The Politics of Redemption: The Social Logic of Salvation (Chapters 3-5)

The three chapters I’ll be dealing with plot out a series of alternative conceptions of atonement, i.e. not those most influential in the later theological tradition. Firstly, Adam gives some overview of some modern treatments – the theologies of Boersma, Weaver, and Aulén. Secondly, he turns to Irenaeus, whom he admits sets out a view that is far from mainstream (76), in spite of the orthodoxy of its author. Thirdly, he describes the development in Gregory of Nyssa. I will be giving summaries and comments on these chapters one by one, in case readers are still catching up with the pace of the reading!Chapter 3 is all about modern accounts that draw on some of the same sources treated in this book. As the first two authors are both reliant on the third, I will limit my comments largely to this latter, namely Aulén, the Swedish professor who wrote the standard work for atonement theory. Aulén worked at Lund, and his work is usually associated with that of Anders Nygren (who wrote Eros and Agape). Both were hardnosed Lutheran scolars of patristic theology, and both applied their work to contemporary systematic questions, which is unusual for Nordic Lutheranism. Read the rest of this entry »

How old is Jesus in the Gospel of John?

In Against All Heresies, Irenaeus claims that Jesus lived to be nearly fifty years old. The basis for this claim is John 8:57: “Then the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?'” Read the rest of this entry »

Patristic PDFs: A love story

Those of us who do work on the patristic writers have the dubious privilege of easy access to the Ante-Nicene Fathers/Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers translations online from multiple sources. I decided to take advantage of this by creating my own online anthology for my “Classical Christian Thought” course, a task that proved to be much more labor-intensive than I thought but that I hope will have the benefits of providing students with full texts (rather than the incredibly small excerpts one usually finds) and with common page numbers to aid discussion. I also tinkered somewhat with the formatting and antiquated language, but didn’t get as far with that as anticipated. In most cases, I included a link to my source for the text; sometimes I copied and pasted the footnotes, and sometimes I left the footnotes as hyperlinks that you can follow to the original website if desired.

In any case, in the interest of helping my colleagues in every possible way, I have posted the PDFs below. Of particular interest might be my selections from Against Heresies, which cuts the length to about a third and makes the text usable for class — and since I have somehow managed to read the text all the way through twice, compile detailed notes, and write a dissertation chapter on it, hopefully you will find me to be a trustworthy excerpter.

Read the rest of this entry »

Against all heresies

This weekend I have been going through Irenaeus’s Against all heresies in order to generate some detailed notes that will be usable for a dissertation chapter as well as a lecture on Tuesday. I am at the beginning of Book IV right now, but I felt it was appropriate to announce that I have been thoroughly convinced not to become a Gnostic — in fact, I was already convinced by the end of Book II.

The strategy of Book I, in which he simply lays out the Gnostic systems, is strikingly similar to that of the South Park episodes on Scientology and Mormonism. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are truly our contemporary answer to Irenaeus.

UPDATE: A great quote, referring to the idea that in the Kingdom, the lion will lay down with the lamb, will eat straw instead of killing, etc.:

I am quite aware that some persons endeavour to refer these words to the case of savage men, both of different nations and various habits, who come to believe, and when they have believed, act in harmony with the righteous. But although this is [true] now with regard to some men coming from various nations to the harmony of the faith, nevertheless in the resurrection of the just [the words shall also apply] to those animals mentioned. For God is non in all things. And it is right that when the creation is restored, all the animals should obey and be in subjection to man, and revert to the food originally given by God (for they had been originally subjected in obedience to Adam), that is, the productions of the earth. But some other occasion, and not the present, is [to be sought] for showing that the lion shall [then] feed on straw. And this indicates the large size and rich quality of the fruits. For if that animal, the lion, feeds upon straw [at that period], of what a quality must the wheat itself be whose straw shall serve as suitable food for lions?

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