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ÁNGEL F. SÁNCHEZ ESCOBAR<br />

HISTORY AND PRAXIS OF<br />

EASTERN ORTHODOXY, A<br />

TEXTBOOK


HISTORY AND PRAXIS OF EASTERN<br />

ORTHODOXY, A TEXTBOOK<br />

By<br />

ÁNGEL FRANCISCO SÁNCHEZ-ESCOBAR<br />

(Ph.D., Th.D.)<br />

2008<br />

2


©Ángel F. Sánchez Escobar<br />

The <strong>St</strong>. <strong>St</strong>ephen Harding College Publishing House<br />

Winston-Salem, NC, 2008<br />

ISBN-13-978-84-691-8173-7<br />

Illustration: Christ Pantocrator (on wood, 1363)<br />

TO THE MEMORY OF MY BELOVED MOTHER<br />

3


SOME WORDS ABOUT THE AUTHOR<br />

The Most Rev. Angel F. Sánchez Escobar: BA (University <strong>of</strong> Seville, English<br />

Philology), BA (U. <strong>of</strong> Seville, Spanish Philology), MA (V<strong>and</strong>erbilt U., Spanish<br />

Literature <strong>and</strong> Linguistics), MA (V<strong>and</strong>erbilt U., Education), Ph.D. (V<strong>and</strong>erbilt U.,<br />

English Education), Ph.D (U. <strong>of</strong> Seville, English Philology), Ph.D. (U. <strong>of</strong> Seville,<br />

Spanish Literature), Th.D (<strong>St</strong>.<strong>St</strong>ephen Harding Theological College <strong>and</strong> Seminary)<br />

Angel F. Sánchez Escobar also received a Certificate <strong>of</strong> Orthodox Theology<br />

from the University <strong>of</strong> Joensuu (Finl<strong>and</strong>) <strong>and</strong> an Interfaith Ministry Certificate from the<br />

New Seminary (New York). Moreover, he attended Universidad Pontificia de Comillas<br />

(Madrid). He is a Pr<strong>of</strong>essor <strong>of</strong> English Language Teaching at the University <strong>of</strong> Seville<br />

(Spain) <strong>and</strong> the Director <strong>of</strong> the Seminario Ortodoxo Hispano de la Santísima Trinidad.<br />

He is Associate Dean <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong>. <strong>St</strong>ephen Harding Theological Seminary <strong>and</strong> College.<br />

Angel has published books <strong>and</strong> articles in the areas <strong>of</strong> theology, English<br />

language teaching, contrastive rhetoric, Spanish literature, <strong>and</strong> poetry.<br />

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS<br />

I would like to express my appreciation to the people who helped me write this<br />

book. I would especially like to thank Archbishop ++Oscar Joseph (Abbot General <strong>of</strong><br />

the Cistercian Order <strong>of</strong> the Holy Cross), for his continuous encouragement <strong>and</strong><br />

guidance. I am also very grateful to Bishop +Iohannes (South Africa), for his revision <strong>of</strong><br />

the text <strong>and</strong> valuable suggestions. Finally I would like to thank both Sr. Tracey for the<br />

pro<strong>of</strong>ing <strong>of</strong> the text <strong>and</strong> Fr. Esteban for having been the perfect reader <strong>of</strong> this<br />

dissertation <strong>and</strong> having provided me with useful recommendations to improve the<br />

clarity <strong>of</strong> the text. My thanks must also go to the library staff <strong>of</strong> the Escuela de<br />

Magisterio <strong>of</strong> the Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación (Universidad de Sevilla) for<br />

their competence <strong>and</strong> dedication, <strong>and</strong> very especially to the director <strong>of</strong> this library,<br />

Ángela Arévalo, for her endless patience with my inter-library loan requests.<br />

4


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

TABLE OF CONTENTS<br />

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...................................................................................................4<br />

TABLE OF CONTENTS ...................................................................................................5<br />

FOREWORD ................................................................................................................22<br />

A NOTE ABOUT THE STYLE OF THE BIBLIOGRAPHICAL REFERENCES ........................24<br />

PREFACE: ORTHODOXY AND HISTORY......................................................................25<br />

PART I: CHURCH HISTORY ........................................................................................32<br />

(A STUDY OF THE HISTORY OF THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH, THE BYZANTINE<br />

CHURCH, AND THE RUSSIAN CHURCH).....................................................................32<br />

INTRODUCTION TO PART I........................................................................................34<br />

CHAPTER 1 .................................................................................................................36<br />

HISTORY OF THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH (I-III CENTURIES)...........................36<br />

INTRODUCTION .........................................................................................................36<br />

1. THE GENERAL SITUATION......................................................................................38<br />

THE ROMAN EMPIRE ..................................................................................................38<br />

THE JEWISH BACKGROUND AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE FOR EARLY CHRISTIANITY.......42<br />

A brief <strong>history</strong>.........................................................................................................42<br />

Judaism under the Roman World: Connections to Christianity....................................49<br />

SOME ISSUES OF THE SOCIAL MILIEU OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY..................................54<br />

Three relevant social issues.....................................................................................56<br />

2. THE APOSTOLIC AGE ..............................................................................................77<br />

INTRODUCTION: CHURCH AND TRADITION FROM AN ORTHODOX POINT OF VIEW......77<br />

THE INFANT CHURCH OF THE FIRST CENTURY ...........................................................80<br />

PAUL AND GENTILE CHRISTIANITY.............................................................................88<br />

THE GOSPELS ............................................................................................................93<br />

3. EARLY CHRISTIANITY AND THE ROMAN EMPIRE: PERSECUTION AND SUCCESS..96<br />

4. DEVELOPMENT OF THE THEOLOGY OF THE EARLY CHURCH.................................113<br />

THE LATE FIRST CENTURY: THE CENTRALITY OF CHRIST.......................................... 117<br />

A Time Framework ............................................................................................... 117<br />

Efforts <strong>of</strong> early Christians to live by the message about Jesus.................................. 119<br />

SECOND AND THIRD CENTURY: APOSTOLIC FATHERS, APOLOGISTS, HERESIES, NEW<br />

TESTAMENT CANON, TRADITION.............................................................................. 123<br />

The Apostolic Fathers ........................................................................................... 124<br />

Apologists ............................................................................................................ 126<br />

Gnosticism ........................................................................................................... 127<br />

Marcionism........................................................................................................... 130<br />

Montanism ........................................................................................................... 132<br />

Credal-confessional tradition, authority, New Testament canon ............................... 132<br />

Tradition <strong>and</strong> Scripture ......................................................................................... 137<br />

The Church <strong>of</strong> Rome............................................................................................. 139<br />

5. EARLY ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE.................................................................140<br />

CHAPTER 2 ...............................................................................................................145<br />

BYZANTINE CHURCH HISTORY (313-1453 AD).......................................................145<br />

INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................145<br />

1. THE EARLY BYZANTINE PERIOD (324-842): THE FORMATIVE PERIOD OF THE<br />

CHURCH. COUNCILS AND LOCAL HERESIES.............................................................148<br />

THE ‘FIRST GOLDEN AGE’ OF BYZANTIUM (324-730) ................................................. 148<br />

Political <strong>and</strong> Cultural Aspects ................................................................................. 148<br />

Constantine the Great ....................................................................................... 148<br />

5


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

Constantine’s Successors................................................................................... 152<br />

The Fall <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire in the West ......................................................... 153<br />

Justinian I, the Builder <strong>of</strong> Hagia Sophia.............................................................. 154<br />

Justinian I’s Successors: More Invasions ............................................................ 157<br />

Religious Aspects.................................................................................................. 159<br />

Heresies <strong>and</strong> the First Six Ecumenical Councils (325-681) ................................... 159<br />

Arianism....................................................................................................... 162<br />

Nestorianism ................................................................................................ 163<br />

Monophysitism ............................................................................................. 164<br />

Monoenergism. Schism <strong>and</strong> the Sixth Council ................................................. 166<br />

Other Heretical Movements ........................................................................... 169<br />

The Pentarchy .................................................................................................. 170<br />

END OF EARLY BYZANTINE PERIOD (730-843) .......................................................... 174<br />

Political <strong>and</strong> Cultural Aspects ................................................................................. 174<br />

Religious Aspects.................................................................................................. 176<br />

The Iconoclastic Controversy............................................................................. 176<br />

Background to the Eighth-Century Crisis ........................................................ 178<br />

First Phase: Leo III, Constantine V <strong>and</strong> Empress Irene.................................... 181<br />

Opening conflict by Leo III........................................................................ 181<br />

Constantine V <strong>and</strong> the Council <strong>of</strong> 754 ........................................................ 183<br />

Restoration <strong>of</strong> the icons: The Empress Irene <strong>and</strong> the council <strong>of</strong> Nicaea (787)185<br />

Second Phase: Final Reestablishment <strong>of</strong> Icons, the Empress Theodora ............ 187<br />

The Byzantinization <strong>of</strong> Liturgy ........................................................................... 190<br />

2. THE MIDDLE BYZANTINE PERIOD: THE “SECOND GOLDEN AGE” OF BYZANTIUM<br />

(843-1261)...............................................................................................................191<br />

POLITICAL AND CULTURAL ASPECTS......................................................................... 191<br />

Religious Aspects.................................................................................................. 195<br />

Missions: The Conversion <strong>of</strong> the Slavs................................................................ 195<br />

Schism between the East <strong>and</strong> West ....................................................................... 200<br />

The Filioque <strong>and</strong> Other Sources <strong>of</strong> Separation .................................................... 202<br />

3. THE LATE BYZANTINE PERIOD (1261-1453)........................................................205<br />

POLITICAL AND CULTURAL ASPECTS......................................................................... 205<br />

RELIGIOUS ASPECTS ................................................................................................ 207<br />

Crusades: Making the Schism Definitive ................................................................. 207<br />

IMPORTANCE OF THE RELIGION IN THE POLITICS OF THE BYZANTINE PEOPLE:<br />

THREE CONTROVERSIES ...................................................................................... 210<br />

The Arsenite Schism ......................................................................................... 211<br />

Attempts at Union with the Roman Church......................................................... 214<br />

Relations between the Christian Church <strong>and</strong> <strong>St</strong>ate in Byzantium .............................. 216<br />

Heaven on Earth: The Emperor as God’s Representative on Earth ....................... 216<br />

Caesaropapism in Byzantium? ........................................................................... 221<br />

Patterns <strong>of</strong> Development in the Relations between the Church <strong>and</strong> the <strong>St</strong>ate ....... 223<br />

Monasticism ......................................................................................................... 229<br />

A Quick Note on the Captive Church ...................................................................... 231<br />

CHAPTER 3 ...............................................................................................................235<br />

RUSSIAN CHURCH HISTORY (IX-XX CENTURIES) ..................................................235<br />

INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................235<br />

1. KIEVAN PERIOD (IX-XIII CENTURIES): THE BAPTISM OF RUSSIA AND THE<br />

FLOWERING OF KIEVAN CHRISTIANITY..................................................................238<br />

2. THE TARTAR-MONGOL YOKE AND THE EMERGENCE OF THE PRINCIPALITY OF<br />

MOSCOW (XIII-XV CENTURIES) ..............................................................................256<br />

PRINCE ALEXANDER NEVSKY OF NOVGOROD ............................................................ 260<br />

ST. SERGIUS (SERGII) AND THE CHURCH IN MOSCOVITE RUSSIA: XIV-XV CENTURIES<br />

............................................................................................................................... 264<br />

<strong>St</strong>. Sergius <strong>of</strong> Radonezh ........................................................................................ 266<br />

<strong>St</strong>. <strong>St</strong>ephen, the Enlightener <strong>of</strong> Perm, a missionary................................................. 271<br />

6


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

The End <strong>of</strong> the Tartar Yoke <strong>and</strong> the Emergence <strong>of</strong> Moscow..................................... 273<br />

A RUSSIAN RENAISSANCE ........................................................................................ 276<br />

HERESIES ................................................................................................................ 277<br />

3. FROM POSSESSORS AND NON-POSSESSORS TO THE GREAT SCHISM (XVI-XVII<br />

CENTURIES) .............................................................................................................278<br />

POSSESSORS AND NON-POSSESSORS ....................................................................... 278<br />

IVAN III THE TERRIBLE AND ST PHILIPS................................................................... 283<br />

THE EMERGENCE OF MOSCOW AS A PATRIARCHATE ................................................. 286<br />

A TIME OF TROUBLES (1584-1613) ........................................................................... 289<br />

THE SCHISM OF THE OLD BELIEVERS ...................................................................... 293<br />

4. THE CHURCH IN IMPERIAL RUSSIA: THE SYNODAL PERIOD (1700-1917)..........300<br />

1. THE CHURCH IN IMPERIAL RUSSIA: THE XVIII CENTURY....................................... 300<br />

2. THE CHURCH IN IMPERIAL RUSSIA: THE XIX CENTURY ......................................... 311<br />

3. OPENING YEARS OF THE TWENTY CENTURY: MOVEMENT FOR CHURCH RENEWAL<br />

AND THE END OF THE SYNODICAL PERIOD (1917).................................................... 321<br />

4. A TIME OF PERSECUTION AND REBIRTH: THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH IN<br />

THE XX CENTURY (1917-) ........................................................................................328<br />

THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH FROM THE OCTOBER REVOLUTION OF 1917 UNTIL<br />

THE SECOND WORLD WAR: SIX MAIN STAGES.......................................................... 328<br />

The Sobor ............................................................................................................ 331<br />

First <strong>St</strong>age (1918-22): Communists’ Optimism, the Sobor <strong>and</strong> Lenin’s <strong>St</strong>ate ............. 333<br />

Second <strong>St</strong>age (1922-29): Communists’ Attempts at Splitting the Church .................. 337<br />

Third <strong>St</strong>age (1929-1941): <strong>St</strong>alin’s Bloody Persecution <strong>of</strong> the Church ........................ 342<br />

Fourth <strong>St</strong>age (1941-1953): Second World War <strong>and</strong> <strong>St</strong>alin’s Restoration <strong>of</strong> the Russian<br />

Church................................................................................................................. 345<br />

Fifth <strong>St</strong>age (1958-1964): Nikita Khrushchev, a New Assault on the Church............... 349<br />

Sixth <strong>St</strong>age 1965-1991: The Church under the Decaying Socialism .......................... 352<br />

Brezhnev.......................................................................................................... 352<br />

Andropov ......................................................................................................... 355<br />

Chernenko ....................................................................................................... 356<br />

Gorbachev........................................................................................................ 357<br />

SOME NOTES ON THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH 1991 TO MODERN DAYS .......... 362<br />

4. FINAL CONCLUSION ON CHURCH HISTORY.........................................................367<br />

SOME NOTES ON TODAY’S SITUATION OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH ......................368<br />

PART II.....................................................................................................................370<br />

(A STUDY OF THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH, THE HISTORY AND DEVELOPMENT OF<br />

DOCTRINE, AND DOGMATICS) ................................................................................370<br />

INTRODUCTION TO PART II ....................................................................................371<br />

1. GOALS AND OBJECTIVES PLUS SOME BASIC BACKGROUND INFORMATION .......371<br />

2. SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY AND HISTORICAL THEOLOGY: DOGMA AND DOCTRINE,<br />

TRADITION, CHRISTIAN ETHICS, ORTHODOX THEOLOGY ......................................374<br />

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY, HISTORICAL THEOLOGY, ETHICAL CONCERNS ................... 376<br />

DOCTRINES AND DOGMAS ....................................................................................... 382<br />

Christian Ethics..................................................................................................... 388<br />

TWO TYPES OF THEOLOGIES IN ORTHODOXY........................................................... 389<br />

3. FORMS OF THE SACRED OR HOLY TRADITION AND DOCTRINE ...........................396<br />

CHAPTER 4 ...............................................................................................................402<br />

PATRISTICS .............................................................................................................402<br />

INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................402<br />

1. OVERVIEW OF THE CHURCH FATHERS .................................................................404<br />

GENERAL PERIODIZATION AND CLASSIFICATION...................................................... 407<br />

Ante-Nicene Fathers ............................................................................................. 407<br />

a) The Apostolic Fathers (from about 90-140) .................................................... 407<br />

b) Apologists <strong>and</strong> Anti-Heretical Fathers (130-325AD)......................................... 410<br />

7


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

c) The Desert Fathers (Third <strong>and</strong> Fourth Centuries) ............................................ 414<br />

The Nicene <strong>and</strong> Post-Nicene Fathers (IV-V Centuries) ............................................. 416<br />

The Byzantine Period (VI- Centuries) ..................................................................... 418<br />

a) Later Fathers (VI-VIII Centuries) ................................................................... 418<br />

b) Recent Fathers (VIII-XV)............................................................................... 419<br />

AUTHORITY AND RELEVANCE AS UNDERSTOOD BY THE THREE CHRISTIAN BRANCHES<br />

............................................................................................................................... 420<br />

VARIOUS SCHOOLS OR METHODS OF STUDY AND INTERPRETATIONS....................... 421<br />

2. THE ROLE OF ASCESIS IN THE LIVES AND TEACHING OF THE FATHERS ..............423<br />

“ASKESIS”: MEANING OF THE TERM, SOME FEATURES .............................................. 430<br />

BIBLICAL BASIS OF THE MONASTIC, ASCETIC IDEAL ................................................. 434<br />

Old Testamental Basis........................................................................................... 434<br />

New Testamental Basis ......................................................................................... 437<br />

Pre-Nicene Fathers <strong>and</strong> asceticism......................................................................... 447<br />

Formulation <strong>and</strong> Development <strong>of</strong> Asceticism: The Desert Fathers <strong>and</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Basil ......... 455<br />

3. THE FATHERS OF THE CHURCH AND HESYCHASM................................................480<br />

GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO THE HESYCHIA ........................................................... 480<br />

THE WRITINGS OF THE EASTERN FATHERS AND HESYCHIA ...................................... 488<br />

SOME CONCLUDING WORDS .................................................................................... 523<br />

4. THE FATHERS AS DEFENDERS OF FAITH: YOUR OWN RESEARCH ON APOLOGETICS<br />

.................................................................................................................................528<br />

5. THE FATHERS AND LITURGICAL PRACTICE: YOUR OWN RESEARCH ...................529<br />

CHAPTER 5 ...............................................................................................................530<br />

HISTORY OF DOCTRINE...........................................................................................530<br />

INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................530<br />

1. THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY .....................................532<br />

BIBLICAL TEACHING ABOUT THE TRINITY ................................................................ 532<br />

Bible, Apostles, Canon, <strong>and</strong> Apostolic Fathers......................................................... 537<br />

ANTE-NICENE PERIOD: APOSTOLIC, APOLOGISTS, AND ANTI-HERETICAL FATHERS ... 541<br />

a) The Apostolic Fathers (90-140).......................................................................... 545<br />

b) Apologists <strong>and</strong> Anti-heretical Fathers (130-325AD) ............................................. 554<br />

The Apologists (130-180) .................................................................................. 555<br />

Old Catholic Age (170-325) ............................................................................... 562<br />

Irenaeus ...................................................................................................... 563<br />

Problems Raised by the Logos theology ............................................................. 568<br />

The Third Century: Conflicting Tendencies. Tertullian <strong>and</strong> Origen ........................ 569<br />

Tertullian ..................................................................................................... 570<br />

Origen ......................................................................................................... 578<br />

Arianism <strong>and</strong> the Road to the Council <strong>of</strong> Nicea ................................................... 588<br />

AFTER NICEA: THE ROAD TO THE COUNCIL OF CONSTANTINOPLE ............................ 594<br />

The Cappadocian Fathers—Basil <strong>of</strong> Caesarea, Gregory <strong>of</strong> Nyssa, <strong>and</strong> Gregory <strong>of</strong><br />

Nazianzus—<strong>and</strong> the Council <strong>of</strong> Constantinople (381)....................................... 601<br />

CONCLUSION ...........................................................................................................613<br />

2. CHRISTOLOGY: YOUR OWN RESEARCH ...............................................................616<br />

CHRISTOLOGY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT.................................................................. 617<br />

CHRISTOLOGY OF THE PRE-NICENE FATHERS........................................................... 619<br />

CHRISTOLOGY OF THE POST-NICENE FATHERS......................................................... 619<br />

CHAPTER 6 ...............................................................................................................621<br />

DOGMATICS .............................................................................................................621<br />

INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................621<br />

1. DOGMAS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH.................................................................627<br />

THE DIVINE PLAN OF SALVATION: THEOSIS AND UNCREATED ENERGIES .................. 632<br />

Biblical Basis <strong>of</strong> Theosis .................................................................................... 639<br />

Patristic Development ....................................................................................... 647<br />

Ante-Nicene (II-IV Centuries) ........................................................................ 648<br />

8


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

The Nicene <strong>and</strong> post-Nicene Fathers (IV-V).................................................... 661<br />

Byzantine Period (V-XV) ................................................................................ 680<br />

Some Concluding Words <strong>and</strong> Further Theological Speculations ........................ 706<br />

THE DOGMA OF THE TRINITY: YOUR OWN RESEARCH .............................................. 715<br />

THE CHRISTOLOGICAL DOGMA: YOUR OWN RESEARCH ............................................ 718<br />

YOUR OWN RESEARCH ON OTHER DOGMAS: CREATION AND ESCHATOLOGY............. 719<br />

2. CONCLUSION........................................................................................................724<br />

PART III ...................................................................................................................725<br />

PRACTICAL THEOLOGY ............................................................................................725<br />

(A STUDY OF HISTORY OF ORTHODOX LITURGICS, THE LITURGICAL<br />

ENVIRONMENT, AND CONTEMPORARY LITURGICS)...............................................725<br />

INTRODUCTION TO PART III...................................................................................726<br />

CHAPTER 7 ...............................................................................................................728<br />

DEVELOPMENT OF ORTHODOX LITURGY.................................................................728<br />

INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................728<br />

INTRODUCTORY TERMS, “LITURGICS,” “LITURGICAL THEOLOGY,” “ANAPHORA” ........ 729<br />

1. JEWISH AND NEW TESTAMENT BACKGROUND ....................................................735<br />

EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH (I-III CENTURIES) ......................................................742<br />

APOSTOLIC AGE....................................................................................................... 742<br />

The Eucharist: A Separated, Ordered Celebration ................................................... 746<br />

Significance <strong>of</strong> the Eucharist.................................................................................. 749<br />

AGE OF THE APOSTOLIC FATHERS (FROM THE END OF THE FIRST CENTURY TO THIRD<br />

CENTURY)................................................................................................................ 750<br />

The Apostolic Constitutions ................................................................................... 763<br />

2. DEVELOPMENT OF THE LITURGY IN THE BYZANTINE CHURCH (IV-XV CENTURIES)<br />

.................................................................................................................................767<br />

EARLY BYZANTINE PERIOD (324-842) ....................................................................... 767<br />

The Fourth <strong>and</strong> Fifth Centuries: The Liturgies <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Basil <strong>and</strong> <strong>St</strong>. John Chrysostom .. 772<br />

The Seventh Century: Maximus the Confessor........................................................ 779<br />

The Eight <strong>and</strong> Ninth Century: The Barberini Codex ................................................. 784<br />

The Interpretation <strong>of</strong> the Liturgy ........................................................................... 790<br />

THE MIDDLE BYZANTINE PERIOD (8431261)............................................................. 792<br />

THE LATE BYZANTINE PERIOD (12611453) ............................................................... 798<br />

Interpretation <strong>of</strong> the Liturgy .................................................................................. 800<br />

THE DIVINE OFFICE OR LITURGY OF THE HOURS AND THE LITURGY OF THE<br />

PRESANCTIFIED GIFTS ............................................................................................. 805<br />

The Liturgy <strong>of</strong> the Presanctified Gifts ..................................................................... 805<br />

The Divine Office or Liturgy <strong>of</strong> the Hours ............................................................... 806<br />

3. SOME CONCLUDING WORDS................................................................................810<br />

CHAPTER 8 ...............................................................................................................812<br />

THE LITURGICAL ENVIRONMENT: THE ORTHODOX CHURCH BUILDING AND<br />

LITURGICAL VESTMENTS.........................................................................................812<br />

1. THE ORTHODOX CHURCH BUILDING ...................................................................812<br />

INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................... 812<br />

Church Plan.......................................................................................................... 815<br />

Some Definitions .................................................................................................. 818<br />

JEWISH AND NEW TESTAMENT BACKGROUND ........................................................821<br />

EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH (I-III CENTURIES) ......................................................827<br />

APOSTOLIC AGE (FIRST CENTURY) ........................................................................... 827<br />

DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHURCH BUILDING IN THE BYZANTINE CHURCH (IV-XV<br />

CENTURIES) .............................................................................................................844<br />

EARLY BYZANTINE PERIOD (324-842) ....................................................................... 844<br />

THE MIDDLE BYZANTINE PERIOD (8431261)............................................................. 875<br />

9


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

THE LATE BYZANTINE PERIOD (12611453) ............................................................... 886<br />

SYMBOLISM OF THE CHURCH BUILDING ............................................................... 896<br />

SOME CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................... 902<br />

2. LITURGICAL VESTMENTS .....................................................................................904<br />

INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................................... 904<br />

ORIGIN AND EVOLUTION OF LITURGICAL VESTMENTS.............................................. 905<br />

Jewish background ............................................................................................... 905<br />

The Dress <strong>of</strong> Jesus <strong>and</strong> His Disciples.......................................................................... 906<br />

Beginning Church Hierarchy <strong>and</strong> Tradition.............................................................. 909<br />

FOUR MAIN PERIODS OF DEVELOPMENT OF LITURGICAL VESTMENTS ....................... 910<br />

LITURGICAL AND NON-LITURGICAL VESTMENTS ....................................................... 919<br />

Reader’s vestment ................................................................................................ 920<br />

Deacon’s Vestments.............................................................................................. 920<br />

Priest’s Vestments ................................................................................................ 923<br />

Bishop’s vestments ............................................................................................... 926<br />

MEANING OF THE LITURGICAL ATTIRE IN THE CLERGY’S VESTING PROCESS OF THE DIVINE LITURGY<br />

.................................................................................................................................933<br />

SOME CONCLUSIONS ............................................................................................... 940<br />

CHAPTER 9 ...............................................................................................................942<br />

CONTEMPORARY LITURGICS AND LITURGICAL CATECHESIS ................................942<br />

INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................942<br />

1. CONTEMPORARY LITURGICS ...............................................................................943<br />

THREE GLOBAL FEATURES OF ORTHODOX LITURGY.................................................. 946<br />

MAIN EXPRESSIONS OF WORSHIP ............................................................................ 949<br />

LITURGICAL BOOKS ................................................................................................. 957<br />

ORTHODOX LAITY AND DIVINE SERVICES................................................................. 961<br />

LITURGICAL AND PERSONAL PRAYER........................................................................ 962<br />

BIBLE READING IN THE ORTHODOX WORSHIP.......................................................... 970<br />

Introduction ......................................................................................................... 970<br />

THE BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT....................................................................... 974<br />

The Books <strong>of</strong> the New Testament .......................................................................... 978<br />

2. WESTERN RITES: YOUR OWN RESEARCH ............................................................982<br />

3. LITURGICAL CATECHESIS AS A MODEL OF HOLISTIC EDUCATION......................983<br />

“LEX ORANDI, LEX CREDENDI” AN AXIOM AT THE CENTER OF HOLISTIC LITURGICAL<br />

CATECHESIS ............................................................................................................ 983<br />

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF ORTHODOX, HOLISTIC RELIGIOUS EDUCATION ......... 989<br />

INTEGRATIVE, HOLISTIC RELIGIOUS EDUCATION: THE ORTHODOX TASK TODAY...... 996<br />

4. CANON LAW: YOUR OWN RESEARCH ...................................................................999<br />

SOME CONCLUSIONS .............................................................................................1000<br />

PART IV ..................................................................................................................1002<br />

ORTHODOX CHURCH MUSIC..................................................................................1002<br />

(A STUDY OF CHURCH MUSIC IN BYZANTIUM AND RUSSIA, AND OF THE THEOLOGY<br />

OF ORTHODOX CHURCH MUSIC) ...........................................................................1002<br />

INTRODUCTION TO PART IV..................................................................................1003<br />

CHAPTER 10 ...........................................................................................................1006<br />

DEVELOPMENT OF BYZANTINE HYMNODY ............................................................1006<br />

INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................................1006<br />

PRELIMINARY REMARKS .......................................................................................1007<br />

THE CONCEPT OF HYMN AND HYMNODY................................................................. 1008<br />

ORTHODOX SERVICE BOOKS CONTAINING LITURGICAL MUSIC ................................... 1010<br />

PERIODS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF BYZANTINE HYMNODY..................................... 1011<br />

PERIODS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF BYZANTINE HYMNODY .................................1012<br />

PRE-BYZANTIUM ERA: CLASSIC, JEWISH, AND EARLY CHRISTIAN ROOTS ................ 1012<br />

10


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

The Terms “Psalms,” “Hymn,” <strong>and</strong> “Spiritual songs”.............................................. 1016<br />

Meter <strong>of</strong> the Psalms ............................................................................................ 1019<br />

References to Early Christian Chanting <strong>and</strong> Pagan Music....................................... 1022<br />

BYZANTINE ERA..................................................................................................... 1032<br />

Introduction ........................................................................................................ 1032<br />

First Period: From the Fourth to the Sixth Century..................................................... 1033<br />

From the Sixth to the Eleventh Century: Kontakia <strong>and</strong> Kanons .............................. 1044<br />

Later Byzantine <strong>and</strong> Post-Byzantine Periods.......................................................... 1053<br />

CHAPTER 11 ...........................................................................................................1057<br />

CHURCH MUSIC IN RUSSIA ...................................................................................1057<br />

INTRODUCTION: MAIN PERIODS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF RUSSIAN CHURCH SINGING<br />

............................................................................................................................. 1057<br />

KIEVAN RUSSIA: THE ORIGINS OF RUSSIAN LITURGICAL SINGING.......................... 1060<br />

Preparatory Period.............................................................................................. 1060<br />

From the Baptism <strong>of</strong> the Rus’ (988) to the Tartar invasion .................................... 1064<br />

Development <strong>of</strong> Znamenny <strong>and</strong> Kondakarian Singing............................................. 1068<br />

The Period <strong>of</strong> the Tartar Yoke (Fourteenth <strong>and</strong> Fifteenth Centuries) <strong>and</strong> the 16 th<br />

Century.............................................................................................................. 1075<br />

CHAPTER 12 ...........................................................................................................1080<br />

THEOLOGY OF CHURCH MUSIC: THE ROLE OF MUSIC IN THE HOLY SERVICES ...1080<br />

PRELIMINARY REMARKS .......................................................................................1080<br />

PRAISE SINGING IN THE SCRIPTURES ..................................................................1084<br />

TWO CONCEPTS OF CHANTING ..............................................................................1089<br />

A MAIN PURPOSE: PROVIDING AN EMOTIONAL COLOR TO CONCRETE LITURGICAL<br />

TEXT .......................................................................................................................1093<br />

STYLE OF PERFORMANCE, TYPES OF HYMNS, AND SIGNIFICANCE OF HYMNS IN THE<br />

MAIN SERVICES OF THE DIVINE LITURGY, VESPERS, AND MATINS ...........................1095<br />

STYLE OF PERFORMANCE AND TYPES OF HYMNS........................................................ 1095<br />

Significance <strong>of</strong> Hymns....................................................................................... 1097<br />

CONCLUSION: ........................................................................................................1111<br />

THE INTEGRATING FORCE OF THE HOLY TRADITION...........................................1111<br />

GLOSSARY OF TERMS AND NAMES ........................................................................1113<br />

APPENDIXES ..........................................................................................................1144<br />

APPENDIX A ...........................................................................................................1145<br />

1. LETTERS OF GOVERNOR PLINY AND EMPEROR TRAJAN................................... 1145<br />

Trajan’s Reply .................................................................................................... 1146<br />

2. 40TH ANNIVERSARY OF CANCELLING OF EX-COMMUNICATION BY ROME AND<br />

CONSTANTINOPLE ................................................................................................. 1146<br />

3. LINK BETWEEN THE CHURCH AND STATE IN ENGLAND ....................................... 1147<br />

APPENDIX B ...........................................................................................................1149<br />

DEVELOPMENT AND REFUTATION OF CHRISTOLOGICAL ERRORS ........................1149<br />

APPENDIX C ...........................................................................................................1151<br />

BYZANTIUM ...........................................................................................................1151<br />

1. CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF BYZANTINE EMPERORS .............................................. 1151<br />

2. A QUICK LIST OF EMPERORS OF THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE ................................... 1156<br />

3. SELECTIVE BYZANTINE TIMELINE:...................................................................... 1157<br />

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE TURBULENT HISTORY OF THE EASTERN ROMAN EMPIRE ... 1157<br />

4. HIERARCHICAL SUCCESSION OF THE PATRIARCHAL SEE OF CONSTANTINOPLE UNTIL<br />

THE FALL OF THE CITY........................................................................................... 1159<br />

APPENDIX D ...........................................................................................................1161<br />

MAPS OF THE BALKAN PENINSULA AND ASIA MINOR ..........................................1161<br />

APPENDIX E............................................................................................................1163<br />

LIST OF RUSSIAN LEADERS....................................................................................1163<br />

11


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

1. RULERS OF THE KIEVAN RUS BEFORE THE TARTAR INVASION............................. 1163<br />

2. RULERS OF THE TARTAR-MONGOL PERIOD ......................................................... 1164<br />

3. PRINCES OF MOSCOW........................................................................................ 1164<br />

4. TSARS OF RUSSIA, 1547-1721 ............................................................................ 1164<br />

5. EMPERORS OF RUSSIA, 1721-1917...................................................................... 1165<br />

6. SOVIET LEADERS ............................................................................................... 1165<br />

7. PRESIDENTS OF RUSSIA..................................................................................... 1166<br />

APPENDIX F............................................................................................................1167<br />

THE FATHERS AS DEFENDERS OF FAITH ................................................................1167<br />

APPENDIX G ...........................................................................................................1171<br />

THE LITURGY OF THE EIGHTH BOOK OF THE APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS..........1171<br />

APPENDIX H ...........................................................................................................1173<br />

LITURGICAL CYCLES OF SERVICES ........................................................................1173<br />

APPENDIX I ............................................................................................................1179<br />

LITURGICAL BOOKS ...............................................................................................1179<br />

APPENDIX J............................................................................................................1182<br />

WESTERN RITE ORTHODOXY .................................................................................1182<br />

APPENDIX K ...........................................................................................................1186<br />

THE CONTENT AND STRUCTURE OF THE DIVINE LITURGY ....................................1186<br />

APPENDIX L............................................................................................................1191<br />

SERVICE OF PROSKOMIDE.....................................................................................1191<br />

APPENDIX M...........................................................................................................1193<br />

THE SACRAMENTS OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH....................................................1193<br />

APPENDIX N ...........................................................................................................1196<br />

DIFFERENT SCHEDULES OF SERVICES ...................................................................1196<br />

APPENDIX O ...........................................................................................................1197<br />

NEW TESTAMENT REFERENCES TO THE EUCHARIST..............................................1197<br />

APPENDIX P ...........................................................................................................1202<br />

SIX DIMENSIONS IN PRACTICAL THEOLOGY ........................................................1202<br />

APPENDIX Q ...........................................................................................................1203<br />

THE ICONOSTASIS .................................................................................................1203<br />

APPENDIX R ...........................................................................................................1205<br />

THE CLERGY ...........................................................................................................1205<br />

APPENDIX S ...........................................................................................................1207<br />

COLORS OF THE LITURGICAL VESTMENTS.............................................................1207<br />

APPENDIX T............................................................................................................1209<br />

JEWISH HIGH PRIEST’S VESTMENTS .....................................................................1209<br />

APPENDIX U ...........................................................................................................1210<br />

THE CANTICLES OF LUKE........................................................................................1210<br />

APPENDIX V ...........................................................................................................1212<br />

PRE-BYZANTINE AND BYZANTINE HYMNS ............................................................1212<br />

THE PRAYER OF CLEMENT OF ROME ....................................................................... 1212<br />

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA’S “A HYMN TO CHRIST THE SAVIOUR”.......................... 1212<br />

“HYMN TO GOD” BY GREGORY NAZIANZUS ............................................................. 1213<br />

ANACREONTIC HYMN BY ST. JOHN OF DAMASCUS ................................................. 1215<br />

APPENDIX X ...........................................................................................................1217<br />

FIVE PERIODS IN THE EVOLUTION OF THE POST-BYZANTINE CHANT ..................1217<br />

APPENDIX Y ...........................................................................................................1218<br />

LITURGICAL MUSIC: THE DIVINE LITURGY OF OUR FATHER AMONG THE SAINTS<br />

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM...............................................................................................1218<br />

WORKS CITED ........................................................................................................1219<br />

PRIMARY SOURCES................................................................................................1219<br />

SECONDARY SOURCES ...........................................................................................1227<br />

OTHER WEB PAGES CITED......................................................................................1259<br />

12


TABLES<br />

Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

Table 1: Webs for definition <strong>of</strong> terms...................................................................................24<br />

Table 2: Concept <strong>of</strong> Tradition ..............................................................................................79<br />

Table 3: Chart with main persecutions <strong>of</strong> First Christians.......................................................97<br />

Table 4: First century historian <strong>and</strong> the persecution under Nero ............................................99<br />

Table 5: First century historian <strong>and</strong> the persecution under Domitian .................................... 100<br />

Table 6: Concept <strong>of</strong> Apostolic Fathers ................................................................................ 124<br />

Table 7: Writings <strong>of</strong> the Apostolic Fathers .......................................................................... 125<br />

Table 8: New Testament writers <strong>and</strong> their denouncement <strong>of</strong> heresies.................................. 128<br />

Table 9: Response <strong>of</strong> the Church to 2nd century Gnosticism ............................................... 129<br />

Table 10: Response <strong>of</strong> Early Church Fathers on heresy ....................................................... 131<br />

Table 11: The Formation <strong>of</strong> the New Testament canon ....................................................... 131<br />

Table 12: Credal-confessional Tradition.............................................................................. 135<br />

Table 13: Constantinople becomes the Roman capital......................................................... 149<br />

Table 14: Constantine as a saint in the Orthodox Church .................................................... 151<br />

Table 15: Construction <strong>of</strong> Constantinople triple wall (413)................................................... 153<br />

Table 16: Bubonic plague’s first appearance in the Mediterranean (541-544) ....................... 155<br />

Table 17: Dates <strong>of</strong> the First Seven Ecumenical Councils ...................................................... 160<br />

Table 18: Kontakion (Second Tone).................................................................................. 180<br />

Table 19: Triumph <strong>of</strong> Orthodox iconodule .......................................................................... 189<br />

Table 20: The body <strong>of</strong> John Chrysostom ............................................................................ 208<br />

Table 21: Feast day <strong>of</strong> Saint Gregory Palamas.................................................................... 214<br />

Table 22: Last Christian service before the fall <strong>of</strong> Constantinople......................................... 216<br />

Table 23: Emperors <strong>and</strong> Church’s worship.......................................................................... 218<br />

Table 24: The Rus’ ........................................................................................................... 240<br />

Table 25: <strong>St</strong>. Andrew in Kiev ............................................................................................. 243<br />

Table 26: Lavra Monastery, a <strong>history</strong> ................................................................................. 247<br />

Table 27: In memory <strong>of</strong> Byzantium.................................................................................... 248<br />

Table 28: Earliest head <strong>of</strong> the Russian Church .................................................................... 248<br />

Table 29: Monastery <strong>of</strong> Trinity-<strong>St</strong>. Sergius Sergiev Posad .................................................... 267<br />

Table 30: The Russian tsar—the “New Constantine.” .......................................................... 284<br />

Table 31: The Swedish <strong>and</strong> the Polish in the Time <strong>of</strong> Troubles ............................................ 291<br />

Table 32: Historical data about Peter I the Great (1721-1725)............................................. 303<br />

Table 33: Early Romanov tsars <strong>and</strong> tsarinas ....................................................................... 308<br />

Table 34: Late Romanov tsars ........................................................................................... 311<br />

Table 35: The Philokalia.................................................................................................... 316<br />

Table 36: Pilgrimage in Russia........................................................................................... 317<br />

Table 37: Monastery <strong>of</strong> Optina Pustyn ............................................................................... 318<br />

Table 38: Causes <strong>of</strong> the Russian Revolution <strong>of</strong> 1917 ........................................................... 327<br />

Table 39: The February Revolution .................................................................................... 327<br />

Table 40: The October Revolution ..................................................................................... 329<br />

Table 41: Article 17 <strong>of</strong> the revised religious law issued by <strong>St</strong>ain (April 8 th , 1929) .................. 343<br />

Table 42: <strong>St</strong>atistics indicating the consolidation <strong>of</strong> the Church in the post-war years............. 348<br />

Table 43: Period early 1960’s to mid-1980’s ....................................................................... 357<br />

Table 44: Common divisions <strong>of</strong> Theology ........................................................................... 376<br />

Table 45: Division within Systematic Theology................................................................... 376<br />

Table 46: Ecumenical Councils <strong>and</strong> later Councils along with their doctrines or documents.... 398<br />

Table 47: The Creed <strong>of</strong> Nicea ............................................................................................ 398<br />

Table 48: Apostolic Fathers ............................................................................................... 403<br />

Table 49: Concept <strong>of</strong> Heresy ............................................................................................. 410<br />

Table 50: Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho ............................................................................. 412<br />

Table 51: Apologists <strong>and</strong> Anti-Heretical Fathers .................................................................. 414<br />

Table 52: Apophthegmata Patrum .................................................................................... 415<br />

Table 53: The Evergetinos ................................................................................................ 416<br />

Table 54: Fathers <strong>of</strong> the Golden Age Period (1) .................................................................. 417<br />

Table 55: Fathers <strong>of</strong> the Golden Age Period (2): John Chrysostom....................................... 418<br />

Table 56: Some Later <strong>and</strong> Recent Fathers.......................................................................... 419<br />

13


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

Table 57: <strong>St</strong>. Symeon the New Theologian ......................................................................... 419<br />

Table 58: Nice <strong>and</strong> Post-Nicene Fathers’ struggle against heresies....................................... 420<br />

Table 59: Works <strong>of</strong> Eusebius <strong>of</strong> Caesarea (c. 265-c.340)..................................................... 422<br />

Table 60: Relation <strong>of</strong> Ascetics to Moral Theology <strong>and</strong> Mysticism .......................................... 428<br />

Table 61: Troparion <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Anthony.................................................................................... 459<br />

Table 62: <strong>St</strong>. Basil`s prayer for a deeper sense <strong>of</strong> fellowship with all living things ................ 467<br />

Table 63: The Apophthegmata Texts ................................................................................. 492<br />

Table 64: Prayer by <strong>St</strong>. Thalassios ..................................................................................... 505<br />

Table 65: The term “canon” .............................................................................................. 539<br />

Table 66: The Apostles’ Creed ........................................................................................... 540<br />

Table 67: The Rule <strong>of</strong> Faith ............................................................................................... 564<br />

Table 68: Montanism ........................................................................................................ 578<br />

Table 69: Kataphatic <strong>and</strong> apophatic theologies ................................................................... 579<br />

Table 70: Arius’ doctrines about Jesus ............................................................................... 589<br />

Table 71: The Athanasian Creed........................................................................................ 601<br />

Table 72: The Capadoccian Fathers <strong>and</strong> the Trinity............................................................. 601<br />

Table 73: Trinitarian perspective East-West........................................................................ 602<br />

Table 74: The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.................................................................. 627<br />

Table 75: Troparion <strong>and</strong> Kontakion to Athanasius ............................................................... 665<br />

Table 76: Synodikon <strong>of</strong> Orthodoxy..................................................................................... 704<br />

Table 77: The Proclamation <strong>of</strong> Palamas Sainthood.............................................................. 705<br />

Table 78: Contents <strong>of</strong> the Divine Liturgy ............................................................................ 733<br />

Table 79: The Feast <strong>of</strong> Pascha........................................................................................... 740<br />

Table 80: Book eighth <strong>of</strong> the Apostolic Constitutions........................................................... 764<br />

Table 81: The Barberini Codex .......................................................................................... 772<br />

Table 82: The Typikon ...................................................................................................... 794<br />

Table 83: Liturgy <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Basil ............................................................................................. 950<br />

Table 84: The structure <strong>of</strong> the Eucharistic liturgies ............................................................. 951<br />

Table 85: The Words <strong>of</strong> Institution in the three liturgies <strong>of</strong> Eastern Christian Churches ......... 952<br />

Table 86: Example <strong>of</strong> Typikon ........................................................................................... 958<br />

Table 87: The Byzantine Typicon ....................................................................................... 960<br />

Table 88: Outline <strong>of</strong> times for the Daily Prayer Cycle........................................................... 961<br />

Table 89: How laymen read service books.......................................................................... 962<br />

Table 90: Prayers before <strong>and</strong> after Meals ........................................................................... 965<br />

Table 91: Books <strong>of</strong> the Old Testament <strong>and</strong> the New Testaments accepted by the Orthodox<br />

Church..................................................................................................................... 973<br />

Table 92: Ekphonetic notation ......................................................................................... 1007<br />

Table 93: Antiphonal singing ........................................................................................... 1035<br />

Table 94: Venerable Father Auxentius, Troparion, Tone I —.............................................. 1043<br />

ILLUSTRATIONS<br />

Illustration 1: Bust <strong>of</strong> the Emperor August............................................................................39<br />

Illustration 2: Goddess Isis <strong>and</strong> Winged Maat .......................................................................40<br />

Illustration 3: Plutarch .......................................................................................................42<br />

Illustration 4: Babylonian exile.............................................................................................44<br />

Illustration 5: Ezra reads the Law ........................................................................................46<br />

Illustration 6: Model <strong>of</strong> Jerusalem (Roman Period)................................................................48<br />

Illustration 7: Philo <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria .........................................................................................50<br />

Illustration 8: Jesus Christ the Lifegiver................................................................................51<br />

Illustration 9: The twelve Apostles .......................................................................................58<br />

Illustration 10: The areas mentioned in the Acts <strong>of</strong> the Apostles............................................59<br />

Illustration 11: <strong>St</strong>. Paul .......................................................................................................61<br />

Illustration 12: The three hierarchs <strong>of</strong> the Church.................................................................79<br />

Illustration 13: Pentecost ....................................................................................................81<br />

Illustration 14: <strong>St</strong>. Peter <strong>and</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Paul ...................................................................................83<br />

Illustration 15: <strong>St</strong>ephen’s martyrdom ...................................................................................84<br />

Illustration 16: <strong>St</strong>. James, the Lord’s brother ........................................................................87<br />

14


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

Illustration 17: Peter’s martyrdom .......................................................................................98<br />

Illustration 18: Saint Polycarp, martyred circa 155 AD......................................................... 101<br />

Illustration 19: Cyprian <strong>and</strong> Justina, two African Christians.................................................. 106<br />

Illustration 20: Diocletian coin ........................................................................................... 107<br />

Illustration 21: A fragment <strong>of</strong> the Dichache ........................................................................ 125<br />

Illustration 22: Justin ........................................................................................................ 127<br />

Illustration 23: Emperor Constantine I <strong>and</strong> Helen, .............................................................. 150<br />

Illustration 24: Constantinople, the “New Rome” ................................................................ 151<br />

Illustration 25: Map <strong>of</strong> Earlier Byzantium (565)................................................................... 154<br />

Illustration 26: Hagia S<strong>of</strong>ia (537 A.D.)................................................................................ 156<br />

Illustration 27: Emperor Justinian I (527-565) <strong>and</strong> attendants ............................................. 156<br />

Illustration 28: Map <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine Empire (668 A.D.)...................................................... 157<br />

Illustration 29: Council <strong>of</strong> Ephesus, 431 ............................................................................. 166<br />

Illustration 30: Map <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine Empire in 780 AD....................................................... 175<br />

Illustration 31: John <strong>of</strong> Damascus...................................................................................... 178<br />

Illustration 32: Demetrius <strong>of</strong> Thessalonica.......................................................................... 180<br />

Illustration 33: Forerunner <strong>and</strong> Lamb................................................................................. 181<br />

Illustration 34: Map <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine Empire (1025 A.D.) .................................................... 192<br />

Illustration 35: Mosaic <strong>of</strong> Constantine IX Monomachus <strong>and</strong> Empress Zoë ............................. 193<br />

Illustration 36: Michael VIII Palaeologus ............................................................................ 194<br />

Illustration 37: Cyril <strong>and</strong> Methodius.................................................................................... 196<br />

Illustration 38: Siege <strong>of</strong> Constantinople (1453) .................................................................. 206<br />

Illustration 39: Siege <strong>of</strong> Constantinople by crusaders .......................................................... 209<br />

Illustration 40: Ottoman Empire (1580).............................................................................. 232<br />

Illustration 41: Prince Vladimir........................................................................................... 242<br />

Illustration 42: Vladimir Monomakh.................................................................................... 245<br />

Illustration 43: <strong>St</strong>. Theodosius........................................................................................... 246<br />

Illustration 44: Lavra Monastery ........................................................................................ 247<br />

Illustration 45: Kiev in the 10 th century .............................................................................. 249<br />

Illustration 46: The Kievan Rus’ <strong>and</strong> the world ca 1100 A.D................................................. 251<br />

Illustration 47: Yaroslav “the Wise”.................................................................................... 253<br />

Illustration 48: Medieval walls <strong>of</strong> Novgorod ........................................................................ 257<br />

Illustration 49: Prince Alex<strong>and</strong>er Nevsky receiving Pope’s legates ........................................ 261<br />

Illustration 50: Moscow in the fifteenth century .................................................................. 265<br />

Illustration 51: Monastery <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Sergius Sergei Posad......................................................... 267<br />

Illustration 52: <strong>St</strong>. Sergius <strong>of</strong> Radonezh ............................................................................. 268<br />

Illustration 53: <strong>St</strong>. <strong>St</strong>ephen <strong>of</strong> Perm (1340-1396) in his way to Moscow ............................... 272<br />

Illustration 54: Archangel Michael Cathedral....................................................................... 275<br />

Illustration 55: Ivan the Terrible ........................................................................................ 284<br />

Illustration 56: Patriarch Nikon (1652-58) .......................................................................... 296<br />

Illustration 57: Avvacum, the Holy Martyr (1620-1680) ....................................................... 298<br />

Illustration 58: Peter I the Great........................................................................................ 302<br />

Illustration 59: <strong>St</strong>. Tikhon <strong>of</strong> Zadonsk (1724-83)................................................................. 310<br />

Illustration 60: <strong>St</strong>. Paissy Velichkovsky............................................................................... 314<br />

Illustration 61: <strong>St</strong>. Serafim <strong>of</strong> Sarov ................................................................................... 316<br />

Illustration 62: The Monastery <strong>of</strong> Optina ............................................................................ 317<br />

Illustration 63: Tsar Nicholas II <strong>and</strong> Family ........................................................................ 323<br />

Illustration 64: Patriarch Tikhon......................................................................................... 335<br />

Illustration 65: Danilov Monastery ..................................................................................... 355<br />

Illustration 66: Council <strong>of</strong> Nicea I, 325 ............................................................................... 399<br />

Illustration 67: The Ten Comm<strong>and</strong>ments ........................................................................... 436<br />

Illustration 68: <strong>St</strong>. Anthony the Great, father <strong>of</strong> all monks................................................... 458<br />

Illustration 69: <strong>St</strong>. Anthony Monastery (built 356)............................................................... 460<br />

Illustration 70: Maximus the Confessor .............................................................................. 476<br />

Illustration 71: <strong>St</strong>. John <strong>of</strong> the Ladder................................................................................ 513<br />

IIlustration 72: <strong>St</strong>. Ignatius <strong>of</strong> Antioch ............................................................................... 551<br />

Illustration 73: Origen....................................................................................................... 586<br />

Illustration 74: <strong>St</strong>. Athanasius............................................................................................ 600<br />

15


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

Illustration 75: <strong>St</strong>. Symeon the New Theologian ................................................................. 694<br />

Illustration 76: <strong>St</strong>. Gregory Palamas................................................................................... 704<br />

Illustration 77: The communion <strong>of</strong> the Apostles.................................................................. 745<br />

Illustration 78: The Divine Liturgy...................................................................................... 782<br />

Illustration 79: Skeuophylakion <strong>of</strong> Hagia Sophia ................................................................. 783<br />

Illustration 80: Plant <strong>of</strong> an Orthodox Church Building.......................................................... 817<br />

Illustration 81: Narthex or vestibule................................................................................... 817<br />

Illustration 82: Byzantine Church with a triple apse............................................................. 818<br />

Illustration 83: The Tabernacle <strong>of</strong> Moses............................................................................ 822<br />

Illustration 84: Christian church-house <strong>of</strong> Dura Europos (Syria) ........................................... 831<br />

Illustration 85: Dura Europos’ baptistery ............................................................................ 832<br />

Illustration 86: Adam <strong>and</strong> Eve <strong>and</strong> the Good Shepherd ....................................................... 832<br />

Illustration 87: The Orans, praying figure from the catacombs ............................................ 837<br />

Illustration 88: The Good Shepherd ................................................................................... 837<br />

Illustration 89: The cubicle <strong>of</strong> the sacraments .................................................................... 838<br />

Illustration 90: Photo <strong>of</strong> the altar partition <strong>of</strong> a fourth century Christian<br />

church at Olympia .................................................................................................... 842<br />

Illustration 91: Fresco Fraction Panis (Greek Chapel) .......................................................... 843<br />

Illustration 92: Basilica Ulpiae (Rome)................................................................................ 845<br />

Illustration 93: Drawing <strong>of</strong> the interior <strong>of</strong> the Basilica Ulpiae (Rome).................................... 845<br />

Illustration 94: Early Christian rectangular church............................................................... 846<br />

Illustration 95: Byzantine adaptation <strong>of</strong> a rectangular church plan ....................................... 847<br />

Illustration 96: Altar partition <strong>of</strong> 4th century Lochrida Basilica ............................................. 849<br />

Illustration 97: The Church <strong>of</strong> the Holy Apostles at Constantinople ...................................... 850<br />

Illustration 98: Plan view <strong>of</strong> the Church <strong>of</strong> the Holy Apostles ............................................... 850<br />

Illustration 99: Church <strong>of</strong> Hagia Irene at Constantinople ..................................................... 853<br />

Illustration 100: The monogram <strong>of</strong> Christ........................................................................... 853<br />

Illustration 101: Coin with Constantine I ascending into heaven .......................................... 854<br />

Illustration 102: Christ Pantocrator (La Martorana) ............................................................. 855<br />

Illustration 103: Christ Pantocrator .................................................................................... 856<br />

Illustration 104: Detail <strong>of</strong> the mosaic in the apse <strong>of</strong> the Basilica........................................... 857<br />

