Prolegomena to God, History, and Dialectic by Most Rev. Photius (Joseph P.) Farrell, S.S.B., D.Phil.(Oxon.)

“Prolegomena: An Eastern Orthodox Geistesgeschichte

Christian civilization — or what remains of it — stands, apparently exhausted and irreparably divided, on the uncertain terrain of a century’s and millennium’s finish, ill-prepared to carry any cogent or consistent witness into the third millennium and twenty-first century of its dispensation.  This is because the equation of “Western European” with “Christian” civilization is itself founded upon a schism which resulted in a kind of cultural and historiographical heresy.Such statements may seem like good news to the “multiculturalist”, so I wish to dispel any lingering and seductive causes for rejoicing that they may have engendered.  First, these essays are not an attack on Western European civilization.  They are rather an analysis of the roots of that civilization, and of its origin in a theological heresy and of the cultural and moral crisis that heresy has sired.  For this reason, these essays are a spiritual effort, akin to the process of self-examination before confession.  By the same token, these essays are more of introspection and retrospection than of argument in any sense that a modern historian, philosopher, or “theologian” would recognize.  I believe that I have managed to surpass intuition in these pages, but it would indeed be presumptuous for me to claim that argument has been achieved, or that an exhaustive articulation of what is a very complex hypothesis has been accomplished.  I maintain only that, at the end of these essays, a very complex phenomenon will have been surveyed, and that, like all surveys, it is subject both to the usual omissions of fact,  and to the hazzards of over-generalization here or too exclusive and narrow a focus there. “Multiculturalists” will find no support or cause of joy for their projects in these pages for a second reason.  The undertaking represented here was attempted because of my personal conviction that our “culture”, as one contemporary adage has it, is in a state of profound moral crisis, a crisis which affects every aspect of our life — social, political, economic, and religious — for every aspect of our cultural conventions are at stake.  I do not, however, seek the ultimate causes for this crisis in material, and for that reason, superficial causes.    The crisis is not founded on any merely economic, political, scientific, or legal basis.  Still less it is founded, as the conservative opposition to multicultaralism has it, on “the collapse of moral values”.  Nor is the crisis founded on any combination of these factors.These essays argue rather that the crisis is a specifically theological one, for what has been lost is not “spirituality” or “moral values” or any such meaningless abstraction.  “Spirituality” and “moral values” have collapsed because the theological, ecclesiastical, and liturgical context in which they are born and nurtured has long since crumbled into the stew of competing theological illiteracies of “denominations”, themselves the result of specific doctrinal assumptions made and adopted by a part of our culture long ago, and specifically rejected by yet another part of it.And lest these terms — “theological” and “doctrinal” — be misunderstood, I mean that the crisis has specifically doctrinal and therefore conceptual roots.  It is in large measure attributable to a constellation of theological and philosophical paradigms which, once adopted, worked themselves out in the History of Christian Civilization itself.Finally, “multiculturalists” and their conservative counterparts who pretend to defend “Judeo-Christian”, by which they mean only Western European, civilization, and who profess to do “objective”history, will not find much of comfort here, for these essays are in the final analysis an intensely personal statement.  They are an examination of my own spirit, both as one raised and at home in that Western European civilization, and as one who, as an Eastern Orthodox Christian, lives every day confronted by the tragedy of the Schism between Eastern and Western Europe.  These essays are an attempt to resolve a profoundly internal and personal struggle.  

