Orthodox Christian Canons Concerning Jews (St. Nikodemos the Hagiorite)

NOTE: The following article contains only a few of the numerous Orthodox Canons in The Rudder concerning the Jewish religion and peoples. The canon forbidding Christians to go to Jewish physicians is now considered to be anachronistic, according to various monastics at Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries for two reasons: “they don’t use black magic in their remedies anymore” and, as one Geronda stated, “Most of the doctors today are Jews. If we followed that canon strictly, we’d never be able to get medical treatment for anything.” When the monastics receive various accusations of being anti-Semitic, they sometimes respond with an air of triumph, “Geronda Ephraim’s personal physician is Jewish.” 

The Jewish priest Athonios about to have his hand severed by an angel of God (Dormition icon detail)
The Jewish priest Athonios about to have his hand severed by an angel of God (Dormition icon detail)


If any Clergyman, or Layman, enter a synagogue of Jews or of heretics to pray, let him be both deposed and excommunicated.86 (Apostolic Canons VII, XLV, LXXI; Canon XI of the 6th Ecumenical Synod; Canon I of Antioch; Canons VI, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXVII, XXXVIII of Laodicea.)



The present Canon considers it a great sin for a Christian to enter a synagogue of Jews or of heretics in order to pray. “For what does a believer share with an infidel?” (II Corinthians 6:15), according to the divine Apostle. For the Jews themselves violating the Law by going into their synagogues and offering sacrifices, in view of the fact that the offering of sacrifices anywhere outside of Jerusalem is forbidden, according to the Law. This is testified by divine St. Justin in his dialogue with Tryphon, and by Sozomenos in his Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, Chapter 21, and by St. Chrysostom in his second discourse against the Jews. Then how much greater violation is that of the Christian who prays together with the crucifiers of Christ? But it also must be emphasized that any churches of heretics, or any of their meetings, should not to be given honor or attended, because they believe things contrary to the beliefs of the Orthodox, but rather ought to be rejected. Thus it is that the present Canon ordains that if any clergyman or layman enters the synagogue of the Jews or that of heretics offering gracious prayers, that clergyman shall be deposed and at the same time excommunicated because that he has committed a great sin; but as for the layman he is only to be excommunicated, since, because being a layman, he has sinned to a lesser degree than has the clergyman, and as a layman he is not liable to deposition and cannot be deposed. Or more correctly, as others interpret the matter, the clergyman that enters a synagogue of Jews or heretics to pray shall be deposed, while any layman that does the same thing shall be excommunicated. Read also the Interpretation of Apostolic Canon VII and that of Apostolic Canon XLV.

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If any Bishop, Priest, or Deacon, or anyone at all who is on the list of clergymen, fast together with Jews, or celebrates a holiday together with them, or accepts from them holiday gifts or favors, such as unleavened wafers, or anything of the like, let him be deposed. If a layman do likewise, however, let him be excommunicated. (Apostolic Canons VII, LXV, LXXI; Canon XI of the 6th Ecumenical Synod; Canons XXIX, XXXVII, XXXVIII of Laodicea; Canons LX, LXXXI, CXVII of Carthage)



In case anyone prays in company with excommunicated persons only, he is excommunicated; or if he does so with persons that have been deposed only, he is deposed: then how much more is it improper that any clergyman who fasts in company with the Christ-killing Jews or celebrates any festival with them ought to be deposed, or if any layman do the same, should he be excommunicated? Hence it is that the present Apostolic Canon ordains that if any bishop or priest or deacon, or anyone else at all that is on the clerical list fasts along with the Jews or celebrates Pascha along with them, or any other festivals or holidays, or accepts any strange gifts from them, such as unleavened wafers, 100 which they eat during their days of Passover; and on all their feasts and on the occasion of every sacrifice where they offer unleavened wafers, let him be deposed. If, on the other hand, any layman does the same, let him be excommunicated.

For even though those who accept such things and join in fasting or celebrating are not of the same mind as the Jews and do not entertain the same religious beliefs and views as the latter (for if they did, they ought not only to be deposed or excommunicated, as the case might be, but also to be consigned to anathema, according to Canon XXIX of Laodicea), yet, as a matter of fact, they do afford occasion for scandal and give rise to a suspicion that they are actually honoring the ceremonies of the Jews, a thing which is alien to Orthodoxy. I omit mention of the fact that such persons are also polluting themselves by associating with Christ-killers. To them God says: “My soul hates your fasting and your idleness and your festivals.See also the Interpretation of Apostolic Canon VII.


If any Christian conveys oil to a temple of heathen, or to a synagogue of Jews, in their festivals, or lights lamps for them, let him be excommunicated. (Apostolic Canons VII, LXV, LXXI; Canon XI of the 6th Ecumenical Synod; Canons XXIX, XXXVII, XXXVIII of Laodicea; Canons LIX, LXXXII, CXXIII of Carthage.)

Postcard of 1905 Odessa Pogrom
Postcard of 1905 Odessa Pogrom


This Canon too, like the one above, excommunicates any Christian who should offer oil to a temple of heathen or of idolaters, or to a synagogue of Jews, when they are having their festivals, or should light their lamps. For in doing this he appears to believe that their false ceremonies and rites are true, and that their tainted mysteries are genuine. Read also the Interpretation of Apostolic Canon VII.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III (2015)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theophilos III (2015)


Let no one enrolled in the clerical list, or any layman, eat the unleavened wafers manufactured by the Jews, or in any way become familiar with the Jews or call them in case of sickness, or take any medicines from them, or even bathe with them in public bathing beaches or bathhouses. If anyone should attempt to do this, if he is a, clergyman, let hint be deposed, or if he is a layman, let him, be excommunicated.


