The Miraculous Last Outpost of the Roman Empire

A pilgrim tour from Norway to Mount Athos

Text by Øystein Silouan Lid, Pictures by Torbjørn Fink & Panagiotis Pavlos
The majestic rocky Mount Athos, a natural outpost.

In this post I reproduce a beautiful article originally published in Norwegian, in the newspaper Dagen, from Bergen. It is about a tribute to Mount Athos, titled: ‘Mirakla i Romarrikets siste utpost‘ (‘The Miraculous Last Outpost of the Roman Empire’), written by the journalist Øystein Silouan Lid, who happened to travel to the Holy Mountain, in May 2016. The English translation was prepared by the author on the occasion of its publication on the portal, in August 2016. I am grateful to Øystein Silouan Lid for his permission to reproduce it here. Some of the pictures in this post are property of Torbjørn Fink, one of the members of the pilgrims group, to whom I am grateful as well.

The Church of Protaton, in Karyes, the capital of Mount Athos (photo by Torbjørn Fink).

This summer [2016 -ed.] ten Norwegians were granted an audience at The Holy Mountain, the last remaining part of the Roman Empire. The monks who live here tell stories of miracles and wonders as a normal part of everyday life. Mount Athos has been called the one place on planet earth that has changed least over the centuries. The Orthodox monks who dwell here, live as they did during medieval times, praying and working. They come to dedicate their lives completely to God, and the last thing they want is for the hard-to-reach peninsula to become a tourist attraction. Nevertheless, the monastic republic in northern Greece has a remarkable pull on people from all over the world.

When the famous CBS news magazine 60 minutes in 2009 asked permission to come do a story on The Holy Mountain, the request was categorically denied. It took two years of negotiating before one of the monasteries finally said yes. It was therefore not without trepidation that the Norwegian journalist set foot in Karyes, the administrative centre of Mount Athos, before setting off on foot towards the ancient monastery of Iviron.

East-north view of the Iviron Monastery.

The forest on each side of the footpath has a jungle-like appearance. Wild edible peas, dill and oregano grow in several places. Suddenly we notice the wonderful fragrance of incense – the smell is easily recognized from the Orthodox liturgy. Yet here we are, in the middle of the forest, and no one is swinging the censer. 

On the path from Karyes to Iviron Monastery. (T.F.)

Small signs and wonders such as these happen all the time here on Athos, says Panagiotis Pavlos. He is a scholar of philosophy at the University of Oslo, and presently our local guide. We are not far from the house of saint Paisios (1924-1994), regarded as one of the holiest men of the monastic peninsula. While he was alive people came by the thousands to visit him – on this very path. They were healed from all kinds of diseases, delivered from demons, and received spiritual counsel. It was said that his mere presence could change the hearts of the pilgrims who came to see him, and draw them towards Christ. Panagiotis was himself one of the many people who came to visit the saint’s kellion (monastic cell) in the forest, and is a friend of the monk who lives here today – father Arsenios.

– Christos anesti (Christ is risen)! Panagiotis cries out, and before long a man with a flowing beard is seen in the doorway.

Father Arsenios greets his old friend warmly and the Norwegians politely, before telling a few of the numerous stories of signs and wonders which took place right here in his cabin. A phenomenon father Arsenios tells us about, is the ability of saint Paisios to know what the guests would ask him, before even opening their mouths. 

– Once, a lawyer came to Mount Athos. He didn’t believe the stories about Paisios, and decided to put him to the test. He planned to present himself as a doctor, instead of a lawyer. When he arrived at the gate he found himself in a group of 50 people who all had come to see the saint. Elder Paisios opened his door, looked the lawyer straight in the eye, and said: “Go away, and take your lies with you to the court room”. The man never doubted again, says father Arsenios.

Outside the cabin of Saint Paisios, in Panagouda (T.F.)

The kind of Christianity preserved on Athos has a rather unique history. After the capitol of the Roman Empire fell to the occupying Muslim army in 1453, Mount Athos became the last remaining outpost of Imperium Romanum. Already in the year 972 it had been established as a self-governing monastic state within the empire by the emperor John the First, Tzimiskes. 

Today the «Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain» is the only republic where the banner of the Eastern Roman Empire – the characteristic double eagle – still can be seen waiving in the wind on top of official flag poles.

Mount Athos is today considered to be the spiritual centre of the Orthodox Church. Over 2.000 monks reside in the 20 operative monasteries, having dedicated their lives to prayer for the entire world.

Aproaching the Holy Mountain. (T.F.)

–The monks find the reason behind their monastic calling in the words by Jesus Christ (Matthew 19) regarding a life of celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God, about selling all belongings, giving to the poor, and following Christ, says father Johannes, the priest in St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Norway, as well as the spiritual guide of the group.

Fr. Johannes, fr. Seraphim and Øystein Lid, at the south gate of Iviron Monastery.

During the stay we live in three-bed, four-bed and eight-bed rooms in different monasteries, and take part in the daily lives of the monks. The services often start at 3 o’clock in the morning, and there are only two daily meals. They are all vegetarian and last for a grand total of ten minutes. 

The pilgrims thus have more time for conversation and getting to know one another. All of them have a Lutheran background. Two of them, Lars Karlsøen and Bjørn Skauen, have even been priests in The Lutheran state church of Norway. Several of them have sought refuge in the Orthodox Church from what they see as heresy, modernism and worldly influence in Protestantism.

– I experienced that the Norwegian state church no longer had room for me. When I am here on Athos and see the spiritual riches of the Orthodox tradition, I can’t help thinking that Martin Luther made a great mistake in doing away with monasticism. The monasteries are guarantors of right doctrine, and the monks are models for the laymen when it comes to worship and obedience, says Karlsøen.

– The first time I visited an Orthodox church the liturgy was in a language I did not understand. Even so, I experienced it and tears started flowing, says Thorleif Grønnestad. He converted over 10 years ago, and is today in charge of typica services in his home town Sandnes. 

Still, they do not paint a rosy red picture of the situation in The Orthodox Church. In some places the organization is poor, in others there are issues of nationalism. One of the pilgrims, Dag Markeng, has a striking comment.

– When I became Orthodox in 1983, my sponsor said something that I have found to be true. It won’t be easy being Orthodox – but it will be worth it.

One of the richest and most beautiful monasteries we visit, is called Vatopedi, established in the 5th century. Golden coins, gilded chalices and spectacular church art is everywhere. But it is also the home of a great treasure not made from gold, but from camel hair – preserved from the earliest times of Christianity.

