Early Church

 

Introduction

A question that has not seen much public discussion is: “To what extent are the texts we have of the Latin Fathers interpolated in favour of later Filioquist teachings?”  It seems that the standard reply of some Orthodox in recent decades has been to simply concede that what we have is exactly what we get. Yet, this is contrary to the very fierce, no retreat, attitude of great Orthodox apologists of the past, such as Adam von Zoernikav.  Zoernikav, in his massive 1000 page tome, “A Tract of Orthodox Theology Concerning the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father Alone,” takes to task the massive amount of interpolations in not only the Greek Fathers but in the Latin Fathers.  In many cases he seems to make educated guesses, which, later seem to be borne out by manuscript research; after all, living in the late 1600s, his access to actual manuscripts was relatively limited, and he could only go off of different printed texts. Even doing the latter he was able to show significant discrepancies in the works of figures like St. Augustine and St. Damasus, textual wise.  In fact, Zoernikav’s attitude simply seems to follow that of St. Mark of Ephesus, and St. Photius before him, that is, that we should show significant doubt about such claims about Fathers and their errors before making any concession.

We seem to forget that at the council of Florence, the RC strategy was to inundate the Orthodox with a massive amount of patristic texts and quotations. It kept the Orthodox on the defensive and having to examine and answer a massive amount of material, and painstakingly debate every detail. This was a strategy to wear them down. St. Mark and others (like Metropolitan Anthony of Heraclea, etc) had to spend the time saying, “that doesn’t sound right about what you are saying about St. Chrysostom / St. Basil / etc, etc”. They showed that a tremendous amount of forged and interpolated Greek texts were being put forth by the RC’s [such as the famous forged acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council which supposedly had St. Tarasius say that the Holy Ghost “proceeds from the Father and the Son” [!], as opposed to what the genuine acts say, i.e. from the Father through the Son, and so on and so forth for other material]. It was painstaking and exhausting work. Then the RC’s brought forth strings of Latin Fathers. Only a few of the Greek Orthodox could say anything, since many were not very familiar with the Latin Fathers; St. Mark and a few others did seem to be familiar with St. Augustine and St. Gregory the Great in Greek translations, and to put up a fight. But, St. Mark of Ephesus, for one, simply believed that the majority of the text that the RC’s were bringing from the Latin Fathers were just forgeries or interpolations into the texts. He had seen how they handled the Greek Fathers, and he had no trust that they would not likewise corrupt the Latin Fathers. He is being proven more and more right every single day.

Even very limited research into this question itself is a massive endeavour, and before the age of digitized manuscripts would have been near impossible for the amateur [such as the author] to show anything, other than what one could purchase via microfilms, or the hopefully accurate editions of critical manuscript studies [which both could prove very expensive, and to accumulate dozens of manuscripts would be cost prohibitive for many]; the only other alternative would have been to scour ancient medieval libraries across Europe, praying and hoping that one would be given access, which would most likely not be the case if you didn’t have degree letters behind your name.  Yet, thankfully, we have some digitized manuscripts, which turns a near impossible task into something far less daunting, even for the amateur. So, let us begin with a few examples.

 

There are just two examples I would like to briefly address in this very short and preliminary piece.  Just so people are aware, I have no degree in higher education or any field.

 

Pope St. Damasus of Rome [+384] and the Filioque
In popular and scholarly book presentations, we find it stated that Pope St. Damasus taught the Filioque.  A. E. Siecienski’s in his book, “The Filioque: History of a Doctrinal Controversy” states:

 

“Among the earliest known references to the filioque in the Roman Church is the so-called creed of Pope Damasus (sometimes known as the twenty-four Anathematism).  Scholars have traditionally been divided on its origins, some believing it was composed by Damasus himself in reply to a treatise by Priscillian of Avila, while Kunstle argued that it was the work of the Synod of Saragossa held in 380, an anti-Priscillian gathering whose work was sent to the pope for approval. Modern scholarship has argued for an earlier dating (late 377 or early 378) and that it was probably a “compiled work” based on the proceedings of a Roman council. Regardless of its origins, its apparent purpose was to refute certain christological and trinitarian errors, including the belief that the Spirit was somehow a work or creation of the Son. It stated, ‘We believe . . . in the Holy Spirit, not begotten nor unbegotten, nor created nor made, but proceeding from the Father and the Son, always co-eternal with the Father and the Son.’  Here the intention was simply to acknowledge the equality of the Spirit rather than to delve into the question of the procession proper. 

