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St.

Gregory Palamas - Confessor and Defender of Orthodoxy Against


Islam
by Ralph Zosimas Sidway
I. Introduction
St. Gregory Palamas is one of those profound and pivotal saints with whom one
becomes better acquainted over time, and who often surprises with his insights,
message and significance. While rightly revered and commemorated in Greece and
elsewhere in the Orthodox world and by Orthodox monastics generally, in America, the
relatively recent publications of his life and sermons, and studies of his significance, has
led to a growing appreciation in the English-speaking world over only the last few
decades for this Light of Orthodoxy, who is honored on the Second Sunday of Great
Lent (often called a Second Triumph of Orthodoxy).
In this essay, I intend to explore a lesser known episode from St. Gregorys life, which is
no less significant than his dominant legacy, especially for our troubled times. In a
manner similar to St. Gregorys handling of the Hesychast Controversy, this episode
from later in his life is rich in theological insights, and reveals much about the saints
strength of Christian character; I believe these two lessons are providentially intended
for us today, as a model of missionary pedagogy towards Muslims, and as an example
of being a faithful confessor of Jesus Christ.
II. Defender of Hesychasm
Best known for his theology concerning the distinction between the essence and
energies of God, and his defense of hesychasm and the Orthodox ascetical tradition,
Gregory Palamas explains how we can know God, even to experiencing the Uncreated
Light which shown on Mt Tabor at Christs Transfiguration. The God who is unknowable
in His divine essence, can be known through His uncreated energies, and this is indeed
the purpose and goal of hesychasm, which is not something new introduced by St.
Gregory, nor is it an innovation or technique limited to monastics, but it is rather the
traditional Orthodox asceticism which leads to theosis or deification. Ascetical practice
(prayer, fasting, prostrations, obedience) and withdrawal from the tumult of the world

(stillness, quietude, hesychia) calms and stills the passions, which, even after baptism,
in our fallen world cloud and obscure our inner vision. The continuity of Orthodox
asceticism may be demonstrated by a story from the Desert Fathers, in which a monk,
asked by his guests what he does in the desert, pours water into a vessel, and bids his
guests to notice how murky it is, then after several minutes asks them to look again, and
they find the sediment settled to the bottom and the water clear, so they could see their
faces reflected in it. The monk then explains to his guests, So it is with anyone who
lives in a crowd; because of the turbulence, he does not see his sins. But when he has
been quiet, above all in solitude, then he recognizes his own faults. 1 When one sees
his own faults and sins to confess and repent of them, then he is poised to encounter
the kingdom of God within, through the prayer of the heart.
St. Gregory, thoroughly formed in spiritual life on Mount Athos, defended traditional
Orthodox spirituality, asceticism and its goal of theosis in large part by correcting
Barlaams unbalanced, scholastic teaching on natural knowledge and his rejection of
asceticism. Barlaam, educated in Italy and imbibing Western emphasis on humanism
and natural philosophy, equated philosophy with theology as equally valid forms of
knowledge leading to knowledge of God. Gregory confronted this equation and
Barlaams notion of ecstatic encounter with the divine, instead articulating the goal of
hesychia, which is theoria, the vision of God, thus recapitulating the Orthodox teaching
on noetic or spiritual knowledge, and Gods self-revelation to us as Person. These
teachings are summed up by Professor Panagiotes Chrestou as follows:
Palamas argumentation in this controversy included a series of dual distinctions, among which theory
of double knowledge holds a notable place. In this theory we may note three aspects: the distinction
between philosophy and theology; the distinction within theology of two ways of knowing God; and
finally the distinction between theology and the vision of God or theoptia...
Palamas, after he had reflected much on natural and theological theognosia [ways of knowing God],
came to the conclusion that the achievements realized in the second way [theology] are far more
notable than thoserealizedin the first [philosophy]. But in the end he sees that another way opens
up, a way that leads to immensely more precious benefits: the way to the vision of God, to
(theoptia) [or what we are used to calling theoria]. Theology is a discourse about God, while theoptia
is in some way a conversation with God. There is a great difference between the two, as there is
between knowledge of a thing and possession of it [Defensio Hesychastarum, 3, 2, 12]. Isaac the
1

Benedicta Ward, Translator, The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks (London,
Penguin, 2003), Kindle Edition, p 11.

