Apostolos Makrakis

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Apostolos Makrakis (1831-1905), or Makrakes (family from Mystras region, 1778-), was a charismatic Greek lay theologian, preacher, ethicist, philosopher and prolific writer. He was born in 1831 in the village of Katavati on Siphnos 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 theologian, preacher, ethicist, philosopher and writer.


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 (Ekpaideutike Enkyklopaedeia). 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 (Ekpaideutike Enkyklopaedeia).

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 (Tolika). 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. To put this in the proper context, a doctoral study by Anastassios Anastassiadis states that 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 Patras, who came out in awe to listen to his "nation-saving" teachings on June 18, 24, 27, and July 16, 1876. According to Traintaphyllu, while preaching in in Patras, Makrakis had as his most fervent followers Theodoros Kapetanon, Ioannis Arnellon, and Nikolaos Christogiannopoulos (1885). 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, recommending he be exiled for two years lest he be judged by the Synod (Triantaphyllu). 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 (L. Zoes). A critic of Makrakis from Zakynthos was the primary school teacher Ioannis Siderokastritis, who wrote O Anamorphotis Makrakes (The Uneducated Makrakis).

Legacy and Criticism

In his article on 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."

Makrakis has also been criticized in a work by the Blessed Elder Philotheos (Zervakos) entitled The Errors of Apostolos Makrakis.

List of Works

  • The Rudder of the Orthodox Catholic Church: The Compilation of the Holy Canons (editor).
  • 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 Holy Orthodox Church: Her nature, salvationary doctrines, and fountain of faith.
  • Orthodox Christian Meditations.
  • 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.
  • Three Great Friday sermons, and other theological discourses.
  • The paramount doctrines of Orthodoxy.
  • Commentary On The Psalms of David.
  • Interpretation of the Entire New Testament.
  • Interpretation Of The Book Of Revelation.
  • Theology: An Orthodox Standpoint.
  • 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 Logos and the Holy Spirit in the unity of Christian thought: According to the teachings of the Orthodox Church.
  • Political Philosophy Of The Orthodox Church.
  • Psychology: An Orthodox Christian Perspective.
  • The Foundation Of Philosophy.
  • Philosophical discussions, comprising articles concerning the New philosophy & philosophical sciences of Apostolos Makrakis; And, the philosophy of Spinoza and its pernicious errors.
  • Logic: An Orthodox Christian Approach.
  • An Orthodox-Protestant Dialogue.
  • Memoir On The Nature of the Church of Christ. Trans: D. Cummings. New York: Christian Brotherhoods Zealots of Orthodoxy and John the Baptist, 1947.
  • 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.
  • The innovations of the Roman Church.
  • Concerning Our Duties to God.
  • The Truth in Christianity: The One True Doctrine and The Many False Ones. (article)
  • The city of Zion, or the church built upon the rock: i.e. The human society in Christ.
  • 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 human nature of Christ; Growth and perfection according to the teaching of the Orthodox Catholic Church.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hellenism and the unfinished revolution: Twenty addresses delivered in Concord Square, Athens, Greece in 1866/

Further reading

  • The Importance of Apostolos Makrakis to Orthodoxy. (Archimandrite) Eusebius A. Stephanou. Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Theological School, 1958.
  • Apostolos Makrakis, the Prophet and Thinker of Modern Greece. (Archimandrite) Eusebius A. Stephanou, 1954.
  • Apostolos Makrakis: An Evaluation of Half a Century. Editor: Andronis, Constantine. Chicago: Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1966. (A complete list of the staggering amount of works of Makrakis is given in English, pp.337-339).

Sources and External links

  • Maloney, George A., S.J. A History of Orthodox Theology Since 1453. Norland Publishing, Massachusetts, 1976.
  • Todt, Klaus-Peter (in German). “Markaris, Apostolos.” in Biographisch-Bibliographisches KIRCHENLEXICON, Band V (1993)Spalten 599-602.
  • Very Rev. Archiman. Isaias Simonopetritis. "The Orthodox Church and Proselytism." Orthodox Herald, Official Publication of the Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, September–October 2001, No.: 120-121.
  • 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. by Scharlemann, R.P., in: Journal of Religion 59 no 4 O 1979, p 488-490.
  • Le Guillou, Marie Joseph.(in French). "Aux sources des mouvements spirituels de l'Églises de Grèce." in Istina 7 1960, p 95-128,133-152,261-278. (Contents: La renaissance spirituelle du XVIIIe siècle. Église et état au XIXe et au XXe siècle. Apostolos Makrakis: ses intuitions apostoliques et spirituelles).

Biographical References in Greek

  • Ekpaideutike Hellenike Enkyklopaideia: Pankosmio Biographiko Lexiko. - Athena, 1983-1988. - Tom. 1-9B
  • Zoes, Leonidas Ch.: Lexikon Historikon Kai Laographikon Zakynthu. - Athenai, 1963. - Tom. 1
  • Triantaphyllu, Kostas N.: Historikon Lexikon Ton Patron. - 2. ekd. - Patrai, 1980
  • Tolika, Olympia N.: Epitomo Enkyklopaidiko Lexiko Tes Byzantines Musikes. - Athena, 1993