Two views: David Bradshaw and W. N. Williams
By Timothy S. Flanders
The Epistemology of Language and the Pentecostal Church
In the year of our Lord 565, the emperor (St.) Justinian died. This man is loved by Chalcedonian Orthodox for his imperial piety, hated by Latin Christians for his imperial ambition, esteemed by secular historians for his architectural achievements, and hated by Non-Chalcedonians for his repressive violence. But for our purposes, we will point out one fact that had far-reaching consequences into our own day: Justinian was the last Christian leader in the east who could read and write Latin.
In the lands of the Latin west, knowledge of Greek dwindled with the collapse of imperial power in the late 5th century. The political circumstances that exacerbated the geographical distance between Greek and Latin (Barabarian or Muhammadan hordes, loss or reinstitution of the western imperial throne, etc.) prevented intellectual culture from being exchanged, and the Greek patristic tradition grew independent of Latin. West of the Adriatic, a Latin tradition passed down from the Latin Fathers and others (such as Boethius and Cassiodorus) became the intellectual basis for Latin thought in parallel to the Greek tradition.
Both areas of Christian culture developed separate traditions based on separate languages. This is a crucial point to seize upon. Here is the reason: language enables thought. Without language, thought is impossible. Language gives voice to thought, but it also gives it limits—as anything with meaning must have. Thus in the divine mystery of the Christian faith, different languages will result in different thoughts about that faith, different words, phrases, concepts, terminologies, philosophies. Different traditions of the one Tradition.
Since it is impossible to express thoughts without words, there are only two ways to completely agree on the Tradition—use the same language, or know both languages. Theological truth can only be grasped with a full knowledge of the language through which it is being expressed. But the east did not know Latin nor did the west Greek. Therefore, if our premise about language is correct, it was necessarily inevitable that they would develop different thoughts. Therefore it is incorrect to expect Greek thought from a Latin, or Latin thinking from a Greek. But this is what eventually happened. The first sustained attack on Latin thought from the east came from a brilliant Greek scholar who could not read Latin (Photios).
What does God teach us in the Holy Scriptures? The Church was born at Pentecost. And suddenly a sound like a rushing wind…and they began to speak in other languages (Acts ii. 2-4). The birth of the Church is in multilingualism—expressing the Good News in a mosaic of linguistic beauty. Since this is nothing less than the coming of God the Holy Spirit, we say that the Truth of God cannot be expressed except in many languages at once. What one language emphasizes in thought, another language compliments and augments. What one language beautifies, another exults, another praises, another rejoices. Against the pride of Man, God confounded our languages—the Holy Spirit brought them back into unity. Not by recreating one language, but by making languages speak in harmony.
Thus we must reject the teaching that the theological thoughts of one language (for example, the Hebrew), cannot equally—but differently—be expressed in another language (like Greek). This is nothing less than the truth of the Holy Trinity—that the truth is one essence in three Persons. The inner essence of the truth is preserved, but the beauty of diversity flowers. There cannot be a truly Christian theology that is not multilingual.
East-West Linguistic history and certain errors to be avoided
It is with this premise of language that we approach the question of the philosophical division between East and West that Dr. Bradshaw and Dr. Williams approach in their works. But before we delve deeper into their data and arguments, let us explore further the implications of linguistics for the history of Christian division.
When we say that Christian theology must be multilingual necessarily, this can be considered in tandem with the truth that God can only be spoken of through analogy. We use human terms which come from created things to describe God from multiple angles. If God were created, these would fall into self-contradiction, but since they are analogies, they can all be true. And who will say that a certain number of analogies is enough to describe God? No. Rather, more analogies means a fuller picture of God, a more complete theology—proviso, of course, that every theology is substantially united with the pentecostal, apostolic faith.
But the process of discerning if such and such theology is or is not congruous is exacerbated when Christians fail to take into account the fundamental properties of language and a pentecostal Church. Sadly, it seems the divisions between Christians have largely been perpetuated not only through an ignorance to this principle, but also an apathy for its realization. While the western tradition began substantially reappropriating the Greek language in the Renaissance, the prejudice against Greek Christianity continued into the later 19th century (when Leo XIII began to reverse the heretical idea of Latin theological, spiritual, and ritual superiority). The Eastern Christians, meanwhile, showed checkered interest in Latin theological training and spiritual classics like The Imitation of Christ, but were unable to reciprocate an appropriation of the Latin tradition by learning and teaching Latin.
So both sides are guilty of this linguistic and intellectual division. However, even though only recently the Latin Church has begun to significantly overcome its anti-Greek prejudice, and certain very important prejudices remain (such as married clergy), it can be said that the west, as a whole, has integrated and continues to integrate the Greek tradition into a single, culturally holistic Christian faith—within the Catholic Church.
This cannot be said of Orthodoxy. But lest the reader become enflamed with confessional passion, allow me explain the possible reasons for this.
The first and most obvious is that the Orthodox east, rather than the Latin west, has suffered the brunt of the Muhammadan take-over. The Muhammadans have spiritually and politically dominated or threatened most of the east for most of its existence. Cultural domination, while not preventing cultural development—St. Yuhanna al-Demashqi (John of Damascus) certainly is a counterexample—nonetheless does stunt its growth significantly. This would impede or even prevent a fruitful cultural exchange.
Furthermore, the people who would teach the east Latin—the Latins themselves—seemed to only enter the east in order to cause trouble. Of course this is oversimplifying the historical events, but the Greek anxiety of a Latin crusader threat—however real or imagined or excommunicated fanatics they might be—was not conducive to integrating the Latin tradition into the east.
By contrast, when the Latin west learned Greek, it was from eastern refugees fleeing the Turks during the 15th century. Their Greek learning was popular and profitable in the age of Renaissance Humanist obsessions (good and bad) with Hellenism. They were welcomed and celebrated.
So the east does not understand the west, though the west has indeed been growing in their knowledge of the east—yes, slowly, but substantially. But this is not simply because of the east’s narrow-minded, myopic self-righteousness. This sinfulness is certainly present and at work provoking division among brothers—something which the Lord hates (Prov. vi. 19). But the Latins are also responsible for the east’s ignorance of Latin. This accords well with the statements of Vatican II in saying that “both sides were to blame,” and St. John Paul II’s humble words from Ut Unum Sint. However, it took the west over twenty generations to realize that—and that’s with the knowledge of Greek on their side. The east has not had Latin since Justinian.
The reason these things are important to keep in mind is that understanding the nuances of our history can help us approach these problems in a fruitful way. I write this so that there is no confusion and accusation to the other side when we approach this problem. Once we consider the historical context, we can begin to see some of the misunderstandings that can arise. I will point out three important errors that are made concerning east-west relations and their relevance for this discussion.
