The Augustana Graeca and the Correspondence between the Tubingen Lutherans and Patriarch Jeremias II

I was knocking about on Orrologion’s blog, and I came across some entries with regard to the Lutheran correspondence with Patriarch Jeremias II in the 16th Century.

It is a fascinating episode in history, and the Augsburg Confession in Greek merits its own study.

For two important sites on the Internet in this regard, see:

and (Which gives the Augustana Graeca in facsimile)

If you know of other sources and essays on the net on this subject, please link to them in the combox. I would be especially interested in an English translation of the full correspondence between the two parties.

My only comment here and now about the whole episode is that the fact that not only the Romans but the Greeks as well saw the Augsburg Confession as a heterodox statement of the Christian faith, should have caused the Confessors then (and their heirs today) to question their assurance that “That in doctrine and ceremonies nothing has been received on our part against Scripture or the Church Catholic”.

Joshua, for instance (in an earlier comment), reacted in horror to the rejection of the intercession of the saints. He was not alone in this. Patriarch Jeremias II had a similar reaction.

The Patriarch was especially shocked by the twenty-first and last article, which says that, while congregations should be told of the lives of the saints as examples to be followed, it is contrary to the Scriptures to invoke the saints as mediators before God. Jeremias, after citing the special powers given by Christ to the disciples, answers that true worship should indeed be given to God alone, but that the saints, and above all, the Mother of God, who by their holiness have been raised to heaven, may lawfully and helpfully be invoked. We can ask the Mother of God, owing to her special relationship, to intercede for us and the archangels and angels to pray for us; and all the saints may be asked for their mediation. It is a sign of humility that we sinners should be shy of making a direct approach to God and should seek the intervention of mortal men and women who have earned salvation. [Source]



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44 responses to “The Augustana Graeca and the Correspondence between the Tubingen Lutherans and Patriarch Jeremias II

  1. Dixie

    A complete English translation of the entire correspondence is not on the web but can be purchased. It is one of my favorite books.

  2. Schütz

    Thanks, Dixie. I might try to get a hold of that.

  3. Past Elder

    So, it’s news that the syncretism between old and new Imperial religion had its Eastern Empire version as well as its Western?

    Ya wanna see some horror at all this “invoking” of the saints? Wait until you get to talk to the “saints” about it!

  4. William Weedon

    Perhaps most telling is a book that St. Vlad’s put out a couple years ago about The Cult of the Saints: St. John Chrysostom in which it is observed that the fourth century adaptation of the cult was precisely that – adaptation: “Few of the elements of the cult are unique to Christianity. Many, in fact, were already present in the society out of which Christianity grew and were familiar to people of all religious backgrounds.” (p. 12) The striking thing on the cult is its near total absence before the imperialization of the faith in the 4th century. As Poiroit would say, “It gives one furiously to think…”

  5. William Weedon

    P.S. What on earth do you guys do with the words of St. Augustine:

    We do not in those shrines raise altars on which to sacrifice to the martyrs, but to the one God, who is the martyr’s God and ours; and at this sacrifice [the Eucharist] the martyrs are named, in their own place and in the appointed order, as men of God who have overcome the world in the confession of his name. They are not invoked by the priest who offers the sacrifice. For, of course, he is offering the sacrifice to God, not to the martyrs (although he offers it at their shrine) because he is God’s priest, not theirs. Indeed, the sacrifice itself is the Body of Christ, who is not offered to them, because they themselves are that Body. — St. Augustine, *City of God* XXII:10

  6. William Weedon

    P.S.S. One notes that strictly speaking the Roman Canon does NOT invoke the saints; and some have argued that this a mark of its antiquity over against the anaphorae of the East that contain such invocation.

  7. Past Elder

    The Commemoration of the Saints is relatively mild in that regard: quorum meritis precibusque concedas ut in omnibus protectionis tuae muniamur auxilio.

    Of course the Wal-Mart blue light special EP1 based on the Roman Canon just puts most of the names saints in brackets to be eliminated at will anyway!

