"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).

Thursday, June 11, 2015

John the Damascene

Often considered in the West the last of the Eastern or Greek Fathers, and widely recognized as an early if sharp and polemical critic of Islam, with which he had first-hand knowledge in Syria, John the Damascene continues to fascinate. A Paris-based scholar's several articles on John's life are collected in another volume from the Variorum series by Ashgate. Though not inexpensive, the virtue of these collections is that it brings together in one place articles that may often have escaped attention upon first publication in more recondite academic journals.

Vassa Kontouma, John of Damascus: New Studies on His Life and Works (Ashgate Variorum Collected Studies, 2015), 266pp.
About this book the publisher tells us:
For more than five hundred years the life and work of John of Damascus (c. 655-c.745) have been the subject of a very extensive literature, scholarly and popular, in which it is often difficult to get one's bearings. Through the studies included here (of which 6 appear in a translation into English made specially for this volume), Vassa Kontouma provides a critical review of this literature and attempts to answer several open questions: the author and date of composition of the official Life of John, the philosophical significance of the Dialectica (a study which has its first publication here), the original structure of the Exposition of the Orthodox faith, the identity of ps.-Cyril, the authenticity of the Letter on Great Lent, and questions of Mariology. She also opens new vistas for research along four main lines: the life of John of Damascus and its sources, Neochalcedonian philosophy, systematic theology in Byzantium, and Christian practices under the Umayyads.
For those who want more insight at less cost, a recent Kindle edition, in the Princeton Theological Monograph series, will surely provide that: Charles Twombly, Perichoresis and Personhood: God, Christ, and Salvation in John of Damascus. 

About this new publication we are told:
Perichoresis (mutual indwelling) is a concept used extensively in the so-called Trinitarian revival; and yet no book-length study in English exists probing how the term actually developed in the "classical period" of Christian doctrine and how it was carefully deployed in relation to Christian dogma. Consequently, perichoresis is often used in imprecise and even careless ways.
This path-breaking study aims at placing our understanding of the term on firmer footing, clarifying its actual usage in relation to doctrines of God, Christ, and salvation in the thought of John of Damascus, the eighth-century theologian, monk, and hymn writer who gave it its historically influential application.
Since John summed up a whole theological tradition, this work provides not only an introduction to his theological vision but also to the key themes of Greek patristic thought generally and thereby lays an essential foundation for those who would dig deeper into the present-day usefulness of perichoresis.

"Those who have delved deep in the resources of patristic theology for the sake of theological renewal have long seen the concept of perichoresis as a vein of gold. But few have explored to sufficient degree the term's complexity and versatility. Twombly's book shows us how much potential treasure lies hidden by offering an extended meditation on the most fundamental structures of John Damascene's 'perichoretic theology.' His study is greatly to be welcomed and offers much to any student of early Christian thought."
--Lewis Ayres, Professor of Historical Theology, Durham University, Durham, UK

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...