Christian theology has left an indelible imprint, a presupposition, which permeates the “popular historiographical consciouness” of the Second(Western) Europe, with its persistent division of History into the tripartite scheme delineated by various sigla: “Ancient History, Mediaeval history, Modern History” or “Classical Ages, Dark or Middle Ages, Modern Age” being the two most popular.  The origin of this discernible form is, not surprisingly, the Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost — or rather, the dialectically formulated and deconstructed “Trinity” of the post-Augustinian Christian West.  This Augustinian-Trinitarian civilization, which in these pages is designated “The Second Europe”, was erected on the foundation of the Orthodox and Eastern Europe, which is similarly designated “the First Europe.”  The basic thesis of these essays is thus that there are Two Europes, Eastern and Western, First and Second respectively, and that both are the effects and consequences of very different and ultimately contradictory theological presuppositions and methods.  These essays argue that these different and mutually exclusive presuppositions and methods have permeated every facet of legal, social, and cultural conventions.  But to say this is to say nothing new, nor terribly original, and certainly nothing terribly upsetting to the “multiculturalist” or “Judeo-Christian Conservative.”  The thesis of the Two Europes is explored in these essays from the presupposition that the Western, Second Europe is derivative and aberrant.   Lest multiculuralists or conservatives still misunderstand, this may be plainly stated: these essays argue that The First Europe is “first” in the sense of cultural primacy and that it is therefore the canonical measure of Christian civilization.  That the Second Europe came eventually to regard itself as the canonical measure of Christendom, with all the tragic implications that this pretense engendered, is, in large measure, the task of these pages to elucidate.When the main thesis of this work is posed in this manner, certain obvious questions and dilemmas present themselves, with the First Europe and Russia in the foreground, exposing the insufficiency of any merely secular, political, economic or sociological approach to a historiographical analysis of the crisis.  Why is this so? It is so because Byzantium and Russia function as mysteries even to the modern exposition of Mediaeval History in textbooks, textbooks which continue to treat of both entities as separate phenomena from each other, and more importantly, from “Europe”, meaning “Western Europe.”  Why the separate treatment?  Because having assumed its own cultural canonicity, the historiography of the Second Europe cannot contend with the sharp and cumbersome edges that Byzantium and Russia offer for analysis; they cannot be squeezed and moulded into the paradigms appropriate to Western European Scholasticism or feudalism.  One well-known textbook on Mediaeval History summed up this attitude by treating of Byzantium in a chapter entitled “Europe’s Neighbors”.  But the real problem is that Byzantium and Russia expose the inadequacy of the Ancient, Mediaeval, and Modern” tripartite paradigm of the Second Europe’s historiography, for in the Western sense, Russia has no ancient history, and an arguable case could be made that it is only just beginning to have a “modern” one.  It has no “ancient” history in even a sense that would be recognizable to a subject of the Byzantine Empire, for prior to its conversion to Orthodox and East Roman Catholic Christianity rather than to the West Roman and Latin, it possessed no high literary culture at all.   Russia possessed nothing analogous to the classical pagan inheritance possessed both by Byzantium and the Latin West.  Hence, Russia’s very existence and history as a nation is more intimately bound up with Christianity than any other.  Orthodoxy was both father, mother, and mid-wife to Russian nationhood.  If Russia therefore be an enigma or a mystery or a riddle to the Second Europe, it is not because Russia is
Russia but because it is Orthodox.   We now draw nearer to the task of these essays, for they do constitute an attempt to do Orthodox theological historiography, or perhaps even an Orthodox version of the great “philosophies of history” of the Hegelian Geistesgeschichteschule, or at the very least, an attempt to outline the necessary form that such an analysis must take.  Thus, we draw nearer to the task of these essays if we but appreciate one rather obvious, though overlooked, fact about intellectual and cultural history: The Second Europe “rediscovered Aristotle” in the twelfth century, and thereby unleashed a process of massive theological revisionism.  But the First Europe never misplaced him, and
Russia never had him to begin with.  This highlights another important cultural phenomenon: The East Roman Empire never lost the Aristotle that became so important for theology in the West, and indeed, did not regard Aristotle, or any other philosopher, as having all that much to do with theology.  What presuppositions were present in Byzantine and Eastern Christian thought, then, that impelled the Eastern Church
not to transmit this part of its heritage to Russia in its first exportation of Orthodox culture to the Slavs?  Whatever they were, those presuppositions are already vastly different than those operative in the West, where for a lengthy period it became functionally impossible to do theology without Aristotle, and, indeed, without philosophy at all.In these essays, then, I propose to acquaint the reader as thoroughly as possible with the Patristic theology of the Orthodox Catholic East, and, on that theological basis, to examine the theological foundations of the Second Europe, and the cultural effects of those foundations.  This may seem to be a cumbersome, and lengthy, method, but even this is an implication of the thesis driving the work: that the Second Europe is incapable of undertaking a comprehensive integration of Mediaeval Western and Eastern European studies because of the inherent shortcomings and errors of its own theological foundations, foundations which, as we shall see, created the Two Europes in the first place.  In short, ex oriente lux.
