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The Individual in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition / L'Individu dans la tradition orthodoxe orientale - article ; n°1 ; vol.91, pg 41-65

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27 pages
Archives des sciences sociales des religions - Année 1995 - Volume 91 - Numéro 1 - Pages 41-65
The comparative sociology of Louis Dumont (1982) explained the rise of modern inworldly individualism as the result of the transformation, initiated mainly by a changing Church/State relationship since the eighth century, of the outworldly individualism of early Christianity. In this paper the question is asked whether a similar transformation took place in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The enquiry, which examines Orthodox monachism and the Church/State relationship in Byzantium and in Russia, further the Russian Old Believers, the Slavophiles and Populists, arrives at the conclusion that Eastern Orthodoxy has remained a tradition of holism and of outworldly individualism, of 'integral personality' and of individualism as the lower path to salvation. Modern individualism has no cultural basis in this tradition.
Louis Dumont, dans ses travaux de sociologie comparative, explique l'émergence de l'individualisme intramondain de la modernité par la transformation de l'individualisme extramondain des débuts du christianisme, liée principalement aux changements qui ont affecté les relations entre l'Etat et l'Eglise depuis le VIIIe siècle. Dans notre texte, on pose la question de savoir si le christianisme orthodoxe a connu une évolution similaire. Cette recherche, qui étudie le monachisme orthodoxe, et les relations Eglise/Etat à Byzance et en Russie, mais aussi les Vieux Croyants russes, les slavophiles et les populistes, conclut en affirmant que l'orthodoxie orientale est restée une tradition holiste basée sur un individualisme extramondain et sur la notion de personnalité totale, considérant l'individualisme comme le chemin le moins élevé vers le salut. L'individualisme moderne ne plonge donc pas ses racines culturelles dans cette tradition.
La sociologia comparativa de Louis Dumont (1982) explicó el ascenso del individualismo moderno como resultado de la transformatión del individualismo « fuera del mundo » del cristianismo primitivo. Esta transformación se inició con el cambio de las relaciones entre el Estado y la Iglesia a partir del siglo ocho. El autor de este articulo se pregunta si una transformación similar se produjó en el cristianismo orthodoxo oriental. El autor estudia el monaquismo ortodojo, la relación entre la Iglesia y el Estado en Bizancio y Rusia, y más adelante estudia los « Viejos Creyentes Rusos », los slavófilos, y los populistas. Concluye que cristianismo orthodoxo oriental sigue siendo una tradición de totalización y de individualismo «fuera del mundo», de «personalidad integral» y de individualismo concebido como el camino más bajo hacia la salvación. El individualismo moderno no tiene base cultural en esta tradición.
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Andreas Buss
The Individual in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition / L'Individu
dans la tradition orthodoxe orientale
In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 91, 1995. pp. 41-65.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Buss Andreas. The Individual in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition / L'Individu dans la tradition orthodoxe orientale. In: Archives
des sciences sociales des religions. N. 91, 1995. pp. 41-65.
doi : 10.3406/assr.1995.994
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/assr_0335-5985_1995_num_91_1_994Résumé
Louis Dumont, dans ses travaux de sociologie comparative, explique l'émergence de l'individualisme
intramondain de la modernité par la transformation de l'individualisme extramondain des débuts du
christianisme, liée principalement aux changements qui ont affecté les relations entre l'Etat et l'Eglise
depuis le VIIIe siècle. Dans notre texte, on pose la question de savoir si le christianisme orthodoxe a
connu une évolution similaire. Cette recherche, qui étudie le monachisme orthodoxe, et les relations
Eglise/Etat à Byzance et en Russie, mais aussi les Vieux Croyants russes, les slavophiles et les
populistes, conclut en affirmant que l'orthodoxie orientale est restée une tradition holiste basée sur un
individualisme extramondain et sur la notion de "personnalité totale", considérant l'individualisme
comme le chemin le moins élevé vers le salut. L'individualisme moderne ne plonge donc pas ses
racines culturelles dans cette tradition.
Resumen
La sociologia comparativa de Louis Dumont (1982) explicó el ascenso del individualismo moderno
como resultado de la transformatión del individualismo « fuera del mundo » del cristianismo primitivo.
Esta transformación se inició con el cambio de las relaciones entre el Estado y la Iglesia a partir del
siglo ocho. El autor de este articulo se pregunta si una transformación similar se produjó en el
cristianismo orthodoxo oriental.
