Humankind and the Cosmos: Early Christian Representations


Author: Doru Costache
In this volume, Costache endeavours to map the world as it was understood and experienced by the early Christians. Progressing from initial fears, they came to adopt a more positive view of the world through successive shifts of perception.
This did not happen overnight. Tracing these shifts, Costache considers the world of the early Christians through an interdisciplinary lens, revealing its meaningful complexity. He demonstrates that the early Christian worldview developed at the nexus of several perspectives. What facilitated this process was above all the experience of contemplating nature. When accompanied by genuine personal transformation, natural contemplation fostered the theological interpretation of the world as it had been known to the ancients.

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Doru Costache is associate professor in Patristics at the Sydney College of Divinity and an Honorary Associate of the Department of Studies in Religion, University of Sydney. Coauthor of Dreams, Virtue and Divine Knowledge in Early Christian Egypt (2019).
List of Tables

Introduction: The World of the Early Christians
 1  Methodological Prolegomena
 2  Framing the Topic
 3  A Tour to the Chapters
 4  A Proleptic Synthesis

1 Not of the World, but in It
 1  Introducing Diognetus
 2  In the World, but Not of This World
 3  The Soul of the World
 4  A Theological Representation of Reality
 5  The Diognetian Worldview
 6  Conclusions

2 Cosmic Harmony
 1  Ignatius
 2  Irenaeus
 3  Clement
 4  Athanasius
 5  Conclusions

3 Contemplation of the Natural World: The Second and the Third Century
 1  Clement
 2  Origen
 3  Conclusions

4 Contemplation of the Natural World: The Fourth Century
 1  Athanasius
 2  Evagrius
 3  Conclusions

5 From the Periphery to the Centre
 1  Basil, Theology, and Science
 2  The Interactive Dynamic of Nature
 3  The World as a Theological School
 4  Conclusions

6 Description and Interpretation
 1  Introducing Gregory’s Apology
 2  Gregory’s Christian Worldview
 3  Conclusions

7 Anthropic Perspectives
 1  Gregory of Nyssa
 2  John Chrysostom
 3  Conclusions

Conclusions: Yesterday’s Lessons for Today
 1  Piecing Things Together
 2  Understanding What We Learnt

Index of Premodern Authors
Index of Terms
Scholars and research students interested in understanding the world of the early Christians—the way they perceived the cosmos—and in the history of science and religion.