Palamite Studies

January 27, 2011

Originally posted 1/20/2011.

Update: Saturday, 1/22/2011: Right now I’m reading the Orthodox Dr. Joost van Rossum’s 1985 Fordham dissertation, Palamism and Church Tradition (I’m about halfway through) and I’ll let you know any groundbreaking points he makes.
Update: Sunday, 1/30/2011: Check out Dr. Peter Gilbert’s translation of Jean-Philippe Houdret, O.C.D., “Palamas et les Cappadociens,” Istina 19 (1974), pp. 260-271.

1. While St. Gregory Palamas’s views on Filioque were indisputably heretical,{1} his essence-energies distinction seems compatible with Catholic dogma on the simplicity of God, provided that it is not a real distinction.{2} Gerry Russo,{3} Dr. Joost van Rossum,{4} and Fr. Georges Florovsky,{5} and ex-Catholic Fr. Gabriel Bunge{6} say that Palamas posited a “real” distinction, in God Himself, between His essence and His energies. Such a distinction would contradict God’s absolute simplicity,{7} but some of St. Gregory’s statements support the theory that he taught a formal distinction.{8}

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St. John of Damascus and Filioque

January 10, 2011

Originally posted 10/22/2010.

East: Hieromonk St. John of Damascus (Doctor of the Assumption) (676-749; December 4)
*An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:12 in PG 94:849B: “And we speak also of the Spirit of the Son, not as though proceeding from Him, but as proceeding through Him from the Father. For the Father alone is cause.”
WRH: It is one thing to say that the Holy Spirit does not have existence from the Son simply and absolutely, and another to say that the Holy Spirit does not have existence from the Son as from the προκαταρτικὴν αἰτία/αἰτίας ἀχρόνως/principium primordiale/principium originale/principium primum (Fr. Jugie, p. 190). A priori, it is highly likely that St. John writes in the latter sense, or else he would be at odds with the consensus of the saintly Fathers before him.

*An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:12 in PG 94:848D: The Father “is, … through the Word, the Producer of the revealing Spirit.”
WRH: What does this formula mean? Three of the saint’s other statements indicate that the Holy Spirit, qua hypostasis, indeed proceeds from the Son:

(1) An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:13 in PG 94:856B: “The Son is the Father’s Image, and the Spirit the Son’s, through which Christ dwelling in man makes him after His own Image.”
WRH: There is a relationship of origin between an image and its prototype; see St. John of Damascus, Dialectics 6 in PG 94:548C; qtd. in Fr. Jugie, p. 189.

(2) On Heresies in PG 94:780B; qtd. in Fr. Jugie, p. 125: “The Father is the root, the Son is the branch, the Spirit is the fruit.”

(3) An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:13 in PG 94:856B: “The Holy Spirit is God, being between the unbegotten and the begotten, and united to the Father through the Son.”

*An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith 1:8 in PG 94:832B: “And we do not speak of the Spirit as from the Son: but yet we call Him the Spirit of the Son.”
Editor: Thus when St. John of Damascus says that the Spirit does not proceed ἐκ (from) the Son, the great defender of icons is not rejecting Filioque, because εκπόρευσις (ekporeusis) is sometimes [cf. Rev 22:1] taken to characterize only the relationship of origin to the principle without principle of the Holy Trinity, viz., the Father. The Son is not the αἰτία because He receives His fecundity from the Father, to paraphrase Fr. Congar, p. 136. explanation is that of the most learned theologians and historians of dogma regarding St. John’s statements like non tamen ex ipso existentiam habens from his Homily on Holy Saturday [Greek in PG 96:605B]. See Fr. Dionysius Petavius, S.J. Dogmata theologica, vol. II: De Trinitate, Book VII, Chapter 17, §8, p. 763 and Fr. Jugie, De Processione, p. 190. Basilios Cardinal Bessarion (1403-1472) says the following in his Refutation of the Syllogistic Chapters of Mark of Ephesus, Chapter 37 [PG 161:240AB], qtd. in A. Edward Siecienski, Filioque: History of a Doctrinal Controversy, p. 164: “That the Son is not the cause of the Spirit we can also say, for we understand the meaning of cause in the strictest sense, as used in the Greek idiom, whereby cause always is understood as the primordial first cause.” In other words, several Eastern Fathers rightly say that the Son is not the cause because they use “cause” in the sense of προκαταρτικὴν αἰτία or αἰτίας ἀχρόνως, which can only be the Father; cf. Fr. Jugie, De processione, p. 148.