The first was briefly mentioned above vis-à-vis the development of doctrine. We will call this the ‘error of doctrine development.’ It is incorrect to think that since the eastern mind developed orthodox thought pattern x, it must become the theological plumb line for the west, the measure of its orthodoxy. Since the west did not develop the Greek thought pattern x, it is therefore heretical. That is as much as saying, “Because you do not have what we did not give you, it is your fault.”
This is because of what he have said: particular languages develop particular thought patterns unique to them. Each language can legitimately express the orthodox faith in their own thoughts through their own language. Even the terms essentia, esse, and οὐσία can all be translated into English as “essence.” But they do not mean the same thing in both traditions. Thus also with our authors, Palamas and Aquinas—both developed differing systems of deification with different thought patterns. They should be studied in their own context on their own terms, not judged unfairly by cross-cultural and anachronistic prejudices.
Without acknowledging this error, a second erroneous polemic can be created, which is similar to the first. This is the ‘error of false distinctions.’ This means emphasizing one aspect of the Christian faith over another aspect when both aspects should be held together. Some, for instance, try to draw a distinction between a “wrathful and judgmental” God of the west, and a “loving” God of the east. This is rubbish. One need only to attend an Orthodox Church on the Sunday of the Last Judgment to receive wrath and judgment, and hear mass on the feast of the Sacred Heart to know a loving God.
Another common false distinction is between the “rationalizing, scholastic” west and the “mystical east.” First—there must be both reasoned logic and mysticism in any good theology. Further, this error ignores the fact of the counterexamples on both sides and homogenizes a diverse tradition. For example, we might bring up the fact that the scholastics based their summas on St. John of Damascus, or the mystical treatises of the west—even the mysticism of St. Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas is, nevertheless, dismissed by many from the east as too ‘scholastic’ while Palamas is considered a mystical genius. These false distinctions should be shunned owing to the appreciation of each man’s context, and his attempt to communicate the Good News in that context. Palamas is also systematic, and Aquinas is also mystical. False distinctions do nothing but oversimplify a complex reality in order to further biased polemics.
The third error is a more obvious one: ‘one-sided blame.’ This is the case with the 1848 exchange between the Holy Father and the Greek Patriarchs. Both sides claimed the other to be in error, without conceding any guilt for their own actions in causing schism. This is as obvious to us as the speck in our brothers eye—because we are critiquing someone else. (I should be the first to admit my own guilt, which is great—forgive me, dear reader.) In the example of linguistic poverty, it is improper, as I have argued, to blame either side for being ignorant of the other. Both sides are to blame for these various reasons. Thus Palamas and Aquinas must both be approached sympathetically in their own context without false distinctions. Even if there is some poverty of thought on the one side—which is inevitable, given our thoughts on language—this must not be proclaimed triumphantly as a defect, but rather shown as an opportunity for brethren to share the good gifts that God has given us.
Viewed with the backdrop of multilingualism and the fact that it has not obtained for most of Christian history, these secondary sources should be viewed as initial efforts to engage the traditions in constructive ways. The intelligentsia discuss matters and draw conclusions but the lay public, lacking the breadth of a scholar’s knowledge is less able to compare and contrast with objectivity. Thus my purpose here is to introduce the reader to these perspectives, analyze them, show the scholarly debate on the subjects, and suggest possible solutions. The gap that I observe in the Church between scholars and lay-folk is exacerbated by popular books promoting ignorant misinformation that would never (I hope) be published in an academic arena.
The Basic Problem of θεόσις
Let us proceed to the basic problem of our study: union with God. The Scripture speaks of it rather plainly: we are to “partake of the divine nature” (II Pet. i. 4). But anything that partakes of a nature possesses it and is one with it. If something partakes of human nature, we call that thing human. Thus if something partakes of divine nature, shall we call that thing a god? Shall we quote the 82nd Psalm (“ye are gods”) to assuage our discomfort? But this man says we can be gods who should be worshipped. And this man says that partaking of God is blasphemous and against tawhid. The orthodox Christian must condemn both of these extremes, and offer an orthodox alternative.
We must deny the Muhammadan separation between man and his Creator, and we must also deny the pagan apotheosis of man into his Creator. Further, we must deny the gnostic separation of spirit and flesh on the one hand and the hedonist slavery to flesh on the other. We must navigate through the Muhammadan-Lutheran-Calvinist notion of fatalism and destruction of the human will and the Pelagian-Deist-Atheist fantasy of human self-salvation. Finally, we must guard the idea that God is absolutely whole—or “simple”—from both the Muhammadan idea of God as “The God” (Allah)—a singular monad—and the pagan multiplication of gods.
These are the distinctions that the Christian tradition in east and west has attempted to navigate in their own way. The east, using the Greek tradition, speaks of θεόσις, or deification—becoming God. The west, using the Latin tradition, speaks of justification or sanctification or participation. Each tradition is exemplified in the figures of St. Thomas Aquinas in the west and St. Gregory Palamas in the east. Though the tradition of the west or the east should not be foolishly identified with the writings of one or the other, their thoughts certainly qualify to stand at the precipice of the Doctors within either tradition. Both attempted and succeeded at drawing upon the wealth of their respective traditions (and, in the case of Aquinas, the other as well, to a certain extent) and formulating an extremely influential synthesis which has been passed down and still holds preeminence. St. Gregory Palamas not only is celebrated on his own feast day, but holds one of the Lenten Sunday commemorations with other great sages like St. John Climacus and St. Mary of Egypt. St. Thomas Aquinas is not only one of the doctors of the Latin church, but holds the further epithet of “angelic” doctor.
In any case, though we cannot identify either with the tradition itself, their views on union with God did become one of the standard terminologies for their tradition. Thus comparing their views will help us understand a few points of the traditions’ divergences and commonalities. And this is where we will introduce our two authors.
The first work was published in 1999 by the Cambridge scholar Dr. A.N. Williams taking the title The Ground of Union: Deification in Aquinas and Palamas. This is the first book-length comparison of the two authors. She devotes half of her book to a detailed analysis of each author’s conceptual framework of deification. Her thesis is essentially that St. Thomas and St. Gregory are speaking differently about the same thing, emphasizing different parts. (Her work can be considered the Catholic perspective on the matter).
G. R. Evans writes that the work is a “pioneering attempt to understand what understandings of the human task of ‘return to God’ lay on either side of the schism.” Dr. John Chryssavgis from the Orthodox seminary of the Holy Cross called the Dr. Williams’ erudition “admirable,” and commended her irenic approach. He has larger criticisms for some of her conclusions, which we will mention below. The harshest criticism comes from Dr. David Bradshaw of the University of Kentucky (our other author). He critiques Dr. Williams’ equating Thomistic deification with Palamite, and her assertion that the essence and energies distinction is nominal. He does state, however, that Mrs. Williams “is to be commended for her attempt to understand both authors sympathetically.”
When Dr. Bradshaw published his similar work later in 2004 (Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom), happily he states in the preface that “I have attempted to treat the historical material impartially with the aim of arriving at a sympathetic understanding of both traditions within their own context.” In the book he traces the use of the term ἐνέργεια from Aristotle through to its influences on pre-Christian philosophy and the formation of the eastern tradition. He then contrasts the formation of the eastern tradition with the inadequacies and contradictions of Augustine and Aquinas. His thesis is that the western tradition is fundamentally unsound chiefly because it did not develop the proper use of the term ἐνέργεια. He is an eastern Orthodox Christian.
His scholarly analysis of the term ἐνέργεια from a historical point of view is praised by many scholars, one calling it a “tour de force.” The book earned Mr. Bradshaw The Journal of the History of Idea’s Morris D. Forkosch prize. But if the historical survey of ἐνέργεια was the first goal of the book, the vindication of the eastern tradition is the second. I could find only eight scholarly review of the book, and most of them said the same thing: “Generally, Bradshaw’s execution of his first goal is irenic and scholarly. The same cannot be said for the way he handles his second goal.” Scholars called Mr. Bradshaw’s handling of the eastern tradition vis-à-vis the west as “a shame,” which is “argumentative” and “polemical,” suffering from “prejudice,” and ultimately becomes “a typically ‘Eastern,’ or neo-Eastern, apotheosis of Palamite theology.” The reasons for this criticism will become apparent below.
Prejudices and Methodology
Dr. Williams begins her analysis with a welcomed critique of the past and present state of misunderstanding between the two thinkers. She critiques numerous studies from both sides claiming to definitively debunk the other side. She critiques first the historical argument that the west condemned Palamism and the east Thomism. For instance, the Parisian condemnation of the denial of the Beatific vision in 1241, or pope Benedict’s vindication it in 1336 cannot be taken as a condemnation of Palamas, who died in 1359 and was unknown in the west. As Dr. Williams points out, “most commentators from both East and West generally agree that the very categories of nature and grace are scarcely applicable to Eastern theology.” Thus to apply terms at face value to other side is committing the error of doctrine development.
Furthermore, Barlaam, St. Gregory’s opponent, harshly critiques St. Thomas Aquinas, and should not be taken to be a representative of his thought—and the attitude toward Aquinas by Palamas is unknown. The eastern synod of 1368 seemed to condemn certain western concepts, but scholars on both sides are divided on how to interpret these vis-à-vis the west. Because of the lack of communication with the other side, these concepts cannot be taken—especially at face value—to mean a bare condemnation of another tradition. Dr. Williams concludes by saying that
Commentators differ deeply on the degree and significance of data pertaining to theological differences between East and West, sometimes interpreting the same datum in radically different ways…the commentators’ own assumption of systematic opposition leads to claims inadequately supported by historical fact.
Williams suggests that the majority of commentators on this issue are committing the first and third errors we mentioned above. They are assuming that either side should develop the same terms, and interpreting condemnations of the other prima facie as outright opposition, when no historical interaction provided a workable understanding with which to condemn.
She points out, too, how many modern commentators have not fully digested the texts against which they write, provoking the charge of misunderstanding from the opposing side. She critiques the polemical Catholics like Mr. Martin Jugie, Mr. Steven Runciman, Fr. Adrian Fortescue, Fr. Thomas Tyn and the Orthodox Vladimir Lossky, Deno Geanakoplos, and Fr. John Romanides. She commends, however, the more irenic and objective Catholic scholars like Bernhard Schultze, Cardinal Yves Congar, and the Orthodox Metropolitan Kallistos Ware and Fr. John Meyendorff—who call for a return to the sources. The dominant voice, however, seem to be the polemical. Dr. Williams concludes:
Because so many of these commentators appear motivated by overt polemical intent and so many of them inadequately document the theology they describe, the modern debate, like the medieval, raises questions rather than establishes the irreconcilability of Thomist and Palamite theology.
Her first chapter is a welcome attack on polemicism in this debate, and convinces the reader that her approach will truly be sympathetic in reading both Palamas and Aquinas, presenting their work in a sober and objective manner.
Dr. Bradshaw introduces his work by claiming in his preface that, compared to the west, “eastern Christendom had from the beginning a fundamentally different way of understanding the whole range of issues pertaining to the relationship of faith and reason.” He thus asserts that “we must take account of the eastern tradition,” though he says that he wishes to be sympathetic to both, as we quoted supra. With all due respect to Mr. Bradshaw, this intention does not seem to have been accomplished.
Even without reading the book, the reader can see from the table of contents that after the preliminary sketch of the term ἐνέργεια through its pre-Christian origins, Mr. Bradshaw devotes 68 pages to discussing the “formation” and “flowering” of the eastern tradition in the first millennium. Turning to the Latin tradition in the first millennium, Mr. Bradshaw uses only 7 pages to describe what he sees as the dismal blunders of St. Augustine. He then conclude that “clearly the gulf separating Augustine from the eastern tradition is immense.” Could it be that Dr. Bradshaw suffers from the polemicism that Dr. Williams critiques in her introductory chapter?
Other scholars think so. As we said above, scholars received Dr. Bradshaw’s analysis of pre-Christian ἐνέργεια as helpful, but his polemics as “extravagant.” Dr. Bradshaw’s treatment of Augustine, according to Prof. Jean-Yves of Paris, is “misleading” and filled with the “same old prejudices.” Dr. Andrew Redde-Gallwitz of the Loyola University Chicago says that Mr. Bradshaw analyzes Augustine “rather quaintly, given the past century of scholarship” and his work is ultimately “dominated by partisanship.” Scholars call Mr. Bradshaw’s treatment of Aquinas as “surprisingly polemical” and “unnecessarily contentious” that lacks the same depth of analysis that Mr. Bradshaw gives to the eastern tradition.
When Dr. Bradshaw does present Palamas, he devotes 12 pages to him, calling his thought a “synthesis” of the eastern tradition but which is missing the Dionysian hierarchies and the Spirit’s eternal manifestation teaching (which he had analyzed in his sections on the “formation” and “flowering” of the east). But Mr. Bradshaw concludes sympathetically that “one can hardly fault Palamas for failing to bring together all the diverse strands of the eastern tradition.” It is unfortunate then, that this sympathy is not also given to the west, as Mr. Bradshaw only analyzes Augustine and Aquinas (although certain non-patristic philosophies are mentioned, like Victorinus and Boethius). Because of this approach, the reader is not convinced that Dr. Bradshaw is truly succeeding in presenting a sober understanding of the west.
