- Series: Changing Paradigms in Historical and Systematic Theology
- Paperback: 290 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (January 6, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0198708890
- ISBN-13: 978-0198708896
- Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.7 x 5.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,082,227 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Orthodox Readings of Aquinas (Changing Paradigms in Historical and Systematic Theology) 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
See the Best Books of 2017 So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the best books of the year so far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
[The book] has tremendous implications for ecumenical relations between ourselves and the Eastern Orthodox...Well written and even-handed. --The Catholic Response
"The story the author tells is fascinating and holds many surprises for theologians of both Eastern and Western traditions." --First Things
"His book is both a revealing historical study of Orthodox attitudes to Aquinas and the West, and a significant contribution to ecumenical dialogue between Orthodox East and Latin West, which, despite Kipling, have met in the past and could do so again to their mutual profit." --Theology
"An important theological contribution, a clarion call for the Orthodox Church to be herself rather than to be defined as merely the opposite of all things Western." --Theological Studies
"Brilliant." --New Blackfriars
"A significant and much needed study." --The Journal of Theological Studies
"[A] very fine book." --Times Literary Supplement
"Marcus Plested has written a very important book... [A] finely researched and winsomely written survey... Orthodox Readings of Aquinas is a critically important book for Orthodox and Catholics alike." --Nova et Vetera
"...[T]his work is the first of its kind: a historical and theological introduction to the relation between Thomism and many of the major theologians in eastern Orthodoxy since the fourteenth century... Marcus Plested's pioneering book could open many doors for new research on the Byzantine theological tradition. The young English scholar has identified a nearly forgotten gold mine of doctrine, from which he has already brought forth much treasure." --Modern Theology
"...[A]n extraordinarily rich articulation and defense of Orthodox scholasticism... Plested's profoundly erudite study charts an exciting and compelling course." --Matthew Levering, Professor of Theology, University of Dayton
"M. Plested's Orthodox Readings on Aquinas [...] deserves to take the succession of Lossky's book [Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church] as setting a new paradigm regarding the identity and inner coherence of the Orthodox tradition." --Antoine Levy in Nicolaus: Revisita di Teologia ecumenico-patristica
"I would recommend Plested's study as an important contribution toward heightened mutual
understanding between, as well as more nuanced analysis of, the Eastern and Western traditions."-- American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
About the Author
Marcus Plested has taught, lectured, and published widely in the field of Orthodox Christian studies. His first book was The Macarian Legacy: The Place of Macarius-Symeon in the Eastern Christian Tradition (OUP 2004).
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top customer reviews
Let's start with the general positives:
1.) Plested is irenic and conciliatory in a field, which has witnessed increasing extremism and radical theories (primarily among ultra-Orthodox). Though a reader will likely consider Plested "on the side of Aquinas," his approach is much more digestible than some of the wretched apologetics (even among contemporary authors), who reject -out of hand- Augustine, Aquinas (and Scotus) as part and parcel of "doing Byzantine theology" post-14th century.
2.) Plested has attempted to accomplish an "historical reconciliation" of Orthodoxy with Aquinas (and other Latins). He has used a wide variety of authors and has -on the main- tried to find a positive middle-way (via media). I say "historical" since this work does not pretend and cannot hope to accomplish a "metaphysical" or "ontological" reconciliation. I will discuss this further below.
3.) Plested finally cross-pollinated in a very specialized field employing diverse "experts" on Palamism, who have previously refused to use authors they disagree with (why I do not know). There has been an unscholarly tendency to only use published authors that support some singular read on Palamas. Look for yourself, how many modern "experts" dismiss Thomas and Scotism and do not even cite one primary source of Scotus, nor do they show any knowledge of his metaphysics? If they cite Aquinas, it is specifically NOT on studies already published that show direct dependence of Palamites on the two Summas of Aquinas. They may wax eloquently about their own theovision (theoptikê), but eventually the weight of scholarship will have to be dealt with. Plested took upon himself quite a few risks in trying to include everyone and I think he did much better than I could have expected considering the need for an inter-disciplinarian approach.
