Theophilus of Alexandria and the First Origenist Controversy: Rhetoric and Power

Hardcover | March 19, 2015

byKrastu Banev

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In the age of the Theodosian dynasty and the establishment of Christianity as the only legitimate religion of the Roman Empire, few figures are more pivotal in the power politics of the Christian church than archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria (385-412). This work examines the involvement ofarchbishop Theophilus in the so-called First Origenist Controversy when the famed third-century Greek theologian Origen received, a century and a half after his death, a formal condemnation for heresy. Modern scholars have been successful in removing the majority of the charges which Theophilus laidon Origen as not giving a fair representation of his thought. Yet no sufficient explanation has been offered as to why what to us appears as an obvious miscarriage of justice came to be accepted, or why it was needed in the first place. Kratsu Banev offers a sustained argument for the value of arhetorically informed methodology with which to analyse Theophilus' anti-Origenist Festal Letters. He highlights that the wide circulation and overt rhetorical composition of these letters allow for a new reading of these key documents as a form of "mass-media" unique for its time. The discussion is built on a detailed examination of two key ingredients in the pastoral polemic of the archbishop - masterly use of late-antique rhetorical conventions, and in-depth knowledge of monastic spirituality - both of which were vital for securing the eventual acceptance of Origen'scondemnation. Dr Banev's fresh approach reveals that Theophilus' campaign formed part of a consistent policy aimed at harnessing the intellectual energy of the ascetic movement to serve the wider needs of the church.

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In the age of the Theodosian dynasty and the establishment of Christianity as the only legitimate religion of the Roman Empire, few figures are more pivotal in the power politics of the Christian church than archbishop Theophilus of Alexandria (385-412). This work examines the involvement ofarchbishop Theophilus in the so-called First ...

Dr Krastu Banev is a lecturer in Greek Patristics at Durham University.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.83 inPublished:March 19, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198727542

ISBN - 13:9780198727545

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroductionPart I. Theophilus of Alexandria and the Origenist Controversy1. Historical Background(a) Distant Prehistory(b) Immediate Prehistory2. Theological Issues(a) Theophilus' Origenism and the Evagrian Heritage(b) The 'Elusive Anthropomorphites' at the time of Theophilus3. The Anti-Origenist Councils of AD 400(a) Violence in the Desert(b) The Condemnation of OrigePart II. Background for the Analysis of Theophilus' Rhetoric4. Classical Rhetoric and Christian Paideia(a) Rhetoric and the Early Church(b) Mass Persuasion in the Fifth Century: The Case of Theophilus' Festal Letters(c) Jerome and Synesius on Theophilus' Letters5. Classical Rhetoric: Theoretical Foundations(a) Aristotle's Art of Rhetoric(b) The Progymnasmata Tradition(c) The Hermogenic CorpusPart III. Analysis of Theophilus' Rhetoric6. Rhetorical Proofs from Pathos, Ethos and Logos(a) Emotional Appeal(b) Ethical Appeal(c) Logical Appeal(d) Theophilus' Teachers7. Rhetorical Proofs from Liturgy and ScripturePart IV. Monastic Reception of Theophilus' Rhetoric8. The Value of Monastic Sources(a) Rhetorically Important Themes in the Apophthegmata(b) The Ambiguous Place of Heresy9. The Image of Theophilus in the ApophthegmataReview of the Argument and EpilogueBibliography