Syrian, speaking about two psychical eyes, the one for seeing the wisdom of God and the other for
seeing the glory of his nature [Sermo 72, ed. SPETSIERIS, 281], expresses with an image what
Palamas describes analytically.
According to Palamas, "God is not substance so that we may only speak about Him, for He did not
say, 'I am the substance', but He said, 'I am that I am'" [Ex. 3,14]. The being does not spring from
substance, but substance results from the being [Defensium Hesychasterum 1,3,42]. Therefore, God
is a personality that invites us; the personality whose presence we feel and to meet whom we press
forward. If the substance of God remains inaccessible, His operations become accessible to us. The
purified can by virtue of an excellent spiritual gift see the light of God just as the disciples had done
in Tabor... This vision constitutes the beginning of a meeting which ends in the participation in the
operations of God. Thus through his vision of God man rises without a bodily ecstasy to a personality
that can speak with God and is able to become an associate f God.2

Elder Ephraim of Vatopaedi Monastery of Mt. Athos draws out the unique dynamism of
St. Gregorys teaching on the nous, and explains why this is of real, practical
significance for the one who prays:
Many of the Fathers have given descriptions of the nous. By and large they regard it as a power or
eye of the soul. Palamas, however, defines the nous and its functions in a unique, revelatory and
precise manner. He considers the nous a self-sustaining and supremely active substance [Homily 55,
36]. It falls short of its proper function and loses its value when it is restricted to the intellect, which is
activated in an earthly spirit which has its seat in the brain [Ibid.]. Our nous has substance and
energy. The energy of direct cognition which is dissipated outwards through the feelings and mixed up
on the inside with reason must return to the substance of the nous, which has its seat in the heart, to
the first, bodily, calculating organ. And this return is effected through prayer.
If Christians persevere, through repentance, in this state of prayer, God sends them the gift of prayer
of the heart. When the nous finds the heart and dwells there as in a comfortable locus of prayer, then
we can say that the person is praying directly, from the heart, purely the terms are identical. When
prayer in the heart is activated by the energy of direct cognition, then we can talk of unceasing prayer,
then we can apply the command of Paul to pray unceasingly [1 Thess. 5:17]. People who have the
gift of unceasing prayer are able to say the prayer of the heart, the recollection of Jesus within the
heart, while at the same time going about their business with others, working, studying and, in
general, pursuing an externally ordinary, natural life. And this can also be achieved in the world. The

Prof. Panagiotes Chrestou, Double Knowledge According to Gregory Palamas, http://


www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2012/11/double-knowledge-according-to-gregory.html.

discovery of this energy of direct cognition indicates empirical communication with God. This energy
is the umbilical cord by which the faithful are attached to Grace and are nourished spiritually.3

We encounter in St. Gregorys Homily on the Entry of the Mother of God into the Holy of
Holies this very emphasis, the direct encounter with God being far superior to mere
knowledge or words about Him. For Gregory, the Theotokos clearly shines as our model
and example for the hesychastic life:
Let us consider, from a theological and philosophical point of view a subject which the Greeks, or
rather the fathers and patrons of the art, called the first philosophy, being unaware of any higher kind
of contemplation. Even this, although it contains some truth, is as far removed from the vision of God,
and as different from converse with Him, as possessing is distinct from knowing. Saying something
about God is not the same as encountering Him...
The Virgin found that the holy quietness was her guide: quietness, in which the mind and the world
stand still, forgetfulness of the things below, initiation into heavenly secrets, the laying aside of ideas
for something better. 4

