Fr. Dr. V. C. Samuel: A Theologian of Oriental Orthodoxy

Written By: on Jul 5th, 2009 and filed under Articles.

Fr. Dr. V.C. Samuel is the most eminent historian in the Malankara (Indian) Orthodox Church. He acquired knowledge in Syriac language and theology at a younger age and became a Malpan (Teacher of Syriac and ecclesiastical studies) in the Church. As a priest in the Indian Orthodox Church he actively represented the Church in various theological commissions and ecumenical forums which includes the Joint commission for theological dialogue between Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches in Aurhus, Bristol, Geneva, Addis Abeba, the Faith and Order commission of WCC, the great council of the Oriental Orthodox Churches held in 1965 in Addis Abeba under the initiative of Emperor Haile Selassie and Pro Oriente, Vienna. An elegant teacher and the “guru” of many bishops and priests in the Indian Orthodox and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches, he taught and served as a dean at the Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam, India and Holy Trinity Theological Seminary, Addis Abeba. He also served on the staff of the Serampore College, India and the Union Theological Seminary, India and Christian Institute of Religion and Society, India.

He learned Syriac and Anthiocian Syrian Orthodox ecclesiastics at the Monastery of St. Stephen’s, Manjinikkara, India. He started teaching Syriac and theology there at the age of 24 along with Ramban Abdul Ahad (later H.H. Ignatius Yakub 111, the Patriarch of Anthioc). He secured the S.T.M degree in 1954 from the Divinity school of Yale University, New Haven and Ph.D from Yale University in 1957, both with great distinction. His field of study was Christology and the history of the council of Chalcedon.

As a submission to the persuasion of the love from both the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Haile Selassie University, he went to Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church appreciated his role as a theologian of Oriental Orthodoxy and expressed its recognition and confidence in him by appointing him as the Dean of the College of Theology, Addis Abeba in 1976.

He wrote many articles and books on Indian Church history, history of the council of Chalcedon and Christology. Perhaps his greatest contributions were on the history of the council of Chalcedon and the history of Indian Orthodox Church. His book “The Council of Chalcedon re-examined” was denied publication in the West and was published in India. In writing this book he relied on the original minutes of the council available in Greek and Syriac.

Fr. V.C. Samuel passed away in Bangalore, India on 18th November 1998. He was aged 86. The funeral at the cathedral of St. Gregorios in Bangalore was officiated by H.G. Philipose Mar Eusebius (Thumpamon) and H.G. Mathews Mar Severios (Kandanad) in the presence of chor-episcopas, priests and faithful.

Following are some of the works of Fr. Dr. V.C. Samuel


1. The Council of Chalcedon (Malayalam), Church Weekly

2. A Brief Historical Survey of the Council of Chalcedon, Indian Journal of Theology.

3. Christ and Creation, Religion and Society, CIRS, Bangalore.

4. One Incarnate Nature of God the Word, Greek Orthodox Theological Review

5. Does Chalcedon divide or Unite?

6. Proceedings of the Council of Chalcedon, The Ecumenical Review, October 1970. Abba Salama, Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, 1970.

7. Humanity of Christ in the Syrian Tradition, Greek Orthodox Theological Review, 1967

8. Euthycus and his condemnation, Bangalore Theological Forum, United Theological College, 1967

9. A brief history of efforts to reunite the Chalcedon and non-Chalcedon Sides, a paper presented to the Addis Ababa meeting of
joint commission and published in Greek Orthodox Theological Review, 1971

10. The Understanding of the Christological Definition of both Oriental Orthodox and Romans Catholic Traditions in the light of Post-Chalcedonian Theology: An Analysis of Terminologies. Pro Oriente Vienna, 1973

11. The Christology of Severus of Antioch, Abba Salama, Addis Abeba, 1973

12. Further Studies in the Christology of Severus of Antioch, ed. by Metropolitan Methodios of Axum, 1976

13. Christology and Terminology, International Syriac Conference, Kottayam, 1987 SEERI, Kottayam.

14. The witness of Orthodoxy, St. Thomas 19th centenary souvenir, Orthodox Theological Seminary, Kottayam, 1972

15. The Christian goal in life (Malayalam), Church weekly January 1951

16. Homoousious, Church weekly, Malayalam, April 1995

17. The Faith of the Church, a chapter in a volume on The Church of Ethiopia: A Panorama of History and Spiritual Life, Addis Abeba, 1970

18. The Faith once delivered to Saints (Malayalam), Church Weekly, October 1950.

19. The Mission implications of Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, International review of Mission, Geneva, 1983

20. An Oriental Orthodox assessment of the First Vatican council’s infallibility Doctrine, Pro Oriente, Vienna, 1978

21. The goal of life implied in religious faith, Church Weekly, 1983

22. Cosmas on the Church of Malabar, Church Weekly, 18 Dec. 1955.

23. Malankara Sabhayaude Antiochian Bandham (Malayalam), 20 th Century Malankara Church, Kottayam, 1977.

24. Severus of Anthioc, Church Weekly, Dec 1972.

25. Four important works of Severus, Church weekly Dec 1972.

26. Severus’ refutation of Julian, Church Weekly, dec 1972.

27. The See of Anthioc and some of its jurisdictional claims (part 1, 2, 3, ..10), Church Weekly, May, June 1976.

28. Arabic Canons, Divyabodhanam Souvenir, OTS, Kottayam, 1986.

29. On Cannon Laws, (part 1, 2,3 … 11), Church Weekly, Aug-Oct, 1958.

30. Tradition, Community and Hermeneutics, Indian Journal of Theology, July-December, 1982.

31. The Syriac Bible, Church Weekly, 27 May 1983.

32. Some thoughts on the Nineveh, or the Three-day fast, Deepthi. The orthodox Seminary Magazine, 1986.


1. An Orthodox Catechism on the Faith and Life of the Church, MGOCSM, Kottayam, 1983

2. The Council of Chalcedon re-examined, Indian Theological Library no.8, CLS, Madras, India.

3. Yeshu Christu Aru? (Who is Jesus Christ?), CLS, Thiruvalla, India

4. The Anthiochene connection of the Malankara Church (Malayalam), Orthodox Theological Seminary(OTS), Kottayam, 1982

5. The Church Grows, Divya Bodhanam Series No:2, OTS, Kottayam, 1984

6. Truth Triumphs: Life and Achievements of Metropolitan Mar Dionysius VI, MOC Publications, Kottayam, 1986.

7. Modern Indian Church, Divyabodhanam Series, OTS, Kottayam, 1987.

8. Is this an Indian Church? CLS, Thiruvalla, India 1975

9. Swanubhava Vediyil (Autobiographical Sketches), MGOCSM, Kottayam, 1996.

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2 Responses for “Fr. Dr. V. C. Samuel: A Theologian of Oriental Orthodoxy”

  1. How can I obtain his books?????

  2. Emad Maurice says:

    I have read the book of The council of Chalcedon-re examined. and I want to read all the writings of Father V. C. Samuel. From where can I get them? Please help

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