NR. 1 – 2016

Rezumate Studii Teologice 2016.1

Pr. Vasile Doru FER Considerații biblice și patristice asupra inspirației Sfintei Scripturi

Summary: Biblical and Patristic Considerations about the inspiration of the Holy Scripture

The Holy Scripture is the collection of holy books that the Church calls sacred and canonical, that is infallible and normative for Christian faith and morality, this is because it was written under divine effect. Considered as a whole, the Holy Scripture contains the Revelation of God, the word which He addressed to the human race for salvation, transmitted first orally and then in writing. This setting in writing of the Revelation was made under the influence of the Holy Spirit charisma, namely by inspiration. Thoroughly analysing the sublimity of the truths in the content of the Scripture, as well as their priceless value for the Christian life, we find that these books are rightly named holy, whether we consider their origin or their content.

As a source of supernatural divine revelation, the Holy Scripture contains the double collection of sacred inspired books, aiming the guidance of Christians on the path that leads to salvation. This consideration has led to their unanimous honor and use in the Church since the first centuries of Christianity.

Since the divine origin of the Holy Scripture, we insisted on clarifying the concept of biblical inspiration, according to which we mentioned that the Holy Scripture is mainly helped by God, who enabled people to proceed in writing the sacred words that He had shared. This prompted biblical researchers to also give the Holy Scripture the appellation of “word of God”.

Defining the concept of inspiration, we say that it is the extraordinary and supernatural effect exercised by God over reason and human will, in order to discover the divine truths, or in a narrower sense, it means the divine action in the composition of the sacred books, namely the biblical inspiration. The inspiration of the Holy Scripture is therefore the special divine action by which the sacred authors are put in the condition of mind required to write the books that make up the Holy Scripture. Regarded in his intimate being, the inspiration of the Holy Scripture is a mysterious theandric process, held under a harmonious collaboration between the divine power and the hagiographer’ s human nature. Consequently, it is the result of cooperation of two elements: the divine factor, represented by lead author, being God, and the human factors (secondary cause), represented by the sanctified author. The divine main factor consists of a special or extraordinary divine grace, namely of a divine power or work acting on the soul of the sanctified author as a blow, causing and enabling him to transmit in writing what God wants to transmit. The second factor consists of the human nature, by whose collaboration with the divine factor, there occurs the written drafting of the Holy Scripture.

By such action God is the main author of the Holy Scripture, He Himself being the author of the book’s content, of truths and ideas contained in it, and man, the secondary author, he who establishes in perceptible human form, in continuous and active cooperation and guidance of God. Thus, the books of the Holy Scripture have double authority: divine, because they are under divine inspiration, and human because their authors are trustworthy and their books recognized as authentic and complete. When the Church proposes the divine inspiration as truth, it relies on the divine revelation. Actually, inspiration is a truth, that is attested both in the Holy Scripture, in both Testaments, and in the Holy Tradition. Therefore, the Holy Scripture, by its nature, is inspired by the Holy Spirit, the action of inspiration of the Holy Spirit upon the sanctified authors being made by communicating the divine will. In other words, the biblical inspiration means the divine action upon the sanctified authors through whom there was written the Word of God, word with undeniable authority in matters of faith.


Pr. Viorel-Cristian POPA Aspectul universal al alegerii lui Israel ca popor al lui Iahve

Summary: The Universal Aspect of Israel’s Choice as the People of Yahweh

If at the beginning of the human history, man was expelled from Paradise and doomed to death for disobedience and insubordination, and later for the same sins, was punished by flood, this time God decides to save all existence by choosing Israel. Thus, the choice is part of the divine plan for the salvation of the world. The calling and the election of Israel is God’s response to the world’s crisis, a crisis that occurred because people did not accept their role in a world where God is sovereign. Thus, a reason for the existence of Israel is that at the time of its election, creation was under curse for disobedience, but God wanted all human beings to be saved by knowing the Truth. In fact, God ruled all nations even before the rise of Israel and will continue to do so until the end of time. God’s chosen people has the task of being a beacon of light to the Gentiles, so that, in relationship with Yahweh, to serve all humanity. Thus, by divine election, Israel was meant to play a decisive role in the history of salvation and to have a very special mission. In this sense, Israel’s mission was not so much active, but especially passive. The testimony of the people’s faith through their own lifestyle represented a way of attracting the Gentiles to God.

The study presents the concept of choice, based on specific biblical terminology. Although the religious belief that Israel was the individual property of Yahweh goes back in time to the earliest beginnings of Israel, the use of the term, as a theological expression of this belief, suddenly appears for the first time in the Deuteronomy. None of the Old Testament’s sources dating before the Deuteronomy refer directly to the choice of a people of Yahweh, and yet, on the other hand, the exegetes of the Old Testament have always recognized that the religion of ancient Israel was from the outset based on a sole and exclusive relationship between this people and Yahweh. Other exegetes, starting from the definition of the chosen people as a group separated from the other nations, a people designated for a special relationship with God, see this belief as a central characteristic of Israel’s faith beginning with Moses. It is true that the study of a particular word cannot provide conclusions able to clarify comprehensively the question of the existence or nonexistence of a particular religious belief of Israel. In the academic literature on this topic, there appeared three views of the exegetes that we present in this study.

Obviously, the concept of „chosen people” existed around mid-8th century B.C., even though the term itself is recorded only later. This is proven by the words of prophet Amos, but especially the post-exile revelation that includes several mentions of the election of Israel by Yahweh. Through the voice of the prophets, God addresses a particular people, which He declares to be His, to whom He reveals Himself and whom He promises to lead away from Egypt, to a land of His choice. Thus the election of Israel by Yahweh is certain, although the purpose and true reason for this choice might have remained unknown to those first addressed by God. As a motivation of the choice, the biblical exegetes could not find another one than that of the infinite love of God for His creation. Another motivation cannot be identified. The act of the divine election is analogous to the choosing of a wife by a man. In this case, love is the ultimate criterion of choice. The event of Israel’s exodus from Egypt is often seen as a manifestation of God’s love for this people. Israel is called sometimes divine son, but this appellation was accepted because of the spiritual role that Israel had in the world. Between God and Israel was established the same type of relationship that exists between a father and a son. Following this spiritual adoption, Israel would best define itself as “light to the Gentiles”. Thereafter, the divine election was made in an universal perspective. It frames in God’s plan that has a dimension which includes all creation. Israel is called to a ministry through which God intends to accomplish the salvation of all men, the perfection of all creation. The redemption was promised to all the descendants of Adam and on which have extended the consequences of the Fall.

