APOSTOLOS MAKRAKIS (1831-1905), was a Greek lay theologian, preacher, ethicist and philosopher. He was born in 1831 on Siphnos Island in the village of Katavati and died on December 25, 1905 in Athens. His bust is in the square bearing his name at the entrance of the village. He is buried in his family chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary’s Annunciation.
Having finished his elementary schooling in his birthplace, he went to Constantinople, where Tselepis Panagiotakis Kamesos, a native of Makri, who had served in Paris as ambassador of the Sublime Porte, gained his admission into the Great College of the Race of Xerokrene as a boarding student. At the end of his studies there, he took up the occupation of teacher. From 1853 to 1856 he acted a secretary to Agathangelos, the Metropolitan Bishop of Methymna, in Constantinople, and preached the divine word in that district. In 1856 he was hired as Dean in the lyceum of Spyridon Patmios in Constantinople, where for seven years he taught philosophy, mathematics, geometry, algebra, and Greek prose-writers Plato, and of poets Homer, Aeschylos, Sophocles, and Euripides, besides giving religions instruction.
In 1856 he wrote a treatise bearing the title A Revelation of Hidden Treasure, hinting that Christ and His words lay hidden like so much treasure. In 1860 he wrote and published a work entitled The City of Zion, or the Church Founded upon the Rock, i.e., Human Society in Christ. In this book he maintains that every man can get rid of evils and become happy only through Christ. This publication was followed by another inscribed A philosophical Solution to the Problem of Human Destiny. Subsequently to this he wrote a number of small pamphlets as follows: Shield of the Orthodox Church, The Papal Madness Explained, Senility: the Minutes and Voice of Our Lord Jesus Christ to the Entire Membership of the Orthodox Church, A Philosophical Discourse on the Subject of Christ as Truth Itself.
In 1862 Makrakis went to Paris as tutor and guardian of the three sons of Athan Adamides, a banker of Constantinople. There he remained for two years, studying modern philosophical systems from Descartes to Hegel in the French language. In 1863 in Paris he wrote three philosophical works: Le Refutation du Scepticism, le Criterion de La verite, et La veritee Elle-meme (Refutation of Skepticism, the Criterion of Truth, of Self-Truth); Le vrai Jesus Christ Opposose au Faux Imagine par Ernest Renan et Par Son Ecole Sceptique (The True Jesus Christ As Opposed to the False One Imagined by Ernest Renan and His Skeptical School); La Science du Dieu et de Moimeme, ou let Dieu Des Chretiens Demontre par Toutes Les Methodes de la Science, par la Methode Deductive, par la Methode Inductive, et par la Methode Psychologique (The Science of God and That of Myself; or The God of Christians, Demonstrated by All the Methods of Science, i.e., by the Deductive Method, by the Inductive Method, and by the Psychological Method).
Upon returning to Paris, he came to Athens, where he delivered three lectures at the University, taking as subject the Republic of Plato. When he went back to Constantinople, he wrote A Memoir Concerning the Nature of the Church of Christ and of Her Fundamental Law, wherein pseudo-Christian churches are denounced and so-called Orthodox Christians are urged to return to life according to Christ. At the expense of the Educational Brotherhood in Tataoula of Constantinople, in which he taught for one year, there were published in 1885 three speeches he made therein under the heading The Nationally Glorified Work, in which it is shown how the Greek nation can be glorified above all the nations on earth.
In May, 1866, he came to Athens, where for six whole months he discussed this topic in Concord Square delivering twenty speeches on the subject of The Work of the Fathers of 1821 and How it can Best and Quickest Be Brought to a Conclusion, which were published in the newspaper Justice and republished in book form in 1886. Given occasion by a threatening letter of the Free Masons, who had been incensed by his speeches, he wrote two books against Freemasonry: Freemasonry and Masonry Exposed by the Mason Certificate, to the Disgrace and Reproach of Those Who Have Become Masons and Have Renounced Their Own Heritage. The first was published in 1867, and the second in 1868. At the instigation of the Mason who had political influence at the time, he was twice arrested-and jailed the first time for twenty-four hours and the second for sixteen days-for allegedly insulting the King.
