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Archive for the ‘Historical Theology’ Category

Fundamental Question #2: Is Paul’s Language of Adoption to Be Taken Literally or Metaphorically? (Continued) Conservative theologians are united in their belief that God’s adoptive grace in Christ is a reality ~ indeed, a wonderful reality! Some think or assume Paul’s references to adoption are literal, which is to say that God has actually adopted […]

Conclusion to the Survey of the Ante-Nicene Fathers Our search of the Hendrickson edition of the Ante-Nicene Fathers (vols.1-10) is now complete.  The last documents ~ newly discovered or translated in the late nineteenth century ~ provide no mention of the doctrine of adoption. In the main we wouldn’t expect them to. They are works connected with […]

We’re amid the remaining miscellaneous writings of the of the first three centuries. They are too numerous to mention individually, but include chiefly the Early Liturgies, Pseudo-Clementine Literature, Apocrypha of the New Testament, The [Papal] Decretals, and ancient Syriac Documents (Ante-Nicene Fathers 7: 509-8:785). It was tempting to omit the reading of these, for some are of uncertain origin, some are apocryphal, […]

In the years which followed Origen and immediately preceded the Council of Nicea (254-325 A.D.), the Greek Fathers almost entirely ceased to mention adoption, at least so far as we can tell from their extant writings. The references simply petered out as they did among their Latin counterparts.* Only six times does mention of adoption […]

Following Clement, Origen (184/185-253/254) became the next renowned teacher of the Catechetical School of Alexandria. It was there his prodigious talent, purity of character, and capacity for learning first developed. With the martyrdom of his father Leonides (and the confiscation of his property), Origen came to rely on a wealthy patron before going on to become […]

We’ve looked at the apostolic fathers, the early Greek Fathers, and the Fathers who began writing in Latin a century or so later. Now that our search of the Latin Fathers prior to the Council of Nicea (325) is complete, we flash back to the Greek Fathers. We left off with Athenagorus the instigator of […]

Talk about nuggets. The work that’s gone into preparing this one has felt more like prospecting forlornly for gold than munching on small, tasty pieces of chicken available on any city street corner. All the same, the ongoing search for adoption in the ante-Nicene Fathers has been worth it. To my knowledge, there has never before been a systematic search for it […]

Remaining with the Latin Fathers we come now to Cyprian (200-258 A.D.) ~ spiritual son and pupil of Tertullian, Bishop of Carthage, subject of the first Christian biography, and martyr under the persecution of Roman Emperor Decius. Cyprian’s biographer, Pontius the Deacon, surmised in the aftermath of Cyprian’s execution that “he will probably never cease […]

Next we come to Hippolytus of Rome (170-235), not to be confused with the Hippolytus of Greek mythology. With Greek name and Roman location, this Hippolytus reminds us of the difficulties of distinguishing the Church Fathers along Greek and Latin lines. Likely born in Rome and becoming a presbyter and bishop of the church at […]

Chartering unknown waters, we’ve understandably sailed cautiously through the history of the doctrine of adoption in the early church. We’ve ventured as far as it’s been safe to go among the Greek Fathers, and have navigated our way through the unclear waters of transition. We’ve arrived here at out brief consideration of the Latin Fathers. Doubtless, the exploration has limited interest […]

The summer months are coming! They revive fun memories of tip-toeing into the water until the depth forces a decision as to whether to plunge in or not. We reached that point of decision in our last posting, deeming the waters of the Greek Fathers too unchartered to venture out further in our search for adoption. We prefer a […]

Irenaeus paved the way for the development of robust doctrines of the Fatherhood of God and adoption. As the father of biblical theology, he recognized that the history of redemption is the essential backdrop of both doctrines. By offering seminal additional pointers to the systematization of the Bible’s theology he also revealed how various thematic strands […]

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