Confusing the Philosophers

Saint Gregory Palamas

“God also has what is not essence. Yet it is not the case that because it is not an essence that it is an accident. For that which not only does not pass away but also admits or effects no increase or diminution whatever could not possibly be numbered among accidents. But it is not true that, because this is neither an accident or essence, it belongs among totally non-existent things: rather, it exists and exists truly. Since the hypostatic properties and the hypostases are neither an essence or an accident in God, are they each on this account ranked among non-existent things. Certainly not. Thus, in the same way, the divine energy of God is neither an essence nor an accident nor is it classed among non-existent things.”

Capita 135

10 Responses to Confusing the Philosophers

  1. James the Thickheaded says:

    A little off the track, but not TOO far: The article you wrote: “Anglicans in Exile” once-upon-a-time available on Pontifications is no longer there….any alternate source for this paper (or similar) for an anglican looking to re-enter from Elba? Thanks!

  2. Ian says:

    Thanks a lot. The concept seems rather straight forward but I’m reading Basil right now anyway.

  3. Photios Jones says:

    Well, if you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

  4. Antonio says:

    “To sum it up, Hypostatic properties are what are unique and particular, and divine energies are what are shared in common”.

    Thank you VERY VERY VERY much…
    I don’t know what I have understood of this, but I’m finally making “progress”.
    Or at least I think so…

  5. Photios Jones says:


    Are hypostatic properties divine energies? Not at all.

    Hypostatic properties are properties that are unique to one and only Hypostasis. For instance the Hypostatic property of Unbegotten is specific only to the Father. The Hypotatic Property of Begotten is specific only to the Son. The act of generation is a Hypostatic property only of the Father, same with the act of procession.

    The divine energies are properties that are said about all the Hypostases. If something can be predicated of all of the Hypostases, we conclude that these are natural properties. It is something of their nature.

    To sum it up, Hypostatic properties are what are unique and particular, and divine energies are what are shared in common.

    If the divine energies were only unique to say the Father, then we would conclude that the Son is not homoousios with the Father. If the Son lacks things that are said to be in common among Hypostases (or rather around to use Cappadocian language) of the same nature, then He [the Son] would be of a different nature.

    Notice that homoousios [consubstantiality] is a conclusion, rather than a starting point in erecting a theology.


  6. Antonio says:

    Just asking (and trying to understand):
    Hypostatic Properties and Divine Energies are the same?
    Thanks a lot…

  7. Photios Jones says:

    Because the Hypostases aren’t properties, they are Persons. Properties that can be said about more than one Hypostasis of the same nature are said about all of them, and are hence something natural. A Person is never reducible to any of His nature or His natural properties. Carrying over the Hellenistic meaning of hypostasis into a Christian context is exactly what leads to problems. Hypostasis in Christian metaphysics is its own unique category on its own and is what is absolutely unique about a “who.” For example, the hypostasis of you, Ian, is absolutely unique and there is no other hypostasis that is like you or the same as you. Nothing that is in human nature can be identified with ‘Ian.’ Basil’s letter 38 (which is more likely written Gregory of Nyssa) is a good place to look: NPNF II, v. VIII, p. 137-141.

    Hope that helps.


  8. Ian says:

    Sorry…I meant to say,” Why would it not be proper to consider the hypostases properties within the essence?”

  9. Ian says:

    What does St. Gregory mean by “accident” here and why would it not be proper to consider the hypostases a properties within the essence of God?

%d bloggers like this: