Brotherhood of Theologians Zoe

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The Brotherhood of Theologians Zoe, more commonly as the Zoe Brotherhood, is a semi-monastic Orthodox organization in Greece similar to religious orders in the West. Since its founding early in the twentieth century the Zoe Brotherhood has been engaged in various activities in Greece including teaching, preaching, leading school and youth groups, and publishing. Zoe is the Greek word for 'life'.

The Zoe Brotherhood was founded by Fr. Eusebios (Matthopoulos) in 1907. Fr. Eusebius was greatly influenced by the extremely controversial and excommunicated nineteenth century personality Apostolos Makrakis. However, Fr. Eusebios ceased relations with Makrakis in 1887 [1]. Later, he was attributed the title of the "general preacher of the Nation" and spent more than ten years touring Greek regions and preaching the gospel, under the blessing of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece[2]. Fr. Eusebios brought together groups of unmarried and highly disciplined men consisting of both ordained priests and laymen, but who were not necessarily monks. The members of the Brotherhood were bound by monastic-like vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and they met annually in a common retreat. Some contend that brotherhoods in Greece, like Zoe, tend to ignore theological doctrines and replace them with an emphasis on puritanical ethics. [3]. However, this is not true, since both Zoe and its successor, the Brotherhood of Theologians Soter, have published many dogmatic books. The most well-known is the "Orthodox Dogmatics" by Panagiotis Trempelas. Moreover, these brotherhoods have been adamantly anti-ecumenical in their views.

Founded at the time that parts of Greece continued to gain their independence from the Ottoman Turks, the Zoe Brotherhood has been credited by some with revitalizing the Orthodox Church in Greece through the establishment of many schools and other organizations. The concept of their popular youth organization came to be copied in other Orthodox countries. Following World War II, the Brotherhood expanded their publishing program with distribution of hundred of thousands of Zoe sponsored publications.

In the late 1950s and into the 1960s, the Brotherhood began to have serious internal conflicts. These conflicts centered over charges of "Westernizing" and "Pietisticism" by a number of younger theologians. The theologian Panagiotes Trembelas charged that Zoe was deviating away from the principles originally outlined by Fr. Eusebios. The conflict resulted in a split that saw the formation, in 1960, of a rival organization called Soter (Gr. Σωτηρ, meaning 'Savior'). [4] Also, the development of close ties by the Brotherhood with the governing "Colonels" in the 1960s also damaged the Brotherhood's reputation, when the dictatorship of the Colonels fell in 1974.

The Zoe Brotherhood publishing house makes available many Greek liturgical books and periodicals including holy scriptures in Greek that are used in Church.


  1. Stavros Bozovitis, Associations and Brotherhoods in the Body of the living Christ, Athens 2006
  2. Eustace Bastas, "Eusebios Matthopoulos", Soter Publications
  3. [[1]] Nick Trakakis, Piety and Pietism, Department of Philosophy, Monash University.
  4. [[2]] Nick Trakakis.


Greek Wikipedia