which he vigorously defended against Latin opponents, but in doing so he revealed a quite un-Byzantine grasp of Latin methodology.
Late in 1333 papal emissaries arrived in Constantinople. The ensuing negotiations were accompanied by a theological debate.26 Invited to present the Orthodox point of view Gregoras declined on the grounds that debate with the Latins was utterly futile. The emperor turned instead to Barlaam, who used his knowledge of scholasticism to make a defence of Orthodoxy in Latin terms. He was the first Orthodox spokesman to demonstrate a proper grasp of the works of Thomas Aquinas, which he consulted in Latin. He offered a general criticism of the Latin use of syllogisms. He contended that they were inappropriate to an understanding of the workings of the Godhead, where scripture interpreted through the Fathers was the only guide. Barlaam's specific criticism of Aquinas was over the use of scripture in such matters. The latter's interpretation was guided not by the Fathers, but by human reason on the mistaken assumption that its rules necessarily applied to the Godhead. Making original use of Pseudo-Dionysios Barlaam then argued against Aquinas that it was necessary to accept the limitations of the human intellect, where the Godhead - and in particular a mystery such as the origins of the Holy Spirit - was concerned. It was a clever and effective defence of Orthodoxy, but delivered by the wrong person.27
Barlaam came under attack from the hesychast leader Gregory Palamas, who was acting as a spokesman for a group of Athonite monks.28 His reaction to Barlaam's defence of Orthodoxy was precipitate and based on little more than hearsay. He grossly misconstrued his adversary's line of thought. His assumption was that this revealed a theologian who was at heart a Latin. He took Barlaam's exposition of the Latin teaching on the procession of the Holy Spirit and of Latin methodology, not as a debating position, but as a statement of belief. Barlaam's attempt to convince Palamas that this was not so only made things worse. He tried to explain his position by reference to the strengths and weaknesses of classical philosophy, always making clear its inferiority to Christian revelation. Palamas took this as an admission of his opponent's adhesion to pagan thought.29
26 A. Fyrigos (ed.), Barlaam Calabro Opere contro i Latini [Studi e testi 347-8] (Vatican: Biblioteca apostolica vaticana, 1998), 1, 211-18.
27 G. Podskalsky, Theologie und Philosophie in Byzanz: der Streit um die theologische Methodik in der spatbyzantinischen Geistesgeschichte (14/15 .Jh.), seine systematischen Grundlagen und seine historische Entwicklung [Byzantinisches Archiv 15] (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1977).
28 Barlaam Calabro Opere contro i Latini, 1, 219-33.
29 R. E. Sinkewicz, 'Christian theology and the renewal of philosophical and scientific studies in the early fourteenth century: the Capita 150 of Gregory Palamas', Mediaeval Studies 48 (1986), 334-51.
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