Sunday, October 09, 2005

Brief Bibliography

I've had a couple of requests for where my most recent ideas originated. First, I should probably cover what motivated them. The difficulties in the "Western" view are probably best covered by the following books:

Joseph Farrell, The Disputation with Pyrrhus of our Father among the Saints Maximus the Confessor and The Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit by Saint Photios

Christopher Hughes, On a Complex Theory of a Simple God

John Meyendorff, Christ in Eastern Christian Thought and Byzantine Theology

Aristeides Papadakis, Crisis in Byzantium: The Filioque Controversy in the Patriarchate of Gregory II of Cyprus

Lars Thunberg, Man and the Cosmos and Microcosm and Mediator

Gregory Shaw, Theurgy and the Soul: The Neoplatonism of Iamblichus

Eric Perl (dissertation, Yale 1991), Methexis: Creation, Incarnation, Deification in St. Maximus Confessor

I pick those books because they lay out the basic conflict between absolute divine simplicity and St. Maximus's theory of salvation, which itself draws heavily on Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and the Eastern monastic tradition. The other side of the difficulty is in the Trinitarian theology of the fourth and fifth centuries, and there I recommend:

Jaroslav Pelikan, Christianity and Classical Culture: The Metamorphosis of Natural Theology in the Christian Encounter with Hellenism

Michel Rene Barnes, The Power of God: Dunamis in the Theology of Gregory of Nyssa

John Anthony McGuckin, St. Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy

Daniel A. Keating, The Appropriation of Divine Life in Cyril of Alexandria

Susan Wessel, Cyril of Alexandria and the Nestorian Controversy: The Making of a Saint and a Heretic

Because I was already familiar with Zubiri's more radical concept of dynamis based on Dynamic Structure of Reality, I found that I had a substantially different reading of the Cappadocians and St. Cyril than the standard account. Specifically, I found myself trying to "get under" the Greek metaphysics to what they were "really" saying. Unfortunately, I found myself thwarted in the endeavor by the various polemical works of both East and West regarding St. Augustine and St. Gregory Palamas (none of which I have included here, because I found them unhelpful). Keating and Wessel both hinted at such a perspective, but the former had little space to cover in depth while the latter was less concerned with doctrinal matters than rhetoric. But Wessel suggested an avenue that has proved fruitful: the study of the Western tradition reflected in St. Leo the Great, which was harmonized with St. Cyril at Chalcedon. That, I concluded, would be the "real" Tradition, whatever it revealed.

By that time, I had already read Barnes's article on the different ideas of theophany in East and West. His references to the "form of God" matched up well with Wessel's remarks about Leo's Christology. The problem was that I still needed a way to match up the Cappadocians with the West, which caused me to investigate the mediating views of Marius Victorinus. Barnes's remarks regarding Tertullian's influence and a reading of Hilary's De Trinitate sewed it up for me that the "form of God" was the real key to distinctively Western theology. That in turn provided the bridge I needed between the "one power" Christology described by Barnes and the orthodox (non-Arian) "two-powers" Christology begun with St. Athanasius that Marius Victorinus adopted. My own reading of the Cappadocians is that they dealt with energies and powers almost solely in the context of creation, meaning that the "form of God" concept did not contradict them in that area. The "form of God" account also provided an orthodox interpretation of St. Athanasius's "two powers" formulation. Some research into the Western Fathers, particularly a couple of articles on St. Ambrose (alas in French only) by Yves-Marie Duval in L'extirpation de l'Arianisme en Italie du Nord et en Occident: Rimini (359/60) et Aquilée (381) Hilaire de Poitiers (+367/8) et Ambroise de Milan (+397), confirmed that the "two powers" and "form of God/form of man" Christology was the position taken by Western Nicenes as against Homoians, leaving me with the inescapable conclusion that there was an authentic Western Tradition (of which the filioque was an authentic development) that could (and must) be reconciled with St. Cyril and the Cappadocians.

My goal in following up on this reconciliation is to illustrate that the notion of whether theophanies are created or not and the parallel accounts of the eschaton are simply theologoumena to explain the identical underlying experience of God. The apparent conflict appears to stem from St. Thomas's replacement of eros/agape as the primal name of God in Pseudo-Dionysius (and St. Denys the Mystic) with ens, which in turn lead to an overemphasis on ontology both in the reading of Augustine and in scholasticism generally. That is, at least, the theory advanced by Jean-Luc Marion in God without Being, and it appears to match my reading of Richard of St. Victor and Bl. John Ruusbroec (both of whose works are available in the fine Classics of Western Spirituality series by Paulist Press). Consequently, I believe that an authentic expression of Western Tradition can be reconciled with the Eastern Tradition, provided neither side insists on advancing theologoumena as part of the Tradition (the uncreated nature of theophanies in the East; the obsession with ontology in Western scholasticism).