Revista Studii Teologice


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Profesori de Istorie Bisericească la Facultatea de Teologie din Atena (1924-2003)

Professors of Church History at the Faculty of Theology in Athens (1924-2003)

Autor(i): Dumitru Sorin STOIAN

As 20th century witnessed a boost in the inter-denominational, as well as inter-Orthodox relations, providing the Romanian readership with bio-bibliographical data on the professors of Church History at the Faculty of Theology in Athens is a necessary undertaking.
For eight decades, the tenured professors in the Church History department of the Athenian Faculty of Theology were: Vasilios Stefanidis (1924-1949), Gherasimos Konidaris (1951-1970) and Vlasios Feidas (1970-2003). Their education evinces a common trait: all the three of them graduated from Greek universities (the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Holy Theological School of Halki – V. Stefanidis; the Faculty of Theology in Athens – Gh. Konidaris and Vl. Feidas) and attended doctoral programs in Western universities (V. Stefanidis at Jena, Berlin and Heidelberg, Gh. Konidaris at Berlin, and Vl. Feidas in Great Britain and Strasbourg).
Together, the works published by the three professors amount to over 900. The most prolific of them was Gh. Konidaris, with more than 550 titles published (syntheses, studies, articles published in periodicals and encyclopaedias, as well as the time’s press, etc.), followed by Vl. Feidas, with over 300 titles.
Each of them wrote a Church History textbook, of which only the one authored by V. Stefanidis presents church events „to day” (the last edition was issued in the year 1958). In early 20th century, the Greek theological academe lacked a Church History treatise addressing the two Christian millenia in a coherent, unitary way. Prof. Vasilios Stefanidis achieved this in less than 800 pages, mainly based on source analysis. Deemed to be „the first truly academic textbook of General Church History written in Greek”, V. Stefanidis’ History thus filled a considerable gap in the Greek theological milieu. Its publication was welcomed as a cultural event, and was granted the Athens Academy Award. The import of archimandrite Stefanidis’ textbook lies in the author’s capacity for synthesis. He prefers to provide a succint presentation of the historical information. He rarely enlarges on a particular moment, offering further details. Stylistically, his exposition is abrupt. The sentences are simple and short, at times comprising only the subject, verb and direct object. The page layout is quite awkward; the text has a block format, without paragraphs and indentations, even lacking titles of chapters and sub-chapters.
Despite all these shortcomings, his presentation is objective and provides a scientific description of historical realities. Each statement put forth is grounded either in the sources he quotes abundantly, or in specialized publications he refers the reader to, indicating them between brackets. The author rarely puts forth any personal opinion.
Six decades after its publication, in 2008, this work is still included in the bibliography of the Church History course taught in the Faculty of Theology in Thessaloniki.
The Church History authored by Gherasimos Konidaris only goes as far as the Council in Trullo (691). This textbook, and indeed all his works, relies on the author’s knowledge of German language: German titles abound in its bibliography. A novelty brought by this work is its introductory part, namely the „Introduction to General Church History”. The opening chapter (pp. 7-41) provides a formal introduction to Church History: the historian dwells on its definition, sources and secondary literature, the periodization and the theological character of Church History.
Vlasios Feidas, doctor in Theology and Canon Law, also failed to provide an updated history of Church events. His two-volume textbook stops with the Reformation. The third volume, intended to complete the historical account, has yet to be published. This work’s bibliography stands out through the abundance of foreign-language titles and the moderate use of Greek-language works. The author does not provide any footnotes or endnotes. His notes and commentaries are either inserted in the text, or provided between brackets. Bibliographical references are also indicated between brackets. However, this is a comprehensive work, of high academic quality.
This Church History may be deemed superior to the other Greek-language textbooks in the field. Vl. Feidas opens new vistas on topics already approached by Church History, addressing them in a new „key” and shedding new light on information already tackled by the other Greek historians. For instance, the chapter concerning the missionary activity of brothers Cyril and Methodius, the historian explains why the Byzantine delegation to Moravia was not headed by a bishop: to avoid clashing with the pope’s jurisdictional rights in the region.
The value of Vlasios Feidas’ synthesis is also demonstrated by the assessment of V. Koukousas: „We think that in the future it will be very hard for a church historian to further present, complete or comment Church History for the period approached by Vl. Feidas”.

Pagini: 197-235