Gregory's Words, and in particular his first chapter and chapter 127, are testimony to the success of such a strategy because they show that Gregory felt constrained to address his opponents' framework even though he was incapable of integrating it into his own version of spiritual ascent.91 Gregory's Words must be seen against the backdrop of a fight for spiritual authority.92 When he refers to the 'wise in word' he thinks not simply of human rationality but also of man's capacity to use speech. Clearly Gregory chose the term 'orator' because of its connotations: both the 'wise in word' and the 'truly wise in word' articulate and teach their ideas but not all the saints do. Extensive passages in the Words where division and classification are applied in a distinctly scholastic manner show that Gregory felt the need to establish his credentials as a 'wise in word'.93 From the Words it is evident that Gregory understood natural contemplation as the symbolic interpretation of natural phenomena: for example, he describes how the Trinity is reflected in the constitution of man.94 There canbe no doubt that his approach was much closerto Maximos's original intentions than that of his opponents.95 However, this fact plays no role in Gregory's argument. Instead he attempts to contain the impact of his adversaries' model. By insisting that the 'truly wise in word' should focus on 'general science' and the most universal categories, he makes it clear that one should not waste time in the study of particulars and single species.
When we now turn to Barlaam's direct opponent Palamas, we find that his treatises share many traits with the Words of Gregory of Sinai. Palamas, too, cannot accept profane wisdom as morally neutral and instead insinuates that it originates in demons.96 Furthermore, he claims that those who devote themselves to worldly wisdom are not 'rational' and therefore cannot proceed to the higher stage of intellection because such wisdom 'results in unstable and easily changeable knowledge and thus corrupts the discursive and divisible character of the thought processes (to ^povouv) ofthe soul'.97 This statement,
91 Maximos appears among the authors recommended by Gregory Opusculum III, in PG 150,1324D [= ed. Beyer, 48].
92 For attacks on hesychasm: e.g. Gregory of Sinai, Words, in PG 150, 1289c [= ed. Beyer,
93 Ibid., 1260-1 [= ed. Beyer, 47]. Cf. Maximos, Ambigua, in PG 91, 1196c.
94 Gregory of Sinai, Words, PG 150,1262BC [= ed. Beyer, 47-8].
95 E.g. Maximos, Ambigua, in PG 91,1396D.
96 E.g. Palamas, Defense, 1, 31.7-16 (triade 1.1.9).
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