There is a path of salvation that starts from the fallen Adam and goes till Christ. This path does not exclude anyone and is not limited to a single people. Israel is called to a specific ministry suitable for the historical moment. Its ministry consists in the revelation of the only true God to the people that they had forgotten. The mission of the chosen people was twofold. On the one hand, it was to reflect in the world the blessings of the unique relationship with God, and secondly, to call all the people to the knowing of this God and to the following of His ways. This mission leads to the passage from the relationship God-Israel to the relationship God-nations. Therefore, instead of being considered a privilege or a favour, the election of Israel for ministry must be considered a mission, a specifically mandate with a special responsibility. All nations are called to salvation, on the path opened and revealed to them by the God of Israel. The holy people is a model for the others, which in their turn are expected to raise their eyes to the “mountain of the Lord’s temple” and undertake a similar spiritual ascension. The Law was given to Israel, but the divine judgment is universal. Everything connecting the Old Law to a particular people will be abolished; national borders around Israel will give way to the whole human race, to enjoy the benefits of fulfilled promise. Israel’s privileged status will be abolished, once this purpose is achieved.

Almost all the Old Testament prophets speak about the missionary dimension of Israel, God’s chosen people and about the universal character of salvation. The messianic prophecies recorded in the prophet’s books present the salvation as a spiritual universal new order, and a completely opposite state to the state of sinfulness. The prophets repeatedly mention the conversion of other nations to the religion of the true God. They express the hope that sooner or later, the Gentiles will understand their mistaken path, will abandon idolatry and will adhere to the worship of the One God. The fact that the Israelites left the geographical confines of Israel, at different times and for different reasons, contributed to the dissemination of their faith and transformed Judaism from a national into a universal religion. Historical events occurring in Israel are relevant not only to this country and nation, but to the entire humankind as a whole. Christ, born in the Jewish people, became the Savior of all mankind, irrespective of nation, gender or social position. While for the same insubordinance, God had previously banished Adam from Paradise and punished the sinners by the Flood, this time He calls the entire mankind to salvation. God reveals Himself to all.


Radu CARP Cât de diferite sunt modelele naționale privind studiul religiei în Europa? Cadrul normativ, perspectiva comparată și jurisprudența curții constituționale

Summary: How different are the National Models on the Study of Religions (SR) in Europe? The legal framework, the comparative perspective and the jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court

The first part of the article is dedicated to the SR according to the Council of Europe perspective. There are two recommendations of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers concerningthe SR: Recommendation no. 170 (2005) on Intercultural and inter-faith dialogue: initiatives and responsibilities of local authorities and Recommendation no. 1804 (2007) on State, religion, secularity and human rights. Education in general is defined by the European Court on Human Rights (the Court) as “the whole process whereby, in any society, adults endeavor to transmit their beliefs, culture and other values to the young, whereas teaching or instruction refers in particular to the transmission of knowledge and to intellectual development” (Campbell and Cosans v. the United Kingdom). Article 2 of Protocol no. 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights refers explicitly to the SR. The Court referred on many occasions to this norm and to establish a framework for the SR. For instance, sex education (Kjeldsen, Busk Madsen and Pedersen v. Denmark) or compulsory ethics classes (Appel-Irrgang v. Germany) that offended parents’ religious sentiments. The Court examined the religious teaching based on a Sunni interpretation of Islam clashing with religious convictions of parents belonging to Alevi faith (Hasan and Eylem Zengin v. Turkey) and the religious teaching of Christianity clashing with philosophical convictions of non-Christian parents (Folgerø and Others v. Norway). It follows from all these cases that the State must ensure that information or knowledge included in the curriculum provided by the educational system is conveyed in an objective and pluralistic manner. If this does not happen, the State shall grant children exemption from the classes in accordance with the parents’ religious or philosophical convictions (Folgerø and Others v. Norway), but Article 2 of Protocol no. 1 does not oblige the State to provide Ethics classes in case of exemption (Grzelak v. Poland). The most recent case where Article 2 of Protocol no. 1 was discussed by the ECHR is Lautsi v. Italy.

The second part of the article is dedicated to the SR from the EU perspective. EU Member states have the exclusive competence to organize their own national systems of education. The EU may act in support of the Member States in the area of education, but these actions are in the form of recommendations, without any mandatory character. Common statements of the ministries of education (as the Bologna Declaration) may be issued or strategies that consider also the education dimension could be drafted (as the Europa 2020) but these documents do not have legal effects and they do not impose obligations that could lead to sanctions, if not respected. SR is therefore a part of the EU Member States sovereignty; there are no EU competences on this matter. According to the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union, as changed by the Treaty of Lisbon, the EU has competence to carry out actions to support, coordinate, or supplement the actions of the Member States in the area of education (Article 6). Education is not among the areas where the EU has an exclusive competence or the competences are shared with the Member States. Another reference to education is Article 165, paragraph 1 of the same Treaty. EU Member states have the exclusive competence to organize their own national systems of education. The EU may take actions to support the Member States in the area of education, but these actions are in the form of recommendations, without any mandatory character. Common statements of the ministries of education (as the Bologna Declaration) may be issued or strategies that consider also the education dimension could be drafted (as the Europa 2020) but these documents do not have legal effects and they do not impose obligations that could lead to sanctions, if not respected. SR is therefore a part of the EU Member States sovereignty; there are no EU competences on this matter. There is no SR European model. There are only some categories that circumscribe national models that are very similar and even identical.

The third part of the article analyzes SR in public, private and confessional schools from EU Member States. There are 6 categories: 1) SR confessional, mandatory study discipline (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Malta, Romania); 2) SR non-confessional, mandatory study discipline (Denmark, Sweden); 3) SR confessional, optional study discipline (Bulgaria, The Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain); 4) SR non-confessional, optional study discipline (Estonia, Slovenia); 5) SR confessional / non-confessional, optional / mandatory study discipline (The Netherlands, United Kingdom); 6) SR non-confessional, as part of other study disciplines (France).

