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Dumitru Staniloae:

Tradition and Modernity in Theology

This book appeared with support from the Romanian Ministry of Culture




Dumitru Staniloae:

Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Edited by Lucian Turcescu

I /

r (",.

The Center tor Romanian Studies Iasi • Oxford. Palm Beach. Portland 2002

Pubhshed. in Rmnanin by

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National Library of Romania Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology! Edited by Lucian Turcescu, Iasi, Oxford, Palm Beach, Portland: The Center tor Romanian Studies, 2002.

260 pp., 22 ern.


ISBN 973-9432-29-8

1. Turcescu, Lucian (ed.)

281.95 Stiiniloae, D.

ISBN 973-9432-29-8

Copyright© 2002 by The Center for Romanian Studies Printed in Romania


l utroducrion by Lucian Turcescu 7

Lidia Staniloac, Remembering My lsrhcr .

1 S

Part 1- The Church l-athers, Our Contemporaries

Macicj Bielawski, Dumitru SrJni/oHc nne! i [is Philokuli«


Andrew Louth, 't lic Orthodox f)()gllIN rtc 'f/ic()logy

()f Dumirru SrJni/uHc .

. ..... s.~

(;hcor~hc DriigLllill, Pscudo-Dionysios the /Irco/,Clgirc

in Dnmirru SrJniloHc \' 'J/](.:%gy 71

Part ll- l.cclcsiology and Ecurncnism

Lucian Turccscu, l.uchnrisric /;'cdcsi%gy or Open Sobornicity? ... i-l3

Ronald (;. Roberson, Dnmirrtt Sr§ni/uCic on Christisn Uniry ..... 1 ()4

lliillut, Man.istircanu, Dnmitrn Sr/in/luCic's 'I/ie%gy ()f Min is rry .. 12(,

Part 111- The Modernity of Sta niloac's Theology

Marc-Antoine Costa de lseaurcgard, rc (OSII1()S ct /N Croix 147

Silviu l.ugcu Roguhetc, Mysticnl l.xisrenrislistn or Conununitnrien

Psrticipetion.': Viad/Illir Lossky snc! Ditntirru Srelni/oClt· . 167

l.mil I:)arto~, 'file f)ymlllllL:\' 0/ Dciticntion in the 'J/](.:ulo.!.JY

uf' Dnmitrn SrJni!wc . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2()7

Abou r tile Contri bu tors


lndcx .

. 253


In the last two decades, an increasing number of Western voices have recognized Dumitru Staniloae as a major authority in ecclesiology, the interpretation of patristic texts and ecurneuism. The Romanian theologian Dumitru Staniloae (1903-1993) was a professor at the universities of Sibiu and Bucharest, Romania, for nearly five decades starting in the late 1920s. He was trained as a Church historian and theologian at the universities of Cerna uti, Athens, Munich, Berlin, and Paris. His doctoral thesis on Patriarch Dositheos of Jerusalem (1641-1707) presents Romania as a meeting place between the Greek and Slav worlds and a guardian of the Byzantine heritage, while emphasizing this country's special position within the world Christian landscape as the only predominantly Orthodox country of Latin language. While translating the Dogmatics of the Greek theologian Christos Androutsos in 1930, Staniloae realized that his former professor in Athens had a pronounced scholastic approach to theology. This, along with the rediscovery of the Fathers of the Church, led Staniloae to be among the first to break with the scholastic approach that dominated Christian theology during the first half of the twentieth century. He increasingly came to view theology as a personal experience, a living encounter with a living God, rather than as an abstract system, or a philosophical theory. His own three-volume Dogmatic Theology published in 1978 is pervaded by this new spirit.

After the establishment of the Communist regime in Romania in 1946, Staniloae was imprisoned for five years due to his involvement with an unofficial spirituality group promoting the Jesus prayer. Despite numerous limitations imposed on him by the Communists both before and after his imprisonment, Staniloae's scholarly output was prodigious:

Dumirru Sti1l1il~llH:: Trudiiion and Modt"r'niIY in Theology

he authored SOIllC ,twenty hooks alld over LWO hundred theological artides published borh ill ROlll<lniH and abroad; he also translated into Romanian many authors, both ancicur and modern, gCCHl1~e of his cru diri011 and profound insighrs, Sri'inilo(lc was hailed by !'OIllC as one of the most prolific rcprcscnrurivcs of Eastern rthodox rheology, and by others (IS occupying il position in present-day Orthodoxy compar ible to thac of Karl l3arth in Proresranrism uud Karl Rnhucr in ROil III 11 Catholicism, l lis scholarship and service to CCUI11CniSIlI have been Jllly recognized, Ilc W;lS invited to lecture at many Westcl'l1 universities :-IHd was awarded honorary docrorarcs by the f<1clllriesof theology flf the universities of Paris, BeIgrade, Arhcns, lind I\ll iharest. In 1992, afler [he c llapsc of Commuuism, his long-overdue election <IS a full member of the Romauian Academy became <I reality, No other theologian from the former Couununisr bloc has been so prodigious flnd ha I such profound jnsi~hls. Ilif> work will UII 10Lll redly influence the rhcoiogical landscapc for centuries W come.

A valuable collection of Sri'inilollc's essays, entitled 7'lu.'o/(JJJY I/Jd rhc Church {translated by Robert Barringer and published by St. Vladimir's Seminary Press), has ,heen available in English since 1980. More I'C 'en,dy, the rrunslarion of Sraniloau's maguum 01 us, the three-vellime Orthodox Dogmatic Theology=« completed in Gel'l11C111 ill 1995 and begllil in English wi rh the publication of The Liq cricn r:: of Cod in J 994 - has paved the WHy for rhe Westel"ll public's direct contact with his theology. Uudcrrakcn as a result of increasing demands from academic and non-academic circles, the present collection of essays is intended to serve as <I companion to Srillliloac's rheology ,:IIlJ co complement the project commenced by the translations. The present volume aims 10 bring StiiniloHe's work co the attention of a wider Western audience at a rime when, as 13i. hop Kalliseos Ware wrote, "Orthodoxy is becoming rirmly rooted in the West - ceasing to be <I 'diaspora' And developing in many countries into 11 genuinely local Church."

The volume opens with several pages from rhe memoirs of Lidia Srilniloae, Fmher Dumirru's daughter. The other conrributions collected here address three main topics of St< niloae's theology: the patristic roots of his theology, his ecclcsiology nlld ccumcuisrn, and his investigations of modern issues, such as tile trausfiguration of the cos 111 os lind the human pel'S n,

1111 roduciiou

The [irsr section, entitled "The .hur -b Fathers, ur ontcmporarics," begins with Macicj Bielawski's examination of the thcologica! and philological siguificancc of Suluiloac's Phi/okll/ill. Be[wec1l1946 and 199) twelve substantial volumes of the Rornanian rrauslarion of the Phi/ok/dill were published, :111 of them translated singlc-handcrlly by St:~lliloHe.l\lt:hollgh ba cd all tho Philoki/ill ofrhc J-/o/)'Asccrics(Venice, 171>2), a collection of texts compiled by St. Nikodimos or the ! loly Mounrain and St. Makarios of orinth, Stanilone's Philokuli« differs (rom ir in several importnnt ways. Sn niloac 1l0! only subsranrially supplemcnrcd the ccxrs of the original Philokuli» and provided his own introductions for the modern reader, hilt he accompanied the leXIS with very rich commentaries. Bielawski looks !It how StHlIiloac conceived f [his work to which he dedi .atcd lorry-five years or his long and laborious life and h w he ac xnnplishcd SlI\.:!J <Ill elaborate project despite all the hurdles imposed by <I toralirariu» political regime whose creed was overtly anti-religious. Bielawski also explains rhc place of Suluiloac' PhilokllJin ill the rich and complex rraduio» of the Philoki/ills published ill difl\:rent countries and at various times, and chen focuses 011 how Sn'iniloac I'CIltiered rhc theology of the Phi/ohm: uuthors meaningful for ccnrcmporary readers,

The second conrriburor, Andrew Louth, reviews Stiiniloae's iuonumental Orthodox Dogmntic Theology hotl: methodologically and themati ·aUy. He finds this work to be the fruit of Fr. Dumirrn's life-long engagement with the reek Farhcrs and also of (1 life devoted to rca hiug theology ill Orthodox theological iustitutious ill Romania. Through his theology, Fr. 5(':1 nil He places hnnscif wirhin Orthodox theology - with Russians like corges Horovsky and Vladimir Lossky and with reeks like .lohn Romunides and Christos YHl1nlll'as - 'IS a representative of rhc Nco-Parrisric synthesis. SnlniloHe's Dogmatics is pcrha] s [he first at cmpt to work our ill dcrai] what the Nco-Patristic synthesis might be. Louth perceives Sti'iniloae's cffor as H paradoxical llttC1I1P! to publish H Nco- 1 arriscic dogmatic rheology and thinks there is ,I Iangcr rlWt Fr. Dumirru's thought will be drawn into the onsirains of the ". ystcmaric" which he sought to avoid by turning to the Farhcr«. Whi,Jc noticing StHllil ac's indebtedness to rhc Fathers and his creative transformation of their insights, Louth is alarmed by Fr. Dumitru's borrowing (rom previous Orthodox dogmatics which were strongly influenced by Western scholasticism. Such, for example, is the case with hrist's threefold office


Dumirru 51;1niloHl::: Tradition and Modernity ill Theology

(<IS Prophet, Priest, and King), an .iJea Louth traces to Calvin's Iusritures, o r the n orio 11 of sc vcn sacrnmcn rs, a twdf I'll oCt! 11tH ry Westc rn 11 on on. Nevertheless, a keen sense of theimportance of the personal, ,IS well as of the complcmcnrariry between apophatic und caraphatic theology, pervades 51,lniloHc'S Dogmatics <Inti his theology in general, The latter two issues are further examined in this book by Silviu Rogobere:

III the last paper of the section, Gheorghe Ddlglliin analyzes rhc influence of Pscudo-Dicnysios the Arcopagirc all Srdnilcae. From rhe outset of h is scholarly activity, SlllniloHe was convinced that it is the rhcologian's task to demonstrate a 'link bcrwccn dogma and personal spirituali ry, thar is, to sh ow how every dogma responds to it deep need and longing ill the human heart and whnr its practical consequences <Ire for society. This paper ~Irglles rhar Pscudo-Diouysios the Arcopagite was aile of the Church Fathers whose work Sr;lni lose used to prove this point. Dn1g11lin shows rhac early articles by Stilniloae !III drew heavily (rom the Pscndo-Di onysian works. $r:1 uiloae enriched the Romanian culture wi til II Roman i <Ill mills [arion of the com pie rc works H rrri burcd to Di on ysios the Arcopagi rc, The major influence tile Arcopagite exerted Oil Stii.niIOllc's ow Jl the 01 ogy ca II be de rccted in rhc In rte I' 's Orthodox DoC 1111/ ric Theelocy. Drilgulin contends that. after Maxhnos the Confessor, it was perhaps the Arcopagicic corpus that influenced Stdni loac'sthcology the most.

'J 'he second sccri on, "Ecdesiology and lieu men ism ." ope ns wi til L ucian 'I'll rcescu 's exam inatio» of S tIl nil esc's cri riq ue of e ucharis tic and communion ccclcsiologies, tWO of roday's most influential ecclesiologics. "Eucha rlstic ccclcsiology" hes been an extremely important theme in the dialogue among Churches ever since its formulation by the Russian Orthodox theologian Nicholas Afnnflsicv in the early 19605. This paper proceeds by :1 presentation and analysis of Afanasicv's theory, and the attemprs made hy other Orthodox theologians (A. Schmcmann and J. Zizioulas) to emend it and turn it into a "communion ccclesiology," It chen considers Stil.niloae's critique of these ecclesiologics. Although sympathetic to the fundamental insight of eucharistic ccclcsiology regarding rbc fullness of each. local Church, Sri! nil one warns that this system musr be treated with gl'ea t eHUnon. l-le criticizes Afauasicv for not paying heed to the imporraucc of the II nity of doctrine when proposing the possibili l)' of communion among Churches where tile Ellchnris·t is truly celebrated. Sra niloac a lso disagrees with Schmcmann's assertion that the necessity (or C0l111l11111ion <1lllOllg local Churches justifies the exercise of real primacy, lie bel icves tha t while each



\0":111 Church possesses ccclesial iluegriry, ir is fully the Church (lilly to rhe ex lent that iris inregrarcd into tile whole body of Churches rlircughou t the world. Unlike Afauasicv, but in accord with some Church Fathers, Sra niloac emphasizes che role of tile Holy Spiri t in tile preservation of the true apostolic faith withi n rhe Church. For furrhcriog the ecumenical dialog uc, 'I u rcescu proposes another co nee ptj II tr od ucc d by St~l nil oac, Il!llllcly "open soborniciey." According to the concept of "open soboru ici ry" eve ry ,the ologica I. s ys te III is we lcom e d as orr cri llg some va li.d rhcol ogical i.llsight.

Ronald Roberson rhcn investigates St~ niloac's contribution to the modern ecumenical movcmcnr. A glance at the Iist of his numerous publicuriam; reveals dun the Romanian theologian devoted much energy to this field, especially after ctuergcuce [I'om five years of imprisonment for Chrisrunder the Communist regime and his return to theological activity ill 1963. It is evident that .stalliIO<H; W<lS genuinely concerned about Christie n divisions and made a serious err art ro contribute to the (I dvance me I1t of C h ri!ai fill lin i ty, Th is rape r begi JlS wi th a presc II ra rion 0 f Sraniloac's affirmation of the fullness of the Orthodox Church, and his thi nking all the ccclesial nature of non-Orthodox Churches in gene rn], There (ollows an overview of his specific eval uario» of the 0 ric nra I Orthodox, Western, find Eastern Cnrholic Churches, Filially, his ideas all rhc promotion of Christian unity are analyzed .. Roberson, too, flll.lHJes to the concept of 'open sobornicily'as H possible means to promote Chrisrian unity ..

D~11H1~ Mil.niisthen nu, the aurhor or tile lasr chapter in this section, looks at St<'lllilo<le's theology of mi nistry [rom ;1Il Evangel ica] perspective. Si nee SrHlli[olle's theology of ministry is embedded i II his ccclesiology, Miln:lstircauu begins wirh a prescnrarion ofthe latter. He then turns his a tte ntion <to III i n i stry prope 1'. Sta n il 0;,1 c prese nts III i Ilis try in the Ch II rch primari ly as <lI1 ex tension of Christ's offices ,1S Prophet, High Pricsr, and King; this resul ts in tile ecclesiastical [unctions of teaching, eucharistic sacrifice, and leadership. From an Evangelical perspective, Ml1nilsrircanu notices rlla,[ ill his theology of III inisrry, Stilnllone gi ves t00 much space to the ordained priesthood at the expense of the gellcrH I priesthood (or priesthood of all believers). This, ill Mi'iH9Stirc<l11U'S view. is a characteristic of the entire Orthodox rradi rion. He also detects {hut, when criticiy,i ng Catholic and Protestant views of the ministry, St,llliloae ill (liCt has in mind the classic Larin traditiou n ud the followers of radical Ref ormatiou


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

respectively rather than today's mainstream Catholicism and Protestantism. Manastireanu also thinks that, despite an emphasis on the synergy between human and divine in the exercise of ministry, Staniloae and the Orthodox tradition in general do not know how to deal with the unworthy behavior of some clergymen; instead they take for granted the view on this issue advanced by Augustine during the Donatist controversy.

The third section, "The Modernity of Staniloae's Theology," begins with Marc-Antoine Costa de Beauregard's examination of the cosmos and the cross in Staniloae's theology. In his conversations with Costa de Beauregard, Staniloae emphasized several cosmologico-theological elements that would form what this author called "a theology of the space." Costa de Beauregard first analyzes the logos of the space; the body as a form of the space; the incorporeal space; the interior and exterior space; and the close relationship between cosmology and anthropology. The second part of his paper deals with the limits of the world in Staniloae's view by considering: the finitude and infinity of the world; the expansion of the created world; divine energies and divine reasons; and the evolution of the world. In Staniloae's view, a strong solidarity exists between humans and the realm of nature. Therefore, humans are called upon by God to effect a cosmic transfiguration, a change of the whole world (including humans themselves). But the evolution and transfiguration of the created person pass through the cross of Christ, according to Staniloae, because that is what the second divine person Himself showed us by His own example. In connection with this evolution, Costa de Beauregard deals with the relationship between the created person and the cross in the third part of his paper. The fourth and last part connects the cross with the COS1110S. Staniloae sees the cross in its various dimensions as a prototype of the transformed cosmos. It is also a sacramental figure of time in its eschatological fulfillmen!.

Next Silviu Eugen Rogobete assesses two major voices of modern Eastern Orthodox thought: Vladimir Lossky and Durnitru Staniloae. He demonstrates that their different epistemologies resulted in significantly different interpretations of the main subjects of theology. In Lossky, his unilateral interpretation of the Eastern Orthodox tradition as totally apophatic results in a unilateral plea for mystical experience. At the divine level, it prevents him from moving any further than affirming the preeminently antinomic character of Goel. At the human level it leads to a negative definition of the human person. For Lossky, the human person



cannot be defined other than in negative terms: the person means irreducibility to nature. In Staniloae, his reading of the Orthodox tradition as an affirmation of the apophatic-cataphatic continuum results in a balanced understanding of reason and experience. III turn, this leads to a strong affirmation of the endless possibilities of knowledge opened for the human being in the light of the Holy Trinity. This is so simply because the Holy Trinity is both the supreme mystery and the key to all knowledge. At a human level, it results in the affirmation that the human person is both irreducibility to and the realization of nature.

Finally, Emil Bartos looks at the dynamics of deification in Staniloae's theology. He notices that in Staniloae's writings the concept of deification belongs first and foremost to the realm of Christian spirituality, but it is also increasingly integrated into the realm of dogmatics. Although borrowing fr0111 the Fathers the main aspects of deification, Staniloae tries to integrate them ill an original synthesis. Staniloae believes in the power of theology to lead the believer towards deification. He understands real, transforming theology not as a discourse about God, but rather as a theology of experience, of the dynamism of contemplation. Bartos, nevertheless, thinks that Staniloae's theology of deification presents too optimistic a view of redemption, thus overlooking the drama caused by sin in human lives. Bartos seems to see a confirmation of his insight in the divergence between such an attractive doctrine as deification and its application (or rather lack thereof) in the life of ordinary Orthodox Christians.

A comprehensive analysis of the thought of an important contemporary Orthodox thinker, Dumitru StiiJJiloae: Tredition and Modernity }11 Theology is a timely assessment of Staniloae's theology scheduled to appear not long after the publication of his major works in several Western languages. The varied religious backgrounds of the contributors, lUOSt of whom read the language in which Staniloae wrote, provide a balanced ecumenical assessment of his theology. For the first time, articles on three main topics of Staniloac's theology are collected in one volume which examines his thought in a comparative framework alongside other modern theologians. The book will be appreciated not only by scholars interested in retrieving the patristic roots of modern theology, but also by students of ecclesiology and ecumenism, as well as those wanting to find out how a major Orthodox thinker addresses modern issues. Written in an accessible language, this volume will also make a good reader for stu-

14 Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

dents taking courses that discuss different aspects of the theology and history of the Eastern Orthodox Church and ecumenism, an area where teaching resources are scarce.

Lucian Turcescu

Remembering My Fathcr '

Lidia Stiiniloae

Early in 1964 some news began to circulate that filled us with excitement. We heard that they were starting to set political prisoners free, and that some of them were returning to their homes. We didn't know any of them, and we didn't know if the stories were true or if they were just more of the same old rumors. We heard these things with excitement, and did not dare to hope.

The years that my father was absent from us were dark. Before that, he was always there in our modest and chilly rooms at 36 Mosilor Street [in Bucharest]. He would sit at his desk and write, deep in his thoughts, and yet he was present to us. He always had time. You knew he was someone you could ask for advice, in whom you could place your trust. He would tactfully suggest a solution and had a way of leaving the impression that, in fact, you alone had gotten yourself out of trouble. The fact that he was firm in his convictions gave me great assurance. The fact that he took seriously what he believed and preached (''I'm a priest, I must act like a priest") was a 1110ral support, a certitude for me. But at the same time he had a warmth, a sincere, natural, and enduring gentleness that warmed the heart. This is how we had always known him, and to me it seemed natural that things should be this way.

'This is an excerpt from a volume of memoirs published in Romanian, Lumina teprei din ltunins cuvdnrnlui. lrnpreunii al [;{r;l/ meu Dumitru Sriiniioae, Bucuresri: Humaniras, 2000.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Now we were suffering because his goodness, his participation III our lives, in our joys and our difficulties, were gone. And the holidays vanished with him. That ineffable feeling of greatness, of beauty, of being special, warmed the heart and flowered within you! Every feast day, every Sunday, was unlike the other days. They were days when no one was sad, no one was sick, and no one cried. No one had any reason to be sad, to be sick, or to cry. I have already mentioned the great influence the presence of my father had in those days. And the liturgy too was so different when he participated in it. He did not sing well, but the services at which he officiated were the most beautiful I have ever seen. In [his native] Transylvania less emphasis was placed Oll the singing, on the voice of the priest, than on the content of the service, on the preaching. "If my theology had been judged by my voice, I would never have graduated," father liked to say. "Liturgy is prayer, thoughtfulness, and preaching, not all opera ... " And so we waited with excitement, not daring to hope.

And then in January, at four o'clock one morning, the telephone rang. We were frightened, and mother lifted the receiver with trepidation. "I want to tell you some good news," a voice said. It was difficult to make out what he was saying - he was calling from a crowded place, with a lot of noise in the background. "I want to tell you some good news. Your husband will soon be home."

"Good Lord!" Mother began to cry. "Is it true? Soon? When?" "Very, very soon. How are you? Are you both ill good health?" "Yes, yes, we're doing fine, along with the child."

"You have a child?"

"Yes, we have a grandson." The stranger hung up and we didn't know what to believe.

"Who was he? Did you recognize his voice?"

"No, I didn't recognize it. There was a lot of noise and the man spoke softly."

"Could it have been a bad joke? Somebody who wants to play games with us?"

No, that couldn't be. No, it had to be someone who had recently been released fr0111 prison, like the young man who had visited us a few months ago. We couldn't sleep. We were very excited. It was certain that

Remembering My Father


father would come home soon. Fifteen minutes later the telephone rang again. It was the stranger again.

"I want to tell you that your husband will come home very, very soon."

"When? Mother asked, full of hope. Lord, how soon?"

"Maria, don't you recognize me? It's me ... " Mother began to cry agatn.

"Dumitre, Durnitre, is it you? Where are you? Are you free?" I

snatched the telephone out of mother's hand.

"Father, father, where are you?" "At North Station."

"We'll come and get you. Stay there and I'll come immediately. But they've changed the trolley lines and I'm not quite sure how to get there ... "

"Let me manage on my own. There's no need for you to come. I'll


"Do you have money for the ticket?" "Yes, yes. No problem."

We sat down by the window. Time stood still.

"I should go to the station," I said. "I should go after him."

In the end, the time passed even more quickly than we had hoped, and we saw the tall figure of my father with his broad-brimmed hat approaching the door. He had a small bag in his hand. We rushed outside and embraced him in tears. It was cold and the frozen snow crunched beneath our feet. Lord, what happiness! What a splendid morning it was!

"You need to have some tea to warm you up; you must be cold. And hungry."

"I didn't eat on the train."

I-Ie brought out his traveling documents, something to eat, and a few lei for the trolley. With pride he showed us a piece of bread, which he took out of his bag like a thing of great price.

"They gave us some bread," he said, in a tone one might use when receiving a diamond.

We started to talk, saying everything at once. I told him briefly about the hardships we had gone through. About how I had gotten mar-


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ried, and been divorced ... Dumitras, my son, was sound asleep in his crib. He was a beautiful child, plump, with long girlish eyelashes. He was clutching his big teddy bear Martinica in his sleep.

"What a beautiful child! He looks like an angel."

Later father told us that this had been the happiest moment of his life and that the sight of the child made him forget all the terrible years he had endured. I told him that we had named him Dumitru Horia and father began to cry.

"I won't pick him up so as not to wake him. I'll wait until later. .. " Yes, this was father. Other people were more important and he only thought of them.

"Why didn't you say right away on the telephone that you had come?" 1 asked.

"1 was afraid I would upset you too much. So as not to shock you, Maria, or give you a heart attack."

He had arrived in the middle of the night and waited quietly in the station until dawn in order not to frighten us, not to upset us ... Then he let mother know ... Lord, what a wonderful man he was! He drank a coffee with milk and kept repeating, "Oh, this is so good!" We talked and we talked, and yet it seemed as though the words could express nothing of what we wanted to say.

Later in the morning Dumitras woke up. Mother went to his bed. "Taras, Taras!" (that's what Dumitras called himself and so we all did the same.) "Look! Your grandfather has come!"

Father was standing beside her and the child asked him, "Yes? Are you coming back home?" That's what mother had said when Taras had seen father's photograph and asked, "Who is that man?"

"He's your grandfather." "Where is he?"

"He's traveling," mother had said. Now he has come back!

Father picked him up and Taras threw his arms around him. From that time forward they were inseparable. And he followed father everywhere like a puppy dog. Wherever he went, the little boy was with him, even to the bathroom. Dumitras would wait quietly at the door and

Remembering My Father


would not move. From time to time he would ask, "Grandfather, do you promise not to travel anymore?"

The child's behavior moved us to the point of tears. He would put his little hand in father's hand with a gesture of trust and love that surprised us, since he had not seen father before and was not accustomed to him. He would take his short steps alongside father's long ones, and each of them tried hard to adjust his pace to that of the other. Lord, what wonderful days those were!

And Sundays began to feel like Sunday again. Father would leave in the morning for Matins. He didn't need to use the scissors anymore to trim his beard and mustache; he arrived clean shaven, without beard or mustache. On the very first day Dumitras asked him, "Why don't you have a beard? In the photograph I saw grandfather has a beard!" Father laughed, "Don't you like me this way, without a beard?" "No," the child responded with utmost seriousness. "Fine, then I'll grow it back right away!" We would come along to church a bit later and Dumitras would gaze attentively at father's golden priestly vestments. He got used to seeing him at the altar after that first time when he pointed with his finger and said, "Look at grandfather!"

Now and then he would fall asleep doze in my arms. Once we got home he would ask father questions about the meaning of things, like "What is eternity?" or "What is philosophy?" Father would laugh and try to explain, realizing that it was not an easy thing to do.

Two days later he went to see the patriarch. At last he received him, after so many years, and told him that he would be unable to take him back at the cathedral. "Perhaps there is something at the archdiocese," he told him. Father was extremely bitter and told me: "How can I live off your earnings? He has to give me something!" I told him that he should not create problems for himself. With my salary as a professor we would be able to get by. What is all this when compared to the happiness of being together again?

He often went for long walks. After so much time in prison he needed air, to move about freely. Sometimes he would buy bread and return home with it. "Dumitru, don't bring bread home anymore," Mother would say to him. "It will just dry out." "Let it be," he responded. The long days and-years in prison had created in him a yearning for bread. They would eat turtoi, a kind of dried corn paste. When,


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

towards the end of his detention, he occasionally received a raw onion, it seemed like food fit for a king. "We never ate anything better than that," he said with a smile.

He told us very little about the years in jail. He kept silent about many things, not wanting us to know how much he suffered. Sometimes decent men would be in his cell with him. They understood each other very well, and each would give lectures about his area of specialty, making life tolerable. But at other times ...

"I once had a cell mate that made me more miserable than the guards. It was hell on earth," he said, shaking his head. During the day, they had to sit upright on the edge of the bed. From time to time the guards would look through the window to see if anyone was disobeying the order. If anyone was leaning slightly against the wall his cell mate would knock on the door and inform on them. Then they were immediately sent to an isolation chamber. We asked him, but he didn't want to tell us his cell mate's name.

A year earlier he had had a hernia operation in the prison infirmary.

This was done without anesthesia, since they didn't have any there. The most difficult period was at the Securitste headquarters on Uranus Street. They kept him there in a cell without windows, with nothing but electric light. "My mouth was so bitter and dry that my lips and tongue swelled up." After a few weeks they put him in another cell where some light came in from outside. "The sun and its light are the greatest things," father said. He kept walking and walking, unable to get enough.

At Aiud he spent time with Fr. Ilarion Felea from Arad, who later died in prison. Then with Fr. Sofian, with Fr. Benedict Ghius, and with Grigore Popa. At one point he shared a cell with Petre Pandrea. Pandrea was full of vitality and spoke with passion: "Father Staniloae, Father Staniloae, those wicked Communists are even taking the cows from our yards!" He was an unrelenting opponent of collectivization. After he was set free, he came a few times to visit father and he would bring up the same subject. He knew the importance the villages had for the viability of our people, and he was always upset over their systematic destruction. And father had the same opinion about that.

From time to time we would go together to Carol Park - then named Freedom Park - and father would take Dumitras for a boat ride, to the child's great pleasure. One day we passed by a bench on which an

Remembering My Father


elderly couple was seated. The man looked at father for a long time, somehow disturbed, and then turned his head. After we had moved on, father said to us, "Did you see him? He was one of our guards, in fact one of the most decent. I would have spoken with him if he had not tried so hard to pretend that he did not see me."

For a while they put a rabbi with him in his cell. "I have never met anyone before who prayed so hard. He was direct and obstinate," father recounted. He was very impressed. "It was a true struggle with an angel, like in the Old Testament. Rarely have I seen such powerful convictions, such a fervent faith. It was extraordinary!"

He was interrogated with great harshness, especially about some young people who had regularly attended his lectures. Father always told them that he saw the youths only occasionally, that he had had no particular links with them, in order not to cause them any harm.

"Did they beat you?" I asked.

"No, no," father responded quickly and changed the subject. I never heard if they beat him during the interrogations. Recently I read somewhere an account by someone who saw him in prison. I-Ie did not know him personally, but only saw Staniloae from a distance, when they brought him in one day, beaten, from an interrogation. This may be true but I don't know. It cannot be excluded. At any rate, I am not aware of any other testimony of this kind. But without doubt, it is possible.

He would always smile when he told us about the years in prison.

As I was saying, the extreme suffering he underwent was an experience that brought him even closer to God. He bore it all with the same patience with which he bore many other difficulties. He never held a grudge against those who made him suffer, or against those who - even if they owed him much - turned their backs on him.

He remained firm in his convictions, never for a moment loosing his hope in God. He passed through that hell with a luminous smile on his lips, and with confidence that God gives us hardships to purify us so that we might obtain the future life, a reality that presupposes effort and a powerful will.

(Translated from Romanian by Rev. Dr. Ronald Roberson)

Part I

The Church Fathers, Our Contemporaries

Dumitru Staniloae and His Philokalia

Maciej Bielawski

The names of Staniloae and Philokslie are strongly linked. It has even been said that whenever the Philokslie is mentioned, so also is the name of Staniloae.' Just what, however, does the Philokslia published by Staniloae actually entail? What did Staniloae himself think about this work to which he dedicated forty-five years of his strenuous and lengthy life? How did he ever realize this tremendous project? How is Staniloae's Philokelia related to the very rich and complex tradition of the various Philoksliest Being asked for the first time, these questions have not yet been answered. Thus, one of the main works of this Romanian theologian is still an unresolved "enigma." Hence, it is the purpose of this study to provide some answers and, as much as possible, prepare the way for a more critical study not only of the Pliilokslie of Staniloae, but of the Philokelis in general.

Philokalia or Philokaliasi

Since patristic experts have already studied at great length the wellknown Philokslis of St. Basil the Great and his friend St. Gregory of Nazianzos, this paper does not take it into consideration.' Instead, our focus is on the collection of spiritual writings with the same title, Philoka-

ICf. Dumitru Sraniloae, CUV'Jlfe spre zidire (Frasinei, 1995), p. 7.

2Cf. Sources chretiennes; no. 226 (Paris: Cerf, 1973) and SC, no. 302 (Paris: Cerf, 1983). Also bearing the name Plulokelis, this version contains some fragments of rhe works of Origen.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

lis, published by Nikodimos Hagioritos and Makarios of Corinth 111 1782. This collection was soon translated under the direction of Paisij Velichkovskij into Slavonic (1793), and a little later by Theophan the Recluse into Russian (1857). Meanwhile, it has become a very popular and influential spiritual work among the Russian Orthodox.' Translations have made the Philokalis accessible ill various modern languages," and abbreviated forms have appeared in so-called "petite Philocalie. ,,5 Nevertheless, a closer look of the various versions, editions, translations, and publications leads to a certain confusion, as they do not all correspond to one another." The difficulty augments in the attempt to establish the critical text of the different authors presented in the Philokslie. It is due to this complexity that the collection of spiritual writings was once called "the most fastidious of libraries."? The Philokalia of Dumitru Staniloae is no exception to these difficulties. Since one of the objectives of this study is to explain the variations involved with the Philokslie, in addition to understanding the particular role of Stauiloae in the process, some historical clarifications are necessary.

Although the origin, preparation, and formation process of the Philokslis published by Nikodimos and Makarios cannot be reconstructed with total precision, recent studies do provide some light on the

JCf. Thomas Spidlik et al., eels., Amore de/ bello. Studi sulle Filocalis stti de/ "Simposio interneziormle sulls Fitocslis," Pontiticio Co//egio greco, Roms, noveuibre /.98.9 (Magnano: Edizioni Qiqajon, 1991); P. Deseille, La spirituslite ortliodoxe et le Plulocslie (Paris:

Bayard, 1997).

"The most important rranslarions to date of the Philokslis are: The Philokulis, rransl. and edited by C.E.I-1. Palmer, P Sherrard, K. Ware, 4 vols. (London: Faber & Faber, 1979, 1981, 1984, 1995), La Filocshs, transl. by M.B. Artioli and M.E Lovato, 4 vols. (Torino:

Gribaudi, 1982,1983, 1985, 1987), Pbilocalie des Peres neptiques, rransl, by J. Touraille, 11 vols. (Bellefointaine, 1979-1991) recently edited in 2 vols. at Desclee de Brouwer (1995).

sFor example: Wrirings from the Plulokelis 011 Prayer of the Hearr; trans!' by E. Kadloubovsky and C.E.H. Palmer (London: Faber & Faber, 1951; 9 reprints); },[IJ'(Y Farhers from the Plulokstis (some texts from the Philokalis of Teophan), rransl, E. Kadloubovsky and C.E.I-1. Palmer (London: Faber & Faber, 1954; 7 reprints); Petite Pbilocalie de la Priere dt« coeur, transl. by J. Couillard (Paris: Edition des Cahiers du Sud, 1953; re-edirion 1968); Nouvelle Petite Philocslie, eel. J. Touraillc (Paris: Labor et Fides, 1992); Kleine Philoketie; rransl, M. Dietz (Zurich, 1956; 3rd eel. 1989); Filocslis, rransl, C. Vanucci, 2 vols, (Florence, 1989); Filoknlis, rransl. J. Naumowicz (Krakow, 1998).

6Cf. K. Ware, "Philocalie," in Dictionuaire de Splritualite, 12:1 (Paris, 1984), PI'. 1336-


7J. Couillard, Petite Philocalie de la priere <ill coeur (Paris, 1979, 2nd ed.), p. 11.

Dumitru Sta nilcae and His Philokslie


question related to the redaction of this work. The previously mentioned work of Gregory and Basil shows that Christian antiquity was already interested in preparing a collection of spiritual writings. Considering the ever increasing number of written theological works throughout centuries and the real physical and economical limits of each personal or community library, it can also be understood why many sought to create their own "small libraries" by preparing collections of extracts or anthologies. Some environments, especially the monastic ones, sometimes created a "canon" of books, texts, or extracts of works to provide formative knowledge, represent intellectual ideas fr0111 a certain group, or promote a reform. III the process of such a spontaneous tradition, some works or pages were included in the "canon" and some excluded, while others were interpolated or even changed.

In the case of the Philoknlia, it is well testified that in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, collections of spiritual writings were created on Mount Athos, eventually being incorporated in the Pbilokslie and used in fourteenth century by leaders of the hesychast movement." These texts were well known, as shown by the way such authors as Gregory of Sinai or Gregory Palarnas readily quoted from John Klimacos, John and Barsanuphie, Mark the Ascetic, Diadochos, Maximos the Confessor, or Symeon the New Theologian. It was under the influence of these Fathers that the theology of the leaders and thinkers of the hesychast movement was understood to be their extension and continuity.

Among the movements of Church reform in the eighteenth century, there was one known as the "kollybades" in which Makarios and Nikodimos also participated." In opposition to the secularized tendencies of the Enlightenment, this movement sought to gather and print collections or anthologies of theological and spiritual works of tradition;" III line with this tradition, Makarios and Nikodimos prepared a collection of spiritual texts which were published in 1782, under the title of Philokslis. The

8Cf. A.A.N. Tachiaos, "LI creazione della Filocalia e il suo influsso spirituale nel mondo greco e slave," in N. Kaurchrschischwili, C.M. Prochorov, F. von Lilienfeld er alii., Nil Sorski] e I'esicssmo (Magnano: Edizioni Qiqajon, 1995), pp. 228-229.

9Cf. E. Morini, "II movimento dei Kollyvadhes, Rilettura dei conresti piu significarivi in ordine alia rinascita spirituale greco-orrodossa dei secoli XVIII-XIX," in T. Spidlik et al, eels., Amore de/ bello, pp. 135-177.

IOCf. M.J. Le Cuillou, "La renaissance spirituelle au 18e siecle," in Istins, no. 7 (1960), pp. 114-125.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

whole collection was contained in one volume, with more than 1200 pages of writings from almost 40 authors.!' Despite any critical literary problems associated with the publication, some concrete conclusions can be drawn about the Phllokslie prepared by Makarios and Nikodimos. Such observations will also be useful to understand Staniloae's Philokalis. In their composition, Makarios and Nikodimos: (1) placed the authors in chronological order - of course according to their knowledge of history and the respective authors; (2) did not use a critical edition of the Greek manuscripts, nor did they indicate which manuscripts they used. Notes in the margin indicate that they did sometimes compare manuscripts, noting textual differences thereof - yet this was not done consistently, and it is especially in this area that the Pbiloksli« requires attention and eventual study; and (3) prefaced each author's writings with an introduction, which sometimes is interesting and valid but often is completely outdated. It is also sometimes difficult to justify the choice of a particular author or text. While it seems that a previously published and accessible text was followed (such as that of Dionysios, John Klimacos, or John and Barsanuphie, authors so important for the entire Greek tradition), it is just as likely that works were chosen based on the possibility to publish them. It can generally be said that the Greek Philokslis of 1782 offered a certain "canon" of writings by the very fact that it was published. Nonetheless, it was neither perfect from a critical and literal point of view nor completely justified in terms of wholeness. Hence in the future - as also in the case of Staniloae - some questions, challenges, and changes were introduced in the "canon," form, contents, and order of the texts included in the Philokalis of Makarios and Nikodimos.

len years after the publication of the Greek Pbilokslis by Nikodimos and Makarios, its Slavonic version appeared. The volume was prepared by Paisij Velichkovskij (1722-1794) and printed in Moscow in 1793, with the title Dobrotoinbijel? It was this version that the famous Russian pilgrim carried and described in his narrative stories.':' In prepar-

IICf. Philokalis [on lrieron ueprikon, 5 vols. (Athens, 1974-1976; the second edition was published in 1893 and the third in 5 vols. in 1957-1963; reprinted in 1974-1976). uThe volume was reprinted in Moscow in 1822, 1832, and 1901 and also recently in Bucharest in 1990.

IJCf. Jean Gauvin, ed., Recits d'un pelegrin russe (Neucharel, 1943); S. Bolsakov, Rencentres avec la priere da COe/·I'· (Geneve: Claude Martignay, 1981).

Dumirru Sta niloae and His Philokslie


ing his edition, Paisij already had various Greek manuscripts with Slavonic translations of the work integrated in the Philokalie which had been done in some Moldavian monasteries. Nevertheless, he discovered that these Slavonic versions were not perfect, not always corresponding to the Greek original. In order to obtain a critical version and translation, he himself traveled to Mount Athos to compare different manuscripts." It is possible that such occasions brought him in contact with Makarios and Nikodimos who were working on the Greek edition of the Philokslis. One the one hand, Nikodimos' edition of 1782 surely influenced the final form of Paisij's Slavonic Philokslis; on the other hand, the work of the latter was in a certain way also original and inde pendent.P It should be noted that the Slavonic version was published in a hurry because of some political, economical, and ecclesiastical problems - namely because of opposition from bishops - and that it was also published in an incomplete form with respect to the Greek one. In fact, the 713 pages "in folio" published by Paisij contained more or less only 24 out of the 36 authors included in the Greek Philokslis. For our purposes, it is important to observe that after Paisij, an extensive tradition of manuscripts were left behind and still remain in the monasteries of Romania. As we shall see, Staniloae reached into these traditions for the translating and editorial work of his Philokalia,"

In 1857, Bishop Ignatii Brianchaninov (1807-1867) published his Russian version of the Pbj/okaJja.17 Yet, Bishop Theophan the Recluse (1815-1894) also translated and published the Russian version of the Philokslis under the name of Dobrotolubijc, the version which ultimately became very popular in Russia." Theophan's Pliilokslis is quite different from that of Makarios and Nikodimos, omitting some authors and writ-

1·'Cf. A.A.N. Tachiaos, "Lo studio e la traduzione degli scritti patrisrici nella concezione di Paisij Velickovskij," in N. Kautchtschischwili, A.A.N.Tachiaos, V Pelin et al., Paisij, 10 slarec(Magnano: Edizioni Qiqajon, 1997), pp. 45-54.

15 A.A.N. Tachiaos, "Mount AdIOS and the Slavic Literatures," in Cyrillornetbodianum, 110. 4 (1977), pp. 30-34; A.A.N. Tachiaos, "De la Philocalia au Dobroroljubie," in CyrilloIlJelhod/~7fI11IlJ, no. 5 (1981), pp. 20S-2'D; E. Cirterio, "La scuola filocalica di Paisij Velichkovskij e la Filocalia di Nicodemo Aghiorita. Un confronto," in T. Spidlik et ai, eds., Amore del hello, pp. 181-207.

16Cf. C. Zaharia, "La chiesa orrodossa romena in rapporto aile traduzioni patristic he e filocaliche nelle lingue rnodcrne," in Benediains, no. 35 (1988), pp. 153-172.

17]t seems that this work is rather inaccessible and is waiting for some more particular



Dumitru Staniloae, Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ings while adding others. He also had his own ideas about the nature and purpose of the Philokshs.'? In general, it can be said that Theophan wanted to make the Phllokslis a work more popular and accessible to all - hence, he removed all difficult parts requiring specific explanations. However, we will not pursue the question, since his edition is not directly linked with that of Staniloae.

In order to complete the overall historical or chronological context of Staniloae's Philokelia, we must also account for the many translations Into modern and Western languages which have occurred in the last fifty years. Short collections in English (1951) and French (1953) were subsequently translated in similar form into other languages, such as German (1956), Italian (1960), Spanish (1960), and Arab (1970). Frequently reprinted, the Philoksli» eventually became known, appreciated, and popular. These abbreviated forms were followed by more thorough and critical translations in French, English, and Italian." Each of these translations, whether brief or complete, are often accompanied by good intr oductions and notes based on recent critical editions and studies. However, the fact that there are some (perhaps too many!) differences among them does not facilitate a critical study. Hopefully, the everincreasing interest in the Philoksli» shown by the various symposiums and publications, as well as some solid works of study, can provide a good base for future knowledge of this beautiful and important work.

Considering the work of Dumitru Staniloae in the context of the various translations, it should also be noted that he was one of the first to translate and publish the Philokslia in a modern language. The fact that the first volume of his Romanian translation appeared already in 1946 can be viewed as pioneering and "prophetic." Yet, just as the whole Philoksli» presents itself to be a complex and complicated work, as we have already seen, the work of Staniloae in this area is likewise complex and complicated. In order to understand the efforts of this Romanian

ISThe work was published in Moscow and paid for by the Russian monastery of 51:.

Panteleirnon on Mount Arhos, vol. I was printed in 1877, vol. II in 1884, vol. IJJ in 1888, vols. IV and V In 1989, and the index in 1905; a reprint also in five volumes was made by the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Jordanville, New York in 1963/1966 and recenrlv also in

Swiaro-Troickaja Sergiewa Lawra in 1992. "

19Cf. M. van Parys, "La Filocalia nella versione russa di Teofane il Recluse .. in T

Spidlik er al., eds., Amore del bello, pp. 243-276. ' .

20Cf. K. Ware, "Philocalie," in Dictionnsire de spintuelir« 12 (1984), 1336-1352.

Durnitru Sraniloae and His Philokslis


theologian, it is necessary to study first the history of his translation and edition of the Philokslis, and then each volume in detail.

A Long History

The first volume of the Philokslie was published by Staniloae ill 1946, while the twelfth and final one was completed in 1991. It was a work that took forty-five years to accomplish, exactly half of his lifetime." When Father Dumitru began translations for the Philokslia, he was a well-known professor of theology, author of several theological books and articles, director of the periodical Te/egrafu/ roman, and rector of an important Orthodox Theological Academy in Sibiu. Two of his students, Father Arsenic and Father Serafini Popescu, made a trip to Mount Athos, bringing back with them the Greek Pbilokslis - it was the secone! edition of the 1782 Philokelie prepared by Panagiotis A. Tzelatis and printed in Athens in 1893 in two volumes "in folio." Almost the same as the first one, the second edition differed only in that Tzelatis added some chapters attributed to Patriarch Kallistus.i'' Staniloae was impressed by this anthology of spiritual writings and wanted to translate it into Romanian. His intent was to translate it as soon as possible with the help of different professors in the Theological Faculty of Sibiu; however, his colleagues were less enthusiastic about his idea, and in the end he remained alone with the work." Although the first volume of Staniloae's Romanian translation of the P/li/oka/iawas printed in Sibiu in 1946, it occurred during a time of serious difficulties."

The Second World War was over, yet in Romania the new Communist and totalitarian regime was slowly assuming power and introducing many changes in the country and life of the people. These "changes" also strongly affected Staniloae and his family. In 1945, he lost his position as director of the Telegrsiul Roman, while in 1946 he ceased to be the rector of the Theological Academy and the number of his teaching hours

2lFor a more complete biography and bibliography of Stiiniloae, d. M. Bielawski, The Philokslicsl Vision ofthe IVorid in the Theology 01 Dumitru SriirJJioae (Bydgoszcz: Homini 1997), pp. 15-43.

22Cf. K. Ware, "Philocalie," 1343.

23Cf. D. Staniloae, Cuvinte spre zidire; PI'. 103-106.

2'IThe complete title of the volume was: Filocslis sal! culegere dIE) scrierile SJinj1ior Piirin[i care anllii cum se paste omul cur<i[i, lumina !ji des,ivar~i.


Durnitru Staniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

was decreased. With the beginning of 1947, he was forced to leave Sibiu and move with his family to Bucharest where he was given a very limited possibility to teach dogmatic theology under the watchful eye of the regime. Nonetheless, in 1947, the second volume - probably already prepared earlier for printing - of the Philokslis appeared in Sibiu. In the place of his previous teaching, two more volumes were published the following year (1948). The regime was most likely developing its control slowly, such that in the post-war and pre-totalitarian confusion a work like the Philokslie could still be printed. On the other hand, it is rather interesting and perhaps significant (prophetic?) that the publication of the first volumes of the Philoksli» coincided with the coming to power of the Communist, totalitarian regime in Romania.

With the regime and its systematic persecution of "everyone," so characteristic for all European countries under the Soviet Union, Father Dumitru had to further limit his academic activity and publications, which were extremely controlled by government censure." He was probably allowed to read and translate, yet nothing related to the Pbilokalis could be published during these years (the regime did not tolerate anything "spiritual" and "mystic," let alone the very words). Then, in 1958, ten years after the publication of the fourth volume of Pbilokslia, all "anonymous monk of the Orthodox Romanian Church" (actually, Andrei Scrima) published an article in France about the Philokulis in Romania, an article which mentioned for the first time in the West the name and theological work of Father Dumitru.f Meanwhile, in the fall of this same year, Sta niloae - as so many others during this time - was unjustly arrested, mock tried, and condemned to ten years of prison for being a political criminal dangerous to the regime. He was freed five years later, ill January 1963, when political changes caused the rule of amnesty to be applied.

In the early sixties, Romania passed from the Soviet form of totalitarian Communism to its own form: a kind of national Communism characterized by a certain openness and freedom. In this new system the Orthodox Church found itself with a new style of life and a new role to play." After years of prison, Staniloae found that in this new context he

25Cf. M. Bielawski, The Pbilokslicel Vision of the !fIorld, pp. 35-37 and 60-68.

26Cf. Un moine de l'Eglise Orrhodoxe de Rournanie, "L'avencmenr philocalique dans l'Orrhodoxie rournaine," in Isrinn, no. 5 (1958), pp. 295-328,443-474.

