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Dr Teodosie Petrescu (ed.), (Constanţa: Editura Arhiepiscopiei Tomisului, 2006) 386-91. The differences of pagination come from the preference of the editors to transform the endnotes into footnotes. The text below represents a revised version of the original]
The Inner Side of the Visible: Apostolic Criteria and Spirit in the Orthodox Tradition
Doru Costache The current meanings of the words orthodoxy and tradition are generally associated with some outdated traces of an ancient glory, with everything that could be more irrelevant – in their presupposed mineral aspect – to the conscience and experience of modern people. For reasons that will become obvious, when applied specifically to the living Orthodox tradition, these meanings represent signs of a painful misunderstanding. More unfortunate is the fact that this erroneous perception seems to last indefinitely, still casting the shadows of ignorance upon the dynamics, richness and the spirit of our tradition. Looking closer, the Orthodox tradition cannot be confused with an ossified reality. The Orthodox tradition represents a reference system manifested through, and embodied in, the possibilities of various cultures, and simultaneously transcending any of its manifestations. What characterises Orthodoxy, besides its both dynamic and polyphonic expressions, is an extremely complex development, unfolding into a multilevel structure, combining rigour and mobility, identity and flexibility. The present essay endeavours to put into light this complex architecture, stressing the importance of a still incompletely studied aspect of the inner side of tradition: its operative criteria. This task cannot be accomplished without preliminary notes on the structure and the dynamics of our ecclesial tradition. Continuity and becoming During modern times and mostly in the West, Christian Churches have offered a series of dramatically oscillating strategies in their ways of connecting to the new contexts emerging from continuous paradigm shifts. These ways went from narrow rejection, like in the revival of fundamentalism, to uncritical acceptance, like in the so-called theology of secularisation. Such a contradictory phenomenon seems to indicate different and inadequate understandings of the spirit of the apostolic tradition. In the background of the above mentioned attitudes, one could discern a reiteration – within a Christian context – of the ancient difficulty of articulating stability and motion, immutability and becoming, perfectly evident in the concurrent paradigms represented by Heracleitus and Parmenides.1 More specifically, the fundamentalist rejection of modernity could represent a Parmenidian-like feature – if this represented the culture of a status quo –, whilst the uncritical acceptance plays the role of a Heracleitian-like dynamic paradigm, always open to new and change. Beyond any triumphant claim and lack of realism, I would assert that traditional Orthodoxy did not experienced such dilemmas, as for instance it did not reach an open conflict with either science or the modern world.2 This assertion remains valid although it is obvious that Orthodoxy, attempting to avoid a unilateral positioning into temporal and secular, was not always able to resist travelling towards a timeless and aerial refuge.3 Even today its rhythm of articulating with the new context, particularly in the changing space of the Eastern European countries, seems to be of slow motion. Always contemplating its own inner nature, Orthodox tradition displays a permanent care for continuity (“the unity of faith,” according to our liturgy), indeed risking to be branded as defending an antiquated
stand in a century of change.4 Thus, and unfortunately, it is precisely this propensity towards permanence and continuity which allows certain superficial minds to excommunicate Orthodoxy from the modern world (cf. Huntington’s famous map5). The facts, however, are very different so that a judgement of this kind is not essentially accurate. In the Orthodox understanding, continuity does not refer to the custody of ancient trophies, but to preserving the ecclesial spirit; it is the persistence of a particular way of addressing things, of living and thinking. There is nothing to be cherished in the Church but the spirit that animates the bearers of the apostolic mindset. In a paradoxical way, being always the same this spirit remains ever productive and fruitful – the inexhaustible source of new answers within the parameters of the same apostolic framework.6 To be traditional means therefore not only ……………………………..387…………………………… to preserve the achievements of previous Christian generations, but to find appropriate ways of confessing the same content of Christian experience and faith within new historical, cultural and geographical contexts. As a result of its intricate architecture Orthodoxy represents in fact a synthesis of old and new, immutability and becoming, harmoniously keeping together the rigour of its own criteria and the flexibility required when addressing new cultural paradigms.7 Besides some problematic features specific to various Orthodox milieus, such as nationalism and pietism, the proof that supports the above claim is the way local Churches approach their immediate contexts. Thus, the same traditional grounds of Orthodoxy can be easily discerned beyond the diversity of local Churches (although their perfect unity is something still to come8). To consider Orthodoxy something closed and belonging in the past obviously represents an oversimplification of this model, which was officially extolled by the late Pope John Paul II9.