A relevant question is why there are 6 categories where countries with common characteristics are included and not as many as the EU Member States or a single model of SR. The current regulation of SR in Europe illustrates very well the model of “natural convergence” (as opposed to “artificial convergence”, a process generated by the belonging of some States to a supra-national organization, i.e. European Union) or “original convergence” (as opposed to the “ongoing convergence”, as a result of European Union or Council of Europe influence that leads inevitably to the emergence of a jus commune in Europe) of legal systems. The common features of some national legal systems on SR are due to historical circumstances closely connected with the development of State-Church models in Europe. There is a close connection between the State-Church cooperation model and the statute of SR as a confessional, mandatory study discipline, while there is a clear connection between the State-Church complete separation model and the statute of SR as non-confessional, part of other study disciplines. Obviously, these connections do not lead to a complete superposition of a specific State-Church model with a certain category of SR, but nevertheless they are the result of the same historical circumstances that have led to similar legal developments.

The fourth part of the article concerns the status of SR in Romania. The legal framework of SR from 1990 up to now is presented and also the relevant jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court that discussed the issue of SR three times. Special interest is attached to the most recent case involving SR, the Decision no. 669 / 2014. This decision generated a public debate where both religions and civil society were actively engaged. The conclusion is that the Constitutional Court denied its own jurisprudence related to the status of SR in 2014, but in fact it did not recommend a radical change of it. The fact that it did not explain enough why it departed from its own previous interpretations was the reason for a rapid mobilization of the religions, especially ROC and the civil society (mainly APOR and ASLC, the first in favor and the second against SR). The discussion about what could be the content of the norm that will transpose the decision of the Constitutional Court turned into a debate about the opportunity of the SR in schools in general. It was a public debate that had been avoided when the SR was reintroduced in schools at the beginning of the 1990s but it was inevitable after almost 25 years of SR being part of the curricula, in the context of slow but constantly increasing secularization and diminished levels of trust in ROC. In fact, the introduction of SR in public schools after the fall of Communism was a decision of educational policy, agreed by the State and by the religions. It was not accompanied by a strategy and by complementary measures taking into account its particular statute – a study discipline that is neither mandatory, nor optional, as other study disciplines. The result was a continuous controversy related to its role in the curricula, the content of the manuals, teachers etc. In particular, the issue of SR teachers is extremely sensitive and religions have been trying to find solutions to it since the introduction of SR as a study discipline in the public schools. It was very hard to overcome the lack of qualified teachers of SR at the beginning of the 1990s. The current number of SR teachers is the result of establishing special types of training SR teachers in the theological higher education, but there are still a significant number of people belonging to the clergy that teach and have ecclesiastical activities in the same time. The rapid growth of theological higher education did not contribute to a better training and professionalization of SR teachers. The recent developments have convinced all the parties involved – State authorities, religions, civil society – that there is a need to discuss all these issues with a more profound approach. All sides favored the debate that started with the latest decision of the Constitutional Court on SR. This debate was unanimously considered to be a basis for future legitimation grounds. The result of the application forms for SR was a surprise for the religions but also for the opponents of SR. It seems that the parents were not very much influenced by the public debate, but rather they agree with SR as it is taught in particular schools and high-schools. This public debate shows that it is possible to have two new kinds of mobilization that were underestimated by ROC: the rallying of all religions for a common purpose and the efficient involvement of that part of the civil society close to the Church. The new legal form of the SR is quite paradoxical: SR is part of the common core and this is an argument to its being considered as a mandatory study discipline, but the parents / students / tutors shall express their will if they want SR to be taught and this is an argument to be considered as an optional study discipline. In our opinion, being or not being part of the common core of the curricula is essential for a study discipline to be considered as part of the mandatory study disciplines. If this interpretation is accepted, the status of SR in Romania has not been modified by the recent changes of the legal framework. Therefore, Romania is still in the category of European countries with SR confessional, mandatory study discipline with the opt-out possibility.


Daniel LEMENI Între deșert și agora. Sf. Antonie cel Mare și remodelarea filozofiei antice grecești

Summary: Between desert and agora. St Anthony the Great and the revisiting of ancient Greek philosophy

The Life of Saint Anthony exemplifies several hallmarks of Saint Athanasius’ episcopate. The best-known one is the fight of the Alexandrian bishop against the Arian heresy. It has been often stated that Saint Athanasius wrote the Life of Saint Anthony in order to counter Arianism, a heresy that had become widespread in 4th-century Egypt. As a monk, Abba Anthony best epitomizes human deification, which makes the Egyptian hermit a personification of the dogmatic tenets of Nicea. By presenting the ideal figure of the saint, in the person of Abba Anthony, St Athanasius was actually attempting to gain the support of monastic circles in his fight against Arianism. Abba Anthony is a living testimony to Nicene Orthodoxy and implicitly a promoter of the theological agenda which St Athanasius endeavored to impose in his eparchy. Also, the Church writer explicitly expressed his intention to enrol the ascetic movement in the service of his institutional policy, a policy whose major aim was to achieve the administrative unity of the Egyptian Church. The ascetic movement was, therefore, engaged in promoting the theological and political goals pursued by St Athanasius the Great, which made Abba Anthony into an expounder of the ecclesiastical policy carried out by the Alexandrian bishop within his eparchy. Abba Anthony was placed in the service of the Church, while Egyptian monasticism was “affiliated” to the ecclesiastical agenda of St Athanasius. His political and theological vision deeply pervaded his writing, so it would be naive to read it as a mere historical account. In other words, the Life of Saint Anthony offers a “transfigured, rather than distorted” (S. Rubenson) view on Abba Anthony’s biography, a view informed by the political and theological agenda of St Athanasius.

Thus we may assume that the Alexandrian bishop was not interested only in a Christian audience. As bishop of an eparchy populated of Christians as well as pagans, we believe that St Athanasius also targeted a pagan audience, preponderantly including the intellectual and philosophical elite of the times. This assumption is supported by the final paragraph in the Life of Saint Anthony: “Read these words, therefore, to the rest of the brethren that they may learn what the life of monks ought to be… And if need be, read this among the heathen, that even in this way they may learn that the Christians who truly serve Jesus Christ and religiously believe in Him, prove that the demons, whom the Greeks themselves think to be gods, are no gods” (Life of Saint Anthony XCIII). This exhortation to address the pagans (especially the pagan intellectual elite), expresses, in our opinion, the complex approach of the Alexandrian bishop in the Life of Saint Anthony. Regrettably, with a few notable exceptions (Samuel Rubenson, Arthur Urbano, Philip Rousseau or David Brakke), the relationship between Saint Anthony and ancient philosophy has been insufficiently explored by exegetes, while in Romania such research is virtually absent. The tenet we put forth in this paper is that Saint Athanasius, by constructing the image of abba Anthony, intended to “outshine” the function and role of the spiritual master of ancient philosophy. In other words, through the figure of Abba Anthony, the Alexandrian bishop caused an irreversible decline of the figure of the spiritual master, as shaped by the Greek-Roman Antiquity.

