the last phase of conservation- restoration was
carried out by the expert restorer Professor Oliviu Boldura, a work
financed by the Ministry of Culture.
162 Vasile Tudor

Inside the church, in the nave door jamb, there were preserved
fragments of the original, geometric decoration, from the XVth century.
Through careful research, by uncovering the interior plasters, made
in 1994, there were found fragments of the primary geometric decorations
throughout the whole, in all sectors and at all levels. A total of 198
fragments were found, distributed in the architecture of the building. The
geometric decoration represents the shape of bricks with wide, white
demarcating stripes suggesting face brick masonry. The plaster of fresco
the painting was applied on consists of lime paste and minced straw, over
which was applied a red pigment, resistant to the causticity of lime and
found into the monuments of the time. All these pieces were graphically
included in the scale mappings and were preserved and integrated into the
new pictorial ensemble.

New painting in “fresco” technology

As Mr. Rǎvan Teodorescu, the then Minister of Culture and Cults,
confessed in “Foreword”, at the initiative of the Bishop of Roman
represented by Reverend Bishop Joachim from Bacǎu and by the
perseverance of the Patriarch Teoctist, worth of eternal remembrance,
they decided to paint the interior of the church “…It was a bold approach
who needed the best religious painter in Romania. He certainly is the
master Grigore Popescu, known by all lovers of this field of art, the one
The Monument Church “Assumption” from Borzeşti 163

who painted Râmeţ of Ardeal and Lainicii of Oltenia” (Teodorescu


Grigore Popescu – Religious painter

To get an overview of Grigore Popescu’s professional - artistic
personality, it would be necessary to review, as briefly as possible, his CV
Born in Campulung Muscel, Arges county, on November 23rd,
Profession, a painter - mural painting and painting on wood,
canvas, etc; a restorer painter in the techniques of fresco, oil, tempera.
Higher education: Timişoara Faculty of Fine Arts in 1969;
Specializations: Murals - Bucharest Romanian Patriarchate -
Restoration mural, Department of Historical Monuments - Restoration
painting on wood - Bucharest Romanian Patriarchate.
Certifications: certified mural painter in 1970 by the Romanian
Patriarchy; mural restoration painter, certified in 1974 by the Department
of Art and Historical Monuments and by the Commission of Religious
Painting of the Romanian Patriarchy; with an iconographer Artist
Diploma in 1978 from the Romanian Patriarchy, a restorer of painting on
wood in 1988, the Bucharest Romanian Patriarchate.

From 1966, for almost eight years, he gained an extensive

experience as a trainee on sites all over the country, under the guidance
of painter and restorer Avachian Arution and of cordinator painter
Dumitru Bascu.
From 1977, he started his professional work with conservation -
restauration and new painting works in the techniques of: tempera with
egg, oil and fresco.
We can select several works such as: 1978-1980 – Deliblata,
Yugoslavia, tempera painting technique , new painting, area 2000 square
meters, in collaboration with Prof. Viorel Tigu, a donation for the
Romanian Orthodox faithfuls, icons painting on the iconostasis, tempera
on wood, 1980 – Curtea de Argeş, Argeş county; the chapel of the Holy
Monastery (Chapel Royal), conservation - restoration of oil painting;
1981, Salzgitter, Germany, new painting on wood , tempera technique;
164 Vasile Tudor

1983 – the Patriarchal Cathedral, a historic monument endorsed by the

Directorate of Monuments, Conservation - Restoration mural, fresco
technique, the porch, coordinators Nicholas Sava and Grigore Popescu;
1985 – Paris, painting on wood, tempera technique, Romanian Orthodox
Chapel; 1986 – Cozia Monastery, Vâlcea county, a historical monument
from the XIVth century , the big church, conservation - restoration
imperial icons, the cross, molens and icon “St. Trinity”, painting on
wood, stucco wall paintings and new painting of the iconostasis icons,
iconostasis built in 1973; 1987 – Rameţ, Alba County, Big Church,
painting again, fresco technique (interior and exterior) painting on wood,
tempera technique (temple church); from 1987 to 1989 Holy Mountain
Athos, Greece, fresco new painting technique , Holy Hermitage Podrom
and Holy Monastery Dochiariu; 1988-1991, Niculiţel, Tulcea county, a
XIVth century historical monument, conservation – restauration of the
original mural painting, fresco painting technique and again painting,
fresco technique, with approval from the Monuments Division; 1996
Saint Remi, France, Carmelite Monastery of Saint Elias, exterior painting,
fresco technique; 2002 Etterzhausen, Germany, the Catholic Church
dedicated to St. Michael, painting again, fresco technique; 2002-2005
Borzeşti, Bacǎu County, the church dedicated to the “Assumption of
Virgin Mary” founded by Ştefan cel Mare.
Only by reviewing a part of the works performed by Master
Grigore Popescu, we can realize what inner strength, passion and
dedication are necessary, while having a foundation of genuine Christian
feeling, to be constantly creative and carry a strong imprint of originality.