 

“The Decretum Gelasianum (Explanatio fidei), or at least the first three chapters, is thought by some to be the work of the Roman Synod of 382 also held under Damasus.  Others, including Bernd Oberdorfer, think that the trinitarian langauge (which reflects Augustine’s thinking in the Tractates on the Gospel of John) argues for a later dating or the recognition that some portions of the work were added by a later editor.”

 

The relevant portion of the Decretum Gelasianum (as well as the whole text) can be found here.  With the Decretum stating:

 

For the Holy Spirit is not of the Father only or of the Son only, but of the Father and the Son; for it is written: ‘He who delights in the world, the Spirit of the Father is not in him”; and against it is written, ‘However anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ, does not belong to Him.’  So the Holy Spirit is understood to be called of the Father and the Son, [and] of Whom the Son Himself in the Gospel says that the Holy Spirit ‘proceeds from the Father’ and ‘He will receive from Me and He will make known to you.’

 

Before moving on to the “Creed of Damasus”, I think it should be noted that the above text in the Decretum Gelasianum, whether it be genuine, an early interpolation, or a late interpolation, is itself not definitive on the question of the eternal Hypostatic Origination of the Holy Ghost in regards to making the Son an Eternal Co-Cause with the Father.  Simply stating that the Holy Ghost is the “Spirit of the Father and the Son” is itself not indicative of Filioquism. For example, St. John of Damascus in Book I, Chapter IX of the “Exact Exposition” states:

 

“Further, it should be understood that we do not speak of the Father as derived from any one, but we speak of Him as the Father of the Son.  And we do not speak of the Son as Cause or Father, but we speak of Him both as from the Father, and as the Son of the Father. And we speak likewise of the Holy Spirit as from the Father, and call Him the Spirit of the Father. And we do not speak of the Spirit as from the Son: but yet we call Him the Spirit of the Son. For if any one hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is not of His, said the divine apostle.  And we confess that He is manifested and imparted to us through the Son.  For He breathed upon His Disciples, says he, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Spirit.”  It is just the same as in the case of the sun from which come both the ray and the radiance, and it is through the ray that the radiance is imparted to us, and it is the radiance itself by which we are lightened and in which we participate. Further, we do not speak of the Son of  the Spirit, or of the Son as derived from the Spirit.”
Thus speaking of the Spirit as “of the Son” is no more than to repeat the Scriptural phrase, and it cannot be interpreted to mean something it is not, namely, that the Son is to be made a Cause of the Spirit’s Hypostasis.

 

But, what of the “Creed of Damasus”, surely this provides more evidence?  Not at all. In fact, I am unsure exactly why, but, the manuscript tradition on this point is totally other than what many mainstream writers imply. It is true that some manuscripts have ‘proceeding from the Father and the Son,” but, many others do not.  So, in the face of manuscripts which have an addition and ones which don’t, about a disputed question, it seems more reasonable to believe that the addition is not part of the authentic manuscript tradition. Let us give a few examples of the manuscripts of the “Creed of Damasus” without the Filioque.

 

First, let us turn to A.E. Burn’s “The Athanasian Creed and Its Early Commentaries, Issues 1-3, page 63,” wherein we find the following:
“Spiritum vero Sanctum, non genitum neque ingenitum, non creatum neque factum, sed de Patre Procedentem, Patre et Filio Coaeternum et Coaequalem et Cooperatorem, quia scriptum est: ‘Verbo Dominie caeli firmati sunt,’ id est, a Filio Dei, et ‘Spiritu oris eius omnis virtus eorum,’ et alibi: ‘Emitte Spiritum Tuum et creabuntur et renovabis faciem terre.'”

