Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

2011 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Philosophical Theology, Byzantine

  • George Arabatzis
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_396


The history of Byzantine philosophical theology balances between doctrinal elaboration and a distinctive mystical tendency. Its study may be either of a theological or of a rationalist approach. The first asserts firmly the special weight of the works of theologians like John of Damascus, Maximus the Confessor, Photios, Gregory Palamas, and others. The second approach focuses on the decisive part that ancient Greek philosophy played in Byzantine theology. Although the history of this latter offers a series of charismatic individuals, the concluding phase of Byzantium presents two ideal-types of philosopher theologians’ personalities: Gregory Palamas, who maintained the traditional articulation and hierarchy of the outward (Greek) Paideia and the inward (Christian) Paideia and George Gemistos Plethon, who transcended this model in favor of Greek philosophy. Mysticism and the relation to the Latin Church are the other main issues that occupied the intellectual activity of the late Byzantine philosophico-theological thought, but the general trends do not succeed to account for all the individual positions of the Byzantine intellectuals who by their theories and activities challenged the purity of the relevant classifications.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Arabatzis
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Centre on Greek PhilosophyAcademy of AthensAthensGreece