"Upon this rock I build my Church": St. Cyprian, Orthodox and Roman Catholic views
Posted 04 August 2010 - 07:40 AM
"The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]). ... On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet He founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?"
~Cyprian of Carthage [A.D. 251]
Now, I don't think this quote itself supports Papal Supremacy, but Papal Primacy, a doctrine that was affirmed by the Orthodox Catholic Church until the Great Schism. However, the way it interprets the passage is at odds with what I've been taught concerning the passage, and that's what I want to look at.
St. Cyprian here says that "on him [Peter] He builds the Church." This seems quite plainly to teach that it was upon St. Peter that the Church was built, and that the authority of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was established in St. Peter, and therefore the See of Rome, from Christ in this passage. However, I wasn't taught that our Lord was speaking about St. Peter when he said "rock" but that he was saying that the rock is the confession of faith made by St. Peter and that by saying, "You are Peter, and upon this rock..." He was utilizing a play on the words Petros (St. Peter's name, which means rock) and Petra (the same word, declined differently), which, if you read some Greek, you know our Lord was apt to do in the Gospels.
I suppose the ultimate question here is: Does a contradiction exist here, or can both be understood as true?
Posted 25 August 2010 - 01:01 PM
The late Fr John Meyendorff says this:
“Cyprian’s view of Peter’s ‘chair’ (cathedri Petri) was that it belonged not only to the bishop of Rome but to every bishop within each community. Thus Cyprian used not the argument of Roman primacy but that of his own authority as ‘successor of Peter’ in Carthage...For Cyprian, the ‘chair of Peter’, was a sacramental concept, necessarily present in each local church: Peter was the example and model of each local bishop, who, within his community, presides over the Eucharist and possesses ‘the power of the keys’ to remit sins. And since the model is unique, unique also is the episcopate (episcopatus unus est) shared, in equal fullness (in solidum) by all bishops” (John Meyendorff, Imperial Unity and Christian Divisions (Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s, 1989), pp. 61, 152).
Edited by Olga, 25 August 2010 - 01:43 PM.
removed formatting marks, changed text size
Posted 25 August 2010 - 04:37 PM
Here are some other quotes of St. Cyprian directed towards Pope Stephen:
“No one among us sets himself up as a bishop of bishops, or by tyranny and terror forces his colleagues to compulsory obedience, seeing that every bishop in the freedom of his liberty and power possesses the right to his own mind and can no more be judged by another than he himself can judge another. We must all await the judgment of our Lord Jesus Chirst, who singly and alone has power both to appoint us to the government of his Church and to judge our acts therein’ (CSEL 3, 1, 436).
'Even Peter, whom the Lord first chose and upon whom He built His Church, when Paul later disputed with him over circumcision, did not claim insolently any prerogative for himself, nor make any arrogant assumptions nor say that he had the primacy and ought to be obeyed' (Epist. 71, 3)."
Posted 26 August 2010 - 09:24 PM
The only thing this passage can imply is that the chair of Peter is simply the canonical archbishop/metropolitan of each synod.
Posted 27 August 2010 - 01:29 AM
Posted 02 September 2010 - 12:36 PM
What of the other Apostles? Why are all bishops the successor of St. Peter? I can understand, in a true sense, that the Patriarch of Antioch and the Pope of Rome are literally the successors of St. Peter. But, the Patriarch of Constantinople is not the successor of St. Peter in a literal sense. He is the successor of the Chief Apostle's brother, St. Andrew. or the Pope of Alexandria, who is the successor of St. Mark. And the Patriatch of Jerusalem, who is the successor of St. James.
If truly all apostles are "equal" as Ryan suggests (and this seems to be the teaching of the Church, as iconography often depicts Ss. Peter and Paul upholding the Church together) why must all bishops be the successor of St. Peter (as some are literally...but some are spiritually. This does not make sense to me)? And why is Rome given the Ecumenical Patriarchate instead of Antioch? Both are successors of the Chief Apostle. Why did the Church give honor to Constaninople over Antioch, just because it is the secular capital? Even though the Antiochene Patriarch is also St. Peter's successor. I can understand giving it to Rome because of St. Peter and it being the capital...but that is not true of Constantinople. It was simply the secular capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. Why was Antioch overlooked?
