Sunday, 10 February 2019

Rachel Teubner: From the Psalmic to the Lyric: Transformations of Genre in Augustine’s Confessiones 9

Does the embedding of the psalmic voice within a quasi-biographical account constitute a transformation from the psalmic to the lyric? In recent years, scholars have often reflected on the multivocal quality of Augustine’s homiletic corpus, particularly in his Enarrationes in Psalmos. Augustine’s Confessioneshave been implicated in these efforts (e.g., Williams, 2004; Cameron, 2012; Rigby, 2017). But does this assimilation of the voices of the Enarrationes and Confessiones obscure an important difference of genrebetween Augustine’s preaching and his sui generisautobiographical work? This short communication will probe this generic difference through a close reading of Augustine’s appeals to Psalm 4 in Confessiones9.4.8-11, as compared with his treatment of Psalm 4 in Enarrationes in Psalmos.Drawing on Erich Auerbach’s analyses of Augustine’s rhetorical style in Mimesisand “Sermo Humilis,” I shall argue that Augustine’s use of the Psalms in his Confessiones constitutes a departure from the homiletical to the lyric, understood as genre rather than as discourse. Whereas prosopological exegeses tend to emphasize the theological unity of persons in Augustine’s reflections on the psalms – the unity of the individual, the church and the person of Christ – Augustine’s appeals to the psalms in Confessiones dwell on what is quixotic and spontaneous in the drama of human life. This comparative analysis yields insights not only into the distinctive genre of Confessiones, but into the different functions of the psalms in capturing the experiences of shifting desire and adversity of circumstance on the way to salvation.

Bogdan Draghici: Theological Conservatorism in an Age of Irenicism: Dionysius Bar Salibi’s Anti-Chalcedonian Rhetoric.

The Crusader period (1098-1291), which partly coincides with that of the so-called Syriac Renaissance (c. 1025-1318), is characterized by intensive positive interactions between Christian factions as well as Christians and Muslims.One of the central and understudied figures of this period is Dionysius Bar Salibi (d. 1171), a polymath, prolific author and bishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church. His heresiological project was extensive and comprised disputations against the Jews, Arabs, Armenians, Nestorians, Chalcedonians and epistolary treatises against Rabban cYeshu, Catholicos George II and Nerses Shnorhali.This paper will focus on the differences between the treatise Against Rabban cYeshu, incorrectly identified by Mingana as Against the Melchites,and the unedited text of Against the Chalcedonians. Starting from these disputations I will critically analyse the theological contents and rhetorical techniques in order to provide a clearer image of intra-Christian relations during the Syriac Renaissance. Likewise, I intend to challenge the hypothesis that Latin-Jacobite relations were amicable, and investigate whether or not, and to what extent, Bar Salibi was aware of the theologically irenic developments within the Syriac theological world. More broadly, through this study of Bar Salibi’s rhetorical method, I hope to provide more insights into the way in which his polemical corpus was designed, functioned and circulated.

Christopher Mooney: Necessary and Sufficient? Irenaeus on the Rule of Faith, Scripture, and Apostolic Tradition

Disagreements between Irenaeus and his opponents’ theological cosmologies led him to a fundamental question: how can one adjudicate between competing claims of fidelity to a received tradition, especially if the original content of that tradition is disputed? In order to address this problem, Irenaeus employed a technical vocabulary drawn from the Greek philosophical tradition, namely the theme or meaning of a work (ὑπόθεσις,lit.hypothesis) and the rule of its interpretation (κανών, lit. straight-edge). I argue that for Irenaeus the rule (also called rule of faith or rule of truth) should be understood not as a proto-creed or a set of creedal propositions but as the apostolic theme insofar as it is employedregulativelyto adjudicate other claims, as one might derive a ruler from a known benchmark in order to test the straightness of other surfaces. This can result in a set of creedal propositions, and thus is a logical precursor to later creeds, but is not itself a creed. The apostolic hypothesis, in turn, is the meaning of the apostolic preaching, which has been delivered through oral teaching (oral tradition) and writing (Scripture). Because Irenaeus sees Scripture and tradition as modes of the single apostolic preaching, he does not privilege, prioritize, or subordinate one to the other, despite the claims of his modern interpreters. Rather, Irenaeus understands both of them as sufficient and necessary; both suffice for the knowledge of the full apostolic hypothesis, and both are necessary in practice to avoid the misinterpretation of the other.

Matthew Esquivel: Penance and Ecclesial Purity: The Divine Urgency Behind Cyprian’s Response to the Decian Persecution

After the outbreak of the Decian persecution, the Church faced the controversy of admitting back into communion Christians who had committed apostasy in various forms. Cyprian of Carthage challenges both the laxist position of Felicissimus that appealed to the authority of the martyrs to supply reconciliation for the lapsed without penance and the rigorist position of Novatian that provided no means of reconciliation to the Eucharistic fellowship. This study argues that Cyprian develops a penitential program based upon the authority of the bishop in order to mediate between the laxist and rigorist positions. Against the laxists, readmittance was to be administered through the penitential protocol and the imposition of hands of the bishops rather than the absolution of the martyrs which required no penance. Against the rigorists, penitents who followed the proper protocol of the bishops were not to be denied restoration to communion.By analyzing Cyprian’s treatises such as De Lapsis and De catholicae ecclesia unitate, as well as his related letters, this study argues that his insistence upon the mediation of the bishop for ecclesial reconciliation is based upon his views of 1) divine order of the Church located in the authority of the bishops, 2) divine command given through prophetic experiences within his community, and 3) divine judgment both now and in eternity. This study analyzes these convictions and the urgency they produced for Cyprian to establish a penitential order that would preserve the purity and unity of the Church.

Stephen Carlson: Rufinus's Origenization of Eusebius in his Translation of the Historia ecclesiastica

Relatively little attention has been given to the translation technique of Rufinus of Aquileia in his production of a Latin version of the Historia ecclesiastica of Eusebius of Caesarea. This paper contributes to a further understanding of Rufinus's approach to translation by studying his rendering of Book 3, chapter 39, of the Ecclesiastical History into Latin. At times, Rufinus will gloss obscurities in his source material. For example, scholars have long known of his identification of the "woman accused of many sin before the Lord" mentioned by Papias (HE 3.39.17) as the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:12), but there are other cases in this chapter that have been overlooked. Particularly striking is Rufinus's identification of allusions to Origen's thought and exegesis underlying Eusebius's presentation of the material in this chapter and making them more explicit. This paper details two cases where Rufinus adds phraseology that Origenizes Eusebius's text and considers the role and importance of Origen's thought in Rufinus's works, including his translations.

Barry Craig: His multi-lauded hands: origin and evolution of the hand element in liturgical Institution Narratives

While the biblical accounts of the loaf ritual do not mention hands the majority of institution narratives in anaphoras do (and a few in the cup unit), most being embellished by an array of adjectives. It is then noted or dismissed as a non-scriptural addition to the text. Why did it become so predominant, and why in these specific forms? This paper, adding to my previous research on the development of the institution narratives, explores this element from its first appearance in Patristic commentaries on the feedings of the multitudes and in the anaphoras from Apostolic Constitutions, revealing yet again the influence of the feedings in the Eucharistic texts.

Elizabeth Dively Lauro: Origen's Relational Trinity: A Study of His Fourth Homily on Isaiah

by accusations of proto-Arianism throughout the centuries, Origen’s Trinitarian
theology has yet to be assessed with clarity.
However, in his fourth homily on Isaiah, Origen describes the activities
of the Father, Savior and Holy Spirit as a dynamic and intimate interrelationship
that seems to be dependent upon a single, shared nature and reflect roles of
equal power. First, I analyze the relational
portrait of the Trinity that Origen draws, showing that he understands the
Father, Savior and Holy Spirit to play key roles in each of the periods of time,
to which he refers as the “beginning,” “middle,” and “end.” Within and throughout these periods, they
continually communicate with each other, sharing in and reflecting all of the
virtues as if they are one in the Divine nature. This analysis reveals that Origen views the
Father, Savior and Holy Spirit in an active intimacy that is simultaneously
community and oneness. Having set forth
this trinitarian portrait, I demonstrate that Origen’s meaning is clear despite
any assessment of interpolation by Latin translator Jerome. I also set forth how other works by Origen show
with consistency this portrait of the Father, Savior and Holy Spirit sharing an
active intimacy grounded in the virtues.
What we discover is an eloquent explanation by Origen of the Father, Savior
and Holy Spirit sharing intimately and equally in the virtues, as they
characterize one Divine nature, and reflecting them with equal power to

Andrea Villani: Leo Allatius on an ancient exegetical debate: Origen and Eustathius of Antioch interpreting the witch of Endor narrative (1King 28)

The Greek philologist and theologian Leo Allatius (1586-1669) is the author of the editio princeps of Origen’s homily on the witch of Endor as well as of Eustathius’ of Antioch treatise on the same subject, which has been composed exactly to refute Origen’s interpretation. In addition to the Greek text and his Latin translation of the two works, Allatius published a wide and learned commentary, the De engastrimytho syntagma, which is devoted to the history of the ancient exegesis of the biblical narrative on the witch of Endor (1King 28), and which mostly supports Eustathius’ view of the issue. This paper aims at analyzing method and purpose of Allatius’ syntagma as the first modern discussion of an until then neglected exegetical debate of the early Church.

Maria del Fiat Miola: The Female Monastery of St. Caesarius of Arles: His Hidden Collaborators in the Christianization of Arles and Beyond

St. Caesarius, Bishop of Arles, has often been recognized as a powerful evangelizer of Arles and the surrounding countryside, through his promotion of the monastic life and calling the faithful laity to an uncompromising moral standard and elevated piety. Yet few have understood the active role the cloistered women played in much of the pastoral work of the Arlesian bishop. The very founding of the female monastery and the writing of its Rule (Regula Virginum), often attributed to Caesarius alone, can rightly be considered as the joint project of Caesarius and the first two abbesses. In the sermons of Caesarius, this monastery served the rhetorical function of the “city set on a hill” which would illumine the whole city of Arles with its purity, reading of Sacred Scriptures, and prayer. Yet the inhabitants of the monastery, though strictly cloistered, were not distant exemplars or mere symbols: they lived right in the heart of the local church, in a building that enjoined the huge paleo-christian Cathedral. The people of Arles could hear their liturgical prayers through the walls, visit their relatives in the locutory, and consult the abbess for spiritual advice and prayers. In addition, evidence suggests that the sisters collaborated in a material way to the Christianization of the area: the sisters, through their scribal labor, probably provided the diocese with manuscripts of the Sacred Scriptures, and Caesarius with copies of his sermons which he gave to so many of his fellow clerics to read far beyond Arles.

Ionut Daniel Bancila: Ancient Esotericism in Patristic Era and the Making of Patristic Epistemology

The Study of “Ancient Esotericism”, as a recent focus of interest in the field of Religious Studies, sets as its goal to investigate the complex polemical discourses on knowledge in the Ancient world, with an eye to their potential of providing comparative material for similar kinds of discursive processes in the Modern world (K. von Stuckrad). Apart from some minor contributions, all of them critically reviewed in the present paper, there have been no discussion of the relevance of Patristic literature for the “Ancient Esotericism”. I set a threefold aim to my paper: (1) to test the concept of “Ancient Esotericism” against selected Patristic authors confronting “Gnosticism” (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Irenaeus of Lyons) and (2) to provide evidence for the discursive strategies defining the Patristic epistemology in the context of these kinds of polemic encounters.

