Triadological Polemic in the Writings of Symeon

Hilarion Alfeyev

in St. Symeon the New Theologian and Orthodox Tradition

Published in print June 2000 | ISBN: 9780198270096
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191683893 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Triadological Polemic in the Writings of Symeon

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Symeon the New Theologian's three ‘Theological Discourses’ and ‘Hymn 21’ are entirely devoted to the polemic on triadological matters. What was the underlying reason for this polemic? The answer to this question, which has not yet been satisfactorily investigated by scholars, will reveal more about the place of Symeon in the history of Orthodox theology. In the discourses, the main subject of discussion is Jesus Christ's words ‘My Father is greater than I’ (John 14:28), whereas in the hymn it is the ‘intellectual or actual’ distinction between the Father and Son. The unknown opponent in the discourses is accused by Symeon of subordinationism and hidden Arianism, whereas Stephen is criticized in the hymn mainly for his attempt to explain the distinction between the Father and the Son in a rational way. Symeon's trinitaritarism might be characterized as both highly traditional and somewhat synthetic: his theology is a combination of the heritage of the triadological polemic of the preceding centuries with a strong apophaticism taken from Dionysius and a monastic resistance to the discussion of theological matters.

Keywords: Symeon the New Theologian; Theological Discourses; Hymn 21; Orthodox theology; Jesus Christ; subordinationism; Arianism; Stephen; apophaticism; trinitarianism

Chapter.  5012 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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