In his early life, Maximus was a civil servant, and an aide to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius. However, he gave up this life in the political sphere to enter into the monastic life. Maximus had studied diverse schools of philosophy, and certainly what was common for his time, the Platonic dialogues, the works of Aristotle, and numerous later Platonic commentators on Aristotle and Plato, like Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, and Proclus. When one of his friends began espousing the Christological position known as Monothelitism, Maximus was drawn into the controversy, in which he supported an interpretation of the Chalcedonian formula on the basis of which it was asserted that Jesus had both a human and a divine will. Maximus is venerated in both the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches. He was eventually persecuted for his Christological positions; following a trial, his tongue and right hand were mutilated.
He was then exiled and died on August 13, 662, in Tsageri in present-day Georgia. However, his theology was upheld by the Third Council of Constantinople and he was venerated as a saint soon after his death. It is highly uncommon among the saints that he has two feast days: 13 August and 21 January. His title of "Confessor" means that he suffered for the Christian faith, but was not directly martyred. The Life of the Virgin, the only extant copy of which is in a Georgian translation, is commonly, albeit mistakenly, attributed to him, and is considered to be one of the earliest complete biographies of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Icon of St. Maximus
|Confessor, theologian, homologetes|
Haspin, Golan Heights or Constantinople
|Died||13 August 662|
Tsageri, present-day Georgia
|Venerated in||Eastern Orthodox Church|
Roman Catholic Church
|Feast||13 August (Gregorian Calendar), 21 January or 13 August (Julian Calendar)|
Very little is known about the details of Maximus' life prior to his involvement in the theological and political conflicts of the Monothelite controversy. Numerous Maximian scholars call substantial portions of the Maronite biography into question, including Maximus' birth in Palestine, which was a common seventh century trope to discredit an opponent. Moreover, the exceptional education Maximus evidently received could not have been had in any other part of the Byzantine Empire during that time except for Constantinople, and possibly Caesarea and Alexandria. It is also very unlikely that anyone of low social birth, as the Maronite biography describes Maximus, could have ascended by the age of thirty to be the Protoasecretis of the Emperor Heraclius, one of the most powerful positions in the Empire. It is more likely that Maximus was born of an aristocratic family and received an unparalleled education in philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, etc. It is true, however, that Maximus did not study rhetoric as he himself notes in the prologue to his Earlier Ambigua to John, to which his lack of high stylistic by Byzantine standards attests. Nevertheless, for reasons not explained in the few autobiographical details to be gleaned from his texts, Maximus left public life and took monastic vows at the monastery of Philippicus in Chrysopolis, a city across the Bosporus from Constantinople (later known as Scutari, the modern Turkish city of Üsküdar). Maximus was elevated to the position of abbot of the monastery.
When the Persians conquered Anatolia, Maximus was forced to flee to a monastery near Carthage. It was there that he came under the tutelage of Saint Sophronius, and began studying in detail with him the Christological writings of Gregory of Nazianzus and Dionysius the Areopagite. According to I P Sheldon Williams his achievement was to set these doctrines into a framework of Aristotelian logic, which both suited the temper of the times and made them less liable to misinterpretation. Maximus continued his career as a theological and spiritual writer during his lengthy stay in Carthage. Maximus was also held in very high esteem by the exarch Gregory, the eparch George and the population as a holy man, ostensibly becoming an influential unofficial political advisor and spiritual head in North Africa.
While Maximus was in Carthage, a controversy broke out regarding how to understand the interaction between the human and divine natures within the person of Jesus. This Christological debate was the latest development in disagreements that began following the First Council of Nicaea in 325, and were intensified following the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The Monothelite position was developed as a compromise between the dyophysitists and the miaphysists, who believed dyophysitism is conceptually indistinguishable from Nestorianism. The Monothelites adhered to the Chalcedonian definition of the hypostatic union: that two natures, one divine and one human, were united in the person of Christ. However, they went on to say that Christ had only a divine will and no human will (Monothelite is derived from the Greek for "one will"), which led some to charge them with Apollinarian monophysitism.