  8. William Tighe

    Give it over, PE, and find another rationale for your rantings than Rome as the heir of the Western Empire, and Orthodoxy as heir of the Eastern. Already on the subject of the visiblity of the Church and its unicity, which both Rome and the Orthodox share (although they disagree on the identity of the Real Mrs. Jesus), I showed on an earlier thread that this idea was the one and only Catholic ecclesiology long before Constantine; and a glance at the graffiti under San Sebastiano on the Via Appia, or under the Confessio in St. Peter’s, on that “red wall” in the pagan necropolis that was built over ca. 150/160 AD, one can read such things as “Petre ed Paule petite pro Victore” and many other similar ones.

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc is a weak argument at best, but your argument on these subjects is perfectly ass-backwards, as your whole thesis about Rome and Orthodoxy, developed with such a vain prolixity at your blog, constantly relies on the identification as “post” practices and beliefs that are manifestly “pre,” and so seems to involve an obsessional monomania rather than anything remotely resembling historical analysis.

  9. Past Elder

    Well, Rome at all costs, huh?

    Sorry, not real big on abstracting God’s truth from graffiti here.

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc is not a weak argument at best. It is no argument at all, being a logical fallacy. Specifically, a material informal fallacy of false cause (non sequitur). As it is, I did not argue “ergo” anyway.

    Monomania is obsessional by definition.

    But it is amusing that Rome’s apologists, particularly the post-conciliar ones, generally end with a dismissal by psychological analysis — itself a material informal fallacy, ignoratio elenchi, of the class argumentum ad hominem.

    Schuetz usually gets his from Monty Python, which makes them more fun to read, though I’m kind of a Benny Hill guy myself.

  10. Christine

    One notes that strictly speaking the Roman Canon does NOT invoke the saints; and some have argued that this a mark of its antiquity over against the anaphorae of the East that contain such invocation.

    Actually quite right, Pastor Weedon. During the prayers the saints are remembered before God as being part of the Communio Sanctorum, that fellowship of the Church of the ages the bonds between whom cannot be destroyed by death; the Church militant relies on their prayers as heavenly intercessors (not mediators) but the Holy Sacrifice is offered strictly to God alone.

    Nor is Mary “invoked” during the prayers of the Mass. The church simply expresses her hope that she will one day share eternal life in the company of the Virgin Mary, the angels and saints.

    Lutherans certainly make the same claim if not in those exact words, showing forth our common catholicity.

    Wal-Mart blue light special EP1

    Mein Himmel, wait until that hits E-Bay!!!!

  11. Christine

    It is a sign of humility that we sinners should be shy of making a direct approach to God and should seek the intervention of mortal men and women who have earned salvation.

    Earned salvation? Can someone please spell P-E-L-A-G-I-A-N??

    I see a lot of instances in the Gospels where rampant sinners approached the Lord Jesus, and none was ever turned away. Now that He has been raised in glory, He is no less accessible.

    I see the Communion of Saints as the whole family of Christ from Pentecost on and I have no problem with their prayers on behalf of the Church, just as I would feel free to ask a brother or sister in Christ here on earth to pray for me.

    But let’s keep it in proportion!

  12. Past Elder

    The Commemoration of the Dead, the mirror on the other side of the Words of Institution of the Commemoration of the Living, is quite unobjectionable: intro quorum nos consortium, non aestimator meriti, sed veniae, quaesumus, largitor admitte.

    Now where’s my Benny Hill DVD? Or was that Benny Hinn?

  13. Christine

    I’ll pass on Benny Hinn but toss that Benny Hill at me when you’re done!

  14. Christine

    “Few of the elements of the cult are unique to Christianity. Many, in fact, were already present in the society out of which Christianity grew and were familiar to people of all religious backgrounds.” (p. 12) The striking thing on the cult is its near total absence before the imperialization of the faith in the 4th century. As Poiroit would say, “It gives one furiously to think…”

    I would make a couple of observations here, though. The Roman/Greek society in which Christianity implanted itself certainly had its plethora of gods and goddesses, but they were often petulant and sullen. They were more feared than loved and the pagan mind was obsessed with placating them at all costs.