The two levels of tradition In order to properly understand what Orthodoxy is beyond the intricate display of local Churches, modern conscience – as moving inside a non-traditional or even anti-traditional culture – has to address the complex structure of the levels, or layers, of tradition. A traditional corpus, like that of Orthodoxy, unfolds simultaneously in at least two dimensions which, paraphrasing St Paul’s words, we may designate as the letter and the spirit (cf. 2 Cor 3:6). By letter we understand here the ‘external’ elementary teaching delivered during the preliminary stages of Christian initiation, whilst by spirit the inner meaning of teachings, revealed to those initiated, fully enlightened or integrated to the Church.10 Though not necessarily using the above terms, this understanding is actually suggested by the New Testament in several contexts, such as in Heb 5:12-14 and 6:1-2, also those dealing with the issue of strong/weak among the faithful (cf. Rom 14:1-3 etc). There is no real comprehension of what Orthodoxy represents without discerning between what belongs to the external and internal levels of tradition. The reality of the two levels was more or less clearly defined but always present in the writings of the holy fathers. St Irenaeus of Lyons11 (early third century) witnessed the way the faith was transmitted in the ancient Church, through written and unwritten teaching. Delivered from the beginning within the catechumenal instruction, and by initiation, faith has been handed on by “the elders, the disciples of the apostles.” The oral teaching represented indeed the irreplaceable vehicle of ecclesial mindset, outside of which any attempt to interpret correctly the written “summary memorandum” (the exposition of faith but also the Scriptures) was difficult if not impossible. Thus, only by being aware of the apostolic rule one could have discerned “what really is, as it is,” avoiding
the “false opinions” regarding the body of the truth. This strong emphasis on the canon/norm, as part of the complex interplay of the written and unwritten sides of tradition,12 has become necessary given the emergence of Gnostic sects that threatened to relativise the canon of right belief/opinion. More explicitly, St Basil the Great (fourth century) distinguished within the ecclesiastical tradition the two perfectly distinct layers of dogmata (the opinions, “reserved to members of the household of faith”) and kērygmata (the “publicly proclaimed” teachings), stressing that none among those acquainted with the life of the Church deny their existence and “equal force.” 13 Usually designated as “written sources” or “written authority,” kērygmata represented the teachings “proclaimed to the world,” having the function of communicating the elementary faith notions to non-Christians and catechumens. By contrast, dogmata transmitted to us “secretly, through apostolic tradition” or by “secret and mystical tradition,” represented the inner substance of the “unpublished and unwritten teachings” and were “observed in silence” by those initiated.14 Although both levels were worthy of reverence, dogmata had priority over kērygmata, since they attested to the ecclesiastical significance of what was been preached. Ignoring dogmata was synonymous to “reducing the Gospel teachings to bare words.” According to St Basil, there is no ecclesial understanding of the Gospel in the text as such; outside the rule ……………………………..388…………………………… of faith (dogmata) and reduced to itself, the text communicates information that can be interpreted in various ways. What really matters for the Church therefore is the norm of right opinion/interpretation, the ecclesial understanding of the text (also of teaching and practice), meaningful to the Church itself. Obviously, the prominent role of dogmata derives from the very fact that the kērygmata do not manifest immediately their own deep ecclesial meaning.15 The meaning is preserved at the level of dogmata and carefully handled by the fathers, enlightening the teachings and the practices of the Church16 for the understanding of those fully integrated. Of course one should not confuse the recommended silent reverence regarding the mysteries of faith with a Gnostic prescription. The recommendation aims to preserve the right opinion (which is the literal sense of the word ‘orthodoxy’) unaltered and to acknowledge the different degrees of accessing it. Similarly, St Dionysius the Areopagite (early sixth