The Hesychasm ( ancient Greek ἡσυχασμός hēsychasmós ) is a form of spirituality that in the Middle Ages of Orthodox Byzantine developed monks. Its starting point is the behavioral rules of late ancient monasticism . The term is derived from the Greek word hesychia ( ἡσυχία hēsychía ), which means "calm" or "silence". With hesychia , the ideas of serenity and inner peace are connected. Hesychasts make the attainment and maintenance of such calm the goal of intense systematic efforts.
Persistent practice within the framework of a special prayer practice serves to achieve hesychia . The praying hesychasts repeat the Jesus prayer over long periods of time . They use a breathing technique as an aid to promote concentration. The aim is to achieve a state of complete peace of mind, which is a prerequisite for experiencing a special divine grace : According to the Hesychast, those who pray can perceive the uncreated Tabor light in a vision . The doctrine, according to which God himself is present and visible in uncreated light, has been part of the core of Hesychastic convictions since the late Middle Ages .
The medieval Hesychastic movement had its center in the monasteries and skiing on Mount Athos . In its heyday in the late Middle Ages, it also spread to the northern Balkans and Russia. Under the Ottoman rule , Hesychastic practice took a back seat in the former Byzantine areas. The tradition did not break off, however, and was also continued in early modern Russian monasticism . From the 18th century there was a “neo-psychastic” boom, the consequences of which can still be felt in orthodoxy. In the early 20th century, the Imjaslavie movement followed the Hesychastic tradition.
Theologically, hesychasm is closely linked to the teaching of its best-known representative Gregorios Palamas († 1359), "Palamism". It was controversial during the lifetime of the Palamas. It has been able to assert itself permanently in the Orthodox churches, but outside of Orthodoxy it has mostly met with rejection or reluctance. Critics have always been offended by the claim that something uncreated and thus divine can be perceived. The objection is made that this is impossible because of God's absolute transcendence . Controversial debates continue to the present day. Hesychasm, with its promise of direct personal access to the deity, is often viewed as an antipole and alternative to a discursive search for truth that is burdened with uncertainty. Hesychasts reject the use of any philosophical method in theology. In the Orthodox world, the influence of hesychasm and palamism has permanently discredited the pursuit of a synthesis of philosophy and theology in the sense of the Western scholastic approach.
Use of terms
Since Hesychastic theory and practice took shape over a centuries-long process, the origin of the movement cannot be clearly fixed in time. In the 12th century at the earliest, conventional contemplative ideas began to take on the particular form that corresponds to the current use of the term "hesychasm". In late medieval and modern hesychasm, however, a continuity of tradition that goes far back is emphasized; it is an ancient practice of contemplative immersion that can be traced back to the time of the late antique church fathers . Since the late Middle Ages, the hesychasts have emphatically classified themselves in the tradition of early church contemplation. The appeal to ancient church authorities is intended to legitimize their claim that they are not innovators or even heretics , but the faithful keepers of the heritage of the ancient fathers of monasticism. The ancient monks, generally recognized as exemplary, are thus represented as the actual founders of hesychastic practice. However, the justification of this connection to the era of the early church is disputed. Therefore, the terms "hesychasm" and "hesychast" are often avoided in modern specialist literature when speaking of the ancient and early medieval precursors of the later contemplative movement. These expressions are usually reserved for the Hesychastic current in the narrower sense, which developed in Byzantine monasticism from the 12th and 13th centuries and later spread across the entire Orthodox world. It differs from older directions in that it emphasizes and works out the physical aspects of contemplative practice. This includes the systematic use of breathing technology as an aid.
Spiritual currents of the time since the 18th century, the representatives of which refer to traditional hesychastic ideas, are summarized under the name "Neuhesychasm".
A prayer practice that corresponds in essential aspects to the Hesychastic practice can already be demonstrated in early ecclesiastical monasticism. Already the apophthegms (sayings) of the "desert father" Antonios († 356), a hermit living in the Egyptian desert, and other monks of the early days contain rules of conduct such as "keeping your tongue" to maintain vigilance and calm (hesychia) . The life descriptions of the early ascetics describe the corresponding practice. These writings, which were influential in late antiquity and the Middle Ages, paint the picture of ideal monasticism. Above all, the authority of Antonios had a strong effect; he was nicknamed "the great" and was venerated as an important saint and as the forefather of monasticism. Closely connected with hesychia was nepsis (νῆψις nḗpsis : "sobriety", "vigilance", "mindfulness"), the monitoring of one's own thoughts and rigorous rejection of all ideas and impulses that could be detrimental to inner peace.
The desert basket and writer Euagrios Pontikos († 399), a student of the famous church father Gregory of Nazianz , was one of the forerunners of hesychasm who practiced their form of prayer in the Egyptian desert. He gave instructions for practice and created a theoretical basis. Incessant brief invocations of God should help the person praying to find rest and to gain distance from the affects . The aim was the state of mind apatheia (equanimity, imperturbability), which one wanted to achieve by purifying the soul from harmful passions. Euagrios taught that one who attained such peace of mind was capable of “pure prayer”; Those who pray in this way can experience their unity with God “like in a mirror”. Another forerunner of hesychasm was "Pseudo-Makarios", an unknown author of the 4th century, who was equated with Makarios the Egyptian , a famous "desert father", and was therefore in high regard. He presented monastic visions of light as being similar to biblical divine phenomena and especially the transfiguration of Christ . This made him an important authority for the medieval hesychasts to which they could refer to justify their doctrine of light.
Bishop Diadochus von Photike († before 486) recommended a constant prayer, with which the name of the "Lord Jesus" is constantly brought to mind. The exact wording of his call to prayer has not been handed down, but it is apparently an early form of the Jesus prayer or "perpetual prayer from the heart", an invocation of the name of Jesus that has been handed down in various versions. Thus the presence of the constantly repeated name of God came to the fore as a central element of the pursuit of hesychia . Diadochos believed that one could “block the exits of the spirit by remembering God” and thus enable concentration. When the power of the soul completely dominates the passions, one who ponders the holy name in the depths of his heart can see the light of his own spirit, since he is under the influence of the divine light. A vision of God or the divine light is not possible for the person praying and one should beware of deceptive visions of light that give such an impression.
Early stages in the formation of medieval hesychasm
The ascetic monk and writer Johannes Klimakos , who worked in the 7th century, pointed out the importance of the breath in his influential work Klimax (ladder) . He recommended combining the invocation of the name with the breath; then one will experience the blessing of rest, the hesychia . After the detailed description in the climax , climbing the spiritual "ladder" leads the ascetic to an encounter with God and to experience communion with God. Klimakos distinguishes thirty levels of ascent to the perfection of communion with God. He first deals in detail with the eradication of vices and the practice of virtues, with the cultivation of vigilance and sobriety playing an essential role in connection with the tradition of the late antique fathers. After the climax, disturbances have to be warded off at first, later one becomes insensitive to them. On the four uppermost levels, after the purification of the soul, it is about seeing God (θεωρία theōría ) in hesychia . Klimakos is considered a forerunner of the hesychastic teachers of the 13th and 14th centuries, who received his ideas strongly because of his attention to the role of the breath and his emphasis on light in the divine vision.
The performance and the spiritual background of the Jesus prayer were dealt with by the early medieval church writer Hesychios der Sinait (Synaites) in his work On Sobriety and Virtue , which also had a strong impact. He placed great emphasis on nepsis (sobriety, mindfulness) as a basic virtue, to whose preservation he recommended the Jesus prayer; the invocation should be as constant as possible and not be accompanied by thoughts or images. He, too, saw a connection between the breath and the prayer that should "cling" to the breath.
Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022) knew and advocated a mode of prayer that already contained hesychastic elements. His world of thought influenced the emergence and development of hesychasm. In particular, his conviction of the perceptibility of the divine light, which he claimed to have seen himself, corresponds to the hesychastic attitude. He energetically contradicted the view of those who believed that a perception of God was only possible after death in the life beyond. He said that whoever was pure in heart could receive the grace of the vision of God, thus get a share in the divine life and would then no longer need an earthly teacher, even if he was completely uneducated. Symeon's teaching was sharply rejected by the monks of the Mamas monastery, of which he was abbot. They saw it as a diabolical delusion and said that he had fallen victim to a deception by demons.
Until the early 20th century, Symeon was mistakenly thought to be the author of the treatise Method of Sacred Worship and Mindfulness (Méthodos tēs hierās proseuchḗs kai prosochḗs) . Since this work is the oldest known, in the true sense of the word, Hesychastic writing, Symeon was wrongly considered the father of Hesychasm. Only more recent studies - especially by the church historian Irénée Hausherr - have shown that the specifically Hesychastic prayer practice cannot be traced back to him. The unknown author of the method of holy worship and mindfulness (pseudo-Symeon) did not live until the 12th or 13th century. Another important treatise for the early period, On Sobriety and Vigilance of the Heart , was written around the middle of the thirteenth century; its author was the Athos monk Nikephoros der Hesychast, who came from Italy and is also called Nikephoros Athonites or Nikephoros Hagioreites. Pseudo-Symeon and Nikephoros were the first authors to give precise instructions on breathing and posture. The influential bishop Theoleptus of Philadelpheia, who was active in the 13th and early 14th centuries and a student of Nikephorus, is one of the best-known representatives of hesychasm in this epoch. In terms of ecclesiastical politics, these circles emphatically opposed a church union between the Orthodox and the Catholic Church. They emphasized the specifically Orthodox teachings that separate Orthodoxy from Catholicism. In doing so, they came into opposition to Emperor Michael VIII , who forced church union in 1274 for political reasons. Nikephorus the Hesychast distinguished himself as an opponent of the Union and therefore had to go into exile. Theoleptus also fought vigorously against the Union.
The late medieval heyday
The heyday of Byzantine hesychasm began in the first half of the 14th century. It was initiated by a renewal movement that started from Athos. Their most important spokesman was the Athos monk Gregorios Palamas (1296 / 1297-1359), who has been venerated as a saint in the Orthodox world since 1368. His doctrine, "Palamism" named after him, provided the hesychastic practice with a theoretical foundation and justification. But it also posed problems that led to severe hostility and heated disputes. In its heyday, hesychasm experienced a significant expansion of its influence, but at the same time had to assert itself against massive resistance. Only after this resistance had been broken in the church political struggle was it able to develop unhindered.
The interpretation of hesychastic visions as tabor light
Since ancient times, there has been talk of light phenomena in spiritual literature that individual monks claim to have experienced during contemplation. Opinions differed on the question of what quality such light was and what to think of such visions. In the late medieval hesychasm, the view prevailed that it was - in the case of a real show - the "Tabor light". What the praying monks perceived was nothing less than the light that the apostles Peter , James and John, according to the account of the three synoptic Gospels, saw during the transfiguration of Christ on an unnamed mountain. It is called Tabor light because, according to extra-biblical tradition, the mountain is Mount Tabor in Galilee . In the palamitic hesychasm, the view of the Tabor light forms the climax of the possible grace experience of the hesychastically praying. In addition, Palamas remarked that the light that appeared to the disciples at the transfiguration of Christ on the Tabor is identical with the light that is perceived in the presence of souls purified by virtue and prayer, and at the same time also that in which the being the goods of the future world exist.
Thus Palamas equated the light experience of the hesychastic visions not only with that of the biblical miracle, but in principle also with the experience of bliss in the kingdom of heaven . He also taught that the Tabor light was "uncreated", that is, not part of creation, but divine. In doing so, he claimed that the hesychastic vision was a direct experience (Greek πείρα peíra ) of God. According to the Palamitic doctrine, uncreated light is immaterial, but its light character is not to be understood metaphorically , but concrete. Since it is infinitely extended, no one can ever fully grasp it, neither in earthly life nor in future bliss. The pilgrimage in the light never comes to an end.
However, within the late medieval hesychasm there was also a direction that emphasized that not all visions of light are authentic. The influential Hesychast Gregorios Sinaites († 1346), an older contemporary of the Palamas, warned against deceptive visions that were the product of the imagination. But he shared the Palamas' conviction that there are real appearances of divine light in the present. To recognize these as such requires a special ability to distinguish, which can be found in spiritually advanced learners. Those who do not yet have the necessary judgment should rely on the experience of their teacher in order to avoid self-deception.
The hesychastic understanding of the perception of the uncreated
Since the basic assumption of late medieval hesychasm is the perceptibility of the uncreated - that is, God - Palamas had to deal with the question of how his concept could be reconciled with the principle of the absolute transcendence of God. Transcendence seemed to put God outside the realm of possible human experience. From this it could be concluded that only creation, not the Creator, can be grasped by man. Knowledge of God is therefore only possible in an indirect way - through knowledge of what he has created. It is necessarily never immediate and therefore always inadequate. In this sense, " negative theology " taught that it was in principle impossible to make true positive statements about God that adequately take into account his absolute transcendence. This principle was widely accepted in the Orthodox Church. Orthodox theologians have always agreed that God's nature is in principle inaccessible to man. Whoever claimed to have seen God could not mean God's essence. Palamas and his followers, the Palamites, did not deny this, but declared that the problem of the perception of God could be solved by differentiating statements. They emphasized that the vision that comes to the praying hesychast does not concern the incomprehensible essence (Greek οὐσία ousía ) of the Creator. Only God's energies or effective forces (Greek ἐνέργειαι enérgeiai ) with which he reveals himself can be experienced. This happens when the Tabor light is seen. The active forces are indeed uncreated, i.e. divine and not part of creation, but they could be revealed to man. This enables him to really participate (in Greek μετοχή metochḗ ) in God. Thus, according to the Palamitic doctrine, the perception of the Tabor light not only represents an encounter with God, but the person becomes a participant in the divine, not in essence, but in terms of the divine active forces. A deification (théōsis) of man occurs. In uncreated light, God unites with the saints, as Palamas repeats several times, as God with gods.
The distinction between the inaccessible being and the active forces that can be experienced, whereby both are equally assigned to the realm of the uncreated, is fundamental for the theological justification of the hesychastic concept. However, it was not an innovation of the Palamas or other hesychasts, but an old teaching material of the Orthodox Church. The late antique church fathers Basilius the Great and Gregory of Nyssa and later the influential early medieval theologians Maximus Confessor and John of Damascus distinguished between essence and active forces.
The intellectual debate about the Palamitic theory of hesychasm
By restricting the experience to the active forces, Palamas defused the problem of the perception of God. But with this he had not yet eliminated this surface of attack offered by hesychasm. Critics were most offended by the claim that the praying monks were able to see the uncreated. The fundamental question of whether something uncreated and thus divine can be perceptible was at the center of the controversy between Palamas and his theological opponents. These bitter conflicts, which rocked the Byzantine Church in the 14th century, are known as the "hesychasm controversy". Those involved appealed to generally recognized theological authorities, especially Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagita , and accused the other side of deviating from tradition and heresy . The Italian theologian Barlaam of Calabria took a fundamentally antihesychastic standpoint .
The antipalamites accused their opponents of claiming that the immaterial and transcendent God could be seen with earthly eyes. They asserted that in palamism a light understood as physical reality is equated with God. But such a doctrine is incompatible with God's transcendence, the idea of a visible deity is a monstrosity. God can be conceptually grasped by man from the recognizable objects, but under no circumstances can he be perceived. Barlaam of Calabria was of the opinion that the Tabor light was only a sensual, ephemeral, not really existing phenomenon that only had a meaning as a symbol. Another argument against Hesychastic theology was that it was inadmissible to distinguish effective forces from God's being, because a separation incompatible with God's unity and simplicity was made, which inevitably led to polytheism . Hesychasm is nothing other than the heresy of Messalianism . Uncreated forces cannot exist. Only God's being is uncreated and thus without beginning and end; his work and his works have a temporal beginning and are part of creation.
Palamas countered the first objection to his teaching that the hesychastic vision is not sensual, since it is not received through the senses, and also not intellectual, since it presupposes a cessation of all thought activity. The light from the Tabor is indeed perceived with the eyes, but in reality this is not sensory perception, because the hesychast sees the light neither through his body nor through his intellect, but through the Holy Spirit . According to Palamas, one does not see with the senses in this way, but this vision is even clearer than a sensual one. The uncreated light is not perceived with the bodily eyes, but with "transformed eyes" through the power of the Holy Spirit. Palamas argued that natural light must be visible to everyone through the air, which is not the case with uncreated light. The individual hesychast sees uncreated light only because of his virtue and the purity brought about by this virtue and not because of the purity of the air.
Palamas also rejected the second allegation. He denied that his teaching contradicted the oneness of God. According to his argument, it does not follow from the distinction between beings and energies that God is something composed of different elements (Greek σύνθετον sýntheton ). The difference is real, but it is not a question of two ontologically independent realities. Rather, both terms refer to only one simple God who is fully present in both his being and in each of his energies. The only difference between them is that under “essence” God is to be understood from the point of view of his incomprehensibility and under “energies” God as revelatory. Thus, the energies can be called deity without God becoming two gods. According to Palamas' presentation, this also corresponds to the language used by the Church Fathers. He also did not consider the thesis that God's essence exceeded his effectiveness to be problematic, but to be correct and in accordance with the teaching of the Church Fathers. He called the energies real things (Greek πράγματα prágmata ). By this he did not mean that they have an independent existence, just that the terms used for them are not empty words. They are inseparable from God's nature. In some ways they are identical with the being, in others not. They are something other than the Holy Spirit and cannot be called attributes of God.
Another point of conflict was the assessment of the role of the body. The hesychasts were of the opinion that in addition to the soul, the human body also participated in the spiritual endeavor. Body-related rules of hesychastic contemplation such as concentration on a certain area of the body and regulation of the breath were an expression of this conviction. According to the hesychastic concept, the vision of God is not a purely spiritual process, rather the body is involved and thus has access to the divinity. With the inclusion of the body, the hesychasts opposed a traditionally widespread, (new) platonic understanding of spirituality. According to the Neoplatonic doctrine of the soul, contemplation is a purely spiritual process and the body represents a mere obstacle that opposes the ascent of the soul to the vision of the divine through its material nature. So did Barlaam. He argued that the involvement of the body leads to the soul turning to the physical realm and, if it loves body-related activities, to be filled with darkness.
