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Forschungsgruppe: Akindynos und Palamas im Streit um die göttlichen Energien (SNF Projekt 156668)

Akindynos und Palamas im Streit um die göttlichen Energien. Edition, Übersetzung und Analyse zentraler Werke der Kontroverse. (Epistula III des Palamas mit Kommentierung durch Akindynos sowie die Antirrhetici beider Autoren)



International Workshop
Akindynos' Role in the Hesychast Controversy
Friday/Saturday, 15th-16th March 2019
UniS, Schanzeneckstrasse 1,
CH-3012 Bern,
Room B-102

The workshop is open to the public.
Participation is free, but we would like to ask you to register
before February the 28th 2019 by sending a message to

Program (PDF)


Oxford Patristics 10. - 14. August 2015


In the course of the XVII. International Conference on Patristic Studies in Oxford, the members of the research group, together with Nadja Heimlicher (University of Bern) and Prof. Dr. Dimitrios Moschos (University of Athens), held a workshop entitled “Palamas and Akindynos in dispute on divine energies – discussion of a crucial document of the controversy”, on Friday, 14th August, 16.00–18.30 h (Merton Taylor Room). Here is a short report. To read the abstracts of the papers, please click on the contributor’s names.

Palamas’ Epistula III to Akindynos seems to be the key to the understanding of the disruption between both correspondent and addressee in the summer of 1341. In this letter, Palamas presented his doctrine of divine energies and tried to demonstrate that the accusations of Barlaam are totally unjustified. But obviously, the letter could not satisfy Akindynos. On the contrary: in a report to the patriarch Kalekas, written in 1343, Akindynos admitted that exactlythis letter was the flashpoint for him to turn away from Palamas and to criticize his doctrine of divine energies which, according to Akindynos, was not in harmony with the teachings of the fathers.
The problem, however, is that Epistula III exists in two versions which differ substantially in length, contents and tone. On the one hand, there is a well-established version that was transmitted together with other works of Palamas and was thus edited by John Meyendorff and Panagiotis Chrestou. On the other hand, we find the less known version in the 14th century Codex Monacensis graecus 223 together with a refutation of Akindynos. This version is very much shorter and emphasizes other points than the other one.
The question we have discussed in the workshop is: Which of the letter’s two versions is the one Akindynos read in the spring of 1341? Or with other words: Which version was the reason for Akindynos to turn away from Palamas and his hesychast theology? Until now, researchers have formulated two alternative theories to solve the problem of the two versions of Epistula III: John Meyendorff considered the longer version to be the original one and accused Akindynos of falsification of the authentic document. Juan Nadal, on the contrary, declared the Monacensis-version to be the authentic one and suspected, on his part, Palamas to have published afterwards a revised and therefore falsified version.
These theories were discussed in the first part of the workshop:
Theodoros Alexopoulos presented the version edited by Meyendorff and Chrestou, and he argued in favour of the coherence and authenticity of this version defending thus in the main the theory of Meyendorff.
Then, → Renate Burri examined the problem of the two versions from a codicological point of view, focussing mainly on Monacensis graecus 223.
Finally, → Katharina Heyden responded to Theodoros’ arguments proposing however another and new approach to solve the problem of Epistula III that takes into account Renate’s considerations as well as the difference between authenticity and originality.
In the second part of the workshop, → Nadja Heimlicher examined the impact of patristic tradition on the essence-energy-distinction presenting the example of Gregory of Nazianzus and his use of the term ἐνέργεια with regard to God. And finally, → Dimitriοs Moschos spoke on Nikephoros Gregoras, the successor of Akindynos as the leader of the anti-Palamites, and his reasons of being against divine energies. 

Website Oxford Patristics

Link zum Blog


Vorbereitungstreffen Oxford Patristics, Juni 2015

Vorbereitungstreffen Oxford Patristics, Juni 2015:
v.l. Theodoros Alexopoulos, Dimitrios Moschos, Nadja Heimlicher, Katharina Heyden

Katharina Heyden: Palamas and Acindynus in dispute on divine energies – discussion of a crucial document of the controversy

The Palamite controversy in 14th century Byzantium concerns theological problems that are relevant not only in the historical context, but also with regard to the today’s dialogue between Eastern and Western Christianity. In defence of hesychasm, Palamas formulated his doctrine of uncreated divine energies distinguishing between essence and energies within God. Among Palamas’ opponents, Gregory Acindynus is the most neglected and underestimated one, although this former disciple and friend of Palamas had more influence on Palamas’ thinking than Barlaam or Gregoras.
This workshop delivers insight into the activities of a recently established research project at the University of Berne that focuses on central documents of the controversy between Palamas and Acindynus. Five short communications will give a panorama of the main topics and questions, and participants will be invited to discuss a crucial document of the controversy, Epistula III of Palamas to Acindynus. This letter, written on the eve of the Constantinopolitan synod of 1341 that confirmed Palamas and accused Acindynus of heresy, exists in two versions. Based on a synopsis of the two versions, we will discuss authenticity and priority of the two versions as well as the consequences for the reconstruction of facts and arguments. The concern is less to judge on orthodoxy and heresy, but rather to overcome these categories by means of historical research and to show that theological reasoning is a matter of dialogue: it is likely that Palamas himself developped his doctrine of divine energies taking into consideration the main objections of Acindynus.


Prof. Dr. Katharina Heyden

Professorin für Ältere Geschichte
des Christentums und der
interreligiösen Begegnungen

Institut für Historische Theologie
Länggassstrasse 51
CH-3012 Bern