Fainting fits and their causes: a topos in two Middle Byzantine metaphraseis by Nicetas the Paphlagonian and Nicephorus Ouranos

by Dirk Krausmüller

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Byzantine metaphraseis of older hagiographical literature present modern scholars with a predicament: what is one to do with texts which do not add new episodes to the original stories and which are equally not used by their authors as vehicles of self-expression? This absence of immediately apparent “original” features is without doubt the main reason for the comparative neglect of these texts by modern scholars.1 Detailed comparisons between the contents of the paraphrases and their models remain a desideratum. In this article I will limit the analysis to one of the most distinctive features of Byzantine metaphraseis: the comments made by the authors on the narratives they found in their models.

The importance of such comments has been stressed by Elizabeth Fisher in a recent article on Michael Psellos as a theoretician and practitioner of hagiography.2 In his Encomium of Symeon Metaphrastes Psellos spelt out what he considered essential features for a hagiographical text to be appealing to a contemporary audience. One of these features is the incorporation into the narrative “of various specialised topics”.3 In her article Fisher shows that Psellos did indeed add such passages to his own metaphrasis of the Late Antique Life of Auxentius and gives as an example Psellos’ description of the disease elephantiasis for which he drew on Ancient medical texts.4

Psellos appears to have been unique in making explicit the rules that guided his hagiographical production. However, the practice of inserting set pieces into the narrative of a saint’s life is not an innovation made by Psellos. Comparison with older metaphraseis shows that by the eleventh century it was already well established. In this article I will discuss one such topic: the explanation of how emotional states can lead to unconsciousness. I will look at two hagiographical texts by two authors of the Middle Byzantine period: Nicetas the Paphlagonian and his metaphrasis (BHG 708) of the eighth-century Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Leontius of Rome (BHG 707);5 and Nicephorus Ouranos and his metaphrasis (BHG 1689) of the seventh-century Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain which was probably composed by Arcadius of Cyprus (BHG 1690).6

The older of the two authors, the monk Nicetas the Paphlagonian, was a prominent figure during the reign of Emperor Leo VI (886-912) against whose fourth marriage he was fiercely opposed.7 He was a prolific writer. Most of his works were Encomia on apostles, martyrs and monastic saints.8However, he also wrote long hagiographical narratives: apart from the Life of Gregory of Agrigentum he composed a Life of Patriarch Ignatius and the Acts of the Apostle Andrew which is equally a metaphrasis of an older text.9

Nicephorus Ouranos was an aristocrat who served Emperor Basil II (976-1025) in various functions, finally becoming gouvernor of the province of Antioch on the Orontes.10 From his writings it appears that he was a deeply pious man.11 He imitated his mentor Symeon Metaphrastes by leading the life of a monk in the midst of wordly affairs.12 And like Symeon Metaphrastes, Nicephorus Ouranos was an author of hagiographical texts. Apart from the Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain he wrote a Passio of Theodore the Recruit which is also based on an older model.13

A look at the two metaphraseis of the Life of Gregory of Agrigentum and of the Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain confirms the observations made at the beginning of this article. Neither of the texts contains passages in which the authors speak about themselves in a way that goes beyond the repetition of well-worn topoi.14 As a consequence, we can no longer determine why Nicetas the Paphlagonian undertook his metaphrasis, be it to fulfil a liturgical need or to express his personal piety. As regards Nicephorus Ouranos, I have already mentioned that at one time he was gouvernor of Antioch. Thus, there can be no doubt that he visited the neighbouring Wondrous Mountain and Symeon’s monastery.15 However, in his metaphrasis he does not breathe a word of such a visit.16 Thus, all one can say is that both authors chose saints who, to judge by the extent of their dossiers, appear to have been quite popular in the tenth and eleventh centuries.17

Comparison with the original Lives shows that both authors subjected the text of their models to a thorough revision with the purpose of raising the stylistic level of the narratives.18 In this revision one must certainly see one of the main reasons why they undertook the task: they catered for an audience that since Late Antiquity had become more fastidious and was no longer content with unadorned narratives.19 It seems that their efforts met with the approval of their contemporaries. Despite its great length Nicephorus’ metaphrasis comes down to us in four manuscripts.20 And Nicetas’ text was later included in the Metaphrastic Menologium and consequently enjoyed a very wide distribution.21

Apart from this stylistic overhaul the modifications made by the two authors are quite limited. In both cases they chose to retain the literary genre of their models and did not turn the Lives into Encomia.22 On the whole, they followed the original sequence of episodes.23 Omissions do occur but are not extensive enough to change the character of the narratives.24 As a consequence, scholarly interest has focused on the models and the twometaphraseis have not been looked at as literary texts in their own right.25

However, the two texts are not devoid of original features. I shall now turn to the main topic of this article and discuss two descriptions of the link between excessive emotion and fainting. I shall begin with the Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Leontius and the metaphrasis by Nicetas the Paphlagonian. As already pointed out, the basic features of the narrative are identical both in the original Life and in Nicetas’ metaphrasis: Following a divine calling, Gregory clandestinely leaves his home-town Agrigentum in the company of monks and goes to the Holy Land.26 While Gregory remains there, the monks travel back to Agrigentum where they are invited by the local bishop and by chance overhear the wailing of Gregory’s mother over her lost son.27 They then ask for the reason of her behaviour and are told about Gregory’s life and the circumstances of his disappearance.28 The leader of the monks, Mark, recognises Gregory from the story, discloses his knowledge of the saint and then gives an account of Gregory’s life in the Holy Land.29

In both texts then follows a description of the reaction of the listeners to this unexpected disclosure, first of the people in general and then of Gregory’s parents in particular. I will first juxtapose the description of the people’s reaction in Leontius’ text with the paraphrase in order to give a general idea of how Nicetas changed his model.

Leontius’ Life:

“And having heard, all the multitude of the people, men and women, lifting up their voices and stretching out their hands to heaven shouted the ‘Lord have mercy!’ with many tears.”

kai akousantes hapan to plètos tou laou andrôn te kai gunaikôn èran eis hupsos tèn fôrèn autôn kai tas cheiras eis ton ouranon ekpetasantes ekrazon to kurie eleèson meta dakruôn pollôn. 30

Nicetas’ metaphrasis:

“For all the multitude having been moved by the narrative as if by some bacchanal bound exceedingly sweetly and clap loudly and lift the voice, filling the air with shouting and, through the unexpectedness of the matter, thanking as well as glorifying the name of God. And thus the multitude, making the matter an opportunity for common rejoicing.”

to men gar plètos hapan hoia tini bakcheiai tèi diègèsei kekinèmenoi lian te skirtôsin hèdu kai mega krotousi kai tèn fônèn airousi boès te ton aera plèrountes kai tôi paradoxôi tou pragmatos eucharistountes hama kai to tou theou doxazontes onoma: kai houtô men to plèthos koinèn eufrosunèn to pragma poioumenoi.31

The differences in the treatment of this theme are striking. In the original Life the reaction of the people is described in short and formulaic statements. Nicetas’ metaphrasis is much more elaborate: it spells out and highlights several aspects which are only implied in his model. Whereas in the original the hearing of the story is immediately followed by gesticulating and shouting, Nicetas mentions the internal response which precedes these outer actions. Moreover, he supplies the reasons for such a behaviour: the “paradoxical” character of the story. And finally, to the shouting and clapping in his model he adds references to the movements of the bodies in general, introduces a learned comparison with “Bacchic” madness, and juxtaposes the reaction of the crowd with that of the parents in order to create a climax.

This elaboration is all the more remarkable for the fact that otherwise Nicetas considerably shortened the text of his model. It shows clearly the most distinctive feature of Nicetas’ paraphrase: his penchant for the emotional. This penchant is a common trait of hagiographical texts dating to the tenth century when stark narrative was no longer considered fashionable and the depiction of “emotions” through the use of rhetorical devices became the accepted norm.32

However, the interest of tenth-century hagiographers in emotions was not limited to their description: they were equally interested in the pathology of emotional crises. This will become obvious when we now turn to a comparison of the ways in which the parents’ reaction to the news about Gregory of Agrigentum is described.

Leontius’ Life:

“Chariton and his wife fell to the ground and lay on their faces like the dead. But the monk approached them and gripped them and helped them up.”

ho de Charitôn kai hè gunè autou pesontes chamai epi prosôpon ekeinto hôsei nekroi: proselthôn de ho monachos ekratèsen autous kai ègerein.33

Nicetas’ metaphrasis:

“But the parents of Gregory even almost got beside themselves through the excess of joy and half-dead fell to the earth. For just as lack of measure in sorrow can cause getting beside oneself thus no less also joy, and often danger has arisen from both. Then, having been helped up by Mark and barely having come to their senses, they disbelieved.”

hoi de ge tou Grègoriou pateres mikrou kai eis ekstasin tèi huperbolèi tès hèdonès hèkon kai hèmithnètes eis gèn katepipton: ekstatikon gar hôsper ametria lupès houtôs ouden hètton kai hèdonè kai kindunos pollakis ex amfoterôn epèlthen: eita pros tou Markou dianastantes kai molis heautôn genomenoi dièpistoun.34

Both texts tell the same story: the parents faint and are then helped up by the monk Mark. However, whereas in the original Life the fainting is simply stated and then the narrative immediately continues with the monk helping them up, Nicetas inserts between these two events an etiology of the parents’ reaction: it is explained as the effect of the excessive joy the parents felt about the news. In addition, Nicetas remarks that sorrow can have the same effect. This last comment is no longer immediately relevant to the narrative. With it Nicetas takes his audience away from the specific situation and makes them ponder about a “medical” condition in abstract terms.

In doing so he followed the conventions of hagiographical writing which were predominant at the time. This becomes evident when we now turn to the second metaphrasis, Nicephorus’ Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain.

The seventh-century Life of Symeon is characterised by a great number of healing miracles which are by and large retained in Nicephorus’metaphrasis.35 One of these stories which is found in both versions tells the story of a nobleman from Cappadocia with a festering wound. It runs along the lines which had been set down by the hagiographical tradition. Having been given up by the physicians he comes to Symeon and asks him to be healed. 36 The saint lets him come up to the top of the pillar and tells him that he is healed already. However, the man is so baffled that at first he does not notice the change until Symeon tells him to examine the diseased spot.37 When the man finally realises what has happened he experiences a violent physical reaction. I will again compare the description of this reaction in the original Life with that found in the metaphrasis.

Arcadius’ Life:

“And after having come to his senses and having received the words, having examined and having seen that the suffering had become invisible he was greatly troubled and he bent to fall down on the earth. And the bystanders grabbed him.”

kai en heautôi genomenos kai ton logon dexamenos ereunèsas kai idôn hoti afanes gegone to pathos autou ethroèthè megalôs k ai eklithè tou katapesein epi tèn gèn: kai epelabonto autou hoi parestôtes.38

Nicephorus’ metaphrasis:

“But when having entrusted the examination to his hand he realises that he is without suffering the swelling having been completely smoothed out so that nothing whatsoever indicates it, he is filled with dizziness and vertigo of the kind that is in keeping with nature: which not only an excess of sudden sorrow but also one of joy often naturally effects when through the unexpected nature of the matter it (sc. excess) has contracted the warmth of the heart and abandoned as dead the activities of the body. He then, having been astounded by the unexpectedness of the matter would almost have keeled over if some of those present had not held hands under him.”

hôs de tèi cheiri tèn ereunan epitrepsas egnô heauton apathè tou ogkou pantapasin hupoleanthentos hôs mèden ti oun episèmainein tou kata fusin iliggou plèroutai kai dinès: hoper ou lupès afnidiou monon alla kai charas huperbolè pollakis pefuke dran tôi adokètôi tou pragmatos to tès kardias thermon susteilasa kai nekras hôsper tou sômatos tas energeias apolipousa: ho men oun tôi tou pragmatos paradoxôi kataplageis oligou dein emelle peritrepein ei mè cheiras autôi tines tôn parontôn hupeschon.39

Again the Late Antique original is considerably extended in the Middle Byzantine metaphrasis: Whereas the seventh-century Life simply gives an account of what happened Nicephorus not only elaborates this account but also adds an analysis of the physiological processes that led to the fainting.

The similarities between the passages in Nicetas’ and in Nicephorus’ metaphraseis are obvious: the juxtaposition of the opposite emotions “sorrow (lupè)” and “joy (charan, hèdonè)”, the problem of “excess (huperbolè, ametria)” and the ensuing danger to the human being. Thus, there can be no doubt that both authors employed a common topos which was considered appropriate in this context.

Comparison between the two models shows that the man from Cappadocia and the bystanders in the Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain are engaged in a similar interaction as the parents of the saint and the monk Mark in the Life of Gregory of Agrigentum. This allows us to gain an insight into the craft of a metaphrastes: the mention of fainting in the model acts as the “trigger” for the insertion of the topos which the authors are likely to have memorised during their training.

In making a display of their medical knowledge both authors evidently attempted to arouse the interest of their sophisticated audiences in the same way as Elizabeth Fisher has shown Psellos to have done.40 However, there are also noticeable differences in their presentations of the topos. In this instance Nicephorus shows a greater interest in the more technical aspects of medical pathology when he speaks about the effect of emotions on the flow of blood in the body.

In conclusion, it can be said that while not interfering with the narratives of their models authors of Middle Byzantine metaphraseis nevertheless “updated” their texts and that one of the new features was the insertion of comments on the pathology of emotional states. These comments were clearly topical and part of the panoply which was at the service of all hagiographers who had had a training in rhetoric. In keeping with the tenets of imitation and emulation their aim was not to introduce new features but rather to give traditional features a new twist.


1 During the last decades scholars have tended to concentrate on the analysis of stylistic changes made by the authors when reworking their models. Cf. especially E. Schiffer, ‘Zur Umarbeitung rhetorischer Texte durch Symeon Metaphrastes’, Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik, 42 (1992), 143-155, and E. Schiffer, ‘Metaphrastic Lives and Earlier metaphráseis of Saints’ Lives’, Metaphrasis. Redactions and Audiences in Middle Byzantine Hagiography, ed. C. Hoegel (KULTs skriftseries No. 50, Oslo, 1996), 22-41. Such an approach yields many interesting insights. However, it does not solve the problem of establishing in what way the contents of these texts may have been relevant to the authors themselves and to their contemporary audiences.

