Augustin Sokolovski

Tradition has preserved two spellings of the saint’s name: “Simeon the Theologian” and “Simeon the New Theologian.”

The first, Simeon the Theologian, testifies that he became one of the three, and, today, the last of the saints who entered the history and memory of the Orthodox Church with the name “Theologian”. The other two are the Evangelist John, and one of the Three Great Teachers and Saints is Gregory of Nazianzus. Before Simeon, they were constantly called “theologians” in the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The second name, Simeon the New Theologian, reminds us that contemporaries, and the saint lived at the turn of the 1st–2nd millennia, considered themselves to have reached the depth of knowledge of God. Heirs of the great Roman Empire, which already became the “state of the Orthodox” during the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great, they were convinced that any zeal for the knowledge of God was absurd and ridiculous. Mocking Simeon, who by that time was the abbot of the monastery, and, nevertheless, called on all his contemporaries, young and old, to know and love Christ anew, to consciously experience their participation in the sacraments, and, most importantly, in Communion, to seek the divine light, they called him the “New Theologian.”

Over time, after the death of Simeon and his glorification as a saint, this original context of irony dissipated, and no one remembered it anymore. Such is the providence, and such is the method of grace. God, according to the words of the Apostle Peter in the Epistle, knows how to “deliver his saints” (2 Pet. 2:9).

Saint Simeon was born in 949, and departed to the Lord in 1022, that is, before the date of the formal division of the Churches. Therefore, he is revered as a saint in both the East and the West. However, for many centuries after his death he was forgotten. The works were published only in part, the translations were inaccurate.

In 1922, many philosophers and theologians were expelled from Russia on the so-called “philosophical ship”. Through the works of Orthodox Christians in the diaspora and Western researchers, research into the works of the saint began in the 20th century. The reception of his legacy took place a thousand years after his death, when, through the works of Archbishop Basil Krivoshein (1900–1985), and other remarkable scientists, the new theology of Simeon shone in recent times.