Dr. Williams, for her part, devotes two large chapters of dense analysis to Palamas and Aquinas, which amounts to 68 pages for Aquinas and 55 for Palamas. Her analysis is intricately bound to the sources, and she presents a compelling case for deification in Aquinas.
Divine Simplicity, Love and Deification in Aquinas
Dr. Williams begins by pointing out that St. Thomas himself uses the term “deification” in certain places in the Summa. In questions I-II.62 and 65, Aquinas roots deification within the classical reference to II Peter. His doctrine, writes Mrs. Williams, hinges upon his conception of divine simplicity—that only in God are existence and essence identical, having no distinguishing parts. In other words, God’s love is God, it is not something God merely possesses. Therefore to partake of God’s love is to partake of God Himself. Human beings, on the other hand, are not simple, like the Creator. They have individual existence, and a common essence—humanity—which is shared by all. Dr. Williams notes, then, that
simplicity, as it functions in the Summa, paradoxically contains in nuce the essential elements of a doctrine of deification: it articulates the absolute distinction between Uncreated and created and yet indicates the means by which these distinct entities are to be united in knowledge and love.
Instead of selecting quotations out of context from the Summa (as other scholars have) she chooses to look at the Summa as a whole and survey how the principle of simplicity is used for deification. This allows her to evaluate Thomas qua Thomas, not insofar as he does or does not follow Greek terminology, which would commit the error of development of doctrine.
Dr. Bradshaw, however, seems to commit this error in his basic assumptions for analysis. He criticizes the doctrine of divine simplicity by presenting Aquinas in multiple places as if he is simply being arrogant and openly rejecting the authority of Greek Fathers. Having already dismissed St. Augustine as essentially failing to be a Latin patristic authority (without any mention of other Latin fathers), Mr. Bradshaw portrays Aquinas’ concept of simplicity as leading to an over-intellectualized deification, making it to be merely “an extrinsic one founded on efficient causality.” Furthermore, Dr. Bradshaw claims that the assertion of divine simplicity—especially as it regards the denial of any potentiality in God—sacrifices God’s free will.
Prof. Williams, however, points out, as we have said, that divine simplicity crucially distinguishes between the creator and creature, and at the same time identifies God’s love and goodness with His essence—thereby creating the categories within which to understand participation in God. Far from being a mere intellectual union in the mind, Dr. Williams points out that Aquinas emphasizes intellectual knowledge as a necessary prerequisite for love, since (quoting Augustine), Aquinas says that “none can love what he does not know.” Aquinas claims that “knowledge is the cause of love for the same reason good is, which can be loved only if known” (I-II.27, 2 resp.). But not only this, love exceeds knowledge in its use, because one can perfectly love that which is not perfectly known.
In addition, Mrs. Williams brings forth passages which clearly show Aquinas mystical conception of union with God’s love as deification:
The beloved is contained in the lover, by being impressed on his heart and thus becoming the object of his complacency. On the other hand, the lover is contained in the beloved, inasmuch as the lover penetrates, so to speak, into the beloved (I-II.28,2 ad 1).
And concerning the infinity of union with God’s love, Aquinas writes,
[There is no] limit imposed to the increase of man’s charity, while he is in the state of a wayfarer. For charity itself considered as such has no limit to its increase, since it is a participation of the infinite charity which is the Holy Ghost [est enim participatio quaedam infitiae caritas, qui est Spiritus Sanctus]. In like manner the cause of the increase of charity, viz., God, is possessed of infinite power. Furthermore, on the part of its subject, no limit to this increase can be determined, because whenever charity increases, there is a corresponding increased ability to receive a further increase. It is therefore evident that it is not possible to fix any limits to the increase of charity in this life. (II-II.24, 7)
With this in mind, Dr. Williams relates, the deification of St. Thomas may begin in this life and continue on unto eternity, with no end—a concept closely resembling St. Gregory of Nyssa.
Dr. Bradshaw, however, claims that the Augustinian-Aquinas deification is in “sharp contrast” to the eastern doctrine of perpetual progress, though he makes no effort to reconcile the two. In his review of Mrs. Williams’ work, he claimed that one source of difference between Aquinas is that he does not mention the body in deification, whereas Palamas does—though again, any effort to reconcile them seems to be absent.
But through his emphasis on love, Williams sees how Aquinas can maintain that a man can love God as much as he is capable through grace, but not as much as God is lovable—that is, as much as He loves Himself. In other words, we can be perfected in love of God infinitely, but never as much as God is perfect in love. Through these terms, Aquinas is able to maintain the distinction between Creator and created, but also safeguard the participation in the Creator through His love. These concepts seem to imply that the body is included in deification in Thomas. As far as Mr. Bradshaw’s claim that divine simplicity compromises God’s free will, L. J. Elders of The Netherlands’ Institute of Philosophy and Theology calls this objection “surprising,” and answers it by saying that Dr. Bradshaw “fail[s] to notice that divine freedom totally differs from human freedom of choice.”
The Knowability of God – Sympathetic Readings of East and West
Dr. Bradshaw, moreover, creates a false distinction when he says “whereas for the East God is beyond knowing, Aquinas regards Him as the highest intelligible object.” Does Mr. Bradshaw plan to maintain that the Eastern Christian cannot know God? Of course not. Is he prepared to claim that the western Christians know God as He knows Himself? Of course not. What is the purpose, then of these false distinctions? These statements only obscure the question and lead to misunderstanding. Dr. Bradshaw himself admits that both Augustine and Aquinas claim that God is knowable but also unknowable. But instead of trying to see a way that the two sides could be saying the same thing, he makes false distinctions like this.
Misunderstanding the development of doctrine, Dr. Bradshaw openly compares the terms of Aquinas with those of the Greek Fathers without any qualification as to their context, assuming that the language and thought barrier does not affect understanding, because of the common Aristotelian framework. This, however, fails to truly engage the epistemological concepts of language mentioned above. If we investigate the reasons he gives for this false distinction, we see how this is the case.
Dr. Bradshaw argues that because the Greek Fathers (such as Nyssa) claimed that the οὐσία of God could not be known, Aquinas’ claim that the esse can be seen is in objection to the Greeks. Dr. Bradshaw has the temerity to attack Aquinas’ character itself: “Gregory [Nyssa]’s writings were not available to Aquinas, however and even if they had been it is unlikely that Aquinas would have changed his mind.” And as we said, Prof. Bradshaw admits earlier that Aquinas states, following Augustine, that the divine essentia is “seen but not comprehended.” Thus, let us lay this out clearly:
1. Aquinas maintains we can know God truly (using the words “see His esse”) but not know Him as if we were God Himself
2. The Greek Fathers, Dr. Bradshaw tells us, teach that we can truly know God, but use the Greek term οὐσία to denote that which man or woman cannot know of God
3. One side, using Latin terms, says that we can know God but not as He knows Himself
4. The other side, using Greek terms, says that we can know God but not as He knows Himself
This is why I submit that Mr. Bradshaw’s argument is a false distinction. Is this the same foolishness that caused the Chalcedonian schism? Different use of terminology to say the same thing? Let the reader judge. Furthermore, scholars dispute Dr. Bradshaw’s reading of the Greek fathers, saying that it is not as clear “Palamite” as the Kansas professor asserts.
Dr. Williams’ approach is more erudite. For instance, she points out that Aquinas emphasizes love far more than St. Gregory does. But she does not take this to be a defect in Palamas, but simply different and valid emphases. Instead, she takes the points at with St. Palamas does use love as a term for deification and attempts to reconcile it with St. Thomas’ strong focus on the term. She admits that
while love appears in Gregory’s writing with relative infrequency and assuredly possess little systematic importance, the extravagance of his language and the strong links he forges between love and the heights of mystical experience and union concord entirely with [Gregory’s] simple claim, echoing 1 Corinthians 13: “Love is the most perfect of all gifts” (II.2.11).
This is the type of analysis that Mr. Bradshaw seems to desire to accomplish from his preface, in a “sympathetic reading of both traditions.” But there seems to be little sympathetic readings like this one in Mr. Bradshaw’s work. Prof. Jean-Yves agrees with Dr. Bradshaw when he asserts that the concept of uncreated energies is incongruous with Aquinas’ terminology. Dr. Jean-Yves contends, however, that while it is true that deification is unknown in the west “(at least as a word), participation is not, and the West has not (or not only) ‘weak’ theories of sanctifying grace and sanctification.” Dr. Jean-Yves criticizes Mr. Bradshaw for making a monolithic caricature of the western tradition as only St. Thomas, and not the other more “mystical” texts: Bonaventure or Cistercian theology, who make use of other analogies of deification.
Palamite Dogma and the Reality of the Essence/Energies Distinction
However, Dr. Williams’ work is not without its criticisms. One of the things Dr. Williams asserts, for instance, is the ambiguous nature of St. Gregory Palamas as a dogmatic representative of the Orthodox faith. She discusses how some Orthodox writers, such as Mr. Lossky or Met. Ware, maintain that Palamism is Orthodox dogma. However, other Orthodox writers (Fr. Schmemann, Mr. Aghiorgoussis, Fr. Florovsky, Fr. Bulgakov) maintain Palamism as important to Orthodox theology, but not as dogma. Still other Orthodox systematic theologians (Trempélas, Karmiris, Pomazansky, Staniloae) hardly even mention Palamas at all—even in theological manuals written for ordinands. She concludes by agreeing with Met. Ware in saying that there is an “inherent difficulty [in] asking those who were not participants in a council to accept its decrees.”
However, Dr. Chryssavgis is not convinced by this argument from ambiguity. “Any ‘ambiguity in Orthodoxy’ (149) merely reflects the unsystematic methodology and inconsistent terminology of patristic and contemporary Orthodox sources.” The unfortunate fact, however, is that the divisions among Christians have been caused precisely by such inconsistency. Any ecumenical reconciliation necessitates some sort of systematic method and consistent terminology. Furthermore, if the inconsistency within Chalcedonian Orthodoxy can be forgiven by Orthodox, can they also forgive the inconsistent terminology and methodology when compared with Latin Christendom? They have done as much for the Miaphysites.
Dr. Chryssavgis does commend, however, Dr. Williams’ use of a distinction between conciliar intention and terminology as a possible means of reconciliation (which Prof. Chryssavgis points out is admitted also by St. Palamas). This is the alternative to the error of doctrine development. If the terminology of a certain local council (especially one whose authority is not ecumenical) does not appear at face value to reconcile with the decisions of other councils, the answer is not to find in it immediate evidence of heresy. Rather, delving into the intentions of the council, behind the words, should be used to construe it according to its base intentions. Then we will be in a position to correctly judge whether it is equivalent to another. Dr. Williams, I believe, presents a model approach which is erudite and exhaustive. Dr. Bradshaw, as I have said, does not appear to match this objectivity.
When Dr. Bradshaw critiques Dr. Williams, he states that although Aquinas’ grace is indeed spoken of as a “partaking of the divine nature,” and thus a deification, “that does not erase the very considerable differences between the two authors in their understanding of what deification is and how it occurs.” This “considerable difference,” Dr. Bradshaw writes, lies in St. Thomas’ “sharp” distinction between deification in this life and the life to come, the only taste of the latter being when the worshipper “transcends the senses.” This is Dr. Bradshaw’s contention that Thomistic deification does not include the body in this life, as we mentioned above. Dr. Bradshaw claims that Aquinas’ assertion is radically anti-body, and that Palamas’ use of the term “uncreated light” is the way in which the body is deified. Dr. Bradshaw finds it “surprising” that Mrs. Williams does not focus on this “for this is surely one of the crucial differences between them.”
It is unfortunate again, that Mr. Bradshaw seem reluctant to entertain plausible ways that his objections can be resolved. For example, Thomas puts great emphasis (which Mrs. Williams brings out) on the Imago Dei in Man and Woman as a point for deification. It is through this Image of God that “humanity is bound intimately to God through knowledge and love, which is a participation in the divine Trinity’s own life.” The body could be implied since God created the Imago Dei not as disembodied spirits, but as fully enfleshed. Dr. Bradshaw, however, seems to contend that the Thomistic anthropology is primarily disembodied. Is this really his assertion, or does he simply lay greater emphasis on transcending the flesh, as many patristic writers (including the New Testament) do? Would Mr. Bradshaw, for instance, misinterpret the troparion of the greatest penitent of the eastern tradition, St. Mary of Egypt? “By example and precept thou didst teach us to ignore the body because it is perishable, and to attend to the concerns of the undying soul. Therefore, doth thy soul rejoice with the angels.” Perhaps Aquinas’ lack of emphasis on the body is similar to St. Mary’s troparion. It never explicitly denies it, but it is understood within the context of ascetic spiritual discipline. Dr. Bradshaw seems to liken Thomist anthropology to Gnosticism.
A more contentious claim that Dr. Williams makes is this: “for the distinction [of essence/energies] not to constitute an impediment [to ecumenical reconciliation], it would have to be either nominal, or not dogma in the fundamental sense (i.e., binding on all Christians), or both.” This is because the concept of divine simplicity precludes the possibility that God is composed into parts. She points out how Mr. Lossky and Fr. Meyendorff disagree on this point, the former maintaining that essence and energies are truly a real division in God and the latter that they are not. Dr. Williams thinks that since two very “careful” readers of Palamas can read him differently is evidence that the question is far from closed. She pushes, therefore, for a reading of the distinction as only a nominal reality in God.
Dr. Bradshaw, however, states that this claim “will not bear scrutiny.” He asserts that this is untenable for a number of reasons. First, whereas Dr. Williams points out what Palamas does not say in claiming essence/energies as a “reality” like the hypostaseis/ousia distinction, Dr. Bradshaw responds by asserting what the saint does say when he explicitly affirms that the energies exist extra-mentally. Further, the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki gives ἐνέργεια attributes “that could not possibly belong to the ousia,” such as plurality and transience.
This is truly a difficult problem. Is the essence and energies distinction a part of God’s essence? In other words, is this distinction who God is? If so, then one would know His essence, which is impossible according to the Palamite terminology. But I do not think this is what Palamas wants to say. Instead of introducing the distinction in this way, a better way for clarity might be this: there is God’s essence. Then there is God’s essence insofar as we can partake of it, aided by His grace. We can truly partake of the divine nature, but we cannot become God, only ‘gods.’ Thus by definition there must be a distinction in God in this way. Is this a real distinction or only nominal? This question is wrapped in the mystery of the divine Persons and their love for each other, and the simultaneous identification of them—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—with Him: the Holy Trinity, one God. We cannot comprehend the mystery of this love, for it is by definition paradoxical. But we can know His divine life of love. The reality of His essence—the Trinity—is incomprehensible, but somehow we ‘see’ it, and ‘participate’ in it. Thus we know God’s essence, but we do not know it to become it. The essence/energy distinction must be real, because our participation in God without apotheosis is real—but it must be real in a way that is beyond our comprehension. We must partake of God, but at the same time not partake of God. We must do x and also not do x at the same time. This is reality. This distinction is beyond our comprehension, but is nonetheless true. Perhaps if we think this way the nominal/real debate can be reconciled to a both/and distinction rather than an either/or. The Catholics, moreover, are bound to confess the simplicity of God and any “real” distinction must be understood in a sense which does not compromise God’s Simplicity.
In any case, Dr. Williams completes her survey of the essence/energies distinction with these words, which Mr. Chryssavgis applauds: the essence and energies distinction “dissolves before the face of the One it describes and …ultimately serves.” We must keep in mind that the distinction is meant to aid our own deification, not a philosophical argument.
Dr. Bradshaw maintains that synergy is the crucial concept for this discussion. First, he sets up a false distinction by claiming that
If one were to summarize the differences between the western traditions in a single word, that word would be ‘synergy.’ For the East the highest form of communion with the divine is not primarily an intellectual act, but a sharing of life and activity.
This false distinction is nearly intolerable. First, what does he mean by “not primarily an intellectual act?” Is he claiming that the East does not know the God with whom they share life and activity? Of course not. He is claiming that we “know the unknowable”—through the uncreated energies. Is he claiming that the West only teaches that we know God through our minds? This seems to be the case, which approaches a claim that the west does not have a sacramental life. Let the reader judge for himself.
Second, the term ‘synergy’ is a Greek word. With all due respect to the Kansas professor, is it not unreasonable to demand that the Latin tradition should develop around a Greek term? Dr. Bradshaw admits that “Latin offered no terms as suitable as energeia and its cognates for situating the notion of synergy within a broad metaphysical context.” Is Mr. Bradshaw prepared to claim that because the Latin tradition is Latin it is therefore unorthodox? If so, is this anything other than the same old prejudice as Photios? Mr. Bradshaw admits that Augustine has other Latin concepts like “illumination” which are able to more readily reconcile with eastern concepts, but he chooses not to discuss them. Why is this, Mr. Bradshaw?
Besides ignoring the great spiritual sages in the west like Ambrose, Benedict, Cassian, Isidore, Bede, Bonaventure, Juan de la Cruz, François de Sales, Terésa de Avíla, and the western spiritual masterpieces de Imitatione Christi and Il combattimento spirituale (both of which were explosive bestsellers in the east), Dr. Bradshaw’s analysis of Aquinas fails to the convince the reader that he is truly approaching the sources objectively. As we said, Mr. Bradshaw uses only Augustine and Aquinas to speak monolithically of “the west.” In the east, he analyzes Athanasios, Basil, Gregory Nyssa, Gregory Nazianzen, Dionysios, Maximos, Evagrios, the Desert Fathers, Ioannes Damaskinos, Symeon the New Theologian, and finally Gregory Palamas. Dr. Bradshaw fails to show the reader that his comparative analysis is superior to a polemical straw man.
This allows him to make hollow claims about contradictions without a corresponding analysis exhaustive enough to succeed. Dr. Bradshaw writes, for example, concerning Aquinas’ terms of infused, created grace:
What does Aquinas mean by “infusion”? The term itself suggests an extrinsic relationship, one in which God as efficient cause bestows something distinct from Himself upon the creature.
Why does Mr. Bradshaw ask a question, instead of trying to answer it by an in-depth analysis? This statement appears to reveal Dr. Bradshaw’s bias because it is attempting to understand Thomistic concepts in terms of eastern concepts. Of course the concept of “created grace infused” in the creature will sound extrinsic if one is thinking in terms of Palamite essence and energies! This is the error of development of doctrine.
Palamist deification terms and Thomist deification terms seem to have different purposes, that’s why they have different emphases. Palamas’ goal seems to have been to safeguard the real union of the creature with his Creator, and thus he maintained the uncreated nature of grace as God Himself, dwelling in the creature. He was ambiguous, however, on how the will of the creature interacts with the Creator—does the Creator do all the work, or the creature? Mrs. Williams points out repeatedly how Palamas openly says one and then the other, contradicting himself. But Dr. Williams does not consider this a weakness, but considers the context. The Pelagian debate was never an issue in the east, and thus Palamas has no problem saying both paradoxically. Because the Greek tradition is ambiguous on this point, it does not mean it is heretical. It means it is not Latin. Since the goal of Palamism is to safeguard true union with God, it is enough to teach that the energies of God are uncreated, not to consider Latin theological concerns.
