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Epistolary Literature, Circulation, and The Gospels for All Christians
Author: David Smith
In The Epistles for All Christians, David Smith argues that epistolary literature offers analogous evidence of circulation to the Gospels. Since Richard Bauckham’s edited volume The Gospels for All Christians was published in 1998, debate over the validity of the contributors’ claims that the Gospels were written for “all Christians” has revolved around interpretation. Smith brings circulation to bear on the conversation.
Studying ancient media practices of publication and circulation and using social network theory, Smith makes a compelling case that if the evangelists did not expect their texts to circulate they would be atypical.
In his commentary on Gregory of Nyssa’s Adversus Macedonianos, Piet Hein Hupsch highlights the carefully composed structure of this work and the important connection between its theological, rhetorical and stylistic elements. In his capacity of arbiter fidei, which was bestowed upon him by the Council of Constantinople in 381, Bishop Gregory wrote this circular letter in the form of a counteraccusation against the Pneumatomachi, developing his Trinitarian theology of adoration in which the Spirit occupies a central role.

In a systematic-theological synthesis of this work, Hupsch shows how the Spirit draws baptised human beings and human language into the relatio of the three divine persons, the dynamic circle of divine glory of which the Spirit is the personification.
In Monotheism and Christology in Greco-Roman Antiquity, Matthew V. Novenson brings together thirteen state-of-the-art essays by leading scholars on the various ways ancient Jewish, Christian, and classical writers conceive of God, Christ, Wisdom, the demiurge, angels, foreign gods, and other divine beings. In particular, the book revisits the “early high Christology” debates of the 1990s, identifying the lasting contributions thereof as well as the lingering difficulties and new, emerging questions from the last thirty years of research. The essays in this book probe the much-touted but under-theorized distinctions between monotheism and polytheism, Judaism and Hellenism, Christianity and paganism. They show how what we call monotheism and Christology fit within the Greco-Roman world of which they are part.
New Perspectives on Tradition and Transformation
Editors: Albert Geljon and Nienke Vos
Based on the paradigmatic shift in both liturgical and ritual studies, this multidisciplinary volume presents a collection of case studies on rituals in the early Christian world. After a methodological discussion of the new paradigm, it shows how emblematic Christian rituals were influenced by their Greco-Roman and Jewish contexts, undergoing multiple transformations, while themselves affecting developments both within and outside Christianity. Notably, parallel traditions in Judaism and Islam are included in the discussion, highlighting the importance of ongoing reception history. Focusing on the dynamic character of rituals, the new perspectives on ritual traditions pursued here relate to the expanding source material, both textual and material, as well as the development of recent interdisciplinary approaches, including the cognitive science of religion.
This volume, edited by René Brouwer and Emmanuele Vimercati, deals with the debate about fate, providence and free will in the early Imperial age. This debate is rekindled in the 1st century CE during emperor Augustus’ rule and ends in the 3rd century CE with Plotinus and Origen, when the different positions in the debate were more or less fully developed. The book aims to show how in this period the notions of fate, providence and freedom were developed and debated, not only within and between the main philosophical schools, that is Stoicism, Aristotelianism, and Platonism, but also in the interaction with other, “religious” movements, here understood in the general sense of groups of people sharing beliefs in and worship of (a) superhuman controlling power(s), such as Gnosticism, Hermetism as well as Judaism and Christianity.
Johannine Christology provides a snapshot of the foremost investigations of this important topic by a selection of scholars representing a range of expertise in this field. The volume is organized into four major parts, which are concerned with the formation of Johannine Christology, Johannine Christology in Hellenistic and Jewish contexts, Christology and the literary character of the Johannine writings, and the application of Christology for the Johannine audience and beyond.

The fifteen contributors to this volume comprise an international set of Johannine scholars who explore various ways of both describing and then pursuing the implications of Johannine Christology. Their contributions focus primarily upon the Gospel, but involve other key texts as well.
Providence, Dualism, and Will in Later Greek and Early Christian Philosophy
Author: Dylan M. Burns
Is God involved? Why do bad things happen to good people? What is up to us? These questions were explored in Mediterranean antiquity with reference to ‘providence’ ( pronoia). In Did God Care? Dylan Burns offers the first comprehensive survey of providence in ancient philosophy that brings together the most important Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac sources, from Plato to Plotinus and the Gnostics.

Burns demonstrates how the philosophical problems encompassed by providence transformed in the first centuries CE, yielding influential notions about divine care, evil, creation, omniscience, fate, and free will that remain with us today. These transformations were not independent developments of ‘Pagan philosophy’ and ‘Christian theology,’ but include fruits of mutually influential engagement between Hellenic and Christian philosophers.
Author: Matthieu Pignot
In The Catechumenate in Late Antique Africa (4th-6th centuries) Matthieu Pignot explores how individuals became Christian in ancient North Africa. Before baptism, converts first became catechumens and spent a significant time of gradual integration into the community through rituals and teaching. This book provides the first historical study of this process in African sources, from Augustine of Hippo, to canon of councils, anonymous sermons and 6th-century letters. Pignot shows that practices varied more than is generally assumed and that catechumens, because of their liminal position, were a disputed and essential group in the development of Christian communities until the 6th century at least. This book demonstrates that the catechumenate is key to understanding the processes of Christianisation and conversion in the West.
Author: Allison L. Gray

Abstract

In a seldom discussed episode from Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus, the wonderworking bishop converts a pagan temple custodian using the written word and a miracle. Physical proofs seem essential for teaching this outsider about divine power. Yet in the very next episode the narrator praises Thaumaturgus for disregarding physical appearances and for keeping silent. A close reading of the Life 34-47 demonstrates that Gregory of Nyssa models, within the narrative, a progression from basic catechesis through signs to the more complex work of interpreting signs, making inferences from what is seen to that which remains unseen. Contextualizing this paradoxical sequence of Thaumaturgus vignettes in Cappadocian discussions of divine condescension and principles of fourth-century Christian paideia, I show that Gregory of Nyssa uses the juxtaposition between Thaumaturgus’ teaching and conduct to model the flexible approach required for bishops to communicate the nature of divine power to varied audiences.

In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Gregory of Nyssa and Dionysius the Areopagite both contemplate the Exodus narrative of Moses’ experiences on Sinai. That narrative is complex, with Moses ascending and descending the mountain several times, sometimes in company, sometimes alone. Gregory follows the biblical twists and turns in Life of Moses; the relevant paragraph in Dionysius’ Mystical Theology tells of just one ascent. This article re-examines their dependence on the details of the biblical text, arguing that its exegetical puzzles proved fertile ground for their apophatic insights. Both seize on Exodus 20:21 as symbolising the utter incomprehensibility of God. But they resolve the enigmas of Exodus 33-34 differently. Gregory uses Exodus 33:18-23 as a springboard to his articulation of a never-ending journey into the infinite divine, while Exodus 34:29-35 provides the biblical impetus behind Dionysius’ concept of “union.”

In: Vigiliae Christianae