Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Dispute on Athos

Today there has been a significant event in a long-running dispute on Mt Athos, home to more Greek NT manuscripts than anywhere else in the world. Some monks from the Esphigmenou Monastery (pictured) were today given suspended prison sentences for charges related to their opposition to Patriarch Bartholomew's attitude to the Pope. The Greek government supports the siege that these quiet anti-ecumenical monks are under. The Esphigmenou Monastery is home to the oldest manuscript of Epictetus' Manual and ms 983 (a twelfth century ms of the Gospels). I don't know whether they have other NT holdings.

9 Comments:

Daniel Buck said...

They have 372 "original Christian codices" and 8,000 "other" ancient mss.

Stephen C. Carlson said...

The Kurzgefasste List has a list, just shy of 30 entries, of the NT MSS at this monastery.

Tommy Wasserman said...

The following Espigmenu MSS were of interest for me when collating Jude:

Esphigmenu 63 (Greg.-Aland 1107) collated
Esphigmenu 64 (1108) no film in Münster
Esphigmenu 65 (1109) disappeared
Esphigmenu 66 (1115) collated
Esphigmenu 67 (1140) incomplete film
Esphigmenu 68 (1853) collated
Esphigmenu 198 (1902) collated

... so sadly I was only able to collate 4/7 from this location, which was probably the lowest ratio of all.

There was a large project a few years ago of digitizing the MSS of Mt Athos, which looked very promising. Unfortunately, there were some political problems and the project was aborted. Now, the website at http://www.mamdl.org with a presentation and sample images of MSS has been removed from the internet.

Peter M. Head said...

It seems like an interesting combination of theological differences and heavy-handed power plays which bring 'spiritual' matters into the hands of secular rulers. Perhaps a good illustration of the relevance of studying early church history?

Also the issue itself is an interesting one. Can the Orthodox recognise the legitimacy of the Latin church and at the same time preserve their own theological/cultural/traditional identity?

By the way, thanks for the nice picture Pete, brought back memories of my trip to Athos many moons ago.

Peter M. Head said...

Tommy,

Thanks for telling me about these problems with your research!

Tommy Wasserman said...

PH: "Thanks for telling me about these problems with your research!"

You´re welcome. Here are some more details for you:

I tried hard to get these on film. I wrote to the Patriarchal Institute, which replied that they had Esp. 64 on film. I sent an order and payment, but did not receive the film!

However, I am glad that there is an institute in Münster that probably has over 95% of the registered MSS on film. The late C. A. Albin who did a similar large collation of Jude had to order from locations worldwide, and apparently spent a fortune, and got nothing from Mt Athos (except the material available from the Library of Congress in Washington). I spent money for train-tickets and somewhere to sleep in Münster.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

Athos is also home to perhaps the first "oldest noncomposite complete New Testament with an Athanasian arrangement". It is dated 1116 CE.

Regards,

Anonymous said...

"It seems like an interesting combination of theological differences and heavy-handed power plays which bring 'spiritual' matters into the hands of secular rulers. Perhaps a good illustration of the relevance of studying early church history?

Also the issue itself is an interesting one. Can the Orthodox recognise the legitimacy of the Latin church and at the same time preserve their own theological/cultural/traditional identity?"

The GOC is regulated and subject to the Greek government. Yes, there are echos and parallels of Roman rule and the early church here.

Orthodoxy transends cultural boundaries, but the Russian Orthodox Church has its own set of problems. The ROCOR (ROCA) is reconciling with the MP and will concelebrate in Eucharistic celebration early next year. This event will cause a schism (sic) within ROCOR.

There are Russian monks at Athos (remember the banner from years ago "Orthodoxy or Death").

No, although commissions discuss joint efforts and matters of commonality between the Orthodox (MP) and Rome there can never be reconciliation. The doctrinal differences are too great. The closest thing thus far is that there is a "Western rite" Orthodox group and the observations (much protested) of the MP within the WCC.

Rome has enough sense here to steer clear.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

For those unfamiliar with Eastern Orthodox monastic life, every monastery on Athos has the current Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, as their bishop, as is established in all the original charters and the laws of Greece and the Athonite Republic. Relatedly, obedience is central to monasticism, particularly to one's bishop. The (soon to be former) monks of Esphigmenou rejected Patriarch Bartholomew as their bishop, accusing him of communing with Rome, in an exaggeration of ecumenical talks. As was the Patriarch's right, and with the approval of all the other monasteries of Athos (something seldom mentioned, and never by the dissenting monks), Bartholomew oredered the monks to leave. They didn't, so legal measures were enacted, visitors were turned away from Esphigmenou by police, though deliveries of food and medicine were allowed in, and any monks who left, even if for shopping, were not permitted to return. Legally they were actually squatters at that point, but forceful eviction has not been used and will not be used.

This is one of several "issues" among Eastern Orthodox. Opinions can become quite heated. The above is, however, I think, quite fairly objective, while readers should know that I am Orthodox and Bartholomew is "my" Patriarch (the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is under his omophorion.