Henrik Rydell Johnsén: Reading kephalaia: The composition of Evagrius’ Ad monachos reconsidered

How Evagrius Ponticus (d. 399) composed his highly influential treatises of short and succinct chapters (kepahalaia) is bewildering and has been discussed by many scholars such as Antoine Guillaumont, Jeremy Driscoll, Columba Stewart, and Joel Kalvesmaki. While scholars have regarded some of Evagrius’ texts of chapters as more or less haphazard gnomic collections, they have tried to detect some sort of structure and progress of thought in some others, like Evagrius’ Praktikos and his Ad monachos.In this paper the literary composition of Evagrius’ Ad monachos is reconsidered by paying attention to literary practices and conventions codified in the so called progymnasmata tradition of late antiquity in order to further elucidate Evagrius’ way of composing his teaching and the reading practices that this type of texts seem to presuppose.

Kyriakoula Tzortzopoulou: The emotion of envy in the works of Gregory of Nyssa

The aim of this paper is to offer an analysis of the ways in which the emotion of envy is conceptualized by Gregory of Nyssa. The specific emotion has not been yet subjected to deep examination by scholars, despite the fact that Gregory’s ideas about emotions have gained the attention of researchers and have been the subject of several studies. However, a study on envy itself seems to be especially important, since Gregory deems envy as the worst emotion compared to others that have negative impact on a Christian’s morality (PG 44.1287-1288). In this presentation, I will show how envy is conceptualized by Gregory through the lens of the Christian anthropology and how he harnesses the classical emotional knowledge to conceptualize envy in a Christian context guided by his classical education. On the evidence of his works, it will be claimed that he reiterates a great number of commonplace ideas about envy that are developed in the philosophical texts of Greek authors, and a wide range of beliefs that pervade the scriptural texts and are essential part of the Christian cognitive model about emotions. Last but not least, I will explore through key passages the contributing role of metaphors in the conceptualization of envy, building on modern scholarship’s views about the significant role of metaphor in the formation of emotion concepts.

KONSTANTINOS GEORGIADIS: Reexamining the origins of Byzantine Iconoclasm: Docetism in Hieria Council’s Florilegium and Definition (754AD)

Before Martin Luther's ‘Sola Scriptura’, hardly could be found any Christian denomination that would not consider itself as genuine, if not the exclusive, successor of the ‘one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church’. Nothing was to be considered in accordance with the Christian faith, unless it was based as much on the Scripture as on Church tradition. This is the reason why in the Council of Hieria (AD 754) Iconoclasts showed particular interest in repeating constantly and explicitly the Definitions, Creeds and Αnathemas of all their previous Oecumenical Councils. According to Hieria Council’sDefinition and Florilegium, iconoclastic dogma had to be proved on the basis of the Triadological and Christological dogma. Similarly, iconoclast policy of Isaurian emperors would have been justified by the predominant theology. Here a crucial question arises whether nonorthodox beliefs through a series of textual sources like those of Apocrypha could be interpolated into authentic patristictestimonia. In reality, a number of those texts, especially in Hieria Council’s Florilegium, were examined thoroughly in the fifth and sixth sessions of the 7th Oecumenical Council. Additionally, proclamations such that of ‘indescribable [Christ] even after the Incarnation’ are found in Hieria’s Definition. Through this evidence, a dominant docetism, which presupposes the annihilation of Christ’s ‘flesh’ after Resurrection, is eventually revealed. That’s why Fathers of Nicaea II call Iconoclasts ‘Manicheans’. Only Christ’s human nature could be describable compared to his indescribable divinity, unless humanity was considered as something unreal or absorbed by divinity, and consequently co-indescribable.

Luke Freeman: Arian Anti-Modern Traditionalism in the 4th and 18th Centuries

There is growing interest in the role of Arianism (and more generally in anti-Trinitarianism) as it occurred in early modern European philosophical, scientific, and political thought (M. Wiles, 1996; S. Snobelen, 2004; B. Sirota, 2013; P. Gilliam 2015). Alternatively, the late antique scholarship of Rowan Williams understands 4th-century Arianism as a non-Nicean traditionalism (R. Williams, 1987/2001). When taken together these scholarly perspectives can shed light on how scholars of late antiquity frame the Arian debate itself in terms that are informed by 18th-century British Arianism. Thisshort communication will take a new perspective on Arianism, understanding Arius’ 18th-century proponents not as positively asserting his theology, but as rejecting the Athanasian defense of Nicea for the sake of a kind of anti-modern traditionalism. By taking this approach, I shall place recent late antique scholarship (e.g., Ayres, 2004; Anatolios, 2011) in the context of British Arianism and its anti-modern traditionalism. I will focus on Athanasius’ Defense Against the Arians and the Defense of the Nicene Definition, which were critical texts for William Whiston (1667-1752), probing why they caused him such difficulty. I will conclude by examining the implications of my argument for understanding British Arian and non-Nicean writings in a confessional light, rather than simply as examples of a rising tide of philosophical atheism or as merely political.

Erika Manders: Contested Leadership in the Fourth Century: Emperor, Bishop and the Construction of Churches

In the first three centuries AD the Roman emperor incontestably possessed supreme religious authority within the Empire. Yet, the Christianization of both Empire and emperorship in the fourth century had severe consequences for the emperor’s power in religious matters; with the change of the religious basis underlying imperial power and the increase in importance and influence of the bishop, both parties, emperor and bishop, now claimed religious authority. In order to legitimize their position of power, they both made use of ideological instruments to interact with various types of communities within the Empire. This paper focuses on one particular medium of communication employed by both types of leaders: the construction of churches. It examines imperial and episcopal church building in the fourth century AD by mapping 1) the numbers of churches that were built by emperors on the one hand and bishops on the other and 2) the ideological messages which these churches communicated through their size, location, dedication and iconography. By way of a comparative analysis of this particular aspect of imperial and episcopal representation, the relationship between emperor and bishop will be further explored and I will argue that the fourth-century imperial and episcopal church building policies reflect changes in the balance of power between emperor and bishop in this particular period.

Peter van Egmond: Biblical Argument in the Libellus fidei Ascribed to Julian of Aeclanum (CPL 775b)

The Pelagian Libellus fidei(CPL775b), ascribed by some to Julian of Aeclanum, contains a substantial section devoted to argument from Scripture. This section in fact occupies a central place in the confession, which is designed to defend the Pelagian cause from three different perspectives–the Creed, the Bible, and a number of ecclesiastical condemnations of heresies – followed by a concluding plea.The first and the third sections are known to draw heavily on the work of Pelagius. The literary context of the second section however, which focuses on Biblical authority, remains largely uncharted terrain. Closer examination would be welcome, if only to supplement the long-running debate on the authorship of the libelluswith fresh insights and arguments. Can, perhaps, parallels to contemporary writings of Julian of Aeclanum be identified, or excluded?The paper proposed here offers an introductory survey of the section devoted to biblical argument, drawing on a new critical text of the Libellus fidei. It presents an examination of the Latin Bible versions used (Vulgate, Vetus Latina), identifying fixed combinations of quotations from Scripture – and parallels of these both in the work of Julian and elsewhere – and analysing the distinct lines of biblical argument employed.

Christopher Bounds: The Doctrine of Christian Perfection in Cyprian

Greek Christian literature of the Ante-Nicene period is replete with explicit references and discussions of a type of human perfectibility possible in the present life, especially in the second and third centuries. Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria and Origen place Christian perfection at the heart of their soteriologies. In contrast, the emerging Latin fathers of the third century use sparingly the language of human perfection in this world. When they do, however, they retain many of the ideas found in earlier and contemporary Greek patristic literature.The purpose of my paper is to examine the use of various forms of perfectio, perficio, perfectusand other “perfection” language in relationship to humanity in Cyprian of Carthage. Through a close reading of these passages, I will show that his teaching continues themes of perfection found in the first major Latin theologian, Tertullian, and earlier Greek fathers: renewal in the likeness of God, fulfillment of Christ's two greatest commandments, and freedom from the power of sin. After exploring Cyprian’s understanding of these ideas, I will note differences with Tertullian and his Greek contemporaries of the third century, setting a foundation for a Latin tradition of Christian perfection.

Harry Lines: Origen of Alexandria: Scripture as the guide to its own exegesis

As the foremost proponent of an ‘allegorical’ method of reading Scripture, Origen’s understanding of the text as a well of hidden secrets has received plentiful scholarly attention. In this paper, I intend to outline the way in which Origen believes Scripture to teach its reader the means of its own exegesis. This will primarily involve an investigation of Origen's understanding of parables and proverbial sayings in Contra Celsum. My assessment will focus on the distinction in Origen’s conceptualization between what may be termed supernatural gifts and natural faculties, between grace given by God and knowledge attained by the mind’s own capabilities, a distinction that I suggest reflects his distinction between divine and human wisdom. Scripture, as the divine will in human words, requires its reader to be capable in both. Thus, the reading of Scripture provides spiritual grace which enlarges one’s spiritual capacities, enabling one to receive further spiritual enlightenment. However, conceptually though not de facto distinct, Scripture also sharpens the mind’s ability to decipher signs and linguistic forms, quite apart from the spiritual enlargement of the soul. That Scripture provides the means of its own exegesis is important in providing Origen justification in believing Christianity to be its own self-sustaining belief system, even where his methods clearly draw from philosophical traditions.

Jussi Junni: Creation out of Nothing or out of Really Nothing? Uses of μὴ ὤν and oὐκ ὤν in Pre-Nicene Theology.

The Platonic distinction between being and becoming was a crucial notion even in Christian theology of the very first centuries. The demiurge of Plato, a lower-class deity who shaped the unformed matter by looking at the eternal ideas, was promoted to the Highest Being, God the Father in Christianity. For Plato, also the matter was eternal, not only the immutable ideas. The Platonists knew the concept of non-being (μὴ ὤν), by which they meant unformed matter that had potential to be formed according to the intelligible and thus becoming into the state of being. Since the matter was eternal according to their thought, there was no room for the concept of true non-existence (οὐκ ὤν) of the matter. The first Christian authors adopted this Platonic view of the pre-existent matter but the later theological development led to notion of the creatio ex nihilo, God creating the world out of really nothing, without anything pre-existent but himself.This paper challenges the traditional view that creation by shaping the formless matter is characterised as ἐκ μὴ ὄντος and creation out of non-existence is characterised as ἐξ ούκ ὄντος. A selection of pre-Nicene theologians, e.g. Philo, Justin, Theophilus, Clement, and Origen, are treated as regards to their uses of these formulas when expressing their notions on creation of matter. This paper thus contributes discussion about the appearance of the creatio ex nihilo in Christian theology.