    The lives of the martyrs and confessors were rooted in actual, historical persons who had given their lives for Christ before the legalization of Christianity and it is not surprising that their names were inserted into the liturgy and honored.

    The nascent Church under Imperial persecution was careful to hide her beliefs and practices from the unitiated. Remember the famous pagan inscription scratched on a stone in a guard room on Palatine Hill near the Circus Maximus that translates “Alexomenos worships his god”, portraying an man with the had of an ass crucified. Thus were the early Christians regarded.

    It seems almost unbelievable in our time that the early Christians sometimes received instruction for almost three years before being baptized.

  15. Past Elder

    Sounds good to me. A three year inquiry class would make for much better Voter’s Meetings later on.

    A lot of this comes under what we may borrow a phrase from the AC to describe — things that may have had plausible reasons in their time for their origin, but, they either do not adapt to later times or began with in part false ideas to start with.

    Nor does this end with ancient times. We Lutherans have lost as much through excessive reaction to Roman excess as the Romans have lost through the excesses themselves.

  16. Christine

    Sounds good to me. A three year inquiry class would make for much better Voter’s Meetings later on.

    Yeah, not to mention giving the catechumens plenty of time to check out the quality of the potlucks!

  17. orrologion

    “The striking thing on the cult is its near total absence before the imperialization of the faith in the 4th century.”

    “…the syncretism between old and new Imperial religion had its Eastern Empire version as well as its Western?”

    Yes, dyotheletism is also totally absent before the 4th Century, too, as is a clear confession of the consubstantiality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; chilaism and and adoptionsim, etc. were also present in large(r) numbers before imperialization, too.

    Also, one must take into account the uniformity of faith confessed and practiced both by those within the bounds of the Empire and those beyond its borders (e.g., Persia).

    Just because something was hidden in the catacombs doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. The ‘consensus’ of the entire Church – politically, culturally, linguistically and over time – shows that these supposed innovations arising with Constantine are really just a form of the revisionism we see in “The DaVinci Code”, unfortunately – rather, “The DaVinci Code”‘s tactics arise from a long history of blaming Constantine for all of the ‘errors’ that the Church took on during ‘imperialization’ (code for ‘selling out’, which is an odd thing to accuse Confessors that had been persecuted, tortured and disfigured of).

  18. William Weedon


    I wouldn’t think of it as “selling out.” In your conceptual frame of reference for the Church it is not possible for something intrinsically foreign to her life to establish itself within her for a long period of time; in the Lutheran frame this is something we recognize as a possibility indeed. And it is possible for it to be introduced by those who have little realization of what they’re carrying over with them from the culture that is at best in tension with and at worst a corruption of the faith for which they gladly shed their blood.

  19. orrologion

    Well, but the point is that these churches in their development – especially through the patristic and conciliar periods, which is where we all agree – represented numerous cultures beyond ‘Roman’ or ‘Greek’. My contention would be that Protestantism was essentially an Anglo-Saxon creation – many subcultures, but a single, broad cultural reality. Lutheranism in particular was almost wholly created in a German context, with Scandinavian assent later.

    I would be curious as to what you (and the ‘fairly cluey bloke’ would see as being any Lutheran “carrying over with them from the culture that is at best in tension with and at worst a corruption of the faith for which they gladly shed their blood” – both in style and substance.

  20. William Weedon

    Well, I think I’ve written my opinion on some of those items before, Christopher. Let’s just take the mass – I believe that the Lutheran reformers failed to make a distinction between what the Canon actually says and what they were taught by their teachers that it said. Could the canon have been kept and a catechetical remedy employed rather than removing it? It’s hard to argue against their active given what they had been taught the Mass was; but if, as even the current Pope notes, that was a real low-point in the Roman understanding of the Mass and its sacrifice, it provides food for thought.

    Second, tied closely to the Mass was the setting aside of canonical order. What would the Lutheran Reformation have looked like if they had employed the bishops who came to the Reformation to exercise order and thus have never handed the Church over to the princes. That handing over proved to be Lutheranism’s Achilles’ heel.

    Those are two such areas that I think the Reformers were “culturally” blind on, if you will.

