Redactioneel / Editorial: 5 jaargangen Gouden Hoorn (5:2 – Winter 1997-1998)

De vijfde jaargang is volbracht met dit tweede nummer. Een goede reden meenden wij, om een index van artikelen van de eerste vijf jaar op te nemen. Ook zijn we verheugd te melden dat Gouden Hoorn een website heeft sinds september, waarop alle nummers te vinden zijn.

Het aantal artikelen groeide weer, en we zijn trots het tweede deel van Dirk Krausmüller’s serie over ‘Byzantine concepts of the Resurrection’ te publiceren.

In deze aflevering ook twee bijdragen van schrijvers afkomstig uit Tur ‘Abdin, een streek waar ooit de grens van het Byzantijnse Rijk heeft gelopen: in Gabriel Rabo’s artikel worden we eraan herinnerd dat het klooster Mor Gabriel 1600 jaar geleden is opgericht en nog steeds, zij het onder moeilijke omstandigheden, de traditie doorgeeft van Syrische taal en religieus onderricht.

Neurez Atto verraste ons met haar gedichten over het leven in onvrijwillige ballingschap, waarvan we er in Gouden Hoorn Literair twee publiceren.

André de Raaij recenseerde Met de bijbel door Turkije, en verwerkte in zijn beschouwing overwegingen over onze ‘politieke correctheid’ en Turkije’s gebrek aan respect voor haar minderheden.

Tot slot nog een artikel van Annabelle Parker over de worstelingen van ascetisch levende vrouwen met de verleidingen des levens. Rest dit ‘skelet omhuld met vlees’ nog te melden dat Gouden Hoorn vanaf de volgende jaargang samen gaat werken met de Late Antiquity Research Group (L.A.R.G.) in Engeland, waardoor GH een ‘joint publication’ wordt met L.A.R.G. We hopen dat deze samenwerking nog meer vruchten zal afwerpen.

Dank wederom aan al onze lezers en allen die zich geïnteresseerd hebben getoond voor Gouden Hoorn.

Editorial: five volumes of Golden Horn

This second issue completes the fifth volume of Gouden Hoorn. This is a good reason for publishing an index containing the articles of the first five volumes, which is included in this issue. Also, we are glad to announce the launch of our website, at which you can find all previous volumes.

The amount of articles has risen again in this issue, and we are proud to present the second part of Dirk Krausmüller’s article on Byzantine concepts of the Resurrection. Also, we have two authors who are both from Tur ‘Abdin, an area where once the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire lay: in Gabriel Rabo’s article, we are reminded that the monastery of Mor Gabriel was erected 1600 years ago and is still passing on the tradition of the study of Syriac and religious teachings, albeit in very difficult circumstances.

Neurez Atto surprized us with her poems on life in involuntary exile, of which we have published two here. André de Raaij reviewed Met de bijbel door Turkije, and incorporated in his contemplation thoughts on our ‘political correctness’ and Turkey’s lack of respect for its minorities.

Last but not least, an article by Annabelle Parker about the strugglings of ascetically living women with temptations of all kinds. This ‘skeleton with flesh’ has one more announcement to make: Gouden Hoorn will be cooperating with the Late Antiquity Research Group (L.A.R.G.), based in England, from next volume. This journal, Gouden Hoorn/Golden Horn, will become a joint publication between O.B.O. and L.A.R.G. We hope this will be an even more fruitful cooperation.

Our thanks to all who have been reading Gouden Hoorn and who have shown their interest.

Volume 5, issue 2 (winter 1997-1998)


‘Nothing but blood mixed with phlegm’: Desert Mothers’ teachings on the object of desire

by Annabelle Parker(1)

Three years ago I introduced the audience of this symposium to Synkletike, ascetical teacher and Desert Mother. This time the theme of the symposium seemed appropriate to look at the Vita again from the angle of ‘desire and denial’…

In this paper I will discuss desire and temptations of women who lived ascetically in Late Antique christianity, with emphasis on Synkletike. It is not an attempt to prove that women had different temptations than men when in the desert.

Most women who wanted to become a ‘Bride of Christ’ went to live in a church, to become ‘virgins of the church’. These communities already existed in fourth-century Egypt, because for instance the well known Anthony sent his sister to a community of virgins, when he started his ascetical lifestyle.2

The culmination of desert asceticism can be found in fourth-century Egypt. According to Athanasius, Anthony did a most unusual thing: he retreated into the desert, not just at the edge of his village, but deep into the desert.3 He closed himself in a tomb, and later on in a fortress, to emerge some twenty years later as if transfigurated, for he had gained the state of ‘apatheia’, passionlessness. Many men followed in his footsteps, and the retreat into the desert as an ascetic became an important ‘movement’.

But, as this paper suggests, not only men retreated, we have accounts of women who also lived a life of asceticism in or on the edge of the desert.

Synkletike was a virgin who lived on the outskirts of Alexandria in the 4th or 5th century. The Vita of this ‘didaskalos’4, written by someone who has been called ‘Pseudo-Athanasius’,5 can be taken as an example for women in that age, who chose an ascetical lifestyle, and for whom it was meant to be an example. As the name of Pseudo-Athanasius suggests, Synkletike has often been referred to as the female St. Anthony. This could mean that her Vita was a literary construction.

In Palladius’ Lausiac History6 not only stories about holy men, but also of women are mentioned.7

But, to quote Peter Brown: “No Life of Anthony heralded a new departure in the piety of Christian women”.8 The Life of Synkletike can be seen as an example of a female St. Anthony, because of her monologue on the Devil’s works (also called logismoi, or ‘thoughts’), and her retreat in a family tomb, and her giving away everything after the death of her parents; but the big movement of men going into the desert and building communities has not such a ‘heroic’ female counterpart. Not many women who became consecrated virgins, or Brides of Christ, had made this choice for themselves. It was mostly their parents who decided for them that they should live in a church, and dedicate themselves to being a gift to the church, a sacred vessel, although they kept their own free will.9 A virgin meant a lot to the household or small community: her prayers and fasting were a protection for the house from evils and disasters.10

But the women who became ‘famous’ were those who had chosen the ascetical life for themselves, wether it was through their sins or as widows, or even like Anthony, and who were not pushed by their parents. In the Apophthegmata Patrum 11 there are stories about the brave or seductive conduct of women, but we find only three headings of women whose sayings have been collected: Sarra, Theodora and Synkletike. Of these three, Synkletike’s life has been written down and transmitted separately, and both her sayings and Life may have a common source. Sarra and Theodore have left us just some of their sayings.

Before I start talking more about the Desert mothers, I would like to consider these stories about individual women living ascetically more in general. These are, amongst others: Mary of Egypt, Alexandra, Pelagia the Harlot, Thaïs, and in other places than Egypt: the female companions Jerome corresponded with (Eustochium, Melania the Younger, Paula), Egeria, Olympia, Febronia, Thecla, etc.

Some of these women are known through churchfathers. Sometimes a Vita has been written by a bishop, or it was mentioned in compilations of desert stories. Synkletike’s life was made famous through Athanasius (or rather: Pseudo-Athanasius), Thecla’s acts through Paul, Olympia through her friendship with Chrysostomos, Eustochium, Melania (the Elder: 340-410), Paula and Melania (the Younger: (+439) through their teacher Jerome, and Macrina, who was Gregory of Nyssa’s sister.

Others gained merit on their own: Egeria, who wrote her pilgrim’s travel journal, Mary of Egypt, and Sarra and Theodora, the desert mothers.

So even though some of these stories and lives of women have come to us introduced by a churchfather, it was also possible for a female ascetic to become well-known on her own accord.

The reasons for women to become an ascetic varied of course, but sometimes it seems to us that there is a cliché or pattern to be found, for instance, some females lived ascetically because they wanted to do penance for a sin, usually a sexual sin, for example: Mary of Egypt (harlot), Pelagia (harlot), and Alexandra, who felt guilty, because she had seduced a man. Others became ‘didaskalos’, teachers for other women or even men: for example Thekla12, Macrina, Gregory of Nyssa’s sister, who is depicted as a ‘virgin-philosopher’ and Synkletike, who teaches a crowd of women about ascetical practice.

Concerning teaching, Peter Brown13 states, that it was not at all unusual to have females as ‘spiritual guides’. Theodora is such a spiritual guide for men and women alike,14 and in the Vitae of Macrina15 and of Synkletike16, Thekla is mentioned as an example for their lives. In Synkletike’s Vita, the Saint addresses women in particular, but in the quotes of her Vita taken over in the Apophthegmata and in Paul of Evergetis’ Synagoge17, her words are for monks as well, shown in the male participiats.

There are also those women who, in order to survive in the desert, dressed themselves successfully as men, for example: Pelagia was a harlot in Antioch; on hearing a sermon spoken by bishop Nonnus in church, she decided to live ascetically, and was baptized by this same bishop. She disappeared and when she died in her cell in Jerusalem many years later, everyone, including bishop Nonnus, who came to visit her, or rather, him, thought she was the monk Pelagius, a man. But when they ‘set about anointing the body with myrrh, they found that it was a woman.’18

A lot of these women come from a rich background. That leaves them a lot to give up, which in some cases makes them very virtuous. Jerome helps a group of aristocratic women in Rome educate themselves, and Synkletike seems to have a lot to give away when her parents die. The name ‘Synkletike’ could mean female senator, senatrix, or wife of a senator. In the Vita, the author explains her name as being derived from ‘assembly of saints’ (from Synkletos, assembly)19 can also be a literary construction to take a wealthy woman as an example for other women, just because she can stand out as very generous. What news is there in the story of a poor girl living ascetically?

Finally we can categorize the women who were on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and some of them also wanted to visit the famous Desert fathers: Egeria20, who travelled supposedly from Galicia to the east, Melania the Younger21 and Severa the deaconness.22

As mentioned above, women who wanted to live ascetically, were able to do this in churches, where they were taken up with other virgins. Usually, these groups in churches or convents were gathered together by rich widows or unmarried women. Some virgins lived together in rooms or with their family.

But there were also women who lived alone, in a cell, not in a group. One of the three women mentioned in the Apophthegmata Patrum 23, Sarra, spent sixty years on the banks of the Nile, where the passage was very narrow, and thus the place where she lived was very difficult to approach. In a saying, we read: “It was said concerning her that for sixty years she lived beside a river and never lifted her eyes to look at it.”24 So looking at water while being in the desert was a temptation she resisted.

What were the desires or temptations to be on the look out for? Clearly, gluttony, and other ‘luxuries’, because they make us weak (c. 32); possessions of all kinds are also vices, because “the majority of our griefs and trials originate in the removal of possessions”, as Synkletike tells the reader (c. 35), “What course of action does he (the Enemy) have against those without possesions? None! Can he burn their estates? Impossible! Destroy their livestock? They do not have any! Lay hands on their dear ones? To these too they long ago said good-bye.”(c. 35)25 So the devil cannot touch those who have let go of their earthly possessions, according to Synkletike.

What about the other desire, the desire for another person?

For men, to be far away from women, preferably in the desert, was an effective way to live ascetically. Ascetical women lived more often in houses in cities, and could separate themselves from the ‘world’ by following a strict diet. Is this so?

According to Synkletike, fasting was not the only option for women, they also had to keep themselves from making public excursions in order to stop images arising in their thoughts (c. 25). Synkletike also gives the following warning for ‘sisterly love’: (c. 27) “…the Malevolent One has transformed even sisterly love into his own brand of evil. He has actually tripped up, through their attachment to their sisters, virgins who have fled from marriage and all worldly illusion”.

The true ascetic must really be the person who stands above the male or female body of the other, as Susanna Elm in her book ‘Virgins of God’ shows by quoting an anonymous saying about a monk who takes a detour to avoid a group of virgins. The leader of the group says: “If you were a perfect monk, you would not have seen us as women.”26


The Life of Synkletike contains a large monologue on the logismoi, or: ‘thoughts’. According to the author of the work, not a lot is known about her ascetical practice, because Synkletike did not allow anyone to “be an observer of this” (c. 15). But the monologue explaining the ways in which every person’s logismoi work shows that the Vita is a work of great psychological insight (for instance: caput 41, see below).

The theory of the logismoi has been developed by Evagrius of Pontus (+399). Every person has ‘thoughts’. One of the thoughts that Synkletike uses in her teachings is for example: fornication (c. 26). The Devil uses the thoughts to “promote his own plans” (c. 27): he sets the thoughts to work through memories or visions of objects. It is how we react to these memories or visions that we know which thought the Devil is using.27 The ascetic has to learn to master his or her thoughts. The impure and material thoughts are the first ones to be mastered by ascetics. After these follow the more interior ones like arrogance. The Devil uses more subtle means for those ‘internal’ thoughts, so one has to be more advanced in the ascetical lifestyle to handle those internal thoughts.

What does Synkletike say about the logismos of fornication, of sexual ‘impure’ thoughts? of physical attraction? The devil works through the senses, or he works through remembrance, images of the past that go through one’s mind. Even “to give assent to these fantasies, is equivalent to sexual impurity in the world” (c. 26). One of the most interesting chapters of the Vita Syncleticae, concerning thoughts of desire is the next: (c. 29)

“For example, if in the crannies of the mind there should appear a vision of a beautiful apparition, it should be opposed instantly by one’s rational faculty. One should mentally gouge out the eyes of the image, and tear the flesh from its cheeks, and slash off the lips too – then one should look at the ugly framework of the bare bones! then one should view with scorn what was the object of desire! For thus the mind would have the strength to retreat from a foolish deception. The love object was nothing but blood mixed with phlegm, a mixture that for living creatures requires a covering. In this way, then, also through such mental processes it is possible to frighten off the foul evil… And still further, one should imagine over the entire body of the object of lust foul-smelling and festering sores and to see it with the inner eye, to put it briefly, as something like a corpse or even to see oneself as a corpse. And most important of all is control over the belly, for thus is possible also control over pleasures beneath the belly.”

This is a cruel but effective citation, and there are more stories like this one.

In his article ‘Mères du désert et Maternité spirituelle’, p. 236-237,28 Joseph Soler writes that the fathers did not underestimate the spiritual and ascetical life of females, and that the spiritual direction that women were taught did not vary much from that of men. The emphasis on Christ as the husband of virgins, and taking Mary more as a model for them, were the only differences. But Sarra, the desert mother, had to prove herself still in front of men, according to this tale:

“Another time, two old men, great anchorites, came to the district of Pelusium to visit her. When they arrived one said to the other, ‘Let us humiliate this old woman.’ So they said to her, Be careful not to become conceited thinking to yourself: “Look how anchorites are coming to see me, a mere woman.” ‘ But Amma Sarah said to them, ‘According to nature I am a woman, but not according to my thoughts.'”29.