Robert P.C. Brown: Outsourcing holiness? : Cuthbert, the High Crosses of Northumbria, and the sanctification of creation

In his recent paper ‘The Latin West in the Period of Transition from “the Late Roman Empire” to “Early Medieval Europe”: Consolidation and Innovation’[1] T O’Loughlin claims that the introduction of monasticism in early medieval Europe produced a two-tier Christianity in which ‘holiness’ was ‘outsourced’ to monks. This paper argues that a much closer alignment with Cassian’s vision of the pastoral role of the contemplative bishop in the wider community is found in Bede’s Life of Cuthbert than this assessment allows, and to briefly suggest that the Northumbrian high crosses at Ruthwell and Bewcastle acted not just as sanctifying icons, but also as foci of monastic preaching and contemplation for the purpose of communicating the Gospel to the surrounding lay communities. Subtle differences in the iconographies of the two crosses, such as the location of the inhabited vinescrolls on the (presumed) north and south faces of the Ruthwell cross contrasted with the single vinescroll on the east face of the Bewcastle cross, and the seven scrolls of the Ruthwell vines compared with the eight of the Bewcastle vine, may suggest differences in the purposes of the crosses while demonstrating inculturation and communicating the same theological telos of the transformation of all creation through baptism and the Eucharist.

[1] A Companion to Religion in Late Antiquity, First Edition. Edited by Josef Lössl and Nicholas J. Baker-Brian. 2018 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Alexandru Atanase Barna: The Gnoseological Function of Symbolon in Dionysius the Areopagite

The lecture aims to present some aspects on the way Dionysius uses symbolon, not merely as a liturgical instrument, but more as a gnoseological category. As several scholars have analyzed the link between symbolon and mystery (de Andia, 2001), or symbolon and ontology (Zizioulas, 1999), I develop in this paper the link between symbolon and gnoseology, in order to propose a content of Dionysius's "symbolic theology", that is mentioned several times in Corpus Dionysiacum. From this perspective, symbolon, as it is used and linked with other mystical and gnoseological concepts, such as mysterion or theoria, can be understood also as an instrument that reveals a special theological content a Christian needs to access, a sort of personal dynamic knowledge revealed through the mysteries of the Church.I follow the method of comparative analysis of the contexts and meanings of symbolon in neo-Platonic representative literature and in the Corpus. I debate also on the use and meanings of the verbs related with the biblical and liturgical Dionysian symbols that are present in the Corpus. Those verbs reveal a special semantic field, which involves a gnoseological function that can be attributed to the theological content correspondent to those symbols. I propose the idea that the meanings of symbolon, as are used by Dionysius, represent a path to distinguish in his works, passing from a neo-Platonic theology of revelation to a biblical based one, a special relation between gnoseology and ontology.

Maurizio Filippo Di Silva: Augustine’s concept of materia spiritalis: Confessions, XII-XIII

The aim of this paper is to examine the Augustinian concept of materia spiritalis as it appears in Confessions XII-XIII.The Augustinian notion of spiritual matter will be analyzed by focusing on Augustine’s interpretation of the word “caelum” of Genesis 1:1. Topics selected for special consideration will be, first, Augustine’s identification of ‘heaven of heaven’ and angels (Conf., XII, 2.2), and, secondly, Augustine’s analysis of the lack of mentions to the day of the creation of the ‘heaven of heaven’ inGenesis 1:1 (Conf., XII, 12.15). In the light of it, the paper will examine the Augustinian concept of spiritual matter by analyzing Augustine’s reflections on angels as formed beings (Conf., XIII, 2.3) and on materia spiritalis as what is shaped by God to create the ‘heaven of heaven’ (Conf., XIII, 3.4). The conclusion will bring out whether and, if so, how far, the Augustinian notion of spiritual matter fits into Augustine’s interpretation of Genesis 1:1 (Conf., XIII, 10.11).

Fiona McMeekin: A Stoic Reading of Discipleship, Patient Endurance, and Learning by Suffering in Ignatius of Antioch.

The themes of suffering and discipleship in the middle recension of Ignatius’ letters have received much scholarly attention, particularly in relation to imitation of Christ. Ignatius associates the concept of becoming a μαθητής (‘pupil’, ‘learner’ or ‘disciple’) with that of suffering (διὰ τοῦ παθεῖν Polycarp, 7.1) and ὑπομονή (‘patient endurance’, Ephesians 3.1; Magnesians 9.1). The educational roles of suffering and patient endurance in Stoicism, and indeed wider Graeco-Roman and Jewish literature, are well-recognised. Recent scholarship has demonstrated nuanced interactions between Stoicism and early Christianity, especially in Paul. However, there remains scope to interrogate echoes of Stoicism in Ignatius.This paper investigates similarities in the vocabulary and concepts of suffering, patient endurance, and learning employed by Ignatius and Musonius Rufus, Seneca, and 4 Maccabees. It argues that Ignatius’ letters, while addressed to Christians, could appeal to wider audiences by evoking Stoic themes of moral training, discipline and education. It begins by contextualizing him within the longstanding topos of πάθει μάθος or ‘learning by suffering’(Aeschylus, Agamemnon 176-8; 250-1; Herodotus, Histories 1.207.1; Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus 7-8, cf. Proverbs 3:11-12; Wisdom of Solomon 3:4-5). It then draws detailed comparison between Ignatius and Seneca (especially De Providentia 1.5), Musonius Rufus (Lecture 6), and 4 Maccabees (9.8; 10:10).Finally, it argues that these similarities render Ignatius’ readiness to endure martyrdom less alien to contemporary audiences than has sometimes been assumed. Independent of authorial intent, his letters can evoke the rational underpinnings of philosophical discipline and associated cultural capital.

Ryan Bowley: The Letters of Ignatius of Antioch in Ancient Liturgical Context: Parallels with the Oral Recitation of Greek Hero Stories

Polycarp’s letter to the Philippians suggests that Ignatius of Antioch, with whom he was in correspondence, intended his own letters to be read in a liturgical setting for the moral edification of believers. Polycarp tells the faithful at Philippi: “As requested, we send to you the letters of Ignatius that were sent to us by him, along with others that we had with us. […] from them you will be able to benefit greatly” (13.2). This statement indicates that Ignatius was retaining copies of correspondence with various churches along his route to martyrdom, which could be transmitted as a collection to the bishop Polycarp and through him to other churches. Clearly Ignatius is imitating Paul, whose letters were already circulating as collections by the second century and widely read in liturgical contexts for the purpose of Christian formation. I contend that this fact, paired with Ignatius’ demonstrable use of Hellenistic discourse, suggests that the ancient Greek practice of orally reciting the tales of heroes before an audience can serve as a model for early Christian liturgical events in which the deeds of martyrs like Ignatius were recited. Hero poetry was, in this world, a fundamental means of moral formation; it was a primary medium through which the culture expressed its values. Exploring the connection between the oral recitation of the deeds of Greek heroes and the liturgical recitation of the extraordinary deeds of the martyrs illuminates the ways that the ancient Church redeployed a culturally-intelligible practice for its own ends.

Alexandru Prelipcean: The Kontakion Εἰς ἕκαστόν σεισμὸν καὶ ἐμπρησμόν of Romanos the Melodist or about the Theological interpretation of the History

It is known the reality that for some patristic scholars or historians, Romanos the Melodist is a Byzantine hymnographer by the ʻsecond-handʼ. Such an opinion we believe that it’s incorrect, and as a source to combat this point of view I have took the kontakion Εἰς ἕκαστόν σεισμὸν καὶ ἐμπρησμόν (On Earthquakes and fires), edited by Romanos the Melodist after the year of 532. Not having any work based on homiletics, or any other historical source, which would be could plagiarize or who would be inspired, Romanos manages to draw theological truths starting from a historical event, contemporary to him, namely, Nika riots. By inserting of the three main themes (God’s providence, description of the disaster and encomium on the Church of St. Sophia), Romanos creates a story with theological nuances. Which is itself this theological interpretation of history? How can this kontakion become a counter argument on the accusation that Romanos it’s an author ʻby the second-handʼ? On these two questions this present study tries to focus.

Margaret M Mitchell: John Chrysostom Creates Christian Magical Handbooks: Two Case Studies

This paper examines two cases where John Chrysostom seeks, via his words, to create imaginative and competing forms of Christian magic or magical handbooks to replace those that are already in broad circulation. In the first case (hom. in 1 Cor 7:2[in illud, propter fornicationes uxorem]) he tries to transform the words of Paul in 1 Cor 7:2-4 into an apotropaic talisman against porneia and the powerful love magic practiced by the porne against the married man. In the second (Homilia in Acta Apostolorum 38.4-5), while telling an anecdote from his youth about finding a magical handbook in the Orontes river (and miraculously escaping detection and detention for its possession, which was illegal), John instructs his congregants to create mental magical handbooks of divine benefactions that will address some of the same maladies that the spells contained in magical handbooks were explicitly designed to heal, such as fever, loss of voice, rheumatic eyes, and the “octopus in the nose.”

Theresia Hainthaler: Christology in Avitus of Vienne

In Avitus’ letters to king Gundobad and in his Contra Eutychianam haeresim Christological statements can be found, as well as in some of his homilies. These statements will be analyzed and related to the Christological debates of the time.

Esko Ryökäs: Deacon as a wine pourer – caritative or not?

When the Christian Church is speaking about the tasks of the deacons, ecclesiastical documents often see one text as an ideal: Justin 1 Apol 65 & 67 seems to write about, how a deacon was taking care of the sick and bringing wine and bread to the absent. However, this text and many others speak about, that no other than a deacon could take care of wine. Examples of this role of a deacon exist in the texts from classical and later period. A deacon was a wine pourer before the Common Era, in the texts of the Bible, as well as in the early Church. The role of the deacon as a wine pourer is known in the non-Christian texts, too. In my presentation, I will collect and discuss these texts and ask, what was the role of the deacon and which was his/her tasks in the Early Church. At least did he/she not have primary caritative tasks. And these results may have an effect on the theology in the Churches.

Michael Motia: “Language is the author of all these emotions:” Greek Novels and Christian affect in Gregory of Nyssa

Gregory of Nyssa frames Christian perfection as an intensification (epitasis) and expansion (epektasis) of desire for God. While much work has been done on the philosophical and medical sources for Gregory’s theory, this paper examines Achilles Tatius’s Platonic novel Leucippe et Clitophon and its discussion of language, eros, and affect. Byzantine tradition would even claim that Tatius become a Christian bishop after writing the novel.Tim Whitmarsh recently argued that Greek Novels emphasize “dirty love,” or a union that transcends traditional Greek identity. The novels, that is, mediate on desire, specifically meditate on the way desire can break and reform bonds of community. This mix desire and remaking traditional social bonds are also central to Gregory’s project. In Leucippe et Clitophon, the most popular of the extant novels, for example, we see Clitophon returning home, and yet feeling increasingly restless.More specifically, Tatitus’s discussion of the way “language” authors affective sates, I argue, is central to Gregory’s project of shaping the proper forms of desire. “Bloodless are affect's lacerations, though deep their penetration,” Tatitus writes. Gregory’s sermons on the Song of Songspicks up this line of thinking and transforms it into a series of ascetic practices aimed at Christian perfection. By invoking, theorizing, and transforming tropes found in Leucippe et Clitophon, Gregory provides his audience a vivid image of Christian perfection theorized as a “purified” erotic relationship.