As we know, Saint Athanasius openly showed his hostility to the ancient Greek paideia, as he doubted the benefits which Greed education could possible have for Christians. This is why, in his apologetic writings, mainly Against the Arians and On the Incarnation, he put forth a Christian philosophy envisaged as an alternative to the ancient Greek culture. In these early works, Saint Athanasius carries out his anti-heathen polemics, which was part of a much wider controversy between the competing schools of philosophy of Greek-Roman Antiquity, on the one hand, and Christianity on the other hand, a controversy centered on the contents of true philosophy. Saint Athanasius rejected the assertion that true wisdom could be found in the Greek culture of the Antiquity. By so doing, the Alexandrian bishop questioned the pedagogic authority of ancient philosophers, precisely in order to encourage Christian asceticism and Nicene Orthodoxy. He reiterated this anti-pagan attitude in the Life of Saint Anthony, where Abba Anthony is described as the true philosopher. In other words, the task of the teacher, or spiritual master of ancient philosophy, was taken over in the 4th century by the Christian heremit, namely Abba Anthony. By rejecting the ancient Greek paradigm, Saint Athanasius endeavored to diminish its influence on the Christians, as well as the pagans living in his diocese. Of course, this was not Saint Athanasius’ only purpose in writing the Life of Saint Anthony, but our point is that this hagiographic writing was part of a much ampler strategy, by which the Alexandrian bishop opposed the pagan culture of the Antiquity.

From the very beginning of his work dedicated to the Egyptian hermit, he stated that the Greek paideia had played no role in the education of young Anthony. Paraphrasing Arthur Urbano, we might say that instead of reading Homer, young Anthony preferred to read the Holy Scripture. Moreover, this polemic culminates in the three successive encounters between Abba Anthony and the pagan philosophers. During the three meetings, Abba Anthony is constantly described as a simple, “uneducated” hermit, deploring the “demonstration by arguments” employed by philosophers, and replacing it with the inworkings of faith. In this context, the Alexandrian bishop – through the words of Abba Anthony – harshly attacks ancient Greek philosophy. As we know, relying on revelation and faith is, to a philosopher’s mind, tantamount to accepting irrational principles, so from the standpoint of ancient philosophy Abba Anthony appeared as an “irrational”, “unreasonable” man. However, in his three encounters with the philosophers, Saint Athanasius casts Abba Anthony as the “uneducated” monk precisely in order to point out that he does not engage in a debate, but speaks plainly. Clearly, “the voice speaking behind the uneducated Anthony, is that of the learned Athanasius” (A. Urbano), who, on the one hand, harshly criticizes the cultural elevation of Antiquity pedagogy, and on the other hand, asserts the worth of the ascetic model epitomized by Abba Anthony.

Ultimately, this competition between ancient philosophers and Christian ascetics ends with the definite victory of Saint Anthony, who tells his philosopher interlocutors: “So the inworking through faith is better and stronger than your professional arguments” (Life of Saint Anthony LXXVI) since “we Christians therefore hold the mystery not in the wisdom of Greek arguments, but in the power of faith richly supplied to us by God through Jesus Christ” (Life of Saint Anthony LXXVII). Based on the image of the saint, thus “constructed” in the Life of Saint Anthony, one may assert that the idea which St Athanasius intends to propagate within pagan intellectual milieus is obvious: from now on the Christian monk, epitomized by Abba Anthony, is the true philosopher, while Christian asceticism is the true philosophical life. In this case, the tenet put forth by R. Reitzenstein, who sees in the Life of Saint Anthony a Christian version of the Life of Pythagoras, cannot be defended convincingly. This is why we debunk this theory.

Contemporary scholars investigating early monasticism speak of the replacement of the pagan paradigm of wisdom, with a Christian paradigm of saintliness. The Life of Saint Anthony may be perceived as a programmatic text, by which the Alexandrian bishop endeavored to redefine and amend the classical paideia in order to gain access to a non-Christian audience, significantly marked by the mentality of pagan Atiquity. The figure of the pagan wise man is now presented in the guise of the saint, epitomized by Abba Anthony in the Egyptian desert. In other words, by reconfiguring the education paradigm shaped by the Antiquity, Saint Athanasius attempted to convince the pagan philosophical milieus – adhering to Neoplatonism and Neopythagoreanism – that Christian saintliness can be an equally good alternative to, or rather a better choice than, the wisdom of ancient philosophy. Abba Anthony gained through asceticism what the ancient philosophers had been unable to acquire through their notorious wisdom: the purity imparted by chastity. From then on, Christian ascetics, epitomized by Abba Anthony, constitute the new order of Christian philosophers.

Far from being a mere Christian version of the Life of Pythagoras, the hermit’s biography written by St Athanasius can be seen as an apologetic treatise, aiming to subvert or at least diminish an illustrious philosophical tradition, namely the Neo-Pythagorean philosophy, then blooming. Moreover, the Life of Saint Anthony is arguably a text that promoted an integral ascetic model, that is, a model addressing a Christian audience, as well as a pagan intellectual elite. Starting from this antagonism between the two competing models, opposing Christian asceticism (Saint Anthony) to pagan philosophy (Pythagoras), the conclusion we put forth in the present study is that Abba Anthony decisively contributed to subverting the model of pagan philosophy, in late Christian Antiquity. To sum up, Abba Anthony is a novel instantiation of the venerable figure of the spiritual master present in the tradition of ancient philosophy – a figure that perfects this role and takes it further.


