OrthodoxChristianity.net
December 27, 2014, 04:03:03 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News: Reminder: No political discussions in the public fora.  If you do not have access to the private Politics Forum, please send a PM to Fr. George.
 
   Home   Help Calendar Contact Treasury Tags Login Register  
Pages: 1   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Palamism as Orthodox "development of doctrine"?  (Read 5484 times) Average Rating: 0
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Anastasios
Webdespota
Administrator
Merarches
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Greek Old Calendarist
Posts: 10,487


Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina

anastasios0513
WWW
« on: May 16, 2003, 09:34:33 AM »

Friends,

Orthodox often accuse RC's of teaching doctrinal development, and claim the Orthodox Church does not do so.  I wonder how one would explain St. Gregory Palamas's theology, then, when he clearly developed the thinking of St. Gregory of Cyprus, who clearly developed the thinking of St. Basil, etc.

Is there a difference?

In Christ,

anastasios
Logged

Please Buy My Book!

Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching. Also, I served as an Orthodox priest from 2008-2013, before resigning.
Linus7
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 2,780



« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2003, 10:26:14 PM »

I feel unequal to the task of posting an answer here, but I will try anyway, subject to correction by those who know or understand better.

It seems to me that St. Gregory's "theology" is one of mystical experience firmly rooted in the deposit of faith. It involves no innovations, but rather explains what I think Orthodox monastics had always known and had left unexpressed.

My impression of the RC notion of doctrinal development, however, is that it is the product of rational thought, inference, and logic. I am not knocking those things; there is a place for them. I once read a comment by an RC author that "it is impossible to stop people from making true inferences from true doctrines" (I think it might have been Frank Sheed). I cannot really find fault with that statement.

Nevertheless, what St. Gregory had to say is a universe away from logical inference.

It is life lived as a prayer.
« Last Edit: May 17, 2003, 10:26:43 PM by Linus7 » Logged

The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers.
- Pope St. Hormisdas
Anastasios
Webdespota
Administrator
Merarches
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Greek Old Calendarist
Posts: 10,487


Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina

anastasios0513
WWW
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2003, 11:13:38 PM »

Right but RC's say that everything they teach was present from the beginning in some form, only it was uncovered by the Holy Spirit, so hence I am looking for a distinction.  I personally think that RC's and Orthodox teach the same thing about doctrine (that it becomes clearer over time) it's just that RC's "clarified" it in a way that Orthodox find unacceptable.  Hence we shouldn't try and say "see how we don't believe in development of doctrine like you Latins" but should instead say "papal infallibility et al is an invalid development of doctrine."

anastasios
Logged

Please Buy My Book!

Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching. Also, I served as an Orthodox priest from 2008-2013, before resigning.
Hypo-Ortho
Guest
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2003, 11:32:54 PM »

Right but RC's say that everything they teach was present from the beginning in some form, only it was uncovered by the Holy Spirit, so hence I am looking for a distinction.  I personally think that RC's and Orthodox teach the same thing about doctrine (that it becomes clearer over time) it's just that RC's "clarified" it in a way that Orthodox find unacceptable.  Hence we shouldn't try and say "see how we don't believe in development of doctrine like you Latins" but should instead say "papal infallibility et al is an invalid development of doctrine."

anastasios

Or a development of doctrine without patristic/ecumenical consensus, perhaps?  Such as the unilateral Latin interspersion of the Filioque into the Ecumenical Symbol of Faith, the Nicean-Constantinopolitan Creed.

Hypo-Ortho
Logged
Anastasios
Webdespota
Administrator
Merarches
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Greek Old Calendarist
Posts: 10,487


Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina

anastasios0513
WWW
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2003, 03:06:31 PM »

I'll look at what the Catholic Catechism says on the subject and get back to you.

In Christ,

anastasios
Logged

Please Buy My Book!

Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching. Also, I served as an Orthodox priest from 2008-2013, before resigning.
Anastasios
Webdespota
Administrator
Merarches
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Greek Old Calendarist
Posts: 10,487


Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina

anastasios0513
WWW
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2003, 03:16:17 PM »

OK here is some stuff from the online version, located at http://www.ziplink.net/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/kerygma/a.pl

65. "'In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.'[Heb 1:1-2 .] Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father's one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In him he has said everything; there will be no other word than this one. St. John of the Cross, among others, commented strikingly on Hebrews 1:1-2:
In giving us his Son, his only Word (for he possesses no other), he spoke everything to us at once in this sole Word - and he has no more to say. . . because what he spoke before to the prophets in parts, he has now spoken all at once by giving us the All Who is His Son. Any person questioning God or desiring some vision or revelation would be guilty not only of foolish behaviour but also of offending him, by not fixing his eyes entirely upon Christ and by living with the desire for some other novelty.[St. John of the Cross, The Ascent of Mount Carmel 2, 22, 3-5 in The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross, tr. K. Kavanaugh OCD and O. Rodriguez OCD (Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 179-180: LH, Advent, week 2, Monday, OR.]"

66. "'The Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.'[DV 4; cf. 1 Tim 6:14 ; Titus 2:13 .] Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp its full significance over the course of the centuries."

 
67. "Throughout the ages, there have been so-called 'private' revelations, some of which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ's definitive Revelation, but to help live more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.
Christian faith cannot accept 'revelations' that claim to surpass or correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfilment, as is the case in certain nonChristian religions and also in certain recent sects which base themselves on such 'revelations'."

 
68. "By love, God has revealed himself and given himself to man. He has thus provided the definitive, superabundant answer to the questions that man asks himself about the meaning and purpose of his life. "

 
69. "God has revealed himself to man by gradually communicating his own mystery in deeds and in words. "

 
70. "Beyond the witness to himself that God gives in created things, he manifested himself to our first parents, spoke to them and, after the fall, promised them salvation [cf. Gen 3:15 .] and offered them his covenant."

 
71. "God made an everlasting covenant with Noah and with all living beings [cf. Gen 9:16 .]. It will remain in force as long as the world lasts."

 
72. "God chose Abraham and made a covenant with him and his descendants. By the covenant God formed his people and revealed his law to them through Moses. Through the prophets, he prepared them to accept the salvation destined for all humanity. "

 
73. "God has revealed himself fully by sending his own Son, in whom he has established his covenant for ever. The Son is his Father's definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him. "

 
74. "God 'desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth':[1 Tim 2:4 .] that is, of Christ Jesus.[cf. Jn 14:6 .] Christ must be proclaimed to all nations and individuals, so that this revelation may reach to the ends of the earth:
God graciously arranged that the things he had once revealed for the salvation of all peoples should remain in their entirety, throughout the ages, and be transmitted to all generations.[DV 7; cf. 2 Cor 1:20 ; 2 Cor 3:16 - 4:6 .]"

75. "'Christ the Lord, in whom the entire Revelation of the most high God is summed up, commanded the apostles to preach the Gospel, which had been promised beforehand by the prophets, and which he fulfilled in his own person and promulgated with his own lips. In preaching the Gospel, they were to communicate the gifts of God to all men. This Gospel was to be the source of all saving truth and moral discipline.'[DV 7; cf. Mt 28:19-20 ; Mk 16:15 .]"

76. "In keeping with the Lord's command, the Gospel was handed on in two ways:
- orally 'by the apostles who handed on, by the spoken word of their preaching, by the example they gave, by the institutions they established, what they themselves had received - whether from the lips of Christ, from his way of life and his works, or whether they had learned it at the prompting of the Holy Spirit';[DV 7.]
- in writing 'by those apostles and other men associated with the apostles who, under the inspiration of the same Holy Spirit, committed the message of salvation to writing'.[DV 7.]"

77. "'In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority.'[DV 7 # 2; St. Irenaeus, Adv. haeres. 3, 3, 1: PG 7/1, 848; Harvey, 2, 9.] Indeed, 'the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time.'[DV 8 # 1.]"

78. "This living transmission, accomplished in the Holy Spirit, is called Tradition, since it is distinct from Sacred Scripture, though closely connected to it. Through Tradition, 'the Church, in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes.'[DV 8 # 1.] 'The sayings of the holy Fathers are a witness to the life-giving presence of this Tradition, showing how its riches are poured out in the practice and life of the Church, in her belief and her prayer.'[DV 8 # 3.]"

79. "The Father's self-communication made through his Word in the Holy Spirit, remains present and active in the Church: 'God, who spoke in the past, continues to converse with the Spouse of his beloved Son. And the Holy Spirit, through whom the living voice of the Gospel rings out in the Church - and through her in the world - leads believers to the full truth, and makes the Word of Christ dwell in them in all its richness.'[DV 8 # 3; cf. Col 3:16 .]"

80. "'Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal.'[DV 9.] Each of them makes present and fruitful in the Church the mystery of Christ, who promised to remain with his own 'always, to the close of the age'.[Mt 28:20 .]"

81. "'Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.'[DV 9.]
'And (Holy) Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. It transmits it to the successors of the apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching.'[DV 9.]"

82. "As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation is entrusted, 'does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.'[DV 9.]"

83. "The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus' teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition.
Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium.
The heritage of faith entrusted to the whole of the Church."