Alexis Torrance: ‘Christ is not an individual’: the meaning and reception of an early Byzantine Christological argument

In their respective defenses of dyophysite Christology, both Maximus the Confessor and John of Damascus repeatedly reject the concept of Christ as a single ‘mixed’ nature of God and man. In doing so, they deploy an interesting argument whereby Christ was not properly speaking an ‘individual’ stemming from a common genus (like ‘Christness’). This argument will first be examined in its own right before turning to its reception and re-working in modern Orthodox theology, particularly the personalist (and anti-individualist) thought of John Zizioulas. The negative reaction to Zizioulas’ appropriation of this idea, exemplified in the work of Jean-Claude Larchet, will likewise be summarized. In the final section, an alternative view of the potential theological relevance of the argument that ‘Christ is not an individual’ will be offered, one that is not so much related to the person vs individual debate as to the ongoing discussion of the concept of ‘Godmanhood’ or ‘divine-humanity’ espoused by Vladimir Soloviev and developed in the early twentieth century by Sergius Bulgakov. In conclusion, it is argued that if one wishes to find a contemporary theological application for the early Byzantine rebuttal of Christ’s ‘individuality’, it would be more natural to link it with an argument avant la lettre against the notion of an overarching concept of ‘Godmanhood’ of which Christ is the individual instantiation, rather than as a developed commentary on the notion of the person/hypostasis in opposition to that of the individual.

Robert Wiśniewski: Wherever you go, or the origin of the clerical tonsure

Clerical tonsure, the beginning of which can be traced to the 6th century attracted the attention of several scholars. They studied mostly its symbolic value, interestingly not being in agreement whether it was a sign of humility, symbolic castration, or triumphant masculinity. The tonsure certainly had a symbolic value, it also could be used by clerics to emphasise their special status. But in this paper, I will argue that unlike the clerical dress, the tonsure was not so much adopted by as imposed on the middle and lower clergy. It was introduced in the first place as an instrument thanks to which the bishops could control and impose discipline on their subordinates.

Ulrich Volp: Prohairesis in Origen

The origin of the fundamental concept of prohairesis (often translated as “will”, “volition”, “intentional choice”, “intention”, “moral choice”) is usually attributed to Aristotle’s use in his Nicomachean ethics, and to the Stoic philosophy of Epictetus. It is prominent in the ethical theory of Clement of Alexandria, in the preaching of John Chrysostom, and in Gregory of Nyssa. However, Origen uses the terminology just as often as Epictetus, and it is still a matter of debate how it entered his thinking. The short communication is going to argue that not only Clement and pagan philosophy, but also the use of the terminology in the Septuagint plays a significant role for the concept of prohairesis in Origen. Moreover, the implications this has for the formation of ancient Christian ethics and for the difference between a patristic and an Aristotelian or Stoic outlook on ethics will be demonstrated.

Anni Maria Laato: Noah and the Flood in the Cento of Proba

The story of Noah and the great flood is one of the four Old Testament themes Faltonia Betitia Proba chose to retell in her biblical epic poem Cento Vergilianus de laudibus Christi (CSEL 16). As well as her other Old Testament scenes, creation, fall, and the story of Cain and Abel, even the story of Noah contains typological hints to the New Testament. The themes include 1) eschatology and the future devastation of the world, 2) Jesus stilling the storm in the sea of Galilee, and 3) Jesus as a founder of a “Godly race”, that is, ecclesiology.In my paper, I aim to study Proba’s text from two points of view. First, I intend to clarify her theological views regarding these three topics by comparing it to her contemporary theology and iconography. Second, I aim going to study her use of Vergil in her poem, and how she chose to present these topics to her audience, educated, aristocratic Romans, who knew well both Vergil and contemporary cosmology.I have in an earlier study Adam and Eve rewritten in Vergil’s words: Cento of Proba (in Adam and Eve Story in Jewish, Christian and Islamic Perspectives, Eisenbrauns 2017) dealt with Proba’s rewriting of the story of creation of man.

Thomas Langley: Polis Body and Body Politic: Bodily Metaphors in the letters of Basil of Caesarea

While frequently discussing the politicisation of the human form, the metaphor of the state as body/body as state has been relatively neglected by late antique scholars. Yet such a metaphor is a prime example of patristic dialogue with both pagan and Christian pasts. Adapted and embellished from the Greek tradition by Cicero to become a mainstay of Roman Imperial political discourse, it was also important for St Paul's writing. Focusing on the letters of Basil of Caesarea gives us a unique glimpse into how this metaphor could impact real-world scenarios, by analysing in depth the particular contexts which they addressed. I will argue that the metaphor of the body was used in Basil's correspondence to establish an exclusive, Christian polis which made membership in the community coterminous with membership of Christ’s body. Though using Pauline examples, Basil ironically repurposed the metaphor in the service of the very tradition of polis rhetoric. Moreover, its deployment in the particular context of Basil’s letters gives a vital insight into the political and religious languages of the fourth century. The letters of Basil, one of the foremost episcopal reformers and controversialists of his age, are vital to bring to light the details of a highly significant decade in the Roman Empire's conversion . As well as illuminating a neglected aspect of patristic political thought, therefore, the metaphor of the body politic offers a fine-grained insight into the process by which Christianity became the religion of the polis and its civic elite.

Dominique Gonnet, s.j.: A Syriac Life of Symeon Stylites (Ms. Damas 12/17, ff. 52b.1-71b.3). Edition, Analysis and Perspectives

On Fr René Lavenant’s initiative, a team works on the publication of A Syriac Life of Symeon Stylites (Ms. Damas 12/17, ff. 52b.1-71b.3) at Sources Chrétiennes. The paper will present the main problems encountered in the work of this edition and translation: the manuscript itself, the historical questions about its variations related to other versions of the Life, what we can learn from them. In general, we want to highlight what this version brings to the research on Symeon Stylites.

Anna Tzvetkova-Glaser: The Allegorical Interpretation of the Song of Songs in Origen and John of the Cross

Origen is among the first Christian exegetes who dedicated themselves to a commentary on the Song of Songs. Two homilies and a commentary reached us. Unlike the Jewish and other early Christian exegesis, he did not only interpret the biblical book as an allegory of the relationship between God and his people / church, but also as the relationship between God and the human soul. This new allegory had an essential impact on the next generations of Christian interpreters. Some medieval exegetes like Bernard of Clairvaux and William of Saint-Thierry were influenced by Origen’s interpretation of the Song of Songs. St. John of the Cross, working in the 16th century Spain, has not composed any exegetical works on biblical books, but he wrote poetries and commented on them. In this way appeared „The Spiritual Canticle“, „The Dark Night of the Soul“,„Ascent of Mount Carmel“and „Living Flame of Love“, recognised as master peaces of the Spanish literature. Two of these poetries are following the epithalamian model. Despite the difference of genre both his poems and commentaries were affected by Origen’s interpretation of the Song of Songs. In my presentation I will give examples to illustrate this influence.

J. José Alviar: Origen vs. Origen: His Spiritual and Literal Interpretations of Biblical Journeys

This communication considers a set of texts by Origen in which he propounds a spiritual meaning to biblical narratives of journeys -- of Abraham, of Rebecca, of Enoch, of the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt. The texts for consideration provide a tantalizing contrast with other, more Platonically-flavored passages of the Alexandrian wherein he seems to prefer detachment in the more physical sense from the world and common earthly activities, and thus raise the suspicion of a tension -possibly unresolved- present in Origen's own thinking.This brief survey could also shed some light on the modern discussion about Origen's influence on the Desert Fathers and Mothers, who embodied a peculiar form of "exodus" from the world and its affairs.


In the 7th-8th centuries, within the East Syriac church, a remarkable flourishing of literature on the inner life occurred. Written in Syriac, an Eastern form of Aramaic, this literature developed at the time of the rise of Islam, within a form of Christianity which was regarded as heretical by the Western and Eastern Orthodox churches. All of the authors who produced this literature led a solitary life, and were all influenced by John the Solitary, a 5th century Syriac writer who was profoundly marked by the thought of Paul of Tarsus. This paper examines the role of Pauline thought in the edited and unedited corpus of Isaac of Nineveh (7th century), the best-known of these authors. Some of Isaac’s essential ideas, such as the importance of the experience of one’s ‘weakness’ (2Cor 12:1-10) in relation to the ‘Power of God’ (i.e. the Holy Spirit) and his view of the relationship between ‘the law’ (that he interprets as ascetic observances) and Grace (Romans; Galatians), are deeply reminiscent of Paul’s reflections. Also, Isaac’s understanding of faith (Romans; Galatians), kenosis (Phil 2:7), and ‘becoming crucified’ (Gal 2:20) echoes that of Paul. The paper will also attempt to examine the reasons for Isaac’s choice of Paul, showing that this is rooted in the nature of Paul’s writings, which focus on the relationship between the individual and God and demonstrate an understanding of the inner life as a transformative process that makes possible its ascetic reworking.

Emiliano Fiori: Reshaping the Fathers, Learning Controversy. Syriac Patristic Florilegia as Laboratories of Religious Polemic in the Early Abbasid Age

The present paper aims to expound the first results of the research carried out within the framework of the ERC-StG project FLOS on Syriac patristic florilegia hosted at the University of Venice. It aims to present a short survey of the structure and aims of early Abbasid manuscripts containing vast anthologies of excerpts from Greek Church Fathers in Syriac translation. These anthologies or florilegia, produced by Miaphysite scholars, clustered the excerpts around topics that were the object of heated debate (especially but not exclusively Christology and the Trinity) among Christians and between Christians and Muslims from the 8th to the 10th centuries and beyond. In this rearrangement, the old authorities served as fresh handbooks for new religious polemic. The paper will discuss the excerption techniques, the thematic choices, and thereby the theoretical strategies of the compilers; it will also briefly introduce the differences between the manuscripts containing the florilegia.

David Burkhart Janssen: Inimici gratiae Christi: The development of Augustine’s construction of Pelagianism c. 418

‘Pelagianism’ as a heresy emerged as will be shown due to Augustine’s confronting and refuting the errors which he ascribed to the theology of Pelagius. Whereas scholars have been tempted to ascribe Augustine’s issue with Pelagius to sociological or ecclesiopolitical differences, the bishop of Hippo in fact saw ‘Pelagianism’ as a sincere christological-soteriological error. This elucidates especially during the time of the Council of Carthage (418) which has been largely neglected in scholarship hitherto: Augustine constructed ‘Pelagianism’ as a specific heresy by promulgating and systematizing precise definitions and key phrases of the errors of the Pelagiani, a heresiological label which was first used in this period (416-421) when Augustine developed different argumentative strategies to characterise ‘Pelagianism’.This paper aims to illustrate Augustine’s anti-Pelagian strategy by tracing the development of one of these heresiological key phrases. After 416, Augustine characterized the Pelagians as inimici gratiae Christi accusing them of evacuating the soteriological significance of the cross and blood of Christ. This serious accusation will be understood as intertwining theology, heresiology and a rhetorical strategy. This paper will show how Augustine created this label as part of a christological-soteriological argumentation and how he could reuse it in different works and situations. It will ask how Augustine modified and interpreted this label, especially in c. ep. Pel., where he introduced the specification inimici crucis Christi and focused on the significance of Christ’ blood. Thus, this paper will ask how Augustine developed and expressed his christocentric soteriology in distinction of ‘Pelagianism’.

