Originally posted 10/22/2010.
East: Hieromonk St. John of Damascus (Doctor of the Assumption) (676-749; December 4)
*An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:12 in PG 94:849B: “And we speak also of the Spirit of the Son, not as though proceeding from Him, but as proceeding through Him from the Father. For the Father alone is cause.”
WRH: It is one thing to say that the Holy Spirit does not have existence from the Son simply and absolutely, and another to say that the Holy Spirit does not have existence from the Son as from the προκαταρτικὴν αἰτία/αἰτίας ἀχρόνως/principium primordiale/principium originale/principium primum (Fr. Jugie, p. 190). A priori, it is highly likely that St. John writes in the latter sense, or else he would be at odds with the consensus of the saintly Fathers before him.
*An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:12 in PG 94:848D: The Father “is, … through the Word, the Producer of the revealing Spirit.”
WRH: What does this formula mean? Three of the saint’s other statements indicate that the Holy Spirit, qua hypostasis, indeed proceeds from the Son:
(1) An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:13 in PG 94:856B: “The Son is the Father’s Image, and the Spirit the Son’s, through which Christ dwelling in man makes him after His own Image.”
WRH: There is a relationship of origin between an image and its prototype; see St. John of Damascus, Dialectics 6 in PG 94:548C; qtd. in Fr. Jugie, p. 189.
(2) On Heresies in PG 94:780B; qtd. in Fr. Jugie, p. 125: “The Father is the root, the Son is the branch, the Spirit is the fruit.”
(3) An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:13 in PG 94:856B: “The Holy Spirit is God, being between the unbegotten and the begotten, and united to the Father through the Son.”
*An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:8 in PG 94:832B: “And we do not speak of the Spirit as from the Son: but yet we call Him the Spirit of the Son.”
Editor: Thus when St. John of Damascus says that the Spirit does not proceed ἐκ (from) the Son, the great defender of icons is not rejecting Filioque, because εκπόρευσις (ekporeusis) is sometimes [cf. Rev 22:1] taken to characterize only the relationship of origin to the principle without principle of the Holy Trinity, viz., the Father. The Son is not the αἰτία because He receives His fecundity from the Father, to paraphrase Fr. Congar, p. 136. explanation is that of the most learned theologians and historians of dogma regarding St. John’s statements like “non tamen ex ipso existentiam habens“ from his Homily on Holy Saturday [Greek in PG 96:605B]. See Fr. Dionysius Petavius, S.J. Dogmata theologica, vol. II: De Trinitate, Book VII, Chapter 17, §8, p. 763 and Fr. Jugie, De Processione, p. 190. Basilios Cardinal Bessarion (1403-1472) says the following in his Refutation of the Syllogistic Chapters of Mark of Ephesus, Chapter 37 [PG 161:240AB], qtd. in A. Edward Siecienski, Filioque: History of a Doctrinal Controversy, p. 164: “That the Son is not the cause of the Spirit we can also say, for we understand the meaning of cause in the strictest sense, as used in the Greek idiom, whereby cause always is understood as the primordial first cause.” In other words, several Eastern Fathers rightly say that the Son is not the cause because they use “cause” in the sense of προκαταρτικὴν αἰτία or αἰτίας ἀχρόνως, which can only be the Father; cf. Fr. Jugie, De processione, p. 148.