Dumitru Staniloae and His Pbilokslie


could return to his academic activity in Bucharest, which he did in 1965. He became an important and influential teacher with several gifted disciples. In the earlier seventies, he began traveling to give speeches in different academic and theological centers of Europe and the United States. I-Ie left prison when he was sixty years old, yet it was just the beginning of very fruitful time for his theological activity, as reflected by the immense bibliography of his publications in the last 30 years of his life." Of special interest for our study is the fact that he published four volumes of the Pliilokslis during this time: volumes V (1976), VI and VII (1977), and VIII (1979). With these volumes published, he completed the translation of the Greek Philokslie of Makarios and Nikodimos, a project which had been interrupted for almost twenty years because of the dramatic historical events that marked his life. Yet, over the course of these twenty years, Fr. Durnitru's own scholarly experience and capacity increased, as shown by his introductions to the Romanian translations becoming more elaborate and interesting. Staniloae made use of the new and critical editions of texts included in the Pbilokelia, utilizing the more critical studies about theology, authors, and manuscripts. There is a noticed improvement in the quality of his translations and edition of the Pbilokslia, in comparison to the volumes published in the forties. It is also apparent that he became more aware of what the Philokslis is about and for what purpose, as his own ideas and theology of the Philokelis deepened.

But let us complete the history of Staniloae's translation of the Philokelis. As we have seen, the first eight volumes published between 1946 and 1979 reproduce the entire Greek Philokslia, with some changes which will be discussed later. Moreover, in 1980, Fr. Dumitru added volume IX to include the Romanian translations of the works of John Klimacos and Dorotheos of Gaza. In 1981, another volume (X) was published with the text of Isaac of Nineveh. Ten years later, near the end of his life, he published yet another volume (XI) of his Pbilokslie, containing the correspondence of Barsanuphie and John. In the same year, 1991, the works of Isaiah the Hermit were published in what was to be


27Cf. Olivier Giller, Religion et ruuiorulisme. L'ideologie de l'Eglise Orthodoxe ROIlmaine SOliS /e regime communiste (Bruxelles: Edition de l'Universire de Bruxelles, 1997).

=cr Gheorghe Anghelescu, "Opera Par. Prof. Dumitru Sta niloae. Bibliografie sistematica," in Mircca Pacurariu and loan l. lea Jr., eds., Persosrui ,"i comuniune: PriIlOS de cinstire Preotului Prolesor Academician' Dumirru Sriini/oae /a Implinires vdrstei de 90 filii (Sibiu, 1993), pp. 16-67.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

the final volume (XII). Thus, his version of the Philokslie went beyond the scope of the Greek original by including some classical Christian authors, expanding the content to fill twelve volumes, a number so symbolic for Staniloae. As we study the individual volumes in detail, we will compare the authors and texts presented by Staniloae in his Philokslie to those of the Greek original, so that we can eventually understand what the Pbilokslis and its theology is, both for Staniloae and in itself.

Volumes Step by Step

VoJume J

The first volume of Staniloae's Philokslie, published in 1946 with the help of Gherasim Safirim and Serafini Popescu, begins with a general introduction (pp. v-xii) in which he talks about the Philokslis of Basil and Gregory and about the one published by Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain." There is a short but good synthesis of the spiritual life proposed by the anthology and some indications concerning textual problems. In this volume our Romanian theologian generally follows the Greek edition of

, .

the Philokslis printed in Athens in 1893, underscoring at the same time

the deficiencies based on critical editions of translated texts.

Staniloae, consistent with the Philokslia of Nikodimos, begins the first volume of his translation with the 170 chapters that were for a time attributed to St. Anthony the Great (illvap'itllri despre viat» morsld a osmcnilor §i despre buns purtare, in J 70 de capete).311 His short introduction not only teaches the reader something about the life of St. Anthony, but also about the questions surrounding his authorship of these chapters. Today, it is clear that Anthony is not the author and that the text belongs to a Stoic tradition. Though Staniloae does not insist, he does rather sustain the traditional authorship of Anthony. He makes references to the studies of F. Klejan, M. Viller, and K. Raimer, but he ignores completely I. Hausherr's article in 1933 which clearly shows that Anthony is not the author of these chapters.)l In his translation of the text, he follows that of

291n the last, fourth, edition of 1993, this introduction is substituted by another one which is shorter and more general, repeated in each of the reprinted twelve volumes.

JOIn this an-ide, to avoid as much as possible any confusions and problems with the titles of the various works included in the Philokslis, the English titles are used mostly according to the recent English version of the Pliiloknli» by G.E.H. Palmer, P. Sherrard, and K. Ware.

Dumitru Sraniloae and His Pblloksli«


the Greek Pbilokslis. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the entire translation is presented without even one footnote!

Stani loae passes over in silence the subsequent work in the Greek Philokslis, the text of St. Isaiah the Solitary. Although he will eventually place it at the end of this volume, as we shall see later, he chooses to follow the works of St. Anthony with those of Evagrius Pontikos. In a short introduction, he briefly presents the life of Evagrius and his theology, situa ting him in the overall historical context beginning with Origen and continuing through the ascetic teachings of such authors as John Klimacos and John of Damaskos. He then includes four works of Evagrius: 1. "Outline Teaching on Asceticism and Stillness in the Solitary Life" (ScJ1Jja monechiceesci, in care sc arat/f CIlJl1 trebuie sa nc nevoim )j sa jilJi,<;tim); 2. "Text on Discrimination and Stillness in the Solitary Life" (Capete despre dcosebires pstimilor !J-j a ganduriJor); 3. "Extracts from the Texts on Watchfulness" (Din cepetele des pre trezviei; and 4. "On Prayer" (Cllvant despre rl1gadlllle). Staniloae was aware of the then recent studies about Evagrius done by W. Frankenberg, H. Grassman, J. Muyldermans, and 1. Hausherr. His footnotes also reveal that he knew about textual problems, referring to PG, 40 alongside the original Greek version of the Philokslis. This is especially interesting in the case of "Extracts from the Texts on Watchfulness," because he shows all five pieces as coming from Evagrius' Prekticos. Staniloae even indicates the location of each of the Philokalie texts in Migne. In line with general opinion, he considers the text "On Prayer" to be the work of Evagrius and not of Neilus; and therefore moves it to this section dedicated to Evagrius, So, he not only follows the original Greek Philokslis, but also that of PG, 79, 1165- 1200.

John Cassian, the next author, is presented by Staniloae as being important to the Romanian people because of his being born in Roman Scythia (Dobrogea). Although he was aware of the fact that the works presented in the Greek Philokslia under the name of John Cassian were not real translations but just summaries of the original versions, Father Dumitru chose to translate them as they were, under the name of John Cassian: 1. "On the Eight Vices" tDespre cele opt gandllri sle ralltiipi) and 2. "On the Holy Fathers of Sketis and on Discrimination" (CI1Vant

)lef. l. Hausherr, "Un ecrir sroicien sous le nom de Saint Antoine Eremite," in Ortentsli« Cristisns, no. 30 (1933), pp. 212-216.


Durnirru Sraniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

plin de tolos, despre Shi!1{ii Psrinti dill pustie skcticii §i darul deosebirin. He was clearly aware that both texts were but summaries of the original versions. The first one talks about the eight vices which are presented by Cassian in his De instituti coenobiorum, V-XII; while the second summarizes the first and second of his Consolstiones in which the general purpose and nature of monastic life are discussed. In the footnotes, Staniloae underscores the fact that the complete and original versions exist in PL, 59 for the first work and in the critical edition of PetSCing in CSEL 18 (Vienna, 1888) for the second one. Yet for his own translation, he follows the Greek version presented in 28, 871-906 and the Philokslis for the first work, using only the Greek Philokalis for the second one. It should be noted that in the case of this translation, Stanilcae does not follow the complete, Latin, original version, but rather, uses the incomplete, noncritical, Greek version found in the Philokslia - this point is emphasized here because, as we will see; he eventually changes his approach.

Staniloae places the next author, St. Neilus the Ascetic, right after Cassian and not after St. Mark the Ascetic and St. I-Iesychios the Priest as it is in the Greek Philokslis. The reason for this change is chronological in nature. From what little is known about St. Neilus and his writings (many texts were attributed to him in the past as, for example, Evagrius' "On Prayer"), it results that he lived before Saints Mark and Hesychios. The fact that Staniloae puts St. Neilus before them, thereby correcting the original order, demonstrates another of his principles in his translation and edition of Philokslis. to offer a critical, modern, updated version of the old collection of texts. His lengthy introduction to this author includes interesting historical, textual, and theological information based on recent studies of his time, such as those of K. Heussi and Fr. Degenhardt. In the translation of St. Neilus's "Ascetic Discourse" (Covent trebuincios §i Iolositon, Staniloae introduced the division into 75 chapters which are in PG, 79, 719-810 but are absent in the Greek Philokalis. In addition, as we have already mentioned, he moved the text "On Prayer" to the section dedicated to the works of Evagrius.

The introduction to the next philokalical author, St. Mark the Ascetic, is also lengthy and quite competent, based mostly on the studies of M. Viller and O. Bardenhewer fr0111 the beginning of the twentieth century. Sta uiloae subsequently translates the texts of St. Mark: 1. "On the Spiritual Law" iDcspre /egefl duchovniccescii; 2. "On Those Who Think that They are Made Righteous by Works" iDcsprc cei ce-si

Dumitru Sraniloae and His Pbilokslis


iachipuie clf se Indrepteezs din fapte); and 4. "Letter to Nicholas the Solitary" iEpistole ciitre Nicolse 111ona!JII1). However, between the second and the third texts, he introduces a rather long - almost thirty pages! - work of Neilus, which has never been a part of any Pbilokslis. 3. "On Baptism" (RlfspUllS ace/ora care se indoiesc des pre Dumnezcicscul Borez). This is the first, but not the last, major change made by Father Dumitru in his Pbilokslie with respect to the Greek one. In the introduction, Staniloae explains that the reason for this "interruption" is the fact that this is one of the most important works of St. Neilus, both shedding light on his whole theology and placing the monastic life in a sacramental or ecclesiastical perspective as opposed to that of Messalianism." Other modifications to be noted include Staniloae's use of PG, 65, 905-930 for his translation of the treatise "On the Spiritual Law." For the second work, he uses the Greek Philokeliss division of the chapters, which are not the same as in PG, 65, 929-966. "On Baptism" was translated fr0111 PG, 65, 985-1028. Finally, he divided the "Letter to Nicholas the Solitary" into 13 chapters, according to the edition presented in PG, 65, 1027-1050.

Following his principle of correcting the chronological order, Sta niloae completely passed over St. I-Iesychios the Priest, who according to Nikodimos lived in the fifth century. Since he was actually an author fr0111 the eighth or ninth century, we find him only in the fourth volume of Staniloae's Philokelis. In his first volume, right after St. Mark, he places the works of St. Diadochos of Photiki: 1. "Definitions" (DefiniSi1); 2. "On Spiritual Knowledge and Discrimination" t Cuvent ascetic des pre viats mora/a, despre cll11o§rjn{a §i despre dreapta socoteele dubovniceflsca'); and 3. "An Interpretation ... " (Talcujrea ... ). The introduction of Staniloae is good and mostly concentrated on some aspects of St. Diadochos' theology. Although he simply translated the text from the Greek Pliilokslis, he did refer to the Latin translation of Turrianus from 1579, present in PG, 65, 1167-1212, to resolve some textual problems, about which he informs the reader in his footnotes.

The first volume of Staniloae's Pbilokslie is concluded with St. Isaiah the Solitary and his work, "On Guarding the Intellect" iDespre piiziro« mi11Ii1). The fact that he moved this author to the end of the vol-

npcrhaps it is an echo of some discussions occurring at" the rime - and which continue - among some monks ill Romania.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ume after St. Diadochos from having been right after St. Anthony and before Evagrius is once more attributed to his principle of correcting the chronology. St. Isaiah is now considered to have lived in the fifth century. After a short introduction where he points out the most important historical and textual data, Staniloae simply translated the 27 chapters atttib-


uted to Isaiah, only part of the author's famous Asketikon. Father

Dumitru later translates the rest of the Asketikon as the conclusion to volume XII of his Philokelin. So, the author with whom he ends his first volume in 1946 will also close the final volume of his entire monumental work in 1991, forty-six years later.

Volume JJ

There is no answer for the question why Staniloae put aside the authors Hesychios and St. John of Karpathos to dedicate the second volume of his Philokslia totally to St. Maximos the Confessor, published in 1947. It may be simply a reason of convenience, to have the main works of this theologian consecutively in two volumes (in fact, volume three is also totally dedicated to the works of this Father of the Church).

Staniloae wrote about fifteen pages of introduction about Maximos, referring to the recent studies of his time. He described his life, works, and theology, with special attention to his Christology. In his footnotes, he refers mostly to such authors as V Grumel, I-I. Straubinger, H.U. von Balthasar, P. Peitz, R. Devreese, M. Montmasson, etc. The whole volume has more than fifty pages of footnotes, sometimes very well elaborated, one of the aspects differing the second volume from the first. This art of providing rich commentaries in the footnotes became more and more his style and form of creative work, which especially in the case of Maximos the Confessor made him somewhat Iamous.P Considering his overall theological work and translations (with introductions and footnotes), it seems right to also mention that, at the time, Father Dumitru was one of the most important and profound experts of this Father of the Church."

DCf. D. Sraniloae, "Commenraires," in Saint Maxime Ie Confesseur, Ambigua (Paris, 1994), pp. 373-540.

HIt would be really useful to add one more chapter about Sraniloae to the excellent book of Aidan Nichols, Byzsntmc Gospel. J\{ElXi[J)llS the Confessor in the Modern Scholership (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993).

Durnitru Staniloae and His Philokelie


Staniloae begins this volume with 1. "Ascetic Teaching" t Cuvenc ascetic prin irurebsiri "i rdspnnsuri }/·ateJe-Bauiinul), a text translated from PG, 90, 911-958 and which does not occur in any other Philokelia. This text is followed by 2. "Four Hundred Texts on Love" (Ce/e petru sute cspete despre drsgostev, Maximos' first work in the Greek Philoke/ia. Staniloae refers to PG, 90, 954-1080 for its translation. At the end of this work, without any introduction, Staniloae adds 3. "Fifty Chapters about Love" (Sfiir~itl1/ sutei a pstrs a cspetelor despre dregoste. ~co!Jje UIJIli neCIl110SClZt), a text whose author is rather unknown+' and which is right after "Four Hundred Texts on Love" in PG, 90, 1073-1080. The fact that it does not appear in the Greek Pliilokslis is a clear indication that Father Durnitru was following, in this case, the Migne edition rather than that of Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain. The next work translated, 4. "Two Hundred Texts on Theology and the Incarnate Dispensation of the Son of God Written for Thalassios" (Ce/e dotui sute de cepetelc despre ClIJ}O"t1n{a de DlI111JJeZell "i iconomie Fiului lui DIl111JJeZeu), was present in the Greek Philokelis, as well as in PG, 90, 1083-1183 following the previous one. It is in this translation that his footnotes are for the first time long and rich in explanations, covering altogether more than thirty pages. Among others, he refers greatly to the work of H.U. von Balthasar, Die "gnosticben" Ccntnrien des Maxi11111S Confessor (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1941). The next work of Maximos published by Staniloae in this volume is the so-called 5. "Questions, Interroga tions, and Answers" (!ntrebari, ncdumcriri §i rdspunsurii, a work of seventynine questions and answers which is not present in the Greek Philokslie. Taken as it is from a previous section (PG, 90, 785-856), it does not even follow the order of Migne's edition. There is no apparent answer explaining why Father Dumitru chose to insert the text here ~ he just did it. The volume finishes with the very well-known commentary, also present in the Greek Philokalia, 6. "On the Lord's Prayer" (S'cllrta tii/cuire a rugiiciunii Tata/Ili nostril cdtre 1111 iubitor de 1-1ristos), once again with very informative footnotes from Staniloae. While Nikodimos placed this commentary later in his edition, Staniloae seems to have introduced it already here simply because he had "free" space. It is also possible that for his translation and edition of Maximos' works, Staniloae was follow-

35It was perhaps Demetrius Cyclones, as indicatecl by Sraniloae in his footnote.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ing, more or less, the chronological order established in this time by the studies of H.lI. von Balthasar.


The last work of St. Maximos the Confessor presented in the Greek Philokslis is the collection of the so-called 500 chapters, "Various Texts on Theology, the Divine Economy, and Virtue and Vice." Already when Staniloae was preparing this third volume of his Pbilokelie, studies of W. Soppa and M.Th. Disdier had made it known that this work is the result of extracts or an anthology composed in the eleventh/twelfth century, containing fragments taken mostly from such works of Maximos as "To Thalassios," "Ambigua," and "Letters," as well as from works of St. Dionysios the Areopagite. Most of it, that is 422 of the 500 chapters, comes from "To Thalassios: On Various Questions Relating to the Holy Scripture." Aware of these textual problems, Father Dumitru turned instead to PG, 90, 243-786 for his translation and edition of "To Thalassios" (RaSPUI1S11ri ciitre Talssic despre diicritc Iocuri grele din dumnezeissca Scripmraj. His intention was clearly that of correcting the edition of Nikodimos to produce a new text which would be closer to the original, a more critical version."

The entire third volume of Staniloae's Philokali» is dedicated to this work of Maximos, It begins with a good introduction which not also explains the textual problems and his subsequent decisions, but also describes the anthropology of this Father of the Church. The volume, with more than 600 footnotes, offers valid material which often draws from the studies of H.lI. von Balthasar.

Volume IV

The fourth volume begins with a short introduction to the work of St. Thalassios the Libyan, "On Love, Self-control, and Life in Accordance with the Intellect, Written for Paul the Presbyter JJ (Despre dregoste, infrdnsr« !ii petrecerea cea dupa Imine cdtre Pave/ presbiteruti. For his

36About the relation between the 500 chapters in the Greek Phi/aka/iii and the works of Maximos, cf. Ouestiones n Thslsssius, ed. Laga-Steel, CCSG 7, LXXVII-LXXIX and CCSG 22, XLV-XLVIII.

Dumitru Sraniloae and His Philokelis


translation, Staniloae follows the second edition of the Greek Philoksli» and also refers to PG, 91, 1427-1470.

The next author presented is St. I-Iesychios the Priest and his work "On Watchfulness and Holiness" (Scurr cuviint de Iolos sutletului !ii mentuitor despre trezvie !ii virtute). Staniloae is aware that Hesychios is not the priest from fifth century living in Jerusalem, as thought by NikodilIlOS, but rather someone who wrote after John Klimacos and Maximos the Confessor and probably an abbot in the monastery on Mount Sinai. I-Ience, Father Durnitru places him - according to his chronological principle for the authors in his Philokslis - not in the beginning of the anthology, between St. Mark the Ascetic and St. Ne ilus, but after St. Maximos, He also changed his name from Hesychios the Priest to Hesychios from Sinai. For the translation, Staniloae did not use the Greek Philokslie, which he found to be less critical and accurate than the text in PG, 93,1479-1544, which he followed instead. He also changed the division from the 203 chapters presented in the Greek Philokslis to a division in two "centuries." The introduction to this author offers a short but good study on Hesychios' theory of watchfulness.

Changing once more the order of the Greek Philokslia, Staniloae placed the work of St. Philotheos of Sinai "Forty Texts on Watchfulness" (Capete desprc trezvie; after that of Hesychios. In the introduction, he describes both Hesychios and Philotheos as writing in the same spirit, which may explain why he chose this location for Philotheos. He demonstrates that he was aware of the textual problems, about which 1. Hausherr had already been writing. Staniloae's introduction presents various manuscripts, analyzing with special attention the one from the Romanian Academy (No. 2012), and comparing it with that of the Vatican (No. 1091) and with the texts in the Greek Philokslia and in PG, 154,729- 745. This is the first time that Father Dumitru deals with the issue of manuscripts of an author from the Pbilokslia, referring to the tradition existing in the Romanian archives. However, he finally chooses to simply follow the version from the Greek Pbilokslis, without resolving the textual problem.

The next author in Staniloae's Philokslia is St. John of Karpathos and his 1. "For the Encouragement of the Monks in India Who Had Written to Him: One Hundred Texts" (Una suui cspcte de maJJgaiere, ciitre inonehii din India care i-su scris JIll) and 2. "Ascetic Discourse Sent


Dumirru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

at the Request of the Same Monk in India" (Cllv8nr ascetic §i Ioerte m8ng8ietol; citre monahii care l-eu iademnet din India, intregind nunuirul celor 0 sutii de capete). Although the Greek Pbilokelis places St. John of Karpathos right after St. Diaclochos of Photiki, Father Dumitru locates his work here. He explains his reasoning in his introduction based on the fact that the author is considered to have lived in the seventh century and that his theology is very close to that of Maximos the Confessor. The version of PG, 85, 1837-1860 follows the text of the Greek PhiloksJJa, which, in turn, Staniloae also uses for his translation.

The fifth text in this volume is "A Discourse on Abba Philimon" tDespre AVV8 Filimon. Cuvsnt Iolositon. There is nothing known about this Father. He may have lived in Egypt in the seventh century right before the Arab conquest, so chronologically he could be grouped with the authors presented above. Staniloae places him before St. John of Damaskos, even if the Greek Philokslie places him after the last author. The translation of Father Dumitru is based on the text of the Greek Philokslia.

Again not following the Greek Pliilokelie, Staniloae next presents in this volume St. John of Damaskos and his text "On the Virtues and the Vices" (Cuvdnr minunat §i de sutlet Iolosiron. He provides an informative introduction about this Father of the Church and his ascetic works, drawing also fr0111 some earlier Romanian versions. His own translation is based both on the Greek Philokslia and on PG, 95,85-98, because neither the first nor the second is perfect.

The next author, St. Theodor of Edessa and his 1. "A Century of Spiritual Texts" (Una sura cspete Fosrte tolositosrci and the 2. "Theoretikon" i Cuvtinc despre con temp/aIie) , occurred in the Greek Philokelis before the works of St. Maximos the Confessor. The "Theoretikon" was thought by Nikodimos to be a work of St. Theodor, but was later found to be attributed to an anonymous author from the Middle Ages (fourteenth-seventeenth centuries). Staniloae refers to the studies of J. Gouillard," which show this author to have been influenced by the theology of Evagrius and St. Maximos the Confessor, thereby justifying his decision to place him here, after Maximos. Staniloae addressed the whole question in the introduction to this author, adding notes from the study of J.

37Cf. J. Couillard, "Supercheries et mepriscs lirteraires. L'oeuvre de saint Theodore d'Edesse," in Revue des Etudes b_YZarJl1IJes, no. 5 (1947), pp. 137-157.

Dumitru Staniloae and His Pbilokelis


Gouillard, and he used the text from the Greek Philokslia for his translation.

St. The ognostos and his "On the Practice of the Virtues, Conternplation, and the Priesthood" iDesprc lirptllire, contemplstie §i preotie; is the next text in this volume. In his introduction, Staniloae attempted to explain historical problems about the writings, since Theognostos cou Id have lived in the fourteenth or the fifteenth century. However, he was unable to fully resolve the question. His translation is based on the Greek Philokslie.

There are a lot of textual questions concerning the subsequent author in Stiiniloae's translation, Ilias the Presbyter and Ekdikos and his "A Gnomic Anthology" (Cll/egere din sententcle inteleptilor stnidslnici, Intocmltd de strddenic §i ostenesls). I-Ie refers to the studies of M.Th. Disdie r" for his introduction and translation. After presenting all the difficulties and variations of this work, Father Dumitru divides it into four parts and 248 chapters. His translation is the fruit of comparing the text of the Greek Philokalia (printed also in PG, 127, 1127-1176) with the one placed among the works of St. Maximos (PG, 90, 1041-1462).

The volume ends with Theophanis the Monk and "The Ladder of Divine Grace which Experience Has Made Known to Those Inspired by God" (Scara i'llfaIi,'iez fI dumnezcicstilor dsruri, care prin cerciiri S-f/ CZ1J10SClit de purcitorii de Dub), a short text which Father Duruitru translates, based on the Greek Pbilokelie, without any introduction nor footnotes.

Volume V

As already mentioned, this volume of Staniloae's Philokelia was published in 1976, that is, 30 years after the first one. Although it is exteriorly similar to the previous four volumes, published as number "5," it greatly differs in its content. From this volume on, both translations and introductions are more critical and of higher quality. In addition, the expression and concept of a "Romanian Philokslie" iFilocelis rom8neascal appears for the first time. With this expression, Father Dumitru begins the process of establishing a special link between Roma-

38Cf. M.Th. Disdier, "Elie l'Ecdicos et les Etera kefalaia attribues it saint Maxime Ie Con fesseur et it Jean de Carparhos," in Echos d'Orient, no. 31 (1931), pp. 17-43.


Dumirru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

nian history, spirituality, mentality, and the philokalical tradition. He will eventually develop also the idea that not only is the Philokali« a collection that has a unique and timely message for the Romanian Orthodox Church, but also that this Church has its origins in this particular tradition, as confirmed by history (for example, the monasteries and manuscripts).

The first part of this volume is dedicated to the works (1. Cartes Intii» and 2. Cartea a doua) of St. Peter of Damaskos. Staniloae's excellent introduction is worth mentioning, because of the lack of studies about this author and his writings. Father Dumitru emphasizes that St. Peter of Damaskos was known and popular in Romania and in Russia, a fact which is confirmed by a number of manuscripts in Greek, Slavonic, and Romanian. An entire section is dedicated to this question in his introduction. For the translation, he still uses the second edition of the Greek Philokalis.

The second part of the volume contains St. Symeon's Metaphrastis' "Paraphrase of the Homilies of St. Makarios of Egypt." Once again, Staniloae provides a very good and thorough introduction about the author and his literary activity. The main inspiration for Stiiniloae's understanding of this philokalical writing was the study of W. Jaeger from 1954.39 Supplementing it with his own research of the text (in PG, 34, 1-982), Father Durnitru identified 90 out of the 150 chapters present in the Greek Philokslia as having their origin in the fifty homilies of PseudoMakarios, which is suggested by the title of his translation iPeretrez« iJ1 1.50 de cspete a SfalJwJui Simeon Metstrsstus Ja celc .50 de Cuvinte sle Sfil1wJlli Msksrie EgipteaJJIlJ). Stiiniloae's translation is based on the second edition of the Greek Philoksli«.

Volume VI

The sixth volume, with the works of St. Syrneon the New Theologian and Nikitas Stithatos, appeared ill 1977. The authors are presented in the same order as those of the Greek Pbilokelia. However, for the first time, Staniloae drew upon the editions of Sources Chrctiennes and their publications of these authors for his introductions and translations.

J9Cf. W Jaeger, Two Rediscovered lfOrks oiAucienr Christian Literature, GregOlT 01 Nysss and A1akarius (Leiden: Brill, 1954).

Dumirru Sraniloae and His P!JjJokaJia


Meanwhile, he was more and more convinced that his work was in a certain way a continuation of the translations done by monks in Romanian monasteries a few centuries earlier. The last volumes of his Philokslia are characterized by this double intellectual movement: on the one hand, Sta niloae draws from the critical, Western editions and provides information in the notes that are sometimes real theological or spiritual commentaries; on the other hand, he becomes more rooted in his own, local Romanian tradition.

Today, mostly because of the studies of J. Darrouzes, it is a well known fact that not all of the writings attributed in the Greek Philokslis to St. Symeon the New Theologian are really his." Staniloae, following the results of these studies and the edition of SC, replaces the traditional "One Hundred and Fifty Three Practical and Theological Texts" present in Greek Philokelis with 1. "Two Hundred Twenty Five Theological and Practical Texts" (CeJe 22.5 de cepete teologice §i practice). Next, still following the results of these studies, Father Dumitru adds a separate chapter, 2. "Thirty Nine Texts" as being attributed today to St. Symeon the Pious (CapeteJe morale sle lui Simeon Evlaviosuh, corresponding to chapters 120-153 of the Greek Phllokslie. Since the final chapter, 153, is considered anonymous, Sta niloae puts it aside as Chapter 40 (Cap i:lparte), at the end of the collection. The next seventy pages of this volume contain twelve chapters from the 3. "Theological and ethical treatises" (Cllvimari moraJe), published by J. Darrouzes in Sc, no. 122 (1966). Of course, Father Dumitru offers a very good general introduction about St. Symeon the New Theologian, referring also to manuscripts and translations linked with the Romanian tradition. The translation is accompanied by a number of notes which help to understand better the ideas of this difficult Byzantine mystic.

For the next author, Nikitas Stithatos, Durnitru Staniloae wrote five brief but informative pages, based on then recent studies, about his life and theological works. Using the Greek Philokslie and PG, 120, he translated Nikitas' 1. "Three Hundreds Texts" (CeJe 300 de cepetc despre fi'ipwjre, des pre fire §i despre CUl1o§til1faj, including a large number of very well elaborated notes. Staniloae once again deviates fr0111 the "canon" of the Greek Philokelis and concludes this volume by adding the

.IOCf. J. Darrouzes, "Introduction," in Symeou le Nouveau Theologien, "Chapirres rheologiques, gnosriques er prariques," in SC; no. 51 (Paris: Cerf, 1957), pp. 1-36.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

2. "Spiritual Vision of the Paradise" (Vederea duhovniceascd a rsiuluii, translating from the version edited by J. Darrouzes in SC, no. 81 (1961), pp.155-227.

Volume VII

Published ill Bucharest ill 1977, the seventh volume contains works of four important leaders of hesychasrn: Nikiphoros the Monk, Theoleptos, metropolitan of Philadelphia, St. Gregory of Sinai, and St. Gregory Palamas. Staniloae begins the volume with Nikiphoros the Monk and his text "On Watchfulness and the Guarding of the Heart," presenting the title simply as "On Prayer" (Cllvint despre rngiiciune). Such a beginning already changes the order proposed by the Greek Pbilokslia in which Theoleptos is placed before Nikiphoros. The reason for such an alteration is derived from the fact that Nikiphoros lived and died before Theoleptos. Since he was also one of the first to write directly about hesychastic prayer, it is possible to consider Theoleptos one of his disciples. Once again, Staniloae provides a well-researched and informative introduction to this author, including some references to the Romanian hesychastic tradition and its manuscripts. The text of Nikiphoros was translated from the Greek Philokali» and complemented with a large number of very good notes.

The two works of the next author, Theoleptos, Metropolitan of Philadelphia, 1. "On Monastic Profession" (Cuvint despre ostenelilc viepj cii/llgare§tl) and 2. "On the Inner Work in Christ" (Cuvint despre lucrsres ces aSCllJJSa Intru Hristosi, were translated by Staniloae according to the text of the Greek Philokslie (the same as that of PG, 143,381- 400). As ill the case of Nikiphoros, there is a good introduction about this author, which draws mostly from some studies of S. Salavillc and from Romanian manuscripts. Sta ni lose's translation is accompanied by an abundant number of notes which form a true spiritual and theological commentary.

Five works of St. Gregory of Sinai are subsequently translated by Staniloae in the same order as in the Greek Philokslie. 1. "On Commandments and Doctrines, Warnings, and Promises; on Thoughts, Passions, and Virtues, and also 011 Stillness and Prayer. One Hundred and Thirty Seven Texts" (Capete Iosrte tolositosre in scrostih, ai ciror aerosol] este scests: Cuvinte Ielurite dcspre porunci, dogme, emeninpiri

Dumitru Staniloae and His Philokslie


§i fiigadllin{e, bs §i des pre gindllri, petitni §i virtuii; epoi despre linistice §i rllgac111ne); 2. "Four Texts" (Alte capete ale eccluissiv; 3. "On the Signs of Grace and Delusion, Written for the Confessor Longinos: Ten Texts" (il1Va{amra Cll de-smsnuntul des pre linistirc §i rugdciune, despre scmnele hsrului §i ale amsgirii; spoi despre deosebires dintre ciiidllra §i Iucrare; §i cii rara pov.iinitor usor vine amagirea); 4. "On Stillness: Fifteen Texts" (Despre Iinistire §i desprc cele dotui Ieluri ale rugiiciunii in 15 cspetei; 5. "On Prayer: Seven Texts" (Despre Ielu! cum trebuie sa ,<;ada Is rugiiciuue eel ce /ini§te§te; §i sa nil ridice repedey. His translation is based mostly on the Greek Philoknlie and on PG, 150, 1240-1345. Staniloae digresses from the Greek Philokslie in the second work, where he presents the "Ten Texts" as "Fourteen Texts." He changes the amount of text as a result of his studies of some manuscripts of St. Gregory of Sinai located in Romanian archives. The manuscripts show the tenth chapter with some verses followed by another more four chapters. Convinced that the complete work of Gregory was composed with fourteen and not with ten chapters, Staniloae put this extended version in his Philokelie." Once more, the study of the philokalical tradition in Romania brought Staniloae to a more critical approach in translating the texts. The introduction and notes, just as for the previous two authors, offer valuable information.

The rest of this volume is dedicated to the translation of the works of St. Gregory Palamas, The works of Palamas selected and presented by Staniloae do not correspond directly to those of the Greek Philokslie. Staniloae's choices are probably due to the fact that he had already translated some of them into Romanian for his book dedicated to Gregory Palamas, which he had written many years earlier." The first work, 1. "On Prayer" (CllVI11t pentru cei se Iinistesc Cll e v/a vie. Ai doilea din urnui. Despre nzgacJllJJe), and the second one, 2.a. "On Divine Light" t Cuvint pentru cei se linistesc Cll evlavic. A/ treilee dintre cele din arnui. Desprc stint» /w11111aj, as well as a short fragment of the 2.b. "Homily of St. John Chrysostolll 011 St. Steven the Martyr" (PG, 59, 701), are taken

·11 According to more recent studies, this text of Sf. Gregory was ill fact composed with [onrreeu chapters; d. D. Balfour, Sainr Gregor}' the Sinaire: Discourse Of) the Tmnsfigurerion (Arheus, 1983), 1'1'.109-114.

.I2ef. D. Sraniloae, Viap ".j jf)vi{,irura SflnruJlIi Grigorie Pajama, Cli trei rrsture trsduse

(Sibiu, 1938).


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

from the second Triadas (chapters two and three). By that time, there was already a critical edition of all the works of this Father, published by E Christon. Staniloae referred to Christon's first volume (Thessalonica, 1962, pp. 507-613) for the texts already mentioned. For the third work of Gregory Palamas, 3. "On Divine and Deifying Participation" tDespre impertssireo dumnezeiescd §i indumnezeitosre; ssu despre simplizatea dumnczeiescs §i 111ai presus de fire), he draws from the second volume edited byChristou (Thessalcnica, 1966, pp. 137-163). The last work of Palamas presented in this volume, 4. "Topics of Natural and Theological Science and on the Moral and Ascetic Life: One Hundred and Fifty Texts" (150 Capece despre cunostinie natnrsls, despre cunossteree lui D1l1l1JJeZell, despre viafa morals §i despre faptllire), was translated according to the Greek edition of the Philokalia and PG, 150, 1121-1225 (there was no critical edition at that time). Because Staniloae had already extensively stud ied the history and theological problems related to St. Gregory Palamas, his introduction and footnotes are of high quality - though, in my opinion, a little too polemical against Roman Catholicism.

volume VIff

This volume, containing mostly the final texts of the Greek Philokslie, begins with the hundred texts of "Method and Rule" (Metoda §i regllJii Iosrtc HmaIJIl1Jfital of Callistos and Ignatius Xanthopoulos, with other texts 1. "On Prayer" (Capere desprc rllgac111JJe) and 2. "Subsequent Chapters" (Capete care all Iipsit) attributed to Patriarch Kallistus. In his introduction, Staniloae tries to resolve the problems concerning the authors and manuscripts of this complex and difficult work. Once again referring to Romanian manuscripts, his contribution in this case is an


important one and worth consulting for any study of this work. For his

translation, Staniloae uses the Greek version [rom the third edition of the Greek Philokslis (vol. V, Athens, 1963).

A short work, 1. "The Art of Quiet" (Me§te§ugui iiI1i§tin}) of Callistos Angelicudes, together with 2. "Texts of the Holy Fathers on Prayer and Attention" tCulegerc din SfiI1fii PariJJfi desprc rugdciune §i lusres amiJJte) are presented next by Father Dumitru in the Romanian translation, with a short introduction. His translation was made on the basis of both the Greek Philokeli» and the Latin translation present in PG, 147, 817-832. These are followed by the work of another Callistos, Caraphy-

Durni tru Sraniloae and His Pbilokslie


giotes, "On the Union with God and on the Contemplative Life" (Ceie ce s-su piistrst din capetele prea inslte §i de drespoi jlldecata <silogistice> despre unires dumnezeisscs §i viats contcmpletiviiv. Staniloae consulted Romanian archives for this text, too, and noticed that it must have been very popular and widely read, due to its presence in many manuscripts. His translation of the 92 texts, based on the Greek Philoksli» and 147, 836-894, is accompanied by an ample number - almost two hundred! - of very well elaborated footnotes.

At the end of this volume, leaving out some of the works which are originally presented in both Greek and nco-Greek, Father Dumitru included without any introduction the text attributed to St. Symeon the New Theologian about "The Method of Prayer and Attention" (Metoda siintei rugiiciuni §i etentiuni), which he translated not according to the Greek Philokelie, but according to the critical edition of 1. Hausherr." Next, following the Greek Pbilokslis, Staniloae translated a text about "The Life of Holy Father Maximos Causocalybas" (Din vists Cuviosului Pdrintelui nostru Maxim Cevsocslivitub: He subsequently concluded the volume with a text from the Life of St. Gregory Palamas, "About the Fact that All Christians Should Pray without Ceasing" (Ca tofi crestini) indeobste trebuie sa se mage netncctaq. As an appendix to the volume, Father Dumitru added his own study entitled "I-lesychasm and the Jesus Prayer in the Romanian Orthodox Tradition." Finally, with this volume Staniloae actually finished his translation of the Pbilokslis of Makarios and Nikodimos. Yet, his own version was to continue.

Volumes IXXlf

The next four volumes contain works which belong to the theological and spiritual current that can be called "philokalical," even if they are not present in any other version of the Philokslis. Their addition, nonetheless, provides a complimentary patrimony which sheds light on the preceding authors and their works. However, since they do not belong directly to what has been traditionally called the Pbilokelia, this article will not address them ill detail. Staniloae included works which are important for the Christian tradition and which have their own line of

Hef. l. Hauseherr, "La methode t1'oraison hesychasre," in Orienrslin Clmsrieue Periodic», no. 36 (1937), pp. 150-170.


Durnitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

studies and interests, so it should suffice at this point to simply identify the additional authors: St. John Klimacos and Dorotheo of Gaza (Volume IX); Saints Barsanuphie and John (Volume X); St. Isaac of Nineveh (Volume XI), whose works are so deeply related to the history and spirituality of many Eastern Churches; and Isaiah the Hermit (Volume XII). In all of these volumes, Staniloae wrote very valid introductions, often containing also information fr0111 Romanian manuscripts. Just as in the previous volumes, there are sometimes excellent footnotes, and as much as it was possible the most recent and critical editions were used for his translations.



The most obvious conclusion to be drawn after the above analyses is that the whole work is complex from many points of view. But there are some dimensions of this complexity which seem to be most characteristic and important:

1. The first is to recognize Father Dumitru Staniloae's contribution as the first on the vast horizon of theological studies of the twentieth century to have initiated the translation of the Philokslia in modern languages. Although political difficulties and working alone caused the overall project to take a long time, it was still one of the first endeavors of its kind. Staniloae's intuition (or perhaps even "prophecy") to make this eminent Christian anthology accessible to the Church and people of his time was a pioneering effort to his credit.

2. It can be said that Father Durnitru generally continued the tradition of the Greek Philokslis published by Nikodimos and Makarios at the end of the eighteenth century. However, within the original framework of the Greek pattern, this Romanian theologian introduces some changes and innovations. First of all, he sometimes modified the order of the works and authors based on his principle of correcting the chronology, making full use of the results of the then recent critical studies. Father Dumitru even inserted other works and sometimes, though rarely, eliminated some. The most outstanding novelty was his addition of the last four volumes.

3. As much as possible, Staniloae based his translations on the most critical editions. Since his work took many years, however, not always were critical editions accessible or used. Thus, even his own edition suffers from inconsistency, especially the first volumes, which in turn should

Dumitru Staniloae and His Pbilokelis


require corrections. Such irregularities, however, do not take away from the valuable contributions he made concerning textual questions in many of the works. This creative dimension of his Philoksli» also shows that he was not a simple, "passive" translator, but ratber, that he understood his mission within tbe tradition in a very active and inventive way. Whoever may one day undertake - and it should be done indeed! - the critical edition of Pbilokslis (or shall it be called, Neo-Philoksliai would benefit from the results of the work of Dumitru Staniloae.

4. His use of the original texts and his introductions and notes, especially in the more recent volumes, are valid not only for consideration by experts but also by the public at large. The very original way in which Staniloae sought to render bis Philokslie accessible to people is an example to be followed in future editions. Father Dumitru was successful in achieving a' harmonious balance between a critical or academical level and a popular one. In fact, the latter seems to have been his true objective.

5. It must also be said that Staniloae's work created a new and deeper relation between Romania, its culture, Church, and Philokelia. Our study showed how in a certain point of his translations Father Dumitru became aware of doing something specifically "Romanian," that he was producing a "Romanian" Philokelis which would have its own place in the whole context of all Philokeliss. Not only did he create this "Romanian Philokslie," but he also tried to introduce the idea that Romania with its Christian patrimony and culture is also philokalical. So, beyond ushering the Philokalis into Romania, he sought to identify Romanian traditions with the spirit of Philoksli». Was be rigbt?

6. Finally, I think that there is something very unique about Staniloae's Philokelis to be found on a deeper level than any particular aspect of the texts, introductions, or notes. The difference between his Pbilokslie and the other ones so often translated and published in the twentieth century lies in a certain "spirit" of Staniloae's Philokslis. Likewise, there is a spirit of Pbilokslis in Staniloae which makes his work more than a mere translation. He shows with this work and by his life that he was convinced of doing something important and unique, to the point of almost incarnating in himself the spirit inherent in the Philoksli». A deep and personal link was established between Staniloae himself and the Philokalis - a spirit which expresses itself in his theological

52 Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

work and life. Staniloae was deeply marked by the Philokelia, but by his own spirit he also deeply marked the Philokelie. It is this mysterious "synergy" (Phjiokaija-Staniloae) - probably generated by the Holy Spirit - that enables us to talk about a Philokslis of Staniloae and about his theology being philokalical. To use another theological and classical term to describe the dynamic, there seems to have been a certain "perichoresis," a mutual, deep, and interior inter-penetration, between Father Dumitru and the Philokslis. His encounter with this anthology of tradition was providential and fruitful in creating "something" which shines forth from both his personality and his Philokelis. Not only does this work of his contribute to the whole tradition of Christianity, it will most likely continue to bear fruits in the life of the Churches. Perhaps, then, it would not be exaggerated to ascribe Father Dumitru Staniloae with the title "Doctor Philocalicus."

The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology of Dumitru Staniloae '

Andrew Louth

The name of Fr. Dumitru Staniloae, the Romanian Orthodox theologian who died in his ninetieth year in 1993, is not yet well-known outside ecumenical circles interested in Orthodoxy? This state of affairs may be sent to change with the completion of the German translation of his Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (Teologia dogmstics ortodoxd, 3 vols., Bucharest, 1978) in 1995 and the issue of the first volume of the English translation in 1994, with the rest expected in the near future.? The publication of these volumes will do more than simply make Fr. Dumitru's thought better known; it will also serve to make Orthodox theology itself

IThis chapter was originally published as "Review Essay: The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology of Dumitru Srauiloae," in Modern Theology, 13, no. 2 (April 1997), pp. 253-267. It is reprinted here with permission from Blackwell Publishers.

2Even in Rowan Williams' survey of modern Eastern Orthodox theology in David Ford, ed., The Modern Theologians, vol. 2 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), pp. 152-170, he is barely mentioned.

JThe German translation by Hermann Pitters is published as Ortbodoxe Dognisrik, 3 vols. (Okumenische Theologie 12, 15, 16, Solorhurn and Diisseldorff: Benziger Verlag! Gutersloh: Curersloh Verlagshaus Gerd Molin 1984-1995 [Benziger] [=0]. The first volume (in fact the first half-volume of the Romanian original, to which rhe German volumes correspond) of the English translation, by loan lonita and Robert Barringer, is published as The Experience of God (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1994) [=E]. Vol. 1 of the German translation is now our-of-print, and I am indebted to the librarian of the Monastery of Sf. John rhe Baptist, Tolleshunr Knights, Essex, England, for a long loan of their copy.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity ill Theology

more accessible in the West. Hitherto, the only comprehensive surveys of Orthodox theology that have been available have been translations (into English or French) of older Orthodox Dogmatics, belonging to the period of what Georges Florovsky called a "Babylonian captivity," something that was not confined to Russian Orthodoxy. Vladimir Lossky's Ortbodox Theology is extremely brief; apart from that, there have been only writings of a predominantly historical or occasional nature (the grand sweep of Bulgakov's majestic trilogy is now available complete in French, but he is more a religious philosopher than a theologian, though certainly no less interesting for that).

The blurb on one of the German volumes describes Fr. Dumitru as "one of the most prolific representatives of Orthodox theology." The truth of this is revealed in the bibliography compiled by Professor Anghelescu and Deacon loan Ica Jr. in the Festschrilrfor Fr. Dumitru's ninetieth birthday (which turned out in the event to be a Gedeokschritii." it runs to fifty pages and includes hundreds of items. It also reveals why, despite such prodigious output, Fr. Dumitru's name is not well-known outside his native Romania. For Fr. Dumitru had a deeply practical understanding of the role of the theologian, who is to interpret the times for the benefit of his fellow-Christians. So, whereas the list of theological articles runs to 210 items, the items of journalism, especially in Te/egrahzl Roman, which he edited for many years, runs to twice that: precisely 420. Such ephemeral - "epiousial" might be a better word - writing is not likely to find readers from another country, or even in another period: but that should not disguise its importance, especially when one considers the "interesting times" (to use the terms of the Chinese curse) through which Fr. Durnitru lived. Another massive part of his work, which is by its nature of little interest outside Romania, is his work of translation: 29 volumes are listed, plus 4 "in the press." First comes his translation of Androutsos' Dogmatics of tile Eastern Orthodox Church (1907; Staniloae's translation, 1930). The importance of this translation was not intrinsic, for as he translated it (as a doctoral student in Athens in the late 1920s), he came to feel the inadequacies of this "scholastic" approach to Orthodox theology: a legacy of the resistance to the Protestautising influence of the Ecumenical Patriarch Cyril Loukaris in the seventeenth century by such as

"M. Pacurariu and loan l. lea, Jr., eds., Persoanii si comuniune (Sibiu: Editura ~i tiparul Arhiepiscopiei ortodoxe Sibiu, 1993) [=Festschri(tJ. For the bibliography see 1'1'.20-67.

The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology of Dumitru Staniloae


Peter Mogila and Dosithe os of jerusalem (on whom Staniloae was writing his Athens doctoral thesis), both of whom had links with what is now Romania. Like Fr. Georges Florovsky - and about the same time - this led Staniloae to turn back to the springs of Orthodox theology: the Greek Fathers. It is to the recovery of this - and making it available to his fellow-Romanian Christians, not just to scholars - that the bulk of Fr. Dumitru's labour of translation was devoted. Between 1946 and 1991, there appeared the twelve substantial volumes (typically of about 400 pp. each) of the Romanian translation of the Philokslie. It is based on the Philokelis ol the Holy Ascetics, compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mountain and St. Makarios of Corinth, and published in Venice in 1782 (the Slavonic translation of the Pbilokslie, the Dobrotolubiye, has links with Fr. Dumitru's homeland, for it was in that part of Moldavia that is now in Romania that St. Paissij Velichkovskij spent the latter years of his life). But unlike the English translation, which is nearing completion,' Fr. Durnitru did more than translate the texts compiled by the two Atbonite saints and update Nikodimos' introductions. From the very beginning, he supplemented substantially the texts of the original Philokslis, and in addition to providing his own introductions, Fr. Dumitru accompanied the texts with commentaries. Each element of this conception - the choice of the Philokslis itself, its supplementation, and his commentary - is significant for Fr. Dumitru's conception of the renewal of Orthodox theology in the modern world.

The Philokslis itself suggests a particular approach to theology. As

the editors of the English translation put it:

Pbilokslis itself means love of the beautiful, and exalted, the excellent, understood as the transcendent source of life and the revelation of Truth. It is through such love that, as the subtitle of the original edition puts it, "the intellect is purified, illumined, and made perfect." The texts ... show the way to awaken and develop attention and consciousness, to attain the state of wakefulness which is the hall-mark of sanctity. They describe the conditions most effective for learning what their authors call the art of arts and the science of sciences, a learning which is not a matter of

S The Plulokelie. The Complete Text, Compiled by St. Nikodimos of the Holy Mounrein and Sr. Msksrios of Corinth, translated from the Greek and edited by G.E.I-I. Palmer, Philip Sherrard, and Kallistos Ware, 4'Yolumes so far (London and Boston: Faber and Faber, 1979-1995).


