Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Way to Nicaea

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Way to Nicaea

Article excerpt

The Way to Nicaea. By John Behr. The Formation of Christian Theology, 1. Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2001. xii + 261 pp. $29.95 (cloth); $16.95 (paper).

This is the first volume in a projected three-volume series on the formation of Christian theology from the New Testament through the seventh ecumenical council in 787, written by John Behr, associate professor of patristics at St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary. Unlike the patristic handbooks of Quasten and Altaner, or J. N. D. Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines, this series will focus on the theological reflection inspired by Jesus' question to his disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" Although the title suggests otherwise, the book argues that the writers of this period (through, strangely, the council of Antioch in 268/269) represent the foundation of all subsequent theological reflection, rather than simply prolegomena to the great councils of Nicaea or Chalcedon (p. 6).

Part 1, "The Gospel of Jesus Christ," discusses the early Christian knowledge of Christ in the passion, the apostolic writings, early rules of faith, the establishment of the biblical canon, and the biblical picture of Christ. Part 2, "The Word of God," then takes us through Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr (relying on the work of Mark Edwards), and Irenaeus of Lyons, on whom Behr has published previously. Part 3, "The Son of the Father," covers Hippolytus and the Roman debates (based on the work of Ronald Heine and Alien Brent), Origen of Alexandria, and Paul of Samosata and the council of Antioch. The argument is dominated, in the first two parts, by Irenaeus and, in the third, by Origen, and its stress throughout is the centrality of the crucified and risen Christ in the exegetical and theological enterprise. …

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