The Monothelite position was promulgated by Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople and by Maximus' friend and successor as the Abbot of Chrysopolis, Pyrrhus. Following the death of Sergius in 638, Pyrrhus succeeded him as Patriarch, but was shortly deposed owing to political circumstances. During Pyrrhus' exile from Constantinople, Maximus and the deposed Patriarch held a public debate on the issue of Monothelitism. In the debate, which was held in the presence of many North African bishops, Maximus took the position that Jesus possessed both a human and a divine will. The result of the debate was that Pyrrhus admitted the error of the Monothelite position, and Maximus accompanied him to Rome in 645. However, on the death of Emperor Heraclius and the accession of Emperor Constans II, Pyrrhus returned to Constantinople and recanted of his acceptance of the Dyothelite ("two wills") position.
Maximus may have remained in Rome, because he was present when the newly elected Pope Martin I convened the Lateran Council of 649 at the Lateran Basilica in Rome. The 105 bishops present condemned Monothelitism in the official acts of the synod, which some believe may have been written by Maximus. It was in Rome that Pope Martin and Maximus were arrested in 653 under orders from Constans II, who supported the Monothelite doctrine. Pope Martin was condemned without a trial, and died before he could be sent to the Imperial Capital.
Maximus' refusal to accept Monothelitism caused him to be brought to the imperial capital of Constantinople to be tried as a heretic in 658. In Constantinople, Monothelitism had gained the favor of both the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople. Maximus stood behind the Dyothelite position and was sent back into exile for four more years. During his trial he was accused of aiding the Muslim conquests in Egypt and North Africa, which he rejected as slander.
In 662, Maximus was placed on trial once more, and was once more convicted of heresy. Following the trial Maximus was tortured, having his tongue cut out, so he could no longer speak his rebellion, and his right hand cut off, so that he could no longer write letters. Maximus was then exiled to the Lazica or Colchis region of modern-day Georgia and was cast in the fortress of Schemarum, perhaps Muris-Tsikhe near the modern town of Tsageri. He died soon thereafter, on 13 August 662. The events of the trials of Maximus were recorded by Anastasius Bibliothecarius.
Along with Pope Martin I, Maximus was vindicated by the Third Council of Constantinople (the Sixth Ecumenical Council, 680–681), which declared that Christ possessed both a human and a divine will. With this declaration Monothelitism became heresy, and Maximus was posthumously declared innocent of all charges against him.
Maximus is among those Christians who were venerated as saints shortly after their deaths. The vindication of Maximus' theological position made him extremely popular within a generation after his death, and his cause was aided by the accounts of miracles at his tomb. In the Roman Catholic Church the veneration of Maximus began prior to the foundation of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
Maximus is one of the last men to be recognized by both the Orthodox and Catholic Churches as a Father of the Church. In the encyclical Spe Salvi (2007), Pope Benedict XVI called Maximus 'the great Greek doctor of the Church', although it's not clear if the Pontiff intended to nominate Maximus 'Doctor of the Church' or to say that he already was one.
As a student of Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus was one of many Christian theologians who preserved and interpreted the earlier Neo-Platonic philosophy, including the thought of such figures as Plotinus and Proclus. Maximus' work on Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite was continued by John Scotus Eriugena at the request of Charles the Bald.
The Platonic influence on Maximus' thought can be seen most clearly in his theological anthropology. Here, Maximus adopted the Platonic model of exitus-reditus (exit and return), teaching that humanity was made in the image of God, and the purpose of salvation is to restore us to unity with God. This emphasis on divinization or theosis helped secure Maximus' place in Eastern theology, as these concepts have always held an important place in Eastern Christianity.
Christologically Maximus insisted on a strict dyophysitism, which can be seen as a corollary of the emphasis on theosis. In terms of salvation, humanity is intended to be fully united with God. This is possible for Maximus because God was first fully united with humanity in the incarnation. If Christ did not become fully human (if, for example, he only had a divine and not a human will), then salvation was no longer possible, as humanity could not become fully divine. Furthermore, in his works Maximus the Confessor argued the unconditionality of the divine incarnation.