The Holy Monastery of Vatopedion.

– This is the belt of the Virgin Mary, says the monk Evstathios.

According to written sources the belt was preserved in Jerusalem until the year 400. After being in Constantinople for some years, it was given to the monastery of Vatopedi as a gift. 

– This belt didn’t only perform miracles at one point in history, but to this very day. Every 14th day or so we receive messages from all over the world from people who have been healed or helped after having been in contact with the belt, says father Evstathios.

The Orthodox claim that in the same way as God performed miracles through even the clothes of the apostle Peter (Acts 19, 12), the same thing happens through the belt of the Theotokos. Father Evstathios point to a series of strange stories related to the belt. Especially childless couples are helped, but many different diseases have also been cured. 

– An oncologist from Switzerland came to see us and was given a few bottles of oil. He himself did not believe the stories, but he wanted to conduct some experiments after having heard about the phenomenon. He gave it to all the patients who were close to the terminal phase. Some did not survive, but two of his patients were fully healed. He came back to us in the monastery and told us about it. We don’t know why some are healed and others are not, but we use the oil in faith, and see what God wants to do, says father Evstathios. 

Each of the Norwegian pilgrims are given a bottle, and father Johannes are given several – for use in the Orthodox Church in Norway.

Towards the end of the stay the Norwegians hear a rumour about a Scandinavian monk at one of the monasteries they were visiting – Karakallou. After having met mostly Greek monks on Athos it makes an impression to meet a monk with glittering blue eyes and a long read beard. Father Prothromos is from Finland, and speaks some Swedish. As it turns out that also he has a Lutheran background. 

– How did you become orthodox, father?

– I went into an Orthodox Church one, and was so struck by the liturgy that tears started flowing. I realized immediately that I had to belong here, the monk says, echoing the story many of the Norwegian converts carry with them. 

Soon after his conversion 20 years ago, father Prodromos travelled to the Holy Mountain. Now he is head of the guest house in the monastery, and has had to learn several languages. 

– How is life here in the monastery?

– It is very good. Since the monastery of Karakallou is not as large as the others (number 11 on the internal ranking among the 20 monasteries), it is not as busy as some of the rest. So I have plenty of time to focus on prayer, says father Prodromos, reminding us about what really matters in life.

Κομματικὴ ἰδιοτέλεια τοῦ καθ᾽ ἕκαστον καὶ πολιτικὴ ἀνιδιοτέλεια τοῦ καθ᾽ ὅλου

* Τὸ παρακάτω κείμενο γράφηκε ἐδῶ, στὸ Ὄσλο, τὸν Ἰανουάριο τοῦ 2015, μὲ ἀφορμὴ τὴν πολιτικὴ κατάσταση πραγμάτων στὴν Ἑλλάδα, μὲ τὸν ἀρχικὸ τίτλο: ̔Ἐν ὅψει τῆς 25ης Γενάρη 2015 ̓. Ξανακοιτάζοντάς το ὅμως σήμερα, διαπιστώνω ὅτι δυστυχῶς, παραμένει ἐπίκαιρο. Τὸ μόνο ποὺ ἔχει ἐπισυμβεῖ εἶναι ἡ ἐπὶ τὰ χείρω ἐξέλιξη πολλῶν πολιτικῶν πραγμάτων ἐν Ἑλλάδι τοῦ 2019 – πράγματα ποὺ ὅταν κανεὶς τὰ ἐπισημαίνει ταυτοποιείται αὐτομάτως τουλάχιστον ὡς πάσχων τὴν ἔλλειψη διεθνιστικοῦ ἀλτρουισμοῦ – καὶ ἡ συνήθης κυκλικὴ ἀντιστροφὴ ρόλων, ποὺ ὁ ἀναγνώστης ἀμέσως θὰ ἀντιληφθεὶ. Ἑπομένως, τὸ τηρῶ αὐτούσιο παρὰ τὸ φαινομενικῶς ἄκαιρον ὁρισμένων σημείων του⋅ ἄλλωστε, γνωρίζουμε καλὰ ἤδη ἀπὸ τὸν καιρὸ τοῦ Θουκυδίδη ὅτι στὸ διάβα τῆς ἑλληνικῆς ἱστορίας εἶναι πάγιες οἱ κρίσιμες στιγμὲς στὶς ὁποῖες ὁ λαὸς καλεῖται ἐκ τῶν πραγμάτων νὰ ἀποδεικνύει τὸ βαθμὸ ἐπαγρύπνισής του.

Ἀφουγκραζόμενος τὸν Γολγοθᾶ τὸν ὁποῖο ἀνέρχεται ἡ πλειοψηφία τῆς ἑλληνικῆς κοινωνίας, ζώντας ἀπὸ ἀπόσταση τὴν ἀγωνία ἐκατομμυρίων ἀνθρώπων ποὺ δίνουν καθημερινὰ μάχες ἀγωνιζόμενοι γιὰ τὰ στοιχειώδη σὲ ἕνα σχεδὸν ἐν συνόλῳ καταρρακωμένο κράτος (παρὰ τοὺς πασιφανῶς οὐτοπικοὺς περὶ τοῦ ἀντιθέτου ἰσχυρισμοὺς τῆς παραπαίουσας, γιὰ μία ἀκόμη φορά, δυστυχῶς, πολιτικῆς ἠγεσίας), αἰσθάνεσαι τὰ χιλιάδες χιλιόμετρα ἀπόστασης ποὺ σὲ χωρίζουν ἀπὸ τὸν τόπο τοῦ μαρτυρίου ἐξ αἴφνης νὰ μηδενίζονται. Ἐλλείψει ἄλλων δυνάμεων συνδρομῆς πρὸς τοὺς ἀναξιοπαθοῦντες ἀναζητᾶς τρόπους ἔμμεσης στήριξης. Αὐτὴ ἡ ἀναζήτηση σὲ ὁδηγεῖ νὰ συλλογισθεῖς ζητήματα ποὺ νιώθεις ὅτι πρέπει -ἂν ὄχι νὰ ἀπαντηθοῦν- τουλάχιστον νὰ τεθοῦν ἀπὸ κάθε πολίτη, ὁ οποῖος γιὰ μία ἀκόμη φορὰ θὰ ἐπιδιώξει τὴν προσεχὴ Κυριακὴ νὰ ἐνσαρκώσει μὲ τὴν ψῆφο του μια ελπίδα σωτηρίας.