Illustration 105: Sant’ Agnese, martyr................................................................................ 857<br />

Illustration 106: Plan view <strong>of</strong> Hagia Sophia......................................................................... 861<br />

Illustration 107: Hagia Sophia ................................................................................... 864<br />

Illustration 108: The Dome <strong>of</strong> Hagia Sophia ....................................................................... 864<br />

Illustration 109: North side <strong>of</strong> nave <strong>of</strong> San Apollinnare....................................................... 867<br />

Illustration 110: South side <strong>of</strong> nave <strong>of</strong> San Apollinnare ...................................................... 867<br />

Illustration 111: Sanctuary <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Vitale in Ravenna............................................................. 868<br />

Illustration 112: Justinian with Maximianius........................................................................ 868<br />

Illustration 113: Empress Theodora <strong>and</strong> attendants ............................................................ 869<br />

Illustration 114: Christ Pantocrator giving a martyr’s........................................................... 869<br />

Illustration 115: Moses receiving the Law........................................................................... 870<br />

Illustration 116: Abraham <strong>and</strong> Sarah entertain the three angels .......................................... 870<br />

Illustration 117: <strong>St</strong>. Sebastian martyr................................................................................. 871<br />

Illustration 118: Drawing <strong>of</strong> an early iconostasis ................................................................. 875<br />

Illustration 119: Enthroned Virgin <strong>and</strong> Child ....................................................................... 877<br />

Illustration 120: Scheme <strong>of</strong> the cross-in square church ....................................................... 877<br />

Illustration 121: Ground plan <strong>of</strong> the cross-in square church................................................. 878<br />

Illustration 122: The New Church ...................................................................................... 879<br />

Illustration 123: Constantine Lips Monastery Church (909).................................................. 880<br />

Illustration 124: Church <strong>of</strong> Myrelaion -Bodrum Camii ........................................................ 880<br />

Illustration 125: Church <strong>of</strong> Panaghia Kapnikarea............................................................... 881<br />

Illustration 126: Apse <strong>and</strong> Iconostasis <strong>of</strong> the Church........................................................... 882<br />

Illustration 127: Madonna <strong>and</strong> Child between Empress Irene (right) .................................... 882<br />

Illustration 128: Sketch <strong>of</strong> the reconstruction <strong>of</strong> the original exterior appearance ................. 883<br />

Illustration 129: Vestibule mosaic <strong>of</strong> Hagia Sophia representing Christ ................................. 884<br />

Illustration 130: Iconostasis <strong>of</strong> Torcello Cathedral............................................................... 885<br />

Illustration 131: Iconostasis <strong>of</strong> the Protaton church at Mount Athos..................................... 885<br />

16


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

Illustration 132: Communion <strong>of</strong> the Apostles (Hagia Sophia, Kiev) ....................................... 887<br />

Illustration 133: Sacrifices <strong>of</strong> Abel <strong>and</strong> Melchizedek (<strong>St</strong>. Vitale, Ravenna)............................. 888<br />

Illustration 134: Scheme <strong>of</strong> iconostasis <strong>of</strong> Ossios Lukas....................................................... 889<br />

Illustration 135: A five-tier iconostasis (Moscow) ................................................................ 890<br />

llustration 136: Holy Face (Novgorod School) ..................................................................... 892<br />

Illustration 137: Holy Face (Yaroslavl School) ..................................................................... 893<br />

Illustration 138: Rublev’s Trinity ........................................................................................ 893<br />

Illustration 139: The Church <strong>of</strong> the Dormition (Rostov) ....................................................... 894<br />

Illustration 140: Archangel Michael Cathedral ..................................................................... 895<br />

Illustration 141: Jewish High Priest .................................................................................... 906<br />

Illustration 142: Current Jewish Tallith ............................................................................... 907<br />

Illustration 143: Christ <strong>of</strong> Hagia Sophia, vestibule ............................................................... 908<br />

Illustration 144: the Apostles Paul, Andrew <strong>and</strong> Peter ......................................................... 909<br />

Illustration 145: Reader vestment <strong>of</strong> a short phelonion ....................................................... 920<br />

Illustration 146: Deacon’s vestments ................................................................................. 923<br />

Illustration 147: Priest’s vestments .................................................................................... 926<br />

Illustration 148: Bishop’s vestments................................................................................... 928<br />

Illustration 149: Other clerical garments ............................................................................ 929<br />

Illustration 150: Orthodox clergy vestments. From left to right vestments for deacons, priests,<br />

<strong>and</strong> bishops.............................................................................................................. 930<br />

Illustration 151: Inner cassock (Russian style).................................................................... 931<br />

Illustration 152: Inner cassock (Greek style) ...................................................................... 931<br />

Illustration 153: Outer cassock ......................................................................................... 932<br />

Illustration 154: Vestments for the Orthodox Divine Liturgy................................................. 935<br />

Illustration 155: The Baptism <strong>of</strong> Christ ............................................................................... 953<br />

Illustration 156: Pascha .................................................................................................... 955<br />

Illustration 157: The Divine Liturgy, Angel carrying chalice.................................................. 969<br />

Illustration 158: <strong>St</strong>. Matthew the Evangelist ....................................................................... 972<br />

Illustration 159: The Birth <strong>of</strong> the Theotokos ....................................................................... 981<br />

Illustration 160: Transfiguration <strong>of</strong> Christ ........................................................................... 981<br />

Illustration 161: Canticle ................................................................................................. 1016<br />

Illustration 162: A Troparion .......................................................................................... 1043<br />

Illustration 163: Saint Romanos....................................................................................... 1045<br />

Illustration 164: A kontakion ........................................................................................... 1046<br />

Illustration 165: A kanon................................................................................................. 1047<br />

Illustration 166: Twelfth-century Kondakarion notation .................................................... 1071<br />

Illustration 167: Znamenny notation ................................................................................ 1072<br />

Illustration 168: The Balkan Peninsula ............................................................................. 1161<br />

Illustration 169: Asia Minor ............................................................................................. 1161<br />

Illustration 170: High Priest’s Garments ........................................................................... 1209<br />

ACTIVITIES<br />

Activity 1: Preliminary activity..............................................................................................23<br />

Activity 2: Items in Glossary <strong>and</strong> Appendixes........................................................................24<br />

Activity 3: Contrast the historical perspective <strong>of</strong> East-West....................................................31<br />

Activity 4: Introduction to Chapter I on the History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church .........................37<br />

Activity 5: Religious beliefs in the first century......................................................................42<br />

Activity 6: Historical periods <strong>of</strong> Judaism <strong>and</strong> theological development <strong>of</strong> Judaism ...................49<br />

Activity 7: Judaism <strong>and</strong> Christianity under the Roman World .................................................53<br />

Activity 8: Social context <strong>and</strong> New Testament ......................................................................56<br />

Activity 9: Social issues: mobility <strong>and</strong> mission.......................................................................67<br />

Activity 10: Social issues: Wealth/poverty <strong>and</strong> class society...................................................72<br />

Activity 11: Social issues: Attitudes <strong>of</strong> authorities <strong>and</strong> population against Christians................77<br />

Activity 12: The Apostolic Age .............................................................................................88<br />

Activity 13: Jewish persecutions ..........................................................................................88<br />

Activity 14: Paul’s theology..................................................................................................92<br />

17


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

Activity 15: Paul’s relationship with the Law <strong>and</strong> with other churches.....................................93<br />

Activity 16: The formation <strong>of</strong> the Gospels.............................................................................95<br />

Activity 17: Roman Persecutions........................................................................................ 112<br />

Activity 18: Orthodox theology .......................................................................................... 117<br />

Activity 19: Christian writings <strong>of</strong> the first century. ............................................................... 119<br />

Activity 20: The Risen Jesus <strong>and</strong> his Messianic character..................................................... 120<br />

Activity 21: Oneness <strong>of</strong> believers with Christ ...................................................................... 121<br />

Activity 22: Christ as an Expiator ....................................................................................... 121<br />

Activity 23: Interpretation <strong>of</strong> Jesus by first century Christians.............................................. 123<br />

Activity 24: The Apostolic Fathers ...................................................................................... 125<br />

Activity 25: Justin ............................................................................................................. 127<br />

Activity 26: Paper on Gnosticism........................................................................................ 130<br />

Activity 27: Marcion <strong>and</strong> New Testament canon.................................................................. 131<br />

Activity 28: Formation <strong>of</strong> the New Testament ..................................................................... 132<br />

Activity 29: Review <strong>of</strong> Second Century Christianity.............................................................. 138<br />

Activity 30: The Church <strong>of</strong> Rome ....................................................................................... 140<br />

Activity 31: Early Administrative <strong>St</strong>ructure .......................................................................... 143<br />

Activity 32: Final activity on Early Christianity ..................................................................... 144<br />

Activity 33: Preliminary activities on Chapter 2 ................................................................... 147<br />

Activity 34: Byzantium <strong>and</strong> Constantine.............................................................................. 152<br />

Activity 35: Constantine’s successors ................................................................................. 154<br />

Activity 36: List <strong>of</strong> Byzantine emperors until Justinian ......................................................... 155<br />

Activity 37: Justinian I’s Reign .......................................................................................... 157<br />

Activity 38: List <strong>of</strong> Byzantine emperors after Justinian......................................................... 159<br />

Activity 39: About the seven councils ................................................................................. 162<br />

Activity 40: Heresies from the fourth to the seventh century ............................................... 170<br />

Activity 41: The Pentarchy ................................................................................................ 174<br />

Activity 42: The Iconoclast Crisis ....................................................................................... 190<br />

Activity 43: General Aspects <strong>of</strong> the Second Golden Age <strong>of</strong> Byzantium................................... 195<br />

Activity 44: The conversion <strong>of</strong> the Slavs ............................................................................. 200<br />

Activity 45: Causes <strong>of</strong> the Schism between the East <strong>and</strong> the West ....................................... 205<br />

Activity 46: The Photian Schism......................................................................................... 205<br />

Activity 47: Crusades ........................................................................................................ 210<br />

Activity 48: Three controversies in the last centuries <strong>of</strong> Byzantium....................................... 216<br />

Activity 49: Relations between the <strong>St</strong>ate <strong>and</strong> the Church in Byzantium................................. 229<br />

Activity 50: The Captive Orthodox Church .......................................................................... 234<br />

Activity 51: Final activity on History <strong>of</strong> Byzantium ............................................................... 234<br />

Activity 52: <strong>St</strong>. Vladimir <strong>and</strong> Eastern Christianity in Russia................................................... 255<br />

Activity 53: Differences, Vladimir’s measures, Monomakh, Yaroslav, missionary work ........... 255<br />

Activity 54: Your own summary <strong>of</strong> Christianity in Kievan Rus’ .............................................. 255<br />

Activity 55: The Tartar invasion ......................................................................................... 260<br />

Activity 56: Location <strong>of</strong> places in a Kievan Rus’ map ........................................................... 264<br />

Activity 57: Alex<strong>and</strong>er Nevsky............................................................................................ 264<br />

Activity 58: The city <strong>of</strong> Moscow ......................................................................................... 266<br />

Activity 59: The concept <strong>of</strong> “serfdom” ................................................................................ 271<br />

Activity 60: <strong>St</strong>. Sergius <strong>of</strong> Radonezh .................................................................................. 271<br />

Activity 61: <strong>St</strong>. <strong>St</strong>ephen, the Enlightener <strong>of</strong> Perm................................................................ 273<br />

Activity 62: The raise <strong>of</strong> the Principality <strong>of</strong> Moscow............................................................. 276<br />

Activity 63: A short biography <strong>of</strong> Rublev............................................................................. 277<br />

Activity 64: A Russian renaissance ..................................................................................... 277<br />

Activity 65: Heresies in Medieval Russia ............................................................................. 278<br />

Activity 66: Your own summary <strong>of</strong> the Russian Church during the XIII-XV centuries ............. 278<br />

Activity 67: <strong>St</strong>. Nilus <strong>and</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Joseph................................................................................... 281<br />

Activity 68: Possessors <strong>and</strong> Non-Possessors ....................................................................... 283<br />

Activity 69: Ivan the Terrible’s period................................................................................. 286<br />

Activity 70: The Patriarchate <strong>and</strong> the Third Rome ............................................................... 289<br />

Activity 71: Time <strong>of</strong> Troubles............................................................................................. 293<br />

Activity 72: A short biography <strong>of</strong> Avvacum ......................................................................... 298<br />

18


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

Activity 73: The Great Schism............................................................................................ 300<br />

Activity 74: The “Unia” movement ..................................................................................... 300<br />

Activity 75: Metropolitans <strong>and</strong> Patriarchs cited.................................................................... 300<br />

Activity 76: Summary <strong>of</strong> the Russian Church during the XIII-XV centuries ............................ 300<br />

Activity 77: The eighteen century (I) ................................................................................. 305<br />

Activity 78: The eighteenth century (II) ............................................................................. 311<br />

Activity 79: The nineteenth century ................................................................................... 313<br />

Activity 80: The nineteenth century ................................................................................... 316<br />

Activity 81: Men contributing to the nineteenth century revival............................................ 321<br />

Activity 82: The nineteenth century ................................................................................... 321<br />

Activity 83: Issues in the Russian Church at the beginning <strong>of</strong> the twentieth century.............. 325<br />

Activity 84: Rasputin ......................................................................................................... 326<br />

Activity 85: The Russian Revolution <strong>of</strong> 1917 <strong>and</strong> the February Revolution ............................ 327<br />

Activity 86: The October Revolution ................................................................................... 329<br />

Activity 87: Lenin as a politician......................................................................................... 329<br />

Activity 88: Russian writers <strong>of</strong> the nineteenth century......................................................... 330<br />

Activity 89: Leaders <strong>of</strong> the Soviet Union ............................................................................. 333<br />

Activity 90: First stage in the struggle Church-<strong>St</strong>ate............................................................ 337<br />

Activity 91: Joseph <strong>St</strong>alin .................................................................................................. 342<br />

Activity 92: Second stage in the struggle Church-<strong>St</strong>ate ....................................................... 342<br />

Activity 93: Third stage in the struggle Church-<strong>St</strong>ate........................................................... 345<br />

Activity 94: Biography <strong>of</strong> Patriarch Sergii............................................................................ 349<br />

Activity 95: Fourth stage in the struggle Church-<strong>St</strong>ate......................................................... 349<br />

Activity 96: Fifth stage in the struggle Church-<strong>St</strong>ate............................................................ 352<br />

Activity 97: Sixth stage in the struggle Church-<strong>St</strong>ate........................................................... 362<br />

Activity 98: Final activity on Russian Church History............................................................ 367<br />

Activity 99: The major Christian denominations <strong>and</strong> Orthodox Jurisdictions .......................... 369<br />

Activity 100: Systematic Theology, <strong>history</strong>, dogma, doctrine, <strong>and</strong> Fathers <strong>of</strong> the Church ....... 389<br />

Activity 101: Orthodox theology......................................................................................... 396<br />

Activity 102: Forms <strong>of</strong> Holy Tradition ................................................................................. 401<br />

Activity 103: Reading the Apostolic Fathers ........................................................................ 410<br />

Activity 104: Reading Apologists <strong>and</strong> Anti-heretical Fathers ................................................. 414<br />

Activity 105: Reading Fathers <strong>of</strong> the Golden Period............................................................. 418<br />

Activity 106: Reading Later <strong>and</strong> Recent Fathers.................................................................. 419<br />

Activity 107: Characteristics <strong>of</strong> the Fathers <strong>of</strong> the Church.................................................... 422<br />

Activity 108: Summary <strong>of</strong> main ideas <strong>of</strong> Introduction .......................................................... 430<br />

Activity 109: Bible quotes on fasting .................................................................................. 435<br />

Activity 110: Old Testament basis <strong>of</strong> asceticism................................................................. 437<br />

Activity 111: New Testament passages on mortification, unworldliness, <strong>and</strong> detachment ..... 437<br />

Activity 112: The redemptive activity on part <strong>of</strong> man .......................................................... 445<br />

Activity 113: Fourth century men who opposed asceticism .................................................. 446<br />

Activity 114: More New Testament basis <strong>of</strong> asceticism ....................................................... 447<br />

Activity 115: Other ascetic writers...................................................................................... 479<br />

Activity 116: Final activity on role <strong>of</strong> ascesis in the Fathers <strong>of</strong> the Church............................. 480<br />

Activity 117: “Hesychia” <strong>and</strong> “Hesychasm”, preliminary concepts......................................... 488<br />

Activity 118: Hesychasm ................................................................................................... 528<br />

Activity 119: Final activity on the Fathers <strong>of</strong> the Church <strong>and</strong> hesychasm .............................. 528<br />

Activity 120: Three statements summarizing the biblical teaching about the Trinity............... 537<br />

Activity 121: The Apostolic Fathers <strong>and</strong> the Triad ............................................................... 554<br />

Activity 122: The Apologists <strong>and</strong> the Triad.......................................................................... 562<br />

Activity 123: Comparison <strong>and</strong> contrast <strong>of</strong> Justin’s <strong>and</strong> Irenaeus ........................................... 564<br />

Activity 124: Irenaeus ....................................................................................................... 568<br />

Activity 125: Two phases <strong>of</strong> Monarchianism ....................................................................... 569<br />

Activity 126: Three <strong>St</strong>atements Summarizing the Biblical Teaching about the Trinity............. 578<br />

Activity 127: The Apologists <strong>and</strong> the Triad.......................................................................... 578<br />

Activity 128: The Apologists <strong>and</strong> the Triad.......................................................................... 579<br />

Activity 129: Alex<strong>and</strong>er <strong>and</strong> Arianism ................................................................................. 590<br />

Activity 130: The terms “essence” <strong>and</strong> “begotten” at the Nicene Council .............................. 594<br />

19


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

Activity 131: Comparison <strong>and</strong> contrast <strong>of</strong> the Nicene Creed <strong>and</strong> the Athanasian Creed.......... 601<br />

Activity 132: The Cappadocian’s contributions to the doctrine <strong>of</strong> the Trinity.......................... 612<br />

Activity 133: Comparison <strong>and</strong> contrast <strong>of</strong> the Nicene Creed <strong>and</strong> the Constantinopolitan Creed<br />

............................................................................................................................... 613<br />

Activity 134: Final activity on the Trinity............................................................................. 616<br />

Activity 135: The development <strong>of</strong> other doctrines ............................................................... 620<br />

Activity 136: John <strong>of</strong> Damascus’ “An Exposition <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox Faith” ................................ 624<br />

Activity 137: Comparing different approaches to Dogmatics ................................................ 631<br />

Activity 138: Preliminary activity on the concept <strong>of</strong> theosis.................................................. 639<br />

Activity 139: Some biblical bases <strong>of</strong> theosis ........................................................................ 647<br />

Activity 140: Theosis <strong>and</strong> Ante-Nicene Fathers ................................................................... 661<br />

Activity 141: Theosis <strong>and</strong> the Nicene <strong>and</strong> Post-Nicene Fathers............................................. 680<br />

Activity 142: Theosis <strong>and</strong> the Byzantine Fathers ................................................................. 706<br />

Activity 143: Paper on Theosis........................................................................................... 715<br />

Activity 144: Final activity on Theosis................................................................................. 715<br />

Activity 145: The dogma <strong>of</strong> the Trinity ............................................................................... 718<br />

Activity 146: The Christological Dogma .............................................................................. 719<br />

Activity 147: The dogma <strong>of</strong> Creation .................................................................................. 722<br />

Activity 148 : Eschatology ................................................................................................. 724<br />

Activity 149: What is Practical Theology? ........................................................................... 727<br />

Activity 150: Introductory terms ........................................................................................ 735<br />

Activity 151: Jewish roots <strong>of</strong> the Liturgy............................................................................. 742<br />

Activity 152: New Testament quotes <strong>of</strong> the Eucharist.......................................................... 745<br />

Activity 153: Separation <strong>and</strong> meaning <strong>of</strong> the Eucharist........................................................ 750<br />

Activity 154: The Liturgy in the first three centuries ............................................................ 766<br />

Activity 155: The Apostolic Constitutions ............................................................................ 766<br />

Activity 156: The parent rites ............................................................................................ 772<br />

Activity 157: Preliminary questions on the development <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine Liturgy.................. 772<br />

Activity 158: The liturgies <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Basil <strong>and</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Chrysostom .................................................. 779<br />

Activity 159: The Liturgy in the seventh century ................................................................. 784<br />

Activity 160: The liturgy in the eight <strong>and</strong> the ninth century ................................................. 792<br />

Activity 161: The Typikon.................................................................................................. 795<br />

Activity 162: Middle Byzantine Period................................................................................. 797<br />

Activity 163: The liturgy in the Late Byzantine Period.......................................................... 804<br />

Activity 164: The Typikon.................................................................................................. 804<br />

Activity 165: The Liturgy <strong>of</strong> the Presanctified Gifts <strong>and</strong> the Liturgy <strong>of</strong> the Hours ................... 810<br />

Activity 166: Final activity on the development <strong>of</strong> Orthodox liturgy ...................................... 811<br />

Activity 167: Final activity on the development <strong>of</strong> the Divine Liturgy <strong>and</strong> the Divine Offices... 811<br />

Activity 168: Preliminary activity on the Orthodox Church building ....................................... 821<br />

Activity 169: Jewish <strong>and</strong> New Testament background <strong>of</strong> church building <strong>and</strong> church decoration<br />

............................................................................................................................... 827<br />

Activity 170: The Holy Face ............................................................................................... 827<br />

Activity 171: House churches in the New Testament ........................................................... 831<br />

Activity 172: House churches <strong>and</strong> Catacombs in the first three centuries.............................. 843<br />

Activity 173: Church building <strong>and</strong> church decoration in Early Byzantine Period (324-842)...... 875<br />

Activity 174: Church building <strong>and</strong> church decoration in Middle Byzantine Period (843-1261).. 886<br />

Activity 175: The iconostasis, tiers <strong>and</strong> functions ................................................................ 891<br />

Activity 176: Church building <strong>and</strong> church decoration in Late Byzantine Period (1261-1453) ... 896<br />

Activity 177: Symbolism <strong>of</strong> the Church building .................................................................. 903<br />

Activity 178: Final activity on church building <strong>and</strong> decoration .............................................. 903<br />

Activity 179: Jewish background, beginning church hierarchy <strong>and</strong> Tradition ......................... 910<br />

Activity 180: Periods in <strong>eastern</strong> clergy vestments................................................................ 919<br />

Activity 181: Clergy vestments (1) ..................................................................................... 941<br />

Activity 182: Clergy vestments (2) ..................................................................................... 941<br />

Activity 183: Final activity on liturgical vestments ............................................................... 941<br />

Activity 184: Preliminary concepts <strong>of</strong> Orthodox liturgy......................................................... 945<br />

Activity 185: Three global features <strong>of</strong> Orthodox liturgy........................................................ 949<br />

Activity 186: Three global features <strong>of</strong> Orthodox liturgy........................................................ 956<br />

20


Table <strong>of</strong> Contents<br />

Activity 187: The structure <strong>of</strong> the Eucharistic Liturgies ........................................................ 956<br />

Activity 188: Meaning <strong>and</strong> structure <strong>of</strong> the Divine Liturgy.................................................... 956<br />

Activity 189: Liturgical Cycles ............................................................................................ 957<br />

Activity 190: Examples <strong>of</strong> Divine Services <strong>and</strong> other blessings ............................................. 957<br />

Activity 191: Liturgical Texts.............................................................................................. 961<br />

Activity 192: Comparing <strong>and</strong> contrasting private <strong>and</strong> liturgical prayer................................... 970<br />

Activity 193: Western rites ................................................................................................ 983<br />

Activity 194: The holistic, experiential nature <strong>of</strong> Orthodox religious teaching ........................ 989<br />

Activity 195: Historical background <strong>of</strong> Orthodox Catechesis ................................................. 996<br />

Activity 196: Tarasar’s integrative, holistic catechesis.......................................................... 999<br />

Activity 197: Canon Law.................................................................................................. 1000<br />

Activity 198: General introduction to Part IV..................................................................... 1005<br />

Activity 199: General concepts on liturgical music ............................................................. 1007<br />

Activity 200: Preliminary remarks on Byzantine Hymnody.................................................. 1012<br />

Activity 201: Definition <strong>of</strong> some sacred music sacred terminology...................................... 1012<br />

Activity 202: Pre-Byzantium Era....................................................................................... 1032<br />

Activity 203: Byzantium Era............................................................................................. 1053<br />

Activity 204: Later Byzantine <strong>and</strong> Post-Byzantine Era ........................................................ 1055<br />

Activity 205: Final Activity on Byzantine liturgical music .................................................... 1055<br />

Activity 206: Main periods in the development <strong>of</strong> Russian church singing ........................... 1060<br />

Activity 207: Preparatory stage <strong>of</strong> Russian liturgical singing............................................... 1064<br />

Activity 208: From the Baptism <strong>of</strong> the Rus’ to the Tartar invasion ...................................... 1074<br />

Activity 209: From the Tartar invasion to the sixteenth century ......................................... 1078<br />

Activity 210: Final activity on Early Russian church singing................................................ 1078<br />

Activity 211: Russian church singing ................................................................................ 1078<br />

Activity 212: Preliminary remarks on the role <strong>of</strong> music in the holy services......................... 1084<br />

Activity 213: Praise singing in the Scriptures .................................................................... 1089<br />

Activity 214: Two concepts <strong>of</strong> chanting ............................................................................ 1093<br />

Activity 215: Main purposes in Liturgical music ................................................................. 1094<br />

Activity 216: <strong>St</strong>yle, type, <strong>and</strong> significance <strong>of</strong> liturgical hymns............................................. 1109<br />

Activity 217: Final activity on the role <strong>of</strong> music in the holy services.................................... 1110<br />

Activity 218: Your own conclusions .................................................................................. 1112<br />

21


Foreword<br />

FOREWORD<br />

This text on the <strong>history</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>praxis</strong> <strong>of</strong> Eastern Orthodoxy 1 is intended to help you<br />

underst<strong>and</strong> the lengthy process followed by the Orthodox Church since its formative<br />

stage in the first century, passing through the important, <strong>and</strong> for Orthodox churches,<br />

crucial, Byzantine period, to its present day position. By tracing the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> the<br />

church in this way I will try to show that the contemporary Orthodox Church has a<br />

historical link with the original <strong>and</strong> early Christian community. The perspective <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Orthodox Church on the <strong>history</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>praxis</strong> <strong>of</strong> the church will be employed as a point <strong>of</strong><br />

reference for this study.<br />

The naming <strong>of</strong> the Church as “Orthodox” occurred from the 4th century to the<br />

6th century, a period marked by great <strong>and</strong> many religious disputes. It was a time when it<br />

became necessary to differentiate the true Church from a great number <strong>of</strong> different<br />

heresies (initiated by Arius, Nestorius, Marcion <strong>and</strong> others who also called themselves<br />

Christians but whose doctrines <strong>and</strong> theological positions lay outside that <strong>of</strong> the Church).<br />

The word <strong>orthodoxy</strong> is translated from the Greek words ortho (right) <strong>and</strong> doxa (glory),<br />

meaning “right glory.” Other names given to the Church were Catholic, which means<br />

“whole” or “all encompassing.” This idea implies that in the Church resides all the<br />

Truth <strong>and</strong> that the Church calls everyone all over the world to salvation, regardless <strong>of</strong><br />

their nationality or social status. In the translation <strong>of</strong> the Nicene Creed (the “Symbol <strong>of</strong><br />

Faith”) from Greek to Slavic, the word “catholic” was translated as “universal.”<br />

According to Hopko, an internationally recognized Orthodox theologian, in his “Second<br />

Century: Persecution <strong>and</strong> Faith,” Saint Ignatius was the first to use the term catholic to<br />

1 From the point <strong>of</strong> view <strong>of</strong> the continuity between the Old Christian Church <strong>and</strong> the Eastern Christian<br />

Church, the terms “orthodox” <strong>and</strong> “<strong>orthodoxy</strong>” will be written in capital letters—Orthodox”,<br />

“Orthodoxy”—as they describe the name <strong>of</strong> a Church <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> its believers. In occasions, though, when<br />

referring to the dominant or <strong>of</strong>ficial doctrine at a given time <strong>and</strong> place, lower case letters will be used. As<br />

an illustration, John Meyendorff (1982), a well known Orthodox theologian, uses “Orthodox” when<br />

referring to the Eastern Church <strong>and</strong> “orthodox” when referring to the Roman Church (118-119).<br />

22


Foreword<br />

describe the Church. He says that it is an “adjective <strong>of</strong> quality that tells how the Church<br />

is, namely, full, perfect, complete, whole, with nothing lacking in it <strong>of</strong> the fullness <strong>of</strong><br />

the grace, truth <strong>and</strong> holiness <strong>of</strong> God.”<br />

In an attempt to execute this complex task, I have analyzed the insights <strong>of</strong> many<br />

important scholars concerning the topics we will be covering as well as my own<br />

reflections whenever possible, as I tried to establish a common framework for our<br />

discussion. I have used both printed books as well as digital, online documents obtained<br />

from Internet that you will be able to explore <strong>and</strong> research for your personal study. With<br />

this aim in mind I have inserted within the text: a) tables with additional information; b)<br />

different types <strong>of</strong> activities to enable you to review your work, to develop your<br />

underst<strong>and</strong>ing <strong>and</strong> to assist you in the initiation <strong>and</strong> guiding <strong>of</strong> discussions <strong>of</strong> issues,<br />

topics <strong>and</strong> subject-matter; <strong>and</strong> c) illustrations such as maps, pictures, or icons, intended<br />

as visual aids to help you underst<strong>and</strong> the context <strong>of</strong> the exposition <strong>and</strong> the grasping <strong>of</strong><br />

certain relevant aspects <strong>of</strong> Orthodox art. As a further aid to you, at the end <strong>of</strong> the study,<br />

I have also added a glossary with theological terms <strong>and</strong> names as well as appendixes<br />

with different type <strong>of</strong> information.<br />

Here is an example <strong>of</strong> an activity. Do it as your first assignment.<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Write what you know or remember about the first Christians. Begin by making a<br />

list <strong>of</strong> the main ideas.<br />

Activity 1: Preliminary activity<br />

Definition Definition Definition <strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong> terms<br />

terms<br />

Although there are many definition <strong>of</strong> terms in the Glossary which can help you as<br />

you progress through this work, you can find many other terms defined in the<br />

following web sites:<br />

• Litsas, Fotios K. A Dictionary <strong>of</strong> Orthodox Terminology. Greek Orthodox<br />

23


Foreword<br />

Archdiocese <strong>of</strong> America. .<br />

• Glossary <strong>of</strong> Liturgical Music. PSALM. .<br />

• A Dictionary <strong>of</strong> Orthodox Liturgical Terms. .<br />

• Orthodox Dictionary. .<br />

Table 1: Webs for definition <strong>of</strong> terms<br />

A NOTE ABOUT THE STYLE OF THE BIBLIOGRAPHICAL<br />

REFERENCES<br />

In the following discussion I will follow the MLA style for bibliographical<br />

references, including those obtained from internet sources—which in this work appear<br />

with no page number—with two exceptions: the quotations set <strong>of</strong>f from the text will be<br />

single spaced instead <strong>of</strong> double spaced <strong>and</strong> the titles <strong>of</strong> books will be italicized instead<br />

being underlined. The first change is due to the great amount <strong>of</strong> quotes from both<br />

primary <strong>and</strong> secondary sources included in this text include. The reason for all these<br />

quotes is because this text is intended to be used for the training <strong>of</strong> seminary students.<br />

The second change is due to the fact that it is the already existing format followed in<br />

publications that are used as sources.<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

See the last pages <strong>of</strong> this study <strong>and</strong> become familiar with the Glossary <strong>and</strong> the<br />

Appendixes. Then make an outline by listing:<br />

• the terms in the Glossary<br />

• the names in the Glossary<br />

• the titles <strong>of</strong> each Appendix<br />

Activity 2: Items in Glossary <strong>and</strong> Appendixes<br />

24


Preface<br />

PREFACE: ORTHODOXY AND HISTORY<br />

“The true Orthodox way <strong>of</strong> thought has always been historical, has<br />

always included the past, but has never been enslaved by it... [for] the<br />

strength <strong>of</strong> the Church is not the past, present, or future, but in Christ.”<br />

Fr. Alex<strong>and</strong>er Schmemann<br />

Following this thought <strong>of</strong> Schmemann one feels that when beginning any work<br />

on the <strong>history</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>praxis</strong> <strong>of</strong> Orthodoxy a reference to Christianity’s manifested<br />

sensitivity for <strong>history</strong> is necessary. Furthermore we have the well-known fact that the<br />

Scriptures were not revealed in a vacuum but in a historical context. Scriptures are a<br />

revelation <strong>of</strong> historical data; they bear testimony <strong>of</strong> God’s activity in <strong>history</strong>—<strong>of</strong>ten<br />

called “sacred <strong>history</strong>” or “salvation <strong>history</strong>”. It is within this historical framework that<br />

the Word <strong>of</strong> God unfolds a message <strong>of</strong> salvation. This explains, Papadakis asserts, in his<br />

History <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox Church, why Orthodoxy has always been attracted to <strong>and</strong><br />

values <strong>history</strong>. He adds, as an illustration <strong>of</strong> his point, that Orthodox liturgy is simply a<br />

witness to <strong>history</strong> recalling not only the eventful life <strong>of</strong> Jesus but also historical events<br />

that shaped the church (saints, ascetics, martyrs, <strong>and</strong> theologians). However, Papadakis<br />

does not reduce the liturgy to <strong>history</strong>, but states that, for him, liturgy also has an<br />

eschatological, supra-historical dimension: an anticipation <strong>of</strong> a world-to-come.<br />

As John Meyendorff, the well-known Orthodox theologian, explains, in The<br />

Byzantine Legacy in the Orthodox Church, from a Christian approach, <strong>history</strong> implies<br />

variation <strong>and</strong> change, but also presupposes that God, who transcends <strong>history</strong>, manifests<br />

himself through historical events which then acquire a normative <strong>and</strong>, therefore, supra-<br />

historical significance. For him, the result <strong>of</strong> Christ’s death <strong>and</strong> resurrection was the<br />

establishment <strong>of</strong> a community which laid a living continuity, a normative continuity,<br />

between the apostolic community <strong>and</strong> the Church <strong>of</strong> the later times: the unity <strong>of</strong><br />

Tradition, which implies consistency <strong>of</strong> belief <strong>and</strong> experience (115). The same faith,<br />

25


Preface<br />

teachings, doctrine, <strong>and</strong> Christian life continued to be present <strong>and</strong> prolonged themselves<br />

throughout the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> the church.<br />

Expressing an almost similar st<strong>and</strong> point, Bebis, in “Tradition <strong>and</strong> the Orthodox<br />

Church”, points out the universality <strong>and</strong> infinite or timeless dimensions <strong>of</strong> the Tradition<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Church, even if it is the case that it exists or lives in <strong>history</strong>. Although the Church<br />

(<strong>and</strong> its traditions) exists in <strong>history</strong>, they nevertheless at the same time have dimensions<br />

that are beyond <strong>and</strong> point beyond <strong>history</strong> itself. He adds that both Tradition <strong>and</strong> Church<br />

have eternal <strong>and</strong> infinite value as its founder, Christ, has no beginning <strong>and</strong> no end.<br />

Tradition is perceived as the gift <strong>of</strong> the Holy Spirit <strong>and</strong> what assists the Church to<br />

preserve in a pure <strong>and</strong> inviolate (‘orthodox’) manner the Apostolic truth, the truth as<br />

seen in the Orthodox mind <strong>of</strong> the whole church, that st<strong>and</strong>s in opposition to all heresies<br />

<strong>and</strong> schisms. To reassert both the timelessness <strong>and</strong> temporality <strong>of</strong> Tradition, he quotes<br />

George Florovsky in Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View:<br />

Tradition is not a principle striving to restore the past, using the past as a<br />

criterion for the present. Such a conception <strong>of</strong> tradition is rejected by <strong>history</strong><br />

itself <strong>and</strong> by the consciousness <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox Church ... Tradition is the<br />

constant abiding <strong>of</strong> the Spirit <strong>and</strong> not only the memory <strong>of</strong> words. Tradition is a<br />

charismatic, not a historical event. (47)<br />

Bebis concludes by saying that “Tradition is a gift <strong>of</strong> the Holy Spirit, a living<br />

experience, which is relived <strong>and</strong> renewed through time. It is the true faith, which is<br />

revealed by the Holy Spirit to the true people <strong>of</strong> God.”<br />

This emphasis upon <strong>and</strong> interpretation <strong>of</strong> the importance <strong>of</strong> tradition also<br />

represents the st<strong>and</strong>point <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong>ylianopoulos, an Orthodox theologian, in The New<br />

Testament: An Orthodox Perspective. He sees the Scripture as a testimony <strong>of</strong> God’s<br />

saving activity in <strong>history</strong>; however, he does not see <strong>history</strong> as “technical <strong>history</strong>”.<br />

Without denying the factual basis to the Bible, he points out that the “narrative <strong>of</strong><br />

Scripture represents the interpreted experience <strong>and</strong> religious memory <strong>of</strong> God’s people<br />

26


Preface<br />

over many generations” (11). That is, in the Orthodox perspective, the Holy Scripture is<br />

the “record” <strong>of</strong> revelation rather than a direct revelation itself (13). <strong>St</strong>ylianopoulos<br />

explains that we have to distinguish between central claims pertaining to salvation <strong>and</strong><br />

subsidiary matters <strong>of</strong> <strong>history</strong>, chronology, language, <strong>and</strong> culture. He asserts:<br />

That Jesus <strong>of</strong> Nazareth is the Christ <strong>and</strong> risen Lord is a truth <strong>of</strong> far greater<br />

magnitude than the historical question <strong>of</strong> the origin <strong>and</strong> development <strong>of</strong><br />

Christological titles. The hope <strong>of</strong> the resurrection <strong>of</strong> the dead <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> the coming<br />

kingdom is far more important than the exact nature <strong>of</strong> these events as reported<br />

in various biblical books. (13)<br />

This departs from the Protestant view <strong>of</strong> authors such as Goppelt <strong>and</strong> his<br />

historical approach to the theology <strong>of</strong> the New Testament, an approach that is more in<br />

the line <strong>of</strong> the salvation-<strong>history</strong> school <strong>of</strong> thought. Although emphasizing the historical<br />

perspective, <strong>St</strong>ylianopoulos seems to be particularly concerned with the role <strong>of</strong><br />

Scripture in the church <strong>and</strong> in relationship to the church. This is in contrast to Goppelt,<br />

who heavily relies on the New Testament writings as the only source <strong>of</strong> tradition.<br />

<strong>St</strong>ylianopoulos, addressing the origin <strong>of</strong> both the Old <strong>and</strong> the New Testament, says that<br />

“the foundational nature <strong>of</strong> biblical revelation is personal, while its written expression is<br />

by comparison secondary” (4). He adds that “behind the written Scriptures lies the<br />

dynamic reality <strong>of</strong> the oral traditions <strong>of</strong> the Jewish <strong>and</strong> Christian peoples” (8). In<br />

addition, <strong>St</strong>ylianopoulos therefore sees an organic bond, a dynamic interplay, between<br />

Scripture, tradition, <strong>and</strong> faith community. Without disregarding the value <strong>of</strong> the western<br />

scientific approach to the Bible—historical <strong>and</strong> literary criticism, marked by<br />

Reformation, religious wars, the rise <strong>of</strong> science, etc.—he believes that it has a disruptive<br />

effect when taken to extremes. Furthermore, as Aghiorgoussis asserts, in “The<br />

Dogmatic Tradition <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox Church,” while western Christianity, which<br />

perceives a kind <strong>of</strong> dichotomy between the Bible—considered to be the revealed word<br />

<strong>of</strong> God—<strong>and</strong> the tradition <strong>of</strong> the Church—considered to be as important as the Bible<br />

27


Preface<br />

(Roman Catholic Church) or secondary (Protestantism)—, Orthodoxy holds the position<br />

that the “Tradition <strong>of</strong> the Church includes the Bible, for the Bible is an<br />

‘epiphenomenon,’ an ‘outward form’ <strong>of</strong> Orthodox Christian Tradition.”<br />

Eusebius (ca. 340), bishop <strong>of</strong> Caesarea <strong>and</strong> church historian, in his Ecclesiastical<br />

History, claimed that Orthodox Christian doctrine did not have a <strong>history</strong>, having been<br />

true eternally <strong>and</strong> taught primitively; only heresy (heterodoxy) had a <strong>history</strong> since it<br />

arose at particular times <strong>and</strong> through the innovation <strong>of</strong> particular teachers. But Pelikan,<br />

in The Emergence <strong>of</strong> the Catholic Tradition, states that tradition does have a <strong>history</strong> as<br />

it is the form which Christian doctrine has taken in <strong>history</strong>. Tradition, although<br />

unchanged since it was first established, is not inconsistent with <strong>history</strong>. For him it is<br />

possible to unite the variety <strong>of</strong> Christian <strong>history</strong> with tradition. He further distinguishes<br />

tradition, the living faith <strong>of</strong> the dead, from traditionalism, the dead faith <strong>of</strong> living (7-8).<br />

Papadakis also affirms that based on an uninterrupted historical <strong>and</strong> theological<br />

continuity the Orthodox Church does not distance itself from, but explores <strong>history</strong> out<br />

<strong>of</strong> a strongly held conviction that it is the true Church <strong>of</strong> Christ on earth—Orthodoxy<br />

means “correct belief”, that is, correct interpretation <strong>of</strong> the Scriptures <strong>and</strong> the writings<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Fathers <strong>of</strong> the Church. Nonetheless, although the Orthodox Church preserves<br />

organical <strong>and</strong> spiritual continuity with the Church <strong>of</strong> the Apostles, the primitive Church<br />

in Jerusalem, <strong>history</strong> most definitely has a powerful, almost magnetic force <strong>of</strong> its own<br />

that has caused the Orthodox Church to change <strong>and</strong> develop through the centuries.<br />

Additionally, Meyendorff explains that present realities in the Orthodox Church<br />

are not created by theological factors only but also shaped by historical realities <strong>of</strong> the<br />

past <strong>and</strong> by empirical, mainly socio-political, factors <strong>and</strong> circumstances <strong>of</strong> the present.<br />

Thus, it is a particular task <strong>of</strong> theologians:<br />

• to distinguish permanent <strong>and</strong> absolute values from historical contingencies,<br />

28


Preface<br />

• to help the church maintain its identity unadulterated, in spite <strong>of</strong> inevitable<br />

changes <strong>and</strong> conditions in accordance with which it must present its witness to<br />

the world, <strong>and</strong><br />

• to define what is holy tradition <strong>and</strong> what are human traditions, <strong>and</strong> clearly<br />

distinguish between them.<br />

But, he states that, it is theology which must provide the determining factor in conciliar<br />

decisions, as, if determined by politics, councils become mere pseudo-councils (The<br />

Byzantine Legacy 236).<br />

From a similar perspective, Hussey, in The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine<br />

Empire, says that, although it is certain that the truths <strong>of</strong> Orthodoxy are not related to<br />

any historical period,<br />

... it is a fact that Orthodox Theology was Byzantine theology. Universal truths<br />

have to be articulated in a temporal milieu <strong>and</strong> this articulation however<br />

imperfect is that <strong>of</strong> its generation. The historian cannot therefore discard the<br />

world in which medieval <strong>eastern</strong> Orthodoxy developed, nor ignore the<br />

ecclesiastical framework <strong>of</strong> the Church, <strong>and</strong> indeed the spirituality <strong>of</strong> its people<br />

is <strong>of</strong>ten better understood in the light <strong>of</strong> the contemporary background. (2)<br />

Moreover, according to Timothy Ware, in the Orthodox Church, the Orthodox<br />

Church sees <strong>history</strong> from a different perspective than that <strong>of</strong> the western Churches. He<br />

further comments that from the West, Roman Catholicism, <strong>and</strong> Protestantism are seen<br />

as opposite extremes, yet from an Orthodox perspective they seem to be two sides <strong>of</strong> the<br />

same coin. Western Christians, Ware adds, whether Free Churchmen, Anglican, or<br />

Roman Catholic have a common background. They have been influenced by Papal<br />

centralization <strong>and</strong> the Scholasticism <strong>of</strong> the Middle Ages, by the Reformation, <strong>and</strong> the<br />

Counter-Reformation. However, members <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox Church possess a very<br />

different historical background. They have known no Middles Ages—in the western<br />

definition <strong>of</strong> this period—, they have experienced no Reformations or Counter-<br />

Reformation, <strong>and</strong> they have only indirectly been affected by the cultural <strong>and</strong> religious<br />

upheavals which changed Western Europe in the sixteenth <strong>and</strong> seventeenth centuries.<br />

Ware very rightly adds the following observation: “Orthodoxy is not just a kind <strong>of</strong><br />

29


Preface<br />

Roman Catholicism without the Pope, but something quite distinct from any religious<br />

system in the west. Yet those who look more closely at this ‘unknown world’ will<br />

discover much in it, while different, is yet curiously familiar” (2).<br />

It is a well known fact that for more than nine hundred years the Greek east <strong>and</strong><br />

the Latin west have grown apart; nevertheless, they have much common ground, as we<br />

will see in the first chapter entitled History <strong>of</strong> the Early Christian Church. Until<br />

departing from Orthodox st<strong>and</strong>ards, the influential Roman Church was respected as<br />

orthodox <strong>and</strong> in its honorary primacy (Meyendorff, The Byzantine Legacy 118). The<br />

following chapters, nevertheless, represent this unique <strong>eastern</strong> perspective, a perspective<br />

that is <strong>of</strong>ten unfamiliar to most westerners, including western theologians <strong>and</strong> scholars.<br />

Though suffering the historical upheavals, the timeless roots <strong>of</strong> Orthodox Christianity<br />

managed to survive through the Church <strong>of</strong> Byzantium <strong>and</strong> acquired a re-new spiritual<br />

value with the Russian Church. Thus, the next pages are an attempt to depict the long,<br />

complex <strong>history</strong> <strong>and</strong> <strong>praxis</strong> <strong>of</strong> Orthodoxy by focusing on four different parts <strong>and</strong> eleven<br />

chapters:<br />

Part I: Church History<br />

1. History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

2. Byzantine Church History<br />

3. Russian Church History<br />

Part II: Systematic Theology <strong>and</strong> Patristics<br />

4. History <strong>of</strong> Doctrine<br />

5. The Fathers <strong>of</strong> the Church<br />

6. Dogmatics<br />

Part III: Practical Theology<br />

7. History <strong>of</strong> Orthodox Liturgics<br />

8. The Liturgical Environment<br />

9. Contemporary Liturgics<br />

30


Part IV: Orthodox Church Music<br />

Preface<br />

10. Music in Early Christian Period (Byzantine)<br />

11. Development <strong>of</strong> Theology <strong>of</strong> Orthodox Church Music<br />

12. Church Music in Russia<br />

As we do that we will be also approaching the Old Testament. There are many<br />

ways in which the Orthodox Church has consciously attempted to retain elements <strong>of</strong><br />

Jewish Temple <strong>and</strong> synagogue worship in ritual patterns <strong>and</strong> their ecclesiastical<br />

architecture, for example. So, in this exposition, I will consider both Testaments <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Bible to get a complete picture <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox Christian religious perspective. But<br />

along all these chapters <strong>and</strong> discussions we cannot forget that Orthodoxy is a way <strong>of</strong><br />

life, known, as Aghiorgoussis states, “for its experiential approach to faith <strong>and</strong><br />

doctrines.” He adds that “Rooted in the Bible, its faith <strong>and</strong> doctrine is enriched by the<br />

living commentaries <strong>of</strong> the lives <strong>of</strong> the saints <strong>of</strong> the past <strong>and</strong> the present. It is enriched<br />

by the theological speculations <strong>of</strong> the Fathers <strong>and</strong> Teachers <strong>of</strong> the Church, <strong>and</strong> by the<br />

decrees <strong>of</strong> the various councils which dealt with doctrinal aberrations (heresies)” (“The<br />

Dogmatic Tradition <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox Church”).<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Explain:<br />

1. The Orthodox perspective <strong>of</strong> <strong>history</strong>.<br />

2. Its difference with the western perspective. Give an example.<br />

3. The two dimensions <strong>of</strong> the Tradition <strong>of</strong> the Church.<br />

Activity 3: Contrast the historical perspective <strong>of</strong> East-West<br />

31


PART I: CHURCH HISTORY<br />

PART I: CHURCH HISTORY<br />

(A <strong>St</strong>udy <strong>of</strong> the History <strong>of</strong> the Early Christian Church,<br />

the Byzantine Church, <strong>and</strong> the Russian Church)<br />

32


PART I: CHURCH HISTORY<br />

33


PART I: CHURCH HISTORY<br />

INTRODUCTION TO PART I<br />

Part I, the lengthiest one due to its many historical facts <strong>and</strong> events, is a<br />

composite <strong>of</strong> three chapters. It studies the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> the Early Christian Church,<br />

beginning with the first Pentecost in Jerusalem <strong>and</strong> the outpouring <strong>of</strong> the Holy Spirit<br />

upon Christ’s small number <strong>of</strong> disciples to its expansion, suffering numerous trials <strong>and</strong><br />

encountering countless problems far <strong>and</strong> wide throughout the known world <strong>and</strong> even,<br />

for its matchless missionary zeal, to remote, unknown world such as the l<strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Rus’.<br />

Thus, the first chapter concentrates on a period <strong>of</strong> three centuries, the pre-Nicean<br />

period, focusing on the general situation <strong>of</strong> the period to establish a context, on the<br />

apostolic age, on early Christianity <strong>and</strong> its relationship with the Roman Empire, as well<br />

as on a preliminary approach to the early development <strong>of</strong> the theology <strong>of</strong> early<br />

Christianity. The second chapter studies Byzantine Church <strong>history</strong>—”Byzantine” is a<br />

term used to describe the Roman Empire in the east—, beginning with its formative<br />

stage in the early fourth century. This marks the beginning <strong>of</strong> the medieval period <strong>and</strong><br />

the birth <strong>of</strong> the Christian empire <strong>of</strong> Medieval Byzantium that lasted for more than a<br />

millennium. Byzantium, the second Rome, eventually became the center <strong>of</strong> Orthodox<br />

Christianity. In this second chapter, I will first describe general political <strong>and</strong> cultural<br />

aspects, <strong>and</strong> then, religious aspects. The latter will include those events <strong>and</strong><br />

developments which exercised a major influence on the Church’s life, namely, heresies,<br />

ecumenical councils, the iconoclastic controversy, the relation between East <strong>and</strong> West<br />

<strong>and</strong> the relations between the Christian church <strong>and</strong> the state in Byzantium.<br />

The third chapter studies Russian Church History from the Baptism <strong>of</strong> Russia<br />

(9 th – 11 th centuries) to the Russian Orthodox Church in the 20th Century, the latter an<br />

infamous time <strong>of</strong> severe persecution <strong>and</strong> eventual rebirth. It is also a long <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> an<br />

34


PART I: CHURCH HISTORY<br />

own, creative way <strong>of</strong> perceiving Orthodoxy, <strong>of</strong> Moscow as the Third Rome, but too a<br />

<strong>history</strong> in which absolutism forced the Russian Church to give up their dream <strong>of</strong> a<br />

Byzantine theocracy—a futile attempt to go back to its Byzantine roots.<br />

35


Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Chapter 1<br />

HISTORY OF THE EARLY CHRISTIAN CHURCH (I-III<br />

CENTURIES)<br />

INTRODUCTION<br />

In this chapter I will first sketch the general situation <strong>of</strong> the first Christians with<br />

special emphasis on their political <strong>and</strong> cultural milieu. Secondly, I will pay attention to<br />

the apostolic church during the first three centuries, the first period <strong>of</strong> Christian <strong>history</strong>.<br />

This period starts with the day <strong>of</strong> Pentecost, the baptism <strong>of</strong> three thous<strong>and</strong> people <strong>and</strong><br />

the formation <strong>of</strong> the first Christian community at Jerusalem, until the conversion <strong>of</strong><br />

Constantine. We will see how those early Christians were scattered by the persecutions<br />

<strong>and</strong> preached wherever they went, at first to Jews <strong>and</strong> then to Gentile. The latter became<br />

such an important issue that it was discussed at Jerusalem, during the first Christian<br />

Council (51 A.D.).Some stories <strong>of</strong> the apostolic journeys are recorded in the book <strong>of</strong><br />

Acts written by <strong>St</strong>. Luke, while others are preserved in the tradition <strong>of</strong> the Church.<br />

Within an amazing short time numerous small churches were founded in many areas <strong>of</strong><br />

the Roman Empire, especially in its <strong>eastern</strong> parts, but even beyond its frontiers. Thirdly,<br />

I will study the development <strong>of</strong> the theology <strong>of</strong> the early church during the first three<br />

centuries before the Nicene Council (325). Finally, I will analyze the administrative<br />

structure that emerged in the primitive Church—at this time the first Christian<br />

communities were led by a bishop, who was assisted by presbyters or priests <strong>and</strong><br />

deacons.<br />

This period, according to Ware, has a special relevance for contemporary<br />

Orthodoxy because during it the Church defined a) its distinctive administrative<br />

structure, with its emphasis on local communities, b) the wider unity <strong>of</strong> the church, <strong>and</strong><br />

b) the new idea <strong>of</strong> Christian martyrdom—an idea that has a central place in the church’s<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

spiritual outlook from which monasticism arose. In this period, we also witness how it<br />

came about that councils became the unique decision-making organism regarding<br />

church doctrine <strong>and</strong> we perceive the emergence <strong>of</strong> the Church’s emphasis on the value<br />

<strong>of</strong> tradition (12-15).<br />

The Orthodox faithful is convinced that it is an unquestionable fact that the<br />

Orthodox Church most definitely had its origins during the time <strong>of</strong> the apostles. The<br />

Church, although small at first, like the example <strong>of</strong> the mustard seed used by the Savior,<br />

gradually grew into a mighty tree, <strong>and</strong> eventually spread its branches over the entire<br />

world. Already in the first century, there were Christian congregations in almost all <strong>of</strong><br />

the areas covered by the Roman empire: the Holy L<strong>and</strong>, Syria, Armenia, Asia Minor,<br />

Hellene, Macedonia, Italy, Galea, Egypt, North Africa, Spain, Britannia, as well as<br />

beyond the empire, in far away Arabia, India <strong>and</strong> Scythia. By the end <strong>of</strong> the first<br />

century, Christian congregations were most <strong>of</strong>ten headed by bishops, who were the<br />

