The Stakes of the Reception of the Theology of St. Gregory Palamas in Modernity — some Landmarks

This article focuses on the main interests in the reception of Saint Gregory Palamas’ theology in modernity. The input of this research is the book of Norman Russell, Gregory Palamas and the Making of Palamism in the Modern Age (Oxford University Press, 2019; Romanian translation, Doxologia, 2022). While over the centuries there were many interests revolving around the theology of the great Byzantine Father under discussion, they have perpetuated in modernity. One of the main reasons for the divergent interests around Saint Palamas’ teaching is the polemic stance of the characters involved in this episode of the history of dogmas from the beginning of the 14th Century until nowadays. Thus, the apologetic interest is very emphatic. In modernity, the Augustinian Martin Jugie (1878-1954) hoped to attract Orthodox intellectuals by proving that Hesychasm is doctrinally wrong. On the contrary, for Fr. Bulgakov (1871-1944) the interest was philosophical, i.e. to prove that his philosophical system is compatible with the Palamite doctrine of uncreated energies (indentified as Sophia). For Fr. Stăniloae, the interest was both academic and theological (rediscovery of Saint Palama and renewal of Dogmatic theology on this basis). In the case of Fr. John Meyendorff (1926-1992), although highly disputed by Fr. Ioannis Romanides (1927-2001), the interests were apologetic and academic – to prove that Palamism was right in the perspective of its negative reception in the West. Finally, what might have been Norman Russell’s interests? I tried to prove that his interests (besides the academic one) are irenic and ecumenical. From his perspective, both Palamism and Thomism may be accepted as alternative discourses in speaking about God.