I am posting this because Matthew is very busy and traveling about today (although I suppose posting it myself risks vanity).
I am honored to have been invited to be a guest of the pan-Orthodox clergy group in the Buffalo, NY area for the weekend and thought I’d call your attention to the Sunday of Orthodox Vespers to be held at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church. If you are in Western NY or Ontario and are interested in a talk on early converts, with a special mention of some important happenings in Buffalo, please stop by. Also, don’t hesitate to introduce yourself. One of the best ways we can all further reflections on American Orthodox church history is through personal contact and communal worship.
In other posts here on Orthodoxhistory, we have mentioned Frs. Boris Burden and Michael Gelsinger. What many might not know is that later in life, after the Federated Orthodox Greek Catholic Primary Jurisdictions fell apart, Fr. Boris established the Orthodox Catholic Alliance, which sought to further the education of youth and perform charitable work. In addition to that work, the American Orthodox Catholic Alliance established the OrCathA collection of Byzantine and Orthodox materials by donating its library to the University of Buffalo in 1966. The university established a matching grant and soon expanded its holdings. As of 2006, the collection contained approximately 45,000 volumes. The University of Buffalo’s website had stated [in link that now appears broken] that five years after establishing an endowment in 1974, the Alliance provided the library with another “substantial gift of materials.” The date proves to be important as the 1974 immediately follows the death of Burden (who died in 1973). Fr. Michael Gelsinger died later in 1979.
Although the link to the OrCathA Byzantine collection is currently down, it may be found here:
Over on his blog, Fr. Oliver Herbel has decided to re-frame his presentation of the St. Peter the Aleut question. He’s taken down both of his earlier articles on the subject and replaced them with a new one, which you can read by clicking here.
This morning on his Frontier Orthodoxy blog, Fr. Oliver Herbel offered a post with the provocative title, “St. Peter the Aleut Did Not Exist.” Fr. Oliver says that he intentionally did not publish the article here at OH.org so as to spare us the inevitable debate; however, I do think it’s appropriate that we link to the post and give people a chance to read it.
Fr. Oliver’s argument boils down to six main points:
- Unlike so many Alaskan Orthodox stories (e.g. St. Juvenaly), the St. Peter story has no supporting oral tradition.
- Fr. Michael Oleksa, the foremost scholar on Alaskan Orthodox history, has written next to nothing about St. Peter. In Orthodox Alaska, Fr. Michael makes not a single mention of Peter’s story. (I would add that Fr. Michael mentions St. Peter only in passing in Alaskan Missionary Spirituality.)
- No corroborating evidence exists — that is, there is no other evidence of Spanish-Russian violence in California in that era. The St. Peter incident sticks out as an anomaly.
- On the contrary, there is an internal Roman Catholic document from the period that actually contradicts the idea that the Spanish would torture Native Alaskans.
- There is no evidence that St. Peter and his alleged persecutors would have been able to converse in the same language, which makes the exchange between them unlikely.
- There is only one primary account of St. Peter’s martyrdom, and it is suspect for various reasons.
I’d encourage you to read the whole article, as I’ve just barely summarized Fr. Oliver’s observations. And, for the time being, I’m going to stay out of the public debate over whether St. Peter was real (and, if he was real, whether he was really martyred). I do think it is of paramount importance that the original account of St. Peter’s martyrdom be made public and translated into English. We don’t have that account, and I don’t know of anyone who has ever seen it, although in the comments to Fr. Oliver’s post, someone says that it was due to be published in a book.
At some future point, I’ll examine the pro-Peter arguments, and generally discuss the merits of his case.
This article was written by Matthew Namee.
In my post last month, I had mentioned that I’d discuss evangelism in this month’s post. What I would like to do is share with everyone an article that is, admittedly, now a month beyond its “anniversary” month, but a helpful reminder nonetheless–a snapshot to when SVS was granted new facilities.
Next month, I’ll continue with this educational theme. One of the reasons I am doing this is because of a book that will be published eventually through Holy Cross, edited by Dr. Bezzerides and Shevzov. It consists of chapters concerning Orthodoxy and the academy (university/collegiate education) in America. Some contributors discuss specific projects and others some pre-American background. I am also contributing.
Orthodox engagement with the university system here in North America is a lively topic in some Orthodox circles these days and there is now St. Katherine’s college in San Diego. Our history is not one of establishing and maintaining colleges, however. Frankly, we don’t know how that will go for us Orthodox (and a look across to other groups doing it might look a little foreboding at times). What we can do is become familiar with the history of Orthodox education in America that we do have.
So, this post is but one brief reminder. Next month, I’ll mention one or two others, which might not be nearly as familiar to us.
This article was written by Fr. Oliver Herbel.