NR. 2 – 2010

Rezumate Studii Teologice 2010.2

Pr. Vasile RĂDUCĂ — Paternitate și asceză în scrisorile Sfântului Vasile cel Mare (I)

Summary: Fatherhood and Ascesis in the Writings of St. Basil the Great (I)

The present study addresses St. Basil the Great’s activity as a spiritual director and ascetical father, as described by his correspondence prior to his ordination as bishop. His considerable ascetic experience and sacerdotal worth evinced by this correspondence, confirm his calling as a spiritual director, an example and a teacher in every way.

Although St. Basil was fulfilled in his monastic life, he was very cautious in proposing it to others. The postulant has to fully comprehend the monastic requirements. The ascetic must think according to his heavenly calling, and behave according to his way of thinking. In brief, the ascetic must lead a life worthy of the Gospel of Christ. His main concern is solitude, watchfulness and guard of his mind, prayer and psalm chanting. The ascetic must not allow himself to be distracted from the constant remembrance of Christ, of what He expects us to do and what He deems to be sinful. On the contrary, the ascetic must acquire patience in fighting temptations, peace of mind, moderation in everything, he must not seek vainglory and wealth, avoid idle talking, and never leave his place of ascetic struggle. A monk must not cause trouble but love his brethren, be humble and not scheming or envious, neither proud or boastful of his good deeds, never seek any frivolity or luxury, and not ignore others’ mistakes.

St. Basil offers realistic advice to those willing to embrace monastic life. There are many who engage in ascetical struggles, but not many succeed in carrying them out. Spiritual perfection is only attained by those who persist in struggling to achieve their aim, those who progress in the good direction. Ascesis is a way of life requiring permanent watchfulness. The ascetic effort is not occasional, but a regular lifestyle for those interested in leading a constantly good and righteous life. The gradual attainment of goodness, the immediate goal of the ascetic, presupposes abolishing all evil practices and denying the pleasure brought about by vice. Freedom from vice and the various pleasures is attainable through a discipline of the mind, obtained by “remembering God with veneration (and awe), righteous thinking and the true discernment”.

As regards those aspiring to monasticism, St. Basil recommended that the abbot should establish whether the postulant really intends to leave the world and the bodily pleasures out of his thirst for monastic life, and whether he has acquired the love for God with all his heart, all his strength and all his mind. The key factor in the postulant’s decision must be his deep love for God. After establishing the motivation of this decision, the monastery’s abbot must present to the postulant the difficulties of monastic life, which is not a convenient way of Christian living, but a heroic one. The decision of the novice-to-be to accept ascetical hardships entailed a preparatory period during which he was introduced to the monastic lifestyle. After he freely assumed the struggle for faith and accepted the yoke of Christ, he was integrated into the ascetic community and entrusted to an elder who actually taught him the monastic ways, so that he might become an “experienced fighter” able to fight the devil who had once deceived him.

But which was the treatment of the monks who had been deceived by the devil? St. Basil knows how to manage the failures in the progress of his spiritual sons, so as to correct them. He tactfully showed the fallen monks the seriousness of their fault, he spoke of God’s judgment and the punishment deserved by sinners, but as a true father, he inspired their trust in God’s mercy and the possibility of repentance through virtuous deeds. He was deeply affected by the failures of his spiritual sons, but never allowed them to lose hope. It is natural for the sinners to suffer, but they must not despair. God expects them to recover from sin. The prerequisite for such recovery is avoiding sin; for all sinners who turn away from sinning, salvation is possible.

Pr. Constantin PREDA — „Saul – care se numește și Pavel”– apostolul evreu al ne-evreilor

Summary: “Saul – also known as Paul” – the Jewish apostle to the Gentiles

The present study aims to provide a biographic profile of St. Paul as described in the New Testament, especially the two canonical sources, the Apostle’s Epistles and the Acts of Apostles, written by St. Luke, his first biographer. Exegetic scholarship of the last decade has reconsidered a number of sources and focused more on the information provided by the Acts of Apostles, for a long time unjustly deemed to be a secondary source.