Jarred Mercer: Losing Our Innocence: The Spirituality of Children in Augustinian Perspective

In the early Christian period children were often held up as a spiritual exemplum. Following Christ was to ‘become like a little child’ (Matt 18.3). Early Christians expressed what this looked like in various ways, and often made sense of the command to childlikeness by equating it with a call to innocence—as embracing a call to innocency that can be seen in children before they are corrupted by sin (often in particular sexual sin; e.g. Tertullian De monogamia8). Much of the Christian understanding of childlikeness (and therefore in some sense Christlikeness) became dependent upon a vision of the child as innocent and pure. The emphasis on the child’s innocence in this context is seen clearly throughout the early Christian centuries from New Testament texts, to the Shepherd of Hermas, to Irenaeus, Clement, Origen, Tertullian, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Leo, and many others. In and following Augustine’s developments on how Christians understand sin and its transmission, how do people begin to explain the spiritual quest to ‘childlikeness’? Augustine’s view that children are indeed not innocent, as previous tradition had overwhelmingly assumed, causes significant difficulty to Christian communities seeing themselves as moving toward holy and right living by ‘becoming like a child’. However, the concept is much too ingrained in the Christian imagination to lose it’s hold. This paper will explore how the Augustinian perspective comes to terms with previous tradition’s emphasis on the spiritual nature of children as the aim of the Christian life.

Luise Marion Frenkel: Alexandria in control? The written reception and oral transmission of Festal Letters in the light of fifth-century papyri

Contemporary remarks about the circulation of Festal Letters in the fourth and fifth centuries are usually taken at face value and it is assumed that copies of the letters reached each year all dioceses and communities in Egypt. This is not corroborated by the papyri. They cast doubt on the use of writing, its efficacy and the relevance and impact of the pronouncements of the bishop of Alexandria. The papyri and ostraca show a multifaceted textual culture in which more often than not letters were edited and interpolated. At the same time, papyri like P. Vindob. K 10157, show the prestige of the format of the festal letter as a vehicle for theological teaching, in that case of Origenistic and Evagrian vein, which Cyril would probably have criticised rather than espoused. Thus, rather than descriptions, the claims about the circulation of the letters should be read as injunctions or pleas for allied clerics and religious people to spread the content of that year as efficaciously as possible in their zone of influence, and thus, probably, orally and in translation into local languages and theological parlance.

Yifat Monnickendam: Biblical Law in Greco-Roman Attire: The Case of Levirate Marriage in Late-Antique Christian Legal Traditions

What happened to biblical law when transferred into late-antique Christianity? How can answering this question provide a paradigm which helps us understand the rise and development of late-antique Christian legal traditions? In the first centuries CE the Christian legal tradition began to evolve in Roman, Greek, Rabbinic and biblical contexts. Focusing on the biblical institution of levirate marriage, this paper offers a possible paradigm which elucidates how Christians adopted, adapted and sometimes rejected their legal heritage, illuminating the overall development of Christian legal discourse.Following a short survey of the rabbinic adaptation of biblical levirate marriage and the Roman and Christian rulings regarding this practice, I analyze the Christian exegetical and theological discourse on levirate marriage, focusing on the acceptance or rejection of levirate marriage as a whole, and adaptations to the biblical institution. This analysis demonstrates the disparity between the rabbinic discourse, the Christian and Roman rulings and the theological and exegetical discourse. It shows how Christians remodeled their biblical heritage according to Greek and Roman legal concepts, namely the Roman adoption and the Greek epiklerate, and treated it as part of inheritance law and child-parent relationships, whereas the rabbis used different adaptations and treated it as part of matrimonial law and sexual relationships. This discussion therefore re-contextualizes the legal discourse, positioning the Christian approach to levirate marriage as a complex case of legal transplant and adaptation of a legal heritage.

Shaily Patel: Magic and Morality: Origen of Alexandria and the Construction of Christian Miracle

Emile Durkheim wrote that there is no church of magic, meaning that magic’s purview lay outside institutionalized religions. Magic thus becomes a marginalized obverse of religion. A similar assessment obtains in Origen of Alexandria’s Contra Celsum. According to Origen, magoilack moral rectitude. If Jesus were a magician, Origen writes, he could not teach believers to act as though divine judgment were forthcoming and prompt them to modify their behavior accordingly. Jesus’ miracles, and Christianity as such, represent a moral system antithetical to magical practice. Despite Origen’s claims, magical objects like curse tablets, amulets, and papyri suggest that the practice of magic, institutionalized or not, was not nearly as marginal as Durkheimian conceptions might imply. The archaeological record indicates that our earliest Christians regularly encountered the magical. Thus, while magic may have been marginalized and maligned, it also enjoyed widespread popularity. This paper seeks to demonstrate how these contradictory facets of ancient magic might illuminate Origen’s famous refutation of Celsus. By contextualizing the Contra Celsum within broader discourses of Graeco-Roman magic, I show that an easy distinction between magic and religion was not a given, despite scholars’ preoccupation with the notion of magic as illicit religio. Rather than
one of legitimacy, the distinction in Origen is subtler one – that of intention
contrasted with practice. Instead of categorically denying Jesus’ participation
in activities associated with magic, our author offers moralizing interpretations
of said activities, which, in turn, contribute to his overarching construction
of Christianity as antithetical to magical practice.

Kitty Bouwman: The Mystagogical Function of Divine Motherhood at the Conversion of Augustine

In the τ we found expressions of divine motherhood in relation to Augustine's conversion to Christian Faith. With these expressions Augustine puts us on the track of an inclusive reality of God that encompasses divine motherhood.The personification of Continentia (self-restraint) appeared as a mother during Augustine's conversion. He decribed her as the Lord's spouse. She personified divine acts by offering him Christ's law. In doing so she broke through the opposition between the 'flesh' and the 'spirit', initiating him into God's grace. She did not urge him toward sexual abstinence, but toward a life according to the law of the Spirit which brings life in Jesus Christ. This law is founded on the law of Moses and also that of Wisdom. With the repetion of aperire the connection became clear between Continentia's manifestation and the events that followed - the opening of the Holy Scripture, his surrender to God and the reward of spiritual sonship.Divine Wisdom revealed hersef in her power to transform divine nourishment into grace ('milk') intended for the children of God, who are following the way of Jesus, the man. As a Neo-platonist thinker Augustine had no access to the grace, that Wisdom had prepared. But should he embrace Jesus, he would then be fed by her grace.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Gianna Zipp: Tyranny and its punishment in Lact. mort. pers. 13,1, 14,3 and 42,1-3

In my paper I want to examine the link between a tyrantʼs actions and his punishment from God in Lactantiusʼ Death of the Persecutors. In his treaties about the wrongness of persecuting Christians, Lactantius focuses on the tetrarchs, known best to his contemporaries: Diocletian, Galerius, Maximianus, and Maximinus Daia. These enemies of God are punished by God himself in different ways. All of these punishments, however, are suitable to their respective character and their specific actions. To show this, I want to compare the edict Diocletian ushers against Christians, the characterisation Lactantius gives of him, and his demise following the damnatio memoriaeof his colleague – and by default of himself. Diocletians edict is designed to strip Christians from their rights and social status, rendering them little more than slaves. This punishment can be seen as even more extreme when we take into account the characterisation Lactantius gives of the tetrarch: Diocletian is vain and always concerned about his own public image.To him, status is of the utmost importance.So in the end, when Maximianus dies, all his statues and pictures are destroyed and so are those of Diocletian as most portray both emperors. This is, I want to argue, the ultimate form of punishment for an emperor like Diocletian, who ruled for twenty years and wanted to present himself as a great imperator. He loses all his social status and will never be remembered as the great emperor he strived to be remembered as. On the contrary: he will be forgotten.

Valentina Marchetto: “One Heart and One Soul” (Acts 4:32). Past and Present Unity in Basil of Caesarea

The case study I mean to present is part of a wider project on the Patristic reception of John 17:21 from the 2nd Century to the Council of Chalcedon. Through a mapping of quotations in the ancient Christian literature, it aims at understand how the Fathers read and interpreted this text, which is strictly linked with the self-definition and self-representation first of all of the group of the disciples, and, consequently, of the future believers in Christ. Within this broader context, this paper intends to analyse the occurrences of this verse in the works of Basil of Caesarea. In fact, this case provides a clear example of a specific exegetical trend, which has its starting point in Origen and is well attested later in the majority of authors involved in the Arian controversy. In this circumstance, the Johannine verse was used several times on grounds of its lexical vagueness, and, on the other hand, of its emphasis on the unity between the Father and the Son. Moreover, John 17:21 was often linked with Acts 4:32, a fact that shifts the heavenly unity between God and Christ to a more concrete and earthly shape of unity. Furthermore, by referring to Acts’ narrative, Basil bases the unity and harmony of his monastic community on the “mythical”, past unity realised by the Apostolic Church. Acts 4:32, at the same time, proves that the oneness for which Christ prayed in John has been fulfilled, and represents the example for Basil’s contemporaries.

Johannes Breuer: The Role of Imperfection in Arnobius of Sicca

At about 300 CE Arnobius of Sicca composed an apologetic work named Adversus nationes. In this treatise he defends Christian faith against a great number of reproaches and attacks on his part aspects of the traditional pagan religion and intellectual life. His work is characterised by a technique that modern scholars call retorsio: the speaker demonstrates that pagans can also be charged with those opinions and ways of conduct that they accuse the Christians of.In my paper I will argue that imperfection is an important feature of the debate presented in Adversus nationes by analyzing the way Arnobius discusses two topics which involve imperfection: on the one hand, I will demonstrate his reaction to the pagan reproach that the Christian sacred writings display stylistic flaws, on the other hand, I will focus on his criticizing the imperfection of pagan philosophers. When discussing the literary qualities of Christian sacred writings, Arnobius (or his persona) argues that it is necessary to evaluate the content of a statement without taking its stylistic presentation into account; moreover, he provides interesting insights into his linguistic concepts. Then again he criticizes pagan philosophers for imperfection in several respects, e.g. the limitations of their knowledge, their disagreement among themselves and even their own weaknesses of character.My aim is to demonstrate the virtuosity with which this Christian apologist handles the topic “imperfection” not only to put pagan criticism of Christian faith into perspective, but also to attack pagan notions.

Jacopo Marcon: The use of the Greek Fathers in the Pseudo-Oecumenian Catena on Paul.

Biblical catenae are manuscripts with the biblical text and the commentary, a collection of patristic extracts made up from multiple sources.My presentation will give a brief overview of the Pseudo-Oecumenian Catena on the Pauline epistles, especially on Romans, with reference to the layouts, numbering systems and marginalia of key manuscripts. There are three types of scholia: an original numbered set of comments, typical of the Oecumenian tradition, and two different types of expanded text. The first one is the so-called Corpus Extravagantium, with the unnumbered scholia from the Greek Church Fathers, quoted either anonymously or with the name of the commentator and/or a range of various symbols. The second one is the so-called Scholia Photiana, attributed to the Byzantine scholar Photius and added at a later point.In doing so, I will consider three main classes of manuscripts: a standard type, with the numbered comments and the Extravagantes, an expanded type, with the Scholia Photiana, and an abridged version. Overall, there are approximately 900 numbered scholia, some Extravagantes (especially from Oecumenius, Theodoret of Cyr and anonymous commentators), and more than 100 comments from Photius, but only for the expanded type.I will then go on to explain some of the new light shed by my work on the analysis of biblical extracts, on the reconstruction of Oecumenius’ citation technique (how often, why and how the quotation from the Greek Church Fathers are reported on the page), and on the identification of the anonymous scholia of the commentary.