The present Canon commands that no person in Holy Orders and no layman may eat any unleavened wafers sent him by Jews, nor indeed be at all friendly with Jews nor when he finds himself ill may he call them and take their remedies18 or even bathe with them in baths and bathing places. In case anyone should do this, or any of these things, if he is a clergyman, let him be deposed; but if he is a layman, let him be excommunicated. Read also Apostolic Canon Canons VII and LXX.


That is why St. Chrysostom says in agreement herewith for no one to go to Jewish physicians to be treated (page 360 of Volume VI).

Patriarch Kirill of Moscow with the Chief Rabbi of Israel (2012).
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow with the Chief Rabbi of Israel (2012).

NOTE: The above Canon is interesting considering the Wisdom of Sirach instructs Christians to honor doctors and physicians.

“Honour a physician with the honour due unto him for the uses which ye may have of him: for the Lord hath created him. For of the Most High cometh healing, and he shall receive honour of the king. The skill of the physician shall lift up his head: and in the sight of great men he shall be in admiration. The Lord hath created medicines out of the earth; and he that is wise will not abhor them. Was not the water made sweet with wood, that the virtue thereof might be known? And he hath given men skill, that he might be honoured in his marvellous works. With such doth he heal men, and taketh away their pains. Of such doth the apothecary make a confection; and of his works there is no end; and from him is peace over all the earth, My son, in thy sickness be not negligent: but pray unto the Lord, and he will make thee whole. Leave off from sin, and order thine hands aright, and cleanse thy heart from all wickedness.  Give a sweet savour, and a memorial of fine flour; and make a fat offering, as not being. Then give place to the physician, for the Lord hath created him: let him not go from thee, for thou hast need of him. There is a time when in their hands there is good success. For they shall also pray unto the Lord, that he would prosper that, which they give for ease and remedy to prolong life. He that sinneth before his Maker, let him fall into the hand of the physician. My son, let tears fall down over the dead, and begin to lament, as if thou hadst suffered great harm thyself; and then cover his body according to the custom, and neglect not his burial. Weep bitterly, and make great moan, and use lamentation, as he is worthy, and that a day or two, lest thou be evil spoken of: and then comfort thyself for thy heaviness. For of heaviness cometh death, and the heaviness of the heart breaketh strength. In affliction also sorrow remaineth: and the life of the poor is the curse of the heart. Take no heaviness to heart: drive it away, and member the last end. Forget it not, for there is no turning again: thou shalt not do him good, but hurt thyself. Remember my judgment: for thine also shall be so; yesterday for me, and today for thee. When the dead is at rest, let his remembrance rest; and be comforted for him, when his Spirit is departed from him. The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure: and he that hath little business shall become wise. How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the goad, that driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labours, and whose talk is of bullocks? He giveth his mind to make furrows; and is diligent to give the kine fodder. So every carpenter and workmaster, that laboureth night and day: and they that cut and grave seals, and are diligent to make great variety, and give themselves to counterfeit imagery, and watch to finish a work: The smith also sitting by the anvil, and considering the iron work, the vapour of the fire wasteth his flesh, and he fighteth with the heat of the furnace: the noise of the hammer and the anvil is ever in his ears, and his eyes look still upon the pattern of the thing that he maketh; he setteth his mind to finish his work, and watcheth to polish it perfectly: So doth the potter sitting at his work, and turning the wheel about with his feet, who is alway carefully set at his work, and maketh all his work by number;  He fashioneth the clay with his arm, and boweth down his strength before his feet; he applieth himself to lead it over; and he is diligent to make clean the furnace: All these trust to their hands: and everyone is wise in his work. Without these cannot a city be inhabited: and they shall not dwell where they will, nor go up and down: They shall not be sought for in publick counsel, nor sit high in the congregation: they shall not sit on the judges’ seat, nor understand the sentence of judgment: they cannot declare justice and judgment; and they shall not be found where parables are spoken. But they will maintain the state of the world, and all their desire is in the work of their craft.” (Wisdom of Sirach, 38:1-34)



Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus opposes revision of the Church tradition regarding sodomy (April 5, 2015)

NOTE: The metropolitan has similar sentiment to Geronda Ephraim who recently told visiting spiritual children: “…Those [i.e. homosexuals] who are marrying illegally here…The Old Testament says: “My spirit will not remain with man because they are flesh.” This applies today. Sodom burned just like a nuclear bomb. Christ does not tolerate such sins. Everywhere the sins of the flesh are worshipped. The Venerable Mary of Egypt repented. All homosexuals will be eliminated. Everything will become dirt, nuclear, all dirt. The war will begin because of our sins.” http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2014/08/a-conversation-with-elder-ephraim-of.html


Athens, April 5, 2015

Metropolitan Seraphim of Piraeus has severely criticized attempts revise the Church tradition regarding sodomy, reports AgionOros.ru with reference to Romfea.

“The enemy is striving to make us, people, slaves to the flesh and to the sin, to turn spiritual creatures into material ones, like dumb animals…”

“The Orthodox Church respects private life and man’s free will. However, it should be noted that the process of legalization of the crime against the human nature and physiology is going on: today the vile passion of homosexualism has been legally recognized; tomorrow pedophilia will be legalized (take Holland, for example); the next will be bestiality (Germany). This is the gravest crime against Eternal God and the human personality, repeating the blasphemy of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

“Justification, support and promotion of these shameful and ungodly passions as well as attempts to present them as a variation of the norm are unnatural and inadmissible. The Holy Scriptures which express the Will of God more than once condemn homosexuality as a passion, a sin and abomination.”

“For all the Holy Fathers homosexuality is one of the most corrupt and unclean sins, an outrageous ingratitude to the Creator, blasphemy and denial of the Gospel. The public propaganda of homosexuality is like a plague on both the family and the society. Moreover, it will cause psychopathological disorders in children raised by same-sex couples (and we are being actively urged to accept this practice).”