When Dr. Williams explicates Thomistic created grace, she shows how this Latin theological concern works within Thomas’ doctrine of deification. She speaks about how Peter Lombard taught that the Holy Spirit united with the creature by indwelling, while Thomas preferred the term infusion. But instead of making unsympathetic claims about ambiguities in Aquinas like Dr. Bradshaw, Mrs. Williams tries to delve deeper into Thomas’ motivations. She asserts that Thomas’ goal is to
maintain the closest possible union between God and humanity while at the same time keeping firmly separated Uncreated and created. He does not seem to intend by caritas causata [created love] that what is infused into the human person differs somehow (essentially for example) from the charity that is the Divine Essence—at least, he fails to draw the kind of distinction between the two that one might expect, given his predilection for distinctions. His intention seems rather to insist that the human person remains a creature, even though simultaneously a participant in divine nature.
In other words, the creature must not be controlled by the divine nature with in which he partakes, but must still be free, though divinely empowered. In this context, it seeks to balance between Pelagian self-salvation and Muhammadan fatalism.
Thomas distinguishes between the kind of causality existing between God and soul on the one hand [uncreated] and between the soul and the body on the other [recreated]…the divine agent who is the source of grace does not by gracious action obliterate the human person but respects her integrity and finite status, working within her according to the form proper to her.
The human person cannot reach to God alone. God’s uncreated grace comes to Man and recreates the ability to reach to God—creating new power in the person to reach to God. Then the person is still free to love God, but now is, through an infusion of created grace, empowered to act. Palamas would certainly not say that God’s uncreated energies force the believer to love God. Rather, they empower the worshipper. How does this happen? Palamas does not answer this, because Pelagianism is not on his mind. Aquinas does.
Let us lay this out clearly:
1. Problem: we must find a way to explain the ineffable mystery of partaking of God Himself—being perfected, divinized human beings—without becoming God Himself.
2. Greg’s Greek terminology, wishing especially to emphasize divine participation, uses the term ἐνέργεια to mean God insofar as He can be possessed and known by creatures, and the term οὐσία to mean God insofar as He cannot be possessed and known by creatures.
3. Tom’s Latin terminology, wishing especially safeguard a balance of the human will vis-à-vis the divine will, uses the term gratia to speak about God’s recreation of man so that he can partake of God’s love—which is God Himself. This created gratia is infused into the person by God Himself—uncreated grace.
4. Thus, Greg uses Greek to say that we become gods but are not God, and Tom uses Latin to say that we become gods but are not God.
In any event, a simple reading of the New Catholic Encyclopedia under the terms “Grace-Created, Uncreated” reveal that the west has received both Lombard’s indwelling of the uncreated Spirit, and Aquinas infusion of recreated divine empowerment. It is sad, therefore, that this caricature of the west is maintained.
The More Extravagant Claims of Dr. Bradshaw
Dr. Bradshaw’s prejudices unfortunately do not end with these false distinctions and errors. He completes his book by stating that the western tradition is unsound “as far back as Augustine…our entire view of history will have to change.” He then agrees with the Enlightenment critique of western Christendom—that it offers an incomprehensible, self-contradictory God. He continues with such intolerable statements as these:
The east has no concept of God. It views God not as an essence to be grasped intellectually, but as a personal reality known through His acts, and above all by oneself sharing in those acts.
He states that the east has no “concept” of the divine, and then in the next sentence explains the east’s “concept” of God, making a false distinction between intellectual knowledge and love. He goes on to claim that this leads the East to view asceticism correctly “not as a way to discipline the body, but as contributing to an ongoing deification of the whole person, body as well as soul.” Another false distinction with an implicit charge of Gnosticism towards the west, that the west believes that the body is not sanctified, or the temple of the Holy Spirit—or that “discipline of the body” can be separated from “deification of the whole person.” He even makes the false distinction that “for the East morality is not primarily a matter of conformance to law…it is matter of coming to know God by sharing in His acts and manifesting His image.” Is he prepared to claim that there are no moral laws in the east? Of course not. In light of Aquinas’ emphasis on God’s image recreated in man, or the spiritual western masterpiece Imitation of Christ, these statements leave the reader in dismay. Mr. John Casey of the Northeastern Illinois University writes that the conclusion of Mr. Bradshaw “hardly seems warranted” and calls Mr. Bradshaw’s striking polemic an “argumentative conclusion” which is a “weakness.”
Mr. Adrian Guiu of the University of Chicago Divinity School points out that “often the picture painted of East-West relations is too stark,” and goes on:
It is too much to say that “the Eastern tradition is fundamentally sound,” and “the Western tradition was unsound as far back as Augustine” (p.275). One cannot account for the social upheavals and philosophical polemic in the West just by pointing to the relative autonomy of the natural realm. One may retort that in Orthodoxy the ethics of every day life has been marginalized because of the focus on union with the divine. Eastern Christianity is not an idyllic paradise. One should not forget the problematic intermixture of religion and politics in Eastern Europe.
Mr. Guiu’s critique brings more balance to Dr. Bradshaw by mentioning some of the weaknesses in the east and the need for both sides to help each other. There is no parallel in the east, for instance, of the developed Catholic social teaching. Recognizing this, however, should not be a moment of triumphalism, but of charity. This is a more objective approach along the lines of Mrs. Williams’ irenicism.
But Mr. Bradshaw continues:
It is striking, in this connection [of asceticism], that the long western tradition of lay resistance to the clerical enforcement of morals had no real analogue in the east. One finds nothing like the goliardic poetry and the courtly love movement of the Middle Ages, much less the studied worldliness of authors such as Boccaccio.
Dr. Bradshaw says that this is because of “the varying extent to which East and West had succeeded in incorporating the whole person within their conception of the human good.” This commits the doctrine development error. The west was filled with barely literate barbarians who found street rape to be an amusing pastime, while the Greeks at least had civilization to create an assumed “enforcement of morals.” A basic sympathetic reading would grasp this context. But notwithstanding this context, the situation in Vladimiran Kiev was not much better than the Barbarian west, and did not improve dramatically for centuries. But instead of looking at the context, Mr. Bradshaw attempts to force unfair comparisons.
And he goes on:
As for persecution and religious war, it is also striking that the major institutions and movements that embodied them in the West, such as the Crusades, the military orders, and the Inquisition, all arose after the schism. The bafflement and revulsion felt by the Byzantines toward the Crusaders is well known. Persecutions certainly did occur in the East, but they tended to be initiated by the imperial government and to follow the old Roman pattern of attempts by the government to maintain its own supremacy.
Again, Mr. Bradshaw is sympathetic to one side and not the other. He overlooks the instances of ruthless religious persecutions in the east—Miaphysites, Old Believers—using the word “tended” and, in an unfortunate obscurantism, uses the morally superior word “bafflement” and “revulsion” to avoid mentioning the fratricidal decadence and deceit of the eastern Christians during the Crusades (while admitting that the eastern Christian state remained highly influenced by paganism). Dr. Jean-Yves calls these claims simply “untenable.”