I apoloize if my questions are offensive. I'm just trying to understand Orthodox eccelsiology. I really do appreciate everyone who is helping and answering my questions. Thank you all very much.
Posted 02 September 2010 - 06:19 PM
Yes. I agree with this. St Peter was the mouthpiece of the Apostles. All bishops are successors of all the Apostles. Correct?
I think you are perhaps reading in a bit too much. This is not a legal inheritance thing, it is more symbolic in nature, at least in the Orthodox view. Peter represents ALL bishops, not just the one in Rome.
Posted 31 December 2010 - 02:06 AM
I am not sure how active this thread is now, but I have a question I have been wondering about and which follows somewhat in line with the discussion thus far. I am wondering about the mid 11th century leading up to the schism. Was there any special identification or status given to the Roman pope by the Greek/Byzantine church other than being just the vicar of Rome? Was not the Roman pope given some role in ratifying councils beyond that of other leaders leading up until the schism? And if so, was there not a gap of some kind that existed in Byzantine ecclesiology following the schism? That is not a loaded question, because I simply do not know. I know there is a massive bibliography on such topics, but I don't have the time to wade through it at the moment.
Posted 31 December 2010 - 05:44 AM
There was no gap in Byzantine ecclesiology. The East, though it went through its struggles, kept the first teachings. The West, mostly due to the challenges distance causes in communication, went their own way.
These are my Cliff's Notes version.
Posted 31 December 2010 - 01:12 PM
it just seems to me though that losing "the first among equals" would have been a loss of some kind. I suppose the imperialistic sacking of one's capitol would have been enough to offset any sad feelings for long though. I wonder what the primary sources say on this. what are even the best secondary sources on this period? I have heard John Romanides has done work on this, but I am not sure how late he covers. Likely Bishop Ware's book the Othodox Church covers it too. As you can see, I am just beginning to try and sort through this.
Posted 31 December 2010 - 03:15 PM
As far as the history of primary and secondary sources say, Cliff Notes don't apply here. There is some discussion on this forum if you can sift through the search feature. And of course history is recorded by the victor so the EO and RC both have their take on this.
SOmetimes ther just ain't no short cuts.
Posted 04 October 2012 - 03:29 AM
On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet He founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were also what Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair.
During the time of Damasus many writings of the 2nd & 3rd century fathers were altered to appear to agree with the Nicene Creed and the Primacy of Peter's Chair. Cyprian, Tertullian, Clement, Irenaeus, and many other fathers, were altered deliberately to appeal to patristic authority and agreement. The reference (above) from Cyprian is an example of such manipulation.
The fathers who were known to have been altered were catalogued in the books by Rufinus of Aquileia. Rufinus completed also the Ecclesiastical History of Eusebius of Ceasarea. Rufinus gives forth rules to observe of whether or not a work was altered. One of these was related to consistency in teaching. In other words, does the suspected alteration conflict and contradict anything that is elsewhere stated by the author? In Cyprian's example, this is clearly the case. Cyprian led a council of 87 bishops against the bishop of Rome, directly challenging his authority and teaching. The reference of Cyprian affirming the seat of Rome is in complete contradiction to his actions and teachings in many other instances, so the weight of evidence suggests that the reference in Cyprian to the Primacy of the Seat of Rome is clearly (IMO) an addition placed in there by later scribes.
"The whole collection of the letters of the martyr Cyprian is usually found in a single manuscript. Into this collection certain heretics who held a blasphemous doctrine about the Holy Spirit inserted a treatise of Tertullian on the Trinity, which was faultily expressed though he is himself an upholder of our faith: and from the copies thus made they wrote out a number of others; these they distributed through the whole of the vast city of Constantinople at a very low price: men were attracted by this cheapness and readily bought up the documents full of hidden snares of which they knew nothing; and thus the heretics found means of gaining credit for their impious doctrines through the authority of a great name." (Rufinus)
Posted 06 October 2012 - 02:39 PM
For example his translation of Origen's First Principles is as much a revision as it is a translation.