24 The destruction of Sodom. Mosaic, duomo of Monreale, Sicily, twelfth century

The Cursed Fig Tree (Church Fathers)

NOTE: One of Geronda Ephraim’s spiritual children in New York, Andreas K., has a fig tree in his backyard. He says that Geronda Ephraim did the sign of the cross over it and blessed it to grow fruit. He says it has been fruitful every year since then. He also claims it is a miracle since it is scientifically impossible for fig trees to grow in New York due to the winter. Interestingly, many New Yorkers have been successful with growing fig tree in their backyards for years. Unfortunately the harsh winter of 2014 killed a large majority of them: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/13/nyregion/a-fig-tree-dies-in-brooklyn-and-in-other-boroughs.html?_r=0


One of the more infamous passages in the gospels involves Jesus cursing of a fig tree for not having any fruit for him despite the fact that it wasn’t even the season for fruit. What sort of petulant individual would deliver a gratuitous, arbitrary curse? Why would this be Jesus only miracle in the environs of Jerusalem? In reality the incident is meant as a metaphor for something larger.
Mark isn’t trying to tell his audience that Jesus was angered at not having figs to eat — this would be very strange, given that he would have known that it was far too early in the year for that. Instead, Jesus is making a larger point about Jewish religious traditions. Specifically: it was not the time for Jewish leaders to bear fruit, and therefore they would be cursed by God never to bear any fruit ever again.

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Thus, instead of merely cursing and killing a lowly fig tree, Jesus is saying that Judaism itself is cursed and will die off dry up at the roots, as a later passage explains when the disciples see the tree the next day (in Matthew, the tree dies immediately).



It died immediately. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! (Matthew 21:19-20)

It didn’t didn’t die until the next morning. And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. … And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. (Mark 11:13-14, 20-21)



There is quite a diversity of Patristic interpretation on that point.


Synaxarion: On great and holy Monday we commemorate the fig tree that was cursed by the Lord and then withered…Likening the synagogue of the Jews to the fig tree barren of spiritual fruit, with a curse Christ makes it wither. Let us flee such a fate.

Saint Ephrem the Syrian (d. 373): “The owner of the fig tree did not obey the law but spurned it. Our Lord came and found that there was nothing left on it, so he cursed it, lest its owner eat from it again, since he had left nothing for the orphan and widows…

He cursed the fig tree and it shriveled up to show them the power of his divinity, so that by means of this action near at hand which they could see, they might believe that which was to come. Because Jerusalem had not accepted the law, he cursed the fig tree, so that there might no longer be fruit on it, according to its laws…

He sought fruit from the fig tree at an inopportune time, that it might be a symbol of one who had deceitfully withheld the fruits of the law at the opportune time. …. he showed that it was Jerusalem that he was reproaching, for he had sought love in her, but she had despised the fruit of repentence….

It was because the time of his suffering was near, and, lest it be thought the he was captured because he was unable to free himself, he cursed the fig tree, that it might be be a sign for his friends, and a miracle for his enemies. He showed in advance, therefore, by means of a living plant which he caused to wither, that he would have been able to destroy his crucifiers with a word. ”

Fig Tree2

Saint Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386): “Remember at the time of the sin of Adam and Eve they clothed themselves—with what? Fig leaves. That was their first act after the fall. So now Jesus is making the same figure of the fig tree the very last of his wondrous signs. Just as he was headed toward the cross, he cursed the fig tree–not every fig tree, but that one alone for its symbolic significance–saying, ‘May no one ever eat fruit of you again.’. In this way the curse laid upon Adam and Eve was being reserved. For they had clothed themselves with fig leaves.” [Catechetical Lectures 13]

St. Augustine of Hippo (d. 430): “That by withering the fig tree Jesus is in effect saying to us, I have no delight in the withering away of this tree. By doing so I want to convey to you that I am not acting absurdly but for a lesson you may take more seriously. It is not on this literal tree that I have inflicted punishment. Rather, I have made you fear, whoever you are who considers this matter, that you should not fail Christ when He is hungry and that you might hope to be in the coming season of fruit than in the preparatory season of leaves.” [Sermon 39]


St. Isidore of Pelusium (d. 450): “The tree which caused the transgression of Adam and Eve was this fig tree, the leaves whereof the transgressors used to cover themselves. Hence, since it had not suffered this fate originally, it was withered by Christ in His love for mankind, lest it any longer bear fruit that would be the cause of sin.”

Fig tree

Saint Gregory the Great (d. 604): “The figs which the Lord had sought were the fruit of the synagogue, which had the leaves of the laws, but not the fruit of works. For the creator of all things could not be ignorant that the fig tree had no fruit. That was something anyone might have known, since it was not the time of figs” [Epistle XXXIX, to Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria]


Letters Concerning the Jews of Constantinople (Saint Athanasios I, Patriarch of Constantinople)

NOTE: Athanasius I (1230 – October 28, 1310) was the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople for two terms, from 1289 to 1293 and 1303 to 1309. He was born in Adrianople and died in Constantinople. Chosen by the emperor Andronicus II Palaeologus as patriarch, he opposed the reunion of the Greek and Roman Churches and introduced an ecclesiastic reform that evoked opposition within the clergy. He resigned in 1293 and was restored in 1303 with popular support. The pro-Union clerical faction forced him into retirement in early 1310.

St. Athanasius I, Patriarch of Constantinople
St. Athanasius I, Patriarch of Constantinople

He is commemorated as a saint in the Orthodox Church with his feast day observed annually on October 28.

The following Letters are taken from The Correspondence of Athanasius I, Patriarch of Constantinople: Letters to the Emperor Andronicus II, Members of the Imperial Family, and Officials.

The Correspondence of Athanasius I, Patriarch of Constantinople

Letter 23. Athanasius asks the bishops to join him when he presents a supplication to the Emperor about the problem of the Latins, Jews, and Armenians in Constantinople.