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

informa tion or agility of mind bu t of a radical change of will and heart leading man towards the highest possibilities open to him, shaping and nourishing the unseen part of his being, and helping him to spiritual fulfillment and union with God. The Philokali» is an itinerary through the labyrinth of time, a silent way of love and gnosis through the deserts and ernptinesses of life, especially of modern life, a vivifying and fadeless presence. It is an active force revealing a spiritual path and inducing man to follow it. It is a summons to him to overcome his ignorance, to uncover the knowledge that lies within, to rid himself of the illusion, and to be receptive to the grace of the Holy Spirit who teaches all things and brings all things to remembrance."

To return to the Greek Fathers in such a spirit is more than an academic "return to the sources;" it is tile recovery of an understanding of theology that seeks to set men and women on the road to an openness to God and experience of his healing grace: it is a theology that is both spiritual and pastoral.

The Philokalis is an anthology of texts chosen from a specific perspective: that of the Athonite monk who treasures the tradition of prayer that developed on the Holy Mountain, a tradition that includes practice of the Jesus prayer and embraces the hope of transfiguration by the divine energies in prayer, as defended by St. Gregory Palamas in the fourteenth century. The Philokalie is arranged chronologically and culminates with selections from St. Gregory Palamas and his supporters and defenders: on the way there are selections from the Fathers to whom the hesychasts (or Palamites) appealed, notably the greatest of Byzantine theologians, the seventh-century St. Maximos the Confessor. In its original form the Pliilokelie is predominantly devotional: in the case of both St. Maximos and St. Gregory their more speculative writings are excluded, or presented in a heavily anthologized form, Fr. Dumitru had greater confidence in his readers' ability to scale the heights of Byzantine theology, and perhaps a greater sense of the significance of, in particular, the cosmic dimension of Byzantine theology, not least for this century, than did the saints Nikodimos and Makarios. So, as well as the more devotional works of Maximos, Fr. Dumitru included the whole of one of his great theological works, Questions to Thslsssius. The section on

6 PJ1JJokaJia, vol. 1(1979), pp. 13-14.

Tile Orthodox Dogmatic Theology of Dumitru Staniloae


Symcon the New Theologian (pp. 949-1022) is expanded from the few pages devoted to him in the original to include virtually all his prose works. Authors not present at all in the original are added: notably, St. John Klimakos, Dorotheos of Gaza, the "Great Old Man" of Gaza and the "Other Old Man" - Varsanuphios and John, and St. Isaac the Syrian, the seventh-century Nestorian Bishop of Nineveh. Apart fr0111 expanding Pliilokslis in this way, Fr. Dumitru published translations (with introduction and notes) of other Fathers to whom he was devoted: St. Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers - St. Gregory of Nazianzos ("the Theologian") and St. Gregory of Nyssa - St. Cyril of Alexandria, and St. Denys the Areopagite. I-Ie also published translations of two other great works of St. Maximos the Confessor: his Mystsgogis, a commentary on the Eucharistic l.iturgy, and the two collections of Ambigua, or "difficulties."

If one looks at the Greek Fathers who are central to Fr. Durnitru - Athanasius, the Cappadocians, Cyril, Denys, Maximos, Symeon, and Gregory Palainas - a familiar pattern emerges: for these are the Fathers central to the "Nee-Patristic" synthesis that was so dear to Fr. Georges Florovsky, but was only sketched out in his mainly occasional writings, the same Fathers to whom Vladimir Lossky had constant recourse, notably in his Mystics! Theology of the Eastern Church/ This places Fr. Dumitru and his understanding of Orthodox theology among some of the Orthodox theologians whose names are most familiar in the West. He is not marginal, he is not even simply a bridge between East and West, or between Russian and Greek Orthodoxy: he is at the center of what many would regard as the liveliest and most original movement in modern Orthodox thought.

But third: the commentary (or notes) that accompanies the texts in the Romanian Philokslie. The lack of any commentary in the original Philokslia was almost certainly, no oversight. The volumes were not intended for private reading, but to provide suitable texts for someone already under the guidance of a spiritual father. In fact, the history of the Philokslia in the Slav world is virtually identical with the history of the restoration of the place of spiritual fatherhood, stsrchestvo, among the Slavs. But as the West learned at the end of the Middle Ages, the printed word cannot be bound to institutions in the ways manuscripts call. St.

70riginally published in French (Paris: Aubier, Editions Montaigne, 1944); English translation: London: James Clarke, 1957.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Nikodimos himself probably envisaged that the Philokslia would be read outside the monastic context," though perhaps without realizing what that would entail: as we can see from the nineteenth-century Russian work, known in English as The way of the Pilgrim, on its own the Philokslie could occasion as much puzzlement as enlightenment. However, from the beginning, Fr. Durnitru envisaged readers who would need the help of a commentary, not simply because of the straitened circumstances of the Church under the Communists, but also because, with his inclusion of a great deal of intellectually demanding material, there was need to make explicit the coinherence of the mind and the heart, of theology and prayer, that the Pbilokelis presupposes. But the importance of commentary on the Fathers goes further even than that for Fr. Dumitru: it is his preferred way of interpreting the Fathers in the twentieth century. This can be most clearly illustrated from the example of St. Maximos. For, on the one hand, of all the Fathers, St. Maximos is perhaps the one from whom Fr. Dumitru draws his deepest inspiration and, on the other, his commentaries on Maximos are more available in the West: his introductions and notes on the Mystagogia and the Ambigus have been translated ill Greek," and most recently his notes have been appended to a French translation of the Ambigua (in this French edition, the notes run to 165 pages, compared with 272 pages of the text, which is printed in much larger type)." It is only in this [the twentieth] century that Maximos has been restored to Christian consciousness: and that recovery is far from complete. The first great work on Maximos was Hans Urs von Balthasar's Kosmische Liturgic (1941), a work of characteristic genius that makes Maximos a key figure in Balthasar's interpretation of the nature of the divide between Eastern and Western Christendom (and in the expanded 1961 edition the key to the gulf between Asia and "das Abendland"). That was followed by the careful work of the Benedictine, Polycarp Sherwood, and the Swedish Lutheran scholar, Lars Thunberg, and in

'See the English translators' introduction to the Plnloicsli«, vol. I (1979), p. 15. 9j\1ysr;lgogi'1 /011 hsgiou Mnximou tou Homologerou; and Philosophiks Elkai tlieologic» eroremsrs, tou hsgiou Msximou tou Homologerou; vol. 1, translated by I. Sakales with introduction and notes by D. Staniloae iEp! las pe.lJas 1, 4; Athens: Ekdosis Aposrolike Diaconia, 1973, 1978).

IOSaint Maxime Ie Confesseur, Ambigus, translated by E. Ponsoye, introduced by J.-c.

Larchet, commentaries by Fr. Dumitru Staniloae (Collection l'Arbre de Jesse, Paris-Suresnes:

Les Editions de I' Ancre, 1994).

The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology of Durnitru Staniloae


the 1970s and early 1980s, a group of French Catholics, mainly Dominicans, who found Thomist features in the great Byzantine theologian. Fr. Dumitru is familiar with all this scholarship and has drawn from it, but his approach is different (of those mentioned, he is perhaps closest to Thunberg). For Maximos presents his thought in an essentially unsystematic way (in this he is simply typical of the Fathers, for whom systematic presentations are almost invariably introductory, for example St. Gregory of Nyssa's Great Cstecheticsl Oration, or St. John of Damaskos's Exposition of the Orthodox Faith). Virtually all of it is either occasional - responses to questions about passages in the Scriptures and the Fathers (the Ambigua are notes on "difficult" passages from St. Gregory the Theologian, and one difficult passage from Denys the Areopagite)!' - or catechetical- "centuries" of brief thoughts as a help to prayer and living the Christian life (it is these that found a place in the original Philokalia). There is a "system" there, but it is heuristic rather than exhaustive, open not closed. Fr. Duruitru's engagement with Maximos' thought respects this, and he finds commentary the best way of pursuing this: commentary of a paragraph or so - sometimes a page - that elucidates significant themes by drawing attention to other discussions elsewhere in Maximos' work, and to later reflection in Orthodox Fathers (in some ways not unlike Maximos' own commentary on the Fathers, though Maximos' commentaries are sometimes brief treatises). Such commentary consists of a re-thinking of Maximos' thoughts: a re-thinking that is inevitably, if it is to be re-thinking, not repetition but an engagement with contemporary concerns. In these commentaries, Maximos is not reduced to some system, whether imposed on him or deduced from him, nor is he simply seen as the convergence of one or more currents of late antique thought (Ne oplatonism, Evagrianism, "Macariauism," or whatever). Rather, he is found to be the source of insights into our engagement with God in the world, fostered by the Church and life of prayer: the commentaries are to help the reader benefit from these insights.

Fr. Dumitru's Teologia dogmetioi ortodoxs is the fruit of his lifelong engagement with the Greek Fathers, as well as a life devoted to

"For an introductory discussion of the nature of such commentary by Maxirnos, see my "Sr. Gregory rhe Theologian and Sr. Maximos the Confessor: The Shaping of the Tradirion," in The Making and Remaking'oI Christisn Doctrine: Essays in Honour of Mnurice If1Je5; Sarah Coakley and David Pailin, eds. (Oxford, 1993), pp. 117-130.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

teaching theology in Orthodox theological seminaries, first in Sibiu from 1929 to 1949, and then until his retirement in 1973, in Bucharest (apart from the five years from 1958-1963, when he was imprisoned by the Communist authorities, or as be preferred to put it, "when he simply carried his cross, which is the normal condition for any Christian: there is no need to talk about it")." It was published in 1978 when he was 75. From what has been said about the essentially unsystematic nature of patristic theology, it might appear something of a paradox to publish a Neo-Patristic dogmatic theology: this is doubtless partly why Fr. Dumitru holds the field alone. It does not seem to me that the completion of the work simply dispels the paradox (as Achilles overtakes the tortoise by simply walking). There is the danger that Fr. Dumitru will be drawn back into the constrains of the "systematic" that he sought to avoid by turning to the Fathers.P The structure of his Orthodox Dogmatics holds no surprises (though, as we shall see, there are more than a few surprises when one explores some of the nooks and crannies within the structure). The first part is on "Revelation as the source of the Christian faith and the Church as the organ and the medium of realizing the truth of revelation and letting it bear fruit" (translating the headings that appear in the German though not in the English translation), which includes "Revelation, ways of knowing God, the doctrine of God and his attributes, and the doctrine of the Trinity" (this is volume 1 of the English translation); the second part is on "the world as the work of God's love, which has been brought into being to be deified," meaning creation (including the creation of the angels), fall, and providence (parts one and two form volume 1 of the German translation and the Romanian original); the third part concerns "Jesus Christ as person and the work of salvation he accomplished through his assumption of human nature;" the fourth part discusses "the fulfillment of Christ's work of redemption," devoted to the

12As Olivier Clement reports: Festschrilr; pp. 82-83.

IJSince writing this I learnt from a Romanian friend (1.1. lca Jr.) that Fr. Dumirru was working under considerable constraints in producing his Orthodox Dogmstics. In 1976 the Romanian Orthodox Church as had been granted grudging permission by the ideological committee of the Communist Party to publish a handbook of Church dogmatics. Sta niloae was obliged to produce a book that would look to the censors like a dogmatic handbook. My remarks should therefore be read less as criticism, than a comment on the inevitable consequences of trying to pour the new wine of the Neo-Parrisric synthesis into the old borrles of the traditional dogmatic structure.

The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology of Durnitru Staniloae


work of the Holy Spirit, and includes discussion of the "theandric constiunion of the Church," the priesthood and the notes of the Church, and the personal appropriation of the salvation in the Church through the work of the Holy Spirit and human synergy (parts three and four form volume 2 of the German and the original); the fifth part is "On the Holy Sacraments," and the sixth part on "Eschatology or the Doctrine of the Future Life" (parts five and six form volume 3).

Fr. Dumitru does not agonize about the structure of his dogmatics, as Barth did, and that is perhaps because nothing much hangs on the structure: it does not clothe a system. But there are some structural points worth noting. First, in his treatment of creation, Fr. Dumitru starts with the human person: this is untraditional, but I am sure it is deliberate (he bas a good deal to say about the angels later on): contrast Barth, who also deals with human creation first, but for whom the section on the angels and demons is clearly an appendix. It is bound up with an important insight he derives from St. Maximos and states for the first time only a few pages into his dogmatics. Fr. Dumitru recalls the traditional (patristic a nd classical) ideal of the human person as a microcosm, but goes on to say that, according to Maxirnos,

The more correct way would be to consider man as a macrocosm, because he is called to comprehend the whole world within himself as one ca pable of comprehend ing it without loosing himself, for he is distinct from the world. Therefore, man effects a unity grea rer than the world exterior to himself, whereas on the contrary, the world, as cosmos, as nature, cannot contain man fully within itself, without loosing him, that is, without loosing in this way the most important part of reality, that part which, more than all others, gives reality its meaning. The idea that man is called to become a world writ large has a more precise expression, however, in the term "macro-anthropos." (E, p. 4)

This highly characteristic appropriation from St. Maximos (which is echoed in St. Gregory Palarnas' conviction that the human being is more perfectly in the image of God than the angels because of his greater COl11- plexity)!" both places the personal at the center of Fr. Durnitru's doctrine

14See Gregory Palamas, One Hundred and Fifty Chnprers, pp. 62-64 (R.E. Sinkewicz, eel., Studies and Tesrs 83, Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies, 1988, pp. 154- 158).


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

of creation and gives the personal cosmic significance.!' Secondly, It IS interesting to note that Christ's work of redemption is presented in terms of Christ's threefold office as Prophet, Priest, and King. Fr. Durnitru declares that it is patristic (without any references), but it was only with Calvin's Institntes that the notion of Christ's threefold office assumed the structural significance with which he invests it." There is nothing wrong with an Orthodox borrowing from Calvin, though it would be gracious to admit it: Fr. Durnitru, however, was probably borrowing from Orthodox Dogmatics. But it is this dependence on the structure of earlier Orthodox Dogmatics (which borrowed their structure from Catholic and Protestant models) that may conceal dangers. Such dangers emerge, it seems to me, in his treatment of the seven sacraments. For the idea of seven sacraments, distinct and set apart from other sacramental acts, is a Western idea that only emerges in the twelfth century. It was only accepted by the Orthodox under pressure from the West, explicitly, by the Emperor Michael VIII Paleologos after the Council of Lyon (1274), and in reaction against Protestant influence by such as Dositheos and Peter Mogila. In the West it was bound up with the notion of Dominical institution and the mystique of the number seven. It is made easier in the West by the clear separation of baptism and confirmation. Fr. Dumitru has to keep to this separation, although it corresponds to no reality in Orthodox practice, and finds himself defending Dorninical institution in a very forced way. It also leads him to misunderstand some of the ingenuity devoted to this topic by Catholic theologians such as Karl Rahner. It also means that he draws a veil over the variety of ways in which sacraments are treated by the Fathers, very nearly ceiling himself off hom some of the sources of his theology (e.g. Nicholas Kabasilas, whom be quotes a good deal, both of wbose major works, his Commentsry all the Divine Liturgy and his LHe 11] Christ, presuppose a rather different, more Dionysian approach to the sacraments). Here, it seems to me, the structure has become a strait-jacket, though what is pressed into the straitjacket is often arresting and profoundly moving (it also means that some

15Rather ullcharacteristically, Fr. Dumitru gives no references here for his inrerprerarion of Maximos. So far as I am aware, Maximos nowhere calls man a macrocosm or mskros kosmos, though the reasoning Staniloae gives is a good summary of Arnbigu« 41; similarly the idea of the cosmos as a macro-anrhropos is present in J\1ystagogia 7, bur not the word.

i('5ee J.F. Jansen, Calvin's Doctrine otrlie Work 0/ Christ (London: James Clarke, 1956), pp. 16-38.

The Orthodox Dogmatic TJleo}ogyof Dumitru Staniloae


of his sacramental teaching appears elsewhere in his teaching on creation as a gift bearing the mark of the cross, for instance).

The doctrine that is expressed in these structures is worked out in engagement with a variety of sources. The blurb on the first volume of the German translation suggests that Fr. Durnitru's understanding of Orthodox theology is "developed not only, as is usual, simply in conversation with the Church Fathers, but rather [vie} mehri in dialogue with Protestant and Catholic brothers." This seems to me to be misleading (the claim is dropped from the later volumes). It is certainly true that, in his later years, Fr. Durnitru was involved in the ecumenical movement and made many friends. But that did not mean that his understanding of the Orthodox Church as the true Church of Christ was in any way weakened: the two chapter on "The Church as the Instrument for Reserving Revelation" and "Theology as Ecclesial Service" (E, pp. 53-94) are quite uncompromising and later on he makes clear his view that outside the Orthodox Church there is no proper apostolic succession (0, vol. III, pp. 141-142). Nor does it appear from these volumes that he was very receptive to Western theology. Certainly, he does refer to his Western contemporaries - Barth occasionally, Rahner quite frequently, Balthasar, Schlier, and for eschatology, Althaus - but his attitude to Western theology is quite negative, even uncom prehen ding. In his reference to Rahner on the sacraments, just mentioned, he does not seem to appreciate that Rahner was concerned with the problem, implicit in a modern reception, of the twelfth-century doctrine of the seven sacraments, of what sense to make of the notion of institution when a modern reading of the New Testament evidence fails to provide the historical data required. Similarly, in his discussion of the ideas of Rahner and Boros on that, he does not appreciate that for both of them there is a real problem about the nature of time in relation to death: for the moment of death cannot be regarded as a moment through which one lives like other moments of one's life, although much traditional language seems to suppose it is (including some of what Fr. DU111itru seems to be saying). But these are particular points: more serious, and recurrent, is his conviction that the notion of satisfaction is central to a Western understanding of the atonement and that it undergirds (or rather undermines) the whole Western understanding of the Church and the sacraments. In fact, the passages he cites from Barth, Raimer, and Balthasar, insistent that the notion of satisfaction must be retained, seems to me not so much central to their understanding


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

of the atonement, as protecting their flank against liberal understandings of atonement which, in dispensing with the notion of satisfaction, jettison any notion of an objective atonement. This prejudice (it can hardly be called anything else) against Western theology leads him to say of Rahner's notion of the Church as the primordial sacrament [UrsakrameIJt] that he "does nothing else than draw the logical conclusion from the Catholic doctrine of grace as the created 'effect of grace' [GIJadeIJeffekiJ of the death of Christ of which the Church disposes which is therefore detachable from Christ" (0, vol. III, p. 24). That is an unjust caricature. There is, it seems to me, little real engagement with Western theology ill Fr. Durnitru's dogmatics, although there is a readiness to point out its deficiencies.

His real sources are Orthodox. This means, predominantly the Fathers, his engagement with whom we have already discussed. But it also includes the lived liturgical experience of the Orthodox Church. This is strikingly true of the final volume with its consideration of the sacraments and eschatology. It is this emphasis on the lived - the "existential" Fr. Dumitru often says - nature of theological reflection that constitutes the dynamism of his thought. He is not concerned, as Tillich for instance was, with an engagement between modern thought and theology, in which modern thought posed questions to which the resources of theology endeavored to find answers, for that seems to place "modern man" over against the theologian. Rather, Fr. Dumitru is concerned with an engagement that takes place within his own mind and heart - and if there, then in the minds and hearts of those who engage with what he says - minds and hearts shaped by an experience in the modern world (where else?), but also endeavoring to live in the tradition of the Church that goes back to the apostles and beyond, through the experience of Israel, to creation itself. The clearest example of this engagement is his sense of the personal. Running through the whole of his theology - from his understanding of the Trinitarian God to the Church and his understanding of the development of the human person - there is a keen sense of the importance of the personal. The themes individually at least will be familiar to any modern Christian: the distinction between a merely atomistic conception of the individual and the notion of the personal as developing through engagement with other persons in love, in community; the idea of mutual address - I and Thou; a sense of the mystery of the personal as disclosing the nature of love and the nature of

The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology of Dumitru Staniloae


God. One detects the influence of Buber, but I do not think he is named anywhere in Fr. Dumitru's dogmatics: that is perhaps because the immediate influence on him was the ideas of the Russian emigres, not least Nicholas Berdyaev. But the question of influence is not important (you will not find in Staniloae much 011 the influences on St. Maximos, so important to Western-trained scholars including myself); what is important is that in his engagement with this cluster of ideas, Fr. Dumitru is both clearly open to modern ideas and at the same time finds here concepts that crystallize in a striking way intuitions of the Fathers. He does not try to reduce the notion of the personal to something patristic (as some Orthodox writers sometimes seem to do); rather he recognizes in this aspect of modern thought the deepening of a patristic insight. At the same time, he preserves a patristic dimension that is usually entirely lacking from the modern notion of personality: that of the cosmic, as enfolded with the personal. So, he insists that the very beginning of his treatment of creation that "within 'world' there is to be understood both nature as well as humankind" (0, vol. I, p. 293): an emphasis that one misses in the volumes of Barth's ScJJopfimgsle/Jre. This engagement with the modern world also reaches beyond the intellectual: even in his dogmatics, Fr. Dumitru is concerned to say something that will reach those not accustomed to think in terms of concepts.

All of this can perhaps be made clearer by a couple of examples, drawn from very different parts of his Orthodox Dogmatics: his discussion of our knowledge of God, in the first part, a discussion which manifests the originality of a mind deeply attuned to tradition, and, from the final part, his discussion of the state of souls between death and the Last Judgement.

As one would expect from an Orthodox theologian, Fr. Dumitru's discussion of our knowledge of God emphasizes the apophatic, that is the place of denial, the rejection of concepts and images in our knowledge of God. But in contrast to a tendency to isolate the apophatic (a tendency he finds in Vladimir Lossky and Christos Yannaras, and from which he distances himself: E, p. 123, note 8), Fr. Dumitru finds in the patristic tradition - drawing not only on Denys the Areopagite, but on St. John Chrysostom and the two Cappadocian Gregories, especially - a complementarity of cataphatic and apophatic theologies, theologies of affirmation and denial. Denial does, not undermine affirmation, rather it undergirds and preserves it:


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

To rise above the things of the world does not mean that these disappear; it means, through them, to rise beyond them. And since they remain, the apopharic knowledge of God does not exclude affirmative rational knowledge .... In apophatic knowledge the world remains, but it has become transparent of God. This knowledge is apophatic because the God who now is perceived cannot be defined; be is experienced as a reality which transcends all possibility of definition. (E, p. 99)

This complementarity of apophatic and cataphatic theology is true of our natural knowledge of God, though there it is fleeting. But it is true, of revealed theology, for revelation reveals a God who is unknown, by which Fr. Dumitru means that through faith in revelation there is disclosed to us both conceptions of God but, much more important, a sense of God as transcending anything that we can grasp of him. The apophatic is the experiential: it is a sense of God's overwhelming reality that grows within faith. Fr. Durnitru then puts forward a further step: this sense of God is something that will grow as we become more open to it, and that openness is a function of a growing purity and limpidity of our spiritual nature (something that is expressed through our bodily nature, not in contrast to it). As this happens, the sense of God develops from being a kind of "pressure" (as Fr. Dumitru puts it) to becoming a sense of the personal presence of God. This itself is expressed in terms of cataphatic and apophatic theology, "although the content of what is known transcends the content of such terms to a much greater extent than the knowledge of him through simple faith" (E, p. 177). This sense of the personal presence of God is, for this reason, expressed by the Fathers in terms of "union" rather than "knowledge:" as it grows in intensity or purity (something that is a result of our ascetic struggle and growth in love), it escapes any kind of definition and becomes totally apophatic. "The apophatic experience is equivalent to a sense of mystery that excludes neither reason nor sentiment, but it is more profound than these" (Ibid.).

A Western reader will be tempted to murmur "mysticism" at this point, but this is not at all the drift of Fr. Durnitru's considerations (at least not "mysticism" in terms of a rare, intense, individualistic experience, as this word has come to be understood in the modern West). For all of this is followed immediately by a remark that "the apophatic experience of God is a characteristic that gives definition to Orthodoxy in its liturgy, sacraments, and sacramentals" and by a section entitled "Knowl-

Tile Orthodox Dogmstic Theology of Durnitru Staniloae


edge of God in the Concrete Circumstance of Life." This begins with the asserti on:

If intellectual knowledge, both affirmative and negative, is more the product of theoretical reflection while it is in apophatic knowledge that people grow spiritually, then this latter knowledge is essen tial for all Christians in their practical life (Ibid.).

This apophatic knowledge of God is found in the daily circumstances of our life, as we experience God's care and guidance in joyful circumstances, in the demands others make on us, in the qualms of conscience when we do wrong, and in the way God leads us through all circumstances to himself, if only we will let hi111. "It is a thrilling, burdensome, painful, and joyful knowledge; it awakens within us our ability to respond; it gives fervor to prayer, and it causes our being to draw closer to God" (E, p. 118). This sense of the mystery of God "is experienced especially in those states of responsibility, consciousness of sinfulness, need of repentance, and in the insurmountable difficulties of life ... The difficult circumstances which pierce our being like nails urge us towards more deeply felt prayer. And during this kind of prayer the presence of God is more evident to us" (E, pp. 118-119). Such experience of God is apophatic because, although we can reflect on it, we cannot figure it out; it is something to endure in silence, in the silence of prayer. This chapter is immediately followed by Fr. Dumitru's discussion of the Palamite distinction between the unknowable essence of God and His energies through which He is known (a discussion which, as Bishop Kallistos remarks is his introduction to The Experience of God, is something of a novelty in Orthodox dogmatic handbooks: despite the councils of the fourteenth century which vindicated Palarnism, it is only recently that Palamite theology has had any serious impact in Orthodox intellectual circles, and Fr. Dumitru himself is notable among the trail-blazers). The distinction is important here in that it clarifies that God's providence, or His care, is a divine energy or activity. That is, it is God J-li111- self at work: to experience God's care is to experience God Himself. God does not deal with us at arm's length, so to speak; we encounter His personal presence. And this entails both the apophatic language of mystery and (the other side of the coin') the final goal of such encounter with God in becoming God, deification.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

One would not expect to find in a Western dogmatic theology much of the state of souls between death and the Last Judgement (except perhaps as a philosophical problem to do with their experience of time): Fr. Dumitru, however, devotes 40 pages to it. To the Orthodox mind, however, its importance is obvious, for this is the state of the greater part of the Church: there are more Christians who have passed into the "silence and light of Eternity" (to use the expression of Archimandrite Sophrony, Fr. Durnitru's near contemporary, who died a few months before him) than there are among the living. In the whole of this section on eschatology, as well as the section on the sacraments, one of the sources of Orthodox theology comes into its own: that is the liturgical ceremonies of the Orthodox Church, not just the texts, but also what takes place, what is expressed through what is done. In this connection, Fr. Dumitru reflects on the way in which, during the preparation of the Eucharistic liturgy, the piece of bread that is to be consecrated (the "Lamb") is surrounded by small particles of bread in "honor and memory" of the Mother of God and nine orders of angels and saints, and further particles in memory of the living and those who have fallen asleep, which are all finally placed in the consecrated chalice with a prayer for the "washing away by your holy Blood of the si ns of your servants here remembered" (0, vol. III, p. 264). This expresses the communion that exists between all those whose lives are enfolded in the Reason Christ, a communion that therefore transcends death. He discusses the services for the departed (for "those who have fallen asleep"), seeing in them a tangible way in which we can express our love for them; the care of the Mother of God and the saints expressed for us through their prayer; icons, as a visible realization of the closeness to us who are still living of those who have passed into the light of eternity. There is a brief discussion of the significance of the veneration of the relics of the saints in the Orthodox Church. Here, and in the discussion of the sacraments, but indeed throughout the whole of Fr. Dumitru's Orthodox Dogmatics - there is an exposition of doctrine that is more than a discussion of propositions; it is rather an elucidation of a way of life.

It has only been possible to touch on a few topics dealt with in Fr.

Dumitru's dogmatic theology. We have said little about his treatment of the Trinity, for instance, which is by no means confined to the pages devoted explicitly to this doctrine (E, pp. 245-280; 0, vol. I, pp. 256- 289): in the first chapter, dealing with natural revelation, Fr. Dumitru

The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology oi Durnitru Staniloae


uses language of the personal nature of God which, as the English translators point out, carefully avoids the notion of a God as "a person," so as to be open to the truth of a Trinity of Persons (E, p. 14, note 3); in the next chapter, on supernatural revelation, the trinitarian nature of God is quite explicit, and from then, right to the end it is God as Trinity with whom we have to do. Nor have we discussed his treatment of Christology, in which he draws to rare effect on the insights of St. Cyril of Alexandria, the "seal of the Fathers." It is a major dogmatic achievement which reveals Fr. Dumitru's position in present-day Orthodoxy as "comparable to that of Karl Barth ill Protestantism or Karl Rahner in Catholicism," as Bishop Kallistos puts it (E, p. xxv). As I hope I have shown, Fr. Dumitru takes a position within Orthodox theology that places him with Russians like Georges Florovsky and Vladimir Lossky, and with Greeks like John Romanides and Christos Yannaras, as a representative of what Florovsky called the "Nco-Patristic" synthesis. If that is so, then his Orthodox Dogmatic Theology is the first attempt to work out in detail what this synthesis might be. As a first attempt it is still, I have suggested, too reliant on the structures of older Orthodox Dogmatics, which Fr. Dumitru himself characterize as "comfortably repeating the by-now opaque formulae of certain nineteenth-century manuals influenced by Scholasticism and making them infallible criteria of judgement for Orthodoxy" (E, p. 88). But it was necessary to start somewhere, and no one else has attempted what Fr. Dumitru has achieved. The completion of the German translation is a great event: it is now possible to find a balanced, profound, and also uncompromising statement of Orthodox theological principles. It is greatly to be hoped that the English translation will soon be complete. Fr. Dumitru has been well served by his translators: Hermann Pitters' German is clear and readable, though the English translators note some nuances ill the Romanian that seem to have escaped Pitters (the translation of the anarthrous Persoeae [divilJa] as simply die/ cine gottliche Person - e.g. 0, vol. I, p. 24, d. E, p. 14, note 3 - and the translation of Iucrsre es Werk- Staniloae himself seems to say it represents the Greek eucrgeie (0, vol. II, p. 232), though d. note on E, p. 139). There are also some oddities in Pitters' rendering of technical Orthodox terminology: the penalties connected with the penitential systems are called epitimis, Pitters has Epithymien (desires - epithYllliai?) and translates Bcichtrstc (0, vol. III, p. 114); later on we encounter a

70 Durnitru Staniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

FigllralgesaJJg for a kethisms, a name for a verse of liturgical poetry (0, vol. III, p. 172). But these are minor blemishes.

Fr. Dumitru has said: "Orthodoxy, through the joy of living in God is doxological and not theoretical. It does not indulge in speculations about God but it expresses the joy of living in God, and of participating in existence with the whole of creation.,,!7 For some of us that joy can take theoretical expression, in seeing how the threads of the tapestry of Orthodoxy are woven together. For that, Fr. Dumitru is rare guide, and never lets us forget that the mind must descend into the heart, as we stand before God.

17"Some Characteristics of Orthodoxy," in Sobomost 5:9 (1969), p. 628, quoted by Bishop Kallistos: E, p. xxii.

Pseudo- Dionysios the Areopagite in Dumitru Staniloae's Theology

Gheorghe Dragulin


In the opening pages of his 1978 Orthodox Dogmatic Theology, Staniloae wrote: "We have striven to understand the Church's teaching in the spirit of the Fathers of the Church, and also in the way in which we thought they would have understood it today.'? It is thus evident that, in his opinion, the new foundation and "spiritual significance of the [Orthodox] dogmatic teachings" should be sought in the theological works of a number of Church Fathers and other Byzantine authors, such as John of Damaskos, Maximos the Confessor, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostorn, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzos, Cyril of Alexandria, Athanasius of Alexandria, and Gregory Palarnas.' True to this view, Staniloae translated a number of writings by some of these authors and, as a result of his many years of systematic reflection on Orthodox mystical theology, he also rendered into Romanian the complete works of Dionysios the Areopagite. In this paper I propose to investigate the presence of the Areopagite's ideas in Stani!oae's theology.

I Durnirru Staniloae, Teologia dogmstici orrodoxii (Bucharest: Edirura Institutului Biblic, 1978) vol. 1, p. 6.

2Ioanichie Balan, ed., Omsgii/ memoriei Pdriurcin, Dumitru Sriifllioae (Iasi: 1994), p.92.


Dumitru Sraniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Pseudo-Dinoysius in Staniloae 's Early Scholarship

The first evidence of Stanilcae's usage of the Are opagite's insights can be found in the themes he occasionally approached as a young theologian. As early as 1938, in reviewing a doctoral dissertation on evil in Blessed Augustine, the 35-year old Staniloae drew attention to the fact that the Augustinian notion of evil as an ontological absence of the good was echoed by Pseudo-Dionysios the Areopagite. In the same review Professor Staniloae further maintained that Dionysios' understanding of the soteriological consequences of evil was influenced by the Neoplatonic tradition. Having written that, the reviewer then reflected on the manner in which Dionysios' concept of evil influenced such Russian philosophers as N. Berdyaev and B. Vyshevlavtsev.'

Sta niloae mentioned Dionysios a second time some thirteen years later, during a theological debate that placed Communist Romania's two Orthodox theological schools of Bucharest and Sibiu at odds with each other. The controversy revolved around the issue of the relation between Mary, the Mother of God, and the angelic triads. Staniloac, by then a faculty member with the Bucharest school, took all active part in the debate and set forth his position in a long article published in the theological journal Ortodoxis. Having first established that in the Orthodox tradition "gift is inseparable from grace.?" Fr. Staniloae tried to solve the conundrum by appealing to Dionysios' understanding of the hierarchical organization of the Church on earth as an extension of the celestial hierarchy, noting that "Dionysios the Areopagite's view was never rejected by the Church.'? Aware, however, that some would find Dionysios' argument unconvincing, Staniloae gave more weight to his position by invoking the authority of several Byzantine theologians and the Akathystos Hymn dedicated to Mary. He concluded his article by noting that "Orthodoxy considers the Mother of God to be the highest archpriest after Christ ... In the Mother of God humanity and the angelic world capture all the divine light that creation is capable of receiving."

JDlImitrll Sraniloae, Ortodoxie .fi rouuinism [Orthodoxy and Romanianismj (Sibiu, Romania: Tipografia arhidiecezana, 1939), pp. 281 ff.

"Dumirru Sraniloae, "Maica Dornnului ca mijlociroare" [The Mother of the Lord as Mediator], in Orrodoxis 4, no. 1 (1952), p. 115. [N. ed. In Romanian Orthodox theology, Mary is called "the Mother of the Lord."]

5Ibid., p. 122.

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite


Although these two instances might lead some to believe that Staniloae's encounter with Dionysios was occasional and rather peripheral to the former's conceptions, subsequently it was the same Areopagitic theology that provided Fr. Staniloae with major arguments about tbe Church hierarchy. The unknown Areopagitic author wrote of a threefold division of the ecclesiastical hierarchy in relation to the socalled sanctification of the faithful. More specifically, the action of sanctification of the faithful should be understood not only as a process of increasing holiness but also as both the unchanged preaching of the Lord's teachings and the leading of the faithful toward salvation. In their careful examination of deification, the Areopagitic treatises provide the most complete explanation of the unity of these three pastoral areas.

Staniloae, too, emphasized in a 1970 article that the sanctifying power of those in ordained leadership comes from above: "Through their sanctifying acts, [the ordained ministers] create divine transcendence.?" At the same time, for the Romanian theologian the one who performs tbe three pastoral works needs to be in communion with the other persons appointed by God for the same service:

The necessity of communion as an aspect of the sanctifying service on all levels is shown in the East in tbe Are opagiric writings which refer to the sanctifying action of the angelic order as a model of sanctifying action in the Church. While remaining in their host, tbe angels on superior levels sanctify those on inferior levels. Up to the cherubs, the angelic levels are organized by hosts, not by individual angels. God himself respects the order of communion."

In the same article Sta niloae made wide use of the Dionysian treatises when explaining the meaning of the complementarity between hierarchical synodality and the Church's general communion. The special character of the ordained ministry creates the transparent milieu necessary for all members of the Church to experience the divine presence. Next, Fr. Dumitru Staniloae wrote:

The complementarity between the hierarchical ministry and all other ministries in the Church has a special character ... The author of the Areopagitic writings says that the host of the domin-

"Dumirru Srauiloae, "Temeiurile rcologicc ale ierarhiei §i ale sinodaliratii,' in Srudii reoJogice 22, nos. 3-4 (1970), p. 169.,

"Ibidem, p. 171.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ions does not rule tyrannically over the inferior host of the powers; instead, it is the divine force by which God attracts the superior host toward God that also attracts the inferior host. This holds true for the ecclesiastical hierarchy as well. 8

The topic of the ecclesiastic/angelic hierarchies was revisited and enriched by Staniloae in his commentaries accompanying the Romanian translation of the Areopagitic writings whose publication was made possible by the collapse of the Communist regime. By showing that the Church hlerarch.y was located somewhere between the legal and the celestial hierarchies, the Romanian professor emphasized that the Church hierarchy was instituted by none other than Christ himself. In commenting on the love and cooperation that exists among the various levels of the angelic and ecclesiastical hierarchies, Staniloae drew our attention to something more mysterious:

The Holy Trinity Itself is mysteriously reflected in the threefold kingdom of the celestial and ecclesiastical hierarchies and their works. God is a Father who descends to us through His Son and Word; the latter descends to us in an inward but fully experienced way through the Holy Spirit."

The same point was emphasized when, some pages later, Staniloae combated the view according to which inner ascent is the result of mere personal efforts. Rather, according to Staniloae, "any spiritual ascent is done in the Church through the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit, by means of the threefold Church ministry. The spiritual progress of each individual is realized only in solidarity or faith-sustained commuuion.v'"

Further influences of Areopagitic theology can be discerned in Sraniloae's writings on various aspects of the inner life and monastic issues. One such example is found in his ample notes to Romanian translations of various patristic and Byzantine authors. III this category falls a 1938 monograph dedicated to St. Gregory Palarnas, in which Staniloae underscores the Dionysian influences on Palarnas' theology.

Similar notes can also be found in the Romanian annotated edition of the PiJjJokaJja. In volume 7, which includes several chapters by Gre-


. "Dumirru Staniloae, "lnrroducere," ill Sf. Dionysios the Areopagire, Opere camp/ere, IT., introduction, and notes by D. Sraniloae (Bucharest: Paideia, 1996), p. 13.

IOSraniloae's nore in Dio nysios rhe Arcopagire, Opere complete, p. 131.

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite


gory Pajamas, Archbishop of Thessalonika, Fr. Staniloae remarks in his commentary that the never-ending anti-Barlaamite polemics often appeal to the "divine Dionysios." That was a pretext for Staniloae to accompany the translation from Palamas with rich notes making reference to Areopagitic theology. Thus, when discussing the nature of the hierarchical law Staniloae wrote: "Before the incarnation there was the Law; but the personal God also wishes for a hierarchical law because of the fall of humanity, not because of a nature constituted from increasing layers of being. Therefore, the Law was given through the angels (Acts 7:50; Gal 3: 19; Eph 2:2)." II In other commentaries Stauiloae refers to Palarnas' use of negative theology, the knowledge of God through His creatures, and the predefinitions of the existences in God, another set of Dionysian


Staniloae was also attracted by the thought of St. Maximos the Confessor, whose main texts he translated into Romanian and published in various theological journals about half a century ago. One important Areopagitic theme present in Staniloae's commentaries on Maximos is his discussion of the theanthropic collaboration described in the latter's Epistle to Gaius.'" At times, Staniloae suggested improvements in Romanian Areopagitic terminology':' and combated what he saw as unilateral interpretations of Dionysios, such as those of Irenee Hausherr or Hans Urs von Balthasar.l4 Against the former, who compared the Areopagite with Evagrius of Pontus, Staniloae argued that "one can attain not only a spiritual vision of God, but communion with Him as well; yet the path to that goal must pass through self-knowledge." Against the latter, who wrote 011 St. Maximos the Confessor, Staniloae contended that "the patience displayed in the trials of life leads to the cleansing of the consequences of sin and, accordingly, to lack of passions. Even on this earth one can experience communion with God."

While these examples are important, one cannot overlook Sta niloae's commentaries accompanying the recently published Romanian translation of Dionysios' complete works. Staniloae did not live to

11 Filocslie, introducrion, Romanian rranslarion, and notes by D. SUiniloae (Bucharesr:

Edirura Insritutului Biblie, 1977), vol. 7, p. 301.

12See Sr. Maximos the Confessor, Ambigus, Romanian tr., inrroduction, and notes by

D. Sraniloae (Bucharest: Editura Insriturului Biblic, 1983), p. 61.

13Staniloae's note in Maximos, Ambigus, p. 348.

l"Ibidem, p. 247.


Dumitru Sta niloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

see in print the translation he had completed before his death in 1993. As translator and commentator, Staniloae invested in it both his historical erudition in patristics and his theological and spiritual comparativist skills. His excellence as translator is demonstrated by his ability to capture nuances as accurately as possible, and the fine balance he strikes between archaic Church terms dictated by the subject matter and technical terms required by modern culture. The volume opens with an "Introduction" which gives the Romanian theologian the opportunity to take a stand against Dionysios' alleged Neoplatonic pantheism and to emphasize the Christian character of the Pseudo-Areopagitic treatises. The attention he paid to language in the new translation was in reaction to the previous pantheising Romanian translations of Cicerone Iordanescu published as early as 1932. For example, Staniloae opined that "proodoi cannot be rendered as (unwilled) emanations"!' and that "in the opening prayer of St. Dionysios the Areopagite's Mysticsl Theology one should translate hyper as 'above,' not as 'super.Y''"

In general, Staniloae's commentaries on Dionysios' theology are consistent with St. Maximos's Scholies, with one notable exception: feeling that the Maximian commentaries alone were no longer satisfactory for a modern audience, Professor Staniloae accompanied them with examples from the natural sciences he himself became familiar with in his later years. For example, in discussing the possibility of the transfiguration of the universe through Christ, he wrote:

This gives us the possibility to understand both a practical and a spiritual role of the natural sciences. The more we know the great richness and wonderful structuring of the components of creation, the more we ascend toward a God understood as a single spring of great richness. We thus enter deeper into God's light, just as the humanity of Christ was filled with greater glory after descending in this form to a maximum closeness to human beings through His loving sacrifice .17

Staniloac's commentaries also address such themes as gods and nature," good and evil matter,19 body and eternity,20 and eclipses.

15Sraniloae, "Introducere," ill Dionysios rhe Areopagire, Opere complete; p. 10. 16Ioanichie Balan, ed., Omsgiu memoriei Pan/Jre/ui Dumirru St/lm/oae, p. 92. 17Durnitru Srauiloae, "Cugerari reologice," in Balan, ed., Omsgiu memoriei Parinrclu!

Dumirru Stifni/oae, p. 72.

lSStalliloae's note in Dionysios, Opere complete, p. 125.

Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite


"Dionysios speaks of an extension of the solar light at certain times during the history of Israel. On one hand, the light was strengthened by God; on the other hand, it was strengthened by the people's faith in which the light of the spirit was growing. All of these show the extent to which the material world is connected with God."21

The translation of the Areopagitic works into Romanian provided Fr. Staniloae with an opportunity to tackle the controversial issue of the writer's true identity. Staniloae did not have access to the latest Western literature on the subject, but he did consider the arguments I put forth in my book on the Identiticetion of Pscudo-Dionysios the Areopsgite with Hieromonk Dionysios Exiguus, published in Romanian in 1991, only two years before Fr. Staniloae's cleath.22 In that book, the fruit of a life-long research based on a wealth of so-far disregarded data, I proposed the hypothesis that Dionysios the Areopagite was in fact Dionysios Exiguus, the sixth-century monk born in Dobrogea, a region now in southeastern Romania. In doing so, I also relied on the vast Western and Eastern literature that yielded evidence that the author of the Areopagitic works lived and wrote not in the first century, but much later, most likely in the fifth or sixth centuries. Nevertheless, in reviewing my arguments, Staniloae remained unconvinced, writing instead that: "Although emotionally we tend to adopt Father Gheorghe Dragulin's thesis, we consider that the problem of the [writings'] date and author has not yet been fully resolved." While explicitly stating that his was not the last word on the subject, Staniloae favored the idea that the author of the Areopagitic corpus was the first-century "Diouysios of the Athenian Areopagus, who was converted to Christianity by Apostle Paul."n To support his view, Staniloae mentioned the presence in the Areopagite's works of refe~ences to such first-century practices as adult baptism, universal belief in the resurrection, prayers for the dead, commemoration of the dead, an~ the deacon's assistance of the bishop during the liturgy. 24 In his al11bi~UOUS


"Ibidem, p. 128. l.OIbidem, p. 239.

21Ibidem, p. 285.

22Sec Gheorghe Dragulin, Idenrirercs /ui Diouisie Pseudo-Areopegirul cu Jero- 1l1011ahu/ Dionisio Smeritu/ (Exiguul) (Craiova, Romania: Edirura Mirropoliei Olteniei, 1991), passim.

1.JSraniloae, "Inrroducere," in Dionysios the Areopagire, Opere complete, p. 9.




Dumitru Sraniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

position, Professor Stauiloae placed himself in line with some dated hypotheses and chose to disregard the many historical elements 1 presented 111 Illy book. Indeed, upon closer examination, one can note that the Areopagitic corpus also contains elements that speak against its alleged apostolic origin: infant baptism, the importance of the presbyters during liturgy, the sun and the 11100n as astronomical elernents.P the phrase "followers of the apostles," as well as other practices specific to the sixth century.

Pseudo-Dionysios in Staniloac's Dogmatic Theology

Staniloae's own system of dogmatic theology synthesizes and articulates the connections between the Areopagitic synthesis and other aspects of Orthodox theology. This is evident in his monumental three volume Teologis dogmetici ortodoxii (published in 1978) to which I now turn my attention. First, the surpassing of the senses and the works of the intellect, the vision of the divine light, and the superluminous darkness are all dealt with by Staniloae in the light of Areopagitic theology. Central to Staniloaes epistemology is the idea that we know God not only rationally but also apophatically, Apophaticism proves that rationality is an insufficient way of knowing God that needs therefore to be complemented. Staniloae could rightly speak of two apophaticisms: the one shows an ineffable experience of God, the other an experience which cannot even be experienced. New meanings of the symbols used to refer to God are revealed in the dynamic ascent toward God. In the dynamics of the knowledge of God, "one is called upon to abandon all symbols, words, and their meanings,"26 an idea echoing Dionysios.

Second, Staniloae recognized that the issue of God's substance and attrib1utes creates difficulties in any theological system." In his Dogmatic Thefogy, the Romanian theologian seems to have solved these difficulties LJ/y appealing to the "divine names" outlined earlier by Dionysios. It is also worth noting that often Staniloae adds Maxirnos' commentaries on D101 YSIOS to 111S own theology.

. ..! 25Ibi~~,nl. See also Gheorghc_ Dragulin,. "Era crcsrina. Metoda calcularii §i posreruarea er §tllnrlflca, III Credint» orrodoxii (Alba Iulia, Romania) 1, no. 3 (1996), p. 14.

I lbSraniioac, le%gia dogmatici orrodosci, vol. 1, p. 127.

I 27See N. Chitescu er al., lC%gia dogmatics si simbolici; (Bucharest Eclirura InstituruI.,; rh', 1958), "01. 1, pp. 337 If.

Pseudo- Dionysius the Areopagite


Third, Staniloae's discourse about God is imbued with themes such as time, space, and cosmos. Space is regarded as the milieu in which God has communion with us humans, while the cosmos is a system of reasons. These topics provided the Romanian theologian with the opportunity to correct some unilateral conclusions: "the knowledge of God which, according to Dionysios the Areopagite, is present ill those who have progressed spiritually through self-denial is not the same as Hans Urs VOIl Balthasar's view according to which God is beyond any reach in a totally inaccessible transcendencc.v" Staniloae also criticized another position:

The inclination called the "good," agape, or eros, is bi-directional by orienting not only the creature toward God but also God toward the creature. Properly and first of all it orients God toward the creature. The Dionysian texts are so clear in this regard that they provide no reason for the Protestant interpretation [of Anders Nygren] according to which by eros only the creature is attracted to God and consequently salvation is a natural work of the creature. The creature orients itself toward God because it has its origin in God who put this inclination in it. Yet because sin weakened the creature, it was necessary for it to be restored by the grace of eros or divine love. Eros expresses the descent of God to

the creatures; and so does love (agape)Y

Fourth, when discussing the loving structure of the persons of the most Holy Trinity, Staniloae again quoted Dionysios on their common and distinct properties. In the course of his discussions concerning the problem of inner-trinitarian relations, Staniloae compared Paul Florensky's explanations with those of Dionysiosr'"

Fifth, basing himself 011 Areopagitic explanations, which he seems

to embrace whole-heartedly, Staniloae wrote on the purpose of creation:

God created the world because of His goodness, in order for other beings to be able to share in His inner-trinitarian love. Dionysios the Areopagite wrote: "The good, through the very fact that It exists as ontological good, extends goodness to everything that exists." It is beca use of this Sun of existence that ange Is, souls, and

irrational beings exist."

2SStaniioae, Teologin dogfJ1i1IJC/j ortodoxii, vol. 1, p. 232. i"lbidelll, p. 277.

"Tbidem, p. 298.