2 E. Fisher, ‘Michael Psellos on the rhetoric of hagiography and the Life of St Auxentius’, Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 17 (1993), 43-55.

3 Fisher, ‘Michael Psellos on the rhetoric of hagiography’, 48-49.

4 Fisher, ‘Michael Psellos on the rhetoric of hagiography’, 54.

5 Nicetas the Paphlagonian, ‘Vita et conversatio S. Gregorii episcopi Agrigentini’, PG, 116, 189-261. In Migne this text is published as part of the Metaphrastic Menologium. However, the text also appears under Nicetas’ name. This allows the conclusion that Symeon inserted this text into his collection, cf. A. Ehrhard, Überlieferung und Bestand der hagiographischen und homiletischen Literatur der griechischen Kirche von den Anfängen bis zum Ende des 16. Jahrhunderts. Erster Teil: Die Überlieferung. Vol. II (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur, 51, Leipzig, 1938), 470, note 6. However, it must be stressed that without a critical edition it cannot be ruled out that Symeon introduced changes into Nicetas’ text. For Nicetas’ model, cf. Leontios Presbyteros von Rom, Das Leben des heiligen Gregorios von Agrigent. Kritische Ausgabe, Übersetzung und Kommentar von A. Berger (Berliner Byzantinistische Arbeiten, 60, Berlin, 1993), esp. 48-53 with a discussion of the eighth/ninth-century date of the Life.

6 Nicephorus’ version is edited as ‘Vita Symeonis stylitae iunioris in monte Mirabili’ in Acta Sanctorum, Maii, V (3rd edition, Paris, Rome, 1868), 310-397, and in PG, 86, 2987-3216. The original Life of Symeon has been edited by P. van den Ven, La vie ancienne de Syméon Stylite le Jeune, I:Introduction et texte grec (Subsidia hagiographica, 32, Brussels, 1962), cf. introduction, 121*-128* about the authorship of Arcadius and the resulting date to the first half of the seventh century. Recently doubts about the coherence of the text have been voiced by P. Speck, ‘Wunderheilige und Bilder. Zur Frage des Beginns der Bilderverehrung’, Varia, III, ed. W. Brandes, S. Kotzabassi, C. Ludwig, P. Speck (Poikila Byzantina, 11, Bonn, 1991), 163-247, esp. 165-193.

7 Nicetas is best known from the Life of Patriarch Euthymius, ed. P. Karlin-Hayter, Vita Euthymii Patriarchae CP. Text, Translation, Introduction and Commentary (Bibliothèque de Byzantion, 3, Brussels, 1970), c. 16, 105-106, and commentary on p. 219. Recently B. Flusin has edited a hagiographical fragment which may come from a Vita of Nicetas the Paphlagonian, cf. B. Flusin, ‘Un fragment inédit de la Vie d’Euthyme le Patriarche? II. Vie d’Euthyme ou Vie de Nicétas?’, Travaux et Mémoires, 10 (1987), 233-260.

8 On Nicetas’ Encomia, cf. Th. Antonopoulou, ‘Homiletic Activity in Constantinople Around 900’, Preacher and Audience. Studies in Early Christian and Byzantine Homiletics, ed. M. B. Cunningham and P. Allen (A New History of the Sermon, 1, Leiden, Boston, Cologne, 1998), 317-345, esp. 331-336, with a list of his writings.

9 The Life of Patriarch Ignatius was edited in PG, 105, 488-574. The “Deeds of the Apostle Andrew” were edited by M. Bonnet, ‘Acta Andreae apostoli cum laudatione contexta’, Analecta Bollandiana, 13 (1894), 309-352.

10 For an overview cf. E. McGeer, ‘Ouranos, Nikephoros’, Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, 3 (1991), 1544-1545. Nicephorus is first mentioned in 979 and appears to have died in the early years of the eleventh century. For his post as gouvernor of Antioch, cf. esp. Catalogue of Byzantine Seals at Dumbarton Oaks and in the Fogg Museum of Art, III, ed. J. Nesbitt, N. Oikonomides (Washington, D. C.), 177, no. 99. 11: Nikephoros Ouranos, magistros and “master” of the Orient (X/XI c.), with bust of the virgin and invocation: Theotoke boèthei tôi sôi doulôi Nikèforôi magistrôi tôi kratounti tès Anatolès tôi Ouranôi. Nicephorus was the author of a treatise on Taktika, cf. E. McGeer, ‘Tradition and Reality in the Taktika of Nikephoros Ouranos’, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, 45 (1991), 139.

11 A strong sense of the own sinfulness is expressed in his “catanyctic alphabet”, ed. A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus, ‘Buzantina analekta, I: alfabètos Ouranou magistrou’, Byantinische Zeitschrift, 8 (1899), 66-70.

12 S. G. Mercati, ‘Versi di Niceforo Uranos in morte di Simeone Metafraste’, Analecta Bollandiana, 68 (1950), 126-134, esp. 131, v. 27: tropos monèrès en salôi tôn pragmatôn.

13 F. Halkin, ‘Un opuscule inconnu du magistre Nicéphore Ouranos (La Vie de S. Théodore le Conscrit), Analecta Bollandiana, 80 (1962), 308-324, text, 313-324, cf. the title, p. 313: marturion tou hagiou megalomarturos Theodôrou tou tèrônos suggrafen para Nikèforou magistrou tou Ouranou. ThePassio which is based on the eigth-century anonymous Vita, educatio et miracula of Theodore the Recruit (BHG 1764), was edited by H. Delehaye, Les légendes grecques des saints militaires (Paris, 1909), 183-201, app. V. Vita et miracula (1764).

14 However, it must be stressed that there are cases where authors do use hagiographical texts metaphraseis to present personal concerns. An example is the metaphrasis of the Life of Joseph the Hymnographer by John the Maistor, where the author uses the narrative to propound his view of the immediate retribution of the saints after death, cf. J. Gouillard, ‘Léthargie des âmes et culte des saints: un plaidoyer inédit de Jean diacre et maïstor’, Travaux et mémoires, 8 (1981), 171-186, esp. 180-181.

15 Cf. the comment by H. Delehaye, Les saints stylites (Subsidia hagiographica, 14, Brussels, 1923), lx: “Très peu de traits personnels sont à relever dans cette biographie.”

16 Delehaye, Les saints stylites, lx, assumed autopsy because of the reference to a special feast instituted by the saint, i. e. Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain by Nicephorus Ouranos, c. 115, PG, 86, 3093C: tautèn ho men dedôken entolèn tois episèmoterois tôn adelfôn hètis para tèi monèi kai eis deuro tèreitai. However, this is information that could have been got elsewhere. Another possible reference to local information equally turns out to be inconclusive. In keeping with the interests of the time Nicephorus explains the name Angulas: “After that … the enemy entered into one of the brothers … Isaurian by race, Angulas by name, which they say the lazy is called in the language of the Syrians, I do not know whether called that at the beginning which he became afterwards also through his deeds (or?) having changed the name through the deed later and having fitted the name in accordance with the deeds; having then entered into this one… the enemy stirs up … the whole brotherhood.” Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain by Nicephorus Ouranos, c. 132, PG, 86, 3108D: meta de tauta … ho echthros … hupoduetai tôn adelfôn hena … Isauron to genos Aggoulan tèn prosègorian ho tèi tôn Surôn glôttèi fasi ton oknèron onomazesthai ouk oida eite touto tèn archèn klèthenta ho meta tauta egegonei kai tois ergois (è?) tèn klèsin husteron tèi praxei metabalonta kai katallèlon tois ergois harmosamenon tèn prosègorian: touton toigaroun ho echthros hupodus pasan ektarattei … tèn adelfotèta. This elaboration is not yet found in the seventh-century Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain, ed. Van den Ven, I, c. 123, p. 103, ll. 1-3: meta tauta kinei ho Satanas Aggoulan tina Isauron hena tôn adelfôn kai ektarattei tèn adelfotèta. Taken at face value, it might suggest a knowledge of Syriac. However, as Professor S. Brock has pointed out to me this etymology has no basis in the Syriac language and was wholly made up by Nicephorus. Therefore it cannot be adduced as evidence for first-hand knowledge or access to independent information.

17 For a presentation and discussion of the hagiographical dossier on Gregory of Agrigentum, cf. Berger, Leontios von Rom, 128-140. Interest in theLife of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain for a long time seems to have been limited to his rôle as a witness for icon worship, cf. Speck, ‘Wunderheilige und Bilder’, 194-210. However, with the reconquest of Antioch the monastery returned to the Byzantine “ambit”, the pilgrimage flowered, and a spate of new texts was written (the earliest – and longest – of which seems to have been Nicephorus’ paraphrase). The majority of these texts were edited by J. Bompaire, ‘Abrégés de la vie de saint Syméon Stylite le Jeune’, Ellenika, 13 (1954), 71-110. Among the authors is a John Petrinos who may date to the eleventh to twelfth centuries, cf. Beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur, 638.

18 A comparison of Ouranos’ metaphrasis with the original Life shows that he limited himself to stylistic changes. The new elements are mostly transitions between the episodes, cf. e. g. c. 57, PG, 86, 3040A, and c. 102, 3081C, and interjections to highlight the miraculous (passim).

19 This change in taste was discussed by I. Sevcenko, ‘Levels of Style in Byzantine Prose’, Akten des XVI. Internationalen Byzantinistenkongresses, I/1 (Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik, 31. 1, 1981), 289-312, esp. 301-302 who based his argument on Michael Psellos, Oratio in sanctum Symeonem Metaphrastem, ed. E. Fisher, Opera Hagiographica, pp. 267-288.

20 Delehaye, Les saints stylites, lx, note, 1.

21 See above note 5.

22 Accordingly, in their prefaces they anncounce their intention to tell their stories in a chronological order. Nicetas the Paphlagonian states: “To me then it seems to be a very pleasurable matter and one worth the effort to write up his story from the beginning”, cf. Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Nicephorus the Paphlagonian, c. 1, PG, 116, 189A: emoi men oun hèdiston ti pragma dokei kai spoudès axion ton autou bion anôthen anagrapsasthai, and Nicephorus Ouranos gives an overview of the saint’s biography and then introduces the narrative with the phrase: “However, we must lead back the speech further to the beginning and present … of what kind of parents this kind of man was born”, cf. Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountainby Nicephorus Ouranos, c. 3, 2989B: dei de mikron anôterô ton logon anagagontas hoiôn ho toioutos efu goneôn … parastèsai. This is simply a more elaborate way of introducing a biographical narrative. In his other hagiographical writing, the Life of Theodore the Recruit Nicephorus Ouranos employs a formula which is more similar to the one used by Nicetas: “The speech shall go through this affairs from the beginning right from the birthpangs and the first hair”, cf. Life of Theodore the Recruit by Nicephorus Ouranos, ed. Halkin, c. 1, p. 313: kai ta kat’ auton anôthen ex autès ôdinos kai prôtès trichos ho logos diexietô. The key term in these texts is the adverb anôthen which signals to the audience that the subject matter will be presented in chronological fashion from birth to death.

23 Cf. Delehaye, Les saints stylites, lix-lx. I have not been able to consult E. Müller, Studien zu den Biographien des Styliten Symeon des Jüngeren(Aschaffenburg, 1914), who undertook a comparison of the two versions. For a summary of his observations, cf. H.-G. Beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, 12. 2. 1, Munich, 1959), 577: “Seine (sc. des Nikephoros) Arbeit is keine selbständige Leistung, sondern beruht in der Hauptsache auf dem Bios, der Arkadios von Kypros zugeschrieben wird.” As the editor Halkin demonstrated, the same is true for Nicephorus’ metaphrasis of the Vita, educatio et martyrium of Theodore the Recruit, cf. Halkin, ‘Un opuscule inconnu du magistre Nicéphore Ouranos’, p. 310, who juxtaposes two passages from Nicephorus’ text and the Vita, educatio et martyrium and then concludes that the Nicephorus’ text “est donc parallèle à toute la première moitié” of the text edited by Delehaye.

24 Berger, Leontios von Rom, 129, points to the omission in Nicetas’ paraphrase of lengthy speeches and prayers which means that Nicetas’ text is only three quarters of the length of the original Life. In Nicephorus’ paraphrase the shortening is most noticeable in the seemingly endless list of miracles at the end of the Life of Symeon: Between the story of the woman Theosebia, ed. Van den Ven, c. 243, pp. 217-218, which Nicephorus paraphrases in c. 245, p. 3209, and the passage that concludes the series of miracles and achieves the transition to the account of Symeon’s death, ed. Van den Ven, c. 254, pp. 220-221, which appears in Nicephorus’ text as c. 247, pp. 3212-3213, Nicephorus has retained only one miracle story, that of a lame man who gets carried to Symeon by a mule, ed. Van den Ven, c. 249, pp. 219-229, which is adapted in c. 246, pp. 3209-3212, whereas he leaves out two series of short descriptions of miracles which surround this one longer episode, ed. Van den Ven, cc. 244-248, pp. 218-21, and ed. Van den Ven, cc. 250-253, p. 220.

25 Berger, Leontios von Rom, 129, calls Nicetas’ text “eine durchgehende stilistische Überarbeitung” and specifies, 131: “”Seine Bearbeitung erstreckt sich neben der stilistischen Retusche … auf kleinere inhaltliche Korrekturen”, concluding: “Trotzdem folgt er (sc. der Text) aber dabei, obwohl er durchgehend neu formuliert ist, dem Original Satz für Satz.” In the case of the Life of Symeon the observation of a lack of originality led van den Ven to a negative judgement of the quality of the metaphrasis, cf. van den Ven’s statement in the introduction to his edition, Vie de Syméon, I, 11*: “la médiocre paraphrase de Nicéphore Ouranos”.

26 Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Leontius Presbyter, ed. Berger, c. 2, p. 44, l. 23 – c. 18, p. 164, l. 21. Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Nicetas the Paphlagonian, c. 2, p. 189B6 – c. 13, p. 205C10.

27 Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Leontius Presbyter, ed. Berger, c. 18, p. 164, l. 21 – c. 21, p. 167, l. 12. Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Nicetas the Paphlagonian, c. 13, p. 205C10 – c. 16, p. 209B8.

28 Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Leontius Presbyter, ed. Berger, c. 21, p. 167, l. 12 – p. 21, p. 169, l. 40. Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Nicetas the Paphlagonian, c. 17, p. 209B9 – c. 18, p. 212C3.