(Το the bishops)

Since each of the most holy bishops must soon go to his assigned see, and since there are certain matters which require a joint supplication to the ruler, such as the question of the Latins and the rumor that they are teaching with impunity, and are corrupting many of wavering (faith), we should not go away without attending to this. There is also the issue of the Jews and Armenians, that they should leave (the capital), and other such God-pleasing acts which require a joint supplication, and (the factor of) the oppressive summer weather. Wherefore, if you please after our meal on Sunday let us assemble and go together to the emperor. For Ι do not think that he will fail to see the advantage of the proposal. Therefore, for the sake of the Lord, let no one be absent through hesitancy. If then you judge it fitting, let us assemble at Chora, and from there go together to meet with the emperors.

The Synagogue, Sardis Ancient City, Salihli, Manisa, Turkey
The Synagogue, Sardis Ancient City, Salihli, Manisa, Turkey

Letter 36 <Το the emperor>

The fact <is> that you do not instruct your sons in ways pleasing to God, and that you do not look after your subjects as a father should his children; that the Church has been profaned and attacked, so that not only through ignorance are unworthy men brought into the clergy, but also men who are known to be unworthy; that not only in the common people abandoned without any instruction, but they are defiled as they ought not to be by the introduction of Jews and Armenians; that fiscal agents are not investigated, but persist in their depravity and injustice; that truth and righteousness and judgment and mercy have disappeared; that the people of God have been delivered into the hands of Ishmael on account of their adultery, incest and perverted passion for sodomy and pederasty, and because of their intolerable blasphemy and sorcery and injustice; that never has such license for corruption been granted to nuns and monks; that although you were able to act in both public and private affairs and to acquire exalting humility through the Lord and with the help of the Lord, you preferred to do nothing (?); that when an army is dispatched, there is no one to admonish the men and to frighten them into marching with Christ, but they indulge in adultery and looting and thievery, and how will they then be victorious 1 that although we condemn the disobedience and transgression of the Jews, on account of which they were destroyed, we ourselves are even more guilty of disobedience and transgression, and just as they disregarded their fellow servants, so we disregard our Lord and King the great God. If then with the help of God you strive to the best of your ability for a change <in these conditions>, not only will you rise above the threatened <catastrophe>, and your subjects with you, but, in addition to this kingdom, you will also gain the kingdom of heaven.

Mosaic Floor of the Beth Alpha Synagogue
Mosaic Floor of the Beth Alpha Synagogue

Letter 41. Athanasius protests the Emperor’s toleration of religious worship by Jews, Armenians, and Turks within the walls of Constantinople.

(Το the emperor)

When Rhapsakes the general of Senachereim, king of the Assyrians, dared to spew forth words of insult against the Lord of all, the most pious king Hezekiah not only rent his garments in his zeal for the great Lord, but removed his royal garb and donned sackcloth. Wherefore the Lord of hosts was moved to pity and slew 185,000 Assyrians. How then, holy emperor, will the Lord Sabaoth help us, when we not only permit, in the midst of Orthodox Christians, the assembly of a God-murdering congregation, people who sneer at our customs (that is, at our worship and adoration and faith in our Lord and God Jesus Christ, and our pious veneration of images, and all the mysteries in which the holy and immaculate faith of Christians abounds), but when also through bribes Kokalas has given them great power? And if any Christian out of zeal dares to protest, who will save him from jail?

Beth Alpha Synagogue Zodiac Mosaic (Detail)
Beth Alpha Synagogue Zodiac Mosaic (Detail)

As for the outrages which the Armenians perpetrate towards the neighboring Orthodox Christians, Ι am ashamed to tell that story, God be my witness. I’ll say only so much, that they are not prevented from having a meetinghouse for their prayers, and if any orthodox person should dare to protest in that matter, too, the Armenians will exert a great deal of power with a few silver coins. Everyone knows that <those> Ishmaelites, .who on account of my sins rule Christian cities, do not even allow Christians to strike the semαndron there. But although we are endowed with this Christian empire through the grace of Christ our God, not only have we neglected to do what the envoys of the Ishmaelites did (good-for-nothings that they are, and sent by no better masters), but they openly climb up on high, as is the custom in their land, and shout forth their abominable mysteries. Witnesses of these and similar outrages conceal them and do not report the bald facts to your majesty, so that you might demonstrate your zeal inspired by God.

Synagogue mosaic of King David (Byzantine Era)
Synagogue mosaic of King David (Byzantine Era)

For this reason, holy emperor, how will God hear our prayers, if we pray at all? How «while thou art yet speaking will He say ‘Behold, Ι am here’»? How «will He speak peace to His people»? For this reason, to borrow your own words, «Ι entreat, Ι entreat, Ι entreat» your majesty, arise! Let victims of wrongdoing have a hearing, evil-doers be restrained, and men of righteousness and truth receive favor and praise. « Gird thy sword upon thy thigh» with the help of God in all good works, and «bend thy bow and prosper and reign, because of truth and righteousness» and divine zeal and courage, «so that the right hand of God shall guide thee wonderfully» , and so that He will honor you ; for God says, «Ι will only honor them that honor me» , and Ι know that you will honor Him in your heart. However, God has a rule: He honors in secret those who honor Him in secret, and He honors in the presence of men those who honor Him in the presence of men. As He says, «Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will Ι confess».

The Sardis synagogue floors were paved with ornate mosaics and its walls were covered with panels made with multicolored marble.
The Sardis synagogue floors were paved with ornate mosaics and its walls were covered with panels made with multicolored marble.