80 Dumitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Areopagitic philosophy offers a classical framework for the dogmatic understanding of the creation of the invisible world. This philosophy helped Staniloae to discuss other speculative positions, including current anthroposophical positions." Moreover, he offered an Orthodox response to the alleged incompatibility between the hierarchical order and the search for a direct contact with God when writing that, "in general, based on Dionysios the Areopagite and especially on Gregory Palamas, one can conclude that there is a complementarity of knowledge between angels and humans.v"

Last, Dionysios' theology was also used by the Romanian theologian in his efforts to define the dogmatic person of Christ in regard to its theandric work. His references in the Dogmatic Theologyare not as explicit as his comments elsewhere:

No Church Father, except Dionysios, underscores so much the presence and work of the human and divine Christ in the sacraments a nd other sanctifying acts (through crea ted rna tter and the gestures of the hierarch and priest). His divine personalism, with its free and loving work of the person of Christ, is totally foreign to Neoplatonic or other form of pantheism."


As this brief article has tried to demonstrate, Staniloae showed a keen interest in Areopagitic theology throughout his scholarly career. This is evident in his writings which range from modest historico-theological notes to Romanian translations of Dionysios and other Church Fathers to his many theological papers and his original system of Orthodox dogmatic theology. This interest was increasingly associated in his theology with interest in the thought of Sts. Gregory Pajamas and Maxi- 1110S the Confessor. His constant preoccupation with patristic theology produced in Staniloae an increasingly deeper intellectual and spiritual enrichment.

(Translatedfrom ROll7anian by D,: Lucian Turcescu)

J'lbidel11, p. 337. J2lbidel11, p. 423.

J:llbidel11, p. 436; cf. p. 424: "this human-angelic sobornicity." J"Staniloae's note in Dionysios, Opere complete, p. 130.

Part II

Ecclesiology and Ecumenism

Eucharistic Ecclesiology or Open Sobornicity?

Lucian Turcescu

This chapter analyzes two concepts proposed by Orthodox theologians to foster the ecumenical dialogue, namely eucharistic ecclesiology and open sobornicity. After an exposition of the concept of eucharistic ecclesiology developed by the Russian emigre theologian Nicholas Afauasiev, an evaluation of it will follow. Of other Orthodox theologians who have expressed their opinions about Afanasiev's concept, I chose .John Zizioulas and Dumitru Staniloae as the most significant. Therefore, I shall make a critical presentation of the position taken by Metropolitan John Zizioulas of Pergamon and of his attempts to correct this ecclesiology. A critique made by the Romanian theologian Durnitru Sta niloae of the eucharistic ecclesiology will be accompanied by an analysis of the concept of "open sobornicity" which Staniloae proposed in 1971. A brief report will be included on each of the three theologians' positions vis-avis the "papal primacy," since this issue stimulated the formulation of a eucharistic ecclesiology.

N. Afanasiev's Eucharistic Ecclesiology

By proposing the concept of "eucharistic ecclesiology" at the beginning of the 1960s, Nicholas Afanasiev (1893-1966) wanted to bypass the impasse reached in the dialogue between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics which had just been re-opened. This impasse has been reached mainly because of the issue of the "Perrine ministry" of the bishop of


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Rome and because both Churches, Orthodox and Roman Catholic, consider themselves the universal Church.

The Orthodox were preoccupied with giving to the "Perrine ministry" a sense acceptable to themselves. It seems that Afanasiev's reflections on this topic were stimulated by the publication of Oscar Cullmanri's study Saint Pierre. Disciple-Apotre-Martyr in 1952. According to the Dominican theologian Aidan Nichols] who has studied extensively the life and works of Afanasiev, the first essay by Afanasiev on the issue of Papacy is an extended review of Cullmann's book.' Further essays followed in which Afanasiev dealt with this issue and formulated his theory of the eucharistic ecclesiology as a solution to it.3 Of these essays, "L'Eglise qui preside dans l'amour" was particularly acclaimed and was therefore translated into English, German, and Italian. Yet as A. Nichols and Reinhard Slenczka have discovered, despite its celebrity, this essay is only a repetition of the conclusions to which Afanasiev had in essence come as early as "Dve idei vselenskoi Tserkvi" (Two Ideas of the Universal Church) of 1934.4 The difference between the 1934 and 1960 versions lies not in content but in the atmosphere of hope fostered by the ecumenical exchanges of the 1960s. For the purposes of this chapter I shall confine myself to presenting and analyzing two articles by N. Afanasiev in

I Aidan Nichols, Theology ill the Russian Diaspors. Church, Fathers, Euchurisr III Nikolai Atsrmsic»; 1893-1966(Calllbridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 127 If. 2N. Afanasiev, "Apostol Petr i Rimskii episkop," in Prevoslsvneis Mysl', no. 10 (1955), pp. 7-32; = "L'aporre Pierre er I'eveque de Rome," in Theologls, no. 26 (1955), pp. 465-475, 620-641.

3"La Doctrine de la primaure a la lumiere de l'ecclcsiologie," in Istins, no. 4 (1957), pp. 410-420; "L'Eglise qui preside dans l'amo ur," in N. Afanassieff, N. Koulomzine, J. Meyendorff, A. Schmemann, La pnln;llJle de Pierre deus l'Eglise Orthodoxe (Neuchatel:

Delachaux er Niestle, 1960), pp. 7-64; "L'infaillibilire de l'Eglise du point de vue d'un rheologien orrhodoxe," in L 'ifJlai/libilite de l'Eglise. fournees oecumcniqucs de Cltevcrogne 25- 29 Septcmbre 1961 (Cheverogne, 1962),1'1'. 183-201; "Le concile dans la theologie orrhodoxe russe," in lrenikon, no. 35 (1962), PI'. 316-39; "Una Sancra," in Ircaikon, no. 36 (1963), pp. 436-475.

"f\. Nichols, Theologv iJJ the Russisn Disspors, p. 132. Reinhard Slenczka, Osrkircbc und Okumcne: Die Einlieit der Kirche «Is dogmstisches Problem in der netteren osrkirchliche Theologie (Cortingcn: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1962), pp. 254 ff. Afanasiev's widow, Marianne, confirmed [hal" her husband "had for rhe first time the 'vision' of his 'eucharistic ccciesiology' in the winter of 1932-1933" (Marianne Afanasiev, "La genese de l.:Eglise du Saint-Esprit," in N. Afanasiev, L 'Egh~'e du Ssint-Esprit, rr. Marianne Drobor [Paris: Cerf, 1975], p. 17).

Eucharistic Ecclesiology or Open Sobornicity?


which the theory of "eucharistic ecclesiology" has been developed:

"L'Eglise qui preside dans l'amour"? and "Una Sancta." I shall start by summarizing this theory as expounded in these articles.

Afanasiev speaks of "several systems of ecclesiology" which have grown up in history, each of them understanding the notion of primacy ill a different way. Yet, all of these systems can be reduced, in his view, to two fundamental types: universal ecclesiology and eucharistic ecclesiology.

According to the universal ecclesiology, the Church is a single organic whole, including in itself all Church-units (cheque unite eccJesiale) of any kind, especially those beaded by bishops. This organic whole is the Body of Christ. .. Usually the Church units are regarded as parts of the universal Church: less usually people see in each Church a pars pro toto?

Both Roman Catholic and Orthodox theology have espoused this universal ecclesiology devised, according to Afanasiev, by Cyprian of Carthage, and both consider that there is only one true Church? The major difficulty arises, according to our author, when the Orthodox consider the Orthodox Church to be the true Church, whereas for the Catholics that designates the Roman Catholic Church." Therefore, a reunion of the two Churches is impossible according to this ecclesiology, because if one is the true, universal Church, the other has to be excluded; otherwise, one has to recognize that there are two Bodies of Christ."

Yet, this view is not the primitive ecclesiology, contends Afanasiev.

In his opinion, universal ecclesiology has replaced a different form of ecclesiology, which he calls "eucharistic ecclesiology. ,,10 Afanasiev starts reconstituting this primitive ecclesiology, mainly from some letters of St.

51 shall use the English translation: Nicholas Afanasiev, "The Church which Presides in Love," in J. Meyendorff er al., The Primacy 01 Peter (London: The Faith Press, 1963), pp. 57-1I0.

6N. Afanasiev, "The Church which Presides in Love," p. 58. In "Una Sancta" he rehearses many ideas from "The Church," sometimes even word for word (d. "Una Sancta," p.440).

7N. Afanasiev, "Una Sancra," p, 443. slbidem, pp. 444 ff.

"Ibidem, p. 443.

ION. Afanasiev, "The Church which Presides in Love," p. 73.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Ignatius of Antioch. Afanasiev says that every local Church throughout the second and third centuries was "autonomous, for it contained in itself everything necessary to its life, and independent by not depending on any other local Church or any bishop whatsoever outside itself." This was so, connnues Afanasiev, "in virtue of the fact that each local Church was the Church of God in all its fullness;"!' this fullness was realized by a local community gathered around its bishop who celebrated the Eucharist because in each eucharistic assembly Christ was present "in the fullness of His Body." In other words, "Where the Eucharist is, there is the fullness of the Church."12 So, what becomes important in this ecclesiology is the notion of local Church at the expense of that of universal Church. Although not rejecting the idea of "the universality of the Church" by expressing rather an interior universality of "fullness and unity," eucharistic ecclesiology in fact excludes "any concept of the Universal Church, for the Universal Church consists of parts, if it exists at all."13 By considering that the local Church possesses all the fullness of the Church Afanasiev transfers all the attributes of the universal Church (sanctity, uuiry, catholicity, and apostolicity) to the local Church."

Then he argues that originally there existed in each local Church a single eucharistic assembly presided by a bishop. Therefore, in Afanasiev's opinion, the bishop was the principle of unity of the local Church, and the basis of his ministry was presidency of the eucharistic assembly. Consequently, the bishop was "included in the concept of the Eucharist."!' In the universal ecclesiology, according to Afanasiev, the bishop is not included in the eucharistic assembly, but is considered in his own person the principle of unity."

When arriving at the issue of unity among local Churches, Afanasiev says that, albeit autonomous and independent, they were united. This unity was manifested through reception: one local Church had to accept what was happening (ce qui se pssseir in other local Churches, "because what was happening in one Church was also happening in the other

"Ibidem, pp. 73 ff.

12Ibidem, p. 76; see also N. Afanasiev, "Una Sancra," pp. 452-453. 1lN. Afanasiev, "The Church which Presides in Love," p. 76.

14N. Afanasiev, "Una Sancra," p. 452.

1s"Incllls dans Ie concept de l'Eucharisrie" ("Una Saucra," p. 453). 16N. Afanasiev, "Una Sanaa," p. 453.

Eucharistic Ecclesiology or Open Sobornicity?


Churches.?" Yet, local Churches could also refuse to recognize what was happening in a local Church or even break off communion with it. "By refusing to accept a certain ecclesial act, local Churches witnessed that that act did not happen in the Church of God.,,18 He then considers that the "certification" of a bishop's election was among the acts which other local Churches had to receive.

Subsequently Afanasiev contends that, though being by nature equal in value, local Churches are not necessarily equal in authority. This leads to hierarchy among them, or as he prefers to express it, to "priority.?" Nevertheless, he insists that "priority" is different from "primacy:" "primacy is a legalistic expression, whereas priority is founded on authority of witness, and that is a gift God grants to the Church-in-priority (J'egJise qui a Ja prioritf).,,20 The consequences are important: "if you accept the idea of primacy, you must ban eucharistic ecclesiology; conversely, accept priority and there is no room for universal ecclesiology. ,,21

A Critical Analysis of Afanasiev's Eucharistic Ecclesiology

Having summarized Afanasiev's theory of the eucharistic ecclesiology, I wish to comment 011 it before dealing with other Orthodox theologians. One has to recognize that the theory of eucharistic ecclesiology has been highly influential in both Orthodox and Roman Catholic theologies ever since its formulation. Concerning the influence of eucharistic ecclesiology on Roman Catholic theology, Paul McPartlan showed'" that theologians influential during Vatican II were acquainted with Afanasiev's ecclesiology. For instance, in a footnote to the penultimate draft of Lumen geJJtillm, the Belgian Gerard Philips recommended to the bishop perusing the draft text that "to investigate further 'the bond between ecclesiology and the Eucharist' he should consult the writings of Afanasiev.":" Aidan Nichols identifies references to Afanasiev's "The Church

17Ibidem, p. 455. "Ibidem, p. 456.

19N. Afanasiev, "The Church which Presides in Love," p. 79.

2°Ibidem, p. 82.


22Paul McPartlan, "Eucharistic Ecclesiology," in One ill Christ, no. 22 (1986),

pp. 314-331.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

which Presides in Love" in three of the General Congregations where the documents of the Second Vatican Council were produced.i" Another Roman Catholic theologian, joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, has accepted the centrality of the Eucharist in the bishop'S office. Unlike Afanasiev, however, he has been trying to rediscover the other functions of the bishop, those of unifier and teacher, "within the bishop'S sanctifying role at the Eucharist.v" The Belgian Roman Catholic Andre de Halleux calls Afanasiev's vision of the "eucharistic ecclesiology" of the East "romantic," but adds that his analyses of the local Church helped the theologians of Vatican II "to rediscover the theology of the local Church which has never ceased to flourish in the ecclesial conscience of the Orthodoxy. ,,26 I do not want to lessen the paramount contributions Roman Catholic theologians themselves made to Vatican II, 110r the renewal brought about in Roman Catholicism by the liturgical movement and the ressourcement theology of this century, but it is not the purpose of this chapter to discuss these issues. By and large, one could say that in our day Orthodox and Roman Catholic theologies have achieved a remarkable convergence through mutual influences in the fields of the Eucharist and the Church;"

Despite its positive value, Afanasiev's theory of "eucharistic ecclesiology" has some major flaws and internal contradictions. First, Afanasiev asserts that local Churches are "independent by not depending on any other local Church or any bishop whatsoever outside itself." Yet at the same time he says that a local Church depends on its recognition by other local Churches, and that its bishop is ordained by bishops of other local Churches. If so, then one can no longer maintain that local Churches are independent. Moreover, the affirmation of the "priority" among local Churches contradicts still more their alleged "independence," because if

23Ibidem, p. 326.

2" A. Nichols, Theologyin the RIISSJ;W Disspora, p. 173, note 51. 2lMcParrlan, "Eucharistic Ecciesiology," p. 327.

2(,Andre de Halleux, "La collegialire dans l'Eglise ancienne," in Revue theologique de Louvein, no. 24 (1993), P: 436,

27For an overview of these mutual influences cf. Gaeran Baillargeon, Perspectives orthodoxes sur I'Eglise-CoIJImuIJiof}: l'ocuvre de leaf} Zizioulss (Montreal: Editions Paulines, 1989), especially pp, 381 ff.; Aidan Nichols, Theology in the Russisn Dinspors, especially pp, 175 ff.; Paul McPartlan's already mentioned article and his book The Eucharist Mekes rhe Church: Henri de Lubec and fohn Zizioulas in Dialogue (Edinburgh: T&T Clark,1993).

Eucharistic Ecclesiology or Open Sobornicity?


one local Church has priority over the others, then the others depend on the witness of the "Church-in-priority." Consequently, they are not independent.

Second, I must confess that I do not really see the difference between "primacy" and "priority." Afanasiev may reply to this: the former is a "legalistic expression" (i.e., a human decision about an aspect of the Church), whereas the latter belongs to the realm of grace (i.e., it can be traced to Christ's or the Holy Spirit's instructions). Yet, I am still unconvinced. In an article on the catholicity of the Church, Michael Fahey says not only that the ius divinum and the ius humenum "may in the past have been unintentionally blurred," but also that particular prestige came to be associated with certain local Churches for a variety of reasons such as "real or imagined apostolic origins, geographical location, political power, effective leadership.Y" Therefore, I think, a distinction between "primacy" and "priority" is not possible." Consequently, Afanasiev actually supports the idea of a real primacy, despite his initial intention when he formulated the eucharistic ecclesiology. Moreover, according to his own contention, it is the Church of Rome that should have this primacy, because this Church is ill fact the one "which presides ill love.,,3o

Third, the limitation of the bishop's functions to only the celebration of the Eucharist is simplistic. In the early Church the bishop was not only the presider at the Eucharist, but also an "overseer" or "supervisor" (the principal meaning of the Greek episkoposi of the Christian flock, a role that included teaching and preservation of the true faith as well. The consequences of this simplistic view of Afanasiev will be shown more clearly in some of Zizioulas's eucharistic ecclesiological statements later i IJ this chapter.

When Afanasiev speaks about the process of "reception" taking place among local Churches, he uses a vague expression: a local Church had to accept "what was happening in other local Churches." He never mentions the reception of a confession of faith of another Church, for example, because he knows that this is the delicate issue at stake in the

28Michael A. Fahey, "The Catholiciry of the Church in the New Testament and in the Early Patristic Period," in Thelllrisr, no, 52 (1992), pp. 64,67,

29Cf. also A. de Halleux, "La collegialite dans I'Eglise ancienne," p, 437. JOAfanasiev, "Una Sancta," pp. 471 If.


Durnitru Sraniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ecumenical dialogue nowadays. Yet is he justified in his avoidance? Or, to put it better, is one Church's politely overlooking the differences of doctrine really the way to come to unity, as he suggests? Afanasiev says that, according to eucharistic ecclesiology, it is possible for two Churches "which fully possess the ecclesial nature" to reunite without having to eliminate the dogmatic divergences existing between them." Yet, to my knowledge, this was not the case in the early Church. The early Church was very careful to defend its faith, even before the emergence of important creeds, such as the Nicene Creed (in 325). As Andre de Halleux notes, "the necessity to defend the apostolic tradition led the Church to elaborate a reflex doctrine of the apostolic tradition and succession which was silently lived until then: paradosis kata diadochen [tradition by suecession].,,322

John Zizioulas's Ecclesiology

Orthodox theologians have been to a certain extent fascinated by Afanasiev's ecclesiology: on the one hand, because it emphasizes the role of the local Church and shows the centrality of the Eucharist for the Church; on the other hand, because it appears to these theologians to support their opposition to papal primacy (despite Afanasiev's backing of papal primacy, under the guise of "priority").

Reflections on the relation between Eucharist and the Church took place before and independently of Afanasiev in both East and West and inspired Afanasiev. In the patristic period I would mention only Theodore of Mopsuestia " and Cyril of Alexandria " in the East and Augustine " and Leo 136 in the West. Then, bypassing Thomas Aquinas:" and the Council of Trent,38 I would move to the twentieth century and mention

3lIbidem, p. 469.

J2 A. de Halleux, "Ministere et sacerdoce," in Revue theologique de Louvsin, no. 18 (1987), pp. 296 ff.

:nBe writes: "Through the food of the holy mysteries we attain communion with

Christ our Lord ... As we all partake of the body of our Lord we all become the one body

of Christ. So, through this means we are all in connection and communion with our head" (Homily 16.24 in R. Tonneau and R. Devresse, Les homelies carhechetiques de Theodore de Mopsuesre [Rome, 1949], p. 571).

J.ICyril writes: "The Church is named the Body of Christ and we are members ... because we are united in Christ through His holy body" (lnJoh. 11.11; PG, 74, 560).

Eucharistic Ecclesiology or Open Sobornicity?


only Henri de Lubac" in the West and a couple of Orthodox theologians: the Russians Serge Bulgakov, Georges Florovsky, Paul Evdokimov, the Romanians Andrei Scrima and Durnitru Stariiloae, the Greeks John Kanniris, P. Trembelas, and Christou Androutsos."

The Greek theologian John Zizioulas, now bishop of Pergamon, is among those who have tried to correct Afanasiev's eucharistic ecclesiology, turning it into what he likes to call a "communion ecclesiology." 1 shall present these attempts below.

Gaetau Baillargeon, one of Zizioulas's exegetes, says that in his doctoral dissertarion'" Zizioulas has inherited from Georges Florovsky, one of his mentors, a point of view according to which ecclesiology is but one chapter of Christology.42 In my opinion, this view of Florovsky and Ziz-

3S"If you are the body of Christ and members of Christ, then 'signs' of you [i.e.,the Eucharistic elements] are placed on the Lord's table, and you receive yourself (rnysteriurn vestrum in mensa Dominica positum esr er mysterium vesrrum accipitis)" (J-fonuiy 272, PL 38:1246).

J6"Palticipation in the Body and Blood of Christ brings it about that we are transformed into that which we receive" (Homily 63.7; PL 54:357C).

37 Summa rbeologiae 3. 82. 2: "Eucharisria esr sacramentum uniratis ecclesiasticae;' 3.73.3: "Res sacramenti est uniras corporis mystici."

3S"Our Saviour left behind in His Church the Eucharist as a sign of its unity and love, in which He wished to be assured rhar all Christians would be united and bound to one another" (DS 1635 in H. Denzinger and A. Schon metzer, Enchiridion symbolorum, deliniriorutn et dcclnretiomnn de rebus lidei et morum [Barcelona: Herder, 1976]) .•

39I-Ienri de Lubac, Corpus mysticutn: l'uchnristie et I'Eglise «u Moyen Age-etude historique (Paris: Aubier, 1949).

. .105. Boulgakov, L 'orthodoxic (Lausanne, 1980), p. 125; G. Florovsky, "L: Corps du Christ vivant," in La sainte Eglise universelle (Paris, 1948), p. 29, 36 ff; Paul Evdo kimov, L 'orrhodoxie (Neuchatel, 1959), p. 126 ff. A. Scrima, "Gedanken ernes ()rthodox:n ZlI~, Konstitution" in G. Barauna, cd., De ecclesm. Beitrag» zitr Konstitution "Uber der Kircbe des Zweirell' varikalliscben Konzils (Freiburg, 1966), vol. 2, pp. 514 ff; D. Sraniloae, Teologi« dogrnsticii ortodoxa(Bucbarcst: Editura Instirutului Biblic, 1978), vol. 2, pp',_208 ff. J:N. Karmires, "Abriss der dogmatischen Lchre der orthodoxen karholischen Kirche, III P. Brasiotis, ed., Die Orrhodoxe Kirche ill griechischer Sicht; part one (Sturtgart, 1959)~ p. 91; J.N. Karrnires, Orthodoxos ekklesiologis (Dogmatikes nnema E) (f\the:ls, 1973), PI" 103, 179 ff; P Trembelas, Dogmarique de l'Egiise orthodoxc cstholique, tr. 1. Dumont (Pans. Desclee, 1966), pp. 366 ff; C. Androursos, Svmbolike (Athens, 1930)~ p. 70. For all these references d. Miguel M. Garijo-Gnembe, Communion of the Sainrs: Foundsrion, Nature, «nd Structure of the Church, tr. Patrick Madigan (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1994),

p. 88 ff. .' . .

'IT Zizioulas, He henores res Ekklesiss en te Theis Eucheristis ker re Episkope ksts

tous treis prorous sionss (Athens, 1965).

"2G. Baillargeon, Perspectives orrhodoxes sur l'Eglise,COJ11IllUllioll, p. 64.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ioulas is unilateral, because it mentions no pneumatology, One has not to forget that the Church, although founded by Christ and regarded as his Body, is considered to have its beginning at the Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the crowd gathered around the apostles in Jerusalem. Baillargeon mentions that Zizioulas's ecclesiological approach until 1973 was predominantly Christocentric, at the expense of pneurnatology.43 Later on Zizioulas has become aware that ecclesiology should be considered as a "chapter" of pneumatology as well. What he wants to avoid, however, is the transformation of the Church into a "charismatic society;" the Church is and has to remain the "body of Christ." In so doing, he follows his mentor Florovsky who reacted against the ecclesiological visions of J. Mohler and A.S. Khomiakov." Nevertheless, on the same page Zizioulas criticizes Florovsky himself for not offering a solution to the synthesis between Christology and pneurnatology. After considering other Orthodox theologians' views too in his article "Christ, the Spirit and the Church," Zizioulas concludes that Orthodox theology has not yet realized such a proper synthesis."

Therefore, in the same Christologico-pneurnatological context, Zizioulas sketches such a brief "synthesis" in an attempt to justify Afanasiev's eucharistic ecclesiology ill terms of pneumatology. He says that any dilemma between local and universal Church "is transcended in the Eucharist, and so is any dichotomy between Christology and Pneumatology.'"" Yet, he does not continue the demonstration in this article. Accordingly, one has to look elsewhere. In "Eucharist and Catholicity" Zizioulas speaks on the eucharistic anamnesis as being "an existential realization, a re-presentation of the Body of Christ, thus revealing to us that the Church's existence as the Body of Christ and, therefore, her

"JThe first article to deal explicirly with this theme was "Die pncumatologische Dimension der Kirchc," in Inrermuionele loirholischc Zeitschritr, no. 2 (1973), 1'1'. 133- 147; apud G. Baillargeon, Perspectives orthodoxes, p. 99.

""Cf. John Zizioulas, "Christ, rhe Spirit and rhe Church," in his Being «s Communion:

Studies ill Personhood find the Church (Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1985), 1'.124. G. Florovsky, "Christ and His Church. Suggestions and Comments," in 1054- 1.95<1. L:Eglise et les Eglises: neu] steeles de douloureuse sepa1'l1lio/l entre l'Orient et l'Occident. Eludes et trauaux sur l'Uuit» chretlenne offarts II Doni Lambert Beauduin (Cheverogne, 1954), vol. 2, p. 164.

4lZizioulas, "Christ, rhe Spirit," p. 126. '6Ibidem, p. 133.

Eucharistic Ecc1esiology or Open Sobornicity?


catholicity constitute a reality which depends constantly upon the Holy Spirit.,,47

Unlike Afanasiev Zizioulas tries to maintain the right balance between local Church and universal Church. Therefore, he says: "No priority of the universal over the local Church is conceivable in such an ecclesiology [i.e., the eucharistic ecclesiology) ... because the nature of the Eucharist points not in the direction of the priority of the local Church but in that of the simultaneity of both local and universal.,,48 In making this statement, he presumes that Afanasiev and other Orthodox theologians have spoken of a priority of the local Church over the u11lv~rsal Church. Other Orthodox theologians have indee d done so, but Jl1 conceiving the eucharistic ecclesiology, Afanasiev himself went so far as to exclude categorically any idea of the universal Church, as I have ment' ed above .49 Afanasiev assigned the third mark of the Church, catho-

Ion . Z" I :I

licity or universality, to the local Church. On returning to lZlOU as am

his intentions, one can discover that the same balance he suggests between the local and universal Church is maintained in the concluslOns of the ecumenical dialogue between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics in France. Thus, one of the latest statements of this joint commission


Still, the approach that we have just outlined has brought us to avoid opposing a universalist ecclesiology (which would see In the local Church only a 'part' of the universal Church) and a local Church ecclesiology (which would see the local Church as the whole reality). There is no historical or ontological priority of the universal Church over the local Church, nor of the local Church over the universal. The universal and the local Church, of necessity, exist simultaneously; both possess, of necessity, a concr.ete existence because they are both rooted in the same realities,

50 namely the Holy Spirit, the gospel, and the sacraments.

Another point, related to the previous one, on which Zizioulas disagrees with Afanasiev, is the latter's formula, "wherever the Eucharist IS,

47Zizioulas, "Eucharist and Catholicity," in his Being as Communion, p. 161. 4sZiziouias, "Christ, the Spirit," p. 133.

·19 Afanasiev, "The Church which Presides in Love," p. 76. .

50'''The Roman Primacy within rhe Communion of Churches:" French joinr Roma~l Catholic-Orthodox Committee," tr. Michael Fahey, in One II) Christ, no. 24 (1993), p. 151.


Durnitru Sraniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

there is the Church. ,,5J Zizioulas says that this principle "risks suggesting the idea that each Church could, independently of other local Churches, be the 'one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.v" Zizioulas is much more aware than Afanasiev that a local Church must be in' communion with other local Churches. Moreover, a local Church is not self-sufficient and independent, as Afanasiev holds. Besides mentioning that in each episcopal ordination two or three bishops from the neighboring Churches ought to take part, Zizioulas also emphasizes that these visiting bishops could preside at the Eucharist of the community that invited them. These factors, in his view, have tied the episcopal office in a fundamental way, thus favouring the appearance of episcopal conciliarity. Zizioulas notes that Afanasiev has failed to see and appreciate these factors." As seen, Afanasiev was not too much interested in the issue of synodality,

An issue Zizioulas cannot explain within the framework of the eucharistic ecclesiology is the emergence of the parish. Both Afanasiev and Zizioulas have tended to limit the function of the bishop to the celebration of the Eucharist. Everything is fine with this attractive construction as long as one does not quit the space of a local Church - a "village church" or "city church," as Zizioulas calls it sometimes - where the bishop surrounded by the presbyterium, the deacons, and the faithful, is the only presider at the Eucharist. As seen, even communion among such Church units can be explained quite satisfactorily. Difficulties arise when one attempts to understand the emergence of the parish, and when a bishop has to oversee more parishes, thus becoming the head of a diocese. Zizioulas sees the emergence of the parish in the life of the Church as a "destruction" caused to eucharistic ecclesiology:

The Orthodox Church, in my understanding a t least, has opted for the view that the concept of the local Church is guaranteed by the bishop and not by the presbyter: the local Church as an entity with full ecclesiological status is the episcopal diocese and not the parish. By so doing the Orthodox Church has unconsciously brought

.IIIf I put it inro Latin, ubi cucluristi«, ibi ecclesia; somc people might say thar it is a patristic formula. The same happened with the formula coined by Henri de Lubac, "rhe Eucharist makes the Church" ieucherisris [scit ccclesienn. B. Sesboue says he saw it quoted here and there as a patristic formula (cf. B. Sesboiie, "Eucharistic: deux generations de rravaux," in Etudes, no. 335 [1981], p. 101).

5l]. Zizioulas, "Introduction," in Being find Communion, p. 25.

53]. Zizioulas, "Eucharist and Catholicity, ,. in Being «nd Communion; p. 155.

Eucharistic Ecdesiology or Open Sobornicity?


about a rupture in its own eucharistic ecclesiology. For it is no longer possible to equate every eucharistic celebration with the local Church."

I do not see the emergence of the parish as such a fatal event. Such a development was expectable in the life of the Church owing to an increase in Church membership. What appears to Zizioulas as a "complication" or "rupture" seems to me to show rather the weakness or even failure of the concept of "eucharistic ecclesiology" to explain the complex system that is the Church. This "complication" or "rupture" should warn us that "eucharistic ecclesiology" may not be the most proper theory to explain the life of the Church. Neither was "eucharistic ecclesiology" the ecclesiology of the early Church. The identification of the local Church with the eucharistic community alone may be simplistic.

Concerning papal primacy, which has inspired Afanasiev's reflections and made him propose the eucharistic ecclesiology, it is hard to discern clearly Zizioulas' position. Gaetan Baillargeon thinks that "John Zizioulas has not really expressed himself about the primacy of the bishop of Rome and his ministry in the communion of the Churches.T" Paul McPartian, another exegete of Zizioulas, holds a more nuanced opinion; he detects a certain evolution in Zizioulas' conception of conciliarity and primacy in the direction of a real primacy among the Churches." Thus in 1985 Zizioulas wrote: "each local Church receives the gospel and re-receives it constantly through the ministry of the episkope acting ill communion with the faithful and with the other local Churches in conciliar decisions through a universal ministry." To this statement he even added that "one should not hesitate to seek such a ministry in the Bishop of Rorne.?" In the paper he presented at the Faith and Order Conference held at Santiago de Compostella, Spain (3-14 August 1993), Zizioulas wrote:

Can there be unity of the Church without primacy on the local, the regional, and the universal level in an ecclesiology of comrnun-

54]. Zizioulas, "The Local Church in a Perspective of Communion," in Being as Com-

munion, p. 251.

ssBailiargeon, Perspectives Orthodoxcs, p. 228 ff.

56See P. McPartian, The Eucharist Makes the Church, pp. 203-21l.

57]. Zizioulas, "The Theological Problem of 'Reception," in One in Christ; no. 21 (1985), pp. 192-193.


Dumirru Staniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ion? We believe not. For it is through a 'head,' some kind of a 'primus' that the 'many,' be it individual Christians or local Churches can speak with one voice. But a 'primus' must be part of a community ... (W]ithout some kind of institution, which would teach and decide authoritatively, there could be no unity in the Church. But the final decisions of such an institution must be tested through their reception by the communities before they can claim full and true authority."

Because of these statements, I maintain that it is hard to discern Zizioulas's final word Oll the issue of papal primacy.

Dumitru Staniloae's Critique of Eucharistic Ecclesiology

The Romanian Orthodox theologian Durnitru Staniloae (1903- 1993) is among those who have not subscribed to Afanasiev's eucharistic ecclesiology. Unfortunately, for reasons I do not know, Staniloae and Zizioulas have ignored each other. I wish to present Sta niloae's position visa-vis the eucharistic ecclesiology, because I consider that it shows even more clearly than Zizionlas's the flaws of this ecclesiology. Moreover, his own ecclesiology seems to have realized that synthesis between Christelogy and pne umatology mentioned earlier by Zizioulas. Instead of the eucharistic ecclesiology as a concept stimulative of the ecumenical dialogue, Staniloae proposes a concept he calls "open sobornicity." In an article published in 1966, Staniloae extensively discusses Afanasiev's article "Una Sancta" which I have already presented. In Staniloae's view, the three most important ministries of the bishop are: "preaching the truth," "overseeing the faithful," and "celebrating the Eucharist.?" Even if it is true that all ministries culminate in the celebration of the Eucharist the


latter is not the only ministry, as Afanasiev implies. "All in ali," Staniloae contends, "the celebration of the Eucharist is related to the preservation of the truth in the Church as we11."60 As I shall show below, because he

58Merropolitan John [Zizionlas] of Pergamon, "The Church as Communion. A Presenrarion 011 the \X10rld Conference Theme," in Thomas F. Best and Gunther Gassmann, eds., "On the Way to Fuller Koinonia: Official Report of the Fifth World Conference on Faith and Order," in Faith snd Order Paper, no. 166 (Geneva: \'(,'orld Council of Churches 1994), p. 108. . ,

59Dumitru Staniloae, "Biserica universals §i soborniceasca" [The Universal and Sobornost Church). ill Orrodoxis, 18 (1966), p. 169.


Eucharistic Ecclesiology or Open Sobornicity?


has realized a synthesis between Christology and pneumatology better than that of any other Orthodox theologian, Staniloae can explain why it is necessary that the celebration of the Eucharist be combined with the preservation of the true faith.

When arriving at the controversial point in Afanasiev's article on the union among local Churches, Staniloae shows the double contradiction contained in Afanasiev's argumentation. He notes:

Afanasiev seems to be willing to vouchsafe a certain importance to

the union among local Churches. Yet, when describing this union,

on the one hand he minimizes its importance, by declaring that everything happening in a local Church happens in other local Churches as well. On the other hand, he invalidates the thesis about the plenitude of the local Church, by declaring that in each

local Church things can happen that do not happen in other local Churches; consequently, (in Afanasiev's opinion) it is useful for a

local Church to accept what happens in other local Churches."

According to Staniloae, the small local Church possesses ecclesial

plenitude, precisely because it does not break off with the ensemble formed by all local Churches. "Otherwise," he continues, "the small local Church would not be interested in what happens in other local Churches. Nor would it be necessary for it to receive the witness of the Spirit dwelling in it about the works of the same Spirit dwelling in other local Churches.v" Consequently, Staniloae accepts the idea of a local Church's ecclesial plenitude, but only within the framework of the universal Church, i.e., when the local Church maintains communion and the same faith with all the other local Churches. A local Church isolated from other local Churches loses its ecclesial character, in his view.63 This is exactly what Afanasiev fails to accept.

Afanasiev deals with the issue of a local Church's being isolated by other local Churches when the latter no longer recognizes what is happening in the former. He says: "In refusing to accept a certain ecclesial act, local Churches witness that that act does not take place in the Church of God.,,64 At this point he is confused and hesitant, not knowing

61Ibidem, p. 170. 62Ibiclem, p. 171. 63Ibidern, p. 171 ff.

6<lAfanasiev, "Una Sancta," p. 456.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity ill Theology

what to call this state of isolation; eventually he labels it a "weakening of the love" among local Churches. Afanasiev categorically avoids the phrase "excommunication," since "from the point of view of the eucharistic ecclesiology such 'excommunications' are impossible: ... a local Church cannot amputate another [local] Church from the Church, because this would mean that the Church excommunicates itself.,,65 Stariiloae sees things differently. To him, when a local Church goes astray from the apostolic faith shared until then with other local Churches, the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of truth, will prompt the other local Churches to break off communion with it. By this process is prevented the danger of the spread of error in the entire Church. Nonetheless, this action has a positive side too; it wakens the conscience of error in the community thus warned and maintains it in a state of doubt, preparing

hereby its return to the truth." '

The major ecclesiological dissimilarity between Afanasiev and Sta niloae is due to their positions vis-a-vis the Holy Spirit. Afanasiev assigns almost no role to the Holy Spirit in his Eucharistic ecclesiology; except perhaps the argument used by Zizioulas that any dichotomy between Christology and pneumatology is transcended in the Eucharist, which Afanasiev would surely have accepted, the latter's eucharistic ecclesiology is definitely Christocentric. In contradistinction to Afanasiev, Staniloae's ecdesiology is thoroughly pneumatic. According to Staniloae, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth, and hence the guardian of true, apostolic faith in the Church. Afanasiev opines that "where an eucharistic community is gathered around its bishop, there is the Church integrally." To this Sta niloae prefers St. Ircnaeus of Lyon's definition: "Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace; and the Spirit is the truth. Those, therefore, who do not participate in the Spirit neither feed at their mother's breasts nor drink the bright fountain issuing from Christ's body.?" Consequently, Staniloae would not subscribe to the formula "the Eucharist makes the Church" without the qualification that the Eucharist must be conditioned by the truth, i.e., the true faith. Accordingly, he considers

65Ibidem, pp, 456 ff.

66Staniloae, "Biserica universals §i soborniccasca," pp, 171, 193,

67Adversus Hsereseos 3,24,1, PG 7:966A-C. Quoted by Stauiloae in "Biserica universala §i soborniceasca," p. 189,

Eucharistic Ecclesiology or Open Sobornicity?


that the priest's urging "Let us love one another, so that with one mind we may confess [emphasis added]," followed by the confession of faith before the e piclesis during the Orthodox liturgy, have not been fortuitously inserted into the liturgical text. Moreover, the holy Eucharist itself clarifies the minds of the believers; therefore, according to Staniloae, they can sing after communion: "We have seen the true light! We have received the heavenly Spirit! We have found the true faith! Therefore, let us worship the undivided Trinity who has saved US."63

Staniloae considers primacy among local Churches purely administrative and functional, since all local Churches are equal and not a single one of them can have a privileged union with Christ. The bishop primate has only a role of presidency of the episcopal college "for the sake of human, cultural, administrative facilities, being assisted by the political centre in which he had his residence.t''"

Staniloae's Concept of "Open Sobornicity"

Staniloae sees the Pentecost as the event that sealed the birth of the Church. Therefore, along with the authentic patristic tradition (The Shepherd of Herines/" Gregory Nazianzos;" John Chrysostom "), he believes that during Pentecost the Holy Spirit infuses "a common way of thinking in those who come to believe which makes them understand one another despite all the differences of expression which may exist among them. ,,73 This makes the Church the opposite of the Tower of Babel. At the same time, the common way of thinking symbolizes the unity in diversity that the Church should reflect, because those who have received

6'Staniloae, "Biserica universala §i soborniceasca," p, 197. Cf. also his Spiri(lIalirate ,~i cornuniunc in liturgln« orrodosii [Spirituality and Communion in the Orthodox Liturgy] (Craiova, Romania: Edirura Mirropoliei Olreniei, 1986), p, 399, English quotes of the liturgical text are taken from The Divine Liturgy according (0 Ssiurfolm Cltrysostom, third edirion (Derrcir, Ml: The Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America, 1975), pp. 78, 107,

69D, Srauiloae, "Biserica universals §i soborniceasca," p. 194.

70Sancti Hermae Pastor, Sim. 9, PG 2,979-1010. Ed, K, Lake, Apostolic Fsrhers (Lon-

don, 1924), vol, 2, pp. 216-296.

71IfI Penrecosrcrn Orsrio </1, 16, PG 36,449C.

72 De Saflcta Pentecosre Homili« 2, PG 50, 467 -468.

7JOnmitrn Sta niloae, "The Holy Spirit and the Soborniciry of the Church," chapter 2 of his Theology and (he Church, tr. Robert Barringer (Crestwood, ]\''Y: 51'. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1980), pp, 53 ff.


Dumirru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

the same understanding preserved their distinctive languages. Drawing 011 this insight, in 1971 Staniloae proposed a concept that would help foster the ecumenical dialogue among the Churches, namely "open sobornicity." To explain this concept and show its usefulness for the ecumenical dialogue, first I have to make clear what "sobornicity" means to Staniloae.

"Sobornicity" (from the Slavic sobornaya, which means both "universal" and "conciliar") is the third mark of the Church as described in the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, i.e., universality or catholicity. Yet, in Stauiloae's and some Russian and Romanian Orthodox theologians' view, sobornicity has to do with the inner life of the Church rather than with its geographical extension." It is the Holy Spirit who, as the "Spirit of communion," holds together all the members of the Church without melting them to form a single part. And Staniloae adds:

In this sense sobornicity can also be expressed as communion. Sobornicity is not unity pure and simple; it is a certain kind of unity. There is the unity of a whole in which the constitutive parts are not distinct, or the unity of a group which is kept together by an exterior command, or formed into a union of uniform entities each existing side by side. Sobornicity is none of these. It is distinguished from an undifferentiated unity by being of a special kind, the unity of communion ... The unity of communion is the sole unity which conforms to the dignity of the persons involved in the union. It is the sole unity which does not subordinate one person to another, or in which the institution is not conceived as something external to or superior to and repressive of the persons involved in it.75

I think at least three factors have led Staniloae to formulate the concept he calls "open sobornicity:" 1) his understanding of sobornicity, 2) the idea that the variety of gifts in the Church complement one another in order "to satisfy every spiritual need of the faithful and of the entire Church,"?" and 3) a notion he used for the first time in 1969 under the influence of the ecumenical movement, namely "spiritual intercornmun-

7·'Ibidem, p. 56. 75Ibidem, p. 56 ff. 76lbidem, p. 54.

Eucharistic Ecclesiology or Open Sobornicity?


ion.'m Since the first factor has been explained above, I shall shortly present the last two.

The idea of the variety of gifts that complement one another, first expressed by the apostle Paul (1 Cor 12:19-20), was reiterated by many Church Fathers and theologians throughout the centuries. Staniloae cites only Gregory of Nazianzos, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom, adding that the Holy Spirit "impresses on the faithful the conviction that the gift of each exists for the sake of the others; the Spirit is the spiritual bond between humans, the integrating force which unites the whole, the power of cohesion in the cornmunity.T"

"Spiritual intercommunion" is a form of communion that promotes common prayer, study, and action among the Orthodox and other Christians. This intercommunion is necessary "so that the Holy Spirit can multiply the 'connections' among our Churches; by these connections the life in Christ of our Churches may be transmitted from one Church to another, thus becoming more and more alike."?" The adjective "spiritual" denotes something of an immaterial nature taking place in this intercommunion. Yet spiritual intercommunion is different from the intercommuuion promoted by some members of the World Council of Churches, i.e., a communion in the means of salvation tcommunicetio in sacris); still less is it a eucharistic hospitality.

Given all these preliminary remarks, I can proceed to explain the concept of "open sobornicity.t''" In the concept of "open sobornicity," every theological system is welcomed as offering some valid theological insight:

[Sobornicity 1 has to be the gathering isobon of the whole world, where all Christians bring together their understanding of the whole revealed divine reality and of the whole human reality seen

770. Staniloae, "Tcologia euharistica ' [The Theology of the Eucharist], in Orrodosia; 21 (1969), p. 361. A French translation of this article can be found in Coursers, no. 22 (1970), pp. 184-211.

7SD. Sraniloae, "The Holy Spirit and rhe Soborniciry," p. 54.

790. Staniloae, "Teologia cuharisrica,' in Ortodoxis, 21 (1969), p. 361. Ar this point Sraniloae acknowledges his indebtedness to Nikos Nissioris, "Worship, Eucharist, and Intercommunion," in Oikoumcne; no. 6, December 1962 (published by the Youth Departmcnr of rhe World Council of Churches), pp. 30-43. I was unable to locate Nissioris' article.

8°1'0 explain it, I shall use Sraniloaes article "Soboruicitate deschisa" [Open Sobornicity], in Ortodoxis, 23 (1971), pp. 165-180.


Dumitru Stauiloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

in the light of the integral revelation. By so doing, they share their understanding with all and each call participate in the understanding of all. BJ

Moreover, Christians have to be aware that new ways to express the divine reality are possible and necessary; therefore, these new ways have to be welcomed also, if they are "transparencies of God, i.e., indicate something of God's being." Through openness to the others, one's understanding is enriched, and thus a more symphonic, although not uniform, understanding of the universal and divine reality is achieved.V Nevertheless, the weaknesses of each system must be criticized, continues Staniloae, because no system is capable of comprehending the entire divine reality."

In the light of the concept of "open sobornicity," different understandings of the scriptural teachings appear as complementary rather than contradictory. In fact, Staniloae recognizes: "the Holy Scripture contains a diversity of meanings, sometimes complementary, at other times even contradictory, but the Scripture must be understood as a whole.?" Nevertheless, the legitimate interpretation of these meanings has to be made within the Church through the practice of sobornicity in order to avoid heresies that are born from a certain one-side dness in interpretation. Heresy (from the Greek bairesis) represents the act of choosing a certain aspect pertaining to a complex reality at the expense of all other aspects. In Staniloae's view, "heresy implies a negation, a narrowing down, an impoverishment of the rich and complex theological reality. ,,85

To sum up, Sta niloae believes that the concept of "open sobornicity" is a proper tool to foster an authentic ecumenical dialogue without running the risk of doctrinal relativism. If one takes into account the richness of meanings this concept contains, one is led to believe that the stage into which the ecumenical dialogue enters by adopting this concept is a stage both necessary and willed by the Holy Spirit in the process of rapprochement which the Churches seek. A glance at tbe ecumenical movement shows that, except for some Churches (e.g. Anglicans and

81Stiiniloae, "Sobornicitate deschisa," p. 172. 82Ibidem, p. 179.

8Jlbidel1l, p. 173.

84Ibidem, p. 166.

8sIbidem, p. 167.

Eucharistic Ecclesiology or Open Sobornicity?


Lutherans) among which eucharistic sharing is growing, all other Churches (Orthodox and Roman Catholic included) practice only a "spiritual intercommunion" and an "open sobornicity" in an attempt to know each other better before reaching a fuller koinonia.

Concluding Remarks

Having analyzed the concept of "eucharistic ecclesiology" in Afanasiev's exposition, in Zizioulas's attempt to improve it, and in Staniloae's critique, I am led to the conclusion that despite its limited usefulness, this concept cannot satisfactorily explain the complex reality which is the Church. The role of this concept was important in the unlocking of the ecumenical dialogue, especially between Roman Catholics and Orthodox. Moreover, "eucharistic ecclesiology" has brought local Church to the attention of theologians. In my view, however, this concept can no longer make the ecumenical dialogue progress, unless its designers take also seriously into consideration other aspects of the sacramental life and the faith of the Chu rch. Yet in this case, the concept under scrutiny cannot be called "eucharistic ecclesiology" anymore.

This chapter proposes another concept that would help further the ecumenical dialogue, namely "open sobornicity." It is true that many Churches which do not have eucharistic sharing with one another practice a certain "open sobornicity." Yet if they become aware of the richness of meanings contained in this concept as advocated by Staniloae , they can advance even farther on their common way toward unity.

Dumitru Staniloae on Christian Unity

Ronald G. Roberson

Durnitru Staniloae (1903-1993) was the most outstanding Romanian Orthodox theologian of the contemporary period. Born in Transylvania, he was a professor of theology at the Sibiu Theological Academy from 1929 to 1946, and at the Bucharest Theological Institute from 1947 to 1973. Without exaggeration it can be said that he single-handedly transformed the orientation of Romanian Orthodox theological thinking in the post-war period. His work is characterized by a return to the patristic sources, an emphasis on the close relationship between theology and spirituality, and an effort to assist his Church in its difficult adjustment to the new socialist society imposed on Romania after World War II. Staniloae is widely considered to be among the most important Orthodox theologians of this century.'

This study focuses on Professor Staniloac's contribution to the modern ecumenical movement. A glance at the list of his publications reveals that he devoted much energy to this field, especially after his emergence fr0111 five years of imprisonment under the Communist regime and return to theological activity in 1963. It is evident that Staniloae was genuinely concerned about Christian divisions and made a serious effort to contribute to the advancement of Christian unity.

This paper begins with a presentation of Staniloae's affirmation of the fullness of the Orthodox Church, and his thinking on the ecclesial

']. Moltmann, for instance, has referred to Sraniloae as "the most influential and creative contemporary Orthodox theologian." See his introduction to D. Sraniloae, Orrhodoxe Dogmarik(Zurich: Benzinger, 1985), p. 10.