 

Which, in English is:

 

“In truth the Holy Ghost, not begotten nor unbegotten, not created nor made, but from the Father Proceeding, to the Father and the Son Co-Eternal and Co-Equal and Co-Worker, for it was written: ‘By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made,’ that is, by the Son of God, and ‘by the Spirit of His Mouth all the power of them,’ [Ps. 32:6] and elsewhere: ‘Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.'” [Ps. 103:30] (Transcribed by Mr. Ommanney (E. Ch. p. 401) from Paris B. n. 1684, saec Xi ex., Creed of Damasus)

 

Yet, if we look in Denzinger’s “Enchiridion Symbolorum” we find that St. Damasus is made to say “sed de Patre et Filio [!] procedentem.” Well, at least they put the text in parenthesis and a bracketed exclamation mark [that wasn’t me who did that!].  I have to rely on google translate for the German notation at the top, but, it seems to say that this ‘et Filio’ is missing in some text, it says: “Einige Teile scheinen anfangs gefehlt zu haben, vor allem die Worte ‘et Filio’, die sich auf das Hervorgehen des Hl. Geistes beziehen;” which google translate renders as:  “Some parts at first seem to have been missing, especially the words ‘et Filio’, which refers to the Procession of the Holy Spirit: cf. A. E. Burn.”  And they refer, of course, back to A.E. Burn!

 

Burn, relying on Ommaney mentions the 11th century Paris manuscript, BNF Lat. 1684.  So, let us turn to that and see what it reads. Here is a link to the manuscript image, digitized.  Scrolling down to the bottom we see the familiar text in not too difficult to read writing. It simply says in the relevant section: “sed de Patre procedentem.” No “et Filio” found.

 

In Codex Sangallensis 159 [10th century], we find it as well. It simply says: “sed de Patre procedentem.” No “et Filio”, etc. Though, in this case, the text is labelled the “Creed of St. Jerome” sent to Pope Damasus. But, the same text.  On a side note, in the same codex, you see some later hand came in and added to a separate Letter of St. Jerome to St. Damasus. Someone actually wrote in ‘et Filio’ into the letter to ‘correct’ St. Jerome!

I cannot find it online, but, C.A. Swanson mentions that a Vienna MSS. of the Creed of Damasus also does not have the Filioque present. “In the Vienna manuscript 2223, which contains the Creed of Damasus, fol. 75 verso, Filioque is omitted.” [C.A. Swanson, “The Nicene and Apostles’ Creeds”, pg. 437, l. 12]

 

In the Anathemas of the Synod of Rome that Pope St. Damasus had dispatched to Bishop Paulinus of Antioch we simply read of the Spirit:

 

“If any one deny that the Holy Spirit is truly and absolutely of the Father, and that the Son is of the divine substance and very God of God, let him be anathema.” [Ecclesiastical History of St. Theodoret, Book V, Ch. 11]

 

It would not be correct to blameA. E. Siecienski for intentional distortion. Like many, from scholarly books to wikipedia, it is matter of factly stated that St. Damasus taught the Filioque, though, at least Siecienski qualifies this by stating in regards to the interpolated and corrupted text: “Here the intention was simply to acknowledge the equality of the Spirit rather than to delve into the question of the procession proper.”

 

However, this seems to be something that will continue to be bandied about, as an ‘early proof’ of the Filioque.

 

Gennadius of Massalia [+496] and the Filioque

Just as we heard of Pope St. Damasus, we have heard much of Gennadius of Massalia [Marseille] and his teaching the Filioque. But, what about this in terms of text and manuscripts?  Again, this is an example of later interpolation.

 

The corrupted text of “De Ecclesiasticis Dogamtibus” as found in the Patrologia Latin states:

 

“Credimus unum esse Deum Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum. Patrem, eo quod Filium habeat: Filium, eo quod Patre habeat: Spiritum Sanctum, eo quod sit ex Patre et Filio.  Pater ergo principium deitatis; qui sicut nunquam fuit non Deus, ita nunquam fuit non Pater: a quo Filius natus: a quo Spiritus Sanctus non natus, quia non est Filius; neque ingenitus, quia non est Pater; neque factus, quia non est ex nihilo, sed ex Deo Patre et Deo Filio Deus procedens.” 