84. "The apostles entrusted the 'Sacred deposit' of the faith (the depositum fidei),[DV 10 # 1; cf. 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 1:12-14 (Vulg).] contained in Sacred Scripture and Tradition, to the whole of the Church. 'By adhering to (this heritage) the entire holy people, united to its pastors, remains always faithful to the teaching of the apostles, to the brotherhood, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. So, in maintaining, practising and professing the faith that has been handed on, there should be a remarkable harmony between the bishops and the faithful.'[DV 10 # 1; cf. Acts 2:42 (Greek); Pius XII, Apost. Const. Munificentissimus Deus, 1 November 1950: AAS 42 (1950), 756, taken along with the words of St. Cyprian, Epist. 66, 8: CSEL 3/2, 733: 'The Church is the people united to its Priests, the flock adhering to its Shepherd.' Munificentissimus Deus, 1 November 1950: AAS 42 (1950), 756, taken along with the words of St. Cyprian, Epist. 66, 8: CSEL 3/2, 733: 'The Church is the people united to its Priests, the flock adhering to its Shepherd.']"

85. "'The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ.'[DV 10 # 2.] This means that the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome."

86. "'Yet this Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it. At the divine command and with the help of the Holy Spirit, it listens to this devotedly, guards it with dedication and expounds it faithfully. All that it proposes for belief as being divinely revealed is drawn from this single deposit of faith.'[DV 10 para 2.]"

87. "Mindful of Christ's words to his apostles: 'He who hears you, hears me',[Lk 10:16 ; cf. LG 20.] the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms."

88. "The Church's Magisterium exercises the authority it holds from Christ to the fullest extent when it defines dogmas, that is, when it proposes truths contained in divine Revelation or also when it proposes in a definitive way truths having a necessary connection with them. "

89. "There is an organic connection between our spiritual life and the dogmas. Dogmas are lights along the path of faith; they illuminate it and make it secure. Conversely, if our life is upright, our intellect and heart will be open to welcome the light shed by the dogmas of faith.[Cf.Jn 8:31-32 .] "

90. "The mutual connections between dogmas, and their coherence, can be found in the whole of the Revelation of the mystery of Christ.[Cf. Vatican Council I: DS 3016: nexus mysteriorum; LC 25.] 'In Catholic doctrine there exists an order or hierarchy 234 of truths, since they vary in their relation to the foundation of the Christian faith.'[UR II.]"

91. "All the faithful share in understanding and handing on revealed truth. They have received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, who instructs them[Cf. 1Jn 2:20, 27 .] and guides them into all truth.[Cf. .Jn 16:13 .]"

92. "'The whole body of the faithful. . . cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural appreciation of faith (sensus fidei) on the part of the whole people, when, from the bishops to the last of the faithful, they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals.'[LG 12; cf. St. Augustine, De praed. sanct. 14, 27: PL 44, 980.]"

93. "'By this appreciation of the faith, aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, guided by the sacred teaching authority (Magisterium),. . . receives. . . the faith, once for all delivered to the saints. . . The People unfailingly adheres to this faith, penetrates it more deeply with right judgment, and applies it more fully in daily life.'[LG 12; cf. Jude 3 .]"

94. "Thanks to the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the understanding of both the realities and the words of the heritage of faith is able to grow in the life of the Church:
- 'through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts';[DV 8 # 2; cf. Lk 2:19, 51 .] it is in particular 'theological research (which) deepens knowledge of revealed truth'.[GS 62 # 7; cf. GS 44 # 2; DV 23; 24; UR 4.]  
- 'from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which (believers) experience',[DV 8 # 2.] the sacred Scriptures 'grow with the one who reads them.'[DV 8 # 2.]
- 'from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth'.[St. Gregory the Great, Hom. in Ezek. 1, 7, 8: PL 76, 843D.]"

95. "'It is clear therefore that, in the supremely wise arrangement of God, sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church are so connected and associated that one of them cannot stand without the others. Working together, each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, they all contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.'[DV 10 # 3.]"
« Last Edit: May 18, 2003, 03:19:58 PM by anastasios » Logged

Please Buy My Book!

Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching. Also, I served as an Orthodox priest from 2008-2013, before resigning.
Νεκτάριος
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Posts: 5,437



« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2003, 08:29:15 PM »

Quote
Hence we shouldn't try and say "see how we don't believe in development of doctrine like you Latins" but should instead say "papal infallibility et al is an invalid development of doctrine."

There is definitely a great difference between how Orthodoxy clarifies her doctrine compared to the development of Western Doctrine.  When the development of doctrine exploded in the 1200s it was born of a rational and intrusion of philosophy replacing what had once been theology.  A good example of this is the Immaculate Conception...because the Latins accepted a theology of original sin apart from the Orthodox understanding they had to make up the Immaculate Conception because of the implications it would have on the incarnation.  Same thing with indulgences...they are a product of rationalizing another doctrine born of rationalism (i.e purgatory).  Now look at "theologians" like Scott Hahn et. al. and their wanting to develp more Marian doctrine for the sake of developing doctrine.  

Compare this to the true theology of Saint Gregory Palamas which fits in perfect context with the harmony of the early fathers.  The ideals of Hesychism were nothing new and the uncreated Light is very rooted in scripture.  

I think work of Saint Mark found in the Philokalia voume one: "On those who think they are made righteous by works: two hundred and twenty six texts" has some good quotes on the rationalistic development of doctrine:

Quote
7. If you love true knowledge devote yourself to the ascetic life; for mere theoretical knowledge puffs a man up.  

The problem in Rome came when the school where the "theologian" learned the faith was a classrom stuffed with books by Aristotle, Plato and friends and NOT the monastery.  

Then in the end there is always the test of Saint Vincent of Lerins as to whether something is truly Catholic or a development.
Logged
Anastasios
Webdespota
Administrator
Merarches
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Eastern Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Greek Old Calendarist
Posts: 10,487


Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Florina

anastasios0513
WWW
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2003, 09:43:14 PM »

Nektarios,

You wrote:

Quote
The problem in Rome came when the school where the "theologian" learned the faith was a classrom stuffed with books by Aristotle, Plato and friends and NOT the monastery.

I think you are mixing things up a little here.  Aristotle was used the Latins, wheras Plato's ideas were thoroughly used by the Greek fathers and baptised as Christian ideas.  So it's not just an issue of using philosophy, but rather I believe simply speculating too much on the Latin side.

anastasios
Logged

Please Buy My Book!

Past posts reflect stages of my life before my baptism may not be accurate expositions of Orthodox teaching. Also, I served as an Orthodox priest from 2008-2013, before resigning.
Νεκτάριος
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Posts: 5,437



« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2003, 10:19:39 PM »

Quote
I think you are mixing things up a little here.  Aristotle was used the Latins, wheras Plato's ideas were thoroughly used by the Greek fathers and baptised as Christian ideas.  So it's not just an issue of using philosophy, but rather I believe simply speculating too much on the Latin side.

My comment wasn't so much about using a particular philosopher (although even Plato was overused/misused in the West).  It was the approach, especially by the early Dominicans that having an extensive background in philosophy was needed to be a theologian.  I think one of the great strenghts of Orthodoxy lies in that we have had theologians very well educated in the worldly sense (like Saint Nektarios) and ones like Elder Joseph of the Holy Mountain who had a second grade education.

I think the root of the issue is how Orthodoxy defines who is a theologian:

Quote
If you are a theologian, you will pray truly.  And if you pray truly, you are a theologian.
Logged
Keble
All-Knowing Grand Wizard of Debunking
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 3,444



« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2003, 08:56:02 AM »

Quote
Hence we shouldn't try and say "see how we don't believe in development of doctrine like you Latins" but should instead say "papal infallibility et al is an invalid development of doctrine."

There is definitely a great difference between how Orthodoxy clarifies her doctrine compared to the development of Western Doctrine.  When the development of doctrine exploded in the 1200s it was born of a rational and intrusion of philosophy replacing what had once been theology.  A good example of this is the Immaculate Conception...because the Latins accepted a theology of original sin apart from the Orthodox understanding they had to make up the Immaculate Conception because of the implications it would have on the incarnation.

Ummmmmm.........  I think this is sort of true, but but incomplete in two ways.

It's sort of true because part of the official justification behind IC is the reification of original sin as a sort of contaminating substance. But I think this is taking the official rationale too seriously. Far more important is mariology itself. The dogmatization of IC comes close to an act of spite against those pesky Protestants; it seems to me that the exaltation of Mary is more important thant the actual economy of salvation here (other than pushing Mary further and further into that economy).

Also, this reification is something that goes a lot further back than the middle ages. You can see traces of it even in Nicea and it is very strongly expressed in Chalcedon. The formulas expressed in these early councils are very philosophical, and particular at Chaldecodn the questions answered are utterly philosophical. The danger of denegrating philosophy in general is that this is how you get the JWs, who erase all the philosophy to before Nicea and thus manage to reinvent Arianism, because Arianism sounds less philosophical.
Logged
Jonathan
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Faith: Oriental Orthodox
Jurisdiction: Coptic
Posts: 810


WWW
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2003, 09:44:38 AM »

I think that some of it boils down to using philosophy to express the faith in the East, and using philosophy to try to prove things and understand further and further in the West.  It's not that there isn't progressive understanding in the East through clearer and clearer expressions of the faith, but there's no new revelations (I mean this work in the common usage, not literally), no sudden, oh, this must be the case because of this... Look at St. Cyril of Alexandria, he clarified and refined even beyond St. Athanasius, but he never thought himself to be coming up with something new, rather to be explaining and expressing what was tought by those that came before him.  In the West on the otherhand, there is some concept on some level of coming up with new conclusions based on reasoned examinations of other elements of the faith.  Both use philosophy, and certainly don't think it's bad in itself, we're not Protestants who think that reason is opposed to faith, we just embrase mystery, and take that while faith and reason are complementary, there is much in the faith that is beyond reason, and our reason could never approach what God has revealed to us, let alone make further infrences from it.  I know that's rediculously oversimplified, but that's how I see it.
Logged
Keble
All-Knowing Grand Wizard of Debunking
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 3,444



« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2003, 08:14:00 AM »

I think that some of it boils down to using philosophy to express the faith in the East, and using philosophy to try to prove things and understand further and further in the West.  It's not that there isn't progressive understanding in the East through clearer and clearer expressions of the faith, but there's no new revelations (I mean this work in the common usage, not literally), no sudden, oh, this must be the case because of this...

