For nine hundred years one of the most beloved and widely read Scriptural commentaries among the Orthodox people of Byzantium, Serbia, Bulgaria, Russia, and Greece has been Bl. The comprehensiveness, the patristic authority, and, at the same time, the simplicity of this great work makes it of value to any Christian seeking to understand the meaning of the Gospel preaching. Here is what Bishop Ignaty Brianchaninov, a renowned spiritual writer and monastic guide of nineteenth century Russia, has to say about this work: "While reading the evangelists, the novice should also read The Herald, that is, the explanation of the Gospel by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Bulgaria. The reading of The Herald is indispensable. It is an aid to the right understanding of the Gospel and consequently to the most exact practice of it. Moreover, the rules of the Church require that Scripture should be understood as the holy Fathers explain it, and not at all arbitrarily.

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Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria September, Below is a short account of the life of Blessed Theophylact. Following this article is a new and and more detailed account of his life. Born on the Greek island of Euboia some time between and , Theophylact went to Constantinople to study under the finest teachers of literature and rhetoric of his time.

After his ordination, he served as deacon, assisting the Patriarch at Hagia Sophia , and soon gained renown as a preacher of the Gospel and master of rhetoric. The Emperor Alexios I Comnenos made him the tutor of his future son-in-law, the heir presumptive. Ohrid was the capital city of the Bulgarian kingdom that had been conquered by the Byzantine Emperor Basil II in In this demanding position in a conquered territory on the outskirts of the Empire, Blessed Theophylact conscientiously and energetically carried out his archpastoral duties over the course of the next twenty years or so.

Although a Byzantine by upbringing and outlook, he was a true father and archpastor of the Bulgarian Church, defending its interests and protecting its independence and prerogatives. He was instrumental in the spread of Byzantine culture that took place among the Balkan Slavs in the following centuries.

Another View of Saint Sophia Cathedral Another View of Saint Sophia Cathedral Countering the propaganda of the heretical Paulicians and Bogomils who were active in the region, he acted vigorously to protect his flock by ordaining dedicated and educated priests to teach Orthodoxy in the native Bulgarian language. He also showed his care for the Slavic people under his spiritual care by vigorously protesting the intolerable and extortionist demands of tax collectors sent from Constantinople.

He endured many slanderous accusations that were made against him both within the Diocese and in Constantinople, but he won the respect and love of the faithful who saw his tireless labors on their behalf. He did so at the request of the princess Maria—the mother of the imperial boy he had earlier tutored, and who had now become the abbess of a convent.

His Letters also date to this time, as well as two other writings for which he is well known: The Life of St. The latter two works highlight two developments of enormous consequence for the history of the Church. The first is the spread of Orthodoxy Christianity into the Slavic lands; for St. Clement of Ohrid was a disciple of Sts. Cyril and Methodius , and he brought to fruition in Bulgaria the labors begun by his mentors in carrying the Orthodox faith to the Slavs in their own languages.

The second is the tragic schism which occurred between the eastern and western halves of the Church. Blessed Theophylact wrote his treatise, The Errors of the Latins, only some fifty years after the exchange of anathemas between Rome and Constantinople in While firmly defending the Orthodox doctrinal position rejecting the Filioque , Blessed Theophylact writes with a tone of moderation rare for his time, urging from both sides a spirit of conciliation concerning matters of local custom.

The Serbian Orthodox Church, whose jurisdiction in later years came to include Ohrid and Macedonia, and other Orthodox Churches, commemorates Blessed Theophylact as a saint, on December In a letter to the brother of Empress Maria, he mentions his relatives in Euripus, and one ancient list of Bulgarian archbishops directly identifies Theophylact as originating from Euripus.

It seems that he spent most of his early life in Constantinople: in one of his letters, he calls himself a true Constantinopolitan. In this and other letters, he expresses a devotion to Constantinople, which could only have been acquired by living there a long time.

These deacons were held in high esteem. As close assistants of the Patriarch, they shared with him almost all the work of his ministry; one helped him manage the patriarchate, while others took turns giving sermons for him.

This title of distinction was given to rhetoricians who were particularly noted for their gift for preaching, and therefore could serve as an example for less capable and experienced preachers. From his extensive writings letters and scriptural commentaries , we can see that he had a thorough knowledge of theology and was highly versed in the Scriptures. It was the duty of a rhetorician to explain to the people the meaning of the Scriptures.

His writings also reveal that he possessed a considerable knowledge of secular learning; he was especially well versed in ancient classical literature. He was not the only churchman to have undertaken the study of secular sciences: other teachers of the church, understanding the importance of secular learning in pastoral ministry, had also advocated that these sciences not be neglected.

