James L. Kelley’s Response to Hans-Georg Lundahl’s Critique of Fr. John Romanides

Go here to read Lundahl’s post and Mr. Kelley’s response: http://filolohika.blogspot.fr/2012/03/is-romanides-accurate.html. Lundahl claims that Fr. John Romanides mishandled an ancient source, Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ Roman Antiquities, 3.10.1-6. The details may seem tedious to even Fr. John devotees, but here is my response to Mr. Lundahl, which is also found at the above link:

I am glad you are checking Fr. John’s references so assiduously. Perhaps we gain even more insight from Dionysius’s Roman Antiquities Book One, part 9, where Dionysius explicitly agrees with Pherecydes of Athens that the original Italians were Greeks from Arcadia. Maybe these Greeks did not speak only Greek, but in this case, would you not agree with Fr. John that they are best described as Greeks and not Latin-speaking Latins? Fr. John is making the point that the West has distorted the sources by opposing Latin-speaking Latins in Rome to Greek-speaking Greeks in the East. Thus, the simple fact that Dion., Livy, Cato and others insist on their Greekness should give us pause. Besides, as Fr. John says in the same article: “Now some scholars may search for sources which may prove otherwise, i.e. for some reason the primitive Latins and Romans, who were not really Greeks, came to believe that they are Greeks. So what? That would be like proving that black Americans are not real Americans because they are black.” In other words, many, many prominent Romans affirmed that Romans are Greeks and speak Greek (as well as Latin, obviously, since they wrote in Latin to affirm this Greekness). Fr. John is interested in Romeosyne (Roman-ness), which is cultural, especially since, as Dion. says in the same passage, the Romans allowed foreigners and manumitted slaves to become citizens, regardless of bloodline. He wants to show that Romans thought of themselves as coming from the Greeks. Obviously not all Romans thought any one thing, but Fr. John has pieced together a veritable Roman Mt. Rushmore of towering Latin writers who believe they come from Greeks. Mission accomplished! I think we owe it to Fr. John to plainly state our purpose in our critiques; checking details is a fruitful endeavor, but I believe it to be equally important that we exhibit the proper respect and sympathy for such an illustrious theologian as Fr. John by engaging with the actual points/theses presented in his works. Otherwise, we are losing an opportunity to get to the real point of Fr. John’s writings. For example, why did Fr. John bother to write about Greco-Roman history? That would be an interesting post! Thanks for the posts, and I hope you will forgive me if I seem too direct, God bless… 

This entry was posted in Antiquity, Eastern Orthodox Theology, Greco-Roman History, Historiography, Romaic Thesis, Romanides, Romanity, Romeosyne and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to James L. Kelley’s Response to Hans-Georg Lundahl’s Critique of Fr. John Romanides

  1. Jason Muniz says:

    My opinion on this whole issue that there were many migrations of “Hellenoid” peoples that migrated to southern Italy and a bit beyond the Tiber river; the first of these peoples being the Umbrians, who are said to have survived the flood(Minoan eruption? You know the island named Imbros sounds very similar to Umbri. It is also related that Asissi, an Umbrian city, was founded by Dardanus, a survivor of the flood and who migrated to what would become the location of Troy. Perhaps those Romans were not fooling around). After them other Hellenoid peoples migrated, the ones named by Dionysius the Halicarnassian. The Liguri are also very interesting, they too were perhaps a sea people(most of the places they inhabited were Islands and the coastal lands of northwest Italy). Perhaps this is why the “Italic” languages differed from each other because they were brought over by different yet related stocks. Umbrian was perhaps the more archaic Hellenoid language because southern Italy was constantly recieving new migrations from Asia Minor and Achaia and so we find it in the center but also in some places in the north.

    Love your blog keep it up, Jason.

    • romeosyne says:

      Thanks for your interest, Jason. We certainly have a linguistic patchwork in Italia, from prehistory all the way until the 19th century (and, it could be argued, until today!). The Etruscans, so I have read, were a thoroughly Hellenized people, having had contact with Greek colonies in Italia for many, many generations. We know what happens when groups perceived to be “more culturally advanced” arrive on boats to colonize: the natives are not slow to identify with the new High Culture, though they adapt it to their own needs. Thus the centuries of interaction between Greeks and “Latins.” The problem of whether Romans are Greeks or not is insoluble, I believe. What do we mean? A Roman citizen? A person who speaks Latin and Greek? Fr. John Romanides simply wanted to give the lie to the Frankish historiographical fiction that Greeks were heretics in the East who gave up their Romeosyne to be Hellenes, a notion that, “would cause even jackasses to burst out laughing.” The point, at least for pre-Christian times, was that evidence points away from the Frankish disentanglement of Greeks from Latins or Romans. They are impossible to separate without doing violence to the source material. As for the Christian era, Fr. John wanted to show that for most people to be a Roman meant, among other things, to be a Chalcedonian Christian, though no confusion was implied between earthly citizenship and membership in the Body of Christ. The Franks monkeyed around with religio-ethnic terminology to bolster their own positions. They placed a new teaching about the Holy Spirit on a marble pedastal and proclaimed in 794 that anyone not following them in this was a “Greek heretic.” Where did they get this “improved” doctrine about the Spirit? Augustine, who thought that no one, from the Holy Apostles up to his own time, had understood what the Holy Spirit is. Every Christian in the world has unwittingly followed Augustine, except for the Orthodox. This is why there are so many desperate attempts by Catholics to stratify Augustine’s teachings to avoid his “excesses”: the world of patristic research is holding up the Bishop of Hippo’s teachings to the light of day, and many Western Christians on the ground are shocked at what their “greatest Church Father” actually taught.

  2. I wish I had been notified by you on your response.

    You could have put a link in … oh, sorry, you just blogged your comment without telling your readers I had already answered it.

    I found your blogpost by googling my name.

    • romeosyne says:

      No slight intended. I do not remember seeing any response by you anywhere, so if you would like to post it as a comment here, feel free, then my readers can read what you had to say. Of course, that will give me a chance to address your comment and continue the dialogue, if need be.

      Best wishes,
      James L. Kelley

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s