The main point I wish to apply going forward, is St. Gregorys overarching emphasis on
the practical, real world implications and applications of his theological considerations.
We may safely say not only that Gregorys theology is the fruit of his personal
experience as a monastic in the hagiorite tradition, but also that instructing and inspiring
direct personal experience for the Christian people is his pastoral goal. Theoria must be
real, otherwise it is merely theoretical, and unable to transform and deify us.
III. Defender of Orthodoxy Against Islam
The capture by the Muslim Turks of Archbishop Gregory Palamas when he landed at
Gallipoli on March 10, 1354 while on a political mission of reconciliation for the Emperor
John V Paleologos, set the stage for an unexpected and providential chapter late in the
revered archpastors life.

Elder Ephraim of Vatopaedi, From the Post-Modern Persona to the Person: A Study on the Anthropology
of St. Gregory Palamas, http://www.pemptousia.com/2012/07/from-the-post-modern-persona-to-theperson/?st=gregory%20palamas.
4

St. Gregory Palamas, Sermons on Mary The Mother of God, ed. Christopher Veniamin (South Canaan
PA, Mount Thabor, 2005), 42, 43.

Archbishop Gregory was held as a hostage by the Muslims for an entire year, suffering
considerable hardships, sometimes beatings, chains and deprivations, which left him
greatly weakened by the time he was ransomed by the Serbs.5 In spite of being a
prisoner (his status was somewhat more rigorous than house arrest; he was not locked
up in a prison), he used the opportunity to encourage the Orthodox Christians he
encountered in the various towns he passed through, who had only recently been
conquered by the Ottomans. At the same time, he engaged in several discussions with
his Muslim captors, which were preserved by a certain Dr. Taronites from Nicaea, or by
Gregorys biographer Philotheos. These accounts present a dynamic image of St.
Gregory, who, in a manner sometimes similar to the Apostle Paul, takes spontaneous
advantage of opportunities to engage with his captors in order to share the Orthodox
Gospel. In one instance, after seeing a Muslim funeral, Gregory asks the Muslims what
was said. On learning that they were asking Allah to forgive the sins of the deceased, he
praised their initiative and their beseeching God, pivoting from this starting point to
speak of Jesus Christ as the only Judge, using that to lead into the teaching of Jesus as
the Logos of God, undivided from Him yet eternally begotten.6
In his dialogues with his Turkish Muslim captors, St. Gregory reveals he has a more
thorough understanding of Islam and how to counter its theological claims than that
evinced in St. John Damascenes Heresies (written as it was some six centuries earlier,
during Islams still formative years following its first violent expansion beyond the
Arabian peninsula). St. Gregory presents the teaching of God as Trinity through
scriptural exegesis, even using verses from the Koran to stress the co-essential and
indivisible Word and Spirit of God, as in this excerpt:
Only God, Who ever was before the ages is unoriginate, unending, everlasting [Ps. 89:2],
unchanging, indivisible, without confusion, and infinite. Everything created is perishable and
changeable. God, the only unoriginate One, is neither without Reason/Logos nor is He without
Wisdom. The Logos of God is also the Wisdom of God [1 Cor. 1:24], because Wisdom is in the Logos
and without the Logos there is no Wisdom [1 Cor. 1:30]. Therefore, to say there was ever a time when

For a full account of this episode in St. Gregory Palamas life, drawing from several sources, see The
Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy (Buena Vista CO, Holy Apostles Convent & Dormition Skete, 1990),
325-356. (St. Gregory lived only four more years following his release, indicating his weakened health.)
6

Ibid. 346.

