This volume includes the studies presented at the international conference “History and Theology,” which was organized by the Faculty of Orthodox Theology at the University “Ovidius” in Constanta and conducted online on November 17-18, 2020.
Through this conference, the organizers wanted to resume a previous initiative, from 2007, which sought to intensify communication and rapprochement between secular and church historians. As such, in 2007, 2008, and 2009, three international conferences were organized at the Faculty of Theology in Constanta in which lay researchers and theologians presented different results of their respective scientific projects.
The names of the researchers who participated in the first three conferences should be mentioned here. Since then, some of them have passed on to the eternal dwellings. These are the Romanian archaeologists Doina Benea from Timisoara, Victor H. Baumann from Tulcea, Mihail Zahariade from Bucharest, and Zaharia Covacef from Constanta. Some of the earlier participants were also at the 2020 event. These are Aleksander Minchev from Varna Archaeological Museum (Bulgaria), Alexandru Madgearu from the Institute for Defense Studies and Military History, Bucharest (Romania), and Costel Chiriac from the Iasi Institute of Archeology (Romania). It is also gratifying that this year's edition was attended, for the first time, by several other researchers including Florin Curta and Ethan Williamson from the Department of History, University of Florida (USA), Bartłomiej S. Szmoniewski from the Institute of Archeology and Ethnology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Cracow (Poland), as well as Valentina Voinea, Cristina Paraschiv-Talmatchi, and Constantin Sova from the Museum of National History and Archeology of Constanta.
The 2020 conference was also attended by some of the theologians present at the 2007-2009 events. These are the church historians Mihai-Ovidiu Catoi from Bucharest, as well as Cladiu Cotan, Nechita Runcan and Ionut Holubeanu from the Faculty of Theology, Ovidius University of Constanta (Romania). Most of the church historians, however, were present for the first time: Emanoil Babus from the Faculty of Orthodox Theology, University of Bucharest, Marin Cojoc from the Faculty of Theology, University of Craiova (Romania), Daniel Danielescu from the Faculty of Orthodox Theology, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi (Romania), Gagu Cristian from the Faculty of History, Philosophy and Theology, “Dunarea de Jos” University of Galati (Romania), Adrian Marinescu from Munich, Sorin Rizea from the Diocese of Slatina and Romanati (Romania), as well as Nicusor Tuca, Corneliu-Dragos Balan, Dumitru Carabas, Nicusor Morlova, Ionut Chircalan, Gheorghe-Bogdan Atomei, and Ion Apostu from the Faculty of Theology, Ovidius University of Constanta.
This volume includes 22 studies that analyze topics related to different historical periods. In the study “Anchor of Faith: The Cult of St. Clement in Eastern Europe (ca. 500 to ca. 1050),” Florin Curta and Ethan Williamson analyze the evolution and spread of the cult of St. Clement of Rome in Eastern Europe on the basis of hagiographic, liturgical, artistic, and archaeological evidence. According to the oldest preserved hagiographic texts, the place of martyrdom and the first miracles of St. Clement was the Cherson in the Crimea. His following there is documented as early as the sixth century. The rediscovery of his relics in 861 by Constatine the Philosopher led to the revitalization of the cult of this saint throughout Eastern Europe. In the tenth and early eleventh century, the veneration of St. Clement as a great mediator and miracle-worker spread to Moravia, Bulgaria, Poland, Kiev, and Constantinople.
In the study “The Martyrs from the Danubian Provinces During the Reign of Galerius,” Alexandru Madgearu analyzes the documentary information about some of the Christians from the Roman provinces of Moesia Secunda and Scythia martyred at the beginning of the fourth century. In the first part of the study, the author focused on two groups of martyrs: Saints Passicrates, Valentinian, Nicander, Marcianus, Dasius, and Julius the Veteran, and Saints Maximus, Dada and Quintillianus, martyred in 303 and 304, respectively, at Durostorum (today Silistra, Bulgaria). In the second part of the study, the author analyzes the documentary information regarding Saints Epictetus and Astion, martyred at Halmyris on July 8, 304, and whose holy relics were discovered among the ruins of the cathedral of the ancient city in 2000.