Apostles’ successors. Bishops in rural areas had smaller congregations than those in the<br />

larger towns <strong>and</strong> cities. As early as the second century, bishops <strong>of</strong> larger <strong>and</strong> more<br />

populated regions were called metropolitans. Such metropolitans in turn were<br />

responsible for the local area-bishops in their regions. The metropolitan had the<br />

responsibility to meet regularly with the bishops to discuss religious <strong>and</strong> administrative<br />

matters.<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. What is the period covered in this first chapter?<br />

2. According to Ware, why is this early-Christian period especially relevant for<br />

contemporary Orthodoxy?<br />

Activity 4: Introduction to Chapter I on the History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

37


Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

1. THE GENERAL SITUATION<br />

Before I can begin a description <strong>of</strong> the infant church, it is necessary to study <strong>and</strong><br />

be informed about the general situation <strong>of</strong> the first Christians in its social, cultural <strong>and</strong><br />

political context. For this reason I will explore their relationship with the Roman<br />

Empire, as well as the Jewish background, <strong>and</strong> other social issues, such as those that are<br />

relevant to develop <strong>and</strong> underst<strong>and</strong>ing <strong>of</strong> the New Testament period. We also need to<br />

consider the fact that the relations <strong>of</strong> the Church Fathers to pagan thought <strong>and</strong> Judaism<br />

influenced what they had to say about various doctrinal issues before them. As Pelikan<br />

states, the development <strong>of</strong> the doctrine <strong>of</strong> the persons <strong>of</strong> Jesus Christ in relation to the<br />

Father for example, must be discussed not only on the basis <strong>of</strong> writings drafted against<br />

heresy but it must also be interpreted as a distinctive position being spelled out against<br />

the positions <strong>of</strong> paganism <strong>and</strong> Judaism. There existed many socio-cultural <strong>and</strong> -political<br />

concerns <strong>and</strong> issues, for example the conflict between Hellenistic Jews <strong>and</strong> Hellenistic<br />

Jewish Christian concerning the question <strong>of</strong> the continuity with Judaism, especially<br />

after A.D. 70. It was this particular issue that produced a controversy between Peter <strong>and</strong><br />

Paul <strong>and</strong> continued to trouble the church for some time (11-13).<br />

THE ROMAN EMPIRE<br />

At Jesus’ birth, the Roman Empire controlled <strong>and</strong> governed the l<strong>and</strong>s<br />

surrounding the Mediterranean Sea as well as North Africa <strong>and</strong> Egypt, while in the East<br />

it extended to the borders <strong>of</strong> Armenia <strong>and</strong> the Persian Empire. The Empire consisted <strong>of</strong><br />

a vast territory that encompassed a great diversity <strong>of</strong> ethnic, cultural, <strong>and</strong> religious<br />

groups. It was united by a common political allegiance, economic <strong>and</strong> commercial<br />

interdependence, <strong>and</strong> a shared higher culture, namely the Hellenistic culture. In this<br />

complex world, religion had many functions <strong>and</strong> played a central part in people’s lives.<br />

In the Roman-Hellenistic world it was not only a private affair, but both a state concern,<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

as well as a public <strong>and</strong> a social affair. Walker, in A History <strong>of</strong> the Christian Church<br />

(1985), delineates three categories <strong>of</strong> religious beliefs <strong>and</strong> observance:<br />

1) the traditional religion <strong>of</strong> the family <strong>and</strong> community gods—the civic<br />

religion—(family, communal, social);<br />

2) the mystery cults or oriental cults for the most part with mystical roots in local<br />

fertility (personal, family, social, communal); <strong>and</strong><br />

3) a (personal) way <strong>of</strong> life based on the pursuit <strong>and</strong> practice <strong>of</strong> philosophical<br />

wisdom.<br />

These three modes <strong>of</strong> religion coexisted peacefully, <strong>and</strong> some individuals were, to<br />

different degrees, involved in the three <strong>of</strong> them. Walker gives a clarifying summary <strong>of</strong><br />

the civic religion:<br />

Traditional religion in the Roman-Hellenistic world was a public <strong>and</strong> social<br />

affair, an affair <strong>of</strong> the family <strong>and</strong> community. Since human well-being depended<br />

at every moment on the good will <strong>of</strong> the gods, the cosmic powers, religion<br />

sought their help for the common concern <strong>of</strong> life: the growing <strong>of</strong> crops, the<br />

conduct <strong>of</strong> business, the difficult enterprises <strong>of</strong> war <strong>and</strong> diplomacy. Its rites were<br />

age-old <strong>and</strong> traditional, seldom rationalized, <strong>and</strong> conducted by the normal<br />

leaders <strong>of</strong> the community: the head <strong>of</strong> the family or the elected magistrates <strong>of</strong> the<br />

city. It used divination, dream, an oracle to seek the will <strong>of</strong> the powers; it used<br />

prayer <strong>and</strong> sacrifice to gain their alliance. (7)<br />

It is in this context, he further explains, that we are to underst<strong>and</strong> the phenomenon <strong>of</strong><br />

emperor worship that arose in the Roman Empire.<br />

Illustration 1: Bust <strong>of</strong> the Emperor August 2<br />

It appears as if this cult evoked no deep personal piety; it was merely political<br />

<strong>and</strong> signified the position that the foundation <strong>of</strong> political order was rooted in the divine<br />

2 See: .<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

sphere (the divine right <strong>of</strong> kings/emperors). Thus, as it was quite indifferent to the<br />

person, the individual <strong>and</strong> people’s real longings <strong>and</strong> need, ordinary people turned to<br />

other religious cults, such as the mystery cults, to escape from such <strong>and</strong> impersonal<br />

religious view, <strong>and</strong> in search <strong>of</strong> a more personal religious world or universe.<br />

The second category or way <strong>of</strong> religious observance, namely the mystery cults,<br />

such as those which worshipped the Great Mother—also known as Isis <strong>and</strong> Serapis in<br />

Egypt—originated in Asia Minor <strong>and</strong> were disseminated through the Mediterranean<br />

world. It was a religion <strong>of</strong> salvation which <strong>of</strong>fered a sense <strong>of</strong> the transcendent in the<br />

people’s search for personal happiness. The rites, ceremonies <strong>and</strong> services <strong>of</strong> worship <strong>of</strong><br />

these cults fulfilled many psychological functions, for example, their cathartic effects<br />

elicited deep emotions, created an attitude <strong>of</strong> wonder <strong>and</strong> amazement, inspired awe, <strong>and</strong><br />

instilled pr<strong>of</strong>ound feelings <strong>of</strong> gratitude <strong>and</strong> self-worth (8-9).<br />

Illustration 2: Goddess Isis <strong>and</strong> Winged Maat 3<br />

The third way described by Walker, namely the search for personal fulfillment,<br />

the pursuit <strong>and</strong> practice <strong>of</strong> philosophical wisdom (philosophos = philos meaning love<br />

<strong>and</strong> sophos meaning wisdom or sagacity), with its roots in the teaching <strong>of</strong> Socrates in<br />

Athens (Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus or the <strong>St</strong>oics). This third way was designed to clean<br />

the soul <strong>of</strong> passion which kept it from being its true self. Its purpose <strong>and</strong> principle can<br />

be summed up in Socrates’ dictum: Know thyself, because an unexamined life <strong>and</strong> self<br />

3 See: .<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

is not worth living. 4 But, the Hellenic rational method (=way) for self-knowledge (<strong>and</strong><br />

thus knowledge <strong>of</strong> reality, both the inner reality <strong>of</strong> the self <strong>and</strong> the external reality <strong>of</strong> the<br />

universe, or a world view) was far removed from the way <strong>of</strong> the <strong>eastern</strong> religions. While<br />

the latter was a way <strong>of</strong>fered to everyone, the Hellenic rational-based method most<br />

definitely was not intended for everyone, but only for a select few, a socio-cultural,<br />

political <strong>and</strong> intellectual elite (we only need to remind ourselves that Plato, in his The<br />

Republic, assumes that the leader <strong>of</strong> the Republic will be a philosopher). This path<br />

required long education (which in turn assumed wealth <strong>and</strong> leisure so as to be able to<br />

spend one’s time on studies) <strong>and</strong> strict moral discipline.<br />

Walker adds that in the era <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire this quest had much in<br />

common with the popular religion as some aspects <strong>of</strong> it were expressed in the style <strong>of</strong><br />

(Gnostic, knowledge, secret wisdom) mystery cults, as both sought some kind <strong>of</strong><br />

escape, <strong>and</strong> feelings <strong>of</strong> salvation from the changes <strong>and</strong> chances <strong>of</strong> life on earth. This<br />

kind <strong>of</strong> salvation was depicted as if the human person has a transcendent destiny in a<br />

fellowship with the divine (let us remind ourselves <strong>of</strong> the highest <strong>and</strong> absolute forms<br />

described by Plato, namely goodness <strong>and</strong> beauty). As an illustration <strong>of</strong> this religious<br />

blending, Walker states that it is unsurprising that a Platonist such a Plutarch (circa 45 -<br />

125 AD) tried to make philosophical sense <strong>of</strong> the myth <strong>of</strong> Isis <strong>and</strong> Osiris as an allegory<br />

<strong>of</strong> humanity’s condition <strong>and</strong> destiny. Walker remarks that it is equally surprising that<br />

when another oriental religion <strong>of</strong> salvation—Christianity—began to appear in the social<br />

<strong>and</strong> cultural arena <strong>of</strong> the Hellenized cities <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire, it should find<br />

sympathetic echoes in the philosophy <strong>and</strong> religion <strong>of</strong> that era (13). The appearance <strong>of</strong><br />

Christianity in Hellenized areas (that is, those areas marked by these three religious <strong>and</strong><br />

socio-cultural str<strong>and</strong>s) <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire (compared to those non-Hellenized areas<br />

4 We find a similar emphasis upon this search for self-knowledge <strong>and</strong> -underst<strong>and</strong>ing in <strong>eastern</strong> religions,<br />

for example Hinduism <strong>and</strong> Buddhism; <strong>and</strong> their common assumption that this is the supreme value <strong>and</strong><br />

the meaning <strong>of</strong> life.<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

<strong>of</strong> central <strong>and</strong> western Europe) would undoubtedly mark the beginning <strong>of</strong> the difference<br />

between <strong>eastern</strong> <strong>and</strong> western Christianity.<br />

Illustration 3: Plutarch 5<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. Enumerate the three categories <strong>of</strong> religious beliefs at the time <strong>of</strong> Jesus as<br />

delineated by Walker <strong>and</strong> briefly explain each <strong>of</strong> them using your own<br />

words.<br />

2. What is surprising about Christianity regarding the philosophy <strong>and</strong> the<br />

religion <strong>of</strong> the period? A suggestion: list the functions fulfilled by religion<br />

<strong>and</strong> philosophical pursuits during this period. Then, consider if Christianity<br />

can <strong>and</strong> do fulfill these functions (as well as others)—most likely better<br />

than the three existing religions (it eventually replaced).<br />

3. Who were the Diaspora Jews?<br />

Activity 5: Religious beliefs in the first century<br />

THE JEWISH BACKGROUND AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE FOR EARLY<br />

CHRISTIANITY<br />

A brief <strong>history</strong><br />

The first Christians were Jews <strong>and</strong> to underst<strong>and</strong> their Jewish background we<br />

should go back several centuries before Christ <strong>and</strong> very shortly refer to three periods <strong>of</strong><br />

Old Testament History. We find these three periods outlined by Bright in A History <strong>of</strong><br />

Israel: The crisis <strong>and</strong> downfall <strong>of</strong> the monarchy, the exilic <strong>and</strong> postexilic periods, <strong>and</strong><br />

5 See: .<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

the formative period <strong>of</strong> Judaism—from Ezra’s reform to the outbreak <strong>of</strong> the Maccabean<br />

Revolt. Parallel with these historical references I will present a brief delineation <strong>of</strong><br />

Israel’s theological development.<br />

After the division <strong>of</strong> the kingdom in two, Israel <strong>and</strong> Judah, in 722, the northern<br />

state, Israel, already socially <strong>and</strong> religiously decayed, was eventually destroyed by<br />

Assyrians. Israel’s humiliation, Bright asserts, contradicted the optimistic, popular<br />

theology about the Davidic covenant <strong>and</strong> raised questions about the validity <strong>of</strong> its<br />

unconditional promises. For the national theology to be continued a reinterpretation <strong>of</strong> it<br />

was necessary. This was gradually provided, especially by Isaiah, who saw the nation’s<br />

humiliation as the divine chastisement <strong>of</strong> its sin. By means <strong>of</strong> this Isaiahic re-<br />

interpretation it was shown that the promise <strong>of</strong> God to his holy <strong>and</strong> unique nation was<br />

not revoked (294-309).<br />

About 630 BC, the Assyrians started to decline <strong>and</strong> eventually the Babylonians<br />

took over the Assyrian capital <strong>of</strong> Nineveh. This is narrated by the book <strong>of</strong> Kings <strong>and</strong><br />

Chroniclers, with added information from the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Sephanian,<br />

Nahum <strong>and</strong> Habakkuk. With the Assyrians out <strong>of</strong> the way, Judah, the southern state,<br />

which had been subject to Assyrian power, felt a free country again, <strong>and</strong> underwent a<br />

thoroughgoing religious reform done by Josiah, who had found a copy <strong>of</strong> “the book <strong>of</strong><br />

the law”—said to be some form <strong>of</strong> the book <strong>of</strong> Deuteronomy. This Josiahic religious<br />

reform consisted, according to Bright, in “a purge <strong>of</strong> foreign cults <strong>and</strong> practices.<br />

Assyrian cult objects, <strong>of</strong> course, being anathema to all patriotic Judaic people, were<br />

doubtless the first to go” (318). This was an attempt to re-establish the cult <strong>of</strong> Yahveh<br />

<strong>and</strong> eliminate the Assyrian idols.<br />

Egypt took this opportunity to reassert its control <strong>and</strong>, in 609 B.C., pharaoh<br />

Neco marched toward Syria <strong>and</strong> in 609 killed Josiah, who probably tried to regain some<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

independence in the new international panorama. His death was the beginning <strong>of</strong> the<br />

end <strong>of</strong> Judah. One <strong>of</strong> Josiah’s sons, Johoiakim, was put on the Jerusalem throne by<br />

Neco. Eventually, however, the Babylonians (under Nebuchadnezzar at that time)<br />

defeated the Egyptian forces, <strong>and</strong> Neco was killed. Then the Babylonians attacked<br />

Jerusalem <strong>and</strong> killed Jehoiakim. Afterwards, they ransacked Jerusalem <strong>and</strong> carried<br />

many priests, <strong>of</strong>ficers, <strong>and</strong> artisans back to Babylon to work for him. Zedekiah, the third<br />

son <strong>of</strong> Josiah, became a puppet king in Jerusalem.<br />

After some time, Zedekiah rebelled, but Nebuchadnezzar retaliated with fury <strong>and</strong><br />

Judah was burned. Jerusalem was under siege for 30 months <strong>and</strong> eventually fell. The<br />

Babylonians leveled the city, razed the temple, <strong>and</strong> killed Zedekiah’s sons. They also<br />

blinded Zedekiah <strong>and</strong> dragged him <strong>of</strong>f to Babylon in chains. Most <strong>of</strong> the population <strong>of</strong><br />

Jerusalem was enslaved <strong>and</strong> carried <strong>of</strong>f to Babylon. A century after the death <strong>of</strong><br />

Hezekiah, who had accomplished the first religious reform, Jerusalem had fallen to the<br />

Babylonians (587). This was the end <strong>of</strong> the ‘kingdom <strong>of</strong> David.’<br />

Illustration 4: Babylonian exile 6<br />

According to Bright, the fall <strong>of</strong> Jerusalem caused a crisis for the national<br />

theology, a theology which was centered on a) the affirmation <strong>of</strong> Yahweh’s choice <strong>of</strong><br />

Israel as his promise seed <strong>and</strong> b) the promises to the Davidic dynasty <strong>of</strong> eternal rule <strong>and</strong><br />

6 See: .<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

protection over its enemies. Yet Israel’s faith survived because some <strong>of</strong> the theological<br />

problems that now arose were already explicitly stated <strong>and</strong> appropriately dealt with by<br />

some prophets. However, none <strong>of</strong> them, Bright adds, did so more pr<strong>of</strong>oundly than<br />

Jeremiah <strong>and</strong> Ezekiel who announced Judah’s doom as the righteous judgment <strong>of</strong><br />

Yahweh (332-336); yet, these two “demolishers” <strong>of</strong> false hope, also <strong>of</strong>fered positive<br />

hope, for both regarded the exile “as interim, <strong>and</strong> beyond which lay God’s future”<br />

(388).<br />

Regarding the exilic <strong>and</strong> postexilic periods, Bright states that in spite <strong>of</strong> the<br />

significance for Israel <strong>of</strong> the disaster <strong>of</strong> the fall <strong>of</strong> Jerusalem, namely its state being<br />

destroyed <strong>and</strong> the national cultic community broken, it did survive <strong>and</strong> was able to<br />

restore a new Jewish community in Palestine. This occurred when Cyrus, in 538 issued<br />

an edict allowing the return <strong>of</strong> the Jews to Judah. He also authorized the rebuilding <strong>of</strong><br />

the temple. In this severe testing, Israel’s faith showed an astounding tenacity <strong>and</strong><br />

vitality. Through the teaching <strong>of</strong> the prophets Israel’s faith continued to develop until a<br />

definite monotheism (summed up in the SHEMA, meaning ‘listen’ or ‘hear’, <strong>and</strong> recited<br />

twice daily by all practicing Jews. ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is<br />

One...’), against the continued presence <strong>of</strong> syncretistic religious practices, was reached<br />

in the message <strong>of</strong> Second-Isaiah. This prophet also gave the pr<strong>of</strong>oundest explanation <strong>of</strong><br />

Israel’s suffering by affirming that sufferings born in obedience to the divine calling<br />

were the pathway to hope. It is plausible to think, as Bright defends, that the acceptance<br />

by the Jews <strong>of</strong> exclusive abstract monotheism in the 6th century B.C. is somehow<br />

linked to the national loss <strong>of</strong> the Kingdom <strong>of</strong> Judah <strong>and</strong> the Temple in Jerusalem <strong>and</strong><br />

the exile to Babylonia. Furthermore, the Jewish community was reorganized by<br />

Nehemiah <strong>and</strong> Ezra, at the end <strong>of</strong> the fifth century, thus saving it from disintegration<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

(339-379). Under the authority <strong>of</strong> a local sartrapa, Israel was allowed to practice its own<br />

religious customs <strong>and</strong> followed the rule <strong>of</strong> its own law.<br />

Illustration 5: Ezra reads the Law 7<br />

The time <strong>of</strong> the formative period <strong>of</strong> Judaism, near the end <strong>of</strong> the Old Testament<br />

—in spite <strong>of</strong> having a considerable literature, that covers the latest portions <strong>of</strong> the Old<br />

Testament <strong>and</strong> the earliest <strong>of</strong> the non-canonical Jewish writing—is poorly documented<br />

<strong>and</strong> lacks sufficient, primary historical factual information. We can summarize this<br />

period as follows: in 333 B.C., Alex<strong>and</strong>er the Great conquered the Persian Empire <strong>and</strong><br />

after his death in 323 B.C., the empire was divided among his generals Seleucus, <strong>and</strong><br />

Ptolemy from Egypt who was to rule Palestine. This was another distressing time for the<br />

Jews (Bright 405, 414). Heavy taxes were imposed on them <strong>and</strong> many were taken to<br />

Egypt as prisoners <strong>of</strong> war, while many others, later, willingly emigrated there. Forced to<br />

be in the army <strong>and</strong> other trade groups, they learned Greek. The Greek translation <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Torah was even sponsored by Ptolemy II around 260 BC. As the Old Testament period<br />

ended, Bright talks about the impact <strong>of</strong> Hellenistic culture, with many Jews—including<br />

both the Jews <strong>of</strong> the Diaspora but also the Jews <strong>of</strong> Palestine—disrespecting their own<br />

native laws <strong>and</strong> customs. For him this was “the gravest emergency <strong>of</strong> their <strong>history</strong> since<br />

7 See: .<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

the calamity <strong>of</strong> 587 (417).” The centuries <strong>of</strong> Ptolemaic <strong>and</strong> Seleucid rule saw a marked<br />

dissemination <strong>of</strong> the number <strong>of</strong> Jews who lived outside <strong>of</strong> Judea, the so called diaspora.<br />

Since the conquest <strong>of</strong> Jerusalem, there already had been a substantial community in<br />

Babylonia, <strong>and</strong> even before that time small settlements in Egypt (Walker 13).<br />

The Ptolemies ruled, in spite <strong>of</strong> some small scale revolts here <strong>and</strong> there, until<br />

198 B.C., when a descendent <strong>of</strong> Seleucus (Antiochus III) took over <strong>and</strong> united the<br />

different areas <strong>of</strong> the realm. His was more tolerant towards the Jews <strong>and</strong> re-established<br />

their rights. The Ptolemies <strong>and</strong> Seleucids discovered that Jews were useful subjects <strong>and</strong><br />

able soldiers, so they allowed them certain rights such as settling to outside their heavily<br />

populated cities. It was as a result <strong>of</strong> this that Egypt, Asia Minor, <strong>and</strong> Syria eventually<br />

had large Jewish populations. In the first Christian century, Walker says, probably as<br />

much as a third <strong>of</strong> the population <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria was Jewish <strong>and</strong> there were settlements<br />

not only in the East but in Rome <strong>and</strong> other western cities as well (14). He indicates that:<br />

Diaspora Jews did not ordinarily become citizens <strong>of</strong> the towns where they<br />

settled, for to do so they would normally have had to participate in the worship<br />

<strong>of</strong> the civil gods. They retained their national <strong>and</strong> religious identity <strong>and</strong> formed<br />

specially privileged communities <strong>of</strong> “resident aliens” (metoikoi), or else, as in<br />

Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, a politeuma—that is, a civic corporation within a larger community.<br />

Their relative isolation caused them to be objects <strong>of</strong> interest <strong>and</strong> sometimes <strong>of</strong><br />

envy <strong>and</strong> distrust to other inhabitants <strong>of</strong> the cities where they settled. (14)<br />

Jewish identity was centered in the temple at Jerusalem <strong>and</strong> the Law <strong>of</strong> Moses—<br />

the Pentateuch—which served both as a religious <strong>and</strong> a civic code. In the Diaspora, the<br />

Jews, who had to pay an annual tax to the temple, until its destruction (70 A.D.), had as<br />

center <strong>of</strong> their religious practice the Law. <strong>St</strong>udying <strong>and</strong> keeping the Law was a main<br />

concern <strong>and</strong> this brought about two institutions, the synagogue, presided by a group <strong>of</strong><br />

elders, <strong>and</strong> the scribes, <strong>of</strong> whom Ezra himself was counted as the first (Ibid.).<br />

Antiochus III was defeated by the Romans in 190 B.C., <strong>and</strong> after his death in<br />

187, there were many short-lived rulers <strong>of</strong> Palestinian area who introduced Greek<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

culture into <strong>and</strong> who tried to ‘hellenize’ Jerusalem. This was the case <strong>of</strong> Antiochus the<br />

Epiphanes (175-163) (Bright 417) who tried to destroy the local Jewish community, by<br />

persecuting them, sacrificing pigs to Zeus in the temple, <strong>and</strong> erecting altars to the Greek<br />

gods. The Mosaic Law seems to have been forgotten. These factors led to the<br />

Maccabean revolt, during which Jerusalem was conquered in 164 B.C. The temple was<br />

subsequently purified, the thrice daily sacrifice in the temple restored <strong>and</strong> the festival <strong>of</strong><br />

Hanukkah (meaning ‘re-dedication’ <strong>of</strong> the temple <strong>and</strong> lasting eight days) was<br />

celebrated. In spite <strong>of</strong> some troubles with the Seleucian rulers, the Maccabeans ruled for<br />

about 100 years (Instituto Teología 135-147). The end <strong>of</strong> the Old Testament period,<br />

Bright comments, saw the struggle <strong>of</strong> the Jews for religious independence (427).<br />

Illustration 6: Model <strong>of</strong> Jerusalem (Roman Period) 8<br />

For Bright, Judaism, through the obscurity <strong>of</strong> the fourth <strong>and</strong> the third centuries,<br />

by the time <strong>of</strong> the Maccabean revolt had already assume the shape <strong>of</strong> the next centuries.<br />

Monotheism among Jews had triumphed completely <strong>and</strong> there transpired in the theology<br />

<strong>of</strong> early Judaism a sense <strong>of</strong> world mission <strong>and</strong> salvation <strong>of</strong> all nations—a mission,<br />

already set out in the time <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong> Paul, <strong>and</strong> that resembles the universal mission <strong>of</strong><br />

Christianity. This, in spite <strong>of</strong> the tension between Jews <strong>and</strong> gentiles caused by the<br />

Jewish idea that they alone are God’s chosen people (424, 442).<br />

8 See: .<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Activity Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. Enumerate the three historical periods <strong>of</strong> Judaism defined by Bright <strong>and</strong><br />

briefly explain the theological development experienced by the Jewish people<br />

along these three periods.<br />

2. Why is the Hellenistic period a crucial one for Israel?<br />

3. Identify aspects <strong>of</strong> the Jewish <strong>history</strong> <strong>and</strong> theology that we also find in<br />

Christianity.<br />

Activity 6: Historical periods <strong>of</strong> Judaism <strong>and</strong> theological development <strong>of</strong> Judaism<br />

Judaism under the Roman World: Connections to Christianity<br />

Under the Roman empire Judaism was a religio licita (an authorized religion),<br />

not only in Palestine, but in Greek <strong>and</strong> Roman cities, <strong>and</strong>, through the whole empire, the<br />

Roman law even protected the Jewish farmers, craftsmen, <strong>and</strong> traders. Yet, the Jewish<br />

religious exclusiveness, legal privileges, <strong>and</strong> unwillingness to participate in civic life<br />

very <strong>of</strong>ten made them unpopular. In the Diaspora, Jews learned Greek <strong>and</strong> spoke it even<br />

in synagogues, <strong>and</strong> by the time <strong>of</strong> August, in century II B.C., the Septuagint (LXX), the<br />

Old Testament the Apostles used, was completed. In addition the Diaspora Jewish<br />

communities entered into dialogue with pagan religions, making not only many<br />

converts, but at the same time gathering around them partially Judaized Gentiles,<br />

commonly called God-fearers (Walker 18-19; Chadwick, The Early Church 11).<br />

Chadwick explains that:<br />

A Gentile might undergo circumcision <strong>and</strong>, more commonly, the baptism<br />

required <strong>of</strong> would be proselytes, but this was rare <strong>and</strong> the Hellenized Jews <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Dispersion, to the regret <strong>of</strong> the stricter Palestinian authorities, were insisting on<br />

circumcision as generally necessary to salvation. Among these Gentiles groups<br />

the Christian missionaries found their first converts outside the number <strong>of</strong><br />

circumcised. They were indeed ripe fruit, for they had the advantage not only <strong>of</strong><br />

high moral education, but also <strong>of</strong> instruction in the Hebrew Scriptures. (11)<br />

Thus, this dialogue also produced a remarkable fruitful <strong>and</strong> rich seedbed <strong>of</strong> ideas which<br />

proved to be a fertile model in the development <strong>of</strong> later Christian theology: the<br />

syncretism <strong>of</strong> Jewish scriptures with <strong>St</strong>oic <strong>and</strong> Platonist philosophical ideas, for<br />

example the ideas <strong>of</strong> Philo <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria (ca. 42 A.D.).<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Illustration 7: Philo <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria 9<br />

Philo pictured the Logos as a blending <strong>of</strong> elements from different sources: from Jewish<br />

Wisdom speculation, from Platonist ideas about an intelligible realm <strong>of</strong> Forms, <strong>and</strong><br />

from scriptural notion that God creates by his World (Logos) (Walker 18-19). It was in<br />

the influential Church <strong>of</strong> Rome, in the episcopate <strong>of</strong> Victor (189-198), Zephyrinus (198-<br />

217), <strong>and</strong> Callistus (217-222) where the debate over the implications <strong>of</strong> the Logos<br />

theology began. The logos theology, developed in the first century by Justin Martyr <strong>and</strong><br />

other Apologists, states that God used his Logos, or Word, as an instrument. This notion<br />

was a tool that enabled the logical <strong>and</strong> meaningful expression <strong>of</strong> the belief <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Apologists in Christ’s pre-temporal oneness with the Father.<br />

As a matter <strong>of</strong> fact, Jesus’ teaching has parallels in the religious thought <strong>of</strong> his<br />

age, however their total effect, as Walker further comments, was “disturbing <strong>and</strong><br />

revolutionary—the more so, apparently, by reason <strong>of</strong> the style he taught” (21). In a very<br />

enlightening way, Walker summarizes Jesus’ revolutionary teachings:<br />

“He taught them as one that had authority <strong>and</strong> not the Scribes”. He could say that<br />

least <strong>of</strong> his disciples is greater than John the Baptist, <strong>and</strong> that heaven <strong>and</strong> earth<br />

should pass away before his words. He called the heavy-laden to him <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong>fered<br />

them rest. He promised those who confessed him before men that he could<br />

confess them before his Father. He declared that none knew the Father but a Son,<br />

<strong>and</strong> he whom the Son should reveal the Father. He proclaimed himself Lord <strong>of</strong><br />

9 See: .<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

the Sabbath, than which, in popular estimate, there was no more sacred part <strong>of</strong><br />

the God-given Jewish Law. He affirmed that he had power to pronounce<br />

forgiveness <strong>of</strong> sins. (21-22)<br />

Illustration 8: Jesus Christ the Lifegiver 10<br />

Based on the personal experience <strong>of</strong> his disciples, what Jesus taught <strong>and</strong> did was<br />

vindicated by his being resurrected from death to the life <strong>of</strong> the kingdom he had<br />

exhorted his followers to believe. This conviction gave boldness to the scattered<br />

disciples, brought them together again, <strong>and</strong> made them witnesses. This was deepened by<br />

the eschatological gift <strong>of</strong> the Holy Spirit in Pentecost, which inaugurated the new age<br />

promised by Jesus’ ministry.<br />

But, for first century Jewish people, accustomed to considerable diversity in<br />

religious expression, Christianity must surely have appeared only as one more sect or<br />

group within Judaism such as the Pharisees, the Sadducees, <strong>and</strong> the Essenes. Yet,<br />

Christianity differed from them by its faith that in Jesus <strong>of</strong> Nazareth the Messiah <strong>of</strong> the<br />

nation’s expectation had now been realized. Jesus, the Messiah, did come, <strong>and</strong> in a way<br />

that illustrated, confirmed, <strong>and</strong> had a meaningful continuity with <strong>and</strong> absolute<br />

fulfillment <strong>of</strong> God’s revelation. This, Chadwick (The Early Church 13) indicates, did<br />

not mean any break either with the old covenant made with Abraham or with the Law<br />

given to Moses on Mount Sinai, but their absolute fulfillment, final realization, <strong>and</strong><br />

10 See: .<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

complete revelation. For Chadwick, the Pharisees were “The party most anxious to<br />

preserve the distinctively religious <strong>and</strong> theocratic character <strong>of</strong> Jewish life in defiance <strong>of</strong><br />

Hellenistic influences <strong>and</strong> Roman domination; they were strict in their observance, not<br />

only <strong>of</strong> the Mosaic law, but also <strong>of</strong> the scribal tradition <strong>of</strong> interpreting the law” (13). It<br />

was further the case that many <strong>of</strong> the Pharisees, <strong>of</strong> whom Paul (Act 23:6) was the most<br />

famous, became Christians.<br />

In contrast to the Pharisees, the second group, the Sadducees, who came from<br />

leading aristocratic families, adhered only to the Mosaic Law. They did not believe in<br />

the resurrection <strong>of</strong> the dead—a doctrine presented in the book <strong>of</strong> Daniel <strong>and</strong> composed<br />

long after the time <strong>of</strong> Moses. The third religious group, the Essenes, most probably the<br />

group for whom the Dead Sea Scrolls were written, was absolute separatists. Chadwick<br />

says that they rejected the sacrifices <strong>and</strong> priesthood <strong>of</strong> the <strong>of</strong>ficially recognized worship<br />

in the Temple at Jerusalem <strong>and</strong> looked back to “the Teacher <strong>of</strong> Righteousness,” their<br />

founder-hero (13). In certain respects the Essenes resembled the early Christian<br />

church—in so far as they practiced property-sharing, passive resistance by some <strong>of</strong> their<br />

members <strong>and</strong> groups, equality <strong>of</strong> all men before their Creator, etc—but there were also<br />

important differences between Essenes <strong>and</strong> the early Christians—for example, keeping<br />

the Sabbath, esoteric teachings, much attention to the inner meaning <strong>of</strong> Scriptures, etc.<br />

Chadwick states that “the material from the Dead Sea Scrolls provides relatively little<br />

evidence for the immediate background <strong>of</strong> early Church except in the broad sense that it<br />

reveals the existence <strong>of</strong> a group fervently studying Old Testament prophecy, especially<br />

Messianic prophecy, <strong>and</strong> expecting a great divine intervention in world <strong>history</strong> (15).”<br />

He adds that it is probable that some Essenes became Christians, but he does not favor<br />

any institutional continuity (14-15). Pelikan explains that the most important<br />

implications <strong>of</strong> the Dead Sea scrolls for the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> the development <strong>of</strong> Christian<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

doctrine after the New Testament is the fact that they clarify the connection between<br />

sectarian Judaism <strong>and</strong> the beginning <strong>of</strong> heretical Christianity (25).<br />

The Essenes were quite visible at the time <strong>of</strong> Christ, yet, Christ never pointed to<br />

them as objects <strong>of</strong> hypocrisy as he did with the Pharisees or Sadducees. This evidence<br />

helps us to underst<strong>and</strong> the diverse teachings that existed within Judaism when Jesus, a<br />

Jew from Nazareth, began his ministry, a ministry later to be continued by his apostles.<br />

Christianity borrowed many aspects from Judaism such as the concept <strong>of</strong> priesthood, a<br />

concept that is related to the Levitical priesthood, temple sacrifices, <strong>and</strong> the sacrificial<br />

language, <strong>and</strong> ideas concerning the Eucharist. Some see this as re-Judaization, however<br />

it did not mean a recovery, <strong>and</strong> at most a re-discovery, <strong>of</strong> the close association between<br />

Judaism <strong>and</strong> Christian theology; on the contrary, as Pelikan maintains, “it shows how<br />

independent Christian doctrine had become <strong>of</strong> its Jewish origins <strong>and</strong> how it felt free to<br />

appropriate terms <strong>and</strong> concepts from the Jewish tradition despite its earlier<br />

disparagement <strong>of</strong> them (26).”<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. Define the following terms or concepts:<br />

• religio licita<br />

• God-fearers<br />

• The Septuagint<br />

• Philo’s Logos<br />

2. Search the Web <strong>and</strong> write a short biography <strong>of</strong> Philo <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria<br />

3. Why was Jesus’ teaching revolutionary in the social <strong>and</strong> cultural Jewish<br />

milieu?<br />

4. Which were the three most important Judaic sects? What are their main<br />

differences?<br />

Activity 7: Judaism <strong>and</strong> Christianity under the Roman World<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

SOME ISSUES OF THE SOCIAL MILIEU OF EARLY CHRISTIANITY<br />

It is clear that the characteristics <strong>of</strong> the society in which the first Christians lived<br />

are reflected in the books <strong>of</strong> the New Testament. However, they are not merely<br />

superficial, objective, <strong>and</strong> abstract reflections as the society in which the first Christians<br />

lived also influenced <strong>and</strong> conditioned their activities (daily life, travels, preaching,<br />

work, <strong>and</strong> writings) <strong>and</strong> even their mindsets, world views, thought-patterns, <strong>and</strong><br />

attitudes. Although universally true, Jesus’ basic spiritual message <strong>of</strong> salvation was in<br />

response to social-cultural—<strong>and</strong> was modeled by—conditions <strong>of</strong> first century Palestine.<br />

As an illustration, the hatred <strong>and</strong> violence between Judeans <strong>and</strong> Samaritans, caused,<br />

according to Richard A. Horsley, by their inability to fight back against the Roman<br />

order, supplied the background <strong>of</strong> Jesus’ parable <strong>of</strong> the Good Samaritan. In this same<br />

parable, according to Luke (10:29-37), the possibility for a traveler to encounter thieves<br />

is mentioned. Also, Jesus’ proclamation <strong>of</strong> the presence <strong>of</strong> the Kingdom <strong>of</strong> God is<br />

directed to certain social classes—the poor, hungry, sick, <strong>and</strong> indebted. Nevertheless, it<br />

should be understood that its message was spiritual, <strong>and</strong> that the descriptions <strong>of</strong> the<br />

social context embedded in the biblical texts were merely secondary, thus discrepancies<br />

may exist with historical research <strong>and</strong> even among biblical texts.<br />

But language, both spoken <strong>and</strong> written, is neither a neutral instrument nor used<br />

for thinking <strong>and</strong> thought in a socio-cultural vacuum, <strong>and</strong> it varies according to the<br />

requirements <strong>of</strong> socio-cultural <strong>and</strong> linguistic contexts it is used in. Two <strong>of</strong> the many<br />

factors that determine the use made <strong>of</strong> different contexts <strong>and</strong> linguistic modes are<br />

domains (public or personal) <strong>and</strong> situations (locations, institutions, persons involved,<br />

events, texts). It was not the same Jesus who spoke informally <strong>and</strong> very personally with<br />

his disciples, the Jesus who spoke publicly to the masses, or the Jesus who spoke in the<br />

synagogue, to those whom he healed, or the one who spoke to Pilate, the Sanhedrin, etc.<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

In addition to domains, there are other elements <strong>of</strong> context such as the external<br />

conditions that could produce some constraints, such as physical conditions, which<br />

could affect clarity <strong>of</strong> speech or writings, social conditions (number <strong>of</strong> participants,<br />

relative status <strong>of</strong> the participants, social relationship between participants, etc), time<br />

pressure, anxiety, etc. As already mentioned, the New Testament was not written in a<br />

socio-cultural vacuum.<br />

L. M. White, in “Visualizing the ‘Real’ World <strong>of</strong> Acts 16: Toward Construction<br />

<strong>of</strong> a Social Index,” says that due to modern scholarship we are able to construct<br />

theological postulates on earliest Christianity without detaching them from social <strong>and</strong><br />

historic reality. This perspective can help us “visualize” the New Testament world. Yet,<br />

he states that this is not an easy task <strong>and</strong> we must be careful to apply social description<br />

approaches to literary text using archeological data “realia” since they run the risk <strong>of</strong><br />

becoming an “illustrated bible” <strong>and</strong> distorting rather than clarifying. Illustrating his<br />

point with Acts 16, <strong>and</strong> Paul’s difficult travelogue, he says that there are points <strong>of</strong><br />

correlation between historical events <strong>and</strong> social environment <strong>of</strong> the Pauline missions,<br />

<strong>and</strong> yet there are other points unsubstantiated from other historical sources including<br />

Paul himself. To solve this problem White proposes the construction <strong>of</strong> a social index<br />

for the correlation between archeology <strong>and</strong> text, including <strong>history</strong>, realia, cultural<br />

context, <strong>and</strong> text.<br />

In Sociology <strong>of</strong> Early Palestinian Christianity, Gerd Theissen analyzes roles or<br />

typical social attitudes <strong>of</strong> the Jesus movement, factors or the effects <strong>of</strong> society on the<br />

Jesus movement, <strong>and</strong> finally the functions <strong>and</strong> effects <strong>of</strong> the Jesus movement on society.<br />

The “Jesus movement,” Theissen concludes, was “a renewal movement within Judaism<br />

brought into being through Jesus.” Therefore, it can be compared <strong>and</strong> contrasted with<br />

other renewal movements in first-century Palestine, such as the Essenes, Pharisees, <strong>and</strong><br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

the Zealots. Its life was shaped by three principal roles. First there were the “w<strong>and</strong>ering<br />

charismatics,” who accepted Jesus’ call to “leave everything” <strong>and</strong> travel from village to<br />

village proclaiming the kingdom <strong>of</strong> God. Second, there were the local sympathizers,<br />

without whose support the mendicant preachers could not survive. Third, there was their<br />

concept <strong>of</strong> Jesus as Son <strong>of</strong> man, whose depicted pattern <strong>of</strong> life informs, reflects, <strong>and</strong><br />

vindicates their own. 11<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. Briefly explain the importance <strong>of</strong> the social context to underst<strong>and</strong> the New<br />

Testament.<br />

2. What are the factors <strong>and</strong> influences that determine linguistic usage?<br />

Illustrate this with examples from—one or more parables—<strong>and</strong> different<br />

domains <strong>and</strong> situations in which Jesus spoke <strong>and</strong> acted.<br />

Three relevant social issues<br />

Activity 8: Social context <strong>and</strong> New Testament<br />

Many relevant social issues <strong>of</strong> the First Christians in Palestine <strong>and</strong> the cities <strong>of</strong><br />

the Roman empire studied by scholars concern characteristics <strong>of</strong> any society <strong>and</strong> its<br />

areas or spheres <strong>of</strong> daily life (food, drink, festivities, work, activities, trips), life<br />

conditions (levels <strong>of</strong> life—regional, cultural, social differences—, housing, etc.),<br />

personal relationships, including relationship with authorities, between races <strong>and</strong><br />

communities, values, beliefs <strong>and</strong> attitudes, social conventions, ritual behavior (religious<br />

practices, ceremonies, birth, death, etc.). All these, <strong>and</strong> many other, features <strong>of</strong> daily<br />

life, or structures in society, do not exist in isolation but are interrelated, <strong>and</strong> function in<br />

11 According to Theissen, those roles are to be seen within the context <strong>of</strong> four environmental factors. (1)<br />

Socio-economic: Rapid changes in the Palestinian economy had brought deep tensions between rich <strong>and</strong><br />

poor, keenly felt especially by those whose status had declined. (2) Socio-ecological: The tensions<br />

between city <strong>and</strong> rural cultures, powerful throughout the Empire, also affected the renewal movements in<br />

Palestine. (3) Socio-political: Like the other renewal movements, the Jesus movement was radically<br />

theocratic, <strong>and</strong> attraction to it was fueled by the experience <strong>of</strong> political subjugation, but unlike the others<br />

it urged love for the enemy. (4) Socio-cultural: The tensions between assimilation to the Hellenistic<br />

culture <strong>of</strong> the larger society <strong>and</strong> “the intensification <strong>of</strong> norms” <strong>of</strong> the Jewish community affected all the<br />

Jewish movements.<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

complex social patterns according to different social factors, for example norms,<br />

customs, traditions, etc.<br />

Among the many social issues that can be discussed, there are three that have<br />

especial relevance for this study: (1) mobility <strong>and</strong> mission which can be an aide to assist<br />

in underst<strong>and</strong>ing the spread <strong>of</strong> Christianity <strong>and</strong> the missionary activities <strong>of</strong> the Early<br />

Christian Church; (2) wealth/poverty <strong>and</strong> socio-economic classes in society, which will<br />

help us elucidate <strong>and</strong> clarify the nature, functions, privileges, etc. <strong>of</strong> different social<br />

classes in the early Christianity <strong>and</strong> their relationship, <strong>and</strong> (3) attitudes <strong>of</strong> authorities<br />

<strong>and</strong> different groups in the general population towards Christians.<br />

Brown, in An Introduction to New Testament, emphasizes the fact, previously<br />

mentioned, that:<br />

The first believers in Jesus were Jews; perhaps all the authors <strong>of</strong> the New<br />

Testament were Jews. The memories <strong>of</strong> Jesus <strong>and</strong> the writings <strong>of</strong> his followers<br />

are filled with references to the Jewish Scriptures, feasts, institutions, <strong>and</strong><br />

traditions. Therefore there is not doubt about the influence <strong>of</strong> Judaism. Yet ...<br />

since the time <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>er the Great, the Jews had been living in a Hellenistic<br />

world ... Jews bought goods with coins minted by Roman-Greek overlord <strong>and</strong><br />

<strong>of</strong>ten imprinted with the images <strong>of</strong> gods. In varying degrees, through commerce,<br />

schools, <strong>and</strong> travel, Jews were influenced by a word quite different from that<br />

described in much <strong>of</strong> the OT. Thus in the social background <strong>of</strong> the NT much<br />

more than Judaism must be taken into account. (63-64)<br />

It needs to be added that the political atmosphere <strong>of</strong> the first century was one <strong>of</strong><br />

persecution, social ostracism, <strong>and</strong> state-regulated worship. The early Christians lived<br />

<strong>and</strong> worshipped in small close-knit communities consisting <strong>of</strong> different ethnic groups<br />

<strong>and</strong> socio-cultural types as members. Yet, acting as missionaries they were held<br />

together by their faith in the message delivered by the first apostles.<br />

Thus some <strong>of</strong> the important social issues are those that are related to mobility<br />

<strong>and</strong> mission, which were based on both the example <strong>of</strong> Jesus <strong>and</strong> his disciples as well as<br />

the comm<strong>and</strong> Jesus gave to his Apostles <strong>and</strong> followers: “And he said unto them, ‘go ye<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

into all the world, <strong>and</strong> preach the gospel to every creature in which they lived’” (Mark<br />

16:15). 12<br />

Illustration 9: The twelve Apostles 13<br />

Early Christians engaged in missions <strong>of</strong> preaching the Good News, first in<br />

Palestine <strong>and</strong> neighboring areas, especially among Jews <strong>and</strong> Jewish converts to<br />

Christianity (thus the origin <strong>of</strong> the Oriental Orthodox Churches, such as the Eastern <strong>and</strong><br />

western Syrian Churches, the Syriac Christians in Mesopotamia, Assyria, Chaldea, etc.),<br />

then to the cities <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire. Jesus himself executed many preaching tours in<br />

Palestine; Mary had made three trips between Galilee <strong>and</strong> Judea in one year. We also<br />

know <strong>of</strong> Peter’s trips—as Kallinikos delineates in The History <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox<br />

Church—to Samaria, Lydda, Joppa, Caesarea, <strong>and</strong> Antioch, <strong>and</strong> Philip’s visit to<br />

Samaria, Gaza <strong>and</strong> Caesarea, but we know best <strong>of</strong> Paul’s three missionary journeys (45-<br />

51; 53-55 <strong>and</strong> 56-59) preaching the Gospel, establishing <strong>and</strong> maintaining the faith <strong>of</strong><br />

these communities <strong>and</strong> founding churches. During Paul’s first journey, setting from<br />

Antioch in Syria, Paul visited Seleucia, Cyprus, Perga in Pamphylia, Antioch in Pisidia,<br />

Iconium, Lystra <strong>and</strong> Derbe, <strong>and</strong> returned to Jerusalem to attend an Apostolic Synod; on<br />

12 In this text, all the biblical quotes will be taken from The King James Version (Rice Reference Edition).<br />

13 See: .<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

his second journey, his zeal drove him to Troas, from where he took a ship to Europe<br />

visiting Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens <strong>and</strong> Corinth; on<br />

his third missionary journey, although having adopted Ephesus in Asia Minor as his<br />

headquarters, Paul visited Macedonia <strong>and</strong> Greece as well as Mitylene, Chios, Samos,<br />

Miletus, Cos, Rhodes, <strong>and</strong> Tyre in Phenice (5-6). This map shows some <strong>of</strong> the areas<br />

mentioned:<br />

Illustration 10: The areas mentioned in the Acts <strong>of</strong> the Apostles<br />

<strong>and</strong> where Paul sent his letters 14<br />

<strong>St</strong>ambaugh, in The Social World <strong>of</strong> the First Christian, is quite right when<br />

saying that throughout the New Testament people are “on the move”. But this was not a<br />

feature <strong>of</strong> Christians alone. A high degree <strong>of</strong> mobility was typical <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire<br />

in the first century. Yet, the conditions <strong>of</strong> roads, lodging, <strong>and</strong> means <strong>of</strong> transport did not<br />

assist the early Christian missions. <strong>St</strong>ambaugh asserts that the first century trips<br />

involved great discomfort <strong>and</strong> danger, <strong>and</strong> Paul knew this from his own experience as<br />

described in his epistle to the Corinthians:<br />

Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a<br />

night <strong>and</strong> a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings <strong>of</strong>ten, in perils <strong>of</strong> waters,<br />

in perils <strong>of</strong> robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen,<br />

14 See: .<br />

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in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils<br />

among false brethren. In weariness <strong>and</strong> painfulness, in watchings <strong>of</strong>ten, in<br />

hunger <strong>and</strong> thirst, in fastings <strong>of</strong>ten, in cold <strong>and</strong> nakedness. (2 Cor. 11: 25-27)<br />

This passage assists us to visualize the conditions <strong>of</strong> travel in the first century, but, at<br />

the same time, we hear the complaining voice <strong>of</strong> Paul. Brown says that this letter, more<br />

than any other, “evokes so vividly the image <strong>of</strong> a suffering <strong>and</strong> rejected apostle,<br />

misunderstood by his fellow Christians.” The text is inserted in a part <strong>of</strong> the letter in<br />

which he responds to the challenges to his apostolic authority, <strong>and</strong> whereas in the<br />

previous chapters (8-9) we hear an optimistic <strong>and</strong> enthusiastic voice, in chapters 10-13<br />

he turns more pessimistic expressing uncertainty about his reception (547). If we read<br />

this text carefully we will also discover other social issues, for example those that<br />

mention customs in the Roman Empire: being beaten with “rods” was a common way<br />

Romans used to punish crimes (see also Acts 16:22-24), being “stoned” was a Jewish<br />

way <strong>of</strong> punishing blasphemy (see also Act. 14:19).<br />

Paul also suffered “shipwreck”, this is not noted in Acts, since the events in Acts<br />

(27:39-44) happened after this particular letter mentioning his shipwreck, was written.<br />

He traveled by sea, since it was <strong>of</strong>ten more comfortable <strong>and</strong> faster, but also on l<strong>and</strong><br />

where there were many dangers, (robbers could assault you at any moment,<br />

inconveniences, when you crossed a river with no bridge, you could die drowned). But<br />

in spite <strong>of</strong> all the difficulties associated with traveling, Paul continued his service as a<br />

minister <strong>of</strong> Christ (see also Acts 26:16-18; Rom. 15:19, 24) until he was executed in<br />

Rome some time before 64 A.D.<br />

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Illustration 11: <strong>St</strong>. Paul 15<br />

Furthermore, as was the custom for humble people at this time, Paul frequently<br />

stayed at friend’s houses: “And when she was baptized, <strong>and</strong> her household, she<br />

besought us, saying, if ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my<br />

house, <strong>and</strong> abide there. And she constrained us (Acts 16: 15). Chadwick says that<br />

hospitality to travelers was a very important act <strong>of</strong> charity. A Christian only had to show<br />

pro<strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong> his faith to be lodged for a period <strong>of</strong> up to three days. Later on, the bishop was<br />

responsible for the lodging <strong>of</strong> traveling Christians, especially missionaries, as part <strong>of</strong> his<br />

ministry to oversee <strong>and</strong> administer the church’s income. For Chadwick, charity work<br />

was to become one <strong>of</strong> the main reasons <strong>of</strong> Christian success (The Early Church 56). As<br />

we will see, in Byzantine society, philanthropy would become institutionalized.<br />

Paul also talks about perils by his “own countrymen (also see Acts 9:23,29;<br />

13:45,50; 14:2,5,19; 17:5,13; 18:12; 19:9; 21:27) “by the heathen” (also see Acts 14:5;<br />

16:19-24; 19:23-31), “in the city” (also see Acts 9:23,29; 13:50; 14:5,19; 16:19;<br />

17:5,13; 18:13; 19:23); “in the wilderness”, “in the sea” (storms, shipwreck, <strong>and</strong><br />

pirates); “among false brethren”. The latter refers to false apostles, but there were also<br />

“false brothers” working behind people’s back; these were the people Paul always<br />

15 See: .<br />

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opposed quite openly. Although he suffered much, as we know from statements that “he<br />

saw himself in weariness <strong>and</strong> painfulness, in hunger, in thirst, in fastings, in cold <strong>and</strong><br />

nakedness,” <strong>and</strong> he went through many privations, dangers, tribulations to bring the<br />

truth to people (Acts 20:11,31; 1 Tes. 2:9; 3:10; 2 Tes. 3:8; 1 Cor. 4:11). Sometimes,<br />

Paul even thought he would die, but God sustained him (Cor.1:9 10; 6:9). Obviously,<br />

the false apostles in Corinth could not equal his list <strong>of</strong> the many troubles he suffered for<br />

the service <strong>of</strong> Christ (Reeves). Paul also says regarding those troubles: “Therefore I take<br />

pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for<br />

Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).<br />

His supporters <strong>and</strong> followers must have been amazed at the extraordinary faith<br />

<strong>and</strong> zeal Paul had. He obtained his energy, motivation <strong>and</strong> inspiration from his belief<br />

that it was the Spirit itself who guided <strong>and</strong> protected him, so as to continue to his<br />

mission <strong>of</strong> evangelization. We only need to consider the length <strong>of</strong> time he spent on<br />

every mission trip, namely 7, 3 <strong>and</strong> 4 years, <strong>and</strong> the time he stayed in certain cities, so<br />

as to begin to underst<strong>and</strong> the energy being consumed <strong>and</strong> the mental <strong>and</strong> physical effort<br />

each trip required. These things, the harshness <strong>of</strong> his journeys, the physical <strong>and</strong> mental<br />

effort, etc must have had a serious <strong>and</strong> negative effect on his physical condition <strong>and</strong><br />

health as well as in his preaching. Constantine Scouteris, in “Europe: An Orthodox<br />

Perspective,” sees this as an example <strong>of</strong> what today is called “contextual theology.” He<br />

points out that Paul communicated the theological word in a manner related to the<br />

particular social, cultural <strong>and</strong> religious situation he found in the places he visited. This<br />

was his primary methodology in proclaiming Christian truth: taking seriously into<br />

account the mentality <strong>and</strong> culture, the specific circumstances <strong>and</strong> background <strong>of</strong> his<br />

hearers. As an illustration, when writing to the Romans, he did not hesitate to use legal<br />

language <strong>and</strong> categories.<br />

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Another issue related to mobility was letter writing. 16 This <strong>of</strong> course was an<br />

easier way than personal journeys to communicate, <strong>and</strong> make <strong>and</strong> keep contact with<br />

other Christians. We find examples <strong>of</strong> these early Christian letters in the New<br />

Testament, <strong>and</strong> in fact Epistles or Letters make up the largest part <strong>of</strong> the New<br />

