these texts and revised them in order to address Palamas's criticisms.45 Palamas responded by composing a second treatise, which had the same disposition as the first but dealt more directly with Barlaam's written statements, which are repeatedly quoted.46
What agenda did Barlaam pursue? Unfortunately both redactions of his writings are lost and their content must be reconstructed from other sources. The obvious starting point for such a reconstruction is Palamas's refutation of Barlaam's positions. The last, and longest, parts ofPalamas's two treatises deal with Barlaam's claim that the search for God ends with an understanding of his total otherness from all created being: they set out the counterargument that human beings can outstrip their natural faculties, either because the mind possesses the ability to transcend itself or because God becomes accessible to man through the gift of the Holy Spirit.47 Such a disposition reflects the central importance that this issue had for the hesychasts. However, one must be careful not to see Barlaam exclusively through the hesychastic lens. His own writings appear to have been organised quite differently: it seems that his treatise On Light in which he voiced his objections against visionary experiences was the first of his texts on the subject and that it was followed by a treatise with the composite title On Prayer and on Human Perfection.48 This discrepancy suggests that Barlaam had other priorities. Such an interpretation is borne out by his earlier writings, in particular his two Letters to the hesychast Ignatios and his second Letter to Palamas. These texts show that originally Barlaam was less concerned with the vision of light as such, than with the fact that it did not have the effects on the visionaries, which he considered essential for their spiritual progress. These were the mortification and subjugation of the passionate part of the soul and the vivification of the rational faculty, which enabled human beings to make correct judgements and dispel error and
45 This is at least Gregory Palamas's version of the events: Palamas, Defense, i, 228-9 (triade ii .1.2).
47 Ibid., i, 143, 13-18 (triade i.3.i6); i, 209.13-17 (triade L3.45), ed. Meyendorff,i43.13-18, 209.13-17. For Barlaam's position see Sinkewicz, 'Knowledge of God', 181-242.
48 These titles can be reconstructed from references in Palamas's second triad (Palamas, Defense, i, xxvi); from Gregory Akindynos's ninth letter to Barlaam (ed. Hero, Letters, 30.25-32.61); from Patriarch John Kalekas's Explication of the Tome, in PG 150, 900D; and from the sixth speech of Joseph Kalothetos, which was addressed to Kalekas (ed. D. G. Tsames, l<x><ri)(p KaAodsTovIuyypâmjaTa[Q£aaaÀov\K£Ïs BuÇaVTivoi Zuyypa^eïs 1] (Thessalonike: Centre of Byzantine Studies, 1980), 237.54-238.58). Kalothetos was one of the addressees of Barlaam's letters at the beginning of the controversy. Cf. H. Hunger and O. Kresten, Studien zum Patriarchatsregister von Konstantinopel (Vienna: Verlag OAW, 1997), ii, 71-4. The above-mentioned sequence is suggested by Palamas, Defense, 1,229.1023 (triade ii.1.2), which appears not only to refer to On Light, but also to contain a summary of first On prayer and then On human perfection.
iii self-delusion.49 It is evident that Barlaam had a negative view of both the emotions and the body, which played an important role in the hesychastic experience. Palamas tackles this topic in the second parts of his first and second treatises where he attempts to show that emotions are not necessarily sinful but can be sanctified.50 However, Barlaam's contempt for feelings must be balanced with his high regard for reason. In the tradition of Christian neoplatonism Barlaam contended that the knowledge about the structure of this world is inscribed in the human soul as common notions, which reproduce at the level of discursive thought the principles of creation inherent in the divine mind.51 In his lost disquisition On Human Perfection, which formed the last part of his œuvre, he set out a model of man's ascent to God that corresponded to this framework. He insisted that human beings must first awaken their dormant rationality through exposure of their analytical and logical faculties to all kinds of knowledge before they can transcend the purely human level through a 'folding up' of their thoughts to unitive and intuitive intellection.52 This model of graded ascent is without doubt the core of Barlaam's teachings.53 In his refutation Palamas attacked it as an attempt to divert monks from their true vocation, which he identified with the practice of the hesychastic method.54 He relegated the discussion to the first parts of his two treatises to which he gave the headings: In what respect and to what extent is the pursuit of letters useful, and What is the true salvific knowledge, which should concern the true monks, or against those who say that the knowledge from secular education is truly salvific.55 Thus he gave the impression that Barlaam's plea for intellectual activity was completely extraneous to the monastic tradition.
This impression, however, is deceptive. In a letterto his friend Gregory Akin-dynos, Barlaam defended his treatise On Prayer and Human Perfection against criticism by stating that all he did was present an 'exegesis' of the views of the seventh-century monk and spiritual teacher Maximos the Confessor with the intention of confirming the latter's position.56 This Akindynos was happy to accept, even if he criticised Barlaam for his selective and skewed reading of Maximos. Palamas, on the other hand, subverted Barlaam's purpose by
49 See especially Schiro, Barlaam Calabro, 302-4, 318.
50 Palamas, Defense, 1, 70-101 (triade 1.2); 1, 318-83 (triade 11.2).
51 Sinkewicz, 'Knowledge of God', 210, 238-9.
52 Palamas, Defense, 11, 539 (triade 11.3.71). Cf Schiro, Barlaam Calabro, 302.566-303.570.
53 The title On human perfection is derived from Paul's 'perfect man' in Ephesians 4:13 and refers to the successive stages of growing up from childhood to adulthood.
56 Akindynos, Letters, 42.134-8.
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