Symeon the New Theologian
Symeon the New Theologian was a Byzantine Christian monk and poet, the last of three saints canonized by the Eastern Orthodox church and given the title of "Theologian". "Theologian" was not applied to Symeon in the modern academic sense of theological study. One of his principal teachings was that humans should experience theoria. Symeon was given a traditional education. At age fourteen he met Symeon the Studite, a renowned monk of the Monastery of Stoudios in Constantinople, who convinced him to give his own life to prayer and asceticism under the elder Symeon's guidance. By the time he was thirty, Symeon the New Theologian became the abbot of the Monastery of St. Mammas, a position he held for twenty-five years, he attracted many monks and clergy with his reputation for sanctity, though his teachings brought him into conflict with church authorities, who would send him into exile. His most well known disciple was Nicetas Stethatos. Symeon is recognized as the first Byzantine mystic to share his own mystical experiences.
Some of his writings are included in the Philokalia, a collection of texts by early Christian mystics on contemplative prayer and hesychast teachings. Symeon wrote and spoke about the importance of experiencing directly the grace of God talking about his own experiences of God as divine light. Another common subject in his writings was the need of putting oneself under the guidance of a spiritual father; the authority for many of his teachings derived from the traditions of the Desert Fathers, early Christian monks and ascetics. Symeon's writings include Hymns of Divine Love, Ethical Discourses, The Catechetical Discourses; the details of Symeon's life come from his own writings and from the Life of Symeon, written by his disciple Nicetas. He was born at Basileion in Galatia to Basil and Theophano Galaton, members of the Byzantine nobility who supported the Macedonian dynasty, his given name at birth is unclear—it was traditional at that time, when becoming a monk, to take on a new name with the same initial as one's birth name.
Symeon may have ignored that tradition in order to take the same name as his spiritual father, Symeon the Studite. In his writings, he sometimes described the experiences of "George," which might have been his birth name. Symeon received a basic Greek school education until the age of eleven, when an uncle recognized that he had potential for higher learning; the uncle helped Symeon to complete his secondary education at the court of the emperor Basil II and his brother Constantine VIII. At age fourteen he met Symeon the Studite, a holy monk of the Monastery of Stoudios in Constantinople; that meeting convinced the younger Symeon to forgo higher education and take on Symeon the Studite as his spiritual father. At that time he began studying the life of prayer and asceticism under his guidance, with the desire to enter the monastery. Symeon the Studite asked the young Symeon to wait before becoming a monk, so he spent the years until age twenty-seven serving in the household of a patrician, though according to some sources he served the emperor instead.
Living a worldly life during the day, he spent his evenings in vigils and prayer, putting into practice the writings of two authors—Marcus Eremita and Diadochos of Photiki—that were given to him by his spiritual father. It was during this time that Symeon had his first experience of God as divine light, as he described in one of his Discourses, he attributed the experience to the prayers of Symeon the Studite. In spite of the experience, the young Symeon confessed that he still fell into worldly ways of living. Direct personal experience of God was to become one of Symeon's central teachings in his writings, to the monks who followed him. At age twenty-seven, he entered the Monastery of Stoudios, giving his life over to discipleship to his teacher Symeon the Studite; the elder Symeon was not an ordained priest, but a simple monk, considered holy by many people. The younger Symeon was zealous in his practices and in following his teacher—to such an extent that the abbot of the monastery insisted that Symeon leave after only a few months.
Following the elder Symeon's advice, he left for the nearby Monastery of St. Mammas in Constantinople, described as run down, both physically and spiritually. During his time at St. Mammas he continued to follow Symeon the Studite's guidance. Within three years after moving to St. Mammas, Symeon was tonsured as a monk, ordained as a priest, elected as the abbot of the monastery, he spent the next twenty-five years as abbot of St. Mammas, attracting many monks and clergy with his reputation for learning and sanctity. Not all of the monks were attracted by Symeon's zealous approach. Symeon attempted to reform the Byzantine monasteries, where monks had become subservient to the emperor and had acquired large holdings of property and art, his writings and teachings were aimed at returning the monasteries to their traditional role in the early church, urging the monks to take up a life of simplicity, purity of heart, constant prayer. The strict monastic discipline for which Symeon aimed upset several monks in the monastery.
