International Conference of St Gregory Palamas (March 2012)
"St Gregory Palamas: The Theological and Philosophical
Significance of his work"
"Video-recordings from the Conference will be available shortly
through the IOCS Video Streaming Webpage, and the full
Conference Proceedings of the Conference will be published in
English in due time. Further information regarding the Conference
is available on the Conference Webpage
Professor David Frost, Principal, The Institute for Orthodox Christian
Studies, Cambridge, U.K." From Pemptousia
the Patriarchal Institute of Patristic Studies in Thessalonica (at the Holy
Monastery of Vlatadon), the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies
(Cambridge, UK), the Holy Metropolis of Thessaloniki, the Friends of Mount
Athos (UK-USA), other Orthodox Christian Institutions and Hellenic Republic
organisations invite you to participate in the International Conference on St
Gregory Palamas that will take place in Thessaloniki from the 7th till the 15th
of March 2012.
The Conference will have as its focus the important contributions of
St Gregory Palamas in the theological and philosophical debates from the
4th century till today.
Conference participants will be able to visit Monasteries related to
St Gregory Palamas in Thessaloniki, Veroia and the Holy Mount Athos
(there will be an alternative programme for women; the dates of the visits
are included in the above indicated dates of the Conference). Further
details about the programme of the Conference will be circulated shortly.
There will be a simultaneous translation of all Sessions in English and Greek.
The list of Conference Speakers with titles of presentations and
abstracts is as follows:
Metropolitan Kallistos of Diokleia (Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain,
Ecumenical Patriarchate): The Human Person according to
St Gregory Palamas.
Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos (Church of Greece): St Gregory Palamas
as the one who expresses the Life of the Fathers of Holy Mount Athos.
Hieromonk Melchisedec (Holy Monastery of St John the Baptist, Essex): The
Indisputable Wisdom of the Holy Spirit: St Gregory Palamas and St Silouan
Abstract: St Gregory Palamas and the Byzantines maintained that the uncreated God and the created world are known through distinct epistemological avenues. There is with the Byzantines what the late professors Chrestou and Matsoukas have called a ‘twofold epistemological method’. Knowledge of God is not something obtained through study, dialectical disputation, or thinking, even when coupled with apophatic denial. Knowledge of God is always a gift of the Holy Spirit and as such it is ‘indisputable’ and higher than any intellectual knowledge. Both St Gregory and St Silouan the Athonite emphasize that knowledge of God is given through God’s revelation and only, and that the way to this knowledge is by way of ‘keeping the commandments’. This differs radically from knowledge, or science, obtained through study or through observation of the cosmos. Direct and personal knowledge of the personal God is far higher than earthly wisdom; wisdom termed as ‘foolishness’ by the apostle Paul, frequently quoted by Palamas.
The way of the cross, which in its turn is ‘foolishness’ to the Hellenic mind, is in actual fact the very epistemological method that both of the Athonite saints advocate. Through this way the knower comes into an intimate communion with the Known God, and Palamas speaks in this context of the characteristic experience of light and warmth in the heart. As Archimandrite Sophrony says, utter kenosis precedes theosis. Both Palamas and Silouan also indicate the wrong kind of spiritual knowledge as well as the symptoms which such knowledge brings with it. For St Silouan love-for-enemies and Christ-like humility safeguard the true knowledge, while peace and joy are the characteristics of the real presence of the Holy Spirit.
Fr Theophanes (Kafsokalyvia, Holy Mt Athos): Remarks on the Evolution of the Hesychastic Method
Abstract: We show that just as there is no formal canon of the Hesychastic tradition, neither is there an official standard method of practising Hesychasm. We define the Hesychastic method of an author as the psychological model of man used by the author together with his analysis of the necessary practices in the ascent to God. We look at the Hesychastic method practised by Evagrius (4th C. Egypt), Diadochos of Photiki (5th C. Greece), St John of Sinai (7th C. Sinai), St Hesychios of Sinai (8th C. Sinai?) and St Gregory Palamas (14th C. Athos). In Evagrius, man is composed of soul and body. The soul is composed of mind, temper and desire, the last two constituting the passionate part of the soul. Man is subject to 8 passions of the passionate part of the soul. The Hesychast in his cave first purifies the passionate part of his soul by practising praktiki, the systematic rejection of tempting thoughts which commence in the Hesychast’s consciousness as an image corresponding to one of the eight passions. After he has completed this purification, the Hesychast commences the purification of his mind through natural contemplation, ultimately ascending to the vision of God. Diadochos uses much of the Evagrian model but for the first time discusses the Jesus Prayer, and that repeated uninterruptedly even in sleep. He also introduces notions from the Makarian corpus of the experience of Light. St John of Sinai defines Hesychasm as a serene watching in the field of consciousness to detect the tempting thought. He also describes it as the practice of enclosing the bodiless mind in the body. He attaches the Jesus Prayer to the normal breathing. St Hesychios continues the praktiki of Evagrius and St John of Sinai, explicitly tying it to the unceasing repetition of the Jesus Prayer in the heart. Praktiki is accomplished with the mind in the heart. The end state is the ‘guard of the mind’, a serene state from which the Hesychast is raised to contemplation, ultimately the contemplation of Light, by the Holy Spirit. Gregory Palamas emphasizes basic ascetic practices such as solitude and poverty. However, he has nothing substantive on praktiki. It is simply not foreseen. Instead, there is the practice of penthos, which certainly has a pedigree but which does not play a central role in the Hesychasm of the authors discussed above. Moreover, while the Hesychasm of the previous authors is a serene observance of the field of consciousness together with means to destroy the tempting thought with the help of Jesus, Gregory emphasizes overcoming tempting thoughts through an intense infolding of the mind into the heart and an intense practice of the Jesus Prayer in the heart, so much so that he is obliged to discuss the tension and fatigue created by the practice. There is a basic uniformity among these authors as to the highest state of contemplation. There is enough uniformity that in Letter to Xeni Gregory comes full circle and uses texts of Evagrius and Diadochos to illustrate the vision of God. But there are important differences between Evagrius and Palamas in the role of natural contemplation: Palamas treats natural contemplation as a ‘side effect’ of the contemplation of God in the Uncreated Light not as a stage on the ascent, as Evagrius does.
Dr Andreas Andreopoulos (Winchester, UK): The effect of hesychasm on the icon of the Transfiguration
Abstract: The effect of the flowering of hesychasm in the 14th affected iconography - most notably, although not exclusively, the iconography of the Transfiguration of Christ. By reading the iconography of the Transfiguration in the 14th and the 15th century, and by treating icons as end products but also as sources of theological thought, we can understand how the hesychastic views were understood and received beyond the hesychastic councils."
For the complete list of speakers and their abstracts please go to the