NR. 3 – 2014

Rezumate Studii Teologice 2014.3

Zdravko PENO GMO (Genetically Modified organism) and the Christian Ethos in the Light of Saint Maximus the Confessor’s Cosmology

Rezumat: Organismele modificate genetic și ethosul creștin în lumina cosmologiei Sf. Maxim Mărturisitorul

Epoca în care trăim este caracterizată printr-o mare dezvoltare tehnologică, iar tehnologia noilor plante a dobândit un rol tot mai important. În mod firesc, se formulează întrebarea dacă aceste noi procese tehnologice în producerea plantelor reprezintă numai încercări de a „corecta” materialul lor genetic sau constituie schimbări esențiale ale acestuia. Unde ne conduce producerea necontrolată a alimentelor modificate genetic? – aceasta este o întrebare care interesează nu numai statul și politicul, ci este și o problemă morală. O contribuție la teologia contemporană ar consta, cu certitudine, nu în a impune soluții ultime, sau a oferi „rețete” dogmatice și a introduce interdicții severe, ci în invitația adresată contemporanilor de a privi viața din perspectiva Bisericii; din această perspectivă, omul poate fi perceput în cel mai bun mod și, după aceea, în lumina antropologiei biblice și patristice, și dimensiunile existențiale ale cercetării biotehnologice în domeniul nutriției umane.

Realizările în domeniul biologiei sintetice, în mod tendențios, îl conduc pe consumatorul acestor produse noi către un viitor imprevizibil, către imortalitatea biologică. Această încredere oarbă în progresul științelor naturale nu numai că-l închide pe om în ipostasul său biologic, ci îl „îngheață” chiar – întocmai cum ultima dorință a lui Walt Disney a fost aceea de a fi congelat după moarte, crezând în puterea științei de a-l readuce la viață – pentru nemurirea binecuvântată. Totuși, creștinii știu că viața nu poate fi redusă la dimensiunea biologică și că sănătatea, deși foarte importantă pentru activitatea umană, nu este ținta și rațiunea existenței umane. De asemenea, creștinii știu bine că omul și natura înconjurătoare nu pot fi observate exclusiv în anumite condiții istorice date și că orientarea lor finală, eshatologică, nu poate fi văzută.

Urmând logica naturalismului ontologic, geneticienii nu se opresc la cunoașterea fapturilor și a structurii lor, ci, prin intervenții în genom, fac un pas mai departe, străduindu-se să schimbe structura ființei prin transmiterea de gene de la alte specii. Deși uneori intervențiile genetice în cadrul aceleiași specii sunt uneori justificate, alteori nu, dacă se produc sau nu schimbări în genom sau nu, intervențiile menite a transfera gene de la o specie la alta sunt a priori inacceptabile. Este voia lui Dumnezeu ca lumea să existe prin specii (Fc 1, 11). Este important de subliniat că înțelegerea creștină a lumii prin specii nu poate fi redusă la teoria lui Aristotel despre speciile imaginare pe cale de a se forma. Toate speciile au o țintă în ele însele, numită ἐντελέχεια. Sistemului său cosmologic îi lipsește atât deschiderea către Dumnezeu, ca izvor al existenței, pe de o parte, cât și deschiderea către existența concretă a făpturilor, pe de altă parte.

În intervențiile în domeniile genomului și transferului de gene de la o specie la alta, geneticienii au constatat că specimenele se schimbă până la punctul în care pierd legătura cu logosul ființei lor, cu voința divină în privința lor. În afară de pierderea acestei legături, dincolo de puterea distructivă a păcatului, care, cu siguranță, lasă consecințe în existența acestor creaturi, rațiunile (logoi) ființei lor rămân neschimbate, libere de orice schimbare instantanee și mișcare a ființei. Intervențiile menite a produce alimente modificate genetic nu sunt conforme cu logosul dumnezeiesc al creației, cu vrerea lui Dumnezeu în legătură cu ele, și astfel nu sunt capabile să impună alte rațiuni (logoi) acelor ființe. Mai exact, acestea conduc către un mod irațional de a ființa, către distrugerea ființei, către înstrăinarea ei de Dumnezeu și nesocotirea legilor naturale, îndepărtându-se mai exact de cursul natural al lucrării creației.

Este util să examinăm întrebarea dacă geneticienii pot găsi justificarea pentru acțiunile lor în faptele relatate în Sfânta Scriptură, adică în evenimentele supranaturale, în minuni. Minunea schimbă oare natura care suferă acțiunea minunată, se schimbă oare o specie în alta? Deși un „eveniment extraordinar”, minunea nu se întâmplă fără voia Creatorului. Lumea se guvernează prin legile naturale pe care Dumnezeu le-a dat creației în timpul procesului creației și întreaga sa existență este complet dependentă de energiile dumnezeiești. Potrivit Sfântului Maxim, minunea nu a fost niciodată izolată de lucrarea proniatoare a lui Dumnezeu. Este parte a întregului plan al creației și mântuirii și parte integrantă a vieții și istoriei, care sunt ele însele minuni. Deși cineva poate avea impresia că legile naturale sunt zdruncinate, în realitate se împlinește efectiv voința dumnezeiască cu privire la creație prin actualizarea naturii, care rămâne aceeași, pentru că logos-ul ființei (λόγος τῆς φύσεως) este neschimbat, iar ceea ce se schimbă este numai modul existenței (τρόπος υπάρξεως). Potrivit Sfântului Maxim, Dumnezeu «i-a mutat pe Enoh și Ilie la un alt fel de viață (4 Rg 2, 11), fără a le schimba natură și fără a-i scoate din trupurile lor muritoare…, a prefăcut apa în sânge în Egipt ( 7, 17) fără a preface natura apei, aceasta rămânând apă și după schimbarea culorii ei în roșu». Este limpede din cele exprimate că geneticienii nu pot afla justificări pentru intervențiile lor asupra genomului în minunile biblice, deoarece nu este vorba despre realități de același tip. În loc să primească starea deplină de har (ὑπἑρ φύσιν), ținta celor care râvnesc la unirea Dumnezeu, geneticienii neprevăzători favorizează condiția absenței logos-ului. Din această cauză, a absenței logos-ului, activitatea lor nu este întemeiată ontologic și justificată moral.

Modificarea genetică a organismelor urmează logica lumii create, fiind contrară logicii biblice și patristice. Este o logică necreștină și pseudo-religioasă în care minunea este explicată în relație cu legile naturale. Teologia scolastică, care nu face deosebire între natura lui Dumnezeu și energia Sa, afirmă că Dumnezeu relaționează cu lumea exclusiv prin energiile create. În această situație, este absolut firesc ca minunea să fie percepută ca o ciocnire a lumii create cu energiile create. Nu există minuni câtă vreme nu există o ciocnire cu legile naturale ale creației. În același fel, intervențiile în biotehnologie, în alterarea genomului, constituie violări ale legilor naturale.

