TitleWriting and Knowing about the Divine
Date/TimeThursday 7 July 2022: 09.00-10.30
OrganiserIMC Programming Committee
Moderator/ChairPaulette Barton, Department of Modern Languages & Classics / Department of History, University of Maine
Paper 1541-a Running Down a Doctrine: The Theological Lineage of Dyothelitism from Cyril of Alexandria to Thomas Aquinas
(Language: English)
Eli McNeil, Independent Scholar, New Brunswick
Index Terms: Philosophy; Theology
Paper 1541-b When Pain Becomes Love for God: The Non-Object Self
(Language: English)
Roni Naor Hofri, Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York / School of Philosophy, Tel Aviv University
Index Terms: Philosophy; Religious Life
Paper 1541-c Friendly Consolation, Religiosity, or Irony?: Michael Psellos' Letter to Blinded Romanos IV Diogenes
(Language: English)
Aleksandar Anđelović, Institut für Geschichte, Universität Wien
Index Terms: Byzantine Studies; Language and Literature - Greek; Religious Life
AbstractPaper -a:
The validity of dyothelitism - the doctrine that Christ possesses a will for each of the two natures that exist within His hypostasis - was a significant debate of the pre-Schism church as early as the 5th century, culminating in the Third Ecumenical Council of 680-681, at which it was one of the primary topics of discussion. Because of the importance of dyothelitism during the patristic age, it is possible not only to trace the development of the doctrine from Cyril of Alexandria to Maximus the Confessor, as other scholars have done, but to further trace the direct textual lineage of the doctrine from the latter to Thomas Aquinas, crossing the East-West theological border a century after the Great Schism.

Paper -b:
This paper shows how self-inflicted pain enabled the expression of love for God among medieval Christian ascetics in Europe. As scholars have shown, being in a state of pain leads to a change in or a destruction of language, an essential feature of the self. I argue that this transformation allows the self to transcend its boundaries as an object, even if only temporarily and in part. The epistemic achievement of love for God, a non-object, would not otherwise have been possible. To substantiate my argument, I show that the self's transformation into a non-object enables the imitation of God: not solely in the sense of imitatio Christi, of physical and visual representations of God incarnate in the flesh of His son Christ, but also in the sense of the self's experience of being a non-object, just like God, target of the self's love.

Paper -c:
In the aftermath of the battle of Manzikert in 1071, the defeated Byzantine emperor Romanos IV Diogenes was blinded by his fellow Byzantines under unclear circumstances. In the summer of 1072, just before Romanos' death, a prominent Constantinopolitan intellectual Michael Psellos writes a letter of 'consolation' to blinded Romanos. The letter encompasses a wide variety of Psellos' skills as a Christian intellectual, a philosopher, and a rhetor, and it conspicuously reflects Psellos' understanding of the divine. He considers Romanos a martyr who will enjoy the divine light of salvation and whose painful eyes will be kissed by heaven and God. Paradoxically, the letter is permeated with the motif of eyes, sight, and visibility, where God 'observes' with 'unsleeping eyes', Romanos will enjoy the 'light of salvation' as opposed to 'the sunlight he had lost', while the author Psellos wrote the letter 'in tears'. It was the new emperor Michael VII Doukas who was accused of cruelly ordering Romanos' blinding, and the new emperor's advisor and the tutor was exactly the author of the letter Michael Psellos. Bearing this in mind, as well as that the manuscripts preserving the letter state that Psellos was commissioned by the new emperor to compose the letter, several scholars have interpreted the letter not as a consolation but rather as an exercise of irony and sarcasm, yet this remains unclear. Through the analysis of this letter and its language, my paper will point to Psellos' piety and understanding of the divine, and demonstrate the author's employment of the language of emotions, which will open further room for interpretations of Psellos' connections to Romanos' blinding.