29 Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Leontius Presbyter, ed. Berger, c. 25, p. 161, l. 1 – c. 25, p. 174, l. 1. Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Nicetas the Paphlagonian, c. 19, p. 212C4 – c. 19, p. 213A10.

30 Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Leontius Presbyter, ed. Berger, c. 25, p. 174, ll. 1-3.

31 Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Nicetas the Paphlagonian, c. 19, p. 213A10-B2.

32 Rosenqvist has studied this phenomenon in his comparison between the “original” ninth-century Life of Philaretus the Merciful and the tenth-century metaphrasis delta which he concludes with the statement that whereas the model was quite matter of fact “there is in d an obvious predelection (sic) for embedding actions in a sentimental mood that is completely alien to Nicetas’ original Life, … the tendency is striking and has a deep impact on the emotional temperature of the Life.” Cf. Rosenqvist, ‘Changing Styles and Changing Mentalities’, Metaphrasis. Redactions and Audiences in Middle Byzantine Hagiography, ed. C. Hoegel (KULTs skriftseries No. 50, Oslo, 1996), 50-51.

33 Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Leontius Presbyter, ed. Berger, c. 26, p. 174, ll. 3-4; plus ll. 4-5.

34 Life of Gregory of Agrigentum by Nicetas the Paphlagonian, c. 20, PG, 116, p. 213B2-7; plus p. 213B8-9. With the phrase hèmithnètes eis gèn katepipton Nicetas alludes to katapesôn ge toi hèmithanès in IV Maccabees. Here one could argue that in his choice he was guided by the similarity between tas cheiras exeteinen eis ton ouranon … meta dakruôn in the context of this passage in IV Maccabees and the previous passage tas cheiras eis ton ouranon ekpetasantes … meta dakruôn pollôn in his model.

35 See above note 24.

36 Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain, ed. van den Ven, I, c. 168, p. 150, ll. 1-19. Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain by Nicephorus Ouranos, c. 180, p. 3152B8-3153A2.

37 Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain, ed. van den Ven, I, c. 168, p. 150, ll. 1-16. Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain by Nicephorus Ouranos, c. 180, p. 3151B8-D7.

38 Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain, ed. van den Ven, I, c. 168, p. 150, ll. 16-19.

39 Life of Symeon of the Wondrous Mountain by Nicephorus Ouranos, c. 180, PG, 86, 3152D7-3153A2.

40 I have not been able to identify the common model although there can be no doubt that such a model exists, cf. e. g. Galen’s treatise Ad Glauconem de medendi methodo, I, c. 15, ed. ed. C. G. Kühn, Claudii Galeni opera omnia, XI (Leipzig, 1826), 48-49: malista de presbutai paschousin auto to leipothumein kai hoi allôs astheneis: kai gar lupèthentes autôn polloi kai charentes kai thumôthentes eleipothumèsan. Like Nicetas and Nicephorus Galen here connects fainting with emotions like joy, sorrow and anger. Moreover, he lists as possible victims the “old” (like Gregory’s parents) and the “ill” (like the man from Cappadocia).

Published in print in Golden Horn, Volume 9 issue 1 (Winter 2001-2002)

Medewerkers/Contributors – Volume 9, issue 1 (winter 2001-2002)

Volume 9, issue 1 (winter 2001-2002)

Dirk Krausmüller is a Research Fellow in Byzantine Cultural History at the AHRB Centre for Byzantine Cultural History for 2001. Last year he completed his PhD thesis Saints’ Lives and Typika: the Constantinopolitan Monastery of Panagiou in the Eleventh Century, at Queen’s University Belfast.

Annabelle Parker is co-founder/editor of Golden Horn. She finished her M.A. in Byzantine/Medieval Studies at Rijksuniversiteit Groningen in 1992, focussing on the Desert Fathers/-Mothers. She is marketing manager at Edita KNAW. In her spare time she works on a critical edition of the Vita Syncleticae.

André de Raaij is a social historian (University of Amsterdam) whose interests involve currents in religious anarchism in The Netherlands and elsewhere. He is one of the founders of Golden Horn.

Dating John of Carpathus to the 6th century: A textual parallel between his Capita hortatoria and the Pandectes of Antiochus of St. Sabas

Volume 7, issue 1 (summer 1999)

by Dirk Krausmüller

John of Carpathus is the author of two religious texts, the Capita hortatoria and the Capita theologica et gnostica.1 Consisting of short statements about various spiritual topics which are arranged in a seemingly random fashion, these texts belong to the literary genre of “centuries”. The first one focusses on “practical” themes and envisages beginners as readers for whom it provides guidance in their fight against demons and passions whereas the second is more “theoretical” and addresses philosophical questions for the benefit of a highly educated and spiritually advanced readership.2

Despite the growing interest in Eastern spirituality the teachings of John of Carpathus have not been given much attention by scholars. The last in-depth analysis was undertaken by M. Th. Disdier in an article which was published in two instalments in 1932 and 1940/1942.3 Since then John’s appearance in secondary literature has been confined to dictionaries and handbooks.4 One of the reasons for this comparative neglect may be that the dating of John’s life has remained extremely vague and that it has therefore been impossible to interpret his writings within a clearly defined context. The only certain terminus post quem that has been established so far is the year 400 since the “century” as literary genre was only invented by Evagrius Ponticus in the late 4th century. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that John’s texts betray a strong dependence on Evagrian concepts.5 This has led to the surmise that they belong to the early, pre-Byzantine period of Eastern spirituality.6 Unfortunately, however, no proof has been found to substantiate this impression. John is not referred to by other authors before the 9th century when patriarch Photius mentions him in his Bibliotheca so that the year 800 must be regarded as the first incontrovertible terminus ante quem.7 Apart from this, only one further attempt has been made to date the author of the two “centuries”. It has been suggested that he might be identical with the bishop of Carpathus by the name of John who participated in the synod of 680/81.8 Although this has been reiterated by all scholars who have addressed the question it is evident that the mere identity of the very common Christian name cannot be regarded as proof that we are dealing with the same person.9 As a consequence, even in the most recent secondary literature John of Carpathus is still dated to the time between the 5th and the 8th century.10

The purpose of this article is to introduce new evidence through which this long timespan can be considerably narrowed. The argument will be based on a comparison between John’s Capita hortatoria and the Pandectes scripturae sacrae of Antiochus Strategius.11 Antiochus was a monk of St. Sabas who lived through the Persian occupation of Palestine which followed the conquest of Jerusalem in 614.12 During that time he compiled the Pandectes as a concise guidebook for monks in 130 chapters.13 Each chapter consists of a string of quotations from the Bible which are interspersed with borrowings from earlier spiritual texts as De oratione and De octo malignis spiritibus by Evagrius Ponticus (Ps-Nilus) and the Centuria gnostica by Diadochus of Photice.14 It must, however, be stressed that the list of Antiochus’ sources cannot be considered comprehensive since no systematic comparison with other texts has been undertaken so far.15 Therefore it is not surprising that a juxtaposition of the following two passages reveals a further textual parallel.

In homilia 22 of the Pandectes we read under the heading “On rashness” (peri propeteias):

The law says: ‘If they have testified against him and he does not kill him he shall pay.’ Sometimes at a party the vainglorious thought leaps forward and wants to speak when it is not the right time. The good thoughts beg you to destroy the thought that is fond of silly talk; if you do not destroy him in silence but allow him to come forward then you will pay the debt having been given over by the judgement either to a great sin. For when someone who is rash in word or in deeds is also confused he also very much likes to give laws.

Fèsin ho nomos: ean oosin diamemarturèmenoi autooi kai mè afanisèi auton apotisei: estin hote en sumposiooi prospèdai ho kenodoxos logismos lalèsai boulomenos para ton kairon: diamarturountai se hoi agathoi logismoi afanisai ton filofluaron logismon: ean toinun mè afanisès auton en sioopèi alla parachooreis auton proelthein tote loipon apotiseis to oflèma è hamartiai megalèi hupo tès dikès paradotheis: hotan gar propetès en logooi è en pragmasin echei kai to tholeron hèdista de kai thesmothetein thelei. 16

And this is what is found in the 59th chapter of the Capita hortatoria of John of Carpathus:

The law says: ‘But if they have testified against him and he does not kill him he shall pay.’ Sometimes at a party the vainglorious thought leaps forward and wants to speak when it is not the right time. The angelic thoughts beg you to destroy the thought that is fond of silly and untimely talk; if you do not destroy him through good silence but allow him to come forward to the outside having become puffed up with vanity then you will pay the debt having been given over by the judgement either to a great sin or to some heavy physical pains or to vehement attacks by brothers or to the punishment in the world to come. For we shall be brought to account for an idle and vainglorious speech because of our uneducated tongue. Therefore we must guard our tongue soberly.

Fèsin ho nomos: ean de oosi memarturèmenoi autooi kai mè afanisèi auton apotisei: estin hote en sumposiooi propèdai ho kenodoxos logismos lalèsai boulomenos para ton kairon diamarturontai de soi hoi aggelikoi logismoi afanisai ton filofluaron kai akairon logismon: ean toinun mè afanisès auton tèi agathèi sioopèi alla parachoorèsèi autooi proelthein eis to exoo hupochaunootheis tooi tufooi tote loipon apotiseis to oflèma è hamartiai megalèi hupo tès dikès paradotheis è bareiais tisin odunais soomatikais è stibarais adelfoon proskrousesin è tèi kata ton mellonta aioona timooriai: kai gar huper argou kai kenodoxou logou logon apotisomen dia tèn tès gloossès apaideusian: dio dei tèn gloottan hèmoon nèfontoos fulattein. 17

It is obvious that the two passages are almost identical. Before attempting an explanation, however, it is necessary to make a few remarks about the meaning of this very condensed statement. It contains a warning against garrulity at meetings and its dire consequences. This is expressed in the form of an allegorical interpretation of a regulation in Exodus where it is stipulated what should be done in case an ox butts with his horns and thus kills another ox. In the last part of this regulation we read: “If the ox has become known as one that butts before yesterday and the day before yesterday and they have borne witness to his owner and he does not kill him he shall pay an ox for an ox.”18 In the interpretation the ox from Exodus is identified with the “demonic” kenodoxos logismos, the owner of the ox with the monk, and those who inform the owner about the true character of the ox before he can wreak havoc with the agathoi or aggelikoi logismoi.

This having been said, we can now address the question of how the two passages are related to one another. There are three possibilities to account for the striking similarity between them: first that John borrowed from Anthony; second that Anthony borrowed from John; and third that both borrowed from a common source.

Against the first of these possibilities one can point out that the highly educated author of the Capita hortatoria is not very likely to have quoted from a mere compilation of older texts like the Pandectes. This reasoning can be substantiated by a detailed comparison of the two versions. Such a comparison shows that there are a number of words and phrases in John’s version which are not found in Antiochus’ text.19 Especially interesting is the result of an analysis of the last section that both authors have in common. There the readers are confronted with the disastrous consequences of giving in to the vainglorious urge. John lists four points which are linked through “either … or … or … or …” (èèèè). Of these four points only the first one appears in the Pandectes. Nevertheless, in Antiochus’ text we also find “either …” (è …) at the beginning. Thus, it is evident that Antiochus used a source in which there was also at least one more consequence listed. When he adapted this source he cut off the last part of the sentence without bothering to delete the now meaningless “either” as well. This is very much in keeping with the often mechanical way in which compilers of florilegia treated their sources. Therefore, one can conclude that John’s text represents a more complete version of this sentence. Moreover, the next sentence in John’s version which is altogether missing in the Pandectes is also very likely to have been an integral part of the original text as the interpretation of Exodus is continued there.20

While it has thus been comparatively easy to exclude that John directly borrowed from Antiochus it is much more difficult to decide between the two remaining possibilities. This is due to the fact that the teachings presented in John’s “centuries” are not original in the modern sense but reflect traditional concepts. So one can e. g. point out that whereas in the Pandectes we find the non-descript hoi agathoi logismoi John speaks of hoi aggelikoi logismoi and that this is in keeping with the important rôle accorded to the angels throughout the Capita hortatoria.21 This does, however, not prove that John is responsible for the composition of the 59th chapter since aggelikos logismos is a term which he inherited from Evagrius.22

This impasse can only be overcome when one considers the passage in its entirety. The exhortation to guard one’s tongue during gatherings of monks already appears in the extant “practical” writings of Evagrius Ponticus. The relevant passages in Evagrius, however, are very short and therefore cannot have been the direct source for John’s elaborate treatment of the question.23 Much closer parallels are found in later texts, so e. g. in the Climax and especially in the Capita theologica et oeconomica of Maximus Confessor where we read: “He who rashly interrupts the listening of speeches in a meeting obviously suffers from love of glory.”24

What sets John’s chapter apart from even this last text, however, is that the teaching is presented as an interpretation of a Biblical verse. This use of allegorical exegesis is typical for the Capita hortatoria where we find many examples of it.25 Since in Late Antique spiritual literature there does not seem to exist a parallel for the use of Exodus 21, 36 to illustrate the dangers of “rashness” it seems likely that it is an innovation of John.26 If this is the case, we can conclude that in the decade after 614 Antiochus already made direct use of the Capita hortatoria and that John must have written before this date.

To establish a corresponding terminus post quem for John of Carpathus we must turn to his second “century”, the Capita theologica et gnostica. There he polemicizes against the belief that the world is coeternal with God.27 His polemic is phrased in a philosophical language which sports technical terms like sunhuparchein, asunuparktos and sunaidios.28 This topic and the concomitant terminology do not belong to the traditional stock of themes found in “centuries”. I am aware of only one other example, the Capita de Charitate of Maximus Confessor, which date to the 7th century.29 Both John and Maximus adapted the arguments developed in Christian treatises against the pagan teaching that the world is uncreated.30 This debate is known to have started only at the end of the 5th century when Zacharias Scholasticus composed his dialogue “Ammonius” against the Neoplatonic philosopher of the same name.31 Therefore it can be excluded that John of Carpathus wrote his Capita theologica et gnostica before this date.

Thus, we can conclude that the quotation of the 59th chapter of the Capita hortatoria in the Pandectes of Antiochus of St. Sabas and the polemic against the belief in the coeternity of God and the world in the Capita theologica et gnostica establishes the 6th century as the date for the composition of the “centuries” of John of Carpathus.