Iconographic program
The important forms of sacred art in the Orthodox Church are
architecture, hymnography and Byzantine music. Iconography is best
understood and appreciated when viewed in its relations with these forms
of art, inside a church in Byzantine style.
“The shape of the place of worship, by St. Simeon, Archbishop of
Thessalonica (l430), represents those that are on earth, in heaven and in
heaven above. The narthex represents those on the ground; the nave, the
sky; the holy shrine, the heavens above” (Sfântul Simeon 2008).
The Monument Church “Assumption” from Borzeşti 165

Oriented to the East, the church is partitioned across from West to

East, in narthex (outer and inner), nave and altar.
As regards the church from Borzeşti, on its iconographic program
development, architecture was taken into account. Thus, from the narthex
at the top there are two domes, the first is the Holy Trinity old-
testamentary, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in the shape of angels, with
their eyes gazing at the viewer, with sober expressions but equally mild .
Chromatics is balanced, ocher and green tones on a dark sky background,
doubled in intensity by the oak tree stylized to abstract - decorative. Arm
gestures of the angels are rhythmic and their repetition is being
supported by their wings. In the pandants under the dome, there are four
archangels standing, their vertical axis drives towards the center of the
dome. In the second dome of the narthex, is represented the Praying
Virgin, with Child Jesus at Her chest, blessing with two hands. The
Virgin’s expression is one of a worried and protective mother, with Her
arms outstretched, encompassing almost the entire circumference of the
cap, the same gesture repeated by Child Jesus.
166 Vasile Tudor

In the cap of the nave the “Almighty” Christ Pantocrator reigns, in

proportions much bigger than any other figures of church iconography.
This representation in the highest part of the dome consists of a bust of
Christ in a medallion. Here, Christ blesses with his right hand and keeps
the Holy Bible with his left hand. The head of Christ is surrounded by a
large halo. His face, neck and shoulders suggest his extraordinary power
and grandeur, in conformity with the name that was given to this
representation.The face expression is that of the Lawgiver and Judge All-
seeing and sober, but merciful. By the ecclesiastical writer of the XIIth
century, Mesaritis Nikolaos, Metropolitan of Ephesus of Asia Minor, the
Pantocrator gazes at the persons in the church and “for those who have a
clear conscience, His eyes are filled with joy and are pleasant to see, and
for those who are accused of the inner court, His eyes are angry and hard
to look at, His face is harsh, severe”. The line between shoulders and
background divides the cap into two halves, the color balance is between
shades of yellow ocher and emerald green.
The Monument Church “Assumption” from Borzeşti 167

The portraits are usually oval, the round cheeks are accentuated by
contrast with the long, thing noses.
Going forward on the shaft of the ceiling, we reach the altar cap.
Here we have represented the Virgin with arms raised, with Child Jesus
168 Vasile Tudor