El autor estudia el monaquismo ortodojo, la relación entre la Iglesia y el Estado en Bizancio y Rusia, y
más adelante estudia los « Viejos Creyentes Rusos », los slavófilos, y los populistas. Concluye que
cristianismo orthodoxo oriental sigue siendo una tradición de totalización y de individualismo «fuera del
mundo», de «personalidad integral» y de individualismo concebido como el camino más bajo hacia la
salvación. El individualismo moderno no tiene base cultural en esta tradición.
Abstract
The comparative sociology of Louis Dumont (1982) explained the rise of modern inworldly individualism
as the result of the transformation, initiated mainly by a changing Church/State relationship since the
eighth century, of the outworldly individualism of early Christianity. In this paper the question is asked
whether a similar transformation took place in Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
The enquiry, which examines Orthodox monachism and the Church/State relationship in Byzantium and
in Russia, further the Russian Old Believers, the Slavophiles and Populists, arrives at the conclusion
that Eastern Orthodoxy has remained a tradition of holism and of outworldly individualism, of 'integral
personality' and of individualism as the lower path to salvation. Modern individualism has no cultural
basis in this tradition.Arch de Sc soc des Rel. 1995 97 juillet-septembre 41-65
Andreas BUSS
THE INDIVIDUAL IN THE EASTERN
ORTHODOX TRADITION
INTRODUCTION
Among the characteristics of modernity individualism surely stands out
as one of the most fundamental Scholars have described its rise in the modern
Occident and even its transplantation to the other great civilizations of the
world as the characteristic feature of modern development They have also
speculated about its origin and have found it sometimes in the Renaissance
as did Burckhardt sometimes in the rise of the merchant class or the modern
city Others again believe that individualism is in one way or another deeply
entwined with the classical tradition of ancient Greece as well as with the
Judéo-Christian heritage and that perhaps the history of the Occident may be
interpreted as its gradual disentanglement and coming to prominence
Certainly there are those with nominalistic or empiricist scientific out
look for whom individuals and individualism exist everywhere in all cultures
and at all times They do not distinguish analytically the empirical human
being the individual sample of mankind which is indeed found in all cultures
and societies from the independent and autonomous individual to whom
paramount value is attached in modern society because of its individualistic
ideology Louis Dumont has insisted on this distinction and this led him to
oppose two kinds of societies where the individual is autonomous and
paramount value he spoke of individualism in the opposite case where the
society as whole is the paramount value and englobes the empirical in
dividuals or particular human beings he spoke of holism 1)
Dumont has also suggested that in the search for the origins of modern
individualism one should follow Max example and attach prominence
to religion With this in mind he has advanced the thesis that in early Chris
tianity the individual as value was conceived as apart from the given social
and political organization outside and beyond it an outworldly individual
as opposed to the inworldly individual in modern society In traditional holistic
societies as for instance also in the Indian instance where the
as value developed only outside of the hierarchical caste system among the
renouncers samnyasin and in the sects Dumont has argued the individual
41 DE SCIENCES SOCIALES DES RELIGIONS ARCHIVES
or individualism can only appear in its outworldly form in the sense that the
individual has devalued or even abandoned his social role and the transfor
mation from outworldly to inworldly individual or from holistic society to
individualistic society and to modernity then needs to be explained
Dumont has proposed an explanation of this transformation along the fol
lowing lines the early Christians first adopted from the Stoics the idea of
relative Law of Nature in order to partially adapt their outworldly values
to the social and political world Very soon however the conception by the
Church of its relation to the State becomes central for it indicates clearly
the relation between the bearer of value the outworldly individual and the
world The conversion of Constantine and then of the Roman Empire to
Christianity forced upon the Church closer relation to the State The first
clear result was Gelasius formula about the relationship between the
auctoritas and the potestas but the dramatic change occurred in the
eighth century the Popes broke their ties with Constantinople and claimed
supreme power not only auctoritas but also potestas in the West This claim
was then based on the forged so-called Donation of Constantine Donano
Constantini and later justified in the theory of the two swords The final
stage is found in Calvin who suggests that the task of the individual is to
work for glory in the world rather than taking refuge from it and where
the Church is not holistic institution any more but society of individuals
and mere instrument of discipline
The inworldliness of the individual will then continue in the sects the
Enlightenment and further on but we leave this Western line of development
which began with the outworldly Christian individual and shall ask ourselves
what happened to this individual in the quite different context of
another Christian tradition Eastern-Orthodox Christianity or to describe more
