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§ 12. The Confessions of Gennadius, A.D. 1453.
J. C. T. Otto: Des Patriarchen Gennadios von Konstantinopel Confession, Wien, 1864 (35 pp.).
See also the work of Gass, quoted p. 43, on Gennadius and Pletho (1844), and an article of Prof. Otto on the Dialogue ascribed to Gennadius, in (Niedner's) Zeitschrift für historische Theologie for 1850, III. 399–417.
The one or two Confessions which the Constantinopolitan Patriarch Gennadius handed to the Turkish Sultan Mahmoud or Mahomet II., in 1453, comprise only a very general statement of the ancient Christian doctrines, without entering into the differences which divide the Oriental Church from the Latin Communion; yet they have a historical importance, as reflecting the faith of the Greek Church at that time.
Georgius Scholarius, a lawyer and philosopher, subsequently called Gennadius, was among the companions and advisers of the Greek Emperor John VII., Palæologus, and the Patriarch Joasaph, when they, in compliance with an invitation of Pope Eugenius IV., attended the Council of Ferrara and Florence (A.D. 1438 and '39), to consider the reunion of the Eastern and Western Catholic Churches. Scholarius, though not a member of the Synod (being a layman at the time), strongly advocated the scheme, while his more renowned countryman, Georgius Gemistus, commonly called Pletho (d. 1453), opposed it with as much zeal and eloquence. Both were also antagonists in philosophy, Gennadius being an Aristotelian, Pletho a Platonist. The union party triumphed, especially through the influence of Cardinal Bessarion (Archbishop of Nicæa), who at last acceded to the Latin Filioque, as consistent with the Greek per Filium.9393 See, on the transactions of this Council, Mansi, Tom. XXXI., and Werner: Geschichte der apologetischen and polemischen Literatur, Vol. III. pp. 57 sqq.
But when the results of the Council were submitted to the Greek Church for acceptance, the popular sentiment, backed by a long tradition, almost universally discarded them. Scholarius, who in the mean time had become a monk, was compelled to give up his plans of reunion, and he even wrote violently against it. Some attribute this inconsistency to a change of conviction, some to policy; while others, without good reason, doubt the identity of the anti-Latin monk Scholarius with the Latinizing Gennadius.9494 Karyophilus, Allatius, and Kimmel deny the identity of the two persons; Robert Creygthon, Renaudot (1704), Richard Simon, Spanheim, and Gass defend it. Spanheim, however, regards the unionistic writings as interpolations. Allatius and Kimmel maintain that Gennadius continued friendly to the union as Patriarch, but Karyophilus supposes that the unionistic Scholarius died before the conquest of Constantinople, and never was Patriarch. See Kimmel, Monumenta, etc., Prolegomena, p. vi.; Gass, l.c. Vol. I. pp. 5 sqq., and Werner, l.c. Vol. III. pp. 67 sqq. Scholarius was a fertile writer of homilies, hymns, philosophical and theological essays. Four of these are edited in Greek by W. Gass, viz., his Confession, the Dialogue De via salutis, the book Contra Automatistas et Hellenistas, and the book De providentia et prædestinatione (l.c. Vol. II. pp. 3–146).
Immediately after the conquest in 1453, Scholarius was elected Patriarch of Constantinople, but held this position only a few years, as he is said to have abdicated in 1457 or 1459, and retired to a convent. This elevation is sufficient proof of his Greek orthodoxy, but may have been aided by motives of policy, inspired by the vain hope of securing, through his influence with the Latin church dignitaries, the assistance of the Western nations against the Turkish invasion.
At the request of the Mohammedan conqueror, Gennadius prepared a Confession of the Christian faith. The Sultan received it, invested Gennadius with the patriarchate by the delivery of the crozier or pastoral staff, and authorized him to assure the Greek Christians of freedom in the exercise of their religion.9595 An account of the interview is given in the Historia patriarcharum qui sederunt in hac magna catholicaque ecclesia Constantinopolitanensi postquam cepit eam Sultanus Mechemeta, written in modern Greek by Emmanuel Malaxas, a Peloponnesian, and sent by him to Prof. M. Crusius, in Tübingen, who translated and published it in his Turco-Græcia, 1584. Crusius and Chytræus were prominent in a fruitless effort to convert the Greek Church to Lutheranism.
