From December 15th to 16th, 2017, under the auspices of the National Library of Greece, the University of Patras, and the Hellenic Institute of the University of London, an International Congress was held on the topic, “Thomas Aquinas and his reception in Byzantium”, which, according to its organizers, is the first of its kind that has occurred in Greece. The conference took place at the Cultural Center “Stauros Niarchos Foundation” and was attended by more than 25 speakers and representatives of various European institutions.
The purpose of this Congress was not only that of making known the figure and work of the philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas, but also to present the work on the critical edition in progress of the Greek translations of some works of the Angelic Doctor (made between the XIV-XV centuries). The critical edition of these translations is an initiative of the “Thomas de Aquino Byzantinus” Project (University of Patras), directed by Professor John Dimitrakopoulos, with the collaboration of other European Institutions.
The first editions of translations of Thomistic works into Greek were published in the series “Corpus Philosophorum Greacorum Recentiorum” under the direction of E. Moutsopoulos (volumes II, I5 and II, 16, Athens, 1976; volume ΙΙ, 17A, Athens 1980), and contain a part (qq. 1-33) of the II-II of the Summa Theologiae, but these works were not critical editions. The new endeavor of the Project seeks to produce critical editions of all Thomistic translations, in a series prima, and also of works from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries either pro- or anti-Thomist, series altera: Thomas de Aquino a Byzantinis receptus, to be published by Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca (Brepols).
Among the invited speakers was Sister María Panagía Miola (PhD candidate, Pontifical Oriental Institute, Rome) of the Servants of the Lord Institute and the Virgin of Matara, who presented the topic, “The unedited translation of Thomas Aquinas’ De aeternitate mundi by Prochoros Kydones.”
In the words of the organizers, “the Dominican theologian Thomas Aquinas continues to be one of the leading figures in the history of the European spirit. Christianity, Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, Arab and Jewish thought converge. His voluminous literary works, which cover almost all aspects of the human spirit, exercised a tremendous influence, which has constituted the object of study in all ages up until today. An unknown chapter of this influence is the reception of Thomas’ thought in the later period of Byzantium. A condition to the a careful and complete redaction of this chapter is the critical edition of the Byzantine translations of the Thomistic works, which amount to approximately sixteen, as well as the philo-Thomistic and anti-Thomistic treatises that Byzantine thinkers composed in the aftermath of those translations.”
Prof. Marcus Plested (specialist in Patristic, Byzantine and Modern Orthodox Theology, University of Marquette, Wisconsin, USA), was among the most important guests who participated in the final discussion; it is noteworthy to report what he highlighted: “The investigations of this Project [Thomas de Aquino Byzantinus] are illuminating the map of Byzantine theology and Thomistic works at the same time … the Byzantine reception of Thomas Aquinas can also be an example for current orthodox theology … All this will help us to better understand Palamas himself.”