on Her breast, holding a closed frontlet in His left hand and blessing with
His right hand. To the left and right of the Virgin Mary there are
represented, on a reduced scale, the Holy Archangels Michael and
Gabriel, kneeling, holding frontlets in their hands. The composition is
dominated in surface and chromatically by Virgin Mary, Her cadmium
red robe enters a complementary relationship with the emerald green
superimposed on a dark background. The creases of the robe are drawn
widely, clearly, with some bluish reflections, underlining the
monumentality of the scene. Here, too, we can notice the symmetry and
rhythm created by the infant Christ’s outstretched arms with the lower
edge of the robe, with the arms and shoulder line of the Virgin.
Records from the lower levels fit in the canonical iconography.
Group compositions, with fewer or more characters are handled with skill,
making communication power of attitudes and gestures, both to suggest
moods and to direct attention to the main characters. Bearing nobility, the
sacred characters always express positive human values, whether they are
caught in a moment of grief, sadness or meditation. The Master created
his own typology characterized by characters with high figures, with
weak limbs, sometimes downright skeletal. His compositional knowledge
and organizational capacity, the power to control parts into a coherent
whole are obvious. Compositional ordering is enhanced by the
arrangement of color spots and dark-light ratios.
But all these elements of compositional science would not reach the
desired effect if the Master Grigore Popescu would not be an excellent
draftsman and subtle colorist too. In connection with the color art we
must say that the master individualizes himself through a variety of
procedures and through the musical arrangements. From the artistic point
of view, what emerges from the master Grigore Popescu’s painting is his
In “References”, Prof. Catherine Cincheza-Buculei, very succinctly
and profoundly captures the personality and the art of the master: “Sober,
accurate, picturesque, full of poetry and elegance, his style overcomes the
classical formulas, enrolling in a fascinating picturality. Spirit transcends
the matter, but with a live happiness that the artist himself feels and
transmits to his painting through the light color harmony, through their
warmth, the elegance of movement and balance, a perfect knowledge of
The Monument Church “Assumption” from Borzeşti 169

the fresco painting technique. Scrupulous and with a complete

understanding of the message of church painting, every detail is taken to
perfection, every surface, accessible or not to the gaze, is treated with the
same responsibility. Proponent of diverse and innovative solutions,
Grigore Popescu creates fully original compositions, either at a scene or
across an entire wall structured in his own manner, tailoring his painting
to most various architectural spaces, filling them with elevation. While
recognizing each set painted, he does not repeat his painting. […] Grigore
Popescu’s painting is brilliant and valuable to the smallest detail, is
shaped in colorful, delicate and transparent shades and colored whites
where strong accents play a well established role, bearing in the
spontaneous and sure touches of brush the impression of a great artist ...”
(Cincheza-Buculei 2008).
Of course, all these achievements must include a deep spiritual
dimension, as Grigore Popescu himself stressed in an interview with
Ciprian Bâra, on Tuesday, February 10th, 2009: “... Religious painting
succeeds, beyond its artistic beauty, in creating a liturgical framework
suitable for church services. It succeeds if it is done with holiness, ie love
and conscience choices. The church must be adorned to give peace to
those who enter it. We, church paintors, build a scale to the sky”.
170 Vasile Tudor


- Borzeşti: frescă şi istorie. 2008. Oneşti: Editura “Magic Print”.

- Cincheza-Buculei, Prof. Ecaterina. 2008. Borzeşti: frescă şi
istorie. Oneşti: Editura “Magic Print”.
- Drăguţ, Vasile; Vasile Florea. 1982. Arta românească (Romanian
Art), vol. I, II. Bucureşti: Editura Meridiane.
- Ioachim, P.S. Dr. Băcăuanul. 2008. Bethleemul lui Ştefan. In
Borzeşti: frescă şi istorie. Oneşti: Editura “Magic Print”.
- Moisescu, Dr.Arh. Cristian. 2008. Consideraţii asupra arhitecturii
bisericii din Borzeşti. In Borzeşti: frescă şi istorie. Oneşti:
Editura “Magic Print”.
- Sfântul Simeon, Arhiepiscopul Tesalonicului. 2008. In Borzeşti:
frescă şi istorie. Oneşti: Editura “Magic Print”.
- Teodorescu, Răzvan. 2008. Cuvânta înainte. In Borzeşti: frescă şi
istorie. Oneşti: Editura “Magic Print”.
The problem of compatibility between middle age and
today pedagogical methods in teaching of iconography

Todor Mitrović

Orthodox Academy of the Serbian Church for Art and Restoration, Belgrade, SERBIA

It is a kind of convention between us in Church, in Orthodox Church actually,
that we had a break in stylistic continuity of Byzantine style in church art. We can’t
agree when did stylistic continuity stopped, we can’t actually agree if it really stopped.
This paper deals about the problem of compatibility between middle age and today
pedagogical methods in teaching of iconography.

