Being Greek

“Fr. Florovsky … asserts that to be patristic also entails being ‘Greek’ –  ‘Greek’ not of course as it relates to the ethnic culture of the modern Greek nation, but ‘Greek’ in the sense of applying the Hellenistic mystical approach to spiritual life and the pursuit of theological knowledge, as well as the utilization and adaptation of Hellenic categories of thought:

“Hellenism in the Church has been … immortalized, having been incorporated into the very fabric of the reality of the Church as an eternal category of Christian existence … in a certain sense, it is impossible to enter into the rhythm of the liturgical sacraments without some degree of mystical re-Hellenization. ‘Hellenism is more than merely a historical and transitional episode in the Church’s life … All of the temptation for a ‘radical de-Hellenization’ of Christianity … cannot undermine the significance theology of Christianity [were] expressed and fortified precisely in Hellenic categories. Patristics … and Hellenism are … attendant aspects of a single and indivisible design.”


“The whole development of Russian theology since the seventeenth century, as taught in the schools, was but a dangerous borrowing from heterodox Western sources. [Florovsky]”

Harry Boosalis, Taught By God


3 thoughts on “Being Greek

  1. The point that many miss in what Fr. Dr. Florovsky and Dr. Boosalis are saying here is that the Church took the Hellenic culture and redefined it. It redefined its language and philosophy to express its beliefs and to correct errors that others were using to corrupt the teaching of the Church through the purely philosophical methods of Plato and Aristotle (Hellenic Philosophy); such as the teachings of Origen, Arius and Nestorius.

    Fr. Dr. John Romanides also speaks to these issues in his books Ancestral Sin and Franks, Romans, Feudelism and Doctrine: An interplay Between Theology and Society. For an overview of what Fr. Romanides taught on this subject one can look at Andrew Sopko’s book Prophet of Roman Orthodoxy: The Theology of John Romanides.

    Dr. Boosalis often refers to Fr. Romanidesas well as Fr. Florovsky in his Dogmatics lectures .

  2. The Latin says, “The pagans running the Roman Empire made Rome the Imperial City, therefore I get to be in charge.” The Greek says, “The pagans throughout the Empire knew Greek philosophy before they were baptized, therefore everyone has to theologize in a way I am comfortable with.”


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