The Epiclesis Debate at the Council of Florence
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The Epiclesis Debate at the Council of Florence

Christiaan Kappes

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The Epiclesis Debate at the Council of Florence

Christiaan Kappes

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About This Book

The Epiclesis Debate at the Council of Florence is the first in-depth investigation into both the Greek and the Latin sides of the debate about the moment of Eucharistic transubstantiation at the Council of Florence. Christiaan Kappes examines the life and times of the central figures of the debate, Mark Eugenicus and John Torquemada, and assesses their doctrinal authority. Kappes presents a patristic and Scholastic analysis of Torquemada's Florentine writings, revealing heretofore-unknown features of the debate and the full background to its treatises. The most important feature of the investigation involves Eugenicus. Kappes investigates his theological method and sources for the first time to give an accurate appraisal of the strength of Mark's theological positions in the context of his own time and contemporary methods. The investigation into both traditions allows for an informed evaluation of more recent developments in the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church in light of these historical sources. Kappes provides a historically contextual and contemporary proposal for solutions to the former impasse in light of the principles rediscovered within Eugenicus's works. This monograph speaks to contemporary theological debates surrounding transubstantiation and related theological matters, and provides a historical framework to understand these debates.

The Epiclesis Debate at the Council of Florence will interest specialists in theology, especially those with a background in and familiarity with the council and related historical themes, and is essential for any ecumenical library.