Palamas opposed this with his fundamentally different concept. According to his teaching, it is not true that the body, by being involved, hinders and pulls the soul down; rather, he is lifted up through his actions in common with the soul. The spirit is not bound to the flesh, but the flesh is raised to a dignity that comes close to that of the spirit. The soul imparts divine grace to the body, which enables it to participate in the experience of the divine. Under the impression of this experience, the body then gives up its tendency towards evil and instead strives for its own healing and deification. This is exemplified by the tears of repentance that he sheds. It is nonsensical to think that the body has no part in the spiritual practice, because then fasting or kneeling down during prayer would be superfluous; all physical steps would then only be undesirable distractions of the soul from its task. It is true that one should beware of the influence of specific physical pleasures on the soul, but that does not mean that the body has to be decoupled from mental events. When the soul is filled with spiritual joy, a corresponding state also arises in the body, which is important for spiritual ascent. If only the mind is purified, it is naturally easy to relapse into the former state. Therefore, a cleansing is preferable that includes all abilities and powers of the soul and the body and thus becomes permanent.
Other differences of opinion concerned the nature of hesychastic prayer. From an opposing point of view, it has been presented as a process consisting in the mechanical application of a technique aimed at physically producing spiritual results and forcing divine grace. Palamas rejected this criticism as a defamatory allegation. Rather, the purpose of the body-related regulations is only to create and maintain the essential concentration. This is particularly important for beginners. The opponents of contemplative practice were also attacked by the constant repetition of the call to prayer, for which the hesychasts invoked the biblical commandment “Pray without ceasing!”. In Barlaam's judgment, this creates an undesirable passive, quietistic state of mind. Palamas countered that such prayer was rather a conscious activity of the person who thereby also expressed his gratitude. It is not about moving God to something, because God always acts of his own accord, and also not about drawing him to the prayer, because God is everywhere anyway, but the prayer rises to God.
While Barlaam thought and argued philosophically, Palamas considered the attempt to arrive at valid statements about divine reality through philosophical striving for knowledge to be in error. He did not regard the insight gained through hesychastic contemplation as knowledge in the sense of a philosophical understanding of knowledge. Rather, he said that it was far superior to all such knowledge. At most it could be called knowledge in a metaphorical , improper sense. The struggle between proponents and critics of palamitic hesychasm is often viewed in research as the discharge of the antagonism between Byzantine “humanists” (Barlaam, Demetrios Kydones , Nikephoros Gregoras ), who took up ancient “pagan” ideas without prejudice, and a monasticism who was skeptical of education and alien to science. The Palamites sharply rejected ancient metaphysics and a "natural" theology associated with it. They said it was unchristian thinking that would lead to dangerous errors. However, they did not turn against all "humanist" minded authors, but only against those whose theology they believed to be untruthful. Palamas did not oppose philosophy in general, but only insofar as it makes statements which he believes lead to a lack of reality in God. In fact, however, the victory of palamism led to a devaluation of philosophy in the Orthodox world for the following centuries. The prevailing view was that the use of a philosophical method within theology was not legitimate; instead, access to truth is to be gained in a contemplative way. A connection between philosophy and theology in the manner of Western scholasticism was thus ruled out.
The hesychasm controversy was superimposed on the conflict over church union , the planned union of the Orthodox Church with the Catholic one. The hesychasts were usually decidedly anti-Catholic and belonged to the camp of opponents of the Union. Palamas saw his fight for his doctrine of the imperfection of active forces as part of the conflict with Catholicism, the Church of the "Latins". He saw himself as a champion of Orthodoxy and suspected his opponent Barlaam of Calabria of sympathizing with the Catholics. In fact, Barlaam advocated church union and later converted to Catholicism after his defeat in the Hesychasm dispute. However, by no means all anti-Palamites were union-friendly and principled opponents of hesychastic practice. Among the opponents of the Palamas were both supporters of the church union such as Demetrios Kydones and sharply anti-Catholic theologians such as Gregorios Akindynos, who praised the hesychastic worshipers as models of the love of God, and Nikephoros Gregoras.
The church political struggle
The theological differences of opinion led to serious ecclesiastical political disputes, which were carried out with varying degrees of success. The imperial court was drawn into the conflict, while at the same time a power struggle for the empire raged.
Barlaam, who had come to the Byzantine Empire from his southern Italian homeland, learned there about the Hesychast method of prayer. As a scholar and supporter of negative theology, he saw the plan to approach God in this way as a scandalous presumption of uneducated monks. He disparagingly called them omphalopsychoi ("navel souls" or "people with the soul in the navel"). He was targeting the “ navel gazing ”, the practice of drawing attention to the navel while praying to practice concentration. In 1338 he tried in vain to get the church authorities to intervene against the Hesychastic Athos monks. This started the dispute that was initially fought between Barlaam and Palamas. Personal encounters between the two opponents did not lead to an understanding. Both set out their positions in martial arts.
Barlaam tried in the Byzantine capital Constantinople to obtain an ecclesiastical condemnation of the theology of his opponent. That displeased Emperor Andronikos III. and the Patriarch of Constantinople , John XIV. Kalekas. They wanted to avoid a quarrel that could endanger the peace in kingdom and church. Their aim was to prevent Barlaam's attacks with disciplinary measures without having to take a position on the sensitive theological problem. By advocating the status quo, they effectively favored the Palamitic side. A council that met in 1341 under the presidency of the emperor in Hagia Sophia forced Barlaam to retract his position as erroneous and to ask for forgiveness, which he was willingly granted. This was intended to bring about a general reconciliation. The condemnation of the antihesychastic theses did not mean, however, that the council adopted the whole of Palamitic theology. Barlaam was thus isolated; he left the empire and returned to his homeland.
The monk and theologian Gregorios Akindynos now became the spokesman for the opposition to Palamism. In contrast to Barlaam, he accepted the hesychastic prayer practice, his fight was only directed against its theological justification by Palamas. In August 1341 a second council met, which confirmed the decision of the first and condemned Akindynos.
The ecclesiastical conflict was overshadowed by a secular one. After the death of the emperor Andronikos in June 1341, a fight for the reign of his nine-year-old heir John V. broke out. The opponents were the Patriarch Johannes Kalekas and the powerful nobleman Johannes Kantakuzenos ; both tried to seize control of the empire while the heir to the throne was immature. Initially, the patriarch was able to prevail in the capital while his opponent was absent. Then Kantakuzenos was proclaimed emperor in Thrace , which initiated a civil war lasting several years .
Since Palamas sympathized with Kantakuzenos, he made the patriarch an enemy. This began to play Akindynos against Palamas. In 1343 Palamas was arrested on suspicion of helping Kantakuzenos. The patriarch now appeared more and more resolutely as the theological opponent of palamism and gave Akindynos an increasingly free hand for its attacks. In 1344 he had the imprisoned Palamas excluded from church fellowship. Meanwhile the conflict had gripped the whole Church; Theologians, ecclesiastical dignitaries and monks took sides.
When Kantakuzenos gained the upper hand in the civil war and his victory was to be expected, the patriarch's power waned in the capital, which was still ruled by his opponents. Finally, a council met there in January 1347, which confirmed the council resolutions of 1341 against Barlaam and deposed the patriarch. On February 2, 1347, Kantakuzenos' troops occupied Constantinople. After the military decision, palamism was able to prevail throughout the empire. In May 1347 a zealous palamit was installed as the new patriarch. He consecrated numerous bishops who had to make a creed by which they professed their victorious doctrine. Although the opponents found a new spokesman in the theologian Nikephoros Gregoras , their position was now hopeless. In 1351 two further councils reaffirmed the earlier decisions. The second, in which only palamites took part, decided fundamental theological questions in the interests of the victors. The principles of palamism were included in the Synodicon of Orthodoxy , a summary of Orthodox teaching. With this the Byzantine Church finally adopted Palamitic theology as an officially binding doctrine. For the whole of Orthodoxy, this meant a definite course of action that continued to exist when the Byzantine Empire fell a century later. In Catholic Western and Central Europe, however, palamism and hesychasm met with rejection. Therefore, at the Union Council of Ferrara / Florence 1438–1439, this point of conflict between the western and eastern churches was circumvented.
The consolidation and expansion of hesychasm
In the late Middle Ages, especially after the ecclesiastical victory of the Palamites, hesychasm also found appreciation in Orthodox Christianity outside the Byzantine sphere of influence. As the territory of the sinking Byzantine Empire shrank, Hesychastic contemplation spread northward in the Balkans.
The Athos monk Gregorios Sinaites († 1346) made a significant contribution to the spread. He was ordained a monk in a monastery on Mount Sinai , later received an introduction to hesychasm from a hermit in Crete , and then gathered numerous disciples around him on Mount Athos. Gradually he became famous as a spiritual teacher. In his pioneering instructions for contemplation, he combined the Jesus prayer with breathing technique and gave concrete instructions. He later made his version of hesychastic practice at home in the empire of the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander . Ivan Alexander generously supported the founding of Gregorios' monastery. In the following years, monks were trained in the Bulgarian monasteries who spread hesychasm in the non-Byzantine parts of the Orthodox world. Theodosios von Tarnowo († 1363) was one of the most famous students of Sinaites . He founded the Kilifarevo Monastery, which became a center of Bulgarian hesychasm and had a great impact in particular through the translation of Greek literature into Central Bulgarian. Among the monks who received their training there was Euthymios of Tarnowo , who later became the last Bulgarian patriarch before the Ottoman conquest and was in office until 1393. Euthymios was a Palamite hesychast; he had also lived on Athos.