Symeon took a more emotional approach to worship, suggesting that a monk shouldn't take the sacrament without tears. The introduction of vegetarian meals, along with other unique practices to
School of Salamanca
The School of Salamanca is the Renaissance of thought in diverse intellectual areas by Spanish and Portuguese theologians, rooted in the intellectual and pedagogical work of Francisco de Vitoria. From the beginning of the 16th century the traditional Catholic conception of man and of his relation to God and to the world had been assaulted by the rise of humanism, by the Protestant Reformation and by the new geographical discoveries and their consequences; these new problems were addressed by the School of Salamanca. The name refers to the University of Salamanca, where de Vitoria and other members of the school were based; the leading figures of the school and jurists Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto, Martín de Azpilcueta, Tomás de Mercado, Francisco Suárez, were all scholars of natural law and of morality, who undertook the reconciliation of the teachings of Thomas Aquinas with the new political-economic order. The themes of study centered on man and his practical problems, but equally on a particular body of work accepted by all of them, as the ground against which to test their disagreements, including at times bitter polemics within the School.
The School of Salamanca in the broad sense may be considered more narrowly as two schools of thought coming in succession, that of the Salmanticenses and that of the Conimbricenses from the University of Coimbra. The first began with Francisco de Vitoria, reached its high point with Domingo de Soto; the Conimbricenses were Jesuits who, from the end of 16th century took over the intellectual leadership of the Catholic world from the Dominicans. Among those Jesuits were Luis de Molina, the aforementioned Francisco Suárez, Giovanni Botero, who would continue the tradition in Italy; the juridical doctrine of the School of Salamanca represented the end of medieval concepts of law, with a revindication of liberty not habitual in Europe of that time. The natural rights of man came to be, in one form or another, the center of attention, including rights as a corporeal being and spiritual rights; the School of Salamanca reformulated the concept of natural law: law originating in nature itself, with all that exists in the natural order sharing in this law.
Their conclusion was, given that all humans share the same nature, they share the same rights to life and liberty. Such views constituted a novelty in European thought and went counter to those predominant in Spain and Europe that people indigenous to the Americas had no such rights; the School of Valencia distinguished two realms of power, the natural or civil realm and the realm of the supernatural, which were conflated in the Middle Ages through granting royal control of investiture of bishops, or the temporal powers of the pope. One direct consequence of the separation of realms of power is that the king or emperor does not legitimately have jurisdiction over souls, nor does the pope have legitimate temporal power; this included the proposal. Thus, according to Luis de Molina a nation is analogous to a mercantile society in that those who govern are holders of power but a collective power, to which they are subject, derives from them jointly. Nonetheless, in de Molina's view, the power of society over the individual is greater than that of a mercantile society over its members, because the power of the government of a nation emanates from God's divine power.
At this time, the monarchy of England was extending the theory of the divine right of kings—under which the monarch is the unique legitimate recipient of the emanation of God's power—asserting that subjects must follow the monarch's orders, in order not to contravene said design. Counter to this, several adherents of the School sustained that the people are the vehicle of divine sovereignty, which they, in turn, pass to a prince under various conditions; the one who went furthest in this direction was Francisco Suárez, whose work Defensio Fidei Catholicae adversus Anglicanae sectae errores was the strongest defense in this period of popular sovereignty. Men are born free by their nature and not as slaves of another man, can disobey to the point of deposing an unjust government; as with de Molina, he affirms that political power does not reside in any one concrete person, but he differs subtly in that he considers that the recipient of that power is the people as a whole, not a collection of sovereign individuals—in the same way, Jean-Jacques Rousseau's theory of popular sovereignty would consider the people as a collective group superior to the sum that composes it.
Gabriel Vázquez held that natural law is not limited to the individual, but obliges societies to act in accord and be treated with justice. For Suárez, the political power of society is contractual in origin because the community forms by consensus of free wills; the consequence of this contractualist theory is that the natural form of government is either a democracy or a republic, while oligarchy or monarchy arise as secondary institutions, whose claim to justice is based on being forms chosen by the people. Francisco de Vitoria played an important role in the early modern comprehension of ius gentium, he extrapolated his ideas of legitimate sovereign power to society at t
Teresa of Ávila
Saint Teresa of Ávila Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada called Saint Teresa of Jesus, was a Carmelite nun, prominent Spanish mystic, Doctor of the Church, Religious reformer and theologian of the contemplative life and mental prayer. Active during the Counter-Reformation, she reformed the Carmelite Order of her time; the movement she initiated joined by Saint John of the Cross led to the establishment of the Discalced Carmelites, though neither she nor John was alive when the order split in two. In 1622, forty years after her death, she was canonized by Pope Gregory XV, and, on 27 September 1970, declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI, her books, which include her autobiography, The Life of Teresa of Jesus and her seminal work The Interior Castle, are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practice. She wrote the Way of Perfection. After her death, Saint Teresa was considered a candidate for national patron saint of Spain.
