Saturday, 2 May 2015

Johannes Knecht: The Monastic Christology of the Coptic Abbot St Shenoute of Atripe

Ever since Grillmeier's volume II/4 of Jesus der Christus, the Christology of Shenoute of Atripe has been interpreted in Monophysite terms, or is at least associated with Monophysite Christologies. Especially in the latest work on his Christology, written by Stephen Davis, this Monophysite reading of Shenoute is most obvious and explicit. This paper will argue, based mainly on Contra Origenistas  and The Lord Thundered, that Shenoute is not the Monophysite theologian some make him out to be, and that, because of his monastic and practical context and content of his writings, relating Shenoute to these larger Christological debates in this manner is at odds with his work. Shenoute does not speak to, nor is he concerned with, Christology in the way needed to able to label someone a ‘Monophysite.' Trying to label him in this way makes one ask questions of him which he simply does not answer. First, I will briefly present the main arguments for interpreting Shenoute in Monophysite terms and why I think they do not hold. These arguments concern the bond of trust between Shenoute and the Alexandrian Patriarchs (mainly Cyril and Dioscorus), the sporadic use of the Christological termini technici, the use of the Theotokos, and the utilisation of some metaphors. Second, the paper will indicate some of the ways in which Shenoute himself speaks about Christology.

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