The importance of this trend is due to the rediscovery of the relationship between biography and autobiography in classical literature. Literary canons peculiar to these genres used to be less different than they are in contemporary literature. The persuasive function, especially the exemplary one, was proper to both autobiography and biography, therefore the former should not be considered more objective and historically accurate than the latter.

Thus neo-testamentary sources concerning St. Paul must be granted equal authority, as dependent on the particular circumstances of the communities addressed, avoiding the misconception that autobiography is more historically accurate than biography, and we must acknowledge that from the methodological point of view, autobiography should be given precedence over biography.

After having established the documentary sources available and the main points of Pauline chronology, I outlined a biographical portrait of the “apostle to the Gentiles” (Romans 11, 13) starting from the rather scarce biographical information contained by St. Paul’s epistles, corroborated with the information provided by the Acts of Apostles, in order to obtain a coherent synthesis of St. Paul’s life, in keeping with the contemporary trends in the research dedicated to the apostle.

Chronological data provided by the Acts of Apostles and St. Paul’s Epistles do not enable us to establish a complete and certain chronology. Therefore we must resort to hypotheses, often at variance with each other. In the present stage of research, the traditional perspective on Pauline chronology has gained ample consensus of experts. In order to draft St. Paul’s curriculum vitae, we must start from certain events mentioned in his Epistles and the Acts of Apostles, which can be located in time with a high degree of certitude. These are four events: “the inscription of proconsul Gallion”, “the edict of emperor Claudius”, “St. Paul’s fleeing Damascus under king Aretas”, “St. Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea”. Starting from these events, one can obtain a biographical profile of St. Paul. However, certain aspects of his life cannot be clarified. The date of his birth and death remain hypothetical. What happened to him, after his arrival in Rome? According to some researchers, after two years’ imprisonment, the apostle was beheaded; others consider that, at the end of these two years, he was released and went to visit the communities of Asia Minor; yet others do not rule out his journey to Spain, before his return to Asia.

The few chronological landmarks, although credible, only allow us to draw a hypothetical outline of St. Paul’s life, which fails to gain the consensus of all experts, and permits endless debates. Due to these chronological landmarks, we can cover approximately thirty years in St. Paul’s life. For the period before his revelation on the road to Damascus, and that following his two years’ Roman imprisonment, I could not establish a certain chronology, but only presented the hypotheses put forth by the most authoritative experts. What we can say, concerning St. Paul’s life, is that around 56- 60 A.D. he considered himself to be “old”, which suggests he was born in early 1st century. As regards the time of his martyrdom in Rome, we can certainly place it between the year 62 A.D., when the account in the Acts of Apostles stops, and 68 A.D., when ended the reign of Nero, the persecuting emperor.

When St. Paul died in Rome, he was about sixty years old. Half of his life, after his conversion on the road to Damascus, was spent preaching the Gospel, travelling from one province of the empire to another, from Syria to Galatia, from Macedonia to Asia. He travelled tens of thousands of kilometers, both on sea and on land. He wanted to reach Rome, in order to lay the grounds for missionary activity in the Occident. He was imprisoned for the sake of the Gospel, and sealed his confession of faith through his beheading. St. Paul did not establish the Roman church, but marked its history through his martyrdom. His first biographer, Luke, intuited the historic and symbolic dimension of his testimony. St. Paul’s death in Rome is the fulfillment of the mission assigned by the Resurrected Christ to His disciples, as from this center of the world their testimony reached the ends of earth.

Pr. Theodor DAMIAN — Câteva aspecte ale teologiei despre puterea lui Dumnezeu la Sfântul Grigorie de Nyssa

Summary: St. Gregory of Nyssa: Aspects of God’s Power Theology

“God’s power” is a central theme in the theology of St. Gregory of Nyssa, a fervent defender of Orthodoxy, a great mystic and one of the founders of apophatic theology. We see God’s power in its manifestations within the created world. The entire Universe depends on the power of God’s Word. God’s power is eternal, independent from the created world, all-encompassing, sovereign, indivisible, unlimited, omniscient, unchanged versus creation and death, indiminishable, vivifying, salvific. God’s substantial power creates all that is good through the divine word, and it can do anything it chooses to do, as it will only choose what is compatible with the divine nature. Everything is possible for the divine power, even bringing the non-existent to life and lending to creatures their proper attributes.