Regarding salvation, Maximus has been described as a proponent of apocatastasis or universal reconciliation, the idea that all rational souls will eventually be redeemed, like Origen and St. Gregory of Nyssa. While this claim has been disputed, others have argued that Maximus shared this belief in universal reconciliation with his most spiritually mature students.
Maximus' work was translated by the 9th-century Irish philosopher and mystical theologian Johannes Scotus Eriugena. In Eastern Christianity, Maximus has always been influential. The Eastern theologians Symeon the New Theologian and Gregory Palamas are seen as intellectual heirs to Maximus. Further, a number of Maximus' works are included in the Greek Philokalia, a collection of some of the most influential Orthodox Christian writers.
Collections of Maximus' writings
On the theology of Saint Maximus
Year 662 (DCLXII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar. The denomination 662 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.Adarnase II of Iberia
Adarnase II (Georgian: ადარნასე II), of the Chosroid dynasty, was a presiding prince of Iberia (Kartli, eastern Georgia) from c. 650 to 684/5. He is presumably the Iberian patricius mentioned in the 660s letter of Anastasius Apocrisarius pertaining to the martyrdom of Maximus the Confessor, and the prince Nerses whose revolt against Arabs is reported by the Armenian chronicler Hovannes Draskhanakertsi.Adarnase succeeded his father Stephen II and ruled as a vassal of the Caliphate. In 681/2, however, he joined the Armenian and Albanian princes in a general uprising against the Arab hegemony. He held off the Arab attacks for three years – until the Khazars entered the fight. Adarnase/Nerses was killed, and the Arabs installed Guaram II of the rival Guaramid Dynasty in Iberia.The exterior stone plaque of the church of the Holy Cross at Mtskheta, Georgia, mentions the principal builders of this church: Stephanos the patricius, Demetrius the hypatos, and Adarnase the hypatos who have traditionally been equated by the Georgian scholars with Stephen I, son of Guaram; Demetre, brother of Stephen I and Adarnase I. However, an opinion expressed by Professor Cyril Toumanoff disagrees with this view by identifying these individuals with Stephen II, Demetre (brother of Stephen I), and Adarnase II, respectively. He had a son, Stephen.Arkadios II of Cyprus
Archbishop Arkadios II (Greek: Αρκάδιος Β'; died 643) was the head of the Church of Cyprus during the 630s. He was a supporter of the Monoenergism formula also propounded by Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople, and Emperor Heraclius.
Arkadios wrote an epistle supporting Monoenergism and disparaging its opponents, of which the chief then was Sophronius of Jerusalem. When Sophronius became Patriarch in 634, Sophronius sent a letter to Arkadios requesting him to call a synod. Arkadios invited Cyrus of Alexandria, as well as Sergius and Honorius. Kyros arrived himself, and so did representatives of Constantinople and Rome. Then Arkadios invited Sophronius. Sophronius and his protégé Maximus the Confessor each sent representatives of his own.
When the Jerusalmite delegation arrived, Arkadios received the guests with honor. The next morning, all 46 of the dignitaries haggled over the details. The anti-Monoenergists agreed upon a common letter, but Arkadios declared its suggestions to be anathema. Sophronius asked him, "What then do you want - that this should reach the emperor?" Arkadius retorted, "It is because of your lack of belief, and because of the false doctrine you and your companions hold, in that you resist the truth [of Monoenergism]". Cyrus then cut short the debate and ordered Sophronius's letter to issue to the Emperor Heraclius.
