The Byzantine Fathers Of the Sixth to Eighth Century icon

The Byzantine Fathers Of the Sixth to Eighth Century

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The Byzantine Fathers
Of the Sixth to Eighth Century.

Georges Florovsky.


The Byzantine Fathers
Of the Sixth to Eighth Century.

In Memoriam Fr. Georges Florovsky 1893-1979.

Author’s Preface (1978).

Chapter One.
Hymnographers, Polemicists, and Florilegia.


Hymnody and the Early Christian Liturgy.

The Fifty-Ninth Canon of the Council of Laodicea.

St. Basil the Great and Antiphonal Singing.

The Development of Psalmody with Refrains.

St. Romanus.

St. Andrew of Crete.

The Acathistus Hymn.

Polemicists of the Sixth and Seventh Centuries.

Minor Polemicists.

St. Sophronius of Jerusalem.

St. Anastasius of Sinai.


Chapter Two.
The Spirit of Monophysitism.

The Chalcedonian Oros and the Tragic Schism in the Church.

The Language of St. Cyril and Monophysitism.

The National and Regional Element
in the Rise of Monophysitism.

The Lack of a Feeling for Human Freedom in Monophysite Theology.

The Similarity Between Monophysitism and Augustinianism.

Julian of Halicarnassus.

The Inner Duality in the Monophysite Movement.

The Theological Controversy and the Emphasis on the Appeal to Tradition.

Justinian and the Mood of the Time.

The Condemnation of Origenism as the Condemnation of the

Inner Temptations of Alexandrian Theology.

^ Chapter Three.
Sketches in the History of Monophysitism.

The Mood at Chalcedon.

The Tome of Pope Leo.

The Literary Style of the Tome.

The Weakness of the Tome: The Latin Theological Tradition
and Greek Theological Categories of Thought.

The Lack of a Definition of Person.

A Lucid Confession of Faith in a Radiant Fog.

^ The Chalcedonian Oros.

A Stumbling Block and a Temptation for the Egyptians.

The Text of the Chalcedonian Oros.

The Formula of Reunion of 433 and the Chalcedonian Oros.

The Cutting Edge of the Chalcedonian Oros.

The Paradoxical Unspokenness in the Chalcedonian Oros.

The Fathers of Chalcedon and Their Two-Sided Problem.

The Disturbing Vagueness to the Easterners.

The Necessity for a Theological Commentary.

^ The Reaction to the Council of Chalcedon.

The Reaction in Alexandria.

The Opponents to the Council of Chalcedon
as “Dissidents” not “Heretics” and their Political Loyalty.

The Alexandrians and Proterius.

The Reaction in Jerusalem: Juvenal and Theodosius.

The Special Situation of Palestine.

The Reaction of Rome.

The Reaction in Antioch.

Peter the Fuller’s Arrival in Antioch and
the Alteration of the Trisagion Hymn.

The Death of Emperor Marcian and the Return to Alexandria of the Exiled Opponents to the Council of Chalcedon.

The Monophysite Election of Timothy Aelurus
as Patriarch of Alexandria and the Murder of Proterius.

The Coronation of Emperor Leo I and Policy in Alexandria.

The Exile of Timothy Aelurus and the Election of

Timothy Salafaciolus as Patriarch of Alexandria.

The Deposition of Peter the Fuller in Antioch, the Return of Patriarch Martyrius, and Splits within Monophysitism.

The Influence of the Germanic Tribes on the Latin West and on Byzantium.

The Defeat of Attila and the Increase of Germanic Influence.

Emperor Leo I and the Termination of the Influence of Aspar the Ostrogoth.

Emperor Zeno and Isaurian Influence.

^ The Loss of the Chalcedonian West to Theodoric
and Emperor Basiliscus’ Attempt to Reach a Compromise
With the Non-Chalcedonians.

The Encyclical of Basiliscus 476.

The Refusal of Patriarch Acacius to Sign the Encyclical.

Timothy Aelurus’ Rejection of Extreme Monophysitism.

Timothy Aelurus’ Council of Ephesus.

Patriarch Acacius and St. Daniel the Stylite.

The Return of Emperor Zeno and the Murder of Basiliscus.

