From class. It seems there is a general statement might make about the usage of two terms. Compare the usage of the the terms synthesis versus harmonization. When two ideas are seen as far apart, a writer or idea which brings them together is achieving synthesis. If on the other hand these ideas were not very disparate then synthesis is not the correct term, the two ideas are being harmonized instead. It seems that the choice of synthesis versus harmonize tells as much (or more) about the place of the observer than the observed.

The West looking East at theological and monastic trends sees three different strands. St. Basil’s monasticism is compared to the rule based Benedictine monastic tradition. The Evagrian/Origenist tradition is seem to be akin to an intellectual tradition akin to the Dominican monastic tradition in the West. Finally the Syriac monastic tradition is seen as (perhaps) a Carmelite or affective tradition. This tendency is exaggerated by the natural tendency to seek comparisons to things closer to home. However the East does not perceive their traditions the same way. They see the similarities and instead the shared parts not the differences.

An example, St. Diadochos of Photiki whose writings are found in the Philokalia is seen by the West as providing a synthesis of Evagrian and (pseudo-)Makarian or affective theological strands. Yet the East sees this as a harmonization. That Evagrius writings and the Makarian homilies share a common tradition. St. Diadochos is not synthesizing their separate threads but in a harmonious way is drawing from each to express his ideas.

Filed under: ChristianityMark O.Religion

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