“Love the ease of solitude more than providing for the starving in the world and converting a multitude of heathen from error to the worship of God…Better is he that edified his own soul than he that edifies the whole world.”
St. Issac the Syrian.
“Life According to the Gospel” St. Basil
Monks are not exceptions or abberations of the gospel life, but are examples to the whole Church—a life withdrawn from the sinfulness of the world and in obedience to Scripture.
Monasticism, however, is regarded as a “second baptism”—a renewal of baptismal vows.
Monasticism is a “sacrament of love” where people devote themselves to loving God and loving their neighbor without reserve.
Monasticism is the life of continual repentance—a life of constantly renewed conversion.
St. Anthony: “This is our chief task: always to be mindful of our sinfulness in God’s sight.”
Abba Dioscorus (died 400) constantly weeps over sin in his cell.
Eschatological: herald the coming of the new age by their radical detachment (renunciation) from the world.
Marriage is a “cataphatic” (affirmative) way of affirming the sacrament of love, but monasticism is a “apophatic” (negative) expression.
Marriage: “Grant, Lord, that in loving each other we may love you.”
Monks: express their love for God without the mediation of another human being—they love directly and wholly.
Monks thereby anticipate the eschatological reality—to live in the presence of God without marriage.
Thus, in later Byzantium only monks could become bishops as those dedicated to the “higher” form of life which is the goal of all Christians.
Monks become salt and light, examples of the kingdom of God.
First Priority: The Living Flame of Prayer as Loving God.
St. Seraphim of Sarov (d. 1833): “Acquire inner peace, and thousands around you will find their salvation.”
The goal is to intercede for themselves, for others and seek union with God.
Secondary Priorities: Loving Neighbor
Scholarly and educational work
Evangelism and missionary work
Social and philanthropic work
Spiritual guidance and mentoring work
Irish (Celtic) Monasticism
Irish monasticism predates Benedict’s westernization of monasticism.
The first monks lived as hermits in “beehive” cells where the cold was their penance instead of the heat (Ireland instead of Egypt).
Irish monasticism has a tradition of spirituality similar to Eastern monasticism.
The Benedictine Rule
Growing up near Rome, he experienced the chaotic life of an era embroiled in constant war.
In 529, Benedict (480-550) founded a monastery at Monte Cassino for which he wrote his Rule.
The Benedictine Rule emphasized poverty, chastity and solitude, but it also emphasized the importance of work (agriculture), learning and communal meals.
The Benedictine monastic tradition is the foundation of Western monastic life.
Monasteries became islands of learning; faith and order in Western Europe which was filled with disorder, war and insecurity.
It was primarily, if not exclusively, cenobitic (communal).
It found its priorities in service, education, and mission alongside of worship and prayer.
Benedict’s rule regulates the community, provides a spiritual leader (abbot), and emphasizes the above priorities.
It was written for autonomous communities and not intended as a special monastic order.
Western Monastic Orders
Monastery of Cluny spreads its communal form through the establishment of more than 1000 monasteries from 900 to 1100.
Carthusian Order began in 1084 as a place for the solitary life in the western world.
In 1098 Cistercian order began to emphasize the role of manual labor in a communal life (“white friars”).
In 1210 the Franciscan order begins which stresses the vow of poverty and working among the poor (“grey friars”)
In 1215 the Dominican order begins which stresses the role of education and theological orthodoxy (“black friars”).
Born in Mecca, at the age of 40 began to receive a series of revelations. He begins to affirm monotheism as he is taught through visions from the angel Gabriel.
These “recitations” (qur’an) given through the angel Gabriel became the Koran.
Muhammad was the last prophet of the God of Abraham and the Koran was the perfect expression of divine will for all humanity.
610-622, he lived in Mecca preaching his monotheistic faith. He was a shepherd but married into the family of his employer and became a teacher of ethics.
622 (year 1 for Muslims), he fled to Yathrib (Medina, “the city”). Muhammad became the leader of the city where a theocratic style of government was implemented.
624-628, Mecca and Medina fought three major battles.
629, Muhammad makes a pilgrimage to Mecca.
630, Muhammad becomes theocratic ruler of Mecca and by his death in 632 of the whole Arab peninsula.
Muhammad united Arabs politically and religiously
Islam’s Missionary Zeal
By 632, Islam was the faith of the Arabian peninsula with Mecca as its political and cultural center.
By 661, Islam had spread to Libya, Egypt, Palestine and Mesopotamia with Damascus as its political and cultural center under the Umayyad Dynasty.
By 732, Islam covered North Africa, Spain, southern France, parts of Asia Minor, at times parts of Sicily and southern Italy and the Indus Valley with Baghdad as its political and cultural center under the Abbasid Dynasty
Stopping the Spread of Islam
Leo III of the Byzantine Empire drove back a Muslim army from a siege of Constantinople in 717-18.