4.) The General editors assured his need for well-grounded research, even if Plested's opinions are his own. E.g., R. Cross' standards should be beyond anyone's suspicion.
On a more specific note, Plested did an excellent job of giving historical highlights with a sympathetic approach to each author. On occasion he hinted at the contributions, theological approaches and some salient metaphysical positions held by each author. The true value of the work is to NOT generalize and to take each as a free and interesting individual with his own perspective. Though there are quite a few shared theological values among Orthodox theologians studied in this volume, there is an admission (based on primary and secondary literature) that they have their own divergencies and idiosyncracies. One is left with impression that "theological tolerance" is necessary due to "theological currents" apparent in ostensibly and canonically Orthodox authors, who undoubtedly valued Aquinas (and others to varying degrees).
Lastly, Plested finally, and perhaps for the first time, has used historical indications to admit that Scotus will have to be dealt with in Orthodoxy. Orthodox Palamites recognized a kindred spirit in Scotus (who was opposed to the the Filioque metaphysics of Aquinas). Hervaeus Natalis was translated by 1370 in Byzantium. Scotus provided a completed system of metaphysics based upon Damascene and Ps.-Dionysios that was likely utilized by Eugenikos (who studied Scotus -per Monfasani- in 1437) at Florence when debating the Dominicans. Mark arguied for an immanent universal (i.e. infinite essence) with its exemplifications (3 hypostases). Secondly, it is now known that Mark's disciple (Scholarios) used Scotistic theology to defend Palamas (in fact Hervaeus Natalis). The reality is that Scotus was likely employed to veer Palamites off of the Thomistic trajectory they were on (Demetracopoulos, "Palamas Transformed"). In the end, Scotus and Palamas are allies (per Milbank) even if many of us do not like Milbank's denigration of both (or one) of them (who use the same metaphysics).
I reluctantly bring up the negatives:
The risk of this kind of work is oversimplification (because of space and the need to rely on secondary literature). In fact, the specialist will be tempted to be overly critical of the work. I will argue he should not be, since it is in his best interest to support an honest and studied effort to divulge to the public an extremely specialized area. That said, Orthodox will not be unjust in noticing an exaggerated tendency toward reconciliation. I will give jus a few examples that require us to be cautious (though not condemnatory) of this "intro to" Eastern Thomism:
1.) John Italus was also condemned for "syllogizing" about the faith, not merely for pagan Platonic ideas. This has been established for some time (in addition to the primary sources).
2.) Andrew Chrysoberges was not the first "good Thomist" (e.g.., Demetrius Cydones) to suggest the irreconcilability of Thomas to Palamas (the author does qualify this with "perhaps").
3.) Though Eugenikos is styled an anti-unionist, in fact he publicly declared his desire for the "divine work of union" at the Council and was incredibly patient with the likes of Chrysoberges and the fanatical anti-Palamite Thomists (3 of which explicitly petitioned a condemnation of Palamas to Eugenius IV at Ferrara-Florence). Thomists opposed Palamas based upon the metaphysics they detected in him that were akin to Scotus, whom they abhorred.
On another score, we should not read an historical work that argues very well for Orthodoxy's sympathy for Thomas' genius to mean that the two systems are metaphysically reconcilable. My guess is that the absence of Demetracopoulos' "Palamas Transformed" from this work is a case in point. Palamas believed in a distinction within the essence of God prior to any consideration of any thinking mind in the universe. The distinction/s cause/s the mind to think "distinction". Demetracopoulos powerful study is likely resisted since we see divergent tracts of Palamism by Palamite metaphysicians far more interested in "abstract philosophy" than post-Kantian Orthodox and Catholic concrete historians of theology. To the extent that a Palamite embraced Aquinas God-metaphysic, he minimized Palamas' distinction, to the extent that he embraced Palamas...he was attracted to Scotus' solution. As such, Milbank is right on the formal distinction in Palamas and Scotus. Orthodox Thomists from Capreolus down to Lagrange and even contemporaries all recognize that analogy of the concept of being (or even Cajetan's take on things) cannot be reconciled to Scotus' "univocity of the concept of being." Analogy attempts to find a via media between equivocation and univocation of the concept of being between God and creature. The two systems are irreconcilable logically and historically. All the accusations against Palamas are the same historically metaphysical accusations against Scotus (pantheism, placing God in the "genus" of being). In short, we cannot use history to overcome the reality that Palamites and Latins were often good metaphysical-logicians and were only equalled around the time of Frege, etc. No one, not even the modern phenomenologists, have overcome the dichotomy between Palamas-Scotus and Aquinas. It may be true that both schools reject the Nominalism that is said of Gregoras and Akindynos, but from then on we have only irreconcilability.
What Plested rightly points to, however, are the same historical debates in Byzantium as in the West. Aquinas challenged Palamites to develop a more theological and philosophical language for theoptikê. In fact, Rev. Dr. Peter Damian Fehlner, FI, observed long ago that Byzantium (post 14th century) was ultimately a theological climate in which two diverse Palamite schools arose. The first (Palamite Thomists; see Palamas Transformed) attempted to reconcile Palamas to Aquinas' analogy (from the time of emperor John VI-Bryennios) and Palamite Scotists (to some extent Bryennios, willy-nilly Eugenikos, and mostly Scholarios) who attempted to use a more agreeable metaphysic.
My hope is that Plested's book will interest inter-disciplinarian approaches to philosophy in the future that will stop selecting willy-nilly authors and the studies, and force an integrated approach taking into account historical Palamism's metaphysical plane as well.
Plested seeks to present a fresh picture of Aquinas, detailing Thomas' dependence upon the Greek Fathers, especially St John Damascene. Turning to St Gregory Palamas, he makes the case that Palamas was aware of and appropriated St Augustine's characterization of the Holy Spirit as the bond of love between the Father and the Son in a manner that did not compromise the Spirit's exclusive hypostatic origin from the Father. While the controversy over the extent to which Barlaam the Calabrian was channeling Augustine will no doubt continue, the notion that the hesychastic controversy was somehow a direct confrontation between Orthodoxy, embodied by Palamas, and the West, incarnated in Aquinas, is firmly dispelled.
The Elder Rome and Orthodoxy went their separate ways in the second millennium, but they are not and never were self-contained worlds. Both communions share a common historical and cultural foundation of Romanity, and what Fr Georges Florovsky termed "Christian Hellenism." The Latin Fathers are also Orthodoxy's fathers. Rejection of the sanctity of Blessed Augustine and his stature as a Holy Father by Orthodox is a novelty of the late 20th century. Plested takes up Fr Florovksy's appeal to Orthodox to assume the burden of sympathetically and critically engaging the theological pathways of the West, especially Thomas and the early scholastics. This can be done without in any way compromising the integrity of Orthodoxy's positions on the filioque and the papacy, two issues that the author acknowledges are "organically related." An example of such a critical re-integration that has arguably already been achieved is the matter of the filioque, as elaborated by St Gregory of Cyprus, St Gregory Palamas, and articulated in our own time, I think, by Fr Dumitru Staniloae.
An Orthodoxy that is forever defining itself as what it is not in contradistinction to Rome and Protestantism, that is paranoid about contamination from the West out of misguided zeal to somehow be super-Orthodox, belies its own claims to catholicity and universality. Plested observes that this reflexive stance is a sign of weakness, not strength. Without the necessity of accepting all of the author's characterizations and conclusions concerning the theologians he surveys, this short book is a stimulating corrective to some popular apologetic and introductory works on the Orthodox faith that make broad-brush assertions about Orthodox identity, especially in the misleading framework of an East versus West dichotomy, at the expense of accuracy and truth.
James J. Condra
Most recent customer reviews
Br John Augustine, OPRead more