It seems to me that this is more the expression of the difference between an informal line of reasoning and a formal one. It does seem to me that there is a point at which the focus of Orthodox theology becomes resistive rather than explorative, and that RC theology has not undergone the same transformation (only partially, and only in the face of modern secularism). But there are two points to be made about this.

The first is that in the conciliar era there is a clear drive towards certain points. Arianism is essentially conservative; its point is to resist the statement that Jesus is God. Nicea drives through this point to establish that Jesus is not only the son of God in some sense, but God Himself in a literal sense. Chalcedon likewise drives forward to a particular formula, and in particular seems to be trying to reach the word "Theotokos".

The second point is that when matters turn to a pattern of resistance, the lack of formalism means that resistance is measured against wherever the local church is at that time. Over the long term this means that radical innovations are blocked, but slow transformations are not. It remains an irony that, because of a long series of intellectually driven reforms, Catholic liturgy (minus the guitars!) has changed a lot less than Orthodox liturgy has; someone from an Episcopal parish can see, in an Orthodox liturgy, nearly the entirety of an Anglican eucharist buried under all the litanies. Yet it seems to me that liturgical reform as the West has been through several times is impossible in the East-- or at the very least would lead to schisms.
Logged
Elisha
Protokentarchos
*********
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: OCA
Posts: 4,466


« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2003, 12:07:38 PM »

It remains an irony that, because of a long series of intellectually driven reforms, Catholic liturgy (minus the guitars!) has changed a lot less than Orthodox liturgy has; someone from an Episcopal parish can see, in an Orthodox liturgy, nearly the entirety of an Anglican eucharist buried under all the litanies. Yet it seems to me that liturgical reform as the West has been through several times is impossible in the East-- or at the very least would lead to schisms.


Huh?  This doesn't make any sense and seems illogical to me.  Please explain.
Logged
Linus7
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 2,780



« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2003, 12:54:33 PM »

It remains an irony that, because of a long series of intellectually driven reforms, Catholic liturgy (minus the guitars!) has changed a lot less than Orthodox liturgy has; someone from an Episcopal parish can see, in an Orthodox liturgy, nearly the entirety of an Anglican eucharist buried under all the litanies. Yet it seems to me that liturgical reform as the West has been through several times is impossible in the East-- or at the very least would lead to schisms.


Huh?  This doesn't make any sense and seems illogical to me.  Please explain.

Ditto. Besides, I don't think what Keble said is actually true.

RC liturgy has changed less than orthodox liturgy?

Say what?
Logged

The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers.
- Pope St. Hormisdas
yBeayf
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Posts: 708

/etc


« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2003, 04:32:09 PM »

Indeed it has. This will be immediately obvious if you ever have the chance to observe a properly performed Tridentine mass, but the traditional RC liturgy is quite spartan compared to the Byzantine rite. Whereas the Orthodox have piled elaboration upon elaboration on their liturgy (such things as the multitude of litanies, antiphons at the beginning of the liturgy, the two entrances, etc.), the Catholics at several times pruned away accretions to their liturgy. Other indications of the more primitive character of the RC liturgy are the fact that the preparation of the gifts takes place at the beginning of the liturgy of the faithful, rather than being moved to a separate rite at the beginning, and the fact that the consecration of the gifts is conceived of as occuring by the gifts ascending to the Heavenly altar, rather than the Holy Spirit descending and transforming them.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2003, 04:41:15 PM by Beayf » Logged
Keble
All-Knowing Grand Wizard of Debunking
Archon
********
Offline Offline

Posts: 3,444



« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2003, 07:44:54 AM »

RC liturgy has changed less than orthodox liturgy?

I suppose it depends somewhat on how and where you measure change. If what you are worried about is only the words (or you go to a typical American mass today expecting Palestrina), then I suppose you would say that things today are very different. But if you look at the component parts, it's hardly different at all from a pre-medieval Roman rite. Likewise, the essential phsical structure of the church has hardly changed at all-- that's one of the reasons that modern RC church's have such a variety of forms. There's nothing much in the rite that demands anything more than that there be an altar, and therefore almost any configuration inside the building is possible.

This has been achieved by a series of periodic reforms. If you look at the medeival Sarum rite, there is considerable elaboration, almost all of which was swept away at Trent. The one medieval element which has persisted as an addition is the Agnus Dei. In contrast, Orthodoxy has grown litany after litany and has established this stational liturgy involving the iconostasis and its various openings. A western church can move into a new space with nothing more than chairs, a table, and a cup and a plate (and they don't have to have the chairs); every Orthodox mission/church start I've been to has had to do something to set up an iconostasis; the liturgy essentially demands one (and so does differentiation from the west), but it's something the West never had.
Logged
ialmisry
There's nothing John of Damascus can't answer
Warned
Hypatos
*****************
Offline Offline

Faith: جامعي Arab confesssing the Orthodox Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church
Jurisdiction: Antioch (for now), but my heart belongs to Alexandria
Posts: 38,165



« Reply #16 on: May 15, 2011, 08:53:21 PM »

Christ is risen!
Nektarios,

You wrote:

Quote
The problem in Rome came when the school where the "theologian" learned the faith was a classrom stuffed with books by Aristotle, Plato and friends and NOT the monastery.

I think you are mixing things up a little here.  Aristotle was used the Latins, wheras Plato's ideas were thoroughly used by the Greek fathers and baptised as Christian ideas.  So it's not just an issue of using philosophy, but rather I believe simply speculating too much on the Latin side.

anastasios
There is a bit more to it, Father, Lord willing I'll be posting some on the "Filioque as a Christolocial Error"
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,28923.msg565144/topicseen.html#msg565144
In the meantime, I came across this thread. I'm going over St. Basil's "On the Holy Spirit," and I'm struck by how much he goes on about the energies of God.
Logged

Question a friend, perhaps he did not do it; but if he did anything so that he may do it no more.
A hasty quarrel kindles fire,
and urgent strife sheds blood.
If you blow on a spark, it will glow;
if you spit on it, it will be put out;
                           and both come out of your mouth
xariskai
юродивый/yurodivy
OC.net guru
*******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Posts: 1,440


יהוה עזי ומגני


« Reply #17 on: May 15, 2011, 11:59:39 PM »

I don't have a link for the following essay by David Bradshaw; it is one of the best I have read on this topic and as an added bonus explains many of the fundamental differences between Eastern and Western theology in a very clear manner. Mods feel free to remove if it violates forum policy(?) with my apologies.

 There is also a link to a video lecture at Cambridge University with Dr. Bradshaw after the article for those of you that might be tempted to skip a post with too many words ;-)  (note: additions of boldface for emphasis are mine).

Quote from: David Bradshaw
The Concept of the Divine Energies, by David Bradshaw, University of Kentucky

Anyone familiar with the history of western philosophy is aware of how large a role has been played within it by theology. This is true not only of the Middle Ages, when philosophy was the handmaiden of theology, but as recently as Hegel and Kierkegaard, or arguably even Heidegger and Wittgenstein. For almost two millennia philosophers have drawn on theology to help them grapple with issues including, obviously, the existence of God and the relationship of faith and reason, but also such fundamental questions as the objectivity of morality, the meaning of our existence, and the nature of being itself. Naturally borrowings have gone in the other direction as well, and often what philosophers have found in theology is something that theology herself had drawn from philosophy centuries before. Despite this long and intimate association, in recent centuries the trajectory of philosophy has unquestionably been in the direction of secularization. It would be fair to say that most contemporary philosophers, if not embarrassed by philosophy’s theological past, are at least glad that it is behind us, and prefer to think of their discipline as now relatively autonomous. Accompanying this attitude is a tacit assumption that, whatever philosophy may have drawn from theology in the past, today the theological well has more or less run dry. To think that philosophy might find in theology today a revolutionary inspiration is, on this view, mere nostalgia.

When one turns from the history of philosophy to that of theology, however, one finds grounds to question these prevailing views. I do not have in mind any deep insights about the nature of theology or the superiority of its methods over those of philosophy. Rather, I have in mind a simple historical fact: the bifurcation of the Christian theological tradition into two streams during the early Middle Ages, and the limitation of western philosophy to only one of those two streams. How this came about is, I trust, a relatively familiar story. Sometime around the late fourth century the elites of the Roman Empire largely ceased to be bilingual, with those of the West increasingly reading and speaking only Latin, and those of the East reading and speaking only Greek. The change is illustrated by the career of Augustine, who tells us in the Confessions how much he detested Greek as a boy and how glad he was to put it behind him. His entire theological formation seems to have taken place without reference to the enormous body of Greek theological writing which was at that time the main repository of Christian thought. Although this absence no doubt aided the flowering of Augustine’s originality, it meant that the legacy he bestowed on the western church was remarkably disconnected from the earlier tradition. Meanwhile the Greek tradition continued along its own path, almost wholly oblivious to the enormous importance that Augustine had attained in the West. No works of Augustine were translated into Greek until the thirteenth century, while only a few of the later Greek works—most famously, the Dionysian Corpus and the De Fide Orthodoxa of St. John of Damascus—were translated into Latin. Since these were read outside of their original context, however, they were often misunderstood, particularly at points where they are at odds with Augustine.