Meanwhile, if you, your majesty, strive with the help of God to fulfil <these duties>, Ι will not hesitate to petition about the other matters. Acquire then a good and holy name for the sake of God. Strive honestly, not in word, but in deed. For at the time of death, one should show deeds, not words. Be <another> Phinees. «Atone» for our evil .deeds, so that «the s1aughter will abate» , and so that God may «broaden the territory» of Christians, so that He will supply an abundance of necessities to your subjects, so that He will protect you in battle, and grind down like dust under your feet every foe and enemy, so that He will grant you long life, and on account of your virtues will hand down the empire to your children and grandchildren, for generation after generation, and in addition to your terrestrial empire will grant you also the one in heaven.

The Binding of Isaac, Synagogue Mosaic.
The Binding of Isaac, Synagogue Mosaic.

Also see:

The Syntagma of Matthew Blastares

The most important of the collections of ecclesiastical origin from the late Byzantine period is the Syntagma kata stoicheion, or Alphabetical Syntagma, of Matthew Blastares (ca. 1280–ca. 1350). Blastares was a priest-monk. He lived for most his life in the monastery of Kyr Isaac (the monastery of the Peribleptos) in Thessalonike, where he died. He had an extensive education and left behind a great literary legacy, which is not confined to the area of law. The Syntagma is an alphabetically arranged encyclopedia consisting primarily of ecclesiastical law but including other fields to the extent that these were of practical use to the members of the clergy. During the last centuries of Byzantium, the clergy became more involved in the judicial process, and it seems that Blastares’s purpose was to help them. The Syntagma is divided into 24 sections according to the letters of the Greek alphabet, and every section is subdivided into chapters. In the beginning is found the preface, or protheoria (which includes the history of the sources of canon law in chronological order, followed by that of the civil law), a table of the chapters, and a concise forward ‘Concerning the Orthodox faith’.

Hieromonk Matthew Blastares
Hieromonk Matthew Blastares

The collection of Blastares was created in 1335 and was based on several sources. From the ecclesiastical side, he used the Nomokanon of Fourteen Titles and the commentaries of John Zonaras and Theodore Balsamon. From the civil side, he used the legislative and codifying works of the Isaurians (Ecloga) and those of the Macedonian dynasty (the Epanagoge or Eisagoge, the Procheiron or Procheiros Nomos, the novellae of Leo, and the Basilika). Blastares also used many private collections and compilations created between the ninth and fourteenth centuries.

In its manuscript tradition, the Syntagma is usually accompanied by an appendix containing texts of nomokanonic content. Some of these are works of Blastares himself (such as certain synopses; see below), while some others probably had undergone only some reworking by him (such as the responsa of Niketas of Heraclea and a part of the responsa of John of Kitros). It is not certain, however, whether these texts were selected—at least as a whole—by Blastares or whether they were a later addition to the appendix.

Thanks to its rich content as well as to the practical, useful arrangement of its material (and perhaps also thanks to the support it received from certain theological circles, the hesychasts), the Syntagma had great circulation, as its rich manuscript tradition indicates. It was also the object of further reworking (in the paraphrase of Kounales Kritopoulos) as well as the direct source of later works of compilation in the post-Byzantine period. It also circulated widely in the Slavic countries and in Romania. Shortly after its composition it was translated into Serbian. It was also translated into Bulgarian in the sixteenth century and into Russian in the seventeenth century. In those countries it became an integral part of the basic sources of their canonical law.

Of the other works of Blastares, the following also are of legal interest: a synopsis of the Kanonikon attributed to John Nesteutes; another synopsis of the canons of Pseudo-Nikephoros; a listing in verse form of the offices of the Great Church and the palace of Constantinople; and a dictionary of Latin legal terms, known as the Adnoumion Lexikon.


Against the Jews

Matthew Blastares prepared his Syntagnia, an encyclopedia of earlier secular and ecclesiastical rulings which the monk considered applicable to fourteenth-century Byzantine society The references to the Jews in the Syntagma are therefore reflective of the contemporary attitude of the church toward Jews and the problem of Judaizing heresies.

The Syntagma is arranged alphabetically. Such an arrangement, not uncommon to the area, has the advantage of combining in one section the essential rulings of both church and state on a given subject.47 Chapter IV of the letter I, for “Ioudaios,” contains the basic material referring to Jews that Matthew Blastares considered particularly relevant for his contemporaries. In it, Christians are warned to avoid social and religious contact with Jews; they may not celebrate festivals with them or even inadvertently show respect to their traditions by, for example, avoiding work on the Sabbath. Prohibited, too, are communal bathing, intermarriage, and the exchange of gifts (the latter probably a reference to the Jewish custom of exchanging gifts during Purim). In compliance with secular law, the church is forbidden to convert a fugitive Jew who seeks the protection of the church to escape punishment or, even, his responsibilities. The converse, however, was for obviously different reasons: Jews are forbidden to circumcise a Christian catechumen.

So far, Blastares was repeating Orthodox traditions. In the middle of this chapter, interestingly enough, appears a long excursus on the Orthodox attitude toward the unleavened bread (azyma), which was a major area of disagreement with the Latin church. To Blastares, the Latin use of unleavened bread reflected Judaizing tendencies. Judaizing heresies are also mentioned in the Syntagma (all connected with the Passover and Easter celebrations), but it is not known if these heresies still existed in the fourteenth century. Byzantine religious texts continually recite the litany of contemporary and historical heresies. This excursus however, is a warning to the Orthodox population: Just as you are to avoid Jews, you must also avoid cultural influences that may subtly challenge your faith.

Later generations of Byzantine ecclesiastics continued to sharpen their pens and their arguments with polemics against Judaism. Through a misidentification, scholars for some time thought there was a Patriarch of Jerusalem, named Thaddeus Pelusiotes, who wrote a tract against the Jews at the end of the thirteenth century. It appears, however, that the tract was written by Matthew Blastares and ascribed to the fictional Thaddeus by the well-known scribe and forger Constantine Paleocappa in the sixteenth century.

