The Trinitarian controversy of the 350s revolved around synodical texts, because the term ‘consubstantial’ (ὁμοούσιος), proclaimed by the synod of Nicaea (325), was rejected by many of the eastern bishops. For the first time in history, an important theological discussion was shaped not only by the interpretation of Scripture but also the understanding of a creed. Within this new institutional and theological context, Athanasius of Alexandria, in his work De synodis (359), made a serious attempt to establish criteria for interpreting synodical texts. The present article studies Athanasius’ effort to apply biblical hermeneutical criteria to the interpretation of synodical documents. In order to shed light on this innovative contribution of Athanasius, the article proceeds as follows: first, I review the historical and theological context of his activity; second, I examine each of the objections to the Nicaean creed and the solutions offered by the Bishop of Alexandria; finally, I explore the rationale of Athanasius’ interpretation of synodical documents and its significance for the formation of Christian discourse.
This series welcomes multidisciplinary research on the history of ancient and medieval anthropology broadly understood in terms of both its European heritage and its reception of, and engagement with, various cultural and intellectual traditions (e.g. in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Coptic, Syriac, Arabic etc.). This series encourages multidisciplinary studies of the various philological, textual, and archeological sources concerned with the development of anthropological theories in ancient medicine, philosophy, religion, and theology, as well as the subsequent theoretical and practical interactions between these theories. Particularly welcome are studies that emphasise the fundamental connection between different philosophical, scientific, and socio-cultural contexts where anthropological theories were produced and applied, and that analyse the implications of these theories in ethical, ascetic, ecological, gender, and political life from classical Antiquity up to the Middle Ages. Attempts to understand human beings as biological, physiological, religious, and socio-cultural entities persisted from Antiquity and are echoed in the establishing of the complex and multifarious European identity. In grasping this cross-cultural and diversified process, one is able to see the foundations of contemporary scientific, religious, and political discourses that treat the human being and how humanity relates to the world.
The purpose of the volume is to explore how specific historical and socio-cultura conditions of late antiquity shaped the development of Christian thought.
The authors of the volume analyse various aspects of these conditions, particularly those of a textual and institutional nature, as they are reflected in the hermeneutic and philosophical principles of Christian discourse. This focus sheds new light on unexplored features of Christian literature, such as the influence of manuscript culture, early church institutions and practices, exegetical techniques, and philosophical curricula.