These essays are about the Two Europes and the Three Trinities on which they are based. The first Trinity is the Holy Trinity of classical Christian doctrine, uncorrupted by its Augustinian formulation, the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.  As the first term of the second Trinity is St. Augustine of Hippo’s Dialectical Formulation of the Holy Trinity; as the second term of the second trinity is the History which that dialectical formulation moulded and shaped, and as the third term of the second trinity are the divisions which resulted from the application of Augustine’s trinitarian dialectics in History, the resulting schisms of “Europe” into First Europe, Second Europe, and Russia. The causes for the Second Europe’s tripartite division of History into its Ancient, Mediaeval, and Modern Ages is thus to be credited to St. Augustine’s dialectical formulation of the Trinity. This transubstantiation of the Trinity from a revealed Mystery to a dialectical deduction, and finally, to a dialectical process at work within History itself is simply unintelligible without Augustine.  In the thirteenth century, Joachim of Floris’ Age of the Father, Age of the Son, and (coming) Age of the Spirit, or Petrarch’s or Gibbon’s Golden Age, Dark Age, and Renaissance, or Hegel’s well-known Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis, or Comte’s “superstitious, metaphysical, and scientific” periods, and finally, our own superficially academic and objective divisions of Ancient, Mediaeval, and Modern “History” are but tired exhausted reworkings  of the original heresy which split the Latin Church from Eastern Orthodoxy and created the Two Europes.  The Second Europe’s historiography, even in its most avowedly secular form, Marxism, is thus one of many logical implications and inevitabilities of the Augustinizing of doctrine which took place from the fifth to the ninths centuries in the Christian West. The term “inevitabilities”, however, should not be construed to mean that I take the History of the Second Europe as inevitable in the Stoic and Calvinistic sense, as something that could have happened in no other way.  Indeed, St. Augustine himself taught a doctrine of “pure futuribles,” that is, a multiplicity of possible worlds and circumstances that could derive from a given constellation of circumstances.  Whatever the merits or demerits that this theory had as an explanation of the Incarnation or of divine predestination, Augustine’s theological system may be viewed as a whole set of logical entailments, a plenitude of implications, which subsequent history actualized in a certain way.  Thus, in describing this or that phenomenon as “inevitable”,  I do not mean to imply anything beyond their dialectical form: they are “inevitable” in the sense that there is a discernible logical derivation and pedigree which it is necessary to trace, step by step, to reach and actualize within history certain conclusions implicit, among many others that may never see such actualization, within the Augustinian system.  The Second Europe is “inevitable” in this dialectical sense, and not in the Calvinistic or Stoic.These “inevitabilities” are to be contrasted with the First Europe, at the core of which lies The First Hellenization of the Gospel and its deliberate, explicit, and formal rejection by the Eastern Church and the Culture she influenced.  This contrast is clear and acute, for at the core of the Second Europe is the Second, and Augustinian, Hellenization of the Gospel, and its deliberate, explicit, and formal acceptance by the Western Church and the schismatic and heretically based culture she influenced and created.  The historiographical task of these essays is therefore massive, for there were not originally two Churches, or even a distinctively “Latin” Church as opposed to a distinctively “Greek” one.  Rather, there was within two segments of a unified Christian Church a simultaneous movement toward, and away from, Hellenization. The task of these essays is therefore to expose the specifically Augustinian dialectical formuation of Trinitarian doctrine as the root of these two very different historical movements, and to demonstrate the Augustinian departure from traditional doctrine, and to trace the departure in its cultural effects in the development of law, science, and philosophy.  Thus the thesis of this work is quite simple: the Two Europes worship different Gods.  This may seem a surprising, perhaps even an irreverent, assertion, until one recalls why the doctrine of God is so significant.  It is the doctrine of the Trinity which is at the core of the Church’s belief and the ultimate basis of Her cultural influences.  The differences in the theological formulation of that doctrine therefore reflect, illuminate, and cause the difference of the Two Europes.  Once the profundity of Augustine’s dialectical formulation of the Trinity is grasped, we shall come much closer to the fundamental influences driving much, if not most, of the intellectual development of the Second Europe.  We may highlight the seriousness of that development by asking some rather obvious, though deeply serious, questions.  Why did the western half of Christendom split along so cleanly dialectical lines during the Protestant Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation?  Why, for example, is it not only conventient but possible to describe that split by a series of polar oppositions: Faith versus works, Scripture versus Tradition, “private conversion stay-at-home-and-watch-television religion” versus “public, sacramental, institutional” religion; predestination versus free will, Kernel versus Husk, Kerygma versus Dogma, Luther versus Zwingli, Calvin versus Arminius, Whitefield and Edwards versus the Wesleys, Henry VIII versus the Pope? It has its secular counterparts as well: Empiricism versus Rationalism, Materialism versus Idealism, Science versus Religion, Creation versus Evolution, hard versus soft disciplines, and so on.  One could cite an endless litany of similar oppositions.  Indeed, theologians, philosophers, and historians of the Second Europe have long written about this or that pair of these either-or polarities, but astonishingly, have either done so in isolation of an examination of the paradigm of dialectical opposition itself, or they have accepted that paradigm as an inevitability of Christian theology or of Judeo-Christian civilization itself. The phenomenon of this acceptance is therefore deeply rooted, and must be accounted for. These essays argue that the paradigm is itself a direct consequence of Augstine’s formulation of trinitarian doctrine.  But the movement from the specifically Augustinian formulation of the Trinity to these cultural consequences is certainly not an easy one to recount, and thus, many theologians — those most adequately equipped to undertake the task — fail to do so, for they view the original dispute between the East and West over that formulation as a dispute about words.  The troublesome questions multiply:  Why did a Church and a culture, which believed absolutely in the complete union in Christ of the utterly spiritual and the completely material, without separation and without confusion, lose sight of the implications of that belief in the movements of the dialectical deconstruction of its thought and institutions?  Why did the same Church, which, heir to the doctrine of the Trinity, ought to have believed in the “both-andness” of Absolute Unity and Utter diversity find itself embroiled in life-and-death constitutional struggles between the Empire and the Papacy, or more fundamentally, between endless contests between One Pope and Many Bishops?  We may inject the First Europe into this series of questions to ask a new series even more profoundly disquieting: Why did the First Europe not go through the Reformation?  Is it to be explained adequately on the basis of merely secular causes, as the result of the “cultural isolation” of Russia?  Or because its “dogmatic mysteriological piety” locked its culture in the reliquary of “unchangeable ritual”?  Or because of the Mongol invasion and conquest of