The Death of Timothy Aelurus and the Election of Peter Mongus.

A Time of Trouble in Antioch.

The Appointment of Calendio as Patriarch of Antioch.

Political and Ecclesiastical Intrigues.

John Talaia and Peter Mongus.

The Henotikon of Zeno 482.

Pope St. Felix III.

The Exile of Calendio and the Return of Peter Mongus.

^ The Confession of Faith of the Church in Persia.

The Schools of Edessa and Nisibis.



The Emergence of New Personalities:
Philoxenus and Severus.

The Death of Patriarch Acacius and the Situation

Inherited by his Successors, Fravitta and Euphemius.

Peter Mongus and Fravitta.

Patriarch Euphemius.

The Death of Emperor Zeno and
the Selection of Emperor Anastasius.

The Death of Pope Felix III and
the Papacy Under Pope Gelasius.

The Death of Pope Gelasius and the Papacy Under Anastasius II.

^ The Papal Schism: Symmachus and Laurentius.

Patriarch Flavian of Antioch
and the Struggle with Philoxenus.

Patriarch Macedonius of Constantinople and his

Encounter with Philoxenus and Emperor Anastasius.

Philoxenus’ Continued Struggle in Antioch.

Severus of Antioch.

The Revolt of Vitalian the Goth.

^ Negotiations Between Pope Hormisdas
and Emperor Anastasius.

The Accession to the Throne of Justin I and Justinian I.

The Chalcedonian Reaction in Constantinople.

The Chalcedonian Reaction in Antioch.

Justinian’s Negotiations with Pope Hormisdas.

^ The Imperial Edict Compelling Acceptance
of Chalcedon and the Arrest Order for Severus.

John of Tella.

Persecution of non-Chalcedonians in Edessa.

Severus’ Activity in Exile.

The Controversy Between Severus
and Julian of Halicarnassus.

^ The Imperial Edict Against Arians
and the Reaction of Theodoric.

Theodora’s Monastery of Refuge
for Exiled Monophysites.

Monophysite Missionary Activity
from Theodora’s Monastery.

The Relaxation of Justinian’s Policy and the Nika Riots.

^ Justinian’s Request for a Theological Conference
and the Petition of the Monophysites.

Theodoras Influence: Severus Visits Constantinople.

Theodoras Influence: Anthimus of Trebizond
Becomes Patriarch of Constantinople.

Pope Agapetus Visits Constantinople
on Request of Theodahad, the Gothic King.

Pope Agapetus Consecrates Patriarch

Menas in Constantinople.

^ The Decisions of Justinian’s
Standing Council of Bishops In 536.

Theodora’s Agreement with the Roman Deacon Vigilius.

The Prospect of Monophysitism
after its Defeat at the Conference of 536.

Justinian’s Contra Monophysitas
and his Interest in Theology.

The Military Attacks by the Bulgars and the

Persians and the Outbreak of the Plague.

Jacob Baradaeus.

John of Ephesus.

Missionary Work in Nubia.

^ Justinian and the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

Pope Vigilius Forcibly Taken to Constantinople.

The Fifth Ecumenical Council.

The Anathemas of the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

Anathemas Against Origen and Origenism.

Pope Vigilius and the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

^ The Deposing of Pope Vigilius by the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

The Earlier Years of Pope Pelagius and His Ultimate

Recognition of the Fifth Ecumenical Council.

The Result of the Fifth Ecumenical Council and a Glimpse at Its Sessions.

The Firm Resistance to Justinian’s Stunning Edict
of 564 Proclaiming Aphthartodocetism Orthodox.

The Twilight of Justinian’s Reign.

The Actions of the Exiled Monophysite
“Patriarch” Theodosius in His Last Days.

Justin II’s Convocation of the Monophysite Conference of 566.

The Monophysite Conference at Callinicum.

The Imperial Summons for Another Conference
Among the Monophysites at Constantinople.

The Varieties of Monophysite Thought.

The Reign of Terror Unleashed by Patriarch John
Scholasticus Against the Monophysites of Constantinople in 571.

The Death of Patriarch John and
the Recall of the Exiled Patriarch Eutychius.