Makrakis in 1867 resigned from the editorial department of the newspaper Justice, and in May of 1868 brought out a paper of his own under the title of The Logos, a journal devoted to the religious, political, and philosophical principles of the God-equal Logos, and carrying His all-honorable and majestic name before nations as well as kings and sons of Israel. This newspaper was heartily recommended to the clergy throughout the state by the Holy Synod under the leadership of the Metropolitan Bishop Theophilos. On December 30, 1867, he was tried on Syros Island on the charge of having allegedly insulted King George I, but following a masterly plea in proof of his innocence he was roundly acquitted. On July 28, 1868, on the occasion of the birth of Constantine, the heir of the Greek throne, he delivered a speech in Constitution Square on the subject of The Future of the Newborn Heir to the Greek Throne, Constantine and the Fate of the Nation Bound Up with Him. On August 4th of the same year and in the same place he delivered two more speeches on the subject The Holy Baptism of Christ, in Accordance with Which the New Constantine of Greece is to Be Baptized. These speeches were followed by six others on the subject The Political Art of Saving and Being Saved Derived from Holy Baptism. In 1869 he issued a work entitled Refutation of an Ironclad Refutation in reply to Theocletos Bimpos, professor of theology in the University. In the same year Makrakis went to Constantinople and besought the then Ecumenical Patriarch Gregory for support in an edition of the sacred writings of the fathers of the Church, and succeeded in getting such for the issue of four volumes of St. John Chrysostomos.
In 1870 he was called to Syros by the Archbishop Alexander Lycourgos to teach his flock. Subsequently to his teaching in Syros, he taught in Siphnos, Kimolos, and Adamas in the island of Melos. He discontinued publication of the Logos on March 20, 1871, owing to an infection in his left foot. In 1873 he brought to light his writing inscribed Apology of A. Makrakis Concerning His Feelings, Views, and Acts and particularly refuted all that had been advanced against him by Prof. K. Nestorides and especially what he had written against his view of the soul. Therein he maintains that his view concerning the nature of the soul and man’s three constituents (body, soul, and spirit) is in accordance with the Holy Scriptures, of which he cites many passages in proof. On September 13, 1874, his left foot was amputated, gangrene having set in as a result of a wound of long standing. Although suffering terribly, he taught from his bedside his disciples assembled round it he first part of his philosophical system, Psychology, as well as the Interpretation of the Gospel According to St. John.
In 1875 he became a candidate for deputy from his birthplace, Siphnos, but failed to get elected. Returning to Athens, in October of the same year he opened a philosophical college, in which he taught his philosophical system and interpreted Holy Scripture. In 1876 he published the first volume of his philosophical system, entitled Philosophy and the Philosophical Sciences, and containing An Introduction to Philosophy, Psychology, and Logic. After the publication of this work, he proceeded to Patras, where he delivered thirty speeches.
On returning to Athens July 15, 1876, in September of that year he definitely established the “New Philosophical and Educational College of the Logos.” Therein were taught philosophical and educational subjects. During the same year he also published the first part of the educational system Grammatomatheia. This system undertook to form the child after the image and likeness of God. So long as Makrakis combated only Freemasonry and neither said nor wrote anything against the high priests, he was recommended by the latter as the Saviour of Orthodoxy, but when he proved certain priests to be guilty of the crime of simony and demanded their dismissal in accordance with the sacred regulations of the Church, war began to be waged upon him as a heretic teaching that man consists of body, soul, and spirit. Makarios, Bishop of Karystia, published excommunications and anathemas in opposition to this belief. The whole answer to the Bishop of Karystia was published in the Logos, which had been silent for six years owing to the malady of Makrakis’ foot.
In 1877 he founded the society known as “John the Baptist,” the object of which is to form man after the image and likeness of God. Meanwhile he continued teaching in the College of the Logos, to which students in large numbers resorted daily for evening lessons, eager to listen to the learned educator, including persons of all classes, such as clergymen, tradesmen, artisans, students, etc. In 1878 he issued the second volume of his education system Leximatheia. In the work of reforming souls he had the co-operation of Fr. Eusebios Matthopoulos, a monk who served as pastor of the chapel of the college, Elias Vlachopoulos, a preacher and Hierotheos Metropoulos, later Archbishop of Patras, together with Soterios Philaretos, devoted heart and soul to the service of the “Logos” as professor and writer, D. Georgiou, D. Lagoulis, B. Kaminaris, S. Krokidas, G. Constantinides, and Th. Ioannides, all teachers in the college, and some others. The College of the Logos, having operated for a decade, bore admirable fruit and won the undivided esteem of the public.
