Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Giulio Malavasi: John of Jerusalem’s Profession of Faith (CPG 3621) and the Pelagian controversy

John, bishop of Jerusalem (387-417), was directly involved in two Palestinian synods of 415, whose aim was to judge Pelagius’ orthodoxy. The synod held in Jerusalem was summoned by John himself, who was also among the fourteen bishops who declared Pelagius orthodox in the following synod of Diospolis. However, his theological understanding of Pelagius’ position is difficult to evaluate because almost all his literary production has not came down to us. However, at least one of his work written during the Pelagian controversy has survived: it is his Profession of Faith (CPG 3621). Unfortunately, modern scholars have paid little attention to this text, mainly due to his difficult textual tradition: only the Syriac and the Armenian version is edited, while the Greek version, though present in only one manuscript, has not yet been published. Basing our study on the Greek version, we will analyse John’s Profession of Faith to clarify his knowledge of the theological questions involved in the controversy between Jerome and Pelagius, and his position in this controversy. It will be shown that John was well aware of what Pelagius thought in those year, and, that, at least partially, he agreed with Pelagius. This study will contribute to a better understanding of how deep was the penetration of the Pelagian doctrines among Eastern Christianity.

Travis Proctor: Eating at the ‘Table of Demons’: Hellenic Sacrifice and the Demonic Corruption of Christian Ritual Bodies (WS)

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he implores his audience that they not mix the “body of the Lord” with the “table of demons” by participating in both the Christian Eucharist and traditional Hellenic animal sacrifices. Paul’s statement itself, which draws on a long line of Jewish condemnations of non-Jewish sacrifice, implies that demons possessed some form of body that benefited from the meat offerings of animal sacrifice. Later interpreters of 1 Corinthians make this even more explicit by reading Paul’s rhetoric in light of wider Hellenic traditions regarding demonic consumption of sacrificial “vapors.” My paper explores the way in which this discourse of demonic corporeality and consumption functioned to demarcate proper and improper Christian ritual praxis, and, in doing so, crafted a particular construal of Christian ritual bodies. I note how Origen of Alexandria, for example, cites 1 Corinthians as support for his assertion that the bodies of demons were “fattened” by their intake of the fumes rising from animal sacrifice, a claim which accompanies his contention that participation in such sacrifices would attract demonic cohabitation. Such demonic corruption, moreover, disqualified Christians from participating in the Eucharist, as they would inevitably pollute the body of the Lord with the bodies of demons. Paul and his interpreters’ discourse of demonic corporeality, then, serves to demarcate the borders between “pagan” and “Christian” bodies, a boundary reified by the repeated ritual performance of the Christian Eucharist.

Daniel Opperwall: Obedience and Communal Authority in John Cassian

Obedience to an elder is one of the most important aspects of monastic life according to John Cassian, yet it is also problematic in many ways. In the Institutes and Conferences, Cassian continually wrangles with the question of how spiritual authority is established, to whom it belongs, and how potential disciples can navigate the problem of choosing an elder worthy of obedience. Further, the question of obedience is entangled, for Cassian, with his understanding of the virtue of discernment, along with issues surrounding the authority of scripture, of tradition, and of great monastics of the past (Anthony and others).

One of the most notable aspects of Cassian's approach to obedience is the often stark contrast he implies between obedience within cenobitic communities versus that established among erimitic monks. While he appears to expect unquestioning obedience to elders in a monastery, Cassian is often preoccupied with the problem of how desert hermits can avoid bad elders within a kind of spiritual market-place. In this paper, I explore these contrasting approaches to authority on Cassian's part, paying particular attention to how monastic communities function to solve some of the essential conundrums facing the desert hermit from his point of view.

Pierre Descotes: La correspondance entre Augustin d'Hippone et Nectarius : un duel diplomatique et littéraire

En 408, Nectarius, un notable païen de Calama, écrit à l’évêque d’Hippone pour lui demander, de manière bien maladroite, d’intercéder auprès des autorités impériales en faveur de ses concitoyens, qui s’étaient rendus coupables d’exactions graves envers la communauté chrétienne de la ville. L’échange de lettres qui s’ensuit (epistulae 90, 91, 103 et 104 dans la correspondance d’Augustin) permet à l’évêque d’Hippone de préciser sa vision des responsabilités concrètes d’un évêque en temps de crise, mais également de livrer une esquisse de certains des thèmes majeurs de la Cité de Dieu : on trouve en effet déjà dans nos lettres l’usage polémique virtuose des auteurs latins profanes (Cicéron, Virgile, Térence, Salluste) qui parcourt les premiers livres du De ciuitate Dei, ainsi qu’une réflexion profonde sur les rapports qu’entretiennent la cité terrestre et la cité céleste, mais aussi l’Eglise et l’Empire. Dans ces lettres méconnues, on perçoit une esquisse de ce qui constituera le cœur, littéraire et théologique, de la Cité de Dieu – et c’est toute la richesse de la correspondance que de nous laisser percevoir la pensée d’Augustin encore à l’état d’ébauche, et en construction.

Andrew Summerson: Christological Mixture Language in the Maximus the Confessor’s Ambigua: What the Confessor Learned from the Theologian

This paper proposes to study Maximus the Confessor’s engagement of Gregory Nazianzus’ mixture language in the Ambigua. We will begin with Ambiguum 33, where Maximus considers Gregory’s use of the termpachunomai in On the Nativity of the Savior.First, we will investigate Maximus’ exegesis of the passage. Then, we will move to discuss Maximus’ incorporation of Gregory’s Christological mixture language into his own metaphysical thought elsewhere in theAmbigua. We will take into consideration the stoic background of the term as well as its subsequent medical usage, both germane to Gregory’s employment of pachunomai in his oration as well as Maximus’ preference for it in the Ambigua. The paper attempts to show that Gregory was not the “mere ecclesial vehicle” to advance Maximus’ more sophisticated theology,pace von Balthasar. Rather, the Ambigua is an example of Maximus critically and creatively engaging his Cappadocian predecessor.

Andrew Mellas: SC: Tears of Compunction in John Chrysostom’s On Eutropius

Revisiting John Chrysostom’s On Eutropius, this paper reviews the textualisation of compunction in the bishop’s writings through the lens of the history of emotions. It will explore the affective stylistics and ecclesiastical setting of this work against the backdrop of compunction’s significance in the broader Chrysostomic corpus. Although texts like John’s letter To Demetrius, On Compunction vividly described the ‘fire of compunction’ and ‘streams of tears’ that continually raged in his recipient’s soul, it was homilies like those he delivered on the occasion of Eutropius’ fall from grace where emotions embedded in a text emerged. Thus we will approach compunction by reconstructing the performative function of a text that embodied, mobilised and enacted it within the affective field of its relationships—preacher, audience and liturgy.
Scholarship has previously examined the importance of compunction in late antique society, especially its links with tears and repentance. However, proposing that compunction was a predominantly Christian emotion inevitably raises questions about the archaeology of this emotion and the different layers of affective experience crystallizing in the tropes used to talk about it. Therefore we will be exploring the interpersonal dimension of emotions in Byzantium by looking at how their textual meaning and theological significance are unveiled within liturgical action. After all, it was through the delivery of his homilies, amidst the drama of human apotheosis and fall without redemption, that Chrysostom enshrined compunction in the emotional lexicon of Christianity and shaped the Byzantine experience of tears.

Eiji Hisamatsu: SC Spätbyzantinische Übernahme der Vorstellung von Lichtvision des Euagrios Pontikos, erörtert am Beispiel des Grgorios Sinaites

 Gregorios Sinaites (c. 1255-1346) ist ein bedeutender Vertreter des Hesychasmus, eine monastisch-geistliche Bewegung der spätbyzantinischen Zeit, die auf der Basis des Nachstrebens einer mystischen Erfahrung göttlicher Lichtvision entfaltet wurde. Diese Lichtvision versuchte man durch Wiederholung des Jesusgebets mit einer bestimmten psycho-physischen Methode, zu erreichen. Gregorios Sinaites war der erste Mönchsführer, der für diese Gebetstechnik eine ausführliche und präzise Lehre aufbaute. In diesem Referat möchte ich eben jene Lichtvision als Effekt des Gebetes fokussieren, deren Eigenschaft aber nicht so präzis erklärt wird. Diese mystische Vision des göttlichen Lichts selbst war allerdings schon seit Euagrios Pontikos (um 345-399) als das höchste Ideal des Mönchslebens im Osten erhoben worden. Seine Vorstellung der Lichtvision wurde von der späteren byzantinischen Spiritualität übernommen. Es besteht aber eine gewisse Differenzeireung zwischen der euagrianischen und gregorianischen Lehre: Ich sehe sie in der Radikalisierung einer apophatischen Charakteristik der Lichterfahrung im Zusammenhang der Erörterung über die Unterscheidung der echten Lichtvision von sozusagen „Pseudo-Visionen". Euagrios betont als Merkmal der wahren Lichtvision ihre "Gestaltlosigkeit". Gregorios aber schreibt diese Art von Licht nicht dem „Sehen" zu. Gerade deshalb kennzeichnet er es als etwas, das man „riechen" oder "hören" könne. Dabai ist die Grenzen zwischen den Sinnen selbst verschwinden. Hingegen ist das Licht, das mit dem „Sehen" zusammenhängt, ausnahmslos Illusion. Gregorios will also irgendwie das Anders-Sein der Lichterscheinung als Merkmal für das wahre Gebet akzentuieren. Damit bietet er neben der evagrianischen „Gestaltlosigkeit" eine andere Variante für die Beurteilung der Echtheit einer Lichtvision, nämlich die „Aufhebung des Visuellen"

Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe: ‘Armies of demons: a patristic metaphor of cohesive action?’ (WS)

The idea that plural demons acted in concert - as a body, or in a body - was widespread in patristic thought, and was figured in a number of ways. One of the most popular and powerful of these was the notion that multiple demons acted like an army of soldiers, co-operating together to tempt and attack their human opponents, often under the direction of their singular commander-in-chief, Satan. Indeed, this overlap between plural creatures and singular action is encapsulated in the Gospel stories of the Gadarene exorcism in which a demon declares himself to be ‘Legion’. This paper will demonstrate the popularity of the metaphor in Latin, Greek and Syriac writers of the second to fourth centuries, working across a range of genres. In particular, it will examine the treatment of the notion of a demonic army in scriptural exegesis (in accounts of the mythic fall of the rebel angels after Satan), and in ascetic treatises (in accounts of the assaults on desert-dwelling solitaries by demonic troops, and even by demons disguised as soldiers). The second part of the paper will analyse some particular instances in which the harmony and co-operation between demonic minions and diabolical commander was imagined to break down, as, for instance, in their very different reactions to Christ’s descent to hell in Ephrem’sNisibene Hymns. Overall, this paper will explore the tensions within and between accounts of armies of demons, to demonstrate the varied functions and limitations of this military/body metaphor.

Paul Saieg: SC: Irenaeus and Seneca: The Temptation of Christ and the Legis Sententiae

Adding to the recent work of Michel René Barnes and Anthony Briggman, which has connected Irenaeus more intimately with Stoicism, and despite the dominant scholarly tendency to marginalize Irenaeus' interaction with philosophy, I will argue that Irenaeus' reading of the temptation of Christ in Against Heresies 5.21–24 functions as an exemplum of the important spiritual practice of meditatio or μελέτη. To demonstrate this, I will read Irenaeus' treatment of the temptation against the background of the Stoic Seneca's use and theory of meditatio. I will look specifically at how both Seneca and Irenaeus employ sententiae, decreta, praecepta, and exempla as modes of meditatio for the ethical transformation of their readers. In this way, I hope to show that Irenaeus drew creatively and powerfully on contemporary philosophical practices in his biblical hermeneutic in order to aid his readers in being transformed into the image and likeness of God through meditating on the scriptures.

Gregory Smith: WS Did Augustine Make a Difference? Demons’ Bodies Before and After the Cogito

Please note that this submission is for a pre-arranged workshop organized by Sophie Lunn-Rockliffe entitled “Demonic and Diabolical Bodies.”

Julia Lillis: Who Opens the Womb? Fertility and Virginity in Patristic Texts

(This paper is part of the accepted workshop "Christianity and Medicine, Health, and Disability: Virginity's Anatomy.")

Patristic authors take up a biblical expression about God or offspring "opening the womb" to refer not only to conception and birth, but also to female defloration by a man. Surprisingly, in the ancient Mediterranean world, "virginity" did not necessarily denote a state of a woman's intact hymen. In writings of late antiquity, however, assumptions about the term "virginity" shift; it is increasingly understood as an anatomical state, verifiable by medical examination and dependent upon the integrity of the hymen. Patristic discussion of Mary's virginity in partu provides one significant example of how this shift in meaning impacted Church teaching. Exegesis of a biblical phrase thus serves as a useful index for changing definitions of female virginity, revealing an intensified focus in late antiquity on the female body that masks an earlier definitional fluidity. The fertility-focused use of the phrase found in Irenaeus, Origen, and some fourth-century writers such as Ephrem gives way to a use of the phrase that references male destruction of female virginity--a meaning anticipated by Tertullian, developed by Ambrose, and echoed by increasing numbers of Latin, Greek, and Syriac writers in the late fourth century and afterward.

Anna-Maria Semper: (WS) The Caspari Corpus: A 'Pelagian' lay-man teaching

In 1890, Carl Paul Caspari first released a compilation of six antique writings he assumed to be the work of a single anonymous Pelagian, written in the first thirty years of the fifth century: two letters to individuals (hon. and hum.) and the four treatises On Riches (div.), On Bad Teachers (mal.), On The Possibility Of Not Sinning (poss.) and On Chastity (cast.).
We don't know much about the anonymous writer himself. Apparently, he is a lay person, and according to his self-portrayal in hon., a certain femina clarissima in Sicily served as his spiritual teacher.
What social background can be considered for the author and the recipients of his writings? Which characteristics of his teachings allow us to speak of him as a 'Pelagian' (and what do we mean by that term)? Did the anonymous writer who neither mentions nor directly quotes Pelagius read and use the writings of Pelagius for his own work?

The paper will give an insight into this still relatively unknown corpus not only on the basis of the manuscripts used by Caspari but also by utilising another Codex not jet completely edited.

Dimitrios Moschos: Reasons of being versus uncreated energies - Neoplatonism and mathematics as means of participating in God according to Nicephorus Gregoras

Nicephorus Gregoras (1293-1361) was the third opponent of Gregory Palamas during the hesychast controversy (1341-1351) after Barlaam from Calabria and Gregory Akindynos. Gregoras was much less traditionalist than Akindynos because according to him knowledge of God as well as the real knowledge of the world is obtained neither through syllogisms nor through perception of senses but by the inherent affinity of Intellect with the godly innate "reasons of being" formed in it. Intellect (Nous) is trained in this through mathematical sciences as well as with initiation in the mysteries of revealed knowledge of Church life, while perceptions of outside experiences like visions, and the like, through ascetical life, which was claimed by the hesychasts is a deceitful knowledge. Thus, the notion of "reasons of being" elaborated in a neo-platonist fashion is contrasted to "divine energies" of Palamas. Unlike Barlaam who put some value to Aristotelian logic as source of true knowledge, Gregoras stresses the aprioristic knowledge by the Intellect, introducing directly to the philosophical substantiation of mathematical approach of the natural world and anticipating Italian Renaissance Philosophy. On the other hand Palamas using his version of "uncreated energies" insists on the plasticity of relations between God and created world which is founded on the biblically grounded free will of God instead of a compulsive emanation from a mathematically traceable archetypal form. This fundamental difference affects issues of Christian dogma as well as the perception of history, the importance of scientific knowledge etc

Ron Haflidson: (WS) 'We Shall Become that Seventh Day': Augustine on Deification and Rest'Paper for Deification in the Latin Patristic Tradition

A few decades ago, Augustine's theology of deification was widely considered only an incidental topic of interest. Thanks partly to Gerald Bonner's 1986 article, this has changed. Most recently David Meconi's The One Christ, published in 2013, offers the first-full length study of this subject. One of the great strengths of Meconi's book is how he situates his detailed exposition of the 18 times Augustine uses the term deificare within an impressively comprehensive account of Augustine's soteriology. In this paper, I will build on Meconi's work by exploring how Augustine's first use of the term deificare in Letter 11 anticipates a continuous concern of his soteriology that has yet to be adequately considered. In that early letter, Augustine understands deification to include attaining a state of rest or leisure (deificari in otio). While some scholars have argued that this phrase was Platonic in origin and without distinctly Christian content, Roland Teske has demonstrated that in the contemporaneous work On True Religion, Augustine identifies such rest as a result of Christ's saving work. Further, Teske also notes how Augustine details such rest comes by the ordering of one's loves, a central feature of his ethics. Thus by explicating the consistent connection between salvation and rest, I will demonstrate how Augustine understands the Christian's sanctification to involve an altered relation to time, which has significant ethical implications in this life, and is finally consummated in eternal Sabbath rest.

Hellen Dayton: John Chrysostom on katanuxis as the Source of Spiritual Healing

In Sermon 19 on the Epistles of Paul 1, John Chrysostom made an arduous exercise in Spirituality, finding the explanation for one of the most difficult Biblical passages, and developing the healing concept of κατάνυξις.He had already interpreted what κατάνυξις means in Romans 29:10 and Psalm 29:11-12, over which Ir. Hausherr puzzled (because of judging it through the Latin translation by Abila, according to Athanasius the Great). Chrysostom defines κατανυγῶ in Psalm 29:11-12 as “to withdraw oneself” and “to modify oneself.” He also compares κατάνυξις to a crucifixion, as raising and nailing oneself up, but in reverence or in wickedness? Chrysostom characterizes the situation as a strong custom of the soul, which holds it incurably and immutably: one is addicted to a custom so greatly as to be unable to change one’s style of life or behavior, and therefore it turns into pain. John characterizes κατάνυξις with words by which one ordinarily characterizes a mortal illness, or a pain or hardship related to sorrow. Chrysostom suggests why κατάνυξις occurs, saying that κατάνυξις is a sort of an antidote or inoculation by God against the reaction of self-preservation . . . from God, which bears inner idolatry within the soul and conceives hypocrisy. It is directed against the habit of displaying ostensible righteousness before God instead of maintaining an inner affinity with God. Such justification gains authority and advantages in a society where righteousness is respected and rewarded, but it creates the exact illnesses which κατάνυξις heals.

Habib Ibrahim: WS Three Additional Philosophical Chapters of John Damascene, preserved in the Tenth-Century Arabic Version

After the Byzantine reconquest of Antioch (969 AD), many Greek patristic texts were translated into Arabic - first in the monasteries in the vicinity and then in the city itself. Among these translations there was the Arabic version of the Philosophical Chapters of John Damascene (CPG 8041b) translated by Antony, abbot of the Monastery of Saint Simeon on the Wondrous Mountain. In the Arabic translation, this work has 53 chapters, as opposed to 50 in the original Greek. This number seems to be confirmed by an anonymous overall revision of this translation made before 1223 AD. It reorganizes the material, divides one chapter and unifies two other chapters, most probably, according to the Greek model, and it still has 53 chapters. This leads us to the following questions: Are these three additional chapters also translated from Greek, and if they are, are they extant in Greek or have they been lost? Was there any particular reason for discarding them from the original Greek text of John Damascene? These questions will be discussed and answered in the proposed communication. (workshop 0059)

David Natal: ‘I will never desert you’. Rhetorics of exile and Ambrose of Milan

In an attempt to put an end to the doctrinal dissension between Arians and Nicenes, the Emperor Constantius II (d. 361) summoned the Council of Milan in 355. Unwilling to forswear, recalcitrant Nicene bishops Eusebius of Vercelli, Dionysius of Milan, and Lucifer of Cagliari were condemned to exile and replaced by arians. The memory of the banished bishops, however, remained alive in the Nicene communities of northern Italy, where they acquired a status of martyrs and heroes of the resistance to an oppressive Empire.

Twenty years after the Council of Milan, Nicene bishop Ambrose of Milan (d. 397) will use these bishops’ exile as a rhetorical device during his confrontation with the arian Empress Justina in 386. In this paper, I will argue that Ambrose’s strategy was intended to mobilise the support of local and imperial-wide networks of diehard nicenes, which were dissatisfied by Ambrose’s actuation during the Priscilianist controversy.

Christian Tornau: Why and How to Write a Commentary on Augustine’s Letters. The example of the correspondence with Longinianus (ep. 233-235)

Augustine’s epistolary exchange with Longinianus (ep. 233 and 235 from Augustine,ep. 234 from Longinianus) is perhaps the most enigmatic piece among his letters to pagan intellectuals. The date and identity of Longinianus is controversial; and though he speaks of himself as a priest and famously calls himself paganus, it is far from clear what exactly this amounts to. More importantly, the communication is carried on in the indirect manner typical for the majority of late-antique letters, which makes it difficult to determine whether the priest’s exact attitude to the bishop’s attempts to convert him to Christianity. Biblical and classical allusions are almost inextricably intertwined, and their communicative purpose is not always easy to discover.
These and related issues, which mutatis mutandis occur in most of Augustine’s letters, are, it will be argued, best dealt with by means of a commentary that combines historical and prosopographical methods with an analyses of the partners’ dialectical and rhetorical strategies and pays sufficient attention to the peculiarities of late-antique epistolography. Taking the Longinianus correspondence as a test case, a method of commenting on an Augustinian epistolary exchange will be developed that will be applicable to otherLetters as well.

Anna Lampadaridi: Translating the “Father of Translation”: new researches on the Greek versions of Jerome’s Vita Sancti Hilarionis (BHL 3879)

While the translation of Greek texts into Latin has been often studied, the opposite phenomenon, translations form Latin into Greek, has only rarely been the subject of a systematic approach. This paper tackles the issue of the Greek versions of a Late Antique hagiographical text, the Vita Sancti Hilarionis(BHL 3879), composed by Jerome, known as “the Father of Translation”, at the end of the 4th century. This dossier constitutes an interesting case study, which demonstrates that translations of a sole text could be produced in an independent way, in differentmilieux and by different people. There are three basic Greek versions of the VH, two literal (BHG751z, BHG 752) and one free (BHG 753). The paper focuses on the discovery of an only partially known Greek translation (BHG 752), which allows us to map out the different stages of the translation of this Latin text into Greek. We are currently preparing a critical edition of the Vita BHG 1752, which constitutes a Greek translation extremely closed to the Latin original. Some expressions in Greek are incomprehensible if we do not resort to the original, while many Greek words are tracings of the Latin ones. Such a translation from Latin into Greek is extremely rare and thus of a major importance for the history of the translations. The critical edition of this mostly unknown Greek translation of VH will make this text accessible to scholars and contribute to a better understanding of the translation procedure. 

Ruben Pereto Rivas: WORKSHOP: El Platonismo en los Padres de la Iglesia. Aportes desde los estudios patrísticos en Latinoamérica

Convener: Rubén Peretó Rivas (AIEP - Argentina)
1) Juan Carlos Alby (Argentina), "El trasfondo platónico del concepto de lex divina en Ireneo de Lyon".
2) Patricia Ciner (Argentina), "La herencia espiritual: la doctrina de la preexistencia en Platón y Orígenes"
3) Gerald Cresta (Argentina), "Πάνκαλον" y "όπέπκαλον": acerca de la belleza metafísica en Pseudo-Dionisio y Buenaventura".
4) Viviana Félix (Argentina), "Platonismo y reflexión trinitaria en Justino"
5) Pedro Fernández (Argentina): ""Raíces platónicas del modelo pedagógico de Orígenes"
6) Rubén Peretó Rivas (Argentina), ""El Carro Alado platónico y la eutonía en la dinámica psicológica de Evagrio Póntico".
7) Graciela Ritacco (Argentina), "La perennidad del legado patrístico"
9) Eduardo Soares de Oliveira (Brasil), "Quid ergo Athenis et Hierosolimis: Aproximações e distanciamentos da filosofia platônica em Tertuliano".
9) Mariano Troiano (Argentina), "Dios y demiurgos. Diversas lecturas del Timeo en los inicios del cristianismo".
10) Santiago Vázquez, (Argentina), Plato's curative incantation and the therapeutic potentiality of the word in Evagrius Ponticus
11) Oscar Velázquez (Chile), ‘La caverna platónica en el diseño de las Confesiones de Agustín'.


The given article represents the attempt to look into such a phenomenon of Byzantine culture as the tragedy «Χριστòς πάσχων» "Suffering Christ" from a new point of view. The detailed comparison on the base of the primary sources of the text of the tragedy and its antique reminiscences (adoptions) created the necessary prerequisites for the showing up the stable pattern of the dramatical piece, according to which the antique reminiscence (adoption) meaning being transformed into the narrative of the Christian tragedy results in the paraphrased evangelical narration.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

David Reis: Mapping Exilic Imaginaries: Greco-Roman Discourses of Displacement and the Book of Revelation

The early Christian tradition identified John as an exile who received a series of revelations that challenged Roman imperial power structures. Yet contemporary scholars have not considered how ancient exilic literature might have resonated among Revelation’s early readers, those who expand upon John’s allusive self-description by expressly classifying him as an exile. This paper will address this question by analyzing how exilic discourses exploited the concept of the imaginary—the capacity for an author ‘to see [a thing] other than it is’—in order to create new social meaning. In the imperial age, Greco-Roman writers on exile were especially proficient in seeing ‘otherwise’: they utilized the exilic topos to reconfigure imperial constructions of identity, knowledge, power, and space. In a similar fashion, the formulation of counter-identities and counter-spaces are central features of the book of Revelation. In this text, John rejects the empire’s narrative of displacement and instead transforms himself into an authoritative visionary and his location into a place of revelatory triumph. From this position, the seer speaks in the register of the exultant exile, one who exposes the fragility of the imperial apparatus, envisions a more durable social order based upon the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ, and invites his audience to join with him in celebrating the imminent appearance of the new heaven and earth.

Theodoros Alexopoulos: The third letter of Gregory Palamas to Gregory Akindynos

The third letter of Palamas against Gregory Akindynos, as it is given to us by P. Chrestou, has raised in the last years serious suspicions concerning his authenticity for several reasons. Nevertheless, before we come to safe conclusions on this topic, it is necessary to explore the arguments advanced by Palamas in order to defend himself from G. Akindynos, who accused him of accepting two deities, a superior and an inferior within God. Are Palama’s explanations in respect to this accusation satisfactory? Are they well-grounded on solid theological elements rooted to his predecessors such as Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagites. Are his views as exposed in this third letter in conformity with his theological positions in his earlier works? An insight to this matter will helps us to see, if Palamas was consistent or not from the beginning with his teaching on the distinction between essence and energies or he was forced to reconsider his theology because of the objections raised by Akindynos.

Roland Sokolowski: 'Zealous for the Covenant of Christ': An inquiry into the lost career of Irenaeus

Irenaeus' reputation as one of the foremost heresiologists of the early church easily occludes a wider appreciation of his vocation as a minister. This paper seeks to problematise the prevailing association of Irenaeus with anti-gnostic polemic and to demonstrate that his associations with Polycarp and Justin supply good grounds for supposing that Irenaeus developed a significant preaching and teaching ministry in advance of his literary success. Furthermore,it is to be indicated that one may read both his Refutation and Demonstration through this lens, with the raw materials of concrete mission as the undergirding biblical and philosophical experience from which he draws his argument.

Alison Bonner: 'Pelagian' After-Lives: Transmission, Reception, and Inter-textualityPaper title: The manuscript transmission of Pelagius' Letter to Demetrias and its implications

This paper outlines the Medieval transmission of Pelagius' Letter to Demetrias, as uncovered by my work to create a critical edition of the text, and asks whether any implications can be drawn from the scale and nature of its transmission. It discusses the reception of the text as revealed in manuscript marginalia, and the level of understanding among medieval readers of the question of the relationship between free will and prevenient grace. The paper will look at evidence about how the text was perceived, and will propose some conclusions about what the transmission pattern of Letter to Demetrias may imply about the role of the principle of human free will and the idea of the innate goodness of man created in God's image, within the Christian message of salvation. Finally, it will address the question of whether or not there is a tension between the received narrative describing Pelagius' teaching as heretical, and the transmission patterns of his writings.  

Luis Salés: 'Aristotelian' as a Lingua Franca: Rationality in Christian Self-Representation under the 'Abbasids

Christian writings in Arabic are likely the most neglected corpus of the medieval period. One might blame colonial historiographies for having tinged narratives of anything east of the Bosporus during (and since!) the 'middle' Ages with a sense of the 'exotic,' as well as exerting considerable force on the representation, misrepresentation, or non-representation of Eastern Christians in general.

It is the object of the following presentation to offer a brief glimpse of a counternarrative in the works by giving voice to an Arabic-writing Christian, Theodore Abū Qurrah (d. ca. 820), and his representation of Christianity under the 'Abbasids. This ephemeral glimpse has the potential to destabilize numerous cherished tropes of colonial discourse and controvert contemporary perceptions of the events that followed upon the Islamic conquest of formerly Roman territory.

To that effect, I exposit how, under the 'Abbasids and particularly as an extension of the settings known as majlis (where, by the patronage and safe-conduct of the Caliphs, Christians and Jews could openly debate with Muslims about their faith), Abū Qurrah defended the rationality of Christianity through Aristotelian logic. (That he was able to presuppose 'Aristotelian' as a lingua franca at all is itself fascinating.) I look specifically at his argumentation in favor of points shared with Jews and Muslims, like God's existence and oneness, but also at his effort to shape Muslim perceptions of Christians as a group whose tenets, like the divine sonship of Jesus Christ, could be rationally defended without requiring recourse to their own Scriptures.

Matthieu Pignot: Becoming Christian in the late antique West (3rd-6th centuries): discourses and practices.

This workshop aims to contribute to the scholarly debate on conversion, through an emphasis on the complex and progressive nature of religious belonging. The objective is to highlight, by exploring sources of the late antique West, the dynamics through which individuals experienced, witnessed, and theorized the process of becoming Christian. The panel, focusing on the Latin-speaking regions of the Western Mediterranean (particularly Italy, Africa and Gaul) from the third to the sixth century, shall open up new perspectives by letting theological, sociological and historical approaches inform each other. Papers will explore the way Christian identity was formed, expressed and understood in society with an attention for concrete means of identification and for the relevance of cultural and ethnic parameters, the practical or rhetorical role of the aristocracy in the Christianisation of the West during the crucial fourth and fifth centuries, the contribution of preached texts to understand the initiation process, and the related theological conceptualisation of conversion, with particular emphasis on the image of childhood and of the Christian family. The long chronological span and attention to regional diversity should assess changes over space and time. In this respect, the variety found in the sources about what it means to become and be a member of a Christian community should enrich our understanding of conversion, and of the gradual sense of belonging - and of exclusion - generated within and without the ecclesia.

Jörg Ulrich: Dionysius of Alexandria in Exile. Evidence from his Letter to Germanus (Eus.Caes., h.e. VII 11)

Dionysius' letter to Germanus is a valuable document because it allows insights into the practice of exile at the times of the persecution under the emperor Valerian. The paper will present observations concerning the bishop's activities in exile, the conditions he was subjected to, his relation to the imperial authorities, to the people at his place of banishment and to those from his church in Alexandria. It will also deal with Dionysius' theological interpretation of his exile. Finally, the paper will draw a comparison with a case of exile in the fourth century and will ask for continuities and discontinuities in the phenomenon of clerical exile before and after Constantine. The paper is part of the conference workshop WS 0146 "Clercial Exile in Late Antiquity".

Andrew Blaski: The Epinoiai and the Changing Flesh of Christ in Origen's Contra Celsum

Origen of Alexandria's claim that the body of Jesus "differed in accordance with the capacity of those who saw it" (Contra Celsum 6.77) has never ceased to puzzle his readers. While John McGuckin has demonstrated that Origen's concerns here are largely soteriological rather than material, partially exonerating him from charges of "doceticism" or "gnosticism" ("The Changing Forms of Jesus"), we are still left without a comprehensive framework with which to understand this peculiar doctrine. In line with McGuckin's suggestion, I intend to argue that the key to understanding Origen's doctrine of the changing flesh of Christ is first to understand his doctrine of the epinoiai (the numerous "aspects" or titles of Christ). Remarkably, Origen explicitly connects the two in Contra Celsum 2.64, among other places, where he defends the notion that Jesus did not "appear alike to all" by pointing to the numerous "I am" statements ("I am the way, the truth, and the life", "I am the bread", "I am the door", etc.). By placing this discussion within the framework of the epinoiai, we will see that, for Origen, Jesus accommodates his physical appearance to each individual in the very same manner than the Son accommodates himself through his numerous aspects or titles. Paradoxically, this connection will ultimately reveal the reality of Jesus' flesh, despite the immaterial quality of the epinoiai.

DIMITRIOS VASILAKIS: Dionysius versus Proclus on Undefiled Providence

In the past it has been tempting for scholars to present (pseudo-) Dionysius the Areopagite more or less as a Christian plagiarizer of Proclus.  Recent literature has defied this uncharitable verdict and the present paper aims to give further support to a reading of Dionysius that shows his innovations against the Neoplatonic background due to his Christian presuppositions.  More specifically I attempt a comparison between Dionysius and Proclus, and the topic in question is the juxtaposition between undefiled providence and incarnation. I illustrate undefiled providence from Proclus’ Elements of Theology, according to which the divine principles exercise providence without any intermingling with or embodiment in the recipient of providence.  As is evident from Proclus’ Commentary on the First Alcibiades the best exemplification of undefiled providence in our intramundane realm is Socrates, who thereby forms the counterpoint to Dionysius’ Christ, who is incarnated due to his manic philanthropy.  Although, as acknowledged by Dionysius, Christ is perfect God and perfect man (cf. e.g. DN §2.10), while Socrates is not a God, but lower in the scala of being, Dionysius’ enunciations of God’s undefiled providence may lead one to underestimate the importance of Christ’s incarnation for Dionysius, a conclusion that make the latter an imitator of Proclus.  In this paper I show how an attentive reader can opt for an alternative interpretation that helps us understand the subtle but crucial distinction between undefiled providence and incarnation within a Christian framework and can thus feature Dionysius’ dynamic and critical relation with his Neoplatonic milieu.

Johan Thom: Pythagorean sayings material in Iamblichus' Protrepticus

Iamblichus' Protrepticus was the second volume of his comprehensive work On Pythagoreanism, in which Iamblichus lays out the basic elements of his Pythagoreanizing philosophical program. According to Dominic O'Meara, the Protrepticus contains a progressive protreptic "accomplished ... in three stages: a protreptic to philosophy in general, not restricted to a specific system (chapters 2-3); an intermediate protreptic mixing in the general with the Pythagorean (chapters 4-20); a final protreptic to the technical demonstrations of the Pythagoreans (chapter 21)." Two very different types of sayings are used in the first and third stages to illustrate this protreptic: in chapter 3 Iamblichus discusses the Pythagorean Golden Verses and in chapter 21 the Pythagorean akousmata. My paper will examine the paraenetic and protreptic uses of theses sayings in the Protrepticus and elsewhere.

Vít Hušek: Deification in Jerome

This paper will explore the parallels to the doctrine of deification in Jerome and will focus on the complementary terms he prefers: participation in divine life, grace and its special gifts (in particular virginity), and adoptive sonship. Attention will be also paid to Jerome's adaptation of the themes characteristic of the Western tradition, such as the inequality of divine gifts, the role of human agency, and divine foreknowledge.

Dongsun Cho: The Son’s Eternal Relational Subordination to the Father: A Critical reading of A Contemporary Evangelical Trinitarian Controversy on Augustine

Augustine has been in the center of the Evangelical trinitarian controversy on the eternal functional subordination of the Son. Some (Bruce Ware and Wayne Grudem) argue that Augustine taught the eternal functional subordination of the Son in terms of authority. Others (Kevin Giles and Millard J. Erickson) condemn such a view as heretical, arguing that Augustine precluded any type of subordination of the Son in the immanent Trinity. The thesis of this paper is that Augustine really teaches the voluntary ‘relational’ subordination of the Son in eternity. The adjective ‘relational,’ rather than ‘functional,’ is a better term for Augustine’s description of the Son’s eternal dependence upon God. In contrast to Giles and Erickson, I will demonstrate that Augustine seriously took a relational primacy to the Father as the source of the Godhead. As Luigi Gioia nicely points out, therefore, the purpose of revelation through the incarnation and redemption is not to reveal of the three Persons respectively. Instead, the incarnation and redemption in Augustine’s trinitarian theology are to reveal the invisible Father in the incarnate Son in the love of the Holy Spirit. Unlike Ware and Grudem, I would argue, like Lewis Ayres, that the idea of authority would not fit with Augustine’s view of the Son’s eternal relational subordination since it was also the Son himself along with the Father who sent the Son to the world. This paper also presents a considerable theological affinity between Augustine and Karl Barth on the Son’s eternal relational subordination to the Father.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

James Papandrea: Loaning and Borrowing: Novatian's Concept of the communicatio idiomatum and its Place in the Development of the Doctrine of Theosis.

Novatian is a pioneer of the doctrine of communicatio idiomatum, using the language of “loaning” and “borrowing” to preserve the immutability of the divine, while still allowing for the divine nature of Christ to experience the human condition. This paper will outline Novatian’s understanding of the communicatio idiomatum, and demonstrate how he believed that it led to a conferral of divinity on humanity, placing Novatian among the earliest theologians to articulate a doctrine of theosis.

T. B. Sailors: On Dispensing with the Claim of an Ostensible Additional Manuscript of the Armenian Fragment of the Second-Century Apology of Aristides

Aristides composed an apology in Greek (ca. a.d. 145) that, prior to the nineteenth century, had been considered lost. The late-nineteenth-century publication of a fragment in an Armenian translation, however, initiated the recovery of the work. This paper probes more deeply into subsequent claims of an ostensible additional manuscript of the Armenian fragment.
In 1878, the Venetian Mechitarists on the island of San Lazzaro published the first two chapters of the Apology from an Armenian manuscript in the monastery’s library. Today, this is known to be one of four Armenian manuscripts that preserve this fragment. Particular attention must be given the assertion by Geffcken (Zwei griechische Apologeten, 1907) that the translation of the Armenian into Russian by Ėmin ('Отрьвок из апологии Аристида христианскаго апологета', 1879) was based not upon the 1878 edition of the Mechitarists, but upon a purported additional Armenian manuscript – a notion later repeated by Vona (L’Apologia di Aristide, 1950) and most recently mentioned in Pouderon, Pierre and Outtier (Aristide: Apologie, 2003, 'Le prétendu cinquième manuscrit ... n’est pas autrement connu'). The suggestion that an Armenian manuscript containing the fragment was known to Ėmin was compounded with confusion (by none other than von Harnack) regarding the number of manuscripts on San Lazzaro containing the fragment. Clearly there have long been misrepresentations of the editio princeps and the publication by Ėmin. How is one to properly assess the evidence? Was there indeed, as is often alleged, an additional manuscript of the Armenian fragment to which Ėmin had access?

Yuliia Rozumna: “‘Be Angry and Do Not Sin’. Human Anger in Evagrius of Pontus and Gregory of Nyssa”

The creation of a positive theology of human anger has never been an easy task. Gregory of Nyssa (335-395) and Evagrius of Pontus (345-399) are two important witnesses from the early Church who made distinctive contributions to this problem. This paper compares their different approaches to the nature of anger with a look at the ancient philosophy: Evagrius discusses specifically the use of anger in accordance with nature, anger in fighting the demons, anger and prayer, and apatheia; Gregory discusses anger in the context of passions, human freedom and desire for God, and has a different view on the future of the human body. The paper, however, argues that both theologians agree on the possibility and necessity of the righteous human anger. For both of them the irascible part of the soul which produces anger was created by God in His image. Anger therefore could never be just an evil passion; whatever evil was attached to it was to be explained solely as a result of humanity’s fallen condition. In the scheme of Christian asceticism to which both authors subscribed, the primordial goodness of anger could be restored when the irascible part of the soul was subjected to reason (Gregory) or used “according to nature” (Evagrius). Indeed it could even become praiseworthy as a genuine virtue when transformed into courage against evil, the common enemy of humankind.

Francesca Dell'Acqua: Mary as «scala caelestis» in Eighth- and Ninth-Century Italy

This paper is aimed at illustrating how the literary image of Mary taken up to Heaven developed by early iconophile authors in the East has been received a few decades later in the West by Ambrosius Autpertus († 784), who is generally acknowledged as the first Western medieval Mariologist. Although the modalities of transmission of early iconophile homilies to the West have not been investigated, it remains the case that Autpertus adopts the same phrasing, metaphors, epithets to describe Mary, her Assumption into Heaven, her role in the history of Salvation. Autpertus’ literary image was eventually translated in visual imagery in his own monastery in the years 824-42, pre-dating the earliest examples of the image of the Dormitio/Koimesis in which Mary is shown on her death bed surrounded by the Apostles. This paper will try to reconstruct the modalities of circulation of theological concepts between East and West in the period of the ‘image struggle’, their influence on the religious mentality, and their ‘translation’ into visual imagery.

Uta Heil: Fulgentius of Ruspe and his exiles on Sardinia

While during the first three centuries Sardinia with its mines was a terrible "penal colony" for Christians, the conditions changed after the "Toleranzedikt" of Galerius. Nevertheless later on this isle again became a place for undesirable Christians as one can see in the biography of Fulgentius of Ruspe. During the Vandal Kingdom he, together with a group of bishops, had to leave North Africa and to stay on Sardinia for many years. This paper tries to shed some light on this center for exiled persons with its conditions, restrictions and chances.

DENNIS QUINN: The Patristic Background of Gregory of Tours’ Demonic-Encounter Narratives

In the introduction to The World of Gregory of Tours, edited by Kathleen Mitchell and Ian Wood, Peter Brown remarked that the scholarship on Gregory of Tours was “something of an academic industry.” Although works on his histories have certainly topped the list, studies on his hagiographical works are not far behind. I will attempt to add capital to this industry by examining an often-overlooked aspect of the bishop of Tours’ hagiographical works: the possible source materials that underlie some of his narrative accounts. This paper examines Gregory’s descriptions of demonic encounters in light of the written source materials he most likely had at his disposal and from which he drew inspiration. Certainly utilizing local folk and oral tradition as well, Gregory frames his narrative accounts within the rich patristic, especially monastic literature in which he was so immersed.  I propose that, along with such sources as Sulpicius Severus, John Cassian, Caesarius of Arles, and Paulinus of Nola, Gregory may also have drawn directly from the Latin version of Athanasius’ Life of St. Anthony. Although his demonic-encounter narratives are certainly uniquely his own, I will show that Gregory transmits important aspects of this rich patristic demonological tradition, such as certain animal and fantastical forms, typical colors, and overall narrative characteristics, within his hagiographical works; a tradition which was to become part and parcel of the western medieval demonological industry to follow.

Michael Pilarski: Nebridius, Friend of St. Augustine

My communication deals with Nebridius, a friend of St. Augustine who grew up in the vicinity of Carthage. He is mentioned several times in the Confessions. Additionally, he has exchanged letters with Augustine. Of this correspondence, twelve letters are still extant.
Based on these two sources, I will first give an overview of Nebridius' life. Then I will discuss a couple of problematic aspects of his biography in detail. Thereby, I will focus on the turning points of his life, some of which are difficult to understand: Why did he follow Augustine to Milan? When did he decide to become a Christian? When and why did he go back to Africa? Trying to clarify these issues I will open the field for two more general questions.
Firstly, I will have to discuss the value of the Confessions as a historical source. In particular, I will consider whether the central figures in the Confessions are idealised in order to fit into Augustine's interpretation of his own life before his baptism.
Secondly, having tried to discover much more about Nebridius than what the sources are explicitly offering, I will ponder on the limits of my own work: In order to fathom a rather marginal personality of the fourth century, how much speculation is sensible?

