Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who was Oecumenius (Bishop of Trikka?)? /

Ποιος ήταν ο Οικουμένιος (Επίσκοπος Τρίκκης;);

«The commentary was discovered by Franz Diekamp in 1901, but it was not until H. C. Hoskier produced the first printed edition of the text in 1928 that serious efforts were made to identify its author and date. Hoskier was specially concerned with establishing what he called "the foundation text" of Revelation. He felt confident that Oecumenius was the bishop of Tricca who wrote his commentary "towards the beginning of the seventh century," instead of the earlier accepted date of the tenth century. There are, however, problems with both the date and the identity of Oecumenius. The evidence of the date is given by Oecumenius himself in 1.3.6 when, commenting on Revelation 1.1 ("what must soon take place"), he says that "a very long time, more than five hundred years, has elapsed since this was said." Oecumenius elsewhere dates the Revelation to the end of the reign of Domitian, when John was exiled to Patmos, presumably about A.D. 95 when Domitian had started persecution against those who refused to accept him as Master and God, a persecution which included philosophers, Jews, and others.

If Revelation was written about a.d. 95, "more than five hundred years" later would give a date at the end of the sixth century. There is no doubt that Oecumenius s commentary was written before that of Andreas, which can be dated to the early part of the seventh century, so that the end of the sixth century gives the terminus ante quem. The situation is, however, complicated by references to correspondence between Severus, bishop of Antioch, who died in A.D. 538, and Oecumenius, who was described in a monophysite catena as "a careful man, who is very orthodox [i.e., monophysite], as the letters which Mar Severus sent to him show, from the sixth discourse of those which he composed on the revelation of the Evangelist John." The evidence for recognizing Oecumenius as the correspondent of Severus and as the commentator on Revelation would seem to be incontrovertible, were it not for Oecumenius's own statement that more than five hundred years had elapsed since the Revelation was written. Oecumenius, however, does not seem to have been always exact in some of his statements, as is shown by inconsistencies in his interpretation of some passages in Revelation. Further, it looks as though the period of "more than five hundred years" may refer not strictly to the date of the writing of Revelation, but to the date of the crucifixion of Jesus and the delay in the occurrence of the parousia. Lamoreaux supports the view that Oecumenius was a contemporary of Severus, in spite of de Groote's opinion that Oecumenius was not Severus's correspondent.

The letters of Severus show that Oecumenius was married. He is described as a count (κόμης), which was primarily a military title, implying an official position in the Emperor's household. He seems to have been "a layman from aristocratic circles," living in Isauria, in Asia Minor, who was particularly interested in discussing the person of Christ. He must therefore not be confused with the bishop of Tricca (in Thessaly) of the tenth century. Oecumenius is anxious to proclaim his orthodoxy, but his commentary does not display a detailed knowledge of the intricacies of Christological or Trinitarian doctrine. Severus of Antioch was himself described by G. W. H. Lampe as a moderate monophysite, being "a monophysite in phraseology rather than in substance," at a time when "'Chalcedonian' struggle was really only a sham fight as far as theology was concerned."

A further point to be noted in connection with the date of Oecumenius is his approval of Evagrius as being "all-knowledgeable." Evagrius, a loyal supporter of Origen, was formally condemned with Origen at the Second Council of Constantinople in A.D. 553. In view of Oecumenius's insistence on his own orthodoxy and his reluctance to mention Origen in his commentary, it is unlikely that he would have referred to Evagrius in such terms after 553.»

«Το υπόμνημα ανακαλύφθηκε από τον Franz Diekamp το 1901, αλλά μόνο όταν ο H. C. Hoskier παρήγαγε την πρώτη έντυπη έκδοση του κειμένου το 1928 έγιναν σοβαρές προσπάθειες για να ταυτοποιηθεί ο συγγραφέας και η χρονολογία. Ο Hoskier ενδιαφερόταν ιδιαίτερα για τον καθορισμό αυτού που αποκαλούσε "πηγαίο κείμενο" της Αποκάλυψης. Ένιωθε βέβαιος ότι ο Οικουμένιος ήταν ο επίσκοπος της Τρίκκης ο οποίος έγραψε το υπόμνημά του "προς τις αρχές του έβδομου αιώνα", αντί της προγενέστερα αποδεκτής χρονολογίας του δέκατου αιώνα. Υπάρχουν, όμως, προβλήματα τόσο με την χρονολόγηση όσο και την ταυτότητα του Οικουμένιου. Τα τεκμήρια της χρονολογίας δίνονται από τον ίδιο τον Οικουμένιο στο 1.3.6 όπου, σχολιάζοντας το Αποκάλυψη 1:1 ("όσα πρέπει να γίνουν σύντομα"), αναφέρει ότι "ένα πολύ μεγάλο χρονικό διάστημα, πάνω από 500 χρόνια, μεσολάβησε από τότε που λέχθηκε αυτό". Ο Οικουμένιος σε άλλο σημείο χρονολογεί την Αποκάλυψη κατά τα τέλη της βασιλείας του Δομιτιανού, όταν ο Ιωάννης ήταν εξόριστος στην Πάτμο, κατά πάσα πιθανότητα γύρω στο 95 μ.Χ. όταν ο Δομιτιανός είχε αρχίσει το διωγμό εναντίον εκείνων που αρνούνταν να τον δεχτούν ως Κύριο και Θεό, έναν διωγμό που περιλάμβανε φιλοσόφους, Ιουδαίους και άλλους. [...]»

* John N. Suggit (transl.),
Oecumenius: Commentary on the Apocalypse
[Οικουμένιος: Υπόμνημα στην Αποκάλυψη],
Fathers of the Church 112,
Catholic University, 2006,
pp./σσ. 3-6.

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