Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Call for papers - Prize in Patristic Exegesis with focus on Africa

The Institute for Classical Christian Studies and the Center for Early African Christianity announced last week at the International Patristic Studies Conference held at Oxford University its 1st annual award for the best paper(s) in Patristic Exegesis. (Please see Announcement below.) We are very excited about this new initiative and believe it will encourage young scholars to venture more deeply into patristic studies in a way that is illuminating for church and society today.






 Topic: Any subject that advances the thesis of the Ancient Christian Commentary, that patristic commentators on scripture bear incomparable wisdom for contemporary Christian teaching. The subject areas investigated may be in theology, liturgy, linguistics, philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, or in ecumenical, historical and socio-cultural studies.   A translation of a previously untranslated patristic text may be submitted. Untranslated Arabic, Syriac, Coptic, and Armenian texts are to be given special consideration.

Manuscripts:  The paper must be a previously unpublished manuscript submitted in English. The manuscript may be submitted in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Chinese or Korean (all languages in which the ACCS is being translated), but if selected the writer would be responsible for translating it into English. Manuscripts selected may be submitted simultaneously to peer-reviewed journals, or may be published digitally in English for the international community of readers, teachers, and patristic scholarship.

 Length: approx. 5,000-10,000 words.

 Assessment: Manuscripts will be assessed by quality of argumentation, clarity of exposition, significance of the position argued, degree to which the paper advances the topic under discussion, contribution to global Christianity, depth of understanding of the ancient Christian writers.

African Focus: Since the Institute for Classical Study was founded by the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture Project, and since the ACCS project, having been completed, is now focused on early African Christianity, we especially welcome contributions from African scholars or by other scholars on topics of patristic studies regarded texts written on the continent of Africa.

Deadline: August 1, 2012. Submit manuscript to the Institute for Classical Christian Studies, c/o Dr. Michael Glerup at the address below. The award will be announced by November 2012.

For more info please email: ICCS@earlyafricanchristianity.com or visit earlyafricanchristianity.com

Monday, 28 November 2011

Recently Published

Holger Villadsen, Nordisk Patristisk Bibliografi, Bind I: Systematisk afdeling (Kopenhagen, 2011).

H. Pietras and S. Kaczmarek, Origen as Writer, Origeniana Decima (Leuven: Peeters, 2011).

Pseudo-Prospero de Aquitania, Sobre la providencia de Dios. Introduccion, texto latino revisado, traduccion y comentario por Raul Villegas Marin (Publicacions i Edicions, Universitat de Barcelona, 2010).

Codices Chrysostomici Graeci VII: Codicum Parisinorum partem priorem, descripsit Pierre Augustin Adiuvante Jacques-Hubert Sautel, Documents, Etudes et Repertoires, 80 (Paris: CNRS Editions, 2011).

J. van Oort and W. Wischmeyer, Die spätantike Kirche Nordafrikas im Umbruch, Studien der Patristischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft, 10 (Leuven: Peeters, 2011).

W. Kinzig, U. Volp and J. Schmidt, Liturgie und Ritual in der Alten Kirche: Patristische Beiträge zum Studium der gottesdienstlichen Quellen der Alten Kirche, Studien der Patristischen Arbeitsgemeinschaft, 11 (Leuven: Peeters, 2011).

(These volumes have already or will be commissioned to be reviewed here on our Oxford Patristics Blog, if anybody is interested in reviewing a particular volume, please write to me)

Saturday, 19 November 2011

First International Congress on Patristic Studies, Argentina: “The Identity of Jesus: Unity and Diversity in the Patristic Period”


In the name of the Universidad Católica de Cuyo, we have the pleasure to announce the First International Congress on Patristic Studies. The main topic of discussion will be: “The Identity of Jesus: Unity and Diversity in the Patristic Period”.
This event will be held in San Juan on days 8, 9 and 10 August 2012 and the four official languages of the congress are spanish, english, italian and french.
Thematic subjects
Speakers can submit works related to the following thematic areas:
 -Jesus of Nazareth and his identity: new discussions on “Historical Jesus” and “Christ of faith”
 -Devotion to Jesus in Christianity of the first centuries
 -Different Christian trends and schools: Jewish-Christians, Prothocatholics, Gnostics.
 -Different trends  and different evangelic genres: the sayings of Gospel Q, canonical gospels, apocryphal gospels, gnostic gospels.
-The identity of Jesus in the historical record of the time..
 -The identity of Jesus and the social world of his time.
 -The identity of Jesus in the writings of the patristic writers.
 -Current and authors against the divinity of Jesus, Celsus, Porphyry, etc
 -The high Christology and the Alexandrian tradition: Bible Greek, Judaism and hellenized Christianity.
 -Christology and liturgy in the patristic age.
 - Representations about the person of Jesus in literature and art of Christian antiquity.
 - Unity and diversity of the experience of the resurrection of Jesus.
 -The Identity of Jesus and the philosophical and theological discussions in the councils of the early centuries

For more information, please, consult our website:

I look forward to your attendance

Yours sincerely
Pbro. Lic. Ángel Hernández - Dra. Patricia Andrea Ciner
Universidad Católica de Cuyo
Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades
Escuela de Cultura Religiosa
Instituto de Estudios Patrísticos
Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios Integrales
Av. José Ignacio de la Roza 1516
Rivadavia - San Juan - Argentina C.P. (5400)
Tel.: (+54) (264) 4292300 Fax: (+54) (264) 4292310
General Objectives
Clarify/ elucidate, through the analyses of different sources, the unity and diversity of theological, philosophical, historical, social, liturgical, artistic positions, etc. about the identity of Jesus in the Patristic times.
Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades, Escuela de Cultura Religiosa, Instuto de Estudios Patrísticos (IEP) and Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios Integrales (CIDEI) fro Universidad Católica de Cuyo.
Academic Committee:
Dr. Francisco García Bazán
Dr. Oscar Velásquez
Dr. Héctor Padrón
Dr. María Isabel Larrauri
Dr. Rubén Peretó Rivas
Dr. Juan Carlos Alby
Dr. José Antonio Antón Pacheco
Executive Commitee:
Lic. Jorge Bernat (Decano de la Facultad de Filosofía),
Pbro. Dr. José Juan García (Director de la Escuela de
Cultura Religiosa), Pbro. Lic. Ángel Bartolomé
Hernández (Director IEP);Pbro. Lic. Pedro Fernández
(Director CIDEI) Pbro. Marcelo Alcayaga Dra. Patricia
Ciner ; Mgter. Susana Villalonga, Pbro. Lic. Leonardo
Pons, Lic. José Antonio Carrascosa , Pbro. Ariel Ayala,
Srita. María de los Ángeles González.

