only treating Maximos in passing - and then mainly in the context of prayer.57 This makes it impossible to reconstruct Barlaam's agenda relying on Palamas alone. It is therefore fortunate that we have at our disposal other contemporary sources, which shed light on the debate. These sources suggest that far from having a secularist agenda Barlaam saw himself as the representative of a genuinely monastic tradition, which he felt to be threatened by the hesychasts.
Gregory of Sinai and the 'wise in the word'
Barlaam was not as isolated a figure as Palamas would have us believe. Already in 1307 Theoleptos of Philadelphia found himself confronted with people who pursued 'profane' wisdom and rejected the hesychastic method.58 Gregory of Sinai, too, initially faced opposition from the 'more learned' among the Athonite monks who accused him of being an innovator and who attempted to have him expelled from the Holy Mountain.59 Theoleptos reacted with an outright rejection of his opponents' position, which closely resembles that of Palamas.60 By comparison, Gregory of Sinai's response was much more nuanced and therefore permits us an insight into the alternative model and into the nature of the debate between the two parties. Gregory dealt with the issue in his treatise Different words (Aôyoi) about commandments, doctrines, threats and promises and also about thoughts andpassions and virtues and also about quietude andprayer, a series of short statements about a variety of spiritual topics, which most likely dates to the year 1327.61 The Words begin with a statement about human nature: 'To be or to become rational (ÀoyiKÔç) according to nature, as we were, is impossible before purity . . . because we have been overwhelmed by the habit of irrationality that is linked to sense perception (aîaô^TiK^).'62 In this sentence Gregory sets out an anthropological model according to which human beings are endowed with the faculty of reasoning as well as with sense perception, which in itself is non-rational. The former is distinctive of humans, whereas the latter is shared with animals. Both are linked through a strictly hierarchical relationship: reason controls the senses. This relationship,
58 Sinkewicz,'Gregory Palamas', 155.
59 Zhitie ... Grigoriia Sinaita, ed. Pomialovskii, 31.25-32.4.
60 Theoleptos, The monastic discourses, ed. Sinkewicz, 112-14.
61 Gregory of Sinai, Words ,inPG 150,1240-1300 [= ed. Beyer, 38-64]; Gregory'shagiographer mentions a text by Gregory that may well be identical with the Words : Zhitie... Grigoriia Sinaita, ed. Pomialovskii, 36.11-14. If so it can be dated to c.1327. See Rigo, 'Gregorio il Sinaita', 90.
62 Gregory of Sinai, Words, in PG 150,1240A [= ed. Beyer, 38].
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