So did women de-womanize themselves or their thoughts? As I have mentioned, some women dressed as men, because it was safer, and in some cases, to gain acceptance among a community of monks. Maybe some women did not want to live with hundreds of other women, who often had fights, or to avoid what Synkletike had called ‘sisterly love’. In order to live alone, a woman had the choice between making herself inapproachable (like in a cell that was sealed off, or up a steep mountain), or pretending to be a man. And anyway: if a woman went to live in the desert, her appearance would adapt itself to the climate there, like Mary of Egypt, whose clothes were torn and lost long ago.30

Synkletike went to live in a family tomb on the outskirts of Alexandria. Many women found their way to her place, and it was only after many pleas that she talked about the way to leave the whole world behind in order to “advance towards God” (c. 60). But Synkletike’s sayings were taken up in the Apophthegmata Patrum, just as Sarra’s. And moreover, Synkletike’s Vita is cited in the tenth-century monastic florilegium, Paul of Evergetis’ Synagoge, that was being read in monasteries, and the verbs in female form were written in the male form, in order to appeal to ‘everyone’, not only to women… And as Benedicta Ward told me, when discussing the Desert fathers and mothers: “some Desert fathers were spiritual mothers too, so it is not a matter of gender, but more a matter of approach.”31

So if the difference between men and women in the desert was not mentionable, what about the difference between women who lived in the ‘world’ and ascetical women: Synkletike tells this to those who have come to hear her (c. 42):

“Let us women not be misled by the thought that those in the world are without cares. For perhaps in comparison they struggle more than we do. For towards women generally there is great hostility in the world. They bear children with difficulty and risk, and they suffer patiently through nursing, and they share illnesses with their sick children — and these things they endure without having any limit to their travail. For either the children they bear are maimed in body, or, brought up in perversity, they treacherously murder their parents. Since we women know these facts, therefore, let us not be deluded by the Enemy that their life is easy and carefree. For in giving birth women die in labour; and yet, in failing to give birth, they waste away under reproaches that they are barren and unfruitful.”

Conclusion, a general one

This paper has been about ascetics, about women, about the temptations of sexual attraction, how to act against it. The fascinating world of desert fathers and mothers still captures our imagination, even though the monastic environment is not desired by most. The teachings that were written down, even if the persons may not be historical, are still read today. Does this prove they have a universal message? To train body and soul for salvation, to be free of desires, it must be as old as man himself. And I admit, when I am stuck in my thoughts like possessiveness, or fornicative ones, then it helps to read about the struggles of others before me, and to realize that it makes sense to be able to discern between the different ‘thoughts’ and what stirs me, and how I get addicted, and how I can project my bad feelings on a devil, rather than on a human being. The stories of these women and men make our own bad thoughts more human, and they prove that nothing that one wants is reached by not putting in an effort. And that temptations are a basic force in everyone’s life.

I hope you have enjoyed hearing something about the temptations in the desert.


1 This paper was given as a communication at the 31st Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Brighton, 21-24 March 1997, which carried the theme ‘desire and denial’.

2 Vita Antonii, ed. J.-P. Migne, Patrologia Graeca 26, col. 835-976, 841 b.

3 Idem, 860 B- and further.

4 Some mss. refer to Synkletike as didáskalos, see Migne’s ed. in P.G. 28, col. 1487-1558; Colbert’s ed. has metros, see Ecclesiae Graecae Monumenta, T. 1, Parisiorum 1677, ff. 201-277, so have Vat. gr. 825, Paris grec 1449, and Gotob. 4, and Athena 2104; Coislin 124 has aeí parthénou; Paris grec 1598 has parthénou; Uppsala gr. 5 has a strange reference to kallipárthenou Théklis.

5 Ed.: Migne, J.-P.: Patrologia Graeca 28, col. 1487-1558.

6 Palladius: Historia Lausiaca, ed. C. Butler, Cambridge 1898-1904 (2 vols).

7 Margot King: The desert mothers, Toronto, 1989, p. 10, has apparently counted 2975 women mentioned in the Historia Lausiaca.

8 Peter Brown, The body and society, 262.

9 Idem, 260.

10 Ibid., 264.

11 Ed. J.-P. Migne, Patrologia graeca, T. 65, col. 72-440, Paris, 1868. Transl.: Benedicta Ward, Kalamazoo, 1975. Dutch: Chr. Wagenaar, Vaderspreuken: gerontikon, Bonheiden, 1987 (3de herz. uitg.).

12 Who taught or preached even though Paul had written: (1 Tm 2, 12): ‘But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.’

13 The body and society, p. 269.

14 The sayings of the Desert Fathers: the alphabetical collection, transl. forew. by Benedicta Ward, Kalamazoo, Mich., rev. ed. 1984 (1975), p. 82.

15 Vita Macrinae: Migne, J.-P.: P.G., T. 46, cols 96-1000. Translat.: Kevin Corrigan, The Life of Saint Macrina, by Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, Toronto, 1989 (Peregrina transl. series no. 10), p. 28/Dutch transl. F. van der Meer en G. Bartelink, Utrecht, 1971, p. 35.

16 P.G. 28, see caput 10 for mention of Thekla.

17 Euergetinòs etoi Sunagooge toon theofthóngoon remátoon kaì didaskalíoon toon theofóroon kaì hagíoon patéroon, ed. Makarios Korinthos, Nikodemos Hagiorites, Venetië, 1783; 7de ed. in 4 vols: Athena, 1983.

18 Helen Waddell: The desert fathers, translations from the Latin with an introduction, London, 1987 (1936), p. 281.

19 PG 28, caput 4.

20 Peregrinatio ad loca sancta, éd. P. Maraval (Journal de voyage), Paris, 1982 (Sources chrétiennes, 296).

21 There is no edition known to me of this Saint’s Life, see Joyce E. Salisbury: Church Fathers, independent virgins, London, 1992 (1991), for a chapter about her deeds, p. 89-96.

22 See for Severa: Susanna Elm: ‘Virgins of God’: the making of asceticism in Late Antiquity, Oxford, 1994: Severa wanted to cross the desert on her pilgrimage to the Desert fathers, pp. 277-279.

23 Ed. J.-P. Migne, Patrologia graeca, T. 65, col. 72-440, Paris, 1868. Transl.: Benedicta Ward, Kalamazoo, 1975. Dutch: Chr. Wagenaar, Vaderspreuken: gerontikon, Bonheiden, 1987 (3de herz. uitg.).

24 Sarah 3, Ward: p. 230. Wagenaar, p. 250.

25 Vita Syncleticae, transl. E. Bryson-Bongie.

26 Susanna Elm, p. 267 and n. 45: N 23 and also Abraham 1.

27 See for this specific psychological explaining of the thoughts: Anselm Grun: Het omgaan met de boze, Bonheiden, 1984, transl. from Der Umgang mit dem Bösen, der Dämonenkampf im alten Mönchtum, Münsterschwarzach [s.d.], p. 26.

28 Joseph M. Soler: “Mères du désert et maternité spirituelle”, in Collectanea Cisterciensia 48 (1986) 235-250.

29 Sarah 4, transl. Ward, 193, Wagenaar, 250.

30 See for Mary of Egypt: J.-P. Migne (ed.): Patrologia Graeca 87, col. 3697-3726, and the translation of Benedicta Ward: Harlots of the desert, Kalamazoo, 1987, p. 26-56, for this citation: p. 41.

31 On my visit to the Convent of the Incarnation, Fairacres, Oxford, Sept. 1996.

Timothy of Antioch: Byzantine concepts of the Resurrection, part 2

by Dirk Krausmüller

This paper examines the concepts of the glorified body developed by patriarch Anastasius I. of Antioch (559-570, 593-599) and the priest Timothy of Antioch (6th/7th c.) in their sermons on the transfiguration.1 I have juxtaposed these two texts because Anastasius clearly refers to Timothy when he attacks his conclusion that the identities of Moses and Elijah were recognized by the apostles through their visible attributes “tables” and “chariots”.2 In the first part of this paper I have presented Anastasius’ own explanation which was based on his belief in a spiritualisation of the body which allowed mutual identification through “clairvoyance” (diórasis). Now I will try to reconstruct Timothy’s radically different concept of glorified humanity.3

Timothy discusses the significance of the events on Mt. Thabor in two different passages of his sermon.4 At first he tells his audience that Christ devised the transfiguration as a means to cure the apostles of their doubts about his resurrection: “At once he assures the apostles while still living on the earth and in the body by showing them the unbearable power … with bodily eyes the God-like power of the resurrection.”5 “In front of them he positioned Moses and Elijah who had been considered dead by them in their thoughts being clad in unapproachable glory and telling the sufferings of the affair of the cross in Jerusalem in their own articulate voice so that they might wait for what they had been taught through sight and hearing.”6 Timothy then quotes Luke’s account of the transfiguration before embarking on a second discussion of the event.7 “Have you seen what assurance the Lord Christ in his own person gave to the doubters after eight days while they were still on earth by showing them the unapproachable beauty of his divinity – not as great as it was but as much as the unsleeping eyes of men could bear – and revealed to them his glory?”8 “Likewise he presented Moses and Elijah as more flourishing than in their previous lives relating the signs of the cross that were going to happen so that the apostles realized that like them no death ruled the just and that they might hate the present life.”9

The two descriptions of the transfiguration follow the same pattern. Twice Timothy speaks about Christ’s plan to give “assurance” (plèroforía) to the apostles and in both cases he first refers to Christ’s transfigured body and then to the appearance of Moses and Elijah as witnesses thus presenting the participants in the order of their importance. A closer look at Timothy’s text, however, reveals that not Christ but Moses and Elijah are the central figures of his sermon. Before he discusses the transfiguration itself Timothy gives an elaborate account of the worries of the apostles after they have heard about Christ’s prophecy of his death and resurrection: “I must go to Jerusalem and suffer much and die and rise on the third day.”10 He presents them as “cowards, pusillanimous, held by human weakness” reacting with disbelief and disappointment.11 Their thoughts culminate in the question “Who has ever been resurrected from the dead?”12 To stress the truth of this general statement they point to Moses and Elijah.13 By ascribing such a reasoning to the apostles, Timothy contrives to introduce Moses and Elijah as possible “precedents” for the resurrection before he discusses their roole at the transfiguration. Thus, he can interpret Christ’s assurance as corresponding to the thoughts of the apostles and state that Moses and Elijah appear during the transfiguration exactly because they have been “considered dead by them” and thus prove the “power of the resurrection.”14

The reason for the curious shift away from Christ is probably that Christ is not yet dead and his transfiguration only a passing change which does not prove anything about the state he will be in after his resurrection. Christ’s assurance, however, is only effective if Moses and Elijah really have their glorified bodies and are not just “types” of a coming transformation at the last judgement. Timothy’s concern not to jeopardize this reality leads him to avoid all references to the second coming.15 This is most obvious in his interpretation of the prophecy: “Verily, I tell you, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”16 When he explains the “kingdom of God” as “the glory which is allotted to the faithful after the departure from here, the future glory”, then this does not point to an absolute future event since what is still the future for the apostles is already the present for Moses and Elijah on Mt. Thabor.17 And when he says that the cloud overshadowed Moses and Elijah at the transfiguration “so that the apostles, too, would be assured in which state of glory they were” this clearly refers to a permanent condition (katástasis) which is simply no longer visible to apostles and not to a passing impersonation of the future resurrection.18 Thus, for Timothy the transfiguration is not a prefiguration of the kingdom of God, it is the kingdom of God come true, at least as far as it concerns Moses and Elijah.

This leads to a reinterpretation of the biblical account that Moses and Elijah appear to make a prophecy about Christ’s coming death. While Timothy repeatedly refers to it, the context invariably shows that this prophecy has no function in his argument.19 Like Anastasius Timothy stresses the contrast between the apostles’ disbelief in Christ’s prophecy and their assurance by that of Moses and Elijah when he lets them say to the apostles: “Since you do not obey the Lord, at least believe the servants”.20 Timothy’s explanation, however, for why the apostles believed them whereas they had doubted Christ’s words before is radically different from Anastasius’ solution. The words of Moses and Elijah have not changed their quality by becoming more “transparent” and therefore self-evident.21 What assures the apostles is that they are confronted with “real” visible glorified individuals speaking with “real” audible voices. And as sensible bodies they are perceived by the senses. Thus there is throughout a stress on the “assurance” through sense perception.22

Timothy refrains from introducing a superior reality which transcends the actual figures which sets him apart from Anastasius who immediately veers away from Moses and Elijah to the concepts they supposedly stand for, i. e. the law and the prophets .23 This can be explained by his wish not to endanger the “reality” of the presence of Moses and Elijah. Characteristically, we find no trace of an allegorical treatment of the biblical story in Timothy’s sermon.24 Moreover, there is a curious passage in the text which indicates his reservations about this type of interpretation. When the apostles have heard Christ’s announcement of his coming death and resurrection they subject it to their reasoning.25 They muster their experience and find no precedent for such an event. They do, however, not think that Christ has lied to them but rather that Christ’s words must be an “allegorical speech”.26 This allows them interpret the prophecy in a way that fits their preconceived notions of death and life. This is quite a penetrating criticism for it is true that allegorical interpretations lead to the reduction of individual phenomena to a small number of already known standard patterns and that they tend to explain away new and unprecedented events.27 So they can conclude that “nothing of what he says will happen”.28

They are, however, not at all happy about this supposed allegory for they complain: “He misleads us as simple people.”29 What they mean is that Christ worries them by using figurative speech because they are no specialists for this kind of interpretation and therefore might take his words at face-value. Timothy construes a case here where the possible existence of a hidden meaning makes the status of the actual words ambiguous in the way that nothing “real” might correspond to them. Of course, this is a caricature of the allegorical method but it shows an inherent tendency. When Timothy has the apostles hear the words and then consider their meaning he lets them follow Anastasius’ precept not to stop at the surface.30 But the apostles only succeed in casting doubts on the literal meaning without being able to find a conclusive interpretation. The consequence is faithlessness.31 This impasse can only be overcome on the level of sense perception by presenting the apostles with something “real” which corresponds to the literal meaning of Christ’s words and thus excludes the possibility of allegory.

This means that Christ simply broadens the experience of the apostles on which they can base their judgement about the possible and impossible. In this framework there is no need for a growing refinement of the intellect that can lead men beyond the phenomena to divine trutès. So it is not surprising that in Timothy’s sermon the “assurance” of the apostles (whom he has just presented as rather obtuse) comes “fast” and “sudden”.32 We can conclude that Timothy regards sense perception as a self-evident and non-ambiguous type of knowledge by which the object can be grasped “spontaneously” without the need of subjecting it to human reasoning.33 When he juxtaposes the assurance “with bodily eyes” with what the apostles had thought “in the mind” he shows a strong aversion against the activity of the human intellect which leads away from the sensible and subverts its “reality”.34 This may be one reason why Timothy does not consider at all that Christ might take the shortcut to the apostles’ minds to inform them about the identities of Moses and Elijah.35

This brings us back to our starting-point since it helps to explain why he introduces visible signs from which the apostles can infer who they are.36 The identification through attributes, however, is not just necessitated by the exclusion of other ways of communication; it has an important function for the apostles’ assurance. As we have already seen Timothy stresses the roole of Moses and Elijah as individual precedents for the resurrection and not just as random examples to demonstrate a general concept of glorified man. Timothy’s reasoning that the attributes allow a certain identification of their bearers helps us to determine how he conceives of this individuality for it presupposes that Moses and Elijah are permanently connected with the “tables” and the “chariot”.37 And this is also the case with their activities. Timothy inserts a dialogue in which Peter tries to persuade Christ to stay on Mt. Thabor by pointing to Elijah and Moses as “efficacious generals” who will defend them against the Jews.38 When he specifies that Elijah will again burn them with fire from heaven and that Moses will again drown them like the Egyptians he interprets the actions of Elijah and Moses in their lifetimes as their own customary ways of acting which they can reproduce at will even after their demise.39 We can conclude that Timothy regards the continuing command over the body and its faculties as an intrinsic part of the afterlife and thus stresses the permanence of the individual as an autonomous actor even beyond death.