Posted 06 October 2012 - 10:36 PM
The then bishop of Rome, bishop Anastasius, with support from Jerome and bishop Theophilus of Alexandria, led the campaign (what Rufinus called a “Secret Society”) against Rufinus, bishop John of Jerusalem, bishop Eusebius of Caesarea and Saint Pamphilus of Caesarea; all of whom (apart from John) wrote translations of Origen with the same cautions of mistreatment. Rufinus was viscously attacked for translating Origen into Latin; which Jerome also had also done and was doing. Rome was appointing its own authorized translators (Jerome) and any textual criticism offered by Rufinus or Eusebius were unwelcome, as they had interfered with Rome’s greater objective of bringing all churches under submission to the chair of Peter.
Behind the scenes Rome was lobbying for superiority over all churches, and all events (such as the Councils) were being recorded and written in such a way to favor this perception of Rome’s authority. Many bishops and teachers of major cities were chosen and ordained by Rome, such as Athanasius, Jerome, Augustine, Basil, Nazianzen, Hillary (etc.) – all of whom maintained their loyalty to Rome as holding the ordained chair of Peter.
This is a complex subject, and it is not easy to unravel the cabal which worked toward Rome’s superiority. By recognizing that mischief was rife - of altering texts to support Roman authority (and other teachings) - is part of the necessary process. There is an extraordinary amount of literature which shows this practice at work, such as the pseudo collections of all the major fathers. Below are the links to Rufinus and the machinations then current toward hiding this mischief.
The Apology of Rufinus against Jerome
The Book Concerning the Adulteration of the Works of Origen
Translation of Pamphilus' Defence of Origen
The letter of bishop Anastasias to bishop John of Jerusalem
Rufinus’ letter to bishop Anastasias
Posted 12 October 2013 - 07:01 AM
Well, I was going to start a new thread, but I suppose I will just bump this one.
Often, in Orthodox apologetics, we encounter a rather curious, and frankly anti-patristic stance: The notion that The Bishop of Rome, as successor to St. Peter is just the same as any other bishop without any difference whatsoever. This rather "Low Petrine" view of Peter and his successors often causes faithful Orthodox who read the fathers conscientiously a great deal of confusion, because so many speak so highly of the Bishop of Rome and certainly accord him a particular kind of headship. I myself would have converted earlier from Roman Catholicism if I did not witness this unjustified "leveling of the playing field" when discussing Orthodox Rome.
That said, I solemnly reject any Papal notions of Supremacy in the sense of the Pope being more than a bishop, and I also reject the idea that the Pope has a legally defined universal Jurisdiction that is immediately of divine origin and empowers him to potentially cause confusion by unrestrained communication amongst the churches. These are "Absolutist" and Ultramontane views foreign to the fathers and the Orthodox Popes.
I posit what the fathers posited, and especially Pope St. Leo: A high View of Peter and the Bishop of Rome that is nevertheless subject to the overall patristic consensus, the canons and is of SYNODICAL origin. Moreover, as we shall see, St. Leo himself states that the Bishops of the greater cities were given greater authority on account of the city.
First, we must synthesize:
It is the patristic teaching of St. Irenaeus, St. Leo and the council of Chalcedon that on account of Romes Secular Status of imperial center, she has received the Primacy.
St. Irenaeus says:
"as it would be very tedious to enumerate in such a work the succession of all the Churches, we will trace that of the very great and very ancient Church and known of all, which was founded and established at Rome by the two very glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul; which possesses a tradition that comes from the Apostles as much as the Faith declared to men, and which has transmitted it to us through the succession of her Bishops; by that, we confound all those who in any manner whatsoever, either through blindness or bad intention, do not gather where they should; for every Church, that is to say, the faithful who are from all places, are obliged to go toward [convenire] that Church, because of the most powerful principality. In this Church, the tradition of the Apostles has been preserved by those who are of all countries."
The faithful would convene at Rome because it was the imperial center, and as such men from all nations, and therefore every apostolic tradition, would arrive and go to the Church of Rome which retained these traditions of the apostles from every country.
So we see the Church of Rome was great in the eyes of Irenaeus because of its Apostolic founders, and it carried influence because its faith was truly catholic, having inherited from abroad the various traditions of the apostles. I.E. The Church of Rome has greatness and priority on account of its being founded by the chief apostles, AND being at the center of the empire, in the imperial city.
