Apostolos Makrakis was a charismatic lay theologian gifted with many talents and a leader of the awakening movement in post-revolutionary Greece. He finished his secondary school training in his birthplace and later studied in Constantinople, where he worked for a short time as a teacher and published his first treatises. Being a person of strong character and with a disposition towards vigorous inspection of things, he came to a collision course with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and with the parents of his students, the grounds being his teaching of frequent communion. In 1862 he went to Paris, where he worked as a private tutor, remaining there for two years and learning about modern European philosophy up to Hegel. His defensive disposition was expressed quickly with the writing in French of four treatises against Western (and especially Cartesian) philosophy, and in favour of Christianity. After a brief trip to Athens, he returned in 1865 to Constantinople, where he continued his work for a year, and in 1866 he settled permanently in Athens, where he also reposed.
Makrakis was manifested upon the Greek nation during a multifarious and therefore very difficult epoch. The re-emerging civilization, the foreign military presence, the irregular political situation, the activity of foreign influences (especially religious propaganda), the attachment to "Enlightened Europe", and the uninterrupted adulteration of traditional criteria were problems that would not leave a spirit as restless as his indifferent or in peace.
And so Makrakis, wanting to contribute to the Catholic rebirth of the nation, regarded as the most basic element in this the rebirth of the Church, as the ark and instrument of the new national life.
Christology-Philosophy and Controversy
He criticized contemporary prelates of Simony, and also upheld the theory of the "Trisynthetou" (triple constitution of humanity, i.e, Psyche (soul), Pneuma (spirit), Soma (body). He was arguably one of the most important religious personalities of the 19th century, and one whose innovations turned the Holy Synod against him. He was condemned and jailed several times. He was also an extremely prolific writer whose works were widely translated outside of Greece.
He founded the "School of the Logos" in Athens in 1876 and titled himself "Professor of philosophy and the philosophical sciences in the Greek nation" (i.e. "Philosophy", as "Love of the WORD" (Philos + Sofia = lover of Wisdom), so that in this sense philosophy becomes applicable to and interchangeable with the theological discipline of "Christology"). In a peer-reviewed book review of five of Makrakis' volumes, R.P. Scharlemann states that:
- "Makrakis intended to be a teacher of the people of Greece,...this child of the revolution of 1821. The Kierkegaard who speaks here has a Hellenistic soul. Philosophy, 'the love and science of the God-equal WORD, or LOGOS,' has as its purpose 'the acquisition of God's omniscience...and the deification of the philosophical investigator.' Its object is the same as that of religion and government. The system traces the journey of the soul in its ascent from the 'primary cognition [noein]' through the philosophical sciences to its deification. The means of ascent are provided by the 'right reason' that is the object of logic and is incarnate in Jesus Christ.....right reason being the nexus between temporal fact and eternal being. In this system, the primary cognition, or what phenomenology might call the basic intellectual intuition, is that I exist, the world exists, and God exists...The soul is conscious of its own existence, perceives the world, and knows God's existence, but it does not know the nature of each of them. The aim of science is to make the unknown known. Philosophy as Christology and Christology as Philosophy, it is at least a theme that makes one think."
Preaching in Patras and Zakynthos
Apostolos Makrakis was the most influential figure on the development of the Greek Church in the 19th and 20th centuries. As a preacher he was a new phenomenon in newly reborn Greece. Preaching during that period mostly was an activity of the marginal competitors of the Church, so that preaching, especially outside the temples by non-authorized figures, was violently repressed. This was in line with the tradition of the Church of Late Antiquity, in that once Christian Churches were solidly established, clerics' activities were regulated and disciplined in order to avoid ecstatic innovations, something for which Makrakis was in fact criticized for.
Makrakis preached to large crowds in Patra, who came out in awe to listen to his "nation-saving" teachings on June 18, 24, 27, and July 16, 1876, having as his most fervent followers Theodoros Kapetanon, Ioannis Arnellon, and Nikolaos Christogiannopoulos. After this a number of publications such as Achaia, Phoenix, and Aratos strongly attacked his teachings, while others such as the Peloponnesus supported him. Defenders of Makrakis included a theologian of Patras named Ieronymos, as well as the spiritual father of Patras, Fr. Athanasios Georgiou, who recommended he be exiled for two years lest he be judged by the Synod. For a period of thirty years Makrakis visited Patras, in 1876 remaining there for forty-days teaching the people.