Ἡ κρισιμότητα τῶν περιστάσεων καὶ ἡ τραγικότητα τῆς φάσης αὐτῆς τῆς ἱστορίας ποὺ διανύουμε προκαλοῦν τὴν διατύπωση ἑνὸς ἀσυνήθους, καίριου, ὡστόσο, ἐρωτήματος: γιὰ ποιὸ λόγο οἱ Ἕλληνες πολίτες δὲν λαμβάνουν σοβαρὰ ὑπ’ ὄψιν τὴν ξεκάθαρη θέση τοῦ Ἰσραηλίτη ἄρχοντα καὶ βασιλέως τῆς ἀρχαιότητας Δαυίδ, ὁ οποῖος προτρέπει καὶ παροτρύνει: ῾μὴν πιστεύετε σὲ ἄρχοντες, σὲ παιδιὰ ἀνθρώπων⋅ είναι αδύνατον αὐτοὶ νὰ σᾶς προσφέρουν σωτηρία᾽ (Ψαλμός 145, 3: ‘Μὴ πεποίθατε ἐπ ̓ ἄρχοντας ἐπὶ υἱοὺς ἀνθρώπων, οἷς οὐκ ἔστι σωτηρία’); Φαίνεται ὅτι ἡ προτροπὴ αὐτὴ τοῦ Δαυίδ φέρει ἕνα καίριο πολιτικὸ περιεχόμενο, ἀπολύτως χρήσιμο καὶ συνάμα ̔φωτογραφικά ̓ ταιριαστὸ στοὺς Ἕλληνες.

Ὁ λόγος;

Διαθέτουμε ὡς λαὸς μία μοναδική, πανίσχυρη ἰκανότητα –τόσο ἰσχυρὴ ποὺ ὅταν δὲν τὴν ἐλέγχουμε μᾶς ὁδηγεῖ μαθηματικὰ στὸν ἀφανισμό- νὰ προσκολλώμαστε σχεδὸν ψυχοπαθολογικὰ στοὺς ἡγέτες μας. Αὐτὴ ἡ προσκόλληση εὐθύνεται κατὰ κύριο λόγο γιὰ δύο τινά. Ἀφ ̓ ἑνός, γιὰ τὸ γεγονὸς ὅτι ἐξακολουθοῦμε νὰ λατρεύουμε τὰ πολιτικὰ πρόσωπα –ἡ ἀνάλυση αὐτὴ ὑπερβαίνει κάθε συγκεκριμένο πολιτικὸ χῶρο- μολονότι ἡ ἱστορία ἤδη καταγράφει ἐγκληματικὲς εὐθύνες εἰς βάρος ὅλων ὅσοι ἔχουν προδώσει ἐπανειλημμένα ὡς τώρα –καὶ συνεχίζουν νὰ τὸ πράττουν- τὶς ὑγιεῖς προσδοκίες τοῦ ἑλληνικοῦ λαοῦ, ἐνῶ ἔχουν ἀναδείξει μὲ τὴν πολιτικὴ πράξη -καὶ ἐνίοτε φαυλότητά- τους τὶς χειρότερες ἀδυναμίες του. Ἀφ ̓ ἑτέρου, γιὰ τὸ ὅτι εἴμαστε συχνὰ ἀνίκανοι νὰ ἀπομονώσουμε ὅποιον ἡ συνείδησή μας μᾶς καταμαρτυρᾶ ὅτι βλάπτει τὸν τόπο. Ἐδῶ ὁ ̔τόπος ̓ θὰ πρέπει νὰ κατανοηθεῖ καὶ μὲ τὴν ἔννοια τοῦ ̔χώρου ̓. Εἶναι καίριο νὰ μὴν βλάπτεται ὁ τόπος, καθὼς ἔχει μεγίστη σημασία ὡς χῶρος, ὅπως ἔχει πολλαπλὰ ἐπισημάνει καὶ ὁ Παναγιώτης Κονδύλης, παρὰ τὶς ἐσφαλμένες δημόσιες ἐκτιμήσεις ἑνὸς πρώην Πρωθυπουργοῦ ἀλλὰ καὶ ἑνὸς ἄλλου ἀρχηγοῦ νεοσύστατου κόμματος, οἱ ὁποῖοι προκρίνουν μίαν ἀκαθόριστη ἔννοια ̔εὐημερίας τοῦ λαοῦ ̓ ἀκόμη καὶ εἰς βάρος τῆς γῆς του, χωρὶς νὰ φαίνεται νὰ ἀντιλαμβάνονται τὸν ἐγκληματικὸ κίνδυνο αὐτοῦ τοῦ στοιχειώδους λογικοῦ σφάλματος.

Ἡ τυφλὴ προσκόλληση σὲ ἀνθρώπους στοὺς ὁποίους ἡ ἀνάθεση τῆς μοίρας τοῦ τόπου γίνεται μὲ κύριο κριτήριο τὸν ἐνθουσιασμό, τὴν συναισθηματικὴ ἔξαρση καὶ τὴ συνακόλουθη ψυχολογικὴ ἐξάρτηση τοῦ ψηφοφόρου ἀπὸ τὸ πρόσωπο τοῦ ῾ἡγέτη᾽, ἀπορρέουν ἀπὸ μία θεμιτή, ἀνιδιοτελῆ κατ ̓ ἀρχήν, συμπάθεια, εὐπιστία καὶ τυφλὴ ἐμπιστοσύνη πρὸς τὸ (πολιτικό) πρόσωπο, στοιχεῖα τὰ ὁποῖα εἶναι χαρακτηριστικὰ τῆς ἀρετῆς τοῦ ἑλληνικοῦ λαοῦ ἐν γένει. Αὐτὴ ἡ ἀρετὴ ὅμως συχνὰ μετατρέπεται σὲ ἰδιοτελῆ προσκόλληση ἡ ὁποία συνεπάγεται τὴν ἐν τέλει τύφλωση τοῦ πολίτη, ὁ ὁποῖος τότε πλέον εὐθύνεται γιὰ τὸ παράδοξο τῶν ἡμερῶν νὰ διεκδικοῦν ἐκ νέου τὴν ψῆφο τῶν Ἑλλήνων πολιτικὰ ὄντα τὰ ὁποῖα ἔχουν ὁδηγήσει τὸν λαὸ σὲ βιωμένη καταστροφή.