Russia?  Or because of the “timely but inevitable” Fall of Constantinople scarcely a century before the Reformation began?  Or is the lack of the dialectical movement of Reform and Counter-Reformation to be explained on the basis of something much more fundamental and spiritually rooted? It is the task of these essays to show that the Byzantine and Russian detachment from these upheavals in the Second Europe is unrelated to any merely secular explanation of them, for the root causes of that detachment predate the Mongol invaions of the thirteenth, or Ivan the Terrible’s
Drang nach Osten  and “collection of the Russian lands” in the sixteenth centuries.  These essays explain this detachment as a result of the continued rejection by the First Europe of Hellenization, and its insistence that Augustinism was but a recasting of formal heresies previously condemned by both East and West when both segments were still a part of one Church, and therefore, both a part of One Europe.  Thus we arrive at a corollary to our thesis.  Only the First Europe has an adequate theological basis on which to analyze the movements of the intellectucal histories of the Two Europes from one consistent perspective; the Second Europe, to the extent that it becomes increasingly “Augustinized” is to that extent incapable of performing the task.  For those who prefer Ockhamist lucidity: I argue that Western Christian civilization is bound with dialectical inevitability to misinterpret both itself, the Eastern European Christian civilization, and the antiquities common to both; only that First European civilization and its theological paradigm are adequate to undertake a genuinely comprehensive and universal history of Christendom. 
Theology — not philosophy, literature, geography, economics, politics, law, art, music, or science — was and is the mainspring of our culture and history. It is that which set it in motion, and maintained its cohesion and harmonious movement.  When the theological unity of Europe was fractured in that original break of 1014, the movement became disjointed, with the Two Europes tied together like racers in a three-legged race, tied together in the leg of a common history, but now with two “minds”  and two different sets of historical time operating. This Geistesgeschichte is therefore an unabashedly theological work based upon traditional Eastern Orthodox dogmatics.  But this should not be taken to mean that it is merely about theology. It is rather about the consequences of theology, both heretical and Orthodox, in all areas of culture: law, politics, constitutional development, philosophy, and science. The great nineteenth century historian of dogma, Adolf von Harnack, first popularized the notion of “Hellenization” of the Gospel, of the very early, universal, and permanent corruption of the “simple” Gospel of “Jesus” with the subtleties of Greek philosophy.  For von Harnack and the historians of the Second Europe, this “Hellenization” was a universal phenomenon.  Such a conclusion could only be derived by massive over-simplification of the evidence. As we shall see, the First Hellenization did occur in the Eastern Roman Empire in the first three centuries of Christianity, but at no time, nowhere, was it ever universally accepted in its totality.  There were dissenting voices, even among those engaged in the process of Hellenization.  This First Hellenization was summed up by Origen in the third century in a statement which, when we encounter it, we shall call “The Origenist Problematic”.  This is not yet the place to examine the entailments of that Problematic.  It is what happened after Origen that constitutes the problem for the Second Europe’s historiography of the First Europe, for in the coming centuries, the Eastern Church struggled with the full set of implications deriving from that Problematic, and rejected each and every one, and came ultimately to reject any notion of the marriage of Christian Theology with any secular Hellenic philosophical system.  For the First Europe, philosophy not only is not the handmaiden of theology, it is not even on the staff of servants.  For the Second Europe, as almost everyone knows, philosophy is the handmaiden of theology.In the ironies of historical development, one encounters the Two Hellenizations being formally adopted and accepted by the Two Europes at approximately the same time, in the ninth century. In that space and in that time, they clash openly for the first time, and the ikon of that clash, with all its attendant historiographical implications, is the coronation of Charlemagne by Pope Leo III in 800 A.D.  As we shall see, tragically the Second Europe is incapable even of interpreting Pope Leo’s actions or activities with anything like consistency, and that fact will highlight the first occurrence of a persisting problem in Second European historiography, for the clash more than anything else will demonstrate that it was the East’s which was the orginal Christian orthodoxy and civilization, and that the West of Charlemagne constituted the departure and digression.  We will fail entirely to understand the alarm of a St. Photius later in that century, or the careful diplomacy of a Leo III at the beginning of it, or the monumental hubris of a Pope Nicholas I, if we do not penetrate to their ultimate theological origins.Indeed, we shall see that the fact that the Second, Augustinized Europe of the West should come to view itself as the canon of “Judeo-Christian civilization” is the result  of that departure and clash, and of the growth in its own eyes of its status as the canonical measure of what is genuinely “Christian” or “European” civilization stems ultimately from the Carolingian equation of Augustinism with its own imperial orthodoxy and ambitions.  Even the massive historical systems of a Hegel or Toynbee are the products of this assumption.Thus, by adopting the First Europe rather than the Second as the canonical measure of Christian civilization, I mean to do more than merely Orthodox dogmatic evaluations of the civilization and culture of