A Santero image of the Immaculate Conception of El Viejo, said to have been sent with one of her brothers to Peru, was Canonically crowned by Pope John Paul II on 28 December 1989 at the Shrine of El Viejo. In one Catholic tradition, Saint Teresa is associated with devotion to the Infant Jesus of Prague, a statue she may have owned. Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in 1515 in Spain, her paternal grandfather, Juan Sánchez de Toledo, was a marrano or Converso, a Jewish man, forced to convert to Christianity. When Teresa's father was a child, Juan was condemned by the Spanish Inquisition for returning to the Jewish faith, but he was able to assume a Catholic identity, her father, Alonso Sánchez de Cepeda, was a successful wool merchant and one of the wealthiest men in Ávila. He father bought a knighthood and was assimilated into Christian society. Married to Catalina del Peso y Henao, with whom he had three children, in 1509, Sánchez de Cepeda married Teresa's mother, Beatriz de Ahumada y Cuevas, in Gotarrendura.
Teresa's mother was keen to raise her daughter as a pious Christian. Teresa was fascinated by accounts of the lives of the saints and ran away from home at age seven with her brother Rodrigo to find martyrdom among the Moors, her uncle stopped them on the road as he was returning to the town, having spotted them outside the town walls. When Teresa was eleven years old, her mother died; this prompted her to embrace a deeper devotion to the Virgin Mary as her spiritual mother. Teresa was enamored of popular fiction, which, at the time was medieval tales of knighthood and works about fashion and flowers. Teresa was sent to the Augustinian nuns' school at Ávila. After completing her education, she resisted the idea of a religious vocation, but after a stay with her uncle and other relatives, she relented. In 1536 aged 18, much to the disappointment of her pious and austere father, she decided to enter the local easy-going Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation built on top of land, used as a burial ground for Jews.
She took up religious reading on contemplative prayer Osuna’s Third Spiritual Alphabet. Her zeal for mortification caused her to became ill again and she spent a year in bed, causing huge worry to her community and family, she nearly died but, she recovered thanks to the miraculous intercession of St. Joseph, she believed, she began to experience instances of religious ecstasy. Her reading of medieval mystics, consisted of directions for examinations of conscience and for spiritual self-concentration and inner contemplation known in mystical nomenclature as oratio recollectionis or oratio mentalis, she dipped into other mystical ascetic works such as the Tractatus de oratione et meditatione of Saint Peter of Alcantara, some upon which Saint Ignatius of Loyola based his Spiritual Exercises—possibly the Spiritual Exercises themselves. She reported that, during her illness, she had risen from the lowest stage, "recollection", to the "devotions of silence" or to the "devotions of ecstasy", one of perfect union with God.
During this final stage, she said she experienced a rich "blessing of tears". As the Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sin became clear to her, she came to understand the awful terror of sin and the inherent nature of original sin, she became conscious of her own natural impotence in confronting sin and the necessity of absolute subjection to God. Around 1556, friends suggested, she had begun to inflict mortifications of the flesh upon herself. But her confessor, the Jesuit Saint Francis Borgia, reassured her of the divine inspiration of her thoughts. On St. Peter's Day in 1559, Teresa became convinced that Jesus Christ presented himself to her in bodily form, though invisible; these visions lasted uninterrupted for more than two years. In another vision, a seraph drove the fiery point of a golden lance through her heart, causing an ineffable spiritual and bodily pain: I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, at the point there seemed to be a little fire, he appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, to pierce my entrails.
