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Gregorius Akindynos


14th-century Byzantine monk, priest, and theologian; b. Prilep, Bulgaria, c. 1300; d. c. 1349. Akindynos studied under Thomas Magistros and Gregory palamas in Thessalonika and taught grammar in Beroea. A friend of both barlaam of calabria and Palamas, he tried to mediate between them in 1335 during their controversy over hesychasm. However, in 1338 he sided with Palamas and wrote against Barlaam, who was condemned (June 10, 1341) as an outsider who had no appreciation of the Taborite Illumination and was intent upon destroying the monastic ideal.

Further study, however, convinced Akindynos that Barlaam's theological approach in dealing with the distinction between the divine essence and the divine energies was correct, but he failed in his attempt to win Palamas over to his views. After the political changes of October 1341, the patriarch of Constantinople, John XII Calecas, encouraged Akindynos to write against Palamas. Between March and April 1343 Akindynos prepared a report on the origins of his dispute with Palamas and by 1344 had composed seven treatises against the Palamite doctrine. Abetted by Theodore Dexios, he combatted the Palamite teaching in Thessalonika. Then, although he had been considered for the bishopric in Thessalonika, he was condemned instead by a synod in 1347. Again in 1351, two years after his death, his writings were condemned by a synod and his name was placed in the list of heretics anathematized on Orthodox Sunday. He was considered a most dangerous opponent of hesychastic monasticism, and his teachings were combatted by the Emperor John IV Cantacuzenus, the Patriarch Philotheus Coccinus, and Nilus Cabasilas.

Some supposed that he had knowledge of scholastic philosophy, because of a confusion between himself and Prochorus cydones. Akindynos rejected the teachings of Palamas that the light of Mt. Tabor was uncreated and visible, and he defended the simplicity of God, the identification of the divine essence and operations, and other anti-Palamite theses. Among his works, which are still mainly unedited, are a Tract in five books against Barlaam, a Diatribe in six books directed against Palamas, two professions of faith most probably submitted to the Empress Anne of Savoy, and a corpus of letters connected with the Palamite controversy. He is credited also with 509 iambic verses describing the errors of Palamas and an Apology to the Patriarch John Calecas.

Bibliography: h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich 1959) 716717. m. jugie, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques, ed. a. baudrillart et al. (Paris 1912) 1:340341. m. t. disdier, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller et al. (Paris 1932) 1:263268. v. laurent, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 4:1205. r. j. loenertz, Orientalia Christiana periodica 23 (Rome 1957) 114144, 18 letters. m. candal, ibid. 25 (1959) 215264, confession of faith. j. meyendorff, A Study of Gregory Palamas, tr. g. lawrence (London 1964).

[h. d. hunter]

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