  21. William Weedon

    Oh, and one more thought: with the canon, I think the one thing the Lutherans could not and would not have compromised on was the public chanting of the Verba. I see V2 in part as a vindication of that being a truly catholic practice.

  22. orrologion

    Were there bishops that became Lutheran (or any other type of Protestant)? I don’t know the story for the Continent. I believe only one, senile old bishop was confused into ordaining other bishops for the Anglicans, if I am not mistaken.

  23. William Weedon

    Dr. Tighe has the goods on this. Yes, the Lutherans had access to a bishop, but Luther rather singularly ignored him and putting him to use. Though the Swedes boast of their succession, it had enough irregularities in the 16th century to raise grave doubts in the minds of those who believe canonical polity is divinely ordered. The pity of it, though, was that in both Germany and in Scandinavia, the possibility existed for something else. The political reality, however, was that if the prince was going to stick his neck out for the Reformation, he was going to grab control of the churches too. Luther’s rather sad tract on the Christian Nobility of the German Nation more or less opened the floodgates to this. I can’t help but think he had to rue it a bit by the end of his life.

  24. William Weedon

    AND if he didn’t rue it, Lutherans in the centuries since have had plenty of opportunities to! Especially when the princes began to turn REFORMED.

  25. William Weedon

    “instead of putting him to use” – where do those words disappear to between the time I think them, type them and dispatch them???

  26. Past Elder

    At the time, though, where else could he go? It wasn’t like now, where you can go to the state, get a minister’s licence and open up a church and put it in the Yellow Pages. State and church were part of one whole. Your only hope for change in the church — its offices largely held through money and/or troops, the real protectors of “apostolic succession” — was to find a sympathetic ruler with some money and troops. And it’s true, to a large extent the result were “evangelical” state churches as bad as the ones they replaced.

    People die for stuff all the time. Doesn’t prove it was right, just that they thought it was. Every religion has its martyrs.

  27. orrologion

    Yes, but these were the martyrs and confessors that were clear sighted enough to formulate the Nicene Creed.

    There seem to be a decent number of Anabaptists in the world and they didn’t have state support, quite the opposite, actually.

  28. Past Elder

    Digital Judas on Facebook, the whole deal is this: nobody, absolutely nobody, apart from excesses of popular piety, thinks the bishop/priest/deacon thing existed from Day One exactly as it is seen and understood now. So there is no argument whether there was a change; rather, was the change a development of something already there, or was it a departure from what was already there? For example, if bishop and priest are roughly equivalent terms early on, do they nonetheless reflect a distinction in function already there but later more explicit, or does it indicate an essentially same office whose later distinctions are human but not divine, and, if they are human, is the later making of such distinctions a function given by Jesus to them to do, a human exercise of a divinely given authority, or not.

  29. orrologion

    There is a danger in discussions about the early Church to replace a real, flesh and blood (Body of Christ) Church with a platonic ideal. What I mean by that is we prefer our own reconstructions of what the early Church ‘must’ have been based on our understanding and valuation of what has come down to us.

    That is, I take only the Bible to be authoritative, therefore all this other stuff must be dross. Or, I take only the Bible and ante-Nicene tradition as authoritative and this other stuff is bunk. Or, I take only the Bible and Church tradition through Chalcedon as authoritative and all this other stuff is bunk. Or, since x is the doctrine upon which the Church stands or falls, I will accept anything at anytime in Church history that is in accord with x – this touchstone can also be a person and his/her theological ‘key’ – and all this other stuff is bunk.

    We only know the early Church by its continuity with the later Church through time up until today. We can’t arbitrarily skip over all those centuries – or those ‘wrong’ particulars within centuries held in tandem with doctrines we agree with – and think that we are doing anything other than picking and choosing according to our own preferences.

    Unless we are in continuity with a Body that has a visible, known presence back into the mists of time, then we are more than likely projecting onto and editing history into our own image using history’s unrecorded gaps as blank canvass (like the 19th Century Romantics making the Celts into something quite other than what they were, for instance).