Western Europe.  The canonicity of the Orthodox East has been assumed both as the result of my personal commitments to it, but also for the sake of comprehensive elucidation.  Our flight is to the East, but unlike Gurdgieff’s, does not land us in Peiking, Calcutta, Lhasa-Asa or Angkor Wat, but in Jerusalem, Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, Kiev and Moscow.
And hovering constantly in the background, like a scrim or a basso ostinato, is Rome. Why Rome? The question is almost so simple and obvious that one almost hesitates to ask it.  But to leave it unasked would justifiably relegate this work to the dustbin.  Why Rome?  Because the Two Europes and Two Hellenizations that lie at their core are the result of an even deeper, underlying, and unifying conflict.  For long before the Empire or Philosophy embraced the Church, the Church was already an Empire, metastasizing subversively like a tumor in the body politic of pagan imperial Rome.  The basic historiographical and theological significance of this fact, however, is often overlooked.  This significance must be stated as baldly and nakedly as possible in order for it to be perceived and apprehended in all its enormity, for the presence of the Church in the Empire means that long before “culture” became Christian, the Church was already a self-contained, autonomous culture, inclusive of its own constitution and its own historiographical tradition.  In short, she possessed all the elements not only of government, but of society, and of culture.  She was culturally autonomous from all that surrounded her. This fact made her the enormous danger that the pagan Romans, with much more intelligence than most moderns, saw in her.  Thus, long before the Empire and the Church embraced, they were at war.  And even the embrace was less a peace settlement or a surrender of one to the other, than it was an armstice. Even that warfare, which was the first “Culture war” and the basis for all other and subsequent “culture wars”, the Two Europes and Two Hellenizations interpret in two fundamentally different manners.  As the First Europe is the historical and cultural actualization of the process represented by the First Hellenization, the First Europe therefore constitutes herself spiritually and theologically as a rupture, as something ultimately and culturally discontinuous with the Graeco-Pagan universe of thought and culture in which it, to the Second European observer, apparently moves.  The First Europe at its core is discontinuous with the Hellenistic intellectual world of ancient Rome; but it is continuous with with that early Hebrew and Christian cultural autonomy of the Apostles and Apostolic Fathers.  The Greek philosophical idiom of that First Europe serves only to confuse Second European interpreters such as a von Harnack.  Orthodox Christian Tradition is its core essence, and because of that cultural autonomy, it is able to transplant itself into a variety of vernaculars.  It is able therefore to create in Russia a nation whose origins and national culture do not depend on the simultaneous transmission of Graeco-pagan culture in any sense, even in the sense of the transmission of that pagan heritage that became typical of the Second Europe after Augustine and down to our own day. The Second Europe, predictably, represents  the dialectical counterpart to the First, for it represents the acceptance of the process of Hellenization, and therefore, also is a culture which is based upon the principle of the negation of the Church’s cultural autonomy.   The complexity of this observation may baffle the historian who thinks he “knows better”, who knows of the Investiture controversy and of the Papacy’s assertions of its “autonomy” and “superiority” to the temporal power; or who thinks he knows all about the alleged “caesaropapism” of Byzantium.  Perhaps the best and simplest way of putting this complexity, however, is to point out the fact that St. Augustine, architect of the vast philosophical Cathedrals of the Second Hellenization, was in his time still a part of the Church of the First Europe, an Orthodox Christian father dwelling in the First Europe’s Church.  Such a position he ardently wished to maintain, and such a position he still has on the rolls of the Eastern Church’s saints.  Thus the ambiguities of Augustine and Augustinism are at the core of the historiographical task to be performed by these essays. For Augustine the bishop and Augustinism the system are two different things.  Augustine the bishop insisted, no less vigorously than his great counterparts in Cappadocia — Sts. Basil of Caesaria, Gregory of Nyssa, and Gregory of Nazianzus — on the direct continuity of the Church with the ancient Hebrews and with the cultural autonomy conferred on them by God.  But Augustine the Hellenizer erected a system founded upon a contintuity of  theology with Greek philosophy, a continuity of  incalculable enormity: the identification of The One(to en) of Greek philosophy with the One God and Father of Christian doctrine.  That marriage of Theology and Philosophy occured not at some secondary level of doctine, but at the core, at the height, of all Christian belief, the doctrine of God Himself.  So long as this cohabitation went undetected and unchallenged, so long did its hidden implications take root, grow, and eventually overwhelm and choke the Christian component.  Our current moral and spiritual crisis is the result of that marriage, and will not be resolved until the churches which persist in it, beginning with Rome, repent and recant the error.  For Augustine saw discontinuity with that Graeco-pagan world, but the theologians, philosophers, and humanists who came after him and who were the heirs of his system, came increasingly to see continuity.Thus, at its core the Second Europe is pagan, for it worships a pagan definition of God, pagan, for it is crumbling from within, overladen only with an increasingly thin and superficial veneer of a Christian idiom.  From the standpoint of the First Europe, then, the Second is in the continual process of actualizing the unwitting, but nevertheless, great apostasy contained in the system of Augustine.  Even its “bold” and “radical” modern “reinterpreters” of Christianity — an Elaine Pagels or a Rudolph Bultmann or a Julius Wellhausen — are less revolutionary than they think, for they are as much products of the Second Hellenization as their mediaeval forefathers. In fine, in the Second Europe, the case of a Galileo is impossible without an Augustine to preceed him.  In the First Europe, the case of a Galileo is simply impossible. 