Brendan Wolfe: The Goths and the Holy Spirit

Although reconstructions of the Trinitarian disputes of the 4th-6th centuries focus on the status of the Son, it is arguable that the distance between various theological positions was much greater on the status of the Holy Spirit. A case-study of this claim is provided by the various theologically-engaged Gothic groups.From the deathbed creed of the Gothic bishop Wulfila in AD 383 to the late 6th century negotiations surrounding the Visigoths' adherence to Nicenism, the divinity and lordship of the Holy Spirit were significant matters of dispute. Furthermore, recalling the Gothic context of the insertion of the filioque gives colour to the origins of the divisive formula.This paper will canvas the Gothic evidence regarding the Holy Spirit, relate it to other scholarly questions about Gothic theology, and consider its significance for the filioque and its origins.

Georgiana Huian: The Human Being in the Theological Poetry of Gregory of Nazianzus

The theological poems of Gregory of Nazianzus are meant to bring together the desire for beauty emerging from contemplation (θεωρία) and the progress towards the good. They express the pedagogical intention to lead young people to more useful teachings, echoing the attitude towards Greek poetry in Plato’s Republic, Plutarch’s De audiendis poetis, and Basil’s Ad adulescentes. The paper investigates how the verses considered as a pleasant medicine (φάρμακον) depict the human condition in its present fragility, as well as in its journey to deification. It analyses metaphors attached to human vulnerability (e.g. swan, ant, ship, shadows, dream, dust, the movement in circle) in contrast with the motif of light reflecting the participation in the divine. Moreover, I investigate the notion of “image of God” imprinted in the human being, and I analyse how the divine image makes possible the ascent (return) from “misery” and “mortal condition” to resplendence, spiritualisation and incorruption.

Dongsun Cho: Theological Continuity between Augustine’s Anti-Manichaeism and Anti-Pelagianism on Predestination

Augustine’s doctrine of predestination was not merely formulated during his controversy with Pelagians. Thus, it has been claimed that the bishop already began to develop his anti-Pelagian view on grace and predestination in Ad Simplicianum (397). Johannes van Oort (1993) argues that one cannot properly understand Augustine’s life and works without knowing Manichaeism. Oort’s observation of Augustine and his relationship with Manichaeism is also applicable in his development of the doctrine of predestination. I will demonstrate that Augustine’s anti-Manichaean writings, even prior to Ad Simplicianum, provided him some basic understandings of predestination which could be developed later against the Pelagian movement. The thesis of this paper is that there is theological continuity between Augustine’s anti-Manichaeism and anti-Pelagianism on the grace of predestination. This does not mean that Augustine presented anti-Pelagian doctrinal formula in his early anti-Manichaean writings. Instead, I suggest that his anti-Manichaean polemical arguments predict some of his anti-Pelagian thoughts on grace, free will, and predestination. For Augustine, both Manichaeism and Pelagianism deny the gratuity of grace and the gospel because the two movements are basically the religions of self-redemption (Aldo Magris, 2001). In contrast to Julian of Eclanum or Oort, I will show how Augustine’s doctrine of predestination fits compatibilist freedom, and it is different from Manichaean fatalism. Augustine might have become convinced that his doctrine of predestination could be found in not only Paul but also his Latin tradition, in particular Victorinus and Ambrosiaster, Latin exegetes on the Pauline epistles.

Thomas Cattoi: Composite salvation: divine subjectivity and human agency in John Damascene’s De Fide Orthodoxa

The purpose of this paper is to
explore John Damascene’s understanding of Christ’s divine subjectivity in De Fide Orthodoxa, and to argue that
John’s qualified appropriation of earlier notions of composite hypostasis provides
him with an adequate conceptual framework to present Christ’s salvific work as
the joint outcome of divine and human agency.

paper will initially chart the genealogy John’s notion of Christ’s composite
hypostasis, starting from its roots in Leontios’ Contra Nestorianos et Eutychianos, and continuing with Maximos the
Confessor’s reflection on Christ’s divine and human agency. John’s notion of Christ’s
subjectivity preserves Leontios’ dialectic of simplicity and composition, but
in line with Maximos’ Quaestiones ad
Thalassium, the source and ground of Christ’s agency are located in the
Logos’ divine hypostasis, which remains “forever united with Father and the
Spirit” even as it assumes “the characteristics (ἰδιώματα) of human nature” (De Fide Orth., III, 7).

the paper will address John’s understanding of the co-operation of divine and
human agency in the work of Christ. While De
Fide Orthodoxa argues that Christ’s divinity and humanity share the same
principle of subjectivity, the fact that the eternal Logos assumes a human mode
(τρόπος) of existence ensures that
our common human nature can fully co-operate in the work of redemption. In this
way, the absence of a distinct center of human subjectivity is what actually guarantees
our humanity’s full involvement in the mystery of salvation.

Nozomu Yamada: Pelagians' and Chrysostom's Similar Ascetic Counsel to Christian Women

 Since about half a century ago, the relationship between Pelagian and Antiochian theologies has been explored (e.g. E.TeSelle, 1972). Altough a similarity between Pelagius' and Chrysostom's views on infant baptism and ascetic exercises has been pointed out, the relationship between their theologies has not yet been fully investigated. One of the reasons that these theologians are distinguished is due to their different sacerdotal statuses (Pelagius as a Western layman and Chrysostom as an Eastern Bishop) and evaluation of women's roles (Pelagius as a strong feminist and Chrysostom the opposite). Nevertheless, if we investigate in detail the practical counsel they offered Christian women in their letters and homilies, particularly in their letters to noblewomen, we can recognize two shared characteristics of Eastern ascetic theology and practices, that is, απαθεια and θεωσις. In this presentation, firstly, I would like to clarify the main characteristics of the common ascetic counsels to Christian women in Pelagius' and Chrysostom's letters and homilies. Secondly, I would like to introduce Chrysostom's Genesis interpretation, particularly on Genesis 3:16 about Eve's pains of childbirth, whose interpretation Chrysostom displayed in his letter to Olympias. It is well known that Pelagius' disciple, Julian of Eclanum, debated fiercely with Augustine in Opus Imperfectum, asserting that women's pain during childbirth was quite natural and not a penalty for Eve's transgression. I would like to demonstrate that Chrysostom's interpretation of Genesis 3:16 could be one of the reasons, which suggests a close relationship between Pelagians' and Chrysostom's understanding of Christian anthropology.

Ryan Scruggs: Giving Gifts to the One Who Needs Nothing: Irenaeus on the End of Eucharistic Oblations

The contemporary academic discourse on the Gift (e.g. Mauss, Derrida, Marion, Milbank) is a broad interdisciplinary discussion that considers, among other questions, whether reciprocity cancels gratuity in the exchange of gifts. As the first Christian theologian to argue explicitly for the doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, Irenaeus is adamant that God gives generously in creating and redeeming the world and that God needs nothing in return from his creation. Yet Irenaeus also argues that humans ought to offer God gifts-in-return in the form of eucharistic oblations.This paper will consider the radical implications of Irenaeus’s doctrine of divine self-sufficiency for an economy of divine-human reciprocity. I will answer the question: What is the purpose of eucharistic oblations offered to a God who ultimately needs nothing? The answer to this question lies in Irenaeus’s paradoxical notion that in giving to God humans in fact supply precisely what they themselves lack: friendship with God (AH4.16.4). Thus, Irenaeus conceives of divine generosity not as an imposition – i.e. as an initiation into a perpetual cycle of debt and repayment – but as an invitation to enter into a relationship of mutual gift-giving and so to grow in communion with the One Who Gives.

TAMARA SAETEROS: Amor y creatio, conversio, formatio en Agustín de Hipona

Esta disertación extrae las consecuencias de la reflexión agustiniana sobre el Génesis. A partir del análisis de sus comentarios sobre el relato de la creación mediante la interpretación literal, alegórica y espiritual, el estudio incide en que Agustín elabora un esquema metafísico original que constituye a los seres en su devenir existencial y que, además, sirve como clave de lectura válida de su propia comprensión del ser finito. Tal esquema es el de creatio, conversio, formatio.Tomando dicha tríada como eje central de la exposición, se procede a una profundización progresiva de las etapas del fenómeno y a la búsqueda de su fundamento último: el pondus amoris, particularmente en los agentes libres.Por una parte, se estudia el fenómeno ontológico de creatio, conversio, formatio, enriqueciendo su comprensión con la aportación de las imágenes con las que Agustín lo piensa y transmite, encuadrándolo coherentemente en las dimensiones ontológicas de modus, speciesy ordo.Por otra parte, estas reflexiones llevan a identificar la categoría analógica de ordo con el amor,con su peso específico, que marca la tendencia de las criaturas espirituales –principalmente– pero también del resto de la creación, la cual vuelve de este modo a su origen y alcanza la paz, entendida como «tranquilidad del orden», como aquietamiento y descanso amoroso.Consecuentemente, el esquema agustiniano de creatio, conversio, formatio, se descubre fundamentado en el pondus amoris, y así se construye una metafísica de la creaturalidad que permite vislumbrar de manera más clara qué es ser creatura y quién es su Hacedor.

Dimitrios Moschos: “A cross of light” - The sign of the cross amidst competing eschatological views during the 6th and 7th centuries.

The sign of the cross apart from its liturgical use is mainly known because of its political use by the emperor Heraclius and the subsequent violent opposition of Islam against it in the 7th c. Heraclius utilizes a realistic eschatological perception of the victory of the Cross upon the enemies of Christ in a last stage of the History of Salvation within real history. This understanding of the Cross goes along with the legend of the last emperor, grown mainly in a Syriac environment (Cave of Treasures, Ps. Methodios). Yet, besides this version there are more complex approaches to the cross also directed against its “politically-realistic” use. In the proposed paper they are regarded as one pole in a dialectical tension between extremely internalized a-historic eschatological currents, putting the cross at the inner experience of salvation, the other pole being the above mentioned externalized one. These currents can be traced from 6th up to even 3rd c. texts and authors, such as apocryphal acts, the Evagrian work and its reception in the Middle East in cases like The Book of Hierotheos, or ideas lingering in monastic circles that emphasize the “inner eschaton” through cross appearance during prayer (e.g. an inner implanting of a “cross of light” to the faithful according to Macarian Homilies). The impact of these competing eschatological views goes as far as Iconoclasm or the Legend of Bahira.


In this short communication, we propose to analyze the presence and reception of the Johannine Tradition in Asia Minor, particularly by the author of the Martyrdom of Polycarp. The allusions to the Gospel of John framed in a theology and liturgical praxis, such as the celebration of the Quartodecimanist Easter, may provide the oldest testimony of the celebration of the Easter vigil in Smyrna in the second century.

