The contest over the resurrection of the body used the scientific authority of Aristotle as ammunition on both sides. Past scholars have read Methodius of Olympus as displaying an anti-Aristotelian bias. In contrast, through close reading of the entire text with attention to characterization and development of argument, I prove that Methodius of Olympus’ dialogue the De Resurrectione utilizes Aristotelian biology as a morally neutral tool. To put this into higher relief, I compare Methodius’ dialogue with the anonymous Dialogue of Adamantius, a text directly dependent upon the Methodius’ De Resurrectione, but which rejects arguments based on scientific reasoning. Reading Methodius’ De Resurrectione with greater attention to the whole and putting it in the context of its nearest parallel text retells the traditional story of early Christian resistance to Aristotle. Methodius of Olympus’ characters, although they view scientific knowledge as subordinate to philosophy, see it as neutral in and of itself.
The book of Sirach plays a larger part within Augustine’s theology than has hitherto been appreciated. This article helps fill this lacuna by examining the role of Sir 34:30 – “What does the bath profit one who is baptized by a dead man?” – in Augustine’s conflict with the Donatists. In addition to showing the significance of this verse within the conflict, I further argue that it allows us to espy the forensic rhetoric that shapes much of Augustine’s anti-Donatist polemic. In particular, I point to techniques of inventio that provide not merely stylistic but also argumentative forms and approaches that Augustine deploys on several fronts.
Easter themes and motifs constitute a secondary level of meaning of the fifth poem in Prudentius’ Cathemerinon, namely the “hymn for the lighting of the lamps”. This is the result of a comparison between this evening hymn and the proclamations that were sung during the Easter vigil throughout the West from the fourth century onwards. The parallels found include light, the crossing of the Red Sea, Christ’s descent into hell, as well as the close relationship between the Exodus and baptism, which was commonly celebrated during the paschal night. That kind of scenario better explains the presence of the Paradise scene that follows the Exodus narrative in Cathemerinon 5: the Eden regained as is depicted by Prudentius, with references to the enclosed garden in the Song of Songs, appears to stand for the Church community to which the newly baptised had finally access.
In 543 and 553, two church councils initiated by Justinian condemned Origen’s belief that stars possess rational souls. In this article, I place Justinian’s anathemas in the wider context of sixth-century debates on Biblical cosmology and on the validity of astral sciences. In the first part, I review the arguments for and against astral ensoulment and astral signification in Origen, Evagrius, and other Christian and Neoplatonic authors. The second part consists of an in-depth reading of two sixth-century Christian authors who reacted differently to Origen’s ideas: Sergius of Rešʿaynā (d. 536) and John Philoponus (d. ca. 570). While Sergius endorses and expands on the Origenian view by integrating Evagrian and Neoplatonic elements, I argue that John Philoponus constructs his arguments not only in opposition to Origen, but specifically as a reaction to the Origenist-Evagrian line of interpretation represented by Sergius. Finally, I offer a few examples of how Sergius’ and Philoponus’ divergent readings of Origen can contribute to a better understanding of later debates on similar issues in Byzantium and the Islamic world.
Recent studies of Victorinus by Stephen Andrew Cooper, Ellen Scully, Lenka Karfiková and Werner Steinmann have highlighted the need to read the philosophical treatises more closely alongside explicitly theological and exegetical work. But the approach of these authors reflects significantly divergent goals, from reading his work to defend an almost Lutheran emphasis on sola fide, or rather differently, in terms of a ‘physicalist’ approach on universal implications of Christ’s role as Logos. Appreciating the work of Cooper and Karfiková, the present treatment is focused on a recent article by Scully, questioning her understanding of Victorinus on the interconnection of cosmology and soteriology to present the human Christ in terms of a Platonic form.
Gregory Thaumaturgus has only occasionally been discussed in relation to early Christian apologetics. The paper provides a new step in this direction by exploring the points of contact between Gregory’s Address to Origen and previous apologetic literature. As the analysis below will indicate, the Address shows parallels with several apologetic texts from the second and early third century, both in terms of content and style. By discussing the apologetic topics and strategies found in the Address, I will argue that Gregory intended to respond, at least indirectly, to some of the main charges raised against Christians by their pagan opponents. Such an approach not only sheds light on the content and purposes of the Address, but also illuminates the historical and literary background against which Gregory wrote his text.
The anonymous church order formerly identified as the Apostolic Tradition and attributed to Hippolytus is now regarded by many scholars as a composite work made up of layers of redaction from around the mid-second to mid-fourth centuries. This essay revises the unsatisfactory attempt to discern such strata in its ordination prayers that was made by Eric Segelberg as long ago as 1975, and argues that their earliest forms are among the oldest material in the so-called Apostolic Tradition, belonging to the first half of the second century.
The present essay argues that Augustine’s understanding of the physical mechanism of pain and pleasure bears an analogous relationship to the internal mechanics of his moral psychology. The significance of this analogy is threefold. It corroborates emerging consensus positions regarding Augustine’s moral psychology, including recognizing the significance of Stoic influences as well as construing Augustine’s psychology as monistic; it draws attention to a greater consistency between Augustine’s earlier and later accounts of moral psychology than is typically recognized in scholarship; and it offers a schema that organizes the significant components of Augustine’s moral psychology, like his theory of action, habit, the will, and conversion, in relation to one another within a single conceptual system.