October 25, 2008
The following letter is in response to the theories put forward by Mr. Risto Stefov, who disseminates his own ignorance as a matter of historical fact. First, with regard to his absurd allegations about the lack of Greek spoken during the period of the Greek War of Independence, Mr. Stefov should refer to the work entitled “The Great Church in Captivity” by the late acclaimed scholar Sir Steven Runciman whose research leaves no doubt as to the fact that the Greek language and Greek culture have always existed. The point of his book is not only to showcase the survival of the Greek Orthodox Church under the Ottoman Empire, but to demonstrate the extent to which Hellenic consciousness never ceased to exist even during the centuries when Greek independence was nonexistant.
Mr. Stefov proceeds with his anti-Greek prejudice by seeming to deny that Greek was the language of the New Testament. As is well known by serious Biblical scholars, the New Testament was written in what is referred to as “Koine Greek”. Therefore, the Greek language has long been in continuous use from the classical period and was the language of Alexander the Great. Mr. Stefov should refer to the work of the acclaimed New Testament scholar Raymond Brown in his book, “An introduction to the New Testament” which very clearly shows not only that the Greek language is the language of the Christian scriptures, but that Macedonia where Saint Paul preached Christianity was unquestionably Greek.
Mr. Stefov proceeds to attempt to define Greek civilization by containing it to the regions that were liberated from the Ottomans in 1821. In actual fact, Greeks lived and spoke their language in lands far outside the borders of present day Greece owing to the spread of Hellenic civilization by Alexander the Great and more closely in what was once Constantinople and Asia Minor in present day Turkey. Mr. Stefov should refer to the work of Professor Apostolos Vacalopoulos who has traced the history of Greek national consciousness and traditions in his book “Origin of the Greek nation”. During the Byzantine era, when Constantinople was the capital of the Greek speaking world, Universities successfully preserved historical documents and manuscripts emanating from the classical past. (See the works “Scholars of Byzantium” by N.G Wilson and “Christianity and Classical Culture” by Jaroslav Pelikan.
Much of what is known about the Classical Greek past is known because Greek scholars who fled Constantinople in the years preceding the conquest brought with them to the West ancient manuscripts and other historical writings. Mr. Stefov claims he does not trust Greece’s statistics, that is hardly an indictment of Greece coming from an individual aligned with a movement based on the falsification of the history of ancient Macedonia despite the overwhelming evidence of ancient Greek writings and inscriptions in the region, archeological evidence, and the fundamental fact that Slavs did not arrive in the Balkans until the sixth century.
Finally, pertaining to the Turkish ethnic cleansing and genocide of Greeks which resulted in the uprooting of Greeks from their ancestral lands in Asia Minor, Mr. Stefan attempts to deny the Hellenism of these Greek populations by asserting that the so called “exchanges” with the Turkish Kemalists were purely religious. Mr. Stefov should go back and find the Churches and Monasteries of Constantinople, Pontos, and Cappadocia and he will find the Greek writings on Church frescoes. During the years of the Ottoman Turkish captivity, there were numerous Greek folk songs, poems, and writings which survive to this day which affirm the continuous survival of the Greek language and Greek consciousness. Mr. Stefov should ask the descendents of the Asia Minor Greeks what their ancestry was before making bogus claims on the basis of his historically and intellectually bankrupt separatist political agenda.
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