precisely the range of this study the Byzantine-Russian tradition As the re
lationship between Church and State which Dumont considered to be major
contributing factor in the emergence of the inworldly individual in the West
was quite different in the Eastern Roman Empire and later in Muscovite Rus
sia and as moreover there was no Reformation and no Calvin in Eastern-
Orthodox Christianity the question arises as to whether the individual in
Byzantium and later in Russia has perhaps always been outworldly and
whether modernity therefore has never taken hold there or whether there
have been other mechanisms in the Eastern Orthodox tradition which have
led to inworldly individualism
Individualism and holism among outworldly monks
It is possible to start with thesis about outworldly
individualism encompassing recognition of and obedience to the powers of
this world or with well-known statement that the early Christians
were individuals-in-relation-to-God who though they remained detached
from and indifferent to the socio-political order nevertheless accepted it at
its level according to saying Render unto Caesar the things that are
Matthew 22 21 The State and its ruler private property and
slavery were not simply refused or negated run-away slaves for instance
42 INDIVIDUAL AND ORTHODOX TRADITION
were not accepted as members of monastic congregations and were sent back
to their masters it is interesting to note here similarity with another equally
outworldly tradition described in the Buddhist pali canon for slaves were
also not accepted in the Buddhist sangha) but the laws and traditions of the
world were relativized and not given the dignity that belongs to God The
Christian position was similar to and perhaps influenced by the Stoïc teaching
of the relative Law of Nature for the Stoics taught that the wise man should
practice renunciation and self-sufficiency and that the socio-political order
has only relative value This teaching was the result of their distinction
between Golden Age when free individuals obeyed only Reason and the
present social order which under conditions of life directed by human pas
sions necessitates political power patria potestas slavery and laws Similarly
the Christians taught that all social institutions which from their point of view
were intolerable were due to Original Sin that once lawlessness avarice
and violence have penetrated society the Law of Nature has been transformed
and must of necessity become evident only in the form of compulsion and
of the laws of the State and thus react against corruption This is the relative
Law of Nature at once the result of sin and remedy for sin poena et
remedium peccati Thus both Stoïcism and Christianity taught an outworldly
ideal or as Troeltsch also said religious individualism
The outworldly Christian individual could be either simple member of
the Christian Church or since approximately the fourth century if he did not
wish to compromise with the world an anchorite or monk In fact monastic
life was synonymous authentic Christianity it was to high degree the
Byzantian ideal of life The world-fleeing anchorites and monks did not reject
the Church as the Montanists and Enkratits had done before them In fact
they acknowledged its right to exist they never lost contact with it and since
the Council of Chalcedon their monasteries were submitted to the authority
of bishop of the Church but they relativized its value and strove to achieve
the vision of God and eternal life beyond family and profession in the deserts
of Egypt and elsewhere The anchorite the renouncer of life in traditional
holistic society with its laws and constraints the saeculum in theological
parlance was even more religious individual than the simple Christian
Church member but he was an outworldly individual 4) like the Indian
samnyasin about whose renunciation of life in the caste society and of the
wheel of rebirths in order to find liberation outside the world we read in
the ancient Indian texts And like the Indian renouncers the Christian an
chorites might live as hermits or join group of fellow anchorites This ten
dency started with Pachomius the founder of cenobitic communal
monasticism and came into full flower with Basil the Great who preconised
communal living in single monastery and provided the inner biblical and
theological foundations for the cenobitic living of the outworldly Christian
individuals the monks His monastic rule merits closer examination not only
because his way of seeing the relationship between the individual and the
community was original but also because it portended developments within
the Russian-Orthodox religion and in fact in Russian society more than
millennium later
According to Basil 5) the anchoretic ideal falls short of the demands of
Christ for apart from the love of God Christ demanded the love of our neigh
bour The specific charismatic gifts of the anchorite remain fruitless for all
43 ARCHIVES DE SCIENCES SOCIALES DES RELIGIONS
others and he himself as he does not possess all charismatic gifts cannot
raise himself to the complete fulness of spiritual life He lacks moreover
the necessary critical stance with regard to his own mistakes and shortcomings
as well as all support in spiritual matters On the other hand many individuals
living in common can more easily fulfill large number of commandments
than single individual for often the fulfillment of one commandment pre
vents the fulfillment of another Basil maintains in fact that the charismata
of every individual have been received for the benefit of others and that in
the cenobitic life the energy of the Holy Spirit which is given to single
