Friday, 17 May 2019

Vessela Valiavitcharska: Logos proforikos in Middle Byzantine Thought

The division of logos into endiathetos and proforikos, present in the thought philosophers from Philo to John of Damascus, appears foundational to the late antique and early Christian anthropology of language. It survives well into the middle Byzantine period, where it presents itself as part of the wider intellectual vocabulary. However, in contrast with the predominantly Neoplatonic understanding of late antiquity, Byzantine thinkers no longer see a dichotomy between logos endiathetos, pure thought, and logos proforikos, its fleshly shadow; rather, they offer a development, moving from the idea of logos proforikos as “messenger of the thought,” as Meletius and John of Damascus posit, to logos proforikos as an active participant in the divine life as the patriarchs Methodius and Photius see it. Logos proforikos receives attention also from the Byzantine teachers of rhetoric. Unlike their late antique counterparts, who adopt the sharp Neoplatonic dichotomy, rhetoricians John Siceliotes and John Doxapatres speak of both kinds of logos as a sort of rhetoric – but a distinct, purified form of rhetoric. Logos proforikos, the enunciated, performed human logos, born by the movements of the reasoning faculty of the soul and perfected by art, is a material procession, a flowering of the energies of the soul and a mystērion, through which human beings participate in divine creation and in the divine life.  This emphasis on the spiritual weight of the performed logos responds to a more general emphasis on  logos proforikos as a material activity – with implications for the performance of liturgical texts.

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