Heraclius promptly replaced Monoenergism with Monothelitism and issued an Edict to all the metropolitan sees (probably the Ecthesis). When this Edict arrived in Cyprus, Arkadios added his signature to the list.Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians and writers. There is no definitive list. The era of these scholars who set the theological and scholarly foundations of Christianity largely ended by AD 700 (John of Damascus died in 749 AD, Byzantine Iconoclasm began in 726 AD).In the past, the Church Fathers were regarded as authoritative and more restrictive definitions were used which sought to limit the list to authors treated as such. However, the definition has widened as scholars of patristics, the study of the Church Fathers, have expanded their scope.Dyothelitism
Dyothelitism or dythelitism (from Greek δυοθελητισμός "doctrine of two wills") is a particular Christological doctrine that teaches the existence of two wills (divine and human) in the person of Jesus Christ. Specifically, dyothelitism correlates the distinctiveness of two wills with the existence of two specific natures (divine and human) in the person of Jesus Christ (dyophysitism).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 475, states: "Similarly, at the Sixth ecumenical council, Constantinople III in 681, the Church confessed that Christ possesses two wills and two natural operations, divine and human. They are not opposed to each other, but co-operate in such a way that the Word made flesh willed humanly in obedience to his Father all that he had decided divinely with the Father and the Holy Spirit for our salvation. Christ's human will 'does not resist or oppose but rather submits to his divine and almighty will.'"
This position is in opposition to the Monothelitism position in the Christological debates. The debate concerning the Monothelite churches and the Catholic Church came to a conclusion at the Third Council of Constantinople in 681. The Council declared that in line with the declarations of the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which declared two natures in the one person of Jesus Christ, there are equally two "wills" or "modes of operation" in the one person of Jesus Christ as well.Dyothelitism was championed by Maximus the Confessor against monothelitism, the doctrine of one will.Era of the Martyrs
The Era of the Martyrs (Latin: anno martyrum), also known as the Diocletian era (Latin: anno Diocletiani), is a method of numbering years used by the Church of Alexandria beginning in the 4th century AD and by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the 5th century to the present. Western Christians were aware of it but did not use it. It was named for the Roman Emperor Diocletian who instigated the last major persecution against Christians in the Empire. Diocletian began his reign 20 November 284 during the Alexandrian year that began on 1 Thoth, the Egyptian New Year, or 29 August 284, so that date was used as the epoch: year one of the Diocletian era began on that date. This era was used to number the year in Easter tables produced by the Church of Alexandria.
When Dionysius Exiguus continued those tables for an additional 95 years, he replaced the anno Diocletiani era with his anno Domini era because he did not wish to continue the memory of a tyrant who persecuted Christians. The anno Domini era became dominant in the Latin West but was not used in the Greek East until modern times.
The anno Diocletiani era was not the only one used by early Christians. Most Roman Christians, like the pagan Romans before them, designated their years by naming the two consuls who held office that year. The Romans also used the ab urbe condita (AUC) era. Its name is Latin for "from the founding of the City (Rome)". However, the AUC era was hardly ever used outside historical treatises.
Eras that began at Creation, called anno Mundi eras, became the dominant method of numbering years in the East until modern times, such as in the Byzantine calendar. Annianus of Alexandria, a monk who flourished at the beginning of the 5th century, placed the epoch of his world era on 25 March 5492 BC by counting back eleven 532-year paschal cycles from anno Diocletiani 77, itself four 19-year lunar cycles after anno Diocletiani 1. Regarded as a civil rather than a religious era, it began on the first day of the Alexandrian year, 29 August 5493 BC. This Alexandrian era was the preferred era used by Byzantine Christians such as Maximus the Confessor until the Byzantine era, having an epoch of 1 September 5509 BC, became dominant in the 10th century. Both eras used a version of dating Creation based on the Septuagint.Filioque
Filioque (Ecclesiastical Latin: [filiˈɔkwe]) is a Latin term added to the original Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed (commonly known as the Nicene Creed), and which has been the subject of great controversy between Eastern and Western Christianity. The Latin term Filioque describes the Holy Spirit as proceeding from both the Father and the Son, (not from the Father only). In the Nicene Creed it is translated by the English phrase "and [from] the Son":
I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceedeth from the Father ⟨and the Son⟩.
Who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified.or in Latin:
Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem:
qui ex Patre ⟨Filioque⟩ procedit
Qui cum Patre, et Filio simul adoratur, et cum glorificatur.Whether that term Filioque is included, as well as how it is translated and understood, can have important implications for how one understands the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, which is central to the majority of Christian churches. For some, the term implies a serious underestimation of the Father's role in the Trinity; for others, denial of what it expresses implies a serious underestimation of the role of the Son in the Trinity. Over time, the term became a symbol of conflict between Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity, although there have been attempts at resolving the conflict. Among the early attempts at harmonization are the works of Maximus the Confessor, who notably was canonised independently by both Eastern and Western churches.