And so the inevitable word about presuppositions and method.  These have, I believe, been sufficently outlined in previous pages that all that is needed here is a simple reiteration: These essays presuppose Eastern Orthodox dogmatic formulations as the basis on which the philosophical and historical analysis of the West is undertaken. Part One of this work therefore consists of a detailed examination of that cultural and theological autonomy of the Eastern Orthodox Church, from the Apostolic Fathers through the Apologists and on down to the Sunday of Orthodoxy in 843.  Part one therefore examines the process of the First Hellenization and its rejection as exhaustively as possible, and in toto.  Since most readers are unaware of the patristic basis of Orthodoxy, this exhaustive examination is undertaken partially in order to make the subsequent examination of the Augustinian West more intelligible, and in order to assist in ending the theological illiteracy on which Augustinism continues to survive. Part Two deals with an examination of the Augustinian dialectical formulation of Trinitarian doctrine itself, and draws certain predictive conclusions as to the implications of that doctrine.  Part Three encompasses that period when the Second Europe, exploring the consequences of the continued marriage of Theology and Philosophy, passes from passive defense of the rationality of Christian Faith to active proof and demonstration by examining Scholasticism and the political results of active proof and demonstration in the Crusades.  These, and other, cultural implications are explored from the standpoint of the West’s new assumption of the intelligibility of God, without which the Crusades, scholasticism, and the legal theories of the Papacy and Holy Roman Emperors are unintelligible. Part Four begins with the dialectical counter-movement to Part Three, for if one assumed that doctrines were provable dialectically, one also assumed their inevitable dialectical disproof.  A new cultural movement in the Secnd Europe is thereby discerned in the dialectical defensibility of Atheism and the increasingly secular basis of cultural, legal, and political organization. This movement passes from passive defense of the rationality of Atheism to the active attempt to found societies based upon Agnosticism and Atheism in America, France, and Russia.Finally, the cycle is concluded when it ends with the active dialectical demonstrability of Atheism or Evil in the founding of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, societies established to return mankind to a universal and global version of Simplicity, wherein no class, or racially-based, distinctions would remain in society to promote disharmony.  The motivation of this work, however,  is not polemical, for even though I am committed to them, the canonicity of the First Europe and its doctrinal formulations are employed here not for evangelistic, but for illuminative, ends, as the means to reinterpret the obvious, inject new considerations into old formulations, highlight the forgotten, detail the obscure, and recast the meaning and significance of familiar concepts or events from a fundamentally different, but still Christian, and I hope, more universally applicable and valid theological and cultural perspective.Finally, a word about how to read this work.  The common complaint against Hegel was — and is — that he took the elegance and expressive power of the High German and performed such turgid and torturous gymnastics with it that, in the end, he remained barely comprehensible.  I hope that my occasional utilization of the dramatic, hyperbolic, and rhetorical device will overcome the difficulty of the subject matter, but the fact remains that in this work the reader may at times find himself plunged into a difficult, strange and arcane world of facts and arguments whose parts may seem disparate and unrelated.  Intentionally recursive diction is the inevitable complement of conveying the logical form of seemingly disparate events or disciplines or concepts, since they must be increasingly subjected to analysis from a variety of angles.  Perhaps the analogy of a fugue is the best, for the leitmotifs constantly recur in a variety of permutations and disciplinary contexts.  And, like a fugue, this little prologue has been the first muted exposition of the theme, and, like a fugue, the author suggests it be re-read as a recapitulation at the end of the work. And so then, it is now time to add the polyphony, and let other voices speak.”

