Great Accomplishments of the Theological Academy

The academician of the Academy of Sciences of Georgia, PhD in History, Professor Roin Metreveli published an article in the newspaper “Literaturuli Sakartvelo” on March 5 of the current year. The article gives a survey of the X-XI volume of the periodical “Theological-Scientific Works” of Tbilisi Theological Academy. 

The review of the texts clearly shows the importance of this periodical collection in regards to the development of today’s theological thought: Each of the essays displays the author’s profound knowledge of the subject and is based on existing scientific experience. All of the suggested material is innovative and highlights the importance of ecclesiastical thought based on academic knowledge. The readers have the opportunity to become acquainted with the “Theological-Scientific Works”, as well as with the present article, and form their conclusion on the work performed at the Theological Academy today. The author of the essay describes the situation at this institution in the following way: “The presented works clearly prove that along with the active educational process in Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary, scientific activity is also conducted at a high level. It must be noted that all this has been achieved thanks to the high attention paid by the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, to the activities conducted at this school. The dedicated work for the advancement of the Academy conducted by its Rector, PhD in Philology and Theology, Professor, Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze should also be mentioned. The academy thrives on a professorship of high-level scientific knowledge. All this has brought great recognition to the Theological Academy.”
The following is the essay mentioned above in its unaltered form:

I could not conceal my satisfaction when I received the volume “Theological-Scientific Works (X-XI)” of the Theological Academy as a gift from the Rector of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary, PhD in Philology and Theology, Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze.
I envisioned then a high-level theological high school founded by the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II, which is more than three decades old now. This is the school, which has become a crucible for the preparation of highly qualified clergy; the graduates of this school work honourably in various regions of Georgia. They are dedicated to serving the people who have returned to the Church. It should be particularly noted that the Theological Academy pays high attention to the development of theological science. Of great importance is the fact that with the efforts and prayers of our Patriarch, the Dissertation Council in Theology and Doctorate Department were established at the academy. I had the honor to attend a session of the Dissertation Council held at the Patriarchate of Georgia, where a very interesting and important dissertation was defended (by the doctoral student Irakli Orzhonia).

We should not omit to mention Gelati Theological Academy, founded in 1990 (with the blessing of His Holiness, I myself gave lectures at that school for a certain period of time) and Gelati Academy of Sciences (1995). These events were the most significant in the life of our nation.
The collection “Theological-Scientific Works” of Tbilisi Theological Academy (published in 2020 by the Publishing Office of Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary) is a clear confirmation of the dedicated and profound scientific work of Georgian ecclesiastical figures and scholars working in this field.

My objective is not to write a review about the collection as the task is difficult in itself due to the specificity of the works included in it. Rather, I would like to express my humble opinion and good attitude to the great contribution the scholars of the Theological Academy have made to the research and development of science in general and various fields of Theology, in particular. I would also like to mention that the collection “Theological-Scientific Works” clearly reflects the careful vision of its editor, PhD in Philology and Theology, Professor Edisher Chelidze. 
The works present a number of important studies in various fields (theology, exegetics, ecclesiastical linguistics, angelology, ecclesiastical history, liturgy, homiletics, patristic epistolography and ecclesiastical polemics). I will once again mention that it is not my goal to dwell on all of them in detail. We will suggest our opinion about each article and the collection taken as a whole.

The article “Ancient Georgian Translation of One Homily Dedicated to the Feast of the Ascension” is published in the section of “Theology”. The author of the work is the Rector of the Academy, PhD in Philology and Theology, Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze. Here, I should emphasize that along with great organizational work which is his duty as of the Deputy-Dean of Sioni Cathedral Temple (Dean of this temple is the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia Ilia II himself), Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze is engaged in important scientific activities.

His monograph on the translation of Gregory of Nyssa’s work “On Virginity and Godly Citizenship” is one of the best executed in the field. One does not often come across a book organized at such a high editorial, scientific and technical level. Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze focuses his attention on one homily preserved in the 10th-century monument known as “Klarjul Mravaltavi”. Authored by St. Athanasius of Alexandria, the writing is dedicated to the Feast of the Ascension. The existing text is incomplete and, to some extent, it complicates the full study of the homily. The monument is important by itself; the author of the article emphasizes that the Georgian translation was executed in the 5th-6th centuries. Giorgi Zviadadze substantiated the accuracy of its translation, collated it with the Greek original, and showed the reason for its various interpretations. An important part of the article is devoted to the author’s teaching on the Ascension of the Saviour, highlighting the homiletic explanation of how death was vanquished by the Crucifixion and Resurrection of the Incarnate Saviour.

Noteworthy is the fact that the author of the article gives a detailed discussion of the complete Georgian text, noting that a number of teachings, are more correct than in the Greek original. 

In one of the sections of the text, he dwells upon one place of the original Homily, which says: “Where is your deceptor (deceptor – tempter) snake?” This sentence is not confirmed in the Georgian translation nor is it confirmed in the Latin text, and this is important in itself, because it was Satan (in the form of a serpent) who deceived Eve. Giorgi Zviadadze draws the reader’s attention to the fact that the monument conveys the dogma on man who bears the image of God, his discussion is related to the situation after the fall of the human being, emphasizing that the Georgian translation uses the term “condemnation”. Although the translation is incomplete, Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze’s essay still clearly shows that the teachings given in the homily are valuable in many respects. It presents Christological teachings (God’s Passion, Redemption of the human race, Resurrection from the dead and the Ascension). The research Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze gives in the essay is undoubtedly valuable for the science of ecclesiastical theology.