But Mr. Bradshaw is not finished:
I leave it to the reader to recall all the bloody wars and revolutions, the hatred, arrogance, and philosophical despair of the nineteenth century. From the standpoint of the East the whole story falls sadly into place. The Enlightenment attacked scholasticism, but left untouched rationalist ideology; it attacked oppressive morality, but left untouched the alienation of the body from the soul; it attacked sectarian strife, but left untouched the deeper wellspring of hatred…Let us now ask whether the God who has been the subject of so much strife and contention throughout western history was ever anything more than an idol.
Dr. Bradshaw’s forced generalizations turn into open assault with caricatures of the west, incurably infected with “oppressive morality…the alienation of the body from the soul…sectarian strife…wellspring of hatred,” which ultimately is only the worship of an “idol.”
Mr. Marc-Antoine Gavray, otherwise positive in his review of Dr. Bradshaw, writes that it is “a shame that he ends with this note.” Dr. Jean-Yves states that Mr. Bradshaw’s final remarks are “shocking in terms of scholarship and does no honor to its author.” The frenchman notes how Mr. Bradshaw has been helped by Western scholarship of the East, and thus Mr. Bradshaw’s
epilogue, therefore, is a good proof that, whereas Western theology has learnt to read Greek theology sympathetically for a very long time and is generally ambidextrous, the ‘Eastern perspective’ remains narrow and overcrowded with prejudices. It is an alarming fact that a scholar like Dr B., who knows perfectly well how to write conceptual history, is unable to perceive that a deep-rooted prejudice is nonetheless a prejudice.
Jean-Yves, though, does admit that the west’s dissociation of the “systematic” with the “Spiritual” has been “fateful” in the west (although he also claims that this has been overcome). “Dr. B.’s ‘Eastern perspective,’” he says, in any case, “is the wrong one to have an intelligent look at the west.” Dr. Redde-Gallwitz sums up the feeling of many of the scholarly reviewers when he says “As a survey of energeia, this book is recommended; for an account of ‘the division of Christendom,’ one should look to something less dominated by partisanship.”
The Deeper Questions
The more disturbing implications of Mr. Bradshaw’s anti-Latin, anti-Augustine thesis is this: that God inspired and equipped the Greek east with the intellectual tools for orthodoxy but, through some fault of God’s providence, the Latin west was incapable of the same orthodox faith. This turns the Latin Fathers into an impoverished substitute for the east, and questions God’s providence. Therefore I believe we should concur with Mr. Bradshaw’s reviewers in taking the good scholarship of ἐνέργεια but not allowing his claims about the west to go uncorrected. Scholars should not be able to pass over these regressive prejudices without harsh criticism from objective and moderate voices. That is why I believe Dr. Williams has done a fine job in opening up this for further discussion. Her whole work is recommended as a valiant effort towards bringing the two great traditions together within the one Holy Tradition. If we offer fervent prayers to the Mother of God, we can have hope that she will dispel all of these “word webs of the Athenians” and grant us peace and unity.
Adrian Guiu. Review of Aristotle East and West, by David Bradshaw. Anglican Theological Review 88, no. 4 (2006): 620
Andrew Redde-Gallwitz. Review of Aristotle East and West, by David Bradshaw. Journal of the History of Philosophy 45, no. 3 (2007): 493-494
Bradshaw, David. Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004
David Bradshaw. Review of The Ground of Union, by W. N. Williams. Journal of the History of Philosophy 38, no. 4 (2000): 586-588
G. R. Evans. Review of The Ground of Union, by W. N. Williams. Journal of theological studies 51, no. 2 (2000): 759
Jean-Yves Lacoste. Review of Aristotle East and West, by David Bradshaw. International Journal of the Classical Tradition 13, no. 3 (2007): 437-442
John Chryssavgis. Review of The Ground of Union, by W. N. Williams. Theological studies (Baltimore) 61, no. 2 (2000): 361
John Casey. Review of Aristotle East and West, by David Bradshaw. The Sixteenth Century Journal 38, no. 2 (2007): 495-496
L. J. Elders. Review of Aristotle East and West, by David Bradshaw. The Review of Metaphysics 33, no. 2 (2005): 409-410
Marc-Antoine Gavray. Review of Aristotle East and West, by David Bradshaw. L’Antiquité Classique 75 (2006): 372-373
Patrick Madigan. Review of Aristotle East and West, by David Bradshaw. The Heythrop Journal 48, no. 1 (2007): 121-122
W. N. Williams. The Ground of Union: Deification in Palamas. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999
Certain Latin theologians, at the time of Ss. Cyril and Methodios (c. 860) embraced the error of trilingualism, that the divine services must be celebrated in only three languages—Latin, Greek, or Hebrew.
Unitatis Redintegratio 3; “[The Papacy] constitutes a difficulty for most other Christians, whose memory is marked by certain painful recollections. To the extent that we are responsible for these, I join my Predecessor Paul VI in asking forgiveness.” Ut Unum Sint 88
Mr. Redde-Gallowitz sharply contends Mr. Bradshaw’s reading of the Cappadocians, stating that they did not identify the ἐνέργεια with the eternal properties of God, but merely said that knowledge of God cannot come to Humanity except through ἐνέργεια. Mr. Redde-Gallowitz points out that the eternal properties of God—His infinity, etc.—are predicated by the Cappadocians of the divine οὐσία, which Mr. Bradshaw maintains is unknowable according to the Palamite system. Further, Mr. Bradshaw fails to address recent scholarship concerning St. Nyssa’s use of the middle term δύναμις, and misreads St. Basil as saying that the ἐνέργεια have a beginning, whereas St. Basil states that the act of creation is the beginning of time itself. Mr. Patrick Madigan of Heythrop college takes issue with Mr. Bradshaw’s reading of the Philosophical development of the west, stating that Mr. Bradshaw fails to appreciate the insights of Duns Scotus and Aquinas in reconciling the Aristotelian final cause and the Scriptural efficient cause. He suggests that “in papering over the difficulties posed by the ‘Parmenidean’ convention of divine immobility and the necessary self-preoccupation of the deity which the philosophic tradition insisted upon, perhaps the East missed a challenge that was really there, which the West later engaged and met successfully” (Patrick Madigan, review of Aristotle East and West, by David Bradshaw. The Heythrop Journal 48, no. 1 (2007): 122) Prof. Jean-Yves, moreover, criticizes Dr. Bradshaw for constructing a monolithic understanding of the East’s supposed rejection of the filioque, stating that it is “well known that the Filioque was acceptable to Maximus Confessor, and that ‘monopatrism’ was, later, the unaided innovation of Photius.” (Jean-Yves, 440)
Placeat tibi, Sancta Trinitas.