PALAMISM AND CHURCH TRADITION: PALAMISM, ITS USE OF PATRISTIC TRADITION, AND ITS RELATIONSHIP WITH THOMISTIC THOUGHT (MEDIEVAL THEOLOGY, MYSTICISM, BYZANTINE, ORTHODOX)
This dissertation is a critical study of two aspects of the theology of Gregory Palamas which so far have not been discussed in greater detail, viz. its relation to the tradition of the Greek Fathers and to Western medieval theology, especially Thomism.
A discussion of the cultural and intellectual background of the hesychast controversy leads to the two theological problems which have been mentioned above. As source for the study of the relation between palamism and the theology of the Fathers a selection was made from the patristic quotations in the main palamite documents, i.e. the Hagioretic Tome, the Council of 1341 and the Council of 1351. One chapter contains a discussion of various patristic texts, while another deals with modern discussions on Palamism and Greek patristic tradition.
Concluding this study are two systematic chapters on "Palamism and Thomism" dealing with the same theological problems as those which are discussed in the previous chapters, i.e. the problem of the "knowledge" and the "vision" of God and Trinitarian theology, especially the relation between the Divine Persons and the creative act.
The main conclusions reached are that the theology of Palamas is based not merely on some occasional patristic texts, but on the patristic teaching of "deification" and creation; that Palamas clarified patristic thought in several ways; and that in Thomas' doctrine of creation the relation between the "freedom" of the divine acts and the "necessity" of His being remains unclarified.
Finally, some reflections are made on the relation between Eastern and Western theology in general. A separate "Appendix" deals with the influence of Greek patristic theology on Western medieval theology. In the last chapter on "Palamism and Thomism" and in the "Conclusion" it is pointed out that some "palamite elements" can be found in modern Thomistic theology. Palamism, it is argued, is not to be seen as an exclusively "Eastern" doctrine which is completely alien to Western theological tradition.