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Title: Knowledge and experience in the theology of Gregory Palamas
Author: Blackstone, J. C.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2011
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Discussion of the theological epistemology of Gregory Palamas has traditionally focused on his distinction between essence and uncreated energies. This thesis develops a new approach in focusing on the transformation of the human faculties. The thesis situates knowledge and experience within the Dionysian category of unions and distinctions. Analysis of Palamas’s use of the category of unions and distinctions covers different theological areas (linguistic, anthropological and aesthetic). In each of these areas there is evidence for a consistent patterning in which unions and distinctions are mutually constitutive at levels of increasing intensity. This anagogic patterning, which leads to union with God, as itself premised upon the incarnation of the Logos. Palamas frames the category of unions and distinctions in apophatic and iconic terms. His implicit notion of transcendent apophasis enables discussion of the unknowing, embodied character of unitive neotic prayer. His thinking on icon and image affirms this same embodied character as an outworking of his understanding of the manifestation of Christ’s divinity at the transfiguration. The thesis discovers a particular order and pattern in the transformation of human faculties. This transformation incorporates all human faculties and itself signifies the development of theological knowledge. Further, examination of the phenomenon of baptismal tears reveals how theological knowledge is sacramental and trinitarian. It follows from these findings that Palamas’s theology cannot be seen in terms of dichotomies of knowledge and experience (or of theology and spirituality; of apophasis and praxis; of abstraction and matter; of hesychasm and society). Rather, Palamas upholds a mode of integration of human faculties and human relations, and ultimately of union between human and divine, that transcends these dichotomies without negating either of their respective terms.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available