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Gennadius II Scholarius, Patriarch of Constantinople

GENNADIUS II SCHOLARIUS, PATRIARCH OF CONSTANTINOPLE

Byzantine lay theologian and scholar, patriarch of Constantinople as Gennadius II (1453c. 1466); b. George Courtesis, Constantinople, c. 1405; d. Constantinople, after 1472.

Scholarius early devoted himself to the study of philosophy, and he had Mark eugenicus as one of his teachers in theology. His preference for Aristotelianism led him to learn Latin and to admire St. Thomas Aquinas, several of whose works he translated into Greek. He opened a school of grammar and philosophy, became imperial secretary, judge general of the Greeks, and, though a layman, preacher-in-ordinary at the court. Sanguine about the projected council of union in Italy, he participated in the preliminary discussions in Constantinople and wrote a letter of congratulations to Pope eugene iv. He served the Emperor John VIII (13921448) as theological adviser at the Council of Florence but, to judge from the documents, was not very active. From the start he would have preferred to discuss the doctrine, not the legitimacy, of the filioque. In April 1439 he addressed a strong exhortation to the Greeks for agreement with the Latins, since the Fathers of both Churches agreed in doctrine, and thus to win military assistance for Constantinople. On May 30 he stated publicly that he considered the Council ecumenical, and the Latin "from" and the Greek "through" he considered equivalent in respect to the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father. At the same time he presented two treatises in support of that position. He left Florence on June 25, 1439 for Venice but returned to Constantinople with the other Greeks.

He resumed his former activities and for a time took no part in the controversy for or against the union. In June 1445, however, he acceded to the request of the dying Mark Eugenicus and replaced him as leader of antiunionism. To that end he directed all his undoubted talent, defending his position in 15 debates in Constantinople with the Latin legate Lapacci (1445) and later began the series of writings that made him the outstanding leader of the antiunionists. With the death of the Emperor John VIII (Oct. 31, 1448), Scholarius lost his protector and in 1450 became a monk, with the name Gennadius. However, he continued as leader and propagandist for the antiunionists, redoubling his efforts when isidore of kiev arrived in Constantinople (Oct. 26, 1452) to promulgate the decree officially. In the fall of the city (May 29, 1453) Gennadius was taken prisoner, but was chosen as patriarch by Mohammed, who wished to use the Church to stabilize his new empire. The Sultan presented him with the insignia of the patriarchal office. Gennadius, unhappy in his position, was nevertheless reinstated, once after resigning and again after flight. He was finally allowed to abdicate and spent the last half-dozen years of his life in a monastery near Serres, reediting old writings and producing new ones, among them translations of St. Thomas's Summa Contra Gentiles and the Prima and the Prima Secundae of the Summa Theologiae. His literary and theological production was enormous and included countless pamphlets against the union, two long treatises on the procession of the Holy Spirit, a profession of faith (1446), several anti-Latin dialogues, an apology for his part in the Council of Florence, and others. He wrote a tract in favor of Palamism (see palamas, gregory), a dialogue against the Jews (1464), and a collection of prophecies, and he engaged in controversy with Gemistos plethon in defense of Aristotle and early Christianity and against fatalism and polytheism. As the result of conversations with Sultan Mohammed II, he composed several tracts on the divinity of Christ and an address to Islam. He also published sermons; eulogies; pastoral letters on the Sacraments, liturgy, and penance; a treatise on simony; and prayers in verse and prose.

Bibliography: Oeuvres complètes, ed. l. petit et al., 8 v. (Paris 192836), with biog. 8: 1547. m. jugie, Dictionnaire de thèologie catholique, 14.2:152270; "La Polémique de Georges Scholarios contra Pléthon," Byzantion 10 (1935) 517530. s. salaville, Échos d'Orient 23 (Paris 1924) 129136. k. baus, Lexicon für Theologie und Kirche 2 4:676677. j. gill, Personalities of the Council of Florence (New York 1964) 7994. h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinschen Reich, 760763. f. babinger, Mehmed der Eroberer (Munich 1953).

[j. gill]

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