individual is the common good of the whole community Therefore not only
our own shortcomings necessitate the communal life it is the essence of the
Christian ideal that it can only be attained by for only com
munity can fulfill all demands of Christ
While Pachomius had left open the question as to whether the monks
could leave the community and return to the world Basil considered such
an act as desecration of the koinobion
In Rule we have the first instance of the idea that individualism
be it inworldly or outworldly is the little path that the koinobion is not only
useful means of physical protection and material comforts which the re-
nouncer or anchorite can join and leave at his will but the necessary pre
condition to full spiritual life and the high road to salvation It is also worth
mentioning that koinobion has little in common with Tönnies Geinein
schaft which is described as organically grown based on the naturally given
conditions the ties of blood and location the traditional unity and wholeness
of family tribe and Volk for the Gemeinschaft does not know of the in
dividual it has not yet conceived and experienced it whereas the koinobion
is the result of the joining of independent individuals at higher level of
community
Basil also required the monks to work partially as an ascetic means of
combatting idleness and passions but mainly for social reasons i.e in order
to support the indigent This however introduced an inner contradiction
into ideal for the obligation to work in the service of others and the
rule of complete obedience cannot completely be harmonized with the highest
goal of the monks and of Basil himself the concentration of all thoughts in
God and the contemplation of divine beauty Only the anchorite could hope
to attain completely the uninterrupted devotion to God which even Basil re
cognized to be the highest goal and it is therefore not surprising that the
anchoretic life in spite of efforts and in spite of the renewal of his
Rule by Theodore Studites in the eighth century continued to be regarded as
superior to the cenobitic life The outworldly individual kept his preemi
nence and particularly the ideal of laborare in the formula ora et
later attributed to the Benedictines did not prevail in Eastern-Orthodox mona-
chism The idiorhythmic movement and hesychasm soon pointed in another
direction
Revealing for the struggle between the outworldly individualistic ideal of
the anchorite and cenobitic ideal was the distinction which started to
be made even within the monasteries between the regular monks and those
monks who after thirty years in Russia of unblemished ascetic life were
allowed to take higher vow ëü ïé While the regular monks
looked after the economic aspects of life in the monastery the megaloskhimi
44 INDIVIDUAL AND ORTHODOX TRADITION
were freed from all work and from some of the common prayers and liturgical
chants in order to devote themselves completely to secluded vita contem
plativa Bishops who took this vow had to resign from their position
Karl Holl regrets that Theodor Studites who is our first source regarding
the distinction between the monks of the mikroskhima and of the makroskhima
did not tell us anything about the motives which led to it 10 From soci
ological and comparative perspective however the motives are quite clear
like in India 11) where the brahmanic theory tried to integrate the outworldly
renouncer into the caste system and to represent renunciation as mere stage
in the life of the brahmin the defenders of the cenobitic ideal tried to integrate
the option of an anchoretic life into the monastery to accept the anchoretic
life-style as merely moment at the end of long cenobitic life of service
to the monastic community The adoption of the anchoretic ideal as the last
stage of life within cenobitic monastery which apparently was generally
accepted since the time of Eustathios in the twelfth century 12) seems to
have been an attempt to limit the outworldly and individualistic anchoretic
ideal as it could not be negated for the koinobion continued to be considered
as the elementary school of world renunciation while the anchoretic life re
mained the high road to perfection
Later in Russia the anchoretic and cenobitic ideals as well as the at
tempted reconciliation of them in the theory and practice of the megaloskhima
lived side by side since the beginnings of monasticism in the caves near Kiev
The cenobitic Rule of Studion itself based on Rule was again adopted
as model by Sergius of Radonezh in the fourteenth century and in the fif
teenth by Joseph of Volokolamsk the founder of the Josephite movement
which achieved considerable influence at court and in the Church The
Josephite movement however which stressed the importance for the cenobitic
monasteries to own land succeeded by political means as will be seen later
in repressing the anchoretic monachism of Nil Sorski and the Trans-Volga
Elders who lived in groups of two or three in small skits under the direction
of ôéêü and who strongly stressed non-possession and the
hesychastic prayer In thus raising the value of the koinobion and largely re
ducing the importance of outworldly individualism the Josephites have given
the cultural development of Russia its characteristic aspect
It is perhaps interesting to note that in the West the discussion about the
ownership of lands by the monasteries had produced different and very new
ideas in the writings of William of Ockham While Joseph of Volokolamsk
talked about the necessity that the koinobion as opposed to individual monks
should own property 13) nominalistic philosophy would not even