century) pointed out that the “theological tradition” had a double meaning, as being composed of two intertwined aspects. There was an apophatic and secret side, “ineffable and mysterious,” “revealed to the real lovers of holiness,” and a manifested and publicly accessible side, “open and more evident.” Beyond the similarity between his ideas and those of St Basil,17 various nuances – echoing a different ecclesiastical context – are immediately obvious. St Dionysius refers on the one hand to the apophatic aspect, which “resorts to symbolism and involves initiation,” putting the “souls firmly in the presence of God.” On the other hand he refers to a superficial approach by way of “the method of demonstration,” making use of persuasion and imposing “the truthfulness of what is asserted.”18 The two ways represent two different kinds of nourishment: the “solid and stable” and respectively the “liquid and flowing.” Imitating divine revelation, “the fathers of unutterable wisdom” or “the sacred initiators of our tradition,” employed symbols for every theological aspect of our faith; this was meant to enable “the one capable of seeing the beauty hidden within these images” to find the true meaning. In the beginning, this meaning remains inaccessible to the “profane;” however, step by step and through initiation the symbols are uncovered so that eventually the meaning is perceived in its “naked purity”. Once unravelled, the meaning must be ecclesiastically tested, for it has to stay “in harmony with the sacred tradition and the truth of scripture.”19 Although in St Dionysius the aspects of tradition’s complex architecture and the degrees of understanding are sometimes intermingled, the idea of the two levels of one and the same
‘theological’ (i.e. prophetic and apostolic) tradition is as clear as it was in the thought of earlier fathers. Thus, despite the various terminologies used by the holy fathers, the reality of a complex bi-dimensional tradition – also reflected in the two main parts of the liturgy – was highly obvious to the early Church. Furthering the comparison with the liturgy, the actual relation between the two levels of tradition appears like an unceasing interplay of changeable (feature of the liturgy of the catechumens, within which other sacred texts are read each time) and unchangeable (feature of the liturgy of the faithful, always with the same Eucharistic prayer and operations). It becomes evident that the spirit, the level of dogmata, constitutes the core of the ecclesial tradition, providing coherence to what is preached. The permanent embodiment of the spirit Together with the complex structure of our ecclesial tradition becomes also obvious what represents the appropriate context for debating mobility and stability. Theoretically speaking, the spirit (the level of dogmata) never changes whilst the letter (the level of kērygmata), being culturally conditioned, is fluid in character. Always in this light, the various unilateral solutions to connect with modern paradigms, discussed above, appear as misunderstandings concerning this ideal balance of letter and spirit. On the one hand, any addiction to the past represents a symptom of a misplaced faithfulness with reference to outdated cultural features and circumstantial expressions of faith; it is the symptom of an idolatrous consideration of the letter, construed as immutable.20 On the other hand, the abandonment of basic traditional principles, the breaking with wisdom and experience, and the uncritical effort to update originate in the misunderstanding of spirit as a volatile reality. Orthodoxy should not be mistaken for an historical archive or a museum of antiquities, although being the witness of two thousands years of civilisation it may be analysed from this point of view, too. It rather represents a continuous embodiment of the spirit, the framework par excellence within which the mystery of the humanised Logos is repeated, over and over;21 a spirit that assumes the flesh of every culture and capable to manifest itself through the letter, or features, of any paradigm. The way Orthodoxy has approached the language of Greek philosophy coincides to the way in which it has succeeded to embrace in a polyphonic synthesis the possibilities of any other culture. This aspect has become paradigmatic to the Byzantine tradition with the translation of Bible and the liturgy into Slavonic by Sts Cyril and Methodius;22 this spirit was already and concretely