Charles Martel, King of the Franks, defeated a Muslim army in 732 at Tours, France and forced it back across the Pyrennes into Spain.
Gibraltar is the “rock of Tariq” (Gib-al-Tariq). The Muslim Tariq invaded Spain in 711.
Seljuk Turks from Central Asia, after converting to Islam, conquered the Arabic dynasties by 1050.
Mongols from Asia conquered Baghdad in 1258. This led to the existence of small Islamic states rather than one Empire.
Ultimately, all the Arabic states fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1517. The Ottoman Empire existed till 1918.
The Basic Impulse of Islam
Submission to the will of God
Islam means “submission”
Muslim means “those who submit”
Jesus, like the OT kings and prophets, were true prophets, but Judaism and Christian corrupted the “true religion.”
The Qu’ran (from the Arabic root which means “to read”) calls for toleration of the “people of the book” (Jews and Christians) though polytheists and pagans are called infidels. The Hadith are a collection of traditions based on Islamic teaching.
Five Pillars of Islamic Piety
Confession: There is one God and Muhammed is his prophet.
Pray five times a day toward Mecca—communal prayer on Friday
Fast during the month of Ramadan
Give alms to the poor—required 2.5% giving.
Make a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once for those who are able.
Paradise is their view of the afterlife.
Acceptance of Old Testament ethics.
Strict administration of justice.
The presence of angels and jinn (spirit beings who can possess human beings for good or evil).
Fatalistic or deterministic understanding of Allah.
Strong ethic: no alcoholic drinks.
Seclusion of women—protection against sexual aggressors/predators.
God intends one community among all people.
Holy War (Jihad)
Three Islamic Divisions
Sunni Muslims: mainstream faith and majority (90% of Muslims).
Shi’ite Muslims: believe that only a blood relative of Muhammed can lead the Muslim faith. Shi’ite means “partisan of Ali” who was the son-in-law and cousin of Muhammad. They look to the “Imam.”
Sufi Muslims: believe in the continuation of revelations through mystical encounters and practiced a relatively ascetic lifestyle
Origins of the Icnonclastic Controversy
The beginnings of Christian art are found in the catacombs and in early church buildings—more often the portrayal of biblical stories rather than iconography.
Icons as images of Christ for liturgical purposes began to appear in the fourth century in the Constantinian age.
By the seventh century, the use of icons is a well-established tradition in the church.
Seventh Century Understanding Leonitus of Neapolis
“I sketch and paint Christ and the sufferings of Christ in churches, in homes, in public squares, on icons, on linen cloth, on clothes, and in every place I paint so that men may see them plainly, may remember them and not forget them…And as you, when you make your reverence to the Book of the Law, bow down not to the substance of skins and ink, but to the sayings of God that are found in therein, so I do reverence the image of Christ. Not to the substance of wood and paint—that shall never happen!...But by doing reverence to an inanimate image of Christ…I think to embrace Christ Himself and to do Him reverence….We Christians by bodily kissing an icon of Christ, or of an apostle or martyr, are in spirit kissing Christ Himself or His martyr.”
Recognition of Abuse
St. Anastasius of Sinai: “Many think that he sufficiently revers his baptism who, entering the church, kisses all the icons without paying attention to the Liturgy and the divine service.”
Orthodox theologians have always rejected such abuses and have tried to give a theological grounding to the use of icons.
Icon Controversy (726-843)
Several bishops on the Eastern borders of the empire began to oppose icons and Germanos the Patriarch of Constantinople defended them.
Emperor Leo III decided against icons and ordered their destruction in 730.
Perhaps he thought spiritual realities should not be depicted in material form.
Perhaps he was reacting to the Muslim charges of idolatry.
Leo felt he should defend the faith: “The Lord, having entrusted the realm to the emperors, has likewise commanded them to tend Christ’s faithful flock, after the example of Peter.”
Immediately divided the Empire.
John of Damascus
Born in Damascus, he served as a chief advisor to the Muslim Caliph for many years.
In 725 he retired to a monk’s life and began writing and died in 749.
His most famous book is The Orthodox Faith, which is part 3 of his massive work The Fountain of Knowledge (Wisdom).
He also composed hymns, wrote works on ethics and epitomized Orthodox theology. Still standard Orthodox theology.
Constantine, Leon’s son, inaugurated a systematic persecution of iconodules.
In 753 he summoned a council at Constantinople after he had purged the episcopate of many iconodules. The council condemned icons and their veneration
From 762-775, he exiled and executed monks who resisted his policy.
The persecution did not end till after his death and elevation of his son Leo IV. When he died in 780, the Empress Irene restored iconodules to episcopacies and installed Patriach Tarasius who supported icons.