The book presents the essay of Professor Maia Rapava, PhD in Philological Sciences, “On the Grammatical Arthron of the Divine Names in One Treatise of Theodore Abū Qurrah” (section “Ecclesiastical Linguistics”). Professor Maia Rapava cites the dispute of Orthodox priests with heretics in connection with the definition (according to its use) of the grammatical arthron in regards to the names of the hypostases of the Holy Trinity. The heretics did not acknowledge the oneness in the essence of God and complete equality of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. The article cites the sermons of Saint John Chrysostom. The great Church figure, who opposed them, explains the names: “God”, “Lord”, “Holy Spirit”.  Professor Maia Rapava presents a treatise by Theodore Abū Qurrah, entitled “A Compiled Doctrine for the Names of the Trinity and for Each of His Persons” (the Georgian translation by Arsen of Ikalto). The author attaches great significance to Theodore Abū Qurrah’s opinion: when naming the “Holy Spirit” and a simple “soul”, an attribute of the word or an arthron appears. Regarding the issue, Athanasius of Alexandria is of the same opinion. According to Georgian authors, Arthron enriches the word, and according to Professor Maia Rapava, the theological understanding of Arthron in Theodore Abukura’s treatise coincides with the opinion expressed by them. 

Professor Edisher Chelidze’s essay is entitled “Saint Catholicos-Patriarch Melchizedek’s Will and the So-called Celebration of Mtskheta”.

The author of the article gives a high level critical consideration of the tradition and, accordingly, to the opinions of scholars about the feast held in the town of Mtskheta, which is associated with the name of Patriarch Melchizedek I and was, according to the tradition, celebrated on the day of the Annunciation (March 25). Professor Edisher Chelidze, citing various sources and literary works, has established that the term “celebration” has the meaning of “eternal commemoration” and is associated with death and eternal repose. In a most tactful manner, he shows that Academician K. Kekelidze’s opinion about the possibility of establishing the celebration of the day of Mtskheta on that day is incorrect.  E. Chelidze cites highly significant material, which refutes the mistake about the “celebration of the feast of Mtskheta”. Furthermore, he points out that despite Melchizedek I’s curse for all those who would alter his will (“the one who alters it, may he be cursed by the Mouth of God, by the grace of the Church, by the grace of the Apostles and by the grace of all saints; may he be cursed with his soul and body in both worlds …) the document has gone through a significant alteration, namely, the “commemoration of Mechizedek’s brothers” (as mentioned in the original text) was considered inaccurate. Professor Edisher Chelidze raises the issue of restoring the commemoration of Melchizedek’s fleshly brothers on the day of Annunciation. 

The format of the present article does not allow for a detailed review of all the materials included in the “Works”. However, essays are very important and make their contribution to theological science. Interesting is Archpriest Bidzina Gunia’s “Comments on the Fragments of the Paschal Book ‘Eternal Calendar’.” The author provides the text of the work. He clarifies separate fragments of the text and adds his unique comments. We deem Irakli Orzhonia’s “Theophanies of the Old Testament and Their Exegesis” as an in-depth piece of research in which the author concludes that the Theophany revealed to the righteous is the revelation of the Incarnate God in the flesh of a human being to men rather than the essential cognition of the Holy Trinity or the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. 
Mirian Gunia, in his essay “Naming of the Fallen Angel as  Morning Star’” indicates that the fallen angel, enslaved to envy and arrogance, had been a sharer of eternal bliss, and the terms “morning star” or “star of the dawn” were used to refer to him. (As referred to the condemnation in The Holy Scriptures: “How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn!”)
In his article Lasha Tkebuchava discusses in detail the Georgian translation of Evagrius Ponticus’ “The eight Evil Thoughts”. The translation was executed by Saint Euthymius the Athonite. The author also furnishes his essay with the text of the translation. 
Priest Ioane Bondarenko offers the fourth chapter of the Gelati translation of John Sinaites’ “Climacus” (“On Obedience”). It is noteworthy that the author gives the entire text of the fourth chapter of “Climacus”, along with the Greek original.
In another of his essays presented in the “Works”, Lasha Tkebuchava  discusses Saint Giorgi the Athonite’s translation of Theodore the Studite’s “Spiritual Teachings”, which he furnishes with the Georgian text. 

 Rati Sturua’s essay “A Georgian Translation of the Ascetic Epistle of Saint Mark the Monk” is presented in the section “Patriotic Epistleography”. This essay is useful as within it the author compares and analyzes the Greek and Georgian texts. The Georgian version represents the translation performed by Euthymius the Athonite. The text is furnished with a linguistic critical apparatus and a vocabulary.

The “Works” of Theological Academy is concluded with a polemical essay, authored by Professor Edisher Chelidze. The issue discussed in it is - “Whether God the Father has existence of His own” (regarding one of the theological phrases of John of Damascus). Relying on the extensive material of  source criticism and founding his conclusion on scientific literature, Prof. Edisher Chelidze concludes that the expression used by John of Damascus “from Himself” is used causatively, which is confirmed by Euthymius the Athonite as “by Himself” (in modern Georgian “by himself”). The term corresponds, on the one hand, to God by nature (the Holy Trinity) and, on the other hand, to God the Father Himself, since the hypostasis of the Father has the right to exist in itself.

The “Works” clearly proves that along with the active educational process conducted at Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary, the scientific activity is also performed at a high level. It is a noteworthy fact that all of these activities at this educational institution are maintained at such level owing to the high attention of the Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, His Holiness and Beatitude Ilia II. The dedicated work for the advancement of the Academy done by its Rector, PhD in Philology and Theology, Professor, Protopresbyter Giorgi Zviadadze should also be mentioned. The academy thrives on a professorship of high-level scientific knowledge. All this, intensive work with students and in-depth scientific research, brought great recognition to the Theological Academy. I wish success to Tbilisi Theological Academy and Seminary in its great activity of national advancement.