Aristotle Papanikolaou: What does deification look like? Maximus, virtues, and the architecture of the soul

This paper will sketch Maximus the Confessors’s discussion of theosis as an architecture of the soul that is constituted by a cooperative alignment of its rational and affective parts. The virtues are not simply the mortar binding these various parts together, nor are they simply the building blocks giving shape to the ‘theotic’ soul; they are the very tools that move the various parts into their intended place and remove the obstacles obstructing knowledge of God. It is customary to speak of Maximus’s understanding of knowledge of God as an ecstatic union beyond reason, but this is only one side of the coin, as it forgets the importance of the affective part of the soul. Union with God as ecstatic experience is conditioned on the rational part of the soul’s formation of attention-as-contemplation of the intentions, or logoi, of created realities. This mind can only reach ecstatic union if the affective part of the soul is formed in love—the irascible in agape, and the concupiscible in eros—such that “when in full ardor of its love (eros) for God the mind goes out of itself, then it has no perception at all either of itself or of any creatures. For once illumined by the divine and infinite light, it remains insensible to anything that is made by him . . . through love the mind is ravished by divine knowledge and in going outside of creatures has a perception of divine transcendence” (Centuries on Love1.10 and 1.12)

Tommaso Interi: Origen and Eusebius Interpreting Psalm 77

The discovery of twenty-nine new Greek Homilies on the Psalms by Origen has consistently widened our knowledge on the Alexandrian’s interpretation of the Psalter. He dedicated nine sermons to Psalm 77, addressing several distinctive points of his exegesis, and especially stressing the spiritual meaning of the historical events recalled in the composition. His interpretation urges the audience to a moral edification and to avoid the perils of the heresies, symbolised by the schism between the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel.Eusebius, who most likely knew Origen’s works on the Psalter, composed a Commentary on the Psalms which we can partly read from direct tradition (Ps 51-95). His interpretation of Psalm 77 is in line with the Alexandrian exegesis, inasmuch as it investigates the persona loquens of the psalm or gives importance to the other Greek translations from the Hexapla. However, even if Eusebius never refused the allegorical interpretation, or denied its moral value, he was more interested in explaining the text from a historical point of view, stressing the responsibilities of the Jews for their punishments and thus highlighting the apologetic stance of the events narrated in the psalm.The analysis will compare the two fathers’ exegesis of Psalm 77, focusing on some key-issues they presented, as to highlight the peculiarity of their own interpretations, and to outline the different perspectives that led them to explain the same psalm in different ways.

Erin Walsh: Brazen Faith: The Theme of Boldness in Narsai and Jacob of Serugh

Narsai and Jacob of Serugh inherited and transformed the legacy of Ephrem, composing memre(narrative poems) on a variety of biblical and doctrinal themes. While Narsai and Jacob are often studied as representatives of contrasting Christological positions, comparative treatments of their poetry can also yield insights into the reception history of biblical texts and the development of poetic rhetoric in the fifth and early sixth centuries. Within their poetry, the theme of boldness and self-assertion appears frequently. Through attributing boldness to female figures from both the Christian Old and New Testaments, authors played with the paradoxes of idealized feminine deportment and gendered vices. Using the same vocabulary for the impudence of Eve and the zeal of faithful New Testament women, poets expanded the semantic range of these terms, rendering boldness an ambiguous role in the life of faith. The subject of this communication will be their treatments of 1 Kings 3:16-28, the narrative of the women before Solomon. While Jacob’s memraexists in English translation, Narsai’s Memra75 “On Solomon and his Choice and his Judgment,” has neither been translated nor examined previously. In the course of preparing a translation I have found Narsai differs from Jacob in his extensive treatment of the women’s boldness, which I will draw out in a comparison of their re-narrations of the narrative. Within these didactic works, one finds the construction of idealized motherhood and faithful boldness, adding to our understanding of women and gender within Syriac Christianity.

Ross Twele: Could Homoeans still be pro-Nicenes? The case of Fortunatian of Aquileia

Fortunatian, a 4th-century bishop of Aquileia, appears to have a mixed voting record concerning the Arian controversy that transpired largely during his tenure. In 343 he voted with the anti-Arian majority at Western Serdica; yet sometime before 357, possibly at the Synod of Milan in 355, he agreed to break off contact and perhaps also communion with Athanasius of Alexandria. Amid Constantius’ campaign of regional synods to endorse Homoean creeds, Fortunatian was long presumed by modern scholarship to have defected to the Homoean doctrine. The rediscovery of Fortunatian’s commentary on the Gospels in 2012, and Lukas Dorfbauer’s subsequent biographical article on the bishop, have exonerated him of this charge: his commitment to the consubstantiality of Father and Son is now beyond question. But Fortunatian’s theology has not yet been examined in the specific creedal context of the imperially-backed Homoean movement in the 350s. This paper uses the rediscovered commentary to revisit the Homoean movement and its long-presumed incompatibility with the trinitarian doctrine of the pro-Nicenes. Fortunatian’s commentary on the Prologue to the Gospel of John reveals a Nicenism perfectly capable of expressing itself within the terminological strictures of the Homoean creeds, professing a clear doctrine of consubstantiality while avoiding Nicaea’s philosophical vocabulary. Scattered trinitarian statements in the commentary on Matthew, on the other hand, do employ the terminology of substantiaand persona, a fact which this paper proposes as evidence of at least
two stages of composition for this set of commentaries across Fortunatian’s

Gregory Wiebe: Deus and the Monarchy of the Father in Augustine’s De Fide: Comparisons of Latin and Greek Traditions and Arguments

In his treatise The Trinity, Augustine speaks of “the Trinity which God is." Taking each of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as well as the Trinity together to be the referent of the term “God” has occasionally raised the suspicions of certain scholars and theologians, who are concerned that Augustine thereby compromises the monarchy of the Father. This issue has been raised recently by John Behr, who suggests the Greek idiom of the Cappadocians avoids this problem by more consistently using the word “God” to refer uniquely to the Father. This paper will explore the background to Augustine’s theological terminology in his early work, On Faith and the Creed. There we see both this more expansive use of the word “God” that does not simply refer to the Father, and an explicit attempt to postulate the monarchy of the Father as the sole source of Godhead. The underlying logic is that “God” refers to that which the three share, namely Godhead itself. Select texts from the Cappadocians suggest this usage, while perhaps more idiomatically Latin, is not at all foreign to Greek arguments for a Nicene understanding of the unity of the Trinity. There are, it turns out, important theological reasons for using “God” to refer to both the Father and that which he is and shares, such that what is needed is not a preference for one or the other, but a reflection on what these historical uses by diverse authors says about how to coordinate them.

James Dever: Prometheus, Creation, and Christ: Tertullian of Carthage’s Defense of the Christian Narrative

Tertullian of Carthage refers to the God of Christian revelation as the verus Prometheus twice in his oeuvre. In Apol.18.2-3 (ca. 197/8), Tertullian develops what I will identify as a predominantly Roman strand of the development of the Prometheus myth, in which Prometheus is depicted as the creator of the human race. In Marc.1.1.4-5 (ca. 208), he develops the more broadly received Greek iteration of the myth, in which the titan is depicted as suffering punishment for his love of humanity and his opposition to the unjust law of Olympian Zeus. In this essay, I will first analyze Tertullian’s complex negotiation of the various strands of mythic discourse in Apol.and Marc.,accounting for both textual and material-cultural evidence for the prominence of the Prometheus myth in the Roman empire and Tertullian’s theological transformation of it. I will then describe how Tertullian transumes the Roman creation-myth through his evocation of the Greek myth of vicarious suffering in Marc., revealing the fundamental continuity of the act of creation with that of redemption in the Christian narrative. I conclude with an account of how Tertullian’s defense of this narrative requires precisely the account he offers of the quality of Christ’s flesh, as that which renders the mystery of creation more fully visible as a mystery. Christ, the incarnate Word, becomes the hermeneutical key for the figurative exegesis of Scripture, which includes both “instruments” or “testaments” of God’s relationship to the world (see Marc.4.1).

Lisa Radakovich Holsberg: Saving Hermas (and Everyone Else): Everyday Soteriology in The Shepherd of Hermas

At the heart of The Shepherd of Hermas lies salvation. Dating from the early 2nd century and likely hailing from Rome, this narrative of conversion (metanoia) tells the story of the ordinary and everyday Hermas, a former slave who at the time of the narrative is a freed married man with a wife, children, and business affairs of his own. This ordinary man is seized by extraordinary events involving visionary dream figures who lead him on a complex journey of revelations towards the goal of salvation; a journey which includes a plunge into the depths of his own interiority. Yet, the salvation revealed in The Shepherd of Hermas is not an exclusively personal one. Hermas’ salvation in The Shepherd necessarily entails the salvation of other people. Most scholarly interpretations of The Shepherd depict the work as an early call to apocalyptic asceticism or as a cipher for the ecclesiastical organization of the emerging Christian Church. Drawing on the scholarship of Osiek, Lipsett, Santner, Wilson, Dibelius, and Young, this paper presents an alternative interpretation wherein the details of Hermas’ everyday life of family, business affairs, and community are treated as meaningful and intrinsic to the working-out of salvation in the concrete existence of life here-and-now. This paper speculates that these everyday details may feasibly have contributed to The Shepherd’s early popularity, and contends that they offer a powerful example of God present and active in ordinary existence.

Robert Lane: The Relationship of Structure, Occasion and Purpose in Irenaeus’ Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching

The scholarly consensus concerning the structure of Irenaeus’ Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching is that the writing is composed of two sections, a “narratival” presentation of the truth and a proof from prophecy of the truth. This structure has led to a number of proposals for the purpose of the writing, including pedagogical, catechetical, hermeneutical, and anti-heretical views. James B. Wiegel’s “The Trinitarian Structure of Irenaeus’ Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching challenged this consensus, stimulating renewed interest in this writing. An analysis of Demonstration in light of Wiegel’s three-part structure, especially as it relates to the form of the Rule of Faith and the content of the writing, appears to indicate that the structure as well as these other elements are not directly related to purpose. Instead, it is the occasion of the writing, the appearance of people who have heretical understandings of the Trinity, that guided the arrangement of these elements. This “demonstration” could then be useful for a variety of purposes in the church.

Wakako Hirano: Substantia and Potestas: Augustine’s Theory of Persons

Concerning the Trinitarian theology, Augustine of Hippo has been criticized for disregarding the relationship of the
three persons of God. However, researchers have recently
attempted to precisely describe his theory of the persons. This paper examines
their relationship, especially that of the Father and the Son, from the
viewpoints of substance (substantia)
and power (potestas). As some researchers have noted, Augustine gives detailed explanations of the relationship of the persons in his Tractates
on the Gospel of John. When he addresses power, he distinguishes the Son’s power from that of Christ. As to the former, he emphasises substance and power are not different regarding both the Father and the
Son, based on the immortality of the Trinity, even though the Father is a
beginning in relation to the Son. Notably, Christ’s power, which is thought to
have been accepted by Christ at the time of the Incarnation, has the power to
save many people. To bridge the divide between the power of the Son and Christ,
Augustine seems to suggest the theory of predestination by explaining that
Christ was predestined to accept the power. This is indicated by Augustine’s
interpretation of John 17:2, according to which the second person of the
Trinity has the proper works in respect to his humanity and godhead. Thus, in
this paper I attempt to make it clear that Augustine’s Trinitarian theology of
the three persons is connected with predestination, especially when considering
the proper works of each person of God.

