Gennadius II - Encyclopedia

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GENNADIUS II. [as layman ] (d. c.

1468), patriarch of Constantinople from 1454 to 1456, philosopher and theologian, was one of the last representatives of Byzantine learning. Extremely little is known of his life, but he appears to have been born at Constantinople about 1400 and to have entered the service of the emperor John VII. Paleologus as imperial judge or counsellor. Georgios first appears conspicuously in history as present at the great council held in 1438 at Ferrara and Florence with the object of bringing about a union between the Greek and Latin Churches. At the same council was present the celebrated Platonist, Gemistus Pletho, the most powerful opponent of the then dominant Aristotelianism, and consequently the special object of reprobation to Georgios. In church matters, as in philosophy, the two were opposed,- Pletho maintaining strongly the principles of the Greek Church, and being unwilling to accept union through compromise, while Georgios, more politic and cautious, pressed the necessity for union and was instrumental in drawing up a form which from its vagueness and ambiguity might be accepted by both parties.

He was at a disadvantage because, being a layman, he could not directly take part in the discussions of the council. But on his return to Greece his views changed, and he violently and obstinately opposed the union he had previously urged. In 1448 he became a monk at Pantokrator and took the name Gennadius. In 1453, after the capture of Constantinople by the Turks, Mahommed II., finding that the patriarchal chair had been vacant for some time, resolved to elect some one to the office, and the choice fell on Gennadius. While holding the episcopal office Gennadius drew up, apparently for the use of Mahommed, a lucid confession or exposition of the Christian faith, which was translated into Turkish by Ahmed, judge of Beroea, and first printed by A. Brassicanus at Vienna in 1530. After a couple of years Gennadius found the position of patriarch under a Turkish sultan so irksome that he retired to the monastery of John the Baptist near Serrae in Macedonia, where he died about 1468. About one hundred of his alleged writings exist, the majority in manuscript and of doubtful authenticity.

The fullest account of his writings is given in Gass, Gennadius and Pletho (Berlin, 1844), the second part of which contains Pletho's Contra Gennadium. See also F. Schultze, Gesch. der Phil. d. Renaissance, i. (1874). A list of the known writings of Gennadius is given in Fabricius, Bibliotheca Graeca, ed. Harles, vol. xi., and what has been printed is to be found in Migne, Patrol. Gr. vol. clx.

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