Palamas in Italian

December 15, 2007

An Italian translation of the complete works of Gregory Palamas has appeared. The translation, in three thick volumes with the original Greek text on facing pages, advertises itself as the first complete translation of Palamas into a modern Western language. Its general editor is Ettore Perrella; according to his home page, Perrella was born in Gallipoli (near Constantinople) in 1952, studied psychoanalysis under Jacques Lacan, taught for some years at Padua where he currently lives, and has published a number of works on psychoanalysis and its philosophical and scientific significance. He describes his work on Palamas in the following way (if I have translated him correctly):

“From 2003 to 2006 he published, in three volumes, at l’Editore Bompiani in Milan, a complete translation of the works of the Greek theologian Gregory Palamas, a writer whose contribution appears to him unavoidable if one wants to confront the problem of the ethical status of the sciences.”

The three volumes are:

  • Gregorio Palamas: Atto e luce divina – Gli scritti filosofici e teologici (2003) (1500 pp.; € 35.00) [Gregory Palamas: Act and divine light: philosophical and theological writings]
  • Gregorio Palamas: Dal sovraessenziale all’essenza (2005) (cxxxv + 1570 pp.; € 36.00) [Gregory Palamas: From the superessential to the essence]
  • Gregorio Palamas: Che cos’e’ l’ortodossia (2006) (lvi + 1816 pp.; € 37.00) [Gregory Palamas: What is Orthodoxy?]
  • I purchased the second of these fat, hefty volumes a year or so ago, thinking that it was the whole of Palamas’s works; only later did I realize that I had gotten only volume two of a three-part work. Anyway, if one has any interest at all in Palamas or in Byzantine theology and can read a bit of Italian, or if one simply wants a handy edition of the Greek text, these books are worth acquiring. They are advertised on-line at the following URL: http://www.liberonweb.com/asp/lista.asp?D1=Autore&T1=Palamas&B1=+++Cerca+++&I1=1

    I confess that I have not yet worked through Perrella’s lengthy introduction. In general, it seems to present a view of Palamas very much like what one finds over at the Energies of the Trinity weblog: unless one fully understands what it means for God to be beyond essence — and, with that, accepts the real distinction in God between essence and energies — one falls into all kinds of deadly contradictions and ends up with a sterile abstraction in place of the living God of the Scriptures. At the present time, I would prefer not to enter into that discussion. I sometimes find that debates over “essence” and “energy,” like certain faculty discussions about matters of finance, make my head feel light and the room begin to disappear, as though the rarified nature of the subject matter had an immediate, rarifying influence upon the oxygen in my blood. Since I frequently need to operate a motor vehicle, it would not be safe for me to discuss Palamism at this time.

    Still, others may have hardier constitutions; therefore I am passing on to readers the information about these books. Consider your own frailties, and do not blame me if you become light-headed.

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