God existed without the Logos and without Wisdom, is impious and impossible; for the Logos of God
is also unoriginate, and Wisdom is never to be separated from Him [Jn. 1:1].
Now the Logos is never to be found without the Spirit, a point which you Turks also confess.7 It is said
that Christ is the Logos (Word) of God [Rev. 19:13] and the Spirit of God [Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6], (since
He is co-essential) and never separated from the Holy Spirit. Therefore, God has a Logos and a Spirit
that are ever with Him, and are also unoriginate and indivisible. For God was never, nor will He ever
be, without spirit or reason (logos); One therefore is Three, and these Three are One [1 Jn. 5:7]. God,
therefore, has a Logos and Spirit [Jn. 1:1, 2; 1 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 2:18], but not as we have reason and a
spirit. I shall give you an example. As the effulgence of the sun leaves it and shines down upon us,
yet the radiance and the ray never separate from the disk (star) itself. That is why we name them (the
radiance and the ray) sun, and do not name them another sun apart from the one. Thus, it is the
same when we name God and the Logos of God and the Holy Spirit. We do not name some other
God from the One, Who is unoriginate and eternal together with the unoriginate Logos and Spirit
[Eph. 2:18].8

Having begun with the New Testament, he then turns to the Old, seeking to persuade
the Muslims, who claim to honor the previous scriptures of the Jews and Christians:
This is how we were taught to believe and confess by Christ Himself, the Logos of God. Not only did
Christ teach thus, but Moses also in the Decalogue, which you adopted on your part. When Moses
uttered, The Lord our God is one Lord [Deut. 6:4], he said three times the Onebecause he said
Lord twice and God oncein order to reveal the Three in One and the One in Three. From the
beginning, Moses desired to reveal that God and the Logos have the Spirit and between Them and
with Them is One God. The Creator, Who created everything, said, Let there be light, and there was
light [Gen. 1:3]. He said, Let the earth bring forth the herb of grass, bearing seed... [Gen. 1:11]. Now,
without going into detail, as David says, All that God said, came to be [Ps. 148:5; 103:32; 135:4-9].
The scriptural verse then, God said, and it came to pass, reveals that God has a logosfor a saying
cannot be without a wordand by this Logos did all creation come to pass [1 Cor. 8:6]. The Logos of
God existed before all creation and is uncreated [Jn. 1:1-3; 17:5, 24; Heb. 1:2]. Since the Logos of
God is uncreated, how can He not be God? This is because only God is uncreated.
Now let us return to Moses concerning the making of man. He says, And God formed the man of
dust of the earth, and breathed upon his face the breath of life, and the man became a living
soul [Gen. 2:7]. Within the verse, God breathed the breath of life, and the man became a living soul,

From the Koran: Jesus, son of Mary, was Allah's word which he conveyed to Mary, and a spirit from
him (Sura 4:171).
8

Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy, 333-334, scripture citations in original.

it is revealed that God has a Spirit [Rom. 15:19; 8:9] 9 and that Spirit is creating [Gen. 1:2]. The
Creator of the soul is solely God. Thus did Job say, The divine Spirit is that which formed me, and the
breath of the Almighty that which teaches me [Job. 33:4].10

Thus we see St. Gregory argues for the Trinity primarily on the two-fold basis of Gods
wisdom and His will to create; it is impossible for God to be without Logos or Spirit,
otherwise He would be both dumb and uncreative.11 Essentially, the Logos, or Word, of
God, and Gods Spirit, are of God Himself as He is in His Essence, otherwise the Logos
and Spirit could not do that which They do, namely participate in the creation and
ordering of the cosmos, nor in the redemption of mankind. This is reminiscent of St.
Irenaeus description of the Son of God (the Logos) and the Spirit as the two hands of
God, Who never work in the cosmos without the Other, but always in concert.
Gregorys approach throughout these encounters is consistent, and as we shall see
below, his Muslim interlocutors become quite boisterous and agitated when doctrinal
conflicts are raised. Significantly, Gregory presents the scriptural teaching very
forthrightly, even though it often goes completely against the Koran, which is stridently
and even violently opposed to foundational Christian dogmas (not to mention historical
fact, such as the Crucifixion), as can be seen from these examples:
The similitude of Isa [Jesus] before God is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to
him: Be: And he was. (Sura 3:59)
Say not Trinity: desist: It will be better for you: For God is One God: Glory be to Him: (Far Exalted is
He) above having a son. . . . (Sura 4:173)
In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the Son of Mary. (Sura 5:19)
They do blaspheme who say: God is Christ the son of Mary . . . They do blaspheme who say: God
is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of
blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them (Sura 5:75,78)