Dumitru Sraniloae on Christian Unity


nature of non-Orthodox Churches in general. There follows an overview of his specific evaluation of the Oriental Orthodox, Western, and Byzantine Catholic Churches. Finally, his ideas on the promotion of Christian unity are described.

The Fullness of the Orthodox Church

Durnitru Staniloae's whole theology makes clear that there can be only one Church because there is only one Christ, whose extended body it is. Gathered together by the Holy Spirit into the one Body of Christ, Christians have a sense of spiritual unity among themselves as Church. This spiritual oneness is manifested in unity in dogmatic expression, in the sacraments, and ill hierarchical organization and communion. Staniloae affirms that the visible Orthodox Church alone is this Church ill the full sense of the word.'

But the identification of the Orthodox Church with the one Church does not imply that non-Orthodox Churches are devoid of any ecclesial reality. They are viewed as related to the one Church, but as weaker, incomplete manifestations of that which is fully present in the Orthodox Church:

But here the question is posed: what are the other Christian confessions that do not confess such an intimate and effective union of the integral Christ in them? We hold that they are incomplete Churches, some closer to fullness, others farther away .... We bold that the non-Orthodox confessions are separate groups that have been formed in a certain relationship with the full Church and exist in a certain relationship with it, but do not share in the full light and power of Christ the sun. Thus ill a way the Church includes all the confessions divided from it, because they could not fully depart from the Tradition present in [the Church]. But the Church in the full sense of the word is only the Orthodox Church."

Based on his theory of the "preincarnational presence" of the divine Logos in the world," Stauiloae affirms that all human persons stand in a certain relationship to God when they perceive order and meaning in ere-

'-D. Sraniloae, Teologis dogmaridi orrodosii (Bucharest: Edirura Insriturului Biblic, 1978) vol. 2, pp. 266-267.

Jibidem, pp. 267-268.


Dumitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

arion. Consequently, all humanity and all reJigious faiths possess at least a limited knowledge of God and are related to the Church:

Even today a certain Church subsists outside Christianity because there still exist certain ontological Jinks of human forces among themselves and with the divine Logos. This Church exists even more in the other Christian formations, thanks to their link with Christ the incarnate Word by faith, and because they have a faith in Christ partially in common with the Orthodox Church, the fulJ Church.'

But the Church possesses the fullness of divine revelation and has a saving grace-filled relationship with God that is not available elsewhere. This, taken with his affirmation that baptism is absolutely necessary for salvation, makes it clear that in Staniloac's view, only Christians can be saved. But he hesitates when the question of the salvation of baptized non-Orthodox Christians is raised. He does not wish to judge them 011 the basis of the official teachings of their Churches because in most cases these Christians were simply born into those confessions without personally choosing them, and because the apostolic tradition often survives there ill spite of those teachings. Since elements of the one Church remain in those Churches, these Christians experience even now a "parrial participation" in the life of Christ. This leaves open the possibility that they will also experience Christ ill the future life," although in "less luminous" places in the house of God:

However, those who have a diminished faith in the true Christ and practice a reduced sharing in Him through weakened sacraments ... are not totally outside this mystery. [This is] because even as creatures they take part in it in a certain way. But because they are not in the fullness of the mystery of the union of the Word of God with creation here, they are not preparing themselves for a full communion with Him and with those united with Him in the future life. Among the many dwelling-places of the Father (john 14:2) they will dwell in less luminous, less transparent places, and in a less perfect communion with Christ and those perfectly united with Him."

·'For more on this, see his "La cenrralire du Christ dans la rheologie, dans la spiritualite er dans la mission orrhodoxe," in COIlfaClS, no. 27 (1975), pp. 447-457.

50. Staniloae, TeoJogia dognutrici orrodoxii, vol. 2, p, 268.

6Ibidem, pp. 268-269.

Dumitru Staniloae on Christian Unity


The incomplete nature of non-Orthodox Churches is related to their faulty understanding of Christian doctrine. Because Staniloae sees a mutual influence between doctrine and experience, distorted or incomplete doctrine is understood as an indication of an imperfect experience of the Trinity in the Church.

Staniloae emphasizes that the fullness of Christian doctrine is highly complex and given to paradox because it describes the inexhaustible depths of the mystery of God. This may lead on the rational human level to what appear to be opposed or even contradictory ideas which, nevertheless, must be taken together in order to more clearly grasp the mystery's fullness. The heresies and schisms that have affected the life of the Church were misguided attempts to resolve the complexity of this mystery into simpler, "unilateral" teachings which, in the end, lost sight of important aspects of the Christian faith."

The Oriental Orthodox Churches

We now turn to Staniloae's evaluation of the five Oriental Orthodox Churches, which never received the Christological teaching of the Council of Chalcedon (451), and consequently are not in communion with those Churches that accepted it.9 In opposition to Chalcedon, which taught that there is one person and two natures in Christ, they affirmed the Christological formula of Cyril of Alexandria, who spoke of "the one incarnate nature of tbeWord of God."

Staniloae made a great effort to contribute to a resolution of this disagreement, because he felt that the reestablishment of full communion with the Oriental Orthodox is a real possibility. Aware that these

70. Sraniloae, "Realirarea tainica a Biscricii," in Orrodoxis, 36 (1984), p. 420. 8Staniloae, "Sobornicitatea deschisa," in Ortodosis, 23 (1971), pp. 165-168. Studies by Sta niloae on the ecumenical movement in general include "Miscarea ecumenica §i unirarea cresrina In sradiul actual," in Ortodosis, 15 (1963), pp. 544-589; "Oocumentele doctrinare de la Montreal," in -Orrodosi«; 16 (1964), pp. 577-597; "Iubire §i adevar: pcntru 0 depasire a dilemei ecumenismului contemporan," in Ortodoxin, 19 (1967), pp. 283-292; "Relatiile Bisericii Orrodoxe Rornane cu Bisericile Vechi Orientale, cu Biserica RomanoCatolica §i cu Prorestantismul," in Orrodoxin, 20 (1968), pp. 209-224; "Problemarica ecumenica acruala," in Ortodoxis, 22 (1970), pp. 296-299; "Relariile ecumenice ale Bisericii Orrodoxe Romane In ulrirnul sfert de veac," in Ortodoxis, 25 (1973), pp. 166-175.

"These Churches today are [he Armenian Apostolic Church, the Syrian Orrhodox Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, rhe Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church in India.


Dumitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Churches never accepted the monophysite teachings of Eutyches, he was convinced that this fifth-century schism was caused primarily by misunderstandings concerning the terminology used to describe the mystery of Christ. National, political, and social tensions were also involved. This was only a superficial division that did not affect fundamental unity in faith.

The task that lies before Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox theologians, according to Staniloae, is to establish that there is no substantial difference between their respective Christologies, since the formulae of Chalcedon and Cyril of Alexandria have been shown to have the same meaning. He joined the effort to elaborate a new formula that would be acceptable to both sides.l? In the event of the adoption of such a common formula, he would support eucharistic hospitality with these Churches in certain exceptional circumstances. He insisted, however, that full communion must await agreement on the number and nature of ecumenical councils."

The Churches of the West

Sta niloae was less sanguine in his assessment of the Catholic and Protestant Churches which, although he devoted more attention to the Catholic Church, he tended to evaluate in relation to one another. He interprets the history of the Western Church and its theological tradition largely in terms of a loss of balance and the emergence of "unilateral" teachings on certain aspects of the Christian faith. For instance, he views the schism of 1054 as the result of an unbalanced understanding of the unity of the Church.V

In 1054 an exaggerated accentuation and an arbitrary - thus mistaken - understanding of the idea of the unity of the Church by the leadership of Western Christianity led to the breakdown of this unity, provoking the great schism ... Unity was no longer under-

JOSt,iniloae, "Posibilirarea reconcilierii dogmatice inrre Biserica Orrodoxa ~i Vechile Biserici Orientale," in Ortodoxia, ] 7 (1965), pp. 5-27. St'iniloae provides his own Christological formula of reunion on pages 26-27. See also "Acriuni ~i poz itii noi In eforrurile de apropiere inrre Bisericile Ortorloxe ~i Bisericile Vechi Orientale," in Orrodoxis, 2.4 (1972), pp. J.13-119, where he comments on later events in this relationship; and "Perspectivele dialogului cu Bisericile Vechi Orientale. Lucrarile Comisiei inrerorrodoxe de la Addis Abeba," in Biserica Orrodoxd Romani, 89 (1971), pp. 978-991.

I'Sr,lniloae,."In problema inrcrcomuniunii," in Ortodosis, 23 (1971), p. 568.

Dumitru Staniloae on Christian Unity


stood as essentially a unity in balance, as a unity of opposites, but as a unity in which a part is raised up to the status of an all-powerful center that only suffocates the other component parts, simplifying complexity, and making variety uniform. This led to an impoverishment of the life of the Church in God, [an impoverishmenr] equal to that provoked by heresies which negated essential

parts of Christian teaching."

The Protestant Reformation is presented as a reaction to this suppression of freedom in the Western Church, as a struggle against papal power. But instead of reestablishing balance and equilibrium in Christian life and doctrine, Protestantism embraced the opposite extreme. Whlle the Catholic Church over-emphasized the Church at the expense of the individual, Protestants over-emphasized the individual at the expense of the Church. Moreover, the Protestants rejected certain essential aspects of the Church, including the hierarchy, which they associated with the Catholic suppression of the individual. One unilateral understanding provoked an even greater one. Catholics and Protestants came to categorically contradictory positions, neither having the openness needed to

12Sraniloae produced a series of studies in the 1950s which compared Orthodox~~ctrines to those of the \'XIest: "Invatatura despre Maica Domnului la ortodocsi §I carolici, III

0 .. i .i, ? (1950) pp 559-609' "Durnnezeiasca Euharistie in cele trei confesiuni," in

J IOl 0.,\ la, _ ,. , . _"" ~_

Orrodoxia. S (1953), pp. 46-115; "Starea suflerelor dupa jude.c~,t~ partlculara,;n :nv~t~tur~ orrodoxa si carolica," in Orrodoxin, 5 (1953), pp. 545-614; Faprele bune III mvatatura ortodoxa;i carolica," in Ortodoxis, 6 (1954), pp. 507-533; "Fiin(a Tainelor In cele trei conIesiuui," Ortodoxis, 8 (1956), pp. 3-28; "Srarea primordiala a ornului In ce~e rrei confesi-

, ., in Orrodoxis 8 (1956) pp. 323-357; "Docrrina protestanta despre pacarul eredirar

u ru, ", ' '. .. ? . ,;cD .'

judecata din punct de vedere orrodox,' 111 Ortodoxis, 9 (19)7), pp~ 195-_15, ~~tn~a

ortodoxa §i carolica despre pacatul srrarnosesc," in Orrodoxis;') (19)7), pp. 3-40;. [r,~rdrivele dintre Biserica Orrodoxa Romfina §i Anglicana pnvite sub aspectul dogmatic, III Orrodoxie, 10 (1958), pp. 236-251. See also his later studies, "Ortodoxia In fata u no r fenomene acruale din cresrinismul apusean," in Orrodoxis, 26 (1974), pp. 325-345; "Donriua lurerana despre justificare ~i cuvint §i citeva reflectii orrodoxe," in Ortodoxis, 35 (1983), pp. 495-509.

13Sraniloa~ "Sobornicitatca deschisa," p. 168. In the 1950s, some observers of Romanian Orthodoxy warned that rhe more polemical aspects of this evaluation of the Catholic Church should not be rakeu ar face value. They held that this polemical atmosphere resulted from the necessity to echo the hostility of the Romanian .government to the Ca,thoh~ Church. See for instance I. Goia, "Vues Orthodoxes roumames sur le sclllsrr~e er I Unite chrerienne," in Istiru, no. 2 (1955), pp. 31-50, and F. Popan, "Le caractere OCCIdental de la theologie ronmaine d'anjourd'hni," in Osrkirchliclie Studien, no. 8 (1959), pp. 169-183. As Goia points our, however, Staniloac's highly critical attitude towards Roman Catholic theol-. ogy was evident even before the Communist revolution. I have endeavored here ro present recurring tbemes that continue ro appear in Sraniloaes later works.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

break the impasse. The West became hard, rationalistic and simplistic

I . I " raving ost the complex richness of the full Christian faith."

. Like many Orthodox theologians, Staniloae relates these difficulties III the Western Churches to the acceptance of the Illioque cia use in the Creed. He Interprets this as an indication that the West had lost the necessary understanding of the mission of the Holy Spirit in the constitution of the Church. A subordination of the Holy Spirit to the Son resulted in an exclusively Christological understanding of the Church which led to an exaggerated institutionalization of the Church's life:

In. this overwhelming Christologism, which found expression in a filioquism that puts the Holy Spirit on a level inferior to the Father .and the Son, is seen today the cause of the exaggerated institutional character of the Catholic Church."

But this Christological emphasis in Western Christianity does not lead to a more mtunate presence of Christ in those Churches because the presence of Christ is experienced precisely in the Holy Spirit: The lack of a correct understanding of the mission of the Spirit leads to a diminished presenc.e of Christ in the Church and, consequently, to the need for something to substi tu te for him:

The proof is that in Catholicism, if it is necessary to have a vicar, Christ IS considered as separate from the Church, and in Protestantism [it is] the same: Christ is conceived - however movingly It may be - as remaining at a distance from believers, while he has no effect on their conduct or on their unity in the Church. Christ is distant in both ~onfessions because both have in practice forgotten the Holy Spirit III whom Christ is present; and the Church has become a legalistic-human institution in Catholicism and has fragmented 111 Protestantism because of a lack of concern for the Hoi

S ... I CI Y

pmt III w rom irist is present. The Church as body of Christ

exists effectively where the Holy Spirit is present. 1(,

The results of this weakened presence of Christ III the Catholic Church are described ill devastating terms:

"Sraniloae, "Soboruicirarea deschisa," pp. 169-170.

~. .. 15sriinilo,~e, "Relatii.le_ treimice §i viata Biscricii," in Ortodosie, 16 (1964), p. 504. English translation 111 .~. Sranilcae, Theology and the Church, rr, Robert Barringer (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's, 1980), pp. 11-44.

J('Sraniloae, "Relariile treimice §i viata Bisericii," p. 506.

Dumitru Staniloae on Christian Unity


Christ the Logos, transmitting his power to Peter and his successors and partly to the successors of the other apostles and withdrawing into transcendence at the Ascension, also keeps the Spirit with him. The Church has been imprinted with the character of a juridical society, conducted in a rational and absolutist way by the Pope, no longer taking notice of the active permanent presence of the Spirit in it and in all the faithful and the presence of Christ indissolubly linked to [the presence of the Spirit]. The Pope, the bishops, and priests take the place of the absent Christ who is not present in the Spirit in the hearts of the faithful (the vicarial theory); they are not the images, the visible signs of the sacramental and spiritual invisible presence of Christ (as in Orthodoxy). The character of the filial relationship of the faithful with the Father, and of the intimate communion among them in Christ who is present within them in the Holy Spirit, has likewise been weak-

ened ."

In his evaluation of the Catholic Church, Staniloae makes frequent reference to the concept of created grace. He thinks that Catholics understand created grace as a created entity given to the Church which it in turn distributes in the sacraments. This detachment of grace from God himself implies that Catholic theology does not allow for the direct experience of God by believers in the sacraments. God remains closed in his transcendence:

[Catholics] deny in this way that which constitutes the principal characteristic of Orthodoxy: the presence of the personal God in creation through His acts or uncreated energies; they deny the powerful Orthodox affirmation of His work in the Churcb through divinizing grace, considering that they themselves affirm these things, in Catholicism. But it is known that they recognize only a created grace that is active in believers, while they enclose

God in his transcendence."

For Staniloae, the lack of an adequate understanding of the Spirit's presence throughout the Church lies at the root of the Catholic concept of the authority of bishops in the Church and of the Pope over the bish-

17Staniloae, "Sfinra Treime, srrucrura supremei iubiri," in Studii Teologice, 22 (1970):, p. 355. English translation in D. Sraniloae, Theology and the Church, pp. 73-108.

ISStiiniloae, "Studii catolice receute despre filioque," in Studii Teologice, 25 (1973), p.482.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ops. He finds no improvement in this situation in the documents of Vatican II, because he says the authority of bishops continues to be based exclusively upon episcopal ordination without taking into account their relationship to their communities. I-Ie insists that the authority of the bishop must be understood as a power of the Church, exercised in obedience to the Church, rather than over against the Church."

Similar observations are made regarding the Catholic concept of papal infallibility. The attribution of infallibility to the Pope is the result of a weakened awareness of the presence of Christ in the Spirit. Since the Pope is not even limited by exterior sources of revelation, infallibility is no longer understood as a function of revealed truth, but as a function of the papacy that has replaced the indwelling Christ and revelation. The definition of papal infallibility at Vatican I in 1870 excluded the lived experience of the Church as a source of infallibility. The teachings of the Pope must be accepted not on the basis of any interior lived evidence, but on the basis of the obligation of obedience to external guiding authority. By requiring simple obedience to an unlimited individual monarch, an inner knowledge of Christ within the body of the Church is denied. This is presented as unacceptable because it is not consistent with the Orthodox affirmation that infallibility is an aspect of the whole Church, and cannot be identified exclusively with any particular structure within it.2D

Protestantism is said to hold the opposite extreme, denying any teaching authority to the Church, and allowing each individual to interpret Scripture and discern the truth according to his or her own conscience." This is a result of Protestantism's substitution of the presence of the Spirit for the presence of Christ. Bu t a presence of the Spirit withou t Christ is a presence devoid of the Truth, which is Christ actively present ill the Spirit's power."

Staniloae also holds that this diminished presence of Christ had consequences for the Western theology of liturgy and sacraments. In Catholic theology, this led to an understanding of the Eucharist as celebrated by

19Staniloae, "Din aspecrul sacramental ai Bisericii," in Srudii Teologice, 18 (1966), PI'. 5 47 -548. See also "Sfinrul Duh ~i so bornicirarea Bisericii," in Orrodoxis, 19 (1967), PI'. 35- 36. English translation in D. Staniloae, Theology and rbc Church, PI'. 45-71.

wStaniloac, "Auroriratea Bisericii," in Studii Teologice, 16 (1964), PI'. 196-200. llStaniloac, "Relatiile treimice ~i viata Bisericii,' 1'.524.

22Staniloae, "Sfinra Treime, srructura supremei iubiri," p. 355.

Dumitru Staniloae on Christian Unity


Christ through the priest, but not through the community. Although it is celebrated for the community, the Eucharist is not viewed as an act of the Church. The community is not even considered essential for the Eucharist. But the Protestant concept of Eucharist is equally criticized because it also separates Christ from the community:

But if among Catholics everything is done by Christ through the priest without the community, although for the community, among the Protestants everything is done through the community, without Christ. The pastor is completely submerged into the COIIImunity, not having a special grace to "personify" or represent it. Out of opposition to Catholicism, it has fallen into another extremism .... Among Catholics the sacrifice of believers is not added to the sacrifice of Christ, because the liturgy in which Christ is offered in sacrifice can be celebrated without the community. Among Protestants the sacrifice of the community is not added to the sacrifice of Christ because Christ is not offered in sacrifice Y

This section cannot be concluded without noting that Staniloae's experience as a participant at the second plenary session of the international Catholic-Orthodox dialogue at Munich in 1982 seems to have caused him to greatly moderate his views on the Catholic Church. In an interview published in 1988, he stated that Orthodoxy and Catholicism "are not divided by essential differences." He was pleasantly surprised at Munich to see that there was broad agreement on issues that had been significant causes of division in the past. He emerged hopeful that a solution may even be found to the problem of the papacy which would integrate the bishop of Rome into the communion of the Church in a way acceptable to the Orthodox."

The Byzantine Catholic Churches

It is necessary to add a word here concerning Staniloae's attitude towards the Byzantine (or "Greek") Catholic Churches, a reality he refers to as "Uniatism." These Churches are composed of Orthodox groups which, over the centuries and in various circumstances, have come into full communion with the Catholic Church, retaining to a large extent

1.JSraniloae, "Din aspecrul sacramental al Bisericii," 1'1'.548-549.

Hloallichie Balan, ed., Convorbiri Duliovnicesri; vol. 2 (Roman: Diocese of Roman and Hll§i, 1988), PI'. 92-93.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

their Byzantine liturgical, spiritual, and theological traditions. Orthodox theologians are divided on the nature of these Churches. Greek theologians tend to emphasize their identity with the Roman Catholic Church, and protest that the very existence of these Churches is deceptive, claiming that Byzantine Catholics imitate the Orthodox for proselytistic purposesr" Other theologians, particularly Russians and Romanians, stress the Orthodox origin of these Christians, and assert that they are in the provisional and abnormal situation of being under Rome's jurisdiction, and thus divided fr0111 their mother Churches, either because of coercion or simple misunderstanding of the authentic Orthodox tradition.

Staniloae clearly belongs to this second group. But his views are influenced by the very sensitive and highly political nature of this problem in modern Romania. When he addresses this subject, in most cases he is speaking specifically about the Greek Catholic Church that was established in Transylvania soon after that province was ceded to Austria by the Turks at the end of the seventeenth century. The Austrian authorities, who were Catholic, provided incentives, some of which were coercive, for these new Romanian Orthodox subjects to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. As a result, a Greek Catholic Church composed of former Romanian Orthodox faithful was established and flourished in Transylvania, and continued to do so after that province was incorporated into Romania in 1918.

However, soon after the Communists came to power in 1948, a Greek Catholic "synod" of priests and laypeople (no bishops took part) voted to dissolve their Church and seek admission into the Romanian Orthodox Church. The Greek Catholic Church was subseq uently declared illegal by the Romanian government, and eventually all its bishops and many priests and laity died in prison. This brutal suppression clearly resulted primarily from a decision of the new Communist government, but nevertheless many Orthodox supported it as correcting a historical injustice.

lSSee for instance the Orthodox reaction when a Byzantine Catholic community was established in Greece in the 1920s: Fr. Pierre Dumont (Hieromoine Pierre), "L'Union de l'Orient avec Rome. Une corirroverse reccnre," in OrienraJia Christisus 60 (Rome: Oriental Institute, 1930). For a more recent example of this approach, see T. Zissis, "Uniarisrn: A Problem in the Dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholics," in Greek Orthodox Theological Review; no. 35 (1990), pp. 21-31.

Dumitru Sra niloae on Christian Unity


Staniloae was very vocal in his support for and justification of the events of 1948. He did this for both theological and nationalistic reasons. The establishment of the Greek Catholic Church in Transylvania is presented both as all attempt by the Austrian authorities to divide the Romanian people, and as all effort by the Catholic Church to divide and weaken the Romanian Orthodox Church. He maintains that even if some Romanian Orthodox faithful accepted the union, they did so only to placate the authorities. In reality, they fully retained their Orthodox faith:

[Uniatism] was the result of a prolonged violation of the religious consciousness of the people, in this case of the Romanian people in Transylvania. Having been subjected to savage and prolonged pressure to adhere to Catholicism, part of the Romanian people in Transylvania accepted, in order to deceive and placate those who exercised this oppression over them, an administrative dependence on Rome, but in reality [they] retained the entire content of their Orthodox faith and worship. In this way so-called Romanian Uniatism was born as an artificial and hybrid compromise between the pressure brought to bear on the Romanian people and its own forces of resista nee. 26

But in Staniloae's interpretation of history, these Romanians always

retained the desire to return to their ancestral mother Church:

But the fragment of the Romanian people [that was] split from Orthodoxy accepted only an administrative dependence on the united hierarchy subjected to Rome. They struggled together with the majority of the village priests to maintain their ancestral faith and Orthodox worship unaltered, thwarting the efforts of the united authorities to Catholicize and denationalize them. They struggled for a religious bond with those Romanian people who remained Orthodox, awaiting the suitable moment to resume also an administrative bond with the ancestral Church."

Since it was simply the realization of a long-held desire to return to Orthodoxy, Staniloae insists that the reunion that took place in 1948 was

U'Stiiniloae, "Uniarismul din Transilvania, opera unei intrcirc silnicii," in Biserics Orrodoxii Romfimi, 87 (1969), p. 355. Stauiloae has produced an entire book on this problem: Uuierismul din Treusilveois: incercsre de dezmembrare a poporului romiin (Bucharest, 1973). See also his historical study, "Lupra §i drama lui Inocentiu Micu Clain," in Bisericn OrrodoxJ Romiimi, 86 (1968), pp. 11'37-1185.

27Staniloae, "Uniarismul din Transilvania," p. 384.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

entirely free and spontaneous. It did not mark a change in the faith of these Christians:

The act of return of the united group in Transylvania into the bosom of the Orthodox Church was realized spontaneously and without difficulty because it did not mean a change in its religious life. Everything in the practice of the religious life remained as it was."

The place of the Byzantine Catholic Churches in the relationship between the Catholic and Orthodox Churches is also considered. These Churches are not, in Stauiloae's view, "bridge Churches" between Catholicism and Orthodoxy, but, on the contrary, constitute a barrier between them. This is because the establishment of these Churches signified a lack of love for the Orthodox which had a very damaging effect on the subjective relationship between the two Churches:

At this [subjective] level the Orthodox have felt that the appearance of Uniatisrn and its existence is a sign of lack of love on the part of the Roman Catholic Church. At the same level, the Roman Catholic Church has felt the same lack of love from the Orthodox Church in the reabsorption of Catholic united groups now 25 years ago. Now, for both parties, appears the necessity to transcend this feeling tha t impairs love between thern."

Insofar as it resulted from proselytism, the establishment of the Byzantine Catholic Churches is described as a sign of contempt for the Orthodox Church because thereby the Catholic Church denied the capacity of the Orthodox Church to provide for the salvation of its own faithful:

Uniatisrn must be considered as a sign of the lack of love, and the decision for it as a decision against love and the Holy Spirit, because Uniarism constitutes the living personification of the nonrecognition of one Church by another sister Church and because Uniatisrn becomes the non-recognition of the evident action of the Holy Spirit manifested in the life of the other sister Churches. The Roman Catholic Church, creating and conserving Uniatism, denies

28St~\lliloae, "Problema uniarismului III perspecriva ecumeuica," in Orrodoxis, 21 (1969), p. 619.

29Ibidell1, pp. 622-623.

Dumirru Sraniloae on Christian Unity


to the Orthodox Church the capacity of being a true mediator of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of its own children."

Consequently, the Catholic Church is called upon to "renounce Uniatism," so that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches might enter into dialogue as equal partners in a spirit of genuine love and respect. The continued existence of the Byzantine Catholic Churches is irreconcilable with a true spirit of fraternal love. The Catholic Church must cede back to their mother Orthodox Churches these Christians under its jurisdiction who have retained their Orthodox faith."

Staniloae makes this demand because in his view, these Churches do not have the integrity that is proper to Orthodoxy, Catholicism, or Protestantism. He is convinced that they are an artificial reality sustained by the Catholic Church. If that support were withdrawn, Byzantine Catholics would naturally return to Orthodoxy. In brief, he insists that constructive dialogue between Rome and Orthodoxy cannot take place while these Churches exist:

This is why the renunciation of Uniatism constitutes the condition sine qua non for the reesrablishmen t of ecumenical rela tions of love between these two Churches. This is a cruel truth for some, but it is the only "saving" truth in this quesrion."

The overthrow of the Ceausescu regime in December 1989 led to the re-legalization of the Greek Catholic Church in Romania. In the following months, Staniloae published articles indicating that he no longer held (or was compelled to bold?) the position that the dissolution of 1948 was a free and spontaneous act. However, he continued to present the Greek Catholic Church as a threat to the Romanian Orthodox Church, and called upon Romanians to remain united and faithful to the Church of their ancestors. Clearly he remained opposed to the idea of "Uniatism" as such."

30Ibidem, p. 623.

3'Ibidem, p. 624. Along these lines see also Sraniloae's "Problema uniarismului in discutia grupului de teologi orrodocsi intruniti de secrerariarul comisiei penrru Credinra §i Consrirutie;' in Bisericn Orrodoxsi ROIl1<1JJii, 87 (1969), pp. 712-713.

J2Staniloae, "Problema uniarismului in perspecriva ecurnenica,' p. 625.

33See his "Prigonirea Bisericii Orrodoxe stramosesti sub cornunism," in Telegratu!

Roman 138, Nos. 7-8 (15 February 1-990), pp. 1-2, and interview by F. Strazzari in II Regno - Attuslite, no. 35 (15 February 1990), p, 130.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

The Way Forward

Staniloae's critical evaluation of other Christian Churches does not mean that be is without hope that the differences between them and Orthodoxy can be overcome. Although he does not hesitate to condemn what he understands as distortions in the doctrine and ecclesial life of other Churches, he tends to be very positive and conciliatory when reflecting on the possibility of a future reconciliation. This final section provides an overview of his thinking on the promotion of Christian unity.

One proposed means of fostering Christian unity that meets with strong disapproval is eucharistic intercommunion. In Staniloae's view, it is not possible for the Orthodox Church to offer eucharistic hospitality to other Christians because sharing in the Eucharist is the most profound expression of the unity of the assembled Christian community, a unity of thought and experience." This kind of unity does not yet exist with other Christians. To share communion with those who do not accept the fullness of Orthodox doctrine would be to fall into relativism and syncretism. It would rupture the link between unity in the Orthodox faith and unity in sacramental experience."

However, participation in Orthodox liturgical services by nonOrthodox Christians is not excludedr" There is a real sense in which these Christians can participate in the community's sacrifice of praise even if they do not receive communion:

IL. the eucharistic transforma tion, corresponding to the sacrifice of Christ for all, raises up the whole community to a state closer to Christ, but single individuals realize unity with Him through receiving the Eucharist, one can think that this heightened spirit of community is also felt by those non-Orthodox Christians who assist at the holy liturgy, especially if they praise God and sing with the Orthodox community. This can happen because the Orthodox community praises God for the whole cosmos and asks for His blessings for all humanity, offering its gifts "for all men and

J"Sraniloae, "Teologia euharisrica," in Orrodosis, 21 (1969), p. 361. French rranslation in Contacts, no. 71 (1970), pp. 184-216.

J5Staniloae, "In problema intercornuniunii," p. 570.

36This may seem self-evident to rnosr \X1estern Christians. But one should keep in mind that in some very important Orthodox centers, such as Mount Arhos in Greecc, nonOrthodox Christians arc not allowed ro be present at liturgical services.

Durnitru Sraniloae on Christian Unity


women," [gifts) which will be transformed into the Body and Blood or into the sacrifice of the Lord. Consequently, a certain spiritual intercornrnuniou in this sense has taken place and can continue to do so even now."

Another means of promoting Christian unity discussed by Staniloae is the possibility of considering Christian divisions at a future pan-Orthodox council. Historically, ecumenical councils have been celebrated only when serious theological controversy threatened the unity of the Church. In his view, such controversy does not exist within Orthodoxy at the present time. However, an analogous situation exists between the Orthodox Church and those confessions divided from it. Thus, such a council should consider these theological disagreements with an eye towards their resolution:

The Church was not able to debate the problems that brought about the division at the time in which it took place in order to take measures to stop that unhappy process. But not being able to do it then, the Church must find the opportune time when it would be able to debate in an ecumenical council the problem of the separated Churches, but in a way that, if it is too late to help avoid the divisions, might contribute in the most effective way to repairing them. In this sense, coming closer to those Orthodox theologians who hold that an ecumenical council must be a council of all Christianity, we hold that it must at least address the problems of all contemporary Christianity with the maximum chances of resolving them. The sides in dispute today are no longer within the Church, but have progressed in separate structures. However, they have not broken the bond with the Church and with the fundamental truths of revelation in such a way that the Church would be justified in total indifference towards them."

The main task of such an Orthodox ecumenical council would be to clearly formulate a comprehensive teaching on the nature of the Church. This should be done

in order to assist other Christian groups to come out of their narrow oversimplified unilateral understanding of the Church and adopt an understanding of the Church that paradoxically com-

J7Staniloae, "Teologia euharisrica," pp. 361-362. 38Staniloae, "Aurorirarea Bisericii," p. 214.


Dumirru Staniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

bines unity and diversity without weakening either aspect, in other words, an understanding of the Church as true synodality."

Orthodox theology could also assist the reconciliation of the Churches by a rticulating more clearly the relationship between doctrine and spirituality. Staniloae felt very strongly about this, for he maintained that there is a close connection between doctrine and the experience of the Christian faith. Thus it is necessary to move beyond the verbal formulae to the experience of God which they describe:

In this process the doctrinal formulae of the one Church cease to be rigid and opaque expressions opposed to equally rigid and opaque expressions used by other Churches. Instead, they are seen to suggest the meanings of a living reality that shines through the formulations of one Church and encounters the living meanings of the doctrines of the other Churches. The different teachings of the Churches, if they take into account the spiritual effects which they themselves produce in the lives of men, can find a C01111110n interpretation corresponding to the spiritual purposes and necessities that are a matter of concrete concern to the Churches in the lives of their faithful. '10

This Orthodox perspective on doctrine is described as converging with contemporary efforts by Western theologians to understand doctrinal formulations more flexibly and to express them ill conformity with human reason."

But the most important contribution Orthodoxy could make to the ecumenical movement would be to develop an idea which Staniloae called "open sobornicity. ",12 This is a recurring theme in his writings 011 ecume nism. Although he affirms that any union between the Churches must be based Oil the fullness of apostolic teaching, he observes that this

39Sraniloae, "Natura sinodiciratii," in Studi: Teologice, 29 (1977), p. 611.

"OStaniloae, "Problems and Perspectives of Orthodox Theology," in his Theology and the Church, 1'1'. 221-222. This article appeared originally in English rranslarion ill a publication of the Romanian Orthodox parish in London, The Alter Alruenach, no. 2 (1971·1972), 1'1'.40·50.

'''Sraniloae, "Problems and Perspectives of Orthodox Theology," p. 222.

"IThe term "soborniciry," taken from the Slavic theological tradition, is often used by Sraniloae to elaborate his thinking on the catholicity of the Church. For him, this term more clearly reveals the meaning of "catholic" as referring not so much to rhe Church's geographical extension, but rather to the conciliar or synodical nature of its inner life.

Dumirru Sraniloae on Christian Unity


teaching was handed down in the form of scriptural types or images which admit of different complementary interpretations. The authentic interpretation of these must take place in the Church through the exercise of sobornicity, Indeed, the full sense of the word catholic implies "the active bringing to fruition by all Christians, in full communion, of the full treasures of truth and life brought by Christ.r" This experience of unity in diversity could serve as the goal of the ecumenical movement:

Orthodox sobornicity, as a true organic unity in plurality, can serve as a model - even as the final goal - for the different Churches in the progress of their ecumenical relations, showing them the possibility of combining a many-sided and real unity together with a mutual recognition of their diversities in other areas and a mutual respect for their freedom in a shared unity."

This is the sense in which a reunited Church must be both apostolic and catholic. Because every individual's access to Christian truth is incomplete and always remains fragmentary, the fullness of apostolic truth can be revealed only through all exercise of sobornicity. This implies mutual communication that results from a continual tension berween unity and diversity. The result is neither uniformity nor static equality where each individual would possess the truth in isolation from others. Rather, each Christian is continually enriched by the perspectives of others, everyone teaching and everyone learning. The unity resulting from this process is a work of the Holy Spirit by means of which unity and variety are reconciled on all levels in a mysterious and irreducible


In this concept of open sobornicity, every theological system is welcomed as offering some valid insight, although the weaknesses of each must be criticized. Through openness to the insights of other systems, one's understanding is enriched, and a more symphonic understanding of the whole is attained. Different insights interpenetrate and communicate with each other in a unity where diversity is preserved."

,uStaniloae, "Coordonarelc ecumenismului din puncr de vedere ortodox," in Orrodoxis, 19 (1967), p. 516 .

. "Staniloae, "Problems and Perspectives of Orthodox Theology," p. 221.

4lSt;lniloac, "Coordouarele ecumenisrnului din punct de vcdere ortodox,' pp. 517-


"6Staniloae, "Sobornicirarea deschisa," p. 179.


Dumitru Sra niloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

But the Church must also be aware of the limitations of each of these systems, and be open to the possibility of new expressions of the Christian mystery:

Moreover, we must also admit new ways of expressing God, or rather, [of expressing] our relationship with Him. This means the recognition of all Christian ways of expressing God up to now as having value, but also a certain awareness of their insufficiency, of their relativity. Both these attitudes of Christian conscience can help us to advance all the way of unity between Christians."

Sta niloae states that the Orthodox Church alone has preserved the equilibrium and complex richness of the Christian faith. Moreover, Orthodoxy encompasses the basic concerns of both Western traditions. Nevertheless, his idea of open sobornicity leads him to assert that Orthodoxy could be enriched by the experience of Western Christians:

Perhaps precisely the fact that they have retained narrower points of Christian teaching, and have especially singled out some of them, has assisted them in studying [these points] more thoroughly. Protestants have highlighted certain values because to them they appeared neglected in Catholicism, and Catholicism has highlighted and especially exploited the aspect of the unity of the Church, although in some respects in a way disadvantageous for the possibility of the enrichment and variety of Christian life ."

Even though he thought that the Western Churches have had a narrower experience of the Christian faith, Staniloae observed a certain movement within them that is drawing them towards the whole, towards a broader vision. I-Ie saw signs, for instance, that the Catholic understanding of the Church as a juridical universal institution is giving way to a more sacramental, spiritual ecclesiology. He was certain that schism cannot endure. It always searches for a place within the whole."

Another important element in Staniloae's understanding of sobornicity is openness to the world. Drawing on the theology of Maximos the Confessor, he views all humanity and all creation as destined to b~ Church because of the presence of logoi within them which tend towards unification ill the Logos. Evidence of this movement is found in

Hlbidem, pp. 171-173. "sIbidem, p. 17l.

49Staniloae, "In problema inrercornuniunii," pp. 583-584.

Dumirru Staniloae on Christian Unity


three aspects of the contemporary world: movement towards greater knowledge of the universe, towards humanity'S mastery of creation, and towards the perfection of social relations.'?

But the meaning of these movements can only be understood in relation to the Incarnation, through which God entered into union with humanity and revealed the full meaning of creation. Even though they may not be aware of it, all human persons cooperate in some way with Christ in the resulting process of assimilation of all things into unity in


The divine Logos, the Creator, Sustainer, and Guide of the world towards the full revelation of the divine logoi which are active in [the world) and irradiate from Him, fulfills the work of guiding the world towards this goal through [His) assumed, crucified, and risen humanity, [which serves) as a leaven and model of universal efficiency, making of all men His collaborators in one way or another in this work, in this "cosmic liturgy," in which they serve Christ and share in Christ in a hidden way and at different levels."

The progressive assimilation of all creation into unity in the Logos implies a continuity between people inside and outside the Church. The people in the Church are distinguished from those outside only by the fact that they have new power to advance spiritually, and are aware of the possibilities open to them in Christ and the Holy Spirit.52 But God is at work in all of humanity:

The Church is visible as the ordinary and certain instrument of salvation for those who receive its Sacraments and live in its visible community of prayer. But outside ecclesial organization, alongside [the Church) exist many who fulfill the will of God, and who, insofar as they visibly fulfill His will, bear the aura of the presence and activity of God and, consequently, assist in the fulfillment of God's purposes in the world, in this way completing Christ's work

through the Church."

Consequently, Christians must be attentive to the values of contemporary society, and attempt to discern the way God is working in human

50Sraniloae, "Coordonatele ecumenismului din punct de veclere orrodox," P: SIS. 5lIbidelTI, p. 536.

52Staniloae, "Dinamica creatiei ip Biserica," in Ortodosis, 29 (1977), p. 288. 53Stiiniloae, "Coordonatele ecumcnismului din punet de vedere orrodox," P- 5.)1.


Dumitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity ill Theology

secular culture. Attentiveness to these values by all the Christian Churches will help them elaborate a common understanding of the world that will serve as a basis for their eventual reuuion."

Summary and Conclusions

When he addresses the question of Christian unity, Dumitru Staniloae begins with a clear affirmation of the Orthodox Church as the only Church in the full sense of the word. At the same time, he admits that other Christian Churches participate to a limited extent in the reality of the Church, depending on the degree of doctrinal or practical "imbalances" or "distortions," as he calls them, which characterize their ecclesial life.

The relationship between the Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches is evaluated optimistically. The Christological differences berween them are superficial and concern terminological matters rather than the substance of the faith. A reestablishment of full communion berween these two families of Churches is viewed as a real possibility.

A much more negative appraisal is made of the Western Churches.

They have a faulty understanding of the mission of Son and Spirit that corresponds to distortions in their ecclesiallife. This was the cause of the opposing positions subsequently embraced by the Catholic and Protestant traditions. While Catholic theology has an inadequate pneumatology that leads towards rigid monarchical institutionalism, the weak Christo logy of Protestantism leads to chaotic individualism.

The Byzantine Catholic Churches receive special criticism. Addressing the specific Romanian situation, Staniloae fully approves of the events of 1948 that resulted in the suppression of the Greek Catholic Church in Transylvania and its absorption into the Romanian Orthodox Church. In his view, this and other Byzantine Catholic Churches were formed by the use of coercion, and are composed of Orthodox faithful who have unjustly been taken away from their mother Churches. Moreover, their continued existence constitutes a denial of the ecclesial reality of the Orthodox by the Catholic Church.

Staniloae also offers some ideas about the best way to move towards the goal of Christian unity. He strongly rejects the idea of intercornmun-

5"Ibidem, pp. 528-531.

Dumitru Staniloae on Christian Unity


ion, which he insists must be the goal of ecumenical activity rather than a means towards Christian unity. Instead, he encourages Orthodox theologians to more clearly articulate the concept of catholicity as sobornicity in a way that would appreciate the various Christian traditions as complementary and revelatory of different aspects of the single Christian mystery. A common Christian openness to God's presence and action in the secular world would also contribute to a theology that could serve as a

basis for Christian reconciliation.

Although it is beyond the scope of this paper to respond to Sta niloae's critique of Western Christianity, it could be observed that he did not make a profound study of Catholic and Reformation theology, and consequently often rejects Western positions on the basis of superficial impressions. At other times, there was the tendency to take aspects of the Western tradition out of their context and evaluate them in the incompatible environment of Byzantine theology. Many of these criticisms are simply without foundation. But it should be kept in mind that much of this was due to his extremely limited access to Western theological literature in the hermetically sealed world of Communist Romania.

Nevertheless, in principle Staniloae demonstrated an openness to the Western tradition, and particularly towards the Catholic Church, that is unusual for an Orthodox theologian. This was most evident in his later writings. It will remain for the younger generation of Romanian Orthodox theologians, who hopefully will now have greater access to the best of Western theology, to build on Staniloae's legacy, and draw concrete and more realistic conclusions from this theologian'S useful concept of

open sobornicity.

Dumitru Staniloaes Theology of Ministry

Danut Manastireann

Dumitru Staniloae (1903-1993) is undoubtedly the most important Romanian theologian of any Christian tradition to date. Some call him "the greatest Orthodox theologian" of the present time, I or "the most influential and creative contemporary Orthodox theologian."2 Especially after the fall of Communism, Fr. Staniloae has become a prominent member of the Romanian cultural pantheon, along with the poet Mihai Eminescu, the composer George Enescu, the sculptor Constantin Brancusi

~ ,

the playwright Eugen Ionescu, the philosopher Emil Cioran, and the his-

torian of religions Mircea Eliade.3

'Kallisros \'iI:re of Diokleia, "Foreword," in Dumitru Staniloae, TIle E~\pen"flce 01 God, rr. loan Ionita and Roberr Barringer (Brookline MA: Holv Cross Press 1994) .. 01" CI' , , "p. rx,

rvier .' eme nr concurs wirh Bishop Kallisros, when he writes: "Le Pere Dumitru Stdniloae

eSI. certatnement tlujourd'bui Ie plus grand theologiell ortbodoxe. A mesure qu'elle sera traduit e dans !es rr= occident ales, SOl! oeuure s'a(lirtllem COI'l11'ne urte des creations majeurs de III pensee ehret/ene dans la second rnoitie de notre steele" ill Olivier Cleme It "1 P' • Dumirrn Staniloae er Ie genie de l'orrhodoxie ro umaine " in 10'111 I Ica- [r I I ~ .e :re

'. ., ':'. ., cc .) rersosns st

co~~.un::/~/e: Prinos de cinsrire P,irinrelui Prof~sor Academician Dutnitru Sr,illi/oae Ja imp/i. urres vsrsrer de.90 de snr (Sibiu, Romania: Edirura Arhiepiscopiei orrodoxe Sibiu [993) p. 82. ' . ,

. 2]. Moltmann, "Geleitworr," in Dumitru Staniloae, Orrhodoxe Dogrnetik (Zurich:

Benziger, 1985), p. 10.

, . llr is worth noting rhar unlike Sraniloae, the majority of these Romanian cultural per.

sonalities worked for most of their life 111 the \\fesr.

Dumitru Staniloae's Theology of Ministry


In spite of this privileged status, until recently" no comprehensive critical analysis of his theology was produced. Moreover, with very few exceptions,' 1110st assessments of his theology tend to fall under the category of eulogy. However, not everybody agrees with a positive evaluation of his work. Ion Bria alludes to some of his detractors, when he writes: "[Members of the] Faculty of Theology in Bucharest seem to be willing to take advantage of the fall of Communism in order to minimize any reference to Fr. Staniloae's Dogmatics and to denigrate the theologians in his 'school. ",6 Nevertheless, such negative reactions represent the exception rather than the rule.

Time has come for an in-depth critical evaluation of the contribution Fr. Dumitru Staniloae made to the theological treasury of the Church during the twentieth century. Our purpose in the present paper is to make a general presentation and evaluation of Fr. Staniloac's theology of ministry. We will certainly look at it with the eyes of an Evangelical, but our approach will be neither polemical nor denominational, but scholarly. Since Staniloae's theology of ministry is embedded in his ecclesiology, we propose to look at the latter first, Then we will turn our attention to ministry proper.

Staniloae's Ecclesiology

Most commentators would agree that at the centre of Staniloae's theology lies a trilogy consisting of his Dogmatic Theologn' Mystical Theology,8 and Liturgical Theology.' Of these, Staniloae's Dogmatic Theology is by far the most important. This is perhaps one of the reasons

"The first monograph on Sraniloae's rheology was published recenriy by Charles Miller, The Gdt (If the World. An Introduction to the Theology 01 Dumitru SI/;niJo;1e (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2000). Even rhis work is not a comprehensive perspective on Srauiloae's rheology; nor even of his Dogmstic Theology: Rather, in the author's words, "it seeks to give the reader a taste of Sraniloae's deeply integrated approach to the Good News by exploring one of his most distinctive and all-embracing themes," i.e. the theme of gift - "his view of the creation and created existence as the primordial gift of God" (p. 3 If.).

sOne remarkable example is Andrew Louth, "Review Essay: The Orthodox Dogmatic Theology of Dumirru Sraniloae," in Modern Theology, 13, no. 2 (April 1997), pp. 253-267 [N. ed.: this essay is reprinted in the current volume] .

610n Bria, SpaJill! nemuririi ssu erernizeres umsnnlui i11 Dumnezcu (Iasi: Trinitas, 1994), p. 43.

7Dul11irru Staniloae, Teologia.dogmerici orrodosii, 3 vols. (Bucharest: Edirura Insritutului Biblic, 1978).


Dumitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity ill Theology

why it is his first and until now the only book that was translated in more than one language (integrally in Germau'" and partly in French 11 and English12). Based mainly on the Dogmatic Theology; we will briefly COI1- sider Staniloae's ecclesiology.

The fourth section of Staniloae's Orthodox Dogmatic Theology is entitled "The unfolding saving work of Christ," and it discusses the doctrine of the Church and the personal appropriation of salvation in the Church, through the work of the Holy Spirit and human co-operation. Staniloae places ecclesiology in the larger context of the saving work of Christ, between its objective and subjective aspects. Thus, the Church becomes for him the context where the subjective salvation takes place.

Staniloae's ecclesiology manifests a number of general characteristics. It is first of all patristic':' and then Trinitarian. At the same time, it is contemporary" and dialogical. Like the Fathers, he perceives the Church, born at Pentecost, as the fifth and final saving act of the Trinity, begun with Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension." For him,

8Dumirru Sraniloae, Spiritllflliratea ortodoxii [Orthodox Spirituality) (Bucharest: Edirura Insrirurului Biblic, 1981) published as the third volume of rhe Handbook: of Orthodox Moral Theology: After 1990, the book was published in three different versions. The first, preserving the old ririe, adds rhe su btitle Ascetics .~i Misrics (Bucharest: Ed itura Insrirutului Biblic, 1992); primed as a gifr of rhe Greek Orthodox Church, ir reproduces the rexr of the first edition. The second reprint, containing the same text, was published one year later. The title is Ascetics .,~i mistici ortodoxii, 2 vols. (Alba Iulia: Deisis, 1993). The third reprint is unique, in the sense that it reproduces the lectures given by Sraniloae on this topic at the Faculty of Theology in Bucharest in the years 1946-1947. Its title is Ascetici ,''1 mistics cre.,<rillii ssu Teologi« Vie{l1 spirirusle (Cluj, Romania: Casa caqii de ~tiinIa, 1993).

9Durnitru Sta niloae, Spiritualirate.-<i comuninne JI1 liturghi« ortodo.nf[Spirituality and Communion in the Orthodox Liturgy) (Craiova: Editura Mitropoliei Olteniei, 1986).

IOOumil'rtI Staniloae, Orrbodoxc Dogrustik; rr, Hermann Pirters, 3 vols. (Koln: Benzinger, 1985, 1990, 1993).

II Durnirru Sraniloae, Le geflie de l'Orrhodoxie, tr, Dan llie Cioborea (Paris: Desclee de Brouwer, 1985).

12Dumitru Sraniloae, The Experience of God (Brookline, MA.: Holy Cross Press, 1994). In his "Foreword," Bishop Kallisros Ware of Diokleia calls this book "the firsr major work of Orthodox dogmatic theology to appear in the English language" (p, ix).

IJHis arguments are based on rexrs from St. John Chrysosrorn, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Gregory of Nazianzos, St. Cyril of Alexandria, 51'. John of Damaskos, Sr. Gregory Pala-


"'He interacts with many modern theologians: Orthodox, such as A. Khoruiakov, J.

Karmiris, I~ Evdokimov, G. Florovski, J. Zizioulas, and J. Meyendorff; Catholics, like H. de Lubac, Hans KUng; and Protestants like K. Barth, B.I. Berkmann, and \Y/. Belnert. '55taniloae, Teologi« dogmarici ortodosii, vol. 2, p. 195.

Dumirru Sraniloae's Theology of Ministry


the Church is really "an extension of the Incarnation ,,16 and an icon of the Trinity.

The Church as Reflection of the Trinity and Extension of the Incarnation

Stiiniloae insists that the work of Christ and that of the Holy Spirit in the Church cannot be separated from the work of the Father. For it is through the Spirit that we call Christ "Lord" and we call God "our Father." The same Spirit is transforming us into the likeness of Christ, making us sons of the Father. "The Spirit comes to IlS as bearer of the infinite love of the Father towards His Son.,,17

Given his role in the Holy Trinity, as the Spirit of communion between the other two persons of the godhead, in the same manner, the Holy Spirit creates the communion between the human members of the Body of Christ. Because Christ and the Holy Spirit are one, they contribute together to the unity of the Church. And since they are not impersonal forces, but divine persons, Christ and the Spirit do not produce uniformity, but maintain and develop the identities of the human persons (seen also in the individual tongues of fire coming on the apostles at the Pentecost). Christ and the Spirit are transforming the Body of Christ into a new community, living in harmony or "symphony," as Staniloae likes to call it. III this sense, the Pentecost event becomes a reversal of the tower of Babel, a unifying event where everyone understands what the apostles are saying."

What happened in the godhead before the Pentecost event (in the ascent of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit) had a paramount impact on the Church. Staniloae explains, exegeting a passage from St. Gregory Palarnas, that the Holy Spirit could not descend until "Christ, ascending to the Father as a man, had His body filled ~y the Holy Spirit, in the same way as the Father or as Himself as God is." As a result, "from [Christ'S) body, totally pneumatized now," the Holy Spirit radiates and

16Ronald G. Roberson, Contcmporsry Romsnisn Orthodox Ecclesiology. The Contriburton otDumirru Sr;imio<le and Younger Colleagues, Ph.D. dissertation (Rome: Ponrificiurn Insrirurum Orientale, 1988), p. 48.

'7Staniloae, Teologis dogmstici orrodosii; vol. 2, p. 200.

18lbidem, p. 206. See also D. Sraniloae, "Natura sinodicitatii" [The Nature of Synodicity], in Srudi! reologice, 29 (1977), pp. 607-609, where Sraniloae grounds the same idea in Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory of Nazianzos, Maximos the Confessor, and John Chrysosrom.


Dumitru Sta niloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

penetrates the hearts of those who believe." This makes the believers share in the "intimacy of God's infinite love," through the Holy Spirit, who mediates Christ to the faithful. Thus, "the Spirit comes to us as bearer of the infinity of the Father's love towards the Son. ,,20

The divine power manifested at the beginning of the Church is seen by Stauiloae in the mighty wind associated with the tongues of fire at the Pentecost (Acts 2:2). Here is how he expresses the implications of that:

The Church was born as a reality not out of a limited worldly power and with a transient worldly power, but out of a heavenly power, that she will carry in herself, communicating it to the world. A human community was born, which had God's Incarnated Son as its Iounda tion and bearer, through whom the unending love of God is communicated to the world; there came into being the reality of a community whose powers will have no end, because sbe will draw them constantly fr0111 God's infinity, through tbe human body of the divine Hypostasis. That was a reality or a community which represented "heaven on earth," the incarnated Word, abiding in her with his power ever deifying and unifying."

Staniloae calls "synodicity" the unity in diversity produced by Christ and the Spirit in the Church of God and defines it as "the healthy balance between unity in diversity, or maintaining and manifesting of diversity in unity, without weakening the unity or becoming a threat to diversity.r+'

Staniloae presents the Church as an "icon of the Trinity," a place where all the divine persons are perichoretically involved in the perfect unity, according to their particular works. Being a reflection of the Trinity, the members of the Church have to manifest in all their relationships a "synodicity" or harmony similar to the one that exists eternally among the persons of the godhead.

The Church for Staniloae is also the result of two indispensable activities. First, there is the divine initiative and action in the Christ

"Staniloae, Teologis dogmstici ortodoxii, vol. 2, p. 199. 2OIbidem, p. 200.

1.1Ibidem, p. 207.

22Stiiniloae, "Natura sinodicitatii," p. 607. Further, in the same article, p. 611, Sraniloae explains: "I have chosen the term 'synodicity' in order to replace rhe term 'soborniciry,' used to express the general characteristic of the Church as a combination of unity and harmonious diversity."

Dumitru Sraniloac's Theology of Ministry


event, and then the human response, in obedience and sacrifice. He refuses both a Docetic ecclesiology based exclusively on the divine action and a sociological ecclesiology wherein the Church is understood as a free association of separated entities, looking to Christ as their model. This holds true not only for the origin of the Church, but also for her actual being. Thus, the human and the divine factors are so united in the Church that we cannot speak about one without the other.

To sum up and add a few observation to what we just said, one could say that in his ecclesiology Dumitru Staniloae attempts to strike a balance between the roles of Christ and of the Holy Spirit in the Church. He works with great care, stressing both the specific ministries of each of the two divine persons and the equal importance that has to be given to both of them. On the one side, he tries to avoid an illegitimate emphasis on the role of the Spirit, which makes Christ secondary, and thus "distant," leading to the subjectivism and the fragmentation that, according to him, are prevalent in Protestant circles. On the other side, he denies all exaggerated emphasis on Christ at the expense of the Spirit, because it leads to institutionalism as is the case, believes Staniloae, in Roman Catholicism.

He does not go in the same direction as John Zizioulas, into an analysis of the specific roles of Christ, as the One who "institutes" the Church, and of the Spirit, as the divine person who "constitutes" the Body.233 In fact, because his chief concern is to give equal attention to both Christ and the Spirit, as we have already shown before, his tendency is, we believe, to somewhat "level" their specificity."

The balance we mentioned above can be observed also in the way Staniloae rejects the natural-supernatural dichotomy in relation to reve la-

2JJohn Zizioulas, Being '/!' Communion: Studies in Personhood find the Church (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1993), p. 140.

24Ncgrur expresses a different opinion when stating that "Sraniloae emphasizes the work and the Person of Christ not in contrast with the work of the Spirit but in an inextricable unity and cooperation ... Here Sraniloae rejects rhe attempts to present the offices of Christ and of the Spirit as describing the relation between the Spirit and rhe Institution, or by affirming either that Christ unifies whilst the Spirit diversifies, or that Christ institutes and rhe Spirit constitutes rhe Church" - Paul Negrut, The Development of the Concept of Authority within the Romnnien Orthodox Church during the Tweurierh Century; Ph. D. dissertation (London: BruneI University, 1994), p. 45, note 205. Although Negru] is right when he affirms, with Staniloae, the harmony between rhe works of Christ and the Spirit, we have 1'0 find ways to express at rhe same time their specific roles, without which the "leveling" effect is unavoidable.


Dumitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

tion, salvation, and the Church. This is an aspect that he criticizes in the theology of Karl Barth, a theologian with whom, in general, he agrees a lot. In this sense, he does not perceive the Church as separated from the rest of creation, but as the means through which it will be finally deified, pneumatized, made "transparent" for Christ through the Holy Spirit.

This holistic approach to ecclesiology and theology in general, specific to Staniloae, is reflected also in his insistence on rooting the Church not only in the Cross, but ill all five essential events of the Christ Event, fr0111 Incarnation to Pentecost.

Finally, Staniloae reflects on the Trinitarian dimension of the Church. He understands the Church as an earthly reflection of the relationships among the divine persons in the Holy Trinity. This gives the Church a symbolic or, in Pelikan's terms, an "iconic" nature." Thus, she contains, although not entirely, the reality she is pointing to, being, at the same time, the only way towards it.

Here are a number of implications. First, Staniloae presents the "already but not yet" character of the divine presence in the Church. Second, the relationships among the members of the Christian community have to reflect the dynamics that exists among the persons of the Trinity, characterized by "unity in diversity," or, in other words, by love (agape). Third, being an earthly social reality, the Church also acquires a social dimension, although she cannot be reduced to it. As such, she is a visible institution that points out towards the invisible Triune God that she reflects.

Ministry in the Ecclesiology of Fr. Dumitru Staniloae

Sta niloae presents ministry in the Church primarily as an extension of Christ's offices as Prophet, High Priest, and King, resulting in the ecclesial functions of teaching, Eucharistic sacrifice, and leadership. As Louth rightly points out, Staniloae declares that this theme is patristic, although not giving any references. However, as the same author declares, "it was only with Calvin's Institutes that the notion of Christ's threefold office assumed the structural significance with which he invests it.,,26

2SJaroslav Pelikan, The Vindicerion of Tradirion (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984), pp. 55·57.

26Lollth, "Review Essay," p. 259.

Durnitru Staniloae's Theology of Ministry

When dealing with the threefold ministry of Christ Staniloae states that, on the one hand, in ministering through the Church, Christ does not treat her as a passive object, but as "a free partner, called to freedom and to a loving relationship with I-Iim.,,27 On the other hand, Christ cannot be perceived as being passive in this process either, since teaching, eucharistic sacrifice, and leadership ill the Church cannot be separated from his person.f

Thus, "Christ continues to teach His Church [as Prophet]," illuminating her to understand His words and His saving work in every historical coutext.T" From this springs out the teaching responsibility of the Church, where each member has a certain role to play. The specific role played by each Christian should be in direct relation to the extent to which he or she has been taught by Christ, whether it is the teaching of the apostles and missionaries, or simply the teaching that the parents give to their children at home.

Christ as High Priest offers continually to the Father both Himself and us as a living sacrifice. According to Staniloae, this does not involve passivity on our part, for Christ's sacrifice attracts us to an active self-sacrifice as subjects. "Our self-sacrifice is thus full of the self-sacrifice of Christ.":" We find here again the perichoretic theme which pervades Sta nil oae's ecclesiology.

Christ is King, but He shares with us His kingship, which involves both the ability to guide one another and the power to overcome "the inferior and demonic tendencies," freeing us from the bonds of nature, sin, and death." Beginning with this structural model, Staniloae builds an overall understanding of ministry that Miller calls the "three-fold priesthood. ,,33 We will turn our attention to this next.

27Staniloae, Teologis dogmaricii orrodosii, vol. 2, p. 230.

28Fr. Dumirru believes that this separation is taking place, at least "to a certain extent," in Catholicism, where the pope acts as vicsrius Christi (thus Christ being removed a step away from actual involvement in the life of the Church). Similarly, the same disrancing is said 1'0 take place in Prorestanrism, where, the author claims, Christian ministry is exercised in an individualistic manner (Staniloae, Teologia dogmsrici orrodosii, vol. 2, p. 231).

29\'Xle observe rhar Staniloae seems to reduce Christ's prophetic ministry to his reach-

ing office, in line with most Patristic authors.

JOStaniloae, TeoJogia dogmaricii ortodoxii; vol. 2, p. 231. "Ibidem, pp. 232-234.

32Ibidem, p. 232.


Durnirru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

The Threefold Priesthood

Natural priesthood

The presentation of the first aspect of human priesthood in Staniloae's doctrine of creation begins untraditionally, but probably intentionally," with the human person. Following Maximos the Confessor, Staniloae offers a personal basis to his understanding of creation, giving at the same time "cosmic significance" to the personal."

As the Bible clearly points out (Gen. 1 :28), humanity was created in order to have mastery (as a priest, Staniloae would perhaps add) over the natural order. And even if, as a result of the Fall, man has lost to a large extent the ability to perform his priestly duties in a satisfactory manner, through Christ he is called to have his capacity re-established, in the new age of grace that he introduced through the Incarnation.

In formulating his conception of "natural priesthood.v" Staniloae underlines the unbreakable continuum that exists between humanity and nature. Thus, man, through grace, because of his "ontological unity with nature,,37 [i.e. with the rest of creation], is called to become an agent of deification for the whole created order. In this manner, "natural priesthood" becomes the basis for the "general priesthood" of believers.

General priesthood

Staniloae dedicates to this topic only two paragraphs in his Dogmatic Theology, a phenomenon symptomatic for the reduced attention given to the priesthood of all believers in Orthodox ecclesiology. Moreover, after affirming theoretically that general priesthood, as well as the general responsibility for teaching and guidance, is rooted in Christ's triple office of King, Prophet, and High Priest, he insists that the power for it comes from "the continuous bringing of the sacrifice of Christ and sharing into it" ill the Eucharist and "especially" from the prayers of the one who brings the sacrifice, i.e. the priest." Although this is true in

JJMiiler, Tile ci» oirhe lforld, p. 96. ""Louth, "Review Essay," p. 259. JSlbidclIl.

J6Miiler, 11Je Gifr of the lr&rJd, pp. 60-62.

J7Staniloae, Tcologis dogmsrics orrodosii, vol. 1, p. 323. J"Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 235-236.

Dumitru Staniloac's Theology of Ministry


itself, the emphasis that the author is putting on it undermines almost completely the mere affirmation of "general priesthood," that is left not only unexplained, but also void of any concrete content.

Miller concurs with this conclusion when he writes:' "Within such a scheme, we would expect Staniloae to attribute to believers as a whole a renewed priestly role. In fact, Stiiniloae sees the sacramental life, and the Eucharist above all, as the expression of humanity'S renewed capacity to act as priests of creation. ,,39

Unlike this superficial treatment of the priesthood of.all believers, Staniloae spends a great deal of effort developing his theology of ministerial priesthood. This is why we will also spend more time on this topic.

Ministerial priesthood

Ministerial priesthood, according to Staniloae, is rooted in the principle of representation. According to this principle, the priest is seen as a type of Christ, who brings a sacrifice "for all." Consequently, one of the primary purposes of the ordained priesthood is to be a symbol of Christ before the congregation. At the same time, the priest, as well as the bishop, represent the congregation and thus the Church before God and before the world."? In doing so, they should not substitute for the congregation, as the author believes is happening in Catholicism, because the ordained minister is like a head for the body, each being indispensable for the existence of the other."

At the same time, following Gregory of Nazianzos, Staniloae presents the minister as the one who co-ministers with Christ." He conceives of the minister only as a "visible point of convergence" in the contact of the believers with the unseen Christ. Such a visible point of convergence is needed because the believers are not only spiritual beings,

but also have material bodies."

J9Miiler, 11Je GIfr of the World, pp. 96-97.

4°This is one of the reasons why, according to Roberson, Staniloae supports "the practice in many Orthodox Churches of lay participation in the election of priests and bishops" (Roberson, Conrempornry Romuuinn Orthodox Ecclesiology; p. (8).

.IIStaniloae, "Din aspectul sacramental al Bisericii" [On the Sacramental Aspect of the Church], in Srudii reologiee, 18 (1966), p. 554.

"2Staniloae, Teologis dogmstici orrodoxii, vol. 2, p. 243.

4JDul11itru Sraniloae, "Biserica in sensul de laca~ ~i de larga cornuniune in Hrisros" [The Church as an Ail-embracing Communion in Christ], in Ortodoxie, 34 (1982), p. 340.


Durnirru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Because of its representative character, from an Orthodox point of view, priesthood cannot be the result of personal initiative or the community's initiative, "for [the community] is made of members who are not priests." Consequently, as Staniloae points out earlier in his work, referring to Christ as head of the Church, "the members from which [the Church] is constituted, being equal, do not easily accept the unity under a head from among them."

Thus, when the community accepts the priest ordained by the bishop, it acknowledges that there is an ontological difference between Christ as I-lead of the Church and His mystical Body. The need of the community for a visible priest is the sign of the Church's need for Christ as High Priest." Withou tit, Staniloae believes, ecclesiology tends to become Docetic."

At the same time, "the Church is not only visible." The visible and the invisible aspects are intertwined and indispensable, having their root in the intertwined and indispensable work of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Thus, we cannot oppose the institutional and the charismatic aspects of the Church. We will elaborate on this aspect later.

In his Dogmatic Theology Staniloae does not consider at length the issue of apostolic succession in the ordination of bishops and priests. However, in briefly discussing it, he insists that it should not be understood as having just a "past" or a "horizontal" dimension, although this is important and does not have to be excluded. "Grace comes every time from above, too." In fact Christ is the One who, through the Holy Spirit, ordains "invisibly and directly, but visibly through the bishops. ,,46 This insight can offer at least a certain degree of space for the ecumenical dialogue with the Protestants.

Discussing the efficacy of the sacraments (mysteries), Staniloae declares that "it is desirable for the priests and bishops to have an exemplary spiritual life;" however, the validity of their ministry and especially that of the sacrament is not dependent on the worthiness of the minister." At the sa me time, "the priest does not have to exercise in an arbi-

""Staniloae, Teologis dogmstici ortodosii, vol. 2, pp. 236-237.

45This, stresses Sraniloae, has resulted ill Protestantism in a weakening of the visible aspect of the Church, ill favour of her invisible aspect.

46Staniloae, Teologis dogmarici orrodosii, vol. 2, p. 239.

"7Ibidem, p. 242.

Dumitru Staniloae's Theology of Ministry


trary way the power manifested through him, even if he is unworthy.":" Staniloae applies here again his perichoretic model, but he does not work out all its implications. The way he describes things leaves the impression that the two principles work almost independently of one another.

Following John Chrysostom and Gregory of Nazianzos, Staniloae underlines the importance of the teaching responsibility of the priest, together with hard work in study and the mortification of the flesh that this involves. However, he fails to reflect on the virtual absence of the sermon in most Orthodox liturgies in Romania before the fall of Communism. One reason for this weakness of the Romanian Church may be the irritation of the Communist authorities with any teaching done outside of their control.

Staniloae does not exclude lay people from teaching in the Church, but limits their role to the private teaching, while the public exercise of this ministry is reserved to bishops and priests." He does not offer any arguments for his position, which reflects the fact that the laity is not very involved in the liturgical life of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Nevertheless, in an earlier article, Staniloae expresses in somewhat vague terms the possibility for some lay people in the Church that have "a superior spiritual life" to add to the teaching given by the clergy."

The teaching function contributes in an essential manner to fulfilling one of the most important roles of ministerial priesthood, that of maintaining the unity of the Church." The fact that the bishop ordains the priests and deacons and that every bishop is ordained by a college of bishops points not only to an institutional unity, but also to unity of faith.

As Roberson rightly points out,52 Staniloae, reflecting again on the model of the Trinity, considers that the principle of communion is central to the function of the ordained ministry in keeping the unity of the Church. Although the priest acts alone in his parish, he is in communion with the other priests in the diocese. Without this he cannot really be a priest in the Church of Christ. Even if the bishop is alone when he

,'SIbidem, p. 245. 49Ibidem, p. 246.

50Staniloae, "Natura sinodiciratii," p. 612.

5'I-Iere he makes a distinction between the "liturgical community," led by the priest (corresponding ro what the Evangelicals call a "local Church") and rhe "local Church," led by the bishop tTeologis dogmaricii ortodosii, vol. 2, p. 241).

52Roberson, Contemporsry Romsuisu Orthodox Ecclesiology; p. 64.


Dumitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ordains a priest, he works in communion with the other bishops. The bishop III particular has to be in communion both with the local community of believers and with the college of bishops, as successors of the college of apostles that Christ has left behind.v The discussion of the principle of unity in the Church is leading us to consider the related toptCS of synodality and sobornicity.

Synodality and Sobornicity

. Trying to describe synodality Staniloae uses the image of the "bowlllg down of each in front of the others." The reciprocal submission has as a result the communion between the believers in a congregation and the synodality of the bishops." This means that in the college of bishops there IS ont.ologlCal equality, although obviously the bishops keep their economic differences, which make the strength of the synod. For practical reasons the bishops may elect from among themselves a prunus inter pares (normally the bishop of the capital city), but the latter would have only a temporary position that could be exchanged at any time with that of any other bishops.

Obviously, this model is in sharp contrast with the hierarchical Roman Catholic model. Staniloae considers the latter to be governed by the ad prmctpsttun principle, while the former by the ad servitutem principle. He concedes, however, that "progressive" Catholic theologians, such as Hans KUng, have tried lately to reinterpret the papal primacy in terms of service. That theory does not convince the Romanian theologian, who believes that Christ's command in Mt. 20:26 is addressed to all and is not the privilege of just one person."

Sta niloae relates synodality to the concept of the infallibility of the Church as the body of Christ, "because Christ is infallible." As a result the episcopacy is taking infallible decisions "in the name of the Church and in inner connection to her and by taking in consideration the mind of the Church in relation to her life in Cbrist.":"

SJD. Srauiloae, "Temeiurile teologice ale ierarhiei §i ale siuodaliratii' [The Theological

Foundations of HIerarchy and Its Synodaliry], in Studii rcologice, 22 (1970), pp. 169-170.

HStaniloae, Teologin dogouuici ortodoxii, vol. 2, p. 249. ssIbidem.

s6Ibidem, pp. 249-250.

Durnitru Sraniloae's Theology of Ministry


Fr. Dumitru points out a number of implications of the principle of synodality. First, the infallibility of the college and not of a person is a protection against dictatorship in the Church. Second, it protects the Church "both from any form of change in matters of faith, which the decisions made by one person alone have brought in Catholicism, and from the chaos of individualistic opinions, as is the case in Protestantism." Third, the decisions of the ecumenical councils were not the result of a "rational individual speculation disconnected from the life of the Church," as he believes is the case in Western Christianity, but they reflected "the faith and the sacramental life of the Church inherited through tradition." This is the reason why the dogmatic formulations of the councils could be immediately incorporated in the hymns and the

prayers of the Church. 57

A further implication of the synergy between the episcopate and the Church at large is in the area of the dynamics of the synodal ecclesiological model. Not only did a bishop represent the dogmatic, sacramental, and prayer life of his local Church in the council, but he was also bound to bring the decisions of the ecumenical council back to his Church. Only those decisions which were accepted and incorporated in the liturgical life of the Church at large were considered infallible and confirmed as

coming from the Holy Spirit."

Staniloae understands synodality as being both rooted in and conditioned by the sobornicity" of the Church as a reflection of the Trinity, and by a "natural sobornicity" of the humanity created in the image of

the Triune God.60

Priesthood and the Visible Character of the Church

The analysis of the role of clergy in the life of the Church is naturally concluded in Staniloae's Dogmatic Theology by a discussion of the

57Ibidem, p. 250.

s8Dumitru Sraniloae, "Aurorirarea Bisericii" [The Authority of the Church], in Srudii

reologice, 16 (1964), p. 209.

59Staniloae prefers "sobornicity" to the term "catholicity" in order ro avoid misunderstandings. He uses it not in a geographic or in a quantitative, but in a qualitative sense. Defined this way, the Church is like a living organism, where Christ, as the head, is the principle of unity. At the same rime, each member, through the Holy Spirit, is affirmed in his or her own identity and specific gifts, for the sake of service towards the unity of the body, ill

the bond of love.

60Staniloae introduces this concept in his article "Natura siuod icitatii," in Srudii leo-

/ogice, 29 (1977), pp. 605-610.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

visible structure of the Church. The basis for discussion is twofold. First, it consists in the Christological versus the pneumatological dimension of the Church. Second, it majors on the human dimension of the theandric constitution of the Church.

The visible aspect of the Church is worked out in obvious opposition to the Protestant understanding of ecclesiology, which, Staniloae believes, overemphasizes the pne umatological and the divine, i.e. the invisible character of the Church, at the expense ·of the Christological and the human, i.e. the visible character of the Church. Such an approach leads, according to the Romanian author, to a "deceptive subjectivity" and, in the final analysis, to the fragmentation of the Church. Staniloae is obviously right inasmuch as the disunity of Protestan tism is concerned, but the reasons for it are much more complex than he thinks.

Staniloae believes also that "without the priest there is no Church,"?' since the priest is a symbol of Christ, without whom the Church cannot be conceived. "Priesthood is thus a confirmation of the real incarnation of the Word of God as our objective Mediator before God. ,,62 From these basic assertions, the Romanian theologian deduces that a denial of priesthood has a number of crucial consequences.

First of all, using a syllogism Staniloae concludes that a denial of the clergy means doubting the importance of the Lord's Incarnation. He affirms, quite speculatively we believe, that this is the reason why some Protestant schools of thought have denied the Incarnaticn. Secondly, and closely related to the above, a denial of priesthood would involve doubting that salvation has to do also with our bodies. I-Ie asserts that "the works proceeding from His body cannot be exercised on our bodies but through tangible deeds done by visible persons, i.e. the priests, as images of Christ the Mediator." Thirdly, as a natural consequence of the first two, a denial of clergy means a denial of the Church as an objective en vironmeut of salvation. This is why, in Staniloae's opinion, we witness a weakening of the visible Church in favour of an unseen Church in some Protestant denominations." Again, Staniloae may be right when he states that Protestantism tends to emphasize the invisible dimension of the Church at the expense of her visible dimension. However, the cata-

61Stalli!oae, Teologis dogmsrici ortodosii, vol. 2, p. 254. 62Ibidelll, p. 25I.

6Jlbidem, pp. 251-252.

Dumitru Staniloae's Theology of Ministry


strophic consequences tbat he deduces from a less clerical understanding of ministry seem to us highly speculative and dependent on faulty prenuses.


What we already said about Staniloae's striving for balance in the conclusions to the first main section holds true here, too. This can be perceived first in the way in which he tries to avoid either the Docetic or the sociological extreme, when be unfolds his understanding of the constitution of the Church. Then, we notice the same urge when he tries to work out a Christological/pneumatological basis for the theology of ministry over against an exaggerated Christological approach of it in Catholic theology or an exaggerated pneumatological approach, for that matter, in most Protestant circles.

Roberson agrees that Staniloac's statement is true about the classic Latin tradition, and he adds that the tendency is frequently criticized as such even by modern Catholic theologians. However, he insists we have to keep in mind the fact that the minister is understood in both Catholic and Orthodox traditions as a representative of Christ," which makes the imbalance easy to fall into for both Churches.

Closely related to the previous issue is another objection of Staniloae, concerning the Catholic tendency of presenting the ordained minister solely as a representative of Christ before the congregation. Alongside this, he insists, we need to perceive the corresponding function of the minister as representative of the Church. Roberson agrees that we have here an obvious weakness of Catholic theology that has to be addressed in future studies, in light of the guidelines given by the Second Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy"

Although affirming both the visible and the invisible character of the Church, probably because of his polemic against what he perceives to be the typical Protestant position on the issue under debate, Staniloae tends to discuss almost exclusively the visible structure, understood more in Christological/clerical/hierarchical terms, than in pneumatological/

64RoberSOIl, Contempomry ROIJI'I1JJ;1f} Orthodox Ecclesiology; p. 163. 65Ibiclem, p. 164.


Durnirru Sra niloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

charismatic terms. A direct consequence of this neglect is the little attention Sta niloae pays to the general priesthood in his ecclesiology.

We need to add to the previous observation that, in our opinion Staniloae'sindictmenrs concerning the low Protestant view on the visible Church fits better the approach of those following the radical Reformation rather than the Reformers themselves. The same is true about their view on the role of the Church in salvation and Christian living.oo

Staniloae does not build a biblical case for his model of the ordained minister as representative of Christ and especially as a visible confirmation of the Incarnation. Maybe he does not feel the need for it, since his insight is not original, but taken over from the Church Fathers. However, building on feeble biblical ground and operating with faulty syllogistic devices, Staniloae comes to misleading conclusions on the practical implications of the denial of clergy. In reality, there are many Christian denominations that, in spite of their high anticlerical views, are very keen on emphasizing the Incarnation. It seems to us that the only valid conclusion Staniloae reaches on the implications of a denial of clerical priesthood is its resultant denial of the essential and indispensable role of the Church in salvation.

Besides the central place that be gives ill his ecclesiology to the concept of communion, Staniloae builds his edifice also on the patristic principle of synergy. For instance his understanding of how Christ and the ordained priest are intimately and indissolubly working together in ministering in the Church presents a magnificent picture and helps avoid both a Docetic and a purely immanentisric approach to ministry.

However, the Romanian Professor does not work out all the iruplications of this synergy model. One possible example of such oversight is the relation between the validity of the sacraments and the possible unworthiness of the minister. Staniloae believes that the worthiness that really cou nts is that of Christ, the actual unworthiness of the minister not having any implication on the effectiveness of the sacraments. Obviously, Staniloae follows in this a well-established path paved by Augustine during the Donatist controversy, but he does not seem to observe that the sol ution does not fit well with the synergy model. At the same time, he

, . 66Comlllenting on this issue, Alister McGrath writes in his book Chrisrian Theology. An Inrroduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994): "Calvin's doctrine of the Church reminds us that it is seriously inadequate to portray the reformers as rampanr radical individualists, with no place for corporate conceptions of the Christian life'· (p. 414).

Dumitru Staniloae's Theology of Ministry


does not explore the practical consequences of the fact that, given this approach to the issue, the Orthodox Churches do not really seem to have an effective theologically based system of dealing with unworthy clergy.

The conciliar model as a basic structure of leadership of the CIl urch and the subsequent validation of the decisions by the council in the believing Church as a sort of feedback mechanism is fascinating, but seems to involve certain practical difficulties. First of all, as Roberson notes, "how this is realized in the concrete is unclear. Some Orthodox theologians believe that such a process might take centuries." The Roman Catholic author believes the solution that Staniloae and other Orthodox theologians imagine offers "a vague authority structure in the Church, which tends towards what they clearly want to avoid: an over-stressing of the pneumatological aspect of Church life, without a solid grounding in Christology"? The truth is that the Orthodox bishops have not imagined any mechanism for removing from the records of the councils those decisions that were not confirmed or have become outdated. This has left room for some to dig out and impose on the faithful anachronistic canons that have never been applied or do not correspond to the present conditions in the Church, a reality manifested in some Romanian monastic circles.f''

Commenting on the charge of excessive institutionalization in the Catholic Church, Roberson asserts that Staniloae, as well as other Orthodox theologians, do not take into account "the historical and social conditions in the Western Church which gave rise to these structures." On the other side, the Catholic author believes that these Orthodox authors' tendency to overlook the movement towards decentralization related to Vatican II "does not do justice to substantial shifts in Catholicism towards greater emphasis on a communion ecclesiology." However, implicit in this criticism is an acknowledgement of the fact that indeed the Catholics have neglected the community aspect of the Church. At the same time,

67Roberson, Contemporsry Romnnian Orthodox Ecclesiology; p. 167.

6sIn his book Desrinul Orrodoxiei (Bucharest: Editura Insritutului Biblic, 1')89), Ion Bria, a reputed Romanian Orthodox ecumenist, gives the example of the restrictions, "unknown in the Patristic tradition," introduced in some Orthodox catechisms in rhe sevenrcenrh and the eighteenth centuries concerning the access of lay people to the Bible. He believes that such ecclesiastic canons "refer to historical circumstance which are obsolete today" and, as a result should be banned and replaced with a definite effort of "training and instructing the lay people to inrerprer.rhe Holy Scripture correctly and to preach the Gospel authentically" (pp. 278·279).

144 Durnitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity ill Theology

Roberson points out that the structures of the episcopal dioceses are similar in the Orthodox and the Catholic Church, the only difference being the central administrative structures of the Vatican."

The issue discussed above is related to an obvious discrepancy between the conciliar ecclesiology espoused by Staniloae and most of the Orthodox theologians in the twentieth century and the strict hierarchical structure of the Orthodox national Churches. The explanation seems to be historical. As Orthodox theology was for over two centuries heavily influenced by Scholasticism, following the Orthodox confession of Peter Mogila, a Moldavian metropolitan of Kiev, adopted at the Synod of Iassy (1642), it seems that the present rigid structure of the Orthodox Churches in this part of the world is the direct result of this influence. The return to the conciliar approach of the Church Fathers is a rather recent phenomenon that did not seem to have affected yet the structures of the Church. We may hope that theology will eventually make its way out from the minds of the theologians in the practical life of the Church, including its hierarchy.

The last observation we want to make has to do with the implications of the way Staniloae understands the theandric constitution of the Church in the area of Christian unity. It seems that in the eyes of the Romanian author and other Orthodox theologians the most important obstacles in the way of healing the schism of 1054 are the Catholic concept of papal primacy and infallibility. The Orthodox propose a return to the conciliar principle of the first millennium, while the Catholics are proposing a relatively new model of conciliar consensus, introduced at the Council of Florence in 1439, which tried to bridge the gap between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches. The latter model admits the theoretical possibility of pluralism, as long as the formulations under discussion are complementary and not mutually exclusive. This approach could be applied for instance to the two understandings of the procession of the Holy Spirit. However, the pluralist model has not been accepted by the Orthodox, who insist on an ecumenical policy based on returning to the situation before the schism. We shall see what the ecumenical dialogue will bring new in this area in the years to come.

69Roberson, Conremporary Romanisn Orrbodos Ecclesiotogy; p. 163.

Part III

The Modernity of Staniloae's Theology

Le Cosmos et la Croix

Marc-Antoine Costa de Bealiregard

Un des plus grands theologiens du vingrieme siecle, Pere Dumitru Staniloae, a donne de la pen see orthodoxe un ternoignage particulieremerit vivant. Com me Ie montre son ceuvre ecrite, ainsi que sa sainte vie elle-rneme, la theologie, loin d'etre une activite universitaire parmi d'autres - forme secularisee de la pensee chretienne - est pour I'esprit et Ie cceur humain une activite inspiree par l'Esprit-Saint. La personne baptisee se donne a Dieu comrne un instrument pour exprirner la pensee divine en langage hurnain. La theologie est ainsi une parole divinohumaine attestant la continuite de l'Incarnation glorieuse du Verbe divino

Pere Dumitru a ete capable de travaux de rigueur scientifique au service d'une theologie a caractere proprement prophetique et pastoral. Chez lui, cornrne chez tous les theologiens dignes de ce nom, suivant la tradition des Saints Peres de l'Eglise de Dieu, la pensee s'exerce charismatiquernent a propos de themes dont peuvent se preoccuper tous les etres hurnains, quand ils repondent a I'appel de l'Esprit. C'est ainsi qu'il a parle de la souffrance en chretien qui en a l'experience - lui qui connut la prison pour Ie Christ -, en pretre plein de compassion paternelle - lui Ie Pere spirituel attentif -, et egalement ell citoyen - lui qui etait, et qui demeure invisiblement, solidaire des souffrances eprouvees par son peuple, Ie peuple rournain, Dans une conference don nee en Angleterre en 1970, il montrait que la Croix, et surtout la croix du juste, est vrairne nt Ie sacrement de la victoire du Chrjst sur la mort et l'assornpticn de l'etre hurnain et du cosmos.'


Duniitru Staniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

I. Thcologie de l'espace

La dimension cosmologique de la Revelation est fondamentale.

Notre per e en Dieu Dumitru Stauiloae en exprirne la conscience tout au long de son oeuvre, rant d'un point de vue trinitaire que du point de vue du myster e de l'Incarnation du Verbe pre-erernel. Dans les conversations que no us avions en 1981, il soulignait en particulier quelques aspects d'une theologie de l'espace.!

1. Le Logos de I' espace

L'idee fondamentale du grand theologien rournain est que I'espace a son type (archetype) en Dieu, cornme tout ce qui existe. Le temps a son type eternel dans la reciprocite d'appel et de reponse des persorines divines. C'est pourquoi, disait-il, "sans la sainte Trinite on ne peur concevoir d'espace". II fondait cette affirmation sur Ie fait de l'alrerire des trois personnes divines. Elles ne se confondent pas, cornrne on sait. Mais, disait-il, "elles cornrnunient I'une a I'autre dans l'alterite: espace absolu, non mesurable - espace de la difference". La "perichorese" des personnes divines respecre leur alrerire absolue, au sens OL1 elles ne sont pas cornparables, Chacune est elle-rnerne en elle-rnerne. Cet absolu de la difference est pour Pere Dumitru Ie type de I'espace cree.

Bien entendu, la theologie ne se perrnet pas de supposer un e forme de temps ou une forme d'espace en Dieu. La relation hypostatigue en Dieu, merne justernent glorifiee cornme perichor ese, reste inconnaissable et indicible. Elle est glorifiee, non definie. Lirnpropriete et l'inadequation sont des caracteristiques du langage theologique. La glorification, quoique juste, demeure approximation: merne cataphatique, elle est apophase. En Dieu il n'est pas d'espace entre les hypostases; de merne qu'en Dieu, il n'est aucun temps dans la reciprocite d'appel et de r eponse des hypostases. La divinite n'est pas seulernent au-dessus de l'espace - hypercosmique - et au-dessus du temps: Elle est incommensurable (ausens propre du mot: sans commune mesur e) au temps, a l'espace et d'ailleurs a toute creature. Les mots "alterite" et "difference" employes a

'Durnirru Stauiloae, The I'kro~r oI the Cross (Oxford: Fairacres Publications 16, 1983),

2Marc-Antoine Costa de Beauregard, Dumitru .5/'iniJoae: Ose cotnprendre que je r'simc (Paris: Le Cerf, 1983),

Le Cosmos et la Croix


propos des hypostases divines sent d'ailleurs irnpropres parce qu'ils suggerent un mode de comparaison entre elles, une relativ ite de chague identite: en verite l'identite de chaque hypostase doit etre absolue, puisgue chaque hypostase est toute la divinite, de facon "catholique".

Quand Pere Durnitru nous parlait d"'espace absolu, non mesurable _ espace de la difference", nous pensons qu'il s'exprimait a la limite du langage. II ne projetait pas en Dieu les categories du cree. II conternplait dans la Divine Trinite la misericorde creatrice qui donne I'existence a I'espace et au temps. La non-ideritite des hypostases divines, et I'incommensurabilite du Createur et de la creature - espace de la difference des natures - servent de type a I'espace cornme au temps crees. Lespace a son logos en Dieu, c'est-a-dire sa raison divine d'etre. L'absolu de la difference hypostatique en la Trinite increee et a-cosmique sert de type a I'espace cree, cornrne Ie mystere de l'appel et de la reponse non seulernent hors du temps mais "a-chronigues" des personnes divines sert de type au

temps cree.3

2. Le Corps, forme de I' espace

Sur Ie plan du cree OU "les personnes divines projettent leur image dans I'espace cree de merne qu'Elles la projettent dans le temps cree", Pere Durnitru soulignait la valeur theologique et cosmique du corps. C'est lui, disait-il, qui est "Ia forme de I'espace". II est Ie signe a la fois de l'alrerire et de I'espace dont l'alterite est la garantie. Cet espace est lui-

." " d lib '" "J

merne a la fois un "espace de communion et un espace e I erte: e

peux rn'approcher rnais egalement m'eloigner de toi". Le monde est necessaire cornme espace de la relation interpersonnelle. II est Ie lieu ou se manifeste l'alterite personnelle par Ie corps: chaque corps est autre quun autre corps; il peut se tourner vers l'autr e ou s'en detourner; iI peut aller vers le rnonde, utiliser I'espace du rnonde. "La realite de I'espace est don nee pour manifester l'alterite des personnes". Ceci se voit clairernent dans Ie saint livre de la Genese (2, 19): la personne divine "conduit" vers la personne humaine toutes les sortes d'al~imaux; les creatures sont portees dans I'espace au sein de la communion interpersonnelle du don. Dieu apporte les creatures a l'hornme, revelant ainsi la forme trinitaire - c'est-a-dire relationnelle - de I'espace cree.

lCr. le chapitre "Amour er temps;' dans Beauregard, Dumitru .5riiniJoae, pp, 169-179,


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

3. LEspace incorporel

Pere Staniloae disait encore que cette espace existe egalement de facon incorporelle. Le monde angelique, monde cree, connait, quoique incorporel, l'espace, Les anges ont nne relation avec Ie monde, avec les hornmes et avec Dieu, lis ont une liberre, IIs ne se confondent ni avec l'hurnain ni avec Ie divin, ni rnerne entre eux: "un ange n'est pas non plus identique a un autre". Cette alterite, exprirnee par Ie mystere de la hierarchie angelique et surtout par la revelation des noms angeliques - Michel, Gabriel. .. -, signifie I'existence d'un espace angelique. II est I'espace de la revelation divine, I'espace du message iangelos veut dire messager) divino Les anges ne sont incorporels et i mmareriels que relativement: seule la Divinite est absolument incorporelle et irnmaterielle. Cette relarivite, lice au statut de creature qui est celui du monde angelique, garantir un espace Cree d'ange a ange, d'ange a homme et d'ange a Dieu. Les danses angeliques auteur du tr one divin, accornpagnees des hymnes _ "Saint! Saint! Saint!" - signes de cet espace relativernent incorporel, s'inscrivenr dans I'espace sacramentel de la divine Liturgie.

4. Espace interieur; espace exterieur

Les personnes creees dans leur accomplissement, et les hypostases divines par nature, sont interieures l'une a l'autre, Elles se contiennent J'une l'autre. C'est ce que les Peres grecs appellent la "perichorese", Ceci constitue, selon Pere Dumitru, nous l'avons vu, un "espace intcr ieur ", la communion interpersonnelle dans la nature unique, Chaque personne est un espace pour l'autre dans l'amour agape. Chaque perscnne est l'hotesse de l'autre. "Toi en Moi, et Moi en Toi" (Jean 17, 21), II n'y a pas alors d'espace exterieur, chaque personne etant totalernenr en l'autre sans etre pour autant confondue avec elle. L'espace exterieur est celui de let distance entre les etres, entre les anges qui "ne sont pas tout-A-fait interieurs

I' 'I', t " ~t cc-, " I' d I' "'1 ' I

un a au re , e ant encore a cote un e autre; 1 est ega ernent celui

des corps, juxtaposes dans l'alterite. Les personnes creees aspirent a "l'espace inrerieur de l'apparrenance mutuel Ie" qui est par nature celui des hypostases divines.

L'espace exterie ur "reste a depasser": "j'ai Ie desir d'erre tres pres de I'autre, d'erre mernbre de l'autr e, uni a lui ... " et pas seulement a cote de lui. L'image trinitaire en l'etre humain lui fait une vocation de "trouver I'espace cornrne communion en depassanr toute separation", non seule-

Le Cosmos et la Croix


ment celle qui vient de la nature rnais encore celie qui vient du peche. Ce depassement, disait Pere Durnitru, "dernande du temps". II arrive que des personnes qui se cotoient dans la merne maison, Ie merne bureau, soient tres eloignees l'une de l'autre interieurernent. "II faut ici un effort spirituel. C'est une question d'arnour, d'appel, de reponse a l'amour ". L'espace inrerieur d'une veritable communion trinitaire se conquiert de haute lutte sur l'indifference, la durete de coeur ou, pire, la haine et le mepris, "Si les etres hurnains ne s'appellent pas et ne se r epondent pas dans l'arnour, ils ne peuvent trouver I'espace inrerie ur de la communion en depassant les separations".

Or, cet etat de separation et d'espace exterieur est proprement J'enfer. Un des tourments de l'enfer est Ie cotoiernent sans communion. Nous sommes alors juxtaposes, nous cohabitons mais nous ne nous aimons pas. Ualterire est alors supplice, deformation torturante de J'image trinitaire. Elle est "un temps qui s'eternise" puisqu'il ne s'accornplit pas dans la logique de la communion interpersonnelle.

5. Cosmologie et antbropologie

La cosmologie est inseparable, selon Pere Durnitru Staniloae, de l'anthropologie "a I'image et a la ressemblance de Dieu". En cela, il est fidele a la tradition patristique, particulierernent au ternoignage de Saint Maxime le Confesseur, tradition confirrnee par la Sainte Ecriture. Le "selon l'irnage" qui caracterise l'etre humain a une definition trinitaire, Dieu etant Lui-memo Trinite. Lhornme est, au sein du cosmos, porte ur du sceau de cette icone trinitaire. Dans la mesure ou il en accomplit la ressemblance, [e cosmos lui-rnerne gagne la transfiguration. L'espace et le temps, donnees creees objectives, sont egalernent relatives. Mais elles ne sont pas seulement relatives l'une a I'autre: elles sont fondamentalement relatives a l'hornrne, insritue par Dieu a la creation comme roi cree du monde.

L'espace et Ie temps sont ainsi modifiables en fonction de l'evolution de I'homme. Ils ne sont pas statiques. Ils sont evolutifs. La forme du temps et de l'espace depend de la sanctification ou deification de I'homme, ou, au contraire, de sa chute. D'une certaine facon, on peut dire que l'espace et le temps n'existent pas sans l'hornrne: c'est a l'inrerieur de la cornmunaute humaine, qui dans sa substance est l'Eglise eternelle, que se tissent a la fois l'espace et le temps. En ce sens, Pere


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Dumitru expliquait que le monde est en expansion. Les energies et les raisons divines, toujours presentes en la creation par I'effet de la misericorde eternelle de Dieu, peuvent etre continuellement renouvelees et activees par Ie ministere de I'homme en Christ. Dans sa "croissance spirituelle", I'etre hurnain - Adam - entraine avec lui les structures du cr ee: particuli erernent l'espace et Ie temps.

II. us Limites du monde

Dans sa contemplation divinement inspiree, notre pere en Dieu Dumitru Staniloae, prolongeant ou reformulant la theologie de Saint Maxime Ie Confesseur, insistait egalernent sur Ie caractere inacheve du monde.

1. La Finitude et l'infinit«

Le monde, disait Pere Dumitru au cours de nos rencontres au monastere de Cernica, n'est pas terrnine. Cette affirmation veut dire que tout est donne mais que tout n'est pas encore parvenu a la plenitude. Le caractere fini du cree est construit antinomiquernent avec sa "capacite de se remplir de l'infinite de Dieu". On peur avancer dans les sciences du monde ala fois a l'interieur de cette infinite et en la contenant de plus en plus. Cela vient du fait que l'etre humain, cree a I'image de Dieu et en vue de Lui ressembler, etant lui-merne fini comme I'est Ie monde, a ete rendu par I'incarnation du Verbe un "participant de l'infinite de Dieu". Sans se confondre jamais avec Ie Createur, la creation a, par I'homme, la capacite de reflechir et de contenir l'infinite de Dieu,

Pourtant, "nous prenons la I urniere de Dieu dans nos mains, nous semmes rernplis de cette infinite, mais nous ne pouvons I'enfermer: nous restons avec rien, les mains vides, avec notre finitude". Cette experience rnanifeste I'absolue transcendance du Createur et de la lurniere incr eee qu'I1 envoie dans Son monde et qu'I1 confie a I'etre humain.

En fait, Ie vouloir libre de la creature a toute sa valeur. "Le monde reste dans l'infinite de Dieu autant qu'il veut rester en Dieu". S'il se ferme a l'egard de Dieu, iJ voit qu'il est fini, comme nous Ie montre Ie livre de la Genese: "I1s vi rent qu'ils etaient nus" (3, 7). En vivant en Dieu, l'etre humain a acces a route l'mfinite de Dieu, surtout grace a l'Incarnation. Ainsi, disait Ie theologien inspire de Dieu, Dieu peut manifesrer Son

Le COS1110S e t la Croix


infinite: "II n'a pas besoin pour cela de creer d'autres mondes. II n'a pas besoin de creer d'autres etres conscients pour reflechir en eux Son infinite'. Il n'est pas de besoin en Dieu. La creation ne precede pas d'un besoin rnais elle precede de la manifestation naturelle de I'amour dans une proposition. II est propose a l'etr e humain et par lui au monde entier de demeurer en Dieu: "Demeurez en moi, et Je demeurerai en vous" (Jean 15, 4). Seigneur Jesus-Christ notre Dieu, souviens-Toi de ton univers: gurde-nous et garde-le en union avec Toi, afin que nous puissions conternpler en lui Ta gloire ineffable! Ainsi prie Ie theologien mystique.

2. Elixpansion des cboses creees

Per e Staniloae enseignait que l'hornme croit spirituellement tout en cornprenant de mieux en mieux Ie monde et en Ie voyant de plus en plus en Dieu, et en voyant egalemenr de plus en plus la presence de Dieu en lui. Le monde s'elargit alors. II ne reste pas cornrne iI est; mais il se remplit d'rnfinite. Le monde est en expansion, relativement a l'evolution spirituelle et a la sanctification de I'homme.

Cependant, nous ne pouvons pas atteindre les frontieres du monde.

