[P.1041] The book «Saint Macarius of Egypt. Spiritual Words and Epistles. Collection of Type I (Vatic. graec. 694)» prepared by A.G. Dunaev, includes: Introduction (p.11—370), Translation of the texts by Macarius/Symeon (p.371—836), Comments (p.837—899), Indices (p.901—988), Bibliography (p.989—1022) and Addenda (p.1023—1040).

Part I of the Introduction is devoted to the analysis of two basic problems of the Corpus Macarianum (further called CM) — its authorship (section I) and Messalianism (section II).

The first chapter of section I deals with all the «outer» ancient facts that concern literary creative activity of St. Macarius of Egypt. The analysis of stylistics and biblical quotations of the so called «First Letter», mentioned by Gennadius of Marseilles, shows that the authors of the Letter and CM are different persons. It is hardly probable that the true author of the First Letter was St. Macarius of Egypt; however, it is not my question. Nevertheless the First Letter was included in the Syrian CM not later than the year 534. Though the Syrian CM cannot be quite reliable, as it contains works of different authors, the question of the origin of the Syrian CM arises. The analysis of Coptic sources shows that the joining of the First Letter to CM took place within the framework of Patericon tradition. Collation of CM I, 29 with parallel texts, carried through for different reasons more than once (p.72—79, 143—145, 878—879), enables us to conclude that there are many interjacent stages and versions of CM, and, at that, CM I, 29 goes back to the primary text, while all other variants (including CM I, 17) reflect, to different extent, the second (abridged) variant. The Coptic translation goes back to a special Greek version of Apophthegms by St. Maca­rius which is based on the above-mentioned abridged variant. The recent discovery by P.Géhin (see p.1028—1035) confirms the Greek-Patericon-tradition as basis not only for Coptic texts but for the Syrian CM as [P.1042] well. Two other letters by St. Macarius of Egypt «About the Glory of the Saints» and «About the Guardian Angel», — known in Eastern translations (the Greek original of the first has been found out by P.Géhin), — are also ascribed by late Patericon tradition to the St. Abba of Egypt.

The second chapter is devoted to the analysis of the «inner» facts about the author of CM, elicited from the text itself, and collation of it with historical evidences of the life of St. Macarius of Egypt. It is only the time of life of the Egyptian ascetic that completely coincides with the life-time of the author of CM. The rest of the factors (historical and geographical realia, the life and education of the author of CM, the language) reveal that St. Macarius of Egypt could not have been the author of CM. The true author of CM was in fact a Greek-speaking Syrian.

The third chapter raises a question of the real author of CM. After exclusion — for factual or chronological reasons — all the persons to whom the authorship of these or those works in CM was ascribed, there remains in Arabic and in a few Greek manuscripts only one name «Symeon» and one mysterious figure of Symeon of Mesopotamia. On the basis of numerous Greek and Slavonic manuscripts it is unquestionably proved that the true author of «The Word about Necessity of Bearing in Mind the Day of Departure from Life» was a certain Symeon of Mesopotamia. Then the problem of accordance of «The Word» by Symeon of Mesopotamia with CM II, 22 is studied. Though these two Words differ in composition and volume, it can be asserted that CM II, 22 is an abridged variant of the Word by Symeon of Mesopotamia. The grounds for this assertion are: a) literal coincidences; b) stylistic identity; c) inscription of II, 22 in the manuscripts of CM (ed. Dörries—Klostermann—Kroeger 1964, S.XXII); d) inclusion of the Word by Symeon of Mesopotamia into one unit with three other homilies of CM in the Assemani’s edition of Ephrem Syrin’s writings. The identity of Arabic version with the abridged version of II, 22 and not with the complete Word by Symeon of Mesopotamia, does not contradict this position because, as it is shown on p.142—145, both the type II and the Arabic tradition include abridged texts of CM, completely survived in other types of CM. The attribution of CM in majority of Arabic manuscripts to Symeon the Stylite, the analysis of the inscriptions of II, 51 in cod. Mosq. synod. graec. 320 and scholium-excerpt on the margins of Mosq. syn. gr. 319 confirm that in other collections of CM, different from type II, there used to be the initial inscription of CM by the name «Symeon». The manuscript Athen. gr. 2492, recently discovered by [P.1043] P. Géhin, self-evidently proves that there existed a Greek tradition in which the author of CM was named Symeon.