have attached any reality to the monastic community In his dispute with Pope
John XXII concerning the estates of the Franciscan Order which in spite of
the vow of poverty had become rich Ockham had in fact maintained that
universals like man or Franciscan Order have no real being and that there
are only individuals Law according to him is not the reflection of natural
order but expresses entirely the power or will of individuals or legislators
He concluded therefore that the Franciscans were not bound by any positive
law to accept the ownership proprietas of their estates as the Pope wished
but he held them entitled to the enjoyment of these estates ius utendi)(l4
We can see in Ockham the herald of modern individualism because he attached
the notions of law and right not to community or natural order but to
45 ARCHIVES DE SCIENCES SOCIALES DES RELIGIONS
particular individual beings and he did this while discussing exactly the
same question of monastic property which led Joseph of Volokolamsk almost
two centuries later and in Russia to stress the koinobion In its development
since the rules of Benedict to Cluny the Franciscan Order and the Teutonic
Knights occidental monasticism was more and more integrated in the Church
and in the affairs of the saeculum or the world which it had originally
rejected and it thus took part in the general movement from outworldly to
inworldly individualism In fact the very idea of monasticism was altered in
the West It was not an end in itself anymore but method used by the
Church for the common purpose of the Church while any kind of anchoretism
became heretical The idea of monasticism was further altered during the Re
formation for as Sebastian Franck saw it now every Christian had to be
monk all his life in his mundane occupation 15 In the West monasticism
now strode into the market place of life and slammed the door of the monas
tery behind it The monks and anchorites of the East however remained con
siderably more outworldly and were moreover always considered superior
to the priests 16)
Church-State Relations in Byzantium
When under Constantine in the fourth century Christianity had achieved
respected and leading role in the Empire the Church had to react and to
reconsider its relationship with the State and the Emperor The conception
which the Church developed of its relationship to the State would be central
in the evolution of the relationship between the outworldly individual and the
In this context it will be unavoidable to refer to the concept of caesaro-
papism which has in the past often although in recent times with more hesi
tation and more sparingly been used to denote the State/Church relationship
in the Byzantino-Russian tradition Sometimes the concept simply denotes
the ancient sacral kingship of archaic societies where the idea of the unity
of religious authority and political power was never lost at other times how
ever and particularly in the case of historical religions which tend to be
associated with the emergence of differentiated religious activities and at least
partially independent religious and political hierarchies e.g by Bellah
in his ideal-typical scheme of religious evolution) the term tends to be used
whenever political leader an Emperor or Tsar has arrogated to himself
spiritual functions or more often an influence on the religious organization
This may happen either on the factual level or because of the personal dis
positions of an Emperor and contrary to the prevailing ideology or it may
be that the prevailing ideology does not exclude or prevent this possibility
or that it even justifies it
The discussion about caesaro-papism in Byzantium has sometimes been
confusing because it has not always been recognized that there were two theo
ries on the relationship between Church and Empire which cannot easily be
reconciled fact it may be noted in passing which probably led Troeltsch
to think that the Roman-Hellenistic State with its ancient laws and ancient
culture only compromised with Christian thought but never inwardly became
46 INDIVIDUAL AND ORTHODOX TRADITION
united with it that there developed no inwardly uniform Christian society
as in the West but that the whole system became parallelism whose component
parts could only be kept in right relation with each other by the Emperor
On the one hand ideas of Hellenistic sacral kingship as well as the
memory of the role as pontifex maximus always survived in By
zantium and the old Roman legal statement that publicum ius in seieris in
sacerdotibus in magistratibus consisti Ulpian Dig 2) indicating
that religious matters are part of public law was not forgotten Eusebius may
have called Constantine the overseer of external Church matters and the
Emperors did indeed appoint the patriarchs they defined the borders of the
ecclesiastical provinces they might decree certain ecclesiastical legislation
and synodal decisions needed their approval Moreover the Christian
Emperors were thought to be spirit bearers 17) although not in the same
sense as bishops or priests and their right to govern was based on their
pneuma Therefore when Justinian in his Sixth Novella talked of the sym-
phonia between the priesthood and the imperial dignity he did not mean
harmony two powers or two distinct societies but the internal co
hesion and unity of purpose of single human society
But frictions with the Church arose around points of doctrine and of li
turgy For the sake of political unity there were imperial interventions in con
nection with Arianism and in the monophysitic and monotheletic debates but
as in the case of the ensuing iconoclastic controversy where the political
