Apostolos Makrakis

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Apostolos Makrakis (1831-1905), or Makrakes, was a controversial and charismatic Greek lay theologian, preacher, ethicist, philosopher and prolific writer. He was born in 1831 in the village of Katavati on Sifnos island, Greece, and died on December 25, 1905 in Athens, buried in his family chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary's Annunciation. His bust is in the square bearing his name at the entrance of the village.
Apostolos Makrakis 1831-1905: Greek lay theologian, preacher, ethicist, philosopher and writer.

Contents

Life

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[1].

Christology-Philosophy and Controversy

He criticized contemporary prelates of Simony, and also upheld the theory of the Trisyntheto (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[2]. 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 Logos", 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[3] 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."[4]

Preaching

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, which is what Makrakis was in fact criticized for.[5]

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[6]. 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)[7].

Criticism

  • British Orientalist and Professor of Theology at the University of Oxford Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare, a contemporary of Makrakis 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 (Refutation of all Heresies), 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.[8].
  • Dr. Constantine Cavarnos although referring 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, 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.[9]
  • Blessed Elder Philotheos (Zervakos) has written The Errors of Apostolos Makrakis. This is not yet in English translation, but it 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.

Excommunication

According to Dr. Christos Yannaras, "The Synod excommunicated [Makrakis] to silence him, invoking ludicrous theological arguments, such as his views on the tripartite composition of man. When he died, however, the Synod agreed to give him a church funeral."[10]

A slightly different account by the Very Rev. Archimandrite Isaias Simonopetritis, in The Orthodox Church and Proselytism, has it 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".[11]

Legacy

Apostolos Makrakis was a highly cultured layman and patriotic visionary whose vigorous religious movement became an interesting phenomenon of its time that shook the religious and national establishment. 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 unique and controversial Christological-Philosophical teachings, to his fight against Simony, he effectively 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 in the masses on the one hand, it was not received very well by the religious establishment, as Dr. Cavarnos, Elder Philotheos, Professors Yannaras, Conybeare and others have explained. His movement can be viewed as a unique example in the history of the Church of a type of proselytism from within the ranks of Orthodox Church (rather than from without by foreign religious forces). Ultimatelty all of this led to an intense conflict between Makrakis and the Church authorities.

Makrakis' ideas and the particular pietistic ethos which he promoted however did survive him in the Brotherhood Movements, which in the 20th century played a significant role in education and catechetical schools. These however unguardedly allied themselves with right-wing dictatorships, pure Greek patriotism being a key element in their ideology).[12]

Complete List of Works of Apostolos Makrakis

The following catalog of Makrakis' massive writing repertoire is based on the list found in Constantine Andronis' Apostolos Makrakis: An Evaluation of Half a Century (1966), ensuring that there is no duplication of titles below, and updating the list with more recent information and ISBN's where possible.[13].

Periodcals Published and Edited

  • Justice, 1866-67.
  • The Logos, 1868-1905.
  • Peace, 1874-76.

Works Translated Into English

  • 1) A New Original Philosophical System, [3 Vols, Divided into 6 Books], viz., Introduction to Philosophy; Psychology; Logic; Ethics; Theology; and Philosophy. Athens, 1876, 1883, and 1886. 2,075 pp.
Transl: Vol. I, An Invitation to Philosophy, Psychology and Logic; Vol. II, Ethics; Vol. III, Theology and Philosophy. 1940.
1a) Re-printed as:
  • A New Philosophy and the Philosophical Sciences: A New Original Philosophical System [2 Vols]. New York, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1940.
1b) Five of the Six Books above (excepting the book on Ethics), were re-issued as:
  • The Logos and the Holy Spirit in the Unity of Christian Thought: According to the Teachings of the Orthodox Church. 5 Vols. Chicago : Orthodox Christian Educational Society, c.1977.
Vol 1. The Orthodox Approach to Philosophy.
Vol 2. Psychology: An Orthodox Christian Perspective. ISBN 9780938366058
Vol 3. Logic: an Orthodox Christian approach.
Vol 4. Theology: An Orthodox Standpoint. ISBN 9780938366034
Vol 5. Philosophy: An Orthodox Christian Understanding.
  • 2) A Commentary on the Revelation of John the Divine.
  • 3) Interpretation of the Gospel Law, and, Our Duties to God and Christ. b) A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Two vols. in one.
  • 4) Divine and Sacred Catechism. ISBN 9781432516703
  • 5) The Foundation of Philosophy.
  • 6) The Bible and the World, An interpretation of the first three chapters of Genesis in extenso and from a philosophical point of view, and, Triluminal Science, Surveying the Universe and Explaining Everything (1 vol). ISBN 9780938366188
  • 7) Interpretation of the Entire New Testament (except the Book of Revelation). 2 vols. ISBN 9780938366089
  • 8) An Interpretation of the Book of Revelation.
  • 9) The Paramount Doctrine of Orthodoxy (3 books in one vol).
  • 10) Commentary on the Psalms of David and the Nine Odes. ISBN 9780938366195
  • 11) Kyriakodromion, or Sunday Sermonary, and Festal Sermons. (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).
  • 12) All in one volume:
I. Three Great Friday Sermons;
II. Three Sermons on the Death on the Cross and the Glorious Resurrection;
III. The Ascension into Heaven;
IV. Christ, Announcing His Nature;
V. All the Parables of the Gospel;
VI. The Truth in Christianity;
VII. Testimonies Concerning the Super Holy Virgin.
  • 13) Freemasonry Known by Masonic Diploma.
  • 14) Papal Primacy and Innovations of Roman Catholic Church. ISBN 9780938366393
  • 15) Scriptural Refutations of Pope's Primacy, and, Misc. Studies and Speeches.
  • 16) Memoir on the Nature of the Church of Christ. ISBN 9780938366218
  • 17) The Two Contrariant Schools, and, Concerning the Establishment of a Christian University.
  • 18) An Orthodox-Protestant Debate.
  • 19) 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.
  • 20) Proofs of the Authenticity of the Septuagint.
  • 21) God's Law and Commandments, the Decalogue and the Gospel.
  • 22) The Repose of Our Most Holy and Glorious Lady the Theotokos.
  • 23) The City of Zion, or The Church Built Upon the Rock.
  • 24) Philosophical Discussions.
  • 25) The Real Truth Concerning Apostolos Makrakis.
  • 26) The RUDDER or PEDALION, of the Metaphorical Ship of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Orthodox Christians (All the Sacred and Divine Canons). (Editor). ISBN 9780938366003
  • 27) The Trial of Jesus Christ (by Abba Aristarchus).
  • 28) The Idea of Being.
  • 29) The Roman Rite in Orthodoxy.
  • 30) Spiritual Discourses for the Orthodox Christians.
  • 31) The Orthodox Doctrine on Development and Advancement, and, Perfection of the Human Nature of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • 32) The Orthodox Definition of Political Science.
  • 33) Appraisals of the Works of Apostolos Makrakis by Eminent Authorities. 300 pp.
  • 34) Orthodox Christian Meditations.
  • 35) Hellenism and the Unfinished Revolution: Twenty Addresses Delivered in Concord Square, Athens, Greece in 1866.
  • 36) 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.
  • 37) The Truth in Christianity: The One True Doctrine and The Many False Ones.