Hieromonk Matthew Blastares
Hieromonk Matthew Blastares

Matthew Blastares, Commentary on St. Basil’s Thirteenth Canon (1355):

For it will follow, they say, in consequence of this that the most brave of the soldiers by their way of life…will be deprived of the good participation, which is an unendurable punishment for Christians. For what reason, they say, are their hands not clean, which he himself testifies fight for chastity and piety, viewing this as best of all? If these men were not willing to come to blows with their opponents…might those things that ruin piety be hastened when the barbarians bring everything under their sway in the great absence of opposition, and when they zealously decide to strengthen their own worship? Who will be the one that pursues chastity, when all are compelled to live in accordance with those who have already become rulers?

Blastares also refers to the 10th century synod that relied on the authority of St. Basil’s thirteenth canon to thwart Phokas’ attempts to secure martyrdom status for Byzantine soldiers slain in battle and the ecclesiastical arguments to achieve this: “How is it possible to number with the martyrs those who fell during war, whom Basil the Great excluded from the Sanctified Elements for three years since their hands were not clean?” Both Balsamon and Blastares also recount (with some differences) another instance during the same synod when St. Basil’s canon was applied to effect the defrocking of certain priests and bishops who were arraigned for having fought and killed enemies in battle. Ultimately, Blastares rejects the arguments of Balsamon and Zonaras and confirms the validity and relevance of the three-year penance of exclusion from Communion recommended in St. Basil’s canon on the basis of his own theological and scriptural arguments. The scriptural arguments, according to Blastares, include allusions to and exegesis of the aftermath of the God-commanded war of obliteration of the Israelites against the Midianites, when Eleazar the priest ordered the Israelite soldiers who were returning from the bloodshed

To remain outside the encampment for seven days, showing, I believe, that although the slaughters against enemies are legal, nevertheless, the man who kills a human being…appears to be blameworthy…

Blastares thus reasserts the theological and ecclesiastical appropriateness of the prohibition envisaged in St. Basil’s canon. At the same time, inevitably conscious of the existing patterns of justifying Byzantine Christian engagement in armed conflict on the basis of St. Athanasios’ canonical epistle to Ammoun, he emphasizes also St. Basil’s tribute to those who safeguard “the race of the Christians” and fight its enemies, indeed, drawing on it he proceeds to affirm the legitimacy of Christian defensive warfare by posing the rhetorical question: “For what might be a more worthy reason for praise than to defend on behalf of chastity and piety?”

There exists various records of strong Eastern Orthodox disquiet at the phenomenon of Western priests carrying arms and participating in fighting during the crusading era. The following extract from Anna Komnene’s Alexiad highlights both the criticism of this “Latin” phenomenon and the view shared in both Byzantine secular and ecclesiastical circles, that the pacifistic precepts in the New Testament and Eastern Orthodox canon law categorically disallow such a practice for Eastern Orthodox monks and priests.

Fresco of Basil the Great in the cathedral of Ohrid.
Fresco of Basil the Great in the cathedral of Ohrid.

From: Anna Komnene, Alexiad, 10.8.8.

The Latin custom with regard to priests differs from ours. We are bidden by canon law and the teaching of the Gospel, “Touch not, grumble not, attack not—for thou art consecrated.” But your Latin barbarian will at the same time handle sacred objects, fasten a shield to his left arm and grasp a spear in his right. He will communicate the Body and Blood of the Deity and meanwhile gaze on bloodshed and become himself “a man of blood” (as David says in the Psalms). Thus the race is no less devoted to religion than to war…Our rules, as I have just said, derive from Aaron, Moses and our first high priest.



Gregory M. Reichberg, Religion, War, and Ethics: A Sourcebook of Textual Traditions, pp. 184-185.

Spyros Troianos, Byzantine Canon Law from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth Centuries, pp. 185-187.

Steven B. Bowman, Jews of Byzantium 1204-1453, pp. 30-31.

 Sexuality, Marriage & Celibacy in Byzantine Canon Law-The Alphabetical Collection of Matthew Blastares

200 Years Together, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Banned Book About Jews in Russia (2003)

Hailed as the greatest Russian writer of the 20th century, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn went from avowed Communist to Gulag prisoner and outspoken advocate for the destruction of the Soviet empire. His writings exploded the myth of the Communist ideology and set the stage for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Solzhenitsyn in 1974
Solzhenitsyn in 1974

Fr. Seraphim Rose greatly respected Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and frequently mentioned him in his writings and talks. In the first edition of Not of This World, we read: “When Aleksandr Solzenhitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago came out in 1974, Fr. Seraphim not only read it, he studied it as a textbook.” (p. 615).

Fr. Seraphim Rose
Fr. Seraphim Rose

Solzhenitsyn is greatly esteemed in Orthodox circles, primarily in the Russian Church, as well as within convert circles who have been influenced by Fr. Seraphim Rose’s teachings. His books are on the recommended list for Orthodox Christians. In 2003, he published a controversial book which has been banned in some countries, Two Hundred Years Together. It was written as a comprehensive history of Jews in the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and modern Russia between the years 1795 and 1995, especially with regard to government attitudes toward Jews. It is viewed by most historians as as unreliable in both factual data and ideological approach, as well as anti-Semitic. It is hailed as a masterpiece in traditionalist, as well as, nationalist Eastern Orthodox circles.

Solzhenitsyn with Vladimir Putin.
Solzhenitsyn with Vladimir Putin.

On Russia and the Jews

Although Solzhenitsyn has often been accused of anti-Semitism, there is sharp division on whether or not the charge is valid. According to proponents, Solzhenitsyn was a Russian ultra-nationalist and anti-Semite in the mold of Fyodor Dostoevsky. Those who reject accusations of anti-Semitism insist that Solzhenitsyn merely held the Jewish people to the same standard of repentance and self limitation as he held other nations.