Again, the Council of Chalcedon expressed, as we know, in its 28th canon:
"Following in every detail the decrees of the holy fathers, and taking cognizance of the canon just read of the 150 bishops dearly beloved of God who gathered under Theodosius the Great, emperor of pious memory, in the imperial city of Constantinople, New Rome, we ourselves have also decreed and voted the same things concerning the prerogatives of the most holy Church of the same Constantinople, New Rome. For the fathers rightly acknowledged the prerogatives of the throne of the Elder Rome because it was the Imperial City, and moved by the same consideration the 150 bishops beloved of God awarded the same prerogatives to the most holy throne of the New Rome, rightly judging that the city which is honored by the imperial authority and the senate and enjoys the same [civil] prerogatives as the imperial city of the Elder Rome, should also be magnified in ecclesiastical matters as she is, being second after her."
Now, St. Leo says in his 14th Letter to Anastasius, bishop of Thessalonika:
"The connection of the whole body makes all alike healthy, all alike beautiful: and this connection requires the unanimity indeed of the whole body, but it especially demands harmony among the priests. And though they have a common dignity, yet they have not uniform rank; inasmuch as even among the blessed Apostles, notwithstanding the similarity of their honourable estate, there was a certain distinction of power, and while the election of them all was equal, yet it was given to one to take the lead of the rest. From which model has arisen a distinction between bishops also, and by an important ordinance it has been provided that every one should not claim everything for himself: but that there should be in each province one whose opinion should have the priority among the brethren: and again that certain whose appointment is in the greater cities should undertake a fuller responsibility, through whom the care of the universal Church should converge towards Peter's one seat, and nothing anywhere should be separated from its Head."
This passage of St. Leo is absolutely essential for understanding the growing Orthodox Papal emphasis on Primacy. It establishes two things:
1. St. Leo obviously did not oppose the 28th canon of Chalcedon on the basis of its principle for determining rank, because he himself establishes the same principle; he opposed it because he felt it was a canonical violation. This is of epic importance, because of the wily claims of Roman apologists. St. Leo did not ever object to the councils reasoning regarding HIS OWN primacy, but in lowering Alexandria and Antioch to the 3rd and 4th positions within the Pentarchy, contravening the 6th canon of Nicea.
2. It establishes a truly ordered hierarchy that is neither fully pyramidal, nor is it a leveled playing field: I will call it, vanguardal, based on St. Leos terminology, using the word "converge", and not "submit." The vanguard. the wedge shaped formation taken by soldiers on the battle field is certainly a model of both strong and centralized unity, and conciliarity. We could say the church throughout the ages is like a bunch of bishops marching in vanguard formation: Certainly, one takes the lead at various levels, and the others follow, certainly there is a sense in which one is head and all follow that head as equals in episcopal dignity, but not episcopal rank. When some bishops are taken out by the arrows of heresy, the bishops simply reorder their formation, and the church suffers no change. If even the Leader, the Primate and head be struck, then those who were immediately behind him simply step forward, as we trudge onward toward the heavenly Jerusalem.
We should also acknowledge that earlier in this letter, St. Leo calls these various levels of episcopal ministry within the church Petrine when he specifically says the Role of Peter amongst the apostles is the model for the Role of Metropolitan amongst bishops. This should be even more revelatory about his understanding of himself amongst metropolitans and archbishops. So every Metropolitan and Every Patriarch and the Primatial Patriarch (Whether old Rome or New) is exercising a ministry based upon St. Peter's example, and is truly Petrine in that sense.
Now, the question may become: "Ok, great Rome was the first, and as the first played a unique role, analogous to the Role Peter played amongst the apostles, and the Metropolitan plays in his synod. But what does that mean?"
What it means is that Apostolic Canon 34 is very significant:
"The bishops of every nation must acknowledge him who is first among them and account him as their head, and do nothing of consequence without his consent; but each may do those things only which concern his own parish, and the country places which belong to it. But neither let him (who is the first) do anything without the consent of all; for so there will be unanimity, and God will be glorified through the Lord in the Holy Spirit."
