Friday, 17 May 2019

Mihail Mitrea: “Hail, glory of the fathers!” Patristic sources and references in the hagiographical works of Philotheos Kokkinos

A seminal figure of the hesychast movement, Philotheos Kokkinos played a leading role in orchestrating its societal breakthrough, both through his ecclesiastical authority and writings. If a comprehensive analysis of Kokkinos’ theological works is yet to be undertaken, his hagiographical compositions have recently made the subject of thorough and systematic study. The vitae Kokkinos composed for contemporary figures, including his spiritual fathers (Sabas the Younger, Germanos Maroules) and friends and fellow combatants in the hesychast debates (Isidore Boucheir, Gregory Palamas), reflect the ecclesiastical climate and polemics ongoing at the moment of their composition, and are permeated with numerous hesychastic elements. These include extensive visions of the divine and Tabor light, invectives against the anti-hesychasts and (dream) visions which foretell or legitimize their condemnation, as well as excursuses on hesychast theology, with references and allusions to Church Fathers such as Gregory Nazianzen, Maximos the Confessor, and John of Damascus. Moreover, in his saints’ lives, Kokkinos translates hesychast theology into living examples of the hesychastic way of life. He often compares his heroes with patristic figures and even includes Church Fathers as characters in the narrative in order to legitimize the (contested) figures of his heroes and promote hesychast theology. Furthermore, Kokkinos fashions Palamas’ theological works as a synthesis and explanation of patristic theology. This paper will offer a detailed exploration of Kokkinos’ use of the Church Fathers in his vitae in support and for the promotion of hesychast theology, thus contributing to the research on patristic sources in the hesychast debates.

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