Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Church and Faith in the Patristic Tradition

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Church and Faith in the Patristic Tradition

Article excerpt

Church and Faith in the Patr Tradition. By Gerald Bonner. Collected Studies Series. Aldershot, U.K.: Variorum, 1996. xiv + 316 pp. $89.95 (cloth).

This book, as others in this series, brings together previously published writings, in this case by an author whose works are marked by balanced judgment and felicitous style. These nineteen essays and reviews date from 1996 to 1993, and include three on Augustine, three on Pelagianism (and Augustine), and five on Bede. A minor nuisance is that the pagination does not continue from one essay to another (something Variorum Press could easily have supplied), so the references here are to the number of the article and the page within that article.

In general, Bonner tends to be expository and somewhat uncritical. But that said, a good deal of important information is presented as well as several valuable insights. The time is fortunately long past when interpretative contortions were thought necessary to avoid, or at least minimize, Augustine's debt to Neoplatonism, and Bonner is quick to acknowledge both it and its limits. One particularly good instance is the essay on "Augustine's conception of deification." Bonner points out that not only is this topic neglected in Augustinian studies, but in the eyes of many (particularly in the Eastern churches) Augustine himself is wrongly thought not to have afforded deification a major place in his theology. Bonner agrees with Georges Folliet ("'Deificari in otio'. Augustin, Epistula 10.2", in Recherches Augustiniennes ii [1962]) that Augustine's earliest understanding of deification "came in the context of Neoplatonist philosophy" (I. 371). …

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