Author Topic: Council of Moscow 1666 approved Book saying: "Mary was exempt from Original Sin"  (Read 394 times)

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Offline Xavier

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Dear Friends, the 4 or 5 matters on which Catholics and Orthodox Christians are generally not yet in full agreement are typically stated as being, (1) Original Sin, (2) Immaculate Conception (3) Purgatory, and (4) Filioque. Since we just discussed the first, this thread is to explore if there is a possibility of consensus on the second of these important matters.

Also, it is evident the second depends on the first. For e.g. we have some Orthodox Bishops and Theologians who say the Mariological Piety of the Byzantine Church and other Eastern Churches may well have led Orthodox Christians to accept the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, if only Eastern Christendom shared the Western understanding of original sin. But today Catholic and Orthodox Theologians are increasingly in agreement on Original Sin, as it is presented, for e.g. in the CCC for the Catholics, and the Council of Jerusalem for the Orthodox. That can be more fully discussed in the other thread. Now, if we are in agreement on Original Sin, the question before for us for academic or theological discussion is, "Was the Most Pure Theotokos, Full of Grace, free from Original Sin"?

I. A Theology Journal reviews recent research by Eastern Catholic Priest Rev. Fr. Christian Kappes (font italicized and some capitalization added), "Thanks to the correct interpretation of the Greek roots of the doctrine in Nazianzus and Damascene, the East consistently viewed the prepurification at the Annunciation as a positive purity—not a removal of concupiscence, but a superaddition of grace that prepared the Theotokos for the incarnation.  Her sinlessness from birth, conversely, is designated under expressions like “All-Holy,” “Ever-Blameless,” and “All-Immaculate.”  The evidence of this Eastern Tradition is an unbroken theological and liturgical transmission of this idea well beyond John Damascene’s time ... Along with this historical revelation, Kappes proves that the first philosophically robust rejection of the immaculate conception among the Orthodox appears in the sixteenth century, and is completely saturated with Thomistic argumentation.  Historically speaking, the Immaculate Conception now appears more Orthodox than it is Roman Catholic."https://hortulus-journal.com/journal/volume-13-number-1-2017/cuff/

St. John Damascene had said: "Nature was defeated by grace and stopped, trembling, not daring to take precedence over it. Since the Virgin Mother of God was to be born of Anne, nature did not dare to precede the product of grace; but remained sterile until grace had produced its fruit. O happy loins of Joachim, which had produced a germ which is all immaculate. O wondrous womb of Anne in which an all-holy child slowly grew and took shape!"

St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, who is also cited by Fr. Kappes and in that Theology Journal article, had said: "Many Saints appeared before Thee [the Blessed Mother], but none was filled with grace as Thou… No one has been purified in advance as Thou hast been ... Thou dost surpass all that is most excellent in man, as well as all the gifts which have been bestowed by God upon all others."

II. Now, let us consider the historical stance of the Russian Orthodox Church in particular on the Immaculate Conception. Eastern Orthodox Priest and Theologian Rev. Father Lev Gillet documents for us, from https://eirenikon.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/the-immaculate-conception-and-the-orthodox-church-3/ that "Every Russian theological student knows that St Dmitri, metropolitan of Rostov (17th century), supported the Latin “theory of the epiklesis” (10); but young Russians are inclined to consider the case of Dmitri as a regrettable exception, an anomoly. If they knew the history of Russian theology a little better they would know that from the middle ages to the seventeenth century the Russian Church has, as a whole, accepted belief in the Immaculate Conception (11).

The Academy of Kiev, with Peter Moghila, Stephen Gavorsky and many others, taught the Immaculate Conception in terms of Latin theology. A confraternity of the Immaculate Conception was established at Polotsk in 1651. The Orthodox members of the confraternity promised to honour the Immaculate Conception of Mary all the days of their life. The Council of Moscow of 1666 approved Simeon Polotsky’s book called The Rod of Direction, in which he said: “Mary was exempt from original sin from the moment of her conception”. (12)"
So, doesn't this show (1) Original Sin was taken for granted in the Russian Church? And (2) Mary was exempt from it, from the Moment of Her Conception?

