Izotova Olga

Pastorship in Byzantium in the letters of St. Theodore the Studite (late 8th — early 9th centuries)

Izotova Olga (2022) "Pastorship in Byzantium in the letters of St. Theodore the Studite (late 8th — early 9th centuries) ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2022, vol. 107, pp. 11-24 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII2022107.11-24


The article examines various aspects of shepherdship mentioned by St. Theodore the Studite in the collection of his letters. The collection contains letters sent to patriarchs, bishops, abbots and abbesses, as well as their flocks. There are few letters to priests and they do not touch on pastoral topics, in contrast to the epistles to the bishops that multiplied after 815. Among them, it is necessary to mention the letter 11 to bishop Anastasius, as a text completely devoted to the episcopal ministry. In total, there are more than fifty letters to the bishops, and a little less than eighty to the heads of the monasteries. The correspondence of St. Theodore with Mother Superior Euphrosyne is especially interesting. Descripting the episcopal ministry, St. Theodore makes extensive use of the teachings of St. Gregory the Theologian, and when talking about pastoral qualities works of St. Maximus the Confessor. Despite not the fact that St. Theodore often uses the word "pastor" simply to designate a ruler, bishop or abbot, it is not just a designation of the holy dignity for him, but the title of shepherd can be received by one owing to his deeds. The basis of shepherding, from the point of view of St. Theodore, there must be a realization in oneself of the image of Christ, the image of a virtuous life, approaching God, the realization of the pastoral logos in the right way, the acquisition of a disposition towards spiritual life. A shepherd who does this is capable of being a legislator for his disciples, capable of raising their souls to God. An important aspect of pastoral ministry for St. Theodora - accepting this service as obedience and service of love.


Theodore the Studite, epistolography, letter, bishop, hegumen, abbess, shepherd, flock, logos, tropos


  1. Anastos M. (1954) “The ethical theory of images formulated by iconoclasts in 754 and 815”. Dumbarton Oaks Papers. 1954, vol. 8, pp. 151–160.
  2. Antonov N. (2021) “Obzor issledovatel′skoi literatury po teme sviashchenstva v tvoreniiakh sviatitelia Grigoriia Bogoslova” [An overview of scientifi c literature on the topic of priesthood in the texts of St. Gregory the Theologian]. Voprosy teologii. 2021, vol. 3/2, pp. 177–208 (in Russian).
  3. Antonov N. (2021) “Pastyrskaia obraznost′ v õApologii″ svt. Grigoriia Bogoslova” [Pastor’s imagery in the Apology by St. Gregory the Theologian]. Shagi/Steps, 2021, vol. 7/2, pp. 193–211 (in Russian).
  4. Antonov N. (2018) “Uchenie o sviashchenstve svt. Grigoriia Bogoslova v kontekste antichnoi kul′turnoi traditsii (na materiale III slova — Apologii)” [St. Gregory the Theologian’s doctrine of priesthood in the context of ancient cultural tradition (on the material of the Apology)], in Materialy X Mezhdunarodnoi studencheskoi nauchno-bogoslovskoi konferentsii [Proceedings of the 10th International theological students’ conference]. St.Petersburg, 2018, pp. 8–12 (in Russian).
  5. Afinogenov D. (1997) Konstantinopol’skii patriarkhat i ikonoborcheskii krizis v Vizantii (784–847) [Constantinople patriarchate and the iconoclastic crisis in Byzantium (784–847)]. Moscow (in Russian).
  6. Birkin M. (2020) “Durnoi episkop kak tiran v Sententsiiakh″ Isidora Sevil′skogo” [Bad bishop as a tyrant in the Sententiae by Isidore of Seville]. Shagi/Steps, 2020, vol. 6, № 2, pp. 259–291 (in Russian).
  7. Fatouros G. (ed.) (1992) Theodori Studitae Epistulae. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
  8. Fokin A. (2017) “Transformatsiia aristotelevskikh kategorii v teologii i kosmologii Maksima Ispovednika” [Transformation of Aristotelian categories in the theology and cosmology of Maximus the Confessor]. Filosofskii zhurnal, 2017, vol. 10, № 2, pp. 38–61 (in Russian).
  9. Izotova O. (2019) “Piat′ patriarkhov v pis′makh prp. Feodora Studita” [Five patriarchs in letters of St. Theodore the Studite]. Vestnik PSTGU. Seriia II: Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi, 2019, vol. 91, pp. 11–27 (in Russian).
  10. Kessel′ G. (2015) “Dva izdaniia tvorenii prp. Isaaka Sirina” [Two editions of texts of St. Isaac of Nineveh]. Bogoslovskie trudy, 2015, vol. 46, pp. 306–323 (in Russian).
  11. Lemerle P. (2012) Le Premier Humanisme byzantine. St. Petersburg (Russian translation).
  12. Petrov V. (2007) Maksim Ispovednik: ontologiia i metod v vizantiiskoi fi losofi i VII veka [Maximus the Confessor: ontology and method in Byzantine philosophy of the 7th century]. Moscow (in Russian).
  13. Pratsch T. (1998) Theodoros Studites (759-826): Zwischen Dogma und Pragma. Der Abt des Studiosklosters in Konstantinopel im Spannungsfeld von Patriarch, Kaiser und eigenem Anspruch. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang (= Berliner Byzantinistische Studien 4).
  14. Vogt A. (1932) “S. Théophylacte de Nicomédie”. Analecta Bollandiana, 1932, vol. 50, pp. 71–82.

Information about the author

Izotova Olga

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philosophy;
Place of work: St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University for Humanities; 23B Novokuznetskaya Str., Moscow 115184, Russian Federation;
Post: lecturer;
ORCID: 0000-0002-0953-5752;
Email: matroskin2@list.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.