Keywords: iconography, pedagogical methods, church art, drawing, painting

What I wanted to bring in front of you here is one of the problems

that are concerned with education in church art. Actually I wanted to ask
my colleges in here, and of course anyone who is interested in such a
problems, a question that I was asking myself for some period. A kind of
answer exists, but I’d like to be more convinced in it and, as we all know,
the academic dialog is the best way to put our own answers to the test.
It is a kind of convention between us in Church, in Orthodox
Church actually, that we had a break in stylistic continuity of Byzantine
style in church art (Triantaphyllopoulos 2006; 1996, vol. 60: 47-57). We
can not agree when did stylistic continuity stopped, we can not actually
agree if it really stopped (because some of old, naïve masters worked till
20th century, and some of us could recognize elements of Byzantine style
in their work – Such examples exist troughouth bolcans area. As a young
art historian, Svetozar Radojčić, in 1937/8 met last generation of serbian
painters that clamed for themselves to be a sucsessors of the ancient art
traditions. In an opening article for the first isue of something that will
become the best serbian scientific magazine for the medieval art, now as a
172 Todor Mitrović

famous scientist Radojčić is writing that, finally, after almost thirty years
he can agree with the atitudes of these last zographes. Светозар
Радојчић, “Зографи; о теорији слике и сликарског стварања у нашој
старој уметности [Les zographes; sur la théorie de l’image et de la
création de peintre dans l’art serbe ancient]” in Зограф 1966: 4-15), but
I don’t want to discus the origin of such a convention at the moment. It is
a fact that, the history which produced such a convention, from the
perspective of church art pedagogy had produced a lot of different
consequences. Because of this today we are forced to make a fusion
between ancient way of teaching, and today’s concept of high school
education (in universities). This is of course something that was not
existing in the middle ages. And, there are some practical questions,
which are rising from this situation.
The first question that is bothering me, and my colleges in school
that I’m engaged goes in this direction: is it necessary to learn drawing or
painting human figure by model, if you learn a church art? This brings
another question: is it necessary for future church artist to learn a human
anatomy (for artists - In Serbian art schools this subject is usually
conventionally called Plastic anatomy)? As we all know, the learning of
human anatomy is a practice that comes from western art (schooling) of
last few centuries, and have it’s beginnings in ateliers - The atelier was, of
course, the last station. Practice had to begin in a bit different place - of
renaissance masters. We all remember how Michelangelo was going to
the mortuaries, cutting the corps, exploring bones, muscles and other parts
of human body. And there is a general agreement about the fact that
Byzantines had not such practices in their art education. It is, of course,
possible to put this in question, but we have not space in here for
complicated discussions that could argue about such a widely accepted
Some of the literary sources say that Byzantines knew what is
painting by model, and that this was not unfamiliar for them (Maguire
1996: 5-15). But this fact is not a proof that they used live models in their
art practice. It is hard to deny that they probably used such a practice for
painting portraits of emperors, kings, and other living persons on the
icons, or on the walls of the churches. We can actually see the stylistic
difference between that particular type of portrait and the other portraits
The problem of compatibility between middle age… 173

(of Christ, Mother of God, and saints) in churches. But, as we all

understand, painting of Christ, His Mother, or apostles by living model
would certainly be a blasphemy of highest rang for the Byzantine artist.
Of course, we can also leave this subject opened for discussion, but under
every circumstances we can agree about the idea that – if Byzantines had
some practices of using the model, it was certainly quite different from
the one that western artists (after renaissance) developed. So we can,
finally, open the problem of pedagogical use of these two different
approaches to drawing and painting of human figure in church art
To put our question more generally: how is it possible to connect
the modern educational model with the traditional art of icon (fresco,
mosaic…) painting? Since, as we all know from science and tradition, in
the Middle Ages, church art was learned in the ateliers of masters. And it
was learned for a very long time. We have made a specific solution of this
problem in school where I’m teaching. Students are learning the human
anatomy for three semesters, and while they are learning anatomy, they
naturally use the live models. So they learn to draw by nature. At the
same time, on other cathedra, they are learning how to draw an icon. But
there is not complete agreement between us, teachers, about such a
concept. There exist a two different, we could say opposite, ways of
looking on this subject. One group of art teachers is thinking in direction
of reducing of drawing and painting by nature (model), and the other
group is standing on attitude that here is not enough of such a practice.
Both sides, as usually, have their reasons, and I will try to investigate
them here, as neutrally as it’s possible.