Internal Dissenion Among the Monophysites:
Problems Caused by the Reconciliation of Paul the Black with Jacob.

The Election of Two Monophysite Patriarchs of

Alexandria: Theodore of Rhamnis and Peter.

The Death of Jacob Baradaeus.

Damianus of Alexandria and the Conference on unity
Among the Monophysites Requested by Almoundir.

The Theological Quarrel Between Damianus
of Alexandria and Peter Callinicum of Antioch.

The Monophysite Conference at the
Gubba Barraya Monastery.

Pope Gregory I and the Chalcedonian Patriarch of Alexandria Eulogius.

The Election of the Monk Athanasius as Patriarch of Antioch.

Maurice Accuses Al-Moundir of Treason and the Consequent Splitting of the Ghassanid Kingdom.

The Policy of Emperor Maurice (582-602):
Persecution of the Monophysites in Constantinople.

Emperor Maurices Extension of Imperial
Rule in Armenia and the Ecclesiastical Result.

The Persecution of Monophysites in Melitene and
Mesopotamia Unleashed by Domitian, Bishop of Melitene.

Emperor Maurice and Chosroes II of Persia.

The Bloody Reign of Emperor Phocas (602-610).

The Edict of Emperor Phocas to Pope Boniface III.

The Advance of the Persian Army
and the Religious Policy of Chosroes II.

The Accession of Emperor Heraclius (610-641).

^ Patriarch Segius and the Beginning of Monothelitism.

The Role of Pope Honorius in the Rise of Monothelitism.

The Islamic Conquests.

Chapter Four.
Leontius of Byzantium.


The Controversial Corpus of “Leontius.”

The Theological Thought in the Corpus of “Leontius.”

The Quest for Precise Definitions.

The Concepts of Nature, Essence, and Hypostasis.

The Reality of Enhypostasis.

The Mystery of the Incarnation and Union
as a Presupposition of the Existence of Duality.

Hypostasis and the Communicatio Idiomatum.

Leontius’ Criticism of St. Cyril’s Formula.

Leontius’ Dispute with the Aphthartodocetists.

^ Chapter Five.
The Spirit of Monenergism

and Monothelitism.

Chapter Six.
St. Maximus the Confessor.

The Life of St. Maximus.

The Writings of St. Maximus.

The Theology of St. Maximus.

Revelation as the Central Theme in the Theology of St. Maximus the Confessor.

New Development of the Logos Doctrine and the

Doctrine of the Knowledge of God.

The God-Man.

Man’s Path.

^ The Sixth Ecumenical Council.

Chapter Seven.
St. John of Damascus.

The Life of St. John of Damascus.

The Writings of st. John of Damascus.

The Theological System of St. John of Damascus.

The Defense of the Holy Ikons.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council 787.

The Definition of Faith.

The Council’s Letter to Irene and Constantine VI.

The Iconoclastic Controversy.



In Memoriam Fr. Georges Florovsky 1893-1979.

Preeminent Orthodox Christian Theologian, Ecumenical Spokesman, And Authority on Russian Letters.”

[All quotations are from pages 5 and 11 of the Harvard Gazette of October 1, 1982, written by George H. Williams, Hollis Professor of Divinity Emeritus, Harvard Divinity School and Edward Louis Keenan, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University and “placed upon the records” at the Harvard Faculty of Divinity Meeting on September 16, 1982.]

“Archpriest Professor Georges Vasilyevich Florovsky (1893-1979), preeminent theologian of Orthodoxy and historian of Christian thought, ecumenical leader and interpreter of Russian literature … died in Princeton, New Jersey in his 86th year” on August 11, 1979.

Born in Odessa in 1893, Fr. Florovsky was the beneficiary of that vibrant Russian educational experience which flourished toward the end of the 19th century and produced many gifted scholars. His father was rector of the Theological Academy and dean of the Cathedral of the Transfiguration. His mother, Klaudia Popruzhenko, was the daughter of a professor of Hebrew and Greek. Fr. Florovsky’s first scholarly work, “On Reflex Salivary Secretion,” written under one of Pavlov’s students, was published in English in 1917 in the last issue of The Bulletin of the Imperial Academy of Sciences.

