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2. The Later Chapters of the Capita 150

A. Introduction

With chapter 64 Gregory Palamas turned to the specific problems presented by the doctrinal errors of Barlaam the Calabrian and Gregory Akindynos. The transition is noted in c. 64: ἴνα γάρ τἄλλα νῦν ἀφῶ. The divisions in this section of the Capita 150 are not always as easily discernible as in the first section. At times, a division is clearly marked off because it represents a single source: the best example is c. 113–121, which were taken entirely from Palamas» Reply on Cyril. At other times, the structure is loose and the relation between chapters is not very evident (e.g., 72–84). For the reader's convenience, but at the risk of oversimplification, I offer the following schematic overview.

Refutation of the Doctrines of Barlaam and Akindynos

I.      Divine Illumination (64–67)

64.      The perfection of the likeness is effected by illumination.

65.      Divine illumination is an uncreated reality distinct from the substance of God. {CA}

66.      The Light of Tabor and the Light of the future age. {H 16}

67.      Adam's garment of Light in paradise and Paul's illumination on the Damascus Road. {H 16}

II.      Multiplicity of the Divine Energies (68–71)

68.      The uncreated energy is indivisibly divided.

69.      Divine illuminations and graces can be understood as plural in number.

The ‘seven spirits’ mentioned in Is 11.1–2. {CA}

These refer to the uncreated, divine energies. {CA}

III.      Basic Doctrines (72–84)

The energies and powers of God are pre-eternal and uncreated.

Not the divine energy, but its product is a creature.

74.      The divine energy, accessible to all, is distinct from the divine substance, and from the hypostasis of the Spirit.

Union with God means union with the uncreated energy of the Spirit.

Quotations from Maximus, Psalms, Basil.

Quotations from Gregory Nazianzen, Pseudo-Dionysius and John Chrysostom.

78.      The absolute transcendence of God's nature and the participability of his energy.

79.      The infinite gap between God and man can be bridged only by the practice of virtue.

80.      Divine truths have no adequate human expression.

81.      Indivisibly distinct and dividedly united.

82.      The divine substance remains unknowable while the realities around it can be known from creatures. {U}

83. The Eunomianism of Barlaam and Akindynos.

84.      Gregory of Nyssa, Contra Eunomium.

IV.      The Dionysian Doctrine of Union and Distinction (85–95)

85.      There is another distinction in God beyond that of the hypostases.

86.      The incomprehensible processions and communications of God are uncreated. {U}

87.      The uncreated character of the divine participations and exemplars. {U}

88.      The absolute participations cannot be ranged among creatures any more than can the Spirit.

89.      Absolute existence and the other transcendent ‘participations’.

90.      The creative providences and goodnesses must be uncreated. {U}

91.      The divine providences and goodnesses constitute the uncreated energy of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. {U}

92.      The divine communications are natural and essential energies of God; their effects are created. {U}

The divine energy and grace of the Spirit. {CA}

94.      No creature can participate in the divine nature. {CA}

95.      Neither is the energy created nor is it identical with the substance of God.

V.      Absurdities Deriving from the Akindynist Doctrines (96–103)

96.      Either creatures are God by substance or the Son and Spirit are creatures.

97.      Creating, begetting and sending forth are effected by the Father, through the Son. in the Spirit.

98.      The Son is created from the Father's will.

99.      There are not only many energies in God but many substances.

100. The energies (i.e., will and foreknowledge) are identical and so God must will evil or not possess foreknowledge.

101. If creating and foreknowledge are identical, the latter will be limited by time.

102. Or, creatures will be without beginning just as God is.

103. Or, creating will proceed from God's nature and not his will.

VI.      The Imparticipability of God’s Substance (104–112)

104. All beings participate in God's sustaining energy, but not in his substance.

105. Those worthy of divinization participate in the divine energy in another way.

106. The transcendence of the divine nature and the problem of attributing names to it. {T}

107. The substance is imparticipable; the energy is participable. {T}

108. Absurdities that would result from participation in God's substance. {T}

109. Participation in God's substance would render the latter multi-hypostatic. {T}

110. Because it is indivisible, the substance of God is imparticipable.{T}

111. Participation in a substance implies a certain identity of substance. {T}

112. The divine energy, the three persons and the one God. {U}

VII.      The Reply on Cyril (113–121)

113. There is one life and power of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. {K}

114. The triune God possesses life absolutely, while being also our life by cause. {K}

115. The Son is the sole uncreated energy. {K}

116. The Son is called life and bestows life, but the life he bestows is not the divine substance. {K}

117. The one divine substance and its many attributes are not identical. {K}

118. The positive attributes of God do not divulge the divine substance from which they are distinct. {K}

119. Identification of substance and attributes would introduce composition in God. {K}

120. The Sabellianism of the Akindynists. {K}

121. In effect, the Akindynists attempt to show that Cyril contradicts himself. {K}

VIII. The Contra Acindynum (122–131)

122. The enhypostatic energy and power of the Spirit. (CA)

123. Apophatic and cataphatic theology.

124. The Akindynists and the Eunomians. (CA)

125. Similarities in their arguments. (CA)

126. Their similarities – continued. (CA)

127. The divine energy is neither substance nor accident. (CA)

128. Gregory Nazianzen on the same subject (CA)

129. The witness of John Damascene. (CA)

130. A false interpretation of Gregory Nazianzen by the Akindynists. (CA)

131. No disagreement between John Damascene and Gregory Nazianzen. (CA)

IX.      Distinction of the Divine Substance and the Divine Energy (132–145)

132. ‘Relationes ad intra’ and ‘relationes ad extra’.

