Perichoresis 17.4

Perichoresis 17.4 (2019)


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

Christos Terezis and Elias Tempelis


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. PDF

Aspects of the Theory on ‘Ideas’, ‘Eide’ and ‘Logoi’ of Beings in George Pachymeres

Lydia Petridou


In this study, we are discussing the terms ‘idea’, ‘eidos’, and ‘logos’ in George Pachymeres’ Paraphrase of Dionysius the Areopagite’s De divinis nominibus. This is a very important topic, at least from the ontological point of view. Many questions come to the fore, such as whether the three terms are as to their meanin

g the same, whether their non-autonomous character is mentioned, what their relation with the divine energies is and whether and how they are connected to the divine will. The structure of our study is based on the fact that the terms come from the Platonic, Aristotelian, and Patristic tradition respectively. Considering that both God and the created beings are objective realities, which the human consciousness is asked to investigate, we attempt to extrapolate ontology to the gnoseological level as well. I.e. we attempt to explain the matter of ‘universals’ relying on two questions. Specifically, from the ontological point of view: do they exist independently? And, from the gnoseological point of view: what is their relation to the human thinking? PDF

The Daughter of the Word: What Luther Learned from the Early Church and the Fathers

Glen L. Thompson


All the major sixteenth-century Reformers knew something about the early church and used the early Fathers. As an Augustinian monk and professor of theology, however, Luther’s knowledge and use of the great Father was both deeper and more nuanced. While indebted to Augustine, Luther went further in defining what it meant for theology to be ‘scriptural’. He saw history as the interaction of God’s two regimes, and the church of every age as weak and flawed but conquering through the cross of Christ. This led him to a free use of the Fathers without being constrained to always agree with or imitate them. The comfort he received from the Apostles’ Creed in particular led him to appreciate the early creedal statements, and so it was natural for him to use them as models when formulating the new confessions required in his own day. The sixteenth-century heritage of written confessions of faith is a heritage under-appreciated but still vital for church bodies today.  PDF

Calvin’s Preface to Chrysostom’s Homilies as a Window into Calvin’s Own Priorities and Perspectives

Paul A. Hartog


John Calvin drew from patristic authors in a selective manner. His preference for the theological perspectives of Augustine is readily evident. Nevertheless, while he resonated with the doctrine of Augustine, he touted the interpretive and homiletic labors of John Chrysostom. Even though Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion critiqued Chrysostom’s understanding of grace and free will, the Antiochene bishop is the most frequently referenced patristic author within Calvin’s commentaries. Calvin composed a preface to a projected edition of Chrysostom’s homilies (Praefatio in Chrysostomi Homilias). This preface argued for the necessity of reaching the general public with secondary aids along with the scriptures, explained Calvin’s esteem for Chrysostom’s homilies above other patristic texts, and acknowledged the theological dissimilarities that separated his views from Chrysostom’s. The Praefatio’s assessments reveal Calvin’s own hermeneutical, pastoral, and theological priorities. Calvin’s evaluations of Chrysostom and the other fathers are a window into his own interpretive concerns, homiletical aims, and dogmatic emphases. PDF

’That Ancient and Christian Liberty’: Early Church Councils in Reformation Anglican Thought

Andre A. Gazal


This article will examine the role the first four ecumenical councils played in the controversial enterprises of John Jewel (1522-71) as well as two later early modern English theologians, Richard Hooker (1553-1600) and George Carleton (1559-1628). In three different polemical contexts, each divine portrays the councils as representing definitive catholic consensus not only for doctrine, but also ecclesiastical order and governance. For all three of these theologians, the manner in which the first four ecumenical councils were summoned and conducted, as well as their enactments touching the Church’s life provided patristic norms for its rightful administration. Jewel, Hooker, and Carleton each argued that the English Protestant national Church as defined by the Elizabethan Settlement exemplified a faithful recovery of patristic conciliar ecclesiastical government as an essential component in England’s overall endeavor to return to the true Church Catholic. Jewel employed these councils in order to impeach the Council of Trent’s (1545-63) status as a general council, and to justify the transfer of the authority of general councils to national and regional synods under the direction of godly princes. Hooker proposes the recovery of general councils as a means of achieving Catholic consensus within a Christendom divided along national and confessional lines while at the same time employing the pronouncements of the first four general councils to uphold the authoritative patristic and catholic warrant for institutions and practices retained by the Elizabethan Church. Finally, amid the controversy surrounding the Oath of Allegiance during the reign of James VI/1 (r. 1603-25), George Carleton devoted his extensive examination of these councils to refute papal claims to coercive authority with which to depose monarchs as an extension of excommunication. In so doing, Carleton relocates this ‘coactive jurisdiction’ in the ecclesiastical authority divinely invested in the monarch, making the ruler the source of conciliar authority, and arguably of catholic consensus itself. PDF

’Lest I Make You a Tertullian’: Early Anabaptist Baptismal Narratives and Patristics

Andy Alexis-Baker


Anabaptists have long been thought to have been ‘biblicists’ and shunned reading patristic literature. But a close analysis of the debates Anabaptists had with Magisterial Reformers shows that the Anabaptists developed an extensive history of baptism using church fathers. They attempted to show that adult baptism was the norm in the earliest centuries of the church and that infant baptism was the innovation away from the Bible. This debate was about who had inherited the biblical faith around baptism. PDF

Is Christ Proclaimed to Christians? The Impact of Scottish Evangelicalism on Hungarian Theology, Piety, and Praxis (1841-1945)

Ábrahám Kovács


This paper offers a concise overview of the impact made by Scottish evangelicalism of the Free Church of Scotland on the theology, piety and practice of Hungarian Reformed faith within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They planted a kind of piety that was foreign, at least in its language and expressions, to most of the Hungarian Reformed people until the arrival of Scottish missionaries in 1841. Their conduct of practical Christianity, praxis pietatis materialised itself in Christian evangelism and social action. In this paper the focus is on the period between 1865 and 1914. To demonstrate the nature and form of this impact, first the paper outlines some key features of Scottish evangelicalism. Then, it investigates the theological and ecclesiastical impact of Scottish evangelicalism made through the establishment of voluntary societies and examines influence on the piety and praxis of Reformed faith in Hungary.  PDF