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The Social Aspects of Fourteenth-Century Hesychasm (2010)


International audience ; The interest for hesychasm was often limited to the factual and theoretical aspects of the controversy. Although hesychasm is the object of many works in the corpus of studies of Byzantine theology, its social roots and societal ramifications have largely been neglected. From its purely monastic state in the fourth century, hesychasm came to shape a particular style of civilization at the end of the fourteenth century. The subjects of political and social order were inevitably included in the theological aspects of the hesychast quarrel. While the manner in which those subjects arose may have been accidental, they can in no case be treated as incidental. The new leaders of the Byzantine Church from then on had to tie their mysticism into immediate historical practice. Νο matter how much these hesychast leaders may have been influenced by Athonite traditions and anachorite practices, and however much they might have deplored 'worldliness', they were nevertheless obliged to exercise their influence in temporal matters. It is this translation of a piety into an often political, sometimes administrative and always social form, which is the aim of this paper.