133. Creating and acting are proper attributes of God alone.

134. God is a transcendent substance in which there are observed only relation and creation.

135. God possesses more than substance alone.

136. The divine substance without an energy would be reduced to a mere abstraction.

137. The Akindynists deny to God a natural energy distinct from his substance.

138. One common, uncreated energy of the three hypostases.

139. The Akindynists insist that God's energy is created.

140. Only the effects of the divine energy can be called creatures.

141. The Akindynists are ultimately denying God's self-revelation.

142. The Akindynists are similar to the followers of Sabellius.

143. The witness of the Fathers on the distinction of the divine substance and energy.

144. The Akindynists fall into the absurdity of making God a creature.

145. The substance-energy distinction in God does not compromise the divine simplicity.

X.      The Light of Tabor (146–150)

146. Scriptural and patristic testimonia on the Transfiguration.

147. The Akindynists call the Light of Tabor created and the Palamites they call ditheists.

148. The synodal condemnation of the Akindynists.

149. At times, the Akindynists say the Light is uncreated but identical with the divine substance.

150. They would thus have God's substance visible; or in turn they would make the Light created.

Divine Illumination (64–67)

The first topic in this new division of the Capita 150 is divine illumination. As far as concerns the divine image in man, we are superior to the angels, but the angels are superior to man, in that they possess a greater degree of illumination and, in this sense, likeness to God (c. 64). For both men and angels, one of the principal gifts bestowed by illumination is knowledge of beings (c. 65). Adam was clothed in a garment of divine illumination while he dwelt in paradise under God's command, but he lost this gift in the Fall. Access to this grace was restored to man in the incarnation and manifested anew by Christ on Mount Tabor, revealing what we shall become in the future age. The apostle Paul, who himself received a pledge of this illumination in his vision on the road to Damascus, referred to it as «our heavenly dwelling place» (2Cor 5.2: c. 66–67).

In view of the gifts bestowed by illumination and the patristic and scriptural witnesses to it, Palamas concluded that it must be an uncreated reality distinct from the divine substance. By teaching a contrary doctrine Barlaam and Akindynos were clearly in the wrong.

Palamas seems to have put these chapters together from rather disparate sources. C. 64 and 65 were based at least in part on Contra Acindynum 6.9, but the focus of interest in the latter is not illumination but the nature of the light of the angels. ca 6.8–9 bear the following titles:106

8.      God himself is the light of the eternal angels, which exists before the world and transcends it. Further, by declaring this to be created, Akindynos proves God to be created as well.

9.      Demonstration that, not we, but Barlaam and Akindynos are the ones who are teaching that there is a light between God and angels which is neither God nor angel. Further, God is called light not by substance but by energy.

Chapters 66 and 67 are taken almost entirely from Homily 16: On the Economy in the Flesh of Our Lord Jesus Christ;

Multiplicity of the Divine Energies (68–71)

In this brief section Palamas sought to show that, while the substance of God is always referred to as one, the divine and uncreated energies can be considered as multiple, for they are indivisibly distinct from the divine substance. Chapters 68–69 form an original introduction to the subject, while the next two chapters constitute a résumé of an earlier discussion in the Contra Acindynum.107

Demonstration that the seven spirits which have come to rest upon Christ according to the prophecy are identical with the Holy Spirit; and that Akindynos calls the Spirit a creature in affirming that these are creatures.

Concerning the fear of the Spirit, both as to what it is and how it arises in those deemed worthy.

Further concerning these seven spirits, that they are uncreated. An explanation or the proof text maliciously advanced by Akindynos against these. Also concerning creation and operation.

This discussion in fact dates back to 1341, when Palamas wrote his third letter to Akindynos:108

For the deifying gift of God is his energy, which the great Dionysius and all the other theologians everywhere call divinity, while insisting that the title of divinity belongs to the divine energy rather than to the divine substance. And according to Gregory the Theologian, «Isaias was fond of calling the energies of the Spirit spirits.» Then, just as the prophet was not compromising the unity of the Spirit when he called the energies of the Spirit seven spirits, so too, as shown above, also providence is given the name divinity for it is an energy of God (as also the power of vision and the divinizing grace of God, i.e., divinization), and the unity of the Godhead is not destroyed.

The same discussion is continued in Union 33 (PS 2:1–12) and dob 27 (PS 2:189.12–14).

Basic Doctrines (72–84)

These chapters contain the essentials of Gregory Palamas’ position against Akindynos and his supporters. The argumentation from chapter to chapter is very involved, but it can be summarized as follows.

The divine energy is uncreated, distinct from the divine substance and from the trinitarian hypostases. The divine energy alone is accessible to creatures, while the substance of God, his inner life and being, remains forever inaccessible and utterly transcendent to all created reality. For both men and angels, union with God means participation in the energy which is truly God, yet distinct from his substance which is imparticipable. The distinction between God's substance and energy is necessary to explain the fact that God in his aseity is totally beyond nature and being but still, at the same time, intimately close to the realm of creation. There is both a natural participation in the divine energy common to all created beings and a participation granted solely to rational beings who have freely chosen the good.

One of the consequences of the antinomy of God's remoteness and intimacy with respect to the created realm is the real inadequacy of human concepts and language in expressing the realities of God. Many divine truths are beyond human expression and those that are not must be expressed in accord with the guidance of the Spirit, i.e., with the aid of grace. Starting with created realities, no one can attain any idea or concept of God as he is in himself: only those realities or truths surrounding the substance are attainable.