Congress on apologetics in John Henry Cardinal Newman and the fathers of the 4th and 5th Century

Congress on apologetics in John Henry Cardinal Newman and the Fathers of the 4th and the 5th century, organized by the Pontificia Facoltà Teologica di Sicilia "San Giovanni Evangelista" and the Istituto Siciliano di Studi Patristici e Tardoantichi "J. H. Newman", che si svolgerà a Palermo dal 25 al 26 novembre c.a.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Association of Ancient Historians (AAH)

Date: 3.5.-6.5.2012

The annual meeting in 2012 will be held May 3-6 and will be jointly hosted by Duke University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The primary organizers are Mary Boatwright (Duke) and Fred Naiden and Richard Talbert (UNC Chapel Hill). Seven paper sessions are planned. In addition to paper sessions, the meeting will include the traditional opening reception and Saturday banquet. Call for papers is now open. Details are posted as they become available on the 2012 AAH Meeting page.

Conference on "The Christian Moses"- Call for Papers Deadline is December 31, 2011

Date: 31.5.2012-5.6.2012

The Catholic University of America's Center for the Study of Early Christianity will host a conference in Washington DC on the topic of the "Christian Moses." Speakers will investigate how early Christians (to the seventh century CE) used traditions associated with Moses, along with significant Jewish traditions and early Islamic references to Moses. The conference will have a single-session format to encourage maximum interaction among all participants: speakers, local and visiting scholars, and graduate students.
More Information

Friday, 30 September 2011

J. Jayakiran Sebastian, Review: Allen Brent, Cyprian and Roman Carthage, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Pp. xv + 365. Paper. $99.00. ISBN 9780521515474.

Cyprian: His Life, His Times, His Work (London: Macmillan, Cyprian the Bishop  for all future work and research (London: Routledge, 2002), but this volume will provide the touchstone ...

This comprehensive work by Allen Brent will take a prominent place in the study of the
enduring contributions of the mid-third century martyr-bishop of Carthage, Cyprian, in
the first part of the twenty-first century, as the massive work by the archbishop of
Canterbury, E. W. Benson, 1897), did for the first part of the twentieth century. No doubt there are other recent works that provide an overarching view of Cyprian’s life, including J. Patout Burns,

Read the full review

Adam Couchman, Review: Markus Vinzent, Christ's Resurrection in Early Christianity and the Making of the New Testament (Surrey: Ashgate, 2011).

One of the critical aspects of Christian thought is the belief in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Belief in the risen Christ lies at the heart of Christian faith for, in the words of Paul, "If Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain." (1 Cor 15:14). This is why Markus Vinzent's Christ's Resurrection in Early Christianity and the Making of the New Testament will make waves of tsunami proportions throughout Christian scholarship. To be clear, Vinzent's research is not about whether or not Christ rose from the dead. Rather when, how and to whom did it become important to confess the risen Christ? Vinzent's answer to this question is, to be frank, startling:
Had Marcion [of Sinope]... not picked up Paul's letters and put them together with a Gospel, the Resurrection of Christ would presumably never have made its way into the Christian creed. The myth of God incarnate gave way, though only slowly and never fully, to the other myth of Jesus, the Risen Christ. (pg 2)

Through careful and, it must be said, extremely meticulous research in early Christian writings Vinzent shows how, following Paul, there appears a "resurrection vacuum" (my words) until the mid-second Century. Importantly, this prompts the question "Why?". Throughout many of the early Christian writings there is an observable lack of reference to the resurrection. Or, at the very least, a greater importance placed upon the incarnation and death of Christ.
Vinzent's answer to this question is that it was Marcion of Sinope who provided the stimulus for the resurgence in importance placed upon the resurrection. Not just that, Vinzent also suggests that Marcion was the first to call a text "Gospel" (pg 82) and the first to suggest the need for a "New Testament" (in conjunction with his rejection of the "Old Testament"). New and Old Testament is, of course, common language in our modern Bibles, but was revolutionary at the time. Maricon proposed, for his New Testament, a version of Luke (which Vinzent calls "pre-Luke") combined with the writings of Paul. Marcion's strong emphasis upon the writings of Paul provided this stimulus for the resurgence in resurrection theology. Vinzent reminds us that Paul's apostleship was different to "the twelve" in that his only encounter with Jesus (and thus his right to be called an apostle) was with the Risen Christ on the Damascus road. This explains, for Vinzent, Paul's emphasis in his writings upon the Resurrection, and also provided a corpus of writings that appealed to Marcion's theological emphases.
What is particularly interesting, though, is just how far Vinzent takes his hypothesis, even suggesting that Marcion created "the Gospel", and did not just use it as a source.
With.. the noticed discrepancy in the reception of Paul and the non-reception of the Gospel narratives, we suggest taking the discussion one step further and ask, might it be the case that Marcion neither found, nor used, nor edited the Gospel, but produced it in his Roman classroom? (pg 86)
Working from this basis he then proposes that:
Marcion's venture was soon replicated by other teachers who contributed, altered, broadened or nuanced both the letters and the Gospel according to their respective needs and interests... In response to Marcion, others relying on him and on each other's texts and knowledge reworked Marcion's text, produced Mark..., Matthew..., Luke..., all with references to the added Old Testament. (pg 88)
In other words, there was in response to Marcion, and indeed because of Marcion, a kind of "Resurrection Mania"
Only as a result of Marcion's rediscovery of Paul, and his promotion of the 'Gospel' within his 'New Testament', did Christ's Resurrection regain a place in the memory of Christianity. As soon as the fourfold Gospel with Easter narratives was born, the Resurrection message, despite the inclusion of so many non-Resurrection letters in the broadened New Testament, began to grow in importance... Only in those circles that were heavily influenced by Marcion did a Resurrection 'mania' develop. (pg 111)
There is indeed much more that could be said about this monumental work. My own limited knowledge restricts my ability to fully engage with this work, simply because there is so much research that has gone into it. Scholars will debate this book for years to come. Not just historians, but theologians, Biblical scholars and indeed those interested in early forms of Christian worship. That is why this book will have a lasting legacy well beyond its publication year. I'm certain many will criticize Vinzent's thesis, methodology and conclusions, but one thing is for certain: this work will not and can not be ignored. His conclusions are wide-reaching and long-lasting and demand a considered and thoughtful response. For that alone, Vinzent's work should be respected. There is no greater way to do this, for a scholar, than to actually engage with it.
Regardless of whether one agrees with Vinzent or not, his research question remains highly significant and so demands an appropriate answer. Why, after Paul's death, is there an observable vacuum in references to the resurrection? When did this change? Who instigated this change? How did that change come about?
It is clear that by the fourth century the resurrection become central to Nicene faith ("On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures" - Nicene Creed). If indeed Marcion is the solution to this conundrum, as Vinzent proposes, then it will require a collective swallowing of pride to accept that one who is historically considered a heretic played such a vital role in the formation of Christian belief. Vinzent (in citing Stanton) reminds us of the pertinence of this often neglected aspect of the formation of theological belief.
Rivals often influence one another to a much greater extent that they - and scholars - are aware. (pg 79)
Those who would wish to disagree with Vinzent will need to keep that in mind.