Destroyed icons had been replaced by “secular” art depicting hunting scenes, decorative designs and the like.
John of Damascus on Icons
“When He Who is without a body and without form, Who has neither quanity nor magnitude, Who is incomparable with respect to the superiority of His nature, Who exists in Divine form—accepts a bond-servant’s appearance and arrays Himself in bodily form, then do you trace Him upon wood, and rest your hopes in contemplating Him, Who has permitted Himself to be seen…I do not bow down to matter but to the Creator of matter, Who for my sake took on substance and Who through matter accomplished my salvation, and I shall not cease to honor matter, through which my salvation was accomplished.”
Thus, matter has been sanctified and has become a means of grace.
Theology of Icons
According to John of Damascus, just as the wine, bread and water of the sacraments (mysteries) makes Christ present to his people, the portrayal of Christ in an icon may also be filled with the grace and power of Christ’s presence.
It is no longer a mere image of Christ, but a the means by which we encounter the spiritual reality of Christ.
This is primarily rooted in the affirmation of the reality of the incarnation—just as Christ sanctified flesh, so he sanctified materiality. Materiality, including images, can convey the spiritual presence of divine grace.
Though often politically volatile and sometimes violent, the theology was settled at the 2nd Council of Nicea (787), the 7th ecumenical council.
Images of God in his essence are forbidden.
Images of God in the flesh (incarnate) or God in his theophanies, Mary and his saints are permitted.
Images represent God’s involvement in the material world and through those images people approach God without worshipping the image.
Images can mediate divine presence and mystical encounter; they are not mere aides for the faithful.
7th Ecumenical Council
We, therefore, following the royal pathway and the divinely inspired authority of our Holy Fathers and the traditions of the Catholic Church (for, as we all know, the Holy Spirit indwells her), define with all certitude and accuracy that just as the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross, so also the venerable and holy images, as well in painting and mosaic as of other fit materials, should be set forth in the holy churches of God, and on the sacred vessels and on the vestments and on hangings and in pictures both in houses and by the wayside, to wit, the figure of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ, of our spotless Lady, the Mother of God, of the honorable Angels, of all Saints and of all pious people.
7th Ecumenical Council
For by so much more frequently as they are seen in artistic representation, by so much more readily are men lifted up to the memory of their prototypes, and to a longing after them; and to these should be given due salutation and honorable reverence, not indeed that true worship of faith which pertains alone to the divine nature; but to these, as to the figure of the precious and life-giving Cross and to the Book of the Gospels and to the other holy objects, incense and lights may be offered according to ancient pious custom. For the honor which is paid to the image passes on to that which the image represents, and he who reveres the image reveres in it the subject represented.
Revival of Iconoclasm
Upon the death of Irene in 802, the empire’s misfortunes were blamed upon icon-veneration.
In 815, Emperor Leo V decreed that icons should be raised above human height so that no one could kiss them. Monks led a protest procession carrying icons. The Emperor responded with violence.
The persecution continued under Michael II (820-29) and Theophilus (829-842).
Triumph of Icon-Veneration
Empress Theodora, wife of Theophilus, halted the persecution after the death of her husband in 842.
In March, 843, Methodius, one of the persecuted, became Patriarch.
On the first Sunday of Lent icons were reinstated in Hagia Sophia. Each year the church celebrates this victory as the “Triumph of Orthodoxy.”
“Icon of the Holy Trinity” by St. Andrei Rublev, Russian Orthodox (1411) for the “Holy Trinity Monastery” founded by St. Sergius.
“Theotokos” (Mother of God) by Vladimir from the end of the 11th century (Constantinople), but moved to Moscow in the 13th century where it remains.
Slavs (primarily Bulgars) take Balkan provinces except Thrace
Arabs take Africa and the east (including Jerusalem) except for Asia Minor
Map of Post-Justinian Empire, ca. 700
Significance of Byzantium
Geography encourages trade
Impregnable city of Constantinople
Strong imperial personalities, autocracy
Hellenistic culture and religiously united (except for some Christian “heresies”—the monophysites)
Problems with Succession (2/3 killed)
Cultivated luxurious, pleasure-seeking culture
Significance of Byzantium
Language and Literature
Preserved Greek, including Bible MSS.
Half of literature was theological
Based education on Greek classics
Preserved Greek culture while the West was overrun with “Barbarian” cultures (except what was introduced into Celtic culture in Ireland)
Influence on Slavic Culture
Gave them religion, alphabet, art, architecture
Christian Slavic nations looked to Byzantium for leadership
Byzantium and the West
Had territories in Italy till 1100.
Substantial commerce between Constantinople, Venice and other Italian cities.
