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“Out of all misfortunes destroying and distorting a person’s soul, illiteracy, ignorance and narrow-mindedness are the worst.”These are the words of the prominent Georgian theologian and philosopher, Metropolitan Anthim Iverianul(1650-1716). He spent most of his life in Romania, and was officially canonized by the Romanian and Georgian churches. Anthim Iverianul’s legacy has not been translated into Georgian – most of his writings were originally in Romanian, while his correspondence in Greek and Arabic are currently found in different libraries worldwide. This is why Georgian academic circles have not been properly introduced to his works except for some parts of his complex scholarly studies that were translated from Romanian into brief English resumes.

Anthim Iverianul’s role and significance in Romanian culture is enormous – he is recognized as one of the main founders of Romanian liturgical and classical-literary languages, author of church legislation and homily texts, an unrivalled speaker and preacher, as well as educator and publisher, author of sophisticated translations in Classical, Oriental and European languages, builder of historic churches and monasteries, distinguished calligrapher, founder of theological schools and creator of the first public library in Romania.

A project, “Anthim Iverianul – Georgian-European dialogue” won a state academic grant in 2013 and will be completed by April 2016; it aims to make Anthim Iverianul’s legacy and activities more widely available to Georgian readers. Professors from the TSU Institute of Philosophy (Faculty of Humanities) are carrying out the study, headed by Anastasia Zakariadze PhD, habilitated doctor of Philosophy and other academics in the field of Philosophy: Irakli Brachuli, PhD; Valerian Ramishvili, PhD; Demuri Jalaghonia; and Archpriest Aleksi Kshutashvili, who is a guest Professor at TSU, PhD in Canon Law. In addition, support staff contributing significantly to the project: Archpriest George Tserodze, Theological Academy graduate, Master of Theology, and doctoral student in Philosophy, as well as Nino Bagrationi-Davitashvili, PhD in Philology.



                                                                   Pic.: The coat of arms created by Anthim

It was vital to translate the materials from Romanian so that Georgian readers can explore this prominent Georgian theologian’s and philosopher’s works. The most famous work, “Didahii” was chosen as first volume to be translated. It is a complete corpus of sermons, as well as the world’s most important monuments of canon law: “Anthim Iverianul’s Monastery Typicon”, and other works such as “Canon Chapters”, “Ecclesiastical teaching”, “Teaching on the Mystery of Confession and “Defense Letters”, which were epistles written in defense of himself, also original dedications and forwards by Anthim Iverianul on the books issued at his publishing house.

Anthim Iverianul’s works and activities are vital for the development of Georgian theological thinking due to the fact that he succeeded in developing Georgian traditional religious awareness during the Enlightenment, re-establishing bonds with European theological ideas. He managed to fill a five-century gap in the general development of theological thinking, and reopened a theological-cultural dialogue within European theological, cultural and educational spheres.

Following a line of Georgian scholars, Anthim Iverianul represents one of the most distinguished theorists and practitioners of Western Enlightenment at that time. He believed that human intelligence was appropriately applied only when achieving significant progress in polygraph production, book translation and dissemination. For him, the “Celebration of freedom of thought” must be communicated in a written form through bilingual and poly-lingual, inter-textual activities, and cultural dialogue. Anthim Iverianul’s “project” widely diverged from the Kantian approach to the autonomy of reason; but Anthim’s approach clearly suggested there is a lack of perspective and a destructive potential within “the religion of reason”.

Anthim Iverianul’s analysis of theological heritage shows that it is a sophisticated form of maintaining and strengthening Byzantine theological traditions in the contemporary context filled with modern challenges. In the Enlightenment period, Anthim Iverianul acted as an implementer of creative, modern adaptations of Orthodox theological tradition. He obviously realized the threats of scientism as well as the Christian unilateralism in the Protestant and Catholic religions. This approach made his work unique, different from all radical branches of the European Enlightenment with materialism on one hand and rational theology on the other. Anthim Iverianul established himself as a philosopher by echoing anonto-theological view of the Primacy of the Ethical, and theologically transforming Cogito’s Principle to face and overcome the dilemmas of the Enlightenment and humanism in general.

Anthim Iverianul’s principles of Orthodox Church and State relations are salient to contemporary Georgia. The 1995 Constitutional Agreement between the Georgian Apostolic Orthodox Church and the Georgian Government was a fresh start of a historical process. This process implies the harmonization of three legal spheres – canonical law, national law and international and legal realities of the EU.

Through his writing, Anthim Iverianul clearly outlined the cultural mission of the Church. Through overcoming the tendencies of “Hellenisation” and “Slavisation”, St. Anthim’s following “Semiosis” came true: “I would prefer churches to preach in languages that are understandable to everyone, rather than preach twenty thousand words to listeners in a language they do not understand.’’

The novelty of the research is that it presents a complex, interdisciplinary interpretation of Anthim Iverianul’s heritage. His legacy has been presented to contemporary cultural and academic society: The team analyses his paradigm of Romanian and Georgian cultural integration in the process of building European identity and world culture; ways of establishing multiculturalism; and the significance of the relationship between traditional modernity for establishing intercultural dialogue.

The establishment of the first Georgian printing house is linked to Anthim Iverianul, and he made a valuable contribution to the development of publishing-printing in Georgia. Research showed that due to his direct participation and supervision, publishing houses operating in different parts of Romania issued63 liturgical and pastoral books in Greek, Romanian, Slavic and Arabic languages as well as the Georgian “Antimins” (Odiki). In 1701, he assembled the first Arabic-language publishing machine himself, and sent it to the Antioch Orthodox Christians. In 1709 he assigned his best student, Mihai Ishtvanovich, to present a Georgian-language printing machine and newly-published Antimins to Vakhtang VI in Tbilisi.

Pic.:The Faculty of Theology at the Bucharest University

The research on Anthim the Iverianul’s works and activities led the project team to the conclusion that his legacy is an amazing example of intercultural dialogue. A Georgian theologian residing in the Balkans—Romania—created and established very important yet little-known Georgian-European links. A re-examination of his works and contributions points directly to the “Idea of Europe” and two significant cultural-historic regions – Georgia and Romania.

Within the framework of the project scholars made an expedition to Bucharest to study additional materials of Anthim Iverianul and examine artefacts in monastery libraries and other repositories under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Romania.

Anthim the Iberian’s works have been presented to the general public through conferences, theoretical seminars and publications. Very importantly, his monastery complex hosted an international seminar entitled “Anthim Iverianul: Georgian-Romanian Meridian”. In addition to the Georgian professors, other Doctors of Theology participated, including Proto-Deacon Gamalier Sima Hegumen (Abbot in the Roman Catholic Church) Kiril Lovyn, Hieromonk Anthim, Director of Holy Synod Library and Archimandrite Polycarp Chitilesku. , etc.

As a result of this research, a new training course was established, endorsed by the Quality Assurance Department of the Faculty of Humanities, who deemed the course necessary to be established in academic practice. The scholars believe that the project should continue so that more works can be examined, for example in the archives of England, Greece and Turkey (Istanbul) in order to prepare Anthim Iverianul’s complete works for publication. The project results will widen the prospects of expanding social-political, cultural and educational communication activities. Events and publications will support Romania and Georgia as well all EU countries to become more aware of their communication rights and responsibilities within the European Union.

The completion of the project coincides with the 300th anniversary of this great religious scholar’s martyrdom. Hence, UNESCO has announced 2016 as the year of Saint Anthim Iverianul.