The highest court dignitaries showed him respect; the pious Empress Maria herself was his patron. For many years Blessed Theophylact held the honored positions of deacon of the Great Church of Constantinople and instructor of rhetoric. However, in order to put his many talents to greater use, the Patriarch and the Emperor assigned him to a more challenging and extensive field of activity: he was elevated to the rank of archbishop of the Great Church.

The date of his ascent to the episcopal throne cannot be determined precisely. We can say only that it took place some time before The basis of this date is as follows: having attained the rank of archbishop, Blessed Theophylact wrote a letter to the philosopher, John Italus, with the request that John act as an intercessor for him before the Emperor. John, however, enjoyed the confidence of only two emperors, Michael VII Doukas , who was removed from the throne in , and Nikephoros III Botaneiates, who reigned until During the reign of Justinian the Great , the diocese of Bulgaria had been granted autonomy by the patriarchate of Constantinople.

Out of respect for his homeland3 Justinian raised the local bishop to the rank of archbishop and granted autonomy to the Church of Bulgaria. Justinian also conquered all the areas that later became Bulgaria and Serbia. Later, when the Bulgarians converted to Christianity in , these areas were subject to the Patriarch of Constantinople, according to the 28th canon of the Fourth Ecumenical Council , which granted the same privileges to Constantinople as those bestowed on Rome.

However, disputes between the popes and the patriarchs concerning the management of the Bulgarian Church, as well as frequent wars between the Bulgarians and the Greeks, caused the Bulgarian kings to claim the ancient rights bestowed by Justinian upon their church. The temporary release of the Bulgarian Church from subordination to the patriarchate of Constantinople most likely occurred during the reign of Simeon the Great ruler of Bulgaria from to The recognition of the autocephalus Bulgarian Church by the Patriarch of Constantinople in makes the Bulgarian Orthodox Church the oldest of the autocephalous Slavic Orthodox churches.

The location of the episcopal throne of the Bulgarian archbishop was moved several times, and finally located in the Bulgarian capital, Ohrid, which had been so named by Justinian. But for half of the eleventh century, archbishops for Bulgaria were not native Bulgarians, but Greeks sent from Constantinople.

Blessed Theophylact was the fifth Greek archbishop of Bulgaria. Difficult challenges awaited Blessed Theophylact in Bulgaria. In addition to the coarse simplicity of the Bulgarians, which at first made a poor impression on him, he encountered many problems that would have overwhelmed the most zealous bishop. The Bulgarian Church was plagued by the activity of numerous heretical groups.

First the Paulicians,4 and then the Bogomils,5 sowed pernicious false beliefs among the people: their large numbers enabled them to make brazen attacks on the defenders of Orthodoxy. Moreover, the Bulgarians themselves grumbled incessantly at their political humiliation. Although silenced by force of arms, they continued to plan an armed uprising the next time the opportunity arose, in order to regain their freedom.

At first, life among the Bulgarians seemed to him an imprisonment, and he even requested that he be relieved from his difficult lot. He wrote to the Empress Maria and to the Grand Domestic;6 but not expecting to be dismissed, he prayed to God to deliver him from his troubles or to lighten them with His consolation. And the Lord eased his burden. Little by little he got used to his position in Bulgaria; he began to love the Bulgarians for their simple but sincere devotion, and in the face of any and all opposition he administered his churches with fatherly diligence.

Obstacles placed before him by his enemies only increased his zeal in doing good. Blessed Theophylact displayed wisdom in his archpastoral decrees and applied them astutely. In order to give spiritual enlightenment to the people, he knew that he would require, above all, capable assistants.

Therefore he paid close attention to the selection of worthy pastors, especially in regards to bishops. By personally selecting the Bulgarian bishops, he obtained good results, as he himself admits. Some of them won the approval of the people for their prudence and piety; others were reknowned for eloquence and learning; while others, noted for their strict monastic life, attained the episcopal dignity.

Not finding enough educated pastors among the Bulgarians, he also chose bishops from the Greeks in Constantinople, provided that he found them spiritually worthy of such recognition. His desire to find a true archpastor to place in the episcopacy dominated any other motive in him. Neither kinship to the candidate, nor friendship, nor petitioning from others could force him to choose someone he deemed unworthy, or who was unknown to him.

He confronted the obvious danger of being persecuted for denying a request with the courage and firmness of a confessor. Once, when Doukas, the governor of Skopje, asked Blessed Theophylact to make a certain man a bishop, Blessed Theophylact replied with firmness and dignity: "No, my lord.

No one should interfere in this great work, which must be carried out with the fear of God. However, if he is not known by our churches, or has not received a special recommendation for his piety and education in Constantinople, then do not offend God by giving us orders. We are commanded to obey God rather than men Acts. Their activities also required unceasing oversight and vigilance. Blessed Theophylact understood this, and watched their every move.