1 I. Capita hortatoria ad monachos in India (CPG, III, 7855), ed. Filokalia toon hieroon nèptikoon suneranistheisa para toon hagioon kai theoforoon pateroon, 1 (Athens, 3rd ed., 1957); and PG, 85, 1837-1860.

II. Capita theologica et gnostica (CPG, III, 7856), ed. D. Balfour, M. Cunningham, A Supplement to the Philocalia. The Second Century of Saint John of Karpathos (Brookline, Mass., 1994); and Latin in PG, 85, 811-826.

Both texts were also edited in an unpublished thesis by D. Ossieur, Tekstuitgave van de capita paraklètika en de capita askètika van Johannes Carpathius, met inleiding en tekstkritische aantekeningen (Diss. Gent, 1973).

A French translation of the Capita hortatoria is found in Héchysius de Batos, Chapitres sur la vigilance; Jean Carpathios, Chapitres d’exhortation et Discours ascétique, intr. and tr. J. Tournaille (Philocalie, 3, Abbaye de Bellefontaine, Bégrolles-en-Mauge, 1982).

2 This is in keeping with the tradition of spiritual writing instituted by Evagrius Ponticus. Cf. the succession of Evagrius’ writings with the Practical Treatise for beginners, the Gnostic for teachers, and the Gnostic Chapters for those interested in the theoretical foundation of his system, cf. Évagre le Pontique, Traité pratique ou Le Moine, vol. 1, intr. A. Gouillaumont, C. Gouillaumont (SC, 170, Paris, 1971), 31-32. For a short description of the two texts, cf. H.-G. Beck, Kirche und Theologische Literatur im Byzantinischen Reich (Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, XII, 2, 1, Munich, 1959), 452.

3 M. Th. Disdier, ‘Jean de Carpathos, l’homme, l’oeuvre, la doctrine spirituelle’, Échos d’Orient, 31 (1932) 284-303; 39 (1940/42) 290-311. Unfortunately, the second part of this article has not been accessible to me.

4 Beck, Kirche und Theologische Literatur, 359, 452; L. Petit, ‘Jean de Carpathos’, Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique, 8 (1950), 753-754; D. Stiernon, ‘Jean de Karpathos’, Dictionnaire de Spiritualité, 8 (1974), 589-592; A. Kazhdan, ‘John of Karpathos’, Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, 2 (1991), 1065; A. De Nicola, ‘John of Carpathus, Encyclopedia of the Early Church, 1 (1992), 444; R. Aubert, ‘Jean de Carpathos’, Dictionnarie d’Histoire et de Géographie Ecclésiastiques, 27 (1997), 1378-1379.

5 Cf. Beck, Kirche und Theologische Literatur, 359: “Man darf von seinen Zenturien keine große Originalität verlangen; die Grundlinien liegen seit langem fest. Das Schema … ist das euagrianische.” Cf. also the almost identical statement in Stiernon’s article in DSp, 8, 590: “… on n’y trouve rien de très original et ce qu’elle possède de meilleur lui vient sans doute d’Évagre le Pontique.”

6 According to Stiernon, DSp, 8, 590, “la spiritualité de Jean rend un son archaïque et reflète en général la pensée ascétique prébyzantine.”

7 Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 201, cf. Bibliothèque, vol. 3, ed. and tr. R. Henri (Paris, 1960). The manuscript tradition begins in the 9th century. A list of the manuscripts is found in Didier, ‘Jean de Carpathos’, EO, 31 (1932) 291-293; additional manuscripts in the article of Stiernon in DSp, 8, 590.

8 Cf. the lists of participants in J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum conciliorum nova et amplissima collectio, 11 (Florence, 1759ff.), 653e, 693c.

9 Beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur, 452: “Ob er identisch ist mit jenem Bischof Joannes von Karpathos, der auf der Synode von 680 anzutreffen ist, ist völlig ungesichert.” Nevertheless, elsewhere Beck seems to accept this date since he speaks of an “euagrianisch temperierte Mystik der dunklen byzantinischen Jahrhunderte”, cf. Beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur, 359. Cf. also Kazhdan in ODB, 2 (1992), 1065, who seems to consider the identification likely.

10 Cf. Aubert’s article in DHGE, 27 (1997), 1378-1379.

11 Pandectes scripturae sacrae (CPG, III, 7843), ed. PG, 89, 1421-1856. For a short characterization of author and work, cf. Beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur, 449-450. Cf. also J. Gribomont, ‘Antiochus Strategius’, Encyclopedia of the Early Church, 1 (1992), 52.

12 Antiochus wrote an eyewitness account of this conquest; cf. Antiochus Strategius, La prise de Jérusalem par les Perses en 614, tr. G. Garitte (CSCO, 203, Scriptores Iberici, 12, Louvain, 1960).

13 G. Bardy, ‘Antiochus’, Dictionnarie de Spiritualité, 1 (1936), 701-702. In recent years scholarly interest in Antiochus seems to have waned. O. Paolo, ‘La sanzione del poeta. Antioco di S. Saba e un nuovo carme di Arsenio di Pantelleria’, Byzantinoslavica, 49 (1988), 1-22, does not refer to the Pandectes.

14 S. Haidacher, ‘Nilus-Exzerpte im Pandektes des Antiochus’, Revue Bénédictine, 22 (1905), 244-250, identification of quotations from De oratione and De octo spiritibus malignis. These are, however, rather quotations from Evagrius; cf. Gribomont’s article in Encyclopedia, 1, 52. J. Kirchmeyer, ‘Une source d’Antiochus de Saint-Sabas (Pandectes 127-128)’, OCP, 28 (1962), 418-421, identification of Diadochus of Photice, Centuria, c. 12, 14, 67, 100. These are, however, not the only quotations which have been identified; cf. the quotations from early Fathers listed in Bardy’s article in DSp, 1, 701-702, including Clement of Alexandria, Ignatius of Antioch, Polycarp of Smyrna, and Hermas (with a list of parallels).

15 Cf. Gribomont’s article in Encyclopedia, 1, 52.

16 Pandectes, hom. 22, PG, 89, 1501A1-9; then follow quotations from the bible beginning with Proverbia 28, 26. It must be stressed that the text in PG is no critical edition and that its reliability is not beyond doubt.

17 Filokalia toon hieroon nèptikoon, 288.

18 Exodus 21, 36: ean de gnoorizètai ho tauros hoti keratistès estin pro tès echthes kai pro tès tritès èmeras kai diamemarturèmenoi oosin tooi kuriooi autou kai mè afanisèi auton apoteisei tauron anti taurou.

19 Cf. ton filofluaron kai akairon logismon in J vs. ton filofluaron logismon in A; tèi agathèi sioopèi in J vs. en sioopèi in A; proelthein in A vs. proelthein eis to exoo in J. Moreover, the following explanation hupochaunootheis tooi tufooi given by J is completely missing in A. Cf. also the variant readings like propèdai in J vs. prospèdai in A and (parachoorèseis) autooi in J vs. auton in A. On the other hand, A has diamemarturèmenoi as in Exodus whereas J has only the simplex.

20 This is evident from the verb apotisomen. Antiochus has a completely different conclusion to his introduction of his homilia which serves as transition to the following Biblical quotations. Here Kirchmeyer’s observations regarding the way Antiochus quotes Diadochus may give an explanation. Kirchmeyer could show that Antiochus combined passages taken from different contexts in a way that they appear to be a whole. Thus, the last part may well have been taken from some other source. Cf. Kirchmeyer, ‘Une source’, 421, on “la méthode de travail d’Antiochus”: “Abrégeant ou paraphrasant à son gré Antiochus adapte plus qu’il ne copie.” Already Bardy in DSp, 1, 701, had pointed out that the Pandectes is not a florilegium in the strict sense as the Antiochus changes and rearranges his sources.

21 Cf. c. 28, Filokalia, 282; c. 66, Filokalia, 290; c. 67, Filokalia, 290.

22 Cf. e. g. Evagrius (Ps.-Nilus), De diversis malignis cogitationibus, c. 7, PG, 79, 1209A: toon aggelikoon logismoon kai toon anthroopinoon kai toon ek daimonoon tèn diaforan ….

23 Cf. Tractatus ad Eulogium, c. 26, PG, 79, 1125C, with a warning against the akairos gloossa, and Ad Monachos, c. 94, ed. H. Gressmann, Nonnenspiegel und Mönchsspiegel des Euagrios Pontikos (TU, 39, 4, Leipzig, 1913), 161, with an admonition regarding the fulakè tès gloossès.

24 Maximus Confessor, Capita theologica et oeconomica, I, 27, PG, 91, 1093AB: ho en sunedriooi logoon akroasin propetoos anakoptoon ouk elathe filodoxian nosoon. Cf. the analysis of the sources for Maximus’ chapters in H. U. von Balthasar, Kosmische Liturgie. Das Weltbild Maximus’ des Bekenners (Einsiedeln, Trier, 1988), 576, who has not been able to identify the source for I, 27.

Cf. also John of Sinai, Climax, gradus 22: peri tès polumorfou kenodoxias, PG, 88, 953CD: epesèmènato tis toon horan dunamenoon kai diègeito blepoon: otiper, fèsin, en sunedriooi mou kathèmenou elèluthotes hoi tès kenodoxias kai tès huperèfanias daimones … kai ho men (sc. kenodoxos) enutte mou tèn pleuran … protrepomenos me legein tina theoorian è ergasian hèn pepoièka.

25 Other examples for allegorical interpretations are found in chapter 27, Filokalia, 281-282, cf. Judges 6-7; in chapter 65, Filokalia, 289-290, cf. Judges 16, 26 (in combination with Isaiah 7, 6); in chapter 88, Filokalia, p. 292, cf. Numeri 3, 41, 45; in chapter 87, Filokalia, 294, with reference to the trooglodutai; and in chapter 93, Filokalia, 295, cf. Amos 2, 9.

Equally significant is the comparative length of chapter 59 since as a rule John’s chapters are longer than those of Evagrius or Marcus or even Maximus.

26 Apart from the extant Greek writings of Evagrius Ponticus, the “centuries” of Maximus Confessor, and gradus 22 of the Climax, I have checked the Opuscula I and II of Marcus Eremita, PG, 65, 905-965 and the Centuria of Diadochus of Photice, cf. Oeuvres spirituelles, intr., ed. and tr. É. des Places (SC, 5ter, Paris, 1966), where the topic of silence and outspokenness is discussed esp. in c. 70, 130. Cf. also the passage about the guarding of one’s tongue in the 4th instruction of Dorotheus of Gaza, cf. Oeuvres spirituelles, intr., ed. and tr. L. Regnault, J. de Préville (SC, 92, Paris, 1963), §§ 52-55, 232-238. Of course, the fragmentary state of preservation of the Late Antique spiritual literature makes it impossible to conclude with certainty that John of Carpathus made use of an older source.

27 In some manuscripts the title of this text is “Chapters about the uncreated one and the created ones etc.”: kefalaia peri agenètou kai genètoon ktl., cf. Beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur, 452.

28 The topic is discussed in the chapters 2, 3, 4, and 17; cf. A Supplement to the Philocalia, ed. D. Balfour, M. Cunningham; and the Latin translation in PG, 85, 811-813, 815.

29 Maximus Confessor, Capita de Charitate, IV, PG, 90, 1049A: tines fasi sunuparchein ex aidiou tooi theooi ta dèmiourgèmata … sunaidia tooi dèmiourgooi. The theme is, however, not addressed in other spiritual texts of the 7th century, e. g. not in the Centuriae of Thalassius the Libyan, PG, 91, 1427-1490.

30 The most famous example is the long treatise “About the eternity of the world” which was composed in 529 by the Christian philosopher John Philoponus in order to refute the arguments in favour of the coeternity of God and world brought forward by Proclus Diadochus, the head of the Athenian academy, in the previous century. Cf. Johannes Philoponus, De aeternitate mundi, ed. H. Rabe (Leipzig, 1899). For the date cf. R. Sorabji, ‘John Philoponus’, Philoponus and the Rejection of Aristotelian Science, ed. R. Sorabji (London, 1987), 38-40.

31 Zacharias Scholasticus, Dialexis hoti ou sunaidios tooi theooi ho kosmos alla dèmiourgèma autou tugchanei on ap’ archès chronikès arxamenon, PG, 85, 1011-1144. At about the same time the Christian sophist Aeneas of Gaza addressed this question in his dialogue Theophrastus, PG, 85, 871-1004, esp. 964-965.

God or angels as impersonators of saints: A belief and its contexts in the “Refutation” of Eustratius of Constantinople and in the writings of Anastasius of Sinai

Volume 6, issue 2 (winter 1998-1999)

by Dirk Krausmüller

In his article “L’ombre d’un doute” G. Dagron has challenged the view that the end of Late Antiquity was an “age of saints”.1 He has argued that the hagiographical literature of the 6th and 7th centuries presents a partisan view which tends to gloss over the considerable opposition against a pivotal role of saints in society. Clear signs of such an opposition can be found in the collections of Questions and Answers dating to that period. In this article I shall discuss one of the points to which Dagron has drawn attention.

In the answer to Quaestio no. 19 of the collection of Anastasius of Sinai we find the statement that “all visions of the saints in the churches and at the tombs are effected through holy angels”.2 This theory also appears in a more developed form in the answer to Quaestio no. 26 of a collection attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria where we are told that “the overshadowings and visions in the churches and at the tombs of the saints do not happen through the souls of the saints but through angels who change their shapes into the appearances of the saints”.3 The authors of the Questions and Answers were, however, not the first to express this view. Dagron has pointed out that a strikingly similar theory is already found in the late 6th century when it is attacked by the Constantinopolitan priest Eustratius in his “Refutation of those who say that the souls of men are not active after the separation from their bodies etc.”.4 In the preface to this treatise Eustratius describes the theory of his adversaries as follows: “When the souls of the saints appear to certain people they do not appear in their substance or own being but a divine power taking on their shapes gives the impression that the souls of the saints are active.”5

While the purpose of this theory is obviously to exclude an involvement of dead saints in the affairs of the living the argument is curiously oblique for the apparitions are accepted as real and simply explained in a different way. This is especially interesting since it would not have been impossible to deny their reality, as a passage in the writings of Maximus the Confessor (+662) clearly shows. At the beginning of the 8th letter to John of Cyzicus, Maximus confesses to the “yearning” he has felt for the addressee ever since he met him for the first time and then goes on to say: “Having been deemed worthy to have this yearning for you most holy one from the beginning I seem to see you always being present and to sense you conversing with me. … And I for one am convinced that my memory does not merely imagine you most holy one but that I sense you as being truly present”.6 Although in the end he thus stresses the reality of John’s presence, it is worth noting that Maximus at first considers the alternative explanation that his “yearning” might have induced his own imagination to conjure up John’s image based on the memory of a previous contact with him. We only need to replace this with the previous seeing of an icon to get an explanation which could well be used to reduce the apparitions of saints to mere figments of the mind.

