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

Friday, September 23, 2011

Author Interview: Khaled Anatolios

I noted earlier the advent of Khaled Anatolios's new book, Retrieving Nicaea (Baker Academic, 2011, 322pp.), which I have now most happily adopted for a course I am teaching next year on Trinitarian theology. The book is a splendid balance of history and theology in a most felicitous combination, the former illuminating the development of the latter in a way that makes both accessible to students.

I asked the author for an interview to discuss his work, and he are his thoughts:

Please tell us about your background:

I was born in India, of Egyptian parents and then shuttled back and forth between Egypt and Canada as I was growing up. I started out studying creative writing in college (I wanted to be a fiction writer), then English literature, and finally landed in theology. I completed my doctorate in systematic theology at Boston College, where I did a dissertation directed by Fr. Brian Daley (now at Notre Dame) which became my first book, Athanasius. The Coherence of his Thought. I am a member of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

Tell us why you wrote this book:
Throughout my adult life as a Christian, I have been gripped by the mystery of the Trinity and profoundly impressed and moved by the way that this mystery was contemplated (and vigorously debated) in the early Church. In teaching a course on “The Development of Trinitarian Doctrine,” I have found that students go through a real conversion in engaging the early debates and reflections on this mystery, from thinking that it involves some forbidding theological math to seeing it as concretely embedded in the entirety of Christian faith and experience such that the whole of Christian life becomes Trinitarian doxology. I wrote this book primarily to share this experience.

For whom was the book written—did you have a particular audience in mind?

It is written primarily for scholars, both in the areas of systematic theology and early Christian studies. But it also aims to be accessible to any fairly educated Christian who wishes to have a more lively awareness of the central mysteries of Christian faith--the most central of all being the distinctly Christian identification of God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

What about your own background led you to the writing of this book? 

This book is informed by my training in both systematic theology and patristics and tries to emphasize the continuing relevance of patristic theology for contemporary systematic discussions. It is also informed by my experience of talking to ordinary Christians in a parish setting and trying to share how Trinitarian doctrine is central to Christian life. 

Were there any surprises you discovered in your writing?

Perhaps one surprise was the affection I developed for Gregory of Nyssa--the beauty of his theological vision but also the warmness of his humanity that comes through in his writing in various ways, such as his adulation of his brother Basil and his sister, Marcrina.

Are there similar books out there, and if so, how is yours different? 

I am sure that this book will be immediately associated with John Behr’s The Nicene Faith: Formation Of Christian Theology (2 Volume Set) and The Way to Nicaea (The Formation of Christian Theology, V. 1) as well as Lewis Ayre’s Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth-Century Trinitarian Theology, both of which I greatly admire. I think its distinction lies in its more systematic trust, its effort to show that the very development of Trinitarian doctrine involves an interpretation of the entirety of Christian faith.

Sum up briefly the main themes/ideas/insights of Retrieving Nicaea: The Development and Meaning of Trinitarian Doctrine
  • That the development of Trinitarian doctrine involved an interpretation of the entirety of Christian faith and thus grasping the meaning of Trinitarian doctrine necessitates re-living the process of its development and learning how all of Christian faith and life is “Trinitarian.”
  • That the development of orthodox Trinitarian doctrine was enabled especially by a Christological re-interpretation of God and divine transcendence, whereby the greatness of God was defined less by oneness or distance from the world but rather by compassionate love.
  • That the meaning of Trinitarian doctrine does not lie in figuring out how “three are one and one is three” but in understanding how every aspect of Christian life relates us to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...