Saturday, 2 May 2015

Melko Rasica: Theurgy and Liturgy: the transmission of the theory and practice of Neoplatonic theurgy into Christian liturgical practice and its Patristic theological foundation in Northern Syria between the 5th and 7th century A.D.

Christianity was profoundly influenced by the Neoplatonic tradition, not only on the level of theory, that is philosophy and theology, but also on the level of practice, specifically ritual practices called theurgy and liturgy respectively. Patristic theology to a large degree took over the metaphysical structure of Neoplatonism, including cosmology, anthropology, and the threefold structure of the spiritual path, but reinterpreted key concepts in a synthesis with the Judeo-Christian scriptural tradition. Neoplatonism and Patristic sacramental theology both understand the human being as reflecting the structure of the cosmos, and analyze the fundamental problem of human existence as the distortion of this cosmic order within, in what is called the soul, which leads to alienation from the Divine source of being. The goal of spiritual practice, and therefore also of ritual practice, is firstly the restoration of the natural inner order and secondly union with the Divine. Differences between the traditions exist in the precise understanding of union (theosis and apotheosis/henosis respectively) and the exact relation between the cosmos and the transcendent. As the Abrahamic traditions maintain a strict separation between the transcendent and the immanent, union with the Divine in Christianity means not becoming divine, but like God, and ritual practice is not formally a cosmogony as in Neoplatonism. Nevertheless, Christian liturgical sacramental practice and theology to a large degree do follow the anthropological and cosmological structure of Neoplatonism and even imply the wider Hellenistic cosmology of which it was a part. Key figures for the comparison are Iamblichus, Dionysios and Maximos.

No comments:

Post a Comment