This book will be necessary reading for Church historians, Pauline scholars (particularly those interested in the reception of Paul), historical theologians, liturgical scholars, Biblical Scholars (particularly those interested in the formation of the canon), and those interested in the interplay between orthodoxy and heresy. Did I miss anyone? I commend it to you.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Primer Congreso Internacional de Patristica en San Juan-Argentina

The Universidad Catolica de Cuyo (Argentina) will hold its first
International Congress on Patristic Studies in San Juan, Argentina, on
the topic of: 

The Identity of Jesus: Unity and Diversity in the
Patristic period  

on August 8-10, 2012. 

Here the brochure:

If you are interested in attending or
participating in the conference, please contact Dr. Patricia Ciner at: patriciaciner@yahoo.com.ar

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A Celebration of Living Theology - A conference in Honour of Andrew Louth

Durham University in conjunction with the Department of Theology and Religion will be hosting the conference ‘A celebration of living theology: Engaging with the work of Andrew Louth’ on 9-12 July 2012 at Durham University. The conference aims to celebrate the work of Prof. Andrew Louth in the areas of Patristics, both Western and Eastern, Modern Theology and Theology as Life, as well as explore its reception outside the English-speaking world. The plenary papers will be collected into a Festschrift to be published after the conference.
Confirmed plenary speakers are:
Antoine Arjakovsky: ‘The orthodox theology and the future pan orthodox council’.
John Behr, ‘Studying the Fathers in the Twenty First Century’.
Mary Cunningham: ‘The concept of “image” according to an eighth-century Byzantine bishop: St Andrew of Crete’s response to ps-Dionysius the Areopagite’.
Pavel Gavrilyuk: ‘The Evolution of Florovsky’s Reading of Vladimir Solovyov and the Waywardness of Russian Theology’.
Cyril Hovorun: ‘British Patristic School: Its impact on modern Orthodox Theology’.
John Milbank, ‘The Far-Western Synthesis of East and West: Eriugena’s Promise for the Future’.
Norman Russell: ‘Living the Mystery: the limits of patristic theology as an academic discipline’.
Kallistos Ware: ‘The Future Path of Orthodox Thought: ‘Culture and Society’ or ‘Mystical Theology’?’.
Jane Baun, title tbc.
Augustine Casiday, title tbc.
Thomas Graumann, title tbc.

more information at: http://andrewlouthconference2012.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Patristics in Italy under threat

From the many messages, related to the 16th International Conference on Patristic Studies, I received the following one on the precarious state of Patristics in Italy, a message so full of passion, hope and despair that I thought I should share it with you:

Dear Markus,
I regret to confirm that I cannot -- at least physically -- participate at the present Conference. I am very very sad for this: I prepared an intriguing communication according to your indications and I was very joyful all the time expecting such an occasion to "breath" the Patristic pure air. Unfortunately, the economic status of my University is close to a "default" -- so to use an instant term. In the last biennium I reserved a short amount of euros just for my Oxford's expenses and also for any other necessity connected to the event. However, a Rector 's decree prevented me (and, of course, other associate professors) from using money to subscribe for congresses and for inviting colleagues. One might wonder: Is this not a harakiri for a university? Anyway, this is for the being time Italy. Moreover, the academic situation of Patristic studies -- and, in general, of the whole Classical realm -- is marching towards a collapse. The whole idea of Classical Studies is under attack in the Italian context dominated by (dis-)human scientists and, especially, by paedagogists and docimologists. Plus, the danger is not overt, but concealed in the political usual manner. The energies and food to resist such a globalized attack are poor and random-like, at least as for those scholars who -- like me -- do not have academic power and/or academic relations capable of yielding "apotropaic" fear...  What one might oppose to this? I have not but my personal efforts and scientific honesty. ...
As I usually say, my job is working "in partibus infidelium", and this is an interesting task for a scholar as well as for a christian. However, despite the number of papers written by me in the last years, I did not have my very chance to show in an appropriate context my account of Greek Patristic philosophical approach. This is the topic I was prepared to submit to your judgement at Oxford.
The state of affairs prevented me from having this opportunity. At least, for the the moment. I hope I could have another chance.
Finally, you could give me a great joy taking me, next week, as a "virtual" participant to the Conference: be sure that every day during the conference I will be spiritually unite to each participant by praying and studying Fathers in my room as it is possible.
Economy robbed me the joy to stay with you: however, it cannot robbe me the joy of connecting my soul with yours, Colleagues of any Country, as friendly as possible. 

Sunday, 7 August 2011

4th British Patristics Conference Wednesday 5th – Friday 7th September 2012

The Department of Theology and Religion and the Centre for Biblical Studies at the University of Exeter
announce the
4th British Patristics Conference,
Wednesday 5th – Friday 7th September 2012,
at St. Luke’s Campus, University of Exeter.
Prof. Sebastian Brock and Dr. Alastair Logan have already kindly agreed to give plenary papers.
 The call for other papers will open on September 10th, 2011.  If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please contact:- britishpatristics@gmail.com.

Please support this event and let others know!  We look forward to seeing you there. On behalf of the conference committee,
Morwenna Ludlow

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Could the Foremost Preachers of the Early Church be Tapped to Enrich Preaching Today?

