[St. Pachomius Library]

St. John of Damascus

VI/VII Centuries
Called the last Greek father and the first Christian Aristotelian, St. John Damascene was born c. 676 into a wealthy Christian family. His father was a logothelete, an advisor to the vizier, and John took over the post when his father retired. C. 716 John resigned from his position and retired to the Mar Saba monastery, where he eventually became a monk. He wrote three treatises in defense of the use of icons and opposed the iconoclasm of Emperor Leo III the Isaurian. These works led to John's condemnation at the Council of Hieria in 754. John had been dead for five years at the time of his condemnation, and the Second Council of Nicaea in 787 restored his good name. John also wrote poetry and revised the Octoechoes, the cycle of eight weekly tones around which Byzantine worship centers.

Of John's 150 works, the most famous is The Source of Knowledge (also translated as The Fount of Wisdom), which some consider to have been the first summa since it was taken as a model of systematic theology. The three parts of the work cover philosophy, history, and theology.

DialectaphilosophyIsagogue of Porphyry
logic of Aristotle
Section IIhistoryPanarion of Epiphanius
Ekthesistheologywritings of the Cappadocian fathers

The Ekthesis is often published as The Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, and the work as a whole is considered a compendium of both philosophic and theological ideas.

Karen Rae Keck


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