But on December 18th of the year 1878 the Holy Synod, then sitting under the Metropolitan Bishop Procopios and denounced by Makrakis as not observing the ecclesiastical regulations, and certain professors of theology in the university succeeded in obtaining from the then government of Koumoundouros a decree dissolving the College on the pretest that it taught doctrines opposed to the tenets of Church, viz., that man is composed of body, soul, and spirit and that Christ attained perfection in the Jordan. The Holy Synod likewise addressed to the whole body of Christians in Greece an encyclical read in the churches and charging Makrakis with attempting to introduce innovations. On January 8, 1879, his trial was held, and without his presence he was condemned by default to three months’ imprisonment. On February 6, 1879, the Holy Synod issued a decree condemning the clergy of the College to confinement for five to ten years in various monasteries and refrainment from all sacramental acts.
After the dissolution of the College and the banishment of the clergy, Makrakis declared himself the leader of the political opposition party in Greece and on March 15, 1879, he founded a panhellenic political society called “Constantine the Great,” the object of which was to pursue the kingdom of God on earth and His justice and the abolition of the kingdom of Mohammed by regaining Constantinople and enthroning therein a Greek king. On June 13, 1879, the term of two months’ imprisonment for resistance and insolence to the authorities having expired, he was released from jail and issued a proclamation to the Greek people in which he declared that he would continue his fight for the truth with increased courage. But on July 9, 1879, he was again held for insulting the Holy Synod in the press. During September of 1879 while being held in jail he became a candidate for deputy from Attica, but was defeated. After remaining in jail from July 1, 1879, to the end of November of the same year, he was brought to the Criminal Court of Amphissa to undergo trial on the charge of having insulted the Metropolitan Bishop Procopios in the Logos, and was acquitted. But in the second trial held in Amphissa on November 26, 1879, for insulting the Holy Synod, he was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment.
From the jail of Amphissa he wrote two letters to all his brethren in Christ and comrades, urging them to be of good cheer and to feel glad, because he was suffering in behalf of truth and justice. The persecution of the educator excited many citizens to indignation in many cities of Greece, who submitted a petition to the Chamber of Deputies bearing 4530 signatures. On April 17, 1880, Makrakis submitted a memoir to the then Minister of Justice Athanasios Potmezas from the jail of Amphissa with the hope of obtaining his release from prison. In the meantime, however, he was accused of having insulted King George I through the newspaper Kerygma, and this charge was laid against him before he had finished serving his sentence in jail of Amphissa. But as a result of his memoir he was absolved of the above accusation by decree of the court of appeals in Athens.
After his release from jail he spoke in Amphissa in the Monastery of St. Luke, as also in Levadeia and Thebes. Beginning with October 6, 1880, he resumed instruction in the College of the Logos after two years interruption, teaching on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday philosophical ethics, and on every Tuesday and Thursday the Interpretation of the Revelation of St. John the Divine. This teaching was broken off on the 10th of February, 1 881, when he was summoned by the public prosecutor to appear before the court of misdemeanors in Athens to be tried as a subverter of religion, heretic, and insulter of God. This trial lasted one month and a week. Makrakis offered an objection based on the claim that the indictment was null and void, whereby he obtained a postponement of the trial for the 3rd of March, 1881. On the 17th of March 1881, he was found guilty of the charge brought against him and was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and confiscation of all property belonging to the Society and to the College. After being sentenced, Makrakis was taken to prison at Kokla, and the furniture, books, paper, and stamps in the College were placed under seal. The next day the police returned and sealed also the church, and took some of the clergymen away to be banished and others to be imprisoned. The above decision of the Court of Misdemeanors was contested by appeal to the Supreme Court. The case was tried on June 13, 1881, and the highest court, having considered the plea of Makrakis for a revocation, ordered his release from prison, which was effected the same day, and the case was transferred to the court of misdemeanors of Nauplia to be retried. None, however, of his accusers ever appeared against him again as long as he lived.
After his release from prison he addressed a proclamation to the people of Athens Concerning the Sacred and Inviolable Character of the Personal Liberty of Citizens, and invited them to come to University Square and hear the ideas of Plato expounded by him as respecting the state and its laws. After leaving prison, Makrakis resumed his instruction in the College, beginning with September of 1881 and Interpreting the Revelation of St. John the Divine. This interpretation, consisting of 660 pages, came off the press at the end of the same year. During the same year there came to light the Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, which had been written before his prosecution. About the beginning of December, 1881, he became a second time candidate for election to Parliament, but was again defeated. After completing the Interpretation of the Book of Revelation, he interpreted also the Psalms of David.
In 1882 Chrysanthos Makris, later Archimandrite, wrote a book against the tenet of Markrakis relative to the tricomposite nature of man, entitled The Bicomposite Nature of Man Proved by Reference to the Great Fathers of the Church. This was refuted by Makrakis in a series of articles in the Logos, which were reprinted in a separate book of 302 pages under the title The Tricomposite Nature of Man Verified also by Reference to the Great Fathers of the Church, and the Bestial Bicomposite Nature of the Synod Lapsed from Orthodoxy Refuted Together with All the Paralogisms and Blasphemous Sophistries of Chrysanthos Makris.
During that year he also issued the third part of the educational system, Logomatheia. In 1883 he published the second volume of his philosophical system, containing Philosophical Ethics. In 1884 he founded the martyr society of “John the Divine,” the object of which is that its members should follow in the footsteps of Christ. In 1885 he had printed in book form under the title Divine and Sacred Catechism the catechism which he had taught in the College during the previous year just as it had been taught by the Holy Spirit and His official instruments from the day of Pentecost down to the end of the Seven Ecumenical Synods, elucidated in comparison with the anti-catechism of the Devil.
In April of 1885 he visited the Nyssion of Messenia and delivered seventeen sermons then Kalamata, where he delivered twenty sermons. ON May 26, 18885, while he was speaking under the columns of Olympian Zeus On Freedom of Speech, a ruffian tried to assassinate him, but was detected by the audience in time to be seized and turned over to the authorities. During the following years, 1886, Makrakis published the third volume of his philosophical system, containing Theology. He also published in book form the political speeches made during 1866 in Concord Square, twenty in all, having as subject The Work of 1821 and How It Can Best and Quickest be Brought to a Finish.
From July 17th to September 27th the same year he toured Cephalonia, Corfu, Leucas, and Patras. Besides his daily teaching in the College, he spoke seven times in the University Square On the Beatitudes. The following year, 1887, he published the first volume containing the first fifty interpretations of the Psalms of David. During the same year he spoke twenty times in Piraeus on various topics. After his speeches in Piraeus he went to Sparta, where he delivered 14 speeches. Thence he proceeded to Mistra and St. John, and thence, by way of Sparta, to Gytheion, where he spoke for a week. He later went and taught at Philiatra, Kyprarissia, and Pyrgos. Thence, upon invitation of the inhabitants of Leucas, he went to the island of the Ionian Sea, and from there to Ithaca, Naupactos, Aegion, and Corinth. After a three months’ tour of the Peloponnesus, he returned to Athens to resume in October the giving of the evening lessons in philosophy and theology, and published also the second volume of the Interpretation of the Psalms of David.
In May, 1888, accompanied by his nephew J. Kaminaris, he left for Constantinople to teach and to submit a memoir to the Ecumenical Patriarch Dionysios the Fifth Concerning the Extirpation and Avoidance of an Anti-dogmatic Error Polluting the Orthodoxy of Our Orthodox Eastern Church of Christ, and revocation of the decree issued against hi8m by the Synod of the Church of Greece in 1879 on the charge of heresy. Thence he went to Odessa and sent the same memoir to the Holy Synods of the Churches of Russia, Roumania, and Serbia.
After an absence of four months he returned to Athens, resumed his teaching in College, and issued the third volume of the Psalms of David. During the year 1888 he issued an Interpretation of the Nine Odes of the Church. In May, 1889, by invitation, he went with his disciple D. Georgiou to Samos, in the towns of which he taught for three months. Returning in August to Athens, he departed for Tripolis, where he taught a number of times, and thence to Argos. From Argos he went to Nauplion and thence to Galaxeidion, where he made eight speeches. In the year 1890 he published the fourth volume of his philosophical system, entitled Philosophy, and thus completed publication of the system. During that year he toured forty-five days through Lechaina, Andravida, Pyrgos, Amphissa, Itea, Galaxeidion, making thirty-nine speeches. In the year 1891 he began issuing in pamphlet form the Interpretation of the Entire New Testament.
