2nd Century Palamism: Essence and Energies in Irenaeus

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Energetic procession occasionally lists Irenaeus quotes, and I thought it would be helpful to compile some of these that are of interest. Irenaeus may not have used the exact same terminology as Palamas (all the time) but…

4. There is therefore one God, who by the Word and Wisdom created and
arranged all things; but this is the Creator (Demiurge) who has granted this world to the human race, and who, as regards His greatness, is indeed unknown to all who have been made by Him (for no man has searched out His height, either among the ancients who have gone to their rest, or any of those who are now alive); but as regards His love, He is always known through Him by whose means He ordained all things. Now this is His Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, who in the last times was made a man among men, that He might join the end to the beginning, that is, man to God. Wherefore the prophets, receiving the prophetic gift from the same Word, announced His advent according to the flesh, by which the blending and communion of God and man took place according to the good pleasure of the Father, the Word of God foretelling from the beginning that God should be seen by men, and hold converse with them upon earth, should confer with them, and should be present with His own creation, saving it, and becoming capable of being perceived by it, and freeing us from the hands of all that hate us, that is, from every spirit of wickedness; and causing us to serve Him in holiness and righteousness all our days, in order that man, having embraced the Spirit of God, might pass into the glory of the Father.

5. These things did the prophets set forth in a prophetical manner; but they did not, as some allege, [proclaim] that He who was seen by the prophets was a different [God], the Father of all being invisible. Yet this is what those [heretics] declare, who are altogether ignorant of the nature of prophecy. For prophecy is a prediction of things future, that is, a setting forth beforehand of those things which shall be afterwards. The prophets, then, indicated beforehand that God should be seen by men; as the Lord also says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” But in respect to His greatness, and His wonderful glory, “no man shall see God and live,” for the Father is incomprehensible; but in regard to His love, and kindness, and as to His infinite power, even this He grants to those who love Him, that is, to see God, which thing the prophets did also predict. “For those things that are impossible with men, are possible with God.” For man does not see God by his own powers; but when He pleases He is seen by men, by whom He wills, and when He wills, and as He wills. For God is powerful in all things, having been seen at that time indeed, prophetically through the Spirit, and seen, too, adoptively through the Son; and He shall also be seen paternally in the kingdom of heaven, the Spirit truly preparing man in the Son of God, and the Son leading him to the Father, while the Father, too, confers [upon him] incorruption for eternal life, which comes to every one from the fact of his seeing God. For as those who see the light are within the light, and partake of its brilliancy; even so, those who see God are in God, and receive of His splendour. But [His] splendour vivifies them; those, therefore, who see God, do receive life. And for this reason, He, [although] beyond comprehension, and boundless and invisible, rendered Himself visible, and comprehensible, and within the capacity of those who believe, that He might vivify those who receive and behold Him through faith. For as His greatness is past finding out, so also His goodness is beyond expression; by which having been seen, He bestows life upon those who see Him. It is not possible to live apart from life, and the means of life is found in fellowship with God; but fellowship with God is to know God, and to enjoy His goodness.

6. Men therefore shall see God, that they may live, being made immortal by that sight, and attaining even unto God; which, as I have already said, was declared figuratively by the prophets, that God should be seen by men who bear His Spirit [in them], and do always wait patiently for His coming. As also Moses says in Deuteronomy, “We shall see in that day that God will talk to man, and he shall live.” For certain of these men used to see the prophetic Spirit and His active influences poured forth for all kinds of gifts; others, again, [beheld] the advent of the Lord, and that dispensation which obtained from the beginning, by which He accomplished the will of the Father with regard to things both celestial and terrestrial; and others [beheld] paternal glories adapted to the times, and to those who saw and who heard them then, and to all who were subsequently to hear them. Thus, therefore, was God revealed; for God the Father is shown forth through all these [operations], the Spirit indeed working, and the Son ministering, while the Father was approving, and man’s salvation being accomplished. As He also declares through Hosea the prophet: “I,” He says, “have multiplied visions, and have used similitudes by the ministry (in manibus) of the prophets.” But the apostle expounded this very passage, when he said, “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are differences of ministrations, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” But as He who worketh all things in all is God, [as to the points] of what nature and how great He is, [God] is invisible and indescribable to all things which have been made by Him, but He is by no means unknown: for all things learn through His Word that there is one God the Father, who contains all things, and who grants existence to all, as is written in the Gospel: “No man hath seen God at any time, except the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; He has declared [Him].”

Against Heresies V:20:4-6

[H]aving received the Word of God, becomes the Eucharist, which is the body and blood of Christ; so also our bodies, being nourished by it, and deposited in the earth, and suffering decomposition there, shall rise at their appointed time, the Word of God granting them resurrection to the glory of God, even the Father, who freely gives to this mortal immortality, and to this corruptible incorruption, because the strength of God is made perfect in weakness, in order that we may never become puffed up, as if we had life from ourselves, and exalted against God, our minds becoming ungrateful; but learning by experience that we possess eternal duration from the excelling power of this Being, not from ou
r own nature, we may neither undervalue that glory which surrounds God as He is
, nor be ignorant of our own nature, but that we may know what God can effect, and what benefits man receives, and thus never wander from the true comprehension of things as they are, that is, both with regard to God and with regard to man.

V:2:3

“They blaspheme the Creator, who is truely God, and who empowers us to find the truth. And they imagnie that they have discovered another god beyond God, or another Pleroma, or another dispensation. Therefore, the light which is from God does not enlighten them, because they have dishonoured and despised God, considering Him of little worth because, through His love and great beneficence, He has come within reach of human knowledge (knowledge, however, not with regard to His grandeur or according to his essence-for no one has measured or handled that-but such that we may know that the One who made and fashioned humanity, and breathed into it the breath of life, and nourishes us through creation, confirming all things by His Word, and binding them together by His Wisdom-He it is who is the only true God). But they dream of a non-existent being above the true God, believing that they have discovered the great God, whom no one can know, who does not communicate with human beings, and who exercises no direction over earthly affairs. So it turns out that they have discovered the god of Epicurus, who takes care neither of himself nor others; a god without proviedence.”

III:24:2

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3 Responses to “2nd Century Palamism: Essence and Energies in Irenaeus”

  1. Zakk Says:

    This is very interesting…… I’ll have to look through On the Apostolic Preaching again to see if I can come up with any other quotations on this subject.

  2. MG Says:

    Personally I am fascinated by just how embedded (sometimes subtly, sometimes obviously) the essence/energies distinction is in the early fathers and Scripture.Do you agree with me that these quotes are very Palamistic?

  3. Zakk Says:

    Yes, I do.In fact, this will be part of my response to your question on my blog once I find time to browse through On the Apostolic Preaching again.

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