Izotova Olga

Five patriarchs in letters of St. Theodore the Studite

Izotova Olga (2019) "Five patriarchs in letters of St. Theodore the Studite ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia II : Istoriia. Istoriia Russkoy Pravoslavnoy Tserkvi, 2019, vol. 91, pp. 11-27 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturII201991.11-27


This article analyses various aspects of the patriarch’s ministry in the corpus of letters of St. Theodore the Studite. St. Theodore’s statements about the pope and the four eastern patriarchs are studied in the light of various opinions of scholars as to the role of St. Theodore in approving the primacy of the Roman see and the system of the pentarchy. Attitude to St. Theodore, as a defender of the primacy of Rome, turns out to be insuffi ciently grounded, since neither the addresses to popes in the preambles of the letters, nor the magnifi cent praises to them, look unique if one compares them both with the addresses to the other four patriarchs by St. Theodore and the traditional addresses to patriarchs in Byzantine epistolography in general. Special attention which St. Theodore the Studite pays to the Roman and Jerusalem patriarchs also fi nds its explanation in the historical context of the period. It is just from these hierarchs that St. Theodore could expect real help facing persecution by the iconoclast emperors. The doctrine of St. Theodore about the “fi ve-headed (πεντακόρυφος) body of the Church” implies the special role of the patriarchs as heirs of the apostles in resolving issues of faith. The ministry of the patriarch is fundamentally diff erent from the ministry of an ordinary bishop, which is understood by St. Theodore primarily in relation to his congregation and in terms of following the canons. Correction of a patriarch who has fallen into heresy is possible only by his equals and is not subject to the will of the emperor or of all Orthodox emperors. The assembly of patriarchs, the fi ve heads of the body of the church, is independent from emperors and from those whose subjects they are in the earthly dimension. The existence of this assembly does ensure the preservation of the dogmata of the faith.


Theodore the Studite, epistolography, letter, pentarchy, primacy, pope, bishop, ecclesiology, church, apostolic succession


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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.