St. Gregory of Nyssa teaches that the divine power in action generates the created world; once the human being is created, the divine power enables it to pass from corruptibility to incorruptibility. St. Gregory calls this the creature’s life, which spans between two extremities, each of them defined by the power of God. This theology of the interval is strictly linked, in St. Gregory’s thought, to the theology of participation.

God’s power also marks the path leading to God. By contemplating the created world we see God, although God cannot be seen in His ousia, but only in His energies manifest in creation and in Christ. The beauty, harmony and stability of the created universe lead us back to God by revealing His ineffable power above all understanding. The entire cosmos can provide access to God: man is called to contemplate it, to comprehend it, and thus find God, contemplate His energies in the created world and continuously advance towards God (epektasis).

God’s power is shared among the Trinitarian Persons on the grounds of their common nature: “The source of power is the Father and the power of the Father is the Son, and the spirit of that power is the Holy Spirit; and the entire created universe is the work of the divine power”.

“Christ is the power of the Father”. God’s Word is power in Himself. The power of God’s Word is absolutely efficient. The Incarnation testifies to the paradox of the divine power, or the might of this power. In the Incarnation, God’s all-powerful nature condescended to the humility of human condition, which illustrates the paradox of the divine power. God’s kenosis in the Incarnation emphasizes the superabundance of the divine power: God’s incorruptible power dwells in humility, without losing its lofty character. Circumscribed by a body, God’s power becomes more accessible to mankind. The Crucifixion, the Cross, actually reveal God’s power. The Cross is the object of contemplation, the place where we see God in the ultimate manifestation of this power, the power to renounce absolute power and die as humbly as any man. The power of the Saviour as a true God was demonstrated by His Resurrection. In His Resurrection, Christ becomes the intersection point of life and death, abolishing in Himself the corruption process caused by death and becoming the principle of reunification of the elements of the human being.

The power of the Spirit is identical with the life-giving power of the Father and of the Son, which achieves our salvation and through which our nature is transfigured. Due to the consubstantiality of the Spirit with the Father and the Son, He shares the same eternal sovereign power because of His indivisible, indestructible, eternal and consubstantial unity with the Father and the Son. Dwelling in the world after Christ’s Ascension, the Holy Spirit manifests His divine power in guiding people towards the Kingdom of God which is power and truth, towards eternal life.

Alexandru L. ARION — Considerații asupra conceptului zoroastrian de divinitate

Summary: Considerations about the Zoroastrian Concept of Divinity

“Zoroastrian dualism” is perhaps the most famous phrase about this ancient religion of Zoroaster. And although dualism seems to represent the characteristic feature of Iranian religion in ancient and medieval times, however, there were scholars who have downplayed the importance of its dual elements, reaching to state the monotheist nature of Zoroastrianism. Dualism is characterized on the one hand in a negative way, in that the Supreme Being is neither responsible nor the author of the entire world − as in the creationist religions −, but is limited in its possession and, on the other hand, in a positive manner, by accepting the reality of evil “by nature”, equipped with demiurgic power over the world. The description of Zoroastrian religion as radical, eschatological and procosmic dualism, does not raise too many objections but for the first attribute, i.e. that of radicalism. Ahriman is not a figure of the stature of Ahura Mazda, nor seems to have the same rank. He is not a person but a principle; he is the “evil spirit”. The dilemma of the Zoroastrian concept of divinity remains standing. And that’s because in reality the gathic teaching is to be defined as dualistic in its basic inspiration: it is presented as a “dualistic monotheism” pattern, in which the divine power is limited by the presence of evil in a plane that precedes and transcends that of material life, itself strongly and dramatically conditioned.

The present paper takes into consideration the ethical vision and the cosmic form of Zoroastrian dualism and tries to harmonize the two so different standings of those who advocate either the dualism or the monotheism of this ancient religion, with the aid of the solution proposed by the Zoroastrian philosopher K.D. Irani. Thus, applying the famous C.G. Jung concepts of archetypes and archetypal world, Irani upholds that the two Spirits of Zarathustra exist at the level of this archetypal world and therefore they have both a “cosmic” and a “psychological” or “ethical” subsistence at the same time.

Ștefan IONESCU-BERECHET — Το αγιον μανδηλιον: istoria unei tradiții

Summary: ΤΟ ΑΓΙΟΝ ΜΑΝΔΗΛΙΟΝ: The History of a Tradition

Starting from a short historical and theological presentation of the icons ’not made by a human hand’, the present study aims at showing the phases that forged the tradition of the Holy Mandylion of our Lord in Edessa. It reconstitutes the main moments of its history that were certified with documentary evidence (its transfer to Constantinople in 944, event liturgically celebrated in the Orthodox Church on the 16th of August; the period when it was placed with the treasure of the Pharos imperial chapel, followed by its disappearance in 1204, when the Byzantine capital-city was occupied by the knights of the IVth Crusade), as well as the echoes left by the Holy Mandylion in the orthodox iconography until the XIVth century. On a secondary basis, Western traditions about Veronica and their interference with the history of Abgar will be briefly analysed. In the end, we will focus on the profound reception of the Holy Mandylion from a theological point of view in the Byzantine tradition, by presenting a splendid ’Didascalia’ delivered by Constantin Stilbes in the last years of the XIIth century about the Holy Mandylion and the Holy Keramion, now rendered for the first time in a Romanian version.

In spite of the disconcerting complexity of the versions referring to the origin of the Holy Mandylion of our Lord, one can notice the fact that they develop around two main aspects: the history of Abgar, in the East, and the history of Veronica, in the West. We consider it useful to unveil in parallel the key moments of their crystallization, in order to show the syncrony and the interferences that have been established between them.

Both traditions appear undoubtedly before the IVth century in the Syro-Palestinian Aramaic-speaking area and are mentioned for the first time by Eusebius of Caesarea in his Ecclesiastical History (300-320): the correspondence between Abgar and Christ the Saviour, as well as His statue set up in Paneas by the woman healed of bloodflow. Around the year 400, The Doctrine of Addai mentions our Lord’s portrait painted by Anania, Abgar’s painter and messenger, whereas Acta Pilati attributes to the woman with the flow of blood the name Berenice (Veronica, in Latin). In the Vth century we can see an interference between the two traditions: if Moses of Chorene asserts that the icon of Edessa was taken to Jerusalem by Abgar’s widow, Macarios of Magnesia identifies Berenice with the queen of Edessa. At the end of the VIth century, the Icon of Edessa appears for the first time as considered „not made by a human hand” in the Ecclesiastical History by Evagrius Scholasticus. In the VIIth century some New-Testament apocrypha take shape and according to them, Christ miraculously imprinted His face on a piece of cloth that he eventually sent to Abgar (The Acts of Mari and The Acts of Thaddeus) or entrusted to Veronica (Mors Pilati). During the iconoclastic crisis (726-843), the Mandylion of Edessa is called as a strong argument in favour of the cult of the icons by the iconodule apologists in Christian East and West. In the Xth-XIth centuries, three important translatio take place in the Byzantine world (944, 967/8, 1032); as a result, the three precious relics (The Mandylion, the Keramion and the Epistle of Jesus) are brought to Constantinople, events that lead to the systematization of the versions of Abgar’s history. This is how Narratio de imagine edessena (945) and Epistola Abgari (XIth century) appear. These texts mention the imprinting of Christ’s face on the Mandylion, but also its miraculous appearance on two bricks (Hierapolis and Edessa). If betwen 944-1204 the presence of the Mandylion of Edessa in Constantinople is strongly certified by Byzantine sources and by descriptions made by foreign pilgrims, the presence of Veronica’s Sudarium in Saint Peter’s basilica in Rome is confirmed for the first time only in the middle of the XIIth century. When the Mandylion of Edessa disappears from the Byzantine capital-city during the Latin domination (1204-1261), the cult of Veronica spreads a lot in the West, especially due to the actions taken by Pope Innocent III (1198-1216). The Roman Mandylion gets more and more related to the Passion of Christ (Ghetsimani, 1160-Golgotha, 1300) and even one of its instruments (arma Christi).

