God in Patristic Thought
This book assembles the evidence for what the Greek Fathers, the men whose contructive thought underlies the creeds, really thought and taught about the nature of God. It shows that they were original thinkers, with a profound reverence for the text of the Scriptures, and minds keenly tranined to discuss what ultimate truths were expressed in the scriptural text and what reality should be ascribed to Christian religious experience.
The results indicate that a good deal which is assumed in current theological text-books needs to be revised. The Fathers had to reconcile monotheism with faith in a Trinity of divine Persons. In the process, they pursued many lines of inquiry, often only to discard them after trial, but after following various clues and making various intellectual adventures they reached a solution of the problem, which was both true to their data and philosophically reasonable.
Though the bulk of the book is concerned with the third and fourth centuries, during which the creeds were in the process of formulation, the story is carried down to the eighth century where the progress of original thought came to a standstill. It is shown that a great change came over the philosophical tradition during the sixth century, and owing to the consequent growth of formalism, a genuine outbreak of tritheism occurred. The book ends with the account of how this outbreak was met and overcome, largely through the efforts of a thinker whose very name is unknown, and whose book has only survived under the name of another man.
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abstract agennetos Antioch argues Arians Arius asserts Athanasius Athenagoras Basil begotten called Cels century Christ Christian Clement strom co-inherence conception concrete connection creation creatures Cyril deity derived distinction divine nature divine Persons divine unity doctrine economy employed Epiphanius Eusebius existence expression fact Father Gnostic godhead Greek Gregory of Nazianzus Gregory of Nyssa haer heresy Hippolytus Holy Spirit homoousion homoousios human hyparxis hypostasis idea identity of ousia illustration immanent implies incarnation individual instance Irenaeus John Justin Latin Leontius Logos Lord Marcellus matter means metaphor Migne mind monarchy Nicaea objects observes Origen orthodox ousia passage patristic Paul of Samosata perichoresis phrase physical possess present principle prosopa prosopon quoted rational reason recognised reference Sabellian says Scripture semi-Arians sense single soul speak statement subordinationism substance substantia Synod Tatian term Tertullian theology things thought three hypostaseis three Persons transcendence triad Trinitarian Trinity whole Wisdom word writes