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Besançon, Burgundy

Thursday, May 8, 1636


A knock at the door of his suite broke into Patriarch Kyril Lukaris's thoughts. One of his assistants hurried to the door, and a guard matched the priest stride for stride. The guard already on duty at the door edged into a position from which he would have the advantage of any intruder.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople sighed. Today had been another long day of discussions with the Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish theologians. Their statements had varied from brutally frank to being crafted with exquisite care. Most of the latter had been in the interest of precision, but Kyril had detected more than one verbal trap being laid. It was mentally exhausting . . . and given his title, faintly humorous if looked at from a certain perspective.

Once the day's session had ended, he had finally had a chance to sit down with Patriarch Joasaphus of the Russian Orthodox Church—and that meeting had not been all that different. Recently—meaning within the last two hundred years or so—Russians had been advocating that Moscow was the Third Rome. Kyril, of course, had obliquely reminded Joasaphus that Constantinople was one of the five patriarchates of the early Church, while Moscow . . . wasn't. On the other hand, both men agreed they wished for more information about the Orthodox Church in the world the up-timers came from. The summaries gleaned from their library were maddeningly incomplete.

As he waited impatiently his aide to announce the visitor, Kyril gazed around the main room of his suite in the Palais Granvelle in Besançon, Burgundy. If the proceedings were Byzantine, the furnishings certainly weren't. It was decidedly a mid-grade palace. The furniture and tapestries were tasteful but simple, although he had to admit the hunting scene held a certain rustic charm.

The murmur of voices died away, and the aide returned.

"Reverend Johann Gerhard requests a few moments of your time, Your All-Holiness."

Kyril's expression brightened. When he had studied at the universities of Venice, Padua, Wittenberg, and Geneva in his younger days, he had had any number of intense discussions with students from other denominations. But now, as patriarch, as today so aptly demonstrated, he had to watch every word carefully, anticipating how it might be twisted, lest he be accused of Calvinism even more frequently than he already was. But Johann Gerhard, widely acknowledged as the premier Lutheran theologian of his generation, was known for addressing each topic and disputant calmly and fairly.

"Show him in," Kyril directed.

"Greetings, Ecumenical Patriarch Kyril Lukaris, from me personally and, insofar as I may presume to speak for them, the Lutheran churches." Gerhard held a small sheaf of papers with both hands, removing any obligation for Kyril to shake hands in the up-time manner.

"I thank you, Herr Professor Doctor Gerhard," Kyril replied. He chose a form of address that did not comment on the difference between priest and pastor, nor on the thorny question of apostolic succession. Gerhard's slight smile told him the Lutheran understood. "My own greetings and those of the Orthodox Churches."

"Thank you. That is most kind," Gerhard replied. "Herr Gerhard will do, bitte. I am charged to thank you on another matter."

"Indeed?" Kyril could not remember doing anything that would warrant Gerhard's thanks . . . unless Gerhard was obliquely referring to the fact that he had indeed studied at Wittenberg, the university at which Martin Luther had taught.

"Thank you for your gift to King Charles of England of that New Testament manuscript from Alexandria. Some students in Grantville and at the University of Jena have been in correspondence with Charles' librarian Patrick Young, and he has confirmed that First Timothy 3:16 reads 'Confessedly great is the mystery of godliness: Christ was manifested in the flesh . . .' "

"Of course it does." Kyril wondered why Gerhard's students had to correspond with England. Surely Protestants had their own Bibles? But something nagged at the back of his mind.

Gerhard still had that slight smile. "All your manuscripts read this way, yes? But some others do not. They read, 'who was manifested in the flesh . . .' "

Kyril frowned. That made not a bit of difference. Oh, he could see what a Socinian might do with a manuscript defective in this spot. Automatically, he planned his defense. He would make the case for the Trinity from Athanasius himself, supplemented with arguments from the Cappadocians . . .