- First argument of the first group, as it was already mentioned, is

telling us that there was not such a practice in Byzantine art.
- The other one says that students actually can learn everything that
they should know about human figure and portrait, trough looking,
studding and copying old icons. They can learn how to depict proportions,
character and, by the way, a (specific approach to) human anatomy.
- A third reason could be classified as subjective one. The fact is
that most of these teachers belong to the older generation. They are
educated in public art schools, where they had had to study artistic
174 Todor Mitrović

anatomy very carefully, and where they were almost forced to draw and
paint (human figure and portrait) strictly by model. Such kind of
educational basis become a problem in the moments of “converting” their
artistic personalities to the (neo)Byzantine style of painting which is
dominating in church art today. Actually, in this kind of conversion
moments became a long periods of time, and the change was, let’s say it
in artistic way, too painful. So, at the end, their argument is telling that
our students should not be bothered with the kind of (unnecessary)
problems their professors have already survived.
Now we can show the arguments of the second group of teachers.
Actually I’ll try to give answers to the problems from above, and to bring
some positive arguments together. Sins I m not hiding familiarity to these
attitudes, some amount of subjectivity can not be overcame. Anyway, I
still believe that the goal of the kind of meeting we are all taking part, is
to bring both, our subjective and “objective” argumentation to the test of
the public dialog.
- The first problem was questioning the differences between
Byzantine and today concept of teaching and learning the art of church
painting. But we are all actually forced by the modern state to use the
standards modern educational model. Formally, we can not make another
type of school. So this brings a problem of real time that is necessary for
perceiving the painting system developed in church art. Now we are
forced to teach somebody to paint in exactly five (3+2) years of studding.
From the perspective of ancient practice, this is certainly not enough. In
the middle ages artistic educational practice started much earlier and
required a much more time. The painting practice was slowly accepted
through watching, helping and following the master in his work. Of
course, one can do the same today. But I do believe, as later will be
shown, that there are some good reasons to do it in academic way.
Finally, we have a problem of compressing all necessary knowledge in
five years of schooling. Concerned with this, we saw that the only way is
to give them as much knowledge as it is possible. So drawing, watching
and analyzing of human figure, as much as it is possible, becomes a kind
of bridge that is helping them to skip some technical artistic problems,
and in this regard becomes a kind of pedagogical capital that can be used
even after finishing the studies.
The problem of compatibility between middle age… 175

- If we try to make this connection between the old and new way of
teaching, the subjective problem which is raised above, can be solved in
very simple manner. Because, if students learn the human proportions and
anatomy through painting by model, in the same time as they learn
drawing (and painting) of icons, they will not have a temporal problem of
transition from one style to another. Actually, the experience of drawing
by model is a way to memorize the information’s that all of us, including
Byzantines, have from everyday watching of concrete human figures.
Byzantines probably memorized those through connecting everyday
experience with their art, in much more spontaneous way, but if it s
necessary (as we saw is) today, we can use the device of drawing by
model to increase a capabilities of our visual memory. So the student,
finally, can use information’s that he/she remembered from the living
model while painting a human figure on icon. Now it looks like the old
masters where actually doing the same, but in a bit different way. They
were also painting the icons and comparing them to human figures from
their life. Otherwise we would now have had a totally deformed medieval
art. If one can read the details it is obvious that Byzantines had a huge
knowledge about what is reality of human figure. But it is also obvious
that they had enough time to perceive the impressions from the reality,
and to transform those in the specific painting system. Finally I can argue
that ancient pedagogical method is not opposite to ours in its relation to
the reality of human figure, but only in the question of time that was
necessary to transform the memory of one in artistic system. We can
discus if this more spontaneous way, is better and we would probably
agree that it would be nice to have more time to make our achievements
in more natural way but, as we all know, the running of time can not be
turned backwards. And the question of what is natural in 21st century will
be left aside at the moment.
- We were slowly and gradually upgrading our discussion to the
positive argumentation that is becoming totally clear in the final and the
most important argument, which respectively is trying to give an answer
to our inside questions. Like it always happens these kinds of answers are
touching a wide field of theological argumentation. Actually, every
product of culture that surrounds us, is made by people ho are educated in
a classical western art schools. This bottle of water in front of me, the
176 Todor Mitrović

