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The History of the Council of Florence
translated from the Russian by Basil Popoff

edited by John Mason Neale

London: Masters, 1861.


THERE is, I believe, no Ecclesiastical history in the English language,--of a period common to the East and West,--which takes the Oriental view of the matter in question.

If it were only on this account, the present volume, relating the last attempt at an union between the two great Churches, would possess a certain value.

But, it is further to be observed, that several Russian manuscripts and printed works throw a light on the Council of Florence which is not afforded by any of its Western historians.

It was with great pleasure, therefore, that I acceded to the request of my friend, the Rev. Eugene Popoff, Chaplain to the Russian Embassy in London, to edit the following translation, the work of his son. Although the translator's manuscript needed very little correction, there was here and there a phrase which presented a foreign idiom; and some of the proper names were given after the Russ and not after the English fashion of orthography. Beyond this, I have not felt at liberty to make any alteration.

I would only observe that, with respect to what after all was the chief point debated at Florence, the Filioque controversy, so far as regards the adoption of the new clause into the Creed, a most undoubted Anglican authority speaks thus: "Though the addition of words to the formal Creed, without the consent and against the protestation of the Oriental Church be not justifiable;" and again: "Thus did the Oriental Church accuse the Occidental for adding Filioque to the Creed, contrary to the General Council, which had prohibited all additions, and that without the least pretence of another Council: and so the schism between the Latin and the Greek Church began and was continued, never to be ended until those words, kai ek tou Uiou, or Filioque, are taken out of the Creed." [Bishop Pearson, Vol. I. p. 492; Vol. II. p. 407.

With respect to another Article debated at Florence, the Papal supremacy, the Anglican reader will perceive how entirely the Oriental arguments are those which we employ at the present day; while with regard to Azymes, it is rather by accident than from principle that we agree to the Eastern view.

The present volume was originally the work of a student in the Spiritual Academy at Moscow, but has received correction from, and I believe I may say the imprimatur of, the Theological Professor in the same Academy. If it assists in making the Eastern Church and the great learning of its scholars better known to ourselves, I shall be most thankful for the very small share I have taken in the publication of the present volume.


S. Matthias, Stoke Newington,
Saturday of the Second Week in Advent,
Dec. 14, 1861.

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