The main argument for choosing this theme lies in the fact that this particular aspect has not been analysed in depth, although several studies were dedicated to the life and theological contribution of Saint Symeon the New Theologian.
The conflict between St. Symeon and bishop Stephen of Nicomedia had not only a theological, but also a political background which has not been underlined until now.
A detailed analysis, which has been relied not only on the main source that describes the events (that is: the Life of St. Symeon written by his disciple Niketa Stethatos ), but also on the contributions of modern scholars and recent discoveries, has revealed the fact that many aspects of the conflict were not considered correctly.
Until now, it has been believed that St. Symeon the New Theologian and Stephen of Nicomedia had a conflict based simply on different ways of perceiving theology. St. Symeon considered that theology is only the fruit of the spiritual communion with Christ through the experience of the Holy Spirit, while Stephen of Nicomedia gave an important role to the cultural background of a theologian. However, the conflict did not appear solely on this ground. The ‘professional jealousy’ of Stephen of Nicomedia played an important part, but the central theme was the cult given by St. Symeon the New Theologian to his spiritual father, St. Symeon the Pious. Another important aspect on the conflict lies in the political and ecclesiastical activity that surrounded it and that was analysed by the most important of Symeon’s modern scholars only from the point of view of Symeon’s disciple, Niketas Stethatos.
The presentation of this theological and political event will bring forward fresh insights about the life of one of the most important Orthodox Church Fathers and it will also offer in an objective manner the true roots of his argument with Stephen of Nicomedia.