History Of The Byzantine Era And Significance Today

2361 words - 9 pages

Like John of Damascus, Theodore the Studite was an important literary figure and one of the principal people involved with the writing of the Canons. Theodore the Studite lived from 759-826 CE, and served as the abbot of the monastery of Studius in Constantinople from 798 CE until his death. Like John, Theodore was a defender of icons and believed that Iconoclasm was heresy. Theodore's arguments against Iconoclasm can be found in his three formal tracts and in his letter that opposed Iconoclasm based on the human side of Christ's nature, and on Theodore's belief that symbolism was necessary in religious worship. Though Theodore did admit that God could not, and should not be depicted in art, he still believed that the denial of the legitimacy of Icons of Christ meant the denial of the Incarnation. He argued that it was false to hold the belief, as the Iconoclasts did, that the symbol was the same as the essence it symbolized. Had this been true, he believed that the defenders of images would have agreed that the legitimate icon of Christ was the sacred elements of prayer and conscious. Along with his writings and stances against the Iconoclasm, Theodore also created two important funeral orations, one for his mother Theoctista, whom he painted as a pious yet practical Byzantine lady, and another for his uncle Plato, abbot of the Saccudion monastery, whose rules had provided Theodore with a pattern that would aid him in his own monastic reforms. These works, by Theodore, provide arguments from the Iconoclasm periods, and also, from his personal history that give scholars a view into that period of the Byzantine history.
Another influential scholar was Maximus the Confessor. In his early years, he studied philosophy, grammar, and rhetoric, and served as the first secretary and chief counsellor to the Emperor Heraclius. He eventually resigned from this post to pursue a monastic life, but later entered the fray on the Monothelite controversy. He argued against Monothelites who believed that Christ had two natures, but only one will. Maximus argued that Christ did in fact have two wills; divine and human (Dyothelite). He was responsible for convincing the Monothelite Patriarch Pyrrhus to publicly acknowledge the errors of his ways, and in 647 CE, at a council of bishops in Africa, Maximus participated in condemning Monotheletism as Heresy. Later, Maximus urged the Pope, St Martin, to examine the Monothelitism debate. At the Lateran Council of 649 CE, a group of over 100 bishops from both the East and West Churches condemned Monothelitism as heresy. This resulted in the Byzantine Emperor, Constans II, accusing both Maximus and Pope Martin of treason. In addition to his achievements within the church as a key figure during the Monotheletism controversy, Maximus also left behind approximately ninety important theological works which include: explanations of complicated passages of Holy Scriptures, a commentary on the Lord's Prayer and Psalm...

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