Divine Energies and Divine Action: Exploring the Essence-Energies Distinction

Third Volume from IOTA Publications:

Although the essence-energies distinction is central to Eastern Orthodox theology, it has long been a source of puzzlement and confusion. Through a careful study of its classical, biblical, and patristic sources, David Bradshaw clarifies its meaning and shows how it remains foundational for a properly Christian understanding of the relationship of God to the world. Among the topics covered are:

  • How the distinction emerged from the synthesis of ancient Greek philosophy and biblical thought
  • The relationship of the divine energies to other important patristic concepts such as the divine logoi, the divine processions, and the “things around God”
  • How the distinction enables a new approach to issues relating to divine action and divine-human synergy
  • Why the concept of the divine energies has been neglected or misunderstood in the West

“David Bradshaw’s 2004 book Aristotle East and West showed him to be the preeminent interpreter of Gregory Palamas in our times. Now, in this latest book, Bradshaw has given us the most compelling and sophisticated account of the essence-energies distinction currently available. Even better than in his previous book, he shows its rootedness in the classical, biblical, and patristic traditions and its ability to resolve problems generated by Western theology and contemporary philosophy of religion. All Christian philosophers and theologians will find here a convincing case that the essence-energies distinction is necessary for a coherent, realist metaphysics or theology.”
MARK SPENCER, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota

Divine Energies and Divine Action is the product of consummate patristic scholarship and a powerful and original philosophical intellect. It will be an indispensable prerequisite for engaging the conversation about the energy or activity (energeia) of God.”
BRUCE FOLTZ, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida

DAVID BRADSHAW is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom and the editor of several works relating to Orthodoxy and philosophy, including Philosophical Theology and the Christian Tradition: Russian and Western Perspectives and (with Richard Swinburne) Natural Theology in the Eastern Orthodox Tradition.