Testament. They are usually divided into two categories: the Pauline Letters <strong>and</strong> the<br />

other Apostolic Letters. All letters followed the format <strong>of</strong> letter writing in the ancient<br />

world. A letter usually began with a greeting <strong>and</strong> an identification <strong>of</strong> the sender <strong>and</strong> the<br />

recipients. This was followed by a prayer, usually in the form <strong>of</strong> a thanksgiving. The<br />

body <strong>of</strong> the letter was an exposition <strong>of</strong> Christian teaching, most <strong>of</strong>ten applications that<br />

concern the particular circumstances <strong>of</strong> the recipients. It might be followed by a<br />

discussion <strong>of</strong> the author’s future travel plans <strong>and</strong> conclude with practical advice <strong>and</strong> a<br />

farewell. 17<br />

<strong>St</strong>ambaugh (39-40) states that in the New Testament letters served as a means <strong>of</strong><br />

introduction <strong>and</strong> recommendation,<br />

Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth<br />

good is <strong>of</strong> God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God (3 John 1:1).<br />

<strong>of</strong> conveying news,<br />

Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit <strong>of</strong> the grace <strong>of</strong> God bestowed on the<br />

churches <strong>of</strong> Macedonia [..] (2 Cor. 8:1-7).<br />

<strong>of</strong> requesting favors,<br />

commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant <strong>of</strong> the church which is at<br />

Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, <strong>and</strong> that ye assist<br />

her in whatsoever business she hath need <strong>of</strong> you: for she hath been a succourer<br />

<strong>of</strong> many, <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> myself also (Rom. 16-1-2).<br />

<strong>of</strong> expressing thanks,<br />

16 Brown says that due to the fact that letters were the dominant production <strong>of</strong> the first Christians, other<br />

works that were no letters in the ordinary sense such as homilies or a diatribe were classified as such ( 9).<br />

17 The Pauline Letters were written by <strong>St</strong>. Paul or one <strong>of</strong> his disciples, not long after the death <strong>and</strong><br />

resurrection <strong>of</strong> Jesus, between 54 A.D. <strong>and</strong> 80 A.D. They indicate early developments <strong>of</strong> Christian<br />

theology <strong>and</strong> practice. The Apostolic Letters are thought to be addressed not so much to a particular<br />

community or individual, but to a more universal audience. They were written by various authors between<br />

65 A.D. <strong>and</strong> 95 A.D . See “What are the Epistles?<br />

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I thank my God upon every remembrance <strong>of</strong> you, always in every prayer <strong>of</strong> mine<br />

for you all making request with joy […] (Phil. 1:3-7).<br />

<strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>fering encouragement or advice:<br />

Remembering without ceasing your work <strong>of</strong> faith, <strong>and</strong> labour <strong>of</strong> love, <strong>and</strong><br />

patience <strong>of</strong> hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight <strong>of</strong> God <strong>and</strong> our Father; (1<br />

Thes. 1:3)<br />

Now concerning the things where<strong>of</strong> ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to<br />

touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own<br />

wife, <strong>and</strong> let every woman have her own husb<strong>and</strong>. […] (1 Cor. 7)<br />

<strong>St</strong>ambaugh adds that it was the custom for upper classes to dictate letters to<br />

secretaries—slaves or freedmen. This is also seen in the New Testament: “By Silvanus,<br />

a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, <strong>and</strong> testifying<br />

that this is the true grace <strong>of</strong> God wherein ye st<strong>and</strong>” (1 Pet. 5:12). Yet, Paul normally<br />

added a h<strong>and</strong>written note at the end: “The salutation by the h<strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> me Paul. Remember<br />

my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen” (Col.4:8).<br />

Since slaves were <strong>of</strong>ten assigned to carry letters to their masters, a runaway such<br />

as Onesimus (Phil. 10-18) would not be suspicious. Regarding migration, <strong>St</strong>ambaugh<br />

says that traveling in those days were <strong>of</strong>ten so as to migrate to <strong>and</strong> stay in another area,<br />

<strong>and</strong> not merely done for the sake <strong>of</strong> traveling itself. Some people traveled to migrate;<br />

such is the case <strong>of</strong> the tentmakers Priscilla <strong>and</strong> Aquilla, whose journeys are recorded in<br />

the New Testament (Acts 18: 1-3).<br />

As we know, the Apostles <strong>and</strong> Paul, the latter primarily addressing his mission<br />

to the Gentiles, made many converts during their preaching <strong>and</strong> tours <strong>of</strong> evangelization.<br />

<strong>St</strong>ambaugh (53) asserts that conversion to Christianity was not something superficial as<br />

it made “a decisive impact, both in terms <strong>of</strong> the individual’s self-perception <strong>and</strong> in the<br />

social context <strong>of</strong> a new fellowship”. He also refers to two types <strong>of</strong> social transition<br />

experienced by the early Christian community fellowship, the first, from a Jewish<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

movement to a Gentile one—which forced missionaries to travel outside the area <strong>of</strong><br />

Palestine into the wider Greco-Roman world—<strong>and</strong>, the second, from a rural to an urban<br />

environment, in other words requiring the need <strong>and</strong> motivation to motivating preach in<br />

urban areas <strong>and</strong> evangelize the cities. The first transition, as portrayed in Acts, created<br />

social tensions between traditional Jews <strong>and</strong> those Hellenizing Jews, who minimized the<br />

importance <strong>of</strong> a strict obedience to the Law <strong>and</strong> were in favor <strong>of</strong> admitting Gentiles into<br />

the church without having to become Jewish first. Galatians 2:11-13 illustrates this fact:<br />

11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because<br />

he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with<br />

the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew <strong>and</strong> separated himself,<br />

fearing them which were <strong>of</strong> the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled<br />

likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their<br />

dissimulation.<br />

Chadwick (The Early Church) comments that in the ancient world everyone<br />

knew at least three things about Jews: (1) they did not associate with any pagan cult<br />

(which seemed antisocial), 2) they circumcised their infant boys (which seemed<br />

repulsive), <strong>and</strong> 3) that they had a dietary law which prohibited them to eat not only pork<br />

but all kinds <strong>of</strong> meat that had been <strong>of</strong>fered in sacrifice to the gods (which seemed<br />

ridiculous) (18-19). Furthermore, they did not dine with non-Jews, which was true for<br />

some Jewish Christians but not for others (Brown 65). We find an example <strong>of</strong> the latter<br />

in the text, where Paul is criticizing Peter, who although he recognized the validity <strong>of</strong><br />

Gentile mission—Gentiles accepted the Gospel quite well—refused to eat with non-<br />

Jewish Christians in Antioch. In this text another issue is mentioned, namely the matter<br />

<strong>of</strong> circumcision, <strong>and</strong> his issue had created perturbations between Judaizers <strong>and</strong><br />

Hellenists. Although this involved him in painful controversy, it was Paul’s<br />

accomplishment to defend the freedom <strong>and</strong> equal status <strong>of</strong> the Gentile Christians <strong>and</strong> to<br />

obtain from the Christian leaders based in Jerusalem the recognition <strong>of</strong> his gentiles<br />

converts as full members <strong>of</strong> the church. Chadwick adds that with this claim, Paul, who<br />

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became the first Christian apologist, was also seeking <strong>and</strong> confirming his own st<strong>and</strong>ing<br />

as the apostle <strong>of</strong> the Gentiles (20).<br />

The second transition in missionary activity concerns the focus away from the<br />

countryside to the city. This transition occurred without completely disregarding the<br />

rural environment as a mission field. The Twelve had preached in rural areas, as the<br />

towns contained many threats to them, their mission, <strong>and</strong> message. This transition can<br />

be seen in Acts where the previous rural image <strong>of</strong> the Gospel is substituted by the urban<br />

synagogue <strong>and</strong> city scenery. Acts 10:9 illustrates this: “On the morrow, as they went on<br />

their journey, <strong>and</strong> drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray<br />

about the sixth hour.” City houses usually had flat ro<strong>of</strong>s which provided additional<br />

space for living, sleeping or praying. As a matter <strong>of</strong> fact, the earlier churches were<br />

private houses whose interiors were converted as a congregation increased. Churches<br />

did not attain a public style <strong>of</strong> architecture until the fourth century (Chadwick, The<br />

Early Church 55).<br />

It was in cities where the gospel made its most notable progress. Brown explains<br />

that most communities mentioned in the NT lived in cities. Cities had a denser<br />

population than the countryside <strong>and</strong> thus <strong>of</strong>fered a better possibility to reach many more<br />

people during exhaustive, dangerous, <strong>and</strong> difficult evangelical tours. Judaic-Christian<br />

preachers used the Roman system <strong>of</strong> roads to travel from one city to another, <strong>and</strong> most<br />

cities had there own synagogue communities, thus <strong>of</strong>fering potential converts to<br />

Christianity (64-65). <strong>St</strong>ambaugh explains that “the larger towns <strong>and</strong> the cities on the<br />

Roman empire were situated on highways, at river crossings, <strong>and</strong> at natural harbors. A<br />

traveler on the road leading to a city passed farms, orchards, <strong>and</strong> huts where farm<br />

workers lived” (107). In cities the interaction <strong>of</strong> people <strong>of</strong> different backgrounds was<br />

necessary <strong>and</strong> essential. But because <strong>of</strong> the diverse, cosmopolitan nature <strong>of</strong> the mixed<br />

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population <strong>of</strong> the urban society <strong>and</strong> the mobility <strong>of</strong> the population there existed a great<br />

need to belong. This need was fulfilled by being a member <strong>of</strong> some kind <strong>of</strong> group or<br />

association, <strong>and</strong> through membership <strong>of</strong> a group or association the individual was<br />

integrated into <strong>and</strong> formed part <strong>of</strong> the larger, complex, cosmopolitan urban society. This<br />

factor explains the good number <strong>of</strong> associations that existed in urban areas (Brown 65).<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. Enumerate the three main social issues <strong>of</strong> early Christianity described here.<br />

2. Regarding the issue <strong>of</strong> first century mobility <strong>and</strong> mission, briefly explain<br />

the following:<br />

• New Testament people are “on the move”.<br />

• The traveling conditions Paul had to face<br />

• Letter writing<br />

3. The two social transitions experienced by Christian fellowship<br />

4. Imagine that you are a missionary in today’s world - choose a location where<br />

there exist difficulties to be a Christian. Compose a letter, in the New<br />

Testament style, to a community in that location.<br />

5. List some problems that contemporary Christian missionaries might face in<br />

urban areas in some countries.<br />

6. Do churches <strong>of</strong>fer ‘belonging <strong>and</strong> assistance’ (social, cultural, personal) in<br />

today’s society <strong>and</strong> cities? Write a few lines about this. How could the<br />

pastoral ministry assist in this?<br />

Activity 9: Social issues: mobility <strong>and</strong> mission<br />

A second social issue is wealth/poverty <strong>and</strong> class-society present in the cities <strong>of</strong><br />

the Roman Empire. Regarding this issue it is necessary to remember, as <strong>St</strong>ambaugh<br />

asserts, that the first leaders, the elite, <strong>of</strong> the Christian movement were Jews. This came<br />

about because some synagogue leaders were receptive to the Gospel <strong>and</strong> converted to<br />

Christianity, <strong>and</strong> then they continued to play a leadership role because <strong>of</strong> their socio-<br />

economic or class position, their education, skills, <strong>and</strong> aptitudes. He also adds that the<br />

Christian message was <strong>of</strong>ten brought to the cities <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire by ordinary<br />

Jews, for example the kind <strong>of</strong> Jews who were present at Pentecost. Another group <strong>of</strong><br />

urban missionaries was <strong>of</strong> course apostles, including other followers <strong>of</strong> Jesus (such as<br />

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Paul, <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> course women) who moved about preaching <strong>and</strong> establishing Christian<br />

cells. But since the message was addressed to Gentiles in general so the early Christians<br />

also came from all socio-economic levels <strong>of</strong> Gentile society except the very highest:<br />

upper class men <strong>and</strong> women, prosperous men <strong>and</strong> women, free men <strong>and</strong> woman with an<br />

ambiguous position in society—who although frequently wealthy <strong>and</strong> influential<br />

individuals, they mostly came from lower classes—, slaves, <strong>and</strong> the poor (<strong>St</strong>ambaugh<br />

54, 63).<br />

<strong>St</strong>ambaugh asserts that by the time <strong>of</strong> the New Testament money <strong>and</strong> movable<br />

wealth had become much more important than the old agrarian emphasis on l<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong><br />

flock; yet, the basic social fabric <strong>of</strong> Greek, Romans <strong>and</strong> Hebrews “was woven <strong>of</strong> the<br />

familiar fiber <strong>of</strong> personal contacts: <strong>of</strong> favors done, returns expected, allegiance owed<br />

(63).” He further defines the term “clientela” to describe the relationship between<br />

superiors <strong>and</strong> their inferiors, in which the influential “patron” provided support <strong>and</strong><br />

protection to the dependent “clients” in exchange for votes at election time. There are<br />

several stories in Luke picturing the relationship <strong>of</strong> the rich <strong>and</strong> the poor at meals. But<br />

this did not represent the Christian sense <strong>of</strong> charity to the poor <strong>and</strong> the destitute<br />

preached by early Christians since they did not expect anything in return. As a matter <strong>of</strong><br />

fact, Charity was the most conspicuous quality <strong>of</strong> Christians. In the New Testament we<br />

see acts <strong>of</strong> charity as well as exhortation to charity (56, 64). Their generosity to the poor<br />

is shown in this text:<br />

2 And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid<br />

daily at the gate <strong>of</strong> the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms <strong>of</strong> them that<br />

entered into the temple ... 6 Then Peter said, silver <strong>and</strong> gold have I none; but<br />

such as I have give I thee: In the name <strong>of</strong> Jesus Christ <strong>of</strong> Nazareth rise up <strong>and</strong><br />

walk. (Acts 3: 2.6)<br />

The material wealth <strong>of</strong> the Greco-Roman world was unevenly distributed since<br />

quite a small percentage <strong>of</strong> the population owned a vast proportion <strong>of</strong> the l<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong><br />

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resources. But Brown clarifies that the neither the designation <strong>of</strong> the “poor”, frequently<br />

mentioned in the NT, nor that <strong>of</strong> “slave” parallel the concept we hold nowadays about<br />

those terms. In the Gospel, the poor were “small farmers with inadequate or barren l<strong>and</strong>,<br />

or serfs on larger estates; in the cities without assistance, they were somewhat worse <strong>of</strong>f<br />

(65-67);” yet, they were much better <strong>of</strong>f than those <strong>of</strong> our modern society. The same<br />

with “slaves”—doulos, also rendered as “servant”—, which should not be seen as 19 th<br />

century African slaves in America. In the Roman empire slaves had legal rights <strong>and</strong><br />

either abusing or killing them was a punishable crime. They not only work in business,<br />

farming <strong>and</strong> households <strong>and</strong> they could also be administrators, physicians, teachers,<br />

scholars <strong>and</strong> poets, <strong>and</strong> thus accumulate wealth (67). Slaves were a part <strong>of</strong> the family<br />

unit in the Roman Empire. They might be obtained through a number <strong>of</strong> means<br />

including war, child exposure, <strong>and</strong> the sale <strong>of</strong> persons to pay debts. Many slaves were<br />

able to earn enough money to buy their own freedom, although they had to continue<br />

working for their former owners (Wade). Furthermore, the poor were seen with disgust<br />

rather than pity, thus the notion <strong>of</strong> the poor being blessed, “Blessed are the poor in<br />

spirit: for theirs is the kingdom <strong>of</strong> heaven” (Mat. 5:3), must have shocked the<br />

aristocratic circles.<br />

Christian preachers generally made converts among the city poor <strong>and</strong> slaves, the<br />

former attracted by the promise <strong>of</strong> spiritual, if not legal emancipation, <strong>and</strong> the latter by a<br />

promise <strong>of</strong> salvation hereafter <strong>and</strong> by Christian practice <strong>of</strong> taking care <strong>of</strong> people in need.<br />

They also made converts, although in a lesser number, among the middle class <strong>and</strong><br />

aristocracy. This is clear in I Cor.1: 26, when Paul says: “For ye see your calling,<br />

brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble,<br />

are called.”<br />

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The social issue <strong>of</strong> slavery is mentioned by Paul in his letter to Philemon. In this<br />

letter, Onesimus, a slave <strong>of</strong> Philemon, who had become a Christian, had stolen<br />

something <strong>and</strong> ran away to Rome. Onesimus had returned to Philemon with an epistle<br />

written by Paul asking him to admit him as a brother:<br />

10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: 11<br />

Which in time past was to thee unpr<strong>of</strong>itable, but now pr<strong>of</strong>itable to thee <strong>and</strong> to<br />

me: ... 15 For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest<br />

receive him for ever; 16 Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother<br />

beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, <strong>and</strong> in<br />

the Lord? … 22 But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through<br />

your prayers I shall be given unto you. (Phil. 10-22)<br />

The Gospel attracted slaves not only for the spiritual drawing power <strong>of</strong> the Gospel, but<br />

because many acquired legal emancipation (<strong>St</strong>ambaugh 54). Christianity, as Chadwick<br />

comments, did not <strong>of</strong>fer emancipation to either slaves or women, but because its<br />

doctrine (that all are created alike in God’s image <strong>and</strong> all alike redeemed in Christ)<br />

elevated their domestic status (The Early Church 59-60). Christian conservatism<br />

regarding slavery as an institution was not indifference but respect for the present status<br />

quo, the <strong>St</strong>ate, <strong>and</strong> the Law:<br />

1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but <strong>of</strong><br />

God: the powers that be are ordained <strong>of</strong> God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth<br />

the power, resisteth the ordinance <strong>of</strong> God: <strong>and</strong> they that resist shall receive to<br />

themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the<br />

evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid <strong>of</strong> the power? do that which is good, <strong>and</strong> thou<br />

shalt have praise <strong>of</strong> the same: 4 For he is the minister <strong>of</strong> God to thee for good.<br />

But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain:<br />

for he is the minister <strong>of</strong> God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth<br />

evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for<br />

conscience sake. (Rom 13, 1-5)<br />

Here we are concerned with social issues as far as they might assist us to underst<strong>and</strong><br />

some aspects <strong>of</strong> the New Testament. It is <strong>of</strong> interest that as far as slavery is concerned<br />

Paul mentions in this Epistle interesting ideas about Christian courtesy, brotherhood,<br />

practical justice, <strong>and</strong> the law <strong>of</strong> love (Scotfield 1243). According to Brown,<br />

manumission was a desirable process for him. He adds that: “Yet, the fact that Paul,<br />

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who thought that the end <strong>of</strong> the world was coming soon, did not condemn the social<br />

structure with its massive number <strong>of</strong> slaves was tragically misinterpreted for many<br />

centuries as Christian justification for the existence <strong>of</strong> slavery, indeed, <strong>of</strong> a slavery <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

harsher than existed in NT times (68). To free a slave was considered “good work” <strong>and</strong><br />

the Church treasury would be used to finance the manumission <strong>of</strong> slaves. Christian<br />

masters <strong>and</strong> slaves were brethren, <strong>and</strong> a master, in front <strong>of</strong> the bishop, would solemnly<br />

declare his intention <strong>of</strong> freeing a slave. In the fourth century, Constantine, confirmed<br />

this practice by giving the ceremony a legal validity equal to that <strong>of</strong> a formal<br />

manumission before a magistrate. Jesus’ doctrine <strong>of</strong> equality is seen in the fact that<br />

some slaves rose to become a bishop, notably Callistus <strong>of</strong> Rome in the third century.<br />

Protest against the social institution <strong>of</strong> slavery became a fact in the fourth century when<br />

Christians were in a position to influence social policies. As a result <strong>of</strong> this doctrine <strong>of</strong><br />

equality, Christianity was especially successful with women (Chadwick, The Early<br />

Church 59-60).<br />

Regarding this social issue, in the description <strong>of</strong> Christian common life in the<br />

Acts <strong>of</strong> the Apostles, one <strong>of</strong> the practices <strong>of</strong> the primitive Christian community was the<br />

community <strong>of</strong> goods. Rowl<strong>and</strong>, in Christian Origins (1985), states that there were<br />

uncertainties about the precise nature <strong>of</strong> this practice. In Acts 2:4 <strong>and</strong> 4:32,<br />

And all that believed were together, <strong>and</strong> had all things common (Acts 2:4);<br />

And the multitude <strong>of</strong> them that believed were <strong>of</strong> one heart <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> one soul:<br />

neither said any <strong>of</strong> them that ought <strong>of</strong> the things which he possessed was his<br />

own; but they had all things common. (Acts 4:32)<br />

It seems that this pattern <strong>of</strong> behavior was voluntary. It was not a condition for entry into<br />

the Christian fold, but the normal practice <strong>of</strong> those who became Christians. But<br />

although this was a characteristic <strong>of</strong> the Palestine churches, it seemed not to be typical<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Pauline churches. Yet, for him, almsgiving was a central issue (272-274).<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

As already mentioned, the original Christians were Jews, <strong>and</strong> Christianity has its<br />

origins in Judaism, <strong>and</strong> Jews, due to their religion <strong>and</strong> dietary law, were alienated from<br />

many aspects <strong>of</strong> common civic life. Their zeal in keeping the Law was a source <strong>of</strong><br />

resentment against Jews, but as Brown says (65), although anti-Judaism was frequent in<br />

sections <strong>of</strong> the Empire, through privileges granted by Julius Cesar they were legally<br />

protected. However, this was not the case for Christian Jews—or Gentile Christians—as<br />

they were viewed to be more dangerous than Jews for the stability <strong>of</strong> society, because <strong>of</strong><br />

the vast numbers being converted to Christianity.<br />

Activity Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Regarding the issue <strong>of</strong> wealth/poverty <strong>and</strong> class society, briefly explain the<br />

following:<br />

• socio-economic class <strong>of</strong> the first Christians<br />

• “clientela”<br />

• slavery <strong>and</strong> Paul<br />

• community <strong>of</strong> goods<br />

• Social tensions among Christians (for example at meals) caused by the<br />

different socio-economic groups constituting this community.<br />

Activity 10: Social issues: Wealth/poverty <strong>and</strong> class society<br />

This brings us to the third issue, concerning the attitudes <strong>of</strong> authorities <strong>and</strong> the<br />

population against Christians. The first believers were considered to be a threat to the<br />

social system, the power structure, <strong>and</strong> the very moral basis <strong>of</strong> the society. Christianity<br />

was initially identified with Judaism, but very soon it was perceived by most people as a<br />

different religion. Rome considered that the best policy towards Jews were, to ignore<br />

them <strong>and</strong> leave them alone, at least in general. Christianity, however, appeared to be<br />

very strange, a new cult that grew very fast <strong>and</strong> quickly spread across many groups <strong>of</strong><br />

people, socio-economic classes, <strong>and</strong> all geographical boundaries. This concerned the<br />

authorities <strong>and</strong> many groups <strong>of</strong> people felt threatened by this seemingly bizarre new<br />

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religion, which made very odd claims about a god-man’s virgin birth, his resurrection<br />

from the dead, <strong>and</strong> personal immortality. These misconceptions led to fear, concern <strong>and</strong><br />

caused rejection. The civic religious cults, their practices <strong>and</strong> observance were<br />

considered to be <strong>of</strong> great importance in the Hellenistic world, <strong>and</strong> people believed if<br />

they did not make those sacrifices <strong>and</strong> comply with the required observances to their<br />

gods, all the people would suffer under the wrath <strong>of</strong> the angered gods. Thus, for<br />

Christians to refuse to participate in civic or pagan cults <strong>and</strong> practices were to risk the<br />

fury <strong>of</strong> the gods, <strong>and</strong> destruction by them.<br />

The institution <strong>of</strong> emperor worship created another problem. As the Romans<br />

were the rules <strong>and</strong> the Greeks worshipped many deities, emperor worship was no<br />

problem to them. For the Christians, however, Jesus was the only Lord <strong>and</strong> God; there<br />

could be no other gods besides Him, <strong>and</strong> they could not bow before anyone or anything<br />

who claimed divine authority, including the emperor. This created the perception that<br />

Christians were enemies <strong>of</strong> the status quo <strong>and</strong> against the state, with allegiance to<br />

another lord <strong>and</strong> master than the emperor. Christians were thus considered to be against<br />

the civic <strong>and</strong> state god, in other words atheists. This type <strong>of</strong> non-civic or unreligious<br />

behavior (when seen in terms <strong>of</strong> the current religious practices <strong>and</strong> beliefs) baffled their<br />

neighbors (Wade, “The World <strong>of</strong> the Apostle Paul,” 1997). Acts 28:22 echoed popular<br />

opposition: “But we desire to hear <strong>of</strong> thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this<br />

sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” <strong>St</strong>ambaugh (60-62) states that there<br />

existed an open hostility <strong>of</strong> the Jewish authorities towards Christians, who were<br />

subsequently forced to leave Jerusalem; <strong>and</strong> when they began to make numerous new<br />

converts in other cities there began a sustained persecution by Herod Agrippa in 41 CE,<br />

as shown in Acts 12:1 –19:<br />

1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his h<strong>and</strong>s to vex certain <strong>of</strong><br />

the church. 2 And he killed James the brother <strong>of</strong> John with the sword. 3 And<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. ...<br />

19 And when Herod had sought for him, <strong>and</strong> found him not, he examined the<br />

keepers, <strong>and</strong> comm<strong>and</strong>ed that they should be put to death. And he went down<br />

from Judaea to Caesarea, <strong>and</strong> there abode.<br />

Nevertheless, in spite <strong>of</strong> the hauling <strong>of</strong> Christians before Roman authorities by<br />

Jewish leaders, Rome did not commence the persecution <strong>of</strong> Christians until several<br />

years later, in 64 A.D. by Nero, who gave as reason that they, he claimed, caused the<br />

fire that destroyed Rome. We know that Jesus had been condemned to crucifixion by a<br />

Roman procurator so as to placate the Jews <strong>and</strong> not because he believed Jesus to be<br />

guilty <strong>of</strong> any crime. Although the Gentile mission was concerned with the maintenance<br />

<strong>of</strong> public order <strong>and</strong> refraining from revealing disaffection towards the <strong>St</strong>ate, they were<br />

punished as incendiaries, <strong>and</strong> many were burned alive. As we will see, besides the<br />

persecutions by the Jewish authorities <strong>and</strong> Nero, there were many others persecutions,<br />

namely those <strong>of</strong> Domitian (c.90-96), Trajan (98-117), Hadrian (117-138), <strong>and</strong> Marcus<br />

Aurelius (161-181). In those times it is true to say that Christians always lived with a<br />

sense <strong>of</strong> danger, as can be seen in many passages <strong>of</strong> the New Testament. However, Paul<br />

still encouraged Christians to be loyal to the state:<br />

3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be<br />

afraid <strong>of</strong> the power? Do that which is good, <strong>and</strong> thou shalt have praise <strong>of</strong> the<br />

same ... 5 Wherefore ye must need be subject, not only for wrath, but also for<br />

conscience sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s<br />

ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all<br />

their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom<br />

fear; honour to whom honour. (Rom. 13:1-7)<br />

In the New Testament, we also find admonitions to domestic tranquility in an attempt<br />

not to <strong>of</strong>fend conventional morality:<br />

1 I exhort therefore, that, first <strong>of</strong> all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, <strong>and</strong><br />

giving <strong>of</strong> thanks, be made for all men; 2 For kings, <strong>and</strong> for all that are in<br />

authority; that we may lead a quiet <strong>and</strong> peaceable life in all godliness <strong>and</strong><br />

honesty. 3 For this is good <strong>and</strong> acceptable in the sight <strong>of</strong> God our Saviour; (1<br />

Tim. 2 1-3)<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

We do not find any enmity in Acts between followers <strong>of</strong> Christ <strong>and</strong> citizens loyal to<br />

Caesar. In Acts 18: 12-17, we see how Roman authorities deal with Paul fairly:<br />

12 And when Gallio was the deputy <strong>of</strong> Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with<br />

one accord against Paul, <strong>and</strong> brought him to the judgment seat, 13 Saying, This<br />

fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. 14 And when Paul<br />

was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter<br />

<strong>of</strong> wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with<br />

you: 15 But if it be a question <strong>of</strong> words <strong>and</strong> names, <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> your law, look ye to<br />

it; for I will be no judge <strong>of</strong> such matters. 16 And he drave them from the<br />

judgment seat. 17 Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler <strong>of</strong> the<br />

synagogue, <strong>and</strong> beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none <strong>of</strong><br />

those things.<br />

This passage also illustrates the above-mentioned hostility <strong>of</strong> the Jewish authority<br />

towards the followers <strong>of</strong> Jesus.<br />

According to <strong>St</strong>ambaugh there did exist a more militant approach to the dangers<br />

experienced by Christians. In 2 Thess. (2: 6-12), there is the promise <strong>of</strong> a judgment day<br />

in which the “wicked”—the Roman Empire—would be punished:<br />

6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7<br />

For the mystery <strong>of</strong> iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let,<br />

until he be taken out <strong>of</strong> the way. 8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed,<br />

whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit <strong>of</strong> his mouth, <strong>and</strong> shall destroy<br />

with the brightness <strong>of</strong> his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the<br />

working <strong>of</strong> Satan with all power <strong>and</strong> signs <strong>and</strong> lying wonders, 10 And with all<br />

deceivableness <strong>of</strong> unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not<br />

the love <strong>of</strong> the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall<br />

send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might<br />

be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.<br />

But, in the New Testament we see the suffering <strong>of</strong> Jesus as a model to follow. This is<br />

seen in Matt 16:24-28:<br />

24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him<br />

deny himself, <strong>and</strong> take up his cross, <strong>and</strong> follow me. 25 For whosoever will save<br />

his life shall lose it: <strong>and</strong> whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. 26<br />

For what is a man pr<strong>of</strong>ited, if he shall gain the whole world, <strong>and</strong> lose his own<br />

soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son <strong>of</strong> man<br />

shall come in the glory <strong>of</strong> his Father with his angels; <strong>and</strong> then he shall reward<br />

every man according to his works. 28 Verily I say unto you, There be some<br />

st<strong>and</strong>ing here, which shall not taste <strong>of</strong> death, till they see the Son <strong>of</strong> man coming<br />

in his kingdom.<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

This passage also contains predictions <strong>of</strong> distress for Jesus’ followers <strong>and</strong> the assurance<br />

<strong>of</strong> a better time: “<strong>and</strong> then he shall reward every man according to his work” (61-62).<br />

Having voluntarily given so much <strong>of</strong> their former community life to follow<br />

Jesus, early Christians required reassurance that their present trials <strong>and</strong> tribulations were<br />

not in vain. This is what I Peter did by addressing to those believers who have become<br />

“strangers <strong>and</strong> pilgrims” (2:11), “evildoers” (2:12) <strong>and</strong> “insulted” (3:9) with the<br />

assurance:<br />

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar<br />

people; that ye should shew forth the praises <strong>of</strong> him who hath called you out <strong>of</strong><br />

darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are<br />

now the people <strong>of</strong> God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained<br />

mercy. (2: 9-10)<br />

But somehow, the suffering <strong>of</strong> some Christians spurred others to more faithful living. In<br />

Philippians (1:14), the Apostle Paul says that: “And many <strong>of</strong> the brethren in the Lord,<br />

waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.”<br />

In spite <strong>of</strong> these persecutions the church continued to grow steadily during the<br />

following centuries. Paradoxically, persecutions can be counted as one <strong>of</strong> the main<br />

causes <strong>of</strong> success, since it had the opposite effect than the one intended, as it lead to<br />

increased social coherence. Furthermore, instead <strong>of</strong> driving Christians underground,<br />

Chadwick comments that, in the second century, when one governor <strong>of</strong> Asia Minor<br />

started to persecute the Christians, their entire population paraded before his house as a<br />

declaration <strong>of</strong> their faith, openly manifesting <strong>and</strong> protesting against injustice (The Early<br />

Church 55).<br />

The small group <strong>of</strong> initial followers <strong>of</strong> the crucified Christ increased to<br />

incredible numbers, forming the first Christian community in Jerusalem. Under the<br />

general supervision <strong>of</strong> the Apostles, they were bound together by ties <strong>of</strong> mutual love<br />

<strong>and</strong> sharing their meals <strong>and</strong> possessions. Nevertheless, the Apostles gradually became<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

unable to care for the material <strong>and</strong> spiritual needs <strong>of</strong> so many thous<strong>and</strong>s. Thus they<br />

decided to retain for themselves only the spiritual aspect <strong>of</strong> ministry, <strong>and</strong> appointed<br />

seven assigned deacons to organize the provisioning <strong>of</strong> the community; with <strong>St</strong>ephen,<br />

the first Christian martyr, among them.<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Regarding the issue <strong>of</strong> attitudes <strong>of</strong> authorities <strong>and</strong> population against Christians,<br />

briefly explain the following:<br />

• the cause <strong>of</strong> rejection <strong>of</strong> Christians<br />

• attitude <strong>of</strong> Christians regarding the Roman Empire<br />

Activity 11: Social issues: Attitudes <strong>of</strong> authorities <strong>and</strong> population against Christians<br />

2. THE APOSTOLIC AGE<br />

INTRODUCTION: CHURCH AND TRADITION FROM AN ORTHODOX<br />

POINT OF VIEW<br />

As already noted, it is claimed that there is an uninterrupted historical <strong>and</strong><br />

theological continuity from the beginning <strong>of</strong> the Christian Church to the Orthodox<br />

Church. This grows from the conviction, as mentioned, that the Orthodox Church is the<br />

true Church <strong>of</strong> Christ. Other Christian denominations cannot claim the same continuity.<br />

Thus, before we start with our narration <strong>of</strong> the formation <strong>and</strong> theological development<br />

<strong>of</strong> the first Christian Church, it deems proper to approach the Orthodox concept <strong>of</strong><br />

“Church,” clearly presented by Bebis, it is linked to that Tradition in which is<br />

incorporated the Scripture <strong>and</strong> the writings <strong>of</strong> the Fathers. For Orthodox, Tradition is an<br />

extension <strong>of</strong> the Church itself, an extension <strong>of</strong> the life <strong>of</strong> Christ, guided by the<br />

continuous presence <strong>of</strong> the Holy Spirit.<br />

For the Orthodox mind, it is only in the Church, as the abiding place <strong>of</strong> the Holy<br />

Trinity, where the teaching <strong>of</strong> Christ, the revealed truth, is received <strong>and</strong> transmitted by<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

the Apostles. What they experienced, saw, <strong>and</strong> witnessed, <strong>and</strong> later recorded in the New<br />

Testament is called the “Apostolic Tradition.” This tradition was later transmitted from<br />

the Apostles themselves to their successors, the bishops, <strong>and</strong> the presbyters. In his<br />

“Letter to the Corinthians,” <strong>St</strong>. Clement, Bishop <strong>of</strong> Rome, (d. 95?), who worked with<br />

the Apostle Paul <strong>and</strong> is associated with the oldest known non-canonical Christian<br />

writing, clarifies this historical truth:<br />

The Apostles preached to us the Gospel received from Jesus Christ, <strong>and</strong> Jesus<br />

Christ was God’s Ambassador. Christ, in other words, comes with a message<br />

from God, <strong>and</strong> the Apostles with a message from Christ. Both these orderly<br />

arrangements, therefore, originate from the will <strong>of</strong> God. And so, after receiving<br />

their instructions <strong>and</strong> being fully assured through the Resurrection <strong>of</strong> our Lord<br />

Jesus Christ, as well as confirmed in faith by the word <strong>of</strong> God, they went forth,<br />

equipped with the fullness <strong>of</strong> the Holy Spirit, to preach the good news that the<br />

Kingdom <strong>of</strong> God was close at h<strong>and</strong>. From l<strong>and</strong> to l<strong>and</strong>, accordingly, <strong>and</strong> from<br />

city to city they preached; <strong>and</strong> from among their earliest converts appointed men<br />

whom they had tested by the Spirit to act as bishops <strong>and</strong> deacons for the future<br />

believers. (Chap. 2)<br />

Eusebius <strong>of</strong> Caesarea, bishop <strong>of</strong> the fourth century, the first Church historian, in<br />

Ecclesiastical History, calls this process <strong>of</strong> transmission <strong>of</strong> revelation the “unerring<br />

tradition <strong>of</strong> the Apostolic preaching.” From this st<strong>and</strong>point, Bebis reasons that there are<br />

no theological distinctions within the Tradition <strong>of</strong> the Church. Therefore, we can say<br />

that, as a historical event, Tradition, starts with the Apostolic preaching <strong>and</strong> is found in<br />

Scriptures, but it is “kept, treasured, interpreted, <strong>and</strong> explained to the Church by the<br />

Holy Fathers” or the Fathers <strong>of</strong> the Church—men <strong>of</strong> extraordinary holiness <strong>and</strong> trusted<br />

<strong>orthodoxy</strong>—the successors <strong>of</strong> the Apostles. This interpretive aspect <strong>of</strong> the Apostolic<br />

preaching is called “Patristic Tradition.” Consequently, Bebis points out, Apostolic<br />

Preaching or Tradition has an organic bond, continuity, with Patristic tradition <strong>and</strong> vice<br />

versa. This fact should be stressed because there are many theologians in western<br />

churches who either distinguish between Apostolic Tradition <strong>and</strong> Patristic Tradition, or<br />

completely reject Patristic Tradition. Tradition is also very appropriately defined by <strong>St</strong>.<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Athanasius, the Great “Pillar <strong>of</strong> Orthodoxy,” bishop <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, during the fourth<br />

century, in his “First Letter to Serapion”: “Let us look at the very tradition, teaching,<br />

<strong>and</strong> faith <strong>of</strong> the Catholic Church from the very beginning, which the Logos gave<br />

(edoken), the Apostles preached (ekeryxan), <strong>and</strong> the Fathers preserved (ephylaxan).<br />

Upon this the Church is founded (tethemeliotai)”.<br />

Tradition is founded upon the Holy Trinity, it constantly proclaims the Gospel <strong>of</strong> Christ, it is<br />

found within the boundaries <strong>of</strong> the Christian Church, <strong>and</strong> it is expounded by the Fathers<br />

(Bebis).<br />

Table 2: Concept <strong>of</strong> Tradition<br />

Illustration 12: The three hierarchs <strong>of</strong> the Church 18<br />

Consequently, as we will see when we study Byzantium, the Ecumenical<br />

Councils <strong>of</strong> the Church, <strong>and</strong> more generally, the Local Councils <strong>of</strong> the Church, have<br />

great significance <strong>and</strong> relevance in terms <strong>of</strong> tradition. The first Council Synod <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Church was the Apostolic Synod, which took place in Jerusalem as early as 51 A.D.<br />

Later, bishops would meet either locally, or on the “ecumenical” or universal, the all-<br />

18 From left to right: Saint Basile-the-Great, Saint John Chrysostom, <strong>and</strong> Saint Gregory the Theologian<br />

(Saint Gregory <strong>of</strong> Nazianzus). See: .<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

encompassing level <strong>of</strong> the universal Christian empire—the oikoumene—in order to<br />

defend the faith <strong>of</strong> the Church. Bebis says:<br />

In sum, the Ecumenical Councils, together with the Scriptures <strong>and</strong> the Patristic<br />

writings, are the universal voice <strong>of</strong> the Church. The position <strong>of</strong> the Ecumenical<br />

Councils in the Church <strong>and</strong> their universal authority is enhanced by the fact that<br />

they issued not only dogmatic definitions <strong>of</strong> faith, but also formulated important<br />

canons <strong>of</strong> the Church which concern Orthodox spiritual life <strong>and</strong> help the<br />

individual in the growth <strong>of</strong> his life in Christ. Not all these canons have the same<br />

value today as they had when first written; still, they are like compasses which<br />

direct our lives toward a Christian lifestyle <strong>and</strong> orient us towards a high spiritual<br />

level. Canons which concern our moral life, fasting, <strong>and</strong> Holy Communion are<br />

indeed important for our daily life as good Orthodox Christians.<br />

The concept <strong>of</strong> the Tradition <strong>of</strong> the Church, which not only includes the Bible<br />

<strong>and</strong> the teaching <strong>of</strong> the Fathers, is what causes us repeatedly to return to written patristic<br />

sources in order to describe events that surround the first Christian community <strong>and</strong><br />

delineate their theological development. But, as Aghiorgoussis points out, Tradition also<br />

includes the ecumenical <strong>and</strong> local councils, the Divine Liturgy, <strong>and</strong> the architecture <strong>and</strong><br />

iconography <strong>of</strong> the Church (“The Dogmatic Tradition <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox Church”).<br />

THE INFANT CHURCH OF THE FIRST CENTURY<br />

As already suggested, it is commonly accepted that <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox<br />

Church actually begins with the Descent <strong>of</strong> the Holy Spirit (33 A.D, although 29 is<br />

thought to be more accurate) as it is narrated in Acts 2: 1-4:<br />

1 And when the day <strong>of</strong> Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord<br />

in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as <strong>of</strong> a rushing<br />

mighty wind, <strong>and</strong> it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there<br />

appeared unto them cloven tongues like as <strong>of</strong> fire, <strong>and</strong> it sat upon each <strong>of</strong> them. 4<br />

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, <strong>and</strong> began to speak with other<br />

tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.<br />

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Illustration 13: Pentecost 19<br />

As we read further, on that same day, after Peter had preached to the gathered people,<br />

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: <strong>and</strong> the same day<br />

there were added unto them about three thous<strong>and</strong> souls (Acts 2:41),<br />

thus constituting the first Christian community at Jerusalem.<br />

In the earliest period, the Christian movement centered its activities on<br />

Jerusalem, where it took shape, as already mentioned, not as a new religion but as a sect<br />

within Judaism. But we need to be aware that our knowledge <strong>of</strong> this first community is<br />

limited <strong>and</strong> vague. It is entirely based on the Acts <strong>of</strong> the Apostles, which should be read<br />

with caution since it is a blending <strong>of</strong> <strong>history</strong> <strong>and</strong> prose, which is normal for Hellenistic<br />

rhetoric. It must also be born in mind that the material is organized from the point <strong>of</strong><br />

view <strong>of</strong> the second Christian generation, a generation which perceived the events <strong>of</strong> the<br />

preceding four or five decades as a kind <strong>of</strong> golden age <strong>of</strong> the church (Walker 23).<br />

It is clear that the original communities were a composite <strong>of</strong> Palestinian Jews,<br />

who on the basis <strong>of</strong> Jesus’ resurrection taught his imminent return. They called<br />

themselves, from an early time, ekklesia—”assembly” or “church”—<strong>and</strong> regarded<br />

themselves as the true “assembly” <strong>of</strong> Israel—a community <strong>of</strong> the final days which will<br />

19 See: .<br />

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have the Lord’s recognition upon his return in glory. This community had its own<br />

identity, yet they both attended church <strong>and</strong> were obedient to the Judaic Law. Therefore,<br />

they lived at peace with the religious authorities <strong>of</strong> Jerusalem. Notwithst<strong>and</strong>ing their<br />

obedience to Jewish Law, they practiced baptism which was associated with the gift <strong>of</strong><br />

the Holy Spirit <strong>and</strong>, on a regular basis, gathered for prayer, mutual exhortation, <strong>and</strong><br />

breaking <strong>of</strong> bread—the origin <strong>of</strong> the Eucharist: “And they, continuing daily with one<br />

accord in the temple, <strong>and</strong> breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with<br />

gladness <strong>and</strong> singleness <strong>of</strong> heart” (Acts 2: 46).<br />

The Eleven, reduced from twelve due to Judas’ transgression, were the founding<br />

members <strong>of</strong> this community. Their number was restored when they appointed Matthias:<br />

“And they gave forth their lots; <strong>and</strong> the lot fell upon Matthias; <strong>and</strong> he was numbered<br />

with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1: 26). The title <strong>of</strong> “apostles” was given by the time the<br />

Acts were written; it was also applied to traveling missionaries such as Paul. But,<br />

excepting Peter <strong>and</strong> John, we have no records <strong>of</strong> the activities <strong>of</strong> the Twelve. They<br />

vanished from the <strong>history</strong> in Acts, <strong>and</strong>, as Walker adds, they become subject for later<br />

legend. When Paul visited Jerusalem three years after he had left, he only saw Peter <strong>and</strong><br />

James, the Lord’s brother.<br />

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Illustration 14: <strong>St</strong>. Peter <strong>and</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Paul 20<br />

In a second visit, fourteen years later, he writes that there were three pillars as leaders:<br />

James the Lord’s brother, who became the first Bishop <strong>of</strong> Jerusalem, Peter, <strong>and</strong> John.<br />

Paul says in his letter to the Galatians:<br />

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, <strong>and</strong> abode with him<br />

fifteen days. But other <strong>of</strong> the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.<br />

(1:18-19)<br />

Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, <strong>and</strong> took<br />

Titus with me also ... And when James, Cephas, 21 <strong>and</strong> John, who seemed to be<br />

pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me <strong>and</strong> Barnabas<br />

the right h<strong>and</strong>s <strong>of</strong> fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, <strong>and</strong> they unto the<br />

circumcision. (2:1-9)<br />

Walker says that trouble came to the community <strong>of</strong> believers in Jerusalem upon the<br />

incorporation in it <strong>of</strong> the Greek-speaking Diaspora Jews resident in this city. In Acts 6.1<br />

we are told that there was a complaint <strong>of</strong> Greek speaking Jewish believers against the<br />

local Aramaic-speaking Christians because their widows had been neglected in the daily<br />

ministration: “And in those days, when the number <strong>of</strong> the disciples was multiplied, there<br />

arose a murmuring <strong>of</strong> the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were<br />

neglected in the daily ministration.” The struggle ended when the Twelve appointed<br />

20 See: .<br />

21 Cephas was Peter: “And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon<br />

the son <strong>of</strong> Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone” (John 1:42).<br />

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seven Hellenists, the first deacons, <strong>St</strong>ephen among them, to administer the common<br />

resources: “Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men <strong>of</strong> honest report,<br />

full <strong>of</strong> the Holy Ghost <strong>and</strong> wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts<br />

6:3). But <strong>St</strong>ephen, seemingly the leader <strong>of</strong> the Hellenists, finds himself in dispute with<br />

members <strong>of</strong> other Greek-speaking synagogues who accused him <strong>of</strong> speaking<br />

“blasphemous words against Moses, <strong>and</strong> against God.” He also exposed the Jews for<br />

their deafness to the voice <strong>of</strong> Jesus. As a result <strong>St</strong>ephen was taken before the Sanhedrin<br />

<strong>and</strong> condemned to death by stoning.<br />

9 Then there arose certain <strong>of</strong> the synagogue, which is called the synagogue <strong>of</strong><br />

the Libertines, <strong>and</strong> Cyrenians, <strong>and</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>rians, <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> them <strong>of</strong> Cilicia <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong><br />

Asia, disputing with <strong>St</strong>ephen. 10 And they were not able to resist the wisdom<br />

<strong>and</strong> the spirit by which he spake. 11 Then they suborned men, which said, We<br />

have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, <strong>and</strong> against God. 12<br />

And they stirred up the people, <strong>and</strong> the elders, <strong>and</strong> the scribes, <strong>and</strong> came upon<br />

him, <strong>and</strong> caught him, <strong>and</strong> brought him to the council, 13 And set up false<br />

witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against<br />

this holy place, <strong>and</strong> the law: 14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus <strong>of</strong><br />

Nazareth shall destroy this place, <strong>and</strong> shall change the customs which Moses<br />

delivered us. 15 And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw<br />

his face as it had been the face <strong>of</strong> an angel. (Acts 6:9-15)<br />

22 See: .<br />

Illustration 15: <strong>St</strong>ephen’s martyrdom 22<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Constantine Kallinikos, in The History <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox Church, asserts that <strong>St</strong>ephen’s<br />

martyrdom brought two main turning points in the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> early Christians. The first<br />

was the great outbreak <strong>of</strong> local persecution against the newly-established Church—<br />

viewed as intolerable to the Jewish authorities as they were considered to be apostates<br />

from the Law <strong>of</strong> Moses. It had the effect <strong>of</strong> scattering the brethren <strong>and</strong> the Gospel from<br />

Jerusalem not only to other towns <strong>of</strong> Judea, but also outside <strong>of</strong> Judea. The second was<br />

Saul’s prominence, “And cast him out <strong>of</strong> the city, <strong>and</strong> stoned him: <strong>and</strong> the witnesses<br />

laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul” (Acts 7:58). Paul<br />

was then still a fanatical Pharisee, wildly persecuting the Christian Church, until his<br />

conversion to Christianity in the year A.D. 35 outside Damascus (Acts 9:4). Thereupon<br />

he was baptized, changing his name from Saul to Paul; the Apostles received him into<br />

their brotherhood, <strong>and</strong>, assailed by dangers <strong>and</strong> persecutions, he started, as already<br />

mentioned, his missionary journeys that were to spread the Christian creed into the<br />

Gentile world (5).<br />

Regarding the first turning point mentioned by Kallinikos, Walker reasons that<br />

<strong>St</strong>ephen <strong>and</strong> his fellow believers presumably lacked the respect for the temple <strong>and</strong> the<br />

Law that the Palestinian Christian habitually made manifest. Thus, he comments “they<br />

were persecuted not on the ground <strong>of</strong> their belief in Jesus as Messiah, but because they<br />

talked as though they were prepared, Jews though they were, to jettison certain dem<strong>and</strong>s<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Law in the light <strong>of</strong> their new faith” (24). Walker’s assertion is based on two<br />

reports provided by Acts 8:1: “And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time<br />

there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; <strong>and</strong> they were<br />

all scattered abroad throughout the regions <strong>of</strong> Judaea <strong>and</strong> Samaria, except the apostles.”<br />

On the one h<strong>and</strong>, we are told that subsequent to the stoning <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong>. <strong>St</strong>ephen, the<br />

first martyr <strong>of</strong> the Christian Church, there was a great persecution; on the other, that that<br />

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“the apostles” were not affected by persecutions. In other words, the persecutions were<br />

restricted to the Hellenic Christians who spoke “blasphemous words against this holy<br />

place, <strong>and</strong> the law (Acts 6:13).” But, this scattering <strong>of</strong> the Hellenist leaders, Walker<br />

continues, meant the beginning <strong>of</strong> a new period in the life <strong>and</strong> mission <strong>of</strong> the church.<br />

They carried the word to Samaria (Acts 8:5, 25), <strong>and</strong> later to Phoenicia, Cyprus, <strong>and</strong><br />

Antioch where there appeared the first Christian church which mixed Gentiles <strong>and</strong> Jews<br />

(Acts 11: 19-20). Then, the Hellenists carried the message <strong>of</strong> the risen Christ into the<br />

Diaspora.<br />

At the same time, following Jesus’ comm<strong>and</strong>, the Apostles went out <strong>and</strong><br />

preached wherever they went, first to the Jews <strong>and</strong> then to the Gentiles, so that in a<br />

surprisingly short time, Christian communities came into being in all the main centers<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Roman world <strong>and</strong> beyond. Their achievements are documented in the Acts, as<br />

well as in the inner tradition <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox Church. In contrast, the Jerusalem<br />

community, having, at least for some time, no direct involvement with the new mission,<br />

enjoyed relative peace, obviously maintaining its loyalty to the temple.<br />

Yet this peace was broken in time <strong>of</strong> Emperor Claudius, under the kingship <strong>of</strong><br />

Herod Agrippa (41-44 A.D.), son <strong>of</strong> Herod the Great, who, in his attempt to create a<br />

reputation for himself as an enthusiastic orthodox, executed James, the brother <strong>of</strong> John,<br />

<strong>and</strong> imprisoned Peter: “1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his h<strong>and</strong>s<br />

to vex certain <strong>of</strong> the church. 2 And he killed James the brother <strong>of</strong> John with the sword. 3<br />

And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also” (Acts<br />

12:1-3). Walker adds that this brief persecution may have been the reason why Peter left<br />

Jerusalem <strong>and</strong> started his activity as a missionary apostle. The leadership <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Jerusalem community came to be in the h<strong>and</strong>s <strong>of</strong> James, the Lord’s brother, in<br />

association with a body <strong>of</strong> elders or presbyter (23-25), until his martyrdom in 63: “And<br />

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the day following Paul went in with us unto James; <strong>and</strong> all the elders were present”<br />

(Acts 21:18). As we will see an early administrative structure already was in progress:<br />

bishop-presbyter-deacon.<br />

Illustration 16: <strong>St</strong>. James, the Lord’s brother 23<br />

It was not only James who died in martyrdom, but many other bishops also died during<br />

the persecutions. This eventually became one <strong>of</strong> the reasons for the preeminence <strong>of</strong><br />

bishops in the Byzantine Empire.<br />

Activity<br />

1. On which source do we base our knowledge <strong>of</strong> the Apostolic Age? Why should we be<br />

cautious with this source?<br />

2. Complete the following paragraphs:<br />

... the original communities were a composite ................................. who on the basis<br />

<strong>of</strong> Jesus’ resurrection, taught ...................................... They called themselves, from an<br />

early time .............................. They regarded themselves as the true .....................<br />

... they practiced ................baptism which was associated with ................................<br />

<strong>and</strong>, on a regular basis, gathered for .............................., ............................................,<br />

<strong>and</strong> ......................................—the origin <strong>of</strong> the Eucharist.<br />

23 See: .<br />

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3. What were the two turning points brought about by <strong>St</strong>ephen’s martyrdom?<br />

Activity 12: The Apostolic Age<br />

Activity Activity<br />

1. When did the Jewish persecution start. How did it begin? What were its<br />

consequences?<br />

2. Read the following verses in the Acts <strong>of</strong> the Apostles <strong>and</strong> explain the<br />

circumstances <strong>of</strong> the persecutions (who were the persecutors, who was persecuted, <strong>and</strong><br />

the reason for the persecution):<br />

• 4: 1-4<br />

• 5: 17-28<br />

• 6: 8-15<br />

• 8: 1-3<br />

• 12: 1-6<br />

Activity 13: Jewish persecutions<br />

PAUL AND GENTILE CHRISTIANITY<br />

Upon <strong>St</strong>ephen’s martyrdom <strong>and</strong> the scattering <strong>of</strong> the Hellenist Christians to the<br />

cities <strong>of</strong> the Diaspora, Antioch, the capital <strong>of</strong> the province <strong>of</strong> Syria, became the second<br />

focal center <strong>of</strong> Christian life. There the Gospel was preached to the Gentile “God-<br />

fearers” who were admitted into the Christian community without first becoming Jewish<br />

proselytes. It was there when the followers <strong>of</strong> Jesus were seen not only as a body<br />

distinct from paganism but also from normative Judaism that they were first called<br />

“Christians”. The fact <strong>of</strong> Gentiles becoming Christian converts while not subject to but<br />

free from the Law caused an immense debate, a debate in which Paul played a major<br />

role. This debate did not merely have local importance but concerned the fact that the<br />

new church have a universal (that is, for all times, all people, <strong>and</strong> all places) mission<br />

