Mark of Ephesus

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MARK OF EPHESUS (13921444), a leader of the Greek Orthodox resistance against the unionist movement with the Western church. A native of Constantinople, Mark studied under prominent teachers and then opened a private higher school. He was elected metropolitan of Ephesus and participated in the Council of Ferrara-Florence as a representative of the patriarchate of Antioch at the expressed wish of the emperor John VIII Palaeologus. However, he became the strongest adversary of union with the Roman church. Mark abstained from the sessions of the council and was the only Eastern bishop to refuse to sign the decisions of the council in 1439. When Pope Eugenius IVfor whom unanimity and the support of Mark were determinant factors for unionlearned of his refusal, he said, "Therefore, we have accomplished nothing."

After his return to Constantinople, Mark was offered the patriarchal see by the emperor and bishops in the hope that his zeal against union would decrease under the burden of the great responsibilities of office. Mark refused the offer. Attempting to go to Mount Athos, probably with the aim of mobilizing the monks against union, he was seized on the island of Lemnos by the imperial police and was not allowed to leave the island for two years. After his liberation, he directed the struggle in Constantinople. Shortly before his death he persuaded Gennadios Scholarios, the future patriarch of Constantinople, to succeed him in his function as head of the antiunionists.

Mark's theology is basically hesychastic with occasional use of Aristotelian categories to support his arguments. His work Syllogistic Chapters on the Divine Essence and Energy reveals his spiritual and intellectual origins. His polemics against the Roman church are included in various writings, of which the most important is Syllogistic Chapters against the Latins. By an encyclical letter, To Christians All Over the Earth, he directed the attention of Orthodox believers to the danger from those who were wavering and finding themselves in agreement with both Easterners and Westerners; he called these people "Greco-Latins."

Mark believed that differences with the Westerners over such matters as the procession of the Holy Spirit, purgatory, and the use of unleavened bread for the Eucharist were dogmatic differences; therefore, he considered the Latins heretics. A summary of his position may be found in his statement regarding a patriarch who favored union: "The further I stay from this man and others like him the nearer I come to God and to the faithful and holy fathers."


A lengthy sketch of Mark's person and work may be found in Louis Petit's article "Marc Eugénicos," in Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, vol. 9 (Paris, 1927), and a shorter sketch in Hans Georg Beck's Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich, 1959), pp. 755758. The most complete study is Katerina Mamoni's Marcos Eugenicos (Athens, 1954). Mark's ecclesiastical policy from the Roman Catholic point of view is treated by Joseph Gill in Personalities of the Council of Florence (Oxford, 1964). Constantine N. Tsirpanlis provides the Greek Orthodox point of view in Mark Eugenicus and the Council of Florence: A Historical Re-evaluation of His Personality (New York, 1979).

Panagiotis C. Christou (1987)