Untranslated or Unpublished Works

  • 1) A New Educational System, in three volumes, comprising the Formation, Meaning, and Use of Words. 885 pp.
  • 2) Interpretative Logical System; or, Interpretation of the Whole New Testament, verse by verse, including Revelation. 3,100 pp.
  • 3) A Commentary on the Gospel According to St. Matthew, from notes taken at his lectures. Unpublished. About 1000 pp.
  • 4) A Commentary on the Gospel of St. John, from lecture notes. Unpublished. About 500 pp.
  • 5) A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. Unpublished. About 500 pp.
  • 6) A Commentary on the Song of Songs. 150 pp.
  • 7) Three Philosophical Dissertations and the Tree of Life. Written in French, and translated into Greek by Dr. A. Lekatsas. 388 pp.
  • 8) An Apology Concerning the Soul. 310 pp.
  • 9) The Tricompositeness of Man Proved by Fathers of the Church. 284 pp. (A brilliantly written and scholarly dissertation).
  • 10) Logical Refutation of an Ironclad Refutation. 196 pp. (An answer to a critic who undertook to criticize Makrakis' doctrine concerning the threefold nature of man).
  • 11) History of Human Happiness and Unhappiness. 630 pp.
  • 12) Trial of Philosophy and of the Doctrines of Western Schools. 160 pp.
  • 13) Miscellaneous Thoughts and Orations. Total some 300 pp.
  • 14) The Nationally-Glorified Work of 1821. 94 pp.
  • 15) Freemasonry. 150 pp.
  • 16) The Christian Religion.

Further reading

  • Andronis, Constantine (Ed.). Apostolos Makrakis: An Evaluation of Half a Century. Chicago: Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1966.
  • 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.[14]

References

  1. Metallinos, G.D. Ekpaideutike Hellenike Enkyklopaideia: Pankosmio Biographiko Lexiko. Athena, 1983-1988. Tom. 1-9B.
  2. Tolika, Olympia N. Epitomo Enkyklopaidiko Lexiko Tes Byzantines Musikes. Athena, 1993.
  3. Kierkegaard, Soren, b. Copenhagen, Denmark, 1813; d. 1855. Philosopher and religious writer. He was a precursor of the existentialists and a major influence on Protestant theology. He argued that advancing through the three stages of the aesthetic, the ethicsl and the religious by means of an "existential dialectic" brings the individual closer to God. A leap of faith is required; reason is not a help. But awareness of the relationship to God leads to despair as the individual contrasts temporality with eternal truth. His major works include Either/Or (1843) and Fear and Trembling (1843). (The New York Times Guide to Essential Knowledge. 1st Ed.. St. Martin's Press, NY, Oct.2004. pp.1020.)
  4. 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.
  5. Anastassiadis, Anastassios. Religion and Politics in Greece: The Greek Church's 'Conservative Modernization' in the 1990's. Research in Question, No.11, January 2004.
  6. Triantaphyllu, Kostas N. Historikon Lexikon Ton Patron. 2. ekd. Patrai, 1980.
  7. Zoes, Leonidas Ch. Lexikon Historikon Kai Laographikon Zakynthu. Athenai, 1963. Tom. 1.
  8. *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.
  9. 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.
  10. Yannaras, Christos. Orthodoxy and the West: Hellenic Self-Identity in the Modern Age. Transl. Peter Chamberas and Norman Russell. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Brookline, Mass., 2006. p.224.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Andronis, Constantine (Ed.). Apostolos Makrakis: An Evaluation of Half a Century. Chicago: Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1966. pp.337-339.
  14. 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.

Sources and External links

  • Andronis, Constantine (Ed.). Apostolos Makrakis: An Evaluation of Half a Century. Chicago: Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1966.
  • 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. Archim. 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)
  • Yannaras, Christos. Orthodoxy and the West: Hellenic Self-Identity in the Modern Age. Transl. Peter Chamberas and Norman Russell. Holy Cross Orthodox Press, Brookline, Mass., 2006.

Biographical Sources 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.
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