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Milton V. Anastos

Constantinople and Rome

A Survey of the Relations between the Byzantine and the Roman Churches.

M. Anastos, Aspects of the Mind of Byzantium (Political Theory, Theology, and Ecclesiastical Relations with the See of Rome), Ashgate Publications, Variorum Collected Studies Series, 2001. ISBN: 0 86078 840 7.

4. The legend of the founding of the Church of Constantinople by Andrew, "the first-called of the Apostles" (John 1.37-42)(28)

At first, the Byzantine Church made no attempt to match the elaborate structure of testimony, archaeological and literary, which had grown up around the account of the foundation of the Roman Church by the Apostle Peter. But in the fourth century, the Emperor Constantius (337-61), or possibly his father, Constantine, as some sources say, built the Church of the Holy Apostles(29) in Constantinople (destroyed in 1453 by the Turks) as a shrine for the remains of the emperors, and sought to invest it with special sanctity by depositing therein the relics of Saints Andrew, Luke, and Timothy. No one then claimed that the see of Constantinople had been founded by one of the Apostles. With the passage of time, however, as the controversy between East and West waxed hot, Byzantine apologists began to feel the need of counteracting the Roman tradition about Peter with one of their own. Actually, there were a number of texts, which proved useful to them. First of all, they had the passage in the Gospel of John (1.37-42) according to which it was Andrew, one of the first two disciples to be converted, who introduced his brother, Simon Peter, to Christ. This was the foundation for the later Byzantine exegesis, which referred to Andrew as the "first-called" ( protokletos) of the Apostles.(30)

Next, they could turn to accounts of the life and activity of Andrew, which had been circulating in one form or another since the middle of the third century, if not before, and hence scarcely later than the first unambiguous references to a sojourn of Peter in Rome. These biographies of Andrew are classified among the "Apocrypha."(31) That is, they were not deemed to be sufficiently inspired or meritorious to be included among the canonical books of the New Testament (the contents of which were fixed in 367 for Byzantium and in 382 for Rome, although the Byzantine Church did not endorse the Revelation of St. John unreservedly until the fourteenth century).

Extracanonical writings occasionally preserve some kernels of historical truth. But these are so deeply embedded under layers of legend that it is usually impossible to disentangle fact from fiction. Hence, the details about Andrew's missionary journeys set forth in the Apocrypha are for the most part completely unworthy of credence. This judgment applies especially to the allusions to his operations in Achaea and Thrace(32) and to his visit to Byzantium,(33) although there is nothing improbable about his having travelled and preached in these parts.

It must be admitted also that the history of the careers of all but a few of Jesus' twelve disciples is shrouded in mystery because most of them, except for Peter and Paul, had the bad fortune to work in the remoter and less famous regions of the Empire, and partly on this account failed to attract the attention of a responsible historian who might have recorded their achievements in a manner that would command respect.

In the Middle Ages, however, which knew very little about modern criteria for evaluating such documents, the data reported about Andrew's missionary journeys were readily accepted, as, for example, by Philastrius of Brescia (d. ca. 397) and Jerome (ca. 347-419/20), with regard to his visit to Achaea, and by the chronicler Gregory of Tours (538-94), with regard to his voyage to Byzantium.

Byzantium itself at first seemed not to be interested in the full exploitation of the traditions about Andrew. But by the seventh century, Constantinople was frequently described in Byzantine texts as an "apostolic city,"(34) without specific reference to Andrew, who was not named as the founder of the Church of Constantinople until the latter part of the seventh century, or the beginning of the eighth, when the "Pseudo-Epiphanius" produced a List of the Apostles and Disciples of the Lord,(35) according to which the Apostle Andrew, while sojourning in Argyropolis, a suburb of the Byzantine capital, created the bishopric of Constantinople by appointing Stachys, who is mentioned in Paul's Epistle to the Romans (16.9), as its first bishop.

Around the end of the eighth century, similar accounts appeared in other works;(36) and a legend of the late eighth or early ninth century(37) has it that, when Pope John Ι of Rome visited Constantinople in 526, he was shown a somewhat expanded version of the above-mentioned Pseudo-Epiphanius and pronounced it authentic. John admitted that the accounts of Andrew's missionary activities in Thrace would make Constantinople an older apostolic foundation than Rome (since Andrew became a disciple of Christ before Peter did), but maintained that this did not affect Roman precedence, which, he said, depended, not on the age of the Roman Church, but on the prestige of its founder, who was the "Prince of the Apostles.