By comparing the two main traditions, of Abgar and of Veronica, in the light of the written sources, we can mention, in spite of their complex development, several common constant aspects: 1. The Holy Mandylion is not an ordinary icon, it is an acheiropoieton; 2. The face of our Lord imprinted miraculously on a cloth, as it is the case of other acheiropoietai images of the Lord in the East (Camuliana and Memphis) or in the West (Manoppello and the Shroud of Turin); 3. The Holy Mandylion is also a relic, as it touches directly Lord’s body; 4. The Holy Mandylion has special healing properties – it can heal not only those who touch it, but also those who see it; 5. Jesus imprints His face on a Mandylion in the context of the Passion (Palm Sunday-Holy Wednesday-Ghetsimani-Golgotha), wiping away the water-’a sweat like drops of blood’- a blood.

The similarities between the two traditions become obvious if we compare the iconographic representations of the Byzantine Mandylion and those of Veronica’s Sudarium, as well as their well-known copies, considered as authentic acheiropoietai images: Mandylions in Genoa, Vatican or Tbilisi, the Veil of Manoppello and the Shroud of Turin. If in the case of the last mentioned ones we can notice as common characteristics thr dark colours, the graphic character of the painting, frontality, symmetry and most of all face framing, in the case of the iconographic types of the Mandylion and of Veronica’s Sudarium, we practically deal with „the icon of an icon”: on the wall or wood surface we can see Christ’s head painted on a the background of a white cloth, framed by the aureola and sometimes sustained by angels or Abgar (Thaddeus or Anania, the messenger), or by Veronica, respectively.

As a conclusion, we can assert that, even if the „historical” orgins of the Holy Mandylion are difficult to specify, an Icon-relic certainly exists and it inspired numerous faithful copies, iconographic types that are similar in Christian East and West, as well as a relatively integrated tradition, in spite of the diversity of versions that present it, trying to explain the origin of this ’mark’ of Christ’s human face, epiphany and undeniable evidence of His embodiment.

Pr. Bogdan-Aurel TELEANU — Mesajul credinței împărtășit prin mijloace moderne de comunicare

Summary: The Message of Faith Conveyed through Means of Communication

Over the last years, the Romanian Patriarchate has made significant progress in the realm of institutional social communication, by creating or developing Orthodox means of communication, from the daily “Ziarul Lumina” to the radio and TV station TRINITAS or the press agency BASILICA. With the establishment of the BASILICA press center – including the Press Bureau, the radio station, the TV station, the daily publication and the press agency – which allowed further missionary activity in the public sphere, the Romanian Orthodox Church integrated itself into the new cultural trend of our present times, known as “media culture”.

In the context of integrating the Church communication into the mass-media culture, the present study aims to employ the rhetorics of value in the church discourse. The purpose of this rhetorics of value is to seek ways of reconciling the perspectives in the tandem “Vox Dei, vox populi” in order to counter reductionism to a single vision on reality, namely that determined by public opinion, or the antagonism separating God’s will from the will of people, according to the manicheistic principle good versus evil.

Appropriating a culture of communication – which presupposes awareness of the effect produced by mass-media on the opinion climate – has the merit of correcting rhetorical errors, as is the case with the “double language”, and of opening new ministration vistas, such as the faith promoters’ freedom to choose their appropriate means of communication.

“When the righteous triumph, there is great elation; but when the wicked rise to power, men go into hiding” (Proverbs 28:12). This principle is confirmed by the modern communication means, through the “test of speaking and silence” employed by the public opinion theory called “the spiral of silence”. Thus, modern mass-media represent an instrument which can assess the dominant trend of a society, by gauging the people’s willingness to speak out and their tendency to remain silent. From the perspective of this public opinion theory, the conclusion is: it is not the elites that have maintained the Romanian Orthodox Church, but the faithful worshippers for whose sake God loves it.

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