(Walker 26).<br />

Paul was a “Jew among Jews”, but, as Walker points out, Greek would have been<br />

his native tongue <strong>and</strong>, the city <strong>of</strong> Tarsus, at the time <strong>of</strong> his birth, was an important<br />

center <strong>of</strong> Hellenic <strong>St</strong>oic teaching. Consequently Paul during his youth would have been<br />

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familiar with the fundamentals <strong>of</strong> Hellenistic <strong>and</strong> religious thought. But, although born<br />

in Tarsus, he was brought up in Jerusalem,<br />

I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up<br />

in this city at the feet <strong>of</strong> Gamaliel, <strong>and</strong> taught according to the perfect manner <strong>of</strong><br />

the law <strong>of</strong> the fathers, <strong>and</strong> was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day (Acts<br />

22:3)<br />

<strong>and</strong> educated at the feet <strong>of</strong> Gamaliel, a famous teacher <strong>of</strong> the Law. In coherence with his<br />

pharisaic ideal <strong>of</strong> strict observance <strong>of</strong> the Law, Paul persecuted the early Christian<br />

church (Acts 8:1). Walker believes that Paul’s antagonism was directed against<br />

Hellenist Jewish Christians, who had a tendency to bend the requirements <strong>of</strong> the Law,<br />

<strong>and</strong> not against Palestinian Christians (26). Yet, his famous conversion, which occurred<br />

about the year 35 in a journey to Damascus, made him a true believer in the risen Jesus,<br />

<strong>and</strong> led to the beginning <strong>of</strong> the series <strong>of</strong> his missionary trips in the Gentile world,<br />

resulting in the foundation <strong>of</strong> many churches. We have some reports <strong>of</strong> his earliest trips<br />

in Galatians (1: 13-24):<br />

13 For ye have heard <strong>of</strong> my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how<br />

that beyond measure I persecuted the church <strong>of</strong> God, <strong>and</strong> wasted it: 14 And<br />

pr<strong>of</strong>ited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being<br />

more exceedingly zealous <strong>of</strong> the traditions <strong>of</strong> my fathers. 15 But when it pleased<br />

God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, <strong>and</strong> called me by his grace, 16<br />

To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen;<br />

immediately I conferred not with flesh <strong>and</strong> blood: 17 Neither went I up to<br />

Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, <strong>and</strong><br />

returned again unto Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem<br />

to see Peter, <strong>and</strong> abode with him fifteen days. 19 But other <strong>of</strong> the apostles saw I<br />

none, save James the Lord’s brother. 20 Now the things which I write unto you,<br />

behold, before God, I lie not. 21 Afterwards I came into the regions <strong>of</strong> Syria <strong>and</strong><br />

Cilicia; 22 And was unknown by face unto the churches <strong>of</strong> Judaea which were in<br />

Christ: 23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past<br />

now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. 24 And they glorified God in<br />

me.<br />

But, as Rowl<strong>and</strong> claims, in Christian Origins, Paul enunciated a principle <strong>of</strong><br />

accommodation concerning gentiles, we find in I Corinthians 9: “I have become all<br />

things to all men (9:22)”. Thus he behaved as a Jew in the company <strong>of</strong> Jews <strong>and</strong>, to a<br />

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certain extend, as a Gentile when with Gentiles, a pattern <strong>of</strong> behavior <strong>and</strong> a seemingly<br />

dual attitude which must have created some confusion to onlookers. Paul finds an<br />

underlying logic in this seemingly contradictory position when he says “I do it all for<br />

the sake <strong>of</strong> the gospel” (9:23) (233).<br />

A crisis arose when Christian visitors from Jerusalem arrived in Antioch, <strong>and</strong> in<br />

accordance with their traditions <strong>and</strong> the local customs <strong>of</strong> the church in Jerusalem<br />

insisted on the need for circumcision: “And certain men which came down from Judaea<br />

taught the brethren, <strong>and</strong> said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner <strong>of</strong> Moses, ye<br />

cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1). The debate made Paul <strong>and</strong> Titus, an uncircumcised<br />

Gentile Christian, go to Jerusalem to defend his position against this policy. Barnabas<br />

used to accompany him in many trips until he took the side <strong>of</strong> Peter on the matter <strong>of</strong><br />

eating with Gentiles. The result was a portentous accord in which it was agreed that the<br />

Gospel belonged to both Gentiles as well as Jews (29). This is the first council <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Church’s <strong>history</strong>, described in Acts (15). It was attended by the Apostles:<br />

2 When therefore Paul <strong>and</strong> Barnabas had no small dissension <strong>and</strong> disputation<br />

with them, they determined that Paul <strong>and</strong> Barnabas, <strong>and</strong> certain other <strong>of</strong> them,<br />

should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles <strong>and</strong> elders about this question... . 4<br />

And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received <strong>of</strong> the church, <strong>and</strong><br />

<strong>of</strong> the apostles <strong>and</strong> elders, <strong>and</strong> they declared all things that God had done with<br />

them. 5 But there rose up certain <strong>of</strong> the sect <strong>of</strong> the Pharisees which believed,<br />

saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, <strong>and</strong> to comm<strong>and</strong> them to keep<br />

the law <strong>of</strong> Moses. 6 And the apostles <strong>and</strong> elders came together for to consider <strong>of</strong><br />

this matter.<br />

The decision is narrated in these verses:<br />

7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, <strong>and</strong> said unto them,<br />

Men <strong>and</strong> brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among<br />

us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word <strong>of</strong> the gospel, <strong>and</strong><br />

believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them<br />

the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us <strong>and</strong><br />

them, purifying their hearts by faith ... For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost,<br />

<strong>and</strong> to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; (Acts<br />

15: 2-9).<br />

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We read that the Gentiles “should hear the word <strong>of</strong> the gospel, <strong>and</strong> believe ... giving<br />

them the Holy Ghost.” Ware highlights the verses “it seemed good to the Holy Ghost,<br />

<strong>and</strong> to us,” thus claiming authority as a Church <strong>and</strong> not individually. This council will<br />

have no parallel until the Council <strong>of</strong> Nicea in 325. Ware comments that<br />

Orthodoxy has always attached a great important to the place <strong>of</strong> councils in the life<br />

<strong>of</strong> church. It believes that the council is the chief organ whereby God has chosen to<br />

guide His people, <strong>and</strong> it regards the Catholic Church as essentially a conciliar<br />

Church ... In the Church there is neither dictatorship nor individualism, but<br />

harmony <strong>and</strong> unanimity; its member remain free but isolated, for they are united in<br />

love, in faith, <strong>and</strong> in sacramental communion. In a council no single member<br />

arbitrarily imposes his will upon the rest, but each consults with the others, <strong>and</strong> in<br />

this way they all freely achieve a “common mind”. a council is a living<br />

embodiment <strong>of</strong> the essential nature <strong>of</strong> the Church. (14)<br />

Paul’s letters, which circulated in <strong>and</strong> were collected by the churches he founded,<br />

represent the earliest body <strong>of</strong> Christian literature. Next to the four Gospels, they have<br />

exerted a major influence on Christian thought, grounded, not in his clarity or<br />

systematic character, but according to Walker, “in the richness <strong>and</strong> suggestiveness <strong>of</strong><br />

Paul’s thought an occasionally in its unfinished <strong>and</strong> even ambiguous character” (29).<br />

Yet, there was no ambiguity when talking about the foundation <strong>of</strong> his teaching <strong>and</strong><br />

preaching: “11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached <strong>of</strong> me is<br />

not after man. 12 For I neither received it <strong>of</strong> man, neither was I taught it, but by the<br />

revelation <strong>of</strong> Jesus Christ” (Gal. 13-24). Paul was convinced that his gospel was given<br />

to him by revelation, although it was also a matter <strong>of</strong> tradition: “I delivered unto you<br />

first <strong>of</strong> all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the<br />

scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). Walker summarizes Paul’s gospel by saying that<br />

This was the good news that in Jesus, God had acted to provide salvation for all<br />

who should believe—a salvation whose complete realization lay in the future but<br />

whose beginning could be experienced even in the present. This salvation had its<br />

roots in Jesus’ death <strong>and</strong> resurrection—two events which in Paul’s thought st<strong>and</strong><br />

forth as transactions <strong>of</strong> transcendent significance. (29)<br />

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Activity Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Read the following New Testament quotes <strong>and</strong> deduct aspects <strong>of</strong> Paul’s theology<br />

from them:<br />

• I Cor. 15:3, 49; 6: 11, 17; 12:27-14:1<br />

• Gal. 1:4<br />

• Rom. 6:4, 6, 8, 11; 1:16.<br />

Make sure that you possess <strong>and</strong> use a Bible with textual commentary to assist you<br />

in the interpretation <strong>of</strong> these texts.<br />

Activity 14: Paul’s theology<br />

The fact that Jesus Christ, the new covenant <strong>of</strong> God’s grace, was the one in<br />

whom God’s salvation is to be found eventually led him to view the dem<strong>and</strong> that<br />

Gentiles should keep the Law as intolerable, <strong>and</strong> not in tune with the new covenant <strong>of</strong><br />

God’s grace, as personified by Jesus Christ Himself. Paul says: “For I am not ashamed<br />

<strong>of</strong> the gospel <strong>of</strong> Christ: for it is the power <strong>of</strong> God unto salvation to every one that<br />

believeth; to the Jew first, <strong>and</strong> also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). For him, Christ<br />

embodied the new life <strong>of</strong> salvation. This did not mean, as Walker asserts, that for Paul<br />

the Law was evil, but that it was merely a preliminary (31). But primitive Christianity<br />

<strong>and</strong> Pauline Christianity, Walker continues, were coextensive. Paul knew <strong>of</strong> other<br />

churches founded by other missionaries: “19 Through mighty signs <strong>and</strong> wonders, by the<br />

power <strong>of</strong> the Spirit <strong>of</strong> God; so that from Jerusalem, <strong>and</strong> round about unto Illyricum, I<br />

have fully preached the gospel <strong>of</strong> Christ. 20 Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel,<br />

not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation” (Rom.<br />

15:20). Paul was not personally familiar with the Roman church, a church which<br />

eventually would become most important <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> great relevance in the future Christian<br />

panorama. Thus he begins his letter to the Roman church by introducing himself. He<br />

has been “called to be an apostle,” <strong>and</strong> his mission is “to bring about the obedience <strong>of</strong><br />

faith among all nations” (Rom. 1:1–5):<br />

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1 Paul, a servant <strong>of</strong> Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel<br />

<strong>of</strong> God, 2 (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3<br />

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made <strong>of</strong> the seed <strong>of</strong> David<br />

according to the flesh; 4 And declared to be the Son <strong>of</strong> God with power, according<br />

to the spirit <strong>of</strong> holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5 By whom we have<br />

received grace <strong>and</strong> apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his<br />

name:<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. Read the following New Testament quotes <strong>and</strong> deduct Paul’s thoughts about<br />

Christians’ relationship with the Jewish Law or Old Covenant:<br />

• Gal. 5:14; 2:16, 21; 3:6, 22, 24, 19<br />

• Rom. 2:21; 3:21; 4:3, 24-25; 6;23; 7:7; 11: 32.<br />

2. Which other Christian church was also functioning at the time <strong>of</strong> Paul’s<br />

preaching tours?<br />

(When dealing with Biblical texts always remember to use a Biblical commentary,<br />

or a <strong>St</strong>udy Bible.)<br />

Activity 15: Paul’s relationship with the Law <strong>and</strong> with other churches<br />

THE GOSPELS<br />

We have seen many references to first century Christians in the Acts <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Apostles <strong>and</strong> in Paul’s letters. But it needs to be remembered that at that time –when the<br />

Christian Bible was the Old Testament, read in the Greek Septuagint version—the<br />

words <strong>of</strong> the Lord were authoritatively circulating in the form <strong>of</strong> an oral tradition until<br />

the synoptic gospels, during a process <strong>of</strong> gradual formation, were completed.<br />

We all are aware that Jesus did not leave behind anything in writing. He<br />

proclaimed his message to people in vernacular Aramaic <strong>and</strong> his teachings spread by<br />

word <strong>of</strong> mouth for at least a generation before written gospels by Matthew, Mark,<br />

Luke—authors <strong>of</strong> the Synoptic Gospels—<strong>and</strong> John appeared in the Greek language. The<br />

word “synoptic” means “with the same eye” or “seeing together.” The Synoptic Gospels<br />

present us with the narratives <strong>of</strong> these three evangelists concerning certain aspects <strong>of</strong> the<br />

life <strong>of</strong> Jesus. The adjective ‘synoptic’ refers to the fact that they include the same<br />

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material, <strong>and</strong> present the basic story <strong>of</strong> Jesus, his sayings <strong>and</strong> events in his life in similar<br />

ways. They even used many <strong>of</strong> the same words in parallel accounts. Yet, while the<br />

Gospel <strong>of</strong> John sometimes resembles the other three Gospels, it tells the story <strong>of</strong> Jesus<br />

in significantly different ways such as a different order <strong>of</strong> events, using different<br />

perspectives <strong>and</strong> points <strong>of</strong> emphasis, <strong>and</strong> its own unique vocabulary <strong>and</strong> style.<br />

The Orthodox theologian <strong>St</strong>ylianopoulos finds a dynamic interplay <strong>and</strong> mutuality<br />

between divine word <strong>and</strong> tradition in the formation <strong>of</strong> the Gospels. He asserts that the<br />

Synoptic Gospels, which are historically closest to Jesus, are dependent on earlier<br />

Christian traditions <strong>and</strong> texts. These were texts <strong>and</strong> traditions about the deeds <strong>and</strong> words<br />

<strong>of</strong> Jesus that were used for the needs <strong>of</strong> the Christian congregations (Luke 1:1-4). For<br />

him they “embody the oral <strong>and</strong> written traditions <strong>of</strong> the early Christians. In other words,<br />

… the authoritative words <strong>and</strong> deeds <strong>of</strong> Jesus have been mediated through the dynamics<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Christian community <strong>and</strong> its ongoing stream <strong>of</strong> tradition” (20-21). Before they<br />

attained their canonical status by the end <strong>of</strong> the second century, the Gospels themselves<br />

were highly valued <strong>and</strong> used in worship <strong>and</strong> teaching by various congregations.<br />

Furthermore, Raymond E. Brown lists three stages in the formation <strong>of</strong> the Gospels<br />

which can also assist in explaining the formation <strong>of</strong> the Synoptic ones:<br />

(1) The public ministry or activity <strong>of</strong> Jesus <strong>of</strong> Nazareth (the first third <strong>of</strong> the 1 st<br />

century AD). The thing <strong>of</strong> note he did, the oral proclamation <strong>of</strong> his message,<br />

<strong>and</strong> his interaction with others were recorded selectively by his Apostles by<br />

memory.<br />

(2) The apostolic preaching about Jesus (the second third <strong>of</strong> the 1 st century AD).<br />

Jesus’ resurrection illuminate his apostles’ memories <strong>of</strong> the preresurrectional<br />

period, preaching his words <strong>and</strong> deeds with enriched<br />

significance —a kerigmatic proclamation intended to bring people to faith.<br />

Yet other formative elements contributed to the Gospel development,<br />

namely liturgy or worship.<br />

(3) The written Gospels (around the last third <strong>of</strong> the 1 st century). Although<br />

preaching based on oral preservation <strong>and</strong> development <strong>of</strong> the Jesus material<br />

continued into the 2d century, the canonical Gospels were written between<br />

65-100. As for the Gospel writers, two Gospels were attributed to the<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

apostles Mathew <strong>and</strong> John <strong>and</strong> two to two apostolic men, companions <strong>of</strong> the<br />

apostles Peter (Mark) <strong>and</strong> Paul (Luke) (106).<br />

But as Brown grants, most modern scholars think that the evangelists were not<br />

eyewitnesses <strong>of</strong> Jesus’ ministry. This <strong>of</strong> course is an important perspective <strong>and</strong> assist us<br />

to underst<strong>and</strong> the differences among the gospels. He adds that “the evangelists emerge<br />

as authors, shaping, developing, pruning the transmitted Jesus material, <strong>and</strong> as<br />

theologians, orienting that material to a particular goal” (11).<br />

Brown adds a further stage <strong>of</strong> Gospel formation to describe the interrelationship<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Synoptic Gospels. This stage asserts that as they have so much in common in the<br />

third stage there must have been some form <strong>of</strong> dependence <strong>of</strong> one or two <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Synoptics on the other—Matt wrote a first Gospel <strong>and</strong> Luke used Matt, <strong>and</strong> the<br />

existence <strong>of</strong> Q—or a common written source (a protogospel). This is commonly<br />

referred to as the Synoptic problem (122). The modern view is that Mark’s Gospel came<br />

first, <strong>and</strong> that both Matthew <strong>and</strong> Luke based their accounts on Mark, as well as other<br />

collections <strong>of</strong> material about Jesus. John’s Gospel appears to have been composed either<br />

independently, or at least in an independent way.<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. What are the Synoptic Gospels?<br />

2. List the three stages defined by Brown in the formation <strong>of</strong> the Gospels.<br />

Activity 16: The formation <strong>of</strong> the Gospels<br />

Already during the stage <strong>of</strong> the formation <strong>of</strong> the Gospels, <strong>and</strong> for the next two<br />

hundred years, the Christian movement would be subjected to a long period <strong>of</strong><br />

suffering, as a result <strong>of</strong> persecutions, first by the Jewish authorities <strong>and</strong> then by the<br />

Roman Empire. These persecutions <strong>of</strong> Christians by <strong>and</strong> under the Roman Empire<br />

constitute the focus <strong>of</strong> the next section.<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

3. EARLY CHRISTIANITY AND THE ROMAN EMPIRE: PERSECUTION<br />

AND SUCCESS<br />

The encounter between early Christianity <strong>and</strong> the Roman Empire is a period in<br />

<strong>history</strong> that stretches over three centuries. This is a period in <strong>history</strong> that brought the<br />

infant Church great pain <strong>and</strong> much distress, but also a time <strong>of</strong> great satisfaction <strong>and</strong><br />

many accomplishments, confirming that the amount <strong>of</strong> suffering had not been in vain.<br />

As already mentioned, the Gentile mission did not intend to challenge the Empire’s<br />

public order, <strong>and</strong> as Chadwick explains, the Empire—following the policies <strong>of</strong> the<br />

earlier Hellenistic monarchies <strong>of</strong> the East—was tolerant <strong>of</strong> any cult provided they did<br />

not weaken morality or provoke sedition (The Early Church 24). They understood that<br />

each nation under their rule had the right to worship their own deities as the Senate or<br />

the people <strong>of</strong> Rome had their right to worship theirs as long as due honor was given to<br />

Rome <strong>and</strong> her gods. Consequently, Judaism, in spite <strong>of</strong> not being viewed in a positive<br />

light by the Romans authorities, was an “authorized religion” (religio licita), <strong>and</strong> Jews<br />

were even dispensed from participation in the imperial cult. Nevertheless, this toleration<br />

was limited because some Jewish religious practices were considered immoral <strong>and</strong><br />

liable to be suppressed. In general, religious cults, specifically religious societies with<br />

private rites such as those <strong>of</strong> Christians, which seemed to threaten Rome—its state <strong>and</strong><br />

public order—were regarded illicit, even if little or no action was, in fact, taken to<br />

suppress them (Walker 50).<br />

Yet, as stated, Christianity viewed the Empire <strong>and</strong> its relationship with it<br />

positively. Even in the Acts <strong>of</strong> the Apostles it is suggested that the Empire, under God’s<br />

guidance, could be a means for the advancement <strong>of</strong> the Gospel. Christians, who<br />

admitted only one Lord <strong>and</strong> God, in terms <strong>of</strong> this mindset perceived paganism as one <strong>of</strong><br />

the major problems <strong>of</strong> the present <strong>St</strong>ate. They considered it essential that something<br />

must be done concerning this religion that st<strong>and</strong>s in absolute opposition to their own<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

monotheistic belief. Obviously the Roman government who did not share the Christian<br />

mindset <strong>and</strong> doctrines was unwilling to quit their old pagan gods, especially as the<br />

prosperity, might <strong>and</strong> many victories in battle were attributed to favors granted to the<br />

Roman Empire by their pagan gods. Moreover, the God <strong>of</strong> the Jews, with no images <strong>and</strong><br />

generally no sacrifices, was harder to grasp than there own tangible divine images,<br />

concrete rituals <strong>and</strong> daily sacrifices. There were no one absolute reason why<br />

Christianity should not gain tolerance (Chadwick, The Early Church 24-25), but it<br />

almost was a natural c<strong>and</strong>idate to be considered as an unauthorized <strong>and</strong> dangerous<br />

association, <strong>and</strong> thus leading to eventual persecution.<br />

Christians:<br />

What follows is a reference table with the main persecutions suffered by<br />

Jewish Persecutions (described in the Book <strong>of</strong> Acts)<br />

The Persecution <strong>of</strong> Nero (64 AD)<br />

Domitian (81-96)<br />

Trajan (98-117)<br />

Hadrian (117-138)<br />

Marcus Aurelius (161-181)<br />

Septimus Severus (202-211)<br />

Maximus the Thracian (235-251)<br />

Decius (249-251)<br />

Valerian (257-260)<br />

Diocletian / Galerius (303-311)<br />

Table 3: Chart with main persecutions <strong>of</strong> First Christians<br />

Regarding the Jewish persecution I mentioned that there was not a sustained<br />

persecution until 41, by Herod Agrippa, that is until the time when Christians began to<br />

make new converts in other cities. I also related that in spite <strong>of</strong> Christians being hauled<br />

by Jewish leaders before the Roman authorities, the conflict <strong>of</strong> Christians with the<br />

Roman Empire <strong>and</strong> the first persecution came by chance <strong>and</strong> not by any fundamental<br />

point <strong>of</strong> collision. In A.D. 64, Nero, a demented monarch, who had murdered his tutor,<br />

his brother, <strong>and</strong> his mother, had himself set fire to Rome. He executed this act as he<br />

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wished to have a realistic impression <strong>of</strong> the burning <strong>of</strong> Troy by the Greeks. But Nero,<br />

having been discovered by his people, accused the young <strong>and</strong> new Christian sect <strong>of</strong><br />

arson so as to avoid being blamed. Furthermore, although there was not any deep<br />

ideological conflict between Christians <strong>and</strong> the <strong>St</strong>ate, as Chadwick states, precedent was<br />

born: Christians were condemned to death just because there were Christians <strong>and</strong> not as<br />

a result <strong>of</strong> any other charges (The Early Church 26), although one might have imagined<br />

that other mundane, social, or political reason were the cause. During this persecution,<br />

when Peter <strong>and</strong> Paul were martyred, Kallinikos narrates that: “Some <strong>of</strong> the Christians<br />

were crucified, some sawn in two; other were sewn up into skins <strong>and</strong> thrown to the<br />

dogs, or cast as defenseless prey to the beasts. And some, smeared with pitch <strong>and</strong> tar,<br />

were impaled on stakes <strong>and</strong> lighted like torches to illuminate the imperial gardens”.<br />

24 See: .<br />

Illustration 17: Peter’s martyrdom 24<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Therefore to check this rumor, those, who were called Christians by the mob <strong>and</strong> hated for their<br />

moral enormities, were substituted in his place as culprits by Nero <strong>and</strong> afflicted with the most<br />

exquisite punishments. Christ, from whom the name was given, was put to death during the<br />

reign <strong>of</strong> Tiberius, by the procurator Pontius Pilate. Although checked for the time, this<br />

pernicious superstition broke out again not only in Judea, where the evil originated, but<br />

throughout the City, in which the atrocities <strong>and</strong> shame from all parts <strong>of</strong> the world center <strong>and</strong><br />

flourish. Therefore those who confessed were first seized, then on their information a great<br />

multitude were convicted, not so much <strong>of</strong> the crime <strong>of</strong> incendiarism, as <strong>of</strong> hatred <strong>of</strong> the human<br />

race. The victims who perished also suffered insults, for some were covered with the skins <strong>of</strong><br />

wild beasts <strong>and</strong> torn to pieces by dogs, while others were fixed to crosses <strong>and</strong> burnt to light the<br />

night when daylight had failed. Nero had <strong>of</strong>fered his gardens for the spectacle <strong>and</strong> was giving a<br />

circus show, mingling with the people in the dress <strong>of</strong> a driver, or speeding about in a chariot.<br />

Although they were criminals who deserved the most severe punishment, yet a feeling <strong>of</strong> pity<br />

arose, since they were put to death not for the public good but to satisfy the rage <strong>of</strong> an<br />

individual. (Tacitus, Annales)<br />

Table 4: First century historian <strong>and</strong> the persecution under Nero<br />

Under Domitian (81-96) the situation again became grave when as emperor he<br />

proclaimed himself “Master <strong>of</strong> God”; anyone who disapproved <strong>of</strong> his cult immediately<br />

became suspect <strong>of</strong> treason. Eminent Romans who had Jewish sympathies were accused<br />

<strong>of</strong> atheism. For Domitian, belief, in Jesus Christ was opposed to belief in the divinity <strong>of</strong><br />

the Roman Emperor. The Domitian persecution caused the death <strong>of</strong> Domitian’s cousin<br />

<strong>and</strong> his wife, Flavius Clemens, the deportation <strong>of</strong> the Apostle John to Patmos, the<br />

martyrdom <strong>of</strong> Dionysius the Areopagite, <strong>and</strong> the imprisonment, exile <strong>and</strong> execution <strong>of</strong><br />

many other Christians. Based on his literal interpretation <strong>of</strong> Christ’s words regarding the<br />

Kingdom <strong>of</strong> God, Domitian even brought certain followers <strong>of</strong> Jesus from Palestine to<br />

condemn them as revolutionaries. However when he saw their poverty, <strong>and</strong> realized that<br />

they were not wealthy members <strong>of</strong> an earthly, material kingdom, he dismissed them as<br />

simple madmen (Kallinikos). Chadwick believes that, in the book <strong>of</strong> the Revelation,<br />

John’s denunciation <strong>of</strong> the idolatrous, persecuting Rome as the scarlet woman who is<br />

drunk with the blood <strong>of</strong> saints, may reflect the distress in the churches <strong>of</strong> Asia Minor at<br />

this time (The Early Church 27):<br />

6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood <strong>of</strong> the saints, <strong>and</strong> with the blood<br />

<strong>of</strong> the martyrs <strong>of</strong> Jesus: <strong>and</strong> when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.7<br />

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And the angel said unto me, Wherefore didst thou marvel? I will tell thee the<br />

mystery <strong>of</strong> the woman, <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven<br />

heads <strong>and</strong> ten horns. (Rev. 6-7)<br />

At this time [95 a.d.] the road leading from Sinuessa to Puteoli was paved with stones. And in<br />

the same year Domitian put to death, besides many others, his cousin Flavius Clemens, who<br />

was then consul, <strong>and</strong> the wife <strong>of</strong> Flavius, Flavia Domitilla, who was his own relative. The crime<br />

charged against both was sacrilege. On the same charge many others who had adopted Jewish<br />

customs were condemned. Some were put to death, others had their property confiscated.<br />

Domitilla was exiled alone on P<strong>and</strong>ataria. (Cassius Dio, History <strong>of</strong> Rome)<br />

Table 5: First century historian <strong>and</strong> the persecution under Domitian<br />

The crisis for Christians caused by the cult <strong>of</strong> the emperor finally passed with the<br />

emperor Trajan (98-117), who in contrast to Domitian, did not want his cult to be a<br />

compulsory loyalty-test. Pliny the younger, 25 then Governor <strong>of</strong> Bithynia in Asia Minor,<br />

observed the daily increase <strong>of</strong> the Christian communities in his province, not only in<br />

towns, but also in the countryside. He describes the Christian in a manner that reflects<br />

the way in which their contemporaries viewed them:<br />

... that on a fixed day they were accustomed to come together before daylight <strong>and</strong><br />

to sing by turns a hymn to Christ as a god, <strong>and</strong> that they bound themselves by oath,<br />

not for some crime but that they would not commit robbery, theft, or adultery, that<br />

they would not betray a trust nor deny a deposit when called upon. After this it was<br />

their custom to disperse <strong>and</strong> to come together again to partake <strong>of</strong> food...<br />

Since Pliny was uncertain as to how best to deal with the progress <strong>of</strong> this “vicious,<br />

extravagant superstition,” as he called it, he wrote to the Emperor for guidance. He<br />

wondered, among many things, if merely pr<strong>of</strong>essing Christianity automatically made<br />

the individual culpable <strong>of</strong> disloyalty to the Emperor. By the torturing <strong>of</strong> two slave-girls,<br />

Pliny had discovered that Christianity was innocuous. Trajan’s response suggests that<br />

Christianity was unauthorized <strong>and</strong> therefore punishable, but it was his primary concern<br />

that there should not be deliberate measures to hunt out Christians as a result <strong>of</strong> rioting<br />

mobs, or false <strong>and</strong> anonymous accusations; however, once they were summoned before<br />

25 See letters by Pliny <strong>and</strong> Trajan in Appendix A.<br />

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the magistrates, they should be forced to choose between sacrifice to the pagan gods <strong>and</strong><br />

death.<br />

Furthermore, authorities discovered that Christians were virtuous folks, but at<br />

the same time inexplicably <strong>and</strong> obstinately hostile toward paganism; therefore,<br />

Christianity remained a capital <strong>of</strong>fense. Thus, Christianity, whose fate until then<br />

depended upon the whim <strong>of</strong> successive emperors, became, from then onwards, by the<br />

explicit provisions <strong>of</strong> Roman law, open to persecution; being a Christian became a<br />

punishable <strong>of</strong>fense. As a result <strong>of</strong> this new law, during the second century, many<br />

suffered martyrdom: Ignatius Bishop <strong>of</strong> Antioch, Telesphorus bishop <strong>of</strong> Rome,<br />

Polycarp bishop <strong>of</strong> Smirna, Justin ‘The Christian philosopher’ at Rome (between 162<br />

<strong>and</strong> 168) (Walker 51; Kallinikos). Walker adds that during <strong>and</strong> after the second century<br />

the emperors were not greatly interested in nor disturbed by the Christian phenomenon.<br />

Nevertheless, they considered it undesirable <strong>and</strong> punishable.<br />

26 See: .<br />

Illustration 18: Saint Polycarp, martyred circa 155 AD 26<br />

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Hadrian (117-138), who like his predecessor, discouraged governors from taking<br />

a personal initiative in the persecution <strong>of</strong> Christians, was addressed by two learned<br />

Christians, Quadratus, Bishop <strong>of</strong> Athens, <strong>and</strong> the Athenian philosopher, Aristides. In<br />

their discourse before him they <strong>of</strong>fered apologies for their brethren in the faith.<br />

Impressed by their arguments, Hadrian ordered his <strong>of</strong>ficials henceforth only to arrest<br />

Christians when convicted <strong>of</strong> common crimes, but not to disturb <strong>and</strong> persecute them<br />

merely to satisfy popular clamor. The need to make such a statement <strong>of</strong> course shows<br />

that persecution <strong>of</strong> Christians because <strong>of</strong> public dem<strong>and</strong> was in fact a reality <strong>and</strong> true.<br />

Only in circumstances <strong>of</strong> common crimes should they be punished by death. At that<br />

time, there even existed governors who tried to protect Christians. But unfortunately<br />

even under Hadrian, Christian blood was shed in Palestine, owing to a certain Jewish<br />

rebel, Bar-cochba, who instigated his fellow-countrymen to revolt against the Roman<br />

rule. Bar-cochba was killed, <strong>and</strong> the rebellion put down, with the spilling <strong>of</strong> much<br />

Jewish blood. In this same rebellion, many innocent Christians perished because<br />

Christianity was still generally identified with Judaism. Hadrian annihilated even the<br />

name “Jerusalem,” renaming the Jewish capital “Aelia Capitolina”. He also erected a<br />

temple to Venus on Golgotha <strong>and</strong> a statue <strong>of</strong> Jupiter on the Holy Sepulcher (Kallinikos<br />

9; Chadwick, The Early Church 29).<br />

Marcus Aurelius (161-180), Caesar <strong>and</strong> philosopher, initiated a new series <strong>of</strong><br />

persecutions against the Christians, rescinding Hadrian’s moderate laws. Kallinikos<br />

believes this was due to the fact that he witnessed the calm <strong>and</strong> courageous attitude <strong>of</strong><br />

Christians in the face <strong>of</strong> death. This attitude he perceived as an insult to his own <strong>St</strong>oic<br />

virtue. His negative attitude toward Christianity was compounded by the fact that, in<br />

those days, any kind <strong>of</strong> catastrophe was blamed on the displeasure <strong>of</strong> the gods by the<br />

toleration the Romans showed towards the godless <strong>and</strong> atheistic Christians. The<br />

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persecution <strong>of</strong> Christians merely because they were Christians again became frequent,<br />

<strong>and</strong> torture was used to force them to denounce their faith. Kallinikos illustrates this<br />

point by recounting the life <strong>of</strong> Polycarp, who with Ignatius had been a disciple <strong>of</strong> Saint<br />

John, in 166, in Asia Minor, before he was burned alive in the arena <strong>of</strong> Smyrna:<br />

—”Wilt thou curse Christ?” the proconsul threatened him.<br />

—For eighty-six years have I served Him, <strong>and</strong> never has He done me<br />

wrong,” answered the saint; “how then shall I now speak evil <strong>of</strong> my Lord<br />

<strong>and</strong> Savior?” The pagans sought to fasten him to the stake with nails, but<br />

Polycarp protested.<br />

—”Your precautions are needless, for God will grant me strength to st<strong>and</strong><br />

unbound amid the flames.”<br />

In 177, persecutions broke out more violently than ever before, especially in<br />

Southern Gaul, present day France. Many more martyrs succumbed to cruel tortures,<br />

among them the nonagenarian Bishop <strong>of</strong> the town, Pothinus, a slave girl, Bl<strong>and</strong>ina who<br />

died in the bull-ring, <strong>and</strong> Symphorian, beheaded for refusing to adore the image <strong>of</strong><br />

Cybele. Moreover, to mock the Christian dogma <strong>of</strong> the resurrection <strong>of</strong> the dead, the<br />

pagans burnt the bodies <strong>of</strong> the martyrs <strong>and</strong> scattered their ashes on the waters <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Rhone, saying as they did so: “—”Now we shall see if they will arise from the dead, <strong>and</strong><br />

if their God has power enough to save them from our h<strong>and</strong>s!. “ Yet, in spite <strong>of</strong> these<br />

persecutions, by the end <strong>of</strong> the second century, Christianity extended to the upper<br />

classes <strong>of</strong> society, <strong>and</strong> many high-class personages might wake up at night only to<br />

discover that their wives had gone to Christian nocturnal services, vigils <strong>and</strong> prayers<br />

(Chadwick, The Early Church 29).<br />

Septimus Severus (192-211), who initially were favorably disposed toward<br />

Christians for having been cured <strong>of</strong> a chronic disease, suddenly had a change <strong>of</strong> mind.<br />

He consequently issued a decree in 202 that prohibited the Christian confession <strong>and</strong><br />

faith under the penalty <strong>of</strong> death. Yet this did not represent a general persecution. New<br />

martyrs from this round <strong>of</strong> persecutions included Leonidas, in Egypt, who was<br />

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beheaded. His fifteen-year old son, later the famous Origen, before he died, sent his<br />

father a letter admonishing him not to weaken in the face <strong>of</strong> martyrdom. Maximin (235-<br />

238), who succeeded to the throne by murdering Alex<strong>and</strong>er Severus, continued the<br />

persecution <strong>of</strong> Christians. Kallinikos says that Maximin expressed his hatred more<br />

particularly toward bishops because his predecessor, the eclectic Severus, had set up a<br />

bust <strong>of</strong> Christ in his chapel by the side <strong>of</strong> his statues <strong>of</strong> Apollonius <strong>and</strong> Orpheus <strong>and</strong> had<br />

cultivated relationships with church leaders.<br />

The initial <strong>and</strong> middle decades <strong>of</strong> the third century in Rome <strong>and</strong> the Empire—the<br />

era <strong>of</strong> Tertullian, <strong>of</strong> Hippolytus, <strong>of</strong> Clement <strong>and</strong> Cyprian—was a period <strong>of</strong> crisis, not<br />

only for the empire but for the Christian communities. There were many reasons for this<br />

crisis. One <strong>of</strong> them was external pressures on the empire caused by barbarian tribes.<br />

These invasions by the so-called barbarian tribes who invaded <strong>and</strong> ravaged the outlying<br />

provinces began during the reign <strong>of</strong> Marcus Aurelius (d. 180). In 235, serious pressure<br />

from Persia complicated the already complex political scene. In this situation Rome was<br />

struggling to survive with little prospect <strong>of</strong> success in controlling all its new enemies..<br />

The Empire also experienced social, economic <strong>and</strong> political problems. Urban wealth<br />

was too dependent on slavery; <strong>and</strong> as long as the Roman armies were winning, supplies<br />

<strong>of</strong> slaves kept agriculture going, but with the series <strong>of</strong> defeats that began in the third<br />

century, the number <strong>of</strong> available slaves decreased, thus causing a decline in agricultural<br />

production. By the fourth century, the Empire began to suffer from severe shortages <strong>of</strong><br />

labor <strong>and</strong> food, accompanied by widespread famine, chronic urban poverty, <strong>and</strong> disease.<br />

Another cause <strong>of</strong> the instability in the Roman Empire were the struggles over<br />

succession to the throne, this began with Marcus Aurelius. He had ab<strong>and</strong>oned the<br />

practice whereby each emperor chose a successor that is capable <strong>of</strong> carrying out the<br />

duties <strong>of</strong> the imperial <strong>of</strong>fice. Thus, emperors simply became puppets <strong>of</strong> the military <strong>and</strong><br />

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the government, leading to a succession <strong>of</strong> weak military dictatorships, with each one<br />

becoming more conservative <strong>and</strong> fossilized. But as Walker comments, the third century<br />

crisis <strong>and</strong> instability had a religious dimension as well. Never was the assistance <strong>of</strong> gods<br />

deemed so necessary for Rome <strong>and</strong> its individual subjects as it was during this time <strong>of</strong><br />

crisis. One consequence <strong>of</strong> this social-political instability was the revival <strong>of</strong> the imperial<br />

cult (94-95).<br />

Emperor Decius (249-251) tried to restore Rome’s former glory by a return to<br />

the virtues <strong>and</strong> the gods that had made Rome great. In the very same year as his<br />

ascension, due to a popular uprising against Christians in Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, Decius started a<br />

persecution, both systematic as well as universal or general. This was a new departure<br />

because until then persecutions were more or less local <strong>and</strong> mainly depended on the<br />

attitudes <strong>and</strong> whims <strong>of</strong> local provincial governors. Decius decreed that all inhabitants <strong>of</strong><br />

the empire must call upon the gods for assistance by sacrificing to them <strong>and</strong> further,<br />

must prove that they had done so by getting <strong>of</strong>ficial certificates (libelli) to that effect.<br />

Many people were forced against their conscience, through torture, to sacrifice to the<br />

Roman gods. As Origen <strong>and</strong> Cyprian, a disciple <strong>of</strong> Tertullian <strong>and</strong> Bishop <strong>of</strong> Carthage,<br />

recorded, there were masses <strong>of</strong> Christians who rushed to sacrifice or purchased the<br />

libelli from friendly <strong>of</strong>ficials (96). Men such as Alex<strong>and</strong>er, Bishop <strong>of</strong> Jerusalem,<br />

Babylas <strong>of</strong> Antioch, <strong>and</strong> Fabian <strong>of</strong> Rome preferred martyrdom to apostasy (Kallinikos).<br />

As a matter <strong>of</strong> fact, Cyprian, who died as a martyr in 258, reinterpreted his received<br />

underst<strong>and</strong>ing <strong>of</strong> the Church in the light <strong>of</strong> its response to persecution, following<br />

Tertullian’s premise that there was no salvation outside the Church. He insisted that<br />

salvation could not be grounded on the purity <strong>and</strong> fidelity <strong>of</strong> Christians alone since<br />

many tried, for example, to avoid imprisonment or death by purchasing fraudulent<br />

certificates. Due to the schisms caused by persecutions, Cyprian dealt with the question<br />

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<strong>of</strong> the unity <strong>and</strong> holiness <strong>of</strong> the church by placing the responsibility for their<br />

maintenance on the bishop. This teaching led directly to the system <strong>of</strong> synodal<br />

government by bishops, a system which Cyprian encouraged <strong>and</strong> to which he submitted.<br />

For him even the bishop <strong>of</strong> Rome was the equal <strong>of</strong> his brethren (Walker 77-83).<br />

The persecution was brief because Decius went <strong>of</strong>f on a campaign in the<br />

Danubian provinces <strong>and</strong> was killed. Yet, his successor, Valerian (253-260), renewing<br />

the anti-Christian policy <strong>of</strong> Decius, by exiling their bishops, attempted to make the<br />

Christian communities leaderless, <strong>and</strong>, therefore, more easily dissolvable. Yet, the<br />

bishops not only guided their flocks by letters but also spread the Gospel in their places<br />

<strong>of</strong> exile. Under Valerian’s reign the martyrs included Cyprian, Bishop <strong>of</strong> Carthage <strong>and</strong><br />

Sixtus <strong>of</strong> Romem, <strong>and</strong> Deacon Lawrence who died because <strong>of</strong> being roasted or grilled<br />

(Kallinikos). The persecutions, undoubtedly, had a permanent effect on the life <strong>and</strong> self-<br />

underst<strong>and</strong>ing <strong>of</strong> the Christian churches. A further issue arose regarding the situation<br />

<strong>and</strong> readmission <strong>of</strong> the apostates, which created friction among the North African <strong>and</strong><br />

Roman churches (Walker 97).<br />

Illustration 19: Cyprian <strong>and</strong> Justina, two African Christians<br />

who died in martyrdom 27<br />

27 See: .<br />

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Under Diocletian came the most severe persecution <strong>of</strong> Christians. Ill-advised by<br />

his fanatical son-in-law Galerius <strong>and</strong> by certain Neo-Platonic philosophers, the emperor,<br />

in A.D. 303 published at Nicea his first edict against Christianity, <strong>and</strong> followed it<br />

immediately with three others. He was hoping, by restoring uniformity <strong>of</strong> religion, to<br />

weld together the fragments <strong>of</strong> his disintegrating empire. Kallinikos describes the<br />

effects <strong>of</strong> this persecution in the following manner:<br />

The Christian churches which had been built during the previous years <strong>of</strong> peace,<br />

were razed to the ground; the holy Scriptures were burnt, <strong>and</strong> bishops <strong>and</strong> priests<br />

were put to death. Christians who held public positions were stripped <strong>of</strong> their<br />

<strong>of</strong>fice. The prisons groaned with prisoners <strong>and</strong> the blood <strong>of</strong> martyrs flowed like a<br />

river.<br />

Illustration 20: Diocletian coin 28<br />

Yet, he adds, that instead <strong>of</strong> obstructing the progress <strong>of</strong> the Gospel, by this time the<br />

number <strong>of</strong> Christians increased until they formed ten percent <strong>of</strong> the entire population <strong>of</strong><br />

the Roman Empire. Even members <strong>of</strong> the upper class were converts, these included<br />

Prisca <strong>and</strong> Valeria, Diocletian’s wife <strong>and</strong> daughter. In 305, Diocletian became insane<br />

<strong>and</strong> abdicated. In 311, Galerius became fatally ill, <strong>and</strong>, relating it to his unjust dealing<br />

with the Christians, he issued an edict <strong>of</strong> toleration, signed jointly with his colleagues<br />

Constantine—who would become the first Roman Emperor to embrace Christianity—<br />

28 See: .<br />

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<strong>and</strong> Licinius, who even invited Christians to pray for him. Christianity seems finally to<br />

have triumphed over paganism (11).<br />

Although cruel, persecutions, generally, had not been continuous or systematic.<br />

Chadwick says that “The sporadic nature <strong>of</strong> persecution, which <strong>of</strong>ten depended on local<br />

attitudes, <strong>and</strong> the fact that before the third century the government did not take<br />

Christianity seriously, gave the Church breathing space to exp<strong>and</strong> <strong>and</strong> to deal with<br />

critical internal problems”(The Early Church 29). There also were some emperors, like<br />

Heliogabalus (218-222), Alex<strong>and</strong>er Severus (222-235), or Philip the Arabian (244-249)<br />

who for diverse reasons <strong>and</strong> different circumstances did not bother the Christians. All<br />

those peaceful intervals enabled Christians to reorganize <strong>and</strong> increase their numbers.<br />

But even if there were long periods <strong>of</strong> toleration <strong>and</strong> the persecutions were <strong>of</strong>ten<br />

local in character <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> limited duration, the threat <strong>of</strong> persecution was always there.<br />

Christians knew that at any time this threat could become an urgent reality <strong>and</strong> the idea<br />

<strong>of</strong> martyrdom held a central place in their spiritual lives. Chadwick believes that the<br />

conviction that martyrdom would grant immediate entrance in paradise might have lead<br />

to a tendency toward provocation on the part <strong>of</strong> over-enthusiastic believers (The Early<br />

Church 30). Kallinikos gives us a clue to that possibility when he relates the events<br />

leading to the death <strong>of</strong> Ignatius, Bishop <strong>of</strong> Antioch, martyred in Rome before A.D. 117.<br />

He reproduces a conversation between Ignatius <strong>and</strong> the Emperor Trajan himself who<br />

happened to pass through Antioch during a campaign against the Parthians. Ignatius had<br />

appeared before him to intercede on behalf <strong>of</strong> his flock:<br />

—”Who art thou, evil spirit, who despisest my decrees?” asked Trajan.<br />

—”A God-bearer cannot be called an evil spirit,” replied Ignatius.<br />

—”And what man is a God-bearer?”<br />

—”He who bears Christ in his bosom.”<br />

—”Who is this Christ? He who was crucified under Pilate?”<br />

—”I mean Him who crucified sin, my adored Lord.”<br />

—”And thinkest thou that those whom we worship are no gods?”<br />

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—”O king, you call the demons gods, for there is one God alone, He who<br />

created heaven <strong>and</strong> earth.”<br />

“Very good,” said Trajan; “I comm<strong>and</strong> that this man, who says he bears<br />

within him the crucified Christ, be sent in chains to Rome, <strong>and</strong> be torn to<br />

pieces by wild beasts for the entertainment <strong>of</strong> the Roman people.”<br />

When he heard the Emperor’s decision, Ignatius gave praise to God that he was to<br />

be glorified by the same end as the Apostle Paul had suffered; <strong>and</strong>, following his<br />

guards, he made the long journey to Rome, where before thous<strong>and</strong>s <strong>of</strong> spectators<br />

he was thrown into the Coliseum <strong>and</strong> devoured by wild beasts. (8)<br />

Generally Christians responded to persecutions seeing it as a way <strong>of</strong> sharing the<br />

suffering <strong>of</strong> their Lord, the way by which he had overcome evil. Dying as a martyr was<br />

the glorious culmination <strong>of</strong> a struggle which led to eternal life. Thus, this struggle was<br />

directed against Satan rather than the Romans. The Roman Empire was perceived as a<br />

means to keep evil under relative control:<br />

1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but <strong>of</strong><br />

God: the powers that be are ordained <strong>of</strong> God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the<br />

power, resisteth the ordinance <strong>of</strong> God: <strong>and</strong> they that resist shall receive to<br />

themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.<br />

Wilt thou then not be afraid <strong>of</strong> the power? do that which is good, <strong>and</strong> thou shalt<br />

have praise <strong>of</strong> the same: 4 For he is the minister <strong>of</strong> God to thee for good. But if<br />

thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is<br />

the minister <strong>of</strong> God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5<br />

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience<br />

sake. 6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers,<br />

attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues:<br />

tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour<br />

to whom honour. (Rom. 13:1-7)<br />

We also see this in the First Epistle <strong>of</strong> Peter:<br />

12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as<br />

though some strange thing happened unto you. (4:12)<br />

13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance <strong>of</strong> man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be<br />

to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him<br />

for the punishment <strong>of</strong> evildoers, <strong>and</strong> for the praise <strong>of</strong> them that do well. (2: 13-14)<br />

For them Rome was not the real source <strong>of</strong> evil but a force, which, in God’s providence,<br />

caused things to become worse (Walker 53). Yet, there also were Christians who tended<br />

to the opposite extreme <strong>of</strong> Gnosticism <strong>and</strong> argued that pagan gods were simply non-<br />

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existent; thus it did not really matter if one <strong>of</strong>fered incense in honor <strong>of</strong> the emperor or<br />

ate meat that had been <strong>of</strong>fered in sacrifice <strong>of</strong> idols (Chadwick, The Early Church 31).<br />

The conflicting three-century encounter <strong>of</strong> Christians with the Roman empire—<br />

<strong>and</strong> with paganism—, which has given so many inspiring heroes <strong>of</strong> the faith to the<br />

Church, ended when Constantine the Great—honored by the Church as “Isoapostol” or<br />

equal to an Apostle—established Christianity as the <strong>of</strong>ficial religion. In A.D. 306, he<br />

had succeeded his father, Constantius Chlorus, as Caesar ruling over Gaul, Britain <strong>and</strong><br />

Spain. Influenced by his eclectic father <strong>and</strong> his mother Helena, a devout Christian,<br />

Constantine foresaw the new faith as the religion <strong>of</strong> the future. In addition, an episode<br />

which took place in A.D. 312 further strengthened this belief. As he was marching<br />

towards Rome on a campaign against his colleague Maxentius, Augustus <strong>of</strong> the West,<br />

saw the sign <strong>of</strong> the Cross mysteriously traced on the sky, with the words “By this<br />

conquer”. He then placed the Cross on the shields <strong>of</strong> his army <strong>and</strong> defeated his rival<br />

army. This victory over the pagan Maxentius was the victory <strong>of</strong> Christianity over<br />

paganism.<br />

In 313, Constantine, who had become the sole ruler <strong>of</strong> the west, <strong>and</strong> his<br />

colleague in the east, Licinius, issued the Edict <strong>of</strong> Milan, which proclaimed the <strong>of</strong>ficial<br />

toleration <strong>of</strong> the Christian faith <strong>and</strong> favored the propagation <strong>of</strong> the Gospel in an<br />

unprecedented way. The two augusti were in Milan to celebrate the wedding <strong>of</strong><br />

Constantine’s sister with Licinius. This is the text <strong>of</strong> the edict:<br />

When I, Constantine Augustus, as well as I, Licinius Augustus, fortunately met<br />

near Mediolanurn (Milan), <strong>and</strong> were considering everything that pertained to the<br />

public welfare <strong>and</strong> security, we thought, among other things which we saw<br />

would be for the good <strong>of</strong> many, those regulations pertaining to the reverence <strong>of</strong><br />

the Divinity ought certainly to be made first, so that we might grant to the<br />

Christians <strong>and</strong> others full authority to observe that religion which each preferred;<br />

whence any Divinity whatsoever in the seat <strong>of</strong> the heavens may be propitious<br />

<strong>and</strong> kindly disposed to us <strong>and</strong> all who are placed under our rule. And thus by this<br />

wholesome counsel <strong>and</strong> most upright provision we thought to arrange that no<br />

one whatsoever should be denied the opportunity to give his heart to the<br />

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observance <strong>of</strong> the Christian religion, <strong>of</strong> that religion which he should think best<br />

for himself, so that the Supreme Deity, to whose worship we freely yield our<br />

hearts) may show in all things His usual favor <strong>and</strong> benevolence. Therefore, your<br />

Worship should know that it has pleased us to remove all conditions whatsoever,<br />

which were in the rescripts formerly given to you <strong>of</strong>ficially, concerning the<br />

Christians <strong>and</strong> now any one <strong>of</strong> these who wishes to observe Christian religion<br />

may do so freely <strong>and</strong> openly, without molestation. We thought it fit to commend<br />

these things most fully to your care that you may know that we have given to<br />

those Christians free <strong>and</strong> unrestricted opportunity <strong>of</strong> religious worship. When<br />

you see that this has been granted to them by us, your Worship will know that<br />

we have also conceded to other religions the right <strong>of</strong> open <strong>and</strong> free observance<br />

<strong>of</strong> their worship for the sake <strong>of</strong> the peace <strong>of</strong> our times, that each one may have<br />

the free opportunity to worship as he pleases; this regulation is made we that we<br />

may not seem to detract from any dignity or any religion.<br />

Moreover, in the case <strong>of</strong> the Christians especially we esteemed it best to order<br />

that if it happens anyone heret<strong>of</strong>ore has bought from our treasury from anyone<br />

whatsoever, those places where they were previously accustomed to assemble,<br />

concerning which a certain decree had been made <strong>and</strong> a letter sent to you<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficially, the same shall be restored to the Christians without payment or any<br />

claim <strong>of</strong> recompense <strong>and</strong> without any kind <strong>of</strong> fraud or deception, Those,<br />

moreover, who have obtained the same by gift, are likewise to return them at<br />

once to the Christians. Besides, both those who have purchased <strong>and</strong> those who<br />

have secured them by gift, are to appeal to the vicar if they seek any recompense<br />

from our bounty, that they may be cared for through our clemency. All this<br />

property ought to be delivered at once to the community <strong>of</strong> the Christians<br />

through your intercession, <strong>and</strong> without delay. And since these Christians are<br />

known to have possessed not only those places in which they were accustomed<br />

to assemble, but also other property, namely the churches, belonging to them as<br />

a corporation <strong>and</strong> not as individuals, all these things which we have included<br />

under the above law, you will order to be restored, without any hesitation or<br />

controversy at all, to these Christians, that is to say to the corporations <strong>and</strong> their<br />

conventicles: providing, <strong>of</strong> course, that the above arrangements be followed so<br />

that those who return the same without payment, as we have said, may hope for<br />

an indemnity from our bounty. In all these circumstances you ought to tender<br />

your most efficacious intervention to the community <strong>of</strong> the Christians, that our<br />

comm<strong>and</strong> may be carried into effect as quickly as possible, whereby, moreover,<br />

through our clemency, public order may be secured. Let this be done so that, as<br />

we have said above, Divine favor towards us, which, under the most important<br />

circumstances we have already experienced, may, for all time, preserve <strong>and</strong><br />

prosper our successes together with the good <strong>of</strong> the state. Moreover, in order that<br />

the statement <strong>of</strong> this decree <strong>of</strong> our good will may come to the notice <strong>of</strong> all, this<br />

rescript, published by your decree, shall be announced everywhere <strong>and</strong> brought<br />

to the knowledge <strong>of</strong> all, so that the decree <strong>of</strong> this, our benevolence, cannot be<br />

concealed. (“Galerius <strong>and</strong> Constantine: Edicts <strong>of</strong> Toleration 311/313)”)<br />

In 323 he broke with Licinius <strong>and</strong> after defeating him <strong>and</strong> being proclaimed sole<br />

ruler, he soon proceeded to manifest his interest in Christianity by more vigorous<br />

measures. He restored to the Christian communities property that had been confiscated<br />