Present-day preaching is so often tame and boring, but it is reported that congregations burst into applause during the sermons of the foremost representatives of the ‘golden age’ of preaching in the Early Church - not always to the joy of the preachers themselves!  But what was the secret of their success?  Can we learn from these preachers principles that could enrich preaching today?  To grapple with this matter presumably some knowledge of classical rhetoric is necessary and of course familiarity with the sermons of the greatest preachers.  To make the study manageable it might be wise to focus on just a few eminent preachers, say, Gregory of Nazianzus, Chrysostom and Augustine.  As time permits, I should like to engage in this project, but since my Patristic studies hitherto have focused very largely on the Pre-Nicene Church, I scarcely know where to start!  I would greatly value the advice of anyone familiar with classical rhetoric and with the sermons of these Fathers.  If you think you might be able to help please contact me during the Patristics conference (there is a noticeboard for contacts), or simply leave a message and reply here at this blog and we can get in touch.
(Rev. Dr.) Andrew Daunton-Fear

Monday, 1 August 2011

Péter Csigi - Early Christian Funerary Art in Sopianae/Pécs

Sopianae, part of the Roman province of Pannonia has an important early Christian cemetery. There is a great number of Christian graves in the city’s cemetery, but the most interesting buildings are the so called Early Christian Mausoleum, the Burial Chamber with the Jar, and particularly the Peter-Paul Burial chamber, all with wall paintings from the last third of the 4th century.
As a student member of the British Academy (BARDA) research group ‘Early Christian Iconography and Epigraphy – after Dölger’ (King's College London), my plan is to prove the iconographic programme of the painted burial vaults in Sopianae. I intend to use the fresh archaeological data from the excavations of the last decade, and reconstruct the theological, socio-cultural and artistic background of the place. This will be connected to the general development of early Christian imageries.
In accordance with the common aim of our team, my main focus will be on the early Christian use of 'pagan' images and the process of the mutual transformation of both 'paganism' and 'Christianity' in the interactive dialogue between early Christianity and Greco-Roman culture.

Markus Vinzent - The Re-Working of Marcion’s Gospel in Luke (Luke 10:22 par.)

To set the scenery: No New Testament nor any Patristic scholar, so far, has come up with the idea that Marcion himself wrote a Gospel, hence, even less has anybody advanced the suggestion that he had written The Gospel, or, more daringly even, that Marcion produced the first work of this genre, although scholars have granted that he was the one who created the titles ‘New Testament’ (W. Kinzig) and also the first to apply the term ‘Gospel’ to a written account (H. Koester).
Now it is neither an abduction by aliens nor a longing for alien ideas, but simply the result of reading sources, and especially Tertullian’s Adversus Marcionem, that I have come across a few good arguments that make a case for all three suggestions, namely that:
1)      Marcion was the author, rather than a redactor of a Gospel
2)      He had written The Gospel and
3)      He was the innovator who created the first work of this new literary genre from whom all other Gospels depend.

(more in the workshop on Marcion and the Gospels) 

Saturday, 30 July 2011

User Statistics - over 10,000 views this month

Dear colleagues,

this is just a short insight into the backoffice of our blog. It is now live for slightly over 4 weeks, and see the statistics, we have got over 16,000 views with an average of around 300-400 views a day:

Friday, 29 July 2011

“Family and Children in the Patristic Tradition” conference, Final call for papers (deadline: 8/15/11)

The Stephen and Catherine Pappas Patristic Institute of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts, has slots for a few additional short (20 min) papers at its October 13-15, 2011 conference on "Family and Children in the Patristic Tradition." 
Abstract deadline: no later than Monday, August 15, 2011.
Confirmed plenary speakers include: Véronique Dasen (Fribourg University, “Picturing child and family in the Roman period”), Cornelia B. Horn (St. Louis University, “Children and family in the patristic period: Past, present, and future perspectives”), David G. Hunter (University of  Kentucky, “Family and christianization in the early church”), John W. Martens (University of St. Thomas, “How Christians spoke against the sexual abuse of children in the patristic and late antique world"), Candida Moss (University of Notre Dame, “Abandonment of family/children in the New Testament and some early martyrological literature”), and Mark Tarpley (Southern Methodist University, “Child formation in the thought of Gregory of Nazianzus”).

Conference Announcement and Call For Papers:
Family and Children in the Patristic Tradition
October 13-15, 2011
Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology
Brookline, Massachusetts

Portion of Icon of the Entry into Jerusalem,
Stavronikita Monastery, circa 1546

The Stephen and Catherine Pappas Patristic Institute of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology is pleased to announce its annual thematic conference on Family and Children in the Patristic Tradition,” which will be held next Fall on the school’s campus in Brookline, Massachusetts beginning Thursday evening, October 13, and ending with dinner on Saturday, October 15, 2011.

The Conference Theme: Children play a surprising role in several of the narratives in the canonical gospels. They are even viewed by Jesus as paradigmatic of the Kingdom of God, -- “to such as these the Kingdom of Heaven belongs” (Mat 19:14).  In other writings of the New Testament, and in the later patristic corpus, the treatment of children is more varied and complex, including shared viewpoints with the Greco-Roman culture.  The purpose of our conference is to engage those patristic writings, Greek, Latin and Syriac, that treat the subjects of family and children; we will seek to examine both theological and socio-historical treatments of the family and children, attempting to deal with any gaps between the theoretical and the historical.  Paper proposals that examine the use of “family” and “children” as metaphors will also be welcomed, including those treating monasticism.

Confirmed Plenary Speakers:

  • Véronique Dasen (Fribourg University, “Picturing child and family in the Roman period”)
  • Cornelia B. Horn (St. Louis University, “Children and family in the patristic period: Past, present, and future perspectives”)
  • David G. Hunter (University of  Kentucky, “Family and christianization in the early church”)
  • John W. Martens (University of St. Thomas, “How Christians spoke against the sexual abuse of children in the patristic and late antique world)
  • Candida Moss (University of Notre Dame, “Abandonment of family/children in the New Testament and some early martyrological literature”)
  • Mark Tarpley (Southern Methodist University, “Child formation in the thought of Gregory of Nazianzus”)

Call for short papers:

For short (approximately 20 minute) papers, please submit a one-to-two paragraph abstract by no later than Monday, August 15, 2011.  Abstracts should:  1) present a clear thesis; 2) indicate knowledge of the sources; 3) show awareness of relevant methodological, historiographical, or philosophical issues; and 4) treat subject matter that falls within the parameters of Late Ancient and Patristic studies.  Please send your abstract, registration, or any inquiries, to Dr. Bruce Beck, Director, Pappas Patristic Institute (pappaspatristic@comcast.net).  All papers will be considered for publication in our series Holy Cross Studies in Patristic Theology and History (published jointly by BakerAcademic and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology).