This is in marked contrast with the monenergetic and monotheletic leanings of patriarch Anastasius. For Anastasius the transformation of the body which shows at the transfiguration is paralleled with (and preceded by) an inner transformation through the renunciation of one’s self.40 He refers to Paul who “has remodelled the life itself and thus no longer lives himself nor moves or acts on his own account but has Christ acting in him as the life itself; for he has left himself utterly and mortified his own will subjecting himself completely to the divine will”.41 Thus for Anastasius there will be no room for individuality and individual activity (idioos … energoon) after the resurrection.42

Timothy is clearly opposed to such an ideal of human perfection. In his sermon on Symeon he inserts another episode where sense perception is given an important function for the identification of an individual. Timothy explains how Symeon identified Mary among all the mothers coming to the temple: “Symeon turned his eyes hither and thither and when he saw many mothers in the ordinary shape of humanity but only the Virgin surrounded by an infinite and divine light he ran to her and dived through the other mothers.”43 This very lively description is another example for Timothy’s stress on human activity even when the “supernatural” is involved. This stress becomes even more apparent when we look at the context. The identification of Mary by Symeon is preceded by divine interventions which determine his actions. In his house Symeon was told by the Holy Spirit that he should go to the temple to hold the Christ-child as had been prophesied to him before.44 Then he ran to the temple “rejuvenated by the swift wing of his desire as if he was lifted up by the Spirit”.45 And having arrived at the temple he “placed himself near the door waiting for the revelation of the Holy Spirit.”46 This whole sequence is presented by Timothy as a paraphrase of Luke’s statement that “Symeon went to the temple in the spirit”.47 The drift of Timothy’s argument becomes obvious when we compare it with a “monenergetic” interpretation of the same verse. Such an interpretation we find e. g. in Leontius of Neapolis who concluded from it that “the saints do nothing in a self-moved way but are moved by the Holy Spirit”.48 Timothy, on the other hand, breaks up the divine influence into two distinct revelations at home and in the temple separated by Symeon’s walk to the temple where the Spirit is only mentioned to account for the extraordinary strength of Symeon’s own desire. We can conclude that Timothy only accepts individual divine interventions which are clearly marked as extraordinary and is not prepared to conceive of the Spirit as a continuous moving force in man replacing his own faculties.49

This stress on the preservation of individual humanity affects Timothy’s interpretation of the events on Mt. Thabor. In keeping with the biblical account and earlier interpretations he presents the transfiguration of Christ as a revelation of the “inaccessible glory of his divinity”.50 But at the same time he makes it clear this does not mean a transformation of Christ’s human body into something else. Surprisingly enough for a sermon on the transfiguration the actual term metamórfoosis never appears in the text. And this is not only because Timothy follows the account of the story given by Luke who does not use this term. When he says that Christ assured the apostles he specifies that he did so autoprosoopoos.51 The usual meaning of this word is, of course, “in one’s own person”.52 But prósoopon also means “face” and has, in fact, just appeared in this meaning in Timothy’s quotation of Luke: “The appearance of his face became different.”53 So we can take autoprosoopoos to mean “with the same face” in the sense that Christ’s humanity was preserved. Timothy must have introduced this term to counterbalance Luke’s statement (who presents Christ as heteroprósoopos).

When we now turn to Moses and Elijah we find them described as “clad in inaccessible glory” which likens their appearance to that of Christ.54 This is again counterbalanced by a stress on the constancy of the human individual. When Timothy mentions that they foretell Christ’s death to the apostles he says that they spoke “in the sound of their own voice”.55 Thus he not only specifies that their speech is “sound” (fthoggè) and therefore audible but also that it is “of their own voice” (idiófoonos) i. e. that they used their own physical equipment to articulate their words.56 Their glory which Timothy compares with a garment is probably nothing more than a kind of halo added to the original human shape.57

Timothy’s preoccupation with the preservation of “ordinary” humanity as opposed to its transformation through divinisation shows his affinity to the “Nestorians”. In fact, the use of the term autoprosoopoos points to a Nestorian Christology for prósoopon can mean both Christ’s human face and his human person which implies that Timothy accepts the existence of two “persons” in Christ.58

The stress on individual human activity influences Timothy’s interpretation of the resurrection. In the passage about the reflections of the apostles which precedes their assurance through the transfiguration he explains why they think of Moses and Elijah as precedents. They reason that Moses and Elijah are more likely to rise from the dead than other men because they were “the most efficacious people in this life”.59 Thus, they accept that there is a causal relation between their activity in this life and the resumption of this activity at the resurrection. This implies that Moses and Elijah have an active share in their rebirth. Such an interpretation is, in fact, demanded by the context for when the apostles first say that Christ “has resurrected the dead” and immediately afterwards maintain that “nobody has risen from the dead” this would be a blatant contradiction if we do not interpret the first statement as referring to “passive” resurrections effected by somebody else and the second as referring to “active” self-induced resurrections.60 We must remember that Moses and Elijah are introduced as precedents for Christ who also resurrects himself after he has died.61 Thus, the apostles express the belief that the activity of an individual human being other than Christ himself can bring about its immortality. Instead of a clear distinction between Christ and all other human beings there seems to be a continuous scale where the degree of activity in this life determines the degree of immortality in the afterlife.62

In a concept of immortality which is based on continuous activity the break caused by death and resurrection creates severe problems. Characteristically, the conclusion drawn by the apostles from the resurrections worked by Christ is not that they will also be resurrected after death but that they will not die at all: “We considered ourselves immortal”.63 From this point of view it is not surprising that according to Timothy the apostles not only doubted the possibility of Christ’s resurrection; they also could not see the point of his death: “If he will rise after three days why then does he die?”64

Timothy does not only ascribe such a reasoning to the apostles; he himself denies death and resurrection a roole as necessary preconditions for the glorification of the body. This is not immediately obvious for at first sight he seems to follow the traditional Christian teaching. After all, he states that Moses and Elijah prove “the power of the resurrection” and gives as the reason for their appearance Christ’s wish to assure the apostles “that the rebirth is more admirable than the present life.”65 But when we look more closely at the case of Elijah we find a curious ambiguity. Whereas in the passages mentioned so far Timothy treats Moses and Elijah exactly alike, there are other passages in the sermon where he presents Elijah as being still alive when he appeared on Mt. Thabor. Thus he refers to Philippians 2, 10 and identifies Moses as the representative of the “underworld” and Elijah as representing “heaven”.66 Since this is a topos which he took over from earlier sermons on the transfiguration one could argue that he simply followed an established tradition here without caring for the coherence of his argument.67 This is, however, not a satisfying explanation since this distinction is also found in the highly original passage where Timothy presents the thoughts of the apostles about Christ’s resurrection: “Elijah was assumed and has not appeared; Moses has died and is reduced to dust.”68 When we look at the context of this statement we can resolve the apparent contradiction. Since it is preceded by the question “Who has ever been resurrected from the dead?” we can conclude that in the case of Elijah “death” for the apostles simply means that he is no longer visible to them.69 This must be Timothy’s own solution for it is highly unlikely that he would have departed from a tradition that unanimously accepted that Elijah had not yet died when he appeared to the apostles. Thus, the transformation of Elijah’s body would have happened in his celestial abode without a previous separation and reunion of body and soul.70

One of Timothy’s peculiarities is his great interest in all cases where a human being was taken away from the earth by God while still alive in his body. Thus when at the end of the sermon on the transfiguration the Father witnesses the divinity of the Son the only other activity of Christ he mentions after the creation of the world and of Adam is the “transfer” of Enoch.71 The same interest shows in his sermon on Symeon where we again find Enoch mentioned.72 Here he heads a list of “just” men who prove the truth of Wisdom 5, 16: “The just live for ever.”73 In a paraphrase Timothy explains how he understands this verse: “There is no more ever-living animate statue among rational beings than the just.”74 The expression “animate statue” clearly refers to the eternal life of the human compound and not to that of the soul alone.75 This, of course, finds a fitting illustration in the case of Enoch and explains why he is given such a prominent position in the series of just men.76 Wisdom 5, 16 was one of Timothy’s pet quotations because we also find it in the sermon on the transfiguration after he has said that Moses and Elijah demonstrate that “no death is master of the just”.77 It is likely that here, too, Timothy wanted to express that they never died in the sense of a separation from the body.78 This certainly is the case with Elijah as we have already seen. But what about Moses? After all, the apostles expressly say that he has died. Their statement is, however, ambiguous for when they add that he is “in an unknown grave” it is left open whether he has really died or whether they simply infer this.79 After all, Timothy likens Moses’ fate to that of Elijah when he then lets the apostles continue that neither of them “has revealed himself”.80 This repeats the previous statement that Elijah “has not appeared” but now refers to both figures.81 There was a Jewish tradition that Moses did not die and Timothy may have been aware of it.82

Even if this cannot be conclusively proven it is obvious that Timothy shows a tendency to extend the model of Elijah to other figures. This can be seen from his concept of Mary’s afterlife which he propounds in his sermon on Symeon: “The virgin has been immortal until now, after he who has lived in her has moved her to places belonging to the assumed.”83 Thus Timothy not only presents her as transferred with her body which was a current belief in his time. He also states that Mary has not died yet which sets him apart from all other accounts of Mary’s assumption where it is invariably preceded by her death and resurrection.84 Timothy clearly fashions Mary’s afterlife after the model of Enoch and Elijah.85 And just as in the case of Elijah it is implied that the transformation of her body to the better has already happened without her previous death.86

Timothy’s concept of the afterlife is not unprecedented as can be seen from a comparison with the writings of Ephraem of Amida who was patriarch of Antioch under Justinian.87 Ephraem also accords the assumptions of Elijah and Enoch an important place in the history of salvation. He states that Christ took them as “firstlings of the whole dough” and then explains that Adam would never have died and remained uncorrupted if he had not sinned and that Elijah and Enoch are still alive to demonstrate this fact.88 This has far-reaching consequences for the roole of Christ as saviour of mankind for obviously Elijah and Enoch do not owe their return to primeval perfection to the incarnation of God but to their own sinless life. So it is only logical that Ephraem extends Christ’s roole as the new Adam and “firstling” to Elijah and Enoch. Moreover, Elijah and Enoch achieve the state of incorruptibility without dying first. Thus Christ’s death appears to lose its significance for human salvation. Such a consequence is, in fact, implied by Ephraem’s Christology. Though being a Chalcedonian he shows a strong affinity to aphthartodocetism which means that he regards Christ’s body as incorruptible even before his resurrection.89 At the end of his treatise, however, Ephraem seems to have second thoughts since he insists that Enoch and Elijah will die on the day of the last judgement.90 It is, however, obvious that this runs counter to his previous argument for if their permanence in this body is interpreted as the recovering of the state before the fall this presupposes that they have not sinned and so they should not die either.

If we compare Ephraem’s systematic treatment with the information we have gleaned from Timothy’s sermons we find that both authors share important points. Like Ephraem Timothy presents the glorification of the bodies of Moses and Elijah as the result of their activity in this life and therefore as “self-made” and he insinuates that Moses and Elijah achieve this state without dying before.91 Timothy may even hint at the same link with the protology as Ephraem when he juxtaposes the creation of Adam with the transposition of Enoch at the end of his sermon on the transfiguration.92 Like Ephraem, however, Timothy seems to have qualms about openly stating that a transformation does not necessarily presuppose death and resurrection. His reticence not only shows in the oblique way he speaks about Elijah but also in his statement that Mary is “immortal until now” (rather than that she will never die).93 Nevertheless, as in the case of Ephraem we can conclude that even if he does not say that Mary will never die one cannot see how a future death could be meaningful in his system (for it would only make Mary less “ever-living”, after all).

We must ask now what prompted Timothy to this reinterpretation of the traditional Christian teaching about death and resurrection. Again the thoughts of the apostles give us a clue. When they say that they considered themselves immortal this must be seen in the light of their previous statement “that only the present life is real, filled with light and pleasure, and that there is no other better rebirth, more admirable than the present life.”94 With such a positive attitude towards this life it is not surprising that they expected it to go on for ever.95 Of course, Timothy does not agree with them and wants them to “hate the present life” but he tries to achieve this aim by presenting the future life as a slightly better version of it.96 Throughout the text the present life provides the yardstick for the evaluation of the life to come. Timothy strives to make this connection obvious by describing the present life as “filled with light” with which he can then juxtapose the “better” light of the transfiguration. And when he calls the glorified bodies of Moses and Elijah “more flourishing than in their previous lives” his point of reference is the actual present body which means that the glorified body is seen in terms of earthly beauty.97 Timothy conceives of the bodies of Moses and Elijah as solidly “carnal” and material because a red complexion is a sign for the presence of blood as the life-giving force.98 While Timothy still insists on the superiority of the glorified body the difference between it and the earthly bodies is now simply one of degree.

One is reminded of the descriptions of the undecomposed corpses of saints in Lives dating to the period in which Timothy lived. In patriarch Methodius’ Life of Euthymius of Sardeis (+831) e. g. the corpse is called “of better complexion now” which is remarkably similar to Timothy’s phrase “more flourishing”.99 This is hardly a coincidence since this interest in the state of a corpse implies a close connection between the preservation of this earthly body and the glorification of the resurrected body.

Although it is dangerous to make generalisations it seems that the “carnal” concept of the glorified body expressed in Timothy’s sermons gained wider acceptance towards the end of Late Antiquity to the detriment of the “spiritualist” tradition represented e. g. by Anastasius of Antioch. This is at least the impression one gets from a letter of Maximus the Confessor in which he complained about the spread of “a new dogma about the resurrection” which completely disregarded Paul’s teachings about the spiritual nature of the resurrected body.100 According to him its contents were “that at the resurrection the bodies will again be kept alive through phlegm and blood and red and black bile and drawing in of air and sensible food so that nothing extraordinary at all will appear through the resurrection compared with the present life apart from the fact that one will not be able to die again.”101

There can be no doubt that in Timothy’s case this belief is the result of his positive attitude towards earthly life.102 His view is diametrically opposed to that of “spiritualist” authors like Gregory of Nyssa who held that the corruption introduced by the fall has led to a complete change of the original human body.103 In his system Gregory could give death and corruption a meaningful function as a necessary purifying process that the present sullied and “dense” body must undergo to be fit for a return to its original condition at the resurrection.104 For Timothy, on the other hand, the change required to restitute the primeval perfect state is so slight that it does not need death to bring it about.105

Such a positive view of the present life is in fact already found in Ephraem.106 When he refers to Enoch and Elijah as examples to illustrate what the uncorrupted body of Adam before the fall was like he does so to prove that the resurrected body will only be “better” but not turned into a soul.107 And when he compares the uncorrupted state of Adam with health and our corruption with illness this shows clearly that he does not accept a fundamental difference between both states.108

If we go back even further than Ephraem and look for Late Antique predecessors for Timothy’s idea of human perfectibility quite apart from Christ’s death and resurrection we find the closest parallel in authors belonging to what has been termed the “School of Antioch”. Theodoret e. g. rejects the concept of an original sin which has done away with the fundamental goodness of man and insists that even after Adam’s fall there were just men like Enoch etc.109 Nevertheless, he still interprets the death of all human beings as a punishment for Adam’s sin and Christ’s death and resurrection as the only means to bestow immortality on mankind.110 By allowing the individual to remain sinless like Adam through the use of its own natural resources but denying it a return to Adam’s incorruptibility, however, he creates a glaring discrepancy between the ethical and the ontological spheres.111 In Theodoret’s writings there are indications that he attempts to overcome this discrepancy.112 A glorification without death, however, was not conceivable for him because it would have smacked of “Eutychianism” and endangered the reality of the human nature.113 This problem is reflected in a curious passage in a sermon on the dormition attributed to patriarch Theodosius of Alexandria (535-566) where Christ says to Mary: “I did not want to let you know death; I wanted to carry you up to heaven like Enoch and Elijah (as regards these others, however, they will also know death at the end); but if that happened to you, bad people would think that you are a heavenly power descended on the earth and that this plan of the incarnation and the way it has come true is an illusion.”114 Here we obviously have an author who has strong sympathies for aphthartodocetism but who does not dare to come to the same conclusion as Timothy for fear of being accused of fantasiasmós.115 Such a charge could not be brought against Timothy who believed that the change to uncorruptibility involved only a minimal adjustment of our present corruptible human body and thus could not have endangered the “reality” of Mary’s human nature.116 This allowed him to combine an “aphthartodocetic” position with an “Antiochene” (or “Nestorian”) anthropology which insisted on the constancy of the ordinary human existence.