manifested by the rich diversity of communities coexisting with the Greek speaking Christian world. Perceived through the lens of ……………………………..389…………………………… contemporary morphological theories, the great family of Orthodox Churches could be actually schematised like a fractal structure, as constituting a basic pattern indefinitely multiplied into an intricate net of similar yet ever different features. Therefore, by its natural complexity, Orthodoxy represents a framework within which rule and freedom, letter and spirit, identity and change, coexist in perfect balance just as the soul intimately meets with the body. Theoretically, if Orthodoxy remains devoted to its own structure and dynamics, it preserves every possibility of transmitting efficiently its traditional message, embodying the apostolic spirit here and now – without ceasing to be itself, even when making use of the scientific language of our times. Indeed, the point is not to change the spirit but to fill every cultural structure with the apostolic spirit.23 The cultural and linguistic diversity of Orthodoxy makes futile any further attempt to provide additional proofs in regard to its capacity to express in new ways. Orthodoxy is neither so monolithic as those from outside think it is, nor that
monolithic as the Orthodox themselves like it to be.24 This is an aspect that sweeps away the modern myth of its inability to participate in a new context, pointing simultaneously to the necessity to preserve critically what really defines our tradition. The sequence of the apostolic criteria The permanent or immutable dimension of ecclesial tradition – the level of dogmata, the reference system of God’s people – cannot be exhausted by its circumstantial formulations. In fact, it consists of a set of criteria25 (to be found behind the curtains of outer manifestations) that represent the content of these formulations and in turn are communicated by them. This clarification allows us discern between the apostolic spirit and the cultural patterns through which the former was successfully expressed in the past, within various historical and geographical contexts. To confuse between letter/channel and spirit/message leads to the depreciation and loss of both.26 The clarification is also useful to the Church when it experiences new contexts, so that it can avoid any schismatic abandonment of its own identity. As St Gregory the Theologian put it, we are allowed to philosophise and debate freely insofar as within the confines of our faith.27 Against the current understanding of Orthodoxy as treasuring a doctrinaire corpus, the above clarification points toward the inner side of tradition, consisting of a sum of criteria not a sum of teachings. The teachings, the commandments, the advices, the practices etc – revealed by God through the mediation of prophetic, apostolic and patristic witnesses –, are all pregnant with contents that could be appropriately termed, together with St Irenaeus, the canon/criteria of truth. Talking to us, God does not just inform us; instead, he reveals his criteria in order to allow us to think, live and act in a divine-like manner, in the likeness of God. Consequently, if thoroughly assimilated, i.e. both theoretically and practically, the apostolic canon becomes an active structure of the ecclesial mindset: “the mind you should have is the one that Christ Jesus had” (Phil 2:5). As such, becoming our mindset, the canon of truth serves to transform mankind into a new reality, organised not according to the earthly lower criteria but to the higher exigencies of the spirit.28 In the mind of the prophets, the apostles and the fathers of the Church, Christ himself is the living manifestation and proclamation of these criteria: he is the pearl hidden in the soil/letter of the Law. Christ is the ultimate criterion, the only measure on earth and in heaven;29 and the Holy Spirit confirms this criterion (cf. Mat 3:16-17; Jn 1:32). Scripture and tradition are both “energies” and witnesses of Christ, not criteria of the truth. Scripture and tradition – together with everything they encompass – are explanations of Christ’s mystery, embodiments of the only criterion into concepts and analysable facts. Although remaining the final and decisive criterion, Christ is ‘traditionally’ unfolding within the Church by means of three interconnected criteria. These three criteria define the nature and constitute the reference system of the Orthodox tradition, even