The Filioque is included in the form of the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed used in most Western Christian churches, first appearing in the 6th century. It was accepted by the popes only in 1014 and is rejected by the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodox Churches and Church of the East. It is not in the original text of this Creed, attributed to the second ecumenical council, Constantinople I (381), which says that the Holy Spirit proceeds "from the Father", without additions of any kind, such as "and the Son" or "alone"; the Latin text now in use in most Western Churches speaks of the Holy Spirit as proceeding "from the Father and the Son".
Differences over this doctrine and the question of papal primacy have been and remain primary causes of schism between the Eastern Orthodox and Western churches. The term has been an ongoing source of conflict between Eastern Christianity and Western Christianity, contributing, in major part, to the East–West Schism of 1054 and proving to be an obstacle to attempts to reunify the two sides.George (eparch)
George (Greek: Γεώργιος) was a Byzantine governor in Africa (modern Tunisia and eastern Algeria) from ca. 632/634 to ca. 642.
Very little is known about his life. According to John Moschos, he came from Apameia in Syria. He is recorded as "eparch of Carthage", which would imply that he was a praetorian prefect. He was a supporter of the prominent theologian Maximus the Confessor, and was, according to the Doctrina Jacobi, responsible for the forced conversion of the African Jews to Christianity, as decreed by the Emperor Heraclius. The latter fact indicates that his tenure in Africa began in 634 at the latest, and possibly as early as 632.Gnomic will
The notion of gnomic will belongs to Eastern Christian, especially Byzantine Orthodox, ascetical theology, being developed particularly within the theology of St Maximus the Confessor. The term 'gnomic' derives from the Greek gnome, meaning 'inclination' or 'intention'. Within Orthodox theology, gnomic willing is contrasted with natural willing. Natural willing designates the movement of a creature in accordance with the principle (logos) of its nature towards the fulfilment (telos, stasis) of its being. Gnomic willing, on the other hand, designates that form of willing in which a person engages in a process of deliberation culminating in a decision.
Within the theology of St Maximus, which was endorsed by the Sixth Ecumenical Council in condemning monothelitism, Jesus Christ possessed no gnomic will. St Maximus developed this claim particularly in his Dialogue with Pyrrhus. According to St Maximus, the process of gnomic willing presupposes that a person does not know what they want, and so must deliberate and choose between a range of choices. However, Jesus Christ, as both man and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, possessed complete congruence of His two wills, the divine and the human. Therefore, St Maximus reasoned, Christ was never in a state of ignorance regarding what he wanted, and so never engaged in gnomic willing.
Aristotle, a major philosophical influence on Maximus, in comparing the works of Nature with those of a human worker, had also declared that any process of deliberation, far from indicating superior intellect, is a sign of our weakness.Judas Barsabbas
Judas Barsabbas was a New Testament prophet and one of the 'leading men' in the early Christian community in Jerusalem at the time of the Council of Jerusalem in around 50 A.D.Khumar
Khumarinskoye gorodishche (Russian: Хумаринское городище) or Khumar is a ruined medieval fortress on the top of Mount Kalezh above the Kuban Gorge in the Greater Caucasus, near Khumara village, Karachaevsky district, Karachay–Cherkessia, Russia.
The site was investigated in 1960 and 1962 by V.A. Kuznetsov after the slabs with runic inscriptions were found, but without excavations. In 1963 and 1964 archaeological expedition of Karachaevo-Cherkessky research institute, lead by E.P. Alekseeva, conducted excavations in the site. She found out that under medieval strata lay those of 8-6 centuries BC. A. Gadlo and Kh. Bidjiev discovered in 1974 remains of defense system - towers, walls.The fortress, situated 11 km (7 mi) downstream from Karachaevsk and formerly accessed only by ladder, occupies some forty hectares on top of a large plateau. The 18-foot (5.5 m) high walls, with twelve bastions, were pierced by a single 5-metre-wide gate. The fortifications are supposed to have been constructed either by the Khazars or by the Bulgars in connection with the Khazar-Arab Wars.