1 Anastasius of Antioch, Oratio I in Transfigurationem (BHG 1993, CPG 6947), PG 89, 1361-1376; Timothy of Antioch, Sermo in Crucem et in Transfigurationem (BHG 434h, CPG 7406), PG 86, 256-265.

2 Timothy’s argument is found in PG 86, 261C1-3: kaì póthen autoîs he gnoosis hoti Mooüsès èn kaì Èlías? Ek toon tekmèríoon: ho gàr Èlias sùn tooi harmati parésthè kaì ho Mooüsès tàs plákas bastázoon. Anastasius refutes it in PG 89, 1369B4-7: tò dè punthánesthaí tinas póthn è poos kaì ek tínoon sèmeíoon epégnoosan hoi mathètaì toùs profètas ou moi dokeî kompsòn eperoothèma kaì zètèseoos axion einai.

3 Apart from his sermon on the Transfiguration I will also refer to Timothy’s Sermo in Symeonem et in S. Mariam Virginem (BHG 1958, CPG 7405), PG 86, 237-252.

4 The first part of the sermon is devoted to an interpretation of Moses’ outstretched arms as a prefiguration of the cross which is not connected with the transfiguration theme and therefore does not concern us here, PG 86, 256A1-257C11.

5 PG 86, 260B5-13: thâtton dè kaì plèroforeî epì gès eti kaì en soomati toon apostóloon diagóntoon hupodeiknùs autois tèn abástakton dúnamin soomatikoîs ofthalmoîs theoprepè tès anastásews dúnamin. The text of PG is obviously corrupt. The first dúnamin seems to be redundant; cf. PG 86, 261A14/15: tò aprósiton autou tès theótètos kállos … hoson èdúnanto bastásai .

6 PG 86, 260B13-C2: parastèsas enantíon autoon Mooüsèn kaì Èlían toùs nekroùs katà diánoian hup’ autoon logisthéntas en aprosítooi dóxès stolisthéntas kaì tà tès staurikès en Hierosolúmois pragmateías diègouménous páthè en idiofoonooi fthoggèi hopoos opsei kaì akoèi stoicheioothénta (stoicheioothéntes?) prosménoosin.

7 Quotation of Luke 9, 27-35, PG 86, 260C3-261A10.

8 PG 86, 261A11-B2: eides pósèn plèroforían ho despótès Christòs toîs amfibállousin en tèi gèi eti diágousin metà oktoo hèméras autoprosoopoos paréschen emfanísas autois tò aprósiton autou tès theótètos kállos ouch hoson èn all’ hoson hèdúnanto bastásai anthroopoon anústakta bléfara kaì tèn heautou dóxan anefánisen.

9 PG 86, 261B2-7: homoíoos dè Mooüsèn kaì Èlían anthèrotérous tès protéras zooès paréstèsen diègouménous tà tou staurou méllonta gínesthai tekmèria pròs tò sunideîn toùs apostólous hoti kat’ autoùs oudeìs despózei toon dikaíoon thánatos kaì hina misèswsin tèn parousan zooè.

10 PG 86, 257D3-5: deî me apeltheîn eis Hierousalèm kaì pollà patheîn kaì apoktanthènai kaì tèi trítèi hèmérai anastènai. Cf. Matthew 16, 21; Luke 9, 22.

11 PG 86, 260A8-9: ei metà treîs hèméras egeíretai tí kaì apothnèiskei.

12 PG 86, 260A11/12: tís pote ek nekroon anéstè.

13 PG 86, 260A14-15.

14 Unfortunately the text in PG is corrupt here; see above footnote 5. It is, however, likely that tès anastáseoos dúnamin already refers to Moses and Elijah since anástasin should correspond to the following nekroùs logisthéntas and refer back to the question: tís pote ek nekroon anéstè.

15 Basil of Seleucia sees the transfiguration as an eikoon of the second coming of Christ; PG 85, 456B13: tès parousías eikóna procharísasthai speúdoo, cf. 461A12/13. For Basil this does not seem to imply that the transfiguration is not “real”. Nevertheless, eikoon has always the connotation of not being “real”. In an anonymous sermon on the Transfiguration the phenomenon is presented as a painting, cf. M. Aubineau, ‘Une homélie grecque inédite sur la transfiguration’. AB 85 (1957), p. 406, ll. 59-61: mè fobèthète athanátou foonès lógon akoúsantes kaì basileías opsin idóntes hoos en eikóni kaì semnooi pínaki. For Chrysostom who also uses the term eikoon the transfiguration has the same status of reality as the parable of Lazarus and Dives, cf. Homilia 56 in Matthaeum, PG 58, 549.

16 PG 86, 260C7-9. Anastasius also seems to believe in the reality of the transformation on Mt. Thabor. His interpretation of the “kingdom of heaven” as referring both to the transfiguration and to the second coming, however, creates exactly the ambiguity which I have mentioned in the previous note, PG 89, 1365A1-B3.

17 PG 86, 260C10-11: poían basileían? tèn metà tèn enthen exodon toîs pistoîs apokeklèrooménèn dóxan tèn méllousan dóxan. When Timothy lets Peter say at the end of the apparition: “We have now come to know the invincible glory of your kingdom from those present”, cf. PG 86, 261D1-2: egnoomén sou nun ek toon paróntoon tès basileías tèn akatamáchèton dóxan. There can be no doubt that “those present” are Moses and Elijah; cf. 264C13-14: paróntoon gàr Mooüsè kaì Èlía.

18 PG 86, 264C5-7: pròs tò plèroforèthènai kaì toùs apostólous en poíai dóxèi kathestèkasin.

19 This is most obvious in his second paraphrase of the biblical text where the proof of the reality of the resurrection as the purpose of their appearing on the Mount (expressed by prós and infinitive) does not refer back to the immediately preceding reference to their words about the cross but to the first part of the sentence where Moses and Elijah are presented as resurrected persons; cf. PG 86, 261B5. Cf. PG 86, 260D6-9, with the quotation of Luke 9, 31: elegon tèn exodon autou hèn emelle plèroun en Hierousalèm, and Timothy’s paraphrase where he also restricts themselves to the passion.

20 PG 86, 260D11-261A1: par’ ho tooi despótèi ou peitharcheîte kan hèmîn toîs doúlois pisteúsate.

21 PG 89, 1369A14-B3.

22 PG 86, 257D2: ep’ opsesin autoùs plèroforeî; PG 86, 260B11: plèroforeî … hupodeiknùs autois … soomatikoîs ofthalmoîs; PG 86, 260C2: opsei kaì akoèi stoicheioothéntes; PG 86, 261B10: opsei plèroforètheís.

23 PG 89, 1369A13-14: Mooüsès kaì Èlías tout’ estin ho nómos kaì hoi profètai. Timothy also refrains from an allegorical interpretation of their attributes (which Anastasius does not mention; but cf. Maximus’ interpretation of the Life of Elijah in his Ambigua, PG 91, 1124B3: theíooi aretoon harmati).

24 On the other hand, he shows great interest in typological interpretations, cf. PG 86, 257A1-6.

25 PG 86, 257D6: tèi akoèi prosdexámenoì PG 86, 260B5-6: chalepèn dianóèsin; cf. PG 86, 260B14: katà diánoian logisthéntas.

26 PG 86, 257D9-10: allègorikòn lógon hèmîn légei, and PG 86, 260A6-7: allègoroon hèmîn légei.

27 PG 86, 257D8: xená … paregguèmata.

28 PG 86, 260A11: mátaia tà legómená estin; PG 86, 260B3: oudèn estai toon par’ autou legoménoon.

29 PG 86, 260B3: planai hèmâs hoos idiootas.

30 PG 89, 1365B11-C2.

31 PG 86, 260C6: distázousì; PG 86, 260D10: amfibállousì; PG 86, 261A12: amfibállousi.

32 PG 86, 260B6-8: ho kúrios ouk egkatalimpánei toùs heautou mathètàs tèi trikumíai tès apistías nèchesthai thâtton dè plèroforeî. PG 86, 260C12-14: egéneto metà toùs toútous hoos hèmérai oktoo: súntomos hè tou kuríou plèroforía thâtton paréchei tèn epipóthèsin. This is significant since it shows a departure from the tradition. Already Chrysostom had interpreted this as a period of “mental” preparation in his sermon on the Transfiguration, cf. Homilia 56 in Matthaeum, PG 58, 550: tí dèpote oun kaì prolégei? hina eumathésteroi perì tèn theoorían génoontai … kaí … houtoo nèfoúsèi kaì memerimnèménèi tèi dianoíai paragénoontai. Chrysostom stresses that the apostles were above the the ordinary doubting people, cf. PG 59, 549: eudókimoi kaì eugnoomones. Cf. Anastasius’ interpretation, PG 89, 1368B1-2.

33 The belief in the self-evidence of sensible phenomena (and the corresponding distrust of mental activities) is shared by patriarch Methodius of Constantinople who in his Life of Theophanes (+818) stresses that his audience knew the saint from “autopsy” and therefore will not doubt the truth of his story, cf. Life of Theophanes, ed. V. V. Latyshev. Zapiski of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 13 (1916 – 1922). No. 4, c. 2, p. 2, ll. 18-20: ouk empodízei tòn noun distagmòs poopote oud’ egkoteî logismòs dianooúmenos all’ estin ergon ho lógos deiknúmenos kaì autopísteutos suggrafè tò istórèma.

34 This is accentuated by the juxtaposition of PG 86, 260B10-12: soomatikoîs ofthalmoîs theoprepè anastáseoos dúnamin, and PG 86, 260B13-14: nekroùs katà diánoian … logisthéntas. What he does not consider at all here is that such a knowledge could be found “beyond” the realm of human reasoning.

35 After all, Timothy himself refers to such a type of information at the beginning of his sermon when he says that Moses knew Amalek could be vanquished if he held up his arms “having received a revelation of the divine Spirit.” Cf. PG 86, 257A15: theíou pneúmatos dexámenos apokálupsin. It is worth noting that this is Timothy’s own addition since in Exodus 12, 8-16 there is no reference to a divine revelation.

36 Anastasius of Sinai provides us with the closest parallel. He also believes in the opacity of the resurrection body and therefore concludes that no mutual recognition will be possible after the resurrection because the resurrected will all look like Adam before the fall. Cf. Questions and Answers, nr. 89 (=19), PG 89, 720B8-13: all’ oudè metà tèn anástasin allèlous epignoosómetha fusikooi epignoorismooi: ou gár estin ekeî smikrótès è megaleiótès soomátoon … all’ hoios gégonen ho Adàm toioutoi pántes hoi ap’ aioonos kekoimèménoi anistámetha.

37 This statement is not as simple as it seems to be. One must not forget that in Timothy’s time many people had considerable doubts whether one could infer the identity of a person from its outward appearance, cf. G. Dagron, ‘Holy Images and Likeness’. DOP 45 (1991), pp. 23-33. These doubts arose from the ambiguous state of saints in posthumous apparitions which may be one more reason why Timothy stressed the reality of the bodies of Moses and Elijah.

38 PG 86, 61D8-9: echeis entautha toùs drastikoùs stratopedárchas Mooüsèn kaì Èlían.

39 PG 86, 261D9-11: ho Èlías pur authis kat’ autoon bréxei ho Mooüsès Faraooníooi túpooi pántas autoùs pniktooi táfooi parapémpsei. This concept is also found in the medieval West (where often saints specialise in miracles which relate to their lives and martyrdoms).

40 In both cases Anastasius uses the verb metapoieîn; cf. PG 89, 1365A5/6: tò idion sooma metapoièsas eis aftharsían; PG 89, 1364A13-15: trópon tinà katalipoon heautòn kaì pásas tàs psuchikàs petapoièsas dunámeis.

41 PG 89, 1361C6-1364A2: ho Paulos … tèn zooèn autèn metepoíèse mèkéti zoon autòs kaì idíoos kinoúmenos è energoon all’ autò tò zèn Christòn eichen en autooi energounta: parèken gàr heautòn holoscheroos kaì tò idion thélèma nekroosas tooi theíooi thélèmati holon heautòn hupéstroosen. This is a combination of Acts 17, 28: en autooi gàr zoomen kaì kinoúmetha kaí esmen, Galatians 2, 20: zoo dè oukéti egoo zèi dè en emoì Christós, and Philippians 1, 21: emoì gàr tò zèn Christós.

42 Although all this is expressed in Pauline quotations the insertion of the key terms energoon and energounta points to the incipient monenergetic discourse. Cf. Maximus the Confessor who in a passage with strong monenergetic overtones complements kineîtai from Acts 17, 28 with the participle energoúmenos, Ambigua, PG 91, 1084B1-7.

43 PG 86, 244A9-14: ho dè Sumeoon hoode kakeîse tàs opseis periféroon hoos heoora pollàs mètéras en tooi idiootikooi tès anthroopótètos schèmati mónèn dè tèn Parthénon apeírooi kaì theïkooi footì periteichistheîsan katadramoon ho Sumeoon echoorèsen tàs loipàs mètéras.

44 PG 86, 240C3-7: tò hagion pneuma tòn chrèsmòn paréschèke kaì diègeiren tòn Sumeoona légoon: exegeírou ktl.. The chrèsmós is presented as an articulate speech of the Spirit.

45 PG 86, 241C1-2: anakainistheìs tooi oxutátooi tès epithumías pterooi hoos hupò tou pneúmatos koufizómenos.

46 PG 86, 244A4-5: estè plèsíon toon thuroon periménoon tèn apokálupsin tou hagíou pneúmatos. As we have seen this revelation is again mediated through the senses.

47 PG 86, 241A15-16: kaì tí estin: kaì èlthen en tooi pneúmati eis tò ierón? akoue sunetoos. Cf. Luke 2, 27: kaì èlthen en tooi pneúmati eis tò ierón.