Un om este „ceea ce mănâncă” – obișnuia să spună Feuerbach. Din perspectiva biologică, existența umană depinde numai de alimentele consumate. Schimbarea modului de nutriție în sensul includerii în alimentație a organismelor modificate genetic nu numai că generează o serie de pericole potențiale pentru sănătate, de vreme ce se îndepărtează de la modul natural de viață (κατά φύσιν) și se îndreaptă către cel nenatural de a ființa (παρά φύσιν), dar se îndepărtează încă și mai mult de modul supranatural (ὑπἑρ φύσιν) – harismatic de a ființa. Așadar, nici măcar acei oameni de știință care reușesc în experimentele lor să creeze ceea ce altădată aparținea mitologiei, să aducă la viață centauri, sirene și alte făpturi mitologice, nu sunt capabili să schimbe logos-ul în planul etern al ființării.

Ținta existenței făpturilor este împlinirea unirii cu alte ființe. Aceasta este unitatea în diversitate, „faptul de a fi împreună”, împreună-ființarea în care fiecare trebuie să-și conformeze modul de viață cu propria rațiune (logos). Unirea cu celelalte ființe nu implică prefacerea unei ființe într-o alta, nici împrumutarea caracteristicilor alteia, așa cum este înțeleasă de geneticienii care transferă gene de la o specia la alta. Pentru că nu există un logos hibrid, comun pentru ființe diferite din două sau mai multe specii, nu este posibilă justificarea transferului de gene de la o specie la alta. Unitatea ființelor de specii diferite este, potrivit teologiei Sf.Ap. Pavel, posibilă numai prin mijlocirea omului, deoarece acesta, ca făptură rațională, a fost însărcinat să realizeze unificarea creației și oferirea ei lui Dumnezeu.

Legile biologiei sunt, în același timp, legile morții, astfel că nu există soluție în plan biologic pentru problemele existențiale, nu există nădejdea salvării de moarte ca ultim dușman al omului (1 Cor 15, 26). Sf. Nicolae Cabasila afirmă că omul nu trebuie să se resemneze în fața forței evenimentelor naturale, a legilor biologiei. Mâncăm pentru a trăi în veacul de acum, potrivit legilor metabolice, dar mâncarea de orice fel nu deține energia vieții veșnice. Devine trupul omului și omul se menține în viață prin ea, dar, în același timp, îl conduce inevitabil spre moarte.

În împărtășirea de Trupul și Sângele lui Hristos Domnul în Sfânta Liturghie ceva complet diferit se petrece. Cei care primesc Sfânta Euharistie devin ceea ce consumă, devin Acela cu care se împărtășesc, devin Hristos. Logosul schimbă din interior pe cel ce participă la Viața Lui în trup, la Întruparea și Răstignirea Sa ca momente esențiale, și, astfel participând la Trup și Sânge, credinciosul devine ceea ce mănâncă. Urmând interpretarea Sfintei Euharistii aparținând Sf. Nicolae Cabasila, părintele Alexander Schmemann a subliniat că în unirea cu Hristos, în care consta identitatea originară a omului, omul este ceea ce mănâncă. Ontologia euharistică oferă răspuns îndatoririi ultime, devenind măsura tuturor acelor eforturi umane care, prin biotehnologie, sau fără ea, îndepărtează creatura de rațiunea (logos) ultimă de a ființa.


Viorel COMAN Ecclesia de trinitate: The ecclesiological Synthesis between Christology and Pneumatology in modern orthodox and roman catholic Theology

Rezumat: Ecclesia de Trinitate. Sinteza ecleziologică dintre hristologie și pnevmatologie în teologia ortodoxă și romano-catolică modernă

Publicată în anul 1985, cartea Ființa eclezială a mitropolitului de Pergam, Ioannis Zizioulas, reprezintă un excepțional tratat de ecleziologie ortodoxă. Încă de la apariția sa, lucrarea a marcat decisiv peisajul dezbaterilor teologice despre Biserică și continuă să fie o importantă sursă de inspirație pentru ecleziologii contemporani. Printre temele centrale ale volumului mitropolitului Zizioulas se află și cea referitoare la sinteza dintre hristologie și pnevmatologie în ecleziologie. Pentru a marca aniversarea a treizeci de ani de la apariția lucrării Ființa eclezială, studiul de față își propune să ofere o analiză critică a câtorva dintre modelele de sinteză ecleziologică între hristologie și pnevmatologie elaborate de unii dintre cei mai renumiți teologi ai secolului trecut: Vladimir Lossky (1903-1958), Ioannis Zizioulas (n. 1931), Dumitru Stăniloae (1903-1993), Yves Congar (1904-1995) și Walter Kasper (n. 1933). Selecția autorilor a ținut cont de două criterii: 1) criteriul relevanței teologice și a notorietății; deși teologi importanți precum Georges Florovsky, Nikos Nissiotis și Boris Bobrinskoy au oferit ecleziologiei sec. al XX-lea modele de sinteză ce meritau a fi incluse în studiul de față, în alegerea autorilor s-a ținut cont și de 2) criteriul asigurării unei diversități teologice, etnice, și culturale. În încercarea de a nu depăși limitele unui articol, a fost ales un singur autor pentru fiecare tradiție ortodoxă și grup catolic: Lossky (tradiția ortodoxă slavă), Zizioulas (tradiția ortodoxă grecească), Stăniloae (tradiția ortodoxă românească), Congar (catolicismul francez) și Kasper (catolicismul german).

Studiul urmărește să identifice în ce măsură teologii amintiți au reușit să articuleze un model ecleziologic ce menține un echilibru real între lucrarea lui Hristos și lucrarea Sfântului Duh în viața Bisericii. Nu în cele din urmă, scopul studiului este de a argumenta că, în majoritatea cazurilor, cu excepția lui Stăniloae și, într-o anumită măsură Kasper, modelele de sinteză ecleziologică nu încadrează însă deplin Biserica în taina treimică. Pe de o parte, nu există o corelare între rolul Fiului și cel al Duhului în sfera intra-trinitară și funcțiile lor în viața Bisericii. Pe de altă parte, relevanța ecleziologică a lui Dumnezeu-Tatăl este trecută într-un plan secund. Cu alte cuvinte, modele de sinteză au în vedere doar hristologia și pnevmatologia, fără referințe majore la Persoana Tatălui.

Teologii ortodocși. Problema sintezei ecleziologice dintre hristologie și pnevmatologie a apărut în spațiul ortodox în contextul dezbaterilor din sec. al XX-lea despre filioque și implicațiile acestuia în viața Bisericii Romano-Catolice. Conform unor teologi precum Nikos Nissiotis, Vladimir Lossky sau Dumitru Stăniloae, „deviațiile” din ecleziologia romano-catolică nu sunt altceva decât ramificația doctrinei despre filioque, care subordonează pe Duhul Fiului, harisma instituției, libertatea personală autorității, elementul profetic celui juridic, mistica scolasticismului raționalist, preoția universală ierarhiei, iar colegialitatea episcopală papalității. După opinia lui Lossky, doar o teologie care respinge adaosul filioque poate asigura la nivel de ecleziologie un echilibru între lucrarea lui Hristos și cea a Duhului. Cu toate acestea, modelele ecleziologice ortodoxe de îmbinare armonioasă între histologie și pnevmatologie nu au reușit întotdeauna să găsească echilibrul necesar între cele două componente esențiale ale Bisericii.