Ἕνα δεύτερο ζήτημα ποὺ τίθεται σὲ συνάρτηση μὲ τὰ προηγούμενα εἶναι: ἔχουμε, ἄραγε, οἱ Ἕλληνες συνείδηση τοῦ διακυβεύματος τὸ ὁποῖο ἡ πολιτικὴ πράξη καὶ ἐν προκειμένῳ τὸ συνταγματικὸ δικαίωμα τῆς 25ης Ἰανουαρίου καλεῖται νὰ διαχειριστεῖ; Ἔχουμε ἰδία γνώση, ἐπίγνωση τοῦ διακυβεύματος, ἤ ἀποκοιμόμαστε στὴ ναρκωτικὴ μαγεία τοῦ πλεονάζοντος πολιτικοῦ ψεύδους; Ἑνὸς ψεύδους ποὺ ἐπιχειρεῖ νὰ σχετικοποιήσει τὸ διακύβευμα ἀλλοιώνοντάς το καὶ προσαρμόζοντάς το στα μέτρα καὶ σταθμὰ τῆς ἑκάστοτε πολιτικῆς ἰσχύος τῶν κομμάτων;

Ὁ βασιλέας καὶ προφήτης Δαυίδ φαίνεται νὰ ἔχει σαφῆ γνώση καὶ συνείδηση τοῦ πολιτικοῦ παιγνίου, γι’ αὐτὸ καὶ εἶναι παράδοξα εὐθύς, ὅταν αὐτός, ἕνας πανίσχυρος ἄρχοντας ὁ ἴδιος, προειδοποιεῖ τὸν λαό του ὅτι μὲ τοὺς ἄρχοντες δὲν ὑπάρχει σωτηρία.


Διότι σωτηρία σημαίνει ἀκεραιότητα. Ἡ ἀκεραιότητα ὅμως σημαίνει ἑνότητα, ἡ ὁποία πάντως προϋποθέτει τὸ ὅλον. Τὸ ὅλον, ὅμως, de facto δὲν μπορεῖ νὰ ὑπηρετεῖται ἀπὸ κομματικοὺς σχηματισμούς. Διότι αὐτοί ἀποδέχονται ἐκ τῶν πραγμάτων μόνον θεωρητικὰ τὸ ῾῾ἡ ἰσχὺς ἐν τῇ ἑνώσει᾽᾽, καθὼς στὴν πολιτικὴ πράξη τους υἱοθετοῦν τὸ ῾῾ἡ ἰσχὺς ἐν τῇ πολώσει᾽᾽, ὑπηρετώντας ἔτσι τὸ ῾῾διαίρει καὶ βασίλευε᾽᾽ πρὸς ὤφελος τῶν ξένων ἰσχυρῶν παικτῶν (συμμάχων). Ἔτσι, ὅμως, προφανῶς, δὲν ὑπάρχει σωτηρία.

Σκεπτόμενος κατ᾽ αὐτὸν τὸν τρόπο, μπορεῖ κανεὶς νὰ ἀξιολογήσει καὶ νὰ ἐκτιμήσει τὶς προθέσεις καὶ ἐκείνων οἱ ὁποῖοι, μὴ ἔχοντας ὑπάρξει ποτὲ ὡς τῶρα σὲ κυβερνητικὲς θέσεις, ἤ, ἔστω, σὲ κόμματα ἐξουσίας, ἐπιζητοῦν ἤδη τὴν ψῆφο τοῦ ἑλληνικοῦ λαοῦ ἐπιστρατεύοντας τὴν ὑπόσχεση γιὰ ῾῾κυβέρνηση ὅλου τοῦ λαοῦ᾽᾽, ὅλων τῶν Ἑλλήνων. Αὐτὸ εἶναι εὐχῆς ἔργο, βεβαίως. Φαίνεται, ὅμως, εἶτε οἱ τοιοῦτοι νὰ ἐθελοτυφλοῦν εἶτε νὰ ἀγνοοῦν καὶ αὐτοὶ ὅτι κυβέρνηση τοῦ ὅλου καὶ κόμμα -ἔστω καὶ ἐκ πολλῶν συνιστωσῶν συνιστάμενο- δὲν μποροῦν νὰ συνυπάρξουν. Ἡ αὐτοδυναμία ὅταν ἐπιδιώκεται εἰς βάρος ἄλλων, μολονότι θεωρεῖται ἐπιτυχία αὐτοῦ ποὺ τὴν ἐξασφαλίζει, συνιστᾶ ἀδυναμία καὶ ἀποτυχία γιὰ τὸ ὅλον. Ἡ πολιτικὴ ρητορεία, ἄλλωστε, τοῦ δικομματισμοῦ τὸ ἀπέδειξε αὐτὸ περίτρανα ἐπὶ δεκαετίες, ἀφοῦ στὸ ἰδεολογικό της ῾῾ὅλον᾽᾽ δὲν χώρεσε τὸ ὀντολογικὸ ῾῾καθ’ ἕκαστον᾽᾽, μὲ συνέπεια, τὰ ἰδεολογήματα ΠΑΣΟΚ καὶ ΝΔ, ἀριστερᾶς–δεξιᾶς, διεθνισμοῦ- ἐθνικισμοῦ, προόδου–συντηρητισμοῦ, σοσιαλισμοῦ-φιλελευθερισμοῦ, νὰ ἔχουν πλέον ὁδηγήσει τὸν λαὸ στὴν ταπείνωση, τὸν ἐξευτελισμὸ καὶ τὴν ἐξαθλίωση.

Ἴσως εἶναι πιὰ καιρός, μὲ τὴν συμπλήρωση 190 χρόνων κομματικοῦ πολιτικοῦ βίου στὸν ἑλλαδικὸ χῶρο καὶ 40 χρόνων μεταπολίτευσης, νὰ συνειδητοποιήσουμε καὶ νὰ ἀναλογιστοῦμε ἔμπρακτα ὅτι, αὐτὸς ὁ λαὸς ἀξίζει σωτηρίας, ἀξίζει ἑνότητας καὶ, ἄρα, ἔχουμε χρέος ὡς ῾῾καθ᾽ ἕκαστον᾽᾽ νὰ ὑπερασπιστοῦμε τὸ ῾῾καθ’ ὅλου᾽᾽.