Двести лет вместе,

In his 1974 essay “Repentance and Self-Limitation in the Life of Nations”, Solzhenitsyn called for Russian Gentiles and Jews alike to take moral responsibility for the “renegades” from both communities who enthusiastically created a Marxist-Leninist police state after the October Revolution.

AS Repent
In a November 13, 1985 review of Solzhenitsyn’s novel August 1914 in the New York Times, Polish-American historian Richard Pipes commented: “Every culture has its own brand of anti-Semitism. In Solzhenitsyn’s case, it’s not racial. It has nothing to do with blood. He’s certainly not a racist; the question is fundamentally religious and cultural. He bears some resemblance to Dostoyevsky, who was a fervent Christian and patriot and a rabid anti-Semite. Solzhenitsyn is unquestionably in the grip of the Russian extreme right’s view of the Revolution, which is that it was the doing of the Jews”.

"The emergence of Bolshevism was the result of special aspects of Russian history. However, Soviet Russia can thank the work of the Jewish commissars for the organization of Bolshevism."
“The emergence of Bolshevism was the result of special aspects of Russian history. However, Soviet Russia can thank the work of the Jewish commissars for the organization of Bolshevism.”

Hungarian-American Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel denied this claim and insisted that Solzhenitsyn was not an anti-Semite: “He is too intelligent, too honest, too courageous, too great a writer.” He added he wished Solzhenitsyn were more sensitive to Jewish suffering, but believed his insensitivity to be unconscious.

"There are many Jews and Jewesses among the Bolsheviks. Their main characteristics – self-righteousness, aggressive tactlessness and presumptive arrogance – are painfully evident. Bolshevism is found contemptible in the Ukraine. The preponderance of Jewish physiognomies, especially in the Cheka, evokes an extremely virulent hatred of Jews among the people."
“There are many Jews and Jewesses among the Bolsheviks. Their main characteristics – self-righteousness, aggressive tactlessness and presumptive arrogance – are painfully evident. Bolshevism is found contemptible in the Ukraine. The preponderance of Jewish physiognomies, especially in the Cheka, evokes an extremely virulent hatred of Jews among the people.”

In his 1998 book Russia in Collapse, Solzhenitsyn excoriated the Russian extreme right’s obsession with anti-Semitic and anti-Masonic conspiracy theories.
In 2001, however, Solzhenitsyn published a two-volume work on the history of Russian-Jewish relations (Two Hundred Years Together 2001, 2002). A bestseller in Russia, the book triggered renewed accusations of anti-Semitism.


The controversy was fueled by the similarities between Two Hundred Years Together and an anti-Semitic essay titled “Jews in the USSR and in the Future Russia”. According to the historian Semyon Reznik, textological analyses of the essay indicate Solzhenitsyn’s authorship.
Solzhenitsyn responded by saying that the essay was written using manuscripts stolen from him by the KGB forty years before. They were then carefully edited as part of the Soviet State’s “active measures” against him.
Although Two Hundred Years Together has never been published in the United States, long excerpts from it appear in The Solzhenitsyn Reader. The book began with a plea for “patient mutual comprehension” on the part of Russian Gentiles and Jews. Solzhenitsyn explained that the book was conceived in the hope of promoting “mutually agreeable and fruitful pathways for the future development of Russian-Jewish relations”.

"For a Jew, who came neither from among the aristocrats nor the clergy, Bolshevism represented a successful and promising new prospect to belong to a new clan."
“For a Jew, who came neither from among the aristocrats nor the clergy, Bolshevism represented a successful and promising new prospect to belong to a new clan.”

In Chapter 9, Solzhenitsyn that, “…it would be quite wrong to say that the Jews ‘organized’ the revolutions of 1905 and 1917, just as it was not organized by any other nation as such.”
At the end of chapter 15, Solzhenitsyn expressed a belief that, “every people must answer morally for all of its past — including that past which is shameful.” In this spirit, he urged the Jewish people to answer, “both for the revolutionary cutthroats and the ranks willing to serve them.” It is not, he insists, a matter of answering “before other peoples, but to oneself, to one’s consciousness, and before God.” He explains that Russian Gentiles must also repent “for the pogroms, for those merciless arsonist peasants, for those crazed revolutionary soldiers, for those savage sailors… To answer just as we would answer for members of our own family. For if we release ourselves from any responsibility for the actions of our national kin, the very concept of a people loses any real meaning.”

The book is discredited by historians, yet highly praised by traditionalist and nationalist Orthodox Christians.
The book is discredited by historians, yet highly praised by traditionalist and nationalist Orthodox Christians.





The Top Conspiracy Theories Among Greeks

NOTE: The following article is taken from a now defunct website, Handling Greek Life.

In 2001/2002, the AZ monks  were passing around American Free Press newspapers explaining 9/11 as a Mossad/CIA psy-ops.
In 2001/2002, the AZ monks were passing around American Free Press newspapers explaining 9/11 as a Mossad/CIA psy-ops.

Greeks love them.  They live and breathe conspiracies.  The countless magazines on extra-terrestrial life, mysteries of life etc confirm the thirst of the Greeks for such subjects.  Not to mention TV shows such as those of Mr. Hardavela (not on any longer) and Mr. Liakopoulos.  Here’s a list of the most prominent conspiracies whose existence most Greeks take for granted:

“All Jews are rich and they control the world.”

Anti-Semitic Cartoon from Greek Newspaper
Anti-Semitic Cartoon from Greek Newspaper

This is one of many world-domination theories where the Jews are responsible for all things happening in the world.  The richest men in the world are Jews, they say, and even if they’re not, they are controlled by them.  They’re behind everything.  You name it:  wars, diseases, literature and art that the Orthodox Church does not approve of… it’s all their fault.  They’re trying to brainwash everyone.  I guess many Greeks imagine the most powerful Jews in the world getting together at meetings in order to determine what their next step will be towards world and religious domination.