 

From the PL text it looks pretty evident that Gennadius taught the Filioque.  However, before we turn to some MSS, let us look at two manuscript scholars.  First, we can look at Marie Joseph Rouet de Journel’s “Enchiridion Patristicum” [this is not the Denzinger “Enchiridion”], which gives a different text:

 

“Credimus unum esse Deum, Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum: Patrem, eo quod habeat filium; Filium, eo quod habbeat patrem; Spiritum Sanctum, eo quod sit ex Patre procedens, Patri et Filio coaternus.  Pater erog principium deitatis; qui, sicut numquam fuit non Deus, ita numquam fuit non Pater, a quo Filius natus, a quo Spiritus Sanctus non natus, quia non est Filius, neque ingenitus, quia non est Pater, nec factus, sed ex Deo Patre Deus Procedens.”

 

Notice the differences? Instead of the Spirit being “ex Patre et Filio” He is “ex Patre procedens.”  Instead of “sed ex Deo Patre et Deo Filio Deus procedens” the Spirit is simply “sed ex Deo Patre Deus Procedens.” The Spirit is not ‘from the Father and the Son” but “from the Father Proceeding”, i.e. someone tampered with the text.  Instead of “but from God the Father and God the Son  God Proceeding” the Spirit is “but from God the Father God Proceeding.”

 

Again, in C.H. Turner’s printing we have the same form with no Filioque.

In the Vatican manuscript Reg. Lat. 1127, on page 98 we have Gennadius’ treatise.  It say of the Holy Ghost that “Spiritum Sanctum: eo quod sit ex Patre cum Filio,” that is, that the Holy Ghost is from the Father with the Son. It then, of course, clarified this by saying, like all the above, “Pater ergo principium deitatis,” that is, the Father therefore is the Origin of the Godhead.  Then it says a little further on, again, “a quo Spiritus Sanctus non natus quia non est filius, neque ingenitus quia non est pater; nec factus sed ex Deo Patre Deus Procedens,” that is, from Whom the Holy Ghost is not born [begotten] for He is not a son, neither is He Unbegotten for He is not a father; nor made, but from God the Father [He is] God Proceeding.”

 

The manuscript Reg. Lat. 1127, which the Vatican holds, is originally a manuscript of French derivation, with material from the early 9th century, having been made at the Abbey of St. Cybar, with additional material from Angolueme in the 11th century.

 

We have other manuscripts of Gennadius as well.  For example, the Vatican manuscript Bibliotheca Apostolica Vatican, Barb. Lat. 671 which is dated to the 700s and is of Italian origination.  On folio pages 150v-157 we find the text, and there, again, we simply find it saying: “Credimus unum esse Deum, Patre et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum: Patrem, eo quod habeat filium; Filium, eo quod habeat patrem; Spiritum Sanctum, eo quod sit ex Patre procedens.” And if you look further down you can just make out the same as Turner and de Journal give in their editions, with “sed ex Deo Patre Deus Procedens.”

 

Here is the Codex. Sang. 911, dated to around 790, of German derivation, which contains Gennadius’ work without the Filioque.  There is also Cod. Sang. 230, originally from the Abbey of St. Dionysius near Paris, composed around 800 AD, again without the Filioque interpolations into Gennadius.

 

Do you see the difference between the version in the PL as opposed to the manuscripts plus Turner and de Journal?  Notice how they say, “ex Patre procedens,” or in the 9th century French manuscript “ex Patre cum Filiio” instead of in the other simply as “ex Patre procedens [even then the Spirit is ‘from the Father with the Son’, since the Father is the Fount of Deity].  These certainly paint a different picture than the popular presentation of Gennadius as an early Filioquist.

 

Of course, you will find some manuscripts with an interpolation. For example, the 9th century Codex Restitutus 1 from Fulda monastery, Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, F III 15l, f. 15r – Isidorus Hispalensis, Differentiarum liber . If you go to 15r  you will read the following form:

 

“Credimus unum esse Deum, Patrem et Filium et Spiritum Sanctum: Patrem, eo quod habeat filium; Filium, eo quod habeat patrem; Spiritum Sanctum, eo quod sit a Patre procedens et ex Filio.”

 

However, if you read further down, they still do not have the much later interpolation one finds in the PL and other sources, but the traditional:

 

“sed ex Deo Patre Deus Procedens.” 