Ἀξίζει, ὡς πολίτες φέροντες ψῆφο νὰ ὑπηρετήσουμε παντί τρόπῳ τὴν πάσης φύσεως ἀκεραιότητα αὐτοῦ τοῦ τόπου καὶ αὐτοῦ τοῦ λαοῦ, ἀντιμετωπίζοντας δανειστὲς καὶ πάσης φύσεως σωτῆρες μὲ μία πυγμὴ, παύοντας νὰ ἀναθέτουμε παρελθόν, παρὸν καὶ μέλλον σὲ ὁλίγιστους, ὁλιγάρχες καὶ ὁλιγαρχομένους, σὲ ἀνθρώπους τῶν ὁποίων οἱ ἰδεολογικὲς ἀγκυλώσεις καὶ στρεβλώσεις, ὁ πολιτικὸς ἀμοραλισμός, ἡ ἔλλειψη ἠθικῆς ἀκεραιότητας καὶ σοφίας δὲν τοὺς ἐπιτρέπουν νὰ δοῦν τὸ ὅλον στὸ κάθε ἐπιμέρους, μὲ συνέπεια νὰ εἶναι ἀδιάφοροι καὶ ἀνίκανοι γιὰ τὴ σωτηρία τῶν μὴ ταυτιζομένων μὲ τὴν δική τους ἑτερότητα.

Ἀς ἐπιβάλουμε, ἐπιτέλους, στὸ βαθμὸ ποὺ ἐξαρτᾶται ἀπὸ τὴν ψῆφο μας, τὸ τέλος τῆς κομματοκρατίας καὶ τοῦ κατακερματισμοῦ, κραυγάζοντας στοὺς ἐκπροσώπους μας στὸ Ἑλληνικὸ Κοινοβούλιο ὅτι ὀφείλουν στὸν ἑλληνικὸ λαό, αὐτοὺς ποὺ εἶναι τῶρα ἐδῶ, ὅσους ἔφυγαν καὶ ἐκείνους ποὺ εἶναι νά ̓ρθουν, τὸ χρέος τῆς ἑνότητας.

Σκέψεις αναφορικά με το αν ο άγαμος κλήρος (και ο μοναχισμός εν γένει) απέχει ουσιωδώς από τα του εγγάμου βίου

Αφορμή για το σύντομο αυτό σημείωμα στάθηκε το κείμενο ῾῾Αρκεί άραγε μόνο η γνώση;᾽᾽ του π. Χρήστου Αιγίδη, που δημοσιεύθηκε στη, την Δευτέρα, 9 Ιουλίου 2018. Ως αιτία, στέκεται η συχνά απαντώμενη από τον γράφοντα αντίληψη περί του ότι ο άγαμος κλήρος (ή/και ο μοναχισμός) δεν είναι σε θέση να γνωρίζει, κι επομένως να συμβουλεύει ορθά και επαρκώς τους εγγάμους, καθότι είναι άμοιρος των ιδιαζουσών συνθηκών και των προκλήσεων που ο έγγαμος βίος παρουσιάζει.

Καταρχήν, να σημειώσω ότι η αντιδιαστολή βιώματος και γνώσεως που εγείρεται στον συμπερασμό ότι ῾῾όλοι οι Πατέρες συμφωνούν ότι η Πνευματική Ζωή είναι κυρίως βίωμα και όχι γνώση᾽᾽ μαρτυρεί αφενός μια ελλιπή αντίληψη του βιώματος και ασφαλώς μια τεχνητή, δηλαδή μη ρεαλιστική, απεικόνιση του τί είναι γνώση εντός της Ορθόδοξης παράδοσης. Δεν θέλω να κουράσω τον αναγνώστη. Αλλά ανακαλώ, έτσι πολύ πρόχειρα, αυτό που ο Άγιος Διονύσιος ο Αρεοπαγίτης γράφει στο Περί Θείων Ονομάτων, ότι, δηλαδή, κανείς ῾῾πάσχει καὶ μανθάνει τὰ θεία᾽᾽.

Προς αποφυγή παρεξηγήσεως η οποία ενδέχεται να προκληθεί από την συμπύκνωση του επιχειρήματος που προκύπτει με την καταφυγή μου στον Αρεοπαγίτη, θα ήθελα να εξηγηθώ ως εξής. Ασφαλώς, ο Αρεοπαγίτης, όταν μιλάει περί πάθους και μαθήσεως των θείων, αναφέρεται στο πώς ο Θεός γνωρίζεται: όχι ως γνώση θετική, θετικιστική, αλλά ως βίωμα, ως Πρόσωπο. Και ασφαλώς, μπορεί καταρχήν, να ξενίσει τον αναγνώστη το ότι επικαλούμαι την συγκεκριμένη αίσθηση κι εμπειρία του Αρεοπαγίτη στο ζήτημα που θίγει ο π. Αιγίδης στο κείμενό του, και το οποίο με παρακίνησε σε αυτό το σημείωμα, δηλαδή σε όλα τα του γάμου δύσκολα. Αλλά, μήπως, εν συνεχεία, θα διαφωνήσει κανείς ότι, εντός της Ορθόδοξης αλήθειας, ζωής και παράδοσης, ο Γάμος είναι το Μυστήριο εκείνο το οποίο οδηγεί, διαμέσου της Σταυρικής δοτικότητας εκάστου εις τον άλλον, στη θέα του Θεού; Όπως εξίσου οδηγεί στο ίδιο Τέλος ο Μοναχικός βίος; Αν δεν υπάρχουν πολλοί διαφωνούντες, τότε με χαρά θα μπορούσα να συμπεράνω κι εγώ με τους συμφωνούντες ότι, το βίωμα είναι γνώση και η αληθής γνώση βίωμα, όχι μόνον στο Χώρο της Θεολογίας αλλά και στο χώρο της Οικονομίας, δηλαδή της καθημερινής ανθρώπινης πραγματικότητας.

Αν, τώρα, το βίωμα είναι γνώση και η γνώση βίωμα και, αν αυτό ισχύει στο χώρο του κτιστού, δηλαδή στο χώρο εκείνο τον έμπλεω Θείας Ενέργειας, τότε ποιος είναι εκείνος που θα μπορούσε να αρνηθεί μια τέτοια γνώση στους ανθρώπους, απλώς και μόνον επειδή προέρχεται από την ῾῾άλλη εκδοχή του βίου᾽᾽, την έγγαμη ή την μοναστική, αναλόγως;

Έρχομαι σε ένα δεύτερο σημείο. Λέει ο π. Αιγίδης: ῾῾Πώς θα σας φαινόταν λοιπόν αν σε κάποιο Μοναχικό Συνέδριο ανέπτυσσε Εισήγηση ένας Έγγαμος Κληρικός και σαρκικός πατέρας πολλών παιδιών με θέμα ῾Το κάλλος της Παρθενίας᾽ ή ῾Τα Μοναχικά Ιδεώδη᾽.

