Saturday, 11 April 2015

Katharina Heyden: Palamas and Acindynus disputing on divine energies - discussion of a crucial document of the controversy

The Palamite controversy in 14th century Byzance strikes theological problems that are relevant not only in the historical context, but also with regard to the today’s dialogue between Eastern and Western Christianity. In defence of hesychiasm, Palamas formulated his doctrine of unvreated divine energies distinguishing between essence and energies within God. Among Palamas’ opponents, Gregory Acindynus is the most neglected and underestimated one, although the former disciple and friend of Palamas had more influence on his thinking than Barlaam or Gregoras.
This workshop delivers insight in the activities of a recently established research project at the University of Berne that focuses on central documents of the controversy between Palamas and Acindynus. Five short communications will give a panorama of the main topics and questions, and participants will be invited to discuss a crucial document of the controversy, Epistula III of Palamas to Acindynus. This letter, written on the eve of the Constantinopolitan synod of 1341 that confirmed Palamas and accused Acindynus of heresy, exists in two versions. Based on a synopsis of the two versions, we will discuss authenticity and priority of the two versions as well as the consequences for the reconstruction of facts and arguments. The concern is less to judge on orthodoxy and heresy, but rather to overcome these categories by means of historical research and to show that theological reasoning is a matter of dialogue: It is likely that Palamas himself developped his doctrine of divine energies taking into consideration the main objections of Acindynus.

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