Preserved Roman law and Greek culture for the West to rediscover
Slavic Missions: Cyril & Methodius
Invited by the Prince Ratislav to Moravia in 862
The brothers led Moravia into Christianity, and their disciples evangelized the Bulgars and other Slavs.
Moravia ultimately came under Roman Catholic control but the influence of the brothers continued among the other Slavs.
Cyril and Methodius
They created a written language for Slavonic—provided Slav churches with alphabet, translations of creeds, liturgies and texts (“Old Church Slavonic”).
Unlike the West where Latin was the only liturgical language, the East had from the beginning used the language of the people for liturgy.
The Cyrillic alphabet, developed in the 10th century, was based on their old alphabet and language.
The Primary Chronicle
Vladimir again called together his vassals and the elders. The Prince announced the return of the envoys who had been sent out, and suggested that their report be heard. He commanded them to speak out before his vassals. The envoys reported: "When we traveled among the Bulgars, we saw how they worship in their temple, called a mosque, while they lounge about slackly. Bulgarians bow, sit down, and look here and there as if possessed. There is no happiness among them, but instead only sadness and bad smells. Their religion is not good. Next we went among the Germans. We saw them performing many ceremonies in their temples, but we saw no glory there. Then we went on to Greece. The Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we did not know whether we were in heaven or on earth. On earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We know only that God lives there among men, and that the Greek service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. We cannot forget that beauty. Once he has tasted sweetness, no man is willing to settle for bitterness.
Conversion of Rus
Vladimir, the prince of Rus, invited Byzantine teachers to Kiev in 988.
All Russians were commanded to be baptized in order to stay in favor with the Prince.
Vladimir married the sister of the Byzantine Emperor in 989.
Russian Christianity was centered in Kiev from 988 to 1240 when Mongols burned Kiev to the ground.
The center of Russian Christianity moved to Moscow in the 14th century when in the 1380s Mongols (Tartars) were first defeated by Muscovite princes.
Moscow becomes the Patriarch of Russian Christianity in the late 14th century.
Clovis (466-511), a Frank, married a
Burgundian princess who insisted he
After winning a battle, he converted in 496 and supported missionaries. He also forced conversions among the Franks and those he conquered.
Germanic Gaul became Christian and began the fusion of Germanic and Roman culture.
Clovis is the first “French” King.
St. Patrick (385-461), Apostle to the Irish
Patrick was a missionary among the Irish Celts.
Native Welsh (Maewyn), former slave, 12 years in Gaul.
Conversion of England
After the fall of Rome, England was overrun by pagan Saxons, Angles and Jutes between 450-500.
Irish monks evangelized in England (primarily northern), but also Augustine of Rome was sent by Pope Gregory I in 597. He converted Ethelbert (560-616; a Jute), King of Kent, in 601 and established the bishopric of Canterbury (later center of the English church).
Celtic and Augustinian (Roman) Christianity had their differences and this created tension.
Resolution to Side with Rome
Celtic Church older with own traditions
Existed in Scotland, Northern England and Ireland
Emphasized monasticism and learning
Roman and Celtic missionaries “compete” for English Northumberland.
King Oswy of Northumberland called synod
Synod of Whitby (664)
Oswy decided for Roman based on the “Petrine Thesis” (Roman primacy).
Boniface, Apostle of Germany
Boniface (675-754), Anglo-Saxon from southern England, pioneered missionary work among the Saxons of Hesse.
He was ultimately appointed Archbishop of Mainz.
He was martyred while preaching among the pagans in Frisia.
Pope Zacharias (741-752) approved the plan of Pepin the Short to seize the throne for himself after the last Merovingian died.
Pope Stephen II (752-757) appealed to Pepin for help against the Germanic Lombards and the Byzantine Empire.
Pepin conquered Italy and received the title of “father-protector of the Romans”. He gave the Papacy the lands the Pope claimed in Italy (“the Papal States”), which was called the “Donation of Pepin.”
The document entitled “Donation of Constantine” appeared which gave the Pope of Rome jurisdiction over the whole of the western church unhindered by the emperor.
Pacified the Saxons in Germany, extended the border to the Danube in eastern Europe, pacified the Lombards in Italy and crossed the Pyrennes into Spain.
When Pope Leo III (795-816) was forced out of Rome by local nobles, Charlemagne arranged his return. In Rome, December 25, 800 A.D., Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the “Holy Roman Empire.”
600 years before the Italian Renaissance, it successfully merged Germanic and Greco-Roman cultures into “Christian Europe.”
Alcuin of York (740-804), one of Charlemagne’s scholars at Aachen (near Cologne), taught at a palace school. The net effect was higher educational and moral standards for clergy. Education was popularized in France.
Alcuin established the basic liberal arts educational philosophy: