Saturday, 11 April 2015

Kirill Zinkovskiy: Novelty of the Matter and Human Body Concepts in the Great Church Fathers

The article highlights the principal novelty in the teaching on the origins and the eschatological perspective of the matter and human’s body in the works of St. Athanasius of Alexandria, the Cappadocian Fathers, St. Cyril of Alexandria and Rev. Maximus the Confessor. Although the Church Fathers did not regard a doctrinal systematisation of the nature of matter as a separate question for theology, a gradual development of a terminological apparatus reflected orthodox Christian positions on the significance of matter as well as the bodily nature of mankind as an capable cataphatic explanation of the mystery of their transformation under the action of divine grace. It is shown how whilst conserving their faithfulness to biblical cosmology and anthropology and at the same time employing the anthropological formulae of Platonic and Aristotelian philosophical schools, the Fathers wrought stark innovations to - and departures from - Hellenic philosophical tradition especially in their sacramental and anthropological theology.

The Christian concept of ‘meonicity’ of matter, as shaped by Alexandrian and Cappadocian theologians falls very much apart from the ancient concept thereof. The principle of matter being not only a corrective tool of the Creator for the punishment of sin, but that Adam from the beginning was entrusted with the task of bringing matter into the condition of 'approval in being' and to a higher state of deification was first expressed by St. Athanasius the Great, used by the great Cappadocians and most clearly revealed by Maximus the Confessor.

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