He tried, whenever possible, to prevent any deviation from a designated goal, and if such deviation had already taken place, he would try to correct it. For some unknown reason, this bishop began to persecute the elderly abbot of a certain Monastery of St.

He forbade the abbot to perform the Divine Services, drove him out of his monastery and subjected him to severe penances. The first time the persecuted abbot appealed to the archbishop, Blessed Theophylact persuaded the bishop to give his word that he would stop abusing the elder.

But a short time later the bishop began again to antagonize the elder so fiercely that the archbishop found it necessary to appeal to the emperor himself.

The emperor seems to have referred this case back to the spiritual court of the archbishop, because the abbot again appealed to Blessed Theophylact for protection. Although the elder was now dying, his persecutor stubbornly refused to give him any peace. Blessed Theophylact again wrote to him, strongly urging him to stop the persecution, and demanded that he give an account of his conduct at the nearest cathedral.

The bishop, however, neither gave the elder any rest, nor attended the council to which he had been summoned to give an account of his actions. Blessed Theophylact saw that any further toleration would be contrary to the laws of justice. Together with his council of bishops, he banned the recalcitrant bishop from performing the divine services. The man persevered in his stubbornness, went in person to Constantinople, and spread much slander against the archbishop among his patrons.

Blessed Theophylact soon learned about all this scheming. Nevertheless, when the defrocked bishop begged his forgiveness, the saint graciously forgave him and gave him absolution. There he brought up problematic cases for general discussion. According to the canons of the church, local churches should assemble at regularly appointed times. Blessed Theophylact was so faithful to these sacred rules that nothing could impede keep him from fulfilling them. The voice of Christ stirs one from the bed with the command to carry the bed itself, giving strength for free movement of travel.

He would not tolerate any appropriation of what had belonged to the church of the faithful from previous centuries. At that time, in order to ease the dire poverty of their own churches, the local patriarchs and archbishops would sometimes decline to exercise some of their own rights, and appeal for patronage directly to the powerful patriarch of Constantinople.

Although Blessed Theophylact saw that his Bulgarian Church could escape much of its physical suffering if he placed it under the protection of the patriarch of the capital city, in no way did he desire to sacrifice the canonical rights of the Bulgarian Church for temporary benefits. Once, a little known monk living in a remote area conceived the idea to found a church in the town of Kichevo.

He did this without the blessing or knowledge of the holy hierarch, justifying himself by claiming that he had rececieved permission from the patriarch of Constantinople.


Theophylact of Ohrid

Printed with the blessing of Abp. Theophylact - 11th c. I was published, Hieromonk Kallistos reposed, who from the start had encouraged the undertaking of translating and publishing these works in English. Excepts from Vol. II and Vol. Mark There came then His brethren and His mother, and standing without, sent unto Him calling Him.

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The Explanation of the Gospel According To St. Mark, by Blessed Theophylact of Ohrid

Jump to: navigation , search Blessed Theophylactus of Ochrid ca. He was born on the Greek island of Euboia, close to Athens, some time between and He pursued an education in Constantinople where he studied under the finest teachers of literature and rhetoric of his time and became one of the clergy of the Great Church there. As a relatively young man, he was consecrated as bishop and sent, against his will, to Ochrid, where he was the Metropolitan of the Church in Bulgaria for twenty-five years. An inspired theologian and orator, he has left many homilies and, most importantly, a commentary on the whole New Testament Theophylactus completed extensive biblical commentaries on the four Gospels , the Acts of the Apostles, and the New Testament Epistles. There is also supposed to be a commentary on the Greek text of the Psalms and on the Prophets , which has been treasured by Orthodox Christians ever since.

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Theophylact of Ochrid

Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria September, Below is a short account of the life of Blessed Theophylact. Following this article is a new and and more detailed account of his life. Born on the Greek island of Euboia some time between and , Theophylact went to Constantinople to study under the finest teachers of literature and rhetoric of his time.


Blessed Theophylact’s Explanation of the New Testament

Life[ edit ] Theophylact was born in the midth century at Euripus Chalcis in Euboea , at the time part of the Byzantine Empire now Greece. In ca. In this demanding position in a conquered territory on the outskirts of the Byzantine Empire, he conscientiously and energetically carried out his pastoral duties over the course of the next twenty years. Although a Byzantine by upbringing and outlook, he was a diligent archpastor of the Bulgarian Church, defending its interests and autonomy i. He acted vigorously to protect his archbishopric from the teachings of the Paulicians and Bogomils considered heretics by the Orthodox Church. He won the respect and love of the Bulgarian people who witnessed his labors on their behalf.

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