The site is rich in pseudo-runic inscriptions, an evidence of early medieval Turkic occupation by tribes of the Saltovo-Mayaki cultural group. Most of the inscriptions were heavily damaged by locals and are illegible.Among the more controversial finds from the site was a folding, modular altar unearthed in the area. Scholars at the archaeological museum in Rostov-on-Don asserted that the altar was part of a Khazar Jewish shrine built in imitation of the Biblical mishkan.In the 9th and 10th centuries, it was the site of a populous town, mentioned in Byzantine and Georgian sources as Skhimar (Russian: Схимар). It is believed that St. Maximus the Confessor was held there during his exile to the Caucasus. Within four kilometers from the fortress stands the Shoana Church (ca. 925), first described by Abraham Firkovich in 1848.
The town was destroyed by Tamerlane during his invasion of the Golden Horde in 1396.Lateran Council of 649
The Lateran Council of 649 was a synod held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran to condemn Monothelitism, a Christology espoused by many Eastern Christians. The Council did not achieve ecumenical status in either East or West, but represented the first attempt of a pope to convene an ecumenical council independent of the Roman emperor.
According to Ekonomou, the irony of the Council was that the denunciation of the theology of Constantinople came from the "collaboration of a Greco-Palestinian pope and a Constantinopolitan monk employing a style of theological discourse whose tradition was purely Eastern." Although Pope Martin I and Maximus the Confessor were abducted by Constans II and tried in Constantinople for their role in the Council (Martin I being replaced as pope before dying in exile), their position was ultimately endorsed by the Third Council of Constantinople in 680.Life of the Virgin (Maximus)
The Life of the Virgin is the earliest known biographical work on the Virgin Mary. Its only extant copy is in a Georgian translation attributed to the seventh-century saint, Maximus the Confessor, although the attribution remains less than certain.Maximus (or Pseudo-Maximus) states that he compiled the biography by merging information from multiple sources available to him.Maximus presents Mary as a constant companion in Jesus' mission, and as a leader of the early Christian Church after the death of Jesus. He also states that Mary was the source of many of the accounts of the life of Jesus in the Gospels.Maximus also portrays Mary as the counselor and guide to the many women disciples who followed Jesus during his life and as their source of spiritual guidance after the death of Jesus.Monoenergism
Monoenergism (Greek: μονοενεργητισμός) was a notion in early medieval Christian theology, representing the belief that Christ had only one "energy" (energeia). The teaching of one energy was propagated during the first half of the seventh century by Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople but opposition to Dyoenergism would persist until Dyoenergism was espoused as Orthodoxy at the Sixth Ecumenical Council. Ultimately, monoenergism was rejected as heresy, in favour of dyoenergism.
After the failure of Emperor Justinian I and the Second Council of Constantinople to mend the Chalcedonian schism and unify main Christian communities within the Byzantine Empire by a single Christology, similar efforts were renewed by Heraclius (610–641) who attempted to solve the schism between the Eastern Orthodox Chalcedonian party and the monophysite non-Chalcedonian party, suggesting the compromise of monoenergism. This compromise adopted the Chalcedonian dyophysite belief that Christ the Incarnate Logos of God is of and in two natures, but tried to address monophysite misgivings by the view that Christ had one "energy" (energeia), a term whose definition was left deliberately vague. Monoenergism was accepted by the Patriarchs of Constantinople, Antioch, and Alexandria, as well as by the Armenians and was not clearly criticized by Pope Honorius I of Rome in his 635 epistle. However, it was rejected by Athanasius I Gammolo and the strong opposition of Patriarch Sophronius of Jerusalem won wide support. This led Heraclius to abandon the teaching in 638 (though still condemning Dyoenergism) and to attempt to enforce instead the doctrine of monothelitism, opposed most notably by Maximus the Confessor. This too failed to heal the schism and theologically unite the empire.