Pr. Nichifor TĂNASE Estetica apofatismului. Hristofaniile și strălucirea enipostatică a Luminii dumnezeiești în fețele luminoase ale asceților

Summary: The aesthetics of apophaticism. Christophanies and the enhypostatic reflection of the divine Light in the luminous countenance of the ascetics

Our study aims to undertake a brief biblical, hagiographic and patristic analysis of theophanies / Christophanies, in order to emphasize man’s ability to see God, as postulated by the Byzantine hesychast theology, a continuation of the spirituality of the old Desert Fathers. The created nature is able to approach the Unapproachable One. The Taboric theophany epitomizes the purpose for man’s creation: partaking of the divine life, achieving union with God through the divine energies or the grace – as it was achieved in the human and deified body of Christ. St Gregory Palamas stresses, however, that the divine Light is not perceptible through the senses, so cannot be contemplated by the physical eyes. In order to be granted this kind of sight, man has to undergo a spiritual transformation brought about by the power of the Holy Spirit. This is how the three apostles were able to see the Taboric Light: «they were changed», St Gregory says, «and thus they became able to contemplate the very change» undergone by their senses (Homily XXXIV). The divine light is thus visible to the physical eyes of the body and was actually seen by the eyes of the Apostles during the Lord’s Transfiguration, though only briefly. Like St Basil, he invokes the beauty (κάλλος) of divine nature, the splendor and grace radiating from this light (reminding of St Irinaeus), which shone of Moses’ face and through which he spoke to God. St Macarios, too, states that the same light imprinted on Moses’ face now shines within the souls of the saints (Homily V, 10; cf. Tr. I, 3, 7). However, Moses simply bore or was granted this glory, while Christ possesses it from eternity. St Gregory identifies the divine Light with God’s energies, quoting the words of Saints Basil the Great and Gregory the Theologian (Theophanes § 9).

According to St Gregory Palamas, the divine uncreated glory, the Heavenly Kingdom, and the divine splendor are one in God and His saints. He distinguishes two stages in the manifestation of the Taboric light: first on Christ’s Face, then as a shining Cloud. Dogmatic theology and mystical theology intersect and overlap in the description of the revelation of Christ’s divine glory, by which St Gregory closely follows the pattern κάθαρσις – φωτισμὸς – θέωσις. Direct contact with God involves partaking of the Triune divine energy, the glory or the grace of the infinite light which Adam lost at the Fall. Salvation means partaking of the divine energies, since – St Gregory Palamas adds – it is only the affluence of divine energies that enable the righteous to shine. The light that radiates is God’s energy or action ad extra, and is closely linked to ascetic life. Although the human person in its entirety (mind, soul and body) participates in this sight, the light so perceived completely transcends our created being. The unique, significant contribution brought by St Symeon the New Theologian was based on his own experience; namely, the fact that the divine Light can be actually contempled by the one who obeys his spiritual director. This light shines both from within, when it is contemplated by the heart (καρδία), and from without, when it is contemplated by the intellect (νοῦς). To St Symeon salvation is placed in relation to man’s thrist to see God’s light. This longing for the contemplation of the divine light is characteristic for the Christian mode of existence (τρόπος ὑπάρξεως). Therefore, «participating (μέθεξις) in the uncreated life and glory» and «contemplating (θέα) the glory» were to St Cyril of Alexandria interchangeable phrases, describing the life in the Kingdom of God. Reiterating the position of Saint Irenaeus, St John Chrysostom insisted on the anthropological implications of theophanies or Christophanies.

This is why salvation is not understood in the ethical sense, but as attainment of Christification. Christ reveals Himself to the world, a process where He is the central figure, holding the highest position. Every manifestation of God is in and through Christ. St Gregory Palamas stressed the Christocentric character of divine economy. Jacob named Peniel, that is, “the face of God”, the place of which he says: «I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved!» (Genesis 32, 30, KJV). Christ is called the Angel of God, Who talked to Moses in the burning bush, stating: «I am that I am». The 14th century hesychast doctrine was based on the awareness that man is called to engage in direct, unmediated communion with God even in this earthly life. True knowledge of God is granted to those who proved worthy of contemplating Christ in His glory, seeing God face to face, and partaking of His life. The ones who feel the divine grace in both soul and body are righteous persons, and if they retain this grace, their bodies are sanctified, and their remains become holy relics.

The distinction between φύσις and πρώσοπον, posited by St Athanasius of Sinai, led to the conclusion that face-to-face contemplation is the sight of the Person of the Incarnate Word. This sight of the luminous face of God as it turns to each man, the sight of the Transfigured Christ, acquires a theological structure in the teachings of St Gregory Palamas and the definitions of grace provided by the 14th-century councils. The light of His glory precedes the sight of His face, and He can only be seen in the light; living in grace is nothing else but “a progressive experience of the divine Light”. The radiance of divine grace, described by St Macarius of Egypt, shines forth from the face of the Son; it enlightened Paul’s mind although it blinded his eyes, for his body was unable to withstand the brilliance of this Light. This fire constitutes the divine energies, the “rays of godliness”. This light (φῶς) or rather illumination (ἕλλαμψις) can be described as the visible manifestation of divinity – God’s energies or His grace, beyond human comprehension or physical perception. United with the Light dwelling within us, the body participates in, or partakes of, the divine things, experiencing them as inward warmth or light. But the light of the Holy Trinity will shine eschatologically in the multitude of human hypostases, the divine fire within the hearts will resurrect the bodies and everything will become Light, being pervaded by this uncreated splendor.

According to Father Stăniloae, it is the Holy Spirit who leaves the “imprint” of God’s action on the human subjects and imprints Christ’s image on each man. The ascetics elevate this divine image they possess to the likeness to God, and to the deifying love. On their face is visible the light of Christ’s face. They receive the seal of divine beauty, as the psalm says: « lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us» (Ps 4, 9). This is the experience of plenitude of grace, an actual experience of the grace through the senses (πεῖρα ἀισθήσεως), an incessant feeling of the presence of grace, manifest in the contemplation of the divine light. The glory thus partaken of, radiates from the unique, divine-human Person, to Whom the body is not a hindrance. Ascetics are seen in Him by the Father who sees Christ “imprinted” onto them, in His sacrificial and resurrected state. In the face of Christ, the Father sees all those who believe in Him; His face reflects Christ’s care for each of them, while the face of every believer bears the image of Christ.