The pain was so great. This vision was the inspiration for one of Bernini's most famous works, the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa at Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome; the mem
Saint Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and a notable Early Christian writer of Berber descent, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa at Carthage, where he received a classical education. Soon after converting to Christianity, he became a bishop in 249. A controversial figure during his lifetime, his strong pastoral skills, firm conduct during the Novatianist heresy and outbreak of the plague, eventual martyrdom at Carthage vindicated his reputation and proved his sanctity in the eyes of the Church, his skillful Latin rhetoric led to his being considered the pre-eminent Latin writer of Western Christianity until Jerome and Augustine. The Plague of Cyprian is named after him. Cyprian was born into a rich, Berber, Carthage family sometime during the early third century, his original name was Thascius. Before his conversion, he was a leading member of a legal fraternity in Carthage, an orator, a "pleader in the courts", a teacher of rhetoric.
After a "dissipated youth", Cyprian was baptised when he was thirty-five years old, c. 245 AD. After his baptism, he gave away a portion of his wealth to the poor of Carthage, as befitted a man of his status. In the early days of his conversion he wrote an Epistola ad Donatum de gratia Dei and the Testimoniorum Libri III that adhere to the models of Tertullian, who influenced his style and thinking. Cyprian described his own conversion and baptism in the following words: When I was still lying in darkness and gloomy night, I used to regard it as difficult and demanding to do what God's mercy was suggesting to me... I myself was held in bonds by the innumerable errors of my previous life, from which I did not believe I could be delivered, so I was disposed to acquiesce in my clinging vices and to indulge my sins... But after that, by the help of the water of new birth, the stain of my former life was washed away, a light from above and pure, was infused into my reconciled heart... a second birth restored me to a new man.
In a wondrous manner every doubt began to fade.... I understood that what had first lived within me, enslaved by the vices of the flesh, was earthly and that what, the Holy Spirit had wrought within me was divine and heavenly. Not long after his baptism he was ordained a deacon, soon afterwards a priest; some time between July 248 and April 249 he was elected bishop of Carthage, a popular choice among the poor who remembered his patronage as demonstrating good equestrian style. However his rapid rise did not meet with the approval of senior members of the clergy in Carthage, an opposition which did not disappear during his episcopate. Not long afterward, the entire community was put to an unwanted test. Christians in North Africa had not suffered persecution for many years. Early in 250 the "Decian persecution" began; the Emperor Decius issued an edict, the text of, lost, ordering sacrifices to the gods to be made throughout the Empire. Jews were exempted from this requirement. Cyprian chose to go into hiding rather than face potential execution.
While some clergy saw this decision as a sign of cowardice, Cyprian defended himself saying he had fled in order not to leave the faithful without a shepherd during the persecution, that his decision to continue to lead them, although from a distance, was in accordance with divine will. Moreover, he pointed to the actions of the Apostles and Jesus himself: "And therefore the Lord commanded us in the persecution to depart and to flee. For as the crown is given by the condescension of God, cannot be received unless the hour comes for accepting it, whoever abiding in Christ departs for a while does not deny his faith, but waits for the time..." The persecution was severe at Carthage, according to Church sources. Many Christians fell away, were thereafter referred to as "Lapsi"; the majority had obtained signed statements certifying that they had sacrificed to the Roman gods in order to avoid persecution or confiscation of property. In some cases Christians had sacrificed, whether under torture or otherwise.
Cyprian found these libellatici cowardly, demanded that they and the rest of the lapsi undergo public penance before being re-admitted to the Church. However, in Cyprian's absence, some priests disregarded his wishes by readmitting the lapsed to communion with little or no public penance; some of the lapsi presented a second libellus purported to bear the signature of some martyr or confessor who, it was held, had the spiritual prestige to reaffirm individual Christians. This system was not limited to Carthage, but on a wider front by its charismatic nature it constituted a challenge to institutional authority in the Church, in particular to that of the bishop. Hundreds or thousands of lapsi were re-admitted this way, against the express wishes of Cyprian and the majority of the Carthaginian clergy, who insisted upon earnest repentance. A schism broke out in Carthage, as the laxist party, led by the priests who had opposed Cyprian's election, attempted to block measures taken by him during his period of absence.
After fourteen months, Cyprian returned to the diocese and in letters addressed to the other North African bishops defended having left his post. After issuing a tract, "De lapsis," he convoked a council of North African bishops at Carthage to consider the treatment of the lapsed, the apparent schi
Natural law is a philosophy asserting that certain rights are inherent by virtue of human nature, endowed by nature—traditionally by God or a transcendent source—and that these can be understood universally through human reason. As determined by nature, