Sunday, April 20, 2008
CYRIL AND METHODIUS: THE GREEK APOSTLES OF THE SLAVS
In 826 or 827 there was born the greatest son(s) of Macedonia since Alexander the Great. Indeed if we consider the influence of his work through the centuries he may be counted greater than Alexander, though his weapon was the pen and not the sword. Constantine and Methodius were the sons of a military officer in the province of Thessalonike.
Methodius was born about 815, and after an education in Thessalonike he entered the civil service and was appointed governor of a district in Macedonia. The younger son Constantine born 826, also studied in Thessalonike. Soon, about 843, he felt the call of learning — his biographer recounts that he found the education he could obtain in Macedonia did not fit him to read Gregory of Nazianzos with full understanding — and went to the capital. There he studied under Photios and Leo the Mathematician. As Leo had been metropolitan of Thessalonike from 839 to 843, it may well have been this enlightened prelate who encouraged the young man to move to Constantinople. He proved a brilliant scholar, and became private secretary to the patriarch and later professor in the newly founded university, teaching probably rhetoric. He had a talent for languages, and in 855 was a member of a mission to Caliph Mutawakkil to arrange an exchange of prisoners. In 860-61, he was sent, along with Methodios, who had by now become a monk, via Kherson in the Crimea to the capital of the Khazars on the Caspian Sea. There, we are told, he engaged in learned debate with the Jews of Khazaria. On the way there he had discovered at Kherson the alleged relics of St. Clement of Rome. In the year after his return from Khazaria king Rastislav of Moravia sent an urgent request to the emperor Michael III for religious teachers.
German clergy were conducting missionary work in his country, and he was anxious not to see it become a German dependency. The emperor and his advisers welcomed this opportunity to assert Byzantine prestige and authority in central Europe. It was to Constantine and Methodius that they turned. Both were by now prominent men in Byzantine life — Methodios was abbot of an important monastery — and had wide diplomatic experience. There was a further reason for the emperor's choice: the brothers knew perfect Slavonic.
Soon the brothers set out for distant Moravia. From then on their story belongs to world history. Constantine — who changed his name to Cyril on becoming a monk — and Methodios became the Apostles of the Slavs. They provided not only an alphabet and translation of the Bible and liturgical texts for their proselytes. They created for the Slavonic peoples a literary language and gave them access to the heritage of Greek and European culture.
The account given in the biographies of Cyril and Methodius cannot be wholly believed. The Slavonic alphabet was a marvel of phonological analysis, and can scarcely have been invented in a few days. And the working out of the abstract and technical vocabulary needed to translate the Bible and theological texts demanded many years work. It is reasonable to suppose that Cyril and Methodius had for long been considering the problems of evangelization of the Slavs in their native Macedonia, and had come to the conclusion that it was possible only through the Slavonic tongue. Cyril was an accomplished linguist, and Methodius had long experience of governing a predominantly Slav population. They may also have had in mind the eventual conversion of Bulgaria, which in fact took place a few years after they left for Moravia.
A modified form of Cyril's alphabet is still in use from the Arctic Ocean to the Greek frontier and from the Baltic to the Behring Strait.
His mortal remains lay in the crypt of the Church of Saint Clement in Rome until 1975, when they were transferred to the church of Saint Demetrios, Thessalonike.
Disputes of the Saints origin
The conversion of the Slavs to the christian faith through the Greek Orthodox Church was done during the 9th century by two Greek Thessalonian monks named Cyril and Methodius. They taught the Greek based Cyrillic script to the Slavs and enlightened them regarding religion. The cultural history of the Slavs, founded on Byzantine Christiano/Hellenic culture, begins from this period. Even this event which affected almost half of the inhabitants of Europe, including the eastern and southern Slavs, owes its existence to Macedonia, to the Greek Macedonian monks and to the Byzantine Greek culture.
As Marcus Templar mention that term “Slav Apostles” or the “Apostles of the Slavs” does not mean that the two brothers were Slavs. St. Thomas is called “the Indian Apostle,” but we all know that he was not an Indian. He simply taught Christianity to the Indians. The Greek brothers from Thessaloniki taught Christianity to the Slavs, they gave them the alphabet (presently called Cyrillic), and they translated the sacred and liturgical books of Christianity into the Old Church Slavonic, otherwise known as Old Bulgarian.
Slavmcedonians of FYROM maintain a strange untruthful theory, that is, that Cyril and Methodius as Thessalonians were Slavs and consequently, the FYROM Slavs as descendants of the Macedonians enjoy the privelege of having enlightened their compatriots.These theories received a powerful slap from the Slav Pope John Paul II, who on the 31 of December 1980, and through an official apostolic cirgular ( Egregiae Virtuis ) addressed to the entire catholic church, as well as with a letter to the President of the Greek Republic, Constatine Karamnlis, proclaims that Cyril and Methodius , ' brother Greeks, born in Thessaloniki' are consecrated 'divine protectors of Europe'.
The Pope repeated his proclamation on the 14th of February 1981 in the church of Saint Celemens in Rome.The Pope apart, other Slavs, politicians and historians accept the Greekness of Methodius and Cryil. For example, the Czech Byzantinist Fr. Dvornik, the Serb historians of ancient Serbian literature, P. Popovitch, Dj. Sh. Radovich and Dj. Trijunovich.
Also the Slovenian historian and professor of the University of Ljubljana, B. Grajenauer, and the Serb Professor V. Bogdanovich who in his opus The History of Ancient Serbian Literature writes: " Cyril and Methodius were born in Thessaloniki and in their lineage they are not Slavs but Greeks."
Bulgarian Professors Ivan Lazaroff, Plamen Pavloff, Ivan Tyutyundzijeff and Milko Palangurski of the Faculty of History of Sts. Cyril and Methodius University in Veliko Tŭrnovo, Bulgaria in their book, Kratka istoriya na bŭlgarskiya narod (Short History of the Bulgarian Nation, pp 36-38), state very explicitly that the two brothers were Greeks from Thessaloniki.
The late Oscar Halecki, Professor of Eastern European History, in his book Borderlands of Western Civilization, A History of East Central Europe (chapter Moravian State and the Apostles of the Slavs) agrees with the authors of Kratka istoriya na bŭlgarskiya narod.
The falsification of Macedonian history until World War II was mainly the work of Bulgarian historians of the pre-war regime. This line was followed even after World War II by the Bulgaro-Macedonians of America, with the result of creating sharp conflicts between themselves and our compatriot immigrants of Macedonia.