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Reception, Interpretation and Doctrine in the Sixth Century: John Maxentius and the Scythian Monks

Pereira, Matthew Joseph

"Reception, Interpretation and Doctrine in the Sixth Century: John Maxentius and the Scythian Monks" analyzes the complex patterns of the reception and the interpretation of the Church Fathers within the writings of John Maxentius and the Scythian monks. By the middle of the fifth and into the sixth century, the Church Fathers emerged as a dual authority alongside the Scriptures (i.e., the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament) serving as the repositories for theological reflection. In late antique Christianity, theologians routinely professed their devout faithfulness to the Church Fathers. Aligning with these persistent claims of fidelity, many standard historiographical narratives conclude that the sixth century was an unfortunate period of theological stagnation, marked by monolithic and linear commitment to the Church Fathers. Relying upon a close and contextual reading of the Latin writings of John Maxentius and the Scythian monks, "Reception, Interpretation and Doctrine" intervenes by arguing that these monks reinscribed Cyril's doctrine of divine suffering in the flesh and Augustine's doctrine of divine grace and predestination into the canonical discourse of the church catholic (i.e., universal church), thereby legitimatizing these troublesome doctrines through layered hermeneutical practices. The majority of ecclesiastical authorities (e.g., bishops and abbots) honored the legacies of Cyril and Augustine but rejected these two difficult teachings, whereas the Scythian monks reintegrated Cyril's doctrine of divine suffering in the flesh and Augustine's doctrine of divine grace and predestination into the canonical antecedents of the fourth and fifth centuries. Instead of perpetuating the assertion of monolithic traditionalism as the hallmark of late antique Christianity, this present study demonstrates that the Church Fathers were frequently reinterpreted, reframed and remembered throughout the canonizing movements of the sixth century.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Religion
Thesis Advisors
McGuckin, John A.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 23, 2015
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