Teologul rus din Franța, Vladimir Lossky, ajunge să separe pnevmatologia de hristologie în viața Bisericii. Pentru Lossky, Hristos realizează mântuirea naturii umane și este factorul de unitate în Biserică. În schimb, funcția Duhul Sfânt este aceea de a mântui persoanele umane. Astfel, Duhul devine principul diversificator în Trupul lui Hristos care este Biserica. Modelul ecleziologic dezvoltat de Vladimir Lossky a primit o serie de critici din partea unor teologi precum George Florovsky, Dumitru Stăniloae și Ioannis Zizioulas. Conform lui Florovsky, ecleziologia lui Lossky lasă impresia că omul intră într-o relație persoanală numai cu Duhul Sfânt. Nu întâmplător Jaroslav Skira vorbește de faptul că sinteza ecleziologică elaborată de Lossky sfârșește prin a acorda o oarecare prioritate pnevmatologiei. Motivul principal care explică separarea pnevmatologiei de hristologie în ecleziologia lui Lossky îl constituie minimalizarea relației perihoretice dintre Fiul și Duhul la nivelul „Treimii imanente”.

În pofida încercării mitropolitului Ioannis Zizioulas de a corecta dezechilibrul din teologia lui Lossky, rezultatul sintezei sale eclesiologice nu se distanțează foarte mult de cel al teologului rus. Opoziția dintre hristologie și pnevmatologie operată de teologia losskiană este prezentă și în gândirea mitropolitului de Pergam. Pentru Zizioulas, Hristos este Cel Care asumă istoria, iar Duhul Sfânt este Persona Care ne oferă acces la eshatologie, eliberându-ne de povara istoriei. Ca și în cazul lui Vladimir Lossky, gândirea mitropolitului grec rămâne totuși captivă conceptelor filozofiei existențialiste. O altă problemă majoră perpetuată atât în lucrările teologului grec cât și în cele ale teologului rus o reprezintă absența, aproape totală, a raportării sintezei eclesiologice la Persoana Tatălui. Cu toate că insitența asupra monarhiei lui Dumnezeu Tatăl este una dintre temele de referință ale teologiei lui Zizioulas, sinteza ecleziologică a acestuia nu are în vedere decât dimensiunea hristologică și dimensiunea pnevmatologică a Bisericii. În plus, la fel de problematic este și faptul că hristologia și pnevmatologia sunt într-o oarecare măsură armonizate în opera lui Zizioulas, însă teologia trinitară este separată de Biserică. Astfel, Treimea și Biserica apar ca două realități paralele sau separate.

Teologul ortodox a cărui ecleziologie a reușit să ofere o perspectivă mai echilibrată între hristologie și pnevmatologie este Părintele Dumitru Stăniloae. Considerând relațiile intra-trinitare ca bază a relațiilor Persoanelor dumnezeiești în viața Bisericii, Stăniloae nu numai că integrează ecleziologia sa în Taina Sfintei Treimi, dar evită și conturarea hristologiei și a pnevmatologiei în termeni de opoziție. Având în vedere perihoreza treimică, Stăniloae arată că în Biserică nicio Persoană dumnezeiască nu lucrează separat de Celelalte. Prin urmare, unitatea și diversitatea în Biserică sunt roade ale împreună-lucrării Persoanelor treimice. Nu se poate concepe, spune teologul român, ca dimensiunea instituțională a Bisericii să fie raportată exclusiv la hristologie, iar dimensiunea harismatică să fie legată exclusiv de pnevmatologie. Atât în aspectul ei instituțional cât și în cel harismatic, Biserica poartă o amprentă trinitară. Din păcate, cu toate încercările recente de traducere a operei sale în limbi de circulație internațională, teologia părintelui Stăniloae este prea puțin cunoscută în afara granițelor României și ale spațiului ortodox. Deși există numeroase studii și teze de doctorat dedicate gândirii părintelui Stăniloae, teologia acestuia este încă foarte puțin cunoscută de către teologii romano-catolici și protestanți.

Teologii romano-catolici. Teologii romano-catolicii au respins încă din anii ’60 ai secolului trecut acuzația de „hristomonism” ecleziologic. Cu toate acestea, în contact cu critica teologilor ortodocși, Biserica Romano-Catolică a conștientizat necesitatea de a oferi o atenție sporită rolului Duhului Sfânt în ecleziologie și spiritualitate. În acest sens, Conciliul II Vatican a reorientat teologia romano-catolică prin documentele sale, în special prin constituția despre Biserică Lumen Gentium, în direcția unei renașterii pnevmatologice. Impulsul acestei renașteri dat de Conciliul II Vatican a fost continuat de numeroși teologi romano-catolici, dintre care cei mai renumiți sunt Yves Congar și Walter Kasper.

În ceea ce privește componenta pnevmatologică, ecleziologia lui Yves Congar cunoaște patru etape importante: 1) 1931-1944; 2) 1945-1959; 3) 1959-1968; 4) 1968-1991. Între 1931 și 1944, ecleziologia congariană este elaborată aproape exclusiv cu „material” hristologic, iar lucrarea Duhului Sfânt apare ca fiind subordonată instituțiilor și structurilor bisericești. În etapa următoare, binomul instituție-viață domină ecleziologia teologului dominican. Atribuind pnevmatologiei rolul de a dinamiza sau de a da viață structurilor instituționale ale Bisericii, Congar continuă să acorde Duhului un rol ecleziologic secundar în scrierile sale din perioada 1945-1959. Dacă între anii 1959-1968 Congar este preocupat mai mult de respingerea criticilor adresate de teologii ortodocși cu privire la „hristomonismul” ecleziologic romano-catolic, începând cu 1968, pnevmatologia începe să ocupe un rol central în opera călugărului dominican. Ca și în cazul Părintelui Stăniloae, sinteza ecleziologică dintre hristologie și pnevmatologie elaborată de Congar în această perioadă respinge orice relație de opoziție între lucrarea lui Hristos și cea a Duhului Sfânt. Unitatea nu este lipsită de diversitate și nici instituția de elementul spiritual sau harismatic. Orice lucrare în viața Bisericii, menționează Congar, este rezultatul împreună-lucrării Fiului cu Duhul. Cu toate acestea, spre deosebire de Stăniloae, ecleziologia lui Congar rămâne captivă binomului hristologie-pnevmatologie.

În teologia romano-catolică recentă, Cardinalul Walter Kasper este cel care a dezvoltat o ecleziologie cu un pronunțat caracter trinitar. În numeroasele sale lucrări teologice publicate începând cu anul 1972, teologul german a căutat să dezvolte o ecleziologie care să reflecte în însăși natura ei taina treimică. Astfel, Kasper ajunge să înțeleagă Biserica mai ales ca o extindere a comuniunii iubitoare dintre Persoanele Sfintei Treimi. Prin urmare, sinteza ecleziologică dintre hristologie și pnevmatologie elaborată de Kasper este marcată de acest efort de a lega Biserica de Treime. În pofida acestui aspect, teologul german pare că manifestă uneori o preferință pentru componenta pnevmatologică a ecleziologiei. Deși încearcă o îmbinare între hristologia pnevmatologică (predominantă în scrierile sinoptice) și pnevmatologica hristologică (predominantă în Evanghelia după Ioan), Walter Kasper tinde să acorde o oarecare prioritate ecleziologiei văzută ca un capitol sau o funcție a Duhului Sfânt.

În concluzii sunt prezentate, în mod sumar, principalele idei ale articolului și se evidențiază limitele sintezelor ecleziologice care au descris în termeni de opoziție rolul lui Hristos și pe cel al Duhului în viața Bisericii. În finalul concluziilor se insistă pe importanța elaborării sintezei ecleziologice dintre hristologie și pnevmatologie pe baza relațiilor treimice perihoretice. În acest fel, Biserica devine un capitol de teologie trinitară, depășind binomul hristologie-pnevmatologie.


Adrian MARINESCU Pr. Valerian Șesan (1878-1940) și Edictul de la Mediolanum

Abstract: Rev. Valerian Șesan (1878-1940) and the Edict of Milan

The most impressive and, therefore, the most important of the studies concerning the Edict of Milan (313), issued – according to most specialists – by St Constantine the Great, is authored by the Romanian theologian Rev. Valerian Șesan, a professor of Canon Law at the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Czernowitz (1913-1940). His work provided a thorough investigation which captured general attention and prompted us to write the present paper, in order to outline and raise (fresh) awareness of the scientific results reached by the reputable scholar of Czernowitz. The text below is part of a more comprehensive project, addressing the Edict of Milan precisely from the standpoint of its evaluation in the specialized literature, a highly interesting and profitable endeavour which reveals the way in which primary and secondary sources have been perceived and interpreted in various periods, cultures and milieus. As we confine our research to the contribution brought by the Romanian scholar – while placing it in a historiographic context – we do not provide here any final conclusions or solutions regarding the important document issued following Constantine’s encounter with Licinius at Milan. The present analysis follows the main elements and the most important lines of thought and interpretation, put forth by Rev. Valerian Șeșan. His ideas are succintly compared with those of modern historians.

The year 2013 brought again to attention the religious policy of Emperor Constantine the Great, and opened again the debate on the existence (or lack thereof) of an Edict issued by the emperor at Milan, in 313 A.D. Today many experts, well-esteemed and followed by a great part of the Orthodox church historians, regard the Edict of Milan as a definitively settled issue and a matter of „church interest”, too „clerical”, or a matter of „church policy”, and they avoid any discussions concerning it. In their opinion, what took place at Milan was a mere discussion, an agreement – which recent literature tends to present as a swap between Constantine and Licinius, the former offering his sister in marriage as well as his military support, in exchange for the improvement of Christians’ situation in the territories ruled by the latter. Admittedly, the extant sources do not shed much light on this issue. The two main sources available – Licinius’ rescript and the edict, as recorded by Lactantius and Eusebius, respectively, are well-known. Modern research, however, has investigated other sources as well.

Thus, an extremely important source is the account of Licinius’ veteriniarian, who accompanied him in his precipitous journey to Milan (Theomnestus, Hippiatrica Berolinensia, 34,11-14). The text is important because, on the one hand, 1) It marks the date when Licinius travelled to Milan, and on the other hand, 2) It reveals the manner in which Licinius made he journey to Italy, especially his haste to leave Carnuntum, which suggests there was some „urgency”. However, the text is rather obscure about the circumstances surrounding the meeting of Milan and the existence (or lack thereof) of an edict issued on this occasion in favor of Christians. The haste of Licinius’ journey to Milan cannot be (exclusively) accounted for, by the need for a prompt alliance, not involving negotiations, that is, not involving a deliberate meeting and agreement made at leisure. The haste to perform the wedding is also not a convincing argument. The status of Constantine the Great at the time did not allow any kind of impromptu ceremony, even if a betrothal had been concluded. Also, the fact that Licinius „ran”, despite the extremely bad weather, endangering the lives of his servants and himself, does not justify either the precipitous journey in order to strengthen a political alliance. The meeting of Milan, the residence of Constantine the Great, ruler of the Western territories (Italia, Gallia, Hispania, Britannia), and one of the two augusti, presupposed a particular protocol and special preparations, making any impromptu marriage impossible. Such haste, and taking such risks, could be justified only if Licinius had been threatened by the army of Maximinus, stationed at his gates and preventing any defense, which was not the case, as Lactantius asserts that it was only against the background of the wedding between Licinius and Constantia, that Maximinus began preparations for a military offensive.

Licinius’ haste had different possible reasons: 1) It first indicates that the augustus of Carnuntum was not an equal but a vassal (δούλος) of Constantine the Great (who, in any case, was primus augustus at the time); 2) It is very likely that the two had arranged in advance a meeting at Milan, immediately after the return of Constantine the Great there – of which Licinius found out (belatedly); on the one hand he was aware of the extremely difficult military and political situation, which could require Constantine the Great to travel fast and more or less safely, for long periods of time, to a different place in the Empire; and on the other hand he intuited or knew that Constantine the Great wished to enlarge his sphere of political influence and authority (while Licinius, who had been favored under Galerius, now found himself in a precarious political position) –, Licinius hurrying to conclude the agreement and not cause dissent and conflict; 3) maybe Licinius hurried to meet Constantine the Great at his residence in Milan, precisely in order to demonstrate his submission (after Constantine’s conquest of Italy and triumphal greeting by the Senate in Rome), and to obtain a long-planned alliance which he now needed stringently; 4) Licinius certainly felt he risked being next on the list of the territories conquered by Constantine the Great, especially on hearing that the latter had returned to his residence in northern Italy and on the territory where no army had opposed him, an opportunity for him to conduct new successful campaigns if he so chose, even against a co-augustus who had failed to treat Christians well enough; anyway, caught between Maximinus and Constantine, Licinius had no other choice but to associate with the latter (who had just destroyed the alliance Maximinus-Maxentius), whom he had to assure directly of his loyalty (especially given the envisaged marriage to his sister, and his victory at Pons Milvius) and make him forget that Galerius had favored Licinius himself, but ignored Constantine for many years despite his obvious qualities, acknowledged not only by the army but also by the population and the citizens; 5) This is why we deem that Licinius’ haste, unless it was due to a direct short-notice request of Constantine the Great (who might have called him to Milan to discuss important matters concerning the Empire – and maybe even to assess his position directly – and decide on the new system of managing the Empire, its military and religious affairs, and also celebrate the planned wedding), could be accounted for by Licinius’ intention to meet Constantine the Great as soon as possible at his residence, situated not far from the residence of the Carnutum augustus, in order to pay homage to Constantine for his conquest of Italy (so much desired by Galerius and planned, but never achieved, by Licinius himself) and to assure him of his loyalty, especially by improving the situation of Christians in the territories under his rule, an extremely important fact to Constantine the Great, making him regard Licinius in a friendlier way and see him as a supporter of his political intentions (in this situation it is highly likely that the Edict of Milan was issued at the urgent request of Licinius – to prevent a possible incursion of Constantine the Great into the east, especially since he had just defeated tyrant Maxentius and his power and authority were increasing, and his religious policy protecting Christians was gaining momentum –, a good occasion to celebrate the wedding as culmination of a major project concerning the future of the Empire, as envisaged by Constantine the Great). It might have been Constantine the Great who had invited him to Milan urgently, in order to assess his position and to establish the new regime of the Empire and its military and religious situation. It is only such a situation that compelled Licinius to accept the haste, the effort and the risks, even renouncing his personal schedule and the rest of his „winter holidays”.

The study published in 1911 by the Romanian professor of Cernăuți Rev. Valerian Șesan includes four sections: premises, existence, text, contents. He starts from the idea that the Edict of Milan was an event logically following the emperor’s conversion to Christianity in 312 A.D. Thus the upbringing and education (293-305) of Constantine the Great at the court of Diocletian (284-305) made him adopt the policy of strengthening the Empire, a goal which could not be achieved without Christianity, perceived as the solution for safeguarding the Roman orbis terrarum. According to the Romanian professor, Constantine the Great had prepared the Christian reform, started in 312-313 A.D., long in advance, largely because paganism was decading. The Edict of Milan – Rev. V. Șesan employs this title without hesitation! – is a result of the Christian beliefs held by Constantine the Great and places Christianity (die wahre Religion) on at least equal footing with polytheism (die alte Staatsreligion). Understanding this Constantinian act only in political terms is misleading. It actually involved both political factors (Staatsklugkeit), and theological factors (die religiöse Überzeugung). The Edict of Milan had a crucial importance for Christianity. The philological analysis of the two versions recorded by Eusebius and Lactantius did not only stir the debates of experts, but it also indicates very clearly that, while Lactantius’ text has some omissions, Eusebius did not use it as his source. Therefore, it is quite problematic – based on experts’ arguments – to consider the text recorded by Lactantius as the original text of the Edict and Eusebius’ version as its translation. We must take into account the overestimation, respectively the underestimation of the non-identical and at the same time identical character of the two texts. The difficulty is, of course, compounded by the titles (tituli) of the two texts: Lactantius speaks of the so-called litterae Licinii, issued in Nicomedia, while Eusebius records, as he writes in the introductory part of his text, a διάταξις (= edict) Κωνσταντίνου καὶ Λικιννίου, issued precisely at Milan. Careful examination of the two incipits invalidates the opinion that Lactantius recorded the original Edict, and Eusebius – the translation of Licinius’ rescript. According to Rev. V. Șesan, Otto Seeck marks a major moment in the history of the exegesis of the two texts, but although he had an essential contribution in establishing the differences between the texts, he ignored precisely their common elements. The Edict of Milan testifies, in the opinion of our author, both to the Christian thinking of Constantine the Great, and to his Christian policy. The importance of this document, acknowledged according to Rev. V. Șesan, for almost two millennia by the Christians, is denied by O. Seeck, whose opinions failed to gain the support of specialists and were, moreover, rejected by scholars such as Görres, Crivelluci, Hülle, Schultze and others. In O. Seeck’s inability to understand reality from the arguments of his opponents, the Romanian theologian finds serious reasons to resume the debate, adding his own remarks to those of his predecessors. This is why he follows very attentively the arguments of O. Seeck and provides detailed answers in a comprehensive perspective.

The Edict of Milan is part of the ampler religious policy conducted by Emperor Constantine the Great. To Rev. V. Șesan, the religious and political reasons for issuing the Edict of Milan are convergent and complementary, precisely because they have a common goal: Christianizing the Roman state. In the year 312 occured the „theophany” and „conversion” of the emperor to Christianity, entailing as a natural consequence his religious policy, including the issuing of the Edict. Constantine the Great underwent his military and political training at the court of Diocletian, between 293-305, which made him take over and further Diocletian’s reforming intentions. Here, Constantine the Great also came into contact with the eastern, „absolutist” views in relation to religion. Constantine improved the political vision of his predecessor, associating the unity of the Empire to the religious (Christian) unity. The aim of the imperial policy: preserving that orbis terrarum, also made it necessary to change the existing laws. Due to his qualities (intelligence, military abilities, political vision, resourcefulness etc.), Constantine the Great appears as the most suitable person to achieve this reform.

The emperor understood that he had to carry out a complete reformation of the Roman state and promote a new mentality. The only possible foundation for this change was the Christian faith. For example, the state-political vision of the Holy Apostle Paul (Rom 13, 1-9; Tit 3, 1; 1 Ptr 2, 13-17; 2 Tim 2, 1-2), based on the teachings of Savior Jesus Christ, also brought about a new mentality in the ancient world. This also represents the Greek, or Byzantine, view on the state. As a Christian emperor, Constantine the Great confirms the universal-theocratic outlook on the world and state: whoever ignores the Church, in the relationship with the state, breaks two principles and thus deserves a twofold punishment. The Romanian professor thus considers that emperor Constantine the Great mastered the so-called political theology of the Holy Apostle Paul. Since his youth, he knew Christians and Christian realities well, and was a direct witness of the decadence of paganism and the development of Christianity in history. Moreover, the unfair way in which Christians were treated in the various imperial provinces, must have struck the Roman emperor, in contrast with the unchanging position of Christians towards the imperial authority. Before Constantine the Great, the Roman state had come into contact with the Chuch and her members, and had become aware – including through Galerius – of their position and role in history (the omnipotence of God and the internal force of Christianity). For this reason, the development of eastern Roman society, especially at historical level, now required a so-called policy of parity.

The Edict of Milan also indicates, according to Rev. V. Șesan, that Emperor Constantine the Great implemented in 313, plans he had prepared long before: a well-articulated project and system put into practice as soon as the opportunity presented itself. In the view of Constantine the Great, before and after 312, Christianity represented the main element ensuring the cohesion of the state, and Pons Milvius (312) was the decisive moment in implementing his intention to Christianize the entire Empire (= have Christianity acknowledged throughout the Roman state). The fact that he understood, long before 313, that Christianity had to be the religion of the Roman state is mentioned in the very opening of the Edict of Milan, as recorded by the historian Eusebius: «ἤδη μὲν πάλαι» («long in advance»). On the other hand, it is also possible that the event of 313 took the emperor by surprise. This year obviously marks a new era in the history of humankind as well as the Roman history, somehow overshadowing the victory of Pons Milvius, precisely by inaugurating a new policy and a new lifestyle. New syntheses and symbioses now begin at the macro level. Christianity had gained visibility and could no longer be stopped. The old world started to disappear, and the new one, of (increasingly) Byzantine character, asserted itself. Against this background, Emperor Constantine the Great changed not only his own fate, but also opened a new path for the entire world. The Edict of Milan is the result of the faith and commitment of Emperor Constantine the Great and aimed to obtain, at least for a while, the same treatment of Christians as the Roman state granted to the pagan religion. This juridical, political and ecclesiastical document is the legal form in which Christianity gained the upper hand over pagan polytheism, in a non-violent manner, and not only for political reasons. Moreover, in a predominantly pagan society, Emperor Constantine the Great avoided, as it was politically wise, hurting the interests of the non-Christian party. The Edict, as its introductory part shows explicitly, is the result not only of the Christian beliefs held by Constantine the Great, but has political grounds as well. It does not impose Christianity as the only state religion, although it could have done so. Political reasons did not lead to such a measure even in 323, when paganism was officially defeated.

Today, historians such as K.M Girardet deny the existence of the Edict of Milan, however without providing valid counter-arguments, and much less a thorough analysis such as the one undertaken by Rev. V. Șesan. He (Rev. V. Șesan) can be a model for the historical and theological research, due to his qualities: mastery of work instruments (the scientific method, modern and classical languages), interdisciplinarity (historical, juridical, philological, theological background), evaluation skills (a thorough analysis of sources), knowledge of specialized literature (the current stage of research), clarity and concision in his arguments (demonstration of erudition). His work has been long awaiting an answer from those who attempt to remove from history an event and a document of such value. Finally, we must not forget that Rev. V. Șesan, with all his scholarly excellence and erudition, sees history as being above all the result of God’s work, thus evincing – like Emperor Constantine the Great – a theocentric outlook on the world. It is also a great loss for the academic circles in general and for the German-language and Romanian-language ones in particular, that his scholarly contribution is insufficiently known or downright ignored. As for the Edict of Milan, relatively recent, original research demonstrate that the sources still have much to reveal. Therefore, neglecting Rev. Șesan’s contribution concerning the Edict of Milan, at least in the Romanian and German-speaking milieus, is a great, unjustified loss.


Ovidiu SFERLEA Interpretarea și receptarea teoriei epectazei în gândirea Părintelui Dumitru Stăniloae

Summary: Interpretation and Reception of the theory of epektasis in Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae

Although he is not generally known as a patristic scholar, and even less as a specialist in Gregory of Nyssa, the writings of Fr. Dumitru Stăniloae contain abundant evidence of a consistent interest in Nyssen’s much celebrated theory of spiritual perpetual progress, conveniently labelled ἐπέκτασις in patristic scholarship. This study proposes an analysis of Stăniloae’s reading of Gregory’s theory by comparing it with three influent modern interpretations, namely those elaborated by Jean Daniélou, Ekkehard Mühlenberg and Ronald Heine, respectively. It is remarcable that Fr. Stăniloae’s understanding of Nyssen’s theory retains elements from all these patristic scholars, but in the same time his interest goes far beyond a mere historical and exegetical inquiry. I suggest indeed that we have good reason to speak about a genuinely theological reception of this idea in his thought, a fact which is not very common among others systematic Orthodox theologians from the twentieth century.

Fr. Stăniloae shares with Jean Daniélou, whom he quotes approvingly several times, the conviction that the theory of epektasis represents the keystone of Gregory’s spiritual teaching. He also understands it as having an essentially mystical character, and he consistently places it in an eschatological perspective. Yet he is not ready to speak about Gregory’s perpetual progress as supposing a “night of intelligence“ or “irrational” moments, as Daniélou did in his Platonisme et théologie mystique. There is indeed a positive estimate of the conceptual way of knowing God in Stăniloae’s thought which he seems never prepared to minimize.

To a certain extent, this aspect brings him closer to Ekkehard Mühlenberg, who in his turn was adamant that the progress which Gregory speaks about is a progress in knowledge (gnosis), and this knowledge is to be understood as one of a conceptual kind (Erkenntnis), rather than one acquired through immediate experience (Erlebnis). This is all the more remarcable that Stăniloae does not seem to have been aware of Mühlenberg’s monograph on divine infinity in Gregory of Nyssa. But while Mühlenberg considered these two types of knowledge (conceptual and experiential) as mutually exclusive, Fr. Stăniloae was determined to keep them together. Much as he was willing to admit that soul’s progress is a progress in knowledge, he would certainly not agree that this knowledge lacks any mystical feature, quite of the contrary. The references to the theory of ἐπέκτασις in the third part of his synthesis on the Ascetical and Mystical Teaching of the Orthodox Church make this abundantly clear. In so doing, Fr. Stăniloae only kept himself in line with the way in which Gregory’s idea was echoed in a significant number of Eastern Patristic and Byzantine authors, from Macarius-Symeon and John Climacus to Symeon the New Theologian, Gregory Palamas or Kallistos Angelikoudes.

As for the historical background and the polemical context in which this idea made its appearance, Fr. Stăniloae stands with Ronald Heine in considering Gregory’s theory to have been motivated by the necessity to find a sollution to the vexed problem of souls’ satiety (κόρος) and fall inherited from Origen’s cosmology. In fact, Fr. Stăniloae appropriates Gregory’s idea through the critical reception of it by St Maximus the Confessor, who insisted that the spiritual progress is perpetual (i.e. with no possible fall or satiety in it) not just because of God’s infinity or because of human voluntary decision to pursue it ever further (τρόπος ὑπάρξεως), but also because it meets the principle of human nature (λόγος τῆς φύσεως).

Finally, two observations should be added. First, it is quite obvious that Fr. Stăniloae’s reading of Nyssen’s theory was considerably influenced by previous patristic reception of it, most notably by the contributions of Maximus the Confessor, Gregory Palamas, and Kallistos Angelikoudes. Second, this significant patristic reception of Gregory’s idea, of which Fr. Stăniloae was well aware, had presumably persuaded him that the theory of epektasis must be more than a brilliant theological idea; indeed, it provides us with a faithfull insight into what the future eschatological beatitude would be. Fr. Stăniloae clearly considered this insight to have received the consecration of the ascetical and spiritual experience of the Church Tradition. This is no doubt the main reason for which Gregory’s idea also made its way into the final part of Fr. Stăniloae’s magnum opus, The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology.


Răzvan PERȘA Autenticitatea textului scripturistic In 7,1 în comentariul hrisostomic la Evanghelia după Ioan

Summary: The Authenticity of John 7,1 in the Chrysostomic Commentary to the Gospel according to John

The present study aims to identify the patristic-origin text and incorporate it in the larger frame of biblical critical-textual research, by ascertaining the authenticity of Jn 7,1 in St John Chrysostom’s Commentary to the Gospel according to John through a comparison with other biblical readings. The article reconsiders the importance of arguments put forth by textual criticism regarding Johannine style, discourse and theology as well as the influence of text on image, hermeneutics and arguments brought by St John Chrysostom from the perspective of partitive exegesis. This study proposes answers to several questions. If in his arguments a Holy Father did not employ a biblical text as close as possible to the autograph text, then what type of text did he use and to what extent can this text be deemed altered? Are the versions of a biblical text employed in patristic argumentation the origin of nuances, distinctions or even divergence among patristic commentaries? How much do particular biblical readings bear on the Christological image outlined by the Holy Father in his writings?

To answer these questions, in the first part of the article I discuss the importance of inter-sentence conjunctions, their use in the Gospels and particularly the fourth Gospel, in order to demonstrate their peculiarity and relevance in revealing stylistic differences; this argument is then used in internal textual criticism. With a view to proving the authenticity of scriptural text I resort to arguments provided by external criticism, as well as others taken from oldest Greek manuscripts of the Holy Scripture, from versions of the biblical text translated into vernaculars in early centuries and from the patristic evidence of accurate biblical quotations, corroborated with internal criticism evidence.

After relating verse 1 to the narative structure of the entire fragment and underscoring its importance in the narrative architecture of the thematic unit of chapters 7 and 8, I identify the first problem of textual criticism in the existence of two distinct readings «μετὰ ταῦτα» and «καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα», in an attempt to demonstrate the relevance of external and internal textual criticism. From the standpoint of external criticism, the above-mentioned readings must be deemed lectior difficilior, because important sources support both readings. Based on the evidence provided by external criticism, as well as the sources provided by biblical manuscripts, to which is added the evidence provided by thorough examination of inter-sentence conjunctions occurring in the fourth Gospel, corroborating theories already put forth according to which in John’s Gospel the conjunction καὶ has specific uses, different from the synoptic Gospels, I demonstrate that contrary to the text in the last Greek critical edition NA28 of 2012, the version «μετὰ ταῦτα» is much more closer to the Johannine style, discourse and occurence.

The following chapter addresses a much more complex issue of textual criticism, of much greater theological interest: the readings indicating Christ’s attitude when Jews attempt to kill Him. Textual criticism identifies two readings, the former: «οὐ γὰρ ἤθελεν» (for «He would not»), and the latter: «οὐ γὰρ εἶχεν ἐξουσίαν» (for «He could not»). Although the second reading is supported by little evidence from external criticism, it deserves attention because of the theological challenge it poses. I present the arguments of external criticism, then the (almost unanimous) position of experts regarding the authenticity of the reading supported by less evidence. The term ἐξουσία, derived from the verb ἔξεστιν, occurs quite frequently in the Gospel of John; originally it indicated “ability to carry out an action”, and in a Christological sense it denotes absolute power, absolute freedom (a divine attribute designating the unconditional, absolute ability to act freely, an ability peculiar to God and stemming from His divinity). The two readings pose hermeneutical and doctrinal problems: according to the first version, Christ of His own accord decided not to travel through Judaea, although He could do that if He had wanted so; according to the second reading, Jesus could not walk across Judaea, even if He had wanted to. Asserting that Christ had no power or control on his own life contradicts not only the Gospels but also Christianity itself. Yet St John Chrysostom is the only patristic exegete to dedicate almost an entire homily to explaining the term ἐξουσία found in the fragment under scrutiny.

In the following chapter I emphasize the importance of biblical quotations in patristic writings and especially those of St John Chrysostom, then I investigate the manuscript Homilies or Commentary to the Gospel of John, analysing both the manuscript groups or families, and the previous discussions produced by textual criticism on this work, and show that to St John Chrysostom the term ἐξουσία is essential, as it is the main term around which the entire commentary on the Johannine fragment is centered; moreover, a considerable part of Homily 48 is dedicated to the exegesis of this term. This reading, however, poses problems related to the Johannine style. From an exegetical perspective, this fragment contradicts the discoursive structure of the Johannine episode, because in the same chapter Jesus is present in Jerusalem, in the Temple, which implicitly shows He has the power to do so. St John Chrysostom transcends the contradiction in narrative structure by placing the problem at a doctrinal level. In this fragment St John Chrysostom applies to Johannine text the method of partitive exegesis, a method that determines the adherence of a text to the orthodoxia of the first ecumenical council. This method, named the exegesis of dual natures or partitive exegesis, separates or divides the major Christological biblical texts as denoting either Christ’s human acts or His divinity, according to the difficulty of the fragment examined. The quality of St John Chrysostom’s argumentation in partitive exegesis lies not in the fact that he regards the actions of Christ at different times as either wholly divine or wholly human, which would raise further problems concerning hypostatic union, but in the fact that the actions «ὡς Θεός» reveal Christ as the divine, intangible Logos while actions «ὡς ἄνθρωπος» reveal divine economy, thus maintaining the hypostatic union whose doctrine was systematized at Chalcedon.

The conclusion drawn from the Chrysostomic approach is that in partitive exegesis, a method applied as early as the third century, the phrase «οὐ γὰρ εἶχεν ἐξουσίαν» does not designate any inability of Christ, but reveals His human nature and divine economy, indicating that the eternal Logos is both man and God. This argumentation places the reading «οὐ γὰρ εἶχεν ἐξουσίαν» long before the advent of partitive exegesis, which could have explained the theological difficulty and would not have led to any alteration of the text. Therefore this reading must be employed as an argument of Johannine Christology, and is one of the most important Christological phrases in the fourth Gospel.

Any exegetic or hermeneutic approach must have in view authenticity and the possible versions on which a commentary is based, in order to reveal various or even divergent possibile interpretations due to the known readings. The image of Christ as outlined by a patristic commentary is greatly influenced by the source employed; consequently exegesis, as well as patristic and dogmatic research must take textual criticism into account and even use it.


Pr. Alexandru-Corneliu ARION „Interpretatio christiana” a unei mari provocări spirituale a lumii de azi: reîncarnarea

Summary: “Interpretatio christiana” of one of today’s major spiritual challenges: Reincarnation

Spiritual stances of Eastern origin are increasingly embraced by various Christian groups of contemporary (self-described as postmodern and post-Christian) society. Among the insinuations of this spirituality, the most pernicious is the belief in the transmigration of souls or reincarnation, specific to Indian religions and circumscribing a pantheism with manifold manifestations. Hence the present study’s focus on the model proposed by Hinduism, whose heterodoxies and engendered sects have started to be accomodated by Christian communities in Europe and other continents. Belief in transmigration is one of the basic tenets of Hinduist Weltanschauung. Even though this is not a specifically Indian doctrine, due to the Hinduist model it holds a central place since many religious beliefs sharing it originate from this ancient Asian religion. The transmigration of the soul postulates the passing of souls into successive bodily forms after death, based on four assumptions: man possesses a soul that can be separated from the body; other beings (animals, plants) also possess such souls; these souls can migrate from one body into another; the number of souls is stable and final, it cannot increase or decrease, with the addition or disappearance of souls. Unlike the belief in a new embodiment after death, posited by some of the ancient philosophies or religions (Egyptian, Greek-Roman, Zoroastrian) or the mystery religions (Orphic, Pitagoreic), the Indian theory of transmigration is distinguished from the other above-mentioned religions by the essentially ethical mechanism governing it. It is the well-known principle of karman, a term designating the deeds themselves (karma) as well as their effects. The exaggerated importance given to offerings in the old sacerdotal writings (Brahmanas), entailed the conviction that any act, simply by engendering a result, was part of an endless series of causes and effects.