The Akindynist party held doctrines diametrically opposed to these. They emphasized the divine unity, simplicity and transcendence to the point of compromising the presence of any distinction in God, including that of the persons. Everything in God must be the divine substance, alone uncreated. Anything distinct from the substance cannot be God and must consequently be created. Therefore, union with God must mean union with his substance or with some sort of created energies. And since the Akindynists analyzed Palamite statements entirely on a human level without allowing them their proper, spiritual and theological sense, they were unable to understand the meaning given to union and distinction in the Godhead by the orthodox tradition of the Fathers which Palamas faithfully followed. Moreover, they were left in the contradictory position of defending God's transcendence, while at the same time insisting that concepts about God derived from the contemplation of creation can refer only to the divine substance, and not to any uncreated energies. God then became knowable and even participable in his very inner being, just as the Eunomians had once claimed.

The Dionysian Doctrine of Union and Distinction (85–95)

Union, an earlier work of Palamas, is the principal source for chapters 85–95. The full title of the treatise provides a good description for the contents of these chapters:109

The different meanings of union and distinction in God: namely, that we have been taught that there is distinction in God, not only according to the hypostases, but also according to the common processions and energies; and that in each of the two senses of union and distinction our tradition understands God as uncreated, even if Barlaam and Akindynos should be displeased by this.

The treatise was devoted to righting the misinterpretation of certain texts taken from Pseudo-Dionysius by Barlaam and Akindynos.110

Chapter 85 is an introductory chapter newly written for this section of the Capita 150. The texts from Pseudo-Dionysius cited here were discussed at several points in Union. Chapters 88 and 89 were not taken directly from Union but they do continue the same discussion of Dionysian theology. Chapters 93–95 are less evidently connected to the preceding chapters, yet they seem too brief to form an independent section. Their basic contention is that there is no participation in the divine substance, but only in the divine energy. Chapters 93 and 94 are taken from ca 5.27 which bears the title:111

Since distinction in God has a twofold reference, as the theologians have proved, whenever the whole is referred to one of these, it does not include the other. Further, beings that participate in God participate in the divine energy but not in the divine substance.

The first section of ca 5.27 is thus not unlike the discussion in Union and in c. 85–92. Moreover, the analogy of the sun and its ray, found in c. 92, is carried over into the following chapters. These last three chapters might therefore be considered as a sort of appendix to those preceding.

Absurdities of the Akindynist Doctrines (96–103)

Starting with the Akindynist denial of any distinction between the divine substance and the divine energies, Palamas used a string of syllogisms to reveal the absurdities that result from such a doctrinal position.

Creation cannot be distinguished from generation and procession, with the result that creatures become God (in substance, not by grace), or that the Son and Spirit must be creatures (c. 96).112 There can be no distinction between creation and the processions of the persons in the Trinity (c. 97). Substance and will would not be distinct and thus the Son would be not only begotten from the Father's substance but also created from his will (c. 98). As there are many energies in God, there must also be many substances (c. 99). If the energy is identified with the divine substance, then the energies themselves cannot be distinguished from one another. God's will and his foreknowledge are thus identical. But if he possesses foreknowledge of all things, he must will evil. Or, if God does not will evil, he can no longer possess foreknowledge (c. 100). If creation and foreknowledge are not distinct, and if God's creating has a beginning, so too must his foreknowledge, and God will not possess foreknowledge of all things from eternity (c. 101).113 Further, creatures will be coincident with God's foreknowledge (c. 102). And since God's foreknowledge is not subject to his will, neither shall creation be, and then creating will proceed not from God's will but from his nature (c. 103).

The Imparticipability of God's Substance (104–112)

The central chapters of this section are taken directly and verbatim from Theophanes 17–21 where Palamas focuses primarily on the absolute transcendence and the imparticipability of the divine substance.114 Participation in God is strictly limited to participation in the divine energies which are uncreated and as such are truly God though distinct from his substance. The first two chapters and the final one constitute a sort of inclusio for the lengthy excerpt from the Theophanes. This seems clear from the fact that the first lines of c. 104 are nearly identical with the first lines of c. 112.115 The first chapter describes God's relation to the created universe through his sustaining energy. By this energy all things participate in God, though not in his substance. The following chapter touches on the topic of participation in God by grace. This too takes place by means of the divine energy in the divinization of the worthy. The final chapter of this section is taken to a large extent from another treatise by Palamas, Union 21, where the discussion centres on the one common energy of the three persons of the Trinity.

The Reply on Cyril (113–121)

This section is a near verbatim reproduction of Gregory's Reply on Cyril edited and discussed below in the appendix.116 However, in taking over the text certain modifications were made. The last two sections of the Reply (8 and 7, in that order) were placed at the beginning, so that in the Capita 150 the general exposition of the Palamite position comes first. At the end of the general résumé Palamas appended a quotation from Pseudo-Athanasius (c. 114.14–19). Then, as he introduced the disputed text from Cyril of Alexandria's Thesaurus he added a brief statement of the Akindynist position not found in the Reply: the Akindynists reject the divine energy, claiming either that it is created or denying that it is distinct; and they even invent a new heresy in holding that the only uncreated energy in God is the Son (c 115.1–4). When Gregory reproduced the disputed text used by the Akindynists to support their position, he gave, not the whole text as in the Reply, but only the second half (c. 115.6–9).

The next significant addition to the Reply comes in c. 119.14–18 where the quotation of a text from Cyril is extended a few lines further. Later, in c. 120.20–27 Palamas made another digression from the Reply to add Sabellianism to the list of heresies to which the Akindynists have succumbed.