But Gerhard was speaking again. "I should add that the students initially came into conflict over this verse in First John: 'There are three witnesses in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one.' "

Kyril felt the blood rush to his face. "That is not in the Holy Scriptures!" he snapped. Then he remembered. "Erasmus added . . ." Oh. Gerhard already knows this. He offers the opposite situation, a manuscript whose defect was an addition rather than an absence. An effective teacher. Were a Socinian to press him here, Gerhard would appeal, probably to Augustine and perhaps to the Lutheran Book of Concord.

"Exactly," Gerhard agreed. "The students all wished to defend the doctrine of the Trinity and found that they must be able to rely on an accurate text of the Holy Scriptures. Some of them are not yet admitted to university and are not able to argue from patrology . . . my apologies, that is my own term for the study of the apostolic fathers."

Kyril nodded brusquely. An odd term, but it fit. But Latin school students, not yet in university?

"We have found," Gerhard continued, "that the up-timers had two chief schools of thought on which manuscripts were the most accurate." Kyril noted that Gerhard's summary of each was quick and precise. "Horst Felke, a Roman Catholic student at Grantville's high school, has emerged as the leading advocate of the Critical Text in our world, while the Anabaptist Katharina Meisnerin is the champion of the Majority Text."

"A woman?" Kyril blurted out.

"She and Felke and my student Johannes Musaeus wrote this analysis. The Jesuit Athanasius Kircher, the up-time Baptist Doctor Albert Green, and I reviewed it, but the students did the work. All of them, but Katharina in particular, request that you protect the biblical manuscripts at Mount Athos."

Kyril's initial spurt of indignation—a girl charging him, the patriarch, with his duty!—was washed out by alarm. How much do they know of Mount Athos? The peninsula in northern Greece was home to a couple dozen monasteries and monastic communities. Their history went back to the fourth century, and the balance between the monasteries did not need to be upset by outsiders!

Johann Gerhard extended the sheaf of papers to him. A few of the pages had a short length of some colored, transparent substance attached to them, each a different color.

"Appendix A lists where the manuscripts were in the up-time world. That is the red tab."

Kyril set the papers on the table and quickly found that the pages were ingeniously fastened together. He glanced them over. There appeared to be an explanation in Latin and in Greek, and then what he presumed was a list of manuscripts.

After a couple minutes spent familiarizing himself with the classification system, Kyril Lukaris flipped through the list. At length he looked up and tried to keep the concern out of his expression.

"My apologies, Herr Gerhard. I lost track of time. Even though I founded the Athoniada seminary there, it is possible that you know the contents of Mount Athos's libraries more thoroughly than I, at least when it comes to copies of the Holy Scriptures."

"It is possible that there are more than appear on the up-time lists," Gerhard told him. "Some may have been lost or discarded between now and the then the up-timers came from. There are even speculations that Mount Athos may not have made everything public."

"Indeed," Kyril Lukaris said gravely. He thought that a safe enough response. What he actually thought was, Of course not! But you have handed me power. Why? "What do you seek, Herr Professor Gerhard?"

"Someone ought to examine each manuscript," Gerhard told him, "and share the results with other scholars. I ask that you read our analysis and consider what might be done."

"I shall."

"That is all I can ask. Good evening, Your All-Holiness." Johann Gerhard made a slight bow and took his leave.



Saturday, May 10, 1636


Filippo Vitali sat on his bed, staring at the wall but not really seeing it. The assassination attempt on Pope Urban VIII had shaken him badly. He anticipated that he would not be able to sleep for hours yet. At least, that was what had happened the previous time he’d been in mortal danger, when he'd fled Rome just ahead of Borgia's men. A composer in the employ of Cardinal Francesco Barberini, he had not been important enough to target in the first wave. But his priestly office would certainly have offered no protection against Borgia, so he had run with only a handful of possessions. Filippo shook his head, crossed himself, and murmured a prayer for Francesco Barberini and the others murdered in Borgia’s coup.

Then they had tried again today after the pope's speech. Filippo had been privileged to be in attendance when Urban VIII had spoken so eloquently. He wondered what the guests—Orthodox, Protestant, and Jewish—thought of it. To see a pope apologize and then assassins try to kill him!

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