In 1920, with his parents and his brother Antonii, Fr. Florovsky left Russia and settled first in Sophia, Bulgaria. He left behind his brother, Vasilii, a surgeon, who died in the 1924 famine, and his sister Klaudia V. Florovsky, who became a professor of history at the University of Odessa. In 1921 the President of Czechoslovakia, Thomas Masaryk, invited Fr. Florovsky and his brother Antonii to Prague. Fr. Florovsky taught the philosophy of law. Antonii later became a professor of history at the University of Prague.

In 1922 Georges Florovsky married Xenia Ivanovna Simonova and they resettled in Paris where he became cofounder of St. Sergius Theological Institute and taught there as professor of patristics (1926-1948). In 1932 he was ordained a priest and placed himself canonically under the patriarch of Constantinople.

In 1948 he came to the United States and was professor of theology at St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary from 1948 to 1955, and dean from 1950. From 1954 to 1965 he was professor of Eastern Church History at Harvard Divinity School and, concurrently (1962-1965) an associate of the Slavic Department and (1955-1959) an associate professor of theology at Holy Cross Theological School.

“Although Fr. Florovsky’s teaching in the Slavic Department [at Harvard University] was only sporadic, he became a major intellectual influence in the formation of a generation of American specialists in Russian cultural history. His lasting importance in this area derives not from his formal teaching but from the time and thought he gave to informal “circles” that periodically arose around him in Cambridge among those who had read The Ways of Russian Theology [then only in Russian], for decades a kind of “underground book” among serious graduate students of Russian intellectual history, and had sought him out upon discovering that he was at the Divinity School … During a portion of his incumbency at Harvard … patristics and Orthodox thought and institutions from antiquity into 20th century Slavdom flourished. In the Church History Department meetings he spoke up with clarity. In the Faculty meetings he is remembered as having energetically marked book catalogues on his lap for the greater glory of the Andover Harvard Library! In 1964 Fr. Florovsky was elected a director of the Ecumenical Institute founded by Paul VI near Jerusalem.” Active in both the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches, Fr. Florovsky was Vice President-at-Large of the National Council of Churches from 1954 to 1957.

“After leaving Harvard, Professor Emeritus Florovsky taught from 1965 to 1972 in Slavic Studies at Princeton University, having begun lecturing there already in 1964; and he was visiting lecturer in patristics at Princeton Theological Seminary as early as 1962 and then again intermittently after retirement from the University. His last teaching was in the fall semester of 1978/79 at Princeton Theological Seminary.”

“Fr. Florovsky in the course of his career was awarded honorary doctorates by St. Andrew’s University … Boston University, Notre Dame, Princeton University, the University of Thessalonica, St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary, and Yale. He was a member or honorary member of the Academy of Athens, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the British Academy, and the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius.”

Fr. Florovsky personified the cultivated, well-educated Russian of the turn of the century. His penetrating mind grasped both the detail and depth in the unfolding drama of the history of Christianity in both eastern and western forms. He was theologian, church historian, patristic scholar, philosopher, Slavist, and a writer in comparative literature. “Fr. Florovsky sustained his pleasure on reading English novels, the source in part of his extraordinary grasp of the English language, which, polyglot that he was, he came to prefer above any other for theological discourse and general exposition. Thus when he came to serve in Harvard’s Slavic Department, there was some disappointment that he did not lecture in Russian, especially in his seminars on Dostoievsky, Soloviev, Tolstoi, and others. It was as if they belonged to a kind of classical age of the Russian tongue and civilization that, having been swept away as in a deluge, he treated as a Latin professor would Terrence or Cicero, not presuming to give lectures in the tonalities of an age that had vanished forever.”

Fr. Florovsky’s influence on contemporary church historians and Slavists was vast. The best contemporary multi-volume history of Christian thought pays a special tribute to Fr. Florovsky. Jaroslav Pelikan of Yale University, in the bibliographic section to his first volume in The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, writes under the reference to Fr. Florovsky’s two works in Russian on the Eastern Fathers: “These two works are basic to our interpretation of trinitarian and christological dogmas” (p. 359 fromThe Emergence of the Catholic Tradition: 100-600). George Huntston Williams, Hollis Professor Emeritus of Harvard Divinity School, wrote: “Faithful priestly son of the Russian Orthodox Church …, Fr. Georges Florovsky — with a career-long involvement in the ecumenical dialogue — is today the most articulate, trenchant and winsome exponent of Orthodox theology and piety in the scholarly world. He is innovative and creative in the sense wholly of being ever prepared to restate the saving truth of Scripture and Tradition m the idiom of our contemporary yearning for the transcendent.”