Thus the theology which influenced western philosophy was primarily that of Augustine and his Latin successors. One might think that with the recovery of Greek learning in the Renaissance this imbalance would have been corrected. By that time, however, a long succession of councils and popes had made it clear that western Christianity was and must remain fundamentally Augustinian. The Protestant reformers, far from challenging this result, drew on Augustine for their own understandings of predestination and salvation by faith alone. From the point of view of both camps, the Byzantine Christians were schismatics and heretics. So far as philosophy was concerned, the effect of these hard doctrinal lines was that the way of thinking about God typical of Latin scholasticism—as First Cause, actus purus, eternal, unchanging, perfectly simple, and so on, with all of these attributes knowable through “natural reason” alone—remained the starting point of philosophical reflection. Philosophers quarreled over it, tinkered with its details, and in growing numbers wholly rejected it. However, that something like this God is, as it were, the philosophical shape of Biblical religion remained unquestioned, save for a few isolated and eccentric figures such as Kierkegaard.

My goal in this paper is two-fold. First I wish to show that a sharply different way of thinking about God was present within the Christian tradition from an early point, that is, prior to Augustine. Second, I wish to show that this alternative conception is of live philosophical interest. Although I shall be discussing primarily Christian sources, I by no means believe that what I have to say should be of interest only to Christians. The question of what God is like, if there is a God, is of universal human importance. What ought to interest us in any answer is not what religious label it comes under, but whether it is true.

The concept I will focus on is that of the divine energies. In a sense, the notion that God is energy is thoroughly traditional. The term ‘energy’ comes from the Greek energeia, a term coined by Aristotle. Aristotle’s earliest works use it to mean the active exercise of a capacity, such as that for sight or thought, as distinct from the mere possession of the capacity. It is easy to see how from this beginning it came to be used in two otherwise unrelated ways, for activity and for actuality. (Its correlative term dunamis likewise has two meanings, capacity and potentiality.) These two senses, which seem to us quite distinct, sometimes reconverge. In Metaphysics ix.6 Aristotle distinguishes energeia from motion or change (kinēsis) on the grounds that a motion or change is ordered toward some extrinsic end—as housebuilding aims at a house—whereas an energeia is its own end. The examples he gives are seeing, thinking, understanding, living well, and flourishing. Plainly these are activities, but they are activities that are fully actual in the sense that they contain their own end and thus are fully complete at each moment of their existence, rather than requiring a stretch of time. Aristotle illustrates this difference with the so-called “tense test,” namely that at each moment that one sees (or thinks, or so on) one also has seen, whereas at each moment that one builds a house one has not also built a house.

The most interesting application of energeia in this sense is in Aristotle’s theory of the Prime Mover. The Prime Mover is a being whose substance (ousia) is energeia (Met. xii.6 1071b20), in three distinct but related senses. First, since the Prime Mover is posited to explain motion it cannot itself be subject to motion, and thus it has no potentiality to change or be acted upon. Second, because it must be eternally and unchangingly active it can have no unrealized capacities to act; everything it can do it already does, all at once and as a whole. The first point raises the question of how the Prime Mover can move without being moved. Aristotle answers this question with his famous theory that the Prime Mover is self-thinking thought, a being whose “thought is a thinking of thinking” (xii.9 1075b34). This means that there is yet a third sense in which its substance is energeia, this time in the sense of activity rather than actuality: namely, its substance is nothing other than the self-subsistent activity of thought.

In saying this I do not wish to imply that the Prime Mover thinks of nothing but itself and thus has a rather impoverished mind. Aristotle is quite clear that the Prime Mover’s thinking embraces all possible intelligible content; after all, if it did not, there would be a kind of thinking in which it could engage but does not, and it would in that respect fail to be fully actual. In saying that the Prime Mover “thinks itself,” what he means is that, precisely because its act of thinking is fully actual, this act is identical to its object, for there is nothing other than the object—no unrealized potency—constituting the act as what it is. (One might compare Hume’s view that the self is a bundle of impressions and ideas. Aristotle would in general say that our selves are distinct from our actual thought because they include a vast range of unrealized potencies; in the case of the Prime Mover, however, that distinction disappears.) Given the identity of the Prime Mover’s thought with its object, a remarkable result follows: the Prime Mover not only thinks all possible intelligible content, it is all possible intelligible content, existing all at once as a single eternal and fully actual substance. Aristotle does not draw this conclusion explicitly, but later commentators, beginning with Alexander of Aphrodisias, did so, and it became a fundamental ingredient in the synthesis of Plato and Aristotle executed by the Neoplatonists.1

My interest here is not in the Prime Mover as such, but in what all this implies about the meaning of energeia. In the Prime Mover we have a being which both thinks and is all possible intelligible content, existing as a single eternal and unchanging whole. The intelligible structure of things, however, is what makes them what they are. (This is the familiar doctrine that form is substance, articulated particularly in Metaphysics vii.17.) Thus one could equally say that the Prime Mover is present in all things, imparting—or rather, constituting—their intelligible structure, and thus their being. In light of all this, when we say that the Prime Mover is pure energeia, how ought we to translate that term? Activity? Actuality? Plainly the answer is both—and therefore neither. It seems to me that the closest we can come in English is to say that it is pure energy. Specifically, I have in mind the sense given in the American Heritage Dictionary as “power exercised with vigor and determination,” and illustrated with the phrase, “devote one’s energies to a worthy cause.” But of course no illustration drawn from ordinary objects will be adequate to the notion of a being that is pure energy, an energy that constitutes the being of other things.

At the same time, let us note that Aristotle assumes that one can sensibly speak of what it is like to be the Prime Mover. For example, he states that its way of life is “such as the best which we enjoy . . . , since its energy (energeia) is also pleasure,” and he goes on to add that it “is always in that good state in which we sometimes are” (xii.7 1072b14-25). Lest we think of the identification of the Prime Mover with energy as a sort of physicalistic reduction, we must remember that it is a being with mental states in some sense analogous to our own. That there is such an analogy is presupposed in the identification of its activity as thought (noēsis), for thinking is something in which we too engage, although in an incomparably more partial and limited way.

Now I wish to fast-forward about four centuries to the Apostle Paul. During the intervening period the metaphysical associations that Aristotle gave to energeia were largely ignored. In popular usage energeia simply meant activity. However, even in this sense it is natural to speak of the energeia of God or the gods, and one finds such references among Hellenistic historians and within Alexandrian Judaism. This raises the question of how the divine energeia relates to our own. What happens when a god wishes to perform something through a human being? Does the divine energeia simply overpower the human? Or is there instead some sort cooperation or synthesis, and if so how are we to conceive it?

An answer to these questions is implied in the writings of St. Paul. I do not wish to suggest that Paul explicitly addressed the divine energeia as a theological topic, but only that he uses the term often enough, and in a sufficient variety of contexts, that we can determine what his answer to these questions would have been. For example, Paul refers to himself as “striving according to Christ's working (or energy, energeia), which is being made effective (or actualized, energoumenēn) in me” (Col. 1:29).2 Here it would seem that the divine energy serves two distinct functions. It is at work within Paul, transforming him, so that from this standpoint he is the object of God's activity; at the same time it finds expression in Paul's own activity, so that he may also be seen as the agent or conduit through whom God is working. Yet nothing in such external direction prevents his actions from remaining his own. It would be possible to fill out in detail the events in Paul's life that this passage alludes to, for he has left us some vivid descriptions of his various trials and exertions. Not only do they exhibit full engagement and self-control, they do so more than did his actions prior to his conversion. As the story is told in Acts, Saul was trapped in self-deception until God set him free on the road to Damascus. Now the divine energy that works in him is also his own, more truly than anything he did was his own before he ceased to “kick against the pricks” (Acts 9:5).

The belief that God is active in human beings is, of course, deeply rooted in the Old Testament. There it is usually God's Word or Spirit that is the vehicle of divine indwelling, ways of speaking that tend to suggest control from without. Paul's use of energeia and related terms, such as sunergein (to cooperate) and sunergos (co-worker), shifts the emphasis from one of external control to one of cooperation.3 However, the term ‘cooperation’ can be misleading if it suggests that there are here two equal agents who simply choose to work together. In the present case, since one is the Creator and the other a creature, the action of the latter depends for its reality upon the active support of the former. I take it that Paul interprets this notion in light of the common experience of feeling that one’s actions were not truly one’s own while one was mired in sin and self-deception. On his view, synergy, the cooperation of God and man, is neither a symmetrical relation nor one in which the divine overpowers and replaces the human. It is rather one in which the human becomes fully human by embracing the divine. This is not a radically new idea; something like it can be found in the Old Testament, as well as in other religious traditions.4 What is new is the use of the vocabulary of energeia to express it.

