Blog Archives

Flotsam and jetsam (10/28)

The date is important for Christianity because Constantine went on to end imperial persecution of Christians (with the Edict of Milan in 313). He also converted to Christianity personally, and empowered and enriched the church in countless ways, from copying Bible texts, to gathering the first ecumenical council, to beginning Christian architecture. What’s not to love?

… when He became incarnate, and was made man, He recapitulated in himself the long line of human beings, and furnished us, in a brief, comprehensive manner, with salvation; so that what we had lost in Adam–namely, to be according to the image and likeness of God–that we might recover in Christ Jesus. (Against Heresies III.18.1)

Samuel, this seven pound two ounce wonder, represents, no less than other children, what Jürgen Moltmann once named ‘metaphors of God’s hope for us’, that with every child, a new life – original, unique, incomparable – begins. And that while we typically ask, who does this or that child look like…, we also encounter the entirely different, the entirely dissimilar and unique in each child. It is, Moltmann suggests, precisely these differences that we need to respect if we want to love life and allow an open future. Moltmann also recalls that with every beginning of a new life, the hope for the reign of peace and justice is given a new chance….Every new life is also a new beginning of hope for a homeland in this unredeemed world. If it were not, we would have no reason to expect anything new from a beginning.

Be suspicious of statistics, especially those that seem too good or too bad or too surprising to be true.

You’re two years into your administration and the question that arises in my mind is, Are we the people that we were waiting for? Or, are those people are still out there and we don’t have their number?

Irenaeus and The Great Cucumber

Irenaeus of Lyons died on this day in 195. Since he is best known for his arguments against the gnostic heresies of his day, particularly the version espoused by Valentinus, I thought it would be appropriate to commemorate the anniversary of his death with one of my favorite passages from Against Heresies – The Great Cucumber – in which he mocks gnosticism for its arbitrary and complex hierarchy of divine beings.

There is a certain Proarche, royal, surpassing all thought, a power existing before every other substance, and extended into space in every direction. But along with it there exists a power which I term a Gourd;  and along with this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd and Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be apart from themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a Melon. These powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth the remaining multitude…. (Against Heresies 1.11.4)

and along with this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd
and Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be apart from
themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a
Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a
Melon. These powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth
the remaining multitude of the delirious melons of Valentinus.2804 For if it is fitting that that language
which is used respecting the universe be transformed to the primary Tetrad, and if any one may
assign names at his pleasure, who shall prevent us from adopting these names, as being much more
credible [than the others], as well as in general use, and understood by all?and along with this Gourd there exists a power which again I term Utter-Emptiness. This Gourd

and Emptiness, since they are one, produced (and yet did not simply produce, so as to be apart from

themselves) a fruit, everywhere visible, eatable, and delicious, which fruit-language calls a

Cucumber. Along with this Cucumber exists a power of the same essence, which again I call a

Melon. These powers, the Gourd, Utter-Emptiness, the Cucumber, and the Melon, brought forth

the remaining multitude of the delirious melons of Valentinus.2804 For if it is fitting that that language

which is used respecting the universe be transformed to the primary Tetrad, and if any one may

assign names at his pleasure, who shall prevent us from adopting these names, as being much more

credible [than the others], as well as in general use, and understood by all?

Greek fathers roundup

Here’s a roundup of all the papers and abstracts that we have posted over the last several weeks in our series on the Greek Fathers.

And, here is the Greek Fathers Annotated Bibliography. Thanks everyone for submitting your papers and making them available here.

Greek Fathers Annotated Bibliography

We’ve started posting a number of papers and abstracts that some of the Th.M. students wrote during last semester’s class on the Greek Fathers. The class started with Irenaeus and Origen as two fathers who exercised a profound influence on the later Greek Fathers. We then worked our way from Athanasius to John of Damascus. So far we’ve posted the papers that were written on Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, and John of Damascus. We’ll be posting a few others over the next couple of weeks.

We also compiled a working Greek Fathers Annotated Bibliography. This is far from an exhaustive bibliography, but it does provide good resources on each of the individuals studied as well as a number of resources on theosis.