Peut-etre, suggerait Pere Dumitru, que I'homme ne saura jamais si Ie monde a ou na pas de fronrieres, parce qu'il demeure a I'interieur des limites du monde. Ce n'est pas que Ie monde soit infini. Le rnonde est fini; mais I'homme est a l'interieur du monde. Seul Dieu, parce qu'Il en est Ie Createur, connait les limites de Son monde. II est le maitre de l'espace et du temps. "Nous ne savons pas si le monde s'elargit en Dieu: rnais s'iJ s'elargit, c'est en Dieu". II taut seulement que Ie monde ne se coupe pas de Dieu: alors il avarice dans I'infinite de Dieu. "Le monde est en Dieu: plus il accepre de contenir Dieu, plus il se developpe lui-rnerne en Lui". C'est l'etre humain, formant sous la tete du Christ l'Eglise, qui conceit et formule cette acceptation. Ainsi, nous venerons dans la Mere de Dieu celIe qui accepte pour Ie monde de contenir Dieu. Le salut de la creation et son expansion en Dieu sont relatifs a liberte humaine. Si I'homme est deifie, Ie monde parricipe au salut. "L'homme ne peut etre deifie seul. Sa deification doit penetrer la creation; il doit sentir la presence infinie de Dieu auteur de lui".


Dumitru Sraniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

3. Energies et raisons divines

Cette evolution du monde vers sa plenitude en Dieu est celebree - car la rheologie est juste celebration des oeuvres de Dieu - cornme fruit de l'ornnipresence divine: "Toi qui es partout present et qui rernplis tout", chante l'Eglise de Dieu. Dieu est present dans Son rnonde, sans Se contondre avec Lui, sans etre sournis Lui-rnerne aux lois du monde et a sa croissance. A moins qu'Il ne S'y sournette en toute souveraine liberte divine (d. Luc 2, 52). II est present, cornrne source de la croissance du monde, par ses energies et par les raisons des choses qui sont les raisons de la Raison divine, le Verbe incarne. Ainsi theologisaierit Saint Maxime le Confesseur et Saint Gregoire Palarnas, les maitres en contemplation spirituelle de Pere Durnitru Staniloae.

Entre ces raisons er ces energies nous ne pouvons operer de veritable separation. Les energies divines ne sont jarnais privees de sens. Chaque e nergie travaille selon la volonte divine, selon les besoins des hommes et de toutes les creatures, et selon les raisons des choses. "Partout les energies divines sont presentes en fonction des essences crcees et des raisons divines qui fondent ces dernieres", La profonde rationalite du monde, que cel ebrait si souvent Pere Dumitru, est une rationalite dynarnique. Le Verbe Lui-rneme est, avant tout siecle, rempli de l'Esprit du Pere, Par la Creation et encore plus par l'Incarnation et par la Pentecote qui la couronne, cette rationalite dynamique resplendit de l'interieur du monde, selon le seul temoignage des saints.

Les energies correspondent ainsi - rnais Pere Durnitru n'a jamais systernatise ce point de vue - a I'oeuvre dynamique de l'Esprit qui est D ieu; les raisons constituant la structure rationnelle du cree man i festent l'oeuvre du Verbe. Les "deux mains du Pere" que chante Saint Irenee de Lyon" sont a I'oeuvre dans le monde; les energies ont la puissance; les raisons ont Ie sens; ainsi Dieu est present rnisericordieusernent dans Ie 1110nde qui Lui appartient.

Partout on retrouve la forme et l'energie. Dans les formes se manifestent les raisons et dans les puissances qui conduisent a ces formes se rnanifestenr les energies de Dieu, Les deux dimensions sont ensemble. Au sein de la creation, et dans la structure rnerne de la matiere, Ie Verbe et l'Esprit se rendent un temoignage r eciproque par leurs raisons et leurs

"Irenee de LYOII, Ad,( Hser. I\~ Pr., 4; V, 1, 3; 5, 1; 6, 1; 28, 4.

Le Cosmos ella Croix


energies. Si grande est la misericorde de Dieu pour Son univers! Le grand theologien rournain disait aussi que chaque forme, elle-rnerne pleine de sens, a une energie par laquelle elle entre en composition avec d'autres formes ou se separe d'elles. Cette composition et cette decomposition ont elles-memes leur stabilite: car le monde r este Ie merne tout en se deployant. Er I'etre hurnain s'enrichit sans cesse en decouvrant la cornplexite croissante d'un monde en expansion.

4. L:Euolution du monde

Le monde jouit d'un processus d'evolution qui Ie sournet a un changernent tout en Ie maintenant dans la continuite, le dyriamisme des energies ne contredisant par les raisons des choses: bien au conrraire, il tend a I'accomplissement de ces raisons et il les couronne. Le sens d'une evolution si magnifiquernent theologique est relatif a la conscience de I'etre humain. Il n'est pas necessaire, disait Pere Dumitru, quappar aissent d'autres etres conscients, parce que l'hornme peut se developper a l'infini, tout en restant homme et fini. Cetre hurnain d'aujourd'hui est autre que celui d'il y a quelques millions dannees: "ce premier homme etair peutetre pur, mais il nerait pas aussi riche et cornplexe que nous".

C'est Saint Irenee qui dit que l'etre hurnain au Paradis etair a l'etat d'enfant, ce qui explique qu'il ait peche.:' II netait pas arrive a la perfection, laquelle se trouve dans la Verbe incarne. C'est pourquoi Dieu lui dit: "Croissez ... " (Genese 1, 28). La croissance, ici prop hetiquernent proposee a I'humain par Dietl, ue designe pas seulernent une expansion nurnerique du genre hurnain. Elle indique surtout Ie dcveloppement de l'humain en tant que tel. Chomme est appele a devenir plus humain, a parvenir a la plenitude hurnaine (cf. Ephesiens 4, 13).

Pere Durnitru Staniloae disait CJue l'etre humain est appele a evoluer en liaison avec une certaine evolution du monde. Si Ie monde restait le merne on aur ait vite fait de Ie connaitre. Mais it change continuellement. On do it etudier ces changements, les formes nouvelles qui appar aissent tandis que d'autres disparaissent. La rheologie doit s'mteresser a la science et reflechir a son tour sur ses decouvertes, sans s'opposer a e1le.

"Lhornme est la conscience du monde. Sans I'homme il n'y aura pas de lumiere sur Ie monde". C'est par lui que Ie rnonde peut s'illuminer et

5 Adv. Haer. IV, 11, 1; 38, 1.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

trouver son sens. Lhomme montre Ie sens: iI i nterprete Ie monde; iI a conscience du monde en face de Dieu. "La terre, parce que I'homme y habite, reste Ie centre spirituel, Ie coeur du monde. II n'est pas necessaire d'etre Ie plus grand pour etre Ie centre. L'hornme n'est pas Ie plus grand des anirnaux; toutefois il est Ie centre. La terre est la Jerusalem du monde".

III. La Croix et la personne

Levolution et la transfiguration de la personne creee passe nt par la Croix. La personne divine Elle-rnerne a pris l'iuitiative de se rnanifester au monde par la Croix et de se transfigurer sur e!le. La Croix est la forme privilegiee que prend la theophanie. Elle est egalernent l'espace d'une vraie realisation de la personne creee, C'est pourquoi c'est en e!le que se rencontrent la personne divine et la personne hurnaine.

1. Revelation de la personne

La Croix est Ie "rnystere" au sens sacrarnenrel de la victoire du Christ sur la mort parce qu'elle est Ie sceau de l'arnour veritable. "Le mystere de la croix du juste est Ie rnystere de l'arnour entre les hommes comrne personnes eternelles"." La Croix est Ie moyen privilegie qu'a la personne - l'hypostase creee comme I'hypostase increee - de se reveler comme telle. La Croix est Ie depassernent de la nature et son accornplissement dans la vie hypostarique. I.:etre humain qui accepte la Croix cornme I'a acceptee Jesus-Christ connait la deification en s'accornplissant cornme hypostase creee a I'image de l'hypostase increee. II accede a la vie hyposratique qui est, en ce qui concerne Dieu, eternelle. C'est a cause d'un tel rnyster e que la Croix resplendit dans l'Eglise, qui est elle-merne, dans sa substance profonde, Ie rnystere de la communion des personnes - personnes divines et personnes humaines.i Ce qui rnodifie en profondeur l'experience de la souffrance pour quelqu'un qui vit vraiment dans l'Eglise, ce n'est pas seulement le fait que la souffrance y est sanctifies et qu'elle y devient Ie lieu theologique et charismatique de la liberte et la decouverte de la vraie joie, la joie irnperissable de la divinite. Mais c'est d'abord et surtout Ie fait que la souffrance y prend un car actere personnel fonde dans I'union hypostatique du Verbe.

·Sraniloae, Victory otthe Cross, p. 19.

Le Cosmos et la Croix


II est des souffrances anonymes ou des souffrances individuclles: la souffrance personnelle est autre. Nous pouvons, nous les baptises, precisernen t parce que nous semmes dans l'Eglise, et que nous constituons, par la foi et I'application des commandernents, l'Eglise merne de Dieu, connaitre la personne divine du Verbe incame, ainsi que la personne hurnaine de nos freres, dans I'expcrience de la Croix. I.:Esprit-Saint nous donne egalement la capacite charismatique de reveler notr,e pro pre personne , notre hypostase creee, au Pere, a nous-memes et a autr;ll,. dans I'experience de la souffrance acceptee avec obeissal~,ce a la ~~,Io~~te d~vlne. Cela veut dire que la soutfrance est alors vrnirncnt baptisee , L. est-a-dire "imrnergee " dans la souffrance du Dieu-Hornme, car le bapterne dans l'Esprit qui est Dieu arnene notre vie d'une existence anonyme ou lndlvl: duelle, c'est-a-dire perissable, a une existence personnelle, ressemblante a

I'image hypostatique de Dieu.

Mais Per e Durnitru souligne encore que I'amour veritable, confirrne et scelle par l'experience ecclesiale de la Croix, est lie a la question angoissante du salut du monde entier. "La souffrance, ecrit-il, n'aurait aucune

I D'" 7 L

signification si die ne conduisait pas le monde a son sa ut en leu.. a

Croix n'est pas seulement une lurniere qui eclaire la personne hurnaine. Elle est egalement dresse e sur le rnonde. Elle illumine I'ensemble du cos~ mos en I'arrachant a I'anonymat et a I'individualisme. C'est pourquoi dle'surmonte nos eglises. C'est pourquoi encore elle est imposee sur routes les creatures, sur les choses, sur les animaux et sur les pi antes, et merne sur nos ennemis et sur les ennemis de Dieu, quand les saints les


La Croix est le sceau de l'amour veritable. I.:argument que developpe notre pere en Dieu, c'est que la Croix ame ne I'etre ~1Umai!l a airner la personne plus que les dons qu'il peut rec,evOlr d'elle. L,a~our es: con; firrne quand nous semmes conduits par I Esprit divin a etre fideles a quelqu'un, bien que cette personne ne nous donne plus ce qu'elle nous donnait habituellernent, ou quoique cette personne nous d~nne ~~s clioses mauvaises, cornme par exemple de Ia haine ou du mepns.. Tel est l'amour que Dieu Lui-rnerne forme en nous, et qui !lOUS ressusClte effectivernent de la mort". Dieu continue d'aimer l'etre hurnain qUI a pu devenir Son ennemi. I.:amour veritable transcende tout motif, tout interet Oll

"Ibidem, p. 21.


Dumirru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

tout desagrernent. C'est vrai dans nos relations avec les personnes humaines et, a plus forte raison, dans la relation que nous avons avec la personne divine.

Quelquefois, Dieu nous donne la souffrance, l'epreuve, ou me me la mort: Ie vrai chretien airne Dieu malgre tout. Ici est Ie criter e de l'amour veritable et gratuit. C'est nne fidelite qui peut etre plus forte que la mort elle-merne. "Qui acce pte, une declaration d'arnour sur les levres, la mort don nee par Dieu, donne la supreme preuve d'un amour qui ne faillira pas, d'un amour qui s'adresse a la personne Elle-rnerne, et non a ses dons"." Pere Durnitru eclaire par cette phrase une des significations les plus profondes du martyre chretien et, d'une maniere generate, du comportement chrerien dans l'epreuve, II n'y a ici ni dolorisrne, ni faralisrne. C'est la manifestation d'une fidelite absolue a Dieu, une glorification de Sa transceridance et de Son incomprehensible Sagesse: aussi Ie saint glorifie-t-il Dieu en route chose. II manifesto ainsi sa ressernblance avec Ie Christ-Dieu qui "a accepre la Croix avant tout pour rnontrer son amour pour les hornrnes" et "qui nous a donne l'exernple d'un homrne en qui I'amour pour Dieu a resiste jusqu'au bout, me me en etant livre a la mort". Lexperience chr etie nne de la Croix est l'experie nce de la soutfrance assurnee en ses deux natures par Ie Christ-Personne divine. Telle est la profondeur thcologique de l'experience des saints: la Croix est la theophanie de l'incarnation deifiante du Verbc divino

2. La Croix du [uste

"Le rnystere de la Croix du juste " est Ie mystere d'une souffrance qui n'est pas liee a un peche personnel. Les Peres, dans leur sagesse, distinguent, d'une part, les epreuves qui no us viennent a cause de nos peches er, d'autre part, les souffrances du juste, comme celles du serviteur de Dieu Job, de beaucoup de saints, et surtout du Christ - qui est Ie seul innocent absolu. Cette "Croix du juste" ne peut s'expliquer que comrne acces au rnystere de la personne, II n'y a pas d'autre facon d'acceprer Ie mystere de la souffrance de I'innocent que de la voir comme Ie mystere de l'arnour eternel de Dieu. C'est un amour absolu qui rnanifeste son triornphe dans Ie moment ou les raisons d'aimer manquent et OLI les raisons contraires sont en revanche bien presentes. L'etre hurnain qui fait une

"Ibidem, p. 19.

Le Cosmos et la Croix


telle experience accede au niv eau de vie hypostatique Cjl11 est celui des personnes divines.

L'amour des ennernis illustre cela, Aimer un ennerni, c'est airner quelqu'un qui ne maime pas, qui me fait du mal ou merne qui ell veut a rna vie. La priere pour l'ennerni est la manifestation de ce qu'est l'amour divin qui resplendit sur la Croix: un amour absolu qui n'est inspire ni par l'interet, ni par la convoitise. J'aime alors cette personne plus que moimerne. La seule facon d'etrc sfir que c'est Ie prochain que I'on airne et 110n pas soi-rnerne, c'est d'airner un ennemi. Comrne Ie rappelle Ie Christ, tout le monde peut airner ses amis, Mais quand II prie pour ses ennernis en disant "Pere, par donne-leur, ils ne savent pas ce qu'ils font", II rnanifeste l'absolu d'un amour qui ne doit rien a persoune et a qui rien n'est duo C'est deja Ia Resurrection.

La Croix, si nous l'acceptons par la grace du Saint-Esprit, nous conduit a aimer les personnes divines pour Elies-memes. Pere Staniloae prend l'exernpl e de Job, dont la fidelite a Dieu a ete totale. Les epreuves subies par lui avec la permission de Dieu, et qui etaient du point de vue humain injustes, l'ont conduit a la connaissance de Dieu en personne. Job, et a plus forte raison Ie Christ, donnent l'exernple d'un amour qui n'est pas un amour "coriditionne par des objets" ou un "amour pour soi" _ la pbilautie decrite par Saint Maxime le Confesseur." Cet amour "veritable", Oll "amour-verite", revele la "vraie valeur des personnes" et "I'eternel fondement de leur valeur dans la realite personnelle de Dieu". Dieu appelle par la Croix le croyant a se transcender soi-rnerne et a airner les personnes pour Elles-memes - a Laimer, Lui Dieu, pour Lui-rnerne.

Les saints airnent Dieu pour Lui-rnerne. Nous apprenons cela des la manifestation du Verbe incarne: Ie nourrisson de Bethleern est faible; que peur-Il no us donner, ce Dieu tout-puissant qui S'est fait impuissant? Nous venons avec les mages et les bergers L'adorer pour Lui-rnerne, venerer Sa Personne divine, qui transcende toutes les actions divines elles-rnernes. Sur la Croix egalernent Dieu faible, apparemment vaincu, nous invite a Laimer gratuitement. Les saints, qui repondent a cet appel, connaissent la Resurrection et la deification. La Trinite est la splendeur de l'amour absolu. Cet amour desinteresse de personne a personne vient a nous par la Croix, signe de la fa~on dont Dieu nous airne et manifestation de Son

"Irenee Hausherr, "Philaurie," ill Orienrsli« Chrisrisns Anslecte, 137 (Rome, 1 <)52).


Dumitru Sra niloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

mode d'etre. Et nous gagnons egalement cet amour par la Croix, par laquelle nous apprenons a airner Ie Pere cornrne Ie Fils Lairne - de [aeon absolue, merne dans l'abandon et la dereliction. La Croix est a la fois la revelation de la fa~on dont les personnes divines S'aiment - de tacon absolue -, la revelation du mode d'amour de Dieu pour les personnes cree es et celle de I'amour que les personnes crcees peuvent exprimer a l'cgard de Dieu, C'est Ie merne amour inconditionnel. La Croix est une theophan ie tri n itai re.

3. La Deification par la Croix

Si I'on prolonge la meditation theologique, on peut dire que l'experience de la Croix, c'est-a-dire l'experience ecclesiale de la souffrance, conduit a la deification. Airner er bcnir ses cnnernis est une attitude divine. Celui qui airne la personne de son ennerni comrne Dieu l'airne est deifie, Ce signe charisrnatique de la sanctification, ce fruit de la deification par Ie Saint-Esprit de la personne creee, la rend ressemblante a I'archetype divin, Ie Christ, Dieu "hurnanifie" et hornrne "deifie", Prier pour nos ryrans, pour nos bourreaux, ou tout simplernenr pour ceux qui, dans la vie quotidienne, nous rneprisent et nous haissent - c'est-a-dire demander a Dieu pour eux Ie pardon, Ie salut et la vie eternelle - montre que I'on est passe avec Ie Christ de la mort a la vie. La priere pour les eunernis est Ie signe pascal par excellence. Glorifier Ie Pere celeste dans lepreuve de la rnaladie, de la douleur et de la mort - fidelite sur la Croix - montre que l'on est entre veritablernent dans la vie de fils: on est deve nu fils dans Ie Fils. On est entre dans la connaissance du Pere qui veut que chacun soit sauve.

Ce n'est pas la un comportement de type moral ou psychologique: c'est I'admission dans l'inrimire du Pere par affiliation dans l'Esprit-Saint. "Dans l'amour veritable, ecrit Pere Dumitru, un etre hurnain devrait se transcender lui-rnerne, aller au-deja de soi"." Cela veut dire transcender l'individualisme, l'hornrne psychique, l'hornrne charnel, pour enrrer dans la vie incoriditionnee qu'est la vie personnelle ou hypostatique. La Croix, si nous l'acceptons, si nous la venerons, nons donne par l'experience de la Resurrection l'acces a la vie hypostatique, ce qui est a proprernent parler la divinisation, puisque seul Dieu est hypostatique par nature. "Tel est

IOSr,lniloae, vldol)' olrhe Cross, p. 20.

Le Cosmos et la Croix


l'amour que Dieu Lui-rnerne forme en nous" par son Esprit-Saint "et qui nous ressuscite effectivement de la mort". Et cet amour veritable, equivalent de Yapatbeia dont parlent les Peres, est glorification du Perc celeste et compassion pour route hypostase creee et, au-del a, pour toute creature entrainee dans la souffrance et dans la mort par la chute adamique. Car la sainte et vivifiante Croix rayonne non seulernent sur toute hypostase creee, rnais encore sur tous les etres visibles et invisibles.

IV. La Croix et le cosmos

La Croix est la figure de I'espace dans ses differenres dimensionshauteur, largeur et profondeur. Elle est egalernent la figure sacramentelle du temps dans son accornplissernent eschatologique. Elle est la porte etr oite que Dieu prend pour aller vers l'hornrne en S'humanisant par l'Esprit-Saint, et que l'hornrne prend pour aller vers Dieu en se divinisant par Ie merne Espri t.

1. La Croix comme fin

La Croix - c'esr-a-dire la souffrance et la mort ecclesialisees par la foi, la priere et la vie sacrarnentelle - signifie ala fois la limite du rnonde et son ouverture a la transcendance de son Createur et de son Donateur. "Sans la Croix," ecrit Pere Dumitru Staniloae, "I'homme risquerait de considerer Ie monde cornrne la realite ultirne";" Depuis la chute adamique, un monde qui durerait toujours, un monde dans lequel il n'y aurait ni souffrance ni mort, deviendrait un but en soi, un monde clos. La chute adarnique est le retournernent de I'etre hurnain sur l'arnour de soi. Cette inversion gagnerait, sans la souffrance et la mort, Ie monde entier. I.;etre hurnain dechu cherche I'autosuffisance dans SOIl etre individuel - antithese de la persorine - et dans Ie monde,

Le theologien rournain reprend les vues cosrnologiques de Saint Maxirne Ie Confesseur.P II dit qu'un rnonde limite par la finalite, par la mort et la decomposition physique, c'est-a-dire un monde qui ne se suffit pas a soi-rnerne, est egalernent un monde oriente vers son accornplissemerit - Ie telos de Saint Maxime -, lin rnonde ouvert sur la tr ansceridance de son Createur. II y a ici une theologie de la finalite, La Croix

"Ibidem, p. 20. ,

12Cf. par exemple Maxime Ie Confesseur, Ambigua, PG, 91, 130SB-130SC.


Duruirru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

exprime cette rheologie: la limite qu'elle definit est une limite ouverte sur la vie eternelle. La Croix est ainsi la porte du Royaurne.

La relation entre la ·Croix et le cosmos tienr, selon notre pere en Dieu, au fait que, dans la vision biblique et ecclesiale , le rnonde est un don fait par Dieu a I'etre humain. Le man de, pour un baptise, n'est pas une chose. Pour l'homme biblique, Ie rnonde (lwsrnos) est d'abord creation (ktisis), ce qui renvoie a un createur, Mais Ie Createur, dit l'EspritSaint dans la Genese, n'a pas cree le monde pour Soi. II I'a cree pour l'etre hurnain. La creation est donc un cadeau de Dieu a l'etre humain. Et cornme l'etre humain est invite dans sa vocation sacerdotale a rendre eucharistiquerne nt Ie rnonde aDieu, la creation est egalernent une offrande de l'erre hurnain a Dietl. La creation, objectivee en "rnonde" dans Ie peche materialiste et idolatre des passions perverties, est en realite un don de Dieu a l'hornme et un don de l'hornme a Dietl. La Croix signifie ici d'abord la limite du monde en taut que tel: il n'est pas eternel et il n'est pas suffisant, Elle signifie ensuite que ce monde est Ie monde de quelqu'un: il renvoie toujours au Createur et au Donateur ainsi qu'au beneficiaire de ce don qui en est responsable devant le Donateur. Et enfin, elle signifie que, a cause de la souffrance et de la mort, il ne peut etre indefiniment possede: il echappe ainsi a la possession et a la mort.

C'est pourquoi Pere Staniloae ecrit que "sans la Croix, l'hornrne risquerait de considerer ce monde cornrne la realite ultirne", La souffrance et la mort, recues dans la Sagesse de Dieu, ernpechent l'etre humain de transformer la creation en idole. Cela suppose la vie dans l'Eglise, la culture biblique et ecclesiale, et une vraie foi dans le Christ createur et ressuscite, Le rnonde "a du sens quand il est vu comme don", c'est-a-dire cornrne creation. Tel est Ie sens d'un monde qui n'est pas eternel. Sa valeur, "relative seulement et non absolue", se rapporte a I'hypostase divine qui Ie cree du neant, qui Ie donne et qui Ie recoir, et a la communion trinitaire des hypostases divines qui preside a cet usage eucharistique du cosmos.

2. Tmns/iguratioll du cosmos par fa Croix

Prolongeant cette cosmologie eucharistique, Ie grand theologien dit que Ie mcnde est "attire vers sa transfiguration en Dieu par Ie Christ". La valeur eucharistique du monde est rnanifestee par la grace du SaintEsprit: elle signifie que le monde est Ie moyen de la communion de Dieu

Le Cosmos et la Croix


et des hurnains. Pere Durnitru reprend ici la vision cosrnique de l'Incarnation exprirnee par Saint Maxirne.P La parole divine "ceci est Mon corps" designe Ie pain eucharistique, prernices de la creation offerts par I'etre h urnain a Dieu: ainsi la creation tout entiere est integr ee, par Ie pain et Ie vin, dans le Corps crucifie et ressuscite du Christ. Toute la creation est presente dans les prernices. Le Christ, selon saint Jean Chrysostorne, r ecoit, donne, distribue, se donne et se distribue. La creation est un don integre au Corps du Christ par l'Esprit-Saint et manifestee cornme telle par Ie merne Esprit. L'Eglise recoit la creation sous les especes du pain et elu vin et I'offre, en tant que cornmunaute sacerdotale, au Donateur, le Pere celeste; et elle prononce l'epiclese du Saint-Esprit sur la creation torale representee par ces especes, ainsi que, a un degre different, sur to utes les offrandes liturgiques: la lurniere et Ie feu des cierges et de I'encens, I'huile, et la societe hurnaine representee par I'argent, fruit du travail hurnain, et par les noms des vivants et des defunts, Ce n'est pas Ie monde en tant que tel, rnais bien l'esprit du Prince de ce monde qui est contraire a l'Eglise, justemerit parce que cet esprit est un esprit d'autosuffisance er de refus de la sainte Croix. Si l'Agneau est bien, par la foi, a sa tete, Ie moude - creation et societe - devient Corps et Sang de I' Agneau irnrnole et transfigure. II s'agit done bien et exclusivernent d'une transfiguration du mcnde dans Ie Christ-Verbe incarne, du rnonde qui a Ie Christ pour Prince, et non du rnonde en soi. Un moude suffisant ne peut etre sauv e. Mais un monde, une creation ou une societe qui acceptent la Croix peuvent etre transfigures.

Cette vision theologique et charisrnatique suppose dans Ie monde la presence des saints. lis sont precisernent ceux qui airnenr Dieu plus que son rnonde, Ie Donateur plus que Ie don, et qui aiment Ie rnonde seulement parce que Dieu l'airne, et cornme Dieu l'airne, Leur existence permet au monde d'''accomplir'' sa "tendance a se transcender en Dieu", a se realiser totalernent com me "rnonde de Dieu" et a se projeter dans Ie Royaurne, sans s'y identifier cornpleternent. Alors, Ie monde s'identifie a la Croix elle-rnerne qui resplendit sur lui. II s'identifie a cette experience de souffrance et de mort librernent acceptees, par laquelle la persorme hurnaine entre en communion erernelle avec les personnes divines. C'est pourquoi Ie monde peut etre sauve.

!JCf. Maxime Ie Coufesseur, Jh;J., 60, PC, 90, 620C-624D.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Le renoncement delibere a posseder egoisrement le monde, c'est-adire l e renoncement au monde cornrne instrument de jouissance egorste, en parriculier par I'experience du jefme et de I'abstinence, perrnet au monde d'acceder a la dignire sacramentelle. Les saints ont avec la creation et avec la societe une relation chaste: cette chastete perrnet au monde - creation et societe - d'etre transfigure par l'usage personnel et rnerne d'erre manifesrernent hypostasie dans la Personne divine du Verbe incarn e reconnu cornrne son Seigneur. La Croix en tant qu'ascese evangelique - renoncement a jouir, a dominer et a idolatrer - est ainsi Ie salut du monde entier. "La Croix revele la destinee du rnonde", dit Pere Durnirru. " ... a la fin de cet eta! du monde, Ie signe du Fils de I'homme sera revele dans les cieux au-dessus du monde entier, comme une lumiere, comrne un sens, co mrne une destinee qu'rllumine toute l'histoire de l'hornme"." En la personne qui Se sanctifie dans l'Eglise par la Croix, s'accomplit le salut du monde eutier, Le rnystere cosrnique est integre dans le mystere de la Transfiguration de l'hypostase creee,

La Croix dressee sur Ie monde signifie la transcendance de la Personne divine et Sa seigneurie sur Ie monde qui est Son don: que le monde soit detruit, Ie Donateur demeure a jamais. Mais la Croix ne signifie pas seulernenr la fin - terrne et finalite - du monde et l'eternite de la personne donatrice et de tout ce qu'Elle en hypostasie. La Croix signifie egalement la fin de la souffrance par la Resurrection: la transcendance definitive de la vie sur la mort, de I'amour sur la haine, la mort de la mort et l'eternite de la Personne airnante de Dieu, ainsi que de toute personne creee qui demeure en Elle. Un monde voue a la souffrance eternelle ne serait plus un "monde" - ni kosmos ni ktisis - parce que la tr ansce ndance de la Perso nne aimante et transfigurante qui est Ie Donateur de ce monde serait effacee. La souHrance, dit Pere Durnirru, "engloutirait finalernent Ie don". Mais 1<1 fin de la souffrance par la Resurrection, dont la Croix est Ie signe, revele a la fois Ie rnonde cornrne don, et Dieu cornrne Donateur du rnonde et de Soi-rnerne . Labolition de la souffrance par la Resurrection - "Ne pleurez plus" - montre Ie Donateur et Son don.

14Staniloae, Vicro.r:r ol rhe Cross, p. 20.

Le Cosmos et la Croix


3. La Croix et le Saint-Esprit

Tout ce qui vient d'etre expr ime suppose l'assisrance du Saint-Esprit.

Toujours tres Christocenrrique dans la ligne de Saint Maxime, son maitre a penser, Pere Durnitru Staniloae souligne cependant la place fondarnentale du Vivificareur dans lexper ience veritable de la Croix, tant au plan personnel qu'au plan cosrnique. La Croix du Christ signifie, selon Ie theologien rournain, que l'Esprit est vai nqueur: "Il n'annule pas la matiere, mais Il transfigure Ie monde materiel par la reponse d'une volonte totalernent don nee a Dieu". Une telle volonte, qui prefere Dieu a son monde, est celle qui dit "que ta volonte soit faite". Identifiee a la volonte humaine du Fils, elle est une manifestation du Saint-Esprit: c'est en lui que Ie Fils et tout fils veritable disent cela au Pere,

Sans Ie Saint-Esprit, explique notre pere en Dieu, cette volonte ne serait pas capable d'une election de la volonte divine. Elle serait I,] proie "d'un plaisir d'oii la vision du Saint-Esprit est absente", et qui ne considere de responsabilite ni a I'egard de Dieu, ni a l'egard du prochain. En ce sens, la Croix est la glorification du Saint-Esprit: elle ne s'explique pas sans lui et elle est Ie signe de sa victoire sur tous les egoisrnes. Le Christ est monte sur la Croix etant rempli du Saint-Esprit; et en tant que Personne divine, le Verbe n'a jamais agi sans l'Esprit. Ce merne Esprit descend sur route croix librernent acceptee, sur la croix de tout fils uni a la volonte hurnaine du Fils. II couronne une telle croix et la rend transpare nte a la volonte divine. La Croix est alors l'ernbleme de la matiere transfigures par l'Esprit, parce que la volonte humaine est celie d'un etre de chair. .cEsprit est egalernent Celui qui revele au croyant la presence eternelle du Verbe incarne apres la Resurrection: a Marie pres du tombeau, et aux peler ins d'Emrnaus, par exemple. L'Esprit a devoile aux saints la presence du Ressuscite dans Son rnonde, c'est-a-dire l'unique signification de la Croix et de l'histoire du monde, ainsi que la presence du Ressuscite dans toute croix, dans toute souffrance et toute mort librernent acceptees par amour pour Ie Pere,

L'Esprit qui descend sur la Croix est ell verite l'Esprit de la revelation (Pnev1IUI tis alitbiasi. Dans "les tristesses supportees sans revolte", dit encore Pere Dumitr u, c'est I'Esprit-Saint qui donne "la comprehension de leur sens". Er cette "revelation de l'Esprit n'est pas donnee par la souffrance seule, mais par la conscience qu'elle peut eveiller dans I'esprit" de l'etre hurnain. II existe alors une synergic des volontes humaines et

166 Durnitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

divines dans l'Esprit, conforrnernent encore au marryre de Saint Maximo Ie Confesseur.l" II est riecessaire que I'etre hurnain veuille "ouvrir les yeux de son esprit", qu'il veuille "voir ce qu'il y a au-dela du monde materiel" et qu'il cesse de penser a soi et de s'identifier exclusivernent au monde materiel. La priere de l'Eglise pour les martyrs, pour les malades, pour les agonisants et pour tous ceux qui souffrent, est l'epiclese du Saint-Esprit sur la volonte hurnaine, pour qu'elle puisse librement etre consacrce en volonte du Fils. Cette epiclese est indispensable. Indispensable est egalement I'appartenance a la cornrnunaute ecclesiale. Indispensable enfin est une volonte droite chez l'etre hurnain: volonte restauree chez Ie baptise par Ie Saint-Esprit, qui devoile sans contraindre. Cexperience de la Croix releve d'une evidence spirituelle, de hi douce persuasion de l'Esprit, en vraie liberre.

En guise de conclusions

Nous avo ns voulu, par ces lignes, rendre hom mage a notre guide en sagesse divine, a notre mystagogue, a ce "maitre des raisons parfaites et accomplies", "maitre et ami a qui nous devons notre initiation aux verites divines", pour parler cornrne Denys Ie Theologien de son maitre Hierothee. Ce "precepteur divin" qui avait l'experience de la condition hurnaine, Pere Durnitru Staniloae, s'est egalernent eleve a une hauteur de contemplation que nous semmes bien incapables de supporter, rellernent I'oxygene y est pur. Son regard penetrant et verirablement deifie conternplait de concert avec les hierarchies celestes les mysteres de la divine compassion: il parlait de ce qu'il voyait - experience impressionnante pour qui I'approcha. Son enseignement ne s'appuyait pas sur une conviction nee de la sage sse seulernent humaine, rnais el1e se fondait sur levidence charismatique de la verite divine, sur cette "splendeur du vrai" dont parle Platen, et qui est la source de la rheologie. En verite, pour reprendre encore les termes de Denys, "l'ouvrage de notre precepteur est une nourriture solide destinee aux parfaites intelligences", a tous ceux que, aujourd'hui et demain cornrne hier, l'Esprit-Saint ve ut conduire a la connaissance de la verite imperissable du Christ et de Son Eglise.

llVoir F.-M.Urhel, Theologie de I'sgouie du Christ (Paris: Beauchesne, 1979) pp. 123-126.

Mystical Existentialism or Communitarian Participation?:

Vladimir Lossky and Dumitru Staniloae

Silviu Eugen Rogobete

The aim of this paper is a comparative assessment of two major voices of modern Eastern Orthodox thought: Vladimir Lossky and Dumitru Staniloae. Although coming fr0111 the same theological tradition, as we shall see, their different epistemology resulted in quite different interpretations of the main subjects of theology. Thus, we shall argue that in Lossky, his unilateral interpretation of the Eastern Orthodox tradition as totally apophatic results in a unilateral plea for mystical experience. At the divine level, it prevents him from moving any further tban affirming the pre-eminently antinomic character of God. At the human level it leads to a negative definition of the human person: the person means irreducibility to nature. In Staniloae, his reading of the Orthodox tradition as an affirmation of the apophatic-cataphatic continuum results in a balanced understanding of reason and experience. In turn, this leads to a strong affirmation of the endless possibilities of knowledge opened for the human being in the light of the Holy Trinity. This is so simply because the Holy Trinity is both the supreme mystery and the key to all knowledge. At a human level, it results in the affirmation that the human person is both irreducibility to and the realization of nature.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

Vladimir Lossky and the Mystical Character of Orthodox Theology

It was the Russian emigre theologian Vladimir Lossky who first presented the Western world with a detailed introduction to the main character of Eastern Orthodox epistemology. Reacting to the Scholasticrational approach to theology which in the West has strongly divided the realm of dogmatics from that of mystical/religious experience, Lossky intended to show that "the Eastern tradition has never made a sharp distinction between mysticism and theology; between the personal experience of the divine mysteries and the dogma affirmed by the Church."! Although starting from a balanced remark, that "Far fr0111 being mutually opposed, Theology and Mysticism support and complete each other,"? Lossky became notorious for his constant plea for "total apophaticism." As we shall see, this unbalanced perspective is primarily due to Lossky's interpretation of that which, according to his tradition, he considers to be the "ultimate goal" of the religious experience, namely tbeosis, deification or the mystical union with Cod.'

If deification, existential encounter with the divine, is the goal of all Christian life, according to Lossky, we cannot talk of knowledge anymore, but only of experience. The fact that one's aim is union with a Divinity who is beyond anything that exists does require the replacement of knowing with unknowing (Gr. egnosiei:" The way to this union is "the negative way," or what the Greek Fathers called the apophatic way. This way became for Lossky the sole ground for "true theology.":' How does he arrive at this conclusion? Lossky develops his talk of the knowledge of God in a chapter suggestively entitled "The Divine Darkness.:" Lossky starts from the two notions used by Pseudo-Dionysios the Areopagite regarding the possibility of knowing God, namely apophatic and cataphatic theology. Cataphatic theology is positive theology, theology that proceeds through affirmations. It involves rational observations and

'Vladimir N. Lossky, The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church (London:

J. Clarke, 1973), p. 8. 2Ibiderll, p. 8. Jlbidem, p. 9. "Ibidem, p. 25. 'Ibidem, p. 39. 6lbide1l1, 1'1'. 23 ff.

Mystical Existentialism or Communitarian Participation?


Lossky is prepared to say with Dionysios that it leads to a certain knowledge of God. However, when moving to describe the apophatic way, he quite univocally states not only the superiority but indeed, the uniqueness of the latter: "the perfect way, the only way which is fitting in regard to God, who is of His very nature unknowable, is the second [i.e., the negative one] which leads us finally to total ignorance."? Thus for Lossky, the controlling factor in the exercise of approaching God is the negative or the apophatic way." What we have here is an overtly exclusive form of language: from acknowledging (according to the Eastern tradition) the superiority of the apophatic over the cataphatic way, Lossky moves to affirm the uniqueness of the former. In other words, rather than accepting that in knowing God a mystical dimension is involved based on a personal encounter with the divine, Lossky concludes that this mystical dimension is the ultimate criterion."

"Total Apophaticism" and Some Epistemologicsl Implicstions

In order to assess Lossky's theory of knowledge one must start by highlighting at least two positive aspects. Firstly, Lossky's warning regarding the limited character of the human reason is reflected in his emphasis on the contemplative dimension of the Christian: he is constantly preoccupied with emphasizing that theology was never supposed to be an abstract rational exercise, but rather a contemplative relationship with a personal God. This, when facing the many antinomies of Christian dogmas, would result in "a change of heart and mind enabling us to attain to the contemplation of the reality which reveals itself to us" rather than a desperate attempt to suppress them by "adapting dogma to our understanding.?"

Secondly, one must acknowledge his valid concern to eliminate the gap developed within the Western tradition (and indeed, the Eastern Orthodox theology of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries so strongly influenced by Western scholasticism) between the realm of Christian doctrines and that of personal Christian living, or using Lossky's own terrni-

7Ibidem, p. 25. 8lbidem, p. 42. 9lbidem.

IOIbidem, p. 43; also Vladimir N. Lossky, Orthodox Theology: An Introduction (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1978), PI'. 13 ff.


Dumirru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

nology, between "theology and mysticism."!' However, from signalling the separation, Lossky seems to move into the other extreme of collapsing the two together in what he calls "the only true theology," "theology par excellence." This, according to Lossky, is not a complementary COI11- bination of the two ways, but rather the uniqueness of the mystical experience (of the mystical encounter with divine) over against any dogmatic formulation: "mysticism is accordingly treated in the present work as the perfecting and crown of all theology: as theology par excellence."! 2

Thus we can conclude, firstly that Lossky operates fr0111 a categorial mistake, namely he took superiority to mean uniqueness. The Orthodox tradition, following Dionysios, qualified negative theology as superior to positive theology on the basis of the latter's inadequacy to express the full reality of God. However, it did not collapse positive theology within the negative. Lossky has moved from acknowledging the existence and the superiority of the experiential/apophatic nature of theology to affirm its uniqueness. For him, "apophaticism ... constitutes the fundamental characteristic of the whole theological tradition of the Eastern Church.i":' Secondly, and this is perhaps a corollary of the first rather than a conclusion, from uniqueness he moved to affirm the ultimate character of apophaticism, In other words, "apophaticism" became the controlling factor of his entire theological construct, including his understanding of God and the human being. In what follows, we shall touch only briefly on some of these implications. This is necessary, for as we shall see, Staniloae, while operating within the same tradition, employs an alternative epistemology with quite different implications.

Metaphysical and Theological implications: Meta-Ontology, or the Ultimate Reality i11 Lossky's Theology

On a metaphysical level, Lossky's "total apophaticism" is reflected in what he calls "the fundamental unknowability" of the Christian God, which is also the boundary mark between the God of the revelation and the god of the philosophers.l4 When applied to the godhead, Lossky's

I I Lossky, Mystics! Theology; p. 8. '2Ibidem, p. 9.

IJlbidem, p. 26, and "the radical apopharicism characteristic of the rheological traditiou of the East," p. 37.

"Tbidem, p. 31 ff.

Mystical Existen tialism or Comruunitarian Pa rucipa tion?


apophaticisrn prevents him from moving any further than affirming that "the highest point of revelation, the dogma of the Holy Trinity, is preeminently an antinomy."!' For Staniloae, however, the dogma of the Holy Trinity, as the Ultimate Personal Reality, is both an "inexplicable mystery" and the "reality which explains everything.Y"

As for Lossky, while affirming in a most Orthodox spirit that the Holy Trinity is "the primordial reality,,,l? this reality is somehow identified with an apophatic "meta-ontology." Lossky starts in a balanced Cappadocian tone, affirming that the Ultimate Reality is neither the One nor the Three but "the triadic Henad, or the Unitrinity." However, this paradoxical phrase, far from pointing to ontology understood in its usual sense, actually surpasses any ontology. The divine Unitrinity points to "the principle of personal non-opposition, the root of the unknowability of the transcendent God-Trinity, the object of 'theology' properly socalled, which can only be "mystical.?" By stating this, Lossky is, on the one hand, able to safeguard the total transcendence of the ultimate reality. On the other hand, by virtue of the personal character of this reality, Lossky endangers the notion of person, thus opening the door wide for a "radically apophatic anthropology" with all its negative consequences. This brings us to the second major implication of Lossky's one-sided epistemology, namely, his understanding of tbe human person.

Anthropological implications: "The Irreducibility of Person to Nature" and Mystics! Existentialism

"Thus the level on which the problem of the human person is posed goes beyond that of ontology as we normally understand it; and if it is a

"Ibidem, p. 43.

'(,Oumirru Sraniloae, S/al1t;1 Treime, sail La Incepnt a [ost iubire« [The Holy Trinity or In the Beginning There Was Love] (Bucharest: Edirura Institutului Biblic, 1993), p. 7. '71.lOssky, i\-i)'sricaJ Theology; p. 43.

"This is Lossky's conclusion following his assessment of Dionysios in another article translated in English as "Apophasis and Trinitarian Theology," in In the Jmage ;I/Jd the Likeness oIGod(Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1974), p. 29. His argument in this article is that by identifying the unknowable Cod of the negative way with the Cappadocian notion of "Unirriniry,' Oionysios "gave the final blow to the triadic schemes of the Plaro nic tradition' (p. 29). In other words, Diouysios succeeded in liberating Trinitarian rheology frlO1I1 the cosmological implications of eClOnlOmy. However, as argued above, this interpretation leads to an apopharic mera-onrology in the godhead which in irs turn leads to a radically apopharic anthropology.


Durnitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity ill Theology

question of meta-ontology, only God can know.,,19 These are the concluding words of Lossky's most significant work on anthropology. This essay continues and unpacks the anthropological implications of what was argued for Trinitarian theology in The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church. As such, Lossky's understanding of the human person is claimed to be a direct result of his understanding of the divine persons of the Holy Trinity."

As seen above, the ultimate reality for Lossky belongs to a metaontology on the face of which the only appropriate attitude is one of radical apophaticism. This is so because the ultimate reality is not an impersonal abyss, or an essence, nor even a person, but "is something which transcends all notion both of nature and of person: it is the Trinity. ,,21 The Trinity is a paradoxical reality which cannot be conceptualized. The genius of the Cappadocian's distinction between the two synonyms, namely ousis and hypostasis, was that it served, according to Lossky, "to express the irreducibility of the hypostasis to the ousia and of the person to the essence, without, however, opposing them as two different realities.,,22 This terminological move enabled them to say both that "the hypostasis is the same as ousis, it receives all the same attributes - or all the negations - which can be formulated on the subject of the 'superessence,' and that it (hypostasis) nonetheless remains irreducible to the ousia.,,23 The irreducibility of the hypostasis to ousis is rooted, according to Lossky, in the mystery of the divine hypostasis, "who are not 'three' but "Tri-Unity.'" "the hypostasis as such, inasmuch as it is irreducible to the ousia, is no longer a conceptual expression but a sign which is introduced into the domain of the non-generalizable.Y"

Thus, hypostasis surpasses the level of any definition or conceptualisation. In its ultimate, theological truth, the divine person is non-defin-

"Vladimir N. Lossky, "The Theological Notion of the Human Person," in 111 the Image «ud Likeness o/God (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1974), p. 123 ff.

2°My conrenriou is based on Lossky's affirmation that "\Xfe shall have to say a few words about the divine Persons before posing the question: What is the human person according to rheological thought?" (Lossky, "Theological Notion of Human Person," p.112).

2lLossky, Mystics! Theology; p. 44.

22Lossky, "Theological Notion of Human Person," p. 112. 23Ibidem, p. 113.


Mystical Existen tia lis 111 or Cornmunitarian Participa tion?


able and non-conceptual other than in a negative way, namely as "irreducibility to nature." The mystery of the Holy Trinity is fully reflected in the mystery of the divine persons and their apophatic character par excellence. This, then, is the starting point for Lossky's anthropology, for he states:

Let us now look in Christian anthropology for the same non-conceptual meaning of the distinction between hypostasis and ousie or pbysis. We will ask ourselves whether this irreducibility of hypostasis to essence or nature - an irreducibility which forced us to give up equating the hypostasis with the individual ill the Trinity by revealing the non-conceptual character of the notion of hypostasis-must take place in the realm of created being as well, especially when one is dealing with human hypostases or persons. By asking this question we will be asking at the same time whether Trinitarian theology has had any repercussion Oll Christian anthropology - whether it has opened up a new dimension of the "personal" by discovering a notion of the human JJypostasis not reducible to the level of natures or individual substances, which fall under the hold of concepts and which can be classed so comfortably in the logical tree of Porphyry."

Without going into any detail, we shall note only the trajectory of Lossky's argument, concentrating on his conclusion. He starts by noting that for both the Eastern and the Western tradition the "notion of the 'human person' coincides with that of 'human individual.l'V" of individual nature or substance as it appeared in the "tree of Porphyry." However, to reduce the notion of the human person to that of a physis or individual nature is entirely against the Christian dogma of Chalcedon. Thus one has to "give up designating the individual substance of reasonable nature by the term 'person' or 'hypostasis.v" However, the question remains "What should 'person' mean in relation to the individual human?,,28 In light of all of the above, and considering the significance of the terminological shift operated by the Cappadocians at the divine level," namely the fact that the pair 'hypostasis-ousia' expresses the irre-

25Ibidclll, p. 115. 26Ibidem, p. 116 ff. 27Ibiclelll, p. 118. 2sIbiclem, p. 119.


Durnitru Sraniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ducibility of the hypostasis to onsie without opposing them as two different realities, Lossky is in a position to present his conclusion, worth quoting at some length:

Under these conditions, it will be impossible for us to form a concept of the human person, and we will have to content ourselves with saying: "person" signifies the irreducibility of man to his nature - "irreducibility" and not "something irreducible" or "something which makes man irreducible to his nature" precisely because it cannot be a question here of "something" distinct from "another nature" but of someone who is distinct from his own nature, of someone who goes beyond his nature while still containing it, who makes it exist as human nature by this overstepping and yet does not exist in himself beyond the na ture which he "enhypostasizes" and which he constantly exceeds."

While claiming this to be the logical conclusion of Eastern patristic thought as preserved in the Orthodox tradition, Lossky in fact adopts modern existentialism. Ironically, Lossky himself continues: "I would have said 'which [the human person] ecstacizes,' if I did not fear being reproached for introducing an expression too reminiscent of 'the ecstatic character' of the Dsscin of I-Ieidegger. ,,31 Thus according to Lossky, the human persoll (as the divine) represents the irreducibility of the human (and God) to nature. In its ultimate, theological truth, the person, as a distinct reality from the individual, is non-definable and non-conceptualizable other than in a negative way. But further more, and here the existentialist overtones are most obvious, the person 'enhypostasizes' the nature being at the same time in a constant process of exceeding it. Therefore, according to Lossky, the level on which one may discuss the problem of the human person surpasses that of ontology as we normally understand it, "and if it is a question of meta-ontology, only God can know."n

29See also Lossky, j\1ysricai Theology; p. 124: "the distinction between persons and nature reproduces the order of the divine expressed by the doctrine of the Trinity, in mankind."