48 Leontius of Neapolis, Sermo in Symeonem (CPG 7880; BHG 1955), PG 93, 1580A: ou gàr autokinètoos oi hagioí ti diapráttontai all’ ek pneúmatos hagíou kinoúmenoi.

49 PG 86, 240C4: ho epì tosouton dikaiosúnès elásas hoos en autooi tooi soomati theîon chrèsmòn déxasthai. Cf. PG 86, 261A12: plèroforían … en tèi gèi eti diágousin … paréschen.

50 PG 86, 261A14-15: emfanísas autois tò aprósiton autou tès theótètos kállos (cf. 1. Timothy 6, 16: foos oikoon aprósiton); PG 86, 260B10: hupodeiknùs autois tèn abástakton dúnamin; PG 86, 261B2: tèn heautou dóxan anefánisen.

51 PG 86, 261A11-13: eides pósèn plèroforían ho despótès Christòs … autoprosoopoos paréschen.

52 Cf. Liddell & Scott s. v. autoprósoopos “in one’s own person”.

53 PG 86, 260D2-3 with the quotation of Luke 9, 29: kaì egéneto tò eidos tou prosoopou autou heteron.

54 PG 86, 260B14: en aprosítooi dóxès stolisthéntas. Timothy’s reference to the “glory” of Moses and Elijah is, of course, an adaptation of ofthéntes en dóxèi in Luke 9, 31 which he quotes in 260D6.

55 PG 86, 260C2: en idiofoonooi fthoggèi.

56 Thus Timothy excludes that the voice could have been produced in a different, immaterial way. Cf. the Life of Basil the Younger dating to the 10th century where the crying of the souls in Hades is explained this way, ed. A. N. Veselovskij, Sbornik of the Section for the Russian Language, Imperial Academy of Sciences, 46 (Petersburg, 1890), nr. 6, supplement, p. 41: psuchikèi dèlonóti kaì alalètooi fthoggèi kaì ou dià soomatikoon orgánoon exèrthrooménèi kaì legoménèi. Cf. also Leontius of Jerusalem, Adversus Nestorianos, I, 14, PG 86, 1457C, who mentions the voice as an example for an idikootátè enérgeia which the soul can only use if it is physically connected with the foonètikà mória of the body as instrument.

57 The passage in the sermon on Symeon which I have interpreted above shows how Timothy may have conceived of this “glory”. Here Mary comes to the temple “surrounded by infinite and divine light” which sets her apart from the other women who appear “in the ordinary shape of their humanity”. Cf. PG 65, 244A11-13. But, of course, this does not mean that Mary has a “spiritual body” here. The light is something “peripheral” and does not cause a transformation.

58 The same double meaning of prósoopon we find in a question put to Leontius of Jerusalem by his Nestorian adversary: trioon ontoon prosoopoon toon theíoon tò dè rapisthèn poîon einai légete. This is criticized by Leontius as sophism: tò gàr rapisthèn prósoopon ou tò antì hupostáseoos lambanómenon èn all’ hè opsis. Cf. Leontius of Jerusalem, Adversus Nestorianos, II, 16, PG 86, 1572B-D. His wish to introduce a reference to “person” would explain why Timothy coined the term autoprosoopoos although Luke’s phrase eidos … heteron would rather have suggested a form like autoeidoos.

59 PG 86, 260A14-15: hoon oudeìs drastikooteros en tooi bíooi hèurètai.

60 PG 86, 260A4-5: dokountes mathèteúein tooi nekroùs egeírontì; A11-12: tís pote ek nekroon anéstè.

61 A comparison with Leontius of Jerusalem may help to clarify the difference. In Adversus Nestorianos, I, 19, PG 86, 1476, Leontius attacks the Nestorian position that Christ has his immortality and incorruptibility ex anastáseoos (i. e. as a gift which the divine Word confers on the man Christ at the moment of the resurrection). Leontius says that Christ’s resurrection would then be suffered by him and be in no way different from the resurrections of Lazarus etc. which were caused by an “energy” that was not part of their substance, cf. A3-6. In this case it would no longer be a necessary precondition for the resurrection of all men, cf. C3-6. Leontius stresses that Christ’s case is different because he “resurrected himself “, cf. B8-9: autòs heautòn anastèsai légetaì; cf. A 6: autourgikoos; cf. C13: dédeiktai autou hè anástasis autoenérgeia einai.

Leontius’ solution is that the “resurrective energy” of the divinity is conferred on the humanity so that the humanity can then “resurrect itself”. The conferral of the “power” to display such an “energy” takes place at the moment of the union, cf. I, 6, PG 86, 1425C4-9.

Timothy holds a similar position. Like Leontius he obviously believes that a human being can “resurrect” itself through its own “activity” for drastikós and energès are synonyms, as opposed to pathètikós. What distinguishes him from Leontius is that he does not restrict this power to Christ (and that he does not stress that ultimately this power comes from God).

62 This explains why Timothy could not refer to any human being to demonstrate the possibility of Christ’s resurrection. A very similar reasoning we find in the writings of patriarch Methodius of Constantinople who also establishes a relation between the degree of activity in this life and the posthumous activity of human beings and who accordingly distinguishes between levels of posthumous life, cf. J. Gouillard, ‘La vie d’Euthyme de Sardes (+831), une oeuvre du patriarche Methode’. Travaux et Memoires, 10 (1987), c. 26, p. 59, ll. 531-537.

63 PG 86, 260A4-5: hoos athánatoi diekeímetha dokountes mathèteúein tooi nekroùs egeíronti.

64 PG 86, 260A8-9: ei metà treîs hèméras egeíretai tí kaì apothnèiskei.

65 PG 86, 257D1-3: hothen ho kúrios deiknùs autois tèn paliggenesían axiagastotéran einai tès paroúsès zooès ep’ opsesin autoùs plèroforeî.

66 PG 86, 261C6-10: ek toon katachthoníoon anègagen tòn Mooüsèn ek toon epouraníoon katègagen tòn Èlían.

67 For earlier examples of this topos cf. e. g. Chrysostom, Homilia 56 in Matthaeum, PG 58, 550/551 about Moses and Elijah: … kaì tòn teteleutèkóta kaì tòn oudépoo touto pathónta …; Basil of Seleucia, PG 85, 457C1-4; Pseudo-Proclus, PG 65, 768B11-13.

68 PG 86, 265A11-14: Èlías anelèfthè kaì ouk efánè: Mooüsès apéthanen en agnoostooi táfooi koniortootheìs kaì eti ménei en tooi tópooi.

69 PG 86, 265A11-12: tís pote ek nekroon anéstè.

70 After all, “after the departure from here” (metà tèn enthen exodon) does not necessarily mean “after death”.

71 PG 86, 265A2-4: houtos ho laboon choun apò tès gès kaì plásas tòn anthroopon: houtos ho tòn enooch paradóxoos metatetheìs ex anthroopoon.

72 PG 86, 237B12-14: díkaios en asebeî geneai kratoúmenos sùn autooi tooi soomati metársios gínetai en axiagástooi diaítèi katoikizómenos. Cf. Wisdom 4, 10/11.

73 PG 86, 237B1-2: katà tò fáskon theîon rhètòn hoti oi díkaioi eis tòn aioona zoosi.

74 PG 86, 237A14-B2: oudèn tou dikaíou aeizooóteron en logikoîs emyucon agalma katà tò fáskon theîon rhèhtón: díkaioi eis tòn aioona zoosin.

75 In fact, if it referred to the immortality of the soul it would not fit the concept of the soul found in Late Antique theologians who define its immortality as a part of its nature or being so that that there are no individual differences between members of the human nature. This is probably the reason why (according to the Biblia Patristica, vol. 5) the Cappadocians do not quote this verse.

With the shift to a concept of immortality which is based on continuing activity, however, Wisdom 5, 16 becomes meaningful; cf. footnote 42 for the close relation of the concept of “live” with that of “activity”. Once this shift has occurred there can be individual differences and degrees of aeizooïa (as implied by the comparative); cf. footnote 36. Methodius e. g. quotes Wisdom 5, 16 to underline that through his miracles Euthymius is active even after death, cf. Life of Euthymius, ed. Gouillard, c. 41, p. 81, ll. 870-871.

76 With the exception of Elijah the next examples (Noah, Lot, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David) all refer to individuals who were saved from disaster during their lives. This means that their lives only provide “typoi” for the survival of the just after their death.

77 PG 86, 261B6-8: pròs tò sunideîn toùs apostólous hoti kat’ autoùs oudeìs despózei toon dikaíoon thánatos … katà tò fáskon theîon rhètòn hoti hoi díkaioi eis tòn aioona zoosi.

78 It is probably no coincidence that Timothy uses the same attribute “admirable” to describe the “rebirth” here and Enoch’s manner of life in his sermon on Symeon; cf. PG 86, 257D1: axiagastotéran paliggenesían; PG 86, 237B13: en axiagástooi diaítèi.

79 PG 86, 265A13-14: Mooüsès apéthanen en agnoostooi táfooi koniortootheìs kaì eti ménei en tooi tópooi.

80 PG 86, 260B1: hoon oudeìs drastikooteros en tooi bíooi toútoon oudeìs anekálupsen (sc. heautón).

81 The verb implies that something is already existing but hidden. Cf. PG 86, 252A2-3: ho dè kúrios anakalúptoon autois loipòn tèn kruptoménèn tès theótètos axían.

82 Cf. Philo, Quaestiones in Genesim, 1, 86 (about Enoch’s assumption in Genesis 5, 24): quod donum et protopropheta assequutus est nam illius sepulchrum nemo scivit. Philo Alexandrinus, Quaestiones et Solutiones in Genesim I et II, e versione armenica. Introduction, traduction et notes par Ch. Mercier. (Les oeuvres de Philon d’Alexandrie, 34a). Paris 1979, pp. 158sv.

A reference to such a belief can be found in an Encomium on the Holy Archangels and Angels by Michael the Syncellus (+846) who interprets Juda 9 as the attempt of the devil to hide the body of Moses in order to make the Jews worship him as a God. Cf. codex 1B of the Library of the Oecumenical Patriarchate, Panagia Kamariotissa (Istanbul), fol. 241v: diïschurízeto gàr foonaîs ho palamnaîos ofis kaì polumèchanos labeîn touto kaì apokrúpsai hopoos kaì authis apoplanèsèi tòn tou theou laòn tou en autooi eidoololatrèsai kaì autooi latreutikoos proskunèsai kathoos kaì en allois autoùs apeplánèse kaì méchri muoon etheopoiounto tèn ktísin. I am grateful to Dr. Irene Vaslev, librarian at Dumbarton Oaks, for having sent me a microfilm of this manuscript.

83 PG 86, 245D1-2: hè parthénos achri tès deuro athánatos tou katoikèsantos analèpsímois autèn chooríois metanasteúsantos. This statement is prompted by an interpretation of Luke 2, 35 as referring to her martyrdom which Timothy rejects.

84 Cf. Pseudo-Melito, Transitus Mariae, ed. A. Wenger, L’assomption del la T. S. Vierge dans la tradition byzantine. Paris, 1955, p. 232; Pseudo-John, Transitus Mariae, ed. C. Tischendorf, Apocalypses Mosis etc. Leipzig, 1866, p. 109; Theodosius of Alexandria, ed. M. Chaîne, ROC 29 (1933-34), p. 309/310; John of Salonica, Sermo in Dormitionem, ed. M. Jugie, Homélies mariales byzantines, PG 19 (Rome, 1930), p. 435; Theognostus, Sermo in Dormitionem, ed. M. Jugie, Homélies mariales byzantines, PO 16, 3 (Rome, 1922), p. 460; Cosmas Vestitor, Sermo tertius, ed. A. Wenger, L’assomption, p. 326; Epiphanius of Kallistratou, De vita B. Virginis, PG 120, 25; John of Damascus, Sermo I in dormitionem, Die Schriften des Johannes von Damaskus, ed. B. Kotter, vol. 5 (PTS, 29). Berlin-New York 1988, p. 495. John stresses that Mary could only achieve incorruptibility by shedding what was mortal in her. At the same time, however, he insists that her body remained uncorrupted while it was separated from her soul.

85 Cf. analèpsímois and anelèfthè applied to Elijah. The analèpsima chooría where Mary lives are probably identical with Enoch’s axiágastos díaita.

86 Like the authors listed above Timothy certainly believed that Mary’s body is incorruptible now. With metanasteúsantos Timothy has chosen a word that sounds suspiciously like anastèsantos so that he insinuates that the “resurrection” has already happened at the moment of the assumption.

87 Photius, Bibliothèque, Tome IV (Codices 223-229). Texte établi et traduit par R. Henri. Paris, 1965. Cf. A. Grillmeier, ‘Art. Éfrem d’Amid’. DHGE 15 (1963), pp. 581-585.

88 Five Chapters to Anatolius Scholasticus; Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 229, p. 253b35-39, ed. Henry, vol. 4, p. 139: Enooch kaì Èlías .. eti perióntes en tooi soomati: kaì gàr toútous hoos aparchèn tou holou furámatos (Romans 11, 16) hèmoon ho dèmiourgòs laboon edeixe pâsin hoos ei mè Ómarten ho Adàm eti an perièn metà tou soomatos.

89 J. Lebon, ‘Éphrem d’Amid, patriarche d’Antioche (526-544)’. In: Mélanges d’ Histoire offerts à Ch. Moeller, Vol. I. Louvain-Paris 1914, 196-214.

90 Five Chapters to Anatolius Scholasticus; Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 229, p. 253b39-41, ed. Henry, vol. 4, p. 139: plèn kaì houtoi poluchrónion bíon anúontes geúsontaí pote thánaton kan en rhipèi ofthalmou. This was the traditional view; cf. K. Wessel, ‘Art. Elias’, RAC 4 (1959), pp. 1153/1154; K. Berger, ‘Art. Henoch’, RAC 14 (1988), p. 504.

91 Again Christ has lost his function as model which guarantees the future glorification of all human beings and his death and resurrection have become dysfunctional. A “physische Erlösungslehre” is alien to Timothy.

92 PG 86, 265A2-4.

93 For possible reasons for this reticence cf. the end of this paper.

94 PG 86, 257C16-19: mónèn tèn parousan zooèn alèthinèn einai légontas footòs kaì apolaúseoos peplèrooménèn ouchì dè paliggenesían hetéran ameínoo tès paroúsès zooès.

95 As a consequence the apostles do not see a difference between the resurrections worked by Christ which only give back the earthly life and a resurrection which is a change for the better.

For the apostles the conferring of immortality is simply an exercise of Christ’s power. An interpretation of Christ’s death as atonement for the sins of the fallen mankind is conspicuously absent from their reasonings. Timothy, however, does mention the theme of atonement elsewhere in his sermon; cf. PG 86, 264A11-13: tòn kósmon soosoo: … tís tòn Adàm diupnèsei? … tís tòn kósmon exagorásei.

96 PG 86, 261B7: hina misèsoosi tèn parousan zooèn.

97 PG 86, 261B3: anthèrotérous tès protéras zooès. This seems to be singular in the sermons on the Transfiguration. Cf. e. g. the term anthèroprósoopos in the description of the appearance of St. Paul in Malalas’ Chronicle, Book X, PG 97, 389B5.