if they operate mostly in a discrete manner. We can reach them through analysing every confession of faith the Church has established in the first millennium, although they remain usually unspoken for reasons difficult to trace today, probably related to the discipline of secrecy concerning the dogmata. Unfortunately, the discipline of secrecy turned in time against the Church, for we have become almost unable to comprehend the meaning of many aspects of the faith and practice handed down to us. No matter how we shall meet them labelled, these Christologically-grounded criteria are: Godmanhood, communion and deification. All three express fundamental aspects of the Orthodox ecclesial tradition. Corresponding to the structure of Christ’s complex hypostasis, the first term refers to the synthetic structure of Christian faith and experience, where nothing occurs unilaterally from above or from below. The second reveals the framework where the divine-human
experience is accomplishable, i.e. the Church, extension of the theanthrôpos (Godman) Christ. Finally the third one indicates the eschatological purpose of this experience, pointing to the ……………………………..390…………………………… finality of every ecclesial manifestation.30 Precisely in this order and bearing these meanings (no matter how they are termed), the three criteria are listed by St Irenaeus as renewal in Christ (the experience of Godmanhood), in the Church (communion), and in the Holy Spirit (deification).31 In different context, he highlights the significance of eucharist as an ecclesial criterion, corresponding to Christ and summarising the three mentioned criteria: our opinion is in accord with the eucharist, and the eucharist confirms our opinion.32 The Church has always made use of these criteria – even if implicitly – in its historical experience, elaborating creatively within their parameters, a fact that has provided Orthodoxy with a certain style, a specific and distinct imprint. These are the irreducible elements that shape Orthodoxy the way we know it. Correlative aspects of the Christological dogma, they point continuously to the mystery of the life of Christ and in Christ. Perfectly interconnected, the three criteria constitute the inner structure of the ecclesial liturgy, which represents the most prominent manifestation of tradition as experience of Christian community with and in Christ. The complex interconnection of the three apostolic criteria and their historical expressions prevent the Church from renouncing these channels and from substituting them with anything else. Fortunately, contemporary Orthodox Churches are far from disregarding the inheritance passed on to us by previous generations. Yet, within our contemporary context of shifting paradigms, what we have to recover is the awareness of the call our generation must answer, of becoming aware of the role of ecclesial criteria and the ways they could be employed. That is, we are called to reconnect with the apostolic spirit and understand the true meaning of the ancient traditional expressions.33
Connecting again with tradition When applied to the Orthodox Church and considered in light of the above specifications, the current meanings of the words tradition and orthodoxy do not match with reality. However, if there could be acknowledged a certain relevance of these meanings, this is only by referring to marginal ecclesiastical phenomena (such as the confusion between spirit and letter within the literalist circles and in the anachronistic tendencies of these circles). To confuse the message and its expressions in the name of a traditional Church, by attempts to mineralise the spirit in the crust of dead letters (i.e. obsolete cultural formulae), represents in fact a serious misinterpretation of the ecclesial mindset. When they have been assimilated by the Church, in successive historical stages, these various cultural paradigms were fully operating and relevant to people that were making use of them. Or, given the permanent shift of mentalities, the ancient and medieval figures have become almost completely irrelevant to our modern everyday experience. The way the Hebrew Bible has become difficult to read in a Hellenised circum-Mediterranean world, a fact that pushed the ecclesial mind to review its understanding of God’s revelation inside the parameters of a new culture, the same way the Church is called to reinterpret its own faith within new contexts. Any attachment to cultural instruments used in the past that is motivated by other reasons than acquiring insight into a modus operandi for the Church here and now is thoroughly counterproductive. Exactly because of an idealistic attachment to the past34 the Church may be easily mistaken for some obsolete cultural expression and cast together with the latter into the shadow of oblivion… The old-fashioned features, the cultivated archaism, the figure of a supratemporal reality – in striking contrast with the nationalistic tendencies that confuse blood