III. Finally, Orthodox Priest and Theologian Rev. Father Laurent Cleenewerck, in his book, His Broken Body, informs us of this: "6. Liturgical Expressions: The Eastern Tradition has always considered the Conception of the Theotokos to be a miraculous event. Joachim and Anna, elderly and barren were given by the power of God's blessings on account of their prayers. The Orthodox Churches celebrate Her Nativity on the 8th of September, but the Feast of Mary's Conception was advanced to 9th December. If the principle of Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi is to be applied to this issue, it seems that Orthodox Hymnography presents Mary as Truly Panagia (All-Holy) entirely free from sin and stain ("Immaculate") from the point of Her Conception. The Liturgical Texts for December 9th exclaim,

...The Unique All-Immaculate [i.e. Mary] is today made manifest to the Just by the Angel. He who announced the Conception of the All-Immaculate Virgin gave our human race news of great joy. The prelude of God's Grace falls today on humanity in the Conception of the All-Immaculate" The reference cited by Rev. Father Cleenewerck here (this is on pg 411 of the book) is "From the Office of Matins, the Third Ode of the Canon for the Feast; from the Office of Matins, the Stanzas during the Seating, for the same Feast; from the Office of Matins, the Sixth Ode of the Canon" for your kind reference.

Thoughts on all of this, dear Friends? Let us all jointly in Christian Fraternity prayerfully study these matters together, for if we do, we have every reason to believe and hope that the happy day when the Churches of East and West will be re-united once more, in Truth and in Love, draws very close now.
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Offline Dominika

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I and III - it has been said there many times, that understanding of these therms are different between Orthodoxy and Catholicism. Actually, it seems, some of heresies like immaculate conception have appeared in the West because of the wrong understanding of the Eastern liturgical and theological texts (plus lack of knowledge of Greek and Semitic languages) and seeing them in light of e.g Augustinian theology.

II - it's not a secret that Russian Church is the most latinised Orthodox Church as it goes for theology, mentality, spirituality, icons (or rather paintings), chants etc. The time of metropolita Peter Mohila was also special for latinisations.
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Rinse and repeat.
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Offline IreneOlinyk

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Xavier:
1.  Who is Stephen Gavorsky?
2.  Can you please cite the work in which he "taught the Immaculate Conception in terms of Latin theology" as you claim.
3.  Also please provide the exact quote from his work.

Thanks.

Offline Xavier

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Dear Dominika, it's possible there was Latin influence, I don't know, but the thing is - many Latins at that time denied the Immaculate Conception! That in fact is the thrust of Fr. Christian Kappes's argument - Father says Abp. Mark of Ephesus of the Orthodox Church taught the Immaculate Conception while Catholic St. Thomas Aquinas, of the Latin Church, had denied it. The Dominicans also usually opposed it, although the Franciscans argued in favor of it. Fr. Kappes says that the Byzantine and other Eastern contribution to this discussion has historically been overlooked by much of the existing scholarship. Another argument made by such Priests is that, historically speaking, Prelates who were quite opposed to Latin ideas were ones who favored the Immaculate Conception - here, even Patriarch Photius has been cited, which seems almost inconceivable unless there was some Byzantine Tradition within the Eastern Church that expressed a similar idea in terms of Byzantine Theology. It is true that different words in different languages are translated and understood in different ways by different people, which adds to the overall difficulty in studying the matter. Orthodox Priest Rev. Fr. A.F. Kimel, Dominika, says this "[Fr.] Kappes notes that when Rufinus translated the Nativity oration into Latin in the late 4th century, he rendered the Greek word Prokathartheisa by the Latin word Immaculata." https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2018/11/14/mary-prokathartheisa-and-the-immaculate-conception/ Our Lady is called Prokathartheisa by the Greek Fathers, Latin Fathers translated that as Immaculata. So do you think, She can be called Immaculata? Or was Rufinus mistaken? One of the difficulties is that this requires experts in both Greek and Latin.

I believe Father is talking about Tyrannius Rufinus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrannius_Rufinus "Tyrannius Rufinus, also called Rufinus of Aquileia (Rufinus Aquileiensis) or Rufinus of Concordia (344/345–411), was a monk, historian, and theologian. He is best known as a translator of Greek patristic material into Latin — especially the work of Origen." Rufinus also authored a famous commentary on the Apostles' Creed.

You're right, I don't know the other languages, like Syrian, Slavic etc which you've mentioned in the past. I know Latin, and I'm studying Greek. It'll be hard to know all the languages. But I'm always open to studying them, or hearing from and being taught by those who know them.

Hi Irene, I'm not sure actually about exact citations. I'll try to find them for you. Fr. Lev Gillet, the Orthodox Priest mentioned, who wrote the article, published it in "Chrysostom, Vol. VI, No. 5 (Spring 1983), pp. 151-159." so I'm sure it would have been checked for sources before publication. I wish Fr. Gillet was here for us to ask Father about it. But if you see the last part of that same para, on the Council of Moscow 1666, I believe that Council is well known: https://orthodoxwiki.org/Moscow_Sobor_of_1666%E2%80%931667

It's about that Council, mentioned in the OP topic, that Father says "The Council of Moscow of 1666 approved Simeon Polotsky’s book called The Rod of Direction, in which he said: “Mary was exempt from original sin from the moment of her conception”. It's true that other matters, like Liturgical Practices, and Icons representing God the Father etc were being considered in the Synod. But if the Immaculate Conception was disputed, wouldn't it have caused a lot of confrontation with the Synod, with opposing views being discussed? More research needs to be done to say for sure, I think; but first impression seems to be that the book was uncontroversial.

