Chapter 1





            THE DEBATE over the validity of the baptism of non-Orthodox who come over to Orthodoxy, a very old problem of the Church,[1 flared up around the middle of the eighteenth century in the see of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, during the reign of Cyril V[2] beginning in 1750. the reopening of the problem by this Patriarch, who imposed (re)baptism of Western converts, provoked vehement disputes that survived in print as a very rich production of relevant literature.[3] Hence this issue, together with the ‘’kollyva dispute’’ that broke out around the same time, theologically stamp the eighteenth century, otherwise relatively poor in theological interest.

            The question of how the (early) heretics were to be received was synodically resolved by the early Church through, among others, Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council.[4] Therefore, it was reasonable that, in the solutions also proposed for regulating the matter in the eighteenth century, an interpretation of this Canon be attempted applying it now to the case of the later heretics, i.e. the Westerners in general, and specifically the Latins.

            It was in this perspective that the Kollyvades of the Holy Mountain,[5] as offspring of their time, inevitably viewed the Canon in question, the most fundamental for the problem. Being contemporaries of the dispute over the baptism of non-Orthodox,[6] these very capable theologians lived it from up close, and they took a position on it in their writings, offering a solution to the problem that was in accordance with their own theological principles. Neophytos Kafsokalyvitis[7] the leader of the Kollyvades movement, St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain,[8] and Athanasios Parios,[9] in absolute agreement with each other, unreservedly sided in favor of Patriarch Cyril’s decision and the theology of Eustratios Argentis (1687-1757),[10] who defined the theological and canonical frame of reference of the problem in a systematic and decisive way. The above-mentioned Kollyvades,[11] each in his own peculiar way, affirm[12] and reiterate Argentis’ view and solution of the problem, and thus uphold the Church’s early practice as canonically formulated by Sts. Cyprian of Carthage and Basil the Great. Also, the fact that the Priestmonk Jonas,[13] one of Patriarch Cyril V’s most active co-workers in Constantinople and himself a ‘’rebaptizer,’’ was also a Kafsokalyvitis, i.e. a fellow monastic of Neophytos, should not, in my opinion, remain unnoticed. Perhaps the Athonite society, and in this case Neophytos, was more significantly involved in this problem than has been known until now. But for the time being, this is but a mere guess which is worthy, however, of further investigation.

            Around the middle of the nineteenth century, Constantine Oikonomos of the Oikonomoi was called upon to confront this very same problem theologically, the occasion being the important Palmer affair.[14] In three lengthy epistolary dissertations[15] - a favorite custom of his – Oikonomos attempted a detailed theological analysis of the problem, taking up the position of Cyril V and E. Argentis, and hence also that of the Kollyvades.[16] He interprets Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council on the basis of the same presuppositions and thinking as they, in order to apply it to Western converts. That is to say that in the case of both the Kollyvades and Oikonomos the interpretation of the Canon is not undertaken without presuppositions, but is inseparably interwoven with its application to the later heretics.

            Thus, the effort is made by these theologians to preserve the continuity of the Church’s tradition, and to express the Orthodox conscience in their own time. Moving within the same spiritual climate, and being theologically well equipped, especially as regards canon law, they make a significant contribution to the treatment of a problem that continues to concern the Church to this day. Their contribution lies not so much in the originally of their interpretation (for essentially they reiterate the theology of Argentis), but in their personal recasting and re-expression of the Church’s tradition. Though in a form imposed by the necessity for a detailed confrontation of the argumentation of those who thought otherwise,[17] their response cannot fail to be taken seriously in whatever synodal settlement of the issue may come about, inasmuch as this is demanded by the authority the Kollyvades as well as C. Oikonomos carry in our Church, all possible objections aside.[18] The manner employed by the aforementioned writers in dealing with the problem may very well clearly reek of scholasticism and hence naturally be repulsive to modern Greek theological thought, which day by day is becoming less and less scholastic. Yet when placed in the framework of their time, it is more easily understood. Moreover, it also helps us in approaching similar problems in our own time.

It goes without saying that the present work is mainly a study of literature and canon law, but also a parallel study of moral obligation.


[1] For the history of the problem see I.N. Karmiris, ‘’Πως δε δέχεσθαι τους προσιόντας τη Ορθοδοξία ετεροδόξως’’ (‘’How should non-Orthodox who come over the Orthodoxy be received’’), Τα Δογματικά και Συμβολικά Μνημεία της Ορθοδόξου Καθολικής Εκκλησίας (The Dogmatic and Symbolic Monuments of the Orthodox Catholic Church), vol. II (Athens, 1953), pp. 972-1050 (972-1025); T. Ware, Eustratios Argenti: A Study of the Greek Church under Turkish Rule (Oxford, 1964), π. 65ff; Evêque Pierre l’Hullier, ‘’Les Divers Modes de Reception des Catholiques-Romains dans l’Orthodoxie,’’ Le Messager Orthodoxe 1 (1962), pp. 15-23; J. I. Kotsonis, ‘’Αιρετικών Βάπτισμα’’ (‘’Heretical Baptism’’), Θρησκευτική και Ηθική Εγκυκλοπαιδεία (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics) 1 (1962), col. 1092-1095; A. Christophilopoulos, ‘’Η εις Ορθοδοξίαν προσέλευσις των αλλοθρήσκων και ετεροδόξων’’ (‘’The coming to Orthodoxy of non-Christians and non-Orthodox’’), Θεολογία ΚΖ’ (1956), pp. 53-60, 196-205. In these works one may find further bibliography. See also Gerhard Podskalsky, Griechische Theologie in der Zeit der Türkenherrschaft 1453-1821, p. 35 (bibliography in n. 96); Cf. Vasileios N. Yiannopoulos, Η αποδοχή των αιρετικών κατά την Ζ Οικουμενικήν Σύνοδον (The Reception of Heretics according to the Seventh Ecumenical Council) (Athens, 1988) (Reprint from  Θεολογία ΝΘ’ (1988), pp. 530-579). Dorothea Wendeburg, ‘’Taufe und Oikonomia. Zur Furge der Wiedertaufe in der Orthodoxen Kirche,’’ Kirchengemeinschaft – Anspruch und Wirklichkeit. Festschrift für G. Kretschmar (Stuttgart, 1986), pp. 93-116. Lothar Heiser, Die Taufe in der Orthodoxe Kirch (Geschichte, Spedung und Symbolik nach der Lehre der Väter (Trier, 1987).

[2] On him see E. Skouvaras, ‘’Στηλιτευτικά Κείμενα του ΙΗαιώνος (Κατά Αναβαπτιστών)’’ (‘’Censorious Texts of the Eighteenth Century (Against Rebaptizers)’’), Byzantinisch-Neugriechische Jahrbücher 20 (1970), pp. 50-227 (also in reprint); see pp. 58-60 for bibliography. Important is the article by T. A. Gritsopoulos, Θ.Η.Ε. 7 (1965), col. 1193-1197. Cf. same author, ‘’Ο Πατριάρχης Κ/λεως Κύριλλος Εο Καράκαλλος’’ (‘’Patriarch of Constantinople Cyril V Karakallos’’), Ε.Ε.Β.Σ. ΚΘ’ (1959), pp. 367-389.

[3] Collected in the above-mentioned work by E. Skouvaras. For the synodal and theological; material see J. D. Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio 38 (Graz, 1961; Paris, 1907), col. 575-634.

[4] Canon XCV of Penthekte is but a reiteration of it. For the text of this canon, see p. 3 or Appendix I.

[5] See Ch. S. Tzogas, Η περί μνημοσύνων έρις εν Αγίω Όρει κατά τον ιηαιώνα (The Memorial-service Dispute on the Holy Mountain in the Eighteenth Century) (Thessaloniki, 1969), with extensive bibliography; C. C. Papoulidis, Το κίνημα των Κολλυβάδων (The ‘’Kollyvades’’ Movement) (Athens, 1971); same author, ‘’Nikodème l’Hagiorite (1749-1809), Θεολογία ΛΖ’ (1966), pp. 293-313, 390-415, 576-590,  and ΛΗ’ (1967), pp. 95-118, 301-311; same author, ‘’Περίπτωσις  πνευματικής επιδράσεως του Αγίου Όρους εις τον βαλκανικόν χώρον κατά τον ΙΗαιώνα’’ (‘’ A case of spiritual influence on the Balkans by the Holy Mountain during the eighteenth century’’), Μακεδονικά 9 (1969), pp. 278-294; Ch. G. Sotiropoulos, ΚολλυβάδεςΑντικολλυβάδες (Kollyvades and Anti-Kollyvades) (Athens, 1981).