There are several instances where small sections of the Reply are not reproduced in the Capita 150. None of them are very significant. A citation from Cyril's Thesaurus is omitted (Reply 4.15–20) and also a specific reference to the historical circumstances of the pamphlet (Reply 6.1–5). The remaining omissions are brief interjections or introductory comments. The only other alteration to the text of the Reply was some minor rearrangement of portions of Reply 1 and 3.

The Contra Acindynum (122–131)

Although chapters 122–131 constitute a distinct division within the work, this section is not as cohesively organized as others. Its distinctiveness is based on the derivation of most of the material (though not verbatim) from the sixth book of the Contra Acindynum. Four chapters depart from this organizational schema.

Chapter 123 has no apparent relation to the rest of the section. Akindynos and his cohorts had been appealing to apophatic theology to support their contention that God cannot possess both an uncreated substance and an uncreated energy. Palamas replied with an explanation of the proper meaning and use of apophatic theology and its relation to cataphatic.

Chapters 124–126 form a subsection in which Palamas established the equation of the Akindynists with the Eunomians. Both heretical groups refused to recognize in God anything but the divine substance. Thus anything distinct from the divine substance could not be uncreated. Then for the Eunomians the Son had to be a creature and for the Akindynists the energy had to be created.117 Palamas started from the orthodox position established against the Eunomians whereby each of the hypostases is divine and uncreated but distinct from each other and from the substance, while at the same time there is no compromise to the divine simplicity. In this, Palamas saw a clear patristic precedent for the doctrine of the uncreated divine energy. The fourth century Fathers used the argument that a relational name (e.g., son or father) cannot denote a substance and must refer to another reality with which it is not identical. In this way they were able to establish that the hypostases of the Godhead are distinct from one another and from the substance. And so, not everything in God is identical with the substance, as the Eunomians claimed.118 Palamas took up the same argument and applied it to the energy, for this is God's relatio ad extra in the divine economy of creation and salvation. As a relation it cannot denote God's substance but must be distinct from it (c. 125).

Chapters 124–126 are not entirely unrelated to the rest of the section because c. 124 draws on material from ca 6.17. The other two chapters might be considered as an excursus.

Contra Acindynum 6.17–22 focuses on a text of Gregory Nazianzen which was being used by the Akindynist party in support of their doctrinal claims. The passage reads:119

The Holy Spirit belongs either in the category of those beings that subsist of themselves or in that of things observed in another. Those with skill in these matters call the first of these options substance, the second option accident. If then he were an accident, he would be an energy of God. For what else, or of whom else, could he be, for this is surely what also avoids composition? And if he is an energy, clearly he will be actuated and will not actuate and at the moment of his actuation he will cease.

Palamas organized his response under the following chapter headings:120

6.17 The orthodox understanding, by which each of the three revered persons is called a power and an energy. Also concerning the common power and energy of the three.

6.18 The theologians say that God both is and is not an energy, and each of these in a distinct sense, and further they indicate that the uncreated power and energy is common to the three persons; but Akindynos, save for mentioning a power and energy, denies everything else.

6.19      Demonstration that the energy observed in the substance of the Holy Spirit is, according to the Theologian, uncreated and involves no composition, even if it is distinct from the substance.

(6.20      By openly teaching that the energy is created, Akindynos is completely rejecting the Fifth and Sixth Ecumenical Councils.)121

6.21      Demonstration that even if the energy is called a quasi-accident, it is not as if it were not a proper attribute of God. Also abundant proof that the uncreated energy is distinct from the uncreated substance.

6.22      The theologians witness to the fact that the energy is an essential attribute of God and that it actuates. Also, when Akindynos expressly calls the energy a creature, he makes God into a creature.

Thus, drawing upon ca 6.17, Palamas discussed in c. 122 the senses in which the term energy can be used of the Holy Spirit.122 It could refer to the hypostatic or personal reality of the Spirit in that he possesses energies and powers, although he does so in conjunction with the Father and the Son. The reference might be to the uncreated energies of the Spirit, which are distinct from creatures and are not individually subsistent realities. Finally, the term could also be applied in an extended sense to the created effects of the Spirit's energies.

The Akindynists were insisting that when God is referred to as "alone uncreated» the substance is indicated in distinction from all else, and therefore the natural properties of God are created. In chapter 124 and in the corresponding section of ca 6.17 Palamas maintained that since, in the proper sense of the terms, the uncreated power and energy could be equated neither with the hypostases nor the hypostatic properties nor the nature, they must be the natural properties of God. Μόνος ἄκτιστος then refers to God in contradistinction to creation, and not to his natural properties.123

The Akindynists used the text of Gregory Nazianzen as their source for claiming the divine energy is a mere accident and cannot therefore be a proper attribute of God because change would thereby be introduced into the immutable nature. Palamas agreed that the term accident was not a proper description of the divine energy. However, some of the Fathers did use the term quasi-accident, but with the sole purpose of indicating that the energy is in God but is not the substance.124

Chapters 129–131 are devoted to the Akindynists» claims regarding the latter part of the quotation from Gregory Nazianzen, Or. 31.6.125 They had concluded that if the energy is effected or actuated it must be created. Referring in particular to several passages of John Damascene's Expositio fidei, Palamas explained that the substance of the Holy Spirit is not in any sense actuated. The energy is actuated but not in an absolute sense, i.e., not as creatures are, and because the energy is not only actuated but also actuates in divine fashion.

Both in these last three chapters and throughout this whole section of the Capita 150 the digest and reworking of the arguments lose something of the coherence and clarity of their original form in the Contra Acindynum.

