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Florovsky Georges, The Byzantine Fathers of the 6th, 7th and 8th century

Florovsky Georges, The Byzantine Fathers of the 6th, 7th and 8th century, Pournaras, Thessaloniki, 1993.  

          The volume begins with its first chapter devoted to the development of hymnography in the Christian Liturgy, as well as to the presentation of some dissenting authors and references to the formation and function of Anthologies of patristic opinions or texts.

In this pleasant, doctrinal break, the reader is initiated in, but also puzzled by the manner and rationale of the introduction of hymnology in the Christian worship. He traces, at crucial points, their evolutionary course, as well as the contribution of exquisite poets and hymnographers, mostly theologians, such as Saint Romanos the Melodist and Saint Andreas of Crete.

Then, he reverts to discussing doctrine in the theological processing of the “spirit”, as he characteristically writes, of the Monophysitic Christology. It is worth noting Fr. Georges’ observation that there is a “lack of feeling of human freedom in the Monophysitic theology”, in the difficulty of the Monophysites defining the human characteristics in the composition of God-Man. Thus, Christ’s human side is rendered a passive object of the divine influence. It is also noteworthy that he compares Monophysitism with Augustinianism, on the basis of the expulsion of the human aspect into obscurity and its suppression by God.

Afterwards follows an extensive, in spite of being inscribed as brief, reference to the history of Monophysitism. He mentions facts, persons and theological positions, imperial decisions and monastic movements. Justinian’s ecclesiastical-political initiatives, as well as his theological views are of particular interest. Also, the connection of the Monophysitic dispute with a sort of Origenistic renaissance among Palestinian and Egyptian monks is of great interest. The Byzantine Leontius’ decisive theological intervention has played a decisive role in the determination and clarification of the terms hypostasis, person and in particularly “Ενυπόστατον” (existing in hypostasis).

The evolution of Monophysitism into Monothelitism-Monoenergeticism was a, potentially, normal development of the heretic thought in the same spirit of understanding a docetic, passive and, finally, un-interpreted humanity in Christ. It was the delayed epilogue of the Monophysitic movement. The theological presence and contribution of Maximus the Confessor judges the way things evolved, but also testifies the broader and more coherent theological synthesis in the history of Christian thought.

The book concludes with the presentation and theological contribution of Saint John of Damascus and the seventh Ecumenical Council. The maturity of Saint John’s theological thought indicates the maturity of the Christian Theology in his days, but also the ceaseless temptation of man to raise issues and controversies. The Iconoclast problem is a characteristic example of the above and the seventh Ecumenical Council the symbolic conclusive act in the dialectics of theological ideas in the ancient world.


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