(ethnicity) and spirit (ecclesial identity) –, also perhaps the lack of a true desire to discover the new world, all these aspects undermine the Church from within. In the end these attitudes have nothing in common with the spirit of the apostolic tradition.35 In order to understand properly the significance of ancient inheritance and to emulate today the accomplishments of yesterday, the Church is called to approach its traditional documents the way the fathers use to approach Scripture, discerning between letter and spirit. Literalism is as foreign to the apostolic spirit as any form of fundamentalism and anachronism. St Gregory the Theologian blamed the heretical groups for being “very eager to defend the letter,” taking “their love for the letter” as “a cloak for irreligion.”36 Irreligion meant to him alienation from the standards/criteria of the ecclesial mindset, an attitude demonstrated by exaggerating the letter’s value. Instead, the holy fathers “have read the Holy Scriptures not in frivolous, cursory way, but with penetration so that they saw inside the written text its inner meaning.”37 As already noted to be traditional does not take just to cherish the legacy of the past. To be traditional takes the capacity to question our historical prejudices about what Christianity is and to experience the authentic ecclesial instruction, able to introduce – through a radical conversion of both mind and life – into the mystery of the Church, of the apostolic opinion and the right way of living in Christ. The unity of faith asked by the participants in the liturgy (using St Paul’s terminology in Eph 4:13), does not refer primarily to a formal adherence to a series of teachings – mostly inaccessible, intellectually speaking, to many among the faithful –, but a way of thinking, the ecclesial mindset. We have to learn how to appropriate and employ the criteria transmitted through these teachings, condition sine qua non for orthopraxy (the right way of living). We need to return to an understanding of the Church’s teachings in the spirit of the ……………………………..391…………………………… fathers; that is, to understand faith the way the fathers would have understood it today. “For they would not have ignored our time just as they have not ignored their own.”38 To preserve the letter is not enough, although this could lead our mind to discern – beyond the rich polymorphism of our tradition – a unifying vision (the spirit) to be found in the infrastructure of tradition. Precisely this understanding is expressed in the Orthodox liturgy attributed to St John Chrysostom (see the prayer before the reading of the Holy Gospel and the second prayer for the faithful). The authentic mind of the Church operates with the criteria of the truth/right belief, outside which the documents of our tradition have no salvific meaning; also, outside which the opportunities for an efficient Orthodox contemporary witness remain difficult to fructify.
Towards ending One of the most interesting and controversial phenomenon in modern Orthodoxy was the so-called neopatristic movement. More or less clearly formulated, the program of this movement envisaged a theological development following three major stages: (1) recovering the whole corpus of the ecclesial tradition; (2) reconnecting with the apostolic spirit; (3) bridging the gap between ecclesial mindset and modern society. Despite some important scholarly accomplishments, the neopatristic manifesto – insistently promoted through the slogan ‘back to the fathers’ – had as an unfortunate result the growing feeling of unworthiness that dominates our generation and particularly the fundamentalist circles. This feeling is obvious through an almost general complex of inferiority in regard to the creativity of past generations, followed by a complacent attitude and the tendency of idolising antiquity. This phenomenon contributes massively to the negative perception of the Orthodox tradition today.
