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Patristics. Prof. Paul Gavrilyuk. Introduction. A course overview. Course requirements. Methodological reflections. Christ Enthroned. San Vitale, Ravenna. c. 547 AD. Major Questions. Hermeneutics. How do we read/ interpret early Christian sources?

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patristics

Patristics

Prof. Paul Gavrilyuk

introduction
Introduction
  • A course overview.
  • Course requirements.
  • Methodological reflections.

Christ Enthroned. San Vitale, Ravenna. c. 547 AD.

major questions
Major Questions
  • Hermeneutics. How do we read/ interpret early Christian sources?
  • Context. How is Christian faith related to the Greco-Roman world and early Judaism?
  • Development. How did the main doctrines and practices of the Church develop?

Orthodoxy and heresy

Continuity and discontinuity

Authority

Role of scripture

major doctrinal themes
Major Doctrinal Themes
  • God.
  • Christ.
  • Trinity.
  • Salvation.
  • Theological Anthropology.
  • Ecclesiology.
  • Eschatology.
  • Biblical Interpretation.
slide5

The history of dogma is a commentary on one word: “Godman”.

Vasily Bolotov (1853-1900)

major doctrinal themes6
Major Doctrinal Themes
  • God.
  • Christ.
  • Trinity.
  • Salvation.
  • Theological Anthropology.
  • Ecclesiology.
  • Eschatology.
  • Biblical Interpretation.
major institutions and practices
Major Institutions and Practices
  • Bishops
  • Councils
  • Creeds and Confessions of Faith
  • Saints and Ascetics
  • Initiation, Worship & Sacraments
  • Religious Images
some important theologians
Some Important Theologians
  • Ignatius of Antioch
  • Justin Martyr
  • Irenaeus of Lyons
  • Tertullian of Carthage
  • Cyprian of Carthage
  • Origen of Alexandria
  • Athanasius of Alexandria
  • Basil of Caesarea
  • Gregory of Nyssa
  • Cyril of Alexandria
  • Evagrius Ponticus
  • Augustine of Hippo
  • Maximus the Confessor
  • John of Damascus
course requirements
Course Requirements
  • Attendance and Participation.
  • Quizzes.
  • Class presentation. 5-6 pages.
  • Midterm exam.
  • Final exam or research paper.
biblical background
Biblical Background

Revelation 4: 2: At once I was in the spirit, and there in heaven stood a throne, with one seated on the throne! 3 And the one seated there looks like jasper and carnelian, and around the throne is a rainbow that looks like an emerald. 4 Around the throne are twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones are twenty-four elders, dressed in white robes, with golden crowns on their heads. 5 Coming from the throne are flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and in front of the throne burn seven flaming torches, which are the seven spirits of God; 6 and in front of the throne there is something like a sea of glass, like crystal. Around the throne, and on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: 7 the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with a face like a human face, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle […]

Revelation 5: 1 Then I saw in the right hand of the one seated on the throne a scroll written on the inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals […] 6 Then I saw between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders a Lamb standing as if it had been slaughtered, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of the one who was seated on the throne.

history is written by the victors
History is written by the victors

Perseus with the Head of Medusa. Antonio Canova, 1800. Vatican Museum.

by the conquerors not the conquered
By the conquerors, not the conquered

Grand Ludovisti Sarcophagus, front panel. 3rd c. C. E. Rome, Museo Nazionale in Palazzo Altemps

the master narrative
The Master Narrative

HERESIES

HERESIES

HERESIES

ORTHODOXY

HERESIES

HERESIES

HERESIES

multiple christianities approach
‘Multiple Christianities’ Approach

REPLACES ORTHODOXY/ HERESY MASTER NARRATIVE

Proto-orthodox  Nicaea, Chalcedon, etc.

Proto-Jewish Christians  Ebionites, ‘Judaizers’, Adoptionists (?)

Proto-Gnostics  Valentinians, Basilideans, Sethians, etc.

Proto- subordinationists  some Apologists, Arius, Eunomius

Proto-everyone else  Everyone else

strengths of the multiple christianities approach
Strengths of the ‘Multiple Christianities’ Approach
  • Gives opportunity to ‘hear’ the ‘lost’ and ‘silenced’ voices
  • Offers a correction to the winner’s report
  • Exposes structural problems in ancient society (e.g. patriarchy, sexism, anti-Judaism)
john dewey 1859 1952
John Dewey (1859-1952)

--

“All history is written from the standpoint of the present.”

present

past

eusebius on constantine
Eusebius on Constantine:

“Our emperor, God’s friend, acting as interpreter to the Divine Logos, aims at recalling the whole human race to the knowledge of God.”

--Eusebius, In Praise of Constantine, II. 4.

Constantine’s head. Capitoline Museum.

a century later however a pagan historian remarked
A century later, however,a pagan historian remarked:

“Constantine was the origin and the beginning of the present destruction of the empire.”

  • Zosimus, New History, 2. 34 (ca. 500).

The ruins of ancient temples at the foot of Palatine. Rome.

present day cultural slogans
Present-Day Cultural Slogans
  • Pluralism
  • Tolerance
  • Freedom
  • Non-violence
  • Equality
perceived problems with the master narrative
Perceived Problems with the Master Narrative

Commitment to ORTHODOXY conflicts with pluralism

Suppression of HERESIES reveals intolerance and violates freedom

Defense of absolute truth-claims leads to violence

All knowledge claims are reducible to power claims (Nietzsche)

commitments of the early church
Commitments of the Early Church
  • Faithfulness to Jesus
  • Witnessing to the Truth
  • Church Unity
  • Unified Worldview
potential tensions
Potential Tensions…
  • Faithfulness to Jesus Pluralism
  • Witnessing to the Truth Tolerance
  • Church Unity Freedom
  • Unified Worldview Pluralism
    • Hierarchical society Egalitarian society
    • Epistemic optimism Confusion
adolf von harnack 1851 1930

present

past

Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930)

We study history in order to intervene in the course of history.

problems with multiple christianities approach
Problems with ‘Multiple Christianities’ Approach
  • Commitments to pluralism and a questionable theory of justice tend to trump theological truth-claims
  • MCA encourages learned agnosticism on theological matters
  • MCA refuses to adjudicate between competing theological proposals
back to the master narrative
Back to the Master Narrative

HERESIES

HERESIES

HERESIES

ORTHODOXY

HERESIES

HERESIES

HERESIES

reasons for engaging the master narrative
Reasons for Engaging the Master Narrative
  • All voices are not equal.
  • The Master Narrative is a structural part of ‘the world of the text’.
  • The Master Narrative needs to challenge us.
  • The Master Narrative should and could be questioned.