The Patriarch Photius apparently made no use of the Andrean argument in his disputes with Rome,(38) nor does Pope Nicholas Ι make any reference to it.(39) But, beginning with the tenth century, and especially after 1204,(40) Byzantine theologians delighted in tracing the descent of Constantinople from the "first-called" of the Apostles, who served thus as a buttress for their claim that the Church of Constantinople ranked highest in the whole of Christendom. Nevertheless, they never leaned upon Andrew so heavily as the popes did on Peter. This was probably in part to be explained by the growing dominance in later Byzantine ecclesiology of the doctrine of the pentarchy (§ 21 below).


28. - On the subject as a whole, see Francis Dvornik, "The idea of apostolicity in Byzantium and the legend of the Apostle Andrew (Dumbarton Oaks Studies", 4 [Cambridge, Mass., 1958]).

29. - Glanville Downey, «The tombs of the Byzantine emperors at the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople,» "JHS", 79 (1959), 27-51; "idem", «The builder of the original Church of the Apostles at Constantinople,» "DOP", 6 (1951), 51-80; Dvornik, "Apostolicity", 139 ff.

30. - Dvornik, "Apostolicity", 138-264, n.b. 197-214.

31. - Eusebius, "ΗΕ", 3, 25, 6; Ρaul Feine, "Einleitung in das Neue Testament", 9th ed., ed. Johannes Behm (Heidelberg, 1950), 305-8; Wilhelm Michaelis, "Einleitung in das Neue Testament" (Bern, 1946), 346 f.; S. Μ. Zarb, "De historia canonis utriusque Testamenti", 2d ed. (Rome, 1934); Ε. Amann, «Apocryphes du Nouveau Testament,» DictBibl, Supplément, 1 (Paris, 1928), 460-533; Η. Höpfl, «Canonicité,» "ibid.", 1, 22-45; Ε. Jacquier, "Le Nouveau Testament dans l'église chrétienne, 3d ed., 1 (Paris, 1911); Johannes Leipoldt, "Geschichte des neutestamentlichen Κanons, 1 (Leipzig, 1907); Brooke F. Westcott, "Α general survey of the history of the canon of the New Testament", 7th ed. (London, 1896); the great classic on this subject is Theodor Zahn, "Geschichte des Neutestamentlichen Κanons, 2 vols. in 4 (Erlangen-Leipzig, 1888-92). Οn the apocryphal accounts of the careers of the apostles, the major work is Richard Α. Lipsius, "Die apokryphen Apostelgeschichten und Apostellegenden, 2 vols. in 3 and suppl. (Braunschweig, 1883-90).

32. - See the texts published by Μ. Bonnet, "Acta apostolorum apocrypha", 2, 1 (Leipzig, 1898, reprinted Darmstadt, 1959), 1 ff., 47.6 ff.; 62.1 f., 25; Philastrius, CSEL, 38, ed. F Μarx, 28; Jerome, CSEL, 54, ed. C. L. Hildberg, 546; Dvornik, "Apostolicity", 174 ff., 187 f., 214, 216 ff.; Ι. Flamion, "Les actes apocryphes de l'Apôtre André (Louvain-Paris-Brussels, 1911).

33. - Gregory of Tours, "Liber de miraculis S. Andreae Apostoli", MGH "SRM", 1, 831, quoted by Dvornik, Apostolicity", 185; English trans. by Montague R. James, "The apocryphal New Testament" (Oxford, 1924), 337, 339 ff.

34. - Passages are listed in Dvornik, "Apostolicity", 161 ff.

35. - "Prophetarum vitae fabulosae, lndices apostolorum discipulorumque Domini, Dorotheo, Epiphanio, Hippolyto aliisque vindicata", ed. Theodor Schermann (Leipzig, 1907), 120.19 ff.; so Dvornik, "Apostolicity", 173-78.

36. - Schermann, op. cit., 137.7 ff., 146.7 ff. (Pseudo-Dorotheus); "Acta apostolorum apocrypha", 2 (Leipzig, 1898), ΧVΙ; ΑΒ, Ι3 (1894), 358; Dvornik, "Apostolicity", 171-80.

37. - Schermann, op. cit., 151.11-152.17; PG, 92, 1072.

38. - This is one of the principal conclusions of Dvornik's "Αpοstοlicity", 245 ff.; "contra: Franz Dölger, «Rom in der Gedankenwelt der Byzantiner» (cited in note 6 above), "ZKirch", 56 (1937), 40-42 = Byzanz und die europäische Staatenwelt, 112 ff.

39. - Dvornik, Apostolicity, 249 ff.

40. - Ibid., 256 ff., 258 ff.

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