A look at the remainder of this passage shows its relevance to our topic even more clearly. Maximus explains that he feels assured of the reality of John’s presence because it drives away his sinful thoughts.7 This idea is then restated in the following way: “For the effective power which is in you according to the grace of God drives away the molesting demons and thus gives a most clear sign for your presence”.8 Thus Maximus presents himself as a possessed man whose demons are expelled by the apparition of a saint. By using this image to express that his sinful thoughts leave him he clearly indicates that the experience of the miraculous healings at the shrines of the saints provides the background for this whole passage.

When Maximus bases his belief in the reality of John’s presence on the “real” effects it has on him he does, however, also give a clue why the authors of the Questions and Answers and the adversaries of Eustratius did not conclude that the visions were merely imagined. Obviously the beneficient effects of the apparitions of saints were something so widely agreed that they could not simply be negated but had to be explained in a different way.9

But what did these authors gain by substituting a divine force or angels for the saints? A passage in Eustratius’ “Refutation” shows that by introducing a divine power as actor his adversaries wanted to safeguard that all “supernatural” activity on earth comes directly from God. Having stated his own position that the saints themselves appear to the faithful Eustratius turns to his adversaries: “You who object will certainly say that it is the power of God which acts.” To this he replies: “And I agree! For who is so stupid not to think thus?”10 Then he deduces from God’s promise to “glorify those who glorify me” that the souls of the saints must be active and that therefore “God who has been glorified by them and glorifies them makes visible the souls of the saints to those who are in need of their help when it pleases him.”11 Eustratius constructs his argument in a way that God remains the sole actor and the saints are little more than his instruments who carry out his will through their apparitions. While Eustratius’ presentation serves its purpose to show that in the end there is no contradiction between the two models it must, however, be stressed that it does not correspond to the beliefs held by most of his contemporaries. As is amply testified in hagiographical literature the faithful experienced the saints as independent actors whom they expected to interact with God. When Eustratius deviates from this predominant view the obvious explanation is that he thus tried to prevent the objection of his adversaries that the activity of saints could lead to an infringement on the divine will.

In the Questions and Answers the angels take the place of the divine power of Eustratius’ adversaries as impersonators of the saints. Again we need to determine in what it is that the role of the saints as representatives of a distant God differs from that of the angels. The souls of the saints appear with and act through their own bodies and are therefore clearly distinguished from God. In the case of the angels, on the other hand, there is no link between appearance and “self” which means that they remain anonymous and therefore cannot be perceived as individual actors apart from God. This explains why angels are in fact dispensable elements in the discourse and why the concepts of “angels changing their shapes into the appearances of the saints” found in the Questions and Answers and of “a divine power taking on the shapes (sc. of the saints)” used by the adversaries of Eustratius are in the end interchangeable.

The link with God is further stressed when the angels are said to appear “through the command of God”.12 One could object that Eustratius had made the same point about the saints but in the case of the angels it clearly coincides with the beliefs held by the contemporaries. An episode from the Miracles of Cyrus and John by Sophronius of Jerusalem (+638) is especially instructive for an understanding of the different roles of angels and saints.13 The hero of this story is a fervent worshipper of the saints by the name of George. “When the limits of the life were reached George … departed from this life. And he saw the angels taking him and leading him away and Cyrus and John meeting them and asking them to give them the old man as a favour. The angels said that they could not do this since they served the divine command according to fixed rules; they said, however, that they would wait for their entreaty of God and for his second ruling. Having received this answer the martyrs turned to their entreaty and bent their knees to God and asked him to give them the venerator as a gift. And while they did this a voice came down from heaven and commanded to give the old man to the martyrs and fixed twenty more years in this life.”14

What we find here are two radically different concepts of the transmission of power. The angels are mere instruments of God’s will which they cannot change so that it is pointless for men to influence them in their favour.15 The saints, on the other hand, appear as real intermediaries who can negotiate the reversal of a decision.

There can be no doubt that this scene exactly mirrors the social experience of Sophronius and his contemporaries. The angels correspond to the representatives of the central administration who carry out its regulations in the provinces. The saints, on the other hand, are clearly not “regular” officials entrusted with standard tasks but rather correspond to local notables who are not directly dependent on the emperor and who can use their influence in favour of their clients when need arises.

Although the final decision is made by God, Sophronius’ account shows an initial discrepancy between the will of the saints and that of God which is then overcome through negotiation. By replacing the saints with angels the authors of the Questions and Answers could exclude this discrepancy.16 And the same aim was achieved even more effectively by the adversaries of Eustratius who by reducing all apparitions to a divine power completely eliminated all intermediaries. This means that while they are accepted as reality the negotiations of the faithful with the saints who appear to them are nevertheless deprived of their function and thus have lost all their meaning.

It must, however, be stressed that this is only one possible explanation for the belief in the impersonation of saints by angels or a divine power. In the last part of this article I shall return to this question and show that there could well be other reasons for holding this belief.

The adversaries of Eustratius and the authors of the Questions and Answers could only hope to convince others when they managed to disprove the obvious explanation that it is the saints themselves who appear to the faithful. Dagron has already remarked that they used the theory of the “sleep of the soul” for this purpose. His first case in point are the adversaries of Eustratius. I shall now give the full quotation of the passage from the preface of the treatise which I have already quoted partially at the beginning of the article:

“They insist on saying that after the departure from this life and the withdrawal of the souls from the bodies the souls themselves also remain inactive, be they holy or otherwise. Thus when the souls of the saints appear to certain people they do not appear in their substance or own being, as they say, but a divine power taking on a shape gives the impression that the souls of the saints are active. For those are in some place and can never show themselves to certain people in this life after the departure from the body”.17

This summary shows that Eustratius’ adversaries presented their views as a coherent system in which a radically “anti-Platonic” anthropology based on the interdependence of body and soul led to a denial of the posthumous activity of human souls and therefore necessitated the hypothesis that a divine power takes on the shape of saints as an alternative explanation to account for the apparitions of saints after their death.

Anastasius’ answer to Quaestio no. 19, on the other hand, presents us with a rather different case. According to Dagron his treatment of the topic is virtually identical with that of the adversaries of Eustratius. And indeed before stating that “all visions of the saints in the churches and at the tombs are effected through holy angels” Anastasius has attempted to prove that after death the soul is in a comatose state.18 He observes that even in life the faculties of the soul cannot function when the respective organs are maimed and that a fortiori the soul is completely incapable of functioning after its separation from the body.19 This shows his interest in questions of “natural history” which has been stressed by Dagron.20

When we look more closely at Anastasius’ answer to Quaestio no. 19 we see, however, one important difference. After having developed the theory of the sleep of the soul and before turning to the hypothesis that angels impersonate saints, Anastasius inserts a passage in which he restricts the posthumous inactivity to those who have died as sinners whereas he expresses the opinion that those souls who have acquired the Holy Spirit during their life-times are illuminated by Him and thus enabled to feel joy and praise God and intercede for each other.21 One can argue that this does not disprove his previous teaching about the sleep of the soul since the activity of the saintly souls does not originate in their self-movement but comes from the Holy Spirit as an outside force.

Regardless of the explanation, however, the admission that the saints are active after death has the consequence that the sleep of the soul cannot be used as an explanation for the following hypothesis that angels are responsible for the apparitions of saints.22 Anastasius must have felt the deficiency of his reasoning on the basis of the sleep of the souls for he then adds further arguments to shore up his belief. First he objects that a bodily appearance of saints is impossible since the resurrection of the flesh has not yet taken place.23 Then he states that the souls of the saints are circumscribed so that they cannot appear at the same time in different places.24 These arguments have in common that they are not dependent on the belief in a sleep of the soul. The former simply denies the visibility of dead saints but not necessarily their activity.25 And the latter does not even exclude the actual presence of the soul of the saint in one of these simultaneous apparitions.26 Anastasius thus falls back to a second and even to a third line of defense.27

The most likely explanation for this chaos is that Anastasius’ answer to Quaestio no. 19 ultimately goes back to a source containing an argument which was more or less identical with that of Eustratius’ adversaries and that the stringency of this argument was then destroyed by limiting the conclusion that all souls are inactive “be they holy or otherwise” to the souls of sinners alone. Otherwise it cannot be explained why Anastasius should have presented the now obviously unrelated theories of the sleep of the souls and of the angels as impersonators of saints in the same context. The phrase “as it seems to me” implies that Anastasius himself was responsible for this change.28

Despite the superficial similarity of the argument there is therefore a huge difference between the adversaries of Eustratius and Anastasius. For the former the belief that a divine power impersonates saints is the sign of a strong opposition against the saints whose role is completely negated through the stress on their posthumous inactivity.29 Anastasius, on the other hand, shows no principal opposition to an active afterlife of the saints let alone hostility towards them as a privileged group.30 As a consequence the close parallel we have drawn between the function of the divine power and that of the angels as eliminating the intermediate level between God and the living can only be said to apply to Anastasius’ source but not necessarily to Anastasius himself.

This leaves us with a serious problem. When the wish to do away with the saints could not have motivated him anymore why did he so doggedly adhere to the belief that angels impersonate saints despite the obvious weakness of his reasoning? It may, however, be that we are not asking the right question. While it is true that Anastasius uses a coherent argument of the kind proposed by Eustratius’ adversaries as starting point one cannot simply assume that logical coherence had the same importance for him. For a proper understanding of Anastasius’ intentions we need to compare his argument in Quaestio no. 19 with his treatment of other themes in his Questions and Answers. A good example is the controversy about whether the lifespans of men are predetermined by God or not. There are clear indications that Anastasius adheres to the theory that the term of life is fixed once and for all and can in fact be deduced from certain signs.31 This fits in well with his interest in natural history and the stress on the regularity of natural processes which has been pointed out by Dagron.32 But these statements are found in the context of an “abstract” discussion about the different types of prophecy. In those questions where he is expressly asked about the term of life, on the other hand, we find an outright denial that it could be predetermined by God or known by men.33 But here the explanation is of a radically different type. Anastasius points out that men would then only be repentent right before their death and thus argues with the bad effects such a predetermination and foreknowledge would have on the human character. This shows clearly that Anastasius’ “scientific” or “abstract” reasoning could well be at odds with his practical interests as a spiritual father and that in the end the latter would carry the day. So we are entitled to look for an explanation of the theory of the impersonation of saints by angels quite apart from the concomitant anthropology.

Bearing this in mind we can now return to Anastasius in order to find a satisfactory answer. A look at the parts of Quaestio no. 19 which we have not yet interpreted shows that the belief in the posthumous activity of the souls of the saints is not just a stray element found in an otherwise coherent context. At the beginning of his answer Anastasius establishes a parallel between God and the human soul as being created “in the image of God”.34He first lists apophatic predications of the divine essence like unknowable, untouchable etc. and states that they also apply to the essence of the soul.35 Then he turns to the operations of God and points out that God who is himself invisible shows his activities through his creation and that the soul mirrors him insofar as it is also invisible in itself but shows its activities through the body.36 This provides him with the starting-point for the subsequent development of the theme of the sleep of the soul for his next step is to conclude that the soul becomes inactive once its visible activities are made impossible through the loss of the body. This transition is, however, extremely awkward. Whereas up to this point Anastasius has striven to establish an exact parallel between God and the soul he now draws a conclusion which only applies to the soul without giving an explanation why without the creation God should not be equally inactive.

This muddle is caused by the fact that Anastasius here shifts from one belief system to another. The parallel between God and creation on the one hand and soul and body on the other has its place in an anthropology which stresses the closeness of the soul with God and presupposes that just as God does not need the world to be active the soul is not in need of the body. It was, however, completely rejected by those who adhered to the theory of a posthumous inactivity of the souls. In fact, a stress on the utter difference between God and all his creatures could be called the distinctive mark of their argument. This is especially obvious in Maximus’ 6th letter to John of Cyzicus where he points to this parallel in a refutation of this latter anthropology avowing that otherwise the soul could no longer be called “image of God” and ridiculing the fear of his adversaries that drawing such a parallel would amount to blasphemy.37

This shows that it would be too simple to conclude that Anastasius wrecks an otherwise straightforward argument through his wish to safeguard the activity of dead saints. One can equally argue that the theory of the sleep of the soul is the dysfunctional element in Anastasius’ argument. There are indications that Anastasius himself came to see it this way in the end. The image-relation between God and soul was a pet topic of his to which he returned in his first speech about the kat’ eikona.38 In this speech the hypothesis of the inactivity of the soul after its separation from the body also reappears. Here it is, however, attributed to a fictitious adversary and then refuted.39 Anastasius starts his argument by saying “that the soul as being in the image and likeness of God shows its invisible faculties through visible matter”.40 This corresponds exactly to the parallel he had drawn between God and the soul in his Questions and Answers but now he no longer concludes from this observation that the soul cannot be active without the body. Instead he says that “even when it is separated (sc. from the body) the soul which is pure according to nature and which is then found more perceptive and more spiritual and simple and unencumbered and bright in its substance can in a truer sense be called in the image and likeness of God”.41 When he now links the activity of the soul to its substance he constructs an exact parallel with God whose substance is equally self-sufficient and not dependent on the world. This can only mean that the implications of his argument in the Questions and Answers had finally dawned on him and that he had now changed it to avoid possible misunderstandings.42

The analogy between God and the soul, however, only demands that the soul is as perceptive without the body as it has been with it whereas Anastasius now says that the soul will then be even more perceptive. This shows that he has run the whole gamut from an “Aristotelian” to a diametrically opposed “Platonic” anthropology where the body is regarded as an encumbrance of the self-moved soul.43 At first sight, this looks like a tremendous change. The very fact, however, that these belief systems did not inspire a life-long allegiance in Anastasius suggests that for him they had lost the power to organize a stable symbolic universe.44 One can wonder whether this is simply the freak of an individual or whether it is not rather the sign of a general disintregation of traditional belief systems in the 7th century. This is, however, a question which cannot be addressed in this article.

