Anestis Keselopoulos, Passions and virtues in the teaching of St Gregory Palamas, Domos, Athens 1982, pp. 247.
This study is the doctoral thesis of Anestis Keselopoulos and deals with the subject of passions and virtues in the teaching of St Gregory Palamas. According to Keselopoulos, Gregory Palamas bases his teaching about the passions and virtues on the basic theological distinction between human life according to nature, and that contrary to nature. Passions do not belong to the nature of human beings. Ontologically, the passions are connected with non-existence, since evil is not a nature –even an evil nature- but a tendency. The passions as “perverse and crooked ways”, are conditions which ravage human life, while the various sins are merely symptoms of these conditions.
The return from the unnatural state of slavery to the passions, to the natural realm of the love of God, is achieved through repentance. According to Gregory Palamas, repentance means “to hate sin and love virtue, and to turn from wickedness and do good”. When people do not repent, they remain slaves to sin and are far from God. For Palamas, the fact of the Fall is central to sorrow for God, which springs from the deprivation of God and is experienced as searching for Him. Anyone who lives “in awareness of such a deprivation” feels intensely the need to mourn his sins, and cleanse away with this sorrow “all the defilements of sin”. Cleansing from the passions finds its true dimensions in the mysteries of the Church and is not put in the framework of an emotional experience or an ethical fact, but is the most real mode of personal existence and communion of people with God and other human beings.
In accordance with this view, cleansing can never be understood as a negative state confined to the avoidance of sin, but is integrally connected with the exercise of virtues. The fountain of virtues isn’t the human agent, but God. Therefore, people’s virtue is the fruit, the evidence of their participation in the life of God.