[6] In the course of explaining Apostolic Canon XLVI, after a lengthy note on the validity of heretical baptism, St. Nikodemos characteristically remarks: ‘’All this theory which we did here is not superfluous, but indeed very necessary, simply for all times, but much more today because of the big debate and great controversy going on over Latin baptism, not only between us and the Latins, but also between us and the Latinizers.’’ P, p. 55.

[7] See Tzogas, pp. 16-28; Papoulidis, The ‘’Kollyvades’’ Movement, pp. 30-32; Theodoritos Monk (Ioannis Mavros), Νεοφύτου Ιεροδιακόνου Καυσοκαλυβίτου, Περί της συνεχούς Μεταλήψεως, Εισαγωγή, Κείμενον ανέκδοτον, Σχόλια (Neophytos Deacon-Monk Kafsokalyvitis, On Frequent Communion, Introduction, Unpublished Text, Commentary (Athens, n.d.); A. Camariano-Cioran, Les Académies princières du Bucarest et de Jassy et leurs pofesseurs (Thessaloniki, 1974), pp. 413-431.

[8] See Tzogas, pp. 46-51; Papoulidis, The ‘’Kollyvades’’ Movement, pp. 35-37; and the other works cited in n. 5 above. Also important is the monograph by Fr. Theocletos, Monk of the Monastery of Dionysiou (Holy Mountain), Άγιος Νικόδημος ο Αγιορείτης (Saint Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain) (Athens, 1959). See also George S. Bebis, ‘’St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite,’’ in Post-Byzantine Ecclesiastical Personalities, pp. 1-17; Podskalsky, pp. 377-382 (with extensive bibliography); C. Cavarnos, St. Nicodemos the Hagiorite: An Account of his Life, Character and Message, together with a Comprehensive List of his Writing and Selections from Them (Belmont, MA: 1974; 2nd ed. 1979).

[9] See Tzogas, pp. 29-43; Papoulidis, The ‘’Kollyvades’’ Movement, pp. 37-39; Podskalsky, pp. 358-365 (with bibliography).

[10] Ware, p. 90ff; Podskalsky, pp. 331-335 (bibliography).

[11] We took into account the following works of theirs, in which their relevant teaching is presented:

                a. Neophytos Kafsokalyvitis, Επιτομή των Ιερών Κανόνων (Digest of the Sacred Canons), Characterized by Tzogas as ‘’famous’’ (p. 26), and composed of 1227 pages of unequal size. It remains yet unpublished in Ms 222 (=295) of the Academy of Bucharest, fol. 2a-1227. See C. Litzica, Catalogul Manuscriptelor Grecesti (Bucuresti, 1909), p. 150. Cf Theodoritos Monk, ‘’Ο Νομοκάνων Νεοφύτου του Καυσοκαλυβίτου’’ (‘’The Code of Church Laws and Canons by Neophytos Kafsokalyvitis’’), Κοινωνία ΙΗ’ (1975), pp. 197-206. Fr. Theodoritos has prepared the critical edition of this work, and he very kindly made available to us a section of it containing the chapters: 1) ‘’On those coming over to Orthodoxy,’’ p. 126-147 xvii, and 2) ‘’On Canon Seven of the Second Ecumenical Council and Ninety-five of the Sixth’’ (fol. 147xx-147xxv), and therefore we express to him our thank and gratitude. Fr. Theodoritos accepts that this work was written while the author resided on the Holy Mountain, i.e. before 1759 (see On Frequent Communion, p. 33), and he completed it with later additions until his death (1784). A part of the above-mentioned first chapter (pages 126-127 and 147-148of the work) was published in his book M (Monasticism and Heresy), pp. 254-257. It is clear from Neophytos’ work that he knew well the arguments of Cyril V’s opponents. We follow the numbering of the MS used by Fr. Theodoritos (the Greek numerals being replaced by Roman numerals).

                b. Nikodemos Monk (Hagioritis), Πηδάλιον (The Rudder), 1st ed. (Leipzig, 1800). Herein we have in mind the 8th ed. (Athens, 1976). According to the in-depth scholar of the saint’s works, Fr. Theocletos, Monk of Dionysiou, The Rudder ‘’is entirely the work of the Saint,’’ (op. cit., pp. 214-215). In many places in The Rudder, St. Nikodemos refers to Canon VII of the Second Ecumenical Council, particularly in the ad hoc interpretation of it and of Canon XCV of Penthekte.

                c. Athanasios Parios, Επιτομή των θείων της πίστεως δογμάτων (Digest of the Divine Dogmas of the Faith) (Leipzig, Saxony, 1806). See a small section of this work in M. pp. 265-268. Athanasios Parios also wrote a special concise study titled, ‘’Ότι οι από Λατίνων επιστρέφοντες αναντιρρήτως, απαραιτήτως και αναγκαίως πρέπει να βαπτίζονται’’ (‘’That Latin converts must indisputably, indispensably and necessarily be baptized’’), which survives in cod. 88 of the Holy Monastery of Xenophontos, pp. 394-397, and was published by Fr. Theodoritos, M, pp. 263-265.