Author’s Preface (1978).

These four volumes on the Eastern Fathers of the fourth century and the Byzantine fathers from the fifth to eighth centuries were originally published in 1931 and 1933 in Russian. They contained my lectures given at the Institute of Orthodox Theology in Paris from 1928 to 1931 and were originally published in Russian more or less in the form in which they were originally delivered. They therefore lacked exact references and appropriate footnotes. Another reason for the omission of reference material in the 1931 and 1933 publications is that the books were originally published at my own expense and strict economy was therefore necessary. In fact, their publication was only the result of the generous cooperation and help of personal friends. These English publications must be dedicated to their memory. The initiative of the original publication was taken by Mrs. Elizabeth Skobtsov, who became an Orthodox nun and was later known under her monastic name of Mother Maria. It was she who typed the original manuscripts and she who was able to persuade Mr. Iliia Fondaminsky, at that time one of the editors of the renowned Russian review, Sovremennye Zapiski [Annales Contemporaries], to assume financial responsibility. Both these friends perished tragically in German concentration camps. They had been inspired by the conviction that books in Russian on the Fathers of the Church were badly needed, not only by theological students, but also by a much wider circle of those concerned with doctrinal and spiritual vistas and issues of Eastern Orthodox Tradition. Their expectation was fully justified: the volumes in Russian rapidly sold out and were warmly appreciated in the general press.

When I began teaching at the Paris Institute, as Professor of Patrology, I had to face a preliminary methodological problem. The question of the scope and manner of Patristic studies had been vigorously debated by scholars for a long time. (There is an excellent book by Fr. J. de Ghellinck, S.J., Patristique et Moyen Age, Volume II, 1947, pp. 1-180). The prevailing tendency was to treat Patrology as a history of Ancient Christian Literature, and the best modern manuals of Patrology in the West were written precisely in this manner: Bardenhewer, Cay re, Tixeront, Quasten, adherents to this school of thought, made only sporadic reference to certain points of doctrine but their approach was no doubt legitimate and useful. However, another cognate discipline came into existence during the last century, Dogmengeschichte, or the school of the history of doctrine. Here scholars were concerned not so much with individual writers or thinkers but rather with what can be defined as the “internal dialectics” of the Christian “mind” and with types and trends of Christian thought.

In my opinion, these two approaches to the same material must be combined and correlated. I have tried to do precisely this with the revision of some of the material for the English publications. I have written some new material on the external history and especially on the ecumenical councils. But in essence Patrology must be more than a kind of literary history. It must be treated rather as a history of Christian doctrine, although the Fathers were first of all testes veritatis, witnesses of truth, of the faith. “Theology” is wider and more comprehensive than “doctrine.” It is a kind of Christian Philosophy. Indeed, there is an obvious analogy between the study of Patristics and the study of the history of Philosophy. Historians of Philosophy are as primarily concerned with individual thinkers as they are interested ultimately in the dialectics of ideas. The “essence” of philosophy is exhibited in particular systems. Unity of the historical process is assured because of the identity of themes and problems to which both philosophers and theologians are committed. I would not claim originality for my method, for it has been used occasionally by others. But I would underline the theological character of Patrology.

These books were written many years ago. At certain points they needed revision or extension. To some extent, this has been done. Recent decades have seen the rapid progress of Patristic studies in many directions. We now have better editions of primary sources than we had forty or even thirty years ago. We now have some new texts of prime importance: for example, the Chapters of Evagrius or the new Sermons of St. John Chrysostom. Many excellent monograph studies have been published in recent years. But in spite of this progress I do not think that these books, even without the revisions and additions, have been made obsolete. Based on an independent study of primary sources, these works may still be useful to both students and scholars.

Georges Florovsky September, 1978

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