Orthodoxy & Synergy / Participation

If one were to summarize the differences between the eastern and western traditions in a single word, that word would be "synergy." For the East the highest form of communion with the divine is not primarily an intellectual act, but a sharing of life and activity. This seems to have been true among both pagans and also Christians during the fomative period of late antiquity, stretching back to the magical papyri and Hermetica, as well as to the New Testament and early church Fathers. It led to a tendancy to think of earthly, bodily existence as capable of being taken up and subsumed within the life of God. Emphasis was placed, not on any sudden transformation at death, but on the ongoing and active appropriation of those aspects of divine life that are open to participation. Naturally this aspiration took on different forms in different authors, and there were marked differences between its pagan and Christian forms. But the underlying belief in synergy as a form of communion with God remains as clear in Gregory Palamas as it is in St. Paul. It influences the entirety of the eatsern outlook, not only in the explicitly religious and philosophical areas was have discussed, but in others we have scarcely touched upon." David Bradshaw, Aristotle East and West, p 265.

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