Богословието на Божиите енергии в Православната мисъл на 20 век: The theology of the Divine energies in 20th century Orthodox thought

Stoyan Tanev

Publikation: AfhandlingDoktorafhandling


The dissertation was part of an individual doctoral research program as an external scholar in the Faculty of Theology at Sofia University, Bulgaria. It suggests a comprehensive study of the concept of energy in Orthodox theology and physics. It consists of a historical, dogmatic and empirical component. The first chapter discusses the re-emergence of the distinction between Divine essence and energies in Orthodox theology by focusing on the sophiological controversy in the first half of 20th century with a specific emphasis on the theology of Fr. Georges Florovsky and Fr. Sergius Bulgakov. The analysis points out the role of Fr. G. Florovsky for the rediscovery of the teaching on the Divine essence and energies as one of his key theological contributions by focusing on some of his letters to Bulgakov that were written as early as 1925 and on his work Creature and creaturehood (1927). The analysis suggests that these early works have determined the main direction of Orthodox theological reflection in the 20th century.

Chapter II of the dissertation focuses on a comparative analysis of the theological insights of three key Orthodox theologians: Metropolitan John Zizioulas (1931 ‐), Fr. Dumitru Staniloae (1903 ‐ 1993) and Fr. John Romanides (1927‐2001). Metropolitan John Zizioulas is a Greek theologian who is currently the main theological representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, New Rome. Fr. D. Staniloae is a Romanian theologian who provided one of the most comprehensive theological syntheses in the 20th century. Fr. Romanides is a Greek-born American theologian who returned to Greece and became one of the main drivers of the renewal of Greek Orthodox theology in the 20th century. These three theologians have significantly contributed to Orthodox theology in the 20th century and have addressed the teaching on the Divine energies in different ways. Fr. D. Staniloae and Fr. John Romanides included the teaching on the Divine energies as an integral part of their theological systems. Metr. John Zizioulas adopted a different approach trying to demonstrate that the teaching on the Divine energies is not essential in Orthodox theology. The dissertation suggests a comparative analysis of the three theologians to show that neglecting the teaching on the energies leads to a narrower understanding of both spiritual life and the Church.

Chapter III provides a parallel study of the term energy in Orthodox theology and physics. Its intention is to build on existing works and established knowledge to provide a basis for the development of an interdisciplinary analytical framework in contribution to the ongoing contemporary dialogue between science and theology. The Chapter starts with a discussion of the methodological grounds for the parallel exploration of the concept of energy in Orthodox theology and physics by focusing on the ‘analogical isomorphism’ approach. Afterwards it provides a more detailed articulation of the ways the concept of energy is used in physics and Orthodox theology by concentrating on the history, content and major issues related to two debates, the first one, between two monks - Barlaam the Calabrian and St Gregory Palamas - in 14th century Byzantium, and, the second, between two great physicists - Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein - in the 20th century. The qualitative comparative analysis approach was found to be particularly fruitful. It builds on insights from Eastern Christian (Byzantine) theology, philosophy of science and philosophy of religion to suggest an analysis of the way of using language in theology and quantum mechanics. The Chapter concludes by summarizing the observations emerging from the analysis and a number of conclusions related to their potential value for the science-theology dialogue.
UdgivelsesstedSofia, Bulgaria
StatusUdgivet - nov. 2012