by Paraclete Press
Hierotheos Vlachos, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos
Published by Birth of Theotokos Monastery in 1997
This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
I have to say I was disappointed by this book. I enjoy other books by this author, and I have read several works by and on Gregory Palamas, my favorite Saint.
I was expecting something deeper from this book.
The author wants too much to make his point, that Gregory was a Hagiorite – who would actually doubt it these days? So in every chapter, the author talks about his life and his works by demonstrating for each point that the way he lived and wrote this and that prove that he is a Hagiorite. I don’t know if it’s the translation or what, but it was way too redundant.
The part also about proving that he was Roman would be very confusing for most readers, as the meaning of the word is so very different now from Gregory’s time. Honestly, this was totally pointless.
Even though I loved a few passages, quoted here below, I would say do not bother reading this. Instead, stick to the classic one by Meyendorff, and the most recent publications by Dr Christopher Veniamin, who has just done a fantastic job of publishing all of Gregory’s homilies in English. His introduction and notes are fantastic.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
The life and the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki, will set out the limits and the great difference which exists between the abstract and impersonal life of Eastern religions and the Orthodox Tradition as well as between Barlaam’s scholasticism, moralism and the Orthodox spiritual life. And this is important precisely because tendencies to both the impersonal way of life (Eastern religions) and rationalism/scholasticism together with moralism (Western religions) prevail in the West today—a fact that creates a deep despair and much speculation.
A reading of Saint Gregory Palamas as a Hagiorite will show the particular features of Byzantium, which used to be called Romania (Roman Empire) as it is preserved and kept even in our days on the Holy Mountain of Mount Athos. Nowdays many people admire the art which developed in the Byzantium (Roman Empire) but in the final analysis this art was the outcome of a holy life, it was the fruit of a way of life, as we can see in the life and the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas. [archangelsbooks]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
He was born Georgios S. Vlachos in Ioannina, Epirus, Greece, in 1945 and graduated from the theological school of the University of Thessaloniki. He took the monastic name Hierotheos and has been a priest since 1971. He served at the Archbishop’s House of Offices in Athens, as a preacher and Youth Director. He was consecrated bishop on July 20, 1995, and elected Metropolitan of Nafpaktos and St. Vlasios in the same year.
He taught Greek for several semesters and gave lectures on Orthodox ethics to the students of the St. John of Damascus Theological School at the University of the Patriarchate of Antioch, in northern Lebanon.
Already in his youth he was particularly interested in the Fathers of the Church, working for a time in the monastery libraries of Mount Athos, on the recording of the codices. He was especially interested in the teaching of St. Gregory Palamas.
The study of the patristic texts and particularly those of the hesychast Fathers of the Philokalia, many years of studying St. Gregory Palamas, association with the monks of the Holy Mountain (Mount Athos), and many years of pastoral experience, all brought him to the realisation that Orthodox theology is a science of the healing of man and that the neptic fathers can help the modern restless man who is disturbed by many internal and existential problems.
Within this framework he has written a multitude of books, the fruit of his pastoral work, among which is Orthodox Psychotherapy. Some of these books have been translated into various languages, such as English, French, Spanish, Russian, and Arabic. With these books he conveys the Orthodox spirit of the Philokalia to the restless and disturbed man of our time. This is why they have aroused so much interest.
As a lover of light, Palamas’ prayer could be considered my motto. this is from p.276
As any Orthodox writer, Gregory Palamas had a great love for the Theotokos. This excerpt p.292 is a good illustration of it:
I was struck by this passage related to the Transfiguration:
“The holy Fathers explain that they fell on their faces ‘not because of the voice, but because of the change and marvel of the light’.”
Therefore this voice was a vision of God.”
I liked this comment, because it reminded me of another major luminous event in the New Testament, that is, the conversion of Saint Paul. It is very interesting to see that in one passage, he explains that his companions could only see the light that blinded him, and in another passage, he says they could not see anything, but hear a voice.
“The Transfiguration is a great event in the life of Christ, but especially in the lives of the Disciples.
It points to the height of the spiritual life,
reveals the meaning of our existence,
shows the path we should take in order to become real human beings.”
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This book counts for
ABOUT THE BOOK
This book taps the vein of the blending of theology and art in the Middle Ages, in particular, the evolution of the imagery and theology surrounding the Transfiguration Of Christ. In this well-researched volume, Andreas Andreopoulos discusses in detail every philosophical and ritual application of the Transfiguration icon – the mountain, the cloud, the mandorla, the positioning of the apostles, the Old Testament prophets, and the image of Christ himself – taking the reader through an illustrated historical journey. The author simplifies the complex relationship between the dogma of the church fathers and Byzantine art and makes it understandable to a non-specialist audience. Nevertheless, theologians, historians, and art historians alike will appreciate the interdisciplinary value of this clearly presented documentation. Andreopoulos’s expert use of patristic texts and Jewish sources, as well as the New Testament and apocryphal writings and pagan sources, elucidates the development of art and doctrine that surround this scriptural epiphany [gooodreads]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andreas Andreopoulos is Senior Lecturer in Orthodox Christianity and Programme Leader of the MTh in Orthodox Studies. He studied in Greece, Canada and the UK. See his bibliography here
This is one of the best books I have read on the Transfiguration! I have read lots of studies on the topic, but this one is unique in the sense that it combines both theology AND iconography; it’s not: 1st part on theology, 2nd part on iconography, it’s: how does the Transfiguration theology influence the Transfiguration iconography, and vice versa, with also repercussions on/influences from the Liturgy.
I thought I knew a few things on the Transfiguration, but I discovered so much in this book; I enjoyed especially the development related to the different possible shapes of the mandorla in the Transfiguration iconography
In his works Celestial Hierarchy and Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, pseudo-Dionysios describes a universe where hierarchy is the means by which divine illumination reaches down to the entire creation.
Moreover, this act of illumination, somehow following the Platonist and the Christian tradition at the same time, facilitates the return to God, the ultimate union with Him.
This is what is particularly impressive about the cosmology of pseudo-Dionysios.
His view of the universe reflects a metaphysics of the light, something unprecedented on this scale.
This light reaches to the smallest and most remote parts of creation completely undiminished, unifies the creation, and draws the creation back to the Creator. pp.148-149
“In most holy contemplation
we shall be ever filled with the sight of God
shining gloriously around us
as once it shone for the apostles at the divine Transfiguration.
And there we shall be,
our minds away from passion and from earth,
and we shall have a conceptual gift of light from Him,
and, somehow, in a way we cannot know,
we shall be united with Him and,
our understanding carried away,
we shall be struck by His blazing light”.
Dionysios the Areopagite, Divine Names, 1.4.592C quoted here p.149
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