One of the ecumenically most problematic aspects in the history of the Orthodox Church is the anathemas of 431, 451 and especially the abrupt set of anathemas prescribed in 553, as several prominent Church fathers were condemned centuries after having passed away in peace with the Church. Most of them were authoritative or at least influential teachers for the holy fathers, and a number of their writings have been in use in the Orthodox tradition up to our times. Due to their de facto influence, they have an integrated presence and even important position in the tradition of the Church. Could this fact perhaps, with a fresh reading, have some ecumenical potential for our times, especially in relation to the Pre-Chalcedonian Churches and Roman Catholics?
After the Shoah, the Catholic-Jewish dialogue has reached considerable intellectual depth, existential honesty, theological advancement and thematic width. The Orthodox Church, however, has hardly started its process of reconciliation. At the heart of the problem is the patristic argumentation on the forsakenness of the Jews, which in the Early Church was organically connected with the truth of Christianity. The patristic authors, however, were largely ignorant of the theological developments of Rabbinic Judaism and thus based their reasoning on mistaken presuppositions. In our times, this is especially clear with the patristic argument that it is perpetually impossible for the Jews to return to rule their Holy Land and Jerusalem.
The early patristic authors dealt with the idea of deification in varying circumstances, in relation to different questions, and in more than one language. This article examines Syriac and Greek discourses and vocabularies related to deification in Early Christian and Post-Chalcedonian sources, concentrating on the Syriac tradition, which is less studied. The comparison illustrates certain similarities and differences. The most striking difference is, perhaps surprisingly, that in the Syriac tradition, the idea of deification is prevalent but specific terms to indicate it are almost never used. The incommensurability of the discourses exemplifies the conceptual difficulties at the emergence of the schisms between the Greek and Syriac speaking parts of Christendom.