Thus, in section I of the first part of the Introduction I arrive at the conclusion confirming the opinion of H.Dörries that the true author of CM was a certain Symeon of Mesopotamia. Identification of this person with Symeon-messalian, mentioned by Theodoret of Cyrrhus, seems to be groundless and hardly probable. The attribution of the «Corpus» to St. Macarius of Egypt, having taken root in Greek Patericon tradition from the V-th century, was immediately accepted in Syria and then in Egypt. In Byzantium the authorship of St. Macarius was first ascribed only to some Words of CM, widespread in Patericon tradition. At the same time within the same tradition the Word by Symeon of Mesopo­tamia was also in use but separate. Attribution of the whole «Corpus» to St. Macarius of Egypt began in Byzantium from the X-th century, after all the texts by Symeon of Mesopotamia had come out from the «underground».

Section II of part I of the Introduction investigates connections of the author of CM with the heresy of Messalianism. The first chapter is devoted to collation of items by St. John of Damascus’ De haeres. 80 with CM. Despite the fact that the literal identity of many items by John of Damascus and those of CM is unquestionable, there are distinct evidences of alterations in citing from CM: in the process of citing some chosen phrases were extracted from the context and combined with added «compromising» words; other things of this kind are evident too. From this the following questions arise: who should bear responsibility of this purposeful misrepresentation of CM and when was it done? There are two answers possible to each of the questions: CM was distorted either by heretics or some orthodox persons; either before the Synods in Side and Antioch (approx. the years 383—390) or before the Council in Ephesus (the year 431). The collation of the texts of CM, and those by John of Damascus and Timothy of Constantinople leads to the conclusion that CM was found out by the Orthodox in or about the year 426 in the milieu of Messalians (or persons suspected of this heresy). At the local Constantinople Synod in the year 426 CM was presented to the members of this council, but orthodox polemists could find but only a few phrases which could be declared heretic. These phrases were immediately included in general items of indictment — (they served as the source of information for Timothy of Constantinople) — founded on the decisions of the Side/Antioch Synods and on new facts about Messalian heresy. Then CM was scrupulously studied by orthodox polemists [P.1044] who made a special synopsis of it holding to the structure and content of the indictment items of Side/Antioch Synods, thus in accord with them they falsificated the texts of CM. Five years later CM (possibly shaped as «synopsis») was submitted to the III-d Oecumenical Council’s special consideration in 431. The Council convicted CM (very likely without having read it) as a «Messalian Asceticon», which was in fact orthodox. This synopsis with the decisions of Side and Constantinople Synods was used by John of Damascus. However, it must be said here that identification of CM with the «Messalian Asceticon», just like the exposition of the events, is only a hypothesis which cannot be proved. Other explanations of the development of events are possible as well. In particular, K.Fitschen considers CM to have been misrepresented by Messalians before the year 390. But this opinion seems to be less convincing in explaining numerous difficulties occurring in textological and historical studies of parallel texts of CM, those by Timothy of Constantinople and by John of Damascus.

The second chapter describes the teaching of Messalians and shows that though their teaching is incompatible with the teaching of CM (p.190—191), nevertheless between them there are some things in common, which at the slightest shift of their meaning led to heresy (p.192—193). The presence of this kind of «marginal zone» made misinterpretation of CM easy, depending on the milieu where CM circulated or on the context of reading. This kind of misinterpretation could be promoted by polemical aspects of CM, connected with the criticism by the author of CM (mainly in I, 1 and I, 52) of assertions that it was impossible for a Christian to achieve spiritual perfection on the one hand and on the other — with polemics concerning baptism. In ethics the author of CM held to «moral maximalism» and inadmissibility of the policy of «spiritual compromises», while in dogmatics — to the «royal path» of synergy of Divine and human wills, where the greater role was given to Divine will, at the same time the human will was also distinct. It was polemics on baptism that served as the starting logical factor in the origin of heresies of Messalianism and Pelagianism. Orthodox Greek authors and St. Augustine presented different solutions of the problems raised by heretics, but even among orthodox Greeks the points of view varied. So St. Mark the Monk and Diadochus of Photike, agreeing in the main attitudes of the author of CM, argue about particulars ­expressed in the «Corpus». It should be acknowledged that some difficulties of Christology and Mariology in the channel of the problems, generated in the IV-th century and connected with the theological inter[P.1045]pretation of the Church tradition, remain unsolved in Orthodox dogmatics even today.