Both monoenergism as well as monotheletism were condemned as heresies by the Sixth Ecumenical Council, held in Constantinople in 680.Protasekretis
The prōtasēkrētis (Greek: πρωτασηκρῆτις), also found as prōtoasēkrētis (πρωτοασηκρῆτις) and Latinized as protasecretis or protoasecretis, was a senior official in the Byzantine bureaucracy. The title means "first asēkrētis", illustrating his position as the head of the order of the asēkrētis, the senior class of imperial notaries.
The post evolved gradually. The first asēkrētis are attested from the 6th century, and several Ecumenical Patriarchs of Constantinople and one emperor, Anastasios II (r. 713–715), were drawn from their ranks. Aside from possibly anachronistic references to Maximus the Confessor being a prōtasēkrētis under Emperor Heraclius (r. 610–641), the earliest confirmed occurrence (as proto a secreta) comes from the Liber Pontificalis for the year 756. As head of the imperial chancery (the effective successor of the late Roman primicerius notariorum), the position was highly influential: in the 899 Klētorologion of Philotheos, a list of precedence of Byzantine imperial officials, he is placed seventh among the sekretikoi, the financial ministers of the state. From documents and sigillographic evidence, the prōtasēkrētai held the dignities of prōtospatharios, patrikios and anthypatos. Among others, the Patriarch Photios (858–867 and 877–886) held the post.His subordinates included not only the asēkrētis, but also the inferior class of the imperial notarioi, under their head, the prōtonotarios, as well as the official known as dekanos, placed "in charge of the imperial papers" according to the De Ceremoniis of Emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (r. 913–959). The prōtasēkrētis seems also to have been in charge of preparing the imperial chrysobulls. After 1106, however, he was moved from the chancery and assumed judicial duties, heading one of the highest courts of the Byzantine Empire, along with the eparchos, the megas droungarios tēs viglas, the dikaiodotēs, the koiaistōr, the epi tōn kriseōn, and the katholikos, who headed the court for fiscal affairs (dēmosiaka pragmata). Although the class of the asēkrētis is not attested after the 12th century, the post of prōtasēkrētis survived into the Palaiologan period.Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (Greek: Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀρεοπαγίτης), also known as Pseudo-Denys, was a Christian theologian and philosopher of the late 5th to early 6th century, who wrote a set of works known as the Corpus Areopagiticum or Corpus Dionysiacum.
The author pseudonymously identifies himself in the corpus as "Dionysios", portraying himself as the figure of Dionysius the Areopagite, the Athenian convert of Paul the Apostle mentioned in Acts 17:34. This false attribution to the earliest decades of Christianity resulted in the work being given great authority in subsequent theological writing in both East and West.
The Dionysian writings and their mystical teaching were universally accepted throughout the East, amongst both Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians, and also had a strong impact in later medieval western mysticism, most notably Meister Eckhart. Its influence decreased in the West with the fifteenth-century demonstration of its later dating, but in recent decades, interest has increased again in the Corpus Areopagiticum.Pyrrhus of Constantinople
Pyrrhus (? – 1 June 654) was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 20 December 638 to 29 September 641, and again from 9 January to 1 June 654.
He was a supporter of Monotheletism, a christological doctrine propounded by the Emperor Heraclius. In 638, with the support of Heraclius, he was elected to the patriarchal throne. In the unrest following the death of Heraclius, he was accused of plotting against the life of Constantine III with Empress Martina to favor her son, Heraklonas. The army and the populace rose in revolt and the powerful Valentinus deposed and banished Pyrrhus to Africa. Soon after, Martina and Heraklonas were also deposed and exiled; Constans II, Constantine's son, was proclaimed the sole Emperor.
While in exile, in 645 he conducted with Maximus the Confessor a public discussion on faith (Disputatio cum Pyrrho), after which he rejected Monothelitism, and visited Rome in 647. From there he continued to Ravenna and returned to Constantinople, where he again reversed his position and re-embraced Monothelitism. He was excommunicated by Pope Theodore I as a consequence, but succeeded in becoming again Patriarch in early 654, holding the office until his death on 1 June of the same year.