  30. orrologion

    The point being that whatever the origins of the distinction between episcopos and presbyter, the entire Church across cultures and borders and languages, etc. all agreed that they were different and had different roles. To argue that the ‘real’ offices are to be returned to regardless of the broad, deep consensus patrum of centuries is to argue that we should also ‘return’ to the ‘more pure’ triadology, christology and eschatology of the ante-Nicene Church.

  31. William Weedon


    You are missing the essential point, it seems to me. The later triadology is accepted BECAUSE it is fully in accord with the Sacred Scriptures; the later development of the doctrine of the ministry as bishops alone competent to ordain is rejected BECAUSE it does not fully accord with the Biblical witness. Even Rome, as late as the early 20th century, spoke in her canon law (1917) of the bishop as the ORDINARY minister of ordination.

  32. Past Elder

    Interesting that what Pastor offered above is pretty much what I was taught in the pre-Vatican II RCC re the Reformation. Something like this:

    Had we (the RCC) not allowed catechesis to decay to the miserable extent it had in both seminary and parish school, and had we not allowed liturgy to decay to the miserable extent it had, both rightfully protested by the Reformers, there would have been no Reformation. The Reformation is then our fault, not theirs, who were as unfortunately limited by their defective Catholicism as we were and unable to find the right way out.

    So far so good, but it gets different now: So thank God for Trent, which restored, really rather imposed at is should have always been, doctrinal and liturgical integrity to the Church, correcting the legitimate claims of the Reformers and not admitting their errors.

    With the new Catholicism of the 1960s this was flushed down the toilet. Trent was now a late nediaeval dark alley of over reaction to things to which we need no longer react, s straight jacket of Counter Reformation discipline from which thank God Vatican II is now freeing us as we should have always been.

    As to the rest though, it simply replaces three solas with one, sola ecclesia, by church alone.

    There is no such broad, deep consensus, and no agreement among those who think there is.

    The Romans say the EO are “church” despite some doctrinal irregularities because they have the same validity of ordination by which Rome validates itself, the EO sees doctrinal irregularities and therefore despite the ordinations says they cannot be sure Rome is “church”, except for those who say they can, it is, except for those who say they can, it isn’t, that is, when they’re not similarly hurling same at each other.

    Sola ecclesia thus has no real consensus on what exactly it is, how exactly it works, and who exactly has it. So, no less than the “Protestant” it condemns for doing so, one picks and chooses according to one’s own preferences, past or present, with the Rome offering yet another selection to chose from lately.

  33. orrologion


    A cursory reading of the acts of Nicea in Schaff doesn’t come up with a phrase like, “________ is fully in accord with the Sacred Scriptures” – or more to the point, that _______ is believed because “it is fully in accord with the Sacred Scriptures” or explicitly found therein.

    I seem to remember from other past readings of the Acts and their canons, as well as of Abp Peter L’Huillier’s text analyzing the canons of the first four Councils in depth (including their various recensions) not seeing anything similar either. The Scriptures obviously were referred to, but so too were ‘the Fathers’. This seems to have been the way in such Councils.

    “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us”, not “The Bible tells us so therefore we may be sure”.

    At the time of Nicea in particular, the canon of the Bible was far from agreed to and included many ‘additional’ books in both the New and Old Testaments (see especially the Ethiopian canon that is still in use to this day, for an example of what else could have been meant by sola Scriptura at that time, not even bothering to raised the question of the far more allegorical readings that allowed for ‘proof’ for all sorts of existing practices that had not other explicit authority apart from Tradition.)

  34. Past Elder

    Wow. So our only hope is continuity with this visible body in broad consensus, except there was no consensus on what is Scripture and to some extent still isn’t now, with the all-critical role of bishop, Schuetz tells us earlier, not really defined for 2000 years until Vatican II.

    It just keeps getting better.

    FWIW, the RCC taught me two different things about the canon of Scripture. One, that it wasn’t settled until Trent, and two it was settled by Pope Damasus and the Council of Rome in 382.

    Damasus was the MAN — the Emperor throws out Pope Liberius for not condemning St Athanasius, puts in Felix II, the people get ticked, the Emperor thinks why not a both/and two-fer, couple years later he comes back and throws out Felix, then he dies, then in a little good old class struggle, the patricians who backed Felix say Damasus is elected, the plebians who supported Liberius say his deacon Ursicinus is elected, the two parties commence killing each other in riots, the city prefects attempt to restore order and Damasus’ boys throw Ursicinus out and kill all his supporters in a three day bloodfest. Damasus is brought up on murder charges, but his patrician supporters (the wealthy) find a way (guess what) to get the Emperor to intervene and get Damasus off the hook.

    Unbroken consensus and succession in action conserving the true church of Christ! Just what he wanted and set up.

  35. Lucian

    nobody, absolutely nobody, thinks the bishop-priest-deacon thing existed from Day One exactly as it is seen and understood now

    So.. I’m an “absolute nobody” now, huh? :-\ So let me get this straight (no homophobic pun intended) :

    1) the seventy elders that were with Moses had him as fore-man. Then, after his death, Joshua, the son of Nave, followed in his shoes.
    2) the elders became Judges of the cities in the Promised Land and had the King of Jerusalem as their fore-man, the first of these being Saul, David, and Solomon.
    3) the Priests had an Arch-Priest, the first of whom was Aaron, Moses’ brother.
    4) the Twelve had Peter.
    5) the Seventy had Paul.
    6) the Seven had Stephen.
    7) every Diaconate in every city had a Proto-Deacon or Arch-Deacon.
    8) but NO Presbyterate in ANY city had EVER an Arche above them. (sag das wem du willst).

    Protestantism was essentially an Anglo-Saxon creation

    Every schism took place throughout certain cultural and/or national borders: Orientals outside the Empire vs. the Ecumene; East vs. West; Germanic Protestant North vs. Latin Catholic South; Old Protestant Europe vs NeoProtestant America.

    And yes, no Catholic bioshops ever joined the ranks of the then-emergent Protestant movement, that’s why they had to re-invent the wheel and Luther called on Noble-men to suppliment the ranks of what he named Emergency-Bishops.

  36. orrologion

    So our only hope is continuity with this visible body in broad consensus

    Broad consensus is simply the way the Church has provided to ensure that what we are teaching is not simply of our own devising. Consensus is a witness, not an authority. The Church is not a democracy. It is important to note that while saints like Athanasius stood ‘alone’, they did not stand alone literally ((it was far from Athanasius contra mundi) or for very long. Athanasius and Maximus (and Mark of Ephesus, for the Orthodox) were vindicated by the Church Universal.

  37. Joshua

    A very enjoyable discussion – sorry, I’ve been on holiday (as David has mentioned on other posts) and haven’t been party to it.

  38. William Weedon

    David et al.,

    Just came across this and thought you might find it of interest:

  39. Schütz

    Wow! Right out of the archeological archives, that one, Bill! 1970… “Spirit of Vatican II”…

    What optimism is shown by this document! I know the study to which it refers very well, I re-read it during my conversion year. But the early excitement was unjustified and the Church has since clarified quite clearly on numerous occasions that the customary assessment of Lutheran (and other protestant) orders holds, as does the argument concerning the lack of sacramental validity of the eucharistic celebrations.

    Sorry, ol’ boy. That’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes.

  40. William Weedon

    Yes, David, I quite agree that Dominus Iesus and other clarifications reject where these folks were headed. I simply found it amazing that some of them were willing to head there at all – and thought it maybe significant that the patristic scholars and the NT scholar were among those who agreed.

  41. Joshua

    Well, PW, you know the parlous state of Catholic scripture scholarship – all criticism, not much else.

    A Dominican friend of mine for his degree defended the thesis ‘The Dogmatic Theologian is the Catholic Exegete of Scripture” – quite right I would say: Aquinas would certainly have thought himself such first and foremost and even only, and to be a student of the Fathers to boot.

  42. William Weedon


    You SURE you’re not an LCMS Lutheran? 😉

    I quite agree.

  43. Joshua

    Unfortunately I don’t believe in the literal Creation of the world in six 24-hour days…

    Thanks for the compliment, which I take as it was intended. FWIW, I do wish you were a Catholic priest!

  44. William Weedon

    Dear Joshua,

    What a kind thing to say. God bless!