Chapter Three is devoted to the history of Messalianism. Here two basic problems come into notice. One of them is particular, it is connected with prosecutions of Syrian mystics accused of Messalianism in the VII—VIII-th centuries. The other is general, it concerns continuity of the Messalianism-Paulicianism-Bogomilism line: can this line be regarded as the genesis or typology of heresies? Armenian sources link Messalianism with Paulicianism, but can they testify to the existence of a historic link between Messalianism and Bogomilism? The first to speak about the influence of Messalianism on Bogomilism was a Byzantine author of the XII-th century — Euthymius Zigaben. However, Zigaben derives not the whole Bogomilism but only some separate «demonological» aspects of this heresy from Messalianism. Nevertheless beginning with the XII-th century «Messalianism» becomes one of the names applied to Bogomilism. Here the question is — whether it is possible to consider the transference of this name from one heresy to another as a formal label, having nothing to do with the historic process, or as something concealing a certain reality behind this transference. In modern study there are opinions regarding this transference as not corresponding to reality (for example — A.Rigo), or, in the best case, as reflecting only some formally-typological pecularities (K.Fitschen). As the existence of Messalianism seems to have come to an end in the VII-th century, contemporary scholars deny any genetic kinship between Messalianism and Bogomilism. But this point of view can hardly explain «Syrian» and «Armenian» Messalianism of the VII—VIII-th centuries and complete unanimity of later Byzantine and Slavonic sources in calling Bogomils with the name «Messalians». The investigation (at the beginning of chapter 4 of the Introduction) of the Byzantine prosecutions of heretic «Messalians» in the XII-th century shows that the epithet «messalian» was used towards orthodox authors, writing in line with or under a direct impact of CM (Constantine Chrysomallos), as well as towards persons being to some extent under the influence of Bogomilism or some heretic teachings (Clement and Leontius). So the position, specially considering the problem of typological parallels or genetic roots of the three heresies (Messalianism, Paulicianism and Bogomilism) in each concrete case, seems to be more cautious.

In the last fourth chapter of the Introduction, part I, section II, one of such concrete problems is investigated. For Messalians of the IV-th century a prayer was a technical device for exorcising devils and that is [P.1046] why a person practising it — a heretic — was called in Greek eÙc…thj, which means «a man of prayer». Ten centuries later Barlaam of Calabria accused hesychasts of «messalianism», which consisted in their using only one Jesus prayer (and that, in Barlaam’s opinion, was distorted). Was «messalianism» in his accusation a mere «label», as J.Meyendorff and A.Rigo suppose, or can it have some real grounds?

As the answer to this question a historic situation connected with the text of the Jesus prayer in Russia is given. In some ancient Russian collections (Domostroy [«Home-building»], The Book of Psalms) the Jesus prayer was supplemented by a special text of interpretation according to which the Holy Trinity entered a man, repeating this prayer unceasingly in a specific way of breathing during three years: Jesus Christ — the first year, the Holy Spirit — the second year, Lord of Sabaoth — the third year. After that the heart itself begins to produce this prayer exclaiming it day and night, and such a man becomes free from all kinds of devil’s nets or passions. For theological foundation of the Jesus prayer ancient Russian texts present 1 Cor. 14: 19 in interpretation as if by St. John Chrysostom, where «the five words» are associated with «Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God» and «have mercy on me, a sinner» are considered additional «for the sake of humility». This ancient Russian interpretation of the Jesus prayer was widely spread not only due to the mentioned anthologies but also due to the book «The Flower garden [of Sayings]» (Tsvetnik) by a priest-monk Dorotheus (the first half of the XVII c.), republished by Old Believers for their use up to the XX-th century. Chapter 31 of the «Flower Garden» presented a complete interpretation of the Jesus prayer with the exception of the «five-numbered» words and the reference to Apostle Paul and St. John Chrysostom. In the XIX-th century St. Ambrose of Optino and St. Theophan the Recluse noticed a heretic character of the interpretation included in the «Flower Garden» but could not explain its origin.  St. Ambrose thought that the book «had been spoiled by the Old Believers». This opinion was wrong, as this interpretation had been known in Russia long before the Schism took place.

