January 17, 2024

Fr. John Romanides as a Professor of Dogmatics at Holy Cross School of Theology in Boston (2 of 8)

...continued from part one.

2. The Content of his Dogmatics

After the death of Father Stefanos Avramidis, his daughter Efi Avramidis, because she knew my connection with her father and with Father John Romanides, gave me a section of her father's archive, with interesting information.

Among other things, there are notes that Father Stefanos had in his possession from the lectures of Father John Romanides at the Boston Theological School during the year 1960-1961 (p. 126) and the year 1961-1962 (p. 113). Also, there are various texts (p. 81) and other texts with notes.

When one reads all this material one finds that they do not come from texts that were given by their Professor, after all Father John Romanides was not accustomed to giving written notes, as it was also easier for him to speak in the English language, to English speaking students, but they are notes taken by various students of his, whose initials are often placed at the end of the notes. It is probable that Father John saw them, because for many of the words there are corrections and additions. In these notes there are the following initials of the names and surnames of those who kept them: Ν.Τ., Σ.Β., Γ.Σ. δθκ, Σ.Λ.Α., Σ.Σ. δγκ, Σ.Δ.Β., Σ.Α./πκ, Σ.Α./δκ, Σ.Α./δκ, Ν.Φ./δγκ etc.

However, these notes clearly show the excellent knowledge of Orthodox theology that Father John had and of all the theological movements that prevailed in America at the time. He was a mature dogmatic theologian, even though he was 33 years of age. It was a phenomenon.

I will quote the contents of the semesters of the students of Dogmatics and of the two academic years (1960-1961 and 1961-1962), which Father John Romanides himself had apparently delivered to them.

Dogmatics 1 (1960-1961)


I. Introduction

a. Definition and Purpose of Dogmatics
b. Relationship between Reason and Revelation, Faith and Knowledge
c. The three ways of knowing about God in general
  1. Natural
  2. Prophetic and immediate
  3. Biblical
d. General things concerning what is known about God
e. General things concerning the energies of God accessible to the Prophets, Apostles and Saints
f. General things about Holy Tradition from a soteriological point of view and the position of Holy Scripture on this
g. The Fathers as interpreters of the Scriptures
h. The relationship of patristic theology with other forms of theology
i. The relationship of patristic theology with pastoral care and our daily life in Christ in general
j. The soteriological, pastoral and practical character of Orthodox patristic theology

II. The Above Mentioned Method of Orthodox Dogmatic Theology

III. Holy Scripture

a) The Canon of Holy Scripture in general
b) The Inspiration of Holy Scripture
  1. The mechanical and literal theory
  2. The moral theory of liberal Protestants
  3. Conceptual or dynamic inspiration according to the Greek Fathers in general
c) The teaching of the Greek Fathers about Revelation and modern criticism of the Bible
d) The way of interpreting Holy Scripture and especially the Old Testament
  1. The literal interpretation
  2. The allegorical interpretation
  3. The typological interpretation
IV. Holy Tradition

a. The creative, providential, saving and sanctifying energies of God as the center and main subject of Holy Tradition and their manifestation in the Holy Scriptures, teachings and the sacramental life of those living in Christ
b. The place of Holy Scripture in this life especially
c. The Worship Traditions (ritual, architecture, iconography, holy relics, lamps, etc.) of Orthodoxy as manifestations of salvation in Christ and the mystagogy of the Holy Spirit
d. The Orthodox experience as an expression of Orthodox Dogma


Simple Theology

I. The Knowledge of God

a) The Knowledge of God without special revelation
b. The Knowledge of God through Revelation
c. The Knowledge of God to the saints and angels
  1. The teaching of the Old Testament and the New Testament and of the Greek Fathers
  2. The condemned heresy of the West
d) The evidences for the existence of God and their logical and philosophical arguments
e) The knowledge inherent in man about the existence of God and its limits

II. Attributes, Qualities, Energies of God, On the Divine Names

III. The Three Universal Relations of God: according to essence, according to hypostasis (or
ousia) and according to energy

IV. The Hypostatic Attributes

a. The Father and concerning the name
  1. The unbegotten, the uncreated and beginningless
  2. The begetting
  3. The proceeding
  4. The ἐξ οὗ ["from whom"]
  5. The willing, fashioning, creating, energizing, lifegiving, foreknowing, etc.
b. The Son and concerning the name
  1. The begotten, the uncreated and co-beginningless
  2. The Image of the Father
  3. The δι’ οὗ ["through whom"]
  4. The willing, fashioning, creating, energizing, lifegiving, foreknowing, saving, etc.
c. The Holy Spirit and concerning the name
  1. The proceeder, the uncreated and co-beginningless
  2. The Image of the Image
  3. The ἐν ᾧ ["by whom"]
  4. The willing, fashioning, creating, energizing, lifegiving, foreknowing, saving, etc.
d. The True One, Truth and the Spirit of Truth
The Wise One, Wisdom and the Spirit of Wisdom
The Living One, Life and the Spirit of Life
The Powerful One, Power and the Spirit of Power, etc.

V. The Monarchy of the Father. The Godhead Beyond Essence. The Source of Divinity.

a. The Father is the only cause and source of the Tri-hypostatic divinity.

VI. The Names God and Divinity

VII. Begetting and Processing as opposed to the "from whom", the "through whom" and the "by whom".

VIII. Begetting and Processing as opposed to the willing, fashioning, creating, energizing, lifegiving, foreknowing, saving and sanctifying.

IX. Summary of the Dogma of the Holy Trinity from the point of view of Orthodox epistemology and soteriology.

X. The terminology about the Holy Trinity before the First Ecumenical Synod. The names God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the meaning of begotten and procession. The so-called Semi-Arianism of the early Fathers (the theory of Petavius).

XI. The Homoousion

a. Paul of Samosata
b. Athanasios the Great and the terms Ousia and Hypostasis
c. The Great Cappadocians and the final definition of the use of the terms Ousia and Hypostasis.
d. St. Augustine and his Methodology and Terminology of the Trinity
e. General points about the term φύσις ["nature"] in Alexandrian theology (The one nature of the Word incarnate)

XII. Heresies About the Trinity

a. Modalistic Monarchianism
b. Dynamic Monarchianism
c. Arius
d. Eunomius
e. Filioque (and from the Son).

This was the content of what was taught in the course of Dogmatics, in the year 1960-1961, by a mature theologian who was then 33 years old!

I attended Dogmatics at the Theological School of Thessaloniki as a student in the year 1967-1968, that is, seven years after the date when Dogmatics was delivered to the students of Holy Cross in Boston, and I see the huge difference. I learned about what Father John Romanides was delivering then, much later, after much research.

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