Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Symeon the New Theologian on Filioque

Glory to God in the highest.

The pneumatological teaching of Symeon the New Theologian (949-1012) is not antithetical to Filioque.

See Jacques-Paul Migne, Patrologia Graeca 120:331-332, where Symeon says that the Holy Spirit "proceeds from the Father": "Deitas namque cum sit superessentialis, etiam et sola est immutabilis et invariabilis; estque tanquam mens, rationem et spiritum habens dicitrque Pater, Filii Pater (qui est quasi ratio) et productor Spiritus (2), quemadmodum item genitor rationis. Et cum Pater Deus nominator, simul cum Filio, ac Spiritu intelligitur. Quando demum Spiritus sanctus appellatur Deus, intelligitur eum ex Patre procedentem, etiam Filii spiritum esse, unione et discretion inexplicabili." The scholarly note (2) says that just as our Lord does not, in John 15:26, exclude the Filioque (cf. St. Augustine the Great, Homilies on John 99:6,8 and Against Maximus 2:14 [PL 42:770]), neither do Symeon's words exclude Filioque. Like some of the Church Fathers, Symeon simply makes the positive affirmation that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, without making the Photian denial that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Son. Many Greek Fathers who made this simple affirmation also explicitly affirmed Filioque.

Jaroslav Pelikan is indefinite as to whether Symeon took the Catholic or Orthodox position on Filioque: "Although Simeon’s treatment of such dogmatic questions as the Filioque did not have a polemical tone and sometimes seemed rather confused, he demanded that the norm of teaching be 'the orthodox dogma of the apostolic and catholic church'" (The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Doctrine, Volume 2: The Spirit of Eastern Christendom (600-1700), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977, 256-257).

Symeon's feast is March 12 in the Orthodox churches (Hussey, J. M. "Symeon the New Theologian, Monk of the Studion." New Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 13, 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2003. 671-672). Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI rightly referred to him as "holy," though I have yet to confirm some Catholic brothers' references (here, here, and here) of his presence on some Eastern Catholic calendars. Constantinople was in union with Rome during Symeon's life, as the reader will understand if he consults these writings:
(1) Martin Jugie, A.A., Le schisme byzantin; aperçu historique et Doctrinal (Paris: P. Lethielleux, 1941)
(2) Siméon Vailhe, "Constantinople, Église de," Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique (Paris 1907), 3.2

I will do further research before October to see if any data contradicts my thesis, and to find any writings of Symeon that shed more light on his views on the procession of the Holy Spirit and on Rome. Constantinople was in union with Rome during Symeon's life, as the reader will understand if he consults the writings of Martin Jugie, A.A. and Simeon Vailhé. I will dig through Pelikan's work, the introductory notes in Migne, and the bibliography in Hussey's encyclopedia article, among other sources.

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