Please register at your convenience by email to Dr. Bruce Beck at pappaspatristic@comcast.net, with your name, institutional affiliation, address, and phone number.  There is a $125 registration fee, which also includes all the meals and breaks during the conference. This fee is payable upon check-in.  The registration fee for students is $40.00. The registration fee is waived for those presenting a paper.  The conference hotel is the Sheraton of Needham.  Shuttle service will be provided between the conference hotel and the campus.

Founded in 2003 by a generous grant from the late Stephen Pappas and his wife Catherine, the goal of the Pappas Patristic Institute is the advancement and promotion of primarily eastern patristic studies and education in the service of the academy and the Church.

Hagit Amirav - Paul and the Pauline Epistles as Hermeneutical Keys in John Chrysostom: Presentation of an Ongoing ERC Project

Chrysostom’s love of Paul is not a new observation in modern research, yet this observation needs to be further elaborated and explained against the background of Chrysostom’s particular embracement of the principles of the Antiochene School of exegesis. The purpose of this lecture is to establish Chrysostom’s emphasis on Paul and the Pauline epistles as unique hermeneutical keys to the Old Testament, developed by Chrysostom and his Antiochene peers in compensation for a conscious restricted use of allegory and other types of “spiritual” exegesis, and in enhancement of strong moral and pedagogical agendas, typical to this school. Taking Ephesians as a test case, we will focus not only on the application and embedding of Paul’s exegesis in Chrysostom’s expositions of this specific epistle, but also on Chrysostom’s treatment of Paul as a historical exemplum, worthy of imitation and celebration.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Laurence Vianès - L'interprétation des prophètes par Apollinaire de Laodicée a-t-elle influencé Théodore de Mopsueste?

Apollinaire de Laodicée semble pratiquer une exégèse tout opposée à celle de  Théodore de Mopsueste : notamment, il trouve dans le livre des Psaumes toutes sortes de significations christologiques ou eschatologiques. La première partie de cette communication montre que cependant Apollinaire applique peut-être déjà certains critères qui sont ceux de Diodore et de Théodore, et qu'en tout cas il partage avec Théodore une conviction :  la richesse des significations de l'Ancien Testament résulte simplement du fait qu'il est de la littérature, et comme tel, destiné à être repris, cité et pillé. La deuxième partie examine la répugnance de Théodore pour l'eschatologie, en prenant comme exemple l'invasion de Gog (Ez 38-39 etc.), et en la mettant en contraste avec l'eschatologie "philosémite" d'Apollinaire. Théodore a en commun avec Apollinaire de ne jamais allégoriser Jérusalem et les réalités juives. On propose l'hypothèse que s'il limite à l'histoire juive d'avant le Christ l'horizon des auteurs de l'Ancien Testament, c'est pour combattre les assertions d'Apollinaire qui envisageait, sur la base des prophéties, un triomphe final du judaïsme sur terre.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Sébastien Morlet - « Un nouveau fragment du traité de Porphyre contre les chrétiens ? (A new fragment of Porphyry’s Against the Christians ?) »

The paper discusses the possibility that an attack against Origen, transmitted by Marcellus of Ancyra and quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, may derive from Porphyry’s Against the Christians. Though it is possible that Marcellus is the author of this criticism, there are also good reasons to assume that Porphyry may be behind the text quoted by Eusebius.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

PhD Position in either Patristic, Early Christian or Late Antique studies f/m

Joost Van Rossum - Creation-Theology in Gregory Palamas and Theophanes of Nicaea, Compatible or Incompatible?

The purpose of this communication is to challenge the thesis of I.D. Polemis according to which the theology of creation in Theophanes of Nicaea (14th century) is incompatible with that of Gregory Palamas (1296-1359). At the bottom of this discussion lies the problem of the relation between “humanist” and “palamite” (hesychast) theology.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Theodoros Alexopoulos - The Byzantine supporters of the Filioque in the thirteenth century. J. Beccos and K. Melitiniotes. An analysis of their major arguments. Touchpoints with the Latin West, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

Focusing on the Byzantine writings  in support of the Filioque- addition to the creed, the present study tries to give us the flavour of the Trinitarian reflection in the age of the thirteenth century providing the reader with an analysis of the major arguments advanced by two important figures on the orthodox side, J. Beccos and K. Melitiniotes. In order to refute Photius position against the Filioque, J. B and K. M left to us a remarkable theological legacy, which must be in any case evaluated objectively. In this effort lies precisely the goal of this paper, namely to assess without confessional prejudices the validity and soundness of their arguments. In addition to that, the paper reveals striking similarities between J. Bs and K. Ms thought and the theological reasoning of the Latin West.

Michael F. Mach - WORKSHOP: Confronting Greco-RomanCulture: The Discursive Practices of Early Christian Texts.Apocalyptic Confrontation with Roman Authority

(Jewish) apocalyptic literature is mainly to be characterized as anti-institutional, in a way rebellious. Two works, however, direct that critique openly against Rome and Roman culture: The book of Revelation and the Third Book of the Sibylline Oracles. Thought the first is a Christian Composition, it rests heavily on Jewish traditions. The other belongs to the Jewish Hellenistic diaspora. Both works share a similar list of main sins attributed to Rome and its culture. This paper will seek to place the works in the wider field of Jewish Hellenistic and apocalyptic thought.

Allen Brent - Early “Christian” Epigraphy and Iconography: A new approach to Dölger's Classical Project.

The three participants in this proposal, Allen Brent, King’s College London and the Augustinianum, Rome, Emmanuele Castelli and Ulrich Volp have from their different perspectives on early Christian art that Dölger’s Classical project shares a common defect with its predecessors and successors.
We may succinctly exemplify some current and former approaches as:

  • Wilpert and Dölger’s ‘crypto Christian’ thesis
  • Finney’s thesis of the expurgation of pagan symbolism to allow a Christian meaning
  • A conventionalist thesis that pagan elements had no meaning for Christians but were simply accepted from a pagan workshop as funerary stereotypes.

Our common objection to all three that each in its own way denies a positive interaction between the Christian iconography and its pagan environment and past, a denial belied by a detailed examination of each item in question. 
Our objection to these three applies equally to all, namely in what takes place in any human conversation or interaction such as the hypothesized meeting of early Christians with the officinator and then the pictorius in a pagan workshop. Images are never accepted as simply static and conventional decoration but a discussion takes place in which, as in any human discussion that has a serious purpose, the concepts of both sides, forming and interlinked into two initially competing, overall constructions of reality, are subtly and generally semi-consciously changed as the discussion continues.
With the aid of a power point presentation, we will examine specific iconographical and epigraphical examples to make our different points.