In Serbia, hesychasm gained a foothold under Prince Lazar Hrebeljanović (1371-1389), also there in the form that Sinaites had given him. Lazar promoted the Hesychastic monks and had numerous monasteries built. In Romania, the monk Nikodim (Nikodemos) of Tismana († 1406), who had practiced contemplation on Mount Athos, played a pioneering role. There hesychasm also enjoyed strong support from the princes.
At the turn of the 14th to the 15th century, two monks, Ignatios Xanthopoulos and Callistos Xanthopoulos, who became Patriarch of Constantinople for a short time as Callistus II in 1397, wrote a handbook of Hesychastic theory and practice that describes in detail the way of life of the hesychasts. It is known as the Century (Hundred Chapters) . With an abundance of quotations, the two authors endeavored to support the hesychastic doctrine they represented with statements from older ecclesiastical authorities and to prove it to be a legitimate continuation of the old Orthodox tradition.
The influence of hesychasm also made itself felt in late medieval painting, both in the Byzantine Empire and in the northern Balkans and Russia. Scenes from the life of the hermits were depicted. The spread of hesychasm had a particular effect on the iconography of the transfiguration of Christ, the resurrection of Christ and the Trinity . In icon , fresco and book painting as well as mosaic setting, artists tried to convey an impression of uncreated divine light with their physical means.
Hesychasm apparently reached Russia as early as the late 14th century, where it was not only popular with hermits; the Metropolitan of Kiev Kiprian († 1406), who resided in Moscow from 1390, seems to have been Hesychast. The most famous Russian hesychast of the 15th century was Nil Sorski , who got to know the prayer practice on Mount Athos. He created a monk's rule (predany) in which he recorded what he believed to be the central principles of spiritual life. The soul is to be cleansed with tears, the passions are to be combated, as are all disturbing bad, good or morally indifferent thoughts; through mindfulness, carefree, and silence grace be preserved. Nil taught that hesychia (Russian bezmolvie ) could only be achieved if one prepared for it first through asceticism, loneliness and the extinction of all worldly desires. Apparently good and legitimate ideas that arose during prayer are also harmful and need to be removed. The Jesus prayer is the best known means to silence the thoughts and to reach the state of "thoughtlessness". As a pure practitioner, Nil renounced a theological underpinning of his hesychasm; Nowhere did he refer to the Palamitic doctrine and the view of the Tabor light. His major works were eagerly copied in Russian monasteries and hundreds of copies were circulated.
16. – 19. century
In Greece, the Athos monks adhered to the traditional way of contemplation even during the Turkish rule . Palamism remained an integral part of orthodox doctrine, the imperfection of the Tabor light was defended in polemical literature against the criticism of Western theologians, the "Latins", and other opponents of palamism. In Russia, the tradition lived on in some monasteries, but was hardly present in the public consciousness. In addition, Hesychastic monasticism was weakened by anti-monk measures taken by Tsar Peter the Great (1682–1725). Peter condemned the monks as backward and accused them of not doing useful work. Many Russian monks emigrated in the 18th century; some found refuge on Athos. One of the emigrants, Vasile von Poiana Mărului († 1767), created a community of hesychasts in Romania. In the Russian Church, influential theologians suspected the theoretical basis of palamitic hesychasm, the doctrine of divine energies. Up until the early 20th century, authoritative textbooks on Russian Orthodox theology showed a distance from palamism, which was sometimes concealed, sometimes reinterpreted, and sometimes even explicitly rejected. A reinterpretation resulted in reducing the real distinction between the beings and energies of God to only a conceptual one.
In the 18th century, however, there was a significant upswing in the contemplative tradition that began with Athos. A new trend emerged, the “Neuhesychasm”, which in the years that followed took on different forms in different areas of the Orthodox world and continues to have an effect. Its characteristic is the stepping out of the seclusion of the monastic sphere. The ideas and practice of hesychasm are to be made familiar to a wider public outside of monasticism. The scholar Nicodemos Hagioreites (Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain, 1749–1809), who was one of the practitioners on Mount Athos, gave a lasting impetus. Together with the metropolitan Makarios of Corinth, he published the five-volume collection of sources Philokalie (Φιλοκαλία τῶν ἱερῶν νηπτικῶν Philokalía tōn hierṓn nēptikṓn , literally the love of beauty of the holy minds ), a compilation of the Greek spirituality of the orthodox in Venice. It includes instructions from relevant authorities from the ancient church fathers to the late medieval hesychasts. With this work, which became popular in the Orthodox world as a spiritual guide, Nicodemus made a significant contribution to the spread of hesychasm outside monasticism and to the rooting of hesychastic ideas in broad lay circles in the 19th century.
The main impetus for the renewal of hesychasm in Romania and Russia was given by the monk Païssi Welitschkowski (Païsij Veličkovskij, 1722–1794), who had lived on Mount Athos for a long time and later created a large monastic community in Romania. His numerous students spread his ideas. The area of the important Russian monastery Optina , where influential hermits settled, became a far-reaching center of the direction he initiated. Welitschkowski translated the Philocalie into Church Slavonic . The translation was printed in 1793; Russian versions followed. The influence of the work, called Dobrotoljubie in Russian, on religious life in the Russian Orthodox Church was enormous, more so among the general public than among the educated. The most famous Russian hesychast of the 19th century, Seraphim von Sarov († 1833), enjoyed an extraordinary reputation . From the late 19th century onwards, the sincere stories of a Russian pilgrim also played an important role. In the first part of this work, published in 1870, a pilgrim who wanted to learn to pray without ceasing reports of the experiences on his pilgrimage, which led him to Hesychastic masters ( Starzen ). This popular account by an anonymous author has been translated into many languages. Hesychasm had a lasting impact on orthodox lay spirituality through philocalism and sincere narratives . Bishop Theophan (Feofan) Goworow (1815-1894) prepared a new Russian version of the Philocalie with revised content , which was widely distributed. He became one of the most renowned innovators of hesychastic theory and practice in Russia. The writer Fyodor Michailowitsch Dostoevsky also made a significant contribution to popularizing hesychastic ideas . In his novel The Brothers Karamazov , published in 1880, he created the figure of the monk Sossima. This represents the hesychastic spirituality that Dostoevsky experienced during a stay in the Optina monastery. To a wide reading public, Sossima appeared to be the ideal embodiment of Russian monasticism.
20th and 21st centuries
In 1907 the Russian monk Ilarion, who had lived on Mount Athos and later as a hermit on the Caucasus , published the book On the Mountains of the Caucasus , which received much attention in Russia. Encounters and conversations between the first-person narrator and another hermit are described. The focus is on the Jesus prayer. Ilarion put forward the thesis that God himself is present in the name of God. The name of God was thus understood as one of the uncreated divine energies. The connection between name and being is not caused by human experience with God, but absolutely necessary. However, Ilarion made no unconditional claim to truth for his thesis of the identity of name and named, which was perceived by many critics as a provocation. He limited their application to the framework of a spiritual understanding and the context of personal experience in the act of prayer. Nevertheless, this special form of hesychasm, which became known as Imjaslavie (name worship ), caused a violent dispute among the Russian Athos monks about the divinity of the name of Jesus ("name dispute"). The majority accepted Ilarion's teaching, which was presented as a consequence of Palamism. The minority of opponents, however, found the support of the church leadership, the Holy Synod , which condemned the new understanding of naming as heresy. The opponents believed that the worship of names led to pantheism and represented an idolization of the outer forms of human language. Words and names were only signs and symbols. The conflict led to the violent expulsion of the namesake by the Russian military in 1913; they were deported to Russia. In the Russian Orthodox Church, the debates continued for a long time and shifted to the level of language theory . Well-known theologians such as Pawel Alexandrowitsch Florenski (1882–1937) and Sergei Nikolajewitsch Bulgakow (1871–1944) sided with the namesake. During the time of the Soviet Union, the namesake stood in radical opposition to both the Moscow Patriarchate and the Soviet state; they were therefore persecuted and liquidated in the 1920s and 1930s.
The topic also remained present in the discourse of Russian Orthodox theologians of the 20th century. The theologian Vladimir Lossky (1903–1958), who lived in Paris as an emigrant, developed a teaching that was linked to the hesychastic tradition. In Romania, the leading hesychast of the 20th century was Dumitru Stăniloae (1903-1993). He researched Gregorios Palamas and created an expanded and extensively annotated version of the Philocalie in Romanian as a new standard work. He placed particular emphasis on the doctrine of the deification of man. Stăniloae reactivated the discussion about the importance of hesychasm for Romanian orthodoxy. In a series of essays he emphasized the experience of God's grace through uncreated energies.
In Greece, in the second half of the 20th century, a “neo-Orthodox” movement arose among theologians, which combines Palamitic hesychasm with a resolute commitment to the Byzantine tradition and a sharp demarcation of the Orthodox faith from all Western influences. Its aim is to redefine Orthodox identity. The way of life of the late medieval hesychasts appears to the "new orthodox" as exemplary. The pioneers of this trend are John S. Romanides and Christos Yannaras , two authors little known in the West. Her theses have attracted considerable attention in Greek theological circles since Romanides formulated core ideas of this direction in his dissertation, which has since received much attention. The Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos) , who was strongly influenced by Romanides, also sees the core of orthodoxy in hesychasm, which fundamentally distinguishes it from Catholicism and Protestantism. Whoever has a genuine experience of God will understand the imperfection of God's grace. Palamas taught and practiced the complete hesychastic way of life, which leads through the purification of the heart to the vision of uncreated light.