Your thoughts? God Bless.
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Offline IreneOlinyk

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You're right, I don't know the other languages, like Syrian, Slavic etc which you've mentioned in the past. I know Latin, and I'm studying Greek. It'll be hard to know all the languages. But I'm always open to studying them, or hearing from and being taught by those who know them.

Hi Irene, I'm not sure actually about exact citations. I'll try to find them for you. Fr. Lev Gillet, the Orthodox Priest mentioned, who wrote the article, published it in "Chrysostom, Vol. VI, No. 5 (Spring 1983), pp. 151-159." so I'm sure it would have been checked for sources before publication. I wish Fr. Gillet was here for us to ask Father about it. But if you see the last part of that same para, on the Council of Moscow 1666, I believe that Council is well known: https://orthodoxwiki.org/Moscow_Sobor_of_1666%E2%80%931667

It's about that Council, mentioned in the OP topic, that Father says "The Council of Moscow of 1666 approved Simeon Polotsky’s book called The Rod of Direction, in which he said: “Mary was exempt from original sin from the moment of her conception”. It's true that other matters, like Liturgical Practices, and Icons representing God the Father etc were being considered in the Synod. But if the Immaculate Conception was disputed, wouldn't it have caused a lot of confrontation with the Synod, with opposing views being discussed? More research needs to be done to say for sure, I think; but first impression seems to be that the book was uncontroversial.

Your thoughts? God Bless.

My thoughts are as others too have said that you can't just make claims without supporting documentation from primary sources to support or verify your claims. 
In articles (secondary sources) I have read on the Moscow Sobor of 1666 I do not remember any discussions of the Roman Catholic concept of the Immaculate Conception:  You said:
Quote
. But if the Immaculate Conception was disputed, wouldn't it have caused a lot of confrontation with the Synod, with opposing views being discussed?
.  Are you saying that because the Immaculate Conception of the Theotokos was not discussed that means that Russian Orthodox believed in it?  To me that doesn't make any sense. What makes more sense to me is that there is no discussion of the Immaculate Conception in the proceedings of the Moscow Sobor of 1666 because it never came up.

The documents/ proceedings of the Moscow Sobor of 1666 were printed in Church Slavonic.  I though one of our Orthodoxnet members cited the online website for this council in another discussion and am looking for it.
Meanwhile I am going through this  article looking for web links to the documents of the council:
https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%91%D0%BE%D0%BB%D1%8C%D1%88%D0%BE%D0%B9_%D0%9C%D0%BE%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B8%D0%B9_%D1%81%D0%BE%D0%B1%D0%BE%D1%80.

Also where in Simeon Polotsky work does he outline his agreement with the Roman Catholic belief in the Immaculate Conception?

Offline Agabus

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Cool story, bro.

The idea of consensus is not that some Orthodox people some time in history believed something.

Keep throwing that spaghetti at the walls, but you're not going to turn anyone here into a Latin.
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Offline IreneOlinyk

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Cool story, bro.

The idea of consensus is not that some Orthodox people some time in history believed something.

Keep throwing that spaghetti at the walls, but you're not going to turn anyone here into a Latin.

Exactly-thanks you said it so much better than I ever could.  I tend to be too verbose.

But back to Simeon Polostky.

Yes, his essay or treatise "The Rod" which  is in the style of Catholic scholastic rhetoric was printed at the end of 1667 by recommendation of the Tsar & Council.  But Xavier what you didn't mention  is that a few years later the book was condemned for its Catholic heresies.     The footnote for that fact is: #13 .    Православная энциклопедия Большой Московский собор 1666—1677 гг.

http://www.pravenc.ru/text/149721.html

Thanks to my priest for fishing this out.


Offline Xavier

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Quote from: Agabus
The idea of consensus is not that some Orthodox people some time in history believed something.

Agabus, here on this Orthodox site, https://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2016/09/the-immaculate-conception-and-orthodox.html you will see four great Orthodox authorities express opinions that come very close to the Immaculate Conception, in terms of Eastern Theology, "First of all - the patriarch Photius. In his first homily, he says that Mary was sanctified ek Brephous ... she was sanctified from the moment of her existence as an embryo, from the very first moment of her formation - therefore - from the moment of her conception ...