25 Responses to Prolegomena to God, History, and Dialectic by Most Rev. Photius (Joseph P.) Farrell, S.S.B., D.Phil.(Oxon.)

  1. Joseph P Farrell says:

    Mr. Jones, please email me. The email I have for you no longer works.

  2. Porter Barber says:

    The excerpts you’ve put up from Farrell’s writings are fascinating and compelling. I have a question though: is this the same Joseph Farrell who has in recent years been writing rather questionable books about interplanetary warfare and ancient super weapons, for example the “Giza Death Star” and “the Cosmic War: interplanetary warfare, Modern Physics, and Ancient Texts”?(easily verifiable on Amazon) I hope not.
    God bless,

  3. Justin, I do. Use the contact info at and email me from there. Let me know (so I can forward it to him) what if any relationship you have (i.e. does he know you already) and the general purpose of the contact, and he’ll let me know if I can provide the contact info. Or you might find it on the web – but that’s the way he’s indicated if someone doesn’t already have his contact info.

  4. Asher says:

    I have both the bound set and most of the classroom version, from when it was taught as a university capstone course at University of Oklahoma. As well as other related materials. I could produce a CD or DVD with the author’s permission. I’ll consult with him on it, and see what he thinks.

  5. Justin says:

    I had a copy of GHD which I received over 4 years ago – I lent it to a friend & it disappeared! Does anyone have the contact info of Bp Photios / Dr. Joseph Farrell?

  6. trvalentine says:

    A small quibble:

    Thus, long before the Empire and the Church embraced, they were at war. And even the embrace was less a peace settlement or a surrender of one to the other, than it was an armistice.

    I’ve always thought it more accurate to say that the ‘war’ between the pagan Roman Empire and the Church ended with the Church’s conquest of the Empire. In viewing the results, I don’t see an armistice. The supposed dying words of Julian the Apostate were correct.


  7. […] May 19, 2007 · Filed under Orthodox God, History and Dialectic […]

  8. The Scylding,

    The viewpoints on St Augustine are difficult to connect and there is debate among Orthodox for this very reason. I believe that the majority accept St Augustine as a Saint, following the footsteps of many esteemed Fathers, as the article you referenced argued. St Augustine through human error or weakness of language made some statements that can be rather dangerous, if read without discretion. When encompassed within the consensus of the Fathers, his comments an be covered over quietly and the value of the rest of his teaching appreciated because they are seen in the full context of the Tradition that shows forth those matters that may be potentially or actually off track. Unfortunately, in the West the filioque terminology, in particular, ran through a line of Fathers Hilary, Ambrose and Augustine, even if not understood as it was later. When these Fathers were taken on their own without the fullness of the remaining Fathers to complete the consensus then the use of terminology is difficult to counteract and eventually the logic from the false premises that it can provide will lead to other heresies. This does not mean that St Augustine himself deserves to be anathematised as a heretic but those opinions deduced from his terminology, Augustinism, can be said to be heretical. Similar to St Cyril of Alexandra’s use of one nature and the later heresies of Monophysitism and Miaphysitism (although the latter may be somewhat disputed). St Cyril is no way said to be a heretic for this terminology. There are numerous other cases of such errors by Saints that were later taken to heretical ends. The fault lies in failing to cover them, in imitation of Ham, and not his brothers who dared not to look upon their father’s nakedness.

    So, St Augusttine can be considered a Saint even if opinions derived from his terminology and even opinions are condemned as heresies. Nevertheless, in the East, he is not considered an ecumenical teacher nor is his authority strong and he is read with care. I hope this helps a little.

  9. Greg DeLassus says:

    Re: Brandon W‘s comment: To be very fair, should we not wait and see whether or not my points are addressed in future installments. It is hardly reasonable to expect Rev Farrell to cover absolutely everything in detail in the prologue.