Η αλήθεια είναι, ότι διαβάζοντας αυτό το ερώτημα, υιοθετώ αμέσως την επακόλουθη διατύπωση του συγγραφέα, αλλά σε διαφορετική κατεύθυνση: ῾῾Μόνο που το βλέπω ή το ακούω μου φαίνεται πολύ παράξενο ή ακόμα και παράταιρο᾽᾽. Η αίσθηση που μού γεννιέται εδώ είναι κάπως περίεργη και εικάζω ότι προκαλείται από το γεγονός ότι η εν λόγω παραδοχή, ούτε λίγο ούτε πολύ, αποδέχεται ότι και εντός του Σώματος της Εκκλησίας υπάρχουν Τεχνοκράτες: οι μεν της εγγάμου οι δε της αγάμου ερωτικής ζωής. Και έτσι, όπως η σύγχρονη μορφή οικονομίας έχει εξουθενώσει την πολιτική φύση της κοινωνίας εκβιάζοντας την θέσπιση των οικονομο-τεχνοκρατών ως αποκλειστικώς αρμοδίων περί της πόλεως, εξίσου, η σύγχρονη εκδοχή της Ποιμαντικής, έχω την εντύπωση ότι, πάει να εξουθενώσει την Θεοειδώς παρακατιανή φύση της κοινωνίας προσώπων. Και για να μην παρεξηγηθώ, διαβάζοντας την λέξη ῾῾παρθενία᾽᾽ φέρω κατά νου το όλον της παρθενίας, σώματος και ψυχής.

Επιπλέον: ποιά είναι, πράγματι, η διαφορά μοναχού και λαϊκού; Είναι μόνον, και απλώς, η χρήση ή μη χρήση της φύσεως κατά ορισμένο τρόπο; Και αν κάτι τέτοιο ίσχυε, τότε, πώς θα έπρεπε να κατανοήσουμε το ότι ῾῾μοναχός ἐστι ὁ πάντων χωρισθεὶς καὶ πάσι συνηρμοσμένος᾽᾽; Μήπως, παραδείγματος χάριν, ο ορισμός αυτός δεν αφορά και αυτήν ακριβώς την πρόκληση που αντιμετωπίζει, στο δικό του μέτρο, ο γονιός που καλείται να ισορροπήσει κατά την αναχώρηση των παιδιών του; Ή, μήπως, για να πάω πολύ νωρίτερα, δεν είναι αυτός ο κατεξοχήν θεμελιώδης, αξιωματικός τρόπος της ανιδιοτελούς αγάπης στον οποίο καλούνται οι σύζυγοι να αγωνιστούν και να διαπρέψουν, χωριζόμενοι όχι τόπω από τον άλλον αλλά τρόπω από την ανάγκη χρήσης του άλλου;

Επί του πρακτικότερου πεδίου: Αν, ας υποθέσουμε, υπάρχει κάποιου είδους ανάγκη για σαφή ῾῾κατανομή συμβουλευτικών αρμοδιοτήτων βάσει καταλληλότητας᾽᾽, βάσει τύπου βίου (εγγάμου ή μοναστικού), τότε έχω την εξής πολύ απλή απορία. Πώς θα δικαιολογήσουμε την απειρία πλήθους ευεργετικών λόγων, συμβουλών, προτροπών για τη δημιουργία, σύσταση, διαφύλαξη και άνθιση οικογενειών που -ας μην πάμε πολύ μακριά- σύγχρονοι Όσιοι (άγαμοι), της εποχής μας, έδωσαν κατ᾽ ιδίαν μεν σε συνανθρώπους μας, εν δήμω δε διαμέσου της αγιοκατάταξής τους και της γνωστοποίησης σε όλους του βίου και των λόγων τους; Αλλά, και πόσοι άλλοι Άγιοι (έγγαμοι) δεν καθίστανται καθημερινά υπόδειγμα μοναχικού βίου για τους αγάμους, μοναχούς ή/και λαϊκούς; Τα ονόματα είναι πολλά. Ενδεικτικά, όλοι τους γνωρίζουμε: Άγιοι Πορφύριος, Παΐσιος, Ιάκωβος, Αρχιεπίσκοπος Λουκάς…

Κάτι τελευταίο. Για τα Συνέδρια. Κάποτε κάποιος είπε ότι στα συνέδρια κρύπτεται καλά το Αληθές. Νομίζω ότι, αν, πέραν της γενίκευσης, η πρόταση έχει αλήθεια, αυτή συνοψίζεται, έχω την αίσθηση, στο ότι τα Θαυμάσια, όπως ακριβώς ῾η φύσις κρύπτεσθαι φιλεί᾽ κατά τον Ηράκλειτο, ενεργούνται κυρίως εν κρυπτώ. Και άρα, ασφαλώς θα μού φαινόταν κι εμένα περίεργο, αν όχι απογοητευτικό, αν υπήρχαν μοναχοί που θα προσέβλεπαν στη συμμετοχή τους σε κάποιο Μοναστικό συνέδριο, ώστε να μάθουν για τα περί του βίου τους από κάποιον έγγαμο. Είμαι, ωστόσο, απολύτως βέβαιος, ότι υπάρχουν πολλοί μοναχοί, στο Άγιο Όρος και σε άλλους τόπους, που όχι μόνον ῾μαθαίνουν᾽ για τις δυσκολίες του εγγάμου βίου, αλλά και μαθαίνουν από αυτές.

Αυτά που γράφω ανωτέρω, τελούν, ασφαλώς, υπό δύο αιρέσεις: α) μέχρις ότου βρεθεί κάποιος να μας διαβεβαιώσει ποιά εκκοπή θελήματος είναι πιο επώδυνη: αυτή που προκαλείται από τον Γέροντα ή από τον/την/τα σύζυγο/παιδιά, και β) το ότι όλοι, άπαντες, έχουμε επίγνωση ότι ο δρόμος μας είναι η αγιότητα…

* Το κείμενο αυτό δημοσιεύθηκε για πρώτη φορά στον ιστότοπο

Sketchy thoughts on Good and Evil (part I)

Quite a time ago a friend had asked me to write to him about how do I define Good and Evil, and what do they mean to me. I had pondered on the issue and provided him an answer, which I reproduce here without modifications; it might be of some interest. Not much has changed in my views, I believe.