Alexander Minchev authored the study “’I Am the Light’: Two Hanging Lamps from Bulgaria (Fifth-Sixth Centuries AD), which presents two fine and rare Early Byzantine hanging lamps discovered near the village of Christianovo (Stara Zagora Region, Bulgaria) and among the ruins of the city of Peristera in Late Antiquity (near today's Peshtera, Pazardzhik Province, Bulgaria). The author of the study dates the example from Christianovo to the fifth-sixth centuries, considering that it was made in a workshop in Constantinople. The example from Peristera is dated to the sixth century based on a coin issued during the reign of Emperor Justinian I (527-565) discovered together with it. Minchev assumes that this example was produced in the Roman province of Thrace.
Valentina Voinea and Bartłomiej Szmoniewski present in the study “The Sacred and Profane Destination of the Karst Cave Space: The Case of the Dobrogea Gorges” the results of archaeological research carried out in three caves in Dobrogea (Romania) within the Romanian-Polish project “Study of the Prehistoric and Early Mediaeval Settlements in the Casimcea Valley in Central Dobrudja.” Human bones were discovered in the three caves. Their walls display various representations that reveal their use both in the pre-Christian period as well as in the periods of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages. Voinea and Szmoniewski appreciated that in order to clarify fully the purpose of these caves over time for the local population, it is necessary to continue the archaeological investigations. The results of future research must be correlated with the analysis of human settlements identified in the vicinity of the caves.
In turn, Cristina Talmatchi and Constantin Sova, authors of the study “Christian Elements Discovered in Early Medieval Settlements from Dobruja,” present the results of recent archaeological research conducted in some of the early medieval settlements of Dobrogea. The study concerns the fortified settlement at Oltina - “Capul Dealului,” the early-medieval living levels from Tropaeum Traiani and the vicinity of this former ancient settlement, the early-medieval fortification from Harsova, and the contemporary settlement from Valu lui Traian. The complexes (constructions and tombs) and the various identified artefacts (crosses, objects with incised signs, bone pendants, etc.), which have a Christian connotation, demonstrate the Christian identity of the inhabitants of these settlements.
The priest Ionut Holubeanu returns to the dating of the establishment of the first ordinary bishoprics on the territory of the Roman province of Scythia. In his study “A New Reading of the Data Concerning the Ecclesiastical Organization in the Roman Province of Scythia During the Sixth Century AD,” he introduces documented arguments that support the dating of this event to the reign of Emperor Justinian I (527-565), probably in the year 536. At present, most researchers concerned with this topic support the establishment of these bishoprics during the time of Anastasius (491-518). In addition, based on data from several literary documents and especially recent archaeological discoveries on the territory of the former Roman province of Scythia, Holubeanu appreciates that new episcopal sees were established on the territory of Scythia also after 536, during the second part of Justinian I’s reign and during the reign of Justin II (565-574).
In the study “Carosus from Scythia Minor, Archimandrite in Constantinople and Combatant in the Council of Chalcedon (451),” priest Marin Cojoc analyzes the case of Archimandrite Carosus, mentioned in documents from the Council of Chalcedon (451) and other textual sources. From his point of view, this archimandrite was originally from Tomis, the metropolis of the Roman province of Scythia. In fact, according to Carosus' own testimony, he was baptized there by St. Theotimus I (ca. 390-407), metropolitan of the province. Later, under unclear circumstances, Carosus became head of a monastery in Constantinople. He was also present at the Council of Chalcedon, at which the heresy of Eutyches and the Monophysites were condemned. From the author's point of view, Archimandrite Carosus, suspected of Monophysitism, would have signed Euthyches' conviction as a heretic after the conclusion of the final debates of the Council of Chalcedon.
