Aristotelianism and the disintegration of the late antique theological discourse

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Ashgate Publishing Ltd

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One of the most striking characteristics of early Christianity was the willingness despite occasional misgivings to engage with Greek philosophy. From the second century onwards Christian writers borrowed terms and concepts from the different philosophical schools in order to formulate their understanding of the Christian God and his relation to Jesus Christ. Following the groundbreaking work of Origen, this engagement reached new levels of depth and sophistication in the controversies of the fourth century. It was in the course of these controversies that the three Cappadocians, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus and Gregory of Nyssa developed a radically new conceptual framework, which distinguished between one divine substance or nature and the three hypostases or persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and which associated the former with a set of common qualities such as ‘incorporeality’ and the latter with specific properties such as ‘begotten’ in the case of the Son. This model is evidently influenced by the contemporary philosophical discourse but it has proved difficult to identify its exact antecedents. In the last 50 years scholars have attempted to make the case for Aristotelian, Neoplatonic or Stoic provenance but none of these hypotheses has found universal acceptance.


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Interpreting the Bible and Aristotle in Late Antiquity: The Alexandrian Commentary Tradition Between Rome and Baghdad

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