The concrete experience of the ineffable mystery is possible only if man is able to transcend any intellectual act, that is, become united with God beyond intellectual comprehension. This union is not the outcome of logical abstract thinking, but is achieved by means of a «visible theophany» (ὁρατῆς θεοϕανείας), that is, by man’s partaking of the divine light. Those who become sons of God, as «sons of the resurrection», will always be with the Lord (1 Tim 4, 16) and enjoy «His visible appearance» (τῆς ὁρατῆς αὐτοῦ θεοφανείας) and contemplate His radiance, like the disciples on the Lord’s Transfiguration. This «visible theophany», however, requires spiritualized senses – a doctrine that was unknown to the Antiochenes. Αἴσθησις is the empirical knowledge of God’s indwelling. This term also describes a subtle, dynamic experience of communion in grace, which responds to an ontological necessity of the soul. Empirical theology is tantamount to a mystical realism, transcending the barrier of concepts; the mind is filled empirically with the apophatic dimension, and receives «the One without form». The light of glory shines from the inside to the outside, as an irradiation of the presence of the divine light, in which the body shares, too.

Abba Isaac clearly evokes the experience of Lord’s Transfiguration, in speaking of the monk who withdraws with Christ on the «mountain of solitude» so that the Lord may «reveal the splendor of His countenance and the Light of His face». Looking at some monks that were assembling for the liturgy «with bright eyes and shining faces» Abba Paul the Simple remarked one who appeared «dark», and surrounded by devils; however, as the divine service was completed, he came out of the church «with luminous face and white body». Such visions were not merely inward perceptions, but were revealed by the outward appearance of ascetics. St Mark the Ascetic thus offers us a new understanding of the inner dimension of the light radiating from hesychasts’ bodies, which is not an «imagined» one (not a psychological process!). Christ is present at Baptism in «the inner chamber of the soul’s altar» or «hides within man, in a supreme act of kenosis». However, he points out, «He is „transfigured” for man’s sake, when man becomes worthy of contemplating the divine light» (which explains the somatic aspect – the «shining face» of those able to see God). This inward-outward dynamics of the contemplation of uncreated light (which A. Golitzin reduced to a Nicean ban on representing the exterior visionary experience), is also grasped by the Palamite theology. St Gregory Palamas says that during the Lord’s Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, the Apostles «saw the very grace of the Spirit, which later dwelt within them; for one is the grace of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, which was contemplated even with the bodily eyes, which were open in order to turn those who used to be blind, into seers and contemplators of the uncreated light» (Tr. III, 3, 9). Thus the light of grace «in the past, illumined from the outside (ἔξωθεν) the worthy ones and through their physical eyes conveyed this light to the soul within the body; while now, as the grace dwells inside us, it naturally illumines the soul from within (ἔνδωθεν)» (Tr. I, 3, 38). St Maximos the Confessor, too, says that God is seen in and through Christ. The Word becomes incarnate in us, resurrects and ascends to heaven in us (as He is hidden in man’s heart on the Baptism). When the renewed man «is born with a luminous countenance, Christ Himself resurrects within that man». The coming of Christ in every soul is a reiteration of His historical incarnation, His passions and Resurrection, anticipating the Parousia, the Second Coming («the mystical, non-conceptual evidence of His presence»). Father D. Stăniloae pointed out in his scholia that according to Saint Maximus the contemplation of Christ in the light («receiving His luminous divine coming»), reiterates the Incarnation – Transfiguration – Resurrection within us (Capita theologica et oeconomica II, 29). Christ transforms ascetics «from body into spirit, by means of virtues, that is, beginning the process of their deification, from this earthly life». The “coming” is simultaneous with the “presence” of Christ within us. Again, mystical theology is intrinsically linked and intertwined to sacramental theology, for Christ dwells in man’s heart since the Baptism (Christ is within us, but hidden). There are thus two dimensions of viso Dei in relation to the «measure of the fullness of Christ»: 1) an immanent / transcendent dynamics of Christophanic revelation, and 2) a shift in the manifestation of Christ’s presence from potentiality (δύναμις) to action, or working (ἐνέργεια).

We note that Christophany has a threefold character (Taboric-related to divine economy – interiorized-related to soteriology – eshatological-related to the Parousia), and also presupposes a mystical realism (the deification of human body through the grace pervading it), and cannot be reduced to a mere intellectual mysticism concerning the sight of God. Christ’s dwelling in us presupposes the “imprint” of His τύποι – structures, or forms that reveal Him. A luminous sight of the “prototype” is also tantamount to a achieving in oneself the “original beauty”. The present paper dwells mainly on two aspects: image (the aesthetic one) and deification (the apophatic one). Man becomes a luminous figure, contemplating God’s grace with unveiled face (2 Cor 3, 18). Through the Transfiguration of the Logos within us, the Lord reveals in the spirit, the form (μόρφωσιν) of His Kingdom (the light shining in the face of the visionary ascetics). The paradoxical truth is the following: Man is theopathic. And the Light of Christ’s Face, despite being uncreated and beyond comprehension, can be perceived by human senses (κάθαρσις – φωτισμός – θέωσις). In the words of Father Stăniloae, in the face of Christ, God the Father sees all those who believe in Him; and in the face of every believer, He sees the image of Christ. Once we become Christ’s own, we contemplate God’s glory with unveiled faces, through the transparency of Christ’s body.


Arhim. Policarp CHIȚULESCU Catalogul manuscriselor românești din Biblioteca Sfântului Sinod (I)

Summary: The catalogue of Romanian manuscripts in the Library of the Holy Synod

The Library of the Holy Synod in Bucharest holds important collections of rare books and manuscripts. The collections of the Library were founded by the Patriarch Justinian Marina († 1977), with the support of the first director of the Library, the renowned classic philologist and reverend Dumitru Fecioru.

The books and manuscripts have been gathered across the time from various libraries of some former theological schools, some suppressed by the law of 1893, others after the establishment of the Communist regime in Romania in 1948: The Metropolitan Nifon Seminary, Central Seminary, Theological Institute in Bucharest, also Seminaries in Galați, Buzău and Huși, through acquisitions or donations from important bishops and professors of Theology. Today, the manuscript collection of the Holy Synod Library comprises more than 600 codices.

The efforts of Revd. Dumitru Fecioru focused not only on acquisitions, but also on the scholarly description of this collection. Thus, between 1959 and 1965 he published the descriptions of 164 Romanian manuscripts. These manuscripts are particularly valuable as a result of the efforts to translate into the Romanian language, under the influence of St. Paisius of Neamț (St. Paisius Velichkovsky), classic texts of orthodox spirituality (Philokalic literature).

