Sacredly praising, sacredly narrating: The hagiological imperative in the thought of St. Gregory Palamas /

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Author / Creator:Pittos, Leonidas C., author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2015
Description:1 electronic resource (414 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Walter E. Kaegi Committee members: Rachel Fulton Brown; Margaret M. Mitchell.
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Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 77-02(E), Section: A.
Summary:The subject of this study is the hagiological imperative in the doctrine and teaching of the Athonite theologian, St. Gregory Palamas (1296-1357). Palamas was the chief theological exponent of Hesychasm, a revival of Byzantine mystical asceticism in the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The rise of Hesychasm ran apace with a revival of hagiography in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, which was led by Palamas and other Hesychast writers after the 1330s. The purpose of this study is to understand the interrelationship between Palamas' theological vision and metaphysical doctrine, and his devotion to the saints, both of his own era and of sacred history. Modern scholarship has long recognized an existential imperative in Palmas' theology to uphold the hope of a real and ontological relationship between God and creation; a relationship between God, "who acts, reveals Himself, and communicates Himself" and His rational creatures, without consuming them, and man, "who was created from the beginning to participate in God" without being consumed by His divinity. Scholars have understood Gregory Palamas' distinction between the divine ousia (essence) and energeiai (activities/operations) as a constituent either of a doctrine of God or of a doctrine of man. Yet, Palamas himself applied this distinction to confirm the ontological reality of the contemplative visions of holy monks and the deification of the saints. By this distinction, Palamas grounded, in a rigorous metaphysical framework, the holiness, sublimity, and thaumaturgy of holy men and their assimilation to God. This metaphysical grounding was doubly hagiological and hagiographical: hagiological because its purpose was to define holiness in clear and direct terms; hagiographical because it was inspired by devotion to the saints and was intended to increase that devotion. Even so, modern historical and theological scholarship has yet to address fully the hagiological and hagiographic aspects of Palamas' theology. Our thesis, succinctly put, is that devotion to the figure of the holy man as assimilated to God was at the center of Gregory's theological vision, and, further, that this devotion represented the axis of Palamas' theology of the?sis (deification) and the metaphysical distinctions he invoked to support it. Established on a particular vision of the holy man's epit?deumata (attainments), his outward and inward praxeis (deeds), and his the?ria (contemplative experiences), Palamas' hagiology was shaped on the ideals of the Hesychast the?r?tikos bios (contemplative life) and the epideictic rhetorical species of enk?mion. If Palamas organized his hagiology around the topoi of the enk?mion, then it is to the form and practice of encomiastic rhetoric that we must turn to establish our thesis. Specifically, we shall investigate the relationship between enk?mion and metaphysical doctrine in Palamas' thought and in Hesychast thought, more broadly. Our study, then, shall firstly look at Palamas' own hagiographical work and its relation to the Hesychast hagiographical tradition that emerged in the fourteenth century in an effort to establish the hagiographic landscape of Hesychasm. Secondly, it examines how Palamas' defense of Hesychast ascetic practice contributed to an inward, psychic portraiture of the holy man, based on the precepts of Hesychastic paraenetic literature. Finally it proposes a reading of Gregory Palamas' metaphysical doctrine of participation (methexis) in the divine energeiai as a constituent of a doctrine of holiness and as a portraiture of the holy man.