The Hebrew word Ruah is translated as Spirit in the Old Testament; its primary meaning is Breath.
St.. Gregory here is applying both meanings in a condensed presentation, and showing the Holy Spirits
essential role in the creation.
10
11

Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy, pp 334-335.

Along these lines, St. John of Damascus went so far as to charge the Muslims as mutilators of God,
for cutting off Gods Logos and Spirit, and denying the Holy Trinity. See his Critique of Islam, from Fount
of Knowledge: Heresies, available online at, http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/stjohn_islam.aspx

Christ the son of Mary was no more than an Apostle; many were the apostles that passed away before
him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how God doth make
His Signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth! (Sura 5:78)
The Jews call 'Uzair a son of God, and the Christians call Christ the Son of God. That is a saying from
their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the Unbelievers of old used to say. God's curse be on them:
how they are deluded away from the Truth! (Sura 9:30)
In fact, they never killed him, they never crucified him they were made to think that they did. All
factions who are disputing in this matter are full of doubt concerning this issue. They possess no
knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. (Sura 4:157)

Given St. Gregorys devotion to and mystical understanding of the Theotokos and her
role in our salvation, we must pay special attention to his discussion of the Virgin Mary
and the Virgin Birth of Christ. Neither the Koran nor Islamic theology offers any clear
understanding of the importance of the Virgin birth of Jesus, even though it is a
prominent Islamic teaching:
The Turks then interjected at this point, and asked, "Tell us how Christ is named Allah [Rom 9:5],
since He is a man and was born as a man." 12 The saint then said, "God is not only the Ruler of all and
the Almighty, but He is righteous [Heb. 1:8]; as the Prophet David says, 'For the Lord is righteous and
hath loved righteousness' [Ps. 10:7], and 'there is no unrighteousness in Him' [Ps. 91:13]...
"On account of that, the only sinless one is the Logos of God, Who became the Son of Man, born of a
virgin [Jn. 1:14; Rev. 19:13; Is. 7:14]. He was testified unto by the voice of the Father [Mt. 3:17; 17:5;
Lk. 3:22; 2 Pet. 1:17]. He was tried by the devil but not tempted thereby, but rather He vanquished
him [Mt. 4:1-11]. With great works, words and marvels did He reveal and confirm the faith and salvific
energy. He took upon Himself the suffering of the guilty, even unto death [Phil. 2:7, 8]; and
descending into Hades [1 Pet. 3:19; Eph. 4:9], He delivered them that believed.
The Thessalonian, Gregory, then desired to speak about the Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord.
He brought forward the testimony of the Prophets, by whom he proved that Christ is God, born of the
Virgin, and Who out of His love for man endured the Passion and rose, and many other things. The
Turks then with loud shouts interrupted him, and said, "How is it that thou dost say that Allah was
born after dwelling in a woman's womb?" They also asked many other questions in that category. The

12

By this typical question, we hear the Moslems' difficulty in understanding what St. Cyril of Alexandria
succinctly stated at the Third Ecumenical Council: "We are not preaching a deified human being, but, on
the contrary, we are confessing God become incarnate. He Who was motherless with respect to essence,
and fatherless with respect to economy on the earth, subscribed to His Own handmaid as His Mother."
The Rudder, trans, by D. Cummings (Chicago, IL: The Orthodox Christian Educational Society, 1957), p.
224. Footnote in Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy, p 336.

saint then said, "God is not bodily super immense, so that He cannot accommodate a small place. As
bodiless [Jn. 4:24], He can be everywhere present, simultaneously both here and in heaven above
[Eph. 4:6]. As such, even in the smallest place He may dwell completely."13

The many dialogues during Gregorys captivity are theologically quite rich, and reveal
him as a fearless confessor and defender of Orthodoxy against a militant monotheism
and in the face of real danger. In spite of John Meyendorffs overly irenic comments
about Gregory amicably disputing with the son of Emir Orkhan and the extremely
tolerant attitude of the Turks towards Christians,14 we must not lose sight of the very
real threat to his safety (and that of his fellow Christians), and the at times quite abusive
treatment he suffered at the hands of the Turks. St. Gregorys Life presents the saints
own more realistic (if still missionary-minded) appraisal of his captors:
This impious people boast of their victory over the Rom (the Byzantines) attributing it to their love of
God. This is because they do not understand that this world below dwells in sin, and that evil men
possess the greater part of it That is why, down to the time of Constantine the idolators have
almost always held power over the world.15

As to Gregorys amicable disputing, he at times very pointedly challenges his listeners


concerning Muhammad:
As for Muhammad, we do not see that the Prophets bear witness of him, nor do we have the witness
of him performing any miracles and noteworthy works. 16
It is true that Muhammad started from the east and came to the west, as the sun travels from east to
west. Nevertheless he came with war, knives, pillaging, forced enslavement, murders, and acts that
are not from the good God but instigated by the chief manslayer, the devil. 17

Islam teaches that the Church expunged the scriptural references to Muhammad. When
challenged with this claim, St. Gregory responds quite vigorously:

13

Ibid., 336-338.

14

John Meyendorff, St. Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality (Crestwood NY, SVS Press, 1974),
100,101.
15

Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy, 326.

16

Ibid., 349.

17

Ibid., 352.

Our Book has never deleted anything. To do so is to contend with grave and fearful curses [Rev.
22:18,19] Now there are some heretics who agree with you on certain subjects, but never have
they brought forward this deletion of the name of Muhammad in the Gospel of Christ. Now if the
Prophets had something good to say about Muhammad, they certainly would not have neglected to
do so. We do read, however, that many false christs and false prophets will come to deceive many
[Mt. 24:24, Mk. 13:22]. Wherefore, He said to take heed and not be deceived [Lk. 21:8].18

When pressed as to why he would not accept Muhammad, since Muslims claim to
accept and properly venerate Isa (the Islamic name for Jesus), Gregory replied just as
strongly:
Another disciple writes, Even if an angel from heaven preach any other gospel to you than that which
we have preached to you, let him be accursed [Gal. 1:8]. The Evangelist says, Every spirit that does
not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God [1 Jn. 4:3]. How shall we accept a
book (Koran) that says there shall come one (Muhammad) from God, who is not actually the Lord,
when the Evangelist declares, that one is not from God, if he does not confess that Jesus, Who has
come in the flesh, is the Lord? This is not possible to dono it is not. 19

IV. Conclusion - Prepared to be Faithful Unto Death


As with his purpose in refuting Barlaam concerning the Hesychast Controversy, so we
see in these few vignettes from St. Gregorys period in captivity a total dedication to
Jesus Christ and the truth of the Orthodox Gospel. We see him visiting, encouraging
and strengthening the beleaguered faithful, predating St. Kosmas of Aitolia by four
centuries. We see St. Gregory appealing, cajoling, engaging, striving to win over his
listeners. We see him developing a patient exegesis, showing his respect for the
Muslims by seeking to convince them from the scriptures, including from their own texts.
But decisively, we see him challenging them, at every turn presenting Jesus Christ as
Son of God, Lord, Judge and the mystical Logos or Word of God. And we see him in
effect calling Muhammad a false prophet, an imposter, a heretic. We see Gregory
witnessing boldly to his faith in Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity.
I would contend that, ultimately, St. Gregory proves by his boldness that he is prepared
to die for his faith by proclaiming the full Gospel. And further, from the context it is clear

18

Ibid., 351-352.