Since Revd. Dumitru Fecioru managed to catalog only a part of the Romanian manuscripts, we are trying to resume his project, which started almost 60 years ago. The manuscripts described in this short article contain translations into Romanian of the writings belonging to the following saints (the most famous ones): Thalassios of Lebanon, Symeon of Thessalonica, Hesychios of Sinai, Gregory of Sinai, Neilos of Sinai.

The manuscript collection contains codices belonging to Romanian ecclesiastical personalities, mostly hierarchs: Saint Metropolitan Andrei Saguna, metropolitans Calinic Miclescu and Conon Arămescu-Donici (both known bibliophiles), Patriarch Elie Miron Cristea, Melchisedec Ștefănescu, bishop of Roman. Other great bibliophiles were the archbishops Narcis Crețulescu († 1913), historian, whose ex-libris we often meet on codices, and Sofronie Vulpescu Craioveanul († 1923), who donated his rich library to The Metropolitan Nifon Seminary in Bucharest.

Several philokalic manuscripts also come from the library of hermit and priest Daniil Sandu Tudor, founder and animator of the hesychastic movement of Antim (Anthimos) Monastery in the 50’s of the last century. He gathered a number of manuscripts from the Romanian kellia in Mount Athos, which he visited in the period of initiation in Orthodox life. Part of the rich library of Revd. Daniel Sandu Tudor entered the collections of the Holy Synod Library in 1966, four years after the death of her owner in the Aiud prison. Some codices kept the note: „Found at the investigation of Sandu Tudor”, which shows that the library had been confiscated by the Securitate, the Secret Police of the Communist regime.

Since Revd. Daniil wrote verses, akathists, prayers and meditations, it is a wonder that many of the manuscripts containing his writings have survived to this day. In 1968, these manuscripts were recovered from the Securitate and handed over to the Holy Synod Library by Revd. Petroniu Tănase.

A valuable lot of manuscripts was bought in 1961, along with the entire library, from the heirs of the Revd. Gheorghe Ciuhandu, who had a passion for the history of Romanian literature in the Bihor area. Of these manuscripts the great collections of funeral sermons written in Transylvania at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the next, in an authentic Romanian language, are of major importance.

Our investigation revealed new information about some well-known copyists, among them we mention the prolific hieromonk Ioachim Bărbătescu, from Bistrița Monastery, in Vâlcea county. He copied numerous texts and spread them through the monasteries of Wallachia and Oltenia at the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. Information has been revealed about some Romanian monks from Mount Athos, quite unknown in intellectual circles. An extremely rare situation is that of the manuscripts multiplied by women copyists or owners, including the abbess of Văratec Monastery in Moldova. Our interest will also be directed to the manuscripts of renowned Theology professors of the 20th century: Revd. V. Gheorghiu, Revd. Niculae M. Popescu (member of the Romanian Academy), Teodor M. Popescu, V. Loichiță, Revd. Mihai Bulacu, Revd. Mircea Chialda, Revd. Ioan G. Coman, Revd. Constantin Galeriu, Revd. Sebastian Chilea, Revd. Cicerone Iordăchescu, Iorgu D. Ivan, Revd. Ene. Braniște, Revd. Ilarion Felea, Archimandrite Benedict Ghiuș.

In the description of the manuscripts, we adopted the rules of the Library of the Romanian Academy, which was observed also by Revd. Dumitru Fecioru. The information about the manuscript includes the following: the title (where it was set by us, appears in square brackets), the current figure in the Library of the Holy Synod and the inventory number with the year of entry in the collection, the century or the year of copying, the pagination, the size of the folios in centimeters, inks, support on which the text is written, details about the cover.

The content is shown in chapters, all titles being mentioned. The main chapters are presented with each one’s incipit, and where we met more important texts, for the help of the scholars, we transcribed the end of the chapter (colophons). We have described also the ornaments that adorn the folios and we gave also graphic details. At the end, the notes are transcribed, one of the most important aspects of our cataloging. The round brackets in the descriptions contain the additions that we considered necessary. The title of the manuscript is in italics.

This study is meant to be a pious gesture of gratitude especially to the Patriarch Justinian Marina, who organized this very library, but also to copyists from the monasteries and churches and to all the staff of this library throughout the years.


Oana-Mădălina POPESCU „Poruncile sfintelor soboare le primim ca și pe dumnezeieștile Scripturi și canoanele lor le păzim ca și Pravila”[1]. Hrisovul lui Mihai Racoviță, domnul Țării Românești, din ianuarie 1742

Summary: The charter issued by Michael Racoviță, the voivode of Wallachia- January, 1742.

In January, 1742, Mihai (Michael) Racoviță, the voivode of Wallachia, issued a charter, in order to restore ancient customs and old religious laws, regarding the ecclesiastical jurisdiction and moral aspects, which had not been observed in course of time.

The original act was written on parchment, in Romanian language, with Cyrillic characters and it was finely decorated with two icons, depicting-one of them-the Emperor Constantine the Great and the Empress Helen and the other-the ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon. The iconography of the document was not accidentally chosen. It perfectly underlined and supported the text, which quoted the provisions elaborated by the ecumenical Synods. The icons were beautifully painted, with lively colours and golden ink. The act was made of expensive materials, like parchment and golden ink, so, its importance, value and official form were powerfully emphasized from the very beginning. The document, preserved nowadays at the Romanian National Archives, was multiplied, two copies of it, on paper, being written at the middle of the 19 th century, during the Organic Regulations` period, when the institution of the modern Archives was established. At present, the copies are held in the collections of documents of the Library of the Romanian Academy.

The original act was signed by Michael Racoviță and by great boyars, members of the Divan, as well as by some important ecclesiastical personalities of the time: the metropolitan bishop Neophyte the Cretan and by bishops Climent of Râmnic and Metodie of Buzău. In our opinion, based on the analysis of the text, the document was issued on the advice and under the precise influence of Neophyte the Cretan, which constantly promoted and strongly supported, as other documents prove, the revival and prosperity of the religious life of the Christian people in Wallachia. The signatures of the great boyars of the Divan (which belonged to famous old families like Crețulescu, Dudescu, Greceanu, Văcărescu) as well as of the hierarchs proved, together with the iconography, the importance of the text and the official form of the document.

Michael Racoviță ordered, in four detailed paragraphs, several important rules that would be put into practice. The first aspect underlined by the voivode was about the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Based on the canons of the ecumenical synods, as well as on the old Byzantine ecclesiastical laws, the document stated that all the monks and clerics had to be placed under the jurisdiction of the local bishop and had to be obedient to him. The hierarch had to watch over the monasteries of the country and to appoint or to dismiss the priors. The priors had to give an account for the administration of the revenues of the monasteries and to keep the record of the properties. Even the priors of the monasteries dedicated to the religious communities abroad, outside of country, had to be obedient to the metropolitan bishop of Wallachia, because, geographically, they were placed in his diocese. But, economically, a part of the income was sent abroad. The text insisted on the fact that the priors had to be virtuous, honest and wise men, able to administrate, in good order, the properties of the monasteries. They also had to be capable to keep unaltered the Orthodox monastic rules and traditions.

The second aspect specified by the document concerned the ecclesiastical judicial instance. The act interdicted the boyars to interfere with the religious instance. The clergymen had to appeal only to ecclesiastical instance, not to laic judicial courts. Only the hierarchs had the right and permission to judge the cleric persons.

The third paragraph insisted on moral aspects. The hierarchs had to take all the required disciplinary measures, in order to fight against the wrong habits and sins of the people. Particularly, it was necessary to eliminate faulty habits like concubinage, adultery, incest, forbidden weddings, abuses and the witchcraft. To stop there grave sins, the hierarch and priests were helped by the local archbishops. The priests had to advise the people to live a honest life, to confess their sins and to receive the Eucharist. These stipulations were also mentioned by other documents of the time and they were strongly supported by the metropolitan bishop of Ungrovlahia, Neophyte the Cretan.

The fourth point of the document referred to the patrimonial inheritance of the monks. The properties of the monasteries had to be well preserved, not scattered. So, the monks had not the permission to bequeath the goods of the monasteries to their relatives. But they could entrust their own goods that they had in possession before coming to monastery and they could make their testaments. These stipulations of the document were written in order to keep the estates of the religious communities and to protect them against the imixtion of the founders and the monks` relatives.

All these dispositions, carefully mentioned in the documents, were strongly exemplified with the stipulations of the ecclesiastical legislation. The act quoted in abundance the canons of the ecumenical synods and the works of the famous Byzantine jurists, as Alexios Arestinos, Zonara, Harmenopulos, Balsamon and Photios. The laws promulgated by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, known as Novels, were also quoted by the document. For example, the first point, regarding the ecclesiastical jurisdiction, was based on the stipulations of the canons 4 and 8, issued at the Synod of Chalcedon in 451. The interdiction for laic founders and monks to build monasteries without the permission and the blessing of the local hierarch, mentioned at the first point of the act, was in strong connection with the rules stated by the local Synod of Constantinople, in 861. Therefore, were made mentions of the rules settled by the ecumenical and local synods. The second point, regarding the judiciary instance, was based on the rules fixed by the Synod of Chalcedon. For moral aspects, the document mentioned the work of Harmenopulos, a well-known Byzantine jurist, who had quoted and summarized the ecclesiastical legislation, in support of living a moral and pure Christian life. The last paragraph, regarding the succession of the clerics, was based on the canon 35 of the ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon and on the Novels of Justinian.

The necessity of preserving the ecclesiastical rules, as they had been established by the canons of the ecumenical and local synods, was the main target of the document and also a priority of the process of revival of the ecclesiastical life in Wallachia, at the middle of the 18 th century. From this point of view, the act issued in 1742 was not singular. Many other documents, with similar clauses, were written at the time and some of them were signed by the metropolitan bishop of Ungrovlahia, Neophyte the Cretan. For example, Neophyte issued an act, in order to stop several ancient, but pagan customs, popular dances like Drăgaica and Călușarii. He also persuaded the voivode Michael Racoviță to settle the legal conditions for printing activity in Wallachia. In December 1741 and July 1742, the voivode emitted two documents, conceding only to the metropolitan bishop of the country the right to check the religious works, before the printing activity. Neophyte took some disciplinary measures for eradicating the sins and errors among the clergymen. As a penalty, the hierarch defrocked several priests and deacons, charged with forgery and use of forgeries, for stealing of religious books and objects and for drunkenness. In 1746-1747, Neophyte paid pastoral visits to the Christians in the Western part of the country. On that occasion, the hierarch preached and had the opportunity to advise the Christians for confessing their sins and receiving the Eucharist.

Analysing the text of our document and comparing it with analogous acts of the same period, we have come to the conclusion that the initiator of the charter was Neophyte the Cretan, who, in our opinion, exercised a great influence over the voivode to issue that important document. The precise knowledge of the canons of the synods and the works of the Byzantine jurists attested the author of the text as an educated clerical person, well-acquainted with the religious life and literature. Neophyte was a highly educated man, famous for his culture and his didactic activity (he was the teacher of Constantin Mavrocordat`s children).

 Climent, the bishop of Râmnic, a signer of the act, was, in his turn, a promoter of the same ideas and closely collaborated with Neophyte and influenced the renewal of the ecclesiastical life in Wallachia. For example, in 1743, Climent issued a pastoral letter, with moral and liturgical clauses, for improving the religious life of the Christians.

The provisions of the ecumenical synods, quoted by the Byzantine ecclesiastical legislation, had (and still have), as the act proved, a great value for the Orthodox Church. The Novels of Justinian strongly influenced the religious laws, not only in the Byzantine Empire, but also in the Romanian Principalities. The specific feature of the Byzantine legislation, also adopted by the Romanian laws, was the perfect union of laic and religious stipulations, a conspicuous characteristic of the charter issued in 1742. The act also emphasized a traditional element of political ideology, used in the Byzantine Empire, as well as in the Romanian Principalities: the ruler`s conscience regarding his obligation to watch over the Christian people.

In conclusion, we consider that the document presented in our study is of prime importance for the religious and cultural life, completing the knowledge about the history and the church in Wallachia. At the same time, the document casts a bright light on the personality of Neophyte the Cretan and also underlines the necessity of continuing scientific research on this topic. On the other hand, the act focused on the great value and the validity of the canons stated by the ecumenical synods, as well as the necessity of observing and keeping them unaltered, for living a blessed life.

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