Arius: Heresy and Tradition

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Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, Jan 24, 2002 - Religion - 378 pages
3 Reviews
Arius is widely considered to be Rowan Williams's magnum opus. Long out of print and never before available in paperback, it has been newly revised. This expanded and updated edition marks a major publishing event.

Arianism has been called the "archetypal Christian heresy" because it denies the divinity of Christ. In his masterly examination of Arianism, Rowan Williams argues that Arius himself was actually a dedicated theological conservative whose concern was to defend the free and personal character of the Christian God. His "heresy" grew out of an attempt to unite traditional biblical language with radical philosophical ideas and techniques and was, from the start, involved with issues of authority in the church. Thus, the crisis of the early fourth century was not only about the doctrine of God but also about the relations between emperors, bishops, and "charismatic" teachers in the church's decision-making. In the course of his discussion, Williams raises the vital wider questions of how heresy is defined and how certain kinds of traditionalism transform themselves into heresy.

Augmented with a new appendix in which Williams interacts with significant scholarship since 1987, this book provides fascinating reading for anyone interested in church history and the development of Christian doctrine.
 

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I was interested in finding out more about Arianism, since it was the predominant Christian religion of the "barbarian" tribes in the 3rd and 4th century Europe. This is not the place to start. This is extremely difficult reading. I sat with my computer and a dictionary to learn the vocabulary and enough about the people he discusses to even get into this book. I would probably appreciate this book much more if I had a better background in the early Christian church and Arian philosophy. 

Contents

IV
29
V
32
VI
41
VII
48
VIII
62
IX
67
X
82
XI
95
XVIII
175
XIX
181
XX
199
XXI
215
XXII
230
XXIII
233
XXIV
247
XXV
269

XII
117
XIII
124
XIV
131
XV
149
XVI
158
XVII
167
XXVI
281
XXVII
353
XXVIII
355
XXIX
371
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Page 5 - And so of the present perils, with which our branch of the Church is beset, as they bear a marked resemblance to those of the fourth century, so are the lessons, which we gain from that ancient time, especially cheering and edifying to Christians of the present day. Then as now, there was the prospect, and partly the presence in the Church, of an Heretical Power enthralling it, exerting a varied influence and a usurped claim in the appointment of her functionaries, and interfering with the management...
Page 23 - All this is (bad) metaphorical talk. What are opposed, in conflict, in fact, locked in antagonistic struggle, are not the same societies at different stages of development, but different societies facing each other at the same Time.
Page 5 - ... of Arianism, we may rejoice in the piety, prudence, and varied graces of our spiritual rulers, and may rest in the confidence that, should the hand of Satan press us sore, our Athanasius and Basil will be given us in their destined season, ' to break the bonds of the oppressor, and set the captive free.

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About the author (2002)

Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, has also served as the Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford, the Bishop of Monmouth, and the Archbishop of Wales. A Fellow of the British Academy, Archbishop Williams has written a number of books on the history of theology and spirituality and has published collections of articles and sermons, as well as two books of poetry.

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