Distinction of the Divine Substance and the Divine Energy (132–145)

In this section Palamas presented his defence of orthodox doctrine against the Akindynist denial of any distinction between the divine substance and the divine energies. Listing the ten categories of Aristotle, Palamas insisted that only three can be applied to the divinity. God is a transcendent substance possessed of only action and relation (c. 134). Under το ποιεῖν Palamas included both δημιουργεῖν and ἐνεργεῖν. The energies do not introduce any passivity, increase or diminution into God, but they do allow for potentiality, at least insofar as concerns the energy of creating, for God can add to his creation whenever he should wish (c. 133). Relation, as Palamas understood it, did not bear the more developed meaning found in Western theology from the time of Augustine.126 When applied to the trinitarian persons, it is the simple concept used by die Cappadocian Fathers who spoke of the relation of the Father to the Son as that between Begetter and Begotten, or of the Father to the Spirit as that of πρόβλημα to his αἰτιατά, or of the Father to the Son and the Spirit as that of αἰτία to αἰτιατά. Nothing more than this is intended. In its other sense, the term relation is applied to the activities of God ad extra in the divine economy of creation and salvation (c. 132). Thus, when the Akindynists refused to recognize in God anything but the substance, they eliminated in effect both the three hypostases and the divine economy (c. 134.14–23).

Another important aspect of Palamite theology is the practice of referring to the distinction of the hypostases from the substance as justification for allowing a similar distinction of the energy (c. 132, 142). If there is no compromise to the divine simplicity in the first instance, why should there be any in the second? Further, the existence and reality of the energies are intimately tied with that of the hypostases because the energies are observed in the three persons. Without the energies God would have no individual subsistence. He would exist only on the level of a universal or a secondary substance, in Aristotle's terms. The result would be a return to the heretical theory of Sabellius in which God is an undifferentiated monad (c. 136–137, 142). When Gregory spoke of the energies observed in the three hypostases, he did not neglect to add that in the Godhead these are numerically one, for there is one common energy of the three persons. The divine energies are spoken of as plural in reference to God's activities ad extra, in relation to us (c. 138, 144).

Even in such a technical discussion as this, Palamas maintained his ultimate perspective, namely, the preservation of the reality of God's self-revelation and the divine economy of creation and salvation. When the Akindynists disallowed any distinction between God's transcendent substance and his activities ad extra, they sealed the divine being within itself and rendered the gap between the reality of man and the transcendent reality of God forever unbreachable.

The Light of Tabor (146–150)

In the final chapters of his work Palamas summarized the position he had taken against Akindynos and his supporters on the subject of the nature of the Taboric Light seen by the chosen apostles at the time of Christ's Transfiguration.127

Palamas began by setting out his favoured scriptural and patristic witnesses to the Taboric Light. These all point to the divine and uncreated character of that Light and its intimate association with the Godhead (c. 146). The Akindynists opposed Palamas on this point, claiming that the Light was merely a created phantom and that Palamas and his followers were ditheists because of their insistence on the uncreated nature of both the divine substance and the divine energies (c. 147). Chapters 148–150 are devoted to a brief summary of the more salient absurdities that result from the Akindynist doctrines.

B. The Date of the Capita 150

In his well-known article in the Dictionnaire de théologie catholique, M. Jugie made the tentative suggestion that Gregory Palamas wrote the Capita 150 towards the end of his life.128 Jugie no doubt made the reasonable assumption that a work bringing together the principal teachings of an author would naturally fall in the later part of his career. J. Meyendorff examined the problem of date in much greater detail and concluded that the work was written between 1344 and 1347.129 The reference to the Contra Acindynum in c. 70 provides a terminus ante quem of 1344 (i.e., when the ca was completed). The only anti-Palamites mentioned are Barlaam, Akindynos and their followers. If the Capita 150 had been written after 1351, there would certainly have been some reference to Nikephoros Gregoras, In c. 148 there is reference to only one Synod. If the work had been written after 1347, there would have been reference to the second Synod, held in February 1347. Finally, the exhortation in c. 150 is a call to flee the κοινωνία of the heretics. This expression would be more appropriate prior to 1347; afterwards, Palamas would have called for union with the Church.

The present study has uncovered further evidence which must be taken into account in order to determine the date of the Capita 150. Not only did Palamas refer to the Contra Acindynum by name in c. 70. but he also quoted verbatim passages from this and from two earlier works, namely Union (1341–1344) and Theophanes (1343).130 This does not present any problems for Meyendorff's dating of the Capita 150 between 1344 and 1347. However, the inclusion of virtually the entire text of the Reply On Cyril in c. 113–121 necessarily pushes the date forward to the period between 1347 and 1351, probably soon after the composition of the Reply.131 This accords with the codicological evidence: the Capita 150 appears in Book 3 manuscripts, which give those works of Palamas written before 1341 and after 1347.132

The dating question is further complicated by the numerous verbatim parallels between the Capita 150 and Homilies 6, 16, 19 and 31.133 If Palamas was drawing together a presentation of his theological teachings by reviewing his earlier works and selecting representative passages, it is reasonable to suppose that the material from these four homilies was taken into the Capita 150. Unfortunately, this is difficult to prove: the flow could have been in the other direction, with the Capita 150 serving as a source for these homilies. But if my original assumption is true, it might at first seem that an even later dating of the Capita 150 is necessary. Meyendorff places most of the homilies of Palamas during the last period of his life when he was metropolitan of Thessalonica from 1351 to 1359.134 However, Meyendorff rightly made an exception for Homily 16 which he dated between 1347 and 1351.135 Palamas referred in this homily to Barlaam and Akindynos but not to Gregoras. Yet even so, Palamas was not overly preoccupied with theological polemics, as he might have been if the work were written earlier than 1347.

According to Meyendorff, Homily 31 contains a reference to the illness of which Palamas died in November 1359.136 The reference in fact need not be personal at all. After mentioning the prevalence of pestilence during the summer months, especially August. Palamas noted:137

ζέσασα γάρ ἐκ τῆς προλαβούσης θέρμης και τῶν κευμάτων ἡ ἐν ἡμῖν ὃλη, πᾶν ὃ τί περ ἄν ἑνός ἢ δυοῖν εεὔροι τῶν ἐν ἡμῖν στοιχείων, πρός πᾶν ἀναχεῖ τό σῶμα, και οὓτω τούς ἄλλους τῶν ἐν ἡμῖν ἀχρειοῦσα, τάς νόσους ποιεῖ.

The three pronominal references (ἡμῖν) should more naturally be taken as general and not personal. It is clear however that the homily was pronounced on the 1 August in a year when some form of pestilence was particularly severe. Palamas» central concern is with the origin of death and disease. It would seem that the situation was so grave that many people were blaming God for the outbreaks of sickness and the resulting deaths. Some were resorting to witches and sorcery in their desperate search for cures.

In the very middle of the homily Palamas rather abruptly switched from the topic of death and illness to a discussion of the Beatitude, «Blessed are the poor in spirit» (Mt 5.3). Then, just as abruptly he turned back again to his original topic.138 The intrusion appears odd and somewhat mechanical, although it can be rationalized. Death, both in soul and body, has its origin in sin and, therefore, repentance is required of us. To live a life of repentance we must learn to be poor in spirit. This was very likely Palamas» intended meaning, but he could have made the transition from topic to topic a lot smoother.

But there is another possible explanation for the intrusion of this Beatitude into the homily. In 1345–1346 Palamas wrote a spiritual treatise which he addressed to the nun Xene.139 One section of this work is devoted to a meditation on the very same Beatitude as that discussed in Homily 31.140 Although the similarities are not word for word, the emphasis is the same: true poverty, poverty "in spirit» must be founded on humility. A little later in Xene, Palamas turned to the second Beatitude as the source for his reflections on πένθος (μακάριοι οἱ πενθοῦντες Mt 5.4).141 In Homily 31 Palamas quoted the first four Beatitudes just before introducing the subject of poverty and later at the conclusion he apologized that there was not sufficient time to discuss the other Beatitudes.142 Furthermore, the treatment of poverty in Xene is preceded by a reflection on death of the soul and death of the body.143 Again the emphasis is virtually identical with that found in Homily 31. These factors argue in favour of bringing the date of Homily 31 close to that of Xene.

Homily 31 was addressed to a lay audience. At one point Palamas made reference to monks as «those who welcome that poverty of body born of abstinence and who consider want of possessions more desirable than wealth.» Then he added, «If we do not choose to become poor in such a way, let us partake of the fellowship of such poor men at least through almsgiving and sharing our possessions.»144 The Black Death descended upon Constantinople in the fall of 1347 and devastated the population of the city throughout the following year.145 During August of 1348 the plague would probably have been at its worst. This may very well have been the occasion for Gregory's homily. He was present in the Synod in September 1348 and so he could easily have been in Constantinople that same August.146

As already noted, the primary emphasis in both Xene and in Homily 31 falls on the distinction between death of the body and death of the soul and the origin of both in sin. The secondary emphasis is on the sin of Adam and Eve in paradise together with its consequences. In the Capita 150, however, the situation is reversed. The focus is on the original state of man in paradise and the transgression of our first parents. The discussion is also more elaborate and contains additional material related to the central theme of this section of the work. I would maintain, therefore, that Homily 31 is the earlier work upon whiсh Palamas relied when he brought together the résumé of his doctrine in the Capita 150. This work he wrote a year or two later during a more tranquil period, just before he was able to enter his episcopal see of Thessalonica. The Capita 150 were written then in 1349 or 1350. This would also presume the dating of the remaining two homilies (6 and 9) at least to the period immediately after the Civil War or perhaps even earlier.

The most serious obstacle to my date of 1349–1350 is the reference in c. 148 to a single Synod where the Akindynists were formally excommunicated and anathematized for holding that the Taboric Light is a phantasm and a creature.147 Meyendorff identified the Synod with that of 1341 on the grounds that only one Synod was mentioned, and thus the Capita 150 must have been written prior to the Synod of February 1347.148 This argument is not without its problems. The Tome of 1341 mentions only Barlaam and says nothing of Gregory Akindynos. Moreover, back in 1341 Akindynos was not attacking Palamas’ doctrine on the Light of Tabor; rather, his criticisms focused on some of the more radical terminology which Palamas was using to describe the relationship between the divine substance and the divine energies (e.g., superior and inferior θεότητες).149 There are, however, two clauses in the Tome of 1341 which would later implicate Akindynos in the "Barlaamite heresy». These forbade any further accusations against the hesychast monks and any further doctrinal discussions on the disputed questions.150 There is no evidence that the Synodal session of 10 June 1341 even considered Akindynos. However, in July there was a second session at which he was placed under some form of censure. Unfortunately, there were no official records kept of this meeting and so the exact nature of this censure remains in doubt.151 Darrouzès believes that there was never any official condemnation formulated in writing; it was pronounced orally and was neither voted upon nor publicly promulgated. This is the only way of explaining the omission of Akindynos’ name from the Tome.152

All this makes it difficult to take the formal terminology which Palamas used in c. 148 (ἀφορισμῷ ἐγγράφῳ και ἀναθέματι καθυπεβλήθησαν) as a reference to the Synod(s) of 1341. Such a formula would correspond better to the condemnation of Akindynos at the Synod of 1347.153 However, it is necessary to remember that this latter Synod brought in, not a new condemnation, but merely applied that of 1341 to Akindynos and his followers in explicit terms. Indeed, it had always been the contention of the Palamites that these opponents of orthodoxy were subject to condemnation under the two clauses of the Tome of 1341. Thus, there was in this sense only one Synodal condemnation and thereby no necessity of mentioning more than one Synod in c. 148. We can suggest, then, that the historical reference in this chapter does not preclude a dating of the Capita 150 after the year 1347.