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from them by the civil authorities, <strong>and</strong> conferred on them the right to receive gifts <strong>and</strong><br />

bequests. For the first time, he introduced into the army a monotheistic form <strong>of</strong> prayer;<br />

supplied churches with copies <strong>of</strong> sacred Scriptures, appointed Sunday as a holiday, <strong>and</strong><br />

forbade crucifixion as a method <strong>of</strong> execution for criminals. In 324, Constantine moved<br />

his imperial capital from Rome to Byzantium, on the shores <strong>of</strong> the Bosporus, where he<br />

built a new capital, Constantinople (dedicated in 330).<br />

From here, in 325, as we will see when dealing with the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> Byzantium,<br />

he summoned Nicea to hold what it would be the first <strong>of</strong> the Seven Ecumenical<br />

Councils. He helped his mother to find the True Cross on Golgotha <strong>and</strong> to build the<br />

Holy Sepulcher. In 330, he built Constantinople, on the site <strong>of</strong> old Byzantium by the<br />

Bosphorus <strong>and</strong> called it “New Rome,” to mark it as the starting-point <strong>of</strong> his new life, cut<br />

<strong>of</strong>f for ever from the abominations <strong>of</strong> Ancient Rome. But Constantine was clever<br />

enough to avoid making sudden changes which might arouse resentment <strong>and</strong> hamper his<br />

work <strong>of</strong> reform; thus, he instigated no persecutions against the pagans, <strong>and</strong> retained the<br />

title <strong>of</strong> “Pontifex Maximus” as an inseparable adjunct to his imperial status. Fifty years<br />

later, the Emperor Theodosius carried this policy even further when he legislated<br />

Christianity as the only accepted religion <strong>of</strong> the Empire, while outlawing paganism.<br />

When persecutions ceased to be a major concern, the idea did not disappear but took<br />

other forms, especially the monastic life, another form <strong>of</strong> so-called white martyrdom<br />

equal to bodily death (Kallinikos; <strong>St</strong>. Tikhon’s Monastery, “These truths we hold: The<br />

Holy Orthodox Church: her life <strong>and</strong> teaching”).<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. List the main Roman persecutions <strong>and</strong> add a short summary <strong>of</strong> each <strong>of</strong> them<br />

to the list.<br />

2. How did Christians react to them?<br />

Activity 17: Roman Persecutions<br />

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But the shift <strong>of</strong> the capital <strong>of</strong> the empire to Constantinople under Constantine<br />

meant that the huge machine <strong>of</strong> government patronage <strong>and</strong> wealth had migrated from<br />

Rome itself, leaving only the bishop <strong>of</strong> Rome to dispense <strong>and</strong>, for all practical purposes,<br />

administer the areas <strong>of</strong> l<strong>and</strong> in <strong>and</strong> around Rome itself. Resulting shortages <strong>of</strong><br />

population also left Roman armies chronically underpowered <strong>and</strong> much less able to<br />

defend the frontiers than was true two centuries earlier. The military rejuvenation <strong>of</strong><br />

260-300 A.D. improved Roman administration <strong>and</strong> military efficiency in the short term,<br />

but in the long term could not overcome simple disadvantages <strong>of</strong> manpower which<br />

caused the definite fall <strong>of</strong> the empire <strong>and</strong> led to Alaric’s sacking <strong>of</strong> Rome in 410 (Philip<br />

Gavitt, “Decline <strong>and</strong> Fall <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire”).<br />

As Hopko says, in “Second Century: Persecution <strong>and</strong> Faith,” the severe attacks<br />

on the Christian community “proved to strengthen faith as well as require the church to<br />

defend the truth that was h<strong>and</strong>ed down to them by Christ <strong>and</strong> the Apostles.” The idea <strong>of</strong><br />

martyrdom has a prominent place in the Orthodox Church’s underst<strong>and</strong>ing <strong>of</strong><br />

spirituality, a church which could be said to be founded upon blood—not only the blood<br />

<strong>of</strong> Christ but also the blood <strong>of</strong> those “other Christs,” the martyrs. When the Church<br />

became established in Constantine’s reign, the idea <strong>of</strong> martyrdom took the form <strong>of</strong><br />

monastic life, as the Greek writers <strong>of</strong>ten claimed.<br />

4. DEVELOPMENT OF THE THEOLOGY OF THE EARLY CHURCH<br />

Archbishop Chrysostomos <strong>and</strong> Bishop Auxentios, in “Introduction to Scripture<br />

<strong>and</strong> Tradition,” delineate two levels <strong>of</strong> theology in the Orthodox Church, two ways at<br />

which the divine truth can be approached. The first one or “essential theology” springs<br />

from the spirit <strong>of</strong> the Church, from the spiritual vision <strong>of</strong> the God-bearing Fathers. This<br />

type <strong>of</strong> experience is not the domain or concern <strong>of</strong> the scholar. It cannot be separated<br />

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from the spiritual life itself. Chrysostomos <strong>and</strong> Ausentios give the example <strong>of</strong> the great<br />

luminary <strong>of</strong> Orthodoxy, <strong>St</strong>. Gregory Palamas, who is characterized by the Church as<br />

“the perfection <strong>of</strong> monks,” the “wonder working Gregory,” a “preacher <strong>of</strong> Grace,” <strong>and</strong>,<br />

as a consequence <strong>of</strong> this, “theologian invincible among theologians.” They add that:<br />

In bestowing the title “theologian” on so few <strong>of</strong> the Fathers (<strong>and</strong> only on several,<br />

formally), the Orthodox Church pays great homage to the truth which She<br />

embodies, which is inextricably bound to the spiritual life which She directs,<br />

guides, <strong>and</strong> imparts to the humble <strong>and</strong> Faithful: a truth which is the highest form<br />

<strong>of</strong> theology, a “spiritual knowledge”‘ <strong>of</strong> God.<br />

This is a changeless, revealed theology, which we will not deal with in this section.<br />

The second form <strong>of</strong> theology, which the Orthodox Church allows us, they assert,<br />

is secondary theology. It primarily concerns the explication <strong>of</strong> the spiritual life,<br />

according to, <strong>and</strong> consistent with, the divine revelation, the revealed truth <strong>of</strong> essential<br />

theology. In this secondary theology, we focus our efforts on approaching God in a<br />

form <strong>of</strong> a mental discipline as we recognize the crucial importance <strong>of</strong> essential theology<br />

<strong>and</strong>, consequently, remaining true to Patristic tradition. Secondary theology can help us<br />

in our endeavors to underst<strong>and</strong> what is incomprehensible.<br />

Thus Orthodox theologians need to be aware that the relationship between<br />

Scripture <strong>and</strong> Tradition is <strong>of</strong> great relevance in the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> Orthodox theological<br />

thought. From the time <strong>of</strong> the Apostles to underst<strong>and</strong> this relationship was crucial to the<br />

Christian Church. Heretics such as Arius misused the Scripture <strong>and</strong> ruptured with<br />

Tradition, with the truth <strong>of</strong> the Fathers. Chrysostomos <strong>and</strong> Ausentios state that:<br />

It is imperative that we underst<strong>and</strong>, then, the singular attitude <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox<br />

Church toward Scripture <strong>and</strong> Tradition. To do so is to underst<strong>and</strong> the correct,<br />

true attitude <strong>of</strong> the Church. After all, it was out <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox Church Herself<br />

that Scripture arose. It was in the bosom <strong>of</strong> the Church that Scripture <strong>and</strong><br />

Tradition matured. They are her domain <strong>and</strong> She alone fully <strong>and</strong> correctly<br />

underst<strong>and</strong>s them. If the Orthodox Church is the historical Church, then She<br />

embodies the historical Truth <strong>of</strong> Christianity. Underst<strong>and</strong>ing this, we can<br />

dispense with the dangerous trend, among some Orthodox, to underst<strong>and</strong><br />

Scripture <strong>and</strong> Tradition in non-Orthodox ways, to distort the image <strong>and</strong> icon <strong>of</strong><br />

Truth contained in Holy Scripture <strong>and</strong> expressed in all Tradition. Those who<br />

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advocate current western-style “Bible studies,” concentrating on a spiritually<br />

dangerous dissection <strong>of</strong> Scripture (as though it were human poetry or a literary<br />

text, the truth <strong>of</strong> which is open to textual analysis), are obviously motivated by<br />

an improper underst<strong>and</strong>ing <strong>of</strong> Orthodoxy.<br />

George Florovsky, in “<strong>St</strong> Gregory Palamas <strong>and</strong> the Tradition <strong>of</strong> the Fathers,”<br />

makes reference to a phrase such as “Following the Holy Fathers”, used normatively by<br />

the early Church to introduce its doctrinal statements. This was so, for example, in the<br />

opening <strong>of</strong> the Decree <strong>of</strong> Chalcedon. Another example is the more elaborate phrase used<br />

in the Seventh Ecumenical Council—summoned to solve the serious iconoclastic<br />

crisis—to introduce its decision: “Following the Divinely inspired teaching <strong>of</strong> the Holy<br />

Fathers <strong>and</strong> the Tradition <strong>of</strong> the Catholic Church.” Florovsky explains regarding this<br />

normative term <strong>of</strong> reference that:<br />

“Following the Holy Fathers...” This is not a reference to some abstract tradition,<br />

in formulas <strong>and</strong> propositions. It is primarily an appeal to holy witnesses. Indeed,<br />

we appeal to the Apostles, <strong>and</strong> not just to an abstract ‘Apostolicity.’ In the<br />

similar manner do we refer to the Fathers. The witness <strong>of</strong> the Fathers belongs,<br />

intrinsically <strong>and</strong> integrally, to the very structure <strong>of</strong> Orthodox belief. The Church<br />

is equally committed to the kerygma <strong>of</strong> the Apostles <strong>and</strong> to the dogma <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Fathers. (“<strong>St</strong> Gregory Palamas <strong>and</strong> the Tradition <strong>of</strong> the Fathers”)<br />

<strong>St</strong>ilianopoulos states that for the Fathers, the Bible was both a book <strong>of</strong> God <strong>and</strong> a<br />

book <strong>of</strong> the Church, <strong>and</strong> they approached it with “a certain freedom <strong>and</strong> boldness.”<br />

Their focus was on the spirit rather than the letter <strong>of</strong> Scripture. <strong>St</strong>ylianopoulos thinks<br />

that modern western theology is <strong>of</strong>ten derived neither from Scripture nor the classic<br />

Christian tradition, as is Orthodox theology, a theology which is based on both the<br />

ecclesial as well as an intense spiritual or prayer life, “but primarily from Renaissance<br />

humanism <strong>and</strong> Enlightenment philosophy. Biblical scholarship has <strong>of</strong>ten rendered itself<br />

irrelevant to the life <strong>of</strong> both Church <strong>and</strong> society by a gravitational pull toward historical,<br />

philological, <strong>and</strong> technical preoccupations.” However, Orthodox theology, he adds,<br />

holds to a personal <strong>and</strong> dynamic, rather than mechanistic <strong>and</strong> verbal, concept <strong>of</strong><br />

inspiration. <strong>St</strong>ylianopoulos says:<br />

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God did not merely dictate words or propositions to passive authors, but rather<br />

he impacted personally their whole beings, allowing them actively to<br />

comprehend, interpret, <strong>and</strong> convey his will to others according to the limitations<br />

<strong>of</strong> their underst<strong>and</strong>ing <strong>and</strong> language. It is important to note that the inspiration <strong>of</strong><br />

the Holy Spirit embraces a far deeper <strong>and</strong> broader process than the composition<br />

<strong>of</strong> single books. Inspiration involves the entire community <strong>of</strong> faith, the life <strong>of</strong> a<br />

particular author, the composition <strong>of</strong> particular books, as well as their gradual<br />

gathering into a sacred collection.<br />

Consequently, Orthodox theologians have strong ecclesial <strong>and</strong> doctrinal anchors, <strong>and</strong><br />

this, he adds, have spared them from the western turmoil. In Orthodoxy, patristic <strong>and</strong><br />

doctrinal interests have held their sway, avoiding repeating the errors <strong>of</strong> their western<br />

colleagues’ errors.<br />

Although in Part II I will return to the discussion <strong>of</strong> systematic theology as held<br />

by the Orthodox Catholic Tradition, there are four main points we should take into<br />

account before I start this analysis <strong>of</strong> the theological development <strong>of</strong> the early church in<br />

the pre-Nicean period. Firstly, in Orthodox theology, a theologian cannot neglect<br />

Tradition as it is uncovered in <strong>history</strong>. Thus, the combination <strong>of</strong> historical <strong>and</strong><br />

systematic methods <strong>of</strong> approach are justified. Secondly, there are two levels <strong>of</strong> theology<br />

in Orthodox theology closely interrelated: “essential theology,” which springs from the<br />

spirit <strong>of</strong> the Church, from the spiritual vision <strong>of</strong> the God-bearing Fathers; <strong>and</strong> secondary<br />

theology, which concerns the explication <strong>of</strong> the spiritual life, according to the revealed<br />

truth <strong>of</strong> the essential theology. Thirdly, generally, the theology <strong>of</strong> this pre-Nicean period<br />

<strong>and</strong> that <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine period was not a positive one, but a negative one, based on<br />

condemning distortions from orthodox, Christian truth. And, fourthly, when specifically<br />

dealing with the following pre-Nicean period, we can’t expect doctrinal homogeneity or<br />

uniformity. This is seen, for example, in the different theological conceptions between<br />

Irenaeus <strong>and</strong> Tertullian <strong>and</strong> Clement <strong>and</strong> Origen—Origen was later regarded as a<br />

heretic.<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Activity Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. Explain the Orthodox concept <strong>of</strong> theology.<br />

2. What is the difference with the western concept?<br />

Activity 18: Orthodox theology<br />

THE LATE FIRST CENTURY: THE CENTRALITY OF CHRIST<br />

A Time Framework<br />

In the 50’s <strong>of</strong> the first century Paul produced the earliest surviving Christian<br />

documents (1 The., Gal., Phil. I <strong>and</strong> II, <strong>and</strong> Rom.). By the mid-60’s death had come to<br />

him as well as to the most famous <strong>of</strong> the earlier generation—those who along with Paul<br />

had known Jesus or had seen the risen Jesus—Peter <strong>and</strong> James:<br />

3 For I delivered unto you first <strong>of</strong> all that which I also received, how that Christ<br />

died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, <strong>and</strong> that<br />

he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen <strong>of</strong><br />

Cephas, then <strong>of</strong> the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen <strong>of</strong> above five hundred<br />

brethren at once; <strong>of</strong> whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are<br />

fallen asleep. 7 After that, he was seen <strong>of</strong> James; then <strong>of</strong> all the apostles. 8 And<br />

last <strong>of</strong> all he was seen <strong>of</strong> me also, as <strong>of</strong> one born out <strong>of</strong> due time. (I Cor. 15:2-8)<br />

This first generation <strong>of</strong> Christians contributed to the production <strong>of</strong> more<br />

permanent works. Letters/epistles continued to be an important means <strong>of</strong> Christian<br />

communication even if they were not written by Paul himself. This is the case <strong>of</strong> II<br />

Thess., Col., Eph., <strong>and</strong> the Pastoral letters attributed by many to the category <strong>of</strong><br />

“deutero-Pauline” composed in the period <strong>of</strong> 70-100, after Paul’s death. This must have<br />

been so, Brown explains, because they were composed by Paul’s disciples <strong>and</strong> admirers<br />

who dealt with the same problems <strong>of</strong> the post-70 era by giving advise they thought<br />

faithfully to Paul’s mind. These letters, while still dealing with the problems <strong>of</strong> false<br />

teachers or counterfeit letters, had a more permanent <strong>and</strong> universal mood. According to<br />

many scholars, to this period also belongs epistles attributed by name to Peter, James<br />

<strong>and</strong> Jude, which address the problem <strong>of</strong> later Christian generation, <strong>and</strong> also have a more<br />

universal <strong>and</strong> permanent mood (5-6).<br />

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Finally, according to the common scholar perspective, somewhere in the 60s or<br />

just after the 70’s, the Gospel according to Mark was written, <strong>of</strong>fering an account <strong>of</strong><br />

Jesus that was remarkably absent from the letters. Yet, logically, it was colored by<br />

experiences originated from decades that separated Jesus from the Jesus tradition. Ten<br />

or twenty years afterwards, the Gospel according to Matthew <strong>and</strong> to Luke were written.<br />

And between the year 90 <strong>and</strong> 100 the Gospel by John, which <strong>of</strong>fered a Jesus tradition<br />

different from Mark, Matthew, <strong>and</strong> Luke. Yet, despite their coloring, the canonical<br />

gospels were overall important to preserve for late-first century readers a memory <strong>of</strong><br />

Jesus that did not perish when eyewitnesses died.<br />

However none <strong>of</strong> the Gospels mentions the name <strong>of</strong> an author <strong>and</strong> it is quite<br />

possible that none was written by the authors attached to them at the end <strong>of</strong> the second<br />

century: John Mark, companion <strong>of</strong> Paul <strong>and</strong> then <strong>of</strong> Peter; Matthew, one <strong>of</strong> the Twelve;<br />

Luke, companion <strong>of</strong> Paul; <strong>and</strong> John, one <strong>of</strong> the Twelve. Notwithst<strong>and</strong>ing, these names<br />

represent the assertion that Jesus was seen in a perspective faithful to the first <strong>and</strong><br />

second generation <strong>of</strong> witnesses <strong>and</strong> preachers. Other non-epistolar writings <strong>of</strong> the post-<br />

70 period are the Acts <strong>of</strong> the Apostles, by Luke, which, intended to be a second part <strong>of</strong><br />

his Gospel, addressed the problems <strong>of</strong> the Christian movement <strong>and</strong> to the interpretation<br />

<strong>of</strong> its life; the Book <strong>of</strong> Revelation, included later in the canon as well as the Johannine<br />

letters, which is an example <strong>of</strong> apocalyptic literature with roots in Ezekiel <strong>and</strong><br />

Zechariah. All these Christian compositions—most likely written between the years 50<br />

<strong>and</strong> 150—were placed at the same authoritative level as the Jewish Scriptures (Brown<br />

7-10).<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

For each <strong>of</strong> the following dates, provide information about Christian authors <strong>and</strong><br />

writings <strong>of</strong> the first century:<br />

• 50’s: Paul produces:<br />

• 60’s<br />

• 70-100<br />

• post-70 period<br />

• 90-100<br />

Activity 19: Christian writings <strong>of</strong> the first century.<br />

Efforts <strong>of</strong> early Christians to live by the message about Jesus<br />

All these writings <strong>of</strong> the first century Christians responded to the need <strong>of</strong> the life<br />

<strong>of</strong> the churches <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> a settled authoritative “apostolic tradition” to afford the basis for<br />

their self-underst<strong>and</strong>ing. The Christian community became aware that it lived by the<br />

message about Jesus “as that was based on his own life <strong>and</strong> teaching <strong>and</strong> proclaimed by<br />

the witness <strong>of</strong> the leaders <strong>and</strong> founders <strong>of</strong> the earliest communities” (Walker 34).<br />

According to Walker, the most important issue for the churches <strong>of</strong> this period<br />

was underst<strong>and</strong>ing the significance <strong>of</strong> Jesus in <strong>and</strong> through the events in his ministry,<br />

death <strong>and</strong> resurrection. Reflection on this Christological issue started with the same<br />

perspective which had inspired the preaching <strong>and</strong> faith <strong>of</strong> the primitive community: The<br />

experience <strong>of</strong> Jesus as risen, which was accompanied by the gift <strong>of</strong> the Holy Spirit:<br />

32 This Jesus hath God raised up, where<strong>of</strong> we all are witnesses. 33 Therefore<br />

being by the right h<strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> God exalted, <strong>and</strong> having received <strong>of</strong> the Father the<br />

promise <strong>of</strong> the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see <strong>and</strong> hear.<br />

(Acts 2:32-33)<br />

20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his h<strong>and</strong>s <strong>and</strong> his side. Then<br />

were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. 21 Then said Jesus to them<br />

again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And<br />

when he had said this, he breathed on them, <strong>and</strong> saith unto them, Receive ye the<br />

Holy Ghost. (John 20:20-22)<br />

The significance <strong>of</strong> Jesus’ resurrection was soon expressed in messianic<br />

categories. God would send him to fulfill all things:<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21<br />

Whom the heaven must receive until the times <strong>of</strong> restitution <strong>of</strong> all things, which<br />

God hath spoken by the mouth <strong>of</strong> all his holy prophets since the world began.<br />

(Acts 3:20-21)<br />

10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even<br />

Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. (I Thess. 1:10)<br />

We see in these quotes how the attention is focused on the resurrection <strong>and</strong> the<br />

eschaton—Jesus, the bearer <strong>of</strong> salvation will be God’s representative on the last day.<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Read Acts 13: 48; I Cor. 15:23; Rom. 1: 3-4 <strong>and</strong> copy words, phrases, or sentences<br />

having to do with these two aspects <strong>of</strong> the risen Jesus <strong>and</strong> his messianic character.<br />

Activity 20: The Risen Jesus <strong>and</strong> his Messianic character<br />

The messianic character also lies behind the primitive use <strong>of</strong> the titles “Son <strong>of</strong><br />

Man” <strong>and</strong> the “Lord”. But the resurrection <strong>of</strong> Jesus also pointed towards the future, the<br />

destiny <strong>of</strong> all believers. Thus in early Christian theology the Christ appears no only as<br />

the bearer <strong>of</strong> the kingdom but “as the one in whom believers discover their own true<br />

identity because they share in his life <strong>and</strong> find their own lives transformed in him”<br />

(Walker 35-36):<br />

24 Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If<br />

that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall<br />

continue in the Son, <strong>and</strong> in the Father. (I John 2: 24)<br />

11 For both he that sanctifieth <strong>and</strong> they who are sanctified are all <strong>of</strong> one: for<br />

which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren. (Heb. 2:11)<br />

It is in the Pauline letters where we best find this sense <strong>of</strong> oneness expressed:<br />

3 Know ye not, that so many <strong>of</strong> us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were<br />

baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into<br />

death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory <strong>of</strong> the Father,<br />

even so we also should walk in newness <strong>of</strong> life. 5 For if we have been planted<br />

together in the likeness <strong>of</strong> his death, we shall be also in the likeness <strong>of</strong> his<br />

resurrection ... (Rom 6: 2-5)<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Acti Activity Acti Activity<br />

vity<br />

Read Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:3; Rom. 12:5; I Cor. 12:12 <strong>and</strong> copy words, phrases, or<br />

sentences having to do with the oneness <strong>of</strong> the believers with Christ.<br />

Activity 21: Oneness <strong>of</strong> believers with Christ<br />

Paul also sees Christ as the last Adam (1 Cor. 17:47) in whom the identity <strong>of</strong> the<br />

new humanity is realized as the embodiment <strong>of</strong> the new humanity. Believers enter into<br />

his identity by means <strong>of</strong> their faith. But Paul goes beyond his portrayal <strong>of</strong> Jesus as<br />

Messiah, Son <strong>of</strong> God, Lord <strong>and</strong> as the Second Adam to interpret not only the<br />

resurrection but also the ministry <strong>and</strong> life <strong>of</strong> Jesus as springing from God’s initiative: “<br />

4 But when the fullness <strong>of</strong> the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made <strong>of</strong> a<br />

woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might<br />

receive the adoption <strong>of</strong> sons” (Gal. 4:4). Therefore Jesus is not only the Christ by his<br />

resurrection <strong>and</strong> his return to restore all things but as the bearer <strong>of</strong> God’s redeeming<br />

action.<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Read Acts 2:23; Rom. 3:25; I Cor. 15: 3, <strong>and</strong> copy words, phrases, or sentences<br />

having to do with Christ as an expiator.<br />

Activity 22: Christ as an Expiator<br />

In the Gospels we also see how the significance initially assigned to Jesus in the<br />

light <strong>of</strong> his resurrection is now perceived in his life <strong>and</strong> ministry as well. Mark, for<br />

example, traces back the status <strong>of</strong> Jesus as Son <strong>of</strong> God to the very beginning <strong>of</strong> his<br />

public career—to his baptism by John. Consequently, the messianic <strong>and</strong> Adamic<br />

dimension are his from the very beginning <strong>of</strong> his story. Jesus, through his career, is,<br />

therefore, the very embodiment <strong>of</strong> God’s purposes <strong>and</strong> the one in whom they are carried<br />

out. But this conviction gave rise to another, whose origins can be also found in Paul’s<br />

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attempt to deal with those in the community <strong>of</strong> Corinth who claimed to possess a<br />

superior underst<strong>and</strong>ing <strong>of</strong> the mystery <strong>of</strong> God. They thought they had a special insight<br />

into the transcendent wisdom <strong>of</strong> God. Paul gave answer to this early strain <strong>of</strong><br />

Gnosticism by saying that:<br />

23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, <strong>and</strong> unto the<br />

Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews <strong>and</strong> Greeks,<br />

Christ the power <strong>of</strong> God, <strong>and</strong> the wisdom <strong>of</strong> God. 25 Because the foolishness <strong>of</strong><br />

God is wiser than men; <strong>and</strong> the weakness <strong>of</strong> God is stronger than men (I Cor.1:<br />

23.25)<br />

In order to stop these converts from looking for that wisdom everywhere, he identifies<br />

the crucified Jesus with God’s wisdom. He takes the meaning <strong>of</strong> these ideas quite<br />

serious <strong>and</strong> continues to develop them:<br />

15 Who is the image <strong>of</strong> the invisible God, the firstborn <strong>of</strong> every creature: 16 For<br />

by him were all things created, that are in heaven, <strong>and</strong> that are in earth, visible<br />

<strong>and</strong> invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or<br />

powers: all things were created by him, <strong>and</strong> for him: 17 And he is before all<br />

things, <strong>and</strong> by him all things consist (Col. 1: 15-17).<br />

This leads to the Christology formulated in John’s Gospel, where wisdom appears as<br />

Logos,<br />

1 In the beginning was the Word, <strong>and</strong> the Word was with God, <strong>and</strong> the Word<br />

was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by<br />

him; <strong>and</strong> without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life;<br />

<strong>and</strong> the life was the light <strong>of</strong> men. 5 And the light shineth in darkness; <strong>and</strong> the<br />

darkness comprehended it not. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name<br />

was John. 7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness <strong>of</strong> the Light, that all<br />

men through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear<br />

witness <strong>of</strong> that Light. 9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that<br />

cometh into the world. (John 1: 1-9)<br />

This Logos pre-exists creation itself <strong>and</strong> became flesh <strong>and</strong> “dwelt among us.” (John<br />

8:58). This Christology <strong>of</strong> the incarnation became the center <strong>of</strong> Christian literature at the<br />

end <strong>of</strong> the first century <strong>and</strong> at the beginning <strong>of</strong> the second. For example, it appears in<br />

the letters <strong>of</strong> Ignatius, the Bishop <strong>of</strong> Antioch (Syria), polemicizing against Docetism<br />

(the view that the fleshy, bodily side <strong>of</strong> Jesus is mere “appearance”) <strong>and</strong> in a document<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

called I Clement, written around the year 95, a letter from the Roman congregation to<br />

that <strong>of</strong> Corinth (Walker 39-40).<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Briefly, in your own words, summarize the interpretation <strong>of</strong> Jesus by the late first<br />

century Christians.<br />

Activity 23: Interpretation <strong>of</strong> Jesus by first century Christians<br />

SECOND AND THIRD CENTURY: APOSTOLIC FATHERS, APOLOGISTS,<br />

HERESIES, NEW TESTAMENT CANON, TRADITION<br />

By the year 100, Christianity had disseminated in Asia Minor, Syria, Macedonia,<br />

Greece, the city <strong>of</strong> Rome, <strong>and</strong> probably in Egypt. The unity <strong>of</strong> the scattered Christian<br />

communities relied on two things: on a common faith <strong>and</strong> on a common way <strong>of</strong><br />

ordering their life in worship. They called each other brother; they were bound together<br />

by the focus on the person <strong>of</strong> Christ. The pattern <strong>of</strong> worship—baptism, the sacred<br />

meal—derived its meaning from its reference to him. Although it was viewed as a<br />

difficult pastoral problem, exclusion from the Christian community was used to control<br />

serious moral faults. Another thorny question concerned decisions regarding intellectual<br />

deviation from Christian doctrine that might require censure.<br />

Once the missionaries disseminated <strong>and</strong> went beyond the Jewish ambit, they<br />

were not speaking in a vacuum. They found themselves in world <strong>of</strong> pagan syncretism,<br />

magic <strong>and</strong> astrology. Even the God <strong>of</strong> the Jews was identified with Dionysus or Saturn<br />

(since they reverenced Saturday). Yet the Christians must have amazed the Gentile<br />

world, accustomed to myths <strong>of</strong> great heroes (Heracles or Asclepius), when hearing<br />

about the humble beginnings <strong>of</strong> their divine redeemer (Chadwick, The Early Church<br />

33).<br />

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The Apostolic Fathers<br />

Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Pliny the Younger, governor <strong>of</strong> Bithynia, in an above-mentioned letter (ca. 111-<br />

113) to Emperor Trajan referring to Christianity talks about “the infection <strong>of</strong> this<br />

superstition”, testifying to the liveliness <strong>of</strong> the Christian movement. There was also a<br />

great amount <strong>of</strong> literature which indicates this liveliness not only in works such as the<br />

Johannine letters or the Revelation to John, but also in works by others traditionally<br />

called “the Apostolic Fathers”: Clement <strong>of</strong> Rome, Ignatius <strong>of</strong> Antioch, Polycarp <strong>of</strong><br />

Smyrna, the author <strong>of</strong> the Didache or Epistula Apostolorum, the author <strong>of</strong> the “Epistle<br />

<strong>of</strong> Barnabas,” as well as Hermas <strong>and</strong> Papias.<br />

The Apostolic Fathers were authors <strong>of</strong> non biblical church writings <strong>of</strong> the 1st <strong>and</strong> early 2nd<br />

centuries. These works are important because their authors presumably knew the Apostles or<br />

their associates. The first list <strong>of</strong> the Apostolic Fathers was made by 17th-century scholars; it<br />

comprised Clement I, Hermas, Ignatius <strong>of</strong> Antioch, Polycarp, <strong>and</strong> the author <strong>of</strong> the Epistle <strong>of</strong><br />

Barnabas. Later, other writers such as Papias <strong>of</strong> Hierapolis <strong>and</strong> the authors <strong>of</strong> the Epistle to<br />

Diognetus <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> the Didache were also considered Apostolic Fathers. Expressing pastoral<br />

concern, their writings are similar in style to the New Testament. Some <strong>of</strong> their writings, in fact,<br />

were venerated as Scripture before the <strong>of</strong>ficial canon was decided. (Elwell)<br />

Table 6: Concept <strong>of</strong> Apostolic Fathers<br />

The period <strong>of</strong> time covered by this literature extends from the last two decades<br />

<strong>of</strong> the first century until the middle <strong>of</strong> the second century. In a geographical sense,<br />

Clement <strong>and</strong> Hermas represent Rome; Polycarp <strong>and</strong> Ignatius, Smyrna; Papia, Phyrigia;<br />

the Didache, Egypt or Syria; <strong>and</strong> the letter <strong>of</strong> Barnabas, Alex<strong>and</strong>ria. These writings are<br />

very important for the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> Early Christianity. In the Didache, for example, we<br />

find a description <strong>of</strong> the Christian Sacraments:<br />

Baptize as follows: after explaining all <strong>of</strong> these points, baptize in the name <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Father <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> the Son <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> the Holy Spirit, in running water ... (Didache 7, 1).<br />

Let no one eat <strong>and</strong> drink <strong>of</strong> your Eucharist but those who are baptized in the<br />

name <strong>of</strong> the Lord ... (Didache 9).<br />

On the Lord’s own Day, assemble in common to break bread <strong>and</strong> give thanks<br />

(i.e., the eucharist, which means thanksgiving); but first confess your sins so that<br />

your sacrifice may be pure.<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

However, no one quarrelling with his brother may join your assembly until they<br />

are reconciled; your sacrifice must not be defiled (Didache 14). 29<br />

I Clement<br />

II Clement<br />

Writings <strong>of</strong> Ignatius<br />

Epistle <strong>of</strong> Polycarp to the Philippians<br />

Martyrdom <strong>of</strong> Polycarp<br />

Didache<br />

Epistle <strong>of</strong> Barnabas<br />

Shepherd <strong>of</strong> Hermas<br />

Fragments <strong>of</strong> Papias<br />

Epistle to Diognetus<br />

Table 7: Writings <strong>of</strong> the Apostolic Fathers<br />

Illustration 21: A fragment <strong>of</strong> the Dichache 30<br />

Activity<br />

In your own words, who where the Apostolic Fathers?<br />

29 Qtd. in Hopko (2005).<br />

30 See: .<br />

Activity 24: The Apostolic Fathers<br />

125


Apologists<br />

Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Between around 130 <strong>and</strong> 180 there arose a new genre <strong>of</strong> Christian literature: the<br />

apology or a speech for the defense <strong>of</strong> Christian beliefs. In the face <strong>of</strong> persecutions,<br />

Christians were not only forced to bear witness in suffering but also to defend their<br />

faith. They were called the Apologists—<strong>of</strong>ten included within the list <strong>of</strong> the Apostolic<br />

Fathers. The first <strong>of</strong> these writers was Quadratus, who wrote an apology to emperor<br />

Hadrian in 125. Others were Aristide, who sent his arguments to Antoninus Pious in<br />

about 140; Justin Martyr, the most prominent <strong>of</strong> the apologists, already mentioned, who<br />

wrote about the middle <strong>of</strong> the century; Tatian, Justin’s Martyr’ disciple; Melito <strong>of</strong><br />

Sardis, who wrote between 169 <strong>and</strong> 180; Athenagoras, <strong>and</strong> the bishop Theophilus <strong>of</strong><br />

Antioch. Walkers states that although there is no evidence <strong>of</strong> these writings greatly<br />

influencing heathen opinion, they were greatly valued by Christians because they<br />

provided the first reasonable explications <strong>of</strong> the Church tenets (54).<br />

As expressed in his Apology (c. 152 A.D.), Justin, a Platonist, according to<br />

Walker, believed that Christianity “was the oldest, truest, <strong>and</strong> most divine <strong>of</strong><br />

philosophies because it was the wisdom revealed by God himself through the prophets<br />

first <strong>of</strong> all, but then in his own Son (54).” The idea <strong>of</strong> the divine Logos was at the center<br />

<strong>of</strong> his apologetic, a divine Logos that “was born as a human being <strong>of</strong> a virgin, <strong>and</strong> given<br />

the name <strong>of</strong> Jesus, <strong>and</strong> was crucified <strong>and</strong> died <strong>and</strong> rose <strong>and</strong> ascended into heaven (I<br />

Apol. 46.5).” His apology opens by arguing about the injustice <strong>and</strong> irrationality <strong>of</strong><br />

punishing Christians for the mere reason <strong>of</strong> their names <strong>and</strong> not for proven criminal<br />

acts. He insisted that they were not atheists, but worshipped the true God; that they were<br />

not seditionist for the Kingdom <strong>of</strong> God was a human kingdom; <strong>and</strong> that they were not<br />

criminals, but inculcated a strict morality in accordance with Jesus’ teaching <strong>and</strong> tried to<br />

promote peace <strong>and</strong> decency (Walker 54-55).<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Illustration 22: Justin 31<br />

Activity Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. According to Walker, why were the Apologists’ writings greatly valued by<br />

Christians?<br />

2. Search the web for Justin’s life <strong>and</strong> his two main works—Dialogue with Trypho<br />

<strong>and</strong> Apology—<strong>and</strong> write a) a short biography, complementing that <strong>of</strong> the Glossary,<br />

<strong>and</strong> b) a brief exposition <strong>of</strong> his apologetic. If possible, quote from his works to<br />

illustrate your points.<br />

Activity 25: Justin<br />

For Walker, Justin’s theology, <strong>and</strong> his belief that Jesus was the concrete human<br />

presence <strong>of</strong> the universal <strong>and</strong> creative Reason <strong>of</strong> God <strong>and</strong> the very principle <strong>of</strong> the<br />

world-order, laid “the basis for an open dialogue between Christian faith <strong>and</strong> the<br />

tradition <strong>of</strong> the Gentile religious philosophy, <strong>and</strong> in that sense marks the beginning for a<br />

‘scientific’ theology (56)”.<br />

Gnosticism<br />

But during the lifetime <strong>of</strong> Justin Martyr, according to Walker, a period between<br />

130 <strong>and</strong> 160 A.D., there arose a debate which had its roots in the first century. The<br />

debate was between groups which came to be called “Gnostic” <strong>and</strong> the supporters <strong>of</strong> a<br />

31 See: .<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

common-sense interpretation <strong>of</strong> the church’s teaching tradition. The debate dealt with<br />

difficult <strong>and</strong> fundamental issues such as the nature <strong>of</strong> evil, the meaning <strong>of</strong> God, or the<br />

character <strong>of</strong> redemption as well as how the language <strong>of</strong> the church’s catechesis was to<br />

be interpreted. It forced significant development not only in the Christian theological<br />

tradition but also in the institutions by which the tradition was shaped <strong>and</strong> transmitted<br />

(Walker 61). Chadwick places this movement between 80-150 AD, starting with the<br />

moment it broke with the early church. Some time before, as noted, among the Gentile<br />

converts, Paul had already found but at Corinth <strong>and</strong> at Colossae many doctrinal<br />

tendencies he disapproved <strong>of</strong> <strong>and</strong> tried to correct. They were types <strong>of</strong> heresies that could<br />

already be grouped under the concept “Gnosticism”, <strong>and</strong> which could pose a serious<br />

threat to the early church. This movement, by the early second century, produced<br />

literature as seen in the writings <strong>of</strong> the great Gnostic teachers Basilides <strong>and</strong> Valentinus.<br />

Some New Testament writers, namely Paul, John, Peter <strong>and</strong> Jude, already<br />

repudiated Gnostic thought in their writings. Some examples are below (Robert<br />

Jones).<br />

Heresy Refuted Denouncer References<br />

Gnosticism? Paul 2 Cor.11:4<br />

Judaizers; Gnosticism? Paul Gal 1:6-9;2:4-6<br />

Gnosticism (Asceticism) Paul Col 2:21-23<br />

Gnosticism<br />

(Antinomianism)<br />

Peter 2 Pet 2:1-22<br />

Gnosticism (Docetism) John 1 John 4:1-5<br />

Gnosticism (Docetism) John 2 John 1:7-11<br />

Gnosticism<br />

(Antinomianism)<br />

Nicolatians (see Acts 6:5)<br />

(Antinomianism?)<br />

Jude Jude 1:4-19<br />

John (Jesus) Rev 2:2,6<br />

Table 8: New Testament writers <strong>and</strong> their denouncement <strong>of</strong> heresies<br />

According to Chadwick, Gnosticism drew from Platonism, Hellenized<br />

Zoroastrianism, <strong>and</strong> Judaism. It was not a uniform phenomenon. It cannot be traced<br />

back to one thought, since it is a combination <strong>of</strong> many religious thoughts. Gnosticism<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

was eclectic <strong>and</strong> appeared to assimilate any new doctrine which seemed appealing, <strong>and</strong><br />

when Christianity was introduced, Gnostic identified in it certain aspects they found<br />

appealing. These second century sects declared to have a special knowledge that<br />

surpassed the simple faith <strong>of</strong> the church. Many <strong>of</strong> these Gnostic sects were Christians<br />

who embraced mystical theories <strong>of</strong> the true nature <strong>of</strong> Jesus or the Christ. They were out<br />

<strong>of</strong> step with the teachings <strong>of</strong> orthodox Christian faith. For example, salvation for them<br />

consisted in the liberation <strong>of</strong> the spirit, which is enslaved because <strong>of</strong> its union with<br />

material things <strong>and</strong> was achieved through special knowledge or gnosis – the word the<br />

terms gnosis is derived from. Gnostics in general also taught Docetism, the belief that<br />

Jesus did not have a physical body, but rather his apparent physical body was an<br />

illusion, <strong>and</strong> hence his crucifixion was not bodily.<br />

The response <strong>of</strong> the established church to early “Christian” Gnosticism was to solidify a creed,<br />

or basic statement <strong>of</strong> beliefs, that was in marked contrast to Gnostic beliefs. The resulting<br />

Apostles Creed came out <strong>of</strong> the 2nd century church, starting out as a baptismal liturgy, <strong>and</strong><br />

eventually became the st<strong>and</strong>ard statement <strong>of</strong> Christian belief. In the chart below, notice the<br />

Gnostic ideas that are refuted by the Creed: (Robert Jones)<br />

Apostles Creed Gnostic Idea Refuted<br />

I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker <strong>of</strong><br />

heaven <strong>and</strong> earth<br />

129<br />

ONE God, not two; God made material as well<br />

as heavenly things<br />

Born <strong>of</strong> the virgin Mary Jesus was NOT just a spirit<br />

Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified,<br />

dead <strong>and</strong> buried<br />

Christ was a real person, who existed in<br />

historical time<br />

I believe...in the resurrection <strong>of</strong> the body Material things are not innately evil (see also<br />

Gen 1:31)<br />

Table 9: Response <strong>of</strong> the Church to 2nd century Gnosticism<br />

Chadwick also says that the principal idea derived by Gnosticism from<br />

Christianity was the idea <strong>of</strong> redemption, although not all Gnostic sects considered Jesus<br />

as a redeemer, <strong>and</strong> in their schemes <strong>of</strong> things he frequently occupied a very subordinate<br />

role. Their idea <strong>of</strong> redemption differed from that <strong>of</strong> Christians as they interpreted it that<br />

one is redeemed from destiny <strong>and</strong> not from the consequences <strong>of</strong> responsible action <strong>and</strong>


Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

this redemption was bestowed on a pre-determined elect, the people <strong>of</strong> the spirit, 32 in<br />

whom alone was the divine spark (The Early Church 33-38)<br />

Your Your Your Own Own Own research research<br />

research<br />

Write a three-page paper on Gnosticism. <strong>St</strong>udy its origin, authors, <strong>and</strong> main<br />

doctrines.<br />

Marcionism<br />

Activity 26: Paper on Gnosticism<br />

Gnostics also depreciated the Old Testament by contrasting the God <strong>of</strong> the Old<br />

Testament as the god <strong>of</strong> justice with the loving Father taught by Jesus. This antithesis<br />

worked well for Marcion (100-160), from Asia Minor, the most formidable <strong>of</strong> heretics.<br />

He wrote a book entitled Anthithesis in which, among other things, he delineates<br />

contradictions between the Old <strong>and</strong> the New Testament trying to prove that the God <strong>of</strong><br />

the Jews was different from the God <strong>and</strong> Father <strong>of</strong> Jesus. Marcion was excommunicated<br />

in 144 (Chadwick, The Early Church 39). Yet, paradoxically, Marcion played a role in<br />

catalyzing the formation <strong>of</strong> the New Testament cannon. His biased selection <strong>of</strong> a<br />

particular Christian canon favorable to his ideas influenced the church’s decision not<br />

only to maintain the Old Testament, as God’s word for the Christian people—Marcion<br />

rejected the Old Testament—to have the four Gospels instead <strong>of</strong> one <strong>and</strong> a larger<br />

portion <strong>of</strong> apostolic letters, at least thirteen letters instead <strong>of</strong> ten.<br />

Moreover, an expansion might include the Acts <strong>of</strong> the Apostles, thus favoring<br />

the twelve companions <strong>of</strong> Jesus. The same instinct for favoring the twelve must have<br />

32 The Christian Gnostics <strong>of</strong> the second century recognized three classes <strong>of</strong> human persons: a) those—<br />

perhaps the pagans—caught hopelessly in the world <strong>of</strong> flesh <strong>and</strong> destined to destruction; b) the psychics –<br />

apparently the ordinary Christian believer—who belonged to the God <strong>of</strong> Jewish Scriptures <strong>and</strong> were<br />

destined to second class salvation; <strong>and</strong> c) the spirituals –the Gnostics themselves, with their destiny in the<br />

Fullness <strong>of</strong> the divine worlds (Walker 65). The three classes were determined from eternity.<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

been the rationale for including I Pet <strong>and</strong> I John, in the decades just before <strong>and</strong> after<br />

A.D. 200. The remaining seven works (Heb., Rev., Jas., II <strong>and</strong> III John, Jude, <strong>and</strong> II Pet)<br />

were not commonly accepted until the late 4 th century. A fourteenth letter (Heb.) was<br />

also accepted by this time. Both the Greek East <strong>and</strong> the Latin West agreed on the canon<br />

<strong>of</strong> 27 books, this common ground <strong>and</strong> agreement also meant the possibility <strong>of</strong><br />

increasing communion between them. Even Origen went to the West, to Rome, which<br />

struggled against Marcion, to learn about the biblical views <strong>of</strong> the church where Peter<br />

<strong>and</strong> Paul had been martyred (Brown 14-15).<br />

“…Valentinus, who adapted the principles <strong>of</strong> the heresy called “Gnostic” to the peculiar<br />

character <strong>of</strong> his own school…” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 1, Chapter 11)<br />

“Marcion expressly <strong>and</strong> openly used the knife, not the pen, since he made such an excision <strong>of</strong><br />

the Scriptures as suited his own subject-matter.” (Tertullian, Prescription Against Heretics)<br />

Table 10: Response <strong>of</strong> Early Church Fathers on heresy<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Why was Marcion important for the formation <strong>of</strong> the New Testament canon?<br />

Activity 27: Marcion <strong>and</strong> New Testament canon<br />

The New Testament, which constitutes the total apostolic witness for the Church, arose out <strong>of</strong><br />

a need for authoritative teaching on God <strong>and</strong> Jesus Christ. By the year 397 A.D., councils from<br />

Churches had agreed on the 27 books now forming the New Testament, <strong>and</strong> arrived at this<br />

decision based on the authority <strong>of</strong> the texts themselves. Basically, any text unquestioningly<br />

ascribed to an Apostle <strong>of</strong> Jesus was included in the Canon; <strong>and</strong> any text unquestioningly<br />

ascribed to a disciple <strong>of</strong> an Apostle (e.g., Mark <strong>and</strong> the Gospel <strong>of</strong> Mark) was included.<br />

There were several texts included that were not unanimously believed to have been written by<br />

such authors, but these texts received their inclusion as they: a) possessed self-evident<br />

authority; b) were not heretical (as based on Apostolic teaching); c) had been used extensively<br />

in part <strong>of</strong> the Church for some time; <strong>and</strong> d) were written within a relatively short period after<br />

Jesus’ death, to ensure eye-witness authority (http://www.1way2god.net/ntc).<br />

Table 11: The Formation <strong>of</strong> the New Testament canon<br />

Your Your Your Own Own Own Research<br />

Research<br />

Now read “The Formation <strong>of</strong> the New Testament” by <strong>St</strong>ephen Voorwinde – Pr<strong>of</strong>essor<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

<strong>of</strong> New Testament—in http://www.pastornet.net.au/rtc/canon.htm <strong>and</strong> make a<br />

summary <strong>of</strong> these points:<br />

• The New Testament Canon before 140<br />

• The New Testament Canon between 140 <strong>and</strong> 220<br />

• The Third <strong>and</strong> Fourth Centuries (220-400)<br />

• Theological Reflection<br />

If you cannot find this article, look for similar ones in the Web<br />

Montanism<br />

Activity 28: Formation <strong>of</strong> the New Testament<br />

Marcion’s teaching as well as the contemporary polemic about the fusion <strong>of</strong><br />

Christian faith with Gnosticism joined <strong>and</strong> led to a crisis <strong>of</strong> self-underst<strong>and</strong>ing in the<br />

churches, a crisis which worsened by a third movement—the New Prophecy—which<br />

rose <strong>and</strong> spread during the last decades <strong>of</strong> the second century. This movement was<br />

called “Montanism”, after its founder, Montanus, a Christian convert also from Asia<br />

Minor. Around the year 170, he began to proclaim that he was a prophet who taught a<br />

new prophecy. Along with his followers he represented a revival <strong>of</strong> the apocalyptic<br />

spirit <strong>and</strong> announced the forthcoming end <strong>of</strong> the world. Within a decade, Montanism<br />

spread through Asia Minor, Syria <strong>and</strong> Antioch <strong>and</strong> was known in Rome <strong>and</strong> the West<br />

by the end <strong>of</strong> a decade. Tertullian, a Christian writer, was converted to it. He was not<br />

attracted by its apocalypticism but by its seriousness <strong>and</strong> moral rigor (Walker 69-70).<br />

The main effect <strong>of</strong> Montanism on the Catholic church was that <strong>of</strong> reinforcing the<br />

conviction that revelation had come to an end with the apostolic age (Chadwick, The<br />

Early Church 40).<br />

Credal-confessional tradition, authority, New Testament canon<br />

A survey <strong>of</strong> the literature clearly reveals that, in the opening decades <strong>of</strong> the<br />

second century, Christianity underwent a period <strong>of</strong> conflict <strong>and</strong> debate. Walkers says<br />

that there were questions:<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

• about the meaning <strong>and</strong> value <strong>of</strong> the church’s Scriptures, which at this time were<br />

the traditional scriptures <strong>of</strong> Judaism;<br />

• about the framework <strong>of</strong> beliefs <strong>and</strong> values within which the proclamation <strong>of</strong><br />

“Jesus <strong>and</strong> the resurrection” was to be understood;<br />

• about the order <strong>of</strong> communities <strong>and</strong> the style <strong>of</strong> life which Christians were called<br />

upon to lead (43).<br />

Yet, there was agreement regarding the belief that the church’s teaching <strong>and</strong><br />

practice had to be consistent with its origins in the work <strong>of</strong> Christ <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> the first<br />

generation <strong>of</strong> his disciples. This common agreement is clear from the regularity with<br />

which early Christian writings are attributed to one <strong>of</strong> the Twelve or to all <strong>of</strong> them like<br />

the Didache. There existed other indices <strong>of</strong> unity <strong>and</strong> continuity with the apostles, such<br />

as baptism, the celebration <strong>of</strong> the Lord’s supper, certain disciplines, <strong>and</strong> aspects <strong>of</strong> a<br />

particular lifestyle to be followed that would include things such as fasting, prayer,<br />

monogamy, almsgiving, <strong>and</strong> charity (Walker 44).<br />

Thus, at the end <strong>of</strong> the second century, neither Gnosticism, Marcionism, nor<br />

Montanism was sufficiently attractive to draw many Christians towards them. The<br />

controversies in the middle <strong>and</strong> late second century compelled the church to make<br />

decisions.It was a process during which it defined its moral <strong>and</strong> doctrinal teachings as<br />

well as issues concerning ecclesiology. As far as the latter is concerned what is probably<br />

most remarkable was that the church established <strong>and</strong> acknowledged itself as a<br />

distinctive institution, seeing itself as the definite embodiment <strong>of</strong> its catholic, apostolic<br />

tradition. This self-underst<strong>and</strong>ing <strong>of</strong> the Church defined itself as apostolic Christianity,<br />

a Christianity that consists <strong>of</strong> <strong>and</strong> is based upon the articulation <strong>of</strong> the credal-<br />

confessional tradition <strong>and</strong> the emerging New Testament canon. There was no conflict<br />

between these two “rules <strong>of</strong> faith”, in fact they complimented each other, because the<br />

credal tradition simply summarized the basic <strong>and</strong> obvious truths <strong>of</strong> the prophetic <strong>and</strong><br />

apostolic scriptures. In this way, moreover, it provided the church with the necessary<br />

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key for the interpretation <strong>of</strong> the more obscure parts <strong>of</strong> the scriptures, which ruled out<br />

gnosticizing <strong>and</strong> other heretical exegesis (Walker 73-74).<br />

According to Meyendorff, in the East, the definition <strong>of</strong> canon <strong>of</strong> the Scripture<br />

did not receive its final form before the Synod <strong>of</strong> Trullo (692). This Synod endorsed the<br />

so-called “longer” canon, which included the apocrypha—Old Testament books<br />

preserved in Aramaic <strong>and</strong> in Greek. Yet several earlier Fathers were in favor <strong>of</strong> the<br />

“shorter” or Hebrew canon. As this theologian says, even John <strong>of</strong> Damascus thought<br />

Wisdom <strong>and</strong> Ecclesiasticus as “admirable”, but did not include them in the canon.<br />

Additionally, the Book <strong>of</strong> Revelation was generally omitted from the canon, <strong>and</strong> is<br />

never used in the liturgy <strong>of</strong> Byzantium (The Byzantine Legacy 32).<br />

In this train <strong>of</strong> thought, Chadwick states, the basic difficulty raised by Marcion or<br />

Valentinus was to know on what authoritative ground or normative st<strong>and</strong>ard these <strong>and</strong><br />

other heterodox doctrines could be refuted. Thus, authority was the central issue. What<br />

was <strong>and</strong> must be the only <strong>and</strong> true interpretation <strong>of</strong> the Old <strong>and</strong> New Testament? This<br />

question could also be phrased in other ways, for example: Who at present <strong>and</strong> it future<br />

occupy the learned chairs <strong>of</strong> the apostles <strong>and</strong> who could give clear guidance to<br />

bewildered believers? Where could one find reliable evidence concerning the teachings<br />

<strong>of</strong> the apostles? Chadwick delineates three weapons <strong>of</strong> orthodox defense:<br />

1) Ignatius <strong>of</strong> Antioch insisted upon the local bishop as the focus <strong>of</strong> unity—without<br />

him, the lifegiving sacraments could not be administered; in Rome, Clement,<br />

supported the idea, when he realized that members <strong>of</strong> the church <strong>of</strong> Corinth<br />

church were deposing their leaders, those <strong>of</strong> the sacred order in direct lineage<br />

<strong>and</strong> in valid succession from the apostles. The teaching given by bishops <strong>of</strong><br />

Rome or Antioch were the same as that <strong>of</strong> the Apostles.<br />

2) The gradual formation <strong>of</strong> the New Testament canon.<br />

3) The rule <strong>of</strong> faith, a term used by Irenaeus <strong>and</strong> Tertullian to mean a short<br />

summary <strong>of</strong> the main revelatory events <strong>of</strong> the redemptive process.” This rule,<br />

taught now by bishops, comes down from the apostles. In content it was similar<br />

to the formulas used in the questions put to c<strong>and</strong>idates for baptism <strong>and</strong> is<br />

simply the credal pattern based on the New Testament. (The Early Church 45)<br />

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It was called the “rule <strong>of</strong> truth,” the “rule <strong>of</strong> faith,” “ecclessiastical rule,” “tradition”, <strong>and</strong><br />

“kerigma”. These terms referred to a pattern <strong>and</strong> content <strong>of</strong> teaching. The rule was a syllabus<br />

