Bishop Gregory (hgr) wrote,
Bishop Gregory


это Заключение (и резюме) к моей большой статье. там только главная линия -- почему я считаю, что духовной основой Корпуса было видение Иоанна Евнуха в день впервые установленного праздника Успения, 7 августа (скорее всего, 444 года), литературной основой -- труд Петра Ивира, а "псевдонимизация" -- делом рук учеников Петра Ивира из его монастыря и соседнего монастыря критских эмигрантов в Маюме, в конце 490-х -- ок. 500 года (из этой же среды вышел Севир Антиохийский, который принял там монашество и священство).

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Thesis of Honigmann—van Esbroeck is now the most plausible explanation of the different chains of data, which were never reconciled otherwise.

Honigmann’s thesis that the core of the Corpus was written by Peter the Iberian was rejected by the most of scholars already in the 1950s, but was rescued from oblivion by Michel van Esbroeck in the 1990s.

My own elaboration on van Esbroeck’s arguments could be summarized as following (omitting criticisms of some of his particular arguments).


1.      In the Corpus itself there are clear signs that it was produced in the milieu of ex-Empress Eudocia. This could by demonstrated by an approach that I call “philological.” More than thirty year ago, a brilliant Russian philologist Sergei Averintsev pointed out that there is quite specific stylistic correspondence between the Corpus and the two poems of Nonnus of Panopolis, one of these poems being pagan and dedicated to the god Dionysus and another one being Christian paraphrase of the Gospel of John. However, the author of the Christian poem borrowed verbatim from the pagan one. Both Nonnus and the author of the Corpus are describing their object not by indication of what it is but by indication of what it is not. Thus, they enumerate, in very long chains, that something is not that, not that, not that, and so on.

I have added to this Averintsev’s observation the known fact that Nonnus has severely impacted one of the leading persons of the milieu of Eudocia, Cyrus of Panopolis—a poet (probably, the most important poet of the whole this epoch), prefect of Constantinople who was helping to Eudocia to reshape the cult of Theotokos, then bishop and theologian and disciple of Daniel the Stylite. It is also important that the Gospel Paraphrase as well as Cyrus and Eudocia—and as well as Peter the Iberian—were inspired by the Christology of Cyril of Alexandria. After the promulgation of the Henotikon of Zeno, Daniel the Stylite was one of the principal spiritual authorities approving this act. Peter the Iberian was loyal to the Henotikon. Henotikon resolved, during Peter’s lifetime, the problems related to the Council of Chalcedon in the East. This Council was not a pretext for Church division until the time of the “monophysite revolution” after 505.


2.      The famous expression θεανδρικὴ ἐνέργεια ­is a hallmark of the milieu of Eudocia. The wording of “god male” instead of “god man” is going back to the Greek poetry, up to Pindarus. However, such terminology as applied to Christ is known, before Dionysius, from the one source only, the Gospel Paraphrase of Nonnus. This paraphrase does never use the term “God man”, but, instead, uses two times the term “God male” applied to Christ.


3.      The feast of Dormition was even more important for Eudocia’s milieu than van Esbroeck thought. It was established in Palestine after 438 and, most probably, after 443 and certainly before 449, therefore, about the date when John the Eunuch saw his vision of hierarchies, in about 444. It is very likely that this vision was pertaining to the first celebration of the Dormition feast in Gethsemane.


4.      That the vision of John the Eunuch is, indeed, a Dormition scene is corroborated, among others, by an important fact that both this vision as it is described in the Life of Peter the Iberian and Areopagite’s account on hierarchies have in their hagiographical substrate the scene of vision of hierarchies in the Ascension of Isaias. Moreover, the scene of John the Eunuch’s vision has specific common features with one roughly contemporaneous Dormition tradition (the Coptic tradition of Transitus under the name of Evodius of Rome).


5.      The Life of Peter the Iberian, despite the fact that its author, John Rufus, places his account of the vision of John the Eunuch out of its biographical context, still preserves the traces of the liturgical localisation of this vision (three days corresponding to the early date of the Dormition feast, from August 7 to 9, and, then, the 30-day period up to the another newly established Marian feast on September 8, Nativity of Theotokos; this early date of the Dormition feast seems to be unknown to John Rufus who was writing more than half century later).


6.      Moreover, I have added some data to the history of the liturgical memories of Hierotheos and Dionysius. Already van Esbroeck pointed out that, in the Coptic tradition, the memory of Hierotheos on April, 16 is inscribed in the Coptic Dormition cycle: it is exactly the middle between the Coptic date of Dormition and deposition (January 16) and the Assumption (August 9). I could add that the dates of the Byzantine tradition, October 3 and 4, are connected to the Byzantine date of Dormition on August 15 (actual, to my evaluation, since about 500, the date of appearance of the pseudonymised Corpus) in an analogous manner: October 3 is the fiftieth day after August 15, a kind of the Pentecost, given that Dormition is a kind of Easter (indeed, we have some documents attesting the existence of a tradition to call the Dormition “Easter”). Moreover, another Palestinian feast, the Presentation of Theotokos in the Temple on November 21, goes back to the same epoch, ca 500. The memory of Dionysius on October 3 is the middle point between the Dormition on August 15 and the Presentation on November 21. The Presentation is the second Pentecost after the Dormition.


7.      So, my most important conclusion is that we have to look for the author of the Corpus in the milieu connected to ex-Empress Eudocia.


8.      It is always probable that such author is an otherwise unknown person. However, in our case we have to look not for a single man but for a pair of visionary teacher and his cellmate, like Hierotheos and Dionysius. Therefore, the number of possibilities is severely restricted. It is not so likely that the figure of such visionary could pass unnoticed.


9.      In the pertinent milieu, we have several reputed visionary teachers, e.g., apart from John the Eunuch, Peter the Iberian himself, Daniel the Stylite, and, probably, even Melania the Younger (who died before the Dormition feast was established, and so, could be excluded, anyway). However, in their hagiographical dossiers we have nothing similar to the vision of hierarchies and to the Dormition scene as it is in the vision of John the Eunuch. Therefore, I think the most natural solution to accept that it was, indeed, John the Eunuch who has had a spiritual experience described in the Platonic terms by the author of the Urtext of the Corpus, who, in this case, could be only Peter the Iberian.


10.  The pseudonymised recension of the Corpus that was produced ca 500 goes back to the Palestinian monastic milieu close to the monastery established by Peter the Iberian in Maiuma and to the monastery founded by the Cretan émigrés Urbicia and Euphrasius, in Maiuma as well. To this milieu belonged such important figures of the anti-Chalcedonism as confessor bishop Eusebius and Severus of Antioch (who was the first referring to the Corpus as an authoritative source). To the same milieu go back several liturgical traditions connecting the liturgical memories of Dionysius, Peter the Iberian, and some Carpus (considered as the second apostle of Crete, together with Titus, and the hero of a story in the Letter VIII of Dionysius).


I have to acknowledge that my argumentation will be unconvincing for those who take as granted that the author of the Corpus was originally a neoplatonic philosopher and direct disciple of the pagan teachers. I would say about this attitude that there are several reasons not to accept it, one of these reasons is methodological: the Corpus could be read (and historically, indeed, was read) in a dozen of internally non-contradicting manners, and so, its philosophical and theological reading will be never able to lead to define what of these reading is that of the author. This is why, I think, that we have to start from the definition of the Sitz im Leben by other means, including those of philology and critical hagiography.


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