Patristics


I noted this at the Texts and Traditions in the Second Century

For those of you in the North Texas area, TCU has a regular gathering to discuss the second century called the Second Century Seminar. The next meeting will be April 3rd and features a paper by David Moessner on the Papias fragments in Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical Histories. For more details and to RSVP (please RSVP by March 24th) send an email to Lindsey Trozzo at secondcenturyseminar@gmail.com.

The following is an extended quote from Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 30.5 (one of his Five Theological Orations), written near the time of the Council of Constantinople (AD 381).  The work is a refutation of the Eunomians/Anomeans/Neo-Arians, who thought that the Son did not eternally share the same nature as the Father.  As part of his argument he discusses the relationship of the Father to the Son when he is hanging on the cross.

If the Father and Son share the same essence/nature, how can they be separated at the cross? What could Jesus have meant when he exclaimed (quoting Ps 22.1), “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Gregory answers:

Why? You will say.  Is [the Son] not subordinate now?  If he is God, does he need at all to be made subordinate to God?  You are talking as if he were a bandit or an opponent of God!

No–look at this fact: the one who releases me from the curse was called “curse” because of me; “the one who takes away the sin of the world” was called “sin” and is made a new Adam to replace the old.  In just this way too, as head of the whole body, he appropriates my want of submission.  So long as I am an insubordinate rebel with passions which deny God, my lack of submission will be referred to Christ.  But when all things are put in submission under him, when transformed they obediently acknowledge him, then will Christ bring me forward, me who have been saved, and makes his subjection complete.  In my view Christ’s submission is the fulfillment of the Father’s will.  As we said before, the Son actively produces submission to the Father, while the Father wills and approves submission to the Son.  Thus it is that he effects our submission, makes it his own and presents it to God. “My God, my God, look upon me, why have you forsaken me?” seems to me to have been the same kind of meaning.  He is not forsaken either by the Father or, as some think, by his own Godhead, which shrank in fear from suffering, abandoning the suffer.  Who applies that argument either to his birth in this world in the first place or to his ascent of the cross? No in himself, as I have said, he expresses our condition.  We had once been forsaken and disregarded; then we are accepted and now are saved by the sufferings of the impassible.  He made our thoughtlessness and waywardness his own, just as the psalm, in its subsequent course says–since the Twenty-First Psalm [LXX, English = 22nd], clearly refers to Christ.

When representing humanity on the cross, Christ does not cease to be divine.  He subordinates himself on our behalf, but he can only humble himself if he were exalted in the first place.  The Father and the Son did not have separate intentions because sharing the same nature entails sharing the same will.  Miroslav Volf captures this idea when he recently tweeted: “Christ is not a third party inserted between an angry God and sinful humanity; he is the God who was wronged embracing humanity on the cross.”

There’s a conference in Edinburgh this summer that you might be interested in:

Peter in Earliest Christianity
July 4-6, 2013

Speakers include: Timothy Barnes, Markus Bockmuehl, Sean Freyne, Larry Hurtado, Peter Lampe, Tobias Nicklas, Margaret Williams

Topics include: The Historical Peter, Peter in Galilean and Roman Archaeology, Peter in the First Three Centuries

Sounds like a good mix of NT, Greco-Roman, and Patristic scholarship.  Those of you headed to St. Andrews for ISBL (July 7-11) should come to Edinburgh for this event first.

Looks like new Greek homilies of Origen have been discovered: Spektakulärer Fund: Griechische Originalpredigten des Origenes von Alexandria entdeckt

I’ll leave it to Google Translate to give you more details. : )

Several days ago HBU’s growing philosophy department hosted a conference on divine and human agency.  It was a really good event.  There was an eclectic group of scholars in attendance and an eclectic group of papers, which were widely stimulating.  I reconnected with some old friends and made several more.  William (“Billy”) J. Abraham came down from SMU and was the keynote speaker.  He’s an engaging speaker, and I had the pleasure of grabbing lunch with him and a couple of other friends on Saturday.  I’ve not read widely in the areas in which he writes, but he mentioned that one of his favorite writers is St Symeon the New Theologian, a byzantine writer whom I’ve recently been reading, which brings me to the paper I gave.

I finally took the opportunity to write a paper that’s been rattling around in my head for a couple of years now: “Situating God and Humanity: Theosis and the Creator-Created Distinction”.  My abstract:

The recent interest of westerners in the patristic and Eastern Orthodox idea of theosis, or deification, has forced theologians to reconsider the divine-human relationship. While many are positively inclined towards this model, when discussing the idea of believers being ‘gods’ from a western perspective, two questions repeatedly arise: does this break down the Creator-created distinction and does it entail absorption. Even those sanguine about the idea of deification are often unsure about these issues. For example, one recent theologian who argued for a form of deification in Calvin spoke of Christians who understood deification to be ‘literal’ rather than ‘hyperbolic’. In response to this lack of clarity, I argue that several key aspects of patristic and Byzantine deification theology reinforce the Creator-created distinction and make the issue of absorption unthinkable. Among these are Creationism, Trinitarianism, the essence/energies distinction, the hypostatic union, contemplation, participation/image language, and synergism. Orthodox Christianity follows a model of ‘attributive deification’ rather than ‘essential deification’. Both entail an ontological transformation, but the former is a transformation of attributes (hyperbolic), and the latter, a transformation of essence or nature (literal). As a result, the loss of human identity in the divine-human relationship has no place in orthodox discussions of deification. Other non-Trinitarian theological systems did/do not maintain these distinctions and therefore reflect ‘essential’ instead of ‘attributive’ forms of deification and are open to the charges that western theologians are concerned about.