This 'Confession' of Gennadius,9696 Kimmel calls it the second Confession, counting the Dialogue (which is of questionable authenticity; see below) as the first. But Gass more appropriately prints the Confession first, and the Dialogue afterwards, under its own proper title, De Via Salutis. or 'Homily on the true faith of the Christians,' was written in Greek, and translated into the Turko-Arabic (the Turkish with Arabic letters) for the use of the Sultan.9797 The title of the Vienna MS. as published by Otto is: Τοῦ αἰδεσιμωτάτου πατριάρχου Κωνσταντινουπόλεως | ΓΕΝΝΑΔΙΟΥ ΣΧΟΛΑΡΙΟΥ | Βιβλίον περὶ τινων κεφαλαίων τῆς ἡμετέρας | πίστεως. The title as given by Gass from a MS. in Munich reads: Τοῦ ἀγιωτάτου καὶ πατριάρχου καὶ φιλοσόφου | ΓΕΝΝΑΔΙΟΥ | ὁμιλία περὶ τῆς ὀρθῆς καὶ ἀληθοῦς | πίστεως τῶν Χριστιανῶν. In other titles it is called ὁμλογία or ὁμολόγησις. This Confession (together with the Dialogue on the Way of Life) was first published in Greek at Vienna by Prof. John Alex. Brassicanus (Kohlburger), in 1530; then in Latin by J. Harold (in his Hæresiologia, Basil. 1556, from which it passed into the Patristic Libraries, Bibl. P. P. Lugdun. Tom. XXVI. 556, also B. P. P. Colon. Tom. XIV. 376, and B. P. P. Par. Tom. IV.); then in Greek and Latin by David Chytræus (in his Oratio de statu ecclesiarum hoc tempore in Græcia, Asia, Bœmia, etc., Frankf. 1583, pp. 173 sqq.); and soon afterwards in Greek, Latin, and Turkish by Mart. Crusius of Tübingen (in his Turco-Græcia, Basil. 1584, lib. II. 109 sqq.). The text of Crusius differs from the preceding editions. He took it from a copy sent to him, together with the Sultan's answer, by Emmanuel Malaxas. Two other editions of the Greek text were published by J. von Fuchten, Helmst. 1611, and by Ch. Daum, Cygneæ (Zwickau), 1677 (Hieronymi theologi Græci dialogus de Trinitate, etc.). Kimmel followed the text of Chytræus, compared with that of Crusius and the different readings in the Bibl. Patr. Lugdun. See his Proleg. p xx. The last and best editions of the Greek text of the Confession are by Gass, l.c. II. 3–15, who used three MSS., and compared older Greek editions and Latin versions; and by Otto (1864), who (like Brassicanus) reproduced the text of the Vienna Codex after a careful re-examination, and added the principal variations of Brassicanus and Gass. It treats, in twenty brief sections, of the fundamental doctrines on God, the Trinity, the two natures in the person of Christ, his work, the immortality of the soul, and the resurrection of the body. The doctrine of the Trinity is thus stated: 'We believe that there are in the one God three peculiarities (ỉδιώματα τρία), which are the principles and fountains of all his other peculiarities . . . and these three peculiarities we call the three subsistences (ὑποστάεις). . . . We believe that out of the nature (ἐκ τῆς φύσεως) of God spring the Word (λόγος) and the Spirit (πνεῦμα), as from the fire the light and the heat (ὥσπερ ἀπὸ τοῦ πυρὸς φῶς καὶ θέρμη). . . . These three, the Mind, the Word, and the Spirit (νοῦς, λόγος, πνεῦμα), are one God, as in the one soul of man there is the mind (νοῦς), the rational word (λόγος νοητός), and the rational will (θέλησις νοητή); and yet these three are as to essence but one soul (μία ψυχὴ κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν).'9898 Compare, on the Trinitarian doctrine of Gennadius and its relation to Latin Scholasticism, the exposition of Gass, I. 82 sqq. Kimmel and Otto (l.c. p. 400) make him a Platonist, but there are also some Aristotelian elements in him. The difference of the Greek and Latin doctrine on the procession of the Holy Spirit is not touched in this Confession. The relation of the divine and human nature in Christ is illustrated by the relation of the soul and the body in man, both being distinct, and yet inseparably united in one person.
At the end (§ 14–20) are added, for the benefit of the Turks, seven arguments for the truth of the Christian religion, viz.:9999 This apologetic appendix is omitted in the editions of Brassicanus and Fuchten, and is rejected by Otto as a later addition (l.c. pp. 5–11).
1. The concurrence of Jewish prophecies and heathen oracles in the pre-announcement of a Saviour.
2. The internal harmony and mutual agreement of the different parts of the Scriptures.
3. The acceptance of the gospel by the greatest and best men among all nations.
4. The spiritual character and tendency of the Christian faith, aiming at divine and eternal ends.
5. The ennobling effect of Christ's religion on the morals of his followers.
6. The harmony of revealed truth with sound reason, and the refutation of all objections which have been raised against it.
7. The victory of the Church over persecution and its indestructibility.
The other Confession, ascribed to Gennadius, and generally
published with the first, is written in the form of a Dialogue ('Sermocinatio')
between the Sultan and the Patriarch, and entitled 'The Way of
Life.'100100 De Via Salutis. The
full title, as given by
Gass, l.c. II. 16, and
Otto, l.c. p. 409, reads:
Τοῦ αἰδεσιμωτάτου πατριάρχου
Βιβλίον σύντομόν τε καὶ σαφὲς περὶ τινων κεφαλαίων τῆς ἡμετέρας πίστεως, περὶ ὦν ἡ διάλεξις γέγονε μετὰ Ἀμοιρᾶ τοῦ Μαχουμέτου, ὃ καὶ ἐπιγέγραπται
περὶ τῆς ὀδοῦ τῆς σωτηρίας (τῶν) ἀνθρώπων.
The tract was published three times in Greek in the seventeenth century—by Brassicanus, Vienna, 1530; by Joh. von Fuchten, Helmstädt, 1611 (or 1612); and by Daum, Zwickau, 1677; but each of these editions is exceedingly rare. The Latin version was repeated in several patristic collections, but with more or less omissions or additions (occasionally in favor of the Romish system). We have now two correct editions of the Greek text, one by Gass (1844), and another by Otto (1850; the latter was originally intended for an Appendix to Kimmel's collection). Kimmel gives only the Latin version, having been unable to obtain the Greek original (Proleg. p. xx.), and seems to confound the special title with the joint title for both Confessions; see Bibl. P. P. Colon. XIV. 378; Werner. l.c. III. 68. note. The Dialogue has also found its way into the writings of Athanasius (Opera, Tom. II. 280. Patav. 1777, or II. 335, ed. Paris, 1698), but without a name or an allusion to the Sultan, simply as a dialogue between a Christian bishop and a catechumen, and with considerable enlargements and adaptations to the standard of Greek orthodoxy. Comp. Gass, I. pp. 89 sqq., II. pp. 16–30, and Otto, p. 407. The Sultan is represented as asking a number of short questions, such as: 'What is God?' 'Why is he called God (θεός)' 'How many Gods are there?' 'How, if there is but one God, can you speak of three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?' 'Why is the Father called Father?' 'Why is the Son called Son?' 'Why is the Holy Spirit called Spirit?' To these the Patriarch replies at some length, dwelling mainly on the doctrine of the Trinity, and illustrating it by the analogy of the sun, light, and heat, and by the trinity of the human mind.
But there is no external evidence for the authorship of Gennadius; and the internal evidence is against it. There was no need of two Confessions for the same occasion. There is nothing characteristic of a Mohammedan in the questions of the Sultan. The text is more loose and prolix in style than the genuine Confession; it contains some absurd etymologies unworthy of Gennadius;101101 The word θεός, is derived from θεωρεῖν (ἀπὸ τοῦ θεωρεῖν τὰ πάντα οἱονεὶ θεωρός), and also from θέειν, percurrere (ὁ γὰρ θεὸς ἀεὶ καὶ πανταχοῦ πάρεστιν); πατήρ is derived from τηρεῖν (ἀπὸ τοῦ τὰ πάντα τηρεῖν), υἱός from οἷος, talis (qualis enim Pater, talis Filius), πνεῦμα from νοέω, intelligo (πάντα γὰρ ὀξέως ἐπινοεῖ). and it expressly teaches the Latin doctrine of the double procession of the Holy Spirit.102102 In the Latin Version (Kimmel, p. 3): 'Quemadmodum substantia solis producit radios, et a sole et radiis procedit lumen: ita Pater generat Filium seu Verbum ejus, et a Patre et Filio Procedit Spiritus Sanctus.' In the Greek text (Gass, II. 19): Ὥσπερ ὁ δίσκος ὁ ἡλιακὸς γεννᾷ τὴν ἀκτῖνα, καὶ παρὰ τοῦ ἡλίου καὶ τῶν ἀκτίνων ἐκπορεύεται τὸ φῶς · οὕτω ὁ θεὸς καὶ πατὴρ γεννᾷ τὸν υἱὸν καὶ λόγον αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ υἱοῦ ἐκπορεύεται τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον. A Greek Patriarch could not have maintained himself with such an open avowal of the Latin doctrine. The text of Pseudo-Athanasius urges the processio a solo Patre, and removes all other approaches to the Latin dogma. For these reasons, we must either deny the authorship of Gennadius, or the integrity of the received text.103103 See Gass, I. p. 100, and Symb. der griech. Kirche, p. 38; Otto, p. 405. Both reject the authenticity of the Dialogue. At all events, it can not be regarded in its present form even as a secondary standard of Greek orthodoxy.
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