98 The connection between “loss of blood” and “loss of a florid complexion” is apparent in Methodius of Constantinople who refers to it in a figurative sense: elambáneto pròs gunaikoon … hamartíai tò tès psuchès anthèròn aimorrooúntoon; Life of Euthymius, ed. Gouillard, c. 4, p. 25, l. 54. Cf. also Anastasius of Sinai who sees a close connection between “loss of blood” and “loss of life”: dià tès hupochoorèseoos tès tou haimatos thermótètos ho choorismòs tès psuchès gínetaì; Questions and Answers, nr. 92, PG 89, 729AB.

99 Cf. Methodius’ description of the corpse of Euthymius of Sardes: nunì euchrooteros hupárchei ho hagios hè pareià erúthrá, Life of Euthymius, ed. Gouillard, c. 27, l. 546, p. 59. Here we also find a stress on the fundamental continuity of the saint’s appearance: oud’ ho charaktèr tès eumorfías parèllaktai, c. 27, l. 544, p. 59. Cf. also the description of the corpse of Nicephorus of Medikion: ouk oochrón … oud’ hup’ allès sèmasías nekrótètos huperúthrous echonta tàs pareiás, Life of Nicephorus, ed. Halkin, c. 19, ll. 9-11, p. 425.

100 Maximus, Epistula 7, PG 91, 433B8-12: tò dè pléon me katèfeías empiploon entautha … tò nun hupò pántoon schedòn kaì málista toon dèthen epifanoon monachoon presbeuómenon perì anastáseoos kainoprepès dógma. Characteristically, Maximus reacts by pointing to Paul’s words in Corinthians; cf. 433D1-3; 440A7-9.

101 Maximus, Epistula 7, PG 91, 433C4-12: fasì gár … flégmati pálin kaì haimati cholèi te au xanthèi kaì melaínèi kaì holkèi aéros kaì trofèi aisthètèi pròs tò zèn sunéchesthai méllein tà soomata katà tèn anástasin oudenòs tò súnolon xénou parà tèn parousan zooèn dià tès anastáseoos anafanèsoménou plèn tò mè dúnasthai pálin apothaneîn.

102 This attitude was probably shared by his audience for it is likely that Timothy’s presentation of the apostles reflects ideas which were current in his congregation.

103 This is most obvious in his famous interpretation of the dermatínoi chitoones as an accretion which is alien to the original body and must be shed again.

104 Cf. e. g. Gregorius Nyssenus, Oratio Catechetica, ed. E. Muehlenberg, (Opera, 3, 4), Leiden 1996, p. 29, ll. 13-18.

105 Timothy is not an isolated case. An outright rejection of Gregory’s interpretation of the protology is found in the Commentary on the Hexaemeron by Anastasius of Sinai. Anastasius throughout denies that what happened to Adam and Eve after their transgression could be regarded as punishment and insists that everything (e. g. the dermátinoi citoones, the sending away from Paradise) has a positive significance and is a necessary preliminary for the incarnation of Christ, cf. PG 89, 1052svv., 1069svv.

106 After all, Ephraem distinguished himself as a fighter against the Origenist monks in Palestine; cf. E. Schwartz, Kyrillos von Skythopolis. Leipzig 1939, p. 191.

107 Five Chapters to Anatolius Scholasticus; Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 229, p. 253b30-35, ed. Henry, vol. 4, p. 139, where Ephraem attacks a spiritualist “mis”-interpretation of 1. Corinthians 15, 53. This danger was real for in authors like Maximus there is always an ambiguity in their interpretations of this passage, cf. Mystagogia, PG 90, 700BC.

108 Letter to the Monk Eunoïus about Corruption and Incorruptibility; Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 228, p. 228a13-17, ed. Henry, vol. 4, p. 125: hoti mèn aftharsía hugeía tís estin all’ ouk anaíresis tès hèmetéras fúseoos hè dè fthorà nósos: hothen kaì tòn Adàm prò tès parabáseoos aftharton echonta sárka katà pánta hupárchein hèmîn homooúsion.

109 Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium V, 11, PG 83, 493D1-3: kaì gàr tou Adàm hèmartèkótos kaì toon pleístoon toùs theíous parabebèkótoon nómous diémeinán tines epì toon horoon tès fúseoos kaì tès aretès egénonto frontistaí. In Theodoret we also find a precedent for Timothy’s idea that the divine activity in Christ is only of a higher degree than that in other human beings but not fundamentally different; cf. footnote 62. This is especially obvious in Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium V, 23, PG 83, 532A5-B1.

110 Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium V, 11, PG 83, 492D5-6: ho mèn gàr tès dikaiosúnès horos henòs hèmartèkótos hapan tò toútou génos tooi thanátooi parédooken. Cf. PG 83, 495A3svv. about Christ’s resurrection as necessary precondition for a future zooopoíhsis of all men.

111 This discrepancy is especially obvious since Theodoret makes both his points by using the same verses from Romans 5, 12 – 21. When he speaks about death he accepts Paul’s statement that Adam’s fall affects all people; PG 83, 492A10-12: eis pántas anthroopous dièlthen ho thánatos ef’ hooi pántas hèmarton (cf. Romans 5, 12), whereas he reinterprets Paul’s words as referring to “most” people when he speaks about sin (cf. Romans 5, 19).

112 In his speeches On Providence he stresses that the animals obeyed Adam as long as he was without sin but that he lost the control over them after the fall, cf. PG 83, 640D-641B. The “just” Daniel, however, recovered this status and thus could control the lions in the den, cf. PG 83, 712A-713B. This is pertinent to our question since just as incorruptibility control over animals is an expression of the original kat’ eikóna.

113 Theodoret rejects the interpretation of the incarnation as the coming down of a body from heaven; cf. Expositio Rectae Confessionis, c. 10, PG 6, 1224C5-6.

114 M. Chaîne, ‘Sermon de Théodose patriarche d’ Alexandrie sur la dormition et l’assomption de la vierge’. ROC 29 (1933-34), p. 309: “Je ne voulais pas te laisser connaître la mort, je voulais t’élever aux cieux comme Énoch et Élie, pour ces autres cependant, il faut vue eux aussi connaissent la mort à la fin. Mais si cela arrivait pour toi, des hommes mauvais penseraient de toi vue tu es une puissance céleste descendue sur terre et vue ce plan de l’incarnation, la façon dont il s’est réalisé est un illusion.”

115 Fantasiastès was the term patriarch Severus of Antioch used to denounce Julian of Halicarnassus. Severus criticized Julian for teaching that Christ’s flesh was not consubstantial with us but “uncreated” (i. e. divine) and that its incarnation was analogous to the solidification of water to ice. Cf. e. g. Sévère d’ Antioche, La polémique antijulianiste II A: Le Contra additiones Iuliani, ed. R. Hespel (CSCO 296), Louvain, 1968, c. 24, p. 63, l. 7 – p. 64, l. 2.

116 This concept of the glorified body even allowed Timothy to believe in a preexisting body of Christ without any danger of docetism. This is at least the impression one gets from a curious passage in the sermon on the Transfiguration where he identifies the three men coming to Abraham as Christ accompanied by two angels. Again there is not trace of an allegorical interpretation and Christ appears to have already had an ordinary human body then, PG 86, 264B6-C4.

De Bijbel als reisgids voor Turkije?

door André de Raaij

Een beschouwing naar aanleiding van:

Met de Bijbel door Turkije: op zoek naar christenen van vroeger en nu / Reinier van den Berg. Zoetermeer: Boekencentrum, 1994

Het tweede Heilige Land, na Israël, zo noemt emeritus-predikant Reinier van den Berg de huidige republiek Turkije (pag.7, 9). Er zou wat voor te zeggen zijn, als niet Syrië, Jordanië, Libanon en zelfs Irak en Egypte niet evenzeer aanspraak konden maken op deze kwalificatie. Deze hedendaagse staten spelen vooral een rol in wat christenen het Oude Testament believen te noemen, en nauwelijks in het Nieuwe — maar het is toch een verwijtbaar anachronistische redenering om de hedendaagse Turkse Republiek op dit punt een tweede plaats te gunnen (gesteld dat er al een wedstrijd gehouden zou moeten worden). Van de tijd van Alexander de Grote tot het einde van de Eerste Wereldoorlog zijn de genoemde gebieden in één, hooguit twee staatkundig verbanden opgenomen geweest, waarvan “ons” Byzantijnse Rijk niet het onbelangrijkste was. Pas zo’n tien eeuwen na de tijd waarnaar het Nieuwe Testament verwijst verschijnen de Turkse nomadische stammen in de onderhavige streken. Turkije als “heilig land”, dat riekt nogal naar een verkooptruc die het herkomstland van gastarbeider/medelander/allochtoon een zekere glans moet geven, en daarmee de medemens — en dergelijke verbanden zouden ook niet impliciet gesuggereerd moeten worden. Klein-Azië of Anatolië als tweede Heilig Land — dat kan, als men echt zo wil redeneren, maar Turkije — neen.

Van den Berg vermeldt niet nader gespecificeerde “Turkse geleerden” die suggereren dat de Turkse naam Anadolu voor Anatolië zou zijn afgeleid van het Turkse woord ana, moeder, en dan zou het zoiets als “nageslacht van de Moedergodin” kunnen betekenen. Vertederend naief, zo zou men de welwillendheid om deze onzin zelfs maar te noemen, op zijn best kunnen kwalificeren (p. 9: “Hoe het ook zij, Anatolië is..”). “Anatolia”, Grieks voor “land van de rijzende zon, het oosten” is zo’n volstrekt heldere naam dat men er bijna iets achter zou zoeken — maar als men dat deed dan zou het Turks ons zeker niet helpen, om de al vermelde reden dat er nog niet zo lang Turken in Turkije wonen. Van den Berg trapt hier in de val die “geleerden” in alle opvolgerstaten van het Osmaanse Rijk, van Boekarest tot Algiers, opstellen: het uitvinden van een glorieus nationaal verleden en — in het geval van de huidige republieken Turkije en Griekenland — op de doorzichtigste manieren de geschiedenis van een wisselwerking te ontkennen. In deze “opvolgerstaten” is geen ruimte voor onafhankelijk historisch onderzoek, hoe graag men het elders misschien anders zou willen zien.

En over onafhankelijkheid gesproken: het is aardig te vernemen dat de gereformeerde emeritus-predikant Van den Berg een “modern-kritische” houding aanneemt tegen de eerste hoofdstukken van Genesis. Deze zijn aan de orde, omdat de traditie de hof van Eden in Mesopotamië plaatst, en Gen. 8:4 laat de ark van Noach op de bergen van Ararat vastlopen. Men moet dit niet als een historisch verslag zien. Maar deze kritische zin is plotseling niet meer nodig als Haran (Gen. 11:31) vereenzelvigd wordt met Altõnbasak, ook wel genaamd Harran, gelegen ten zuidoosten van Urfa bij de Syrische grens (p.26) — maar gezegd dient te worden dat Van den Berg hier in commissie “zondigt”: er is op dit punt een nieuwe traditie. Al even onkritisch — dit is beter te verklaren, en wellicht te vergoeilijken — is Van den Berg over de schildering van de erediensten van “concurrerende” mysteriegodsdiensten uit de Romeinse keizertijd als gepaard gaande met bandeloosheid (p.58; roes, extase, verdoving en sex op heidense feesten — je zou het gaan zien als reclame, p.90). In navolging van de apostelen die in de kanonieke boeken aan het woord komen kan men de concurrentie van toen natuurlijk wel makkelijk als onzegbaar liederlijk afdoen. Dat kan men zelfs met de concurrentie van nu doen. In de praktijk zou het nog wel eens behoorlijk ingetogen toegegaan kunnen zijn, maar nu eenmaal anders…

Dat Abram door de Heer geroepen werd in een thans Koerdisch plaatsje bij de Turks-Syrische grens is misschien een aardig succesje voor de toeristenindustrie. Er dient meteen bij gezegd te worden dat het nu niet raadzaam is deze streken te bezoeken, als het al mogelijk is. Misschien heeft het uitgevonden bijbelse verleden van dit vlekje ervoor gezorgd dat het niet als zovele dorpen met de grond gelijkgemaakt is in de uitzichtloze burgeroorlog.

Dat Turkse namen niet altijd goed gespeld zijn hoeft niet aan onwetendheid of onkunde bij de schrijver te liggen, hier kunnen zettersproblemen een rol spelen. Maar onvergeeflijk is het tot twee keer toe signaleren van een belangrijke “Rooms-Katholieke” kerk in Antiochië (Antakya, Hatay; p.47). Hier wordt de Roem-Katholieke Kerk bedoeld, de Grieks-Katholieke dus ofwel de geünieerde, die als men haar bezoekt intussen Turks-katholiek blijkt te heten, omdat “Roem”, Grieks dus, niet graag gezien of gehoord wordt. Weer laten kennis van de recente geschiedenis en inlevingsvermogen het afweten: Hatay is door het Franse mandaatbestuur van Syrië aan Turkije uitgedeeld om de neutraliteit van dit land te “kopen”, toen de Tweede Wereldoorlog al dreigde. De in meerderheid Arabische bevolking van dit gebied mocht dit in een vervalst referendum goedkeuren. Van den Berg toont niet zich bewust te zijn van de bijzondere achtergrond van deze streek. Zo is het ook pijnlijk het eiland Patmos (van de Openbaring van Johannes) gemakshalve bij Turkije gerekend te zien (p.82). Op die manier wordt Turkije wel heel makkelijk een tweede Heilig Land — NAVO-bondgenoten Griekenland en Turkije hebben wel om een kleiner eiland aan de rand van een oorlog gestaan! En het is verleidelijk te stellen dat Constantinopel sinds 1453 Istanboel heet (p.89), maar in feite dateert de officiële naamsverandering van na de grote etnische zuivering tegen de Grieken van 1922-1924.1

In Efeze valt aan veel uit het verleden te denken, bijvoorbeeld dat Paulus hier het Evangelie heeft verkondigd (p.86-87). Misschien zou het voor de gemiddelde niet dogmatiek geschoolde lezer(es) verhelderend zijn geweest hier voor de zekerheid bij te vermelden dat met dit Evangelie het Woord van het “Oude Testament” wordt bedoeld, hoe verwarrend dit ook moge klinken. Er is in deze indrukwekkende ruïnestad slechts één mogelijk naar het vroegste christendom verwijzende inscriptie — dat Maria, moeder van Jezus, hier overleden zou zijn is meer dan aanvechtbaar en het verhaal kan in ieder geval niet met de bijbel in de hand verteld worden. Indrukwekkender is de grot van de zeven slapers, terzijde van de grote stad en de toeristische paden — al evenmin bestand tegen historische kritiek maar duidelijker verbonden met de vroege christelijke geschiedenis van Efeze. Van den Berg vermeldt grot en historie niet, wel — terecht natuurlijk — de Byzantijnse kerken in het huidige Selçuk, iets landinwaarts van Efeze.

