In November 17-20, 2022, the Faculty of Letters, History and Theology, West University of Timișoara is hosting the international conference on the relationship between holiness, prayer, and Hesychast spirituality in the Eastern tradition.
This conference seeks to bring the theme of holiness or deification (theosis) to the foreground as a central place in the Orthodox theology. This concept implies that the human person becomes by grace that which the Son of God is by nature. The wording here echoes one of Athanasius’s most famous formulas, first found in On the incarnation. There he affirms that „the Word of God… became human so that we might become God” (De incarnatione 54). This spiritual process is understood as a transforming union of the human person with God, as an act of holiness. From this perspective, the Hesychast theology (and his correlative term, prayer) played an immensely important part in the Orthodox theology.
And indeed, the Hesychast spirituality had major implications for the development of the doctrine of deification. More exactly, within a „mystical realism” based on participation in God as light, Saint Gregory Palamas identified three fundamental themes of Eastern Christian spirituality: theology as apophaticism, revelation as light and salvation as deification (Triad I.3.17). For the Hesychast, the purpose of hesychia was to facilitate ascent to a transformative communion with God. Saint John Climacus insistes that the ascent is not an exterior one, but an ascetic journey to the core of one’s being, where one encounters Christ and is transfomed by Him: “A hesychast is someone who strives to confine the incorporeal within a corporeal dwelling, which is a paradox” (Ladder, Step 27). Briefly, Hesychasm is a spiritual path through which men can achieve holiness.
We will propose to explore differing meanings attached to the holiness and Byzantine Hesychasm in the Eastern theology.
Some suggested topics for discussion are:
– Deification/Holiness and Monastic Wisdom
– Hesychasm and Byzantine Theology
– Prayer and Monastic Spirituality
– Hesychast Theology and Patristic Exegesis
– Deification in early monasticism and Byzantine theology
– Ἀπάθεια & ἡσυχία – Ascetic Endeavor toward Virtue
– Spiritual Senses and Anthropology of prayer (nous, kardia, pneuma)
– Penthos, Repentance and Spiritual Fatherhood in Eastern Asceticism
– Eucharist and Prayer of the Heart in the Hesychast Theology
– Phenomenology and hesychasm as ascetic-mystical phenomenology
– Messalian and bogomilism controversy
Orthodox tradition is impossible to understand without reference to its vast Hesychast theology heritage. Therefore, the aim of the conference is to foster the study of Hesychast spirituality broadly considered in its social, historical and theological context.
Conference will be organized in a hybrid form and streamed online. Lodging and travel expenses will be fully covered.
Daniel Lemeni, West University of Timișoara
Nichifor Tănase, West University of Timișoara