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Aspects of the Revelation of the Divine in St. Gregory Palamas’ Treatise De Operationibus Divinis

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Patristic Thought in Byzantine and Protestant Theology. From Gregory Palamas and George Pachymeres to Luther, Calvin, Anglicans, and Anabaptists. Editor: Andre A. Gazal


In this paper, we examine the concepts ‘destination’, ‘revelation’, ‘foreknowledge’, ‘will’, ‘transmission’, ‘motion’, and ‘grace’, as they appear in Gregory Palamas’ treatise De opera-tionibus divinis. According to the Christian theologian, these terms correspond to specific ways of God’s manifestation, i.e. His natural and supernatural revelation. Since they illuminate God’s energies, but not His essence, they are participated by the beings of the natural world. The first two terms mainly refer to a general version of the revelation, while the third contains epistemological elements as well and the fourth contains elements referring also to the divine will. The fifth term condenses the content of the afore-mentioned terms seen as an ad extra bestowment. By means of these concepts, Palamas preserves the ontological difference between the supernatural and the natural, while, at the same time, he defines the exact way of their communion, which excludes pantheism. He introduces into the divine realm the state of distinction, which, however, does not restrict its unity at all. He accepts the development of a metaphysical multitude, which is regulated by the divine uniqueness. What emerges is not a kind of Neoplatonic polytheism, but the infinite richness of the divine existence. Thus, Palamas steadily moves within the tradition founded by Ps.-Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, John Damascene, and George Pachymeres, the main characteristic of which is ontological monism. This is a tradition which formulated common places as to the content, the concepts and the relevant methodology, while the distinction between negative and affirmative theology is dominant.

Publication timeframe:
3 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Theology and Religion, General Topics and Biblical Reception