Continuing his quest of preaching to the nation, he arrived on the island of Zakynthos in July 1892, and again in August 1893, teaching out of exile. A critic of Makrakis from Zakynthos was the primary school teacher Ioannis Siderokastritis, who wrote O Anamorphotis Makrakes (The Uneducated Makrakis).
Although Dr. Constantine Cavarnos has referred to Makrakis as "perhaps the most outstanding philosopher and religious teacher of modern Greece," in reviewing Makrakis' important treatise on Soteriology, the Divine and Sacred Catechism, he states that Makrakis' teaching is marred by the exaggerated importance he attributes to the Devil, by his narrow conception of Orthodoxy, and his invective against other religious denominations. On the other hand he identifies that there are a number of things in his vigorously written book that should interest the student of religion, including the lucid and systematic exposition of the doctrines of the Eastern Church by a conservative representative of it; the firm belief in perfect divine justice; the very high conception of man — man, according to Makrakis is the most perfect work of God, higher even than the angels; and the profound conviction in, and the attempt throughout the book to show, the perfect harmony between experience, reason, and religion.
Blessed Elder Philotheos (Zervakos) has also written about Makrakis, in his book The Errors of Apostolos Makrakis (not in English translation yet, but which is summarized in part in Dr. Constantine Cavarnos's book Blessed Elder Philotheos Zervakos). In his criticism the Elder emphasises that he does not mean to say that there is nothing of value in Makrakis' writings, especially the earlier ones, but that they must be approached with caution.
British Professor of Theology and Orientalist at the University of Oxford Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare, writing in 1903, proposed that if we cut through the many mists of spiteful exaggeration often attributed to Makrakis' life story,
- we can discern that his teaching exactly agrees with that ascribed to the Ebionites and to Theodotus of Rome by Hippolytus in his Philosophumena, Book VII, chap. 34. A not very dissimilar form of Adoptionist doctrine still survives among the dissenters of Russia and of Armenia, and I suspect that Makrakis had come into contact with them..
Apostolos Makrakis was a highly cultured layman and patriotic visionary whose vigorous religious movement became an interesting phenomenon that shook the establishment of the time. From believing that he had been divinely chosen as the liberator of Byzantium from the Turk, to his preaching tours throughout Greece focusing on Soteriology, advocating his particular Christological-Philosophical stance, to his fight against Simony, he truly became a leader of the awakening religious and national movement in modern Hellas. In the process he also became a symbol for the freedom of religious thought and expression; while his message found strong support amongst many from the masses on the one hand, it justifyably was not received very well by the religious establishment, as Dr. Cavarnos and Elder Philotheos among others have explained. In his article The Orthodox Church and Proselytism, the Very Rev. Archimandrite Isaias Simonopetritis writes that while Makrakis was condemned by the official Church and the monasteries of Mount Athos, he was not excommunicated, for fear that his numerous followers among the middle classes of Athens would turn him into a martyr figure. His ideas and the particular pietistic ethos which he promoted survived in the Brotherhood Movements which in the 20th century played a significant role in education and catechetical schools, but unguardedly allied themselves with right-wing dictatorships, pure Greek patriotism being a key element in their ideology.
List of Works
- The Bible and the world; or God's Great Book studied in the Light of His Small One. Triluminal Science, Surveying the Universe and Explaining Everything, etc. Proofs of the Authenticity of the Septuagint.
- The City of Zion, or the Church Built Upon the Rock: i.e. The Human Society in Christ.
- Commentary On The Psalms of David.
- Concerning Our Duties to God.
- Divine and Sacred Catechism: As Taught by the Holy Spirit and its Official Instruments from the Day of the Pentecost until the Last Ecumenical Synod; Expounded in Comparison and Contrast with the Contradictions and Misinter-pretation of the Devil.
- The Foundation Of Philosophy.
- Hellenism and the Unfinished Revolution: Twenty Addresses Delivered in Concord Square, Athens, Greece in 1866.
- The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Nature, Salvationary Doctrines, and Fountain of Faith.
- Homily on the Eight Beatitudes, or The Sermon on the Mountain: A Summary Teaching Delivered by Apostolos Makrakis in the Island of Leukas, Greece, on August 29, 1886, During his Second Gospel-Tour.