My friend, thank you for your question. I shall start by providing you with the original Greek terms for Good and Evil. Secondly, I shall give you a rough outline of the grounds Good and Evil are established on in the Greek philosophical tradition and thought, both pagan and Christian. Then, I will write about some fundamental distinctions that will allow you to understand what I am about to claim, namely that:

a. The Good is ontologically identical with: love, beauty, goodness, truth, wisdom, unity, being, life, peace, freedom. On the moral level, you can add all the derivatives of the above, plus, for instance, benevolence, stillness, unselfishness, etc. This has become partly clear by the Greeks 2-3 thousand years ago, but the experiential understanding of it culminated in its theoretical constructions ca. 1500 years ago.

b. Evil is ontologically validated as a paradox reality. For it is about: lack, privation, chaos, destruction, deprivation of substance and form, in fact, Evil is about non-being, and It is non-being itself. But it is not non-being in a way exceeding being, but in a way of absolute nothingness. Could you imagine that? I admit, I have difficulties in imagining it. For, we are beings and as such our relation with corruption is only accidental, partial and never complete. Obviously, we will never reach that state of “non-state”, and even if we did, it wouldn’t allow us to know anything about it. For knowledge is only knowledge of something, and a ‘something’ is already a being! The best the human mind can do, is to depict Evil in ontologically positive ways. All I mean is that the worst version of Evil the human mind can think of, with or without speculation, is an evil ‘entity’, yet a being.

But let’s move on.


A. For the word Good the Greek word options are: 1. ἀγαθός; grammatically masculine genre (Greek has three concrete identifications of nouns, reflected almost always in the suffix of the words: masculine, feminine, neutral). Used both as adjective and noun, the term is extensively used in the literature, since its origins with Homer, to predicate both God, a good man and/or an animal. 2. ἀγαθό(ν); grammatically neutral, predicating material and immaterial things. When predicating immaterial ‘matters’ it serves as adjective, whereas in predicating material goods is holding a noun’s value.

B. For the word Evil the Greek term is: κακό(ν); it is grammatically neutral, and this makes already a point about the understanding of Evil. (There is, similarly to the above, a broadly used masculine word (κακός), but it is always serving as adjective, and thus we don’t need to expand over this since the scope of your question is rather metaphysical than moral. You may see in the Greek literature, Christian – non-Christian, Ancient, Medieval and Modern, pagan and non-pagan, that evil(s) is always rendered either in the singular κακόν, or in the plural κακά.


Greek philosophy, whether in antiquity, late antiquity, early christian times, Byzantium, or the modern times, has always clearly distinguished between Metaphysics / Ontology, Epistemology, and Ethics. But never, among the Greeks these directions become segregated and split from each other: a radical distinction between Metaphysics and Ethics started within western Medieval thought and now, of course, these fields have become so remote from each other as the earth is remoted from the sun. For the Greeks the discussion on the first principles of the Cosmos, the origin and the nature of beings, the constitution and the function of human knowledge, as well as the proper way of living, have always been unified and united, so that morality was a natural outcome of wisdom. This is a very very sketchy outline which can help you to place a discussion on Good and Evil, within Greek civilisation and tradition of thought, whether pagan or Christian. Moreover, one might bear in mind that the Greeks have never been living without religion, namely without reference to the Source of everything. The very constitution of Greek thought posits the fundamental questions and attempts to provide with answers that explicate and rationally advance the mythical outcomes, which, again, are full of religious consciousness. It might be interesting, for you, by the way, to have a suggestion on the origin of the term θρησκεία (religion). Θρησκεία, has been suggested, relates etymologically to terms such as, θρώσκω (to see, to look at; interesting, by the way, that man in Greek is rendered as ἄνθρωπος {compound word, consisted of the preposition ἄνω (up) + θρωπος {he who sees}), θεωρῶ, θωρῶ (to envisage, to have a vision), θεωρία (theory), and much more.


At a certain point, man opened up for a transition from mythical to philosophical thought. One should think of this transition not exclusively on historical terms (namely: it happened once and for ever) but as a constant development the human mind is under even now. You can see, for instance, both on the level of beliefs and traditions of many tribes and on the level of practice in many societies, that there are still thousands of mythical elements that regulate people’s way of being. The Greeks quite early conceived of deity, of divinity, in personal terms (although the Presocratics had thought of the natural elements as principles), and they were very conscious about God’s existence. A divinity that could be contacted in many ways, that could even be influenced by humans in a quite flexible manner; here are hundred thousands of people who suffer being dominated, if not tortured, by concepts of entities of divinity that impose limitations, restrictions, legal relations and many other annoying determinations and prohibitions in the relation of the divine and he human.

That is why I said above that the passage from myth to reason, is still in process. However, I don’t mean that rationality should be praised as divinity. I am only referring to the possibility of encountering with a Good God who is real being, beyond imaginatory perceptions, or blind conduct by sectes of people who claim infallibility or any of the other many tortures of human life and history. So, in this transition, from myth to logos, from mythical thought to philosophical thought, man discovered some fundamental distinctions applying to the cosmos, the metaphysical reality and the way the human being is able to know. Plato recapitulated and advanced these distinctions further, and Aristotle led them to new directions. I list some of the most central of them here, as being relevant to our discussion:

i. Similarity – Dissimilarity

ii. Sameness – Otherness

iii. Identity – Difference

iv. Union – Division

v. Unity – Multiplicity

vi. General – Particular

vii. Form – Matter

viii. God – Man

ix. Cosmos – Chaos

x. Intelligible – Sensible

xi. Being – Non-being

xii. Freedom – Necessity

xiii. Good – Evil

(The list is certainly not perfect; one may add several more distinctions, such as potentiality-actuality, cause-effect, etc, but I shall abstain from entering into such a digression now).