table, the book, this computer… everything that surrounds me now is

designed by some kind of educated designer. All of these products are
bearing a trace of modern kind of education on themselves. And all of our
culture is formed in the same manner. We live in a see of something that
is usually marked as a western culture or, to put it more generally,
civilization. We can discus if this is a nice panorama or not, but it
certainly forms our cultural horizon. There is one specific aspect of such a
situation that we should take very seriously from the perspective of our
discussion. That is the fact that we are also swimming in the see of
photographic impressions. Everyday I do perceive, wanted it or not, a
thousands of carefully produced and sophisticatedly planed photographs.
And, being it obvious or not, as every artist, photographer (now with the
help of computer designer) is interpreting reality. Everyday we are seeing
human bodies in a variety of different occasions (interpretations), and our
visual perception is forced to memorize human anatomy, sometimes in
quite a vulgar way. In the similar, but we could say morally different,
manner Byzantines were forced to watch the paintings of the human
bodies in the interpretation of their painters. For the ancient beholders
(and as we saw, specially for art pupils) it was easy to recognize and to
communicate with the figures on the Byzantine paintings, as it is easy for
us to recognize the language of photography, and the natural human
anatomy which is intrinsic to it. So the point is that the church painter is
addressing his picture, his icon, fresco or mosaic, to the people that are
leaving in the culture which was, from the point of our theoretical interest,
briefly described above. It is not important if we are addressing our
message to the Christians or to somebody we hope to become a Christian,
we are all together swimming in the see of the same culture. So it would
not be fear enough to offer to such kind of spectators something that is
not at least taking seriously the language of their own culture. And that
certainly means we should be educated in this language. Actually, even if
you want to tell that you don’t want to use the language of actual culture,
trying to educate your public in a different way, you have to know a lot
about it for being able to send such a message. Precisely, one can’t say he
doesn’t need something if he doesn’t know what it is.
Finally, I think we could all agree that learning of language of the
dominant culture is necessary for every artist. Considering the missionary
The problem of compatibility between middle age… 177

aspect of his art, we could argue that such cultivation is even more
important for the church artist. And this is not a brand new idea. For, this
is exactly the way early Christians, and their art, were positioned in
(roman) culture they inherited – There is a lot of literature on this subject,
see for example: Belting 1994: 78-114).
Finally there is one more opportunity to avoid such a cultural
exchange. If you do not know the language of the culture you live in, you
can consider your self a naïve artist. In today’s artistic universe that is one
of the regular viewpoints, but such a position is granted only by the
experts. Naive art is hitting a very small group of people – precisely the
experts (artists or art historians), and the naives (out-of-cultural persons).
And for the second group we can say that it’s getting smaller every day in
the world wired with information’s. We all can agree that for such a small
group of addressees it is not necessary to have any kind of art education.
But for others – we need all knowledge we can get. At the end I believe,
we can also agree that there are enough of arguments for the simple
statement, that authentic church artist today, should learn drawing and
painting by model and human anatomy, even if he don’t like these
specific artistic disciplines.


- Belting, Hans. 1994. Likeness and Presence; A History of the

Image before the Era of Art. Chicago and London: The
University of Chicago Press.
- Maguire, Henry. 1996. The Icons of Their Bodies (Saints and their
Images in Byzantium). Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton
University Press.
- Radojčić, Svetozar. 1966. Les zographes; sur la théorie de
l’image et de la création de peintre dans l’art serbe ancient.
[Светозар Радојчић, “Зографи; о теорији слике и
сликарског стварања у нашој старој уметности”]. In
Зограф (Zographe; revue d’art médiévale), Београд
(Belgrade): 4-15.
178 Todor Mitrović

- Triantaphyllopoulos, Demetrios D. 1996. Renaissances of

Byzantine Painting in Post-Byzantine and Modern Greek Art.
In ΣΥΝΑΞΗ, volume 60: 47-57.
- Idem. 2006. Renaissances of Byzantine Painting in Post-Byzantine
and Modern Greek Art. In Synaxis, volume II: chapter 16.
Quebec: Alexander Press.