Zoe was founded in 1907 by Archimandrite Eusebius Matthopoulos (1849-1929), an earlier follower and collaborator of Apostolos Makrakis, as an extra-ecclesiastical, semi-monastic organization patterned on religious orders in the West.
Life and Authorship
Archimandrite Seraphim (Papakostas) was born in a mountain village of central Greeece in 1892, and died in Athens in 1954. He studied theology at the University of Athens, thereafter serving as a high school teacher for two years, and later as a preacher at the Cathedral of Athens.
Father Seraphim passed the last twenty-five years of his life in the capacity of Superior of the "ZOE" Brotherhood of Theologians,[note 1] which was established by his predecessor, Archimandrite Eusebius Matthopoulos.[note 2]
As Superior of "ZOE", Father Seraphim Papacostas developed through his virtue, wisdom and training all the groups under the Brotherhood, contributing to the establishment of associations for parents, the educated, the young working class, students and educators.
Father Seraphim was distinguised as an author. Three of his books, The Parables of Christ, The Miracles of Christ and The Sermon on the Mount, became classics for the Orthodox in Greece. His liturgical works, Baptism, and A Handbook of the Divine Liturgy, are also of great significance.
In his writings he also dealt with modern social problems. In his books, The Problem of Parenthood and Birth Control, Morality and Health, Between the Two Wars, Postwar Problems and For the Hours of Pain, he attempts to provide counsel for the agony of our times. All of these books had a widespread circulation in Greece, with successive editions being published and warmly received.
Of all his books however, Repentance has had the most extensive circulation, having been published repeatedly.
Professor Christos Yannaras has remarked that: "like Matthopoulos he wrote like a Protestant pietist. In his book The Question of Conception, Papakostas faithfully follows Anglican and Roman Catholic opinion about contraception, presented as a quintessentially Orthodox view."
- "The aim of this Brotherhood has been to develop an intense spiritual life among the Greek people. To this end, the Brotherhood trains preachers, confesors, and Sunday School teachers and publishes the weekly journal "ZOE", as well as numerous instructive books of spiritual content." (REPENTANCE, p. 5.)
- A biography of Archim. Matthopoulos has been published in English by the S.P.C.K., London.
- Kallistos Ware, (Bishop of Diokleia). The Inner Kingdom. Volume 1 of Collected works. St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2000. p. 44. ISBN 9780881412093
- Christos Yannaras. Orthodoxy and the West: Hellenic Self-Identity in the Modern Age. Transl. Peter Chamberas and Norman Russell. Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2006. pp. 229-230.
- Archimandrite Seraphim Papacostas. REPENTANCE. 3rd Edition (Transl. from the 12th Greek edition). Ahtens: "ZOE" Brotherhood of Theologians, 1987. pp. 5-7.