He was posthumously cast out as heretical by the Third Council of Constantinople in 680/1.Second Council of Constantinople
The Second Council of Constantinople is the fifth of the first seven ecumenical councils recognized by both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church. It is also recognized by the Old Catholics and others. Protestant opinions and recognition of it are varied. Some Protestants, such as Calvinists and Lutherans, recognize the first four councils, whereas most Anglo-Catholics accept all seven. Constantinople II was convoked by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I under the presidency of Patriarch Eutychius of Constantinople. It was held from 5 May to 2 June 553. Participants were overwhelmingly Eastern bishops—only sixteen Western bishops were present, including nine from Illyricum and seven from Africa, but none from Italy—out of the 152 total.The main work of the council was to confirm the condemnation issued by edict in 551 by the Emperor Justinian against the Three Chapters. These were the Christological writings and ultimately the person of Theodore of Mopsuestia (died 428), certain writings against Cyril of Alexandria's Twelve Anathemas accepted at the Council of Ephesus, written by Theodoret of Cyrrhus (died c. 466), and a letter written against Cyrillianism and the Ephesian Council by Ibas of Edessa (died 457).The purpose of the condemnation was to make plain that the Great Church, which followed a Chalcedonian creed, was firmly opposed to Nestorianism as supported by the Antiochene school which had either assisted Nestorius, the eponymous heresiarch, or had inspired the teaching for which he was anathematized and exiled. The council also condemned the teaching that Mary could not be rightly called the Mother of God (Gk. Theotokos) but only the mother of the man (Gk. anthropotokos) or the mother of Christ (Gk. Christotokos).Justinian hoped that this would contribute to a reunion between the Chalcedonians and monophysites in the eastern provinces of the Empire. Various attempts at reconciliation between these parties within the Byzantine Empire were made by many emperors over the four centuries following the Council of Ephesus, none of them successful. Some attempts at reconciliation, such as this one, the condemnation of the Three Chapters and the unprecedented posthumous anathematization of Theodore—who had once been widely esteemed as a pillar of orthodoxy—causing further schisms and heresies to arise in the process, such as the aforementioned schism of the Three Chapters and the emergent semi-monophysite compromises of monoenergism and monotheletism. These propositions assert, respectively, that Christ possessed no human energy but only a divine function or principle of operation (purposefully formulated in an equivocal and vague manner, and promulgated between 610 and 622 by the Emperor Heraclius under the advice of Patriarch Sergius I of Constantinople) and that Christ possessed no human will but only a divine will, "will" being understood to mean the desires and appetites in accord with the nature (promulgated in 638 by the same and opposed most notably by Maximus the Confessor).Sergius I of Constantinople
Sergius I (Greek: Σέργιος Α΄, Sergios I ; d. 9 December 638 in Constantinople) was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople from 610 to 638. He is most famous for promoting Monothelite Christianity, especially through the Ecthesis.Sergius was born of Syrian Jacobite heritage. He first came to power as Patriarch of Constantinople in 610. He was also a known supporter of Emperor Heraclius, crowning Heraclius as Emperor himself in 610. Sergius also provided support to Heraclius throughout his campaign against the Persians. Sergius also played a prominent role in the defense of Constantinople against the combined Avar-Persian-Slavic forces during their invasion of Constantinople in 626. Sergius' connections to both political and religious authorities gave him to his influence in both the religious and political communities to further Monothelitism as the primary formula of Christ within the church. This was met with much opposition, especially from that of the Chalcedonian supporters, Maximus the Confessor and Sophronius. In response to their resistance to accept the ideas of Monothelitism, Sergius responded with the Ecthesis, a formula which forbade the idea that the Person of Christ had two energies in favour of the idea that the Person of Christ had two natures that were united by a single will. The Ecthesis was signed by Heraclius in 638, the same year that Sergius died.
The Ecthesis would only be seen as an accepted doctrine for two years; the death of Pope Honorius I resulted in a significant reduction in Monothelitism support. The Ecthesis was condemned in 640 by Pope John IV. Additionally, both Sergius and Pope Honorius I were condemned as heretics by the church in 680-681 by the Third Council of Constantinople.
|Early Middle Ages|
|High Middle Ages|
|Mysticism and reforms|