The theological underpinning of hesychasm by the Palamitic doctrine remains intact in Greek orthodoxy. The doctrinal decision of the Palamitic Council of 1351 is accorded the status of a generally binding dogma , which is in fact equated with the decisions of the ecumenical councils . In dealing with Catholic and Protestant theology, palamism is regarded as the touchstone of orthodoxy. A radical direction of palamism is widespread among the Athos monks, which strongly emphasizes the hesychastic ideal of piety. She not only represents a harsh anti-Catholicism and anti-Protestantism, but also has a critical relationship with orthodox university theology, as it is influenced by the West. The monks endeavor to spread their ideas through modern Greek translations of the writings of the Hesychastic authorities and through the promotion of the Athos pilgrimage.
Reception outside of Orthodoxy
In Western and Central Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries there was little interest in hesychasm, its history and its continuing practice. The Protestant church historian Karl Holl (1866–1926) was one of the first to investigate the subject in Germany . The Catholic theologians Albert M. Ammann (1892–1974) and Georg Wunderle (1881–1950) and, above all, the spokesman for Orthodoxy in the West, in France and later in The theologian John Meyendorff (1926–1992) worked in the USA .
As in the late Middle Ages, hesychasm has not been accepted in the Western churches in modern times either. In the Orthodox churches, however, its basis, Palamitic theology, is still binding doctrine. This difference of opinion represents an essential point of difference between Western and Eastern churches even today. Traditionally, Catholic and Protestant theologians have a distanced relationship to palamism and hesychasm. While orthodox authors continue to regard hesychasm as a seamless continuation and legitimate development of the patristic theology of contemplation, some western church historians consider the emergence of the palamitic doctrine to be a clear turning point and a new direction. Non-Orthodox researchers like the Catholic theologians Martin Jugie and Gerhard Podskalsky and the Protestant theologian Dorothea Wendebourg see in Palamas an innovator who deviated considerably from the thinking of the Greek church fathers. From a western theological point of view, they see this as a problematic development. The evangelical theologian Fairy von Lilienfeld, known as a researcher of orthodoxy, takes on a mediating position . She warns against rash assessments; the dispute about continuity or innovation is more or less characterized on both sides by a fundamental misunderstanding on the part of the other side or insufficient thinking through of their own methodological premises .
The relationship between palamism and hesychasm is assessed differently in modern literature. According to one trend, whose spokesmen are modern hesychasts, doctrine and the method of prayer form an inseparable unit; All orthodox theology comes from the hesychastic prayer and should also lead to it (John Meyendorff). In the contrary opinion held by non-Orthodox scholars, hesychasm and palamism are factually separate matters; Hesychasm does not require a commitment to palamism ( Hans-Georg Beck , Dorothea Wendebourg).
In western, spiritually-oriented circles, individual aspects of hesychastic practice are sometimes taken up and used. The hesychastic approach is one of three basic elements of the pastoral care concept Mental-Turning-Point, which was developed by the Lutheran theologian Sabine Bobert . In the Catholic area, centering prayer has spread since the late 20th century , and its practitioners refer to the hesychastic tradition, among other things.
The practice of hesychastic contemplation
The main prerequisite for a hesychastic experience of God is the “purification of the heart” throughout the tradition. This initially means overcoming vices and being seduced by bad thoughts, a central concern of all monks. But this is not enough; What is required is the liberation from all images (phantasíai) and all acts of discursive thinking (logismoí) . The imagination should be excluded, thinking should fall silent, all knowledge (gnṓsis) should be left behind. Absolute silence towards everything is required. Only then will the perception of the uncreated become possible. The emptying of the mind of undesirable content requires constant alertness and sobriety, nepsis , the indispensability of which is emphasized in the hesychastic literature of all epochs. Among the soul forces, the faculties of the soul, it is not the will but the highest part of the faculty of knowledge that is the decisive factor which enables the experience of the special divine grace in the vision. Palamas states that it is impossible for a passionate mind to unite with God. Therefore one must concentrate one's mind and reach out towards the divine and, with firm strength, curb the multiple wanderings of thought.
The focus of hesychastic practice is the “spiritual prayer” (Greek νοερὰ προσευχή noerá proseuchḗ ), which is usually called Jesus prayer or prayer of the heart for short . In contrast to common liturgical prayer, hesychastic prayer is individual, the person praying is always alone. The Jesus prayer, which is widespread in different versions, contains a request, but, as is emphasized from a hesychastic point of view, is not to be understood as a supplication. It is not for the purpose of expressing the prayers' wishes or communicating anything to God. Rather, it is primarily about worship, where the person praying wants to open up to something that comes from God. Although hesychia is a state of calm, this should not be confused with inactivity; Hesychastic prayer is traditionally understood and designated as "work" - especially in Russia.
Because of the need for sustained attention over a long period of time, contemplation places considerable demands on the practitioner's ability to concentrate. The hesychastic literature deals with this problem and gives advice. Already in the early Byzantine hesychasm of the 12th / 13th centuries In the early 20th century, it was recommended to breathe calmly. The first authors to provide more details were Pseudo-Symeon and Nikephoros the Hesychast. They recommended slowing the breath in preparation for actual contemplation. Nikephoros wrote that as you inhale one should imagine that the breath flows downwards until it reaches the heart. This can cause the intellect ( nous ) to descend into the heart. Then a joy sets in like a homecoming after a long absence. When the intellect has found its place in the heart, one can begin with the Jesus prayer. At first the intellect shows a tendency to come out quickly and wander around, but later it gets used to its new place of residence. The biblical saying “The kingdom of God is within you” refers to this home in the heart. According to Pseudo-Symeon’s representation, the intellect perceives itself as completely full of light when it has settled in the heart. From then on he can drive away and destroy any disturbing thought that arises. Before the thought can take a form, it is eliminated. Gregorios Sinaites also taught how to lead the intellect down from the brain into the heart with the aim of enclosing it there. This process should be supported by holding your breath before exhaling. Basically it is not about the physical breath, but about the "breath of the intellect". If the active force is active in the heart, a warming occurs there; this is an indubitable mark of the effectiveness of prayer. Gregorios Sinaites also wrote that a hesychast should always eat too little and never too much, because when the body is heavy, the spirit darkens.
For the early hesychasts, breathing regulation was just a preliminary exercise before prayer. It was not until 1400, in the handbook of Ignatios and Kallistos Xanthopoulos, that it was advised to coordinate the words of the prayer with the inhalation and exhalation. In modern practice, the first part of the invocation to God is usually associated with inhaling and the second with exhaling. Hesychastic contemplation is always performed in a sitting position with the head tilted, in contrast to normal prayer, in which one stands according to Orthodox tradition. Pseudo-Symeon indicates that the monk's beard should touch the chest.
One of the traditional practices is the navel gazing , the concentration on the navel, the pseudo-Symeon in the 12th / 13th centuries. Century recommended. It was and is not a necessary part of hesychastic practice and is discussed more often by critics than by the hesychasts themselves.
Ignatios and Kallistos Xanthopoulos described a quiet, dark corner as a suitable place for contemplation. The gaze of the eyes on the visible leads to thinking being scattered and divided, plagued and entangled. To avoid the distraction, one should stay in a quiet cell. Then return the mind to itself.
The instructions in the Sincere Tales of a Russian Pilgrim , the author of which ties in with the Philocalie , follow the guidelines that were developed in the Middle Ages. The hesychast should repeat the Jesus prayer incessantly in a sitting position, with bowed head and closed eyes. He tries to drive away strange thoughts. He leads his mind (his thinking) "from the head into the heart". He speaks the prayer softly or only in spirit. He directs his attention to the heart, which is considered the seat of the soul, and also pays attention to his breath, in the rhythm of which he prays.
In the hesychastic literature, and especially with the Athos monks, it is emphasized that external aspects such as posture and breathing technique are only means to the end of calming. The breathing exercise is helpful and highly recommended, but it should not be seen as essential. According to Palamas, the physical rules are mainly useful for beginners. For the hesychasts, the desired rest is not an end in itself, but only a prerequisite for achieving the spiritual goal. In the 19th century, Feofan Goworow, one of the most influential Russian hesychasts, declared all appearances to be insignificant; only the inner, spiritual prayer is important, “which stands entirely in itself, without any external form or physical posture”. The inner prayer consists in the intellect being led down into the heart. The intellect is inseparable from attention; therefore one should stay with the attention in the heart and remain firmly anchored there; then be the intellect in the heart. The physical heart is only "a muscle made of flesh" and the instrument of the soul, just as the brain is the instrument of intelligence. If love has not yet awakened, one should trust in the presence of God in the heart and not ask about the "how" of his presence. Contemplative prayer is a wordless standing - and ultimately permanent walking - in the presence of God. Feofan recommended the Jesus prayer, but thought it was only an aid that one could do without. There was nothing in the words of prayer and the performance of prayer that could bear fruit in itself. All the fruits of contemplation can be obtained without this prayer and even without any oral prayer, if only one simply turns one's intellect and heart to God.
