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5. Theology in the Scriptures

5. Theology in the Scriptures


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Published by Philip Kariatlis

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Published by: Philip Kariatlis on Apr 07, 2011
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Theology in the Scriptures

  Θεολογία, θεολογεῖν, θεολόγος

not Scriptural terms   When did these terms enter Christian literature????

Theology in the Ancient Greek Philosophical Tradition

 Plato s Republic
  what are the forms of theology which you mean) οἱ

τύποι περί θεολογίας τίνες ἄν εἶεν]

  "Something of this kind, I [namely Plato] replied:

- God is always to be represented as he truly is, whatever be the sort of poetry, epic, lyric or tragic, in which the representation is given [τοιίδε πού τινες· οἷος τυγχάνει ὁ Θεός ὤν, ἀεί δήπου ἀποδοτέον, ἐάν τε τίς αὐτόν ἐν ἔπεσι ποιῄ ἐάν τε ἐν µέλεσιν ἐάν τε ἐν τραγωδίᾳ].

Theology in the Ancient Greek Philosophical Tradition
  Aristotle
  Θεολογία - τό τιµιώτατον   Evidently, then, there are three kinds of theoretical sciences-

physics, mathematics, theology. The class of theoretical sciences is the best, and of these themselves the last named is best; for it deals with the highest of existing things, and each science is called better or worse in virtue of its proper object”

  Δῆλον τοίνυν ὅτι τρία γένη τῶν θεωριτικῶν ἐπιστηµῶν ἐστι,

φυσική, µαθηµατική, θεολογική. Βέλτιστον µέν ουν τό τῶν θεωρητικῶν γένος, τούτων δ᾽αὐτῶν ἡ τελευταία λεχθεῖσα. Περί το τιµιώτατον γάρ ἐστι τῶν ὄντων, βελτίων δέ καί χείρων ἑκάστη λέγεται κατά τό οἰκεῖον ἐπιστητόν

Theology in the Ancient Greek Philosophical Tradition
  Stoics
-  Tripartite distinction
-  -  - 

Mythical Natural Civil

  In Augustine's City of God, we read the following:

what is the significance of his saying that there are three kinds of theology, that is, of the account that is given of the gods? Of these one is called mythical, another physical and the third civil. If Latin usage allowed, we should call the kind that he placed first "fabular." But let us call it "fabulous", for the term "mythical" is derived from fables, since in Greek a fable is called mythos. The second kind may be called "natural", as common usage already approves. To the third kind Varro himself gives a Latin name, that of "civil.



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Theology in the Scritpures

  The word "theology" does not appear in the Scriptures   Athenagoras of Athens (2nd century) first to use the

term – in A Plea for Christians   It was Clement and to a greater extent Origen who were the first to introduce the term into the Christian language   It was in Alexandria that the first Theological School appeared.

Theology in the Early Christian Tradition
  The term "theology" used differently to how it is used


  St Athanasius – specifically used the term to depict Christ

s relationship with God the Father (cf. Trinitarian theology) (note diff. b/w theologia and oikonomia)

  Evagius of Pontos   Saint Diadochos of Photiki said that "theology

bestows on the soul the greatest gifts… uniting it with God the Logos in unbreakable communion."

  St Peter of Damascus said that theology is the most exalted of the eight stages of spiritual contemplation.

Theology in the Scriptures

  The reason for existence – knowledge of God  

“Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal
life” (Jn6:47) “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1John 5:12)
Theology = a knowledge of God which is life giving, which explains what life is all about

Theology in the Scriptures
  Theology is life-giving and for all
“the deeper breathing of the entire body”

  Theology as ‘gift’ – χάρις   Therefore not acquired purely through scholarship   Not acquired BUT accepted in thanksgiving   The starting point for

Theology   the gift of Jesus Christ   a response to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?”

Theology in the Scriptures


First Reflection

Who do you say that I am ?

Canon of Faith (1Cor 15)

Subsequent Reflections


Theology in the Scriptures
•  The starting point of theology is the gospel of God about Jesus Christ which is preached

Theology in the Scriptures
  A kerygma revealed to the ecclesia   The Church as the hermeneutical

“He has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ… in former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit…. this is the great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church” (Eph 1:9; 3:5 and 5:32). “for now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know full, even as I have been fully known” (1Cor 13:12).