- The Human Nature of Christ; Growth and Perfection According to the Teaching of the Orthodox Catholic Church.
- The Innovations of the Roman Church.
- Interpretation Of the Book Of Revelation.
- Interpretation of the Entire New Testament.
- Kyriakodromion (Sunday Sermonary): a Collection of Sermons on the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the epistles Appointed to be Read in Orthodox Christian Churches Every Sunday from Easter to Palm Sunday.
- Logic: An Orthodox Christian Approach.
- The Logos and the Holy Spirit in the Unity of Christian Thought: According to the Teachings of the Orthodox Church.
- Memoir On The Nature of the Church of Christ. Trans: D. Cummings. New York: Christian Brotherhoods Zealots of Orthodoxy and John the Baptist, 1947.
- Orthodox Christian Meditations.
- An Orthodox-Protestant Dialogue.
- The Paramount Doctrines of Orthodoxy.
- Philosophical Discussions, Comprising Articles Concerning the New Philosophy & Philosophical Sciences of Apostolos Makrakis; And, the Philosophy of Spinoza and its Pernicious Errors.
- Political Philosophy Of The Orthodox Church.
- Psychology: An Orthodox Christian Perspective.
- A Revelation of Treasure Hid: Together with Three Important Lectures: I. Concerning Freedom - II. Concerning the Motherland. - III. Concerning Justice and Apostolical Canons Respecting Baptism.
- The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons (Editor).
- A Scriptural Refutation of the Pope's Primacy and Miscellaneous Studies and Speeches. Transl. out of the original Greek by D. Cummings - Chicago (III): Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1952. - VIII, 175 p.
- Theology: An Orthodox Standpoint.
- Three Great Friday Sermons, and Other Theological Discourses.
- The Truth in Christianity: The One True Doctrine and The Many False Ones. (article)
- The Two Contrariant Schools: Contrasted with a View to the Comprehension of Both. Concerning the Establishment of a Christian University in Athens: To Supersede the Existing Satanic Perversity.
- Andronis, Constantine (Ed.). Apostolos Makrakis: An Evaluation of Half a Century. Chicago: Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1966. (A complete list of the staggering amount of works of Makrakis is given in English, pp.337-339).
- Biography: Apostolos Makrakis An Evaluation of a Century on Blogspot. (Includes a lengthy biography of Makrakis apparently taken from pp.13-21 of Andronis' work; also links to this OrthodoxWiki article).
- Stephanou, Archim. Eusebius A.. The Importance of Apostolos Makrakis to Orthodoxy. Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School, 1958.
- Stephanou, Archim. Eusebius A.. Apostolos Makrakis, the Prophet and Thinker of Modern Greece. 1954.
- Zervakos, Blessed Elder Philotheos. The Errors of Apostolos Makrakis.
- ↑ Metallinos, G.D. Ekpaideutike Hellenike Enkyklopaideia: Pankosmio Biographiko Lexiko. Athena, 1983-1988. Tom. 1-9B.
- ↑ Tolika, Olympia N. Epitomo Enkyklopaidiko Lexiko Tes Byzantines Musikes. Athena, 1993.
- ↑ Scharlemann, R.P.. Peer Reviewed Book Review of Makrakis': The Logos and Holy Spirit in the Unity of Christian Thought, 5 Vols: Vol 1:The Orthodox Approach to Philosophy, Vol 2:Psychology An Orthodox Christian Perspective, Vol 3: Logic An Orthodox Christian Approach, Vol 4:Theology An Orthodox Standpoint, Vol 5:Philosophy An Orthodox Christian Understanding. Translated from the Greek by Denver Cummings: Orthodox Christian Education Society, 1977. Journal of Religion 59 no 4 O 1979, p 488-490.
- ↑ Anastassiadis, Anastassios. Religion and Politics in Greece: The Greek Church's 'Conservative Modernization' in the 1990's. Research in Question, No.11, January 2004.
- ↑ Triantaphyllu, Kostas N. Historikon Lexikon Ton Patron. 2. ekd. Patrai, 1980.
- ↑ Zoes, Leonidas Ch. Lexikon Historikon Kai Laographikon Zakynthu. Athenai, 1963. Tom. 1.
- ↑ Cavarnos, Constantine (Dr). Reviewed Work: Divine and Sacred Catechism by Apostolos Makrakis. Transl. from the Greek by the Hellenic Christian Society, Chicago, Illinois. New York: Cosmos Greek-American Printing Co., 1946. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 1949; XVII-265-266.
- ↑ *Conybeare, Frederick Cornwallis. Reviewed Works: The Student's History of the Greek Church by Rev. A.H. Hore (M.A.). London and Oxford: James Parker, 1902. 514 pp.; Geschichte der Orientalischen Kirchen von 1453-1898 by Prof. A. Diomedes Kyriakos. Leipzig, 1902. American Journal of Theology, Vol.7, No,3 (July 1903). p.562.
- ↑ Simonopetritis, Very Rev. Archiman. Isaias. "The Orthodox Church and Proselytism." Orthodox Herald, Official Publication of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, September–October 2001, No. 120-121.
- ↑ While Elder Philotheos's book on Makrakis has not been translated yet, there is a very careful summary of its contents, as well as those of two shorter publications of his on the subject, in Dr. Constantine Cavarnos's book Blessed Elder Philotheos Zervakos, Vol. 11 in the Modern Orthodox Saints series (ISBN 0914744941) from the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies. Note that Elder Philotheos emphasises that he does not mean to say that there is nothing of value in Makrakis' writings, especially the earlier ones, only that they must be approached with caution.
- Anastassiadis, Anastassios. Religion and Politics in Greece: The Greek Church's 'Conservative Modernization' in the 1990's. Research in Question, No.11, January 2004. (pdf format).
- Cavarnos, Constantine (Dr). Reviewed Work: Divine and Sacred Catechism by Apostolos Makrakis. Transl. from the Greek by the Hellenic Christian Society, Chicago, Illinois. New York: Cosmos Greek-American Printing Co., 1946. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 1949; XVII-265-266.
- Conybeare, Frederick Cornwallis. Reviewed Works: The Student's History of the Greek Church by Rev. A.H. Hore (M.A.). London and Oxford: James Parker, 1902. 514 pp.; Geschichte der Orientalischen Kirchen von 1453-1898 by Prof. A. Diomedes Kyriakos. Leipzig, 1902. American Journal of Theology, Vol.7, No,3 (July 1903). pp.555-563.
- Le Guillou, Marie Joseph. "Aux sources des mouvements spirituels de l'Églises de Grèce." in Istina 7 1960, p 95-128,133-152,261-278. (in French).
- Maloney, George A., S.J. A History of Orthodox Theology Since 1453. Norland Publishing, Massachusetts, 1976.
- Redington, Norman Hugh (Ed). "Apostolos Makrakis." The Saint Pachomius Library: A First Draft for a Living Encyclopaedia of Orthodox Christianity.
- Scharlemann, R.P.. Peer Reviewed Book Review of Makrakis': The Logos and Holy Spirit in the Unity of Christian Thought, 5 Vols: Vol 1:The Orthodox Approach to Philosophy, Vol 2:Psychology An Orthodox Christian Perspective, Vol 3: Logic An Orthodox Christian Approach, Vol 4:Theology An Orthodox Standpoint, Vol 5:Philosophy An Orthodox Christian Understanding. Translated from the Greek by Denver Cummings: Orthodox Christian Education Society, 1977. Journal of Religion 59 no 4 O 1979, p 488-490.
- Simonopetritis, Very Rev. Archiman. Isaias. "The Orthodox Church and Proselytism." Orthodox Herald, Official Publication of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, September–October 2001, No. 120-121.
- Todt, Klaus-Peter. “Markaris, Apostolos.” in Biographisch-Bibliographisches KIRCHENLEXICON, Band V (1993) Spalten 599-602. (in German).
Biographical References in Greek
- Metallinos, G.D. Ekpaideutike Hellenike Enkyklopaideia: Pankosmio Biographiko Lexiko. Athena, 1983-1988. Tom. 1-9B.
- Tolika, Olympia N. Epitomo Enkyklopaidiko Lexiko Tes Byzantines Musikes. Athena, 1993.
- Triantaphyllu, Kostas N. Historikon Lexikon Ton Patron. 2. ekd. Patrai, 1980.
- Zoes, Leonidas Ch. Lexikon Historikon Kai Laographikon Zakynthu. Athenai, 1963. Tom. 1.