Already the first researcher of the Old Russian interpretation of the Jesus prayer — A.S. Orlov traced its origin to the circles of hesychasts, for anthologies of the appropriate content included this interpretation. The further analysis, carried out in the Introduction, speaks of the absence of any kind of parallels with Bogomilism and brings out new proofs of the hesychastic character of the interpretation. First, it is well-known that the prayer was in close connection with breathing as it was [P.1047] practised by hesychasts (texts by St. John the Ladder, Ps. Symeon the New Theologian and others). Second, the Old Russian text has parallels with «The Message (Letter) to Monks» and «The Message to Hegumen» by Ps. John Chrysostom. But these are exactly the texts that were referred to by hesychasts in refuting Barlaam’s attacks cast against them. Besides that, there are undeniable parallels between these texts and CM (see p.273—280). Third, of all the Holy Fathers’ interpretations of 1 Cor. 14: 19 that I known only one by St. Gregory of Sinai (XIV c.) where he refers to St. John the Ladder (VII c.) indicates the connection of «the five words» of the verse from 1 Cor. 14: 19 with the Jesus prayer. Nevertheless, in spite of the hesychastic roots of the interpretation, its messalian motifs become especially evident in collating it with one of the comments made by St. Maximus the Confessor to Dionysius the Areopagite (see p.187, note 501), which says that after the period of three years (in Syrian sources — twelve years) of practising spiritual endeavours messalians can dispassionately act as free man.

Thus, alongside the orthodox texts such as the «Letter to Hegumen» or the «Letter to Monks» in the X—XIV cc. in Byzantium there were in use heretic interpretations of messalian character coming from the sources close to the orthodox ones. Both of these circles used the texts of CM, condemned in its time as being messalian, and an analogical reproach repeated — irrespective of the events of the IV—V cc., but possibly based on the items by John of Damascus — in the epoch of Palamite disputes on the margins of the manuscript Athen. gr. 423 (see p.169) of CM which appeared under the name of Macarius of Egypt. Here, as hypotheses, I propose two explanations of the origin of the Jesus-prayer-interpretation and its «survival» during many centuries — one of them is general, the other — special. «Genetic continuity» in Messalian midst in the period of IV—XIV cc. was supported not so much by the Messalianism-Paulicianism-Bogomilism line as by the existence of a certain «diffuse-contact zone» between the orthodox and heresy, the basis of which consisted of theologically uneducated unsettled monks, who could easily penetrate into orthodox monasteries as well as into heretic circles. As to the origin of the interpretation, perhaps it should be associated with Theophany to Alexander the Akoimetos, who was the first founder of the cloister of Akoimetoi, the rule of which, given by God Himself to Alexander after three years of praying and fasting, presupposed an unceasing prayer. This ascetic was accused in 426 of Messalianism and expelled from Constantinople, but his disciples and followers played an important role in Orthodoxy for a long time. [P.1048] Probably that it was during the arrest of Alexander the Akoimetos that CM was discovered, as there is information of CM’s having been circulated among persons close to this ascetic. In my hypothesis it was Theophany to Alexander the Akoimetos that was thus «conserved» in the tradition and it related to the Jesus prayer that was practised in «semi-Messalian» circles of the «contact zone».

Thus, Barlaam’s attacks against the monks-hesychasts might have had some definite ground. The same can be said about Barlaam’s accusation of hesychasts in their using «Son of God» instead of «our God» in the Jesus prayer, as these two formulas were rivals and, more than that, were connected with christological disputes, practically unknown to us, that took place in monophysite circles. Though Barlaam did not understand the core of monastic-ascetic tradition, and was in opposition to it, his formal attacks were connected with real distortions of orthodox teaching in some monastic circles and with some theological themes that were not properly worked out. Debates that caused Palamite controversy seem to have done a lot of good to the Orthodox Byzantine tradition: they permitted to eliminate the «contact zone» between Orthodoxy and heresy and define the Orthodox attitude to the problem of uncreated energies.

The Conclusion gives a generalised view on the history of CM, embracing all the solutions and hypotheses presented in the Introduction, in one integral picture. It also raises new problems related to the role of pseudepigraphs in Orthodox church tradition.

Parts II and III of the Introduction are devoted accordingly to the principles of Russian translation  of CM (type I) and to the survey of manuscript tradition of CM and research literature.

The translation of type I has been carried out according to H.Bert­hold’s edition with the use of the newest publications by R.Staats and W.Strothmann of separate Words (including Epistola magna = I, 1) and their existing translations in Russian, revised anew with the Greek original. Besides that, a number of quotations from the Holy Scriptures have been identified. Apparatus criticus indicates selectively the main various reading of types I and IV and the most essential discrepancies between types I and II where they intersect.


Authorised translation by M.M. Kedrova