Ann Usacheva - Workshop Proposal: “The Genres of the Late Antique and Christian Literature: Interaction and Transformation”

1. Dr. John Dillon (Trinity College Dublin Ireland). The ‘Philosophical letter’ in the Hellenic and Christian traditions
2. Dr. Yuri Shichalin (Moscow State University Russia). The Traditional View of Late Neoplatonism as a Self-contained System
3. Prof. Petr Mikhaylov (St. Tikhon's Orthodox University Russia) The principles of argumentation in theological polemics by the Great Cappadocians
4. Alexey Fokin (Institute of Philosophy of Russian Academy of Sciences Russia). Noetic Triade in Neo-Platonism and Patristics
5. Prof. Bernard Pouderon (Université François Rabelais de Tours France). The genre of the Apology and the genres of the works of apologists
6. Prof. Svetlana Mesyats (Institute of Philosophy of Russian Academy of Sciences Russia). The concept of Hypostasis in Platonic philosophy and Christian theology of the 4th – 6th cent. AD
7. Ann Usacheva (StTikhon's Orthodox University Russia). The term πανήγυρις in Old and New Testaments and Christian Literature of the IV cent. AD
8. Olga Alieva (StTikhon's Orthodox University Russia). St. Basil's Orations in Light of Paraenetic Tradition

Rubén Peretó Rivas - Workshop: Los estudios patrísticos en Latinoamérica I

Convener: Rubén Peretó Rivas (AIEP - Argentina)
Oscar VELASQUEZ (Chile), “La historia de la patrística en Chile: un largo proceso de maduración”
Dra. María Isabel LARRAURI- Pbro. Lic. Pedro FERNÁNDEZ- Pbro. Lic. Ángel HERNÁNDEZ (Argentina), “A diez años de la Iniciación de los Estudios Patrísticos en la Universidad Católica de Cuyo. San Juan-Argentina
Edinei DA ROSA CÂNDIDO (Brasil), “Proposta para publicações patrísticas no Brasil e América Latina: os 6 anos dos Cadernos Patrísticos”.
Ricardo DIEZ – Raquel FISCHER (Argentina), “Puesta al día de los estudios agustinianos en Argentina y Latinoamérica”

Rubén Peretó Rivas - Workshop: Los estudios patrísticos en Latinoamérica II

Convener: Rubén Peretó Rivas (AIEP - Argentina)
Viviana FÉLIX (Argentina), “La influencia de platonismo medio en Justino a la luz de los estudios recientes sobre el Didaskalikos”.
Rubén PERETO RIVAS (Argentina), “La acedia en Evagrio Póntico. Entre ángeles y demonios”.
Graciela RITACCO (Argentina), “El Bien, el Sol y el Rayo de Luz según Dionisio del Areópago”.
Hernán GIUDICE (ARGENTINA), Prisciliano de Ávila y el apóstol Pablo”.

David Hunter - WORKSHOP: International Panel Discussion of Elizabeth A. Clark, Founding the Fathers: Early Church History and Protestant Professsors in Nineteenth-Century America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011)

In April of 2011 the University of Pennsylvania Press will release a substantial new study of the history of patristic scholarship in North America: Elizabeth A. Clark, Founding the Fathers: Early Church History and Professors in Nineteenth-Century America.  In view of Professor Clark’s many contributions to the field of Patristics, including a term as President of the North American Patristics Society and an even plenary address at the Oxford Conference, it seemed appropriate to give special attention to this important new study.  I have assembled an international panel of scholars who will each present a fifteen-minute response to the book from the perspective of his or her own national tradition of patristic scholarship.  The following have agreed to participate: Professor Pier Franco Beatrice (University of Padova, Italy), Professor Averil Cameron (Oxford, United Kingdom), Professor Wolfram Kinzig (University of Bonn, Germany), and Professor Mark Vessey (University of British Columbia, Canada).  After the four panellists have presented their responses to the book, Professor Elizabeth Clark will give her own response.  I anticipate that there will be at least thirty minutes remaining for the open discussion between Clark, the panellists, and the audience.  I will serve as moderator of the panel and discussion.

Cyril Hovorun - Workshop title: The Church Fathers vis-à-vis the Neo-Platonists (# 0141)

The Fathers vis-à-vis the Neo-Platonists in the 3rd - 7th centuries.
Cyril HOVORUN (Ukraine), Influence of Neo-Platonism on the formation of theological categories in the 4th-7th centuries
Gabor BUZASI (Hungary), Julian's solar theology and its relation to the Christianity of his age
Victor YUDIN (Belgium), The place of Platonism in Augustine’s Resurrection theory 
Levan GIGINEISHVILI (Georgia), Eros in the Theology of I.Petritsi and Sh.Rustaveli
The Fathers vis-à-vis the Neo-Platonists in the 3rd - 7th centuries.
Proposal for the workshop
at the Oxford Patristic Conference 2011
This workshop is the result of an international co-operation between various academic institutions: UCL, ELTE, the University of Tbilisi, Theological Academy of Kiev, and Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kiev. It brings  scholars together from Belgium, Ukraine, Hungary and Georgia.
The workshop is dedicated to the creative rapprochement between the Neo-Platonic philosophy and the Christian theology from the 3th through the 7th centuries. We discuss whether the Neo-Platonists had a significant impact on the church fathers, or whether in some cases the impact was the other way around. We also examine to what extent debates at the time concerning discrepancies in ideas have been constructive on both sides. We shed light on these issues in the four following presentations.
The first paper by C.Hovorun is methodological in character. It deals with the formation of the theological vocabulary of the church fathers as rooted in classical Antiquity, and later in the Neo-Platonic school. The author compares the key terminology in Neo-Platonists and the Christian theologians, considering various aspects of the usage of their terms, such as οσία, φύσις, πόστασις, διότης, νέργεια. He also traces the significance of these notions with respect to the formation of theological ideas.
The following three papers present examples of such a terminology change, each of them in its own unique fashion. First, G.Buzasi explores the importance of Julian’s solar theology in the context of debates concerning theology at a time when the positions of the two parties were uncompromising. Next, V.Yudin focuses upon one of the key elements around which the debates took place. The issue under scrutiny is the resurrection of the body, as criticized by Porphyry and later defended by Augustine. Augustine based his position on Plato, and used Plato’s achievements in order to explore the Christian resurrection theory.  Finally, L.Giginieshvili analyzes the use of the notion of eros by the 12th c. Georgian theologian Ioane Petritsi as well as by the poet Sh.Rustaveli, who both seem to have been under an influence of Proclus. This may point out that the impact of the Neo-Platonic philosophy on Christianity persisted even later, after the closure of the Athenian Academy or the Arab conquest of Alexandria.