In the summer of 1891 Makrakis visited Chalkis, Korocherion, Volos, Larissa, Trikkala, Karditsa, Stylis, and Lamia, where for two months and fifteen days he addressed many speeches to the people. During that year he issued the Memoir Concerning the Nature of the Church of Christ. The following year, in 1892, in January he went by invitation to Gargalianoi, where he made three speeches. Thence he went to Ligoudista, where he delivered many speeches; he then returned to Gargalianoi and again spoke, and thence went to Zakynthos, where he taught in the Poet’s Place for eleven days. On July 18, 1892, departing from Zakynthos he came to Mosolonghi, where he delivered eight speeches. From Mosolonghi he went to Agrinion, Aitoliken, the sacred monastery of Prousos, Karpenesion, where he spoke many times. During the summer of 1893 he went to the cities of Zalongos, Koutos, and Dorvenion in Corninthia, Pyrgos, Patras, Zakynthos, Korone, Gytheion, and returned in October of the year to continue giving lessons in philosophy and theology from the chair of the College and sermons from the pulpit of the chapel.
During the summer of 1894 he made his tenth and last tour, visiting Thebes, St. Theodore, Levadeia, Atalante, Chalkis, Kyme, Aliverion, Kariston, Gaurion on the islands of Andros, Syros, and his birthplace, Siphnos. In October of the same year returning to Athens he taught in the College as usual philosophy and interpretation of the Scriptures daily. In the ensuing election of deputies, he became a candidate, and although losing, he received 7, 000 votes. During the summer of 1895 to 1896 he went to Siphnos from rest and study. In 1898 he brought to completion the Interpretation of the New Testament. In 1899 he denounced through the Logos the Freemasonry in Greece and issued a pamphlet entitled Freemasonry in Greece in Defination and in Comparison with Orthodox Christianity in Greece.
In 1901 he founded the political association “Plato,” the purpose of which was to bring to light the sound Christian form of government for the country. The first seven political lectures were published in a separate pamphlet entitled The First Fruit of the Political Association “Plato” in Athens. In 1902 he began teaching the work which he had written in Siphnos under the title History of Human Happiness and Unhappiness, for Attainment of the Former and Avoidance of the Latter by Every Person Who Desire to Be Happy and Not to be Unhappy. In November of 1902 he became for the last time candidate for the Chamber of Deputies, making political speeches in the public squares of Athens, such as those of Metropolis and Kolonaki, but was defeated, having received six thousand votes. In the same year were published the first installment of the History of Human Happiness and Unhappiness. And the Interpretation of the Song of Songs from notes taken during the educator’s lectures by Themist Levadeas.
In 1904 he issued in pamphlet form his Three Sermons on Good Friday. In 1905 he published his Interpretation of God’s Creation of the World in Six Days and of the two following chapters of Genesis under the title The Bible and the World; or God’s Great Book Studied by the Light of His Small One. In the year 1905 he also published in the League a series of articles under the heading A New and Excellent Product of Modern Greece: Triluminous Science Taking a Look at the Universe and Explaining all Things.
During that year he entered upon the Interpretation of the Revelation of St. John the Divine. Shortly thereafter he died, on the 24th day of December, 1905. After his death the spiritual work of his College was carried on by his disciples S. D. Philaretos and D. Georgiou and through a new journal, the Voice of the Logos, and the co-operation of Messrs. P. Ghimis, C. Papaelious, Evang. Carusos, C. Moralis, G. Androulidakis, G. Fameliaris, Them. Levadeas, C. Papamichael, D. Lagoulis, D. Basilopoulos, and the present manager of the Voice of the Logos, Menas Charitos. In the year 1909 his remains were disinterred and removed to his birthplace, Siphnos, and taken to the Church of the Annunciation in Katabato, in the graveyard of which they were buried with a marble tombstone bearing his short inscription: Here lie Brought from Athens the Bones of a Man of Godly Wisdom Apostolos Makrakis Who Taught and Wrote a Great Many Wise Things and in Whose Glory Siphnos Rejoiceth.
[Apostolos Makrakis: An Evaluation of a Half Century. Orthodox Christian Educational Society, p. 13-21]