Eliso Kalandarishvili                                                                                                                                                                 # 9

 Issues of Christian Moral and Ethics in the Georgian Literature in XVII-XVIII Centuries

    According to the Christian concept, the dignity of a human is measured by how he is resembled to the Creator. After the fall from the sin, human lost the icon of God, one of the similarities from him – immortality and he gave up himself for mortality and decomposition. Every movement of the Adam who was in heaven was angelic, only after the fall from the sin the evil came into him. This new man had a chance to make a choice between evil and kind. It is true, that Adam made his choice from the very start when he tried the fruit of the tree of consciousness in heaven, but here he acted as he had a great desire to be with God and he was not able to understand what would be the result of his motion. After the persecution from the heaven, it was clear that mortal limited with time and space can choose two ways of life – he can renew the icon of his Creator or he can be separated from him. From now starts the measuring of the action of a man. If God is gracious, merciful, generous then people following after his way have the same characteristics, and visa versa people separated from God have totally opposite characters from the people mentioned above. There are two ways to measure the actions of men – resemblance of God meaning the ethical, moral actions which are welcomed and separation from God meaning immoral, unethical actions which are unwelcome. The love of God expressed by life either wise by actions are the basis of moral.

Where does love of God expressed in? Which of the man actions are welcome and which are not? Answers of these questions were searched back in the epoch of Old Testament. According to the massage of the Miqa foreteller God asks only for love, truth and mercifulness before him; “I tell you, the man to do the kind what God asks you and mercifulness and love and generosity for your God”.  (Miq. 6, 8). The dependence of a man towards God does not reveal only by the rituals, sacrifitions but the love knit in them by the faith. It is true that the sacrifitions made in the time of an Old Testament are more of a like material compare to the spiritual sacrifitions of the New Testament, but their base are still remains as the same – faith and virtue in God. Sacrifice are made by the donor must be done with faith in God, it has to bring the cognition to a donor “I want grace not sacrifice and the cognition of God” (Os. 66) – these words of the foreteller of the “Old Testament” also goes to the “New Testament” and it is one of the most important issues of the preach of Our Savior.

The love of God also reveals in the communications of people towards each other. God is troubled when truth is defeated, when poor is oppressed, when tortured is persecuted, when evil defeats kind. God chosen is only the one who not only glories him by the prayers but also with works. In the words of Peter the Missioner, God appeared to every man “Holy Spirit of his Son”, therefore they could act like Our Savior, to restore the lost icon and to live with the faith (Gal. 4, 6). By the entrance on earth like a human God showed people one more time that they are made for the icons of the Supreme. Life is full of downwards passions, therefore it is very difficult keeping the sincere heart and disinterested reproaches. This is the reason why the Missioner proclaims the men: “You, man of God, I tell you this, do the right things, serve God, faith, love, patience, calmness”. (1 Tim. 6, 11).

World is a school, God – teacher, history of divinity is the pedagogical process. This thought was whirled away by the theologists of Byzantine. For Grigol Nosel “Ten Commandments” are the lessons of Divine (65,161). Johan Oqropiri considers Our Savior as a great master and he considers himself as a weak student. Theodorite Qvireli names the Preaches of Jesus as “Celestial Lessons”. However not only Christians gained education in the school of Divine but also the ancient patriarchs and foretellers, therefore their moral is exquisite and virtuous for God.

Moral and ethical issues are part of cardinal issues of the Byzantine theology. Fathers of monastery and great theologysts had been making special writings, treaties which were helping people to understand the essence of Christianity. On this point of view the most distinguished is the Homiletical Writing, for which the main goal is to present the strengthening of Christian Belief.

In XVII-XVIII centuries highly spread didactic directions in Georgian Writing with its belief was the continue of the Christian didactic. It has to be pointed out that preach of the moral and ethics is getting stronger in the society where it is too low.  Principle “Truth Saying” implemented by Archil considers the distort sayings of the truth, restatement of the old, forgotten truth. Didactic directions in this period in Georgian orthography, its development, essence and engagement are clearly presented in our scientific literature. Therefore we don’t stop here for this. We only say that each writer expresses their beliefs in didactic elements in their writings in many different ways. This is the sphere, which is not ensuring from the straight line, dryness, rigorism. Among these masters of the words, who present us their beliefs with their highly literature, with very polite highly artic language, on the very first place there are Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani and David Guramishvili.

 “Stsavlani” (“Teachings”) by Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani is distinguished with the abundance of preaching written about moralistic issues, explaining what a Christian life is to be like. The real visible world is valuable for the author, as far as it is the expression of good will and wise ruling of God, and humans are the executors of this will. Although, the world is full of light-and-shade, good is followed by evil, love is followed by hate, and joy is followed by grief. Being between these two poles, human needs a guide, as he has no strength to resist the flooded evil alone. Church should undertake the role of such a guide to lead human’s spiritual life. Saba understands quite well that a confessor is facing a serious problem: how to draw attention of a human stuck in material life, tired out of difficulties and hard work. It is difficult to preach ethics to a person who goes to church only to perform his duty and is looking forward to the end of the Service. Success of confessor greatly depends on his eloquence and ability to interpret the Christian truth in an acceptable way to congregation.

 Saba feels necessity of esthetic forms of expression quite well, as first of all, he is a writer and then a confessor. Although, it is possible to say that he does not principally separate functions of writer and confessor from each other. The author of “Sibrdzne Sitsruisa” (“Wisdom of Fancy”) is a master of speech as well as a wise teacher, a fable-teller and a confessor. Even though the symbolism of “Sibrdzne Sitsruisa” (“Wisdom of Fancy”) differs from the symbolism of “Stsavlani” (“Teachings”), ideologically, they are almost identical.

 The basis of Saba’s moral conviction is medieval “principle of imitation,” according to which, in the hierarchy of heaven and the earth an inferior being should become like a superior one. This aspiration determines gradual rise of man toward God, his morale improvement and purification. Imitation of an inferior being causes fall and decay.  

 To illustrate the teaching, Saba’s symbolism is characterized with giving examples from divine history and real life, which make the idea more eminent. These examples are built on the basis of comparison and bare certain signs of esthetics. Saba shows the events picturesquely and symbolically, trying to connect divine and human realities to each other and on the basis of likeness, to make obvious there wholeness and integrity. Where the likeness descends, divine and human beginnings separate from each other. Why does human hate his enemy? Because he hurt him, did evil to him. But the same person has committed countless sins toward God, although God does not hate him and he does not take revenge upon him. A human - sinner and avenger and the merciful God, good and evil, a way to hell and a way to heaven – comparison built on this ground makes general postulate and commandment about forgiveness and grace more eminent and memorable for a listener.   

 A person shows love for the God in relations with the other person. Saba considers that Christian virtue means giving alms to beggars, paying heed to strangers and being hospitable, which is precisely an expression of love for God. Unfortunately, human regards with favour not to poor and needy, but to superior, well-off and light-hearted people. When a bagger comes to ask for a piece of bread, a person gets angry and scolds him. Saba considers that such a person has pity neither on bagger, nor on his sole, committing a great sin and putting his sole under threat of evil. Hostility toward our neighbor, the rather that toward poor and miserable people is, first of all, hostility toward ourselves. Saba calls bagger a guest sent by Christ to test our nobleness. Every bagger is “like Christ and a brother of Jesus.” A person should consider as a great joy coming his own neighbor at his door asking for something. Saba applies to symbolism again, comparing two baggers: one of them is a stomach of a person, permanently requiring for satiation and various food, giving a lot of evil to him instead. The other is a bagger at his door, asking for a little food and giving countless good instead. He is a salvation for a human, a brother of God. By giving alms and a little food to him, a person can achieve everlasting glory. In order to grant this glory to the human kind and to repair their fallen nature, God abased himself and became like a bagger. And a person will neither abase himself, nor even give alms to Godlike baggers.

 Thus, Saba’s moral faith is based on Christian Ethics. Human is a creature having free will who chooses the way of his own morale development. Human has the ability to self-reform. This is what distinguishes him from the inferior beings. There is not a sinner who has no right to regret. So, the perfection of a person totally depends on his wish to become perfect. From Saba’s point of view, basis of morale is love for God, which is a basis of humans’ love for one another as well.



Volume 3, Issue 2


Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature

Georgian Electronic Journal of Literature