Influence of Neo-Platonism on the formation of theological categories in the 4th-7th centuries
Proposal for the workshop on Neo-Platonism and Christianity
at the Oxford Patristic Conference 2011
by Cyril Hovorun (Kiev)

The emergence of a wide variety of interpretations of the Trinity and Incarnation, and discussions and fights over these issues, resulted in the development of a commonly accepted framework of basic categories. Thus, theological controversies encouraged their participants to adopt a system of coordinates with the categories of οσία, φύσις, πόστασις, διότης, νέργεια constituting its axes. These categories were borrowed from the classical dialectics, with significant input from its contemporary Neo-Platonism. However, the use of  philosophical categories in the Christian theology was eclectic. Traditional categories were modified, re-interpreted, and re-labelled.
The paper explores how Neo-Platonism influenced the formation of the basic categories of the Christian theology, and how Neo-Platonic dialectics were reshaped when applied to theology. It cover the period from the 4th to the 7th centuries and engage names from Porphyry to Stephan of Alexandria.

Christ and the Sun in the solar theology of Julian the Apostate
Proposal for the workshop 
on Neo-Platonism and Christianity at the Oxford Patristic Conference by
by Gabor Buzasi (Hungary)

This paper  present the results of a research on the Emperor Julian’s Neoplatonic solar theology. After a reconstruction of the metaphysical and cosmological framework of the Emperor‘s Hymn to the Sun King, I argue that this work, together with other passages of the Emperor’s oeuvre, is not only the most important testimony of Iamblichus‘ cosmological and theological ideas concerning the Sun, but also that it was influenced to a great extent by the Christological debates of the fourth century.
Eros in Theology of I.Petritsi and Sh.Rustaveli
Proposal for the workshop on Neo-Platonism and Christianity
at the Oxford Patristic Conference 2011                                                                                         
 by Levan Gigineishvili (Tbilisi)

This paper discusses the notion of eros in the Neoplatonic philosophy of Ioane Petritsi and his influence on the thought of the epic poet Shota Rustaveli, who holds a similar vision. In both Petritsi and Rustaveli eros represents an anagogic power that leads souls from their self-centeredness towards higher realities and ultimately to God; in both, eros is intimately connected to the notion of conscience (logos/intellect/understanding). Comparisons and influences will be sought in the thought of the church fathers, but most importantly, in the thought of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Since eros in thought of Petritsi and Rustaveli is a universal power that permeates all and, thus, by implication, is not restricted to any single culture or religion, those thinkers ran a risk of falling under a censure of the official church, which would deny any salvific or even anagogic activity happening outside her bosom. I argue that this explains the hostility of the church officials towards both these authors in Medieval Georgia; especially in the case of Rustaveli, this hostility even has a theoretical/theological basis. 
The place of Platonism in Augustine’s Resurrection theory 
Proposal for the workshop on Neo-Platonism and Christianity at the Oxford Patristic Conference by Victor YUDIN (Louvain-la-Neuve, Brussels)
One might assume that the Platonists, or indeed any pagan thinkers, have no place in Christian  theology. However, the case of Augustine’s Resurrection theory proves the opposite. He uses the Timaeus 41ab, which is one of the most complex texts in Plato, in order to advance some of his major claims in a purely Christian context. However, the question remains whether he  adequately understood this passage. 
Augustine’s resurrection theory is a significant theological contribution. He presented it in the course of his sermons of the Easter cycle (sermons 240-242) as well as in the last  (xii) of The City of God.  In the latter source he analyzes various aspects of the scientific knowledge of his time concerning the state of the resurrected body, answering the critique of the resurrection theory  launched by the opposition. One of his achievements is his claim that God is accessible for contemplation for the saints, but this happens only in the state of resurrection, after death.
What is surprising, however, is that this theory had not been formed in a theological dispute against other theologians. It took shape in the debate with the intellectuals of the time: the Neo-Platonists. Augustine feels challenged by Porphyry’s critique of Christianity Christians, specifically their critique of the resurrection theory, making numerous references to the Philosophy from Oracles
This paper focuses on the evaluation of Augustine’s claim that Tim 41ab contains the resurrection theory. First, we will try to evaluate Cicero’s Latin translation of the Timaeus dialogue, as it was used by Augustine in his analysis. I argue that Augustine’s translation was poor, and that therefore it was hardly possible  for him to understand Plato’s original. Secondly, I will consider whether Augustine was familiar with the Neo-Platonist exegesis of the Tim 41ab (by Porphyry, Iamblichus as later related by Proclus), and if so, to what extent, as he tries to convince the Neo-Platonists of the truth of the Christian teaching. Curiously, he rebukes them for having a poor knowledge of Plato. Finally, we will turn to the traditional use of this text by the preceding theologians (Athenagoras, Justin Martyr, Hypollytus etc.), with the aim of getting to know how faithful Augustine’s interpretation was to the Patristic tradition.

Yoram Tsafrir - Workshop: Early Monasticism in the Holy Land: The role of Peter the Iberian and other Georgian MonksPresentation: Travelling in Jerusalem in the days of Peter the Iberian

Travelling in Jerusalem in the Days of Peter the Iberian

When Peter the Iberianarrived in Jerusalem in the mid fifth century, the city was in a process of expansion and demographical growth. The biographies of Peter and some of his contemporaries such as Bar Sauma, Melania the Elder and the Judean Desert fathers, as well as various pilgrim texts and archaeological finds, enable us to draw a profile of the growing city - the arena of Peter's activity - before it reached its prime a century later.

The presentation will concentrate on the archaeological-topographical  aspects with an emphasis on the location of the monastic institutions inside and outside the city-walls.