Het zijn de minsten niet die beweren dat de islam in Bosnië een voortzetting is van het bogomilisme (zie Gouden Hoorn 3.1), dus wij zullen dit Van den Berg niet aanrekenen (p.116). En misschien is een zeker medeleven met of empathie voor de niet-gereformeerde christenen en hun lot in deze rampzalige eeuw niet verplicht, en kan men er maar beter wat omheen draaien, wat met de Armeniërs moeilijker gaat dan met de Grieks-orthodoxen (die zijn vertrokken of uitgewisseld). Nogmaals zal het onwetendheid over de moderne geschiedenis zijn die Van den Berg over het hoofd doet zien dat de Syrisch-orthodoxen in 1915 ook massaal gedeporteerd en vermoord zijn, en dat hij hun geen nationale aspiraties toedicht (p.116). Laat het de Syrisch-orthodoxen die zich als enige echte nazaten van de Assyriërs presenteren maar niet horen, en trouwens: de Entente was zeer gul met het uitdelen van nationale tehuizen ten koste van het Osmaanse rijk — ook aan de Syrisch-orthodoxen, ook aan de Koerden, en ze zijn er niet gekomen. De wrange gevolgen van deze oorlogspolitiek met koloniale kleur zijn tachtig jaar later dagelijkse realiteit, ter plaatse en in de diaspora. De Kerk van het Oosten “Assyrisch-orthodox” noemen getuigt niet van zorgvuldigheid of inlevingsvermogen, maar Hakkâri, daar zal Van den Berg niet geweest zijn, zelfs niet in de tijd toen allerlei andere streken nog bezocht konden worden: het heeft altijd als gevaarlijk terrein voor (doorgaande) reizigers gegolden.

U zult begrijpen: ik had liever gezien dat Van den Berg zich strikt aan de hoofdtitel van zijn boek had gehouden, want hij weet toch wel sterk de indruk te wekken dat de zoektocht naar de christenen van nu in het huidige Turkije een te zware taak is geweest.

1 Bij VdB droogjes weergegeven met: “Van het oude Smyrna is bijna niets meer over, omdat in 1922 de stad totaal in de as werd gelegd.” (p.92). respectievelijk: “Tot 1924 woonden in het dal van Göreme nog steeds Grieks-orthodoxe monniken.” (p.108).

1600-jähriges Jubiläum des Klosters Mor Gabriel*

von Gabriel Rabo

Das Kloster Mor Gabriel im Tur ‘Abdin wird in diesem Jahr 1600 Jahre alt. Es wurde durch “Anweisung des Engels” im Jahre 397 gegründet. Dort versammelten sich im Laufe seiner Geschichte unzählige Mönche und es wurde zur Ruhestätte für über “zwölftausend Heilige”. Das Kloster war von 615-1049 Bischofssitz vom Tur ‘Abdin und war dann bis 1915 eine eigene selbständige Diözese. Seit 1600 Jahren werden liturgische Prozessionen begangen und Hymnen im Kloster — ausgenommen Verfolgungszeiten — gesungen. Das Kloster, das sich noch heute als Zentrum der Diözese vom Tur ‘Abdin behauptet, hat eine geistlich geprägte Geschichte hinter sich. Dabei ist es eine Schutzburg und Wallfahrtsort für die Syrer und es wird sogar als das zweite Jerusalem bezeichnet. Mor Philoxenos von Mabug (+523) schreibt über die Bedeutung des Klosters: Wer siebenmal mit Ehre und Furcht das Kloster besucht, das vom Engel gegründet wurde, erwirbt dasselbe Verdienst, als ob er Jerusalem besuchen würde.

Jubiläumsfeier in der fernen Diaspora

Als eine inoffizielle Jubiläumsfeier zum 1600jährigen Bestehen des Klosters Mor Gabriel veranstaltete die Evangelische Akademie Hofgeismar im Rahmen ihres jährlichen Programmes eine Tagung vom 21. bis 23. März 1997. Sie wurde in Zusammenarbeit mit dem “Mar Gabriel-Verein zur Unterstützung der syrischen Christen” in Hamburg vorbereitet. Das Programm sollten auch die beiden Erzbischöfe Mor Timotheos Samuel Aktas vom Tur ‘Abdin, dessen Residenz sich im Kloster Mor Gabriel befindet, und Mor Philoxenos Yusuf Çetin von Istanbul bereichern. Sie konnten allerdings aus bestimmten Gründen an der Feier nicht teilnehmen. An ihrer Stelle war der Chorepiskopos Samuel Akdemir — ehemals Patriarchalvikar von Istanbul — anwesend. An der Tagung haben mehr als 125 syrische und deutsche Gäste teilgenommen. Darunter war auch der Erzbischof Mor Julius Yeshu Çiçek.

Das Programm begann mit der Vorstellung des Klosters Mor Gabriel und Tur ‘Abdins im Rahmen eines Diavortrags von Helga Anschütz und ihrem Ehemann Paul Harb. Dabei konnte ein erster Eindruck vom Leben im Kloster Mor Gabriel und der Syrer im Tur ‘Abdin gewonnen werden. Am nächsten Morgen referierte Wolfgang Hage, Professor für Orientalische Kirchengeschichte an der Universität Marburg, über die Bedeutung des Mönchtums für die Syrisch-Orthodoxe Kirche. Er hob in seinem Vortrag die Arbeit und das Verdienst der syrischen Mönche und Gelehrten nicht nur für die syrische Kirche, sondern auch für das Abendland insgesamt hervor. In den syrischen Klöstern wurde die Bildung gepflegt und von dort die griechische Philosophie — so Professor Hage — über die Araber dem Abendland vermittelt. Danach berichtete der Chori Samuel Akdemir über die neue Situation der syrischen Gemeinden in Ursprungsgebiet Tur ‘Abdin und im Auswanderungsort Istanbul, nämlich daß die Anzahl der Syrer in der Türkei ständig abnehme. Er brachte auch das Zusammentreffen der beiden Erzbischöfe der syrischen Diözesen in der Türkei mit dem Staatspräsidenten Süleymen Demirel und anderen türkischen Politikern in Ankara zur Sprache. Dabei setzten sie sich für die Rechte der Syrer im Lande ein. Mor Julius Yeshu Çiçek, der ehemalige Abt des Klosters Mor Gabriel und Gründer seines theologischen Seminars, sprach über die Bedeutung dieses Klosters und Tur ‘Abdins für die syrisch-orthodoxen Gemeinden in Europa. Dann berichtete er über das Gedeihen seiner Diözese und den Bau eigener Kirchengebäude. Aber er kritisierte auch die Haltung der von der CDU regierten Kommunen, die den Syrern keine Baugenehmigung für Kirchengebäude z.B. in den hessischen Städten Bebra, Wiesbaden und Gießen geben. Fehmi Aykurt aus dem “Mar Gabriel-Verein” in Hamburg schilderte in seinem Beitrag den neuen Stand des Asylrechts der Syrer in Deutschland. Er berichtete, daß die Lage der Asylsuchenden Syrer kritisch sei und manchen die Abschiebung in ihre Heimat drohe. Amill Gorges, der dort auch beim Dolmetschen immer mitwirkte, sprach über die kulturelle und religiöse Identität der Syrer in den verschiedenen Regionen in und außerhalb Mesopotamiens. Er hob auch den Rückgang der Syrer in Syrien und im Libanon hervor. Darüber hinaus setzte Helga Anschütz das Gespräch fort und verdeutlichte die Gründe ihrer Auswanderung aus den islamisch geprägten Ländern. Der Abend verlief festlich mit syrischen vorösterlichen Kirchengesängen, die von einem ausschließlich männlichen Chor gesungen wurden. Anschließend wurde ein historischer Dokumentarfilm über Tur ‘Abdin und Syrien gezeigt, der in den sechziger und siebziger Jahren von Anschütz und Harb für das deutsche Fernsehen gedreht wurde. Am Sonntagvormittag ging es in einer Podiumsdiskussion um das ungelöste Problem der Syrer in Bebra, weil die sogenannte christlichen Parteien den Syrisch-Orthodoxen den Bau eigener Kirchengebäude verbieten. Über den Verlauf dieses Streites berichteten Besim Erdan aus der betroffenen syrischen Gemeinde und die evangelischen Pfarrer H. Löwer und R. Staege sowie die Sozialpädagogin C. Becker aus Bebra. Dabei wurde die Politik der CDU kritisch erörtert.

Die Jubiläumsfeier des Klosters ging mit Ehrungen zu Ende. Der Erzbischof Mor Julius Yeshu Çiçek dankte Helga Anschütz und dem Studienleiter Georg Richter mit einem syrischen Geschenk für ihre Arbeit und ihr Engagement. Anschütz ist seit den 60er Jahren mit dem Kloster Mor Gabriel und dem Tur ‘Abdin befreundet. Sie filmt und schreibt über den Tur ‘Abdin und macht damit in der deutschen Öffentlichkeit auf die Verfolgung der Syrer aufmerksam. Der Erzbischof würdigte ebenfalls die Arbeit von Pfarrer Horst Oberkampf aus der Solidaritätsgruppe Tur ‘Abdin, der sich auch seit den 80er Jahren für die Syrer in Tur ‘Abdin engagiert.

Das Kloster Mor Gabriel in der Geschichte

Das Kloster Mor Gabriel oder das Kloster von Qartmin1 — so die in der syrischen Kirchengeschichte ebenfalls vorkommende Bezeichnung — wurde im Jahre 397 von Mor Shmuel (+409) und seinem Schüler Mor Shem ‘un (+433) durch “Anweisung des Engels des Herrn” gegründet. Dann wurde es im 7. Jahrhundert nach dem Bischof Mor Gabriel benannt, der von 634 bis zu seinem Tod im Jahre 668 dort residierte. Das Kloster wurde im Laufe der Zeit immer bekannter und zum Zentrum der syrischen Mönche. Obwohl es mit zwei Mönchen begann, stieg ihre Zahl später rasch an, so daß dort im 6. Jahrhundert bis 1000 Mönche zusammen lebten. Das Kloster war sowohl Exerzitienstätte der einheimischen Mönche, als auch für 800 Kopten, die sich zuerst als Händler nach Tur ‘Abdin begaben und dann im Kloster für ein asketisches Leben entschieden. Das Kloster Mor Gabriel spielt seit seiner Gründung bis heute eine wichtige Rolle im Tur ‘Abdin. Es ist nicht nur Kloster ausschließlich für die Mönche gewesen, sondern auch eine theologische Ausbildungsstätte für den ganzen Tur ‘Abdin und sogar für die syrische Kirche insgesamt. Die Klosterschule machte sich einen Namen und bildete sehr viele Kleriker und namenhafte Wissenschaftler aus; daraus gingen vier Patriarchen, ein Maphryono (Katholikos) und 84 Bischöfe hervor. Namentlich zu erwähnen wären u.a. Mor Yuhannun Sa ‘oro (+503), Bischof von Amida. Mor Philoxenos von Mabug (+523) — auch Mor Achsnoyo genannt2 — der sich dem Chalkedonismus widersetzte, war ein weltweit berühmter Theologe. Der Patriarch Theodosius Romanus (+896), der ein berühmter Mediziner war, und Patriarch Behnam von Hedil (+1454)3. Das Kloster verfügte übrigens über eine reiche, wertvolle Bibliothek, deren Manuskripte zum Teil von den großen syrischen Kalligraphen auf Pergament abgeschrieben wurden. In der Klosterbibliothek findet man heute nichts mehr von diesen Handschriften. Die meisten von ihnen wurden bei Verfolgungen geplündert oder verbrannt; nur einige wenige davon konnten gerettet und in europäischen Bibliotheken aufbewahrt werden. Das Kloster Mor Gabriel hat eine Geschichte hinter sich, von der mehrere altertümliche Kirchengebäude, Asketenstätte und viele Ruinen mit den Gräbern von “zwölftausend Heiligen” zurückgeblieben sind.

Das Kloster Mor Gabriel in der Gegenwart

Die Geschichte des Klosters Mor Gabriel am Beginn unseres Jahrhunderts war geprägt von dem grausamen Massaker von 1915, dem sogenannten Jahr des Schwertes. Alle seine Bewohner wurden damals auf Befehl der türkischen Regierung von den Kurden umgebracht und das Kloster wurde von ihnen vier Jahre lang besetzt. Erst ab 1919 konnte es nochmals von den Syrern bewohnt und geleitet werden. Unter der Leitung des Abtes Sabo Günes (+1962) konnte ab 1956 mit der Renovierung des Klosters und mit neuen Baumaßnahmen begonnen werden, die ab 1962 unter dem jungen Abt Yeshu Çiçek (gegenwärtiger Erzbischof von Mitteleuropa) fortgesetzt wurden. Dabei wurden die meisten Neubauten und der Kirchturm eingerichtet, die v.a. von dem Metropoliten der USA Mor Athanasius Y. Samuel (+1995) finanziert wurden. Die erste Autostraße zum Kloster wurde gebaut und Elektrizität durch einen Generator zum ersten Mal in der Geschichte des Klosters angeschafft, nicht zuletzt aber das Priesterseminar eröffnet, das noch bis heute im Betrieb ist. Als der Abt Samuel Aktas (gegenwärtiger Erzbischof vom Tur ‘Abdin) ca. 1972 die Leitung des Klosters übernahm, konnte mit weiteren Baueinheiten begonnen und bis heute weiter gebaut werden. Dabei sind im letzten Jahrzehnt die Wohneinheiten der Nonnen und der Seminaristen sowie des Bischofs zeitgemäß geworden. Die Möglichkeiten des Klosters wurden verbessert, der öffentliche Strom (1979), fließendes Wasser (1983) und Telefon eingerichtet. Außerdem wurden große Gartenanlagen für die Versorgung der Bewohner mit befestigter Mauer um das Kloster angebaut, wonach von den historischen Ruinen nichts mehr zu sehen ist. Die Ruinen hätten möglicherweise bei eventuellen Ausgrabungen eine bedeutende Geschichte dieses Klosters nachweisen können.

Das Kloster ist nun eine Burg und ein Zentrum für die Syrer im Tur ‘Abdin. Seit der Bischofsweihe seines Abtes Mor Timotheos Samuel Aktas ist es nochmals der faktische Bischofssitz vom Tur ‘Abdin geworden, obwohl es theoretisch noch immer die Stadt Midyat ist. Was die Anzahl der Bewohner des Klosters heute angeht, kann man sie sicherlich nicht mehr mit der Vergangenheit vergleichen, weil damals Tur ‘Abdin ausschließlich von den Syrern bewohnt war. Im Kloster leben zur Zeit außer dem Bischof zwei Mönche, ca. 15 Nonnen und 40 Schüler sowie drei Familien der Lehrkräfte und Mitarbeiter. Das Priesterseminar Mor Gabriel hat in den letzten 40 Jahren einen wichtigen Beitrag für die syrische Kirche und Kultur geleistet, denn viele von den Klerikern und Lehrern in verschiedenen Diözesen wurden hier ausgebildet und die syrische Sprache gepflegt. Bis 1980 konnten die Seminaristen intensiv in syrischer Theologie ausgebildet werden. Aber nachdem die türkische Regierung die syrischen Priesterseminare geschlossen hatte, mußten die Schüler dann in die türkische Schule täglich nach Midyat geschickt werden. Damit erschwert sich das geistliche Leben der Klosterbewohner, weil für sie nicht genügend Zeit für eine ausreichende theologische Ausbildung bleibt. Darüber hinaus steht das Kloster Mor Gabriel in einem Sozialdienst für die Syrer im Tur ‘Abdin. Durch den sogenannten Sozialfonds, der von den Organisationen Freunde des Tur ‘Abdin und Solidaritätsgruppe Tur ‘Abdin gegründet wurde, werden schwache syrische Familien in Notfällen unterstützt. Über das Kloster wird ebenfalls syrischen Pfarrern und Lehrer mit einem Zuschuß finanziell unter die Arme gegriffen, der vom Ökumenischen Rat der Kirchen gefördert wird.