Robert Crellin: The exegetical consequences of translational divergences between the Old Greek and the MT in the patristic treatment of Isaiah 53

Isaiah 53 has been critical to Christian understandings of the nature and purpose of Jesus' crucifixion since the faith's earliest days (Watson 2009). Yet the Hebrew and Old Greek versions of this chapter are strikingly different. This is the case throughout, but notable especially in vv. 4 and 10, so that quite different conceptions of the nature and character of God can be inferred from the respective texts (Lust 1979). The present paper considers the patristic reception of this divergence in order to assess the extent to which early Christian writers were aware of the potential consequences of the divergence for their understanding of the atonement. The paper builds particularly on Watson (2009), who carefully outlines the extent and nature of the divergences, as well as various patristic writers who cite (parts of) the relevant passage, concluding that the 'mistranslations' represent a 'semantic potentialwaiting to be realized' (Watson 2009: 233). Watson works this out in the context of Paul's writings. The present paper builds on this to consider the possible exegetical consequences for,inter alios, Justin, 1 Clement, Chrysostom, Jerome and Augustine.

Lust, J. (1979). “The demonic character of Jahweh and the Septuagint of Isaiah”. In: Bijdragen40(1), pp. 2–14. issn: 00062278. doi: 10.1080/00062278.1979.10596761.Watson, Francis (2009). “Mistranslation and the death of Christ: Isaiah 53 LXX and its Pauline Reception”. In: Translating the New Testament: Text, Translation and Theology. Ed. by Stanley E. Porter and M.J. Boda. Vol. 44. September. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI, pp. 215–250.

Charlotte Koeckert: Augustine’s ‚Milan Circle’ Reconsidered

In his groundbreaking studies on Augustine, Pierre Courcelle has claimed that in Milan Augustine came under the influence of a group of Christian Neoplatonists centred around bishop Ambrose. With this concept of a ‚Milan circle’ Courcelle focused on Augustine’s intellectual milieu in order to depict his conversion in 386 as both philosophical and Christian. Others, however, have used the concept as a model for describing Augustine’s social milieu.The paper reexamines Augustine’s personal relations at Milan and proposes two models for the description of the social enviroment that fostered his intellectual and religious development at that time: the literary circles of the educated Roman elite and a close network of longterm friends. Both models can be illustrated by other late antique examples.

Brendan Harris: The Spirit as Creator in Gregory Nazianzen’s Or.41.14

Previous discussions of Gregory Nazianzen's Pneumatology have portrayed Gregory's sharing Basil's understanding of the Spirit's creative role as limited to that of "perfecting cause" (Ayres, 2004; Alfeyev, 2006). This paper will challenge this characterisation of Gregory's Pneumatology by showing that, first, Gregory also holds a broader understanding of the Spirit's creative activity, viewing the Spirit as co-operating with the Father and the Son in the original creation of all things and, second, Gregory diverges from Basil on this point due to his engagement with other pro-Nicene Pneumatological traditions of which Basil was either unaware or chose not to use when developing his account of the Spirit's creative function.I will establish these two contentions through a close reading of Gregory's discussion of the Spirit's creative activity in Or.41.14. There, Gregory cites Psalm 32.6 and Job 33.4 in support of his contention that the Spirit is active in the creation of all things. In so doing, he departs from Basil's interpretation of these passages, according to which Psalm 32.6 indicates the Spirit's sanctification of the angels, while Job 33.4 refers to the moral perfection of human beings. Gregory's divergent interpretation of these passages, I contend, reflects his engagement with broader currents in pro-Nicene Pneumatology. Specifically, I will show that Gregory learns his interpretation of Psalm 32.6 from Epiphanius's exegesis of the same passage in the Ancoratus,while his interpretation of Job 33.4 follows that found in Pseudo-Basil's Against Eunomius IV-V, which most likely stems from the hand of Didymus the Blind.

Barthélémy Enfrein: Manipulating Cyril of Alexandria’s In Lucam : Three Texts for the 3rd Homily between Selecting, Rewriting and Preserving.

The one hundred and fifty six homilies that Cyril of Alexandria dedicated to Luke's gospel have experienced a turbulent textual history. In this corpus, the third homily, commenting on Lk 2, 21-24, enjoys a special place. Indeed, we are facing three different descendants of the lost Urtext. As is the case with the other homilies, we can read some fragments of it in the catenae; like two of them, the third homily is transmitted through the Greek direct tradition and, since Mgr Sauget discovered the Damascus Patr. 12/20, we have access to a Syriac translation. These three different forms sustain complex relationships with the original text but all of them are, in various ways, vestigia,manipulations, and rewritings of it. This paper thus proposes to focus on the phenomena of manipulating and recreating the text of Cyril’s third homily which depend on various needs, either exegetical in the catenae, or liturgical in the direct tradition. How do the different textual vestiges that have reached us represent evidence of a distinct relationship to the written material in each instance? The Syriac translation is, without any doubt, the most faithful to the hypotext; nonetheless, it changes the language. The catenists, for sure, selected passages and rewrote them but sometimes preserved a more conservative text in comparison with the direct tradition. Finally, the direct tradition does not hesitate to add a liturgical incipit and to cut the explicit of the homily in the process of fusion with the fourth homily.

Liang ZHANG: Follow the Guide According to De Vita Moysis of Gregory of Nyssa

Gregory of Nyssa often speaks of the importance and necessity of following the guide, especially in one’s spiritual path to perfection which is endless. This paper aims to deepen some aspects of this notion according to his work De Vita Moysis. By examining the figure Moses presented by Gregory as guide, I will show briefly what are the characteristics of the guide, what is his role and what are the conditions for becoming a guide. I will then focus on exploring Gregory’s discussion of the true guide, God Himself whom Moses and all human beings must follow as Gregory presents in Vit Moys II, 249-255, the main text for this paper. Accordingly, I will reflect on the following questions: Why do we have to follow the guide and how to follow him? How to understand the Gregory’s idea that to follow God is to see God (Vit MoysII, 252: ἀκολουθεῖν τῷ θεῷ…βλέπειν ἐστὶ τὸν θεόν)? Moreover, since for Gregory, to see God is to have God in oneself (Beat 6: τὸἰδεῖν ταὐτὸν σημαίνει τῷ σχεῖν), to follow God is also to have God in oneself. How is it possible to have in ourselves the one who precedes us since to follow is an exterior and active gesture and to have God in oneself is an interior and contemplative act? In other words, what is the relationship between following God and having God? This paper tries particularly to better understand this paradoxical thought of Gregory.

Robert Button: The figuration of the cross in the material world: cruciform and thingness in Christian apologetics

Early Christian writers such as Justin Martyr, Minucius Felix, Tertullian and others, observed the presence of the cruciform in the fabric of the natural and cultural world around them, identifying the form of the cross in, for example, ships masts, masons’ tools, farmers’ ploughs, military victory trophies and banners, and in the human form itself and the features of the human face. On one level these associations might be seen as merely artful features of apologetic strategy, but this communication will suggest that they have a broader significance, witnessing to a kind of material cruciform hermeneutic, which re-conceives familiar and everyday forms and things in the light of the cross of Christ. The observation of the form of the cross in the natural and cultural world suggests the possibility of the cruciform as a pure-form and ‘sign’, something thus recognisable in diverse and seemingly unintended examples. But it also emphasises thingness itself, directing attention to the presence of this form in the material realm of things and bodies, encouraging a re-orientation to the familiar. Drawing on the renewed emphasis on form, materiality and embodiment typical of ‘material religion’, this communication will explore how arguments within the apologetic tradition, especially Justin Martyr, involve a figuration of the cross, reflecting a faith which is itself materially constituted and characteristically embodied. Reading apologetic writings on the cross in the light of the concerns of material religion, this communication seeks to encourage fresh appreciation of the sign of the cross in early Christian discourse.

Sergey Kim: A hitherto unknown Greek Homily on Adam, Abel and Cain: (ps.-)John Chrysostom or Severian of Gabala?

The paper will present a newly discovered and still unpublished Greek homily on Adam, Abel and Cain preserved in two manuscripts. According to the attribution in both of them the homily is authored by St John Chrysostom, but serious literary problems occur while analysing this attribution. It will be shown that important textual and literary cross-references with genuine works of Severian of Gabala contest its alleged authorship by Chrysostom. It will also be shown that several passages of the new homily are also present in one ps.-chrysostomic sermon from the ancient corpus of the 38 homilies, known in an early Latin translation of the mid-fifth century, as well as in one homily of "Ephrem Graecus". The paper will proceed to possible preliminary solutions of these literary problems.

Adam Rasmussen: “A Vessel Divinely Molded”: Basil of Caesarea on the Goodness of Human Bodies

Basil of Caesarea throughout his works constructs a theological anthropology affirming the goodness of human bodies. Although he prioritizes the soul, his anthropology is holistic and not strictly dualistic. The human being is not merely a soul using a body, but the harmonious union of body and soul. That being said, the soul is the better part, it alone having been made in the image of God. The body, far from being bad, is the soul’s useful and necessary “co-worker.” Although made of crude matter, it was “formed” by God’s own hands—a notion he draws from Origen. As such, the human body is beautiful. Its purpose is to serve the soul rather than its own desires and emotions. The spiritual person (ascetic) will thus be content with only the basic necessities. Adapting Origen’s view of the fall, Basil uses the metaphors of “flesh” and “heaviness” to warn against being drawn down from heavenly things through carnal desires. Basil’s negative view of “the flesh” does not mean that the bodily needs of the poor may be ignored. Rather the reverse: it is precisely by taking care of suffering bodies that one stores up heavenly rewards. God will punish in hell those who fail to share. Basil both maintains the superiority of the soul over the body and insists upon the goodness and significance of human bodies, especially hungry ones.

Laura Hellsten: Dance in the early church - new considerations of patristic resources

Since Johannes Quasten's patristic classic Musik und Gesang in den Kulten der heidnischen Antike und christlichen Frühzeit (1930) most researchers in the field of the early church have considered dancing to be a pagan worship practice with no established place in the official rites of the church. (Rahner 1967, 75-76; Gougaud 1914, 7.) A few exceptions to this can be found in Andrew B. McGowan’s Ancient Christian worship: early church practices in social, historical, and theological perspective (2014) and articles by Donatella Tronca (2016; 2017). In this paper I will expand further on the work already written in Hellsten ‘Dance in the Early Church: Sources and restrictions’ (2016) examining especially the material found on dance in Clement of Alexandria and his the Paedagogos as well as Gregory of Nazianzus Festal Orations. To support my claims I will bring the theoretical frameworks found in Sarah Coakley’s work on asceticism together with Verna Nonna Harrison’s writing on the erotic and mystical divine. This will shed new light not only the above mentioned patristic sources but also lead to a need to re-investigate the sources on dance, gathered in James Miller’s Measures of Wisdom - The Cosmic Dance in Classic and Christian Antiquity (1986). Concluding how dancing needs to be re-examined as one of many contemplative practices of the early church.