  10. Brandon,

    There’s nothing there to address. Those examples are on the scale of Albigensians or Waldensian Manichean type crusades, which are nothing like the “grand scale” movement of the Protestant Reformation. They all have a common up-start time period which suggests Russa’s movement towards its own little Hellenization due to Western influences. Most of the groups suggested couldn’t even be called a Christian movement, whereas Protestantism, in my opinion, somewhat is.

    Secondly, I didn’t post the prolegomena for Roman Catholic critiques, but for my Orthodox readers. The purpose of the prolegomena is to my prime the mental pump of the works intentions.


  11. David Richards says:

    I will be interested to see if Farrell traces the connection and subtle relation between the conceptual deviations of Franco-Latin Christendom from the ancient Church and her corresponding impoverished spiritual practices. … ?

  12. The Scylding says:

    It seems that this radical view of St Augustine is by no means a done thing in Orthodoxy – would somebody care to comment on this article at ? Not being Ortodox myself, I struggle to connect these viewpoints.

  13. Brandon W. says:

    I find in interesting that Mr. DeLassus’ points (which are bigger than he admits) have not been addressed.

  14. Joseph,

    I wish I were in control of such things. If anything else, we follow, site, and document excerpts of Dr. Farrell here on as a side forum for GHD.


  15. Joseph says:


    If nothing else, getting GHD published would certainly lend more credibility to much of the substance of your comments over the last year or so in dialogue with Roman Catholics. If they, and we too, could actually read deeper into Farrell’s thought, your comments wouldn’t appear outlandish as they do to some (present company excluded). Just an honest observation….


  16. trvalentine says:

    Ditto Mike O.’s comment.

    This looks like it might be just the thing I’ve been seeking. I think I need to read it before continuing on a major project of mine.

    And Photios, if it is not possible to get a copy of this, you ought to be ashamed for being a TEASE!!!

  17. Greg DeLassus says:

    A few quibbles (nothing necessarily earth-shattering, of course) suggest themselves immediately:

    1) What presuppositions were present in Byzantine and Eastern Christian thought, then, that impelled the Eastern Church not to transmit this part of its heritage to Russia in its first exportation of Orthodox culture to the Slavs?

    Isn’t this sort of begging the question? Who says that the omission was deliberate, and how exactly would one go about establishing as much? Absent that, it is hard to know whether there even are specific presuppositions of any significance to be analyzed.

    2) Why did the First Europe not go through the Reformation?

    Once again, doesn’t this rather beg the question? Did “First Europe” not go through the Reformation? What about the Molokans, the Strigolniki, the Dukhovors, the Khlysty, etc.?

    3) If “Second Europe” is to blame for the exhaustion of Christian civilization which the author decries in the opening of the prologue, why is Christian civilization in no better shape in First Europe, which evidently (I am given to infer, from the overall tone of this excerpt) never succumbed to the errors of “Second Europe”?

    Perhaps these will be answered in future installments? If so, I suppose that I will just have to wait and see.

  18. Mike O. says:

    Do you think there’s any way I could contact Farrell and purchase some type of copy of GHD from him (printout, pdf, photocopy, anything)?

  19. Oooh, I suspect readers will get plenty of bits and pieces thereof.


  20. Joseph says:


    Well, aren’t you just special. The rest of us would really like to get our hands on GHD if possible. Are you going to be posting some more material from it in the meantime?


  21. photios says:

    And yes, Farrell taught Patristic Dogmatic theology at St. Tikhon’s about 15-20 years ago I think. I also happen to possess his notes and commentary on the Fathers which also interacts with Catholic scholar Johannes Quasten. Some of that is in GHD and some of it is not.


  22. Rob,

    Farrell is “non-canonical” or lacks what modern Orthodoxy calls “mutual recognition” here as far as SCOBA is concerned (though I believe their orders have been recognized by the Patriarch of Jerusalem). He is a bishop of a micro-dot jurisdiction of the Celtic Orthodox Church. Whatever politics and “management” is involved in such, I do not concern myself with, but his faith is undoubtedly Orthodox. I know few Orthodox that have his tact, rhetorical skill, creative thought, and ability to talk to the West. GHD is a work that was envisioned by Florovsky.

    Farrell is also a big fan of Barth in certain respects.


  23. Jason says:

    Also, has anyone heard of Dr. Farrell’s work, “Free Choice in Saint Maximus the Confessor” is going to be reprinted?

  24. Rob Grano says:

    Definitely going to print this out and read it. BTW, what jurisdiction is the Rev. Farrell associated with and where is he located? Was he at St. Tikhon’s Seminary at some point?

  25. axegrinder says:

    Has anyone talked to Farrell about putting “God, History and Dialectic” on DVD-Rom and selling it? It would be pretty cheap to produce and would get his work out there so people can interact with his ideas.

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