Saturday, 11 April 2015

Olga Shenkman: Choice and Will in the Catecheses of Cyril of Jerusalem

Until now, patristic researchers considered Cyril of Jerusalem's († 387) catechetical instructions (the Procatechesis and the Catecheses ad illuminandos) mainly as a means to reconstruct liturgical processes in the church of Jerusalem in the 4th century. An approach with respect to the specific theological purposes of this catechetical work is, however, still rare.
In my presentation I will analyse the Procatechesis and the Catecheses in relation to the fundamental anthropological contents transmitted to the Photizomenoi during the fasting period. In particular, I will focus on the following questions: On which ideas of choice and free will does Cyril base his Catecheses? Which significance do these concepts have for the process of becoming a Christian?
The approach consists of two steps: Based on the observation that Cyril, in his instructions, prefers the prohairesis-term to the commonly - and also by Cyril himself - used autexousion-term, the concerned passages are firstly to be analysed semantically. In particular, it has to be illustrated to what extent his use of this terminology could indicate a Stoic background. Finally, it will be shown that with the famous proclamation gnothi seauton, Cyril precedes the acquisition of dogmatic knowledge with anthropological explanations that include protological, harmatological and soteriological aspects. Therefore, it becomes evident that particularly the anthropological statements concerning the human will are crucial to learn the dogmatic contents of Christian faith and hence to the process of becoming a Christian.

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