interests of the Empire seemed to be on the side of iconoclasm and also
later when again for political reasons for help against the Turks) union
with Rome was attempted at the Councils of Lyons 1274 and Florence
1439) the Emperors were not able to impose their will on the Christian popu
lation There were explicit denials of doctrinal authority to the Emperors by
anti-iconoclastic writers like John of Damaskus and Theodore Studites
The doctrinal debates centered mainly on the question of how to under
stand and formulate the union of the other-worldly and the this-worldly or
of God and man in Christ 18 During the iconoclastic struggle the question
was rather if and how the unity of the sacred and the material or of the
other-worldly and the this-worldly can occur in the icon In the thinking of
early Christianity there was in fact whole series of similar oppositions
-the Pauline pairs according to Caspary(19)- which were fundamental to
Christian thought As in letter/spirit and old dispensation/new dispensation or
also other-worldly/this-worldly two poles were opposed to each other and
yet united by their complementarity There was moreover hierarchical re
lationship between the poles in the sense that one of them was thought of as
better than or as superior to the other In an analogous way the outworldly
individual and the world were two such poles and the attempts by the Church
the concomitant of outworldly individualism to clarify the proper relationship
between itself and the State must be seen in the same context
Gelasius pope in Rome at the end of the fifth century developed as
Dumont has shown hierarchical distinction between the auctoritas
authority and the potestas power Priests are superior to kings on
the level of salvation while kings are superior in worldly affairs But as sal
vation is superior to worldly affairs the priests are superior for they are
inferior only on an inferior level Similarly the Church is superior to the
Empire regarding things divine and the religious individual as member of
47 DE SCIENCES SOCIALES DES RELIGIONS ARCHIVES
the Church is subjected to the Emperor only in worldly matters In Gelasius
logical formula 20 the religious individual has not simply entered the
world but is seen in hierarchical relationship with it
Photios patriarch in Constantinople after the end of the iconoclastic
struggle in the latter part of the ninth century was the probable author of
the Epanagoge an introduction to planned publication of revised Byzantine
law collection The Epanagoge is remarkable not only because it attributes
jurisdictional primacy in the Church to the patriarchal seat of Constantinople
but also because of its statements on the relationship between the Emperor
and the Patriarch the Empire and the Church On the basis of
teaching Photios maintained that the substances are composed of form and
matter living substances of soul and body and that the Church directs the
politela as the soul directs the body as its formal and final cause giving it
unity and purpose Similar to an icon the politela and the Church are com
bined in higher unity in which however they remain perfectly distinct per
haps reference to the distinctiveness of the divine and the human in the
person of Christ as established by the Council of Chalcedon) and this higher
unity is again called politela by Photios
According to the Epanagoge the Emperor is not only the head of this
new politela but also the first representative of the Church which is conceived
as mere department of the Christian politela One of the functions
is the creation and the preservation of morality among men by the proclama
tion of laws The Patriarch on the other hand has no claim to superiority
although morally he stands besides the Emperor He interprets the dogma and
the Tradition but should be crucified to the world Epanagoge III Any
interest in socio-political matters is denied to him he is an outworldly individual
On the basis of these theories it was possible for the Church to resist
most attempts by the Emperors to impose their views or their political agenda
in matters of doctrine and liturgy at least since the iconoclastic crisis 21
At the same time monasticism reflecting ideal-typically the attitude of the
outworldly individual or of those who are in the terminology of the
Epanogoge and also of Galatians 14) crucified to the world acquired
more influence because mainly monks had led the resistance against the
iconoclastic policies This trend received new support when the Athos monk
Gregory Palamas in his dispute with the philosopher Barlaam had rejected
secular humanism and the implicit nominalism which underlay af
firmations about God and had led the hesychastic movement to victory at
Church Council in 1351
Outworldly individuals having left their role in society tend to accept
self-related and at the same time more universal role It is therefore not
surprising that the monks who directed the Church during the last phase of
the Empire had according to Meyendorff more supernational outlook and
attitude than the State which in difficult political circumstances tended more
and more to withdraw to an interpretation of the politeia in terms of its Hel
lenic heritage and culture In conformity with the Epanagoge though the
Church did not presume to be able to stand alone This was clearly stated in
the often quoted letter of the Patriarch Antonios to the Grand Prince Basil
of Moscow in 1397 It is not possible for Christians to have the Church and
not to have the Empire the Empire and the Church have great unity and
community and it is impossible to separate them from one another 22)
48

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