"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
mattress,/
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Retrieving Nicaea

Earlier I drew attention to a new book by Khaled Anatolios, whom I interviewed here. A patrologist and specialist in Athanasius of Alexandria, Anatolios, himself a child of Egyptian parents, has recently written Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine (Baker Academic, 2011).

I have been re-reading it in seminar this semester with my students, and finding even more buried gems in it. The issues, and especially the personages, are treated with a care and attention to detail that is not always common in histories of the conciliar era, especially histories treating doctrinal controversy. There are no cheap or easy polemics here demonizing Arius and his friends, whose thought is and was much more complex than was often portrayed. Anatolios, through patient exposition, is able serenely to show what was good in Arius--recognized as such even by his erstwhile opponents, including Alexander of Alexandria, and Athanasius--as well as what was problematic in him and in others. The book is a marvel of careful scholarship, lucid prose, and clear organization, and I warmly commend it to all who are interested in issues of Christology, Triadology, and the faith of the early Church before, during, and after Nicaea.

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