Thursday, 7 February 2019

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.

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