The last stage preparatory to the thought of the Greek Fathers was pagan Neoplatonism. Let us return to the philosophical tradition to ask precisely how the Neoplatonists attempted to synthesize the thought of Plato and Aristotle. One criticism which might be raised against Aristotle’s theology is that it has no room for a proper sense of the mystery of the divine. After all, if the Prime Mover is the summation of all intelligible content, what he is can in principle be grasped by the act of thinking (noēsis), however far our own thinking falls short of that ideal. In Plato there are hints of a sharply different picture. The famous depiction of the Good in the Republic as “beyond being” could be taken—and was taken by the Neoplatonists—as meaning that the Good is beyond noēsis as well, notwithstanding that Plato himself seems to regard it as an intelligible object. This development was spurred by the association of the Good with the One of the First Hypothesis of the Parmenides. In this section of the dialogue, Parmenides gives the strictest possible interpretation to the notion of unity. He concludes that the One has no limits or shape, is neither at rest nor in motion, is neither like nor unlike anything else, and finally that it does not partake of being, has no name, and is not an object of knowledge, perception, or opinion (Parm. 137c-142a). To think that the Good of the Republic should be identified with this wholly unnamable and unknowable no-thing is certainly a remarkable idea. However, it is worth remembering that in his unwritten doctrines Plato posited a One which (in conjunction with the Indefinite Dyad) is the source of the Forms. Aristotle tells us that some in the Academy, perhaps including Plato himself, identified this One with the Good (Met. xiv.4). Later interpreters, putting these various fragments together, concluded that the One of the unwritten doctrines, the One of the Parmenides, and the Good of the Republic, are all one and the same.

Here we have, then, a first principle sharply different from that of Aristotle: unknowable, unnamable, the source of being for other things, while itself “beyond being.” Yet because it is also the Good, all things in some inchoate way seek it. The philosopher who saw a way to harmonize this Platonic conception of the first principle with that of Aristotle was Plotinus. Plotinus identified the One (or Good) as the ultimate first principle, and Aristotle’s Prime Mover he rechristened as Intellect (nous), the first hypostasis after the One. The One is no-thing, not any particular being because it is the source of all particular being. In the overflow of its goodness it gives rise to Intellect, which is all things inasmuch as it is present in all as their being, intelligibility, life, and other perfections. The object of Intellect’s thought is in a sense the One, but since Intellect cannot apprehend the One in its unity it instead refracts it into a vast array of separate intelligibles (noēta), which are the Forms. By relating the One and Intellect in this way, Plotinus established a careful balance between the apophatic—that is, the denial to God of all predicates—and the kataphatic—that is, the ascription to God of all predicates.

The most striking point for our purposes is the use that Plotinus made of the concept of energeia. I argued earlier that the Prime Mover is pure energy, an energy that constitutes the being of other things. It is natural to ask whether this conception is truly coherent; that is, whether an energy that is not the energy of something, some active agent that is not itself simply identical with the energy, actually makes sense. Plotinus answers this question with what is known as the “theory of two acts.” Intellect comes forth from the One precisely as its external act or energy, what Plotinus refers to as its energeia ek tēs ousias, the energy that comes forth from the substance. So far, then, the answer is that Intellect as an energy is dependent upon the One. However, Plotinus is too deeply steeped in Aristotle to think that substance is not itself a kind of energeia (a point emphasized in Metaphysics viii.2). Hence he also posits an energeia tēs ousias, an internal act or energy constituting the substance, of which the external act is a kind of image. His favorite illustration of this is fire, which has an internal heat that constitutes its substance and an external heat that it gives forth into the world, but the distinction is meant to be perfectly general. Ultimately it turns out that the internal act of all things is some form of contemplation, for all things are what they are by contemplating their prior in the chain of emanation.

We now have enough background in hand to see what use the Greek Fathers made of these ideas. The provocation that caused them to develop a more or less philosophical doctrine of God was the Arianism of Eunomius around the mid-fourth century. Eunomius had a simple argument that the Son is not God. It was that God is ingenerate or unbegotten, and furthermore this is not merely a privative attribute or human conception, but the divine substance or essence (ousia) itself. Plainly such an ousia cannot be shared with another by begetting. Hence the Son, who is begotten of the Father, cannot be of one essence (homoousion) with the Father. As for terms such as ‘life,’ ‘light,’ and ‘power,’ which in the New Testament are used of both the Father and the Son, Eunomius argued that they must be taken differently in the two cases. Since the divine essence is utterly simple, “every word used to signify the essence of the Father is equivalent in force of meaning to ‘the unbegotten’ (to agennēton).”5

The task of replying to Eunomius fell to St. Basil of Caesarea. Basil objected both to the assumption that the divine ousia can be known and to assumption that, because of divine simplicity, all non-privative terms said of God are identical in meaning. He writes:

"We say that we know the greatness of God, His power, His wisdom, His goodness, His providence over us, and the justness of His judgment, but not His very essence (ousia) . . . But God, he [Eunomius] says, is simple, and whatever attribute of Him you have reckoned as knowable is of His essence. The absurdities involved in this sophism are innumerable. When all these high attributes have been enumerated, are they all names of one essence? And is there the same mutual force in His awfulness and His loving-kindness, His justice and His creative power, His foreknowledge and His requital, His majesty and His providence? In mentioning any of these, do we declare His essence?"

The question, then, is how to characterize the distinction between that in God which cannot be known (the divine ousia) and that which can be known, such as the divine power, wisdom, and goodness. Basil’s answer emerges in the continuation of the passage:

"The energies are various, and the essence simple, but we say that we know our God from His energies, but do not undertake to approach near to His essence. His energies come down to us, but His essence remains beyond our reach."6

As I understand him, Basil is here applying to the Christian God the distinction between ousia and energeia found in the philosophical tradition, and particularly in Plotinus.

His doing so raises at least two distinct questions. One is that of the ontological relationship between the essence and the energies. In Plotinus the external act of the One comes forth as the distinct hypostasis of Intellect. Is something similar true here in Basil? The other question is that of divine freedom, or, more precisely, the capacity to do otherwise. In Plotinus the One could not do otherwise than produce Intellect. Of course Plotinus sees this fact as not an impairment but rather an expression of the One’s freedom, since nothing other than the One’s own nature determines it to act as it does. By contrast, in the Christian tradition God is thought of as sufficiently like a person that in at least some cases, such as the creation of the world, he could do otherwise. Should we say, then, that his energies could be different than they are?

Let us begin with the first question. Plainly for Basil the energies are not a separate hypostasis, or series of hypostases. Rather, they are acts which God performs. Many scholars would in fact prefer to translate energeia in the passage that I have quoted as ‘operation,’ and to take Basil as saying only that God’s operations come down to us. I believe that the history of the distinction between the divine ousia and energeia, as I have sketched it here, argues against such a view. I find support at this point in an interesting semantic argument presented by Basil’s brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa, who defended Basil against a reply by Eunomius. Gregory adopts the view, which was widespread in antiquity, that a name is in some way indicative of the form or intrinsic characteristics of the thing named. Since God has no form, he has no name in the proper sense. Instead terms such as ‘god’ (theos) name the divine energeia of oversight or governance. (Gregory derives theos from theaomai, behold.) Now it is plain that by energeia here Gregory has in mind an operation. However, it cannot be only an operation, for then in speaking of God we would be speaking of an operation of God—that is, an operation of an operation, and so on in an infinite regress. Somehow by energeia Gregory and Basil would appear to understand both that which God is, and that which God performs.

I believe that this is perfectly intelligible in light of the history that we have traced. From the time of its introduction by Aristotle, energeia always indicated the energy which God both is and does. Plotinus refined this picture by distinguishing between internal and external act, but he did not overthrow it. Basil and Gregory in their turn revise Plotinus by rejecting the distinction of hypostasis between Intellect and the One. For them the relevant distinction is rather that between God as he exists within himself and is known only to himself, and God as he manifests himself to others. The former is the divine ousia, the latter the divine energies. It is important to note that both are God, but differently conceived: God as unknowable and as knowable, as wholly beyond us and as within our reach.

To put the distinction this way, however, could be misleading if it suggests something like a fixed and permanent boundary. The Cappadocians—Basil, Gregory, and their colleague, St. Gregory Nazianzen—think instead of that which is unknowable in God as a kind of receding horizon. Precisely the fact that we cannot know God as he knows himself draws us forward to seek to know him ever more deeply. Gregory Nazianzen expresses vividly this sense of a longing that is always both being satisfied and seeking satisfaction:

In Himself [God] sums up and contains all being, having neither beginning in the past nor end in the future; like some great sea of being, limitless and unbounded, transcending all conception of time and nature, only adumbrated by the mind, and that very dimly and scantily—not from the things directly concerning Him, but from the things around Him; one image being got from one source and another from another, and combined into some sort of presentation of the truth, which escapes us when we have caught it, and takes to flight when we have conceived it, blazing forth upon our master-part, even when that is cleansed, as the lightning flash which will not stay its course does upon our sight—in order as I conceive by that part of it which we can comprehend to draw us to itself . . . and by that part of it which we cannot comprehend to move our wonder, and as an object of wonder to become more an object of desire, and being desired to purify, and by purifying to make us like God.7

The “things around God” are, I take it, another name for the divine energies. Two points are here especially worth noting. One is the necessity for the play of images, “one image being got from one source and another from another,” in order to form anything like an adequate conception of God. Here we find the underlying philosophical rationale for the immense variety of liturgical poetry and iconographic expression within the eastern Christian tradition. The other point is the sequence leading from wonder, to desire, to purification, and finally to homoiōsis theōi, likeness to God. A philosophical reader cannot help but notice here the echoes of Plato and Aristotle, as for instance of the famous statement of Aristotle that philosophy begins with a sense of wonder, and of the Platonic emphasis on the need for purification of the soul, and of the theme found in both authors that the human telos is achieving a likeness to God.