St. Gregory Palamas, archbishop of Thessalonica and doctor of hesychasm (+1360) in his 65 published Mariological homilies ... states quite as categorically as any Roman theologian that Mary was never at any moment sullied by the stain of original sin"

Also cited are Patriarch George Scholarios and Patriarch Cyril Lukaris of the Byzantine Church, beside some others. Please see the link on that. Also, what do you make of Orthodox Priest Fr. Laurent Cleenewerck's citation of Byzantine Liturgy on Dec. 9th. It says Mary was the Unique All-Immaculate in Her Conception. That's fairly plain, isn't it? Our Latin Fathers say "Full of Grace" means without sin.

Btw, no one wants "to turn anyone here into a Latin". Eastern Orthodox Christians should preserve their own Tradition and the development of Eastern Theology should progress in terms used and explained by the Eastern Fathers and the Eastern Liturgies. But for us Catholics, it's a virtual article of Faith that Eastern Tradition and Western Tradition will always be complementary and not contradictory. Pope St. John Paul II famously said on this, "In fact, the negative formulation of the Marian privilege, which resulted from the earlier controversies about original sin that arose in the West, must always be complemented by the positive expression of Mary's holiness more explicitly stressed in the Eastern Tradition." https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/library/immaculate-conception-defined-by-pius-ix-8040

St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and St. Fulgentius are three Latin Saints who explain it like this - (I) St. Ambrose: "a Virgin not only undefiled, but a Virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin" (II) St. Augustine: "We do not transfer Mary to the devil by the condition of Her birth, for this reason, that that condition is dissolved by the grace of Her new birth." and (III) St. Fulgentius: "By these words [Hail, Full of Grace], the angel shows that She [Mary] was altogether excluded from the wrath of the first sentence, and restored to the full grace of blessing." Do you believe we Latins have deviated from the Tradition of our Latin Fathers, or of any Eastern Fathers? If so, can you please cite a few of those Fathers, either Eastern or Western?

Irene, as you know, I can't read Russian, so I'm not completely familiar with the events and the history, and can't understand the footnote you cited. So please bear with me as I continue to research the question, and if you have any information in English, please share with all of us, so all of us can deepen our understanding of where our differences lie.

On Simon Polotsk, you said: "Yes, his essay or treatise "The Rod" which  is in the style of Catholic scholastic rhetoric was printed at the end of 1667 by recommendation of the Tsar & Council.  But Xavier what you didn't mention  is that a few years later the book was condemned for its Catholic heresies." Well, I didn't know that. Can you please tell me who condemned him? Was it a Council or an individual? Anyway, I'll leave that point since I need to study it more myself to know about it.

Can you please explain your opinion on point # III in the OP, do you consider there's a translation issue there also? Thanks.

God Bless, All.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2020, 02:47:36 PM by Xavier »
"My dear Jesus, before the Holy Trinity, Our Heavenly Mother, and the whole Heavenly Court, united with your most precious Blood and your sacrifice on Calvary, I hereby offer my whole life to the intention of your Sacred Heart and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Together with my life, I place at your disposal all Holy Masses, all my Holy Communions, all my good deeds, all my sacrifices ... https://marianapostolate.com/life-offering/

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Dear Dominika (...)
You're right, I don't know the other languages, like Syrian, Slavic etc which you've mentioned in the past. I know Latin, and I'm studying Greek. It'll be hard to know all the languages. But I'm always open to studying them, or hearing from and being taught by those who know them.
I don't have enough time to reply detaily, so in short: in langauges, in every area, but especially in theology, you have to know not oly literal meaning of certain word, but its background, etymology, WAY of understanding, the context of the text it's used in and so on. That's the reason that even Roman Catholics knowing e.g Syriac, Koine or Arabic may read wrongly Orthodox/Eastern texts.
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Offline ialmisry

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Dear Friends, the 4 or 5 matters on which Catholics and Orthodox Christians are generally not yet in full agreement are typically stated as being, (1) Original Sin, (2) Immaculate Conception (3) Purgatory, and (4) Filioque. Since we just discussed the first, this thread is to explore if there is a possibility of consensus on the second of these important matters.
Since Catholic=Orthodox, we agree on everything.
As for the Vatican, "yet" stands where "never" should.

She died. So she was subject to ancestral sin. Period.
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Offline ialmisry

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Our Latin Fathers say "Full of Grace" means without sin.
They're wrong.
Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
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if you spit on it, it will be put out;
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Offline Wandile

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Our Latin Fathers say "Full of Grace" means without sin.
They're wrong.

Lol you know more than the fathers?
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If you believe in the Virgin Mary as the Theotokos.
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