Meyendorff also argued that Gregory's counsel to flee the κοινωνία of the heretics applies to the situation prior to the Council of 1347. After that, he would have called for unity with the Church.154 Although the opposition was dealt a near mortal blow in 1347, there were survivors: principally, Neophytos of Philippes, Joseph of Ganos, Matthew of Ephesus, Theodore Dexios and Nikephoros Gregoras.155 The latter had begun to write against Palamite theology as early as the winter of 1346/47. It would still then be possible to speak of a κοινωνία of the heretics even after 1347.

Unless some further evidence should come to light, the way now seems clear enough to permit the dating of the Capita 150 to the years 1349–1350.

C. Conclusion

From 1341 to 1347, during the second phase of the Palamite controversy, Gregory Akindynos was the dominant figure among the anti-Palamites.156 Without his intervention the controversy would almost certainly have died out after Barlaam’s return to Italy. The Calabrian monk had presented a most dangerous challenge to orthodox theology. His acquaintance with philosophy and theology was considerable and his skill in logical argumentation surpassed the abilities of most of the Byzantine literati. Although thoroughly Greek, his South Italian origins made him something of a foreigner to the strictures of Byzantine traditionalism. Perhaps for this reason his thinking shows certain un-Byzantine qualities of originality and innovation. But in the sphere of theology innovation is just another word for heresy.

In comparison with the wily Calabrian, Gregory Akindynos was clearly the lesser intellect. He is a good example of the formalistic theological traditionalism of most Byzantine intellectuals. Akindynos probably never fully understood the real issues at stake in the controversy with Barlaam. Too preoccupied at the level of formal expression, he latched onto the language and terminology of Palamas and interpreted it out of context. Although Palamas was at times less than careful in his choice of theological terms, Akindynos was obstinate in his insistance on giving to these terms the most radically unorthodox interpretation possible. In his arguments Akindynos could seldom offer more than sophistic refutations and an armoury of patristic quotations.

Palamas responded with a series of minor treatises, each covering specific areas of disagreement: the problem of two θεότητες, the ditheist tendency of his opponents» theology, participation in God, union and distinction in God. Finally, in the Antirrhetics Against Akindynos Palamas replied point for point to the major work written by his adversary.157

The end of the civil war in 1347, the Palamite victory at the February Synod, the exile and subsequent death of Akindynos, and the great tragedy of the Black Death all served to create a definite hiatus in the theological debates. The second phase of the Palamite controversy had come to an end. The final phase had not yet begun. The anti-Palamite forces had suffered a defeat and the dissenters were quiet for a short while until Nikephoros Gregoras rose to become their leading spokesman.

In this relatively tranquil hiatus between two periods of polemic, Gregory Palamas wrote the Capita 150 in an attempt to recapture the larger vision that had become obscured by the minutiae of the debates. To this end he elaborated on the broader theological framework that always lay in the background of the positions which he adopted on specific issues. His final and only goal was to preserve the realism of man's participation in the life of God. Any attempt to introduce an unbridgeable gap between God and man roused Gregory's opposition. As he reviewed his writings of the preceding years, he brought together in an organized arrangement, representative statements on the particular issues of the debates. Under the umbrella of his larger framework these could now be better appreciated in their essential relationship to Gregory's primary goal.

Among the polemical writings of Gregory Palamas the Capita 150 is comparable in importance only to the Triads in Defence of the Holy Hesychasts. The Triads are indeed a more varied and fuller work, but the complexity can at times be baffling, at least to the modern reader. The work is in reality three works, each revising and developing the previous one, all in response to similar changes and developments in the positions taken by Barlaam the Calabrian. In contrast, the Capita 150 is a more mature work organized in a roughly systematic manner. The theological framework of Gregory's thought is now clear and well-developed and certainly no less profound. The Triads and the Capita 150 stand side by side as the two works most representative of the theological contribution of Gregory Palamas. Both are eloquent proclamations that the natural, the theological, the moral and ascetical are not separate or even separable compartments of human experience: they must all have God as their ultimate horizon or we risk ultimate peril.

* * *


ps 3:396–397.


ca 5.15–17 (PS 3:330–340).


Ep 3 Akindynos 15 (ps 1:306.26–307.7). For the date see Meyendorff, Introduction, p. 353.


ps 2:69.


See Meyendorff, Introduction, p. 361; P. K. Chrestou, ps 2:47–50.


ps 3:373.


Note the common introductory formula in 96–100: εἰ μηδέν διαφέρει τῆς θείας οὐσίας ἡ θεία ἑνέργεια...


Chapters 101–103 also have a common introductory formula: εἰ μή πρός ἀλλήλας ἒχουσι διαφοράν αἰ θεῖαι ἐνέργεια... in c. 101, and the same formula but specific in c. 102–103.