The paper has endeavoured to unravel forgotten aspects of the invisible side of Orthodox tradition, hoping to contribute to a better understanding of our ecclesial legacy. Of course other major aspects (such as the work of the Holy Spirit and the role of spiritual guidance), which could not be treated here, wait for further research. In the author’s view, a true insight into the meaning of Orthodoxy cannot be achieved without addressing topics like the levels of tradition and the criteria of right opinion. The awareness regarding the traditional features analysed here could also significantly contribute to reshape the image Orthodox tradition has within contemporary culture. Notes:
With no specific reference to Christianity, an enlightening overview of the two concurrent philosophies, see in Anton Dumitriu’s Eleatic Cultures and Heracleitian Cultures (Romanian), (Bucharest: Cartea românească, 1987). 2 Many of the Byzantine refugees in the West, theologians and clergymen, were supporters of sciences in a time when the Western Church was reticent. Cf. Claude Allègre, Dieu face a la science (Paris: Fayard, 1997), 218. See also Magda Stavinschi, “Chrysantos Notaras – A famous representative of European theology and science” (Romanian), in R. Constantinescu & G. Calina, eds., Theology and Natural Sciences: Pursuing the Dialogue (Craiova: Centre for Applied Theology, 2002), 149-161. 3 Cf. Ioan I. Ică jr., “Church, Society and Thinking in the East, West and Today Europe” (Romanian), in I.I. Ică jr. and G. Marani, eds., The Social Thinking of the Church: Foundations – Documents – Analyses – Perspectives (Sibiu: Deisis, 2002), 24-27, 37-46. John Behr considers that the Orthodox Churches have seen in their withdrawal to themselves and the past a way of escaping the abuses coming from the communist regimes; cf. “Scripture, Gospel and Orthodoxy” St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly [SVTQ] 43/3-4 (1999), 226. 4 Though endangered by several pseudomorphoses, this could be a trace of the traditional contemplative feature of Orthodoxy; cf. John Chryssavgis, In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (Bloomington: World Wisdom, 2003), 63-64. 5 Cf. Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Touchstone, 1997). 6 Cf. St Maximus the Confessor, Difficulty 41, PG 91, 1304D-1305B.
The principles are explained in the notorious homily To the Youth of St Basil the Great. See also Georges Florovsky, “The Patristic Age and Eschatology: An Introduction,” in Aspects of Church History, vol. 4 in the Collected Works (Belmont: Nordland Publishing Company, 1975), 63-78; John Behr, “Faithfulness and Creativity,” in J. Behr, A. Louth, D. Conomos (eds.), Abba: The Tradition of Orthodoxy in the West (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003), 165. 8 Cf. Archbishop Stylianos (Harkianakis), “Commemoration in Orthodox Worship and Life” Phronema XIX (2004), 1-22. 9 Cf. La luce dell’ Oriente: Apello all’ unità con le Chiese orientali nel centenario della Orientalium dignitas di papa Leone XIII. Lettera apostolica di Giovanni Paolo II (Milano: Figlie di San Paolo, 1995), see especially chapter “Vangelo, Chiese e culture” (I:7). 10 See the two series of catechetical orations of St Cyril of Jerusalem, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series II, vol. VII. In the words of Kei Yamamura, applied to St Gregory of Nyssa, it is about “the internal dialogue of confession and praise” or “Church’s internal word” and “the outgoing dialogue of mission” or “external proclaimed kerygma” (cf. “The Development of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit in Patristic Philosophy: St Basil and St Gregory of Nyssa,” SVTQ 18.1 (1974), 4, 9 & 17). John Chryssavgis identifies the two levels with the hierarchical authority (institutional level) and the spiritual guidance (charismatic level); cf. “The Spiritual Father as the Embodiment of Tradition” Phronema 1 (1986), 20. 11 Cf. St Irenaeus of Lyons, On the Apostolic Preaching 1 & 3, translation and introduction by John Behr (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1997). 12 Cf. Behr, Formation of Christian Theology, Vol. I, The Way to Nicaea (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001), 44; idem, “Irenaeus on the Word of God” Studia Patristica XXXVI (Leuven: Peeters, 2001), 164. 13 Cf. St Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit 66 (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1980).
On the Holy Spirit 66. See also St Gregory of Nazianzus, On God and Christ: The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius, trans. by Frederick Williams and Lionel Wickham (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2002) 29. Contrary to St Basil’s insight, many of our contemporary handbooks are silent on the mystical element of our Church tradition. Perhaps they are dependent on the outdated discussion regarding authority and opposing the institutional hierarchy and the spiritual fathers. For an interesting approach to the topic, see John Chryssavgis, The Way of the Fathers: Exploring the Patristic Mind (Thessalonika: Patriarchal Institute of Patristic Studies, 1998), 17-19; idem, In the Heart of the Desert, 63-68. 15 Saint Basil considers that the inner intelligible coherence of tradition and Scripture is given by “the unwritten tradition of the Fathers”. Cf. On the Holy Spirit 22. 16 See some important examples in On the Holy Spirit 66.
