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For many contemporary Orthodox theologians the distinction between the divine essence and energy belongs to the very core of the Orthodox tradition and has no equivalent in the West. This position has been restated and developed by Professor David Bradshaw in his crucial publication Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom (Cambridge: CUP, 2004). Yet the views expressed in this book have not remained uncontested. The present volume takes Bradshaw's work as the starting point for an ecumenical debate about this doctrine. Leading Catholic, Anglican, Calvinist and Orthodox theologians are given the opportunity to critically assess the nature and significance of this doctrine from a historical, theological and philosophical perspective.
The authors contributing to this volume present very different and often mutually incompatible narratives. But all attempt to answer some of the following questions: In what way were the Aristotelian concepts of ousia and energeia used by the Church Fathers and how are they related to the Christological and Trinitarian doctrines? What theological function does the essence-energy distinction fulfil in Eastern Orthodoxy? Is it possible to identify different notions of divine presence and participation in the Cappadocians, Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor and Gregory Palamas? What is the relationship between the essence-energy distinction and the Western ideas of divine presence in Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Martin Luther, John Calvin and Karl Barth? How is this doctrine related to Kantian and post-Kantian thought?
This collection of essays originated from a colloquium organised by the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies (Cambridge, UK). However, the number of papers and the scope of the questions discussed in The Presence of God in Eastern Orthodoxy by far exceed the original conference programme.
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