Considering these changes it comes as a surprise that at the end of his speech on the kat’ eikona Anastasius restates his belief that the souls of the saints do not have contact with the living after the separation from their bodies. It goes without saying that this belief can in no way be explained by a Platonic anthropology. Anastasius’ explanation is therefore based on a completely different reasoning. Now he argues that being sent back to earth is a menial task which befits “servant spirits” like the angels but not the souls of the saints which are “master spirits” created in the image of a God who has then hypostatically united himself with this image.45

What Anastasius rejects here is the idea that the dead saints could be instrumentalized by God in his dealings with the living. When he presents the inability to communicate as the sign of a privileged position this sounds less odd when one remembers what the saints had to endure on their missions to the faithful. I shall only give one example from the Life of Sabas by Cyrill of Scythopolis (+ca. 558): A deacon who has lost money goes to the church of St. Theodore where he stays for many days expecting an apparition. When the saint finally comes the deacon complains that he has wasted so much time with praying and has not been helped. The saint then justifies himself by telling the deacon that he has had another task to see to and finally gives the information required.46 This shows clearly that the saints were believed to be constantly travelling from one church to another in order to satisfy the wishes of the living.47

The Late Antique collections of miracles give many more examples for the trivial matters saints have to deal with and the often crude attempts of the faithful to manipulate them in their favour. So it is not surprising that we find authors who worried about the role of the saints in these interactions. In his sermon on the martyr Leontius patriarch Severus of Antioch (+538) clearly shows the reservations he had regarding the stories of miracles which he narrated.48 He explained them with the condescension of the martyr who adapted to the level of insight of those who benefitted from his appearances and stated that to the perfect he reveals hidden things, to the middle ones he appears in a middle way, and “to those who have imperfect dispositions he condescends and amuses himself with prodigies as with small children”.49 Severus speaks about the “amusement” felt by the martyr but this lowering of one’s own level could also cause a keen feeling of pain. This is clearly expressed by Maximus in a passage of his Ambigua where he says that the inner state of the perfect shines through the body “so that those who are in need of some help may receive it from those who can give it” which obviously refers to miracles.50 The perfect himself, on the other hand, does not gain anything by his actions so that it comes as no surprise when Maximus exclaims at the end: “If only there was nobody in need of receiving benefits … and everyone was self-sufficient!”51 A similar statement we find in his Gnostic Chapters where Maximus first interprets Abraham’s travels from the “Land of the Chaldeans” via “Mesopotamia” to the “Promised Land” as the stages of “passionate life”, “middle condition” and “state full of all goods” which one has to go through to become a saint.52 In the next chapter he points out that some of the saints were taken into the Babylonian captivity thus going the opposite way and then states that “none of the saints appears to go down to Babylonia out of his free will” and that if some let themselves be carried away with the people “through force” they did this only because of the salvation of those who needed their guidance.53 These highly ambiguous passages present us with an image of the saints as social climbers who regard the help for their inferiors as an almost intolerable burden and feel a strong tension between their social obligations and the wish to enjoy the status they have achieved.

Anastasius’ belief in the impersonation of saints by angels could therefore be explained as a radical solution to that problem for it liberates the saints from unwelcome tasks and at the same time allows for a help of others through the substitution of angels. This is all the more likely as Anastasius himself acted as a spiritual guide which may have made him dread an equally burdened afterlife. This helps us to modify Dagron’s conclusion. Far from being opposed to the concept of the “saints” as a special and privileged group Anastasius tried to safeguard this concept against the encroachments of the “non-saints”.54

The barefaced egotism of the faithful is all too apparent in those texts which defend the active role of the saints. Under the reign of Leo VI (886-912) the quaestor Anastasius ho Traulo” wrote an encomium of St. Agathonicus which ends with an exhortation to his audience not to be confused by those who attribute the apparitions of saints to the angels.55 There we find the following argument: “Even if they are without their own body which has been put down through death they wait on the creator with the angels and are (also) not doubted to perform angelic ministrations”.56 What Anastasius ho Traulo” has in mind is obviously a very similar argument to the one set out by Anastasius of Sinai in his speech on the kat’ eikona and he counters it by making the saints “like angels”. This reasoning shows clearly that the concerns of Anastasius of Sinai are completely alien to him. From the beginning he has exclusively argued from the perspective of those “who are in need of help” whereas the point of view of the saints in all this is not considered at all.57

Summing up we can say that the adversaries of Eustratius deduced their belief that a divine power impersonates the saints from the theory of the sleep of the souls and thus integrated it into a coherent cosmology which was openly hostile to the saints as a privileged group. This was, however, not necessarily the case as the example of Anastasius of Sinai shows. Anastasius held the similar belief that angels appear in the shape of saints but he did not derive it from a specific anthropology be it “Aristotelian” as in his Questions and Answers or “Platonic” as in his speech on the kat’ eikona. Moreover, when he denied the saints their personal contacts with the faithful his motive was not hostility towards them but rather the wish to liberate them from an onerous task.


1 G. Dagron, “L’ombre d’un doute: L’hagiographie en question, VIe – XIe siècle”, DOP 46 (1992), 59-68.

2 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestiones et responsiones, no. 89 (= no. 19), PG 89, 717C: pasai hai optasiai hai ginomenai en tois naois è sorois toon hagioon di’ hagioon angeloon epitelountai. Cf. M. Richard, Les véritables “Questions et réponses” d’ Anastase le Sinaïte. Bulletin de l’IRHT 15 (1967-1968), 39-56. [= Opera minora 3. Turnhout-Louvain 1977, no. 64.

3 Ps-Athanasius, Quaestiones ad Antiochum ducem, no. 26, PG 28, 613B: hai en tois naois kai sorois toon hagioon ginomenai episkiaseis kai optasiai ou dia toon psuchoon toon hagioon ginontai alla di’ angeloon metaschematizomenoon eis to eidos toon hagioon.

4 Cf. Dagron, L’ombre d’un doute, 64. Cf. J. Darrouzès, Art. Eustrate de Cple. DSp 4 (1960), 1718-1719. This long treatise was partly edited by Leo Allatius, De utriusque ecclesiae … perpetua in dogmate de purgatorio consensione. Rom 1655, 336-580. Since I had no access to this book I am quoting from the Codex Vaticanus graecus 511, foll. 151-204, on which Allatius’ edition is based, cf. fol. 151: logos anatreptikos pros tous legontas mè energein tas toon anthroopoon psuchas meta ten diazeuxin heautoon soomatoon, ktl.

5 Codex Vaticanus graecus 511, fol. 152r: kan oun fainoontai tisin hai toon hagioon psuchai kat’ ousian è huparxin idian … fainontai; dunamis de tis theia schematizomene psuchas hagioon energousas deiknusin.

6 Maximus Confessor, Epistulae, no. 8, PG 90, 441A1-2, 7-10: touton ton pothon ap’ arches pros tous hagiootatous humas echein axiootheis aei parontas horan dokoo kai dialegomenoon aisthanesthai …. kai peithomai ge mè psiloos ten mnèmèn fantazesthai tous hagiootatous humas alla parontoon alèthoos epaisthanesthai ….

7 Maximus, Epistulae, no. 8, PG 90, 441A5-6: humas parontas … kai pantas tous en emoi dusoodeis logismous apelaunontas.

8 Maximus, Epistulae, no. 8, PG 90, 441A10-14: …. to ginomenon plèroforian akribè tès humoon parousias poioumenos; hè gar en humin kata charin theou drastèrios dunamis hama tèi mnèvmèi tous diochlountas apelaunousa daimonas safestatèn tès humoon parousias parechetai dèloosin.

9 One must not forget that the proof used by Maximus had been used by Christian authors for centuries, cf. below note 31.

10 Codex Vaticanus graecus 511, fol. 158v: ereite oun pantoos hoi antilegontes hoos hè tou theou dunamis estin hè energousa; sumfèmi kagoo; tís gar houtoo tugchanei abelteros hoos mè houtoo fronei.

11 Codex Vaticanus graecus 511, fol. 158v: legei gar hoti tous doxazontas me doxasoo; poos oun doxazei mè energousoon toon psuchoon … toon doxasantoon auton hagioon …. ho doxastheis hup’ autoon theos kai doxazoon autous hotan autooi areskèi emfaneis toon hagioon kathistèsi ta psuchas tois chrèizousi thès autoon boètheias.

12 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 89 (= no. 19), PG 89, 717C: … di’ epitropès theou ….

13 Los Thaumata de Sofronio. Contribucion al estudio de la Incubatio Cristiana (Manuales y anejos de “Emerita” 31), ed. Natalio Fernandez Marcos. Madrid 1975.

14 Los Thaumata de Sofronio, miraculum 51, ed. Marcos, c. 11, 364: Geoorgios … toon horoon tès zooès plèroothentoon tès parousès zooès ekdedèmèken; kai tous angelous horai labontas auton kai apagonta kai kuron autois kai iooannèn sunantoontas tous marturas, kai charizesthai autois ton presbutèn presbeuontas, hoper poiein elegon hai dunameis mè dunasthai, theiooi de thespismati kata tropon douleuousai; menein d’ autoon tèn pros theon hiketeian apèngellon, kai deuteran autou prosdechesthai keleusin. tautèn labontes hoi martures tèn apokrisin, pros hiketeian etreponto, kai pros theon ta gonata klinantes, doorèthènai autois ton latrèn edeonto; kai touto poiountoon, ap’ ouranou foonè katefereto, didonai prostattousa tois martusi ton presbuteron, kai chronous eikosi en sarki diorizousa.

15 Cf. L&S s. v. kata tropon “according to custom”.

16 It must be stressed, however, that “angel” is not a monolithic category and that angels like Michael can well appear as individuals with a definite personality and history who then act as intercessors like the saints.

17 Codex Vaticanus graecus 511, fol. 152r: diischurizontai legontes hoti meta tèn tou biou toude metastasin kai tèn toon psuchoon apo toon soomatoon anachoorèsin anenergètous menousi kai autai hai psuchai eite hagiai eite alloos poos huparchousin; kan oun fainoontai tisin hai toon hagioon psuchai kat’ ousian è huparxin idian hoos autoi fasin ou fainontai; dunamis de tis theia schèmatizomenè psuchas hagioon energousas deiknusin; ekeinai gar en tini topooi eisi mèdepote dunamenoi meta tèn tou soomatos ekdèmian en tooide tooi biooi tisin emfanizein.

18 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 89 (= no. 19), PG 89, 717C: pasai hai optasiai hai ginomenai en tois naois è sorois toon hagioon di’ hagioon angeloon epitelountai.

19 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 89 (= no. 19), PG 89, 717A12-B14.

20 Cf. Dagron, “L’ombre d’un doute”, 61-63. Anastasius does, however, also list biblical passages in favour of his theory “so that nobody may think that we invent medical mythologies”, Quaestio no. 89 (= no. 19), PG 89, 720A1-2: kai hina mè doxoosi tinas iatrikas hèmas muthologias anaplattein. A comparison with the Questions and Answers attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria is instructive for there biblical quotations are the only kind of proof, Ps-Athanasius, Quaestio no. 26, PG 28, 613B. This shows that the theory of a sleep of the souls was not necessarily based on “scientific” reasoning and that regarding this point Dagron’s conclusion only applies to Anastasius of Sinai. His two other points of alternative explanations for diseases and for miracles cannot be discussed here.

21 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 89 (= no. 19), PG 89, B14-C5.

22 That this is the case shows a comparison with patriarch Methodius in the 9th century who held an identical view of the afterlife but nevertheless accepted the apparitions of saints. Cf. his Life of Euthymius of Sardes, c. 44, ed. J. Gouillard, “La vie d’Euthyme de Sardes (+831), une oeuvre du patriarche Méthode”, TM 10 (1987), 83.

23 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 89 (= no. 19), PG 89, 717C6-13.

24 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 89 (= no. 19), PG 89, 717C13-D5.

25 The argument is, moreover, rather weak for Anastasius does not consider let alone explain why unlike the angels human souls should not be capable of taking on shapes which are not “real” bodies. A century earlier Eustratius had already suggested a solution for this problem by saying that the saints can be their own image-bearers. Cf. G. Dagron, “Holy Images and Likeness”, DOP 45 (1991), 23-33.

26 Such a distinction was actually made by patriarch Methodius in the 9th century. Cf. his scholion on the Passio S. Marinae, ed. H. Usener, Festschrift zur fünften Säcularfeier der Carl-Ruprechts-Universität in Heidelberg. Bonn, 1886, p. 53, ll. 4-5.

27 This is obvious from the phrase with which Anastasius introduces his last argument: ei de antilegein nomizeis. So it is not surprising when in the Questions and Answers attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria we find a further desintegration of this flawed argument. Here the sleep of the soul and the explanation for the apparitions are presented in two successive chapters so that the two steps of the argument are completely disjointed and the only remaining reason for depriving the saints of their contact with the living is the hypothesis of the circumscription of the souls, Ps-Athanasius, Quaestio no. 25, PG 28, 613A, Quaestio no. 26, PG 28, 613B.

28 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 89 (= no. 19), PG 89, 717C2: emoi dokei.

29 Moreover, this is not the only deduction they made from the theory of the sleep of the souls for they also used it to explain away the efficacy of the prayers of the living for dead sinners. Most of Eustratius’ treatise is, in fact, devoted to a proof of the efficacy of the prayers for the dead. Thus, their hostility against the saints as a privileged group of dead who are able to alleviate the lot of the living is just a facet of a general attempt to sever all bonds between the living and the dead. The adversaries of Eustratius appear as moral rigorists who obviously considered all forms of solidarity as corrupting and as potentially directed against God and therefore developed the concept of an atomized society. Their position needs to be discussed in greater detail which cannot be done in this article.

30 Cf. his other statements about the afterlife in his Questions and Answers where he expresses the belief that the disembodied soul of a saint is not only active but can even see this world. Cf. e. g. Quaestio no. 91, 724B.

31 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 20, PG 89, 521A9-13: hoi akathartoi daimones … thanatous anthroopoon (sc. heuriskousin); esti gar sussèma tina entethenta hupo tès pronoias tooi anthroopinooi soomati malista en tais opsesin autou kai pro pollou chronou kai pro bracheos hoos fasin hoi tèn iatrikèn epistèmèn leptoos kai akriboos epanèirèmenoi.