In the study “Byzantines et latins during the reign of Alexis I Comnène. Orchestration statale et ritualisation des émotions,” the priest Emanoil Babus analyzes the relations between the Byzantines and the Latins in the age of the Komnenian dynasty based on their emotional feelings, recorded in the historical sources.
Priest Claudiu Cotan is the author of the study “The Role of the Typikon in the Organization of Byzantine Monasticism in the Eleventh Century.” In this work, he offers an overview of Byzantine Typika from the eleventh century. The author points out the importance that these documents later had in the reorganization of monastic life in the Orthodox Church.
Priest Mihai Catoi is the author of the study “Miracula Sancti Demetrii II.5: Comments, Clarifications, Working Hypotheses.” Based on the data presented in the writing of Miracula Sancti Demetrii II.5 and information gathered from other documents, he deduced that the preservation of the identity of the citizens of the Empire among the descendants of the Roman population taken prisoner by barbarians was due to their uninterrupted practice of the Christian religion. In addition, the author advances the hypothesis that Church structures from the period before the great Slavic-Avar invasion continued their existence, to some extent, after the barbarians occupied the Balkan Peninsula, and until the beginning of the Middle Ages.
Priest Cristian Gagu addresses a current issue: “Church and Religious Life of Christians in the Pandemic Times.” Based on extant historical documents, the author presents the measures that civil authorities from different historical periods took during pandemics. At the same time, he exposes the attitude of Church authorities at that time toward those measures. This approach of the author is useful in the context of the crisis caused by the spread of the Sars-CoV-2 virus. He helps clarify certain decisions of the Orthodox Church authorities caused by this pandemic, and reject the conspiracy theories supported by some of the believers.
A study that analyzes a current issue for the Orthodox Church is that of Adrian Marinescu: “Patristic Phenomenologies of Orthodox Contemporaneity: Patristics - Post-Patristics - Neo-Patristics in the Recent Theological Debate in Greece.” The author takes as a starting point the decisions of the conference organized in Volos (Greece) in 2010 and the reactions against them drafted at the counter-conference in Athens in 2012. The task of the two scholarly meetings was to clarify the relationship between the writings of patristic Fathers and of the so-called post-patristic theological authors. The clarification of this relationship is particularly important since at the moment an attempt is being made to achieve a theological rebirth within the Orthodox Church.
The priests Corneliu-Dragos Balan and Nicusor Tuca also take on a current topic in their study “The Antinomy Between the Sin of Intolerance and the Suffering Assumed as Pain, Penance or Change.” Starting from the religious reform initiated by John Calvin in Geneva, the two authors reveal the harmful consequences of the attempts to impose certain principles by force. Historical experiences of this kind have shown that such attempts have not led to the desired social peace, but have instead generated great personal and collective traumas.
Ionut Chircalan, author of the study “Challengers and Defenders of the Corpus Dionysiacum for the Orthodox Church in the Twentieth and Twentyfirst Centuries,” analyzes the arguments invoked by the supporters and contestants of the theological writings attributed to St. Dionysius the Areopagite. At the same time, he assesses the consequences that the imposition of one or another of these points of view could have on the Church's teaching.
In another study, “Cynics, Hedonists, Stoics, and the Issues of Human Imperfection,” authored by the priest Gheorghe Atomei, offers the basic principles of some of the pre-Christian philosophical currents: Cynicism, Hedonism, and Stoicism. The author mainly considers their perspective on human imperfection and how they have tried to overcome it.
In the study “Guerre et philanthropie pendant les annees archpastorales de l’eveque, ensuite metropolite Iacov Stamati (1782-1803),” priest Daniel Nita-Danielescu presents and analyzes the actions of one of the metropolitans of Moldavia, Iacov Stamati, during the wars at the end the eighteenth century and the first years of the next century. In particular, the author focuses on the actions of this Romanian hierarch during the Austro-Turkish war of 1788-1791. From his point of view, the analysis of the attitude of this metropolitan enables a better understanding of the connection between theology and history in order to evaluate correctly the origin, importance, and significance of historical events.