Rothschild Cartoons. By North Utsire
Rothschild Cartoons. By North Utsire

[NOTE: In the monasteries, many monastics learn about “The Synagogue of Satan” and the secret history of “Jewish world domination” either directly from the superior and other monastics, or through the homilies they have on their iPods].

“Globalization – A New World Order”

Gary H. Kah's book made the rounds in the monasteries shortly after 9/11.
Gary H. Kah’s book made the rounds in the monasteries shortly after 9/11.

For some reason, the word “globalization” has very negative connotations among the common Greek.  For them, it means loss of national identity and, on a practical level, loss of job positions.  They get more imaginative than this, however.  Organizations such as the Masons and the Bilderburg Group push their agenda to powerful governments around the world, they say.  After all, the members of such groups are presidents of countries, tycoons, and media owners:  a mixture of people that can manipulate public opinion to serve their own interests.  The secrecy of such groups exert a kind of mysticism that’s enchanting to the average Greek.

Geronda Paisios would also talk about the Committee of 300 as a hidden hand in the New World Order.
Geronda Paisios would also talk about the Committee of 300 as a hidden hand in the New World Order.

[NOTE: Globalization/N.W.O. conspiracy theories are truth and not “theories” for many of the monastics as it falls in line with their worldview that the Jews will bring in the Antichrist as the one world leader 3 1/2 years before the world ends, i.e. the Second Coming. https://archive.org/details/EnRouteToGlobalOccupation]

“Everyone is after Greece.”


The Albanians, the Slavs in FYROM, and the Turks are all after pieces of land in Greece.  Some maps from Albania show the “Albanian Dream,” which is the extension of their country the whole way down to Preveza.  Skopia, on the other hand, give out maps where their country extends to include all of Macedonia down to Halkidiki and Thessaly.  Of course, the Turks are the lifelong enemy… who knows what they’re after.

[NOTE: Geronda Paisios has said that the Zionists revealed a map of what the future State of Israel will look like: It includes Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria, etc. He also stated that the Israelis plant false Judaic artifacts in Cyprus so they can later “find” them in archeological digs and have a claim to Cyprus].

An excerpt from a speech made by H. Kissinger in 1974 keeps feeding the fire of this conspiracy until today:


The Greek people are anarchic and difficult to tame. For this reason we must strike deep into their cultural roots: Perhaps then we can force them to conform. I mean, of course, to strike at their language, their religion, their cultural and historical reserves, so that we can neutralize their ability to develop, to distinguish themselves, or to prevail; thereby removing them as an obstacle to our strategically vital plans in the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.


The leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church (as an institution), being a vital part of Greek history and conscience, feel that these “strikes” are directed towards them.  So, when there’s any talk or action towards the separation of state and church in this country, they start talking about conspiracies to break down the spirit of the average Greek and to annihilate this country’s history.  Therefore, several old-timers in Greece have linked the meddling of the Greek Church in state affairs with the survival of the Nation.

masonoi patriarxes

[NOTE: In the monasteries, many monastics learn about the long lineage of Ecumenical Patriarchs who were Freemasons, as well as other hierarchs and priests, especially here in America–i.e. Archbishop Iakovos, Metropolitan Evangelos, etc. Furthermore, there’s also AHEPA and other Greek masonic organizations that are frowned upon as working to destroy the Church from within. Kissinger is regarded as a war criminal, and his words are still repeated today in regards to Greece and “everything the dark powers are doing to cripple the nation.”].

“It’s in the air, the water… the fruits of the earth”

Chemtrail conspiracy theories are held as fact by many monastics.
Chemtrail conspiracy theories are held as fact by many monastics.

The masterminds of the world have decided to control us with chemicals that they inject in the water supply.  All of the fruit and vegetables are “poisoned” with pesticides that limit our intelligence and make us easy targets for a bombardment of propaganda.  Let’s not forget the white streaks in the air.  Haven’t you noticed airplanes spraying us with chemicals that leave long lines in the sky to make us dumber?  And all of those new viruses such as the swine flu and bird flu a few years ago… Everyone knows they were purposely released to reduce the earth’s population.

While the ring around Athos during Geronda Markellos' funeral was said to be a miracle by some, Geronda Paisios said it was a chemtrail because they knew all the monks would be gathered in one place.
While the ring around Athos during Geronda Markellos’ funeral was said to be a miracle by some, Geronda Paisios said it was a chemtrail because they knew all the monks would be gathered in one place.

Hmmm… to be honest, I believe, too, that the bird and swine flu scares are just ways to spread panic and for pharmaceuticals to make billions of dollars or euros.  Does that make me susceptible to conspiracies?  Or does it make me more open to the “truth”?  The view always differs, depending on where you’re standing.  “Truth, after all, wears a different face to everybody, and it would be too tedious to wait till all were agreed” (James Russell Lowell, American poet, critic, editor).

[NOTE: Many of the monks who fell ill with “Valley Fever” in Arizona had the reason explained thus: “The government purposely targets the monasteries with chemtrails. So, when the monks are digging in the desert, they dug up the chems/virus and made it airborne, breathed it in, and became sick.” This is one of the many ways the government has targeted the monasteries. The “dark powers do not want the monasteries here in America as they are a threat to the advancement of their plans. As well, thousands of people, who would of lost their souls if the monasteries weren’t here, are now being saved.”].

SOURCE: https://web.archive.org/web/20121220102356/http://www.allthegreeks.com/everyday-life/407-the-top-conspiracy-theories-among-greeks.html

A dark scene inside a Masonic Temple in Greece. The human sacrifice lays straddled as a five point star on the altar. (Archim. Vasiopoulou, Jewish Masonry Unmasked, p. 181)
A dark scene inside a Masonic Temple in Greece. The human sacrifice lays straddled as a five point star on the altar. (Archim. Vasiopoulou, Jewish Masonry Unmasked, p. 181)