All these above distinctions refer and apply to an ontology of the eternity, as I would call it. Roughly speaking, in the Greek thought prior to Christianity the understanding of the cosmos is that it is eternal. A potential consequence with respect to our topic is, that good and evil are also eternal powers. This has become clear already by Heraclitus, the Milesian wiseman, who had remarked that “War is the Father of all”. In this view, Evil is not something necessarily bad: it facilitates life and development. Indeed, what would be the point of qualifying evil in a world ruled by necessity? The any ‘bad’ that happens is at the same time good in the sense that one can neither reject it nor avoid it. But, if this is so, why then Evil is such a bad thing that we have to call it so, and to contrast it to the Good?

Well, there might be some good reasons for that. For the sake of methodological convenience, I would like us to agree that the best manner of identifying evil is the referential one to the good. So that, if we have to name such a thing as evil, it should be that which is lacking all what constitutes the good. Don’t you, really, think this would be the only appropriate way to reach a real notion of Evil, as an Evil perfectly contrasting the Good? And, then, our understanding about Good and Evil would make good sense? This dialectics could be followed further, but I shall not do it now. What I shall do though, is to give you some inputs that you can find implicit in Plato, because he only intuitively sensed them, and he did not endorse them in an explicit manner. So, here are, in addition to the above distinctions, a couple more; 

i. Eternity – Time (Plato deals with this, though, in the Timaeus dialogue, but the setting here now is different: for Plato time is the moving image of eternity).

ii. Created – Uncreated.

I should like to stay a bit on the second distinction that will also illuminate the first. This distinction is about a novelty that is introduced in the human thinking by the Greek Church Fathers, competent thinkers who addressed Greek thought by means of Christianity. Their thought consists of a combination of theological experience of the truths found in the Old and the New Testament and the reasoning of philosophical thinking. The substantial difference, the novelty in their mind is, that the world is not regarded as eternal. It has a beginning. This beginning is an entrance into being made by, or caused by, the not-being (note here the distinction between not-being I use now and non-being I used earlier about Evil: not-being is referring to ‘exceeding being’, that is being in all its fullfilment and even furthermore. It is beyond the area of what Plato had sensed as ‘beyond being’ (ἐπέκεινα τῆς οὐσίας), whereas Evil is non-being since it is lacking even this it).

Now, roughly, again, the only eternal – conventionally speaking since our language and mind cannot conceive of it – is God’s being. God himself is that eternally being, and that completely being, so that if you decide to call a human or an animal, or even a plant or a stone being, then God should be called not being. In such a world created out of absolute nothing and without any necessity, not even the necessity for God to prove his omnipotence, as St. Augustine beautifully asserts in his Commentary to the book of Genesis, the only reason explaining being and creation-hood, is divine love. It is God himself who decides, we don’t know why and how, to proceed to the production of everything, of all, out of nothing. And since God is the perfect being, carrying on the perfections of the predications of Good I wrote you at the beginning of this answer, what he creates is being and nothing less.

But if this is so, how then does Evil enter into the picture? Is God creating Evil? If yes, how would it be possible, since we know that from the similar comes a similar? A man, for instance, cannot give birth to an apple. This is of course, a simple example, because in God all multiplications are united, as the water in the source before started watering several farms. And, if not, then, how does Evil exist? Was not God omnipotent enough, so to speak, as to not allow the emergence of Evil? So what is Evil? And where does it locate? And why does it exist? These are both difficult and easy questions. A way to conceive of this mystery, is to affirm that God is creating freely. As such, God’s creations have been inherited with the gift of freedom. But freedom is not only about the very gift, but also its use. The latter, its use, is something that God does not wish to determine, or prohibit. Any determination would annihilate immediately the very reality of freedom. And where does freedom abides? Certainly, in the human will. There are many intermediary states that I omit here, and I have to, before reaching the conclusion that, it is the free will, the freedom of will, the human being disposes that is crucial in the decision to be made of either communicating God and thus share in divine love, or to contrast and oppose the source and instead raise a fake, falsely, source of everything, that is ourselves. The first option is an affirmation to goodness. The second is the revelation of evil.

P.S. You may object that while my answer claimed to remain within metaphysics it ended up within moral considerations. Yet, you would be right. For there exists no ontological evil. These sketchy mixed thoughts aimed to tell you that the reality of evil is a paradox. For evil is not…

Platonism and Christian Thought in Late Antiquity

A very interesting anthology I am currently working on together with excellent co-editors, is about to be released by Routledge, in June 2019. The idea for such edition was conceived in the aftermath of the International Workshop in Oslo on the Philosophy of Late Antiquity, that was held at the Department of Philosophy in the University of Oslo, in December 2016. The volume Platonism and Christian Thought in Late Antiquity contains 15 essays and an Introductory chapter that cover topics on the interface between Platonism and Christian thought in this period. The authors, who are scholars from several disciplines, contribute on topics distributed in 4 parts:

I. Methodologies

Sébastian Morlet, on The Agreement of Christianity and Platonic Philosophy from Justin Martyr to Eusebius

Christina Hoenig, on Augustine and the “Prophecy” of Plato, Tim. 29c3

Christine Hecht, on Porphyry’s Daemons as a Threat for the Christians

II. Cosmology

Enrico Moro, on Patristic Reflections on Formless Matter

Eyjólfur Kjalar Emilsson, on Plotinus’ Doctrine of Badness as Matter in Ennead I.8. [51]

Torstein Theodor Tollefsen, on Proclus, Philoponus, and Maximus: The Paradigm of the World and Temporal Beginning

III. Metaphysics

Lars Fredrik Janby, on Christ and Pythagoras: Augustine’s Early Philosophy of Number

Daniel J. Tolan, on The Impact of Ὁμοούσιον on the Divine Ideas

Panagiotis G. Pavlos, on Theurgy in Dionysius the Areopagite

Dimitrios A. Vasilakis, On the Meaning of Hierarchy in Dionysius the Areopagite

Sebastian Mateiescu, on The Doctrine of Immanent Realism in Maximus the Confessor

Jordan Daniel Wood, on That and How Perichōresis Differs from Participation: The Case of Maximus the Confessor

IV. Ethics

Emma Brown Dewhurst, on Apophaticism in the Search for Knowledge: Love as a Key Difference in Neoplatonic and Christian Epistemology

Adrian Pirtea, on The Origin of Passions in Neoplatonic and Early Christian Thought: Porphyry of Tyre and Evagrius Ponticus

Tomas Ekenberg, on Augustine on Eudaimonia as Life Project and Object of Desire

The book is part of the Routledge Studies in the Philosophy and Theology in Late Antiquity, directed by Mark Edwards and Lewis Ayres.

Check it out: