Palamas, Gregory

   Theologian and chief defender of Hesychasm (q.v.) who became archbishop of Thessalonike (qq.v). from 1347-1359. He was subsequently elevated to sainthood in 1368. His writings form a core of apologetic literature called Palamism, which defended the meditative prayer developed by the monks of Mount Athos (q.v.) as a way for direct, mystical experience of God in the form of the divine light seen by Jesus' disciples on Mount Tabor. In this way the inaccessibility of God was bridged by divine energy, as opposed to the bridge of cosmic hierarchy espoused by Pseudo-Dionysios (q.v.). Barlaam of Calabria (q.v.) ridiculed Hesychasm as superstition, denying the possibility of seeing the Light of Tabor. Palamas, who was himself a former Athonian monk, defended Hesychasm against Barlaam with vigor, arguing that the Light of Tabor was one of God's uncreated energies that manifest God's power in the world. He gained a wide circle of supporters for his views, among whom were the patriarchs Isidore I, Kallistos I, and Philotheos Kokkinos, and Emperor John VI Kantakouzenos (qq.v.). Among his opponents were the Zealots (q.v.), who until 1350 prohibited him from assuming his duties as archbishop ofThessalonike.

Historical Dictionary of Byzantium . .

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