JOLossky, "Theological Notion of Human Person," p. 120. J1Ibidem.

J2IbidelTl, p. 123.

Mystical Existentialism or Comrnunitarian Participation?


A thorough critique of Lossky's anthropology and its implications is a complex task that is beyond the scope of this work. We should, however, pause to highlight only one of its shortcomings which we consider vital for our comparison between him and Staniloae, namely Lossky's use of the two notions so crucial for his argument, namely ousis and hypostasis. From what we have seen above, one can conclude that for Lossky the notion of person or hypostasis is raised to a meta ontological level, as a super-natural, totally apophatic and non-conceptualizable category, while ousis, or nature is regarded as a mere necessary and inert givenness which needs to be 'constantly exceeded' by the existential freedom of the person. Therefore, as Staniloae has correctly commented:

Reflecting upon the distinction between person and nature, Lossky allows for the existence of at least a partial opposition between them, attributing to person (in contradistinction to nature) the apophatic intimacy of the "image" which is determinative of the individual... The profundity of the person is ultimately the profundity of nature which is preserved in tact. 33

To conclude my analysis of Lossky's anthropology and its relationship with his epistemology, I would say the following. Firstly, in saying that the person, the hypostasis is in a constant process of exceeding its "enhypostasized" nature, one can detect modern existentialist personalism in Lossky's anthropology. The hypostasis appears in Lossky's anthropology to be a "super-natural" category, a category belonging to a special realm, to a kind of meta-ontology known only by God, while nature is a given which needs to be constantly "exceeded" by the existential freedom of the person." The person is somehow captive within nature as in a prison. Secondly, one can notice the way Lossky's epistemology has shaped his anthropology. The Ultimate Reality is conceived as apophatic "meta-ontology" and the divine persons are beyond any conceptualization and definition. As such, there is no ground for any positive definition of the human person. As Gunton also noted, in Lossky there is a danger that "the being of God is essentially unknowable in an epistemologically destructive sense, leading possibly also to an entirely static and

JJDumitru Staniloae, Teologi« dogmaricif ortodosii (Bucharest: Editura Insrirurului Biblic, 1978), vol. 1, p. 405 ff. A section of this work (pp. 388-408) was published in English under the tirle "Image, Likeness, and Deification in the Human Person," in Cammunio, no. 13 (1986), pp. 64-83.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

motionless concept of eternity along Aristotelian lines."J5 Thus what we find in Lossky is an apophatic personalism which places the notion of personhood on a meta-ontological, mysterious plane. Lossky fails to offer a foundation for a participational anthropology. This leads, in turn - at best - to a mystical existentialism far removed from any notion of a significant communitarian participation, both at the human and the divine levels.

However, hearing the modern existential overtones, one is left wondering what first determined Lossky's anthropology: his understanding of the Eastern tradition as one shaped by the total apophaticism of the divine persons or the existential personalism found in Berdyaev, which so strongly proclaimed the impossibility of both knowing and defining the human person? One may even ask to what extent the modern agenda played the determinative role in Lossky's interpretation of his own tradition too. A. Torrance, voicing Karl Barth, correctly emphasized "the illegitimacy" found "in approacbing God-talk and theological anthropology with a prior ontology of personhood or predefined category of personhood."J6 We shall now turn to Dumitru Staniloae for a different approach.

J"From an existentialist perspective, if one is indeed to be truly free then one must to a certain extent deny one's own nature; if the person is to be truly free then the person must absolutely transcend his givenness. Lossky, however, wants to turn this around and say the freedom is recognized in a transcendence which does not deny the other, dividing up nature, but finds identity through uniting human nature. Although irrelevant for our argurnent at this stage, it would be unfair ro Lossky not to mention this fact which clearly separates him from classical existentialism. Unlike rhe existentialists, for whom one's identity is defined ill distinction of other individuals, for Lossky every act of incorporating the universal nature within oneself is key to the full realization of personhood. Thus rather than attempting to clear away the nature in order to find rhe essence of the person Lossky suggests that in unifying the nature in irs "natural' unity will enable the fullness of the human person as it transcends the nature while incorporating it.

J5Colin E. Gunton, "Relation and Relativity: The Triniry and the Created World," in Christoph Schwebel, ed., Trinitsrisn Theology Today (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995), p. 100.

36 Alan J. Torrance, Persons 111 Communion: An Esssy on Triuirerisn Description and Human Psrricipsrion (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996), p. 31.

Mystical Existen tialism or Communi rarian Participation?


Dumitru Staniloac: An Attempt at a Balanced Approach

As with Lossky, we shall start with a presentation of Staniloae's theory of knowledge, followed by an assessment of its metaphysical, theological, and anthropological implications.

Revelstion end the Psrticipetionsl Aspect of Knowledge

A study of Staniloae's work presents one with at least three crucial points which together form his epistemological credo: a) natural and supernatural revelations do not contradict but rather complement each other, b) genuine knowledge is only possible within the framework of personal communion, and c) there is always a "two-way" continuity between the apophatic and cataphatic. As these points are three elements of a holistic epistemology which shapes his entire theological project, Staniloae continuously reiterates them, albeit within different contexts and from different perspectives. As such, they make the process of analysis and critical exposition a frustratingly difficult task. We shall now attempt to analyze Sta niloae's epistemic system, looking at these three interweaving points in turn.

The Nscursl-Snpemetursl COIltiJ}ULlm of Revelation

For Staniloae the question of the "natural-supernatural" revelation is not a question of either/or as for some Western theology (i.e., the dialectical theology of Karl Bartlr") and for some modern Orthodox interpretations (where, as exemplified above in Lossky's categorical mistake, superiority is taken for uniqueness, thus opening wide the risk of collapsing reason and natural revelation into a one-sided plea for mystical experience)." According to Staniloae , the failure to understand the inseparability of the two kinds of revelation is that, "as Western theology has accustomed us to hold," we consider "that in natural revelation man is the only active agent," ignoring the fact that "through all things, it is God who is leading us, as in some ongoing dialogue, towards our perfec-

J7For a direct reference to Barth on this issue, see Sraniloae, Teologis dogmaricii ortodoxii, vol. 1, p. 422.

J8For direcr references against Lossky's and Yannaras' plea for a "total apopharicism,' see Sraniloae, Teologis dogmsriei orrodosii, vol. 1, p. 114, note 2 (Ed. and Tr. by Robert Barringer and loan lonita as Dumirru Staniloae, The Experience of God(Bosron, MA: Holy Cross Press, 1994), p. 122 ff., note 1).


Dumitru Sta niloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

tion and opening up to us the perspective of total fulfilment for the meaning of our existence in communion with the infinite God.,,39

Although a number of things could be further explored, we shall only underline here that a) according to Staniloae, there is no such a thing as "mere natural existence" made up by a "reality" governed solely by humans or by "nature" which does not involve and claim the presence of a higher reality, b) the shape of all reality is framed by an "ongoing dialogue" inviting one to participation in inter-personal communion, and c) at the root of all reality lies the divine call to a meaningful participation in communion with the ultimate personal reality - the Tripersonal God. Furthermore, Staniloae claims that d) the "rationality" of the created world represents an invitation to enter into a personal dialogue of love with others and ultimately with God, e) the "rationality" of the created world points us to the personal character of both the human being and the ultimate reality, and f) "union" with others and with the divine, rather than denying rationality, represents the means of an ever more profound and therefore unending knowledge, both of God and of ourselves.

This understanding of the rationality of the created world is based on Maximos the Confessor's teaching that there is no contradiction between the mystery of God and the rationality of the world." Of interest to our argument at this point is Staniloae's original, "paradoxical" use of "rationality;" we shall therefore clarify the meaning of this concept before proceeding further in our assessment of the natural-supernatural continuum in Staniloac's epistemology. For Staniloae, rationality is not an end in itself, but a means serving a greater end. The Cartesian "Cogito ergo sum" is surpassed in Staniloae by the Patristic "I love, therefore I am," which he makes so central for his Dogmatics." Love and reason must always be kept together, if one is to achieve fulfilment by understanding the raisons d'etre, the rationality of the universe and life in genera1.42 Moreover, rationality is the means of communicating one's unlimited freedom, love, and intentionality towards the other, manifested

J9Stalliloae, Experience olGod, p. 2I.

'I0Cf. Maximos the Confessor, "Raspuus ciitre Talasie," in Filocsli« (Bucharest, 1947),

vol. 3, p. 45 ff.

'''Patriarch Calistos, PC, 147,860 AB.

·"See Staniloae, Teologis dogmaricii orrodoss, vol. 1, p. 475.

Mystical Existentialism or Communitarian Participation?


in inter-personal communion. Also, according to Staniloae, rationality is the means by which the meaning (the Logos, the rationale) of the "mystery" of the universe is appropriated by the human being. Seen in itself, existence runs the risk of being taken as absurd, a fact so clearly reflected III modern existentialism. The meaning of existence, the rationality of the universe is unveiled only when it is seen as a "means of an interpersonal dialogue" of love."

Staniloae certainly acknowledges a qualitative distinction between the natural and supernatural revelation: the latter, in its overtly Trinitarian-koinonial form, supremely revealed in the supernatural event of the person of Christ," is superior to the former; as such, it is ultimately the key to all knowledge." Nevertheless, superiority is not uniqueness, but it rather suggests continuity. The main reason for this continuity is the content of both revelations - natural and supernatural - which, being "shaped" by the same purpose, is "in part, common to both."46 As we have seen, the content of both revelations is shaped by the Creator's goal to raise the human being, and through it the whole cosmos, to a communion of love with himself, who is the supreme personal reality, the Tripersonal God.47

Again, Staniloae is aware of the discontinuity operated through "the weakness man contracted through sin," and he therefore continues to emphasize that "supernatural revelation is necessary, if the content of natural revelation is to be fully developed. ,,48 Staniloae adds, "God can always be known from creatures, but it is possible never to know God from crearures.":" He concludes, therefore, that there is a fundamental need for some "clearer" form of revelation, namely supernaturai rcvela-

HStaniloae, Experience 01 God, p. 11. ""Ibidem, p. 24

.'SStaniloae, Slin{[/ Treime, p. 7: "The Holy Trinity is rhe supreme mystery of exisrcuce, ~v!lich ho\~:ver, explains everything, or without which nothing can be explained." See also Sraniloae, Ieologis dogmsrici ortodosii, vol. 1, p. 41 ff. and 45 ff. Staniloae also affirmed rhar rhe rwo are based on a fundamentally apopharic experience of the divine. However: as we shall see here, this experience is neither against nor merely beyond reason, bur both irs source and its unlimited continuation.

. 4C,"Their content, which is, in part, common to both (indirectly provided by objective

natural revelation and explicitly by supernatural revelation. ,. Staniloae, Experience of God p.21., '

'7See, for example, Srauiloae, Teologi« dogruerici ortodoxii, vol. 1, p. 474 ff.


Dumitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

tion. Supernatural revelation is made of the special "acts" and "words" of God centred in the divine personal Logos.r'" It is a continuation of natural revelation rather than something of a radically different category. Because of the distortions produced by the Fall, Staniloae claims that "supernatural revelation re-establishes our nature and the nature of the world; it makes certain the self-evidence of natural faith."

• Consequently, we can assert that Staniloae wants to maintain both the possibility of a natural, a priori epistemology, and its radical insufficiency. Somehow paradoxically, Staniloae seems to hold at the same time to a natural epistemology,and to something similar to Karl Barth's call for an a posteriori approach. Staniloae's approach seems to be an attempt to reconcile Anselmian natural theology (even Cartesian, in the sense of affirming the trustworthiness of reason on the basis of the trustworthiness of its Creator+) with the Barthian claim that all knowledge depends on the self-validating character of God's revelation. The latter is to be taken in the sense both that only supernatural Trinitarian revelation could bring about "true" knowledge'" and that knowledge is subordinated to participation, i.e., knowledge of God is possible only as a result of human participation in God's self-revelation.l ' Furthermore, one can correctly say that, like Barth, Staniloae too would say that all true knowledge is foundationally informed by the specific activity of God in revelation.i"

"SStaniloac, Experience of Cod, p. 17. He also wrote: "Bur, given the sin which weighs down our human nature, we could make no progress towards the final goal - based as it is on natural revelation - in the absence of the illumination and help of supernatural revelation.' However, he continues: "Yet even in guiding crearion towards its final goal, cannot dispute either with creation's own inherent aspiration or with the natural feeling that God urges and helps the world towards progress in continuously new circumstances" (Staniloae, Experience oi God, pp. 27 ff. and 16).

49Ibidem, p. 205.

50"The reality pressing on us in supernatural revelation is the divine personal Logos.

In the revelation of the Old Testament, this reality is not incarnate, in the revelation of the New Testament, the Logos is incarnate" (Sraniloae, Experience ol God, P 61).

SIStaniloae, Teologis doglllaric;j orrodoxii, vol. 1, p. 10 If., and Staniloae, Experience

olGod, p. 2.

52 As seen above, this is stated again in paradoxical terms: "without the mystery of the

Trinity nothing can be known" (Sraniloae, Teologis dogrnstici ortodoxs, vol. 1, p. 234). 5JSee, for instance, Karl Barth, Church Dogmarics, vol. 2., tr. G.W Brorniley and T.F.

Torrance (Edinburgh: T&'1' Clark, 1964), p. 63.

;~Regardillg Barth, see Alan Torrance's comments in his Persons in Communion,

p. 158.

Mystical Existentialism or Cornmunitarian Participation?


What makes their approaches so different, however, is their understanding of the concept of revelation. As we have argued, Staniloae conceives God as specifically active all the way through the naturalsupernatural continuum, while for Barth God presents himself only in the "special" revelation of the Word, in sharp contrast to any other natural approach. Any naturalist approach to the knowledge of God, that is, one starting from an a priori claim for the possibility of the knowledge of God based solely on human speculation is correctly labelled by Barth as "untheological thinking, i.e., thinking which derives from some other source than gratitude and obedience. ,,55 Staniloae would certainly agree With this. However, saying that there is no corresponding ground for the knowledge of God outside His Self-Revelation in the Word, represents Barth's failure to accept that one can talk meaningfully of the vestigillJJJ Del at tl,le level of human personhood, and that consequently, the COI1- cept of person' does stand for the imago Dei. As such, 'person' is an ontological concept capable of bridging the gap between the natural and the supernatural. It was precisely on this ground that Staniloae has criticized Barth in 1943.56

Alan Torrance recently produced a strikingly similar criticism against Barth in his Persons in Communion.t' Torrance has correctly worked out the implications of Barth's "revelation-oriented" epistemology, showing convincingly how it led him to use the term Scinsweise (mode., way of being) rather than person when referring to the Trinity. Barth implicitly faded to give a proper account of the koinonial character of God an~ ~onsequently he failed to offer a comrnunitarian, participational definition of the human being. Thus, Torrance has correctly argued that "communication presupposes the category of communion and not the other way round,,,5s a statement also central to Staniloae's epistemology, which we shall assess later.

Staniloae would probably disagree with Torrance's assertion that the imago Dei "should not be interpreted as a natural 'state' possessed by

HBarth, Church Dogmstics, vol. 2.1, p. 64.

-'''Dumitru Srauiloae, Iisus Hiistos sal! restsursres omului (Craiova, Romania: Ornniscop, 1993 reprint), p. 105.

51Se T . 1>' . C .

e orrance, ersons l/J OJl1mUIllOn, pp. 5 and 367 ff for an introduction of his

argument and a summary of his conclusions on this issue.

5sTorrance, Persons in Communion, p. 4.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

individuals.v" If this were the case, it would be difficult to see how something which is not an inherent (natural) characteristic of humanity could be labelled the "ontological correspondent" of the imago Dei at the human level, as Torrance does.60 The only possible explanation is a sharp distinction between nature and grace, and it should take no one by surprise to find that soja gratia is the next theme in Torrance, forming the central topic of his last two concluding paragraphs."

Staniloae would argue that the image of God, as the potentiality for and the tendency towards participation in communion, is an ontologically given to the human being as a whole - including one's nature, and as such, it is the call of each human person in freedom and love, in its own particular way, to raise this in-built potentiality to the status of the likeness of God, i.e., to full participation in the divine life. However, this disagreement between Staniloae and Torrance is just another example of the typical clash between the Protestant soja gratia and the Eastern nature-grace continuum.

Therefore, harmonizing natural with supernatural theology is a paradoxical, tensive attempt only for the Western mind, with its sharp distinction between nature and grace, between the created world and the transcendent reality of God. Staniloae's attempt here is the natural outcome of the Eastern Patristic tradition with its Trinitarian metaphysics which enabled him to provide an integrative doctrine of creation. All creation bears at its heart the print of its creator and the call to participate, through the agency of the human being, into the supreme reality of the divine comrnunion.f Thus we pause here to note that one should certainly not take the natural-supernatural continuum as a pantheistic con-

59Ibidem, p. 368. 6°Ibidem, p. 369. 6'Ibidem, p. 370 ff.

62Th is is the central theme of Sraniloae's substantial srudy survey of the patristic reaching on rhe nature-grace continuum in his "Natura §i har In reologia bizanriua ' [Nature and Grace in Byzantine Theology), in Ortodoxis, no. 3 (1974), pp. 392-439. It is a synthesis of the teachings of Maximos the Confessor, John of Damaskos, Symeon the New Theologian, Gregory of Palamas, and Nicholas Kabasilas, We are presented here with a powerful attempt to harmonize what he calls "the mystery of this intimate dialectic between nature and grace" resulted from an awareness of the discontinuity introduced by sin (p, 433). However, the general conclusion is the "oneness" of the human being and grace, a reality given in the very being of man (p. 435).

Mystical Existentialism or Comrnunitarian Participation?


tinuation between the reality of the natural order and the supreme reality of God; it is only through the agency of man (endowed with reason, freedom, action, aspiration) "who is open to meanings higher than the world," that "the world, too, is open to these meanings.v'"

The origin of this paradox is not, however, a kind of dichotomous, dualistic nature of reality (a double-sided reality in which two antagonistic/different epistemic systems operate at the same time, i.e., a natural and a supernatural one). As already mentioned, the cause of the paradox is the distortion introduced by sin; it is what Staniloae called "the ambiguous, contradictory, and delusive character of the fallen state of man."64 Evil for Staniloae is not an ontological reality, it does not belong to reality, but it entered reality through the freedom of man and of "some higher spirits, stronger than man," being preserved in reality through the consent given by the freedom of man; as such, it does not belong to reality per se. The implication of the Fall is the hiding of the personal character of the ultimate reality and its replacement with humanity and/or with the world itself.65 Thus for the fallen human being, the ultimate reality is not known as a supreme personal reality, but as humanity itself and/or as the objective reality of the world. For Staniloae, the serpent's "you will know" of Gen. 3:22 is the most morbid irony, being "the knowledge which will never know the ultimate meaning of existence.t''"

The image of God as man's tendency towards communion with God was preserved, but "more as a tendency towards the Absolute rather than towards a personal.'?" Sin and the Fall did not mean a "mixing up with some impure nature,"68 Staniloae argues, but rather a "mixing up" with a tendency contrary to the natural tendency present in the human nature. This is affirmed according to the teaching of Maxirnos." Thus, even in a fallen state, the nature-grace, natural-supernatural continuum is ontologically unbroken. Even if only as a potential, the human being still caries

6JStiiniloae, Experience olCod, p. 7.

6"Sraniloae, Teologis dogmericii orrodosii, vol. 1, p. 472.

6sDumitru Sraniloae, "The Faces of Our Fellow Human Beings," in Intermuiorml

Review oi Missiou (1982), no. 30.

66Staniloae, Teologie dogma/lei orrodosii, vol. 1, p. 473. 67Ibidem, p. 398.

68Ibidem, p. 406. ,

69Andrew Louth, Mavimus the Confessor (London: Rourledge, 1996), p. 57 ff.


Dumitru Sta niloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

within herself or himself the image of God, the supernatural. Although this presence is not acknowledged as such, ontologically it is still there. Therefore, according to Staniloae, all that is needed for salvation is "reorientation." It is in this sense of "re-orientation" that one must understand Staniloae's "re-establishment" brought in by the supernatural revelation of the personal God referred to above. All the potential for knowledge is still there, being all a matter of the right understanding and good will. This is perhaps the reason why for Staniloae to bring about salvation is an "easy" thing."?

However, if this were the case, one could legitimately argue that a) grace is not an un-merited gift of love (as the concept suggests), but an ontological potentiality at the root of all created reality which, if activated, attracts more grace from God, b) the Christ event took place more in order to bring epistemological correction rather than a new humanity (in ontological terms), c) there is no need for the death of Christ other than the natural ending of one's earthly life, and d) if enough "good will" and "right knowledge" were provided, salvation could come through other means, i.e., through humanity itself. Therefore, it is not surprising to find Staniloae giving voice to the Orthodox traditional teaching about the Holy Virgin Mary. She is regarded, according to the teaching of Nicholas Kabasilas," as the only human being "gaining holiness and presenting herself as a holy temple for God by actualizing the power which is inherent in every human being: What Adam did not do, the Holy Virgin did, although she had our fallen nature.,m

Therefore one can correctly conclude that supernatural revelation is fundamental in Staniloae for epistemological rather than ontological reasons; it is needed not in order to bring about a radically new reality, but in order to enable one to make sense of tbe already existing reality. The whole issue is related to a misuse of freedom in the question of knowledge. The whole biblical story of the Fall gravitates around an epistemic

70Staniloae, Teologis dogmetici ortodoxd, vol. 1, p. 399.

71 Against Kabasilas' quire strong (at least for an Orthodox theologian) use of the \Vestern concept of atonement acknowledged by Srauiloac in "Natura §i har In tcologia bizanrina," p. 431. See Nicholas Kabasilas, The Life ill Christ (Crestwood, NY: Sr. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1974), pp. 117-125.

72Nicholas Kabasilas, n:Vrd st [he Birth of Theorokos, quoted in Sra niloae, "Narura §i har In reologia bizantina," p. 435.

Mystical Existentialism or Cornmunitarian Participation?


issue: the question of the knowledge of good and evil. For Staniloae , the Fall results in a pseudo-knowledge manifested in an individualistic, ratioual, and objective approach which takes man and/or the world as the ultimate reality.

True knowledge, however, according to Staniloae recognizes the personal reality of God as the ultimate reality. As such, it is knowledge experienced in participation, in a loving dialogue with the divine, with other human beings, and with the whole creation." This latter point brings us to the second major dimension of Staniloae's epistemological credo mentioned earlier, namely the cornmunitarian, participational character of knowledge.

The Participational Character of Knowledge

According to Staniloae, the whole Eastern tradition teaches that knowledge and union are inseparable." In Lossky's assessment, one's union with God leads to the fundamental impossibility of the knowledge of God which is for him the main characteristic of the Eastern Fathers' epistemology. On the contrary, in Staniloae's assessment of the Eastern tradition, the union with God is the only means for true and infinite progress in knowledge." The same thought sprang from a creative linguistic analysis of the Latin word for "knowledge" and its Romanian equivalent. Thus, it is worth reading Staniloae's own words:

The etymology of the Latin cog1l0SCO icurn + gnosco) shows from of old that human beings have been aware of the interpersonal character of knowledge. The same thing is attested by the Romanian word COll-§/jjllj:l ("consciousness"/"conscience"). I do not know myself apart from a relationship with others. In the last analysis I know or am conscious of myself in relationship with God. The light of my knowledge in respect of things or of myself is projected upon the comrnunitarian human image from the supreme personal community. We are conscious of ourselves only

7JStaniloae, TeoJogia doginsrici ortodoxii, vol. 1, p. 480. For Sraniloae "evil is overcome. in communion, because. this is a fulfilment of being" (vol. 1, p. 479). This whole section of Sraniloae's Dogmatics is a very creative assessment of the fundamental opposition between individualistic vs. comruunirarian knowledge.

7"Staniloae, Experience olGod,y. 20l. 75Ibide11l, p. 201.


Dumitru Staniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

ill rela tionsbip with the other and, in the final analysis, before God. The "I" by itself would no longer possess consciousness; through consciousness it knows its own spiritual "place" in relationship with others. It grows in self-consciousness simultaneously with its growth in self-knowledge, and its growth in self-knowledge corresponds to its growth in the knowledge of God, of its neighbors, and of created things."

Elsewhere, looking at the Romanian word cuviint ("word"), Staniloae argues that it is rooted in the Latin COJJveJJtl1S, "a coming together;" thus, there is no genuine word, no genuine knowledge outside communion: "I do not know myself apart from a relationship with others ... For myself, in so far as I am not loved, I am incornprehensible.?" Therefore, according to Staniloae, knowledge is not only relational, but it also involves 10ve.78 There can be neither self-knowledge nor knowledge of the others without love. This is again eloquently stated in his Dogmetic Theology:

Full knowledge is always love also, and as such is directed towards another person ... In the final analysis, knowledge is the loving reference of one subject to another. Even through reference to an object, the knowing subject has indirect reference to another subject, and it is only through this reference that he knows himself and actualizes himself as subject. 79

761l>idem, p. 204.

77Quored in Kalisros \'\Iare's "Foreword," p. XIX. \'\Iare also correctly cornmenrs:

"There are close parallels here with John Macmurray's Persons in Relsrioo. This insistence rhar the human person is primarily communion, meeting, response, is perhaps the most significant affirmation in the whole of Fr. Dumitru's theology." Also the same parriciparional character of the Romanian cuv;inrul("word") is highlighted in his Slfnf<l Treime, p. 46.

7S A creative and in some way similar understanding of knowledge as a relational event which involves love (in this case "eros") is put up in Christos Yannaras' book Heidegger and tlie Arcopngire, published in Greece in 1988. Yannaras, however, differs from Staniloae in his insistence on the purely apophatic, experiential aspect of knowledge.

79Staniloae, Experience oiGod, p. 202. Also, for a more scriptural justification of rhe unbreakable link between knowledge and love, see Durnitru Sraniloae, "The Faces of Our Fellow Human Beings," in Inrernsrionel Review ofMission (1982), pp. 29-35. In this article Sraniloae seems to operate with a strong body-soul dichotomy, which taken in isolation from his anthropology and also ignoring the context in which it was produced (the 'scientific materialism' preached by the Communist activists, to which he intended to reply that man is more than his material, biological body), could correctly lead to accusations of Nco-platonic thought.

Mystical Existentialism or Communitarian Participation?


As already mentioned above, for Staniloae, Descartes' formula "Cogito, ergo sum" was infinitely inferior to Calistos's "I love, therefore I am. "so Thus, according to Sta niloae, knowledge is a participational act based on the loving relationship between the knowing subject and other subjects, and in the final analysis, on one's relationship with the supreme subject. However, unlike Descartes, the "knowing subject" in Staniloae's thought finds his own identity only within a personal dialogue with other persons, and ultimately with the divine personal reality. As we shall see later, this understanding of the human being as knowing subject and subject-in-relationships at the same time, coupled with his high view of the human nature, will assist Staniloae to counteract modern existentialism (both philosophical and theological personalisms).

To summarize, we may say that, according to Stauiloae, both in the natural and in the supernatural realms, genuine knowledge is possible only by participation in a loving dialogue between persons; communion is the prerequisite for knowledge." The implications for Staniloae's theology will be assessed later in this work. We shall now highlight both some strengths and some weaknesses of this approach. A major contribution of Staniloae's understanding of the created world is that both nature - the cosmos with its in-built rationality, and the human person with his capacity to make sense of the world and of himself, are relevant and important as regards the question of knowledge. They carry within themselves the truth and the meaning of existence, through man's aspirations pointing towards their fulfilment which cannot be other than in an eternal participation in the supreme personal reality. Therefore, as we will see later, when we look at the implications for anthropology, Staniloae would be able to avoid the nature/person dichotomy; he affirmed - against modern existentialism and most l110dernOrthodox personalisms, that

SODllmitru Sraniloae, "Omul ~i Dumnczeu," in Srudi: de reologie dogmstici ortodoxs (Craiova: Editura Mitropoliei Olreniei, 1991), p. 158.

slAlan Torrance has recently pointed out that borh from a philosophical and from a social perspective, participation is prior 1'0 interpretation and understanding. He has builr his conclusion on \'\Iittgensrein's philosophy of language on the one hand, and Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann's notion of the 'social construction of reality' on the other. His conclusion is that there is no such a thing as 'paradigmatic neutrality.' This is nothing bur "a dangerous myth" which has for roo long fooled most of the Wesrern theological tradition, He asserts that "this stress on the priority of participation over inrerpretarion and understanding is paralleled in the ecclesial context in various ways" (Torrance, Persons in Communion, p. 339).


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

"our person does not participate in the absolute by transcending its own nature as person, but by remaining man and by being confirmed in this quality"S2 while in a different context, in 1943, he extended the classic Athanasian statement by saying that "the Logos became man, not only so that man might become god, but also that man might become 111an.,,83

Thus another contribution to anthropology consists in providing a solid ground for an ontology of a communitarian human being, if participation in an interpersonal dialogue of love is what gives one both selfunderstanding and knowledge of others and the world. Also, a strong theology of the world is implied by the fact that the whole creation is called to participate, through man, in the divine communion. However, one major problem remains. This is the typical problem of any epistemology based on a high view of nature. As such, it always runs the risk of becoming naturalist theology, a theology based only on the human being and its capacity to understand reality at the expense of a proper theology of revelation. As already questioned above, if nature bears God's grace as an intrinsic, ontological dimension, a number of further questions could legitimately be raised: How real is the issue of the Fall and what are its implications for the created world? What can be said about the uniqueness and the importance of the work of Christ, especially of his death? What can be said about grace as an unmerited gift? Furthermore, on a practical level, one can also ask why is there such a lack of evidence of this "natural maturity" of the human being in countries where the Orthodox tradition played a vital role? Although undeniably a stronger communitarian spirit was preserved compared to the West, what is prevalent in Orthodox Eastern Europe is a serious lack of personal ethics and discipline (which were so much part of the fabric of the Western societies during the nineteenth century when Christianity - Catholic or Protestant - still played a crucial role").

Nevertheless, Staniloae's work was a continuous attempt to preserve a balance between the two ways of knowledge so central to Christianity and the Christian tradition, namely the apophatic and cataphatic. To an assessment of the dynamic relationship between the apophatic and the

82Staniloae, Experience of God, p. 28.

83Quoted in Sraniloae, Experience oiGod, p. XII.

s·'See Max Weber's well-known argument in his The Proresrsnt Ethic «od the Spirit 0/ Cnpirnlisrn.

Mystical Existentialism or Cornmunitarian Participation?


cataphatic, as the third element of Sta niloae's epistemology we shall turn next.

The Apophatic-Cataphatic Continuum

Before attempting to understand Staniloae's teaching about the dynamics between the apophatic and the cataphatic, we shall first consider what these concepts mean in his works. Cataphaticism is quite clearly understood as knowledge based on affirmations made according to objective observations and natural reason. Apophaticism, however, is used by Staniloae in an apparently confusing way. First of all, it is used to express the exercise of rational negations (where realities observed in the objective world are negated when referring to God, in order to express his total transcendence). Apophaticism is also used to describe the mystical experience of the divine. Yet finally, perhaps in order to preserve the fundamental Christian teaching that God is ultimately totally unknown according to His essence, Staniloae acknowledges a third way in which the word apophaticism is used: "apophaticism which cannot even be experienced.?" This is apophatic in the sense that it is impossible to approach the essence of God, which is totally beyond any experience and any knowledge.

Like the main trend of contemporary Orthodox theology, Staniloae started fr0111 the same distinction between apophatic and cataphatic operated within the patristic tradition. As such, he acknowledges the superiority of the former over the latter.s6 However, unlike Lossky, he does not take superiority for uniqueness. Thus, he explicitly affirms this as being particular to his approach on the contemporary Orthodox scene:

Both Lossky and Yannaras have explained Eastern apophatic theology from the starting point of the personal character of God. What distinguishes our position from theirs is that we do not hold exclusively to a knowledge of God which is apophatic, but see it as a combination of the apophatic and the cataphatic"

For Stauiloae, apophatic and cataphatic are two different ways of knowing which cannot be separated but which are rather compleme n-

S5Stiiniloae, Experience o/God, P: 103.

86Staniloae, Teologis dogmsrici ortodoxii, vol. 1, p. 113, and Sra niloae, Experience of God, p. 95.


Dumitru Stauiloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

tary.'" Before assessing how these two ways of knowledge mentioned above complement each other, we shall first note why this complementarity is possible at all.

As quoted above, Staniloae identifies the personal character of God as the drive behind Lossky's and Yannaras' "total apophaticism." For him, however, the personal character of God does not assure only his apophatic dimension, but paradoxically." the cataphatic one too. This comes about from his different understanding of the concept of person. Although it is beyond our capacity fully to grasp it, the person, by its very nature, is always recognized, identified, and thus somehow known, being acknowledged as the source of all that we experience."

God, as personal reality, does always make us realize that we are in a conscious communion with this reality. For Staniloae this consciousness, rather than transforming all knowledge into unknowledge as in Lossky's interpretation, actually represents the opposite; as such, it is the challenge for an ever greater knowledge, more like Gregory of Nyssa's notion of epektssis. To use his own words, this consciousness of being in relation with the personal reality of the divine

opens up a perspective of continuous newness, an ocean of richness always new where we will advance continuously; our knowledge of God makes us seek to know Him even more; and our love for Him stimulates us to an even greater love; ... as God is person, between Him and us a relationship of love is established that maintains both God and ourselves as persons."

Thus, the new dimension added to the process of knowledge is the fact that the personal encounter not only represents the framework of knowledge, but also assures its endless character. Although accepting that "in a general way and par excellence the person is apophatic.t''" this

87Sr~iniloae, Teologi« dogmsrici orrodoxii, vol. 1, p. 122, note 7, and p. 114, note 1; and Staniloac, Experience olGod, pp. 122-123, notes 1 and 8. Also Chrisros Yannaras, "The Distinction between Essence and Energies and Its Importance for Theology," in Ssinr Vladimir's Theological Qllarterfr .l9, no. 4 (1975), p. 234.

88Sraniloae, Teologis dogmstici orrodosii, vol. 1, p. 115, Stauiloae, Experience ol

God, p. 96.

89Staniloae, Experience olGod, p. 105. 90jbidem, p. 103.


Mystical Existentialism or Communitarian Participation?


dimension of personhood does not lead to the necessity of renouncing knowledge in order to enter in an existential relationship with the divine (as in Lossky). It rather represents the source of an unlimited knowledge. Thus for Staniloae the apophatic dimension of the encounter with the divine is something beyond reason, but never different nor against it.

The one involved in the mystical experience of the divine always moves at a higher level of knowledge, rather than ceasing to know." Thus again, we see Staniloae's determination to interpret the Eastern apophatic tradition not as all exhortation to mysticism, but rather as a challenge to go ever deeper in the search for the mysterious meaning of life. Lossky's mystical existentialism is surpassed by Staniloae's communitarian participation. For Lossky, "apophaticism teaches us to see above all a negative meaning," forbidding "us to follow natural ways of thought and to form concepts which would usurp the place of spiritual realities; ,,94 thus, in his interpretation the mystical experience of the divine, the apophatic experience, comes over against reason leading to a "fundamental unknowability of God," which is for Lossky "the true Christian metaphysics. ,,95 In Staniloae's epistemology, reason and mysticism, or better to say reason and experience (mystical or ordinary) are in a continUUl1l. Although in mystical experience (or in the fundamentally apophatic experience) one reaches a superior experience of the divine, it is still knowledge but at an ever higher level.

Having assessed the dynamics between the elements involved in the process of knowledge in Sta niloae's epistemology, we are in a better position to see what the implications for his thought are. As in the chapters devoted to Lossky above, we shall look into the metaphysical, theological, and anthropological implications.

Metaphysical sud Theological implications: An Ontology of Love or the Ultimate Reality in StiiDiloae's Theology

On a metaphysical level, Staniloae's plea for a dynamic balance between apophatic and cataphatic, between reason and experience within the category of personal participation, is reflected in his strong claim that

91'Staniloae, Experience o/God, p. 127. 93Ibidelll, p. 115 ff.

94Lossky, Mysticsl Theology p. 42. 95jbidern, p. 31.


Dumitru Staniloae. Tradition and Modernity in Theology

all existence is ultimately meaningful. The meaning of existence is given by the inter-personal character " of what he calls the "ultimate personal reality." This ultimate reality is paradoxically both the supreme mystery and the key to all knowledge. It is the supreme mystery because it is existence per se, uncreated self-existence which infinitely transcends all existence which we experience." The ultimate personal reality, however, is also the key to all knowledge, because it is the absolute love.

The ultimate reality, as communitarian tri-personal reality, is existence per se because it encompasses absolute happiness and love in itself; it is self-sufficient. This characteristic is provided by the perichoretic nature of that reality, which is its ontological constitution." Moreover, ultimate reality is a communitarian, participational reality, opposed to an impersonal essence or law; as such, it reveals this love and happiness as being both the foundation and the final goal of all existence." The whole existence (human and divine) represents an invitation for the human being to participate in the dialogue of love initiated by the ultimate personal reality. The continuity between natural and supernatural is reflected in the fact that, according to Staniloae, the whole continuum of reality has an "ontological-dialogical character.v'?? Therefore, for Staniloae the paradoxical mixture of mystery and meaning (or rationality) found within the entire spectrum of existence (starting from the uncreated reality of God to the created reality of our objective world)'?' has its explanation in the ultimate personal reality of the Holy Trinity. Being essentially goodness and love, the Holy Trinity is both the "supreme mystery" and at the same time intelligible, offering meaningful explanation for all existence.

96Staniloae, 5lfinra Treime, p. 22. 97Staniloae, Experience olGod, p. 129. 98rbidet1l, pp. 203 and 256.

99See, for instance, Sraniloae, TeoJogia dogmsrici ortodosii, vol. 1, p. 482.

looThe theme of the dialogical thus communirarian character of all existence is the backdrop of all of Stauiloae's doctrine of creation. See Staniloae, Teologia dogmutici ortodO'\"<I, vol. 1, pp. 476, 488.

10lStaniloae, SJiinra Treime, p. 15: "Ultimately, all existence, starring from God who is uncaused and eternal, and ending with the created world, which is made in order to live in God, is both rational and mysterious. All existence is a mystery that man cannot explain. Bur all existence is also rational, having as its source and goal the goodness of God, or happiness in Him. There is no such a thing as a total hole, neither meaningless existence."

Mystical Existentialism or Cornmunirarian Participation?


As such, the Holy Trinity represents "a real metaphysics" opposed to the meaningless metaphysics of the philosophers who relate It to an impersonal essence ruled by either an evolutionary or an immanent law. This theme is unpacked in his final work in 1993 from which we shall quote at some length:

The Holy Trinity is the supreme mystery of existence, which, however, explains everything, or without which nothing can be explained. Therefore, although it is the supreme mystery, to a certain extent it is intelligible, it is conformed to a certain degree of logic. As such, it presents itself as a real metaphysics, or as the abyssal but somehow intelligible foundation of all existence .... At least in regard to the goal that the Holy Trinity strives to fulfil, or the meaning it can offer to existence, it is fully acceptable from a logical point of view. The Holy Trinity is love without a beginning while trying to attain an extension of love. What can justify existence more than love? 102

Stauiloae's theory of knowledge as a communional event where participation precedes understanding is reflected in his conclusion that the ultimate reality, as a cornmunitarian reality, opens up the perspectives for unending knowledge. This perspective is radicalJy different from Lossky's total apophaticisrn which led him to affirm that "proper" theology "can only be mysrical.t''I" Also, ill Staniloae's thought, the ultimate reality represents a real metaphysics based on an "ontology of love." Again this is different from Lossky's identification of metaphysics with the mysticism of a "meta-ontology which only God can know. ,,104

Moreover, for Lossky the apophaticism of God led to the affirmation of the total unkuowability of God. For Staniloae, given his high view of the "rationality" of all existence, even apophaticism "throws an immense light over everything."!" Rather than bringing the darkness of the mystical experience, it brings the light of an ever deeper knowledge which is ill continuity with the rationality of the whole creation. To an assessment of the implications of Staniloae's epistemology at the level of

102Staniloae, 5£II1[a Treime, p. 7.

IOJYladimir N. Lossky, In' the Imsge and likeness ol God (Crestwood, NY:

St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1974), p. 29. 1()'llbidem, p. 123 ff.

105Staniloae, SliiIlta Treime, p. 19.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

the immanent Trinity we shall turn next; this involves an inquiry into the meaning of the supreme personal reality.

For Lossky, we have seen, the ultimate reality is "the triadic Henad or the Unitrinity" which surpasses any ontology, thus being the root of the only proper theology which cannot be other than mystical. For Sta niloae, the ultimate reality is the "hypostatizing of the superessence from which every created essence receives its existence;" as such it is a

I 1· 106

persona rea rty.

The totally transcendent nature of the essence of God is affirmed on the basis of the classical Orthodox distinction between the essence and the energies of God manifested in the created world in which human beings participate. What we know from and about God is what he reveals to us through his uncreated energies. His essence, although present in the energies, is still beyond any understanding.l'" Nevertheless, using PseudoDionysios the Areopagite and by virtue of his own drive towards a positivist epistemology, Staniloae attempts to qualify the essence of God. He starts fr0111 Pseudo-Dionysios' identification of God's essence with "existence in itself." As existing in itself and being the source of all other erea ted essences, God's essence is actually a "superessence." Staniloae, however, qualifies Dionysios' talk of a superesseuce with the Cappadocians' teaching that there is no real essence outside the hypostasis, as such, God's superessence is the "threefold divine hypostatic reality."lo8 Therefore, the support of all God's attributes, and indeed, the support of all existence, is this threefold hypostatic reality, or what he also calls the divine personal reality, or the su prerne personal reality.

The personal divine reality is undetermined in an eminent way because it is the hypostatizing of the superessence from which every created essence receives its existence. God can be said to be the Tripersonal superessence, or the superessential tripersonality. What this superessence is, we do not know. But it exists of itself; like any essence, however, it is not real except by the fact that it

bsi 1 . 11· . 109

su SlStS lypostatlca y, 111 persons.

'06Staniloae, Experience 0/ God, p. 129, and Teologis dogmatk;i ortodoici, vol. 1,

p. 151. .

I07It is worth noting that Staniloae and Romanian theologians tend to translate OUSla

as "being" rather than "essence" or "substance" (n. ed.).

IOSStaniloae, Experjef)ce 0/ God, p. 129.

Mystical Existentialism or Communitarian Participation?


Thus, neither the essence, nor the persons are at the foundation of the divine ontology. Introducing the concept of the personal divine reality prevents Staniloae from positing either the eseencelonsis or the person/hypost<lsi<; as the ultimate foundation for being. The first crucial implication is that, at the level of the divine ontology, the paradoxical balance between essence/ oasis and person/Jlypastasls is preserved. As such, there is no fallacious dialectical opposition between person and nature, between freedom and being, between freedom and rationality. For him, as for the Cappadocians, neither the person nor the essence has an ontological priority over the other. This paradoxical balance at the level of the divine ontology proclaimed by the Cappadocians is what Staniloae wants to express in his play on words when he calls God: the "Tripersonal superessence" or the "su peressential tripersonality."

Combining Dionysios and the Cappadocians, Staniloae creatively builds on his tradition and is able to surpass both Lossky's totally apophatic ontology (meta-ontology) and the more modern personalist ontologies of contemporary Orthodox theologians (Zizioulas and Yannaras). For Staniloae, at the foundation of all existence is neither a totally unknowable Unitrinity (Lossky'P) nor the One person of the Father (Zizioulas!"), but a personal reality which is paradoxically both "self-existence" and "communion of persons" at the same time. The mystery of the Holy Trinity consists precisely in the fact that neither the person nor an impersonal essence is at the heart of all existence (ontology), but a supreme personal reality which is both self-existent and comrnunitarian, As we shall see later, following an original re-working of the meaning of


"OLossky, "Theological Notion of Human Person," p. 29.

'11That the person of the Father is the ultimate ontological category in Zizioulas is acknowledged in almost every major work he has produced. See for instance: .J. Zizioulas, "The Meaning of the Second Ecumenical Council on rhe Holy Spirit in Historical and Ecumenical Perspective," in Credo jJJ Spin"runJ Sanctum (Vatican: Libreria Editrice Varicana, 1983), p. 45, and Idem, "The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity: The Significance of the Cappaclocian Contribution," in Christoph Schwebel, cd., Trinitsrien Theology Todey: Essays Of) Divine Being sud Acr (Edinburgh: T&T Clark: 1995), p. 54. For a critique of Zizioulas' ontological priority of the person of the Father, see Graham McFarlane, Christ find the Spin"r(Cariisle, UK: Paternoster, 1996), p. 45. McFarlane correctly argues thar "it is because all three, Father, Son, and Spirit, fully possess the one divine nature, that the Cappaclocians could safely talk of a monarchia and a causality from the Father, without inferring any ontological subordination" (p. 46), an argument with which Sraniloae would certainly agree.


Durnitru Staniloae: Tradition and Modernity in Theology

the word subject, Staniloae will use it to describe the nature of subject implied in this ultimate reaJity.ll2

This balanced understanding of the divine ontology represents a correction of both Western Augustinian essentialism and the more modern Orthodox mystical and/or personalist interpretations. The former has placed the essence at the foundation of the divine ontology, thus playing down the concept of the person.P" The latter, on the one hand in the form of Lossky's generalized apophaticism, resulted in de conceptualizing ontology and withdrawing in a mysterious "meta-ontology." This in turn led to the negative and unilateral definition of the person as "irreducibility to nature," thus resulting in a strongly fallacious dialectical opposition between the two.

On the other hand, Zizioulas' insistence on the ontological character of the person (quite rightly attempting to recover its ontological status) could yet result in an unbalanced ontology which tends to reduce existence to person, being to personology. This is most clearly reflected in his strongly dialectical opposition postulated between the personal God of the Bible and creation. 1 14 As such, the result is the same dialectical existentialist opposition between person and nature found in Lossky, albeit arrived at via a different avenue.

A secondary implication of the synthesis of the teachings of Dionysios with the Cappadocians is that, rather than being vulnerable to the criticism of going "beyond the Cappadocians," Staniloae actually uses them in order to safeguard Dionysios' teaching of the super essence of God as Orthodox. For Staniloae the category of person is an ontological category, yet not because of the primacy of the person, but because of the

112Staniloae, Experience 0/ God, p. 256: "Hence that subsistent essence which is supreme and spiritual is not a singular conscious subject but a community of subjects who are fully transparent."

113See the growing awareness of the failures of this position reflected both in modern \,\/estern theology and in the anthropology of the \Xlest. Cf. Colin E. Cunron, "Trinity, Ontology, and Anthropology: Towarels a Renewal of the Doctrine of the Imago Dei," in Christoph Schwebel and Colin E. Gunton, eels., Persons, Divine and Human (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1991).

114Ioan 1. Iea Jr., "Persoana sau/s] ontologie in gandirea ortodoxa conrernporana," in loan 1. lea Jr., ed., Persoerui >~i comuniune: Prinos de cinstire Pirintellii Prolesor Academician Dumirru Stiniioae ia implinires varstei de 90 de sn] (Sibiu, Romania: Editura Arhiepisco piei Ortodoxe Sibiu, 1993), p. 383.

Mystical Existentialism or Communitarian Participation?


character of the ultimate reality; being self-existent/existence per se, it cannot be other than personal and being personal, it is cornmunitarian. We are therefore presented with an excellent attempt both to balance self-existence with existence in communion and to put these two dimensions at the heart of all being.lLS

To summarize, ontology in Staniloae is, on the one hand, linked with existence per se which cannot be other than hypostatic, i.e., personal. However, on the other hand, existence per se is inconceivable within a monad, but it is possible within the interpersonal communion of the Holy Trinity. Therefore, ontology is also inter-personal or c01l1L11unitarian and as such it is governed by love. Consequently, the notion of personhood is at the root of all being, but not only as "persons-in-relation" but as a "self-existent reality too. This is a major step forward in the modern debate of the notion of personhood which has so much misplaced ontology either by identifying it with the person over against nature (existentialism and modern Orthodox personalism), or by denying it all together (post-modern deconstructivisrn!"). As we shall see, Staniloae's attempt to keep together the two fundamental dimensions of the divine personal reality, namely its self-existent character and its beingin-communion, has major implications for anthropology. We shall turn to an assessment of these implications next.

Anthropologicsl Implicstions. "The Person, Both Ditterent Form snd the Reelisstion of Nature" and Communitarien Participation

Like Lossky, Staniloae infers his anthropology from his understanding of God. However, in terms of his method we shall note from the outset that his high view of creation and the strong positivist drive which shapes his epistemology is reflected in the circularity one finds in his discourse of the human being and God. As such, the task of studying the dynamic interplay between the two (i.e., God and man) is a problematic task. For the moment, we shall unpack the implications of his balanced epistemology for the understanding of the human being. These can be traced both directly and indirectly.

115Sriiniloae, Experience of God, p. 131 ff.

116See Anthony C. Thiselron, Interpreting God «nd the Posrmodern Seil On Mesn'I)g, Msnipulsrion, «ud PrOIl1J~~e (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995).