326. Istanbul (Not Constantinople): the Later Orthodox Tradition

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When the Byzantine empire ended in 1453, philosophy in Greek did not end with it. In this episode we bring the story up to the 20th century.



Further Reading

• A. Andreopoulos, Christos Yannaras: Philosophy, Theology, Culture (London: 2019).

• B. Bingaman and B. Nassif, The Philokalia: a Classic Text of Orthodox Spirituality (Oxford: 2012).

• A. Casiday (ed.), The Orthodox Christian World (London: 2012).

• M.B. Cunningham and E. Theokritoff (eds), The Cambridge Guide to Orthodox Christian Theology (Cambridge: 2008).

• R. Demos, “The Neo-Hellenic Enlightenment (1750-1821),” Journal of the History of Ideas 19 (1958), 523-41.

• A. Louth, Modern Orthodox Thinkers: From the Philokalia to the Present (Downers Grove: 2015).

• D.P. Payne, The Revival of Political Hesychasm in Contemporary Orthodox Thought: the Political Hesychasm of John S. Romanides and Christos Yannaras (Lanham: 2011).

• G. Podskalsky, Griechische Theologie in der Zeit der Türkenherrschaft (Munich: 1988).

• I. Ševčenko, “The Decline of Byzantium Seen Through the Eyes of Its Intellectuals,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 15 (1961), 169-86

• A. Torrance and S. Paschalidis (eds), Personhood in the Byzantine Christian Tradition: Early, Medieval, and Modern Perspectives (London: 2018).

• C. Yannaras, On the Absence and Unknowability of God (London: 2005).


Paschal Scotti on 2 June 2019


A really superb collection of learned articles can be in found in Brock Bingaman and Bradley Nassif (eds.) "The Philokalia: A Classic Text of Orthodox Spirituality" Oxford University Press 2012. Wonderful episode but just too many people to talk about.   

In reply to by Paschal Scotti

Peter Adamson on 2 June 2019


Thanks for the additional reference! I think actually I came across that title while doing the reading for this episode, but I haven't seen the book myself yet.

Thomas Mirus on 2 June 2019

I appreciate the point about

I appreciate the point about the danger of treating God as a being among other beings. I do think it's necessary to attend to Aquinas's analogy of being to realize that he doesn't think God "is" in the same sense everything else is.

Yannaras sounds like a fascinating and compelling thinker. Later Thomists like Jacques Maritain also distinguished between individuality and personality, and this was likewise a key to Maritain’s political thought.

FriendofByzant… on 3 June 2019

Contemporary greek orthodox thinkers

I really appreciate this episode, but I would like to mention another contemporay greek orthodox/theological  thinker who also dealt with Heidegger. His name is Stelios Ramfos. He is a little bit younger than Yannaras. Both greek philosophers who knew each other very well. Unfortunately the work of Ramfos is not really translated into a modern language. So you can just read his work in greek.  If you can read modern greek than you can see that his work deals also with theological/othodox questions. He also gave a lecture about Heideggers Being and Time. I would like just to add this here. Besides Yannaras you can mention Ramfos and maybe some other contemporary greek orthodox thnkers.  But there also some differences between this greek theological philosophers.  It could be interesting to compare them. 

In reply to by FriendofByzant…

Peter Adamson on 3 June 2019


Thanks for the additional suggestion! Actually I guess there would have been much, much more to say about the recent Greek tradition - sort of like with the Islamic world I only touched briefly on a subject that could be its own mini series of episodes. Still, better than nothing, I hope!

In reply to by Peter Adamson

FilippFinkewitz on 3 June 2019

Yes, thats right. What one

Yes, thats right. What one could say much more about the recent Greek tradition, but what is mentioned here is still better than nothing! So I totally agree. This could have been an own mini series of episodes  and still be interesting to hear!

Brian Marick on 24 November 2019

Yannaros question

Here's a weird question. I was struck by this bit in your summary of Yannanos:

    [Yannaros thinks that] the West is trapped within a... framework built

    around the idea of *individuals*, which are just iterations

    [instances] of a type [class], namely human nature. You and I are just

    two examples of humans, and our [...] status -- for example our claim

    to certain rights -- is based on nothing more than being members of

    that class. Yannaros finds in the Eastern Orthodox tradition [...]

    resources for an alternative. By thinking of one another as persons,

    rather than [instances of a class], we see each other not as [...]

    inevitably Other and unknowable - yet approachable through [...]

    activities. Through these activities, we should forge relations with

    one another, relations that constitute a community.

I like that idea. I've been invited to give a talk (on software development) in Serbia, and this would actually fit in to my theme. Plus, Serbia is largely Eastern Orthodox, so a nod to an Eastern Orthodox thinking might go over well.

So: what of Yannanos's vast ouvre should I read to learn more about this specific idea? 


In reply to by Brian Marick

Peter Adamson on 24 November 2019


I think probably the best place to look is his Person and Eros (Brookline: 2007). You could also look at the volumes edited by Andreopoulos, and by Torrance and Paschalidis, listed in the bibliography above.

Kamal Bishai on 1 September 2022


Thank you for an excellent series. I’ve learnt so much.  At what point in the Byzantine series did you discus Monophysitism & Nestorianism and the development of the Coptic Orthodox tradition both in the early and modern centuries?

In reply to by Kamal Bishai

Peter Adamson on 5 September 2022

Eastern Christianity

I think it is mostly in the Introduction and the scripted episode on John of Damascus; but I didn't actually get into the Coptic Church so much. That does come up several times in our coverage of Africana philosophy, in the episodes on Ethiopia (Africana 8-10).

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