Luke Steven: The principle of 'proportion' in Maximus the Confessor

My claim in this paper is that there exists a principle or thought-pattern that Maximus the Confessor finds matchlessly useful for elaborating the structure of the universe as created by God, and for grasping the expedition and difficulty of the human calling within such a universe. I am referring to a principle of ‘proportion' (ἀναλογία), which winds its way from Aristotle and Paul through late-antiquity to reach its acme in Maximus. I will briefly demonstrate the way in which, Maximus teaches us, humans draw near to God and receive God's grace ‘in proportion to' (κατ' ἀναλογίαν) the mode and shape of life they assemble for themselves through habit, virtuous or vicious. I will then turn to some passages where Maximus uses this ascetical model of proportion to explain how God the Word comes to indwell Christians, enacting in them the pattern of his Incarnation.

Satoshi Toda: Judaeo-Christian Gospel Tradition Revisited

At the beginning of the twentieth century Judaeo-Christian Gospel Tradition was one of the most favourite subjects for students of the earliest stage of Christianity, which is indeed sometimes called Judaeo-Christianity; but now it is rather a relatively neglected field of study, because the rediscovery of the Gospel according to Thomas strongly induced many scholars to discuss on its possible relation with the Synoptic Gospels, leaving other apocryphal Gospels behind. Since it now seems that the problems surrounding the Gospel according to Thomas will find definitive solutions in a near future, it is high time to go back to the interest with which apocryphal Gospel traditions were originally treated. Thus this paper will deal with Judaeo-Christian Gospel Tradition (the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Nazarenes, and the Gospel of the Ebionites), making a survey of the status quaestionis, and try to explore its significance not only for the quest surrounding Jesus' sayings and deeds, but also for the history of earliest Christianity up to the end of the second century.

Carson Bay: "Isaiah Saw Jesus: Theophany and the Son in Eusebius's Commentary on Isaiah 6.1"

In his Commentary on Isaiah 6.1, Eusebius assays to delineate the systematic theology of theophany. He propounds that Isaiah saw Jesus "literally," yet with spiritually enhanced vision, something that had to wait for Hezekiah's death given his burning incense in the temple (which caused the Lord's glory to depart). Eusebius draws on biblical tropes to explain why, how, when, and where Isaiah saw Jesus in Isaiah 6.1, developing en route a systematic theology of theophany. Eusebius's other works have received the lion's share of scholarly attention, and most of the little work on Eusebius's Commentary on Isaiah is quite recent, focusing on translation (Armstrong) or panorama of Eusebius's exegesis (Hollerich). Scholarship on the fine print of Eusebius's exegesis is negligible. By unfolding Eusebius's reading of Isaiah 6.1, this paper shows: 1) an early, original theological move anticipating profound influence on later understanding of theophany; 2) a spiritual-historiographical departure from Origen's reading of Isaiah's theophany; 3) an important look into Eusebius's exegetical tendencies, developing further his hermeneutic, combining theology and historiography in logical concert. This paper, among the first examinations of specific passages in Eusebius's Commentary on Isaiah, thus develops a monumental trope in nascent Christian theology, demonstrates complex interaction between Eusebius and his exegetical influences, and takes important first steps toward painting a fuller picture of the exegesis of early Christianity's great historian. Furthermore, this may constitute a precursor to Eusebius's "constitutive approach" to the Son-as-image-of-God question, which Delcogliano argues occurred around the time of this commentary's publication.

Judith Kovacs: ‘“In order that we might follow him in all things”: Interpretation of Gospel texts in the Excerpts from Theodotus 66-86.

This paper explores how the interpretation of specific gospel texts in the fourth part of Clement’s Excerpts from Theodotus (#66-86) exemplifies a principle of exegesis stated in #76: “As the birth of the Saviour released us from becoming and from Fate, so also his baptism rescued us from passion in order that we might follow him in all things.” In a creative synthesis of verses from the Pauline letters with narratives from the gospels, the Valentinian author interprets the birth, baptism, temptation, and crucifixion of the Saviour as paradigms for salvific experiences in the life of the believer. For example the celebration of the Saviour’s victory over evil powers in Colossians 2 facilitates an interpretation of the star appearing at his birth (Matthew 2) as announcing rescue from Fate, and Paul’s exhortation to “put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” helps draw out the existential lesson from the story of the Savior’s temptation, when he lived with the “wild beasts.”

Ashish Naidu: Mere Mimesis or Inner Transformation? Ancient Discourse and John Chrysotom on Christian Praxis.

Scholars have observed that the idea of mimesis was a key concept in ancient literary criticism and a vital interpretive feature in the early church. Specifically, the wording and content of the scriptures were viewed as mimetic of divine truths and doctrinal teaching. Mimetic exegesis assumes the replay of a drama—an act or plot—and so had a place in shaping life in the church. Therefore, the life of Christ is viewed as an icon, a picture, a model for Christian ethics and practice.

However, I argue that deeper theological concerns also animate patristic exegesis. I will examine John Chrysostom’s commentary on the Fourth Gospel to demonstrate that he views the imitation of Christ not as a hermeneutical device consistent with the literary theories of his day, but as a proper response to the spiritual transformation that has taken place in the neophyte. First, I will examine how Chrysostom’s soteriology informs his understanding of the Christian life. Second, I will show how his evocative depictions of Christian virtue convey a profound conviction that a Christ-like life is the result of a prior inward work of God’s grace. Finally, I will argue that Chrysostom’s view of Christian praxis is not merely a representation of Christ’s example but an outward reflection of the life in Christ. Chrysostom’s use of mimesis, therefore, is better appreciated when viewed through the lens of the life of faith in an ecclesiastical context.

Kristi Upson-Saia: Sexuality in the Garden: Priapus and the Christian Virgin Policing the Boundaries of the Good Life

Several early Christian authors figured Christian virgins as a "garden enclosed" (an expression derived from Song of Songs 4:12).  In this paper, I analyze a related image we find in Gregory of Nyssa's On Virginity.  In chapter 13 of this text, Gregory imagines the Christian virgin as a boundary stone policing the entrance to (the garden of) Paradise.  I suggest that Gregory's argument here purposively calls to mind another figure who policed garden entrances: Priapus. Statues of Priapus--depicting him with an oversized and permanently erect penis, and accompanied with inscriptions that threatened sexual violence to anyone who dared trespass--were commonplace in aristocratic Greco-Roman gardens. I suspect that Gregory is deliberately setting up Christian virgins in contrast to the hyper-sexualized Priapus in order to subvert conventional Greco-Roman sensibilities about elite status and the good life. Specifically, Gregory opposes the luxury of an aristocratic life symbolized by their gardens and in its place he situates the Christian virgin whose life of devotion to God-a life characterized by a renunciation of sex and of the trappings of the world-will grant her entrance into Paradise. In this paper, I contend that we understand the full logic of Gregory's argument only when we conjure the landscapes and associations of Greco-Roman gardens.

David Voprada: Bonum mihi quod humiliasti me. Ambrose’s Theology of Humility and Humiliation

Among other virtues, humility plays a central role for Ambrose of Milan. However, the bishop does not distinguish between two meanings of humilitas that describe both humility as virtue, and humiliation as a condition man burdened by hardships. Especially in the situation of religious struggle of the Church in Milan in 380s, this humilitas becomes a vehicle of of believer’s union with Christ, the Humble one both in moral and in mystical sense. Humiliation of the Church and of the believers becomes paradoxically a manifestation of the “true humble” who is Christ. Ambrose proposes the idea that it is during the persecutions and adversities when the Church and the Christians can experience a moment of spiritual growth towards perfection and union with God. The paper presents this theological concept of humilitas, focusing especially on Ambrose’s Commentary on Psalm 118.

Sean Moberg: Examination of Conscience in the Apophthegmata Patrum

The relationship of Christianity and philosophy is one of the enduring questions in Patristic studies. However, this question tends to be approached from an almost-entirely dogmatic perspective, leaving little room for studies of practice. This paper proposes to examine just such an issue, taking as its starting point one of the spiritual exercises in ancient philosophy expounded by Pierre Hadot, namely the practice of the examination of conscience. All the major schools of ancient philosophy, frequently drawing upon the Pythagorean tradition, encouraged regular and searching self-examinations in order to uncover occasions when adherents had failed to live up to their philosophical principles, and also when they had succeeded in living them out. In the Apophthegmata Patrum, a practice emerges which bears a number of close similarities to its philosophical predecessor, in such a way that an organic connection between the two seems likely. In particular, both the philosophers and the Desert Fathers suggest a morning as well as an evening examination, both advise examination of successes as well as failures, and both promote practices whereby the results of examination are externalized, either through confession or writing. The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it aims to explore the practice of self-examination in ancient philosophy and Christian monasticism, tracing the developments and modifications it undergoes as it moves from one context to another. Second, the paper seeks to help broaden the conversation about the relationship of Christianity and philosophy, one that includes elements of practice as well as doctrine.

Lynn Cohick: Thecla's Baptism and Falconilla's Resurrection: Daughters and Their Mothers in the Acts of Paul and Thecla

I argue that the stories of women narrated in the Acts of Paul and Thecla convey the social and theological complexities of second century Christianity. First, I suggest that Thecla does not baptize herself but is baptized by God; however, her actions and prayer serve to confirm Falconilla’s resurrection, thereby highlighting Thecla’s mediating power.  Second, it is not Thecla’s death, but Tryphaena’s “death” that brings events in the arena to an end. Tryphaena’s “death” is followed by her conviction in Falconilla’s resurrection, all based on Thecla’s survival in the arena. The female chorus in Antioch amplifies both Thecla’s voice and Tryphaena’s position. Third, Thecla’s mother and Tryphaena serve as examples of competing social ideals for the ancient city. The female characters, with the exception of Theocleia, demonstrate the proper response for the reader of the Acts of Paul and Thecla.

Benoît Gain: Le voyage de jeunesse de Basile de Césarée en Orient : hypothèses sur le silence des sources externes

Le voyage de Basile en Orient a , semble-t-il, laissé peu de traces dans sa vie et son oeuvre, en  dehors des quelques lignes contenues une vingtaine  d'années plus tard dans sa lettre 223 à Eustathe de Sébaste, aux accents autobiographiques. Si l'on admet les conclusions de dom J. Gribomont (article de 1959) relatives à la date (356) et aux motifs de ce voyage, le silence des témoignages externes trouve des  explications, dont jusqu'à présent on a peu mesuré la portée.

Sigrid Mratschek: The Unwritten Letters of Augustine of Hippo

My talk will deal with ‘unwritten letters' among the total of 270 letters of Augustine known to us (but without the recent Divjak and Dolbeau finds). They give us an excellent impression of the mechanisms of communication and conflict solving between Church and state in the west of the Roman Empire. Together with prosopographic facts from other collections of correspondence, records of African synods and imperial constitutions which have previously overlooked, the sources take on a life of their own. The result is an unfamiliar portrait of a man you all know well - Augustine of Hippo.

Hedwig Schmalzgruber: Biblical epic as scriptural exegesis - reception of Ambrose in the so-called Heptateuch poet

Biblical exegesis was not only practised by the prose commentators of the patristic tradition, but also by the poets who wrote biblical epics. Prominent representatives of the Old Testament biblical epic such as Claudius Marius Victorius, Avitus and Dracontius make obvious and extensive use of exegetical sources like Ambrose and Augustine, whereas the so-called Heptateuch poet, also known by the pseudonym of Cyprianus Gallus and usually dated to the first half of the 5th century, follows the Bible very closely and often gives just a metrical paraphrase of the biblical content. This means that, in contrast to the former poets, he didn´t draw much attention from researchers. However, a closer look at his versification of the book of Genesis reveals a number of significant variations and enrichments of the biblical text, which seem to be far more than poetic ornaments and apparently have an exegetic function. This short communication will show how the Heptateuch poet in his treatment of the book of Genesis approaches thoughts expressed in Ambrose´s works relevant to the subject of Genesis such as the Hexaemeron, De paradiso, De Cain et Abel and De Noe. It will be argued that the poet was indeed familiar with contemporary biblical exegesis and therefore doesn´t deserve the disparaging label of a "mere paraphraser".

Matthew Hoskin: The Vulgate's Contamination of Leo the Great's Scriptural Quotations

Over-familiarity of a text can lead to scribal corruptions, as has been shown to have happened in the copying of remembered, preached versions of Scripture into biblical texts. This process, however, also goes the other way-the scribe's memorised version of the Bible can corrupt the copying of a non-scriptural text when the Bible is cited. This phenomenon is notable in the corpus of Leo the Great, the first pope after the completion of the Vulgate to leave us a substantial body of text. On many occasions, the variations for Leo's scriptural quotations have multiple attestations in the manuscript tradition. Leo's quotations are usually Vulgate, but sometimes his quotations shift from a ‘precise' reading. For example, Leo quotes Matthew as being from Isaiah, and several scribes have ‘corrected' Leo to match Isaiah. Elsewhere he adds words to make his prose flow more coherently; some scribes remove these interpolations. The opposite occurs when words ‘drop out' of his quotations. More interesting are the variations that are stylistically preferable according to the rules of Leo's Latin prose rhythm-a cause beyond faults of memory or multiple translations. By examining the dangers inherent in copying well-known texts, my paper will question the usefulness of the Fathers for biblical textual criticism and observe the fluidity of their biblical text, highlighting memory and style as important factors in the patristic quotations of Scripture.

István M. Bugár: Melito and the Body

Melito of Sardis is a key figure in the history of the theological treatment of body. Firstly, he is one of the first genuine theologians of Incarnation. Secondly, he has been accused by Origen as having stated that God is of bodily nature. Thirdly, he has composed a treatise (?) On Body and Soul. In my paper I attempt at a clarification of the emerging questions on the basis of available textual evidence. Besides the Paschal homily and the fragments of Melito, I discuss in detail the Syriac "apology" preserved under the name of "Melito the philosopher". As far as Origen's statement is concerned, in my argument I follow the suggestion made by G. Florovsky, who saw in this debate a preenactment  of the late fourth-century "anthropomorphite" controversy, and this in the sense as being a contest about the question of what it means for humans to be an image of God. Alexandrian theology insisted that this can be referred to human intellect alone, while for Irenaeus of Lyons the image has also a body. Since Irenaeus and Melito are linked in many different ways, it is hardly surprising the two agree on this point as well. It is also telling that, by contrast, the Syriac apology of debated authenticity sides with Alexandrian theology in this issue.

THEONI BOURA: The Christian man as citizen of the world

The originality and the absence of hypocrisy of the Christian man are emphasized. The Christian’s attitude against the social aims and his willingness to fight are investigated. The secular purposes such as offices, the riches, the power, the arrogance and pleasures are called “dreamy ghosts”. Christian has a strong focus inner spiritual life.
The word “Christian” means mimicry and participation of Christ and community of all high notions and perfections. This is achieved with the participation in the holy Eucharist and it is different from philosophy.  It is related with the person of Christ. It is a relationship with God and Its perfections and not our own efforts to have proper behaviour and moral life. There is much sin because there is forgetfulness of God.  Praying and desire of God are necessary in order for the purification of the heart and the unity of all people to come. Christ’s existence is uniting.

Julia Hillner: Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity

Exile was the prime method secular and ecclesiastical authorities employed to address religious dissidence during late antiquity. This workshop proposes to shift the attention away from questions surrounding the legal forms of and motivations behind clerical exile, which have been well researched, to the period of exile itself. The papers in this workshop will apply established and innovative methods to show that events and social encounters during exile had a profound impact not only on the experiences of exiled clerics themselves, but also on the short- and long-term formation of Christian law, theological doctrine, literature and rituals, and hence on late antique society at large.
We propose three sessions: the first one (Hillner, Fournier, Rapp, Mawdsley) will concentrate on different methods to investigate both short- and long-term impact of clerical exile (including social network analysis, legal anthropology, spatial analysis, and comparative history); the second (Ulrich, Barry, Natal) and third one (Engberg, Heil, Vallejo) will investigate a series of iconic and less well-known cases of clerical exile in the light of the methods proposed. In this way, we will be able to trace the increased interaction between Christianisation and the legal penalty of exile around the late antique Mediterranean, as well as changes and continuities in the realities and representations of exile experiences over the course of the period. Cohesion to the workshop is provided by the AHRC funded collaborative project ‘The Migration of Faith: Clerical Exile in Late Antiquity' based at the University of Sheffield (http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/sites/clericalexile/).

Walter Dunphy: In Search of the Manual of Pelagianism. Is the Liber Caelestii Lost?

During the “trial” of Caelestius in Carthage, 411, written evidence was produced by his accusers. We are not, unfortunately, informed of the content of this evidence. Again, in the trial of Pelagius in Diospolis, 415, evidence presented against him was taken from a Liber Caelestii.  Of this we are given some summary account, but little attention was given to it, mainly because Pelagius rejected its relevance in case against himself. Although some “extracts” of this Liber were included in the Acts of Diospolis, the citations are not literal. In his examination of the Acts (De Gestis Pelagii), Augustine notes that he had a “similar” book, from which he gives us some extracts. Earlier (413?) when examining a collection of syllogisms attributed to Caelestius (De Perfectione Iustitiae Hominis) Augustine could say that he recognised the style and thought of Caelestius in the collection, because he had read a writing by Caelestius, but this writing seems to have been circulated anonymously. In his first anti-Pelagian work (De peccatorum meritis et remissione) Augustine refuted a series of Pelagian theses that indirectly, through their use by Pelagius, we can attribute to Caelestius. Modern collections of the fragments of Caelestius’ writings do not include these. In this paper I will argue that the Liber Caelestii is not in fact lost, but that some sizeable fragments remain, and that the general outline of this foundational text for Pelagianism can be reconstructed.

Frederick van Fleteren: Augustine's Anthropology

Augustine's anthropology and consequent epistemology lie in the background of his hermeneutical theory.  Augustine thought that true wisdom lay in knowledge of eternal truths. Through the presence of Christ enlightening every human being coming into the world (Jn.1:9), these eternal truths are present. A consequence of Adam's fall was the darkening of the human intellect. Further, in Greek philosophy in general matter hinders human knowledge. Man's mind is in need of an exercitatio animae. For these two reasons man cannot see the truth directly. Christ could only impart wisdom to man through sign and symbol. It is the role of the exegete to understand these signs and symbols and then impart them to the human race.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Winrich Loehr: Workshop 'On the Way to a Comprehensive Commentary of the Augustinian Letters'

The paper will highlight various epistolary strategies and their success or otherwise during the 'hot' phase of the Pelagian controversy 411-418. It will show, on the one hand how Augustine and Pelagius used various forms of letters in order to attain their goals, and how all participants in the controversy not only carefully selected the primary and secondary addressees of their letters, but also made conscious choices abouts its contents and forms.  On the other hand, however, the paper will have ample cause to consider the irregular and aleatoric aspects of epistolary communication in Late Antiquity and the ways Augustine, his friends and opponents dealt with them.


This presentation is part of a larger ressourcement project on the beatific vision, for which I have been offered a research position as the Danforth Chair at Saint Louis University; the presentation builds on my scholarly publications (including a book with OUP) on Gregory of Nyssa. In this presentation, I draw on Nyssen's sixth homily of De beatititudinibus, on Vita Moysis and on Homilies 5, 6 and 8 of In Canticum canticorum. I ask the question of how human personhood and the beatific vision are linked in these writings of Gregory. I argue that for Gregory the soul (the human person) finds her telos when in union with Christ she becomes ever purer in an ever-increasing growth in the beatific vision. This Christological focus of the beatific vision has been insufficiently recognized in Nyssen scholarship. For Gregory, already in this life the human person (the soul) as she is meant to be (depicted under the biblical images of the pure in heart, Moses, and the bride) can be realized in the soul's mystical vision of God in Christ. At the same time, Gregory is convinced that human personhood can never be fully realized, since the soul will always remain in search of greater fulfillment of her desire; seeing God implies non-seeing at the same time, since the soul can never (not even in the hereafter) attain to the very nature of essence of the infinite God.

Paul Bradshaw: SC another look at the church order literature

In the late twentieth century it was debated whether the ancient church orders were comprehensive and descriptive or selective and polemic. This paper will argue that this is a false dichotomy. As 'living literature', the church orders need to be read as multiple layers of tradition and cannot be said to have one single purpose. At least in part their compilers and redactors were trying to preserve what they thought was ancient, and the results evolved into literary texts rather than manuals intended for practical use. However, their attempts either to maintain or to promote particular practices ultimately had rather limited effect.

Jeff Childers: SC Praise at Table: A Cycle of Meditations by Jacob of Serugh

Edited by P. Bedjan (1908) under the title, “On Praise at Table,” this hitherto unstudied cycle of Syriac memre (nos. 139–146) attributed to Jacob of Serugh deals with a range of topics that are especially appropriate for meal-time reflection, such as: providence, bread and wine, honey, alms, gluttony, and reading scripture at table. Characterized by a tone of thankful praise, the meditations of these memre move between the body’s delight in the Creator’s provision of physical nourishment and the soul’s deeper need for spiritual sustenance. The poet’s celebration of food is qualified by his exhortation to spiritual discipline and his warnings against ingratitude or gluttony. This short communication presents the results of a close analysis of the style, metaphors, themes, theological content, and rhetorical features of these memre. The texts are full of biblical images and theological content; they invite the hearer and reader to engage in spiritual practices connected with food as a divine gift; they depict a community formed into a table fellowship by habits of embodied gratitude and discipline. Among the many areas of interest attaching to Jacob’s legacy, attention has turned recently to questions surrounding the identities and social locations of the people to whom Jacob preached and the people among whom he ministered. This communication will attempt to set these memre in their historical, theological, and communal context, illuminating aspects of Christian communal in the late antique Christian East.

Michael Papazian: A Fragmentary Armenian Commentary on the Book of Job

A late medieval Armenian catena on the book of Job contains fragments from an otherwise lost commentary on Job attributed to the eighth century Armenian theologian Step‘anos of Siwnik‘. My paper discusses the theology and exegetical method used in the fragments, and argues for the plausibility of the attribution to Stepanos and also that the principal source used by the Armenian commentator was the Greek commentary of Olympiodorus of Alexandria. If the author is indeed Stepanos, my conclusion about his sources adds support to the thesis that Stepanos’ exegetical orientation was primarily Alexandrian.

Johannes Aakjær Steenbuch: Gregory of Nyssa's criticism of political power and domination.

"If God does not enslave what is free, who is he that sets his own power above God's?" (In Eccl. 336,20), asks Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-395 AD) in his famous attack on slavery. As other early Christian thinkers who recommended withdrawal from the public sphere, Gregory was critical of political power and domination. But Gregory takes his criticism a step further. The inherent wrongness in the exercise of political power, which Gregory identifies with illegitimate domination, follows not only from the anthropological idea that humanity as a whole is created in the image of the infinite God, but also from the demand to follow the example of Christ, on the one hand, and a rejection of a 'realist' conception of socioethical justice, on the other. More could be done, however, to gain a systematic and principled understanding of Gregory's many attacks on political power. This short communication will discuss the above quoted passage from In Eccl. 336, and Con. Eun. 1.1.526-527 where Gregory argues that "[i]t would equal to tyranny not to assign authority to a superiority of being, but to divide the creation that by nature has equal value", and a few passages from Gregory's first and fourth sermons on the Beatitudes.

Sotiris Mitralexis: WS The Fountain and the Flood: Maximos the Confessor and Philosophical Enquiry

St Maximus the Confessor (~580-662 AD) has been the object of increasing scholarly examination and study. It is notable that these recent studies have not been limited to questions of theology but have encompassed other disciplines as well, such as ethics, psychology, physics, and philosophical anthropology. Interest in the Confessor's philosophical thought has not been absent from these new areas of enquiry, although a sustained and systematic attempt to study and articulate his contributions to philosophy (i.e., to the history of philosophy, to philosophical problems, and to modern forms of philosophical method and reflection) has yet to be undertaken. Following the 2014 "Maximus the Confessor as a European Philosopher" conference in Berlin, this workshop aims to explore Maximus' philosophy in greater depth, and to encourage a dialogue between this philosophy and contemporary philosophical discourse, notably phenomenology. The title of the workshop derives from Maximus's Questions and Doubts (Quaestiones et dubia, CCSG 10:100), where the Confessor describes secular philosophy as a "flood" or "torrent" requiring the "rational" formation offered by the "fountain" of theology and the Gospel. If Maximus does not himself lay claim to the title of philosopher, the philosophical breadth and richness of his thought suggests that philosophy would be well advised to claim Maximus, along with his unique contributions to philosophical thought.

Joseph Verheyden: The So-Called Catena in Marcum of Victor of Antioch: Throwing Light on Mark with a not-so-Little Help of Matthew and Luke

The Catena in Marcum, which in part of the manuscript tradition is ascribed to an otherwise unknown Victor of Antioch, has largely been ignored in modern scholarship. Yet the work is worth receiving a closer look, if only because it contains, in addition to identifiable excerpts from various ancient authors, also a good number of still unidentified material and because it offers some nice examples of how to explain Mark with the help of Matthew and Luke. The paper will first present, by way of illustration, some corrections to a recently published list of the identified excerpts (W. Lamb) to show that probably some more work is to be done in this respect. It will then discuss some instances where the compiler (or his sources) explicitly and in various ways refers to a passage from Matthew and Luke (not necessarily a direct parallel) to help interpret a particular verse or phrase in Mark.  

Joseph T. Lienhard: "Faith of Our Fathers": The Fathers of the Church and Vatican II

The years 2012 to 2015 mark the 50thanniversary of the Second Vatican Council.  The Council was, and is, seen as the triumph of “la nouvelle théologie,” known in particular for its return to the Fathers of the Church, over neoscholasticism.

This general assertion is hardly disputed.  I propose to study the place of the Fathers of the Church in the 16 documents of Vatican II in detail, answering three questions:

— Which Fathers of the Church did the Council refer to?
— Which documents quote the Fathers most frequently, and why?
— What doctrinal issues were most clearly supported by references to the Fathers?

Of the 16 documents, 10 include references to the Fathers.  The leader is the Constitution on the Church, with 140.  Next, perhaps surprisingly, is the Decree on Missionary Activity (53).  The Life and Ministry of Priests, and Revelation, follow.

Most noteworthy is the fact that the Council used patristic references, in what appear as “thick” footnotes, to reinforce sensitive points: God’s universal salvific plan in Christ; the need for all to know the Scriptures; a revised understanding of the orders of the clergy (bishops, presbyters, deacons); and the Marian doctrines of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption.  In other words, the Council invoked the Fathers particularly to reinforce teachings that might be considered either innovative or controverted.