For this paper I moved a little further on in history–moving on from early patristic writers to later patristic and byzantine writers–to substantiate my case, so I returned to Maximus the Confessor, Symeon the New Theologian and Gregory Palamas.  I expect to send it to a theological journal like Modern Theology or Scottish Journal of Theology later this summer.

As one of the primary preparations for a NT (or Patristics) PhD, I recommended focusing on primary text background sources.  I got an email question about which specific sources I would recommend, in order of importance.  These are the lists that I drew up.   Am I missing anything?  Would you recommend a different order?  Other thoughts?

Jewish*

  1. OT Apocrypha
  2. DSS
  3. OT Pseudepigrapha (esp. 1 Enoch)
  4. Josephus: Jewish Antiquities, Jewish War
  5. Philo: ???  (Recommendations on 2-3 works on where to start?)

*Need it be said that you read the OT itself first (possibly even from the LXX): Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Daniel, etc.?

Greco-Roman

  1. Cicero: De Natura Deorum, De Finibis (both read like a 3 views on theology and ethics, respectively)
  2. Plato: Timaeus, Phaedo, Symposium (longer works like The Republic will also repay attention given)
  3. Epictetus and/or Seneca
  4. Histories: Herodotus, Suetonius, Tacitus
  5. Homer (which was the “Bible” of Hellenism)
  6. Rhetorical handbooks by Quintillian or Aristotle

Mike Bird has a list here which has a similar focus, but also points to key secondary sources.

Christian

  1. Apostolic Fathers
  2. NT Apocrypha
  3. Nag Hammadi
  4. Justin Martyr and Irenaeus

In case you were wondering, another good instalment of the Patristics Carnival (no. XXXI) is up over at The Church of Jesus Christ.

I got an email about this and am sorry that I’ll miss it since my thesis reflects this larger movement.

Spring Gathering | March 18 – 19, 2010

Evangelicals and the Early Church: Recovery • Reform • Renewal

Sponsored by The Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies and The Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals

In recent decades Evangelicalism has witnessed an increased interest in the faith and practices of the early Church.  Yet, many seem to be largely unaware of the influence of the writings of the early Church Fathers on eighteenth- and nineteenth- century evangelicals.

Inspired by the literature of the early church, a growing number of evangelicals have begun to reconfigure their ecclesial practices and pay renewed attention to classical Christian doctrines.

The Spring gathering will explore why some evangelicals in the past have ignored the early church, and attempt to reclaim the rootedness of Evangelicalism suggesting new pathways along which evangelicals may engage the early church in vital partnership.

Keynote Speaker:  Everett Ferguson, “Why Study Early Christian History and Literature?

Registration Fees: $50 General Admission (Free to students, but advanced registration is required).

For registration, schedule, and further information please visit http://www.wheaton.edu/Theology/WCECS/Gatherings.html

Thursday, Seminar Room B, 4.15 – 5.45

Jan 28, Thomas L. Humphries Jnr (Emory University), ‘Cassian’s Ascetic Pneumatology’

Feb 4, Francis Watson (Durham University), ‘In the Beginning: Irenaeus, Creation, and the Environment’

Feb 11, Andreas Andreopoulos (Lampeter University), ‘Anatomy of a Miracle: the Feast of the Transfiguration’

Feb 18, Steve Bagby (Durham University), ‘Freedom to Roam(ans): Origen’s Defense of the Will in the Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans’

Feb 25, Jonathan Zecher (Durham University), ‘”State of Angels, Progress of Eternity”: The rhetoric of angelic life in The Ladder of Divine Ascent’
and
Jeremy Bergstrom (Durham University), ‘Gentiles, Jews, Christians and Sacraments in Augustine’s De doctrina Christiana’

Mar 4, Thomas Graumann (Cambridge University), ‘Acting, ceremonial, liturgy: Neglected
 aspects of Church Councils?’

Mar 11, Lewis Ayres (Durham University), ‘The Grammarian and the Rise of Christian Exegesis’

Mar 18, Zurab Jashi (Durham University), TBA

For PDF copies of Migne’s PG, I’ve been using Documenta Catholica Omnia, which has image scans of the actual pages.

The Patrologia Kleida site seems to have been down for a while, but a renewed version of its texts have been put on another site:

Listed by Volumes: http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/pgm/index.htm
Listed by Author: http://khazarzar.skeptik.net/pgm/PG_Migne/

The texts here only have the Greek, but it is searchable.  Some have noted bits that are missing but another great online resource if you just want to check something quickly.

HT: Roger Pearse

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