The hesychastic authors value and recommend the monastic life and in particular the secluded life of a hermit, silence is important to them. In modern hesychasm, however, a strictly monastic lifestyle is not regarded as a necessary prerequisite for attaining the peace of mind known as hesychia . The decisive factor is the inner distance to the external relationships that the hesychast should achieve and always maintain. Even the spokesmen of late medieval hesychasm, Gregorios Sinaites and Gregorios Palamas, were of the opinion that hesychastic spirituality could not only be practiced in the context of an outwardly isolated life. To what extent it is also suitable for laypeople, opinions differed among the medieval hesychasts. Symeon the New Theologian said that there was no difference between monks and other Christians with regard to the possibility of attaining the vision of God.
Hesychastic prayer is learned under the guidance of an experienced practitioner. Even in the Middle Ages, however, there were also self-taught learners who only followed the instructions in the literature, as no teacher was available to them.
Editions and translations of sources
- Albert M. Ammann (translator): The God show in palamitic hesychasm. A manual of late Byzantine mysticism . 5th edition, Echter, Würzburg 2002, ISBN 978-3-429-04098-7 (German translation of the late medieval Hesychastic manual by the monks Kallistos and Ignatios Xanthopoulos)
- Gregor Hohmann et al. (Translator): Philocalie of the holy fathers of sobriety . 5 volumes, Der christliche Osten, Würzburg 2004, ISBN 3-927894-37-0 (and separate index, 2nd edition 2007)
- Emmanuel Jungclaussen (translator): Sincere stories from a Russian pilgrim . 11th edition, Herder, Freiburg 1981, ISBN 3-451-17088-4
- Fairy von Lilienfeld (translator): Nil Sorskij and his writings. The crisis of tradition in Russia Ivan III. Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, Berlin 1963, pp. 193–284 (German translation of Nil Sorski's writings)
- Jean Meyendorff (ed.): Grégoire Palamas: Défense des saints hésychastes . 2 volumes, 2nd revised edition, Spicilegium Sacrum Lovaniense Administration, Leuven 1973 (critical edition of the Triads - treatises of Gregorios Palamas on the justification of hesychasm - with French translation)
- Ioannis Polemis (ed.): Theologica varia inedita saeculi XIV. Georgius Pelagonius, Adversus Palamam. Anonymous, Adversus Cantacuzenum. Prochorus Cydones, De lumine Thaborico (= Corpus Christianorum . Series Graeca , vol. 76). Brepols, Turnhout 2012, ISBN 978-2-503-53598-2 (critical edition of three anti-Palamitic writings of the 14th century)
- Bonifaz Tittel (translator): Shimonach Ilarion: On the mountains of the Caucasus. Conversation between two hermits about the Jesus prayer . Otto Müller, Salzburg 1991, ISBN 3-7013-0791-1
Overview representations and general introductions
- Fairy von Lilienfeld : Hesychasm . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie (TRE). Volume 15, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1986, ISBN 3-11-008585-2 , pp. 282-289.
- Kallistos Ware , Sergei Hackel: The Eastern Tradition from the Tenth to the Twentieth Century . In: Cheslyn Jones et al. (Ed.): The Study of Spirituality . 4th edition, The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, London 1996, ISBN 0-281-04150-4 , pp. 235-276
- Christopher DL Johnson: The Globalization of Hesychasm and the Jesus Prayer. Contesting contemplation. Continuum, London / New York 2010, ISBN 978-1-4411-2547-7
- Georg Günter Blum: Byzantine mysticism. Its practice and theology from the 7th century to the beginning of the Turkocracy, its continuation in modern times . Lit Verlag, Berlin 2009, ISBN 978-3-8258-1525-7 , pp. 130–179, 207–264, 291–429, 461–496
- Susanne Hausammann: The life-creating light of indissoluble darkness. A study to understand the nature and energies of the Holy Spirit and the vision of divine light among the fathers of the Orthodox Church from Origen to Gregory Palamas . Neukirchener Verlagsgesellschaft, Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, ISBN 978-3-7887-2525-9
- John Meyendorff: Byzantine Hesychasm: historical, theological and social problems. Collected Studies . Variorum, London 1974, ISBN 0-902089-61-7 (collection of essays by the author relating in particular to the hesychasm controversy in the 14th century)
- Marco Toti: La preghiera e l'immagine. L'esicasmo tardobizantino (XIII – XIV secolo): temi antropologici, storico-comparativi e simbolici . Jaca Book, Milano 2012, ISBN 978-88-16-41177-7 (research from a comparative religious studies perspective)
- Daniel P. Payne: The Revival of Political Hesychasm in Contemporary Orthodox Thought. The Political Hesychasm of John S. Romanides and Christos Yannaras . Lexington Books, Lanham 2011, ISBN 978-0-7391-4720-7
- George A. Maloney: Russian Hesychasm. The spirituality of Nil Sorsky. Mouton, The Hague 1973
- Serafim Joantă : Hesychasm: Romanian tradition and culture . The Christian East, Würzburg 2003, ISBN 3-927894-36-2
- Maurice LaBauve Hébert: Hesychasm, Word-Weaving, and Slavic Hagiography: The Literary School of Patriarch Euthymius . Otto Sagner, Munich 1992, ISBN 3-87690-530-3 , pp. 19-34, 424-434
- Andreas Ebert , Carol Lupu (ed.): Hesychia . Claudius, Munich 2012–2014
- Anita Strezova: Hesychasm and Art: The Appearance of New Iconographic Trends in Byzantine and Slavic Lands in the 14th and 15th Centuries . Australian National University Press, Canberra 2014, ISBN 978-1-9250-2183-7 ( online )
- For the etymology and the history of the concept, see Pierre Adnès: Hésychasme . In: Dictionnaire de spiritualité , Vol. 7/1, Paris 1969, Col. 381-399, here: 382-384. See Fairy von Lilienfeld: Hesychasmus . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Vol. 15, Berlin 1986, pp. 282–289, here: 282, 285.
- Fairy von Lilienfeld: Hesychasmus . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Vol. 15, Berlin 1986, pp. 282–289, here: 285.
- Pierre Adnès: Hésychasme . In: Dictionnaire de spiritualité , Vol. 7/1, Paris 1969, Col. 381-399, especially 381 f., 384-386, 391 f. Cf. Eiji Hisamatsu: Gregorios Sinaites as a teacher of prayer , Altenberge 1994, pp. 113–124.
- On Euagrios as a forerunner of hesychasm see Hans-Veit Beyer: The light teaching of the monks of the fourteenth and fourth centuries, discussed using the example of Gregorios Sinaïtes, Euagrios Pontikos and Ps.-Makarios / Symeon . In: Yearbook of Austrian Byzantine Studies 31/2, 1981, pp. 473–512, here: 474–491; Susanne Hausammann: The life-creating light of indissoluble darkness , Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, pp. 121–137; Håkan Gunnarsson: Mystical Realism in the Early Theology of Gregory Palamas , Göteborg 2002, pp. 36–42.
- Hans-Veit Beyer: The light teaching of the monks of the fourteenth and fourth centuries, discussed using the example of Gregorios Sinaïtes, Euagrios Pontikos and Ps.-Makarios / Symeon . In: Yearbook of Austrian Byzantine Studies 31/2, 1981, pp. 473–512, here: 498–511; Klaus Fitschen : Messalianism and Antimessalianism , Göttingen 1998, pp. 269–272.
- On the teaching of Diadochos see Susanne Hausammann: Das Lebenschaffende Licht der indissoluble darkness , Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, pp. 137–151.
- Håkan Gunnarsson: Mystical Realism in the Early Theology of Gregory Palamas , Göteborg 2002, pp. 51–58; Georg Wunderle: On the psychology of hesychastic prayer , 2nd, expanded edition, Würzburg 1949, reprint Würzburg 2007, p. 21 f. For details of Johannes' concept and its history of impact, see Georg Günter Blum: Byzantinische Mystik , Berlin 2009, pp. 71–158, especially 130–139, on breath p. 136.
- On Hesychios and his reception in hesychasm see Georg Günter Blum: Byzantinische Mystik , Berlin 2009, pp. 159–179 and Jean Kirchmeyer: Hésychius le Sinaïte . In: Dictionnaire de spiritualité , Vol. 7/2, Paris 1971, Col. 408-410.
- Callistus Ware: Sages of prayer and contemplation. 1. In the Eastern Church . In: Bernard McGinn et al. (Ed.): History of Christian Spirituality , Vol. 1, Würzburg 1993, pp. 394–412, here: 406.
- Klaus Deppe: The true Christ , Göttingen 1971 (dissertation), pp. 187–214; Susanne Hausammann: The life-creating light of indissoluble darkness , Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, pp. 203–218; Ferdinand R. Gahbauer: Byzantine Dogmen History , Heiligenkreuz 2010, p. 55 f.
- On Pseudo-Symeon and his writing, which was also distributed under the title On the Three Wise Men of Prayer , see Georg Günter Blum: Byzantinische Mystik , Berlin 2009, pp. 313–323; Håkan Gunnarsson: Mystical Realism in the Early Theology of Gregory Palamas , Göteborg 2002, pp. 68–72.
- On Theoleptus see Georg Günter Blum: Byzantinische Mystik , Berlin 2009, pp. 291–305; Håkan Gunnarsson: Mystical Realism in the Early Theology of Gregory Palamas , Göteborg 2002, pp. 72–76.
- Hans-Georg Beck: Church and Theological Literature in the Byzantine Empire , 2nd edition, Munich 1977, p. 693 f.
- Mark 9: 2-8; Matthew 17: 1-8; Luke 9.28-36.
- Volkmar Fritz : Tabor . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Vol. 32, Berlin 2001, pp. 595-596, here: 596.
- Gregory Palamas, triads 1,3,43.
- Kallistos Ware, Sergei Hackel: The Eastern Tradition from the Tenth to the Twentieth Century . In: Cheslyn Jones et al. (Ed.): The Study of Spirituality , 4th edition, London 1996, pp. 235-276, here: 252 f.
- Georg Günter Blum: Byzantinische Mystik , Berlin 2009, pp. 337 f., 348–353; Susanne Hausammann: The life-creating light of indissoluble darkness , Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, pp. 226–234.
- Georgi Kapriev: Philosophy in Byzanz , Würzburg 2005, pp. 264 f., 286–289, 292 f., 300–308; Dorothea Wendebourg: Geist or Energie , Munich 1980, pp. 11-19.
- Britta Müller-Schauenburg offers a systematic presentation of Palamas' distinction between essence and active forces: Religious experience, spirituality and theological argumentation. Doctrine of God and the image of God in Gregorios Palamas , Stuttgart 2011, pp. 240–259.
- Susanne Hausammann: The life-creating light of indissoluble darkness , Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, p. 51 and note 130, p. 73 f., 163, 165, 169 f., 177 f., 184, 193.
- A detailed account of the arguments put forward in the conflict is offered by Håkan Gunnarsson: Mystical Realism in the Early Theology of Gregory Palamas , Göteborg 2002, pp. 97–252.
- Susanne Hausammann: The life-creating light of indissoluble darkness , Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, pp. 242–248, 260 f .; Reinhard Flogaus: Theosis near Palamas and Luther , Göttingen 1997, p. 176 f.
- Susanne Hausammann: The life-creating light of indissoluble darkness , Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, pp. 248–265; Reinhard Flogaus: Theosis at Palamas and Luther , Göttingen 1997, pp. 175–179.
- See Susanne Hausammann: The life-creating light of indissoluble darkness , Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, pp. 252–254; John Meyendorff: A Study of Gregory Palamas , 2nd Edition, Leighton Buzzard 1974, pp. 213-227; Reinhard Flogaus: Theosis bei Palamas and Luther , Göttingen 1997, pp. 180–200.
- John Meyendorff: A Study of Gregory Palamas , 2nd edition, Leighton Buzzard 1974, pp. 142 f.
- John Meyendorff: A Study of Gregory Palamas , 2nd Edition, Leighton Buzzard 1974, pp. 142-145.
- John Meyendorff: A Study of Gregory Palamas , 2nd edition, Leighton Buzzard 1974, pp. 145 f.
- 1 Thess 5.17 EU .
- John Meyendorff: A Study of Gregory Palamas , 2nd edition, Leighton Buzzard 1974, p. 141.
- John Meyendorff: Byzantine Hesychasm , London 1974, No. VIII, pp. 54-58; Georgi Kapriev: Philosophy in Byzanz , Würzburg 2005, pp. 263–267, 271–273. Cf. Gerhard Podskalsky: Von Photios zu Bessarion , Wiesbaden 2003, pp. 13–15, 83–85; Hans-Georg Beck: History of the Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire , Göttingen 1980, p. 236; Reinhard Flogaus: Theosis bei Palamas and Luther , Göttingen 1997, pp. 171–174; Constantine N. Tsirpanlis: Byzantine Humanism and Hesychasm in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries: Synthesis or Antithesis, Reformation or Revolution? In: The Patristic and Byzantine Review 12, 1993, pp. 13-23, here: 18-23.
- Reinhard Flogaus: Theosis bei Palamas and Luther , Göttingen 1997, p. 61 f.
- Jean Meyendorff: Palamas (Grégoire) . In: Dictionnaire de spiritualité , Vol. 12/1, Paris 1984, Col. 81-107, here: 102 f .; John Meyendorff: Byzantine Hesychasm , London 1974, No. VIII, pp. 58-61; Reinhard Flogaus: Theosis at Palamas and Luther , Göttingen 1997, p. 58 f .; Susanne Hausammann: The life-creating light of indissoluble darkness , Neukirchen-Vluyn 2011, p. 254.
- John Meyendorff: A Study of Gregory Palamas , 2nd Edition, Leighton Buzzard 1974, pp. 42-49.
- Günter Weiss: Joannes Kantakuzenos - aristocrat, statesman, emperor and monk - in the social development of Byzantium in the 14th century , Wiesbaden 1969, pp. 103-107; John Meyendorff: A Study of Gregory Palamas , 2nd Edition, Leighton Buzzard 1974, pp. 49-56; Hans-Georg Beck: History of the Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire , Göttingen 1980, p. 221 f., 225.
- John Meyendorff: A Study of Gregory Palamas , 2nd Edition, Leighton Buzzard 1974, pp. 56-58.
- Günter Weiss: Joannes Kantakuzenos - aristocrat, statesman, emperor and monk - in the social development of Byzantium in the 14th century , Wiesbaden 1969, pp. 32–40; John Meyendorff: A Study of Gregory Palamas , 2nd edition, Leighton Buzzard 1974, pp. 58 f., 63-65.
- John Meyendorff: A Study of Gregory Palamas , 2nd Edition, Leighton Buzzard 1974, pp. 64-75. On the different parties, see Günter Weiss: Joannes Kantakuzenos - aristocrat, statesman, emperor and monk - in the social development of Byzantium in the 14th century , Wiesbaden 1969, pp. 113-137.
- John Meyendorff: A Study of Gregory Palamas , 2nd edition, Leighton Buzzard 1974, pp. 79 f.
- Gerhard Podskalsky: Von Photios zu Bessarion , Wiesbaden 2003, p. 75 and note 358.
- Synodicon of Orthodoxy (German translation) pp. 13-18.
- For the political and ecclesiastical background of the final decision in favor of palamism, see Hans-Georg Beck: Geschichte der Orthodoxen Kirche im Byzantinischen Reich , Göttingen 1980, pp. 222–225.
- Hans-Georg Beck: History of the Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire , Göttingen 1980, p. 249 f.
- Maurice LaBauve Hébert: Hesychasm, Word Weaving, and Slavic hagiography: The Literary School of Patriarch Euthymius , Munich 1992, pp 20-31; Anthony-Emil N. Tachiaos: Gregory Sinaites' Legacy to the Slavs: Preliminary Remarks . In: Cyrillomethodianum 7, 1983, pp. 113-165, here: 117-121; Susanne Hausammann: Paths and wrong ways to church unity in the light of the orthodox tradition , Göttingen 2005, p. 56 f., 81–83.
- Anthony-Emil N. Tachiaos: Gregory Sinaites' Legacy to the Slavs: Preliminary Remarks . In: Cyrillomethodianum 7, 1983, pp. 113-165, here: 121 f.
- Susanne Hausammann: Paths and wrong ways to church unity in the light of the orthodox tradition , Göttingen 2005, pp. 83–87.
- Albert M. Ammann: The God Show in Palamitic Hesychasmus , 5th edition, Würzburg 2002, pp. 13-27; Georg Günter Blum: Byzantine Mystik , Berlin 2009, pp. 461–484.
- See the study by Anita Strezova: Hesychasm and Art , Canberra 2014, pp. 63–241.
- For details see Gerhard Podskalsky: Il metropolita Cipriano di Kiev / Mosca e la comparsa dell'esicasmo in Russia . In: Adalberto Mainardi (ed.): Nil Sorskij e l'esicasmo , Magnano 1995, pp. 205-215; Fairy von Lilienfeld views the evidence for Russian hesychasm in the 14th century with skepticism : The Athonite hesychasm of the 14th and 15th centuries in the light of contemporary Russian sources . In: Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas 6, 1958, pp. 436–448, here: 439.
- Fairy von Lilienfeld: Nil Sorskij and his writings , Berlin 1963, p. 41, 133–157; Susanne Hausammann: Paths and wrong ways to church unity in the light of the orthodox tradition , Göttingen 2005, pp. 88–92; George A. Maloney: Russian Hesychasm , Den Haag 1973, pp. 113-118, 134-141.
- Gerhard Podskalsky: Greek Theology in the Time of the Turkish Rule (1453-1821) , Munich 1988, pp. 36-46.
- Susanne Hausammann: Paths and wrong ways to church unity in the light of the orthodox tradition , Göttingen 2005, p. 92 f.
- Reinhard Flogaus: Theosis bei Palamas and Luther , Göttingen 1997, p. 65 f .; Bernhard Schultze: The meaning of palamism in the Russian theology of the present . In: Scholastik 26, 1951, pp. 390-412, here: 391-395. See Daniel P. Payne: The Revival of Political Hesychasm in Contemporary Orthodox Thought , Lanham 2011, p. 108 f.
- On Nikodemos see Gerhard Podskalsky: Greek Theologie in der Zeit der Türkenherrschaft (1453–1821) , Munich 1988, pp. 371–374, 377–382.
- On the role of Welitschkowski, see Susanne Hausammann: Paths and Irrwege zur echlichen Einheit im Licht der Orthodoxen Tradition , Göttingen 2005, pp. 95-102.
- See Albert M. Ammann: Die Gottesschau im Palamitischen Hesychasmus , 5th edition, Würzburg 2002, pp. 10-13.
- Philip Sherrard offers an overview of these developments in modernity from a hesychastic point of view : The rebirth of hesychastic spirituality . In: Louis Dupré, Don E. Saliers (ed.): History of Christian Spirituality , Vol. 3, Würzburg 1997, pp. 439–451.
- Nel Grillaert: What's in God's name: literary forerunners and philosophical allies of the imjaslavie debate . In: Studies in East European Thought 64, 2012, pp. 163–181, here: 168 f.
- Holger Kuße: Metadiscursive Expressions of the Religious Discourse in Russia in the 19th and Early 20th Century . In: Irina Podtergera (Ed.): Schnittpunkt Slavistik , Part 1, Göttingen 2012, pp. 409–428, here: 419–422; Holger Kuße: From naming to naming philosophy . In: Holger Kuße (Ed.): Name and Person. Contributions to the Russian philosophy of the name , Munich 2006, pp. 77–110, here: 77–85; Bernhard Schultze: The meaning of palamism in the Russian theology of the present . In: Scholastik 26, 1951, pp. 390-412, here: 395-398; Michael Hagemeister : Imjaslavie - imjadejstvie . In: Tatjana Petzer et al. (Ed.): Names. Naming - worship - effect. Positions of European Modernism , Berlin 2009, pp. 77–98; Nel Grillaert: What's in God's name: literary forerunners and philosophical allies of the imjaslavie debate . In: Studies in East European Thought 64, 2012, pp. 163–181, here: 169–180.
- On Lossky's understanding of hesychasm, see Daniel P. Payne: The Revival of Political Hesychasm in Contemporary Orthodox Thought , Lanham 2011, pp. 128-139.
- Dumitru Stăniloae: Viata si invatatura sfintului Grigorie Palama , Sibiu 1938.
- Dumitru Staniloae: Théologie ascétique et mystique de l'Église orthodoxe , Paris 2011, pp. 456–471. See Daniel P. Payne: The Revival of Political Hesychasm in Contemporary Orthodox Thought , Lanham 2011, p. 127.
- Michael Weber: The spiritual-spiritual man in the concept of grace in Dumitru Staniloae (= Forum Orthodox Theology , Vol. 12), Berlin 2012, p. 188 ff.
- See Daniel P. Payne: The Revival of Political Hesychasm in Contemporary Orthodox Thought , Lanham 2011, pp. 1–3, 22–31, 195–198, 218–220, 223–225, 233–235; Hierotheos (Vlachos): St. Gregory Palamas as a Hagiorite , 2nd edition, Levadia 2000, pp. 21-30, 63 f., 76, 308-310, 316-319, 331, 357-359; Hierotheos Vlachos: Orthodox Spirituality . See Reinhard Flogaus: Theosis at Palamas and Luther , Göttingen 1997, pp. 70–72.
- Reinhard Flogaus: Theosis bei Palamas and Luther , Göttingen 1997, pp. 50–53.
- Klaus Gnoth: Answer from Athos , Göttingen 1990, p. 127 f.
- On Meyendorff's results, see Daniel P. Payne: The Revival of Political Hesychasm in Contemporary Orthodox Thought , Lanham 2011, pp. 139–145.
- For example Kyriakos Savvidis: The doctrine of the deification of man in Maximos the Confessor and its reception by Gregor Palamas , St. Ottilien 1997, pp. 195–197; Georgios I. Mantzaridis: The Deification of Man. St Gregory Palamas and the Orthodox Tradition , Crestwood 1984, pp. 122-124.
- Martin Jugie: Palamite (controverse) . In: Dictionnaire de théologie catholique , vol. 11, part 2, Paris 1932, col. 1777-1818, here: 1777 f., 1816 f.
- Gerhard Podskalsky: Theology and Philosophy in Byzanz , Munich 1977, pp. 154–156, 158–160, 172 f.
- Dorothea Wendebourg: Gregorios Palamas . In: Friedrich Wilhelm Graf (Ed.): Klassiker der Theologie , Vol. 1, Munich 2005, pp. 203–223, here: 206 f.
- Cf. Bernhard Schultze: Basic questions of theological palamism . In: Ostkirchliche Studien 24, 1975, pp. 105–135, here: 130 f.
- Fairy von Lilienfeld: Hesychasmus . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Vol. 15, Berlin 1986, pp. 282–289, here: 284 f.
- Britta Müller-Schauenburg offers an overview: Religious Experience, Spirituality and Theological Argumentation. Doctrine of God and image of God in Gregorios Palamas , Stuttgart 2011, pp. 268–282.
- See also Sabine Bobert: The role of the everlasting Jesus prayer in the concept of the “MTP - Mental Turning Point” for mystical experiences today . In: Andreas Ebert, Carol Lupu (eds.): Hesychia , Vol. 2, Munich 2014, pp. 108–120.
- Callistus Ware: Sages of prayer and contemplation. I. In the Eastern Church . In: Bernard McGinn et al. (Ed.): History of Christian Spirituality , Vol. 1, Würzburg 1993, pp. 394–412, here: 396–399; Albert M. Ammann: The God Show in Palamitic Hesychasmus , 5th edition, Würzburg 2002, p. 34; Georgi Kapriev: Philosophy in Byzanz , Würzburg 2005, pp. 241 f., 265 f .; especially on nepsis Irénée host : Hésychasme et prière , Rome 1966, pp. 225–237.
- Susanne Hausammann: Paths and wrong ways to church unity in the light of the orthodox tradition , Göttingen 2005, p. 78 f.
- Georg Wunderle: Zur Psychologie des hesychastischen Gebets , 2nd, extended edition, Würzburg 1949, reprint Würzburg 2007, p. 18 f .; Georgi Kapriev: Philosophy in Byzanz , Würzburg 2005, p. 241 f.
- Albert M. Ammann: The God Show in Palamitic Hesychasmus , 5th edition, Würzburg 2002, pp. 9 f., 35 f.
- Luke 17:21; Nikephoros follows the traditional understanding of the passage, which is also the basis of Luther's translation.
- Kallistos Ware, Sergei Hackel: The Eastern Tradition from the Tenth to the Twentieth Century . In: Cheslyn Jones et al. (Ed.): The Study of Spirituality , 4th edition, London 1996, pp. 235–276, here: 244 f .; Georg Günter Blum: Byzantine Mystik , Berlin 2009, pp. 311–313, 317–319.
- Kallistos Ware, Sergei Hackel: The Eastern Tradition from the Tenth to the Twentieth Century . In: Cheslyn Jones et al. (Ed.): The Study of Spirituality , 4th edition, London 1996, pp. 235-276, here: 247; Georg Günter Blum: Byzantine Mystik , Berlin 2009, pp. 330–332, 336 f. For the sensation of warmth see Eiji Hisamatsu: Gregorios Sinaites as teacher of prayer , Altenberge 1994, pp. 400-410.
- Kallistos Ware, Sergei Hackel: The Eastern Tradition from the Tenth to the Twentieth Century . In: Cheslyn Jones et al. (Ed.): The Study of Spirituality , 4th edition, London 1996, pp. 235–276, here: 244 f .; John Meyendorff: Byzantine Hesychasm , London 1974, No. XII, p. 191 f.
- Albert M. Ammann: The God Show in Palamitic Hesychasmus , 5th edition, Würzburg 2002, p. 44; Georg Günter Blum: Byzantine Mystik , Berlin 2009, p. 356.
- Ignatios and Callistus Xanthopoulos, Century chapter 23.
- Georg Wunderle: Zur Psychologie des hesychastischen Gebets , 2nd, extended edition, Würzburg 1949, reprint Würzburg 2007, pp. 20–24.
- Georg Wunderle: Zur Psychologie des hesychastischen Gebets , 2nd, extended edition, Würzburg 1949, reprint Würzburg 2007, p. 30 f .; Susanne Hausammann: Paths and wrong ways to church unity in the light of the orthodox tradition , Göttingen 2005, pp. 73–75; John Meyendorff: Byzantine Hesychasm , London 1974, No. XII, p. 196 f.
- Susanne Hausammann: Paths and wrong ways to church unity in the light of the orthodox tradition , Göttingen 2005, pp. 113–117.
- Albert M. Ammann: The God Show in Palamitic Hesychasmus , 5th edition, Würzburg 2002, pp. 34–36, 39; Callistus Ware: Wise Men of Prayer and Contemplation. I. In the Eastern Church . In: Bernard McGinn et al. (Ed.): History of Christian Spirituality , Vol. 1, Würzburg 1993, pp. 394–412, here: 409 f .; Susanne Hausammann: Paths and wrong ways to church unity in the light of the orthodox tradition , Göttingen 2005, pp. 57, 67–71; Klaus Deppe: The true Christ , Göttingen 1971 (dissertation), p. 107 f.
- Fairy von Lilienfeld: Hesychasmus . In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie , Vol. 15, Berlin 1986, pp. 282–289, here: 283; Georg Günter Blum: Byzantine Mystik , Berlin 2009, p. 318.