19

Ibid., 352.

that he does so in order to save the souls of his listeners. He values them as men
created in the image and likeness of God, therefore deserving of the ultimate in respect,
which means sharing with them the truth about salvation, Christ, the Holy Trinity, and
the negative truth about their (false) prophet, Muhammad.
In our modern age, the prevailing culture not only frowns upon such a direct approach, it
deems it hate speech, seeking to stigmatize Christianity, driving it out of the public
square and into the shadows. Yet as Orthodox Christians, we are called to confess
Jesus Christ openly, and hold out the word of Truth to those we encounter. As we
witness the muscular and even brutal ascendency of Islam throughout the world, and
hear ever more harrowing accounts of persecution of Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq,
Nigeria, Indonesia, and elsewhere in the Islamic world, we are ourselves confronted
with the earliest posing of the existential question: if put to the test, would we confess
Jesus Christ even if it might mean our death?
Joined to St. Gregorys fearless confession of the Faith, is his missionary pedagogy.
Knowing his Muslim captors to have some familiarity with Christianity, and responding to
their questions in the hope of bringing even just one of them to Christ, he balances
patient exposition with polemics, respectful reserve with forceful preaching. Indeed, his
bold approach resonates with the Islamic mindset, which values strength and respects
firmness. St. Gregory kept it real, not theoretical, giving us an example to follow.
To strive to follow in the footsteps of St. Gregory Palamas, and apply from his Life these
real world lessons in our own time of challenges and general apostasy, would be to
reinvigorate the Church, and perhaps to usher in yet another Triumph of Orthodoxy,
inspired and instructed by this Teacher and Support of the Church.20
V. Epilogue
The episode has An Agreeable Ending: Gregory sees his Muslim captors becoming
more and more agitated, so at a signal from his Christian brothers:

20

From the Troparion to St. Gregory Palamas.

The saint then turned his talk to something joyful, and said with a smile, If we agree according to
teaching, we shall come to the same dogma. Whosoever comprehends, let him judge the power of
the words uttered here.
Then one of them said, Some day it will happen that we shall agree. The saint approved this and
prayed that the time might come quickly. Then the Archbishop thought that, sooner or later, this will
happen; for as it is written: At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and
things on earth, and things under the earth. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord, to the glory of God the Father [Phil. 2:10,11]. This certainly will take place at the Second
Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The saints biographer, Philotheos, then says that though many other events took place, the
Archbishop never had any fear to speak about the word of Christ before them which kill the body, but
are not able to kill the soul [Mt. 10:28]. 21

21

Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy, 353.

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Chrestou, Panagiotes, Double Knowledge According to Gregory Palamas, Mystagogy
Blog. http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2012/11/double-knowledge-according-togregory.html.
Elder Ephraim of Vatopaedi, From the Post-Modern Persona to the Person: A Study on
the Anthropology of St. Gregory Palamas, Pemptousia. http://www.pemptousia.com/
2012/07/from-the-post-modern-persona-to-the-person/?st=gregory%20palamas.
The Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy. Buena Vista CO: Holy Apostles Convent &
Dormition Skete, 1990.
Meyendorff, John. St. Gregory Palamas and Orthodox Spirituality. Crestwood NY: St.
Vladimirs Seminary Press, 1974.
St. Gregory Palamas, Sermons on Mary The Mother of God. Edited by Christopher
Veniamin. South Canaan PA: Mount Thabor, 2005.
St. Gregory Palamas, Treatise on the Spiritual Life. Translated by Daniel M. Rogich.
Minneapolis MN: Light and Life, 1995.
Ward, Benedicta, Translator. The Desert Fathers: Sayings of the Early Christian Monks.
London: Penguin, 2003. Kindle Edition.