are indications that the hesychasts were in turn accused of laxity: Gregory's hagiographer went out of his way to present the saint as an extreme faster at the time when he became first acquainted with the method.38 On the whole, however, the ascetics do not seem to have posed a serious threat to the new movement.
A much more dangerous opponent proved to be the monk Barlaam of Calabria. Around the year 1330 Barlaam had left his homeland and had come to the Byzantine East where he soon gained a reputation for his knowledge of the Orthodox theological tradition and his interests in philosophy and science.39 In the mid-i33os he met monks in Constantinople and Thessalonike, who acquainted him with the hesychastic method and its effects.40 Considering the views of the hesychasts at least misguided and at worst heretical, he saw it as his duty to disabuse them of their errors.41 However, when he set out on his mission he was immediately confronted with vehement opposition, which was led by Gregory Palamas, a member of a Constantinopolitan aristocratic family who had become a monk on Mount Athos.42 Palamas was no stranger to Barlaam: he had already exchanged with him a series ofincreasingly polemical letters about the role of logic in the theological discourse.43 Now he composed a tripartite treatise In Defence of Those who Live in Quietude in a Sacred Manner, which offered an arsenal of arguments to the beleaguered hesychasts.44 It appears that at the same time Barlaam, too, expressed his views in a series of writings. However, once he became aware of Palamas's treatise he withdrew
38 I. Pomialovskii, Zhitie izhe vo svatykh otca nashego Grigorija Sinaita [Zapiski istoriko-filologicheskago fakul'teta imperatorskago S.-Peterburgskago Universiteta, 35] (St Petersburg, 1896), 8.2-15.
39 Cf. R. E. Sinkewicz, 'The solutions addressed to George Lapithes by Barlaam the Calabrian and their philosophical context', Mediaeval Studies 43 (1981), 151-217.
40 For the chronology of the controversy cf.R. E. Sinkewicz, 'A new interpretation for the first episode in the controversy between Barlaam the Calabrian and Gregory Palamas', JThSt n.s. 31 (1980), 489-500.
41 Cf. G. Schiro, Barlaam Calabro. Epistole greche. I primordi episodici e dottrinari delle lotte esicaste[Testi 1] (Palermo: Istituto siciliano di studibizantini e neogreci, 1954), 324.127-31.
42 For Gregory's biography see R. E. Sinkewicz, 'Gregory Palamas', in Theologie byzantine et sa tradition, 11,131-88, esp. 131-7. For the sake of brevity I will in the following refer to Gregory of Sinai as 'Gregory' and to Gregory Palamas as 'Palamas'.
43 R. E. Sinkewicz, 'The doctrine of the knowledge of God in the early writings of Barlaam the Calabrian', Mediaeval Studies 44 (1982), 196-222.
44 Gregory Palamas, Defense des saints hesychastes, ed. J. Meyendorff [Spicilegium sacrum lovaniense, Etudes et documents 30] (Louvain: Spicilegium sacrum lovaniense, 1959), 1, 3-223 (triade 1).
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