Aquinas & Scotus

January 10, 2011

Originally posted 1/1/2011.

Here is a useful comparison of the thought of two great saints, the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas, O.P. (January 28) and the Subtle Doctor Bl. John Duns Scotus, O.F.M. (November 8).

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Thomistic Glosses on Greek Church Fathers

January 10, 2011

Originally posted 9/20/2010.

N.B. St. Thomas does not address all of these quotes directly or in their entirety.

St. Dionysius the Areopagite
Whether any created intellect can see the essence of God? (Yes)
On the Divine Names 1:4: the superessential Illimitability is placed above things essential, and the Unity above mind above the Minds; and the One above conception is inconceivable to all conceptions; and the Good above word is unutterable by word—Unit making one every unit, and superessential essence and mind inconceivable, and Word unutterable, speechlessness and inconception, and namelessness—being after the manner of no existing being, and Cause of being to all, but Itself not being, as beyond every essence
ST I, q. 12, art. 1, ad 3: God is not said to be not existing as if He did not exist at all, but because He exists above all that exists; inasmuch as He is His own existence. Hence it does not follow that He cannot be known at all, but that He exceeds every kind of knowledge; which means that He is not comprehended.

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The 879-880 Council Is Not the Eighth Council

January 10, 2011

Originally posted 10/21/2010.

1. The Eighth Ecumenical Council is the Council of 869-870, not the Council of 879-880. The Eighth Council was the one under the following five patriarchs:
1. Pope Adrian II of Rome (867-872)
2. St. Ignatius of Constantinople (847-858, 867-877)
3. Michael I of Alexandria (860-870) – represented by Deacon Joseph [Mansi XVI:190B]
4. Nicholas II of Antioch (860-879) – represented by Metropolitan Thomas of Tyre [ibid.]
5. Theodosius of Jerusalem (862-878) – represented by Presbyter Elijah the syncellus [ibid.]

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Papal Primacy & the Fifth Council

January 10, 2011

Originally posted 10/10/2010.

From Rev. Fr. Paul Bottala, S.J. of happy memory, The Pope and the Church Considered in their Mutual Relations, Part 2 – The Infallibility of the Pope, pp. 243-246:
We say, then, that the Fifth Synod professed adherence in principle as well as in fact to the judgments of the Apostolic See, although its Decree did not properly regard doctrines of faith. … When Justinian forced the Patriarchs and Bishops of the East to sign his edict of condemnation against the Three Chapters, Mennas, patriarch of Constantinople [536-552], openly declared that he could not sign it without the consent of the Apostolic See,602 and when forced to subscribe, he submitted on the condition that his act of adhesion should be returned to him in case the Pope refused to ratify it.603 Zoilus, Patriarch of Alexandria [541-551], went to meet Pope Vigilius in Sicily in order to justify his conduct in yielding to violence and signing the imperial edict.604 Facundus Hermianensis testifies the same of the other Oriental Bishops who had been compelled to put their signature to the edict of the Prince [Ephraim of Antioch (526-546) and Peter of Jerusalem (524-552)].605 When the Synod met in Constantinople, the Fathers were most anxious that the Pope should pronounce his judgment on the subject of the Three Chapters; and Vigilius referred to the right of his See to be the first to give sentence.606

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Emperor John VI Cantacuzene (1347-1354) & Papal Primacy

January 10, 2011

Originally posted 10/28/2010.

1. From Rev. Fr. Joseph M. Gill, S.J. of happy memory (1901-2006), Byzantium and the Papacy, 1198-1400 (Rutgers University Press, 1979), pp. 205-206:

Cantacuzenus told them that he had already, with the assent of the co-Emperor, subscribed a formal chrysobull giving the Pope his title and recognizing the primacy and universality of the Roman Church. He was ready to show the same obedience to the Pope as did the King of France and to unite the Empire with them, and that not just nominally but really.

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