Another tenet regarding transmigration (samsara), already present in the oldest Upanishads, states that the samsāric cycle is started by desire: «[man’s] effort will be as great as his desire; his deeds will be as great as his efforts; his rewards will be as great as his deeds». Of course, the first desire is to experience the physical world and thus illusion, and “the rewards” are the outcome lived in a future life, according to karmic retribution. Karma directy connects desire to samsāra, resulting in complete interdependence between past lives, the present life and the future one. By virtue of unfailing karmic retribution, every thought, word or act in this life will be repaid in kind in the future one. Applied within a Christian context, this theory of recurrent lives seems to offer certain advantages, by explaining the urgent (and often aporetic) problems of suffering, “spontaneous memories” or the moral-philosophical one: the law of karma and reincarnation seem to achieve perfect justice in the world. According to the karma, there is no forgiving for past mistakes, but only an increase in one’s karmic debt, with consequeces in the future life. By reincarnation, every soul is justly rewarded or punished, in terms of both quantity and quality, for its his previous lives. From the Christian standpoint, there is a crucial difference between the impersonal principle of karma and the moral assessment of one’s deeds, which will be made at the end of times by our Saviour Jesus Christ. Through grace Christianity has abolished karma, that is submission to the blind laws of universal existence. With regard to the parable of the eleventh-hour laborers, what means necessity to “settle the debt”? The central message of Christianity is precisely Christ’s victory over death and hell. There is even a logical objection against reincarnation: as previous and present personalities are not consistent, one can learn nothing from past existences nor “grow with every thought or action”.

Scripture-based arguments are far from convincing, because there are quite few passages that might validate reincarnation, and even those actually disprove it as they express a reality completely different from transmigration. The texts invoked, according to which Elijah is allegedly John the Baptist (Lk 1, 17) or John is the Elijah who was to come (Mt 11, 14) do not justify the karman theory. Admittedly, St John «shall go before Christ, in the power and spirit of Elijah» (Lk 1, 17), but this is not to say that the prophet Elijah will be his reincarnation, because the Saviour Himself states that Elijah will precede His second coming: « Indeed Elijah will come and restore all things» (Mt 17, 11). This is actually a classical example of biblical typology: St John the Baptist is a “type” of Elijah. He performed the role of Elijah, as it had been prophesized by Malachy (cf. Mal 3, 1) for John had the same spiritual insights as prophet Elijah, but not the same soul. About suffering, the Christian religion has a clear answer, in keeping with the other specific doctrinal tenets: suffering is the effect of sin, of man’s estrangement from God, it is the result of disobedience to supernatural divine law, as well as to the law imprinted by divinity on nature. Regarding those who have not sinned yet (children) and are in pain, the Holy Scripture speaks of the possibility of a hereditary transmission of the effects of sin from parents or even forefathers. In the Christian view, suffering is not seen as misfortune, but it may even be edifying when it is viewed as a cross, in the perspective of resurrection. In other words, suffering is not equated with evil. Unlike Oriental religions, Christianity does not shun suffering (does not propose some therapy to evade it, as do Yoga, Zen etc.), but on the contrary it attempts to sublimate it, to make the most of it by turning it into the “royal path to salvation”. Thus the fundamental difference between Christianity and the Oriental religions lies in their differing views on life and, implicitly, on suffering: Christianity loves and proclaims life, while Buddhism and related religions disregard it and, each in its own way, seek to abolish it.

The main doctrinal reasons why Christian religion is completely at odds with the theory of karma and reincarnation lies in the Christian dogma of the Lord’s Incarnation, of judgment, and of bodily resurrection. Thus, according to the Bible, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is the only opportunity for man to regain communion with his Creator. This sacrifice is God’s gift to mankind, an undeserved gift, called grace in Christian theology. Without this grace, no man can obtain salvation, based on his own merits or autonomously, as claim the adherents of the above-mentioned theory. Mircea Eliade shows that the liberation brought about by yoga is not a gift or a state of grace, but is always due to the sustained efforts of the yogi. Unlike the Christian doctrine of salvation – as regaining of the original communion between man and God −, the final goal of Hinduist eschatology is liberation, a state that can only be expressed in negative terms, as definitive cessation of the endless cycle of rebirths. Christianity asserts that God assumed a human body (so loathed by Oriental religions) and it was only through this body that He redeemed us from the dominion of sin and death. The tenet that strongest opposes reincarnation is the very foundation of Christian doctrine: the resurrection. «And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; you are yet in your sins» (1 Cor 15, 17). Reincarnation presupposes a causal chain of lives dominated by suffering, where man is subject to the terror of karman and the laws of the cosmos. By contrast, Christ’s ressurection offers the possibility of freedom from the fatality of nature that leads to death, and opens a horizon worthy of us and our aspirations. The critical difference between the Christian teachings and reincarnation is that according to the latter, man sheds the body like a worn-out garment, while the soul takes on successive bodies; in the Christian view, however, man has a unique, irrepeatable existence – a truth logically derived from the reality of the resurrection. Christ, the human archetype, resurrected with the same body in which He died.

Christian theology, stressing the uniqueness of human existence, teaches that each soul undergoes a particular judgment immediately after death, and is consequently sent to either bliss or torment, and at the end of the world another judgment – the general one – will pas a definitive verdict, on both souls and the resurrected bodies. Of course, the judgment with eternal consequences hides a great mystery. But this mystery is worthy of the realities of man and God. The mystery lies in the fact that man forever stands before God and yet he may never repent, he may remain unresponsive to God’s love. It is the mystery of freedom, which can choose its own bondage, and may agree with this bondage, for “even eternal hell asserts man’s value and eternal freedom” (Father D. Stăniloae). By rejecting the notions of karma and reincarnation, Christianity stresses the uniqueness of life in this world, subject to the judgment of God: « And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment» (Heb 9, 27). In conclusion, the historical process has value only if it is singular, if the “wheel of history does not turn.” This uniqueness of historical occurrences is lent by the very Incarnation and Resurrection of Christ. Christ’s Resurrection is the inaugural and decisive event of the Last Judgment. Thus any theory or philosophy claiming the recurrence of history – such as karman and reincarnation – is invalidated.

Acest site folosește cookie-uri pentru a îmbunătăți navigarea.