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Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain

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The Controversy Concerning Western Influence
==The Controversy Concerning Western Influence==
An ongoing controversy concerns the extent of Western influence over the writings of St Nicodemus. What is not disputed is that some of his works are translations of Roman Catholic works, in particular (1) ''Spiritual Exercises '' of Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, using an Italian edition with commentary by Giovanni Pietro Pinamonti (1632-1703); and (2) ''Unseen Warfare'', which was a translation of ''Spiritual Combat '' by the Catholic priest Lorenzo Scupoli, He was not the first Athonite monk to translate a Catholic work as an Orthodox one: in 1641, Agapios Landros (17th c.) published ''The Salvation of Sinners'', but it was simply a translation of ''Dialogus Miraculorum'', written in the early 13th c. by a German Cistercian, Cæsarius of Heisterbach Abbey. Such works were influential at least in part to the assumption that they were products of the Athonite monks who published them, rather than works by Roman Catholics.
There is continued disagreement about the provenance of Nicodemus' '' Exomologetarion'', his manual for confession. Like most of his writings, it is not an original work; Nicodemus says he compiled it from "various teachers." Protopresbyter George Metallinos argues that his sources were Eastern, alleging that "he had no direct contact with Western sources," but we know with certainty the Catholic provenance of ''Unseen Warfare '' and ''Spiritual Exercises'', which means he did have such contact. Metropolitan [[Kallistos Ware]] holds that the Exomolgetarion is "mostly a direct translation" of two books on confession by the Italian Jesuit, Paolo Segneri (1624-1694)<ref>In his "St Nikodimos and the Philokalia," in Graham Speake, ''Mount Athos, the Sacred Bridge: The Spirituality of the Holy Mountain'', p. 91. The two books by Segneri are ''Il confessore istruito '' and ''Il penitence istruito''.</ref>
Christos Yannaras is perhaps the severest critic of St Nicodemus' influence, seeing the negative effects of the West not only in his repackaging of Catholic books, but by his use of Roman canon law in ''The Rudder'', his adoption of the Anselmian view of the Atonement, and his acceptance of the Catholic practice of indulgences. (There is an extant letter by St Nicodemus to Bishop Paisios of Stagai requesting an indulgence, and promising financial payment for it.) Yannaras also sees the influence of Western pietistic moralism in Nicodemus; ''Chrestoethia of Christians'' (1803), in which he condemns musical instruments, dancing, (non-liturgical) singing, the telling of jokes, etc., and tells Christians that such conduct will lead not only to their own punishment, but to the death of their unborn children.<ref>See Yannaras, pp. 128-137.</ref>
Although Metallinos is keen to defend the Orthodoxy of Nicodemus' writings, in his introduction to the ''Exomologetarion'' he admits that its language "appears intensely scholastic" and "is repugnant to today's believer." He acknowledges that NIcodemus says things about sin, God, and God's wrath sound quite unorthodox, writing: "“Admittedly, if these phrases are detached from their context, they immediately take on a cruel, sadistic character, overturning the theology of divine love which permeates the spirit of Orthodox (ecclesiastical) soteriology (see Jn. 3:16, Rom. 5:8, etc.). For this reason, it is necessary to place them in the entire context of St. Nikodemos’ thought and activity.” Bur his attempt at such placement is unlikely to convince critics.

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