 

Obviously, for manuscripts of the same century to be so close, but, to have this difference, it means a change was beginning.  Yet, again, it is far more reasonable to say that “Spiritum Sanctum, eo quod sit ex Patre procedens” [or possibly ‘a Patre procedens’] is the original reading.  It seems, to some degree, odd, that the Fulda text has ‘et ex Filio’ tacked on there, seemingly out of nowhere.  Analogous to the pseudo-Bonifician sermon “De Recta Fidei” which has the same thing done to it, yet also follows with the strong assertion of the Spirit as “ex Deo Patre Deus Procedens.”

 

Conclusion

The Orthodox apologetic on many of these questions for the past several hundred years has been to recognize that interpolations were added to the Fathers, especially the Latin Fathers, on several disputed points.  Yet, in the past century, with the rise of modernism and ecumenism, this argument has gone by the wayside.  It was falsely encouraged to surrender any research into this subject, and simply ‘concede.’  The results have been disastrous, and have played into the hands of not only the modernist-ecumenists, but other modernists, such as the so-called ‘renovationists from the right’, who seek to present a narrative that the West was ‘never really Orthodox’, even if they do not so publicly phrase it like that always.
Orthodox should have not conceded anything, until they had done their own research.  With thousands of medieval Latin digitized manuscripts now available, it certainly means that we have no excuse; even the learning of the Latin language, in a very basic way, will prove tremendously profitable for those who deign to undertake such research.  We must step away from Denzinger and the Patrologia Latin [or Graeca] as anything more than a guide; it does not, of course, have to mean that 100% of the texts are corrupted, or even that 95% of them are.  Often, interpolators need only add a phrase here or there (such as ‘et Filio’ or ‘Filioque’!) to result in dramatic changes in a manuscript tradition within only a few decades.  Trying to completely abolish existing material, or completely re-writing texts on a large scale would not go unnoticed, and would create massive resistance; however, small scale tampering in different places and at different times, probably proved a far more effective tool.

 

One need only look at such things as the manuscript corruption in Epistle 170 of St. Augustine and St. Alypius [as Zoernikav pointed out], which resulted in a change from “The Holy Ghost is not, as a creature, made of nothing; but thus Proceeds from the Father, as not to be made by the Father nor the Son,” to what we now read in the CUA edition which has “proceeds from the Father and the Son”.  Every now and again, you will find non-Orthodox scholars pointing these things out, such as J.M. Neale:

 

“In his sixty-sixth Epistle [number 170 in some text-NFTU]: “The Holy Ghost is not, as a creature, made of nothing; but thus Proceeds from the Father and the Son, as not to be made by the Son.” But this, which does not in itself seem to have much sense, is not the reading of the best MSS.  The best MSS. are divided between, ‘but thus proceeds from the Father, as not to be made by the Father nor the Son,’ and the total omission of the clause.  Under these circumstances the evidence is manifestly worth nothing.”

 

Yet, the great Orthodox apologist, and German Lutheran convert to Orthodox, Adam von Zoernikav, who reposed in 1691 as an Orthodox monk, in his “Tractatus Theologici Orthodoxi de Processione Spiritus Sancti a Solo Patre” (“A Tract of Orthodox Theology Concerning the Procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father Alone”) brought this up 150 years before Neale, in Corruptela XIII of Tract III. And there he shows the same thing as Neale.  Yet, except for a respectful mention by Fr. Michael Pomazansky in “Orthodox Dogmatic Theology”, we see so little mention of von Zoernikav.  Of course, von Zoernikav was far from ‘ecumenically friendly’, and his polemical attitude would not sit well with modernists and ecumenists.

 

So, instead of throwing everything overboard, and conceding, perhaps we should give this another try, that is Orthodox Apologetics which involves actual primary source research [including manuscripts]. Do not believe that because you have no degree or letters behind your name that you can’t make valuable contributions to Orthodox Christian apologetics; nor should you believe that because you have degrees or letters behind your name that all you say is inherently worth more (a degree should be an opportunity to help, not to harm or be haughty).

 

–Hieromonk Enoch

 

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