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1. For the classic introduction to his life and times, see John Meyendorff, Introduction à l’etude de Grégoire Palamas (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1959). For a recent updating of his biography and bibliography, see Robert Sinkewicz, “Gregory Palamas,” in Théol. Byz., 130–88.
2. Basel was 1431–37; transfer to Ferrara 1437–38; transfer to Florence 1438–39. Greeks leave and Armenians and other non-Greeks arrive in Rome, 1440–45.
3. For example, Palamas is only mentioned three times, and briefly at that, in the classic work on Florence; see Joseph Gill, The Council of Florence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959), 11, 14, 151. Virtually nothing of Palamas, or of his school, is mentioned in the hefty tomes of Paolo Viti, ed., Firenze e il Concilio del 1439: Convego di Studi Firenze, 29 novembre–2 dicembre 1989, 2 vols. (Florence: Leo S. Olschki Editore, 1994), or in the CU of Alberigo, dedicated entirely to the Council of Ferrara-Florence. Some initial attempts were thereafter made to explore the significance of Palamism at Florence: André De Halleux, “Bessarion et le palamisme au concile de Florence,” Irénikon 62 (1989): 307–32; and Vadim Lur’e (Basil Lurie), “L’attitude de S. Marc d’Ephèse aux débats sur la procession du Saint-Esprit à Florence: Ses fondements dans la théologie post-palamite,” Annuarium Historiae Conciliorum 21 (1989): 317–33.
4. De Halleux, “Bessarion et le palamisme,” 318, supposed previous scholarship correct: that only three Catholic theologians at Florence opposed Palamism. To the contrary, see Christiaan Kappes, “A Latin Defense of Mark of Ephesus at the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438–9),” The Greek Orthodox Theological Review 59 (2014): 159–230; Kappes, foreword to Caritas in Primo: A Historical-Theological Study of Bonaventure’s “Quaestiones disputatae de mysterio Ss. Trinitatis, by J. Isaac Goff (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2015), xviii–xxvi; and Kappes, Mark Eph., 110–20, 127–37.
5. For example, most recently, the conflict within the confines of Byzantium encapsulates the narratives of Antoine Lévy, “Lost in Translatio? Diakrisis kat’epinoian as a Main Issue in the Discussions between Fourteenth-Century Palamites and Thomists,” The Thomist 76 (2012): 431–71; and Marcus Plested, Orthodox Readings of Aquinas (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
6. Norman Russell, “Palamism and the Circle of Demetrius Cydones,” in Porphyr., 171–72.
7. It is sufficient to refer the reader to the historical summary, drawn from mainly secondary sources, in Plested, Orthodox Readings of Aquinas, 63–84.
8. Two clear references to Palamite metaphysics were mentioned to Latins during preconciliar negotiations, namely, God’s attributes and human participation therein, in an essential mode, via operation of the Holy Spirit. See Makarios Makres, Διάλεξις, 238, 240 (paras. 6, 13).
9. For evidence strongly arguing for Bessarion’s entrance into Ferrara as a Palamite, see De Halleux, “Bessarion et le palamisme,” 307–32. This read of Bessarion has been affirmed in John Monfasani, Bessarion Scholasticus: A Study of Cardinal Bessarion’s Latin Library (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011), 2, 30.
10. Andreas Chrysoberges brought this Greco-Dominican tradition to Rome as head of the papal studium. He relied upon literature mediated to him through an intellectual disciple of Demetrius Cydones, Manuel Calecas, OP. See Manuel Candal, “Andreae Rhodiensis, O.P., inédita ad Bessarionem epistula (De divina essentia et operatione),” Orientalia Christiana Periodica 4 (1938): 329–30, 334–35.
11. Those anti-Palamites and Thomists, who would not formally subscribe to the synodal decrees on Palamism (post-1368) against Prochorus Cydones, were threatened with beatings and imprisonment. See Russell, “Palamism and the Circle of Demetrius Cydones,” in Porphyr., 171–72.
12. For one such Greek Dominican devoted to the Thomistic thought of Cydones, see Manuel Calecas, De essentia et operatione (PG 152: 284B–95A). Calecas was long known to be under the literary influence of Demetrius, as shown in Jean Gouillard, “Les influences latines dans l’oeuvre théologique de Manuel Calécas,” Échos d’Orient 37 (1938): 46–52. Calecas’s anti-Palamite treatise can be dated to 1396–97. Given the abundant use of Latin sources, it is likely that the Dominican studium of Pera afforded him the opportunity to write this treatise rejecting Palamism. Calecas actually composed it before leaving Orthodoxy, becoming Catholic, and entering the Dominican Order. See Raymond-Janin Loenertz, introduction to Correspondence de Manuel Calecas (Vatican City: BAV, 1950), 23–24, 30.
13. See Tractatus, xxv, lxxvii; and Gill, The Council of Florence, 91.
14. Andrew Escobar, De graecis errantibus, in Tractatus, 4.1:83 (para. 94).
15. See Tractatus, xcix, where the index patristicus reveals Escobar relying heavily on Aquinas for arguments, while not at all on Bonaventure, Scotus, or Franciscans at large.
16. Ibid., xix, xxix–xxx.
17. De Halleux, “Bessarion et le palamisme,” 307–32.
18. These items had become points of disagreement by the fall of 1438. The topics were occasioned by their relation to themes brought up in the semipublic debates on purgatory. In addition to De Halleux, whom I have cited multiple times, the Palamite bent in the purgatory discussions is noticed in Demetrios Bathrellos, “Love and Forgiveness versus Justice and Punishment? Purgatory and the Question of the Forgiveness of Sins at the Council of Ferrara-Florence,” in Für uns und für unser heil: Soteriologie in Ost und West, Wiener Patristische Tagungen 6: Pro Oriente 37, ed. Th. Hainthaler, F. Mali, et al. (Vienna: Tyrolia Verlag, 2014), 355–74.
19. André De Halleux, “L’activité d’André Chrysobergès, O.P. sous le pontificat de Martin V (1418–1431),” Échos d’Orient 34 (1935): 418.
20. Pope Eugene IV, Epistle 96, in Epistles 1.1:104. Pope Eugene invited twelve Franciscans as periti on September 23, 1437.
21. Morimichi Watanabe, “Pope Eugene IV, the Conciliar Movement and the Primacy of Rome,” in The Church, the Councils, and Reform: The Legacy of the Fifteenth Century, ed. G. Christianson, Thomas Izbicki, and C. Bellitto (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2008), 180–81.
22. Luca Boschetto, Società e cultura a Firenze al tempo del concilio: Eugenio IV tra curiali mercanti e umanisti (1434–1443), Libri, Carte, Immagini 4 (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2012), 370–73. The studium Romanae curiae denotes the Dominican school that operated in tandem with the pope, providing him with specialists to perform curial and academic services. By the first quarter of the fifteenth century, the peripatetic school of itinerant popes became designated Studium Sacri Palatii. See Marian Michèle Mulchahey, “The Dominican Studium Romanae Curiae: The Papacy, the Magisterium, and the Friars,” in Studia, 580–82.
23. Pope Eugene IV, Epistle 97, in Epistles 1.1:105.
24. Luke Wadding, Annales Minorum seu trium ordinum a S. Francisco Institutorum, 2nd ed., ed. J. Fonseca (Rome: Rochi Bernabó, 1734), 11:2; Celestino Piana, “La facoltà teologica dell’università di Firenze nel quattro e cinquecento,” Spicilegium Bonaventurianum 15 (1977): 224.
25. For a list of the Franciscan periti and Fathers at Florence, along with their predilections for Bonaventure and Scotus, see Kappes, foreword to Caritas in Primo, xxi–xxii.
26. Kappes, “A Latin Defense of Mark of Ephesus,” 166–68, 182.
27. Thomas Izbicki, Protector of the Faith: Cardinal Johannes de Turrecremata and the Defense of the Institutional Church (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1981), 6.
28. Kappes, “A Latin Defense of Mark of Ephesus,” 167–68.
29. Ibid., 178–79, 183. The plot proved to be rather complex. In his main outline, Pope Eugene independently concluded in 1437, from the Franciscan study of Palamism, that agreement on essence-attributes doctrines did not constitute a necessary condition of union. Simultaneously, in the same year, John VIII, Mark of Ephesus, and George-Gennadius Scholarius had studied Scotism, which was argued by Scholarius—as witnessed shortly after Florence—and which Scholarius argued to be equivalent to the doctrine of Palamas on the essence and energies of God. For his part, Mark appears to have employed Scotism against the Dominicans on Trinitarian debates in Florence. There were Dominican attempts to make the Palamite debate in public, but both Pope Eugene and Emperor John agreed to table the discussion until proper time could be allotted for a full debate (which never in fact came about). For Scholarius’s sources and arguments for Scotism-Palam...

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