In other words, when a Pope is Orthodox, he has a true priority and primacy within the Orthodox church. This means that, on account of his primacy and his position as first, that those affairs that are of universal scope (like heresy that gets out of control, or generally rampant disorder spreading in the church) are truly his legitimate concern.
Simultaneously, he does not have the right to micromanage Patriarchs, metropolitans and bishops. His immediate authority and jurisdiction is limited to his own diocese. As is any Archbishop, Metropolitan or Patriarch.
But nevertheless, a Metropolitan, while not having the right to micromanage his bishops, is still RESPONSIBLE for his entire metropolis. It is his duty to see it rightly ordered, and his bishops duty to do nothing without his consent. On the Patriarchal level, it is the Patriarchs business to administer his own diocese, and not be a burden to the metropolitans of his synod, who nevertheless, are not to initiate any activity that could have ramifications outside of his own diocese without Patriarchal consent. The patriarch has a real RESPONSIBILITY for his entire patriarchate, and it is his DUTY to see it well ordered. The same is true of the Primatial Bishop, the Protos of the church. The Primatial bishop has NO BUSINESS interfering in the lives of bishops and patriarchs when there is nothing of universal concern. Nevertheless, it is his DUTY as the FIRST, as the IMAGE of the whole, as the Spiritual head and icon of the church's unity to preoccupy himself with the things that are of universal concern to the church. By doing this properly, he will truly be the servant of the servants of God.
It is in THIS context that we can understand why it is absolutely ESSENTIAL for ORTHODOX Popes to sign off on things like ecumenical councils; because nothing ought to be done without their consent given that they occupy the first place, and being Orthodox, have the most important say, following apostolic canon 34. This explains the objections of the Papal legates at Chalcedon regarding the Robber council of Ephesus, where they accuse Dioscorus of holding a council without the consent of the apostolic see, something unheard of. This is not Papal supremacy, this is the practical effects of a real and working primacy. The fathers CLEARLY testify to the effects of this real and working primacy, and as an Orthodox Christian, I personally am a little embarrassed by other Orthodox who certainly ignore the historical record by seeking to downplay the role of the Orthodox popes. We can AFFIRM the principle of Papal primacy as orthodox and speak in perfectly glowing terms about the primacy and headship of the Pope , of the necessity of having his consent in matters pertaining to the whole church (when he is Orthodox) without being embarrassed to be Orthodox. This is one of those cases where we have to make fine distinctions, and honestly, not many people want to.
There is a great deal of hypocrisy I see, because we speak of the Head of the OCA, we Speak of the Head of the Russian Church, we Speak of the Head of the Greek church, all without prejudice to Christ, yet we are leery to speak of the "Head" of the Orthodox (Who is currently the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew) without prejudice to Christ. The hypocrisy is augmented by the fact that each of these churches is itself the fullness of the Catholic Church of Christ, on account of their love, faith and communion, yet we still refer to their earthly leaders as heads, yet we deny the Orthodox Popes were ever heads of the Catholic Church of Christ, when the fathers clearly asserted they were! I personally don't want to fall prey to this kind of hypocrisy, and the only reason I posted all this was to simply point out that, hey, there is an understanding of Peter, of Rome, of the Pope, of the Keys that is perfectly Orthodox, that didn't intimidate the fathers, and that doesn't have to be unnecessarily lowbrow when it comes to the Orthodox Papacy.
Let's allow ALL the fathers to shape our phronema, and ALL the things they unanimously held, let us also hold without prejudice, all without falling into the Heresy of Papal Supremacy and Infallibility.
Well, to wrap up, allow me to quote the 14th century saint, St. Symeon of Thessaloniki :
St. Symeon of the Thessaloniki ca. 1381-1429
"We should not contradict the Latins when they say that the Bishop of Rome is the first. This primacy is not harmful to the Church. But only let them show that he is true to the faith of Peter and his successors; then let him have all the privileges of Peter, let him be first, the head of all and the supreme hierarch. Only let him be faithful to the Orthodoxy of Sylvester and Agathon, Leo, Liberius, Martin and Gregory, then we too shall call him apostolic father and the first among hierarchs; then we will be under his authority not only as under Peter, but the very Saviour Himself." (PG 145, 120 AC)
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