32 Dagron, “L’ombre d’un doute”, 63, concludes that the attitudes found in the Questions and Answers show “une réaction concertée” against the contemporary triumph of hagiography and as a rethinking of faith after the Arab conquest “en balisant le domaine légitime de la science profane”.

33 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 21, 532C3-4: ei proginooskousin tou’o polla atopa emellon diaprattesthai.

34 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 89, PG 89, 716C3-8.

35 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 89, PG 89, 716C8-717A1.

36 Anastasius of Sinai, Quaestio no. 89, PG 89, 717A1-12.

37 Maximus Confessor, Epistulae, no. 6, PG 90, 429B-D.

38 Anastasius Sinaita, Sermones duo in constitutionem hominis secundum imaginem Dei necnon opuscula adversus monotheletas. Ed. K.-H. Uthemann (Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca 12). Turnhout-Löwen 1985.

39 Anastasius Sinaita, Sermones duo, ed. Uthemann, I, c. 5, 29: ei de legeis moi hoti ouden kath’ heautèn energei hè psuchè chooris tou soomatos.

40 Anastasius Sinaita, Sermones duo, ed. Uthemann, I, c. 5, 29: èdè touto kai hèmeis proeirèkamen (this refers back to I, 2, p. 27) hoti kai en toutooi kat’ eikona kai homoioosin theou ousa, dia tès hulès tès horoomenès tas aoratous autès deiknusi dunameis.

41 Anastasius Sinaita, Sermones duo, ed. Uthemann, I, c. 5, 29: plèn hoti kai choorizomenè tou soomatos hè kata fusin kathara psuchè, hè ousiai tote malista dioratikootera kai pneumatikootera kai haplè kai aparenochlètos kai footeinotera heuriskomenè, kat’ eikona kai homoioosin theou alèthesteroos dunatai prosagoreuesthai.

42 This is makes it likely that Anastasius wrote the speech after the QA for it is hardly conceivable that he replaced the sound argument presented here by a flawed one in the QA.

43 Cf. especially the key term aparenochlètos.

44 The almost playful treatment of these topics which is especially obvious in Anastasius’ development of the image-theme points into the same direction.

45 Anastasius Sinaita, Sermones duo, ed. Uthemann, I, c. 6, 30-31: hothen hoos theotimètos hèmoon hè psuchè oude apostelletai heis diakonian meta tèn apallagèn tou soomatos, kathoos hoi angeloi apostellontai; epeidè ekeina men eisi leitourgika ègoun doulika pneumata, hai de toon hagioon malista psuchai kat’eikona theou despotika pneumata … ei gar èlattootai ho anthroopos meta tèn parakoèn brachu ti par’ angelous hoos thnètos gegonoos, all’ homoos tetimètai polu ti par’ angelous dia tès tou theou logou en autooi kath’ hupostasin henooseoos.

46 Cf. the Life of Sabas, c. 78; E. Schwartz, Kyrillos von Skythopolis. Leipzig 1939, 184-185.

47 This belief would have been shared by Anastasius who as we have seen believed in the circumscription of the soul.

48 Homélie XXVII: Sur le saint martyr Léonce, Les Homélies Cathedrales de Sévère d’Antioche. Traduction syriaque de Jacques d’Édesse, publiée et traduite par M. Brière et F. Graffin. Homélies XXV à XXXI. (PO 36, 4) Turnhout 1974, pp. 559-573.

49 Severus, Homily XXVII, eds. Brière, Graffin, p. 567, ll. 1-8: “… et à ceux qui ont des dispositions imparfaites il condescend et s’amuse avec des prodiges, comme avec de tout petits enfants”.

50 Maximus Confessor, Ambigua, PG 91, 1108C: ef’ ooi … tous deomenous epikourias tinos hupo toon dunamenoon tuchein. The second point which does not concern us here is that the saint thus presents others with a model for imitation. As in Severus this is linked to condescension for the saint becomes everything to everyone thus representing on his level the workings of divine providence.

51 Maximus, Ambigua, PG 91, 1108C: hoos eige mèdeis èn ho eu pathein deomenos … auton hekaston arkein eautooi.

52 Maximus, Capita Theologica et Oeconomica, II, 48; PG 90, 1145C: ho empathès bios … ho epamfoterizoon tois enantiois tropos … hè pantos agathou peplèroomenè katastasis.

53 Maximus, Capita Theologica et Oeconomica, II, 49; PG 90, 1145CD: sèmeiooteon hoos oudeis toon hagioon ekousioos fainetai katelthoon eis tèn Babuloonian … ei de tines autoon kata bian ekei tooi laooi sunapèchthèsan nooumen dia toutoon tous mè proègoumenoos alla kata peristasin sootèrias heneken toon chrèizontoon cheiragoogias afentas ton hupsèloteron tès gnooseoos logon ….

54 After all, a saint is not the sum of the demands society makes on him but has his own voice. This is a point which has been neglected by P. Brown!

55 G. van Hoof, “Encomium in s. Agathonicum Nicomediensem martyrem”. AB 5 (1886) 369-415. Cf. S. Pétridès, Art. Anastase 73: Anastase le Bègue. DHGE 2 (1914), 1477, who points to a letter which Anastasius sent to Leo Choerosphactes in the year 907.

56 Anastasius, Encomium, ed. van Hoof, c. 16, 414, ll. 11-14: ei gar kai dicha tou oikeiou soomatos eisin apamfiasthentos toutou tooi thanatooi alla met’ angeloon tooi ktistèi paristamenoi angelikas leitourgias apotelein ouk amfiballontai. The remainder of his argument is made up of a refutation of the argument of circumscription.

57 Anastasius, Encomium, ed. van Hoof, c. 16, p. 414, l. 6: tois epikourias deomenois; cf. Maximus’ expression tous deomenous epikourias tinos quoted above note 50.

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.

The Real and the Individual: Byzantine concepts of the Resurrection, part 1

by Dirk Krausmüller

In the second half of the sixth century patriarch Anastasius I of Antioch delivered a sermon on the transfiguration in which he subjected the biblical account to an allegorical interpretation.1 When he discussed the presence of Moses and Elijah on Mount Tabor, however, he interrupted the flow of his argument to add the following criticism: “That some ask whence and based on what signs the disciples recognized the prophets does not seem to me a subtle question nor one worth of being investigated.”2

Although Anastasius himself refers to his adversaries merely as “some people”, we are in the fortunate position to have another sermon on the transfiguration ascribed to a priest by the name of “Timothy of Antioch” in which exactly this view is expressed.3 Timothy first raises the question: “And whence did they (sc. the apostles) have the knowledge that it was Moses and Elijah?”, and then answers it with the exclamation: “From the signs!”, adding as an explanation: “For Elijah was there with the carriage and Moses carrying the tables.”4

Since Timothy has been dated to the 6th to 8th centuries he may well have been a contemporary of Anastasius and it is not impossible that the patriarch actually had this text in mind when he vented his criticism.5 Timothy’s problem arises from the fact that the biblical accounts simply state that the two attendant figures at the transfiguration were Moses and Elijah without giving further information as to how the apostles could have known about their identities.6

His solution was the object of the scorn of the patriarch who clearly thought that such a pedestrian approach was not up to the standard of theological discussion, and it is certainly true that we find nothing comparable in other sermons on the transfiguration. In order to understand why Timothy saw the need for an explanation here we must turn to the descriptions of visions in contemporary Saints’ Lives which provide us with the closest parallels.

In the Life of Euthymius by Cyril of Scythopolis the identification of figures appearing in dreams and visions unknown to the persons who see them is a major issue.7 In one episode a bewitched Saracene boy has a vision of “some grey-haired monk with a big beard” who tells him “I am Euthymius”, gives an exact description of where he lives, and asks him to come. The Saracene then travels to the monastery where he is healed by the saint.8 The description of Euthymius’ appearance is mentioned here to make the vision more credible to the readers who knew what the saint looked like. The Saracene himself, on the other hand, had never met Euthymius and therefore would not have known where to turn for help if the saint had not introduced himself by name.9 Such an impasse we find in an episode in the Life of Theodosius the Coenobiarch by Theodore of Petrae.10 We are told that a woman from Antioch comes to the monastery with her son. When the boy sees the saint he exclaims that this is the man who rescued him from a well. The mother explains this “recognition” by telling the story how her son fell into a well and was held above the water “by some monk”. Since the boy did not know who this monk was they had to go to all the monasteries of the area in search for him.11

Now we can reconstruct Timothy’s reasoning. Since the biblical accounts do not contain a self-identification like “I am Moses (or Elijah)” or identification by Christ like “This is Moses (or Elijah)” he concluded that there must have been visible signs by which they could be recognized and that these signs must have been of a kind that made their identification as individuals unambiguous. This led him to the carriage and the tables as characteristic attributes.

These visions, however, are not sufficient to explain Timothy’s position and Anastasius’ criticism of it because they take place in “ordinary” situations and are experienced by “ordinary” people whereas the transfiguration is a miraculous event in which Christ’s body and clothes become suffused with light and the appearing figures are surrounded by a luminous cloud. Therefore I shall now try to relate the authors’ statements to their interpretation of this phenomenon.

In either text the Leitmotiv of the author is that what was shown to the apostles on Mount Tabor “assured” them of the reality of the afterlife.12 As we shall see, however, their concepts of this afterlife are radically different and therefore lead them to different answers to the question of knowledge and identification.

For Anastasius the assurance is linked to a future event, i.e. the second coming of Christ of which the transfiguration is a foreshadowing.13 Christ will not come in an earthly body but in a spiritual and celestial one which he has had since his resurrection, and the same transformation will then be conferred on all human bodies.14

In Anastasius’ eschatology this “change” from one condition to the other is clearly the central aspect whereas the resurrection is just a means to this end.15 His thinking is based on a dichotomy between the carnal and the spiritual. The spiritual body will not only be incorruptible but also “less dense”, i.e. material than our current body.16 This has implications for how this body presents itself to those who perceive it, i.e. the apostles in the case of the transfiguration.

Anastasius first explains the impact of this change on Christ’s body when he interprets the biblical statement: “He was transformed in front of them”.17 Christ confers his divine qualities on his human nature so that these qualities become manifest on the outside: “having brightened up the figure of the serf with the divine idioms”.18

When Anastasius turns to Moses and Elijah he extends the spiritualisation of Christ’s body to them. Again he starts with a quotation from the bible: “And Moses and Elijah were seen by them conversing with him”.19 From this he draws the conclusion that they could only have conversed with the transfigured Christ if they themselves had undergone an analogous change: “If they were not co-transfigured, they would not con-verse.” 20

Anastasius then follows the biblical text in which the two figures appear as prophets who tell the apostles about the coming death of Christ in Jerusalem. He uses the concept of transfiguration to explain why the apostles now believed Moses and Elijah whereas they had not believed Christ before. Anastasius draws a parallel between their prophecy and Christ’s earlier announcement of his own death and resurrection.21 He stresses that in both cases the apostles heard exactly the same words but that they “did not understand” them before, whereas now they understand and believe.22 According to Anastasius their different reactions can only be explained if the speech of Moses and Elijah which is still considered audible by him has acquired an additional new quality which makes it different from our ordinary speech.23 Then he describes what this change implies: “When their words are transfigured and the shadows of the law are removed, then Moses the faithful servant, who wrote everything about Christ, will be believed and will clearly show from his own words which end Christ will fulfil in Jerusalem”.24 Obviously Anastasius thinks that the meaning of the words of the Old Testament will become manifest in them so that their status as prophecies about Christ will be self-evident and thus inspire instant faith.

Anastasius does not explicitly state what the transfiguration of the appearances of Moses and Elijah implies. Since the speeches come from their mouths, however, the visible figures and audible words are two related and parallel phenomena. This means that the transfigured bodies of Moses and Elijah relate to “dense” and carnal bodies in the same way as the transfigured words to the “shadows of the law”. And just like ordinary words their ordinary bodies would not have given an immediate knowledge of their identity whereas in the transfigured bodies this identity becomes manifest which, of course, makes a reading of outward signs superfluous.

This raises the question: What is the “carrier” of this identity that manifests itself in the spiritual body? An answer can be found in Anastasius’ description of the last judgement in the first part of his sermon. There he says that we shall all stand naked in front of Christ as judge.25 Then he evokes the biblical image of the books that will be opened and interprets them as a metaphor for the human conscience: “… which show through what is imprinted on the conscience whom each of us has followed …”.26 The whole story of one’s life can be found there which allows a judgement of the state the soul is in. So we can conclude that the apostles can read the “stories” of Moses and Elijah in their “consciences” and therefore do not need to infer them from their outward appearances.27

Anastasius’ concept of the “conscience” as the place where memories of individual thoughts and actions are imprinted as mental images is closely related to imagination. This can be elucidated by a comparison with a passage in Basil of Ancyra’s treatise On Virginity.28 Having stressed that one should care for one’s conscience Basil points out that each individual sinful thought is painted on the board of the soul and that on the day of the Last Judgement this painting will become visible to all.29 In non-metaphorical terms Basil calls it “imaginary and detailed thought in the soul”.30

The closeness of this concept to simple “subjective” imagination explains why Anastasius himself never explicitly refers to it in this context especially since a few lines above he devalues the material world as “dream-like phantasies”.31 Even Basil of Ancyra who speaks quite openly about imagination is somewhat uneasy since it has the connotation of not being quite real and therefore stresses that these images are in the soul not just as phantasies but as deeds.32

At this point we must return to the text to consider an aspect which we have left aside so far. For Anastasius direct access to the level of unequivocal meaning is not only possible because of the transfiguration of the perceived objects, but also because of a change in the perceptive powers of the apostles linked to their spiritual advancement.