Nonetheless, the fundamental distinction between God as He is known to Himself and as He is known to us was derived by the Cappadocians not from philosophical sources, but from Biblical revelation. Most obviously, it was inspired by the encounter of Moses with God on Mount Sinai in Exodus 33. There God warns Moses that “thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.” Nonetheless he continues: “it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen” (33:22-23). Gregory Nazianzen takes this passage as a model for understanding his own experience. In doing so he draws a distinction much like that we have seen in Basil between God as he is known to himself and as he “reaches to us”:

"What is this that has happened to me, O friends and initiates and fellow lovers of the truth? I was running up to lay hold on God, and thus I went up into the mount, and drew aside the curtain of the cloud, and entered away from matter and material things, and as far as I could I withdrew within myself. And then when I looked up I scarce saw the back parts of God, although I was sheltered by the rock, the Word that was made flesh for us. And when I looked a little closer I saw, not the first and unmingled nature, known to itself—to the Trinity, I mean; not that which abides within the first veil and is hidden by the Cherubim, but only that nature which at last even reaches to us. And that is, so far as I can tell, the majesty, or as holy David calls it, the glory which is manifested among the creatures, which it has produced and governs. For these [i.e., the majesty and glory] are the back parts of God, which He leaves behind Him as tokens of Himself like the shadows and reflections of the sun in the water, which show the sun to our weak eyes because we cannot look at the sun itself."

More broadly, the Cappadocians took all the Biblical theophanies—including, most famously, the burning bush of Exodus 3—as pointing to a similar distinction. In such events God is known precisely as unknowable; it is the very extremity of his condescension in appearing and making himself known which underscores the deep chasm between his mode of being and our own.9

In light of this Biblical background, the notion of theōsis or deification may seem like a foreign importation. It is at this point that the Pauline usage of the concept of energeia becomes crucially important. An especially important passage was I Corinthians 12. There Paul speaks of the “gifts of the Spirit” as including both miraculous powers such as prophecy, speaking in tongues, and the discernment of spirits, and enduring states of soul such as faith and wisdom. Significantly, he describes these gifts as energēmata (works performed) of the Spirit, and the Spirit as “working” (energōn) them. Basil in his work On the Holy Spirit develops this notion to understand such gifts as a form of divine energy. He writes:

"As is the power of seeing in the healthy eye, so is the energy (energeia) of the Spirit in the purified soul . . . And as the skill in him who has acquired it, so is the grace of the Spirit ever present in the recipient, though not continuously active (energousa). For as the skill is potentially in the artisan, but only in operation when he is working in accordance with it, so also the Spirit is present with those who are worthy, but works (energei) as need requires, in prophecies, or in healings, or in some other carrying into effect (energēmasin) of His powers."10

This passage is almost Aristotelian in its distinction between an enduring state of the soul (in Aristotelian terms, first actuality) and its active expression (second actuality). However, for Basil these are two different forms of energy, the one latent and the other active. Thus Basil understands participation in the divine energy as an ongoing state of the soul that finds expression, as need be, in particular acts. This is what is meant by deification in the Greek patristic tradition: an ongoing and progressively growing participation in the divine energies.

It is worth noting how this understanding of participation in the divine avoids a certain cul-de-sac present in pagan Neoplatonism. For Plotinus we do not so much participate in Intellect—much less the One—as rediscover our true identity as Intellect. We are each in our truest core an unfallen intellect (nous) which shares in the unity-in-multiplicity of Intellect, much as the light of each lamp in a room shares in the room’s light, or each theorem of a science shares in the integral meaning of the whole. In rediscovering our true identity as nous, we leave behind the accidents of memory and personality that individuate us here below in order to merge into the pristine clarity of perfect noetic activity. Later Neoplatonists such as Iamblichus and Proclus were dissatisfied by this starkly impersonal conception of our relationship to the divine, and attempted in various ways to change it. For the Cappadocians, however, such a problem does not even arise. The distinction of essence and energy enables them to understand human-divine communion as taking place within the sphere of joint personal activity. In coming to be deified we share progressively in God’s activity, but without losing our distinct identity. Indeed, much like St. Paul, they believe that we only fully achieve our own identity when we make our own activity that of God. Such synergy is, in their view, a way of knowing God that is neither inferential, nor noetic in the Aristotelian sense, nor a matter simply of feeling or intuition. It is the knowledge that comes through sharing actively in the work of another, and thereby coming to know him as the author of that work.

From all of this it is clear how the second of our two questions, that of whether the divine energies could be different than they are, is to be answered. If they are the sphere of personal action in the way that I have described, then at least some of them could be different; otherwise they would be a kind of emanation rather than the free acts of a free Creator. However, the same constraint means that there are limits to the ways that they could be different. The range of acts that would constitute a legitimate expression of my character is quite large, yet I trust that at least some acts, such as murder, adultery, or treason, fall beyond it. In the same way, if the divine energies are to manifest the divine ousia, then although they can vary enormously they must fall within the range that is properly related to the divine ousia (whatever the ousia might be!) as expression to source. For example, God need not have created, and given that he did create he might have created the world differently than he did; furthermore, even given that he created this world he might act within it differently, for example, by distributing different spiritual gifts. Thus many of the divine energies, including those of creation, providence, and foreknowledge, as well as the gifts of the Spirit, could be different or could not exist at all. On the other hand, if he acts at all his action cannot fail to be good. Hence if there are any energies at all, goodness is among them. The same would seem to be true of wisdom, being, power, life, love, holiness, beauty, virtue, immortality, eternity, infinity, and simplicity, all of which the Cappadocians (or other Fathers after them) list among the divine energies.

To know whether these energies are necessary, then, we must ask whether it is possible that God not act at all—that is, whether he could be wholly without energy (anenergēton). So far as I know this question was not raised in such terms. However, a question very close to it—that of whether there would be divine energies even apart from creation—was at the center of a celebrated controversy in the fourteenth century. Certain monks known as hesychasts claimed to have been granted a vision of what they called the uncreated light. Whether it is possible that there be such a light, and if so what is its nature, became the focus of an intense debate. Ultimately it was decided that there is an uncreated light and that it is simply the visible form of the divine energy. This means that the divine energy is present in some form with the godhead from all eternity, quite independently of the act of creation. That in turn implies that the divine energy is not (as one might otherwise be tempted to suppose) simply the way in which God manifests himself to creatures. It is that, to be sure, but even without creatures there would still be an eternal self-manifestation within the godhead. Within a Christian context it is natural to understand this as the mutual love and self-revelation of the persons of the Trinity. There are hints of such a view among the earlier Greek Fathers, beginning with Gregory of Nyssa, but unfortunately the debate over the divine energies in the fourteenth century failed to make these connections explicit. The end of Byzantine civilization not long thereafter prevented any final clarification.

Where does all of this leave us? It seems to me that the Greek patristic conception of God has a number of advantages over that found in Augustine and his successors. In the first place, it succeeds in incorporating the apophatic approach to God in a way that western theology does not. The divine ousia is beyond any act of naming or conceptual thought, known only by actively sharing in its energetic expression. Such a view is in keeping with both the Biblical theophanies and the New Testament concept of synergy. It is also philosophically well grounded, for as Plotinus saw, if God is the source of form he must himself possess no form. Yet if he is the source of form he must also be present in things as their form, the intelligible structure which makes them what they are. Whereas Plotinus separates these two functions into distinct hypostases, the Greek Fathers consider them two ways of understanding the one God.

One might expect that Augustine, with his knowledge of Plotinus, would have followed a similar path. In fact he did not. Augustine characteristically thinks of God as Truth itself, the Truth that is present to our minds enabling us to know. In line with the classical identification of thinking and being, he also describes God as ipsum esse, being itself. In essence this is the Plotinian understanding of Intellect. Augustine has no use for the other side of Plotinus, the understanding of God as beyond being and beyond intellect. Granted, he acknowledges that in this life we cannot know the divine essence, but that is a limitation of our present bodily existence. Moses and St. Paul are for Augustine paradigms of persons who for a brief time were taken out of their bodies into a state of rapture, enjoying a direct vision of the divine essence. The blessed in heaven, being finally removed from this life, will enjoy such a vision for all eternity. Aquinas adopts this idea and integrates it within his own Aristotelian framework. He argues that as pure act God must be intrinsically intelligible, however much our present limitations prevent us from understanding him. Drawing on Book X of the Nicomachean Ethics, as well as Augustine, he identifies the telos of human existence as the intellectual apprehension of the divine essence.

