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Markou Renieri Istorikai Meletai, O Hellen Papas Alexandros o 50s, to Byzantion kai he en Basileia Synodos. Eleftheri Skepsis.

Markou Renieri Istorikai Meletai, 0 Hellen Papas Alexandros o 50s, to Byzantion kai he en Basileia Synodos. Elefiheri Skepsis. Edited by Roxane D Argyropoulou and Christos P. Baloglou. Athens, 2004.

Following two introductory chapters by the editors, the remaining 204 pages of this important volume comprise a monograph by a nineteenth-century philosopher, historian, and economist, who wrote in an ecumenical spirit. Markos Renieris's works constitute a mirror of nineteenth-century thought. The editors indicate that this monograph is original and pioneering in the nineteenth-century context. Baloglou, a distinguished scholar known for extensive contributions to intellectual and economic history, devotes some sixty pages to the life and work of Renieris. Born in Trieste, Italy, in 1815, where his father, from the island of Crete, was a merchant, Markos studied languages, philology, economics, philosophy, and law in Venice and Padova. He moved to newly liberated Greece in 1835, where he distinguished himself as a professor, diplomat, philanthropist, and the first president of the Bank of Greece. He wrote several books, including the one edited here on little-known Pope Alexander V, Byzantion, and the Synod in Basel (1431) (originally published in Athens in 1881).

Argyropoulou, a philologist-philosopher, director of the National Institute of Research, in Athens, and the author of several books on Greek philosophy and neo-Hellenic studies, wrote the second chapter, evaluating Renieris's historical and philosophical writings. As a student of history and ideology, with a clear understanding of the Greek psyche and its ethnic and cultural consciousness, as well as an excellent knowledge and acute observations of the intel-ectual and political trends of his time, Renieris emphasized the oneness of the two. Argyro-poulou discerns in Pope Alexander's writings the oneness of the European Christian heritage, justifying his efforts to join the two halves of Christendom through a general synod. Renieris singled out Alexander because of his ideas and influence on his times.

Renieris's historical works show him as a romantic writing in reaction to the rationalistic school of historiography. He believed history is the soul of a people, its creative traditions manifested in their religion, language, customs, and ethos. Christianity introduced a balance and harmony between rational and spiritual powers. He viewed Christianity holistically, not differentiating between Orthodox and Catholic. He believed the human being is not an autonomous and independent entity. Divine Providence is present in history, guided by both natural and divine laws. Although Alexander was pope in Rome only briefly (June 26, 1409--May 3, 1410), had he lived, Renieris thinks he would have achieved the union of the Western and Eastern Church. He believed in the superiority of an ecumenical council over the pope, a doctrine later affirmed by the Council of Constance (1414-18) and hotly debated in the Council of Basel.

Jean Le Charlier deGerson, Alexander's contemporary French church leader, the "doctor christianissimus," whose conciliar views stressed the superiority of a general council over papal authority, exerted a great influence and had high praise for Alexander. Although he spent his adult life in the West, Alexander never forgot his childhood as an orphan in Crete. Adopted by the Franciscans, he studied in the West and was brought up as a Roman Catholic. His religious affiliation did not prevent him from claiming his Greek identity, so he was perceived as a bridge between the Latin West and the Greek East.

Demetrios J Constantelos, Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, Pomona, NJ
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Author:Constantelos, Demetrios J.
Publication:Journal of Ecumenical Studies
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2004
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