<strong>of</strong> catechetical instruction in which neophytes learned the meaning <strong>of</strong> the church’s baptismal<br />

faith. As <strong>and</strong> illustration, in the practice <strong>of</strong> the Roman church in the last decades <strong>of</strong> the second<br />

century, it was said:<br />

“Do you believe in God the Father Almighty?<br />

“I believe”<br />

“ Do you believe in Jesus Christ the Son <strong>of</strong> God, who was born <strong>of</strong> Holy spirit <strong>and</strong> the Virgin<br />

Mary, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate <strong>and</strong> died, <strong>and</strong> rose the third day living from the<br />

dead, <strong>and</strong> ascended into heaven, <strong>and</strong> sat down at the right h<strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> the Father, <strong>and</strong> will come<br />

to judge the living <strong>and</strong> the dead?”<br />

“I believe.”<br />

“Do you believe in the Holy spirit, <strong>and</strong> the Holy Church, <strong>and</strong> the resurrection <strong>of</strong> the flesh?<br />

“I believe.”<br />

In the third century, in several churches, this creed was not formulated as questions to be<br />

answered but as direct declarations <strong>of</strong> faith. (Walker 73)<br />

Table 12: Credal-confessional Tradition<br />

As Papadakis asserts, the most significant event in the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> Christianity<br />

during this period was its transformation into a religion <strong>of</strong> two Testaments. This event<br />

occurred once the Church saw the need for <strong>and</strong> made the decision to collect all the<br />

writings <strong>of</strong> apostolic origin or inspiration into a canon. These writings were sanctioned<br />

by the Christian community because <strong>of</strong> their parallelism with that Tradition it possessed<br />

since the day <strong>of</strong> Pentecost, <strong>and</strong> which was nothing less than the bestowal <strong>of</strong> the Spirit in<br />

the midst <strong>of</strong> the community <strong>of</strong> believers. Before the contents <strong>of</strong> the New Testament<br />

were determined, the Church lived for decades solely by this tradition. Consequently,<br />

Scripture in Orthodoxy has always been interpreted within this context <strong>of</strong> Tradition<br />

since it alone, “as the Church’s very memory can disclose its authentic message.”<br />

Irenaeus, Bishop <strong>of</strong> Lyon, in Pro<strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong> the Apostolic Preaching, says that Tradition is<br />

“the preaching <strong>of</strong> the truth h<strong>and</strong>ed down by the Church in the whole world to Her<br />

children”.<br />

Besides, as Walker comments, Irenaeus <strong>of</strong> Lyon, like many other thinkers<br />

involved in anti-Gnostic polemic, thought that the apostles had “perfect knowledge” but<br />

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they were also convinced that the church’s <strong>of</strong>ficial teachers, the bishops, as successors<br />

<strong>of</strong> the apostles, were entrusted to that which was received from Christ. It is precisely<br />

those things, received from Christ, which was passed on in this apostolic succession,<br />

<strong>and</strong> ‘these things’ were embodied in the credal-confessional tradition <strong>of</strong> churches. This<br />

public tradition was the authentic teaching, which was in consonance with the plain<br />

testimony <strong>of</strong> the apostolic Scriptures. Bishops had the responsibility <strong>and</strong> privilege <strong>of</strong><br />

keeping this very truth—the message <strong>of</strong> the Gospel. Thus, as Walker concludes,<br />

the one h<strong>and</strong>,<br />

Through the struggles <strong>of</strong> the second century, the churches were strengthened as<br />

they bound themselves to their first century roots by the three-fold cord <strong>of</strong> creed,<br />

scripture, <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong>ficial teaching <strong>of</strong>fice. At the same time, by this institutional<br />

definition <strong>of</strong> the sources <strong>of</strong> their life <strong>and</strong> teaching, they initiated a new phase in<br />

the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> the Christian movement –differentiating themselves from their past<br />

in the very act <strong>of</strong> appropriating it. (75)<br />

For Hopko the result <strong>of</strong> the apologist’s struggle to defend the true faith was, on<br />

the teaching <strong>of</strong> apostolic succession in the Church, the doctrine that the genuine<br />

faith <strong>and</strong> life <strong>of</strong> Christianity is passed over from church to church, from<br />

generation to generation <strong>and</strong> from place to place, through the succession <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Holy Tradition <strong>of</strong> the Church in the consecration <strong>of</strong> bishops, whose teachings<br />

<strong>and</strong> practice is identical to each other <strong>and</strong> to that <strong>of</strong> the apostles <strong>of</strong> Jesus.<br />

(“Second Century: Persecution <strong>and</strong> Faith”)<br />

<strong>and</strong>, on the other, the firm establishment by the Church <strong>of</strong> the biblical can, in other<br />

words knowing exactly which writings belong to the holy scripture <strong>of</strong> the Church <strong>and</strong><br />

which do not. This decision was based on the genuine apostolic testimony contained in<br />

the writings, <strong>and</strong> their use in the Church at liturgical gatherings.<br />

As Kelly asserts, in Early Christian Doctrines, this sense <strong>of</strong> unity <strong>of</strong> the second<br />

century, <strong>of</strong> belonging to an apostolic tradition is illustrated at the death <strong>of</strong> Polycarp,<br />

when the church <strong>of</strong> Smyrna sent its report <strong>of</strong> Polycarp’s martyrdom not only to the<br />

church at Philomelium, but to all the communities composing “the holy <strong>and</strong> Catholic<br />

Church”. And as he faces death, Polycarp himself prays “for the entire Catholic church<br />

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throughout the world”. According to Kelly, all the Christian communities in spite <strong>of</strong><br />

being scattered had a deeper sense <strong>of</strong> being part <strong>of</strong> a universal church. There are other<br />

testimonies <strong>of</strong> this, for example by Ignatius, Hermas, Justin, “Barnabas”. Thus we find<br />

the suggestion, in the latter half <strong>of</strong> the second century, that the Apostolic, Catholic<br />

Church is the true church, as distinct from heretical communities. For Kelly all this<br />

implied a distinctive ecclesiology, although still far from being explicitly formulated.<br />

These fathers envisioned the empirical, visible society <strong>and</strong> they still had little inkling<br />

concerning the later distinction between a visible <strong>and</strong> invisible church. The third century<br />

would see major advances in ecclesiology, the theology <strong>of</strong> the Church (180-191).<br />

Tradition <strong>and</strong> Scripture<br />

In the last decades <strong>of</strong> the second century <strong>and</strong> the initial years <strong>of</strong> the third, the<br />

church’s doctrinal norms underwent a certain adjustment. While the Old Testament did<br />

not decrease in its prestige as an agent <strong>of</strong> revelation, the apostolic testimony in the<br />

minds <strong>of</strong> Christians came to represent the supreme authority. According to Kelly, this<br />

was made possible, as was shown when I dealt with the struggle between Catholicism<br />

<strong>and</strong> the Gnostic texts, by:<br />

1) The recognition <strong>of</strong> the New Testament as fully canonical <strong>and</strong> to rank<br />

alongside the Old as inspired Scripture.<br />

2) The distinction between Scripture <strong>and</strong> the Church’s living tradition as<br />

coordinate channels <strong>of</strong> this apostolic testimony was clearly appreciated, <strong>and</strong><br />

enhanced importance began to be attached to the latter (Early Christian Doctrines<br />

35).<br />

As Kelly adds, this position was already pointed out, with some minor<br />

differences <strong>of</strong> emphasis, in the writings <strong>of</strong> Irenaeus <strong>and</strong> Tertullian. For both <strong>of</strong> them,<br />

Christ was the ultimate source <strong>of</strong> Christian doctrine, being the truth, the Word by<br />

Whom the Father had been revealed. But He entrusted this revelation to his apostles,<br />

<strong>and</strong> only through them this knowledge could be obtained (36-37). Yet, Irenaeus was not<br />

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only a preserver <strong>and</strong> an interpreter <strong>of</strong> tradition, but a creative thinker. In his<br />

confrontation with Gnostics <strong>and</strong> Marcionites, he caught sight <strong>of</strong> a vision: that <strong>of</strong> the<br />

unity <strong>of</strong> human nature <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> the continuity <strong>of</strong> salvation <strong>history</strong>. This salvific <strong>history</strong> is<br />

the work <strong>of</strong> the one God, the Father through his Son <strong>and</strong> Spirit. In addition, at the heart<br />

<strong>of</strong> Tertullian theology we find the ideas <strong>of</strong> the purity <strong>and</strong> holiness <strong>of</strong> the church,<br />

revealed in concrete authenticity <strong>of</strong> its life <strong>and</strong> teaching. The Church lives by the<br />

revelation <strong>of</strong> God (Walker 77-80).<br />

By the Third <strong>and</strong> the Fourth Centuries the attitude to Scripture <strong>and</strong> tradition<br />

which had been emerging in the previous decades became the accepted, classic position<br />

with two main differences, according to Kelly:<br />

1) With the passing <strong>of</strong> Gnostic menace, the hesitation sometimes evinced by<br />

Irenaeus <strong>and</strong> Tertullian, about appealing directly to Scripture disappeared.<br />

2) As a result <strong>of</strong> developments in the Church’s institutional life the basis <strong>of</strong><br />

tradition became broader <strong>and</strong> more explicit. (Early Christian Doctrines 41)<br />

The supreme doctrinal authority remained the original revelation given by Christ<br />

<strong>and</strong> communicated to the Church by his apostles. This was the divine or apostolic<br />

“tradition”, in the strict sense <strong>of</strong> the word. It was in reference to this that Cyprian, could<br />

talk <strong>of</strong> “the root <strong>and</strong> source <strong>of</strong> the dominical tradition” or <strong>of</strong> “the fountain-head <strong>and</strong><br />

source <strong>of</strong> the divine tradition” (Early Christian Doctrines 42).<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. Why was second-century Christianity a movement beset by conflict <strong>and</strong> debate?<br />

2. What was the result <strong>of</strong> the Church’s orthodox defense against the heretical sects?<br />

3. Explain the following concepts:<br />

• credal-confessional tradition<br />

• authority<br />

• apostolic succession<br />

• the church as a “visible society.”<br />

• relation Tradition-Scripture<br />

Activity 29: Review <strong>of</strong> Second Century Christianity<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

The Roman church was <strong>of</strong> ever-increasing importance—we have to remember<br />

that both Peter <strong>and</strong> Paul had died there. Walker says that this community was probably<br />

the result <strong>of</strong> the conversion <strong>of</strong> a large body <strong>of</strong> Hellenized Jews in the earliest mission <strong>of</strong><br />

the Jerusalem Church. The Roman community had already spoken with a weighty voice<br />

by the end <strong>of</strong> the first century, <strong>and</strong> it took on an even more prominent position <strong>and</strong> an<br />

even greater influence on the Christian Church in the second <strong>and</strong> early third century.<br />

The narrator <strong>of</strong> I Clement, when addressing the Corinth community spoke with certain<br />

authority. Since Rome was at the principal crossroads <strong>of</strong> the empire, it became the<br />

center <strong>of</strong> the Christian movement, <strong>and</strong> during the third century it attracted believers<br />

from many regions <strong>of</strong> the empire. Justin Martyr came from Asia Minor, Valentinus<br />

from Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, Marcion from Pontus. The New Prophecy, from Phrygia, soon arrived<br />

at Rome <strong>and</strong> had supporters there. Everything that happened anywhere in the church<br />

was <strong>of</strong> concern to the Roman church.<br />

This church—which had spread to many places in Italy—had important revenues<br />

for almsgiving. This is seen in the fact that by 251, from its common purse, it was<br />

supporting not only the bishop, 46 presbyters, 7 deacons, 7 subdeacons, 43 acolytes, <strong>and</strong><br />

52 exorcists, readers <strong>and</strong> doorkeepers, but also more than 1500 widows <strong>and</strong> needed<br />

individuals. This church also gave shelter to Christians who had suffered under the<br />

ravages <strong>of</strong> barbarian invasions during the crisis <strong>of</strong> the third century. Also, in 250, under<br />

the persecution <strong>of</strong> Decius, the Roman Church gave refuge to a number <strong>of</strong> bishops<br />

(Chadwick, The Early Church 57-58).<br />

In addition, when a Roman bishop acted to settle a conflict, his word affected,<br />

<strong>and</strong> carried some weight in other churches as well, for Rome’s problems frequently had<br />

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their origins in other sectors <strong>of</strong> the Christian world. As an illustration, the quarrel about<br />

the proper date for the celebration <strong>of</strong> Easter between Rome <strong>and</strong> the community <strong>of</strong> Asia<br />

Minor was settled by Victor, Bishop <strong>of</strong> Rome (189-198), which showed that Rome<br />

acquired authority beyond its own locality <strong>and</strong> immediate sphere (Walker 77). During<br />

the next centuries, before the estrangement with the <strong>eastern</strong> Church the Roman church<br />

would be respected as orthodox.<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

List the characteristics <strong>of</strong> the early Church <strong>of</strong> Rome.<br />

Activity 30: The Church <strong>of</strong> Rome<br />

5. EARLY ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE<br />

The formation <strong>of</strong> an administrative structure was crucial for the early Christian<br />

church. It is quite certain, as mentioned above, that Peter presided over the Church <strong>of</strong><br />

Jerusalem <strong>and</strong> that he was followed by James. Yet the ministry <strong>of</strong> the Apostles was<br />

itinerant, not stationary, as Jesus had exhorted them to do. Once they founded a<br />

community, they would leave for another mission, leaving the administration <strong>of</strong> the new<br />

founded church in the h<strong>and</strong>s <strong>of</strong> others who serve as leaders <strong>and</strong> preside over the<br />

Eucharist <strong>and</strong> Baptism. Consequently, in contrast to the mobile authority <strong>of</strong> the apostles,<br />

there developed a local hierarchy whose functions were stationary, administrative, <strong>and</strong><br />

sacramental. On Sundays for the eucharistic meal, the presiding <strong>of</strong>ficer <strong>of</strong> each<br />

community was the bishop (episkopos), who was aided by a group <strong>of</strong> elders<br />

(presbuteroi) or presbyters <strong>and</strong> deacons (diakonoi). This was a moment in which the<br />

bishop rose to a position <strong>of</strong> superiority over his colleagues. For Chadwick, the Gnostic<br />

crisis might have forced this situation <strong>of</strong> a single man as the focus <strong>of</strong> unity (The Early<br />

Church 49). Walker <strong>and</strong> Chadwick agree that during the first century there was<br />

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ambivalence towards the use <strong>of</strong> elders or presbyters in the Christian literature (Acts <strong>of</strong><br />

Apostles, Pauline letters, I Clement or Didache). Sometimes they were joined together<br />

as one group, having a tw<strong>of</strong>old ministry <strong>of</strong> elders or bishops <strong>and</strong> deacons, sometimes a<br />

threefold ministry <strong>of</strong> bishops, elders, <strong>and</strong> deacons. The assistant status <strong>of</strong> the latter is<br />

evident since the earliest form <strong>of</strong> ordination. Originally, the diaconate was not a<br />

probationary order for the presbiterate, but an order in its own right, with the permanent<br />

diaconate have its own ministries. Progressively, the threefold pattern <strong>of</strong> bishops,<br />

presbyters, <strong>and</strong> deacons became clearer <strong>and</strong> were institutionalized.<br />

This development was not unusual. Papadakis believes that the Last Supper—the<br />

first liturgy—could not have taken place without the presiding presence <strong>of</strong> the Lord.<br />

Consequently, a presiding head <strong>of</strong> sacramental <strong>and</strong> eucharistic fellowships <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Church was taken from granted. It is for this reason that, at the very center <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Orthodox sacramental life <strong>and</strong> ecclesiology, there is a local “monarchical” episcopate.<br />

Walker asserts that with the establishment <strong>of</strong> such a pattern <strong>of</strong> ministry, as it is evident<br />

in I Clement, there appear to be the beginnings <strong>of</strong> the idea <strong>of</strong> “apostolic succession” or<br />

“succession from apostles.” In this work, the authority <strong>of</strong> elder-bishops <strong>and</strong> deacons is<br />

made mainly dependent on the fact that there <strong>of</strong>fices were established by the apostles<br />

themselves.<br />

Saint Ignatius <strong>of</strong> Antioch around the end <strong>of</strong> the first century also referred to this<br />

pattern <strong>of</strong> ministry in his epistles:<br />

I exhort you to strive to do all things in harmony with God: the bishop is to<br />

preside in the place <strong>of</strong> God, while the presbyters are to function as the council <strong>of</strong><br />

the apostles, <strong>and</strong> the deacons, who are most dear to me, are entrusted with the<br />

ministry (i.e., good works) <strong>of</strong> Jesus Christ. (Epistle to Magnesians, Chap. 6)<br />

Take care, then, to partake <strong>of</strong> one Eucharist; for one is the Flesh <strong>of</strong> our Lord<br />

Jesus Christ, <strong>and</strong> one the cup to unite us with His Blood, <strong>and</strong> one altar, just as<br />

there is one bishop assisted by the presbytery <strong>and</strong> the deacons, my fellow<br />

servants. (Epistle to Philadelphians, Chap. 4)<br />

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Where the bishop appears, there let the people be, just as where Jesus Christ is,<br />

there is the catholic Church (Epistle to Smyrneans, Chap. 8). (Hopko, “Second<br />

Century: Persecution <strong>and</strong> Faith”)<br />

Though this idea, which represents the idea <strong>of</strong> the Roman church, was not<br />

widespread until the beginning <strong>of</strong> the second century, during the controversies caused<br />

by Gnosticism. Thus, the second century bears witness to the formation <strong>of</strong> a body <strong>of</strong><br />

ministry, understood to be the ekklesia, that based its authority mainly on its apostolic<br />

succession. Nevertheless, at that moment, even if churches frequently exchanged ideas<br />

<strong>and</strong> admonitions, the church was not organized above the level <strong>of</strong> the poli (Papadakis;<br />

Walker 45-50; Chadwick, The Early Church 41-53) as it would be in subsequent<br />

centuries.<br />

According to Ware, the Orthodox Church preserves, as Ignatius wrote in 107, an<br />

eucharistic structure, gathered locally as a community around a bishop, which only<br />

realizes its true nature when it celebrates the Supper <strong>of</strong> the Lord, receiving His Body<br />

<strong>and</strong> Blood in the sacrament. And at every local celebration <strong>of</strong> the Eucharist it is the<br />

whole Christ who is present, not just part <strong>of</strong> Him. For the Orthodox church the outward<br />

organization is secondary. What really matters is the inner, sacramental life. Yet, in<br />

addition to its emphasis on the local community, the Orthodox church gives importance<br />

to the wider unity <strong>of</strong> the church. This idea is developed in the writings <strong>of</strong> another martyr<br />

bishop, Cyprian <strong>of</strong> Carthage (d. 258), who saw all bishops as sharing in the one<br />

episcopate. This “episcopate” is a single whole as the Church is a single whole. Thus<br />

there are many episcopi but only one episcopate; many churches <strong>and</strong> one Church This<br />

one episcopate is the one that assembles together in a council to discuss the common<br />

problems <strong>of</strong> the Church. Therefore, the fundamental doctrines <strong>of</strong> the Church—the<br />

Church <strong>of</strong> the Seven Councils as Ware calls it—were proclaimed in the seven<br />

ecumenical councils. Notwithst<strong>and</strong>ing, the writings <strong>of</strong> Fathers such as Basil,<br />

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Athanasius, Chrysostom, Gregory <strong>of</strong> Nazianzius, Cyril, or Gregory <strong>of</strong> Nyssa still are an<br />

inexhaustible, never-ending spiritual <strong>and</strong> theological source for the contemporary<br />

Orthodox Church (Ware 13-15).<br />

Furthermore, Meyendorff says that we need to approach the theological<br />

content—the tradition—found in the writings <strong>of</strong> such fathers as Ignatius, Irenaeus <strong>and</strong><br />

Cyprian to see the Orthodox perspective <strong>of</strong> the episcopate, which presupposes the<br />

inseparable unity between each bishop <strong>and</strong> his community. It also presupposes the<br />

identity <strong>and</strong>, therefore, the equality <strong>of</strong> bishops, something which would provoke<br />

frictions in the Byzantine Empire between Rome <strong>and</strong> Constantinople. In Orthodox<br />

ecclesiology, this local community, centered around the Eucharist <strong>and</strong> manifesting the<br />

reality <strong>of</strong> the Kingdom <strong>of</strong> God has remained consistent with the tradition <strong>of</strong> the above-<br />

mentioned fathers (The Byzantine Legacy 237).<br />

Having reviewed the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> the first Christians, we might think that the story<br />

about Jesus had already, in these first three hundred years, substituted Jesus’ preaching<br />

<strong>of</strong> the kingdom. Paul, for example, transformed the gospel through his own theological<br />

views <strong>and</strong> personal experience on the Damascus road. But I believe that Jesus’ teaching<br />

about man’s highest moral <strong>and</strong> spiritual ideals <strong>and</strong> his noble hope for the eternal life has<br />

been solidly kept in Tradition, a gift from the Holy Spirit, a living faith, a dynamic force<br />

which maintains the faith community sublimely linked to Jesus’ genuine teaching.<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Summarize this section entitled “Early Administrative <strong>St</strong>ructure” in one paragraph<br />

<strong>of</strong> 10-12 sentences.<br />

Activity 31: Early Administrative <strong>St</strong>ructure<br />

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Chapter 1: History <strong>of</strong> Early Christian Church<br />

Final Final Final Activity Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Having read this first chapter <strong>and</strong> done all its activities, write a five-page paper<br />

incorporating its main ideas. Follow the following diagram: a) introductory or topic<br />

paragraph, b) body or development, <strong>and</strong> c) concluding paragraph. Add your own<br />

reflection.<br />

Activity 32: Final activity on Early Christianity<br />

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Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

Chapter 2<br />

BYZANTINE CHURCH HISTORY (313-1453 AD)<br />

INTRODUCTION<br />

Having seen the development <strong>of</strong> the Early Christian community during the first<br />

three centuries after Christ, let us start the study <strong>of</strong> Byzantium in its both areas <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong>ate<br />

<strong>and</strong> Church, closely connected during the one-thous<strong>and</strong> year period it lasted. During<br />

this period, the Orthodox Church very <strong>of</strong>ten looked back to its roots in the early<br />

Christian community, to which it was linked, to assert <strong>and</strong> defend its faith. Meyendorff<br />

explains,<br />

For our contemporary Orthodox Church, Christian Byzantium is the inevitable<br />

historical link with the original apostolic community. Since the sixth century,<br />

Constantinople has been the unquestionably center <strong>of</strong> Christian Orthodoxy in the<br />

East, <strong>and</strong>, after the schism between East <strong>and</strong> West, it acquired primacy in<br />

Orthodoxy as a whole. These were de facto historical developments which make<br />

it impossible for us to think <strong>of</strong> Orthodox continuity <strong>and</strong> consistency in <strong>history</strong><br />

without referring to Byzantium. Other Christian traditions, Eastern <strong>and</strong> western,<br />

have also a great wealth <strong>of</strong> Christian culture, which produced rich fruits <strong>of</strong><br />

holiness, but—at least in the Orthodox view—Byzantium maintained that<br />

doctrinal integrity, that authenticity which today makes our Orthodoxy<br />

Orthodox. (The Byzantine Legacy 116)<br />

This theologian points out the sixth century because it was a moment in which<br />

Constantinople eventually built up its eclectic theological <strong>and</strong> liturgical tradition, trying<br />

to preserve <strong>and</strong> synthesize elements, as I will explain, from Alex<strong>and</strong>ria <strong>and</strong> Antioch.<br />

For Meyendorff, it was liturgy that played a central part in maintaining that identity <strong>of</strong><br />

the Church (The Byzantine Legacy 117).<br />

In this chapter we are going to study the Byzantine Empire from Constantine’s<br />

decision to legalize the Christian Church in 313 until the fall <strong>of</strong> Constantinople to the<br />

Ottoman Turks forces in 1453. From Emperor Constantine onward, the Church <strong>and</strong> the<br />

Empire started a very close <strong>and</strong> mutually beneficial relationship. The Church received<br />

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Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

imperial support <strong>and</strong> was truly a leaven <strong>of</strong> the society <strong>of</strong> which it was a part. The fourth<br />

through the tenth centuries represented a significant period for the Church’s internal<br />

development: the authoritative content <strong>of</strong> the New Testament was defined; the worship<br />

services attained a formal framework; the teachings <strong>of</strong> Christianity were developed by<br />

the “Fathers” <strong>of</strong> the church, great pastors <strong>and</strong> theologians; <strong>and</strong> missionary activity such<br />

as evangelization <strong>of</strong> the Slavs by Saints Cyril <strong>and</strong> Methodius flourished.<br />

Nevertheless, the period was full <strong>of</strong> struggle. The Byzantine Empire had to be<br />

constantly on guard against the neighboring Persians, Muslims, <strong>and</strong> Barbarians. The<br />

Church itself frequently underwent many grave schisms <strong>and</strong> heresies. As an illustration,<br />

serious schisms took place in the years 431 <strong>and</strong> 451. Among the greatest heresies was<br />

Arianism, which taught that Christ was not truly God. Although this heresy was<br />

condemned at the Council <strong>of</strong> Nicea in 325, it plagued the Church <strong>and</strong> brought great<br />

confusion to the Empire for nearly a century. The thous<strong>and</strong>-year period the Byzantine<br />

Empire lasted corresponds to the longest one in the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> the Church. It is during<br />

this period <strong>of</strong> paramount importance to the <strong>history</strong> <strong>of</strong> the Church that the city’s bishop<br />

assumed the title <strong>of</strong> “ecumenical patriarch” (Papadakis).<br />

The Byzantine Empire was founded when the capital <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire was<br />

transferred from Rome to Constantinople in 324. In the second half <strong>of</strong> the fourth century<br />

B.C., King Philip II <strong>of</strong> Macedon (382-336 B.C.) <strong>and</strong> his son Alex<strong>and</strong>er the Great<br />

(356-323 B.C.) had dominated Byzantium as they had built an empire reaching from<br />

Greece to India. After his death, Alex<strong>and</strong>er’s generals carved up his conquests into<br />

powerful kingdoms that valued their Greek heritage. By the first century B.C. these<br />

nations had engrossed the empire <strong>of</strong> ancient Rome, a non-Christian Roman state,<br />

founded in 753 B.C., which lasted 1100 years, when Rome was sacked by Alaric in 410.<br />

Yet, when have talked about the fall <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire, we should keep in mind that<br />

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Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

in fact only the western area <strong>of</strong> that empire succumbed to the Germanic invaders.<br />

Subsequent Roman emperors considered the West not as “lost” but as temporarily<br />

outside their direct imperial authority. The Christianized <strong>eastern</strong> part <strong>of</strong> the Roman<br />

Empire, or Byzantium, as it came to be called, continued for another 1100 years.<br />

For clarity, <strong>and</strong> to provide a cultural, social, <strong>and</strong> historical context for the<br />

discussion on the features <strong>of</strong> the Eastern Christian Church, I will follow a common<br />

division <strong>of</strong> Byzantine <strong>history</strong>: Early Byzantine period (324-842), Middle Byzantine<br />

Period (843-1261), <strong>and</strong> Late Byzantine Period (1262?-1454). 33 But not only is this<br />

context important, Haldon explains, in Byzantium, A History, that the physical world <strong>of</strong><br />

later Rome <strong>and</strong> Medieval Byzantium—geography, climate, peoples <strong>and</strong> languages,<br />

communications, resources (agriculture <strong>and</strong> industry)—set limits or facilitated political<br />

programs <strong>of</strong> different emperors <strong>and</strong> “determined the ability <strong>of</strong> East Roman state to<br />

respond to its enemies, deal with its neighbors, organize its administration <strong>and</strong> recruit,<br />

move <strong>and</strong> support its armies” (74).<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. What are we studying in this second chapter?<br />

2. How long did the western part <strong>of</strong> Roman Empire last?<br />

3. How long did the <strong>eastern</strong> part or Byzantine Empire last?<br />

4. Where does Christian Byzantium have its roots?<br />

5. Which three periods <strong>of</strong> Byzantium are we going to discuss?<br />

Activity 33: Preliminary activities on Chapter 2<br />

33 The broad historical framework <strong>of</strong> this discussion in the three periods delineated here has been adapted<br />

from general articles on the topics, available on the Internet, such as “A Brief History Of Byzantium,” “A<br />

Brief Summary <strong>of</strong> Byzantine History,” “A Short Byzantine History,” or a website such as answer.com.<br />

The opinions <strong>of</strong> well known historian <strong>and</strong>/or theologians such as Haldon, Meyendorff, Ware, Boojamra,<br />

Nicol, or Hussey have been incorporated into the discussion.<br />

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Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

1. THE EARLY BYZANTINE PERIOD (324-842): THE FORMATIVE<br />

PERIOD OF THE CHURCH. COUNCILS AND LOCAL HERESIES<br />

THE ‘FIRST GOLDEN AGE’ OF BYZANTIUM (324-730)<br />

The first golden age <strong>of</strong> the empire, the Early Byzantine period, extended from<br />

the founding <strong>of</strong> the new capital in 324 when Constantine became the ruler <strong>of</strong> the entire<br />

Roman Empire. For the first time a Christian emperor had ascended the throne, although<br />

there is some dispute about the depth <strong>of</strong> his faith. Christianity replaced paganism as the<br />

<strong>of</strong>ficial religion <strong>of</strong> the culturally <strong>and</strong> religiously diverse state in the late 300s. As<br />

already mentioned, I will first briefly describe the political <strong>and</strong> cultural aspects <strong>of</strong> the<br />

First Golden Age <strong>of</strong> Byzantium, <strong>and</strong>, then focus on the religious aspects.<br />

Political <strong>and</strong> Cultural Aspects<br />

Constantine the Great<br />

A crucial figure in its earliest years was the first Christian Roman emperor,<br />

Constantine (274?-337), who during his reign (324-337), established toleration <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Christian faith granting freedom <strong>of</strong> worship throughout the Roman Empire through the<br />

Edict <strong>of</strong> Milan, issued by him, along with his fellow Emperor Licinius in 313—there<br />

was a tetrarchic system in that moment 34 —, <strong>and</strong> legally transferred his capital from<br />

Rome to Constantinople, on the site <strong>of</strong> the Greek city <strong>of</strong> Byzantium. He recognized that<br />

the empire could not longer be effectively controlled from Rome (Haldon 16).<br />

Constantine exp<strong>and</strong>ed the city, built new walls <strong>and</strong> undertook expensive building<br />

programs. According to Ware, the reasons for this move were in part economic <strong>and</strong><br />

34 Given the size <strong>of</strong> the empire <strong>and</strong> the difficulties <strong>of</strong> communicating between Rome <strong>and</strong> the armies on<br />

the frontiers, it had been decided to divide the empire’s military comm<strong>and</strong> into four regional groupings, a<br />

tetrarchy or rule <strong>of</strong> four, consisting <strong>of</strong> two senior Augusti, Diocletian <strong>and</strong> Maximian, each supported by a<br />

junior “Caesar”. This tetrarchy worked well until Diocletian’s resignation in 305. <strong>St</strong>ruggles among the<br />

members <strong>of</strong> the tetrarchy started to seize the power until Constantine defeated <strong>and</strong> deposed Licinius<br />

(324), in the west, with him the last <strong>of</strong> the Augusti remaining. The empire remained united until the end<br />

<strong>of</strong> the century. For Constantine this victory was a result <strong>of</strong> his appeal to the God <strong>of</strong> the Christians.<br />

Recognizing that such as vast territory could not be effectively controlled from Rome, Constantine<br />

decided to moved his capital eastwards (Haldon 16).<br />

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Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

political, but also religious: the Old Rome was too deeply stained with pagan<br />

associations to form the center <strong>of</strong> the Christian Empire which he had in mind (19). Yet,<br />

paradoxically, Constantine himself, known as the great Christian emperor, was not<br />

baptized until shortly before he died. It was also under him that all church property<br />

which had been confiscated during the persecutions <strong>of</strong> Diocletian <strong>and</strong> Maximian, were<br />

restored. In the New Rome, things were to be different: after the solemn inauguration <strong>of</strong><br />

the city in 330, he ruled that no pagan rites should ever be performed at Constantinople.<br />

The Church <strong>of</strong> the Catacombs became the Church <strong>of</strong> the Empire.<br />

330 is <strong>of</strong>ten treated as a convenient starting point for referring to the Roman Empire in the East<br />

(the “Byzantine Empire” or “Byzantium”).<br />

Table 13: Constantinople becomes the Roman capital<br />

Thus, the fourth century not only marks the end <strong>of</strong> the age <strong>of</strong> the martyrs, the<br />

persecutions <strong>of</strong> Christians <strong>and</strong> the beginning <strong>of</strong> the Church’s formative stage, but also<br />

the threshold <strong>of</strong> a new civilization—the Christian Empire <strong>of</strong> medieval Byzantium—as<br />

well as the creation <strong>of</strong> the incomparable center <strong>of</strong> Orthodox Christianity. Eventually<br />

Theodosius I (379-395), within fifty years <strong>of</strong> Constantine’s death, carried this policy <strong>of</strong><br />

christianization through to its conclusion: by his legislation he made Christianity not<br />

simply the most highly favored but the only recognized religion <strong>of</strong> the Empire. The<br />

Church was now established. Paganism was suppressed. Haldon says that:<br />

With the toleration <strong>of</strong> Christianity <strong>and</strong> its positive promotion under Constantine<br />

at the expense <strong>of</strong> many <strong>of</strong> the established non-Christian cults, the church began<br />

to evolve into a powerful social <strong>and</strong> political force which was, in the course <strong>of</strong><br />

time, to dominate East Roman society <strong>and</strong> to vie with the state for authority in<br />

many aspects <strong>of</strong> civil law <strong>and</strong> justice. (17)<br />

Constantine also inaugurated a series <strong>of</strong> important reforms within both the<br />

military <strong>and</strong> civil establishments <strong>of</strong> the empire. The empire continued to be ruled by<br />

Roman law <strong>and</strong> political institutions, with the elite communicating <strong>of</strong>ficially in Latin,<br />

yet the population, now Christian, also spoke Greek. At school, students studied the<br />

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Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

ancient Greek classics <strong>of</strong> literature, philosophy, science, medicine, art, <strong>and</strong> rhetoric. The<br />

church, which developed its own literature <strong>and</strong> philosophy, nonetheless looked<br />

favorably upon the intellectual tradition <strong>of</strong> classical scholarship. As we will see, besides<br />

the foundation <strong>of</strong> Byzantium <strong>and</strong> the Edict <strong>of</strong> Milan, there was another event that is <strong>of</strong><br />

the utmost importance for the Church’s coming <strong>of</strong> age during Constantine’s reign,<br />

namely the Council <strong>of</strong> Nicea.<br />

Illustration 23: Emperor Constantine I <strong>and</strong> Helen,<br />

his Mother 35<br />

One <strong>of</strong> the advantages <strong>of</strong> Constantine’s new capital was that it was on an easily<br />

fortified peninsula; <strong>and</strong> as it was closer to the dangerous frontiers <strong>of</strong> the empire than<br />

Rome, imperial armies could respond more rapidly to crises. Furthermore, the strategic<br />

location <strong>of</strong> the city enabled merchants there to grow rich through their control over the<br />

trade routes between Europe <strong>and</strong> the East <strong>and</strong> the shipping lanes connecting the Black<br />

<strong>and</strong> Mediterranean Seas. Cities occupied a central role in the social <strong>and</strong> economic<br />

structure as well as in the administrative machinery <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire. They were<br />

centers <strong>of</strong> market-exchange <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> regional agricultural activity (Haldon 95).<br />

35 See: .<br />

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Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

The emperor Constantine is celebrated as a saint in the Orthodox Church, although not<br />

the western Church. His great merit, from a Christian point <strong>of</strong> view, was in legalizing<br />

Christianity.<br />

Table 14: Constantine as a saint in the Orthodox Church<br />

Accordingly, Constantine built on his new capital a university, two theaters,<br />

eight public <strong>and</strong> fifty-three private baths, fifty-two covered walkways, four law courts,<br />

fourteen churches, <strong>and</strong> fourteen palaces. He imported staggering quantities <strong>of</strong> the best<br />

Greco-Roman art from throughout the empire. This infusion helped the art <strong>of</strong> the Early<br />

Byzantine period to remain close to its Greco-Roman heritage in its naturalism <strong>and</strong><br />

classical subject matter. Moreover, the Roman Empire had an agrarian economy. It was<br />

the chief support <strong>of</strong> life, the essential element for the existence <strong>of</strong> towns <strong>and</strong> the basis<br />

for taxation. Bread was the basic food <strong>and</strong>, therefore, cereals were the dominant crop.<br />

Though important in some places, industry <strong>and</strong> commerce only played a minor role in<br />

the economic life <strong>of</strong> the people <strong>of</strong> Byzantium (Haldon 67).<br />

36 See: .<br />

Illustration 24: Constantinople, the “New Rome” 36<br />

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Answer the following questions:<br />

Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

Activity Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. Why was the foundation <strong>of</strong> Byzantium important for the Christian Church?<br />

What was decreed in the Edict <strong>of</strong> Milan? What important step did Theodosius I<br />

took?<br />

2. According to Ware, what were the reasons behind the construction <strong>of</strong> the Second<br />

Rome, as Byzantium was called?<br />

3. What important reforms inaugurated Constantine?<br />

4. According to Haldon, what was the effect on society <strong>of</strong> the toleration <strong>of</strong><br />

Christianity?<br />

5. Which two languages were spoken in early Byzantium?<br />

Constantine’s Successors<br />

Activity 34: Byzantium <strong>and</strong> Constantine<br />

Although the tetrarchy was never revived, upon Constantine’s death in 337, his<br />

three sons inherited his position. Constantine II, the Eldest, was recognized as senior<br />

<strong>and</strong> ruled the West. Constantius (337-361) ruled in the East, <strong>and</strong> Constant, the youngest<br />

the central provinces (Africa, Italy, <strong>and</strong> Illyricum). Yet eventually Constantius,<br />

defeating Constantine <strong>and</strong> Magnetius—Constant had already been deposed in 350<br />

following popular discontent among both population <strong>and</strong> the army—ruled the empire<br />

until his death in 361. His successor Julian (361-363), a competent general <strong>and</strong> efficient<br />

administrator, was unpopular for trying to revive paganism.<br />

While being occupied with fighting wars against barbarians (Goths, Franks,<br />

Alamanni, Saxons, etc) <strong>and</strong> Persians, <strong>and</strong> other struggles to obtain power, Theodosius I<br />

(379-395) in 388 became the sole ruler. Yet, he was the last emperor to hold this<br />

position. Although during his reign Orthodoxy triumphed over Arianism violent<br />

religious controversy became chronic. At his death, his two sons Arcadius (395-408), in<br />

the East, <strong>and</strong> Honorious, in the West, ruled jointly. As minors they were greatly<br />

influenced by the chief military <strong>and</strong> other <strong>of</strong>ficers at court. Nevertheless, the western<br />

part <strong>of</strong> the empire began to fall apart.<br />

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Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

The Fall <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire in the West<br />

Although Rome, as a capital city, had long ceased to have any real significance<br />

in practical terms, its fall, as commented, to a tribe <strong>of</strong> barbarians in 410 marks the<br />

irrevocable decline <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire in the West. By the 430’s whole provinces<br />

were under barbarian rule, although technically allies or federates <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire,<br />

but effectively independent. Western Roman Emperors continued to be appointed for<br />

the next sixty years, but they had little real st<strong>and</strong>ing. When the last western emperor was<br />

deposed in 476, Germanic principalities were created in the western half <strong>of</strong> the Empire<br />

<strong>and</strong> Italy was occupied by barbarian troops. Thus, after the western Empire fell (476) to<br />

Odoacer, Italy, Gaul, <strong>and</strong> Spain were theoretically united under Zeno (474-491) but<br />

were actually dominated by, respectively, the Ostrogoths, the Franks, <strong>and</strong> the Visigoths,<br />

while Africa was under the rule <strong>of</strong> the V<strong>and</strong>als. During this period there arose the<br />

heresies <strong>of</strong> Nestorianism <strong>and</strong> Monophysitism <strong>and</strong> the political parties <strong>of</strong> Blues <strong>and</strong><br />

Greens to divide the Byzantines. Haldon says that<br />

the <strong>eastern</strong> half <strong>of</strong> the empire survived for a variety <strong>of</strong> reasons: a healthier<br />

economy, more diversified patterns <strong>of</strong> urban <strong>and</strong> rural relationship <strong>and</strong> market<br />

<strong>and</strong> a more solid tax-based ... In addition <strong>eastern</strong> diplomacy encouraged<br />

barbarian leaders to look westward while the walls <strong>of</strong> Constantinople ...<br />

rendered any attempt to take the city fruitless. (18)<br />

Although commonly known as the “Theodosian Walls” after Theodosius II (408-450), the<br />

reigning emperor), the walls were actually built on the orders <strong>of</strong> Anthemius, the Empire’s<br />

Prefect <strong>of</strong> the East, to counter an immediate threat from the Huns.<br />

In conjunction with Constantinople’s naturally strong location, the Theodosian walls will prove<br />

their worth against any number <strong>of</strong> attacks upon Constantinople through Byzantine <strong>history</strong>. They<br />

will fall to an attacking army only twice, once during the chaos <strong>of</strong> the Fourth Crusade (1204)<br />

<strong>and</strong>, finally, to the Ottoman Turks, who breach them in 1453 with the help <strong>of</strong> artillery <strong>and</strong><br />

overwhelming numbers.<br />

Table 15: Construction <strong>of</strong> Constantinople triple wall (413)<br />

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Answer the following questions:<br />

Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

Activity Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. Who became the sole ruler, after Constantine? Why?<br />

2. When did the western empire fall? What was the relationship <strong>of</strong> barbari<strong>and</strong>ominated<br />

regions with the declining Roman Empire?<br />

3. What Roman emperor theoretically ruled Italy, Gaul, <strong>and</strong> Spain?<br />

4. According to Haldon, why did the <strong>eastern</strong> part <strong>of</strong> the empire survive?<br />

5. Which three heresies arose in this period?<br />

Activity 35: Constantine’s successors<br />

Justinian I, the Builder <strong>of</strong> Hagia Sophia<br />

In the East, the reigns <strong>of</strong> Arcadius, Theodosius II, Marcian, Leo I, Leo II, Zeno,<br />

Anastasius I, <strong>and</strong> Justin I—a period <strong>of</strong> more than one hundred years <strong>and</strong> a half (395-<br />

537)—were marked by the invasions <strong>of</strong> barbarian tribes including the Avars, the Slavs,<br />

the Bulgars, but also <strong>of</strong> Persians. Upon Justin’s death, in 527, he was succeeded without<br />

opposition by his nephew Justinian (527 to 565), who married the influential Theodora.<br />

Under his rule, Byzantine power grew. He greatly exp<strong>and</strong>ed the <strong>eastern</strong> empire reigning<br />

over most <strong>of</strong> the l<strong>and</strong>s surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Here is a map <strong>of</strong> Earlier<br />

Byzantium:<br />

Illustration 25: Map <strong>of</strong> Earlier Byzantium (565) 37<br />

37 All the maps depicting the geographical possessions <strong>of</strong> Byzantium come from “Explore Byzantium.”<br />

.<br />

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Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

This map depicts the Empire at the death <strong>of</strong> Justinian I. Through a series <strong>of</strong> hard-<br />

fought <strong>and</strong> destructive wars against Goth <strong>and</strong> V<strong>and</strong>al successor states in the former<br />

territory <strong>of</strong> the Western Roman Empire, Justinian had re-extended the Empire’s<br />

boundaries to southern Spain, the Italian peninsula, <strong>and</strong> North Africa. The territorial<br />

gains, though impressive, masked an overall weakening <strong>of</strong> the Empire’s position. This<br />

was mainly due to a dreadful outbreak <strong>of</strong> bubonic plague, which swept the<br />

Mediterranean basin in the 540s, <strong>and</strong> severe climatic conditions which had a negative<br />

impact upon the Empire’s agricultural base.<br />

Hundreds <strong>of</strong> thous<strong>and</strong>s die across the Persian <strong>and</strong> Byzantine Empires. Justinian himself falls<br />

gravely ill with the disease. When he recovers he finds that his Empire’s financial <strong>and</strong> military<br />

strength has been gravely damaged by the plague.<br />

Table 16: Bubonic plague’s first appearance in the Mediterranean (541-544)<br />

Activity Activity<br />

Activity<br />

Read Appendix C <strong>and</strong> make a list <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine emperors from Constantine I to<br />

Justinian. Add the periods during which they reigned.<br />

Activity 36: List <strong>of</strong> Byzantine emperors until Justinian<br />

Justinian was an ambitious builder; his greatest monument was the magnificent<br />

domed church <strong>of</strong> Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom), which was built in just five years (532-<br />

537). Hagia Sophia became the center <strong>of</strong> religious life in the Eastern Orthodox world. It<br />

was doubtless the largest <strong>and</strong> most splendid religious building in all <strong>of</strong> Christendom. 38<br />

According to The Russian Primary Chronicle, the envoys <strong>of</strong> the Kievan prince<br />

Vladimir, who visited it in 987, reported: “We knew not whether we were in heaven or<br />

on earth, for surely there is no such splendor or beauty anywhere upon earth.” Justinian<br />

38 We will find more about this church in Part III, when talking about the development <strong>of</strong> the Orthodox<br />

church building.<br />

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Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

also codified Roman law. In addition, a great revival <strong>of</strong> Hellenism took place in<br />

literature, <strong>and</strong> Byzantine art <strong>and</strong> architecture entered their most glorious period.<br />

Illustration 26: Hagia S<strong>of</strong>ia (537 A.D.) 39<br />

The reign <strong>of</strong> Justinian was to be a turning point in the evolution <strong>of</strong> Eastern Rome<br />

—Byzantium—<strong>and</strong>, in many ways, it marks the beginnings <strong>of</strong> a medieval Easter Roman<br />

World (Haldon 20).<br />

Illustration 27: Emperor Justinian I (527-565) <strong>and</strong> attendants 40<br />

39 See: .<br />

40 See: .<br />

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Answer the following questions:<br />

1. What were Justinian’s achievements?<br />

Chapter 2: Byzantine Church History<br />

Activity Activity<br />

Activity<br />

2. What was the result <strong>of</strong> the Bubonic plague <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> severe climatic conditions on<br />

the re- extended Byzantine Empire?<br />

3. How long did Justinian I take to build Hagia Sophia? Why did it become so<br />

important for Orthodoxy?<br />

Activity 37: Justinian I’s Reign<br />

Justinian I’s Successors: More Invasions<br />

Much was lost again under his successors. According to Haldon, upon the death<br />

in 565 <strong>of</strong> Justinian, the empire was vastly exp<strong>and</strong>ed yet perilously overstretched, both<br />

financially <strong>and</strong> militarily. During the next century his successor had to cope with the<br />

reality <strong>of</strong> dealing with new enemies, lack <strong>of</strong> ready cash <strong>and</strong> internal discontent over<br />

high taxation <strong>and</strong> constant dem<strong>and</strong>s for soldiers <strong>and</strong> the necessities to support them<br />

(26). It was a traumatic period for Byzantium as shown by the following map dated 668<br />

A.D.<br />

Illustration 28: Map <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine Empire (668 A.D.) 41<br />

The Empire’s borders to the north, along the Alps <strong>and</strong> the River Danube, were<br />

placed under pressure in the late 6th Century, <strong>and</strong> finally breached by a succession <strong>of</strong><br />

41 See: .<br />

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barbarian invasions from Lombards, which conquered most <strong>of</strong> Italy, Avars, <strong>and</strong> Slavs.<br />

Meanwhile in the east a catastrophic, though ultimately victorious struggle with the<br />

Persian Empire had been surmounted by the sudden eruption <strong>of</strong> Islam from the Arabian<br />

Peninsula. Constantinople also suffered attacked from the Persians <strong>and</strong> Avars, which<br />

was saved by the emperor Heraclius (610-641) <strong>and</strong> Constantine IV (668-685)<br />

respectively. Heraclius’s attempt to reconcile Monophysitism <strong>and</strong> Orthodoxy merely led<br />

to the new heresy <strong>of</strong> Monotheletism.<br />

For a number <strong>of</strong> reasons, still debated—religious <strong>and</strong> political alienation <strong>of</strong> local<br />

populations, economic <strong>and</strong> military exhaustion, failure <strong>of</strong> strategic oversight—the<br />

Byzantine government was unable to prevent the loss to the Muslims <strong>of</strong> Egypt,<br />

Macedonia, Palestine <strong>and</strong> Syria by the 640’s. To this we need to add the defeat <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Roman forces by the Bulgars by the end <strong>of</strong> the seventh century. For Haldon<br />

Byzantium’s failures were due to a combination <strong>of</strong> apathy, disaffected soldiers, poor<br />

discipline, <strong>and</strong> inadequate defenses (29-31).<br />

Culturally, the 7th century was marked by increasing Hellenization <strong>of</strong> the<br />

empire, outwardly symbolized by the adoption <strong>of</strong> the Greek title Basileus by the<br />

emperors. Furthermore, the church, or Hierosyne, under the patriarch <strong>of</strong> Constantinople,<br />

became increasingly important in public affairs. Theology, cultivated by emperors <strong>and</strong><br />

monks alike, was pushed to extremes <strong>of</strong> subtlety. Literature <strong>and</strong> art became chiefly<br />

religious.<br />

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Activity Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. See the above two maps –the one on Early Byzantium <strong>and</strong> the other dated 668 A-<br />

D–<strong>and</strong> discuss their differences.<br />

2. Read Appendix C <strong>and</strong> then:<br />

� Make a list <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine emperors from Justinian I to Theodosius III(add the<br />

periods they reigned).<br />

� Explain the Persian war. When did it begin? How did it develop?<br />

3. Culturally speaking, what characterizes the seventh century?<br />

Activity 38: List <strong>of</strong> Byzantine emperors after Justinian<br />

Over the centuries, the <strong>eastern</strong> part <strong>of</strong> Byzantium varied greatly, but its core<br />

remained the Balkan Peninsula (i.e., Thrace, Macedonia, Epirus, Greece proper, the<br />

Greek isles, <strong>and</strong> Illyria) <strong>and</strong> Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) until it collapsed to the<br />

Ottoman forces. 42<br />

Religious Aspects<br />

Heresies 43 <strong>and</strong> the First Six Ecumenical Councils (325-681)<br />

In the historical outline I briefly mentioned the problems <strong>of</strong> heresies assaulting<br />

the state in the early period <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine Empire. Let us now look at them in more<br />

detail. The fundamental doctrines <strong>of</strong> the Church were proclaimed <strong>and</strong> defended by the<br />

Seven Ecumenical—or “world-wide”—Councils, all <strong>of</strong> them occurring during the Early<br />

Byzantine period. The last Ecumenical Council was summoned upon to solve the<br />

problems the iconoclastic controversy had created <strong>and</strong> it will be explained when dealing<br />

with this controversy.<br />

These Synods, which are known by the names <strong>of</strong> the cities in which they were<br />

convened, included bishops from throughout the world, who came to affirm the<br />

authentic teachings on the Incarnation <strong>and</strong> the Holy Trinity. The Councils did not create<br />

new doctrines, but in a particular place <strong>and</strong> time, they proclaimed what the Church<br />

42 See maps <strong>of</strong> both regions in Appendix D.<br />

43 See Glossary for a definition <strong>of</strong> the main heresies <strong>and</strong> their proponents as well as the Fathers <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Church involved in the defense <strong>of</strong> Orthodoxy.<br />

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always believed <strong>and</strong> taught in defense <strong>of</strong> unorthodox or heterodox doctrines. The<br />

conciliar <strong>and</strong> collegial expression <strong>of</strong> Church life <strong>and</strong> authority which was manifest at<br />

the Ecumenical Councils <strong>and</strong> other synods <strong>of</strong> the early Church continue to be an<br />

important aspect <strong>of</strong> Orthodox Christianity (Fitzgerald). In the Orthodox tradition, the<br />

magisterium <strong>of</strong> the Church is not limited by Scripture alone but has its most<br />

authoritative expression in these ecumenical councils.<br />

Imperial summoning <strong>and</strong> approval gave them authority in the empire, but for the<br />

church they represented a necessary, essential consensus or “reception.” There were<br />

several other councils—Ephesus II (44), Hieria (753), Florence (1438-1439)—which,<br />

even though receiving imperial sanction, were rejected by the Church. Other councils,<br />

namely the Photian “Great Council <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong>. Sophia” (879-880) <strong>and</strong> the councils <strong>of</strong> 1341,<br />

1347 <strong>and</strong> 1351, held in Constantinople, though not ecumenical were highly authoritative<br />

(Meyendorff, The Byzantine Legacy 32).<br />

1º) Council <strong>of</strong> Nicea I, 325 5º) Council <strong>of</strong> Constantinople II, 553<br />

2º) Council <strong>of</strong> Constantinople I, 381 6º) Council <strong>of</strong> Constantinople III, 680<br />

3º) Council <strong>of</strong> Ephesus, 431 7º) Council <strong>of</strong> Nicea II, 787<br />

4º) Council <strong>of</strong> Chalcedon, 451<br />

Table 17: Dates <strong>of</strong> the First Seven Ecumenical Councils<br />

Indeed, the first seven centuries <strong>of</strong> the Byzantium Empire were plagued by<br />

heresies. Ware summarizes the different theological positions <strong>of</strong> some heresies<br />

regarding the affirmation “Christ must be fully God <strong>and</strong> fully man”: “Each heresy in<br />

turn undermined some part <strong>of</strong> this vital affirmation. Either Christ was made less than<br />

God (Arianism); or His manhood was so divided from His Godhead that He became<br />

two persons instead <strong>of</strong> one (Nestorianism); or He was not presented as truly man<br />

(Monophysitism, Monothelitism) (9-10). He adds that each Council defended this<br />

affirmation.<br />

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The first two, held in the fourth century, concentrated upon the earlier part (that<br />

Christ must be fully God) <strong>and</strong> formulated the doctrine <strong>of</strong> the Trinity. The next<br />

four, during the fifth, sixth, <strong>and</strong> seventh centuries, turned to the second part (the<br />

fullness <strong>of</strong> Christ’s manhood) <strong>and</strong> also sought to explain how manhood <strong>and</strong><br />

Godhead could be united in a single person. The seventh Council, in defense <strong>of</strong><br />

the Holy Icons, seems at first to st<strong>and</strong> somewhat apart, but like the first six it was<br />

ultimately concerned with the Incarnation <strong>and</strong> with man’s salvation. (10)<br />