On the possible parallel between Sts Basil and Dionysius, cf. Andrew Louth, Denys the Areopagite, Outstanding Christian Thinkers series (London and Wilton: Geoffrey Chapman and Morehouse-Barlow, 1989), 24-27. 18 St Dionysius the Areopagite, Letter 9.1, in Pseudo-Dionysius, The Complete Works, translation by Colm Luibheid; foreword, notes, and translation collaboration by Paul Rorem; preface by Rene Roques; introductions by Jaroslav Pelikan, Jean Leclerq, and Karlfried Froelich (Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1987), 283. Louth sees here the difference between learning (mathein) and experiencing (pathein); cf. Denys the Areopagite, 25.
Letter 9.1; 9.3-4; 9.6. The traditional background of St Dionysius’ vision is accurately emphasised by Louth (Denys the Areopagite, 26), who points out the liturgical context of the whole discussion (see also 29-31). 20 Cf. Archbishop Stylianos (Harkianakis), “Dangers of Idealism in Theology and Spirituality” Phronema III (1988), 7-9. 21 According to St Maximus the Confessor, Christ intends to repeat in each and every one the mystery of his incarnation. Cf. Ambigua 7, PG 91, 1084D. 22 Cf. John Meyendorff, Byzantine Theology: Historical Trends and Doctrinal Themes (London and Oxford: Mowbrays, 1975), 212-223. 23 Cf. Archbishop Stylianos (Harkianakis), “The Place of Tradition in the Christian Faith” Phronema I (1986), 11.
Cf. Karl Christian Felmy, Dogmatics of the Ecclesial Experience: The Renewal of Contemporary Orthodox Theology (Romanian) (Sibiu: Deisis, 1999), 36. 25 At the end of the second century, Orthodoxy did not accommodate either a list of teachings or a list of writings but the canon of the right understanding of the Scriptures (cf. Behr, “Scripture, the Gospel and Orthodoxy,” 227). For an extensive elaboration on the traditional hermeneutical criteria of the Church see John Breck, Scripture in Tradition: The Bible and its Interpretation in the Orthodox Church (Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2001), 38. 26 Cf. Behr, “Scripture, the Gospel and Orthodoxy,” 225.
27 28 29 30
Cf. The First Theological Oration 5. Cf. St Maximus the Confessor, Mystagogy 24, PG 91, 704A. Cf. Behr, “Faithfulness and Creativity,” 169; idem, “Irenaeus and the Word of God,” 164.
In St Basil’s homily “To Young Men: On How They Might Derive Profit from Pagan Literature,” 2. Cf. St Basil – The Letters IV, translation by R.J. Deferrari (Loeb Classical Library, reprinted 1970) 381-383. 31 On the Apostolic Preaching 40-42.
32 33 34
Cf. Against the Heresies 4.18.5, in Ante Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1. Cf. Chryssavgis, The Way of the Fathers, 20-21.
Cf. Archbishop Stylianos, “Dangers of Idealism in Theology and Spirituality,” 8-9. See also Chryssavgis, The Way of the Fathers, 25. 35 See the Christian constitution presented in the Epistle to Diognetus 5-6, in M.W. Holmes (ed.), The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, revised edition (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 541-543. It explicitly mentions that Christians do not differ from other people by their clothing etc, but by behaviour. An important commentary on this text by Ioan Ică jr in “Church, society and thinking in the East, West and today Europe”, 17-22. 36 The Fifth Theological Oration 3.
The Fifth Theological Oration 21. Very similar, St Dionysius, On the Celestial Hierarchy 1.2-3.
Cf. Dumitru Stăniloae, Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (Romanian), vol. 1, (Bucharest: Biblical and Mission Institute of the Romanian Orthodox Church, 1987) 5-6.
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