On the Holy Icons (Theodore)

This book is a sharpened update of St John of Damascus’s treatises on icons. In many ways it is preferable. The core of St Theodore’s argument hinges on the relationship between image and prototype.  We can set up the argument this way: P1: If something is a prototype, then it can be imaged.   Obviously, and quite brilliantly, Theodore is using St Basil’s very argument for the Holy Spirit, meaning if Theodore’s structure is wrong, so is Basil’s.  This seems a very high price to pay. Theodore is correct that while it is true that the divine nature qua nature … Continue reading On the Holy Icons (Theodore)

Who’s Tampering with the Trinity?

In responding to the subordinationist debate on the Trinity, Erickson gives us much more than a snapshot of the current battle. He gives us a model on how to do systematic (or missional, if you are in the PCA) theology. He examines biblical, historical, philosophical, theological, and pastoral implications for both views. He is generally stronger on 1,3,4, and 5. The historical section is a little weak. Erikson says Hodge taught a gradational view of the Trinity, as did Augustus Strong. Hodge did no such thing. Hodge (and to a lesser degree Strong) emphasized the “order” in the Trinity, but … Continue reading Who’s Tampering with the Trinity?

Averky on the Apocalypse

Averky saw our age as Age of Apostasy, as “the final preparation for the ‘man of sin’” (Rose 19). Basic Hermeneutical Principles (these are from Rose, not Averky) “As history proceeds to the end, the meaning of some of these symbols will become clearer” (Rose 31). “The most correct commentary is the one that unites all these approaches, keeping in mind, as the ancient commentators and Fathers of the church clearly taught, the content of the Apocalypse in its sum is indeed directed to the last part of the history of the world (Averky 54). Averky tentatively suggests (but does … Continue reading Averky on the Apocalypse

Festal Orations (Gregory Nazianzus)

This review will touch on both Gregory’s theology and the superb introduction by Nonna Harrison. Noting how Gregory interweaves rhetoric, liturgy, and theology, Harrison summarizes: (1) Festal anamnesis: these are re-presentations of God’s saving works in such a way that the worshiper “can participate in these events as present realities and receive the eschatological salvation” (Harrison 24).  It is an “encounter with the Lord who transcends time.” (2) Festal mimesis: similar to above, mimesis is a pattern of thought in which people sought to imitate the event (29). On The Trinity In an unusual move, Gregory speaks of the divine … Continue reading Festal Orations (Gregory Nazianzus)

Andrew of Caesarea on Revelation

St Andrew of Caesarea’s commentary on the Apocalypse is the first substantial Eastern reflection on the Apocalypse as a whole. Earlier saints like Methodios and Cyril of Jerusalem gave pointed exhortations, and Andrew is in line with their conclusions. What makes Andrew’s work important in the history of Christian thought is a) he is working independently of Augustine’s City of God and b) he is the first to offer a non-premillennial stance on Revelation 20. True, earlier writers had rejected premillennialism, but few gave a systematic analysis of Revelation 20. Andrew probably wrote around 610, just before the Islamic invasions. … Continue reading Andrew of Caesarea on Revelation

Severian and Bede on Gen 1-3

Do you remember Mystery Science Theater 3000? It’s where Joel and the “bots” would riff B-movies. Well, the first half of this volume is kind of like that. While Severian of Gabala had some insights, he had trouble with coherently finishing a sermon on point. And the editor (Robert Hill) lets you know that in the footnotes. And the footnotes are a laugh-riot. Here are some examples: “Severian feels that he has done justice to the Genesis account of the first day and that he has achieved profundity. The goodness of creation has escaped his attention, however” (Hill 30 n44). … Continue reading Severian and Bede on Gen 1-3

Torrance on the Trinity

This is a review of two works by Thomas Torrance The Trinitarian Faith and The Christian Doctrine of God: One Being, Three Persons The Trinitarian Faith In this unofficial commentary on the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, Thomas Torrance uses Athanasius’s theology, particularly the concept of homoousion, to demonstrate God’s self-revelation in Jesus Christ as the foundation of the Gospel and our knowledge of God. Rather than giving a chapter by chapter commentary, I will focus on some of Torrance’s key points. Knowledge and God’s Self-Communication We know the Father through his Son. The Nicene theology moved from in-turned human reason (epinoia) to a … Continue reading Torrance on the Trinity

Chrysostom on Acts and Romans

This review will differ from a normal review because it is reviewing, not a tightly argued treatise, but a collection of sermons preached on the books of Acts and Romans. One will briefly note Chrysostom’s style, address a series of themes and interesting insights from the ancient world and conclude with final observations on the book. Chrysostom’s style in the book of Acts is more marked than in Romans. Of course, one should keep in mind that these sermons (in print) are probably a collection of the best that an ancient stenographer could do. Chrysostom briefly introduces the text as … Continue reading Chrysostom on Acts and Romans

On the Apostolic Preaching (Irenaeus)

This book’s brevity is part of its appeal yet ultimately what makes it a frustrating read. While Irenaus wrote in Greek, it’s doubtful that this book is from the Greek. As far as we can tell, it is an English translation of an Armenian translation of a probable Greek text. It does a nice retelling the story of salvation. Unlike later Fathers, Irenaeus keeps the Gospel narrative of what God-has-done-in-Christ-for-us in the foreground. Metaphysical speculation is kept at a distance. Further, it lacks the anti-Gnostic polemic that you find in Against Heresies. I’m all for bashing and trashing Gnosticism, but … Continue reading On the Apostolic Preaching (Irenaeus)

On the Priesthood (Chrysostom)

John Chrysostom.  On the Priesthood. While it isn’t the easiest work to get into, it does reveal itself to be a rhetorical masterpiece. Modern readers will find some of John’s moves off-putting, namely his deceit and the bad light in which he intentionally paints himself. The rest of the book is a witness to the axiom that human nature is a universal constant. The garbage 4th century priests face is the same that modern ministers face. The language is certainly idealized. No one is capable of embodying these standards, a fact Basil points out many times. All throughout we get … Continue reading On the Priesthood (Chrysostom)

Cross-referencing Gregory’s Orations

The anchor text for St Gregory of Nazianzus’s writings is volume seven of the Schaff series (NPNF 2).  As St Vlad’s (and others) are releasing Gregory’s orations in better formats, I thought to cross-reference them with Gregory’s orations in volume 7.  Volume 7 will be the anchor text and I will designate it as (Schaff-Gregory). Festal Orations (PPS 36) Oration 1: On Pascha and His Slowness (Schaff-Gregory, p.203) Oration 38: On the Nativity of Christ (Schaff-Gregory, p. 345). Oration 39: On the Baptism of Christ (Schaff-Gregory, p. 352). Oration 40: On Baptism (Schaff-Gregory, p. 360). Oration 41: On Pentecost (Schaff-Gregory, … Continue reading Cross-referencing Gregory’s Orations

The Life of Moses (Nyssa)

Gregory of Nyssa, The Life of Moses. ed. Silas House.  Harper Collins. Obviously, this isn’t a PPS volume.  In many ways, I don’t recommend it. While the translation is smooth, the book doesn’t have textual indicators (e.g., 3.2.1), so it is impossible to cross-reference it with scholarly studies.  Secondly, the editor, Silas House, completely misunderstands everything about Gregory in the foreword.  And Christianity.   And he is a homosexual.  The goal of Christianity is not to become a better person, pace House.  Nor is “virtue” simply “doing good.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ This is a crash-course in Patristic allegory. We might wince at some … Continue reading The Life of Moses (Nyssa)