Additional Considerations on the Iconoclast Issue in the Hesychast Controversy
Mid-fourteenth-century Byzantine sources bear witness to an increased interest in Iconoclasm among the theologians involved in the Hesychast Controversy. The writings of the defenders of icon veneration were mined for authoritative quotations and the history of Iconoclasm became a repository of historical role models. This article is comprised of two sections. The first part expands a catalogue of texts of the epoch which make explicit reference to precedents in the Iconoclast period. The second part assesses, first, the polemical advantages and disadvantages of the accusation of iconoclasm in mid-fourteenth-century Byzantium by revisiting the afterlife of this label after the Triumph of Orthodoxy. Secondly, it traces the dynamics of how Iconoclasm was remembered in the Hesychast debate, distinguishing between the mythologizing and the philological levels of remembrance. The conclusion draws a connection between Nikephoros Gregoras’ approaches to theological polemics and to hagiography. The initial success and eventual fading-away of the iconoclastic motif in Hesychast polemics is explained by the uniqueness of Gregoras’ literary
method and his personal circumstances.