These differences regarding apophaticism point to a second major area of difference, the roles that the two traditions assign to personal activity. I have pointed out how the Greek Fathers drew on the Pauline concept of synergy to see the human telos as an ever deepening participation in the divine energies. Such participation begins in this present life and engages the body as much as the soul. On this view, our present acts of obedience to God, seeking him in prayer, and sharing in his life through worship and the sacraments are the sort of thing that is ultimately constitutive of our final beatitude. Our final state will be purer and richer, of course, but it will be recognizably in continuity with these present ways of knowing God. On the Augustinian-Thomistic view, by contrast, prayer, obedience, and the sacraments are related to the human end instrumentally rather than constitutively. According to Aquinas, in the afterlife God will infuse the blessed with the lumen gloriae, the “light of glory” that will enable them to apprehend the divine essence. All of our present acts are designed to bring us to that point. The body has no real role in the beatific vision, and indeed Aquinas states explicitly that the resurrection of the body is not necessary for beatitude and does nothing to increase its intensity. So far as I can see, the same is true of our memory and other personal characteristics. Since the beatific vision is strictly an act of intellect, it is no more a personal act than is the Aristotelian theōria upon which it is modeled.

Finally I will touch briefly on a third area of difference, one that is large and deserves more careful exploration than I can give it here. Much of traditional natural theology is built around the concept of divine simplicity. Augustine and Aquinas have different ways of reaching this point, but they agree that all non-relational and non-privative predicates said of God are different ways of signifying the divine essence. Part of what this implies is that God’s will is identical to his essence. Of the many difficulties to which such a view gives rise, I will mention two. The first pertains to divine freedom. If God is free in the way traditionally assumed in Christianity, he could will differently than he does. Does this mean that in such a case his essence would be different? And if so, how different could it be? Assuming that there is at least some aspect of the essence that could never be different—say, divine goodness—then there must be a distinction within the essence between that which could be different and that which could not. Surely, however, if anything is contrary to divine simplicity, it is the presence of such a distinction within the divine essence!

The second difficulty pertains to reciprocity between God and creatures. If the divine will is identical to the divine essence, it would seem that the divine will cannot in any way be a response to creatures’ own initiative, for in that case creatures would contribute to determining the divine essence. Aquinas recognizes this problem, if it is one, and bites the bullet: his position is that God’s will is not in any way a response to creatures but is determined solely by God. It is hard to see how most traditional religious practice, including petitionary prayer, sacrifice, and even simply the desire to please God, can make sense on such a view. Indeed, as Aquinas recognizes, on this view the Augustinian interpretation of predestination is not only true but is necessarily true, since God could not create creatures who are capable in any way of affecting his judgments regarding salvation and damnation.11 Yet the Augustinian position began precisely as the attempt to exalt the divine will over all necessity. Such are the tangles one is led to by divine simplicity.

It is problems such as these that led Pascal to exclaim that the God of the philosophers is not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Augustinian-Thomistic God, who is perfectly simple and fully actual, seems to be locked within a box from which he cannot escape in order to interact in any meaningful way with his creatures. Plainly there needs to be some other way of understanding divine simplicity, one that does not involve these unacceptable limitations. Such a way is provided by the distinction of the divine essence and energies. The Greek Fathers think of simplicity as itself a divine energy, one of the ways in which God manifests himself in his activity. As with any energy, God is both simplicity itself and beyond simplicity as its source. Just as the sun is simple and yet possesses an indefinite multitude of rays, so nothing about divine simplicity prevents God from possessing an indefinite multitude of energies. Likewise nothing prevents these energies from being affected by creatures. The energies are precisely the realm of reciprocity, that in which God shares himself with creatures and summons them to offer themselves to him.

Undoubtedly many questions remain to be answered. I hope I have said enough, however, to make good on my original claims that we have here a way of thinking about God that is both deeply traditional and worthy of serious philosophical attention. In closing I will only say that it seems to me that the long movement of philosophy away from God has been, for the most part, a movement away from the God of Augustine and western theology. Will we find that all the while that we have been fleeing from the God of the West we have in fact been approaching the God of the East? That is a question that I invite you to ponder.

Colloquium on David Bradshaw’s book, Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom, Cambridge: CUP 2004.

Cambridge University has a video of interest on this topic: http://rss.sms.cam.ac.uk/rss/collection/517135

Quote
The Concept of the Divine Energies in Eastern Orthodoxy Part 1
Description:  The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies would like to inform all interested in Orthodox Studies (and especially Orthodox Theology and Philosophy) that it has created web pages with video recordings from the Colloquium on 'The Concept of the Divine Energies in Eastern Orthodoxy'; the event was organised at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, on 5th of December 2008 with the participation of Prof. David Bradsaw, author of Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom, Cambridge: CUP 2004, Prof. John Milbank, Professor in Religion, Politics and Ethics, University of Nottingham, and other specialists in the field.

The Concept of the Divine Energies in Eastern Orthodoxy Part 2     January 25, 2010 1:54 AM
Description:  The Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies would like to inform all interested in Orthodox Studies (and especially Orthodox Theology and Philosophy) that it has created web pages with video recordings from the Colloquium on 'The Concept of the Divine Energies in Eastern Orthodoxy'; the event was organised at the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, on 5th of December 2008 with the participation of Prof. David Bradsaw, author of Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom, Cambridge: CUP 2004, Prof. John Milbank, Professor in Religion, Politics and Ethics, University of Nottingham, and other specialists in the field.

3.50‐4.40pm Response and Discussion
Chair: Dr Marcus Plested
‘Maximus the Confessor and John of Damascus on ousia and energeia’
Dr Christophe Erismann, Research Associate at CRASSH, University of Cambridge
4.40 ‐5.30pm Response and Discussion
Chair: Dr. Marcus Plested
'St. Gregory Palamas' successful appropriation of Aristotelian Metaphysics: the
response of Orthodox Mystical Theology to Western intellectualism and
essentialism‘ or ‘A Discussion of D. Bradshaw’s book on Divine Energies’
Dr Constantinos Athanasopoulos, Director of Distance Learning, Institute for Orthodox
Christian Studies, Cambridge

« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 12:13:49 AM by xariskai » Logged

Silly Stars
Justin Kissel
Formerly Asteriktos
Protospatharios
****************
Online Online

Posts: 30,595


« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2011, 09:17:09 AM »

http://preachersinstitute.com/2010/12/16/the-concept-of-divine-energies/
Logged
akimel
Fr Aidan
High Elder
******
Offline Offline

Faith: Orthodox
Jurisdiction: ROCOR (Western Rite)
Posts: 520



WWW
« Reply #19 on: May 17, 2011, 10:17:57 AM »

The question of development of doctrine with specific reference to the question of the essence/energies distinction is discussed by Norman Russell in “Theosis and Gregory Palamas: Continuity or Doctrinal Change?” (St Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly 50:4 [2006]):

Quote
Theosis did not mean much to most Byzantines in the early fourteenth century. Some writers referred to it in passing. Anyone who was at all familiar with the Orations of Gregory of Nazianzus, or had dipped into the erudite discussions of Maximus the Confessor, could not have failed to have come across the term. But it was not widely used by later Byzantine writers. In patristic literature where theosis, or deification, was mentioned it was usually a metaphor for baptismal adoption by grace, or for the final consummation of the resurrected life. What it did not imply, except perhaps among some of the pioneers of hesychasm, was a personal experience in this life through a programme of contemplative prayer.

Gregory Palamas changed that. On being accused of heresy in 1340, he elaborated a theory of deification through participation in the divine energies that split the Byzantine intellectual world into two camps. By the mid-fourteenth century there was scarcely a layman, let alone a monk or a bishop, who had not taken up a position on the Palamite view of theosis and the theology it entailed.

The furor this theology caused is astonishing. Synods held in 1341, 1347, and 1351 acquitted Palamas of heresy. But a synod in 1344 and a minority group meeting in 1347 condemned and excommunicated him. A sustained opposition was led by some of the most prominent intellectuals of the time until Palamas’ death, probably in 1357, and for many years afterwards. The last synod concerning Palamas, held in 1368, resulted in his canonization. But even then the controversy continued until overtaken by the catastrophic events of the fifteenth century.

Why did Palamas’ teaching provoke such hostility? And why did successive councils fail to provide a solution? Personalities and politics certainly played a part, but the fundamental reasons were theological. Educated people took theology seriously. Many were attracted by Palamas’s vision of union with the divine but uneasy about his explanation of the mechanics of it. Was his teaching traditional or innovative. Was it orthodox or heretical? Persuasive arguments were advanced by either side. It was not easy to decide between them. …

Palamas’ presuppositions are three: first, that the experience of the hesychasts is real—the light they see is a real light which brings about intimate communion with the divine; secondly, that God is inaccessible in his essence; and thirdly that the Fathers convey an unchanging truth in its fullness, so that consequently the tenets of hesychasm must be found in the Fathers. The first two presuppositions account for the importance Palamas gives to the gospel account of the Transfiguration, and his innovative exegesis of it as a demonstration of theosis. The third accounts for his extended discussion of patristic texts, particularly from the Cappadocians, Dionysius and, above all, Maximus. In fact one could say without exaggeration that Palamas’s spiritual theory arises from the interaction between the hesychast tradition and Maximus the Confessor. …

Is this the patristic doctrine of deification? Yes, in some of its aspects. In Palamas’ writings the ethical approach to deification, based on attaining likeness to God, is presented as merely preparatory. The eschatological aspect of deification recedes. The nominal and analogical approaches that we find in many of the Fathers are expressly excluded. Theosis is experienced as a dynamic participation, admittedly consummated in the life to come, but attainable in this life through the practice of hesychastic prayer. This represents a narrowing of the notion of theosis, yet also a deepening of it. Theosis acquires an experiential charge in Macarius and Symeon the New Theologian, a charge which receives a theoretical rationale only in Gregory Palamas. Theosis is not just a name for created grace, a change brought about in the believer by divine action, as his opponents argued. It signifies a real participation in the life of God, making us homotheoi and gods by grace.