The theological discussions <strong>and</strong> doctrinal formulations <strong>of</strong> the seven general<br />

councils, specifically the formulation <strong>of</strong> the Christian doctrine, have been <strong>of</strong> prime<br />

importance for Orthodoxy. As Papadakis asserts, they embody a permanent st<strong>and</strong>ard for<br />

the Orthodox Church’s underst<strong>and</strong>ing <strong>of</strong> the Trinity, the person <strong>of</strong> Christ <strong>and</strong> the<br />

incarnation, <strong>and</strong> st<strong>and</strong> as the permanent authoritative paradigm against which all later<br />

speculative theology is seen. Their decisions remained binding for the whole church <strong>and</strong><br />

their non-acceptance exclusion, as we will see, from the body <strong>of</strong> the Church.<br />

Yet, the reception <strong>of</strong> this doctrine was due to the great theologians or Fathers <strong>of</strong><br />

this age such as the saint Athanasius, Chrysostom (334?-407)—perhaps <strong>of</strong> all the<br />

Fathers, the best loved in the Orthodox Church <strong>and</strong> the one whose books are still read—<br />

Cyril (died 444), or the three Cappadocian Fathers, Saints Gregory <strong>of</strong> Nazanzius (329-<br />

390?)—known in the Orthodox Church as Gregory the Theologian—Basil the Great<br />

(330?-379), <strong>and</strong> his younger brother, Gregory <strong>of</strong> Nyssa (died 394). For contemporary<br />

Orthodox Christians, the writings <strong>of</strong> these Fathers still comprise a permanent spiritual<br />

<strong>and</strong> theological source. Let us have a look at the emperors involved in the councils, the<br />

heresies these ecumenical councils had to face, <strong>and</strong> some <strong>of</strong> the doctrinal formulations<br />

they decried in a more details.<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. List the seven councils naming their place <strong>and</strong> the year they took place. Who<br />

summoned these councils?<br />

2. Did the council create new doctrines?<br />

3. Why is the magisterium manifested in these councils important for the Orthodox<br />

Church?<br />

4. In your own words, follow Ware’s example <strong>and</strong> explain the difference theological<br />

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positions <strong>of</strong> Arianism, Nestorianism, <strong>and</strong> Monophysitism/Monothelitism<br />

regarding the affirmation: “Christ must be fully God <strong>and</strong> fully man.”<br />

5. According to Papadakis, why are the theological discussions <strong>and</strong> doctrinal<br />

formulations <strong>of</strong> the seven councils are on prime importance for the Orthodox<br />

Church?<br />

Arianism<br />

Activity 39: About the seven councils<br />

For Constantine, who had become the sole ruler, the Christian church was a<br />

valued political partner in his efforts to stabilize the empire <strong>and</strong> to consolidate his own<br />

power. Thus it was essential for him that the church remained united. Discord <strong>and</strong><br />

disagreement were a threat to his political plans, but he was compelled to attend to a<br />

major split within the church due to the appearance <strong>of</strong> Arianism, a heresy about the<br />

Trinity <strong>and</strong> the status <strong>of</strong> Christ. Arius, presbyter <strong>of</strong> the Church district <strong>of</strong> Baucalis in<br />

Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, trained in Greek philosophy, postulated that Jesus Christ (“the Son”) was<br />

inferior to God (“the Father”). The problem was aggravated by the fact that Constantine<br />

himself began eventually to favor the Arian position. Finally, the Council countered<br />

Arianism with the Nicene Creed, a theological formulation which included the<br />

statement that the Son <strong>and</strong> Father are <strong>of</strong> the same substance <strong>and</strong> therefore equal.<br />

Yet, although the Council apparently solved the problem <strong>of</strong> Arianism, the heresy<br />

continued to exist <strong>and</strong> gained many adherents over the next two centuries, including<br />

Constantine’s successor, Constantius, who after his father’s death in 337, approved it in<br />

the <strong>eastern</strong> part on the empire. While in contrast, in the West, Constant, supported the<br />

Nicean position. When Contants died in 350 the Nicenes were persecuted. In 362, after<br />

Constantius death, the Council <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria restored Orthodoxy. In 381 the<br />

ecumenical Council <strong>of</strong> Constantinople reaffirmed the Nicean position (Haldon 21).<br />

As Ware asserts, behind the definitions <strong>of</strong> councils lay the works <strong>of</strong> theologians,<br />

who gave precision to the terms the Councils employed. Athanasius <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria<br />

developed the full implications <strong>of</strong> the key word in the Nicene Creed: homoousios, one<br />

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in essence or substance, consubstantial. The work <strong>of</strong> the three Cappadocian Fathers<br />

complemented his work. So, while Athanasius stressed the unity <strong>of</strong> God—Father <strong>and</strong><br />

Son are one in essence (ousia)—the Cappadocians emphasized God’s threeness—<br />

Father, Son, <strong>and</strong> Holy Spirit are three persons (hypostaseis). They kept a delicate<br />

balance between the threeness <strong>and</strong> the oneness in God <strong>and</strong> gave full significance to the<br />

classic summary <strong>of</strong> Trinitarian doctrine, three persons in one essence. Ware adds that<br />

the Church had never before possessed four theologians <strong>of</strong> such stature within a single<br />

generation (10).<br />

Nestorianism<br />

There was a further Christological split in the early fifth century in the form <strong>of</strong><br />

Nestorianism, which took its name from Nestorius, a monk <strong>of</strong> Antioch, appointed in<br />

428 bishop <strong>of</strong> Constantinople by Theodosius II. Nestorius supported the idea that Mary<br />

could not be referred to as the Theotokos (the God-Bearer), but as the Christotokos (the<br />

Christ-bearer), to avoid attributing the Divinity with too human a nature. The Nestorians<br />

developed a theology in which the divine <strong>and</strong> human aspects <strong>of</strong> Christ were seen not as<br />

unified in a single person, but operated in conjunction. After a demonstration in the city,<br />

the emperor summoned the third ecumenical council after Cyril, bishop <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria<br />

(Alex<strong>and</strong>ria certainly resented the rise to power <strong>of</strong> Constantinople <strong>and</strong> the increasingly<br />

decisive part which the imperial capital took in ecclesiastical as well as secular affairs),<br />

appealed to Rome, <strong>and</strong> the Roman Pope Celestine condemned Nestorius. According to<br />

Haldon, the Nestorians were accused, unfairly, <strong>of</strong> teaching two persons in Christ, God<br />

<strong>and</strong> Man, <strong>and</strong> thus two distinct sons, human <strong>and</strong> divine. Nestorianism was condemned<br />

in the Council <strong>of</strong> Ephesus (431), but proceeded to secede, formally establishing a<br />

separate Church—the Assyrian Orthodox Church, still existing today <strong>and</strong> known as the<br />

Church <strong>of</strong> the East (21).<br />

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Yet, although Nestorianim was condemned, the debate it started contributed, in<br />

the seventh century, to the evolution <strong>of</strong> the Monophysite movement, causing a much<br />

more significant split within Christianity. It represented a reaction to some <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Nestorian views. This movement dealt with the ways in which the divine <strong>and</strong> the human<br />

were combined in the person <strong>of</strong> Christ. There were two schools, the more extreme<br />

version was that the divine was prior to <strong>and</strong> dominated the human element, hence, the<br />

description <strong>of</strong> Monophysite (from mono, “single” <strong>and</strong> physis, “nature”). A minor<br />

council at Ephesus in 449 decreed in favor <strong>of</strong> the Monophysite position, yet the<br />

ecumenical council <strong>of</strong> Chalcedon in 451, redefined the traditional creed <strong>of</strong> Nicea to<br />

make the Christological position clear, causing some further theological problems<br />

(Haldon 22).<br />

This council had stated that Christ had two natures, the divine <strong>and</strong> the human,<br />

but one person or hypostasis. This definition that Christ had two natures <strong>of</strong>fended the<br />

Alex<strong>and</strong>rians <strong>and</strong>, particularly, the followers <strong>of</strong> Cyril, Patriarch <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria (d. 444),<br />

<strong>and</strong> was regarded by some as having a pro-Nestorian bias in its treatment <strong>of</strong> the two<br />

natures <strong>of</strong> Christ. Its supporters were regarded as dyophysites or Chalcedonians in<br />

contrast to those who stressed a single nature, the Monophysites (Hussey 7). In Egypt<br />

<strong>and</strong> Syria in particular, Monophysitism became established in the rural populations, <strong>and</strong><br />

led to persecutions. At court, policies regarding this movement varied. The Emperor<br />

Zeno (474-91) issued a decree <strong>of</strong> unity trying to resolve the division; Anastasius<br />

supported a Monophysite position; Justin I was “Chalcedonian”, <strong>and</strong> Justinian I, swung<br />

between the two (Haldon 22).<br />

Although it was the practice <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine Emperor to participate in<br />

ecclesiastical affairs, Justinian (527-65), perhaps more than any other, interpreted his<br />

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imperial m<strong>and</strong>ate as including theological as well as the administrative problems <strong>of</strong> the<br />

Church. He tried to find solutions to current doctrinal controversy which would be<br />

acceptable to Rome <strong>and</strong> the West, <strong>and</strong> thus quieting the dissenting voices <strong>of</strong><br />

Monophysites <strong>and</strong> Nestorians. As said, in Egypt <strong>and</strong> Syria the Monophysite views<br />

predominated, the Alex<strong>and</strong>rians supported Cyril <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria’s formula, “one nature<br />

incarnate <strong>of</strong> God the Word”; yet, there were also strict dyophysites, a minority, which<br />

could not accept the implications <strong>of</strong> Cyril’s teaching maintaining that the human Christ<br />

<strong>and</strong> not the Logos suffered on the cross, a view that would deny the unity <strong>of</strong> the two<br />

natures forming one person. However, a majority <strong>of</strong> the Chalcedonians interpreted<br />

Cyril’s word “nature” as the equivalent <strong>of</strong> “hypostasis” or “person”, thus preserving the<br />

unity <strong>of</strong> the Persons in whom there were two natures each retaining its own special<br />

properties or characteristics.<br />

This question <strong>of</strong> the nature <strong>of</strong> the hypostatic union with its soteriological<br />

implications was faced in the sixth century. Justinian supported by his Patriarch <strong>and</strong> by<br />

the Fifth general council (Constantinople II, 553) explored <strong>and</strong> made explicit the<br />

intentions <strong>of</strong> Chalcedon in making it clear that the human Christ <strong>and</strong> the eternal Logos<br />

had a single hypostatic identity. Thus theopaschism was acceptable in the sense that one<br />

<strong>of</strong> the Trinity, the Son <strong>of</strong> God, was crucified <strong>and</strong> buried. At the same time certain<br />

teachings <strong>of</strong> the Nestorians were condemned. In this council a censure <strong>of</strong> Origenism<br />

was also confirmed. Origenism was already condemned in a previous synod. It concerns<br />

certain heretical views on the creation <strong>and</strong> the nature <strong>of</strong> man deriving from Origen (d. c.<br />

254) <strong>and</strong> Evagrius <strong>of</strong> Pontus (d. 399), which were current in monastic circles.<br />

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Illustration 29: Council <strong>of</strong> Ephesus, 431 44<br />

The strenuous efforts <strong>of</strong> Justinian <strong>and</strong> the Fifth general council did not win over<br />

the Monophysites <strong>and</strong>, in the following century, once again their differences with the<br />

Chalcedonians came to surface. The Chalcedon position emphasized that there was a<br />

single person in two natures. But it was not clear whether it was possible to believe in<br />

two natures with a single activity <strong>and</strong> a single will. This question was vital to the<br />

controversy because to agree on one energeia—Monoenergism—or one will—<br />

Monotheletism—would have supported one <strong>of</strong> the principal Monophysite objections to<br />

the Chalcedonian definition, <strong>and</strong> therefore gained Monophysite support (Hussey 7-8).<br />

The disaffection brought about by the persecution <strong>of</strong> the Monophysites in particular on<br />

the part <strong>of</strong> Constantinople—under Justin II, for example—made a compromise with<br />

Monophysites necessary. This compromise might be possible by the incorporation <strong>of</strong><br />

some formula acceptable to the Monophysites. This was not merely a religious matter<br />

but also political as the territories with predominantly Monophysite populations had<br />

been lost to the Persians (Haldon 27-28).<br />

Monoenergism. Schism <strong>and</strong> the Sixth Council<br />

44 See: .<br />

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Ware explains that Ephesus <strong>and</strong> Chalcedon were a rock <strong>of</strong> Orthodoxy, but they<br />

were also a terrible rock <strong>of</strong> <strong>of</strong>fense. The Arians had been gradually reconciled <strong>and</strong><br />

created no lasting schism. But to this day there exist Nestorian Christians who cannot<br />

accept the decisions <strong>of</strong> Ephesus, <strong>and</strong> Monophysites who cannot accept those <strong>of</strong><br />

Chalcedon (15). Thus, in the 7th century, Byzantine emperor Heraclius (610-641)<br />

attempted to solve the schism created by the Monophysites <strong>and</strong> Chalcedonians, <strong>and</strong><br />

suggested the compromise <strong>of</strong> Monoenergism, whereby a single energy was postulated<br />

in which both divine <strong>and</strong> human aspects were unified. This compromise adopted the<br />

Chalcedonian belief that Christ had two natures, combined with the Monophysite view<br />

that Christ had one “will.” The definition <strong>of</strong> the term “will” was left deliberately vague.<br />

Monoenergism was accepted by the Patriarchs <strong>of</strong> Constantinople, Antioch, <strong>and</strong><br />

Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, as well as by the Armenians, though not by the Patriarch <strong>of</strong> Jerusalem or<br />

Pope Honorius I. The lack <strong>of</strong> support from the Pope led Heraclius to ab<strong>and</strong>on the belief<br />

in 638. Instead he declared the doctrine <strong>of</strong> Monothelitism, though this did not solve the<br />

schism either.<br />

The question about the human <strong>and</strong> divine natures <strong>of</strong> Christ arose in the seventh<br />

century against a particularly disturbed background. The Empire was then facing a<br />

serious <strong>and</strong> prolonged crisis. These include: Lombard invaders in Italy, the Persians in<br />

the Asian, Syrian, <strong>and</strong> Egyptian parts <strong>of</strong> the Empire with considerable success <strong>and</strong> the<br />

loss <strong>of</strong> Jerusalem <strong>and</strong> the Holy Cross (614), the Avars <strong>and</strong> Slavs in the northern frontier,<br />

<strong>and</strong> even a failed plan <strong>of</strong> the Persians with Avar aid in 626 to capture Constantinople. It<br />

seemed that the very existence <strong>of</strong> the Empire was being threatened. It was therefore<br />

essential to encourage the traditional imperial policy <strong>of</strong> unity within the polity.<br />

Unfortunately there were now two main bodies <strong>of</strong> Christian dissidents: the<br />

Monophysites whose strength lay in Egypt <strong>and</strong> Syria, <strong>and</strong> the Nestorians who had<br />

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established their non-Chalcedonian Church on Persian territory. The Persians favored<br />

these separatists (Hussey 8).<br />

Several emperors participated in this Christological controversy (namely<br />

Heraclius, Contantine II, Constans II, <strong>and</strong> Constantine IV) as well as Patriarchs<br />

(Sergius, Pyrrhus, Paul or George) <strong>and</strong> Popes (John IV, Theodore, Martin I, <strong>and</strong><br />

Agatho). In 680, was called, the Sixth general Council <strong>of</strong> Constantinople III by the<br />

Emperor Constantine IV with the attendance <strong>of</strong> delegates from the Pope <strong>and</strong> the four<br />

Patriarchs (Constantinople, Antioch, Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, <strong>and</strong> Jerusalem). The council attempted<br />

to bring about reconciliation between the western Church in Rome <strong>and</strong> the Orthodox<br />

Church in Constantinople. After lengthy discussions, those who had supported the<br />

heretical doctrine <strong>of</strong> the single activity <strong>and</strong> the single will <strong>of</strong> Jesus Christ were<br />

anathematized. That is, the council rejected monotheletism <strong>and</strong> monenergism <strong>and</strong> their<br />

proponents—the majority <strong>of</strong> the Monophysite regions <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine Empire—was<br />

now controlled by the Islamic Empire. The council decreed that Jesus Christ both had a<br />

divine <strong>and</strong> human will that matched his two natures. This reaffirmed the Chalcedonian<br />

doctrine <strong>of</strong> 451. This statement summarized the Christological belief:<br />

Completely preserving that which is without confusion or division we briefly<br />

state the whole; believing that after his incarnation our Lord Jesus Christ, our<br />

true God, is one <strong>of</strong> the Trinity, we state that he has two natures shining forth in<br />

his one hypostasis. In this, throughout the whole course <strong>of</strong> his incarnate life, he<br />

made manifest his sufferings <strong>and</strong> miracles, not simply in appearance but in<br />

reality. The difference <strong>of</strong> the natures is recognized in one <strong>and</strong> the same<br />

hypostasis because each nature wills <strong>and</strong> works what is proper to it in<br />

communion with the other. Thus we proclaim two natural wills <strong>and</strong> two natural<br />

activities working together for the salvation <strong>of</strong> the human race.<br />

The minutes <strong>of</strong> the sessions <strong>of</strong> this Sixth general council were read, approved,<br />

<strong>and</strong> signed by the Emperor <strong>and</strong> those present, <strong>and</strong> were received <strong>and</strong> accepted by Pope<br />

Conon in Rome (who before he became Pope had taken part in the council as a papal<br />

legate). Thus the re-establishment <strong>of</strong> <strong>orthodoxy</strong> <strong>and</strong> the rejection <strong>of</strong> monenergism—<br />

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Christ had a single will—<strong>and</strong> monotheletism had brought Constantinople <strong>and</strong> Rome<br />

together again. The attempt to meet a compromise with the Monophysites had failed,<br />

<strong>and</strong>, like the Nestorians, they were not reconciled to the main body <strong>of</strong> Christendom <strong>and</strong><br />

continued to build up their separate Churches, mainly in what were by now Muslim-<br />

dominated territories (Hussey 9-14).<br />

Other Heretical Movements<br />

But there were other heretical movements that affected the Church <strong>and</strong> in which<br />

the emperors were involved as well. One <strong>of</strong> them was the Donatist movement mainly in<br />

North Africa, which claimed that the consecration <strong>of</strong> bishops <strong>of</strong> Carthage was improper.<br />

It lasted until the seventh century. Another was Messialianism, a Syrian monastic<br />

heresy with a crude <strong>and</strong> materialistic view <strong>of</strong> God, which spread from Mesopotamia to<br />

Syria. It taught that each person had a personal demon to be exorcized by constant<br />

prayer. It was condemned as was Pelagianism at the Council <strong>of</strong> Ephesus in 431.<br />

Pelagianism was a largely western heresy begun by Pelagius, a British monk, during the<br />

later fourth century. As Haldon says, these were local heresies with no long term results,<br />

but the emperor’s involvement cemented the association between the interests <strong>of</strong> the<br />

church <strong>and</strong> those <strong>of</strong> the imperial government (22).<br />

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Activity<br />

Activity<br />

For these series <strong>of</strong> activities also see the Glossary. Similarly, search the web if you<br />

need more information.<br />

1. Define Arianism <strong>and</strong> the following concepts:<br />

� homoousios<br />

� hypostaseis<br />

2. Who were the three Cappadocian Fathers? Find them in the Glossary <strong>and</strong><br />

briefly write about them.<br />

3. Define Nestorianism.<br />

4. Define Monophysitism. Who were the dyophysites or Chaledonians? How did<br />

Justinian try to solve this theological problem?<br />

5. Define monoenergism <strong>and</strong> explain the schism it caused.<br />

6. What was finally agreed in the sixth ecumenical council?<br />

7. List other heretical movements.<br />

The Pentarchy<br />

Activity 40: Heresies from the fourth to the seventh century<br />

But these ecumenical councils were significant for other reasons. The threefold<br />

ministerial structure <strong>of</strong> bishop, presbyter, <strong>and</strong> deacon was a fact in many churches by<br />

the post-apostolic. Each one <strong>of</strong> them had its own independent hierarchical unit <strong>and</strong> was<br />

a self-governing unit; yet, there were no precise st<strong>and</strong>ards defined regarding the<br />

relationship among them. Modeled after the organization <strong>of</strong> the Roman Empire, there<br />

was, even before the fourth century, a “power structure”—as Papadakis defines it—<br />

about the way in which churches were to be grouped in provinces.<br />

It was the custom to give greater honor to the metropolitan or bishop <strong>of</strong> the<br />

capital city (metropolis). Likewise, following the importance <strong>of</strong> certain metropolis in<br />

the Roman administration, especial precedence was granted to the presiding bishops <strong>of</strong><br />

the three largest cities in the Empire: Rome, Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, <strong>and</strong> Antioch. But this had been<br />

a development by common consensus, with no ecclesiastical legislation backing it<br />

(Papadakis).<br />

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As Ware asserts, this problem was eventually addressed by the ecumenical<br />

councils. The Fathers <strong>of</strong> the First Ecumenical Council (Nicea, 325) recognized the<br />

status <strong>of</strong> three great centers—Rome, Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, <strong>and</strong> Antioch. Also, while it still<br />

remained subject to the Metropolitan <strong>of</strong> Caesarea, the see <strong>of</strong> Jerusalem, was given by<br />

them, due to its central importance to the entire movement <strong>of</strong> Christian <strong>history</strong>, the next<br />

place in honor after these three. At that moment, Constantinople, not being <strong>of</strong>ficially<br />

inaugurated as the new capital until five years later, was not mentioned <strong>and</strong> continued to<br />

be the Metropolitan <strong>of</strong> Heraclea.<br />

With the emergence <strong>of</strong> Constantinople as the “New Rome”, a rearrangement <strong>of</strong><br />

the existing pattern was necessary. This was accomplished in the Second Ecumenical<br />

Council (Constantinople, 381). Being the capital <strong>of</strong> the Empire, Constantinople was<br />

assigned a second place after Rome <strong>and</strong> above Alex<strong>and</strong>ria. Canon 3 <strong>of</strong> this Council<br />

states: “The Bishop <strong>of</strong> Constantinople shall have the prerogative <strong>of</strong> honor after the<br />

Bishop <strong>of</strong> Rome, because Constantinople is the New Rome.” This second canon was<br />

resented by both Rome <strong>and</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria. Ware says that Old Rome pondered where the<br />

claims <strong>of</strong> New Rome would end: might not Constantinople before long claim first<br />

place? Hence Rome decided to ignore the <strong>of</strong>fending Canon, <strong>and</strong> the Pope did not<br />

formally recognize Constantinople’s claim to second place until the Lateran Council<br />

(1215). One can underst<strong>and</strong> why Rome changed its mind about the position <strong>of</strong><br />

Constantinople as defined by the 3rd Canon if we remember that at that time<br />

Constantinople was in the h<strong>and</strong>s <strong>of</strong> the Crusaders <strong>and</strong> under the rule <strong>of</strong> a Latin<br />

Patriarch.<br />

This Canon 3, Ware continues, was also <strong>of</strong>fending to Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, which up to<br />

that date had occupied the first place in the East. The next seventy years witnessed a<br />

sharp conflict between Constantinople <strong>and</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, in which for a time the victory<br />

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went to the latter. The first major Alex<strong>and</strong>rian success was at the Synod <strong>of</strong> the Oak,<br />

when Theophilus <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria secured the deposition <strong>and</strong> exile <strong>of</strong> the Bishop <strong>of</strong><br />

Constantinople, Saint John Chrysostom. A second major success was won by<br />

Alex<strong>and</strong>ria by the nephew <strong>and</strong> successor <strong>of</strong> Theophilus, Saint Cyril <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, who<br />

brought about the fall <strong>of</strong> another Bishop <strong>of</strong> Constantinople, Nestorius, at the third<br />

General Council, held in Ephesus (431). Alex<strong>and</strong>ria won another victory at a second<br />

Council held in Ephesus in 449, but this meeting, unlike the one that preceded it <strong>of</strong> 431,<br />

was not accepted by the Church at large. It was felt that the Alex<strong>and</strong>rian party had this<br />

time gone too far. Dioscorus <strong>of</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria—Cyril’s successor—maintained that in<br />

Christ there was not only a unity <strong>of</strong> personality but a single nature—or<br />

Monophysitism—thus denying, for some, the integrity <strong>of</strong> Christ’s humanity. Only two<br />

years later, in 451, the Emperor summoned the council <strong>of</strong> Chalcedon, regarded by the<br />

Church <strong>of</strong> Byzantium <strong>and</strong> the west as the Fourth General Council. The Council, as<br />

commented, strongly opposed Monophysitism <strong>and</strong> Alex<strong>and</strong>ria defeated not only<br />

theologically but also in its claim to rule supreme in the east. Canon 28 <strong>of</strong> Chalcedon<br />

confirmed Canon 3 <strong>of</strong> Constantinople <strong>and</strong> New Rome was assigned the place next in<br />

honor after Old Rome. Additionally, the Council freed Jerusalem from the jurisdiction<br />

<strong>of</strong> Caesarea granting it the fifth place among the great sees.<br />

Thus, by the fifth century, the system later known among Orthodox as the<br />

Pentarchy (or system <strong>of</strong> five Sees, patriarchates) was now complete, whereby five great<br />

sees in the Church were held in particular honor, <strong>and</strong> a settled order <strong>of</strong> precedence was<br />

established among them: in order <strong>of</strong> rank, Rome (the patriarch there later calling himself<br />

“the pope”), which as the ancient center <strong>and</strong> largest city <strong>of</strong> the empire was given the<br />

primacy <strong>of</strong> honor, Constantinople, Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, Antioch, <strong>and</strong> Jerusalem. All five claimed<br />

apostolic foundation <strong>and</strong> moreover, many Orthodox theologians believe that not only<br />

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the bishop <strong>of</strong> Rome but all bishops are successors <strong>of</strong> Peter. The first four were the most<br />

important cities in the Roman Empire; the fifth, Jerusalem, was underst<strong>and</strong>ably added<br />

because it was the place where Christ had suffered on the Cross <strong>and</strong> risen from the dead.<br />

The bishop in each <strong>of</strong> these cities received the title “patriarch.” Each <strong>of</strong> the five<br />

patriarchs was totally sovereign within his sphere <strong>of</strong> jurisdiction (Ware 10-12;<br />

Papadakis) From the Orthodox perspective, as we have seen, the origin <strong>of</strong> the system <strong>of</strong><br />

patriarchs <strong>and</strong> metropolitans was only ecclesiastical, <strong>and</strong> had no divine origin or<br />

m<strong>and</strong>ate.. None <strong>of</strong> them possessed any authority by divine right. However, from the<br />

perspective <strong>of</strong> divine right, Ware asserts that<br />

... all the bishops are essentially equal, however humble or exalted the city over<br />

which each presides. All bishops share equally in the apostolic succession, all<br />

have the same sacramental powers, all are divinely appointed teachers <strong>of</strong> the<br />

faith. If a dispute about doctrine arises, it is not enough for the Patriarchs to<br />

express their opinion: every diocesan bishop has the right to attend a General<br />

Council, to speak, <strong>and</strong> to cast his vote. The system <strong>of</strong> the Pentarchy does not<br />

impair the essential equality <strong>of</strong> all bishops, nor does it deprive each local<br />

community <strong>of</strong> the importance which Ignatius assigned to it. (12-13)<br />

Thus for the Orthodox Church, the primacy <strong>of</strong> Rome did not entail universal<br />

jurisdiction over the others, <strong>and</strong> thus, it does not accept the doctrine <strong>of</strong> Papal authority<br />

decried by the Vatican Council <strong>of</strong> 1870. However, this does not mean that Orthodoxy<br />

denies the Bishop <strong>of</strong> Rome primacy <strong>of</strong> honor—the first among equals. As Ware clarifies<br />

that “primacy” is not “supremacy”. The Orthodox Church views the Pope as the bishop<br />

“who presides in love”, to adapt a phrase <strong>of</strong> Saint Ignatius: “Rome’s mistake ... has<br />

been to turn this primacy or ‘presidency <strong>of</strong> love’ into a supremacy <strong>of</strong> external power<br />

<strong>and</strong> jurisdiction” (13).<br />

When Islamic conquests <strong>of</strong> the seventh century absorbed Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, Antioch,<br />

<strong>and</strong> Jerusalem, the patriarch <strong>of</strong> Constantinople, with the exception <strong>of</strong> the Armenians <strong>and</strong><br />

the Christians in communities that still existed in imperial l<strong>and</strong>s lost to Islam, became<br />

the leader <strong>of</strong> most <strong>eastern</strong> Christians. Eventually as the Slavs <strong>of</strong> Bulgaria, the Rus’, <strong>and</strong><br />

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the Serbs were converted to the Orthodox religion in the tenth century, the patriarch <strong>of</strong><br />

Constantinople also became their spiritual head. He remained, however, under the<br />

authority <strong>of</strong> the emperor.<br />

Activity<br />

Activity<br />

1. Neither make a summary— nor more than three or four paragraphs — <strong>of</strong> the<br />

events that led to the system called among Orthodox as the Pentarchy.<br />

2. Did any <strong>of</strong> the five patriarchates have sovereign or supremacy over the others?<br />

Activity 41: The Pentarchy<br />

END OF EARLY BYZANTINE PERIOD (730-843)<br />

Political <strong>and</strong> Cultural Aspects<br />

Under Justinian II (685-695) <strong>and</strong> his successors the empire was again menaced<br />

by Arabs <strong>and</strong> Bulgars, but the Isaurian emperors Leo III (717-741) <strong>and</strong> Constantine V<br />

(741-775), the emperors who precipitated the grave issue <strong>of</strong> iconoclasm, also were the<br />

emperors who stopped the Arab advance <strong>and</strong> recovered Asia Minor. By 780 the<br />

situation along Byzantium’s <strong>eastern</strong> frontier had stabilized, <strong>and</strong> the Empire’s “dark age”<br />

was coming to a close. Byzantium was now transformed from an empire <strong>of</strong> late<br />

antiquity spread along the Mediterranean into a relatively compact medieval state with<br />

its most important l<strong>and</strong>s, in terms <strong>of</strong> agricultural production, tax-base, <strong>and</strong> military<br />

manpower, in Asia Minor. However reduced in territorial extent, Byzantium showed its<br />

tenacity <strong>and</strong> ability to adapt <strong>and</strong> survive under severe pressure from East, West <strong>and</strong><br />

North. The next two <strong>and</strong> a half centuries would witness an amazing recovery in the<br />

Empire’s fortunes, based upon the administrative <strong>and</strong> military structures put in place<br />

during its long battle for survival. Let us look at a map <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine Empire<br />

depicting it in 780 A.D.<br />

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Illustration 30: Map <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine Empire in 780 AD 45<br />

Haldon explains that in spite <strong>of</strong> errors <strong>of</strong> the seventh century, the disastrous<br />

Roman defeats, <strong>and</strong> the loss <strong>of</strong> Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia <strong>and</strong> Egypt in the forties<br />

along with the defeat by the Bulgars, at the end <strong>of</strong> the seventh century, during the first<br />

half <strong>of</strong> the eighth century Byzantium “saw the reassertion <strong>of</strong> imperial military strength,<br />

the stabilization <strong>of</strong> the frontiers along the Taurus <strong>and</strong> Anti-Taurus range, <strong>and</strong> the<br />

consolidation <strong>of</strong> the new fiscal <strong>and</strong> military administrative arrangements which had<br />

evolved out <strong>of</strong> the crisis <strong>of</strong> the 640’s <strong>and</strong>, after, generally referred to collectively as the<br />

theme system (31).<br />

Furthermore, in the final years <strong>of</strong> his reign Leo issued a brief codification <strong>of</strong><br />

Roman law, based on a combination <strong>of</strong> Justinianic law <strong>and</strong> strongly Old Testament<br />

moral-oriented, which reflected the ideological perceptions <strong>and</strong> assumptions <strong>of</strong> the<br />

times. Nevertheless, under Leo we witness an increasing alienation between Rome <strong>and</strong><br />

Constantinople not only over ecclesiastical jurisdiction <strong>and</strong> imperial taxation but also<br />

over a violent debate caused by the imperial adoption <strong>of</strong> iconoclastic policy regarding<br />

devotional images (30-32). The onset <strong>of</strong> this debate will devastate much <strong>of</strong> the empire<br />

45 See: .<br />

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for more than a hundred years <strong>and</strong> meant the end <strong>of</strong> the Early Byzantine period –<strong>and</strong> the<br />

first golden age <strong>of</strong> Byzantium. The victory <strong>of</strong> iconoclasm would have altered the course<br />

<strong>of</strong> Byzantine religious art, one <strong>of</strong> the most enduring legacies <strong>of</strong> the empire.<br />

Religious Aspects<br />

The Iconoclastic Controversy 46<br />

According to Hussey, the position <strong>of</strong> Constantinople in Christendom was for a<br />

time weakened by its eighth <strong>and</strong> early ninth-century crisis due to the iconoclastic crisis,<br />

in one sense a continuation <strong>of</strong> the Christological problem regarding the character <strong>of</strong><br />

Christ’s human nature <strong>and</strong> the true meaning <strong>of</strong> Christ redemption. This problem did not<br />

cease after the council <strong>of</strong> 681, but was extended in a different shape into the eighth <strong>and</strong><br />

ninth centuries. It was a struggle between the iconoclasts who were suspicious <strong>of</strong> any<br />

religious art representing humans being <strong>of</strong> God dem<strong>and</strong>ing its destruction <strong>and</strong> the<br />

iconodule or venerators <strong>of</strong> icons which defended the place <strong>of</strong> them in the life <strong>of</strong> the<br />

church (18).<br />

The Byzantine Church’s unique devotion <strong>of</strong> icon was nourished by monasticism.<br />

Icons (in Greek eikon or image) were brought out for special occasions, carried in<br />

processions, <strong>and</strong> were even used to protect cities in wartime. They were bowed to,<br />

prayed to, sung to, <strong>and</strong> kissed; they were honored with c<strong>and</strong>les, oil lamps, incense,<br />

precious-metal covers, <strong>and</strong> public processions. An icon could be a panel painted with a<br />

sacred subject intended for veneration, it could also be an image on a mosaic, enamel,<br />

an ivory carving, or a sculpture. What was essential was that the icon’s imitation <strong>of</strong> the<br />

holy figure allowed the image to share in the essence <strong>and</strong> holiness <strong>of</strong> the actual figure<br />

being depicted. The worshiper, by venerating the likeness, honored the sainted figure<br />

through the window <strong>of</strong> the icon. The Greco-Roman tradition <strong>of</strong> having painted panels <strong>of</strong><br />

46 Haldon times the iconoclastic controversy between 728 <strong>and</strong> 843, yet he agrees on the year 730 as the<br />

date <strong>of</strong> the first formal iconoclastic edict (38). Hussey marks the time span <strong>of</strong> the iconoclastic controversy<br />

between 726 <strong>and</strong> 843 (18).<br />

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the gods placed in homes with c<strong>and</strong>les lit in front <strong>of</strong> them may have inspired the<br />

development <strong>of</strong> icons. Icons with Christian subjects were first used privately <strong>and</strong> then,<br />

gradually, entered the church. Most likely, due to their pagan roots <strong>and</strong> because they<br />

seemingly violated the second <strong>of</strong> the Ten Comm<strong>and</strong>ments, which forbade the making <strong>of</strong><br />

idols, some parts <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine society rejected icons. This eventually led to the<br />

Iconoclastic controversy.<br />

Most scholars agree that there were two main phases in this controversy. The<br />

first one—also considered a pre-iconoclastic phase—started in 726, with Leo III’s<br />

attack on icons, which was followed by Constantine V, Leo’s son, <strong>and</strong> ended in 780,<br />

when Empress Irene stopped the persecution <strong>and</strong> summoned the seventh ecumenical<br />

council. The second one started in 815 with a new attack on icons, now by Leo V, <strong>and</strong><br />

continued until 843 with the final reestablishment <strong>of</strong> icons at the time <strong>of</strong> another<br />

empress, Theodora (Hussey 18; Ware 15). During the first period, the chief champion <strong>of</strong><br />

the icons was John <strong>of</strong> Damascus (675-749), <strong>and</strong> during the second Saint Theodore <strong>of</strong><br />

<strong>St</strong>udium (759-826). John <strong>of</strong> Damascus worked more freely because he dwelt in Arab-<br />

occupied Palestine, out <strong>of</strong> reach <strong>of</strong> the Byzantine government. He was from Damascus<br />

<strong>and</strong> had entered a Jerusalem monastery. Ware says that “it was not the last time that<br />

Islam acted unintentionally as the protector <strong>of</strong> Orthodoxy (15).”<br />

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Illustration 31: John <strong>of</strong> Damascus 47<br />

As Meyendorff relates, in the seventh century, the Islamic wave swept the<br />

Ancient Christian <strong>and</strong> Byzantine provinces <strong>of</strong> Palestine, Syria, Egypt <strong>and</strong> North Africa,<br />

stopping at the very gates <strong>of</strong> Constantinople, although these regions had already lost<br />

their ties with the imperial Orthodox Church, Monophysitism as we saw, being the main<br />

reason. Yet, although <strong>of</strong> little influence in the universal church, some minorities in<br />

Alex<strong>and</strong>ria, Antioch, <strong>and</strong> Jerusalem headed by their patriarch remained Orthodox.<br />

Nonetheless, Meyendorff comments, during the long centuries <strong>of</strong> Islamic occupation,<br />

their main problem would be one <strong>of</strong> survival, for which they required the receipt <strong>of</strong><br />

cultural, psychological <strong>and</strong> material help from Constantinople (The Byzantine Legacy<br />

22).<br />

Let us analyze the iconoclast crisis in greater detail by studying the two main<br />

periods delineated above, by adding a little bit <strong>of</strong> background to obtain a better grasp <strong>of</strong><br />

this long <strong>and</strong> complex period <strong>of</strong> Byzantine <strong>history</strong>.<br />

Background to the Eighth-Century Crisis<br />

Hussey also explains that the dispute in the Eastern Church over the use <strong>of</strong> holy<br />

icons, the pictures <strong>of</strong> Christ, the Mother <strong>of</strong> God, <strong>and</strong> the Saints, which were kept <strong>and</strong><br />

47 See: .<br />

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venerated both in churches <strong>and</strong> in private homes, had deep roots. The early Church had<br />

abstained visual representation <strong>of</strong> Christ because, as commented above, the second<br />

comm<strong>and</strong>ment (Ex. 20:4) forbade graven images, thereby trying to avoid idolatry<br />

associated with the pagan world, <strong>and</strong> both Old <strong>and</strong> New Testaments emphasized that<br />

true worship should not be concerned with material sacrifices but should be in spirit <strong>and</strong><br />

in truth. As an illustration <strong>of</strong> the attempt to refrain from using ‘graven images’ <strong>and</strong><br />

realistic depictions, in the catacombs Jesus Christ was portrayed by means <strong>of</strong> symbols.<br />

However, by the fourth century there were special material objects, such as the<br />

Cross <strong>and</strong> other holy relics, which were being widely venerated, as recorded by Gregory<br />

<strong>of</strong> Nyssa. By the early fifth century, S. Augustin had noticed that the worship <strong>of</strong><br />

religious images was being practiced in the Church. Yet, this practice already had an<br />

early opponent in Epiphanius <strong>of</strong> Salamis (d. 403) in Cyprus whose works were later<br />

cited by the iconoclasts. The late sixth <strong>and</strong> seventh centuries saw a marked increase in<br />

the use <strong>of</strong> images, which now were interpreted as performing miracles, <strong>and</strong> were<br />

worshipped, prayed to, set up as objects <strong>of</strong> devotion in private houses <strong>and</strong> workshops, as<br />

well as being used on public <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong>ficial occasions. The image was considered to be so<br />

closely connected with its prototype as to possess supernatural (some would say<br />

magical) efficacy (Hussey 18).<br />

Hussey states that the growing cult <strong>of</strong> the icon in the late sixth <strong>and</strong> seventh<br />

centuries <strong>and</strong> the reasons for its origins <strong>and</strong> beginnings <strong>and</strong> its deep roots in the life <strong>of</strong><br />

the Orthodox Church was a consequence <strong>of</strong> the need <strong>of</strong> individual Christians <strong>and</strong><br />

communities <strong>of</strong> Christians for additional security in the face <strong>of</strong> so many external forces<br />

in the empire that caused great distress in national, social <strong>and</strong> daily life. For the<br />

Byzantines, holy icons in their way <strong>of</strong> thinking could <strong>of</strong>fer protection against all sorts <strong>of</strong><br />

enemies. There was no doubt in their minds that, for example an icon <strong>of</strong> <strong>St</strong> Demetrius <strong>of</strong><br />

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Thessalonica, a martyr from the second century, or <strong>of</strong> the Mother <strong>of</strong> God, had aided in<br />

the various sieges <strong>of</strong> Constantinople (19).<br />

Illustration 32: Demetrius <strong>of</strong> Thessalonica 48<br />

God, who gave you invincible power <strong>and</strong> with care kept your city invulnerable, royally clothed<br />

the Church in purple with the streams <strong>of</strong> your blood, for you are her strength, O Demetrios.<br />

Table 18: Kontakion (Second Tone)<br />

But the meaning <strong>and</strong> the function <strong>of</strong> the icon were much greater than these<br />

thoughts, as it was considered that it could bring the beholder into contact with God <strong>and</strong><br />

even lead the Christian through the various hierarchical stages, e.g. <strong>of</strong> angels, to the<br />

Deity Himself . Then, in reverse, there was the relation <strong>of</strong> the icon, not to the beholder,<br />

but to its prototype. Because man was created in the image <strong>of</strong> God through the<br />

indwelling <strong>of</strong> the Holy Spirit, he had in him something such as a spark <strong>of</strong> God. Thus,<br />

the portrait depicting a saint in particular reflected it, <strong>and</strong> <strong>of</strong> course to a much greater<br />

extent is this spark contained in a depiction <strong>of</strong> Christ, who, since he was not merely<br />

virtually real, but became a visible man <strong>and</strong> creature, could be portrayed in a tangible<br />

created form. By the late seventh century Christian apologetic on this theme had<br />

48 See: .<br />

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reached the point <strong>of</strong> regarding it as a tenet <strong>of</strong> Orthodox teaching, as stated at The<br />

Council in Trullo (691-2), in its 82nd Rule (Hussey 19):<br />

Certain holy icons have the image <strong>of</strong> a lamb, at which is pointing the finger <strong>of</strong><br />

the Forerunner. This lamb is taken as the image <strong>of</strong> grace, representing the True<br />

Lamb, Christ our God, Whom the law foreshadowed. Thus accepting with love<br />

the ancient images <strong>and</strong> shadows as prefigurations <strong>and</strong> symbols <strong>of</strong> truth<br />

transmitted to the Church, we prefer grace <strong>and</strong> truth, receiving it as the<br />

fulfillment <strong>of</strong> the law. Thus, in order to make plain this fulfillment for all eyes to<br />

see, if only by means <strong>of</strong> pictures, we ordain that from henceforth icons should<br />

represent, instead <strong>of</strong> the lamb <strong>of</strong> old, the human image <strong>of</strong> the Lamb, Who has<br />

taken upon Himself the sins <strong>of</strong> the world, Christ our God, so that through this we<br />

may perceive the height <strong>of</strong> the abasement <strong>of</strong> God the Word <strong>and</strong> be led to<br />

remember His life in the flesh, His Passion <strong>and</strong> death for our salvation <strong>and</strong> the<br />

ensuing redemption <strong>of</strong> the world.<br />

Illustration 33: Forerunner <strong>and</strong> Lamb 49<br />

First Phase: Leo III, Constantine V <strong>and</strong> Empress Irene<br />

Opening conflict by Leo III<br />

Opposition to figurative portrayal or depiction existed long before the bitter<br />

controversy <strong>of</strong> the eighth century. The opponents <strong>of</strong> icons in this early stage <strong>of</strong> the<br />

iconoclastic period (726-787), alarmed by the superstitious practices associated with<br />

icons <strong>and</strong> the danger <strong>of</strong> idolatry, usually based their attacks on the Mosaic prohibition<br />

against graven images (Ex. 20:4-5) <strong>and</strong> the Christian emphasis on worship in spirit <strong>and</strong><br />

49 See: .<br />

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in truth. But the Christological argument for <strong>and</strong> against icons was not fully developed<br />

until the eighth century by the North Syrian Leo II <strong>and</strong> his son Constantine. Hussey<br />

denies the fact that there is a direct link between Leo’s first move against icons in 726<br />

<strong>and</strong> that he was motivated by the example <strong>of</strong> the Muslim Yazid (720-4). He believes<br />

that Byzantines attributed iconoclasm to Jewish rather than Muslim influence (Hussey<br />

18-19).<br />

The growing use <strong>of</strong> icons, <strong>and</strong> particularly its abuse, had increasingly concerned<br />

churchmen, as has already been shown, <strong>and</strong> is reflected in the measure <strong>of</strong> support which<br />

the iconoclasts Leo III <strong>and</strong> Constantine V received. Some <strong>of</strong> the few surviving<br />

documents <strong>of</strong> this period referred to disquiet in Asia Minor. Patriarch Germanus <strong>of</strong><br />

Constantinople (715-30) reproached certain churchmen who held iconoclastic views.<br />

Yet the authoritative lead was to come from the Emperor Leo III, issuing a formal edict<br />

in 730 for the destruction <strong>of</strong> the icons <strong>of</strong> the saints. Germanus, who had hoped to<br />

change Leo’s views, refused to put his signature to any decree <strong>of</strong> this kind <strong>and</strong> he<br />

therefore had to retire from <strong>of</strong>fice <strong>and</strong> went to live on his private estates where he died<br />

in 733. Yet his successor, the iconoclast Anastasius (730-54), fully supported Leo<br />

(Hussey 21).<br />

Both Hussey <strong>and</strong> Haldon agree in that the sources describing the mass<br />

persecutions, harassment <strong>and</strong> death <strong>of</strong> many iconophiles, as well as the destruction <strong>of</strong><br />

icons, are not very accurate or reliable accounts. For Haldon, Leo III seems to have been<br />

a fairly mild critic <strong>of</strong> the use <strong>of</strong> the images (32). Hussey says that there is relatively little<br />

information about Leo III <strong>and</strong> his alleged iconoclast tenets (22), yet acts that infringed<br />

the second comm<strong>and</strong>ment such as the cult <strong>of</strong> the adoration <strong>of</strong> icons accompanied by the<br />

burning <strong>of</strong> c<strong>and</strong>les <strong>and</strong> incense, worship rather than mere veneration <strong>of</strong> the saints, were<br />

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all condemned. It was also dem<strong>and</strong>ed that Christ was to be represented not in a human<br />

form but by a symbol such as the Cross.<br />

According to Haldon, Constantine II, a good general <strong>and</strong> administrator like his<br />

father, only adopted a strongly iconoclastic policy after around the eighth year <strong>of</strong> his<br />

reign, <strong>and</strong> like his father, he can be accused <strong>of</strong> burning images or <strong>of</strong> the persecution <strong>and</strong><br />

torture <strong>of</strong> individuals, especially monks, who were opponents <strong>of</strong> his position <strong>and</strong><br />

policies, as suggested <strong>and</strong> narrated by the one-sided narratives <strong>of</strong> the iconophile<br />

tradition. Haldon also says that there is no evidence to prove the fact that the bulk <strong>of</strong> the<br />

population was committed to either view point. There were strong proponents <strong>of</strong> both<br />

sides, but imperial iconoclasm seemed to have affected primarily the higher clergy <strong>and</strong><br />

leading military <strong>and</strong> civilian <strong>of</strong>ficials <strong>of</strong> the states. The greater majority <strong>of</strong> the<br />

population, if affected at all, kept their traditional practices <strong>and</strong> followed the <strong>of</strong>ficial<br />

strain when <strong>and</strong> where it mattered. Yet, Haldon adds, there did originate a vocal<br />

monastic party who formed the opposition <strong>and</strong> engineered propag<strong>and</strong>a against Leo III<br />

<strong>and</strong> Constantine. This opposition although small at the beginning, eventually in the<br />

840’s it became a powerful element <strong>of</strong> influence within the church (34-35).<br />

Constantine V <strong>and</strong> the Council <strong>of</strong> 754<br />

Under Constantine V (741-75) the iconoclast-iconophile struggle increased both<br />

in action <strong>and</strong> in theory. Persecution if spasmodic, could be severe <strong>and</strong> the iconoclasts,<br />

especially Constantine, built up theological support for iconoclasm. Leo D. Davis, in<br />

The First Seven Ecumenical Councils (325-787), explains that Constantine based his<br />

position on Christology. He spoke <strong>of</strong> Christ as one person <strong>of</strong> two natures. An image <strong>of</strong><br />

Christ would picture only his human nature <strong>and</strong> severed that nature from the divine<br />

nature. Thus, it was a false image (301). This council is considered as uncanonical <strong>and</strong><br />

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represented the first time an Emperor inferred directly in the affairs <strong>of</strong> the church,<br />

ignoring the other patriarchs, including the Pope in Rome.<br />

Constantine, even more than his father, certainly committed himself to the<br />

removal <strong>of</strong> the image from religious life. His reign is the high watermark <strong>of</strong> the<br />

iconoclast movement. On the iconophile side, John Damascus became the defender <strong>of</strong><br />

icons on Christological grounds, although he was in Muslim territories <strong>and</strong> it is not clear<br />

if his apologetic work was known to Constantine. But Constantine went a step further<br />

than his father <strong>and</strong> he attempted to get synodal approval for an iconoclast policy. He<br />

summoned a council in 754 which was held at Hiera. Although no patriarch was<br />

present, 338 bishops attended the council. Hussey doubts that all <strong>of</strong> them were<br />

dedicated to iconoclasm. The iconoclasts, who considered their council <strong>of</strong> 754 as the<br />

seventh ecumenical council, began with the traditional pr<strong>of</strong>ession <strong>of</strong> belief in the<br />

apostolic <strong>and</strong> patristic traditions <strong>and</strong> in the preceding six general councils. The<br />

arguments <strong>of</strong> the iconoclasts were directed against idolatry (condemned by the Bible<br />

<strong>and</strong> the Fathers) <strong>and</strong> against the material nature <strong>of</strong> images. It was stressed that an image<br />

<strong>of</strong> Christ either circumscribed an uncircumscribable Godhead <strong>and</strong> confused the two<br />

natures (monophysite), or divided the human from the divine Person. To the iconoclasts<br />

the only true image <strong>of</strong> Christ was the Eucharist—”bread <strong>and</strong> wine in the holy supper”—<br />

. They argued that the true image <strong>of</strong> a saint was the reproduction <strong>of</strong> his virtue, that is, an<br />

ethical image within the believer <strong>and</strong> not any kind <strong>of</strong> material representation. In spite <strong>of</strong><br />

the ruling in the council <strong>of</strong> 754 that forbade burning, looting, <strong>and</strong> misuse <strong>of</strong> sacred<br />

buildings, in the post-conciliar years these <strong>and</strong> other measures against icons <strong>and</strong><br />

iconophiles were eventually taken.<br />

With the formal ecclesiastical condemnation <strong>of</strong> icons in 754 those refusing to<br />

ab<strong>and</strong>on them could be punished as heretics, clerics could be degraded, <strong>and</strong> monks <strong>and</strong><br />

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laity could be excommunicated. There were some spectacular instances <strong>of</strong> persecution,<br />

such as the severe one occurring in 754, that went beyond the prescribed punishment,<br />

but these were sporadic <strong>and</strong> were probably sensationally described <strong>and</strong> represented in<br />

the reports <strong>of</strong> iconodule literature. With the death <strong>of</strong> Constantine V in 755 iconoclasm<br />

died down, although traces <strong>of</strong> it may long lingered, <strong>and</strong> a ninth-century revival was<br />

merely temporary <strong>and</strong> even at times somewhat half-hearted (Hussey 28-29).<br />

At that time, in the West, the Popes, less worried about iconoclasm than about<br />

the more immediate pressure <strong>of</strong> the Lombards on the city <strong>of</strong> Rome, tried despairingly to<br />

obtain help from the schismatic East against the Lombards. Not getting the much<br />

needed <strong>and</strong> requested support the Pope made an agreement with King Pepin, father <strong>of</strong><br />

Charlemagne, naming him protector <strong>of</strong> Rome. Pepin defeated the Lombards <strong>and</strong> granted<br />

the Pope temporal authority over the region around Rome—the nucleus <strong>of</strong> the papal<br />

state which would last until 1870. Thus the Frankish Pepin not the Byzantine emperor<br />

was known as the arbiter <strong>of</strong> northern <strong>and</strong> central Italy <strong>and</strong> protector <strong>of</strong> the papacy. In<br />

800, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne emperor <strong>of</strong> the holy empire. Thus, as Davis<br />

suggests, “the religious schism between East <strong>and</strong> West had incalculable political <strong>and</strong><br />

cultural consequences. The papacy turned from its age-long relationship with the<br />

emperors at Constantinople to a new alliance with the Carolingia dynasty <strong>of</strong> the Franks<br />

<strong>and</strong> the Frankish l<strong>and</strong>s” (The First Seven Ecumenical Councils 301-306).<br />

Restoration <strong>of</strong> the icons: The Empress Irene <strong>and</strong> the council <strong>of</strong> Nicea<br />

(787)<br />

Leo IV (775-80), who succeeded his father Constantine V, was much more<br />

moderate than Constantine. Also, in spite <strong>of</strong> not having been entirely repudiated, the<br />

harshness <strong>of</strong> Constantine V’s last years was greatly abated. Irene, the wife <strong>of</strong><br />

Constantine’s son <strong>and</strong> heir Leo, was herself known to be a supporter <strong>of</strong> icons. On Leo<br />

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IV’s death in 780 he left as successor his ten-year-old son Constantine VI <strong>and</strong> this gave<br />

Irene her opportunity to organize affairs so as to work towards the restoration <strong>of</strong> icons,<br />

though this was not attained in an instant, but, at least not all icons were being attacked<br />

<strong>and</strong> destroyed.(Hussey 44-45).<br />

Irene chose <strong>St</strong>auracius, an eunuch, as her chief adviser. He was known for<br />

having tried to stop the decline <strong>of</strong> Byzantine power in the West by trying to arrange a<br />

marital alliance with the Franks but failed. In 784, the patriarch <strong>of</strong> Constantinople, Paul<br />

IV (780-4), filled with remorse for his earlier iconoclastic view <strong>and</strong> attempting to<br />

reconcile the Byzantine church with the rest <strong>of</strong> Christendom, advised Irene to call a<br />

general council to remedy matters. Irene agreed <strong>and</strong> sent an ambassador to Pope<br />

Hadrian to prepare for a council <strong>of</strong> reconciliation. At Constantinople, she herself began<br />

preparations for this Council. She started by electing a new patriarch, Tarasius (784-<br />

806). This patriarch issued a statement <strong>of</strong> orthodox faith to the pope <strong>and</strong> three Melkite<br />

patriarchs in Muslim territory who had never embraced the icon