The revival of political hesychasm in Greek Orthodox thought: a study of the hesychast basis of the thought of John S. Romanides and Christos Yannaras.
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Payne, Daniel P.
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In the 1940s Russian émigré theologians rediscovered the ascetic-theology of St. Gregory Palamas. Palamas's theology became the basis for an articulation of an Orthodox theological identity apart from Roman Catholic and Protestant influences. In particular the "Neo-Patristic Synthesis" of Fr. Georges Florovsky and the appropriation of Palamas's theology by Vladimir Lossky set the course for future Orthodox theology in the twentieth century. Their thought had a direct influence upon the thought of Greek theologians John S. Romanides and Christos Yannaras in the late twentieth century. Each of these theologians formulated a political theology using the ascetic-theology of Palamas combined with the Roman identity of the Greek Orthodox people. Both of these thinkers called for a return to the ecclesial-communal life of the late Byzantine period as an alternative to the secular vision of the modern West. The resulting paradigm developed by their thought has led to the formation of what has been called the "Neo-Orthodox Movement." Essentially, what the intellectual and populist thinkers of the movement have expressed in their writings is "political hesychasm." Romanides and Yannaras desire to establish an Orthodox identity that separates the Roman aspect from the Hellenic element of Greek identity. The Roman identity of the Greek people is the Orthodox Christian element removed from the pagan Hellenism, which, as they argue, the Western powers imposed on the Greek people in the establishment of the modern nation-state of Greece in 1821. Romanides and Yannaras want to remove the Western and pagan elements from the Hellenic identity of the people, and replace it with the Orthodox identity rooted in hesychast spirituality based on the teachings of Gregory Palamas. Using an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the thought of Romanides and Yannaras, the work employs constructivist sociology with history and theology to arrive at a complete understanding of their politico-theological arguments. Furthermore, the work examines the theological sources as well as the historical setting for the development of their thought. Additionally, the project assesses their political theology and provides opportunities for further theological development.