Saturday, 7 February 2015

Ken Parry: SC Providence, Resurrection and Restoration in Byzantine Thought, Eighth to Ninth Centuries

In her comprehensive and significant publication on the Christian teaching of the final restoration (apokatastasis) published in 2013, Ilaria Ramelli ends her study of the Greek and Latin traditions with Maximos the Confessor in the seventh century and with Eriugena in the ninth century. It is my intention in this paper to look at what was said on this topic and the related ones of providence (pronoia) and resurrection (anastasis) in Byzantium during the eighth and ninth centuries, a period largely consumed with the iconoclast controversy, and usually overlooked in relation to discussion of these topics. Yet there are a number of works which deal with these themes but whose textual history and attribution are in some cases obscure. Nevertheless, it is clear that interest in these topics continued to occupy theologians throughout this period, and that the iconoclast controversy may have provided the impetus for this continuing interest. Questions surrounding the post-resurrection status of Christ, and the impossibility of depicting his deified form, were raised by the iconoclasts and answered by John of Damascus, Theodore the Stoudite and Patriarch Nikephoros. Discussion relating to divine providence and the final restoration are also evident in their writings as well as in those of Patriarch Germanos and Patriarch Photios. This presentation will survey all three themes in the works of these authors in order to assess the contribution they made to understanding human destiny and divine judgement in the history of Byzantine Christianity.

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