Does Palamas’s narrowing and deepening of theosis indicate continuity or change? This was a question that exercised some of the best Greek minds of the fourteenth century. Or, as they would have put it, was Palamas orthodox or an innovator? Palamas himself took great pains to demonstrate that his essence-energies distinction was well founded in patristic teaching. … While appealing constantly to the Fathers, Palamas was aware that in his technical discussions he was “developing” what they had said. Af the first session of the council in 1351 he had claimed that his teaching was simply an anaptyxis, an unfolding—or “unpacking” as we might say today—of what the Sixth Ecumenical Council had to say about the two energies of Christ. This view of doctrinal development corresponds to what Maurice Wiles has called the logical model, the drawing out of conclusions implicit in premises. It does not fit the evolutionary model, expounded in its classic form by Newman. Wiles rejects the logical model, which he regards as “self-evidently false.” Nor is he happy with the evolutionary model, which would seem to hold doctrine hostage to contingent factors, such as the cultural environment. He proposes instead “change through alteration of perspective,” on analogy with academic disciplines where insightful change occurs “when somebody succeeds in seeing the subject from a new perspective.” This seems to me a helpful way of looking at what Palamas was doing. By approaching theosis from the new perspective of his particular understanding of hesychasm, he succeeded in shaping a philosophical notion of deification which has elements of both continuity and change. That is why successive synods could not settle the question simply by pronouncing Palamas orthodox. His critics needed to follow him in his shift of perspective. They objected to what they regarded as his metathesis of doctrine. What he was urging in effect was a metathesis of viewpoint. Only a willingness to look at the issues from a different perspective could have brought them to an understanding of what, in all sincerity, they were unable to see.

The opponents of Palamism were not heretics. But, like many of the Fathers of the fourth century who had reservations about the word homoousios, they rejected novel terminology and insisted on what they took to be “the ancestral doctrines”—ta patria dogmata. Palamas’s torrent of treatises convinced some of them but his final victory was chiefly brought about by his supporters’ capture of the patriarchal office. His version of theosis was enshrined in Orthodox teaching as a result of his canonization by the synod of 1368, but among the intellectuals for whom it was intended it remained—and still remains—controversial.

Also see:

Alexis Torrance,  "Precedents for Palamas’ Essence-Energies Theology in the Cappadocian Fathers"

J. P. Houdret, "Palamas and the Cappadocians"
Logged

elijahmaria
Taxiarches
**********
Offline Offline

Faith: Byzantine Catholic
Posts: 6,473



WWW
« Reply #20 on: May 17, 2011, 10:40:42 AM »



Follows a few paragraphs from a book review of Bradshaw's Aristotle East and West.  There are any number of author's of texts such as this one of Bradshaw's that are subject to the same criticism.  I wonder if or when there will be a resolution to the habitual practice of presumption concerning the works of St. Thomas and the ensuing cadres of self-appointed Thomists.  Back to basics is good but rare:

Quote

Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom
by David Bradshaw (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004),
xiv + 297 pp.

WELCOME TO an amazingly erudite work, ranging from Aristotle’s
prime mover to Palamas’s “divine energies,” with a sustained focus on the
uses of energeia (with its Western counterparts—act, and esse) as its uses
expanded from Aristotle through Philo, Numenius and Alcinus, to Plotinus,
and (thence in the West) from Porphyry and the anonymous
Parmenides commentary to Marius Victorinus and Boethius; returning
then to Eastern sources—the Corpus Hermeticum, Iamblichus, and Proclus.
This background presentation testifies to the rich resources the Cappadocians—
St. Basil of Caeserea, St. Gregory of Nyssa, and St. Gregory
Nazianzen—could draw upon for their initiatives in trinitarian theology,
notably in developing the key notions of energeia [act] and ousia [substance],
culminating in participation, especially as this notion structures the dense
inquiries of Dionysius the Areopagite. These philosophical strategies bore
fruit in the work of St. Maximus, St. John of Damascus, and Gregory of
Cyprus.At this point we encounter Augustine, to set up a kind of exchange
between Thomas Aquinas and St. Gregory Palamas; an attempt at exchange
that introduces the culminating chapter, where the author takes stock of his
endeavor, leaving us with a challenging agenda to assess the potential for
mutual illumination between East and West by articulating central philosophical
strategies needed to elucidate our shared Christian heritage.This
impressively scholarly endeavor not only intends to inform us of the philosophical
landscape of theologies of the Christian East, but would lead us
learn from their practice by undertaking comparative explorations, exemplified
by the exchange he sets up between Aquinas and Palamas.

The initial eight chapters of the book, five of which stem from Bradshaw’s
doctoral dissertation in the ancient philosophy program at University
of Texas in Austin, abundantly serve that first intent, testifying as well to the
richness of his philosophical formation.We are instructed throughout, and
in a manner that works to display how these ideas can serve as strategies for
elucidating of theological conundra, thereby offering more than a “history
of ideas” narrative—though the presentation will serve that purpose as well
for those of us who sorely need it. So it is disappointing that the second
intent, of mutual theological illumination, fails to exploit this rich background,
skewed as it is by an apologetic goal of showing the inherent superiority—
religiously as well as conceptually—of the Eastern tradition, largely
by relying on quite dated “neo-Thomist” readings of Palamas’s interlocutor,
Thomas Aquinas, while overlooking recent retrievals of Aquinas’s theological
resources. One cannot but miss (in the bibliography) secondary sources
like Edward Booth (1987), Rudi teVelde (2000),Peter Adamson (2001), and
Gilles Emery (2002), to mention but a few.

Moreover, among Aquinas’s texts, the omission of the highly formative Liber de causis is especially telling,
as it might have kept the author from taking (at face value) Aquinas’s “loose”
use of efficient cause for God’s creating and sustaining action, to read it in the
decidedly un-Aristotelian mode of a “cause of being.” Nor is this a pedantic
contention (though it may be unfair, since some of these may not have
been available before this work went to press), for this growing body of
work (see Levering 2004) offers author and reader alike an Aquinas more
amenable to Palamas’s intent in invoking “divine energies” than the neo-
Thomist “purely philosophical” construct could ever hope to do.Moreover,
when the culminating chapter attempts an exchange between East and West
in the persons of two giants,Aquinas and Palamas, and fails to inform itself
of this work, it will inevitably fail in its intent, for it contrasts a richly
contextualized Palamas (who could invoke a historically articulated sense of
energeia) with a flatly “philosophical” and ahistorical Aquinas, whose understanding
of the unique relation of creatures to their creator is left unexplicated,
notably in the discussion of (divine and human) freedom where
modern “libertarian” constructs are simply presumed. So, for example, his
critique turns on a relatively untutored polemic against Aquinas’s insistence
on divine simpleness, which will conclude that “the difficulty with such a
view is that of reconciling it with God’s capacity for free choice. I have
argued that Aquinas failed to resolve this difficulty” (267–68).Yet work on
“divine simpleness” by Timothy McDermott, Brian Davies, and others
identifies it primarily as a philosophical strategy to articulate what Robert
Sokolowski dubs “the Christian distinction,” so securing the unique
creator/creatures relation shared by all Christians (as well as, analogously, by
Jews and Muslims).

The resulting imparity in treating these two paradigmatic East/West
figures also impedes this reviewer from helping to advance the question
by taking issue with particulars in that attempt, since doing so would
require engaging in a didactic pedagogy of filling in the gaps—particularly
unseemly with regard to an inquirer whose work I had already come
to find a valuable resource in these recondite domains...
Logged

Papist
Patriarch of Pontification
Toumarches
************
Offline Offline

Faith: Catholic
Jurisdiction: Byzantine
Posts: 12,436


Praying for the Christians in Iraq


« Reply #21 on: May 17, 2011, 11:54:13 AM »

Does Plamas teach that any given "engery" of God is infinite, and unlimited?
Logged

You are right. I apologize for having sacked Constantinople. I really need to stop doing that.
Alcuin
Member
***
Offline Offline

Faith: Catholic
Posts: 122


« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2011, 01:00:12 PM »

How one feels about doctrinal development, whether one thinks a doctrine developed, and how they feel about the validity thereof is pretty predictable based on their preconceived notion of the doctrine being discussed. There might be valid differences over 'development' but as applied to a specific doctrine it's more often than not a smokescreen for bias, I think.

Certainly Palamas's theology represents new teachings in the sense that those doctrines were not fully worked out in Orthodox theology before him, just like Christology became refined over the course of the monophysite and monothelite controversies. How could they not have? Is that a 'development'? Is development as such acceptable? The answer you get is going to depend on whether the person you ask is sympathetic to Palamism or not, so you might as well just discuss the doctrine in itself. It might also depend on whether the person in question considers Constantinople V to have been an ecumenical council or not. For my part, I tend to think that energies which are both uncreated and distinct from the divine essence represent a philosophically incoherent notion, but not necessarily that holding to it makes one heterodox.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2011, 01:13:41 PM by Alcuin » Logged
Tags:
Pages: 1   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.18 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!
Page created in 0.157 seconds with 50 queries.