On the Theophanes see E. Candal, "El Teófanes de Gregorio Pálamas,» ocp 12 (1946) 238–261; Meyendorff, Introduction, pp. 358–359; P. K. Chrestou, ps 2:58–61.


C. 104.1–3 – c. 112.1–4.


See pp. 259–69.


E.g. c. 125.1–9.


E.g. Basil, Adversus Eunomium 2.9. pg 29:588b-589a (sc 305); Gregory Nazianzen, Or. 29.16, pg 36:93c-96b (sc 250).


Or. 31.6, pg 36:140a (sc 250); quoted in ca 6.18.70 (ps 3:439.19–25).


ps 3:435–448.


Palamas does not refer to this chapter in c. 122–131.


ca 6.17.65 (PS 3:435–436).


ca 6.17.67–68 (PS 3:437–438).


C. 127–128: ca 6.18.70–71 (ps 3:439–440), 6.19.73 (ps 3:441), 6.21.76 (ps 3:443).


ca 6.18.70–71 (ps 3:439–440), 6.19.73 (ps 3:441), 6.21.78 (ps 3:444–445), 6.22.80 (ps 3:446–447).


Augustine adopted the Neoplatonic idea of real or subsistent relations. See J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, 5th edition (London, 1977). pp. 274–275.


Art. «Palamas Grégoire,» dtc 11 (1923) 1746.


Introduction, pp. 373–374; art., «Palamas (Grégoire).» DSp 12.1 (1984) 89.


For the full list of references see below, p. 282. Chrestou gives somewhat different dates Union (summer 1341) and Theophanes (fall 1342). See ps 2:47, 59.


See below, pp. 259–61, for discussion of the dating of the Reply to 1347–1351.


See below, p. 70.


The parallel passages are listed below, p. 282.


Introduction, p. 393.


Idem, pp. 390–391.


Ibid., pp. 168, 393.


pg 151:397d-400a.


Homily 31, pg 151:388b-393a. – origin of death and disease; 393a-396b – poverty in spirit; 396b-400d – return to the theme of death (397b-400d – recourse to sorcery).


Meyendorff, Introduction, pp. 385–386; pg l50:1044-l088.


pg 150:1060b-1061a.


Ibid. 1073d.


pg 151:393a, 396b.


pg 150:1048a-1049b.


pg 151:396a.


T. Miller, The History of John Cantacuzene (Book IV) (Ph.D. Diss., Catholic University of America: Washington, D. C., 1975), p. 305.


His vote was recorded in a synodal act issued in September. See mm 1: #124.274–275; cf. Darrouzès, Regestes N. 2297. Palamas was also very probably in the capital on Aug. 1, 1347, for his name is recorded in another synodal document dated to the end of Aug. 1347: ed. P. Uspensky, Istoriya Athona, vol. 3 (Saint-Petersburg, 1892), pp. 728–737; cf. Darrouzès, Regestes N. 2289. Palamas could have been in Constantinople in August of 1349 or 1350, but Aug. 1, 1348 remains the most likely occasion for Homily 31. Homily 39 also dates from the time of the Black Death. The progression of the disease is described in terms similar to those in Homily 31: ἀπό τῆς πληγῆς ἧς ἀρτίως πάσχομεν, τοῦτο γνώσεσθε. πλεονεκτῆσαν γάρ ἔν τῶν ἐν τοῖς σώματι στοιχείων τό αἰμα, καθῶς ὁρᾶτε, τόν θάνατον ἐπιφέρει τοῖς ἀποθνήσκουσιν (pg 151:492a). The text from Homily 31 is given above, p. 50.


C. 148.1–5.


Introduction, p. 373.


See J. S. Nadal, «La rédaction première de la troisième lettre de Palamas à Akindynos,» ocp 40 (1974) 233–285. Akindynos» earliest suspicions of Palamite theological formulae can be detected in his letters to Barlaam: e.g., Letter 9.67–72, ed. Hero (winter of 1340–1341), «Besides, if you had left aside the rest and brought here to show to the judges only his doctrine about a god lower than the divine nature, uncreated, supersubstantial, and perceptible to bodily eyes – which is what you claim that he writes – then I believe that you would have planned your affairs more moderately and sensibly, or, as you would say more expediently»; Letter 10.195–201 (winter-spring 1341). «For I reproach equally his contentious campaigns against you (those preceding the matter of prayer end the errors in question) and yours against him; both his uncreated god or divinity next to the divine nature and lower than it and visible in itself (if that is what he says), and your theory that the divine grace is created (if you, too, say this), which to me are a new and strange theology that devises and insolently attempts what is not fitting, beyond the limits of propriety.» For Akindynos’ later views on the Light of Tabor and its created character, see Letter 62 (autumn-winter 1346).


Synodal Tome 1341, mm 1:216 (pg 151:691D-692B).


See the recent discussion in A. Hero, Letters ofAkindynos, pp. xvi-xxiii.


J. Darrouzès, Regestes N. 2212, pp. 165–166.


Synodal Tome 1347, ed. J. Meyendorff, #16, pp. 222–223.


Introduction, p 373.


Ibid., pp. 139–141; Darrouzès, Regestes N. 2289, pp. 233–236.


For an excellent account of his activities see A. C. Hero, Letters of Gregory Akindynos (CFHB 21; Washington, D. C., 1983), pp. ix-xxxiii.


Meyendorff, Introduction, pp. 361–363.

Источник: The one hundred and fifty chapters / Gregorius Palamas - Toronto : Pontifical inst. of mediaeval studies, 1988. - XI, 288 с. ISBN 0-88844-083-9

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