[12] Our theologians were aware of Argentis’ work, Εγχειρίδιον περί βαπτίσματος (Handbook on Baptism), 1st ed. (Constantinople, 1756), and 2nd ed. (Leipzig, 1757), and they even refer to it: Nikodemos, P, pp. 35-36, 55; A. Parios, M, p. 266; and O, p. 511. Neophytos cites the decision of Cyril V, E, p. 147xxv.

[13] See Skouvaras, pp. 68-71.

[14] Oikonomos was called upon by A. Stourzas, residing in Russia, to take a position on the problem raised by the case of the renowned Scottish deacon William Palmer, who so wearied both the Russian Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. With this opportunity he wrote the studies listed below. See O, pp. 498, 494. On Palmer see Ware, pp. 103-104 (bibliography), and Georges Florovsky, Aspects of Church History (Belmont, 1975), pp. 227-238; bibliography, pp. 305-306 (n. 23-26).

[15] These are: 1) Notes to the anonymous dissertation ‘’on the rite of the sacrament of Holy Baptism,’’ (1 March, 1850); 2) An excerpt from a letter to A. Stourzas on the same issue (2 March, 1847); and 3) A Letter to a Bishop (30 Dec. 1852). These are published in O. pp. 398-485, 486-492, and 493-515 respectively. Oikonomos also deals with the subject of the baptism of heretics in his study: Περί των τριών Ιερατικών της Εκκλησίας βαθμών Επιστολιμαία Διατριβή, εν η και περί της γνησιότητος των Αποστολικών κανόνων, υπό του Πρεσβυτέρου και Οικονόμου Κωνσταντίνου εξ Οικονόμων Epistolary Dissertation on the Church’s three Sacerdotal Orders, and also on the authenticity of the Apostolic Canons, by Constantine Presbyter and Oikonomos of the Oikonomoi) (Nauplia, 1835), pp. 131-139, and 144-152 (on Apostolic Canons XLVI, XLVII and L). But what is said here is also included in his above-listed studies.

[16] Oikonomos was aware of the existence of Neophytos’ Digest, and he praises the work in vol. IV of his own monumental work, Περί των ΟΕρμηνευτών της Π. Θείας Γραφής (On the Seventy Translators of the Old Testament), p. 821. Cf. Tzogas, p. 71. In the same work he praises Athanasios Parios and St. Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain (p. 822). In his above-mentioned texts, he uses The Rudder (1841 edition) and cites it by name (e.g., pp. 400, 417, 511: ‘’…the most ascetic Nikodemos of the Holy Mountain (in The Rudder, p. 31). ‘’He does not hesitate, though, to criticize it. E.g. on p. 460 n., he notes: ‘’And see the inconsistent and wavering remarks in The Rudder, p. 16’’ (of the 2nd ed., 1841).

[17] As for the Kollyvades, we have ascertained that they are aware of the argumentation developed in the texts of the metropolitans et al. written in opposition to the decision of Ecumenical Patriarch Cyril V. See Mansi 38.

[18] Opinions on the Kollyvades are often contradictory. One may ascertain this from studying the above-named works by Ch. Tzogas on the one hand, and the studies by Theocletos, Monk of Dionysiou, and C. Papoulidis on the other. And even Prof. P. Christou portrays St. Nikodemos as ‘’often wavering between extreme conservatism and extreme modernism,’’ emphatically stating: ‘’The canonization [of the Kollyvades] did not also impose the recognition of their views on the disputed issues.’’ See P. C. Christou, ‘’Το Άγιον Όρος εν τω παρελθόντι και τω παρόντι’’ (‘’The Holy Mountain, Past and Present’’), Αθωνική Πολιτεία (Thessaloniki, 1963), pp. 64-65. We believe that above scholarly opinion is the conscience of the Church at large, which holds the Kollyvades in high esteem, whereas, on the contrary, their opponents it has condemned, at least to oblivion!




Chapter 1

Article published in English on: 14-9-2007.

Last Update: 15-9-2007.