Trotz der schwierigen Situation der Syrer im Tur ‘Abdin beginnt das Kloster Mor Gabriel mit diesen neuen Einrichtungsmaßnahmen nochmals mit neuer Blüte und schlägt seine Wurzeln mit einer hoffnungsvollen Zukunft tief in den Boden Tur ‘Abdins. Das Kloster möge weiterhin das Wahrzeichen vom Tur ‘Abdin und Zentrum für die Syrer und alle Besucher sein, damit der Vers aus dem Psalm 91, der als Tagungsspruch gewählt wurde, auch für das Kloster gilt: “Wer unter dem Schirm des Höchsten sitzt und unter dem Schatten des Allmächtigen bleibt, der spricht zu dem Herrn: Meine Zuversicht und meine Burg, mein Gott, auf den ich hoffe”.

* Dit artikel verscheen eerder op:äum.html

1 Es wird aber auch in nichtsyrischen Sprachen als Deyr-ul-Umur (arab., türk.), Deyr ‘Amar oder Dayr ‘Umar (kurd.) genannt, hat aber nicht mit einem gewissen arabisch-islamischen Führer ‘Amar zu tun, wie manche es interpretieren wollen, sondern es ist eine typisch syrische Bezeichnung für ein Kloster. Noch heute wird es in der Schriftsprache als dayro d- ‘umro d-mor gabriel geschrieben. Ebenso hießen viele andere Klöster dayro d- ‘umro, z.B. das Kloster Mor Barsaumo in der edessanischen Region TurUrhoi oder das Kloster Dayr Za ‘faran. Vgl. J-B. Shabot, Chronique de Michel le Syrien, Bd. 4, Paris 1910, 633, 697; J. Abbeloos – Th.J. Lamy, Gregorii Barhebraei chronicon ecclesiasticum, Bd. 1, Löwen 1872, 509, 515, 517.

2 Im Bet-Kadishe des Klosters sollte sich eine Reliquie (Haupt) von ihm befinden.

3 Ph. J. Dolabani, Maktabzabne d- ‘umro qaddisho d-qartmin, Mardin 1959, 8 ff. [Text syrisch]; Ders., Deyr-el-umur Tarihi, [türk. Übers. C. Aydin], Istanbul 1971, 15 ff.

Byz-Niz: Berichten uit de O.B.O.-burelen


De Late Antiquity Newsletter (LAN) is in te zien op het volgende adres:

Bill Thayer schrijft: RomanSites is now open for business on the Web at:

RomanSites is a semi-indexed, lightly commented catalog of roughly 1200 websites, an estimated 30,000 webpages, that in some way cover ancient Rome: as their primary focus or secondarily or even incidentally. The RS website is a bibliographical tool that can be used as a proxy for searching the Web very rapidly for Roman material: it is in essence a manual search engine.

The RomanSites website is being hosted by the History Department of the University of Kansas through the very kind offices of Prof. Lynn Nelson.

Greek hymns at the Church of Cyprus homepage:

Slavonic at:

and news of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate at

Uit: L.A.N, dec.’97, by Minos Orphanides (minos @

Electronische tijdschriften op internet/Electronic journals on internet

Er verschijnen steeds meer tijdschriften via internet. Sommige hebben ook een gedrukte versie, andere verschijnen alleen via een website, en weer andere hebben alleen een e-mail-versie. Hieronder een greep uit het aanbod dat momenteel te vinden is op internet. Allereerst een website die een goed overzicht geeft van titels:

Het blad Classics Ireland: journal of the Classical Association of Ireland:

Het tijdschrift Textual Criticism (TC: a journal of Biblical textual criticism), een alleen op internet verschijnend blad, heeft een pagina met links naar andere publicaties betreffende tekstkritiek:

Een nieuw tijdschrift voor Syrisch is Hugoye (Volume 1 Number 1 (January 1998)).

Congressen, symposia

Philadelphia seminar on christian origins in its 35th year.

An Interdisciplinary Humanities Seminar under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania Department of Religious Studies Box 36 College Hall, Philadelphia 19104, U.S.A.

Topic for 1997-98: textual commentary as social practice


Megan Williams (Princeton University). meganw @
Jay Treat (University of Pennsylvania), jtreat @
Coordinator: Robert Kraft (University of Pennsylvania),kraft @

For 1997-98, the PSCO will bring together scholars of early Judaism, early Christianity, and the Greco-Roman world to examine interpretation as a social practice in the Mediterranean world from Philo of Alexandria through Augustine of Hippo. Our focus is on textual commentaries and related texts. In order to make sense of commentary writing in late antiquity, we wish to situate it within the context of ancient modes of reading, ancient modes of construing the relation of text and meaning, and ancient modes of transmitting knowledge, as these can be reconstructed within particular communities and cultures.

Program: March 1998 Robert Lamberton, Washington University “Interpretation in the Neo-Platonist Tradition”

May 1998 James O’Donnell, University of Pennsylvania “Christian Interpretation in Late Antiquity”

For detailed directions to the meetings and for further information, visit the PSCO web site:

The XXXII Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies

27-30 March. Strangers to Themselves: The Byzantine Outsider. The XXXII Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton.

Some categories of outsiders are clear — by class, by ethnicity, by gender and sexuality, by religion. These are categories of self-definition, identity and self-identity; of drawing boundaries; of liminality; of alienation and community. Other categories are less obvious: the reader outsider the text; the illiterate precluded from the text; the marginal illustration to the text; the alienating quality of the Christian religion; the way in which art ‘makes strange’ what is familiar. Speakers have been asked to avoid the temptation to catalogue, writing papers that deal with ‘the Rhos and Byzantium’, ‘Byzantium and the Arabs’, ‘Crusaders and Byzantines’. The symposium will produce a synthesis of what we know now about how the Byzantines saw themselves and what they saw as the completely ‘Other’.

Contact Dion Smythe, Classics, King’s College, London, Strand, London WC2R 2LS; email: d.smythe @ Local arrangements are being co-ordinated by Ms Karen Wraith, CCS, Essex House, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BW2 2TP.


Studiedag over Deir-al-Sourian, april 1998, Leiden. Naar aanleiding van nieuwe belangrijke vondsten in de Kerk van Deir-al-Sourian, in de Wadi-al-Natrun, Egypte. Datum nog bekend te maken door Karel Innemée, Leiden

Words and Pictures: Early Christian Art and Thought

11 July. Words and Pictures: Early Christian Art and Thought. McAuley Campus, Australian Catholic University, Brisbane. To register write to The Secretary, Centre for Early Christian Studies, ACU, PO Box 247, Everton Park QLD 4053. Email:p.ackroyd @

Hildegard von Bingen

Bingen, Sept. 13-19, 1998: “Hildegard von Bingen in ihrem historischen Umfeld”.
Contact: 900 Jahre Hildegard von Bingen e. V.
Rochusallee, 40
D – 55411 BINGEN
Fax: +49 (0)11 49 6721 12006

Late Antique aesthetics and values

APA Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, 27-30 December 1998

Late Antique aesthetics and values

The inter-related themes of aesthetics and values impinge upon many areas of late Roman culture. The organizers of this panel encourage papers that both explore the relationships between these two themes in late antiquity and that also assess their place within the wider spectrum of political, social, religious, and artistic developments that distinguish the period. We also hope that contributors will link specific problems to some of the larger questions in our field that are still in need of discussion. For instance, the beginning of Late Antiquity has sometimes been located in the Severan age because of the appearance of certian styles of architecture and (following Eusebius of Caesarea) the political culture of Late Antiquity is often connected to the supposed growth of monotheism. What are the assumptions behind these connections? Similarly the rise of asceticism and the cult of the saints in the later fourth century is often placed in dynamic tension with significant shifts in the topography and social structures of the late antique city, while a common aesthetic sensibility has been detected in the age’s poetry and its art and architecture. Can these relationships be sustained and what do they imply? Finally, what role do assumptions about aesthetics and values play in the decision of some to draw lines of division between the world of Boethius and Caesarius of Arles and that of Gregory the Great and Gregory of Tours? We hope that be focusing attention upon questions of late antique aesthetics and values and, in particular, upon the relationships between these issues and the political and social history of the age, this panel’s papers will enhance our appreciation and understanding of its distinctive culture.

The panel is part of the APA three-year colloquium on Late Antiquity chaired by Emily Albu and Michele Salzman. The panel organizers are John Matthews (Department of Classics, PO Box 208262, Yale University, New Haven CT 06521) and Dennis Trout (Classics, Tufts University, Medford MA 02155)

18th International conference on the history of cartography

Athens, 11-16 july 1999

Organised by the Society for Hellenic Cartography and the National Hellenic Research Foundation, in collaboration with Imago Mundi Ltd.
Conference theme: ‘The Cartography of the Mediterranean World’ – and any other aspect of the history of cartography.
Languages: the conference will be conducted in English, French and Greek, with simultaneous translation.
If you are working on any aspect of the history of cartography and are interested in receiving further information, which will be issued in the ‘Call for Papers’ in Spring 1998, please complete the form below. This does not commit you in any way. [If you have already made a return by mail please let the Conference Secretary have your email address].

Email: gtolias @

Mail: 18th International Conference on the History of Cartography, The National Hellenic Research Foundation, 48 Vassileos Konstantinou Avenue, GR-116 35, Athens, Greece
Telephone: +301 721 0554
Fax: +301 724 6212

The Twenty-fourth Annual Byzantine Studies Conference

5-8 November 1998. The Twenty-fourth Annual Byzantine Studies Conference.

Call for Papers

The Twenty-fourth Annual Byzantine Studies Conference will be held at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, from Thursday, November 5 through Sunday, November 8, 1998. The conference is an annual forum for the presentation and discussion of papers on every aspect of Byzantine history and culture and is open to all, regardless of nationality or academic status. Abstracts must be postmarked no later than March, 15, 1998, or March 2, if submitted from abroad, and sent to Claudia Rapp, Program Chair, Institute for Advanced Study, Olden Lane, Princeton, NJ 08540, U.S.A. (e-mail: clrapp @

Perspectives on Panopolis

Perspectives on Panopolis: an Egyptian town from Alexander the Great to the Arab conquest, 9-11 december 1998, Leiden. Organisatie: Vakgroep talen en culturen van het Nabije Oosten, sectie Egyptologie en Koptologie, in samenwerking met het Papyrologisch Instituut. Informatie: Jacques van der Vliet, Leiden.


Two new big museums are to be built in northern Greece, it was announced in Alexandroupolis recently by Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos. The announcement was made at the beginning of a tour by the Central Archaeological Council of the prefectures of Evros, Rhodopi, Xanthi and Thasos. An archaeological museum is to be built in Alexandroupolis and a Byzantine museum in Didimoticho. Meanwhile, the Council’s plans for the region include restoration work on the ancient theater on the island of Thasos, budgeted at 400 million drachmas and to repair the second basilica at the ancient site of Philippi. In addition, extensions are to be made to the Komotini archaeological museum at a cost of one billion drachmas.

(Hellenic Newsletter, Greece in print, 15-9-1997)

Kent State University Museum

November 6 to March 29 – Kent, OH

The Kent State University Museum is hosting an exhibit featuring traditional costumes of Greece, drawing mostly from the collection of the Peloponnesian Folklore Foundation, accompanied by historic maps of the regions the costumes represent. For information call the museum at 330-672-3450.

(Greece in print, 15-11-1997)

Athos-tentoonstelling verlengd?

(Athens, 27/11/1997 (ANA))

Officials at the Cultural Capital of Europe-Thessaloniki ’97 have asked for the exhibition “Treasures of Mount Athos” to be extended until the end of May, as demand by visitors has gone beyond expectations.

The exhibition, which opened on June 22, has so far attracted more than 400,000 visitors, with revenues rising to more than half a billion drachmas.

Officials have already forwarded the request for extension to the monastic community of Mount Athos, whose response at the end of next week is expected to be positive.

Museum voor Volkenkunde, Rotterdam

Syrische Iconen, in het Museum voor Volkenkunde, Rotterdam; tot 19 april 1998, Willemskade 25, 3016 DM Rotterdam, tel. 010-4112201. Er is een catalogus beschikbaar: M. Immerzeel en A. Touma: Syrische iconen – Syrian Icons. Collectie / Collection Antoine Touma, Gent: Snoeck-Ducaju, [1997].

Nieuws uit de ‘Provincies’/News from the ‘Provinces’


We ontvingen de Society of Armenian Studies Newsletter, vol. 21, no. 3 (48), fall 1997 (ISSN 0740-5510). Naast boekennieuws en nieuws/publicaties van leden van de Society for Armenian Studies, wordt aandacht besteed aan studieprogramma’s voor Armeens aan Columbia University en The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Melding wordt ook gemaakt van een nieuw kwartaalblad, Armenian Forum, over hedendaagse zaken. ‘Specialists will tell each other and the educated non-specialist about their research on everything from public health in Armenia to gender and cultural identity in the Diaspora.’ Informatie over dit tijdschrift is te verkrijgen bij het Gomidas Institute, 2525 Fernbank Dr., Charlotto NC 28226-0726, U.S.A. of per

De Society for Armenian Studies geeft ook een Journal uit (J.S.A.S., editor: Dennis R. Papazian, director Armenian Research Center, University of Michigan-Dearborn; ISSN 0747-9301). Onlangs verscheen vol. 8 (1995), waarin onder andere een artikel van Roberta Ervine (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): ‘The Church of the Holy Archangels in Jerusalem: comments on its history and selected inscriptions’, een review essay van Mesrob K. Krikorian (Wenen): ‘Turkish historiography and the Armenian church’, en boekrecensies.

Adres voor correspondentie of informatie: Professor Dennis R. Papazian, Armenian Research Center, University of Michigan-Dearborn, 4901 Evergreen Road, Dearborn, MI 48128-1491.

The Society for Armenian Studies publishes a Newsletter (latest issue is fall 1997, vol. 21, no. 3/48), in which mention is made of news on books, activities of members, and university programmes concerning Armenia, Armenian culture and language. The Society also publishes a Journal annually (vol. 8, 1995), edited by Professor Dennis R. Papazian, Director, Armenian Research Center, University of Michigan-Dearborn.

A new journal entitled Armenian Forum is about to appear for the first time, which will focus on contemporary affairs for specialists and non-specialists. The address for information about this quarterly journal is: Gomidas Institute, 2525 Fernbank Dr., Charlotto NC 28226-0726, U.S.A., or per e-mail: gomidas @

Gouden Hoorn Literair

door Neurez Atto


Mijn hart beweegt mijn pen
En zet een PUNT
vóór mijn uitgesproken woorden
In het land
waar mijn eerste gedachten naar woorden zochten
en niet vonden

15 november 1997


I called my sister in Bagdad
“How are you my sister?”
I only felt
the wet telephone wire
in my hand
Replacing my heartveins
and heard the bleep

10 november 1997