The other presenter is Prof. Tamila Mgaloblishvili (Tbilisi, Georgia): Peter the Iberian : Beginning of the Georgian monastic life in the holy Land

Caroline Mace - WORKSHOP: "Aspects of Question-and-Answer Literature in Late Antiquity: Ambrosiaster, Anastasius of Sinai and Ps. Athanasius" (convenor: Y. Papadogiannakis - n° of submission: 0435)Title of my paper: "Supernatural elements and false oracles in Pseudo-Athanasius' Quaestiones ad Antiochum

Quaestio 136 in pseudo-Athanasius' corpus of Quaestiones ad Antiochum (CPG 2257, PG vol. 28, coll. 597-700) is a quite intriguing text, which does not seem to fit in the rest of the corpus, in terms of language and of content. The question asked is how to convince Pagans that there is only one God, who is the God of the Christians. The answer to this question combines a survey of supernatural events, which are supposed to demonstrate the existence of God, with the statement that the birth of Christ was already announced by some of the "Wises" amongst the Pagans (in the tradition of the "Theosophy"). Quaestio 136 was probably used to fabricate the Περ το ναο attributed to Athanasius and edited by A. Delatte in 1923. In this paper I would like to determine the sources used in both parts of Quaestio 136, and to elucidate its context of composition. I would also like to face the question as whether Quaestio 136 belongs or not to the original collection of Quaestiones ad Antiochum and where it comes from.

Francisco Bastitta Harriet - WORKSHOP (Los estudios patrísticos en América Latina II): ¿Dios 'consecuente' a la decisión humana? Una interpretación de un pasaje del De vita Moysis de Gregorio de Nisa

En un pasaje de su tratado tardío ‘Sobre la vida de Moisés’ (II, 86) Gregorio de Nisa, refiriéndose a los males padecidos por los egipcios en el relato bíblico, sostiene la plena responsabilidad de la decisión (proaíresis) humana sobre ellos, al punto de afirmar que la Justicia divina misma ‘es consecuente’ u ‘obedece’ (epakolouthoûsa) a las decisiones humanas según su valía. El verbo epakolouthéo es usualmente predicado de las cosas creadas entre los Padres, ya que éstas ‘siguen’ los designios del Creador y el orden que él estableció en la naturaleza. Su atribución a Dios mismo en este contexto es muy llamativa. Es cierto que el Niseno sigue de cerca allí la exégesis origeniana del Éxodo, que intentaba refutar el determinismo de algunas corrientes gnósticas proponiendo el autogobierno real del alma, tanto para su perdición como para su salvación. Pero Gregorio va más allá de Orígenes y de sus influencias platónicas y estoicas en lo referente a la noción de persona, al protagonismo de la libertad humana y al nivel de correspondencia interpersonal del hombre con lo divino.

Han-luen Kantzer Komline - WORKSHOP Title: Via est qua imus: Perspectives on Augustine’s Christology PAPER Title: Augustine on the Two Wills of Christ

In a recent essay, Brian Daley has considered the evidence that Maximus the Confessor knew Augustine’s theology based on a number of foundational resonances between the thought of the two fathers (Daley, 2008).  These include the affirmation, by both Augustine and Maximus, of two distinct wills in Christ: a human will and a divine will.  Building on this observation, this paper considers Augustine’s insistence, in the early fifth century, on the idea that Christ had two distinct wills.  
Focusing on Augustine’s affirmation of this notion in his Enarratio of Psalm 93 and his treatise Contra sermonem Arianorum, the paper evaluates how Augustine articulates the idea of Christ’s two wills in each of these contexts and explores his possible motivations for developing the notion as he does in each case.  It considers, in other words, the role of Augustine’s affirmation of Christ’s two wills in the polemical contexts of the debates, late in his life, with Pelagianism and with the Homoian Arianism represented by Palladius of Ratiaria and the Arian bishop Maximinus.  
With respect to the latter case, this paper will show how Augustine posits two wills in Christ to secure a Christologically appropriate interpretation of a litany of scriptural quotations, cited by his “Arian” opponents, in which Jesus submits to the will of the Father.  Reading John 6:38 (“I came down from heaven, not to do my will, but to do the will of him who sent me”) through the lens of Romans 5:15-21, Augustine shows that the submission of Christ’s human will to the divine will signifies, not his lack of a fully divine nature, but rather his possession of a fully divine and human nature in one person.  In Augustine’s exegesis of John 6:39, the very possibility of Christ’s human will overcoming the natural human temptation to oppose God autonomously (his capacity to say “not my will) presupposes his possession of a fully divine nature and will.  Thus, in this exegetical-polemical context, Augustine’s affirmation of the two wills of Christ secures his affirmation of Christ’s possession of a divine substantia as well as a human substantia
The paper will conclude by contrasting how and why Augustine articulated the notion of Christ’s two wills in these two instances with the motivations and polemical concerns that led Maximus to strikingly similar conclusions in the seventh century.  

Rick Elgendy - “Practices of the Self, Reading Across Divides: What Michel Foucault Could Have Said about Gregory of Nyssa”

 As is increasingly well-known, Michel Foucault turned to the ancient world in his late work in order to excavate material for his notion of “practices of the self.” Foucault argues that, in many ways, the ethical imperative of the ancient schools was to “care for the self”, understood not as a form of self-aggrandizement but rather as a determined application of ascetical disciplines to oneself in order to effect self-transformation. In this light, it is striking that Foucault seems to dismiss Christian ascetics, especially Gregory of Nyssa, who (in his De Virginitate) uses the phrase “care for the self” as a normative center of Christian practice.
 In this paper, I argue for a connection between Foucault’s inattention to Gregory of Nyssa and Foucault’s summary judgments about Christian possibilities: specifically, that Christianity is not and has not been a properly “ascetical” tradition. That is, Foucault could have found a much deeper and more significant affinity between his work and Gregory’s account of practices of the self: while the narrative situation of the two authors differs (dramatically), both argue that unreflective participation in the forms of daily life on offer cannot condition one for access to truth and that certain exercises are required in order to become the kind of subject who has such access. In the first section of this paper, I will sketch this vision of “spirituality” that the two figures share.
 In the second section of this paper, I will return to the question of “narrative disparity” in order to raise and address some methodological issues with the resources discussed in the first. The common assumption that might also account for Foucault’s hasty dismissal of Patristic sources – that comparisons across narrative divides (such as “Christian” and “Nietzschean”) are treacherous, likely to fail due to equivocation or excluding implication – can be questioned precisely from the position(s) articulated in the first half of the paper: that the subject must perform certain exercises in order to shape her perception in ways that attain to truth.  I will conclude by showing how this works out in an academic practice – reading a work specifically as a text – in ways that demand the reader to attempt certain forms of imaginative and interpretive charity, which practices might permit us to see how counter-intuitive comparisons can indeed prove fruitful.