Theology in the Scriptures

 Theology as a martyria - a witness to Christ who leads us

to the Father by the Holy Spirit

Theology = God’s action in the world with His Son and Spirit

 "Theology is knowledge of God made possible by the

interpretation of the words concerning God found in Scripture by the Word and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the assembly of the Church to which this grace, this gift and gospel is given in which the activity of God takes place."

Theology in the Scriptures

  The reflection of the kerygma of Christ becomes theology and

is handed down for future generations
  "Hold fast to what has been handed over to you either in

writing or orally that you have received”

Παραθήκη τῆς πίστεως- depositum fidei

  What was handed over was the 1. Teaching of the apostles; 2.

The breaking of bread; 3. The prayers; 4. The communion.

Theology in the Scriptures

Theology in the Scriptures
 Theology therefore not part of the


 The first theological treatise after the preaching - St

John's Gospel

Theology was part of the interior life of the ecclesia, where

the ultimate act had been revealed and the person came to know Christ through the Spirit and therefore to know God through Him and therefore to be able to speak proper words, or Godbefitting words about the Trinity

Theology in the Scriptures

 SUMMARY   Theology begins with the confession of Jesus   This claim arises out a relationship with Him   This is made possible by the seal of the Holy Spirit   This is experienced in the Church   This process is what makes theology possible.

Theology in the Fathers

  Gift - Charisma   Revelation of a mystery   Requiring inner purifcation   Stillness

Theology as a Gift
  St Thalassius of Lybia –

“the desire of all desires, the grace of theology”
  Less a quest and examination of God by human

beings than a quest and an examination by God of human beings
  Cannot be undertaken in a detached way but

presupposes a loving relationship of communion
  Not an accumulation of knowledge but a form of


Theology as a Gift
  Theologian – theodidaktos   Origen (2nd cent.)

“Theolog y is an exhalatio n, a brea thing out, an e manatio n, a radiation that com es from Go d”

Theology as a Revelation of a Mystery
  “the mystery of theology”   “every theological affirmation passes the

understanding of the one who utters it. For our understanding is weak and our language leaves a lot to be desired.”
  “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will

see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1Cor 13:12)

Apophatic and Cataphatic Language
“The true knowledge of God and vision of God consists in this - in seeing that God is invisible, because what we see lies beyond all knowledge, being wholly separated by the darkness of incomprehensibility… What is the significance of the fact that Moses went right into the darkness and saw God there? (Ex 20:21). At first sight, the account of this vision seems to contradict the earlier one (Ex 3). For, whereas on that occasion the divine was actually seen in light, this time the divine is seen in darkness. But we should not regard this as reflecting any inconsistency, at least on the level of the mystical meaning, which concerns us here. Through it the Word is teaching us that, in the initial stages, religious knowledge comes to people as illumination. So what we recognize as contrary to religion is darkness, and escape from that darkness is achieved through participation in the light. From there the mind moves forward; and, by its ever-increasing and more perfect attention, it forms an idea of the apprehension of reality. The closer it approaches the vision of God, the more it recognizes the invisible character of the divine nature.”

Apophatic language
  Safeguards the inexhaustibility of God   Theology – a knowledge beyond all knowledge   Such language leads to an encounter   Theology – as union with God

A personal commitment to holiness
  Theology – a theandric endeavor – σύνεργοι Θεου

(1Cor 3:9)   Theology requires a radical and personal transformation together with intellectual rigour   Made possible through prayer   Cf. Evagrius (4th cent.) “a theologian is the one who prays; the one who prays is a theologian”

A personal commitment to holiness
  St Maximus the

Confessor "mystical theology implies an erotic ecstasy, a self transcendence penetrated by the irresistable desire of the living God.   Metanoia   Askesis   Doxa

St Gregory Nazianzus’ adage
"It is not given to all the world to philosophise about God, not to all the world for the subject is not common or trivial and I will add not before any public, nor at any moment, nor at any point of doctrine but at certain moments, before certain people and certain limits. Not to everyone, but only those who can philosophise on God are those who have been tested to this end, those who are arrived at a higher stage of contemplation, those who have before hand purified their souls and bodies or at least are in the process of purifying themselves".

Peace of heart
  “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 45.10)

  "On what occasion it is allowed of us to philsophize

about God? This is possible when we have reached a state of peace and by that we are sheltered from the restlessness and the impurities which come from outside. In order to know God we must be in a state of inner peace.”

Mystical Theology

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