Anastasius starts his interpretation of the biblical account by stating that Christ had already made the apostles “receptive” for the light coming from his transfigured body.33 And before he infers the co-transfiguration of Moses and Elijah, he uses the same quotation from the bible to explain how the apostles perceived them: “Having become more clear-sighted (literally: seeing-through) … the apostles finally got to know that Moses and Elijah then conversed with Christ”.34 His most elaborate statement, however, follows the passage in which Anastasius rejects the view held by Timothy. He asks: “For having arrived at such a height that they were thought worthy of such a sight which had been called kingdom of heaven by him who had revealed himself to them as being transfigured together with the prophets, how could they not have known the co-initiated?”35 And then he gives his answer: “Surely the apostles were prophets, too; and prophets meeting prophets have one and the same knowledge; above all, because Jesus was there and illuminated the governing part (sc. of the soul) and figurated the intellect according to his own divine figure.”36

By extending the concept of transfiguration to the change in the perceptive powers of the apostles, Anastasius achieves a perfect correspondence and thus a double proof for an immediate knowledge.37 This correspondence, however, is somewhat deceptive, for when Anastasius speaks about the subjective aspect he “forgets” about the transfiguration of the objects of perception. Otherwise “seeing through” would be meaningless since there would be nothing to be “seen through”. When Anastasius expands the biblical statement that the apostles “saw” Moses and Elijah to “having become more clear-sighted … they got to know” that it was they ,this only makes sense if he accepts Timothy’s point of departure that there is no introduction of the two figures by spoken word. Then, of course, the apostles could not simply have “seen” that the two men appearing on either side of Christ were in fact Moses and Elijah. So the biblical statement must have appeared elliptical to him and he proceeded to supply the missing elements: The apostles saw the two men but their perception did not stop at the surface of the carnal body but went right through it to the level we have identified as conscience.38

“Seeing through” is closely related to the concept of the “eye of the soul” which can also be used to describe imagination as opposed to seeing something real.39 Thus, as an instrument of perception it corresponds exactly to the “imaginary” level of the objects of perception represented by the conscience and one can conceive of its use to “see” not only the figments of one’s own imagination but also the “real” mental images of others.

We can conclude that for Anastasius the imagination is the place where the individuality of a human being is located and safeguarded.40 What is more difficult to establish is its relation to the spiritualized body after the resurrection. For Basil of Ancyra, the revelation of the conscience is not caused by a change of the carnal body, but by the shedding of this body as an outer shell.41 Anastasius, on the other hand, relates the manifestation to a transformation of the carnal bodies through the resurrection.42 Therefore, this transformation is most likely to be conceived of as a two-fold process in which the spiritualisation of the flesh is complemented by an “incarnation” of the “spiritual” imagination which moves it forward to the visible surface.43


1 Anastasius of Antioch, Oratio I in Transfigurationem (BHG 1993; CPG 6947), ed. PG 89, 1361-1376. G. Weiss who has made the most thorough analysis of this sermon to this date states in his Studia Anastasiana I. (MBM, 4). Muenchen, 1965, p. 94: “Abschließend ist zu bemerken, daß ich kein Gegenargument gegen die Zuweisung der 3 Predigten (i. e. the sermon on the transfiguration and two sermons on the annunciation) an den Patriarchen Anastasius finden konnte.”

2 PG 89, 1369B4 -7: to de punthanesthai tinas, pothen, e poos, kai ek tinoon semeioon epegnoosan hoi mathetai tous profetas ou moi dokei komson eperootema kai zeteseoos axion einai.

3 Timothy of Antioch, Sermo in Crucem et in Transfigurationem (BHG 434h; CPG 7406), ed. PG 86, 1, 256-265. An in-depth analysis of Timothy’s work was done by V. Capelle, Les homélies liturgiques du prétendu Timothée de Jérusalem. Ephemerides Liturgicae 63 (1949), pp. 5-26. After a stylistical analysis on pp. 10-20 Capelle concludes that four more sermons can be attributed to the same author, the Sermo in Symeonem et in S. Mariam Virginem (BHG 1958; CPG 7405), ed. PG 86,1, 237-252, which goes under the name of Timothy, Presbyter of Jerusalem, and three pseudepigrapha of Athanasius of Alexandria, In Nativitatem Praecursoris, in Elisabeth, et in Deiparam, PG 28, 905-913, Sermo de Descriptione Deiparae, PG 28, 944-957, In Caecum a Nativitate, PG 28, 1001-1024. Recently, M. Sachot has put forward the hypothesis that these sermons must be attributed to Leontius of Byzantium writing under various pen-names. Cf. M. Sachot, L’ homélie pseudo-chrysostomienne sur la Transfiguration CPG 4724, BHG 1975. Contextes liturgiques, restitution à Léonce, prêtre de Constantinople, édition critique et commentée, traduction et études connexes. Frankfurt a. M. & Bern 1981, and M. Sachot, Les homélies grecques sur la transfiguration. Tradition manuscrite. Paris 1987. Sachot’s hypothesis has been accepted by L. Perrone, “Art. Timothy of Jerusalem”, Encyclopedia of the early church, II (Cambridge 1992), p. 841, and by H. J. Sieben, “Art. Transfiguration du seigneur”, Dictionnaire de Spiritualité, 15 (1991), p. 1145. Although one cannot come to a final decision without a detailed discussion of style and contents of the sermons ascribed to either author there are some obvious discrepancies which cast doubts on Sachot’s conclusion. Pet phrases like akoue sunetoos found in almost all of Leontius’ genuine sermons are missing in the sermons ascribed to Timothy by Capelle. Nor do we find the same interest in identity and identification through signs as in almost all of Timothy’s homilies, cf. PG 86, 1, 244A, and PG 28, 909B, 953AB, 1004A-1005A. In Leontius’ corpus there is only one comparable passage where he discusses the identification of the infant Christ by the magi. Cf. Homilia XII in Nativitatem Christi (BHGa 7896), ed. C. Datema und Pauline Allen, Sermones. (Corpus Christianorum. Series graeca, 17). Brepols-Turnhout 1987, pp. 385/386.

4 PG 86,1, 261BC: kai pothen autois he gnosis hoti Mooses en kai Elias? ek toon tekmerioon; ho gar Elias sun tooi Harmati pareste kai ho Mooses tas plakas bastazoon.

5 For this dating cf. Capelle, Timothée, pp. 11/12, 20-23. Capelle points out that the oldest manuscripts date to the 9th century and that apart from the sermons on Christmas and on the Blind-born Timothy’s texts do not appear very often in the homiliaries which suggests a comparatively late date. He concludes: “À défaut des critères plus précis, on situera notre homéliste entre le VIe et le VIIIe siècle byzantin.”

6 In Luke 9, 30 quoted by Timothy in PG 86, 1, 260D4/5 we first find the statement that two men were seen: kai idou andres duo sunelaloun autooi, which is followed by the identification of these two men: oitines esan Mooses kai Elias, without any further comment. Afterwards we only hear that they spoke about Christ’s coming passion.

7 E. Schwartz, Kyrillos von Skythopolis. Leipzig 1939.

8 Life of Euthymius, ed. Schwartz, c. 23, p. 20, ll. 8-16: … tina monachon mixopolion echonta ton poogoona megan … egoo eimi Euthumios.

9 This vision is part of a dream, but we find the same structure in another vision which is not classified as a dream, cf. Life of Euthymius, ed. Schwartz, c. 57, p. 78, ll. 25-27.

10 H. Usener, Der heilige Theodosios. Schriften des Theodoros und Kyrillos. Reprinted Hildesheim 1975.

11 Life of Theodosius, ed. Usener, p. 77, l. 18 – p. 78, l. 24: …he tou paidos epignoosis pros ton dikaion …. hupo monachou tinos ….

12 For Timothy cf. PG 86, 1, 260B: ho kurios … pleroforei … hupodeiknus autois (sc. tois apostolois) … theoprepe tes anastaseoos dunamin ; and for Anastasius cf. PG 89, 1365A10/11: kai hina to afanes tes elpidos tautes echomen en bebaiooi bouletai kai nun hupodeixai tois egkritois toon mathetoon ten tote ginomenen alloioosin.

13 Cf. PG 89, 1365A11: ten tote ginomenen alloioosin. At one point, however, Anastasius seems to refer to a “real” transformation of Christ’s body already at the transfiguration i. e. before his resurrection, cf. 1368B8/9: nun de ten morfen tou doulou pros ten fusiken apokathistesin.

14 PG 89, 1365A6/7: to meta anastaseoos metastoicheioothen epi to pneumatikon kai epouranion. Anastasius returns to this theme at the end of his interpretation, cf. 1376B9-13.

15 PG 89, 1365A6: meta anastaseoos.

16 PG 89, 1365A5/6: to idion sooma metapoiesas eis aftharsian; cf. 1376C2: metaschematisei ta soomata hemon epi to … aftharton. Cf. 1376B11/12: apo toon pachuteroon (sc. soomatoon), and 1365C9: tou pachuterou kosmou. The opposite quality (which Anastasius does not mention here) would be leptoteron.

17 Matthew 17, 2: kai metemorfoothe emprosthen autoon, quoted PG 89, 1368B1.

18 PG 89, 1368B10/11: faidrunas de auten (sc. ten douliken ousian) tois theikois idioomasin. This statement is part of a passage in which Anastasius combines the transfiguration with the kenoosis-motif from Philippians 2, 6-8. The whole argument is very complex and therefore cannot be discussed in this article.

19 Matthew 17, 3: kai oofthesan autois Mooses kai Elias sullalountes autooi, quoted PG 89, 1368D11/12.

20 PG 89, 1369A1-5: ei gar me summetamorfoothosin ou sullalousin.

21 Matthew 16, 21-23.

22 Cf. PG 89, 1369A8: egnoesan pote lalountos.

23 Cf. PG 89, 1369A7: ekouon. Moreover, Anastasius paraphrases the biblical sullalousi with sumftheggontai, 1369A12, which points to articulate, audible speech.

24 PG 89, 1369A14-B4: Hotan metamorfoothosin autoon oi logoi kai kinethosin ai tou nomou skiai tote kai pisteuthesetai Mooses ho therapoon ho pistos peri Christou grapsas panta kai ten exodon autou parastesei telaugoos ek toon idioon logoon hen emelle pleroun en Hierousalem. The future tense probably indicates that Anastasius sees the transfiguration as a prefiguration of the second coming here.

25 PG 89, 1364D3-5: gumnoi de pantes … paristametha.

26 PG 89, 1364D6-8: bibloi anoigontai pros elegchon hemon delousai dia toon tei suneidesei tetupoomenoon tini mallon hekastos ekolouthese ….

27 It is worth noting, however, that in the case of the second coming Anastasius speaks of an “examination” of the imprints on the conscience before final judgement about the state of the soul is passed. But this is clearly more a taking-in of what is seen than an interpretation.

28 Basil of Ancyra, Liber de Vera Virginitatis Integritate, PG 30, 669-810.

29 Basil stresses that the individual and not the general will be presented and then describes vividly how every single detail will be seen by the others, cf. PG 30, 732D4-6: ou gar sugkechumenoos te kai katholou ta pragmata theooreitai all’ hoos hupozoografa kata meros ginoosketai hoos echei.

30 PG 30, 733A9: fantasioodes te kai diexodike ennoia en psuchei.

31 PG 89, 1364B1/2: ten psuchen … planoomenen peri ta tou biou mataia kai tas oneiroodeis autou fantasias.

32 PG 30, 733B14/15: me hoos fantasias haplos all’ hoos erga en psuchei ginomena. This makes sense when the sins of the thought are taken as seriously as those carried out in action.

33 PG 89, 1368B1/2: chooretikous autous poiesas (sc. ho Christos) toon huperballontoon autou ellampseoon.

34 PG 89, 1368D12-1369A2: dioratikooteroi gegonotes hoi apostoloi … molis egnoosan hoti Mooses kai Elias tote tooi Iesou sullalousi.

35 PG 89, 1369B7-11: kai gar pros tosouton hupsos chooresantes hooste theas axioothenai toiautes hen basileian ouranoon oonomasen ho apokalupsas autois heauton tois profetais summetamorfoumenon poos tous summustas eichon agnoesai?

36 PG 89, 1369B12-C1: pantoos profetai de esan kai hoi apostoloi; kai profetai profetais suggenomenoi mian kai ten auten echousin <epistemen> kai malista parontos Iesou kai footizontos to hegemonikon kai morfountos ton noun pros <ten> heautou theian morfen.

37 A similar combination of the two concepts we find e. g. in the Middle Byzantine Fourth Life of Pachomius, cf. Sancti Pachomii Vitae Graecae, edd. Hagiographi Bollandiani ex recensione F. Halkin (SH 19). Brüssel 1932, p. 409, ll. 14-17: He tes psuches galene kai to tes gnoomes euthu kai pros areten eufues ou metrioos diefaineto tois oxuteron dioran dunamenois kai tes psuches anichneuein ta aporreta kai kruptomena. Here the dioran of the onlookers corresponds to a diafainesthai of the soul of Pachomius.

38 Since the concept of mental penetration is not dependent on a correspondent transformation of the perceived object it is possible that this was the reason why Anastasius stressed the subjective aspect in his wish to prove his point against Timothy.

39 A good example for the use of the expression “eye of the mind” in this sense can be found in Pseudo-Methodian Sermo de Symeone et Anna (BHG 1961; CPG 1827), ed. PG 18, 361A1-7: prin e kateilefenai ton naon tois tes dianoias ofthalmois anapteroumenos hoos echoon ede to pothoumenon egegethei; agomenos de houtoo kai meteooroporoon tois diabemasi ookutatoos ton palai hieron katelambane sekon kai ou prosschon tooi hierooi tooi tou hierou prutanei tas hieras oolenas eefeploose. Here the imagined cradling of Christ is followed by the “real” one!

40 Turning once more to Basil of Ancyra we can see why it is the imagination and not the “pure” intellect which has this function in Anastasius’ thinking. For Basil the “intellect” is the active element which paints the images on the board of the “soul”, cf. PG 30, 733A11/12. Therefore it can be identified with the “person” which is itself not imagined but “real”. Without this “soul”, however, the intellect would be without history and therefore without individuality.

41 PG 30, 732C11-13: houtoo kai hemeis ekdusamenoi to prokalumma tes sarkos oute peristeilai tous en tei psuchei moomous oute apokrupsai poos dunesometha.

42 He makes this explicit in the case of Christ’s transfiguration, cf. PG 89, 732C11-13: ouk apothemenos men ten ousian ten douliken faidrunas de auten tois theikois idioomasin.

43 There remains, however, an ambiguity: At the time of the transfiguration Moses and Elijah were not yet resurrected (and Elijah had not even died yet but was assumed to heaven). It is possible that Anastasius thinks that they just gave the appearance of having transformed bodies (since the transfiguration is only a prefiguration of the real event). But one cannot exclude that he conceives of their figures as “naked” consciences in Basil’s sense here.