The most important Greek Orthodox theologian of the 18th century; b. Corfu, Aug. 10 or 11, 1716; d. St. Petersburg, May 29 or June 10, 1806. Bulgaris (baptized Eleutherius) studied philosophy and theology at Padua, then lectured at Janina, Greece, and entered the monastery of Vatopedi on Mt. Athos (1749) and taught there and at the Patriarchal School of Constantinople. When dismissed from his teaching assignment because his methods differed from the Oriental tradition, he migrated to Leipzig, Germany, where he encountered the Russian Marshall Theodore Orlov, who recommended him to the Czarina catherine ii. She brought him to St. Petersburg and gave him charge of her library (1771). He was ordained a priest in 1775, and named archbishop of Kherson (Oct. 1, 1776). There he pursued his literary activities, but he soon resigned his bishopric, returned to St. Petersburg, and composed a series of exegetical and polemical works. In 1802 he retired to the monastery of St. Alexander Nevski.
A polyglot, Bulgaris served as editor, translator, and biographer and wrote on theology, philosophy, philology, history, physics, and mathematics. He was considered a champion of Oriental Orthodoxy by his coreligionists, since he disputed both the Catholic and the Protestant positions. When the Catholics of eastern Poland were forced into Orthodoxy, he protested in favor of tolerance. One of his principal works is a dogmatic theology composed in Scholastic fashion (Venice 1872).
Bibliography: m. jugie, Theologia dogmatica christianorum orientalium ab ecclesia catholica dissidentium, 5 v. (Paris 1926–35) 1:526–527. b. kotter, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 1957–65) 2:766. a. palmieri, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, ed. a. vacant, 15 v. (Paris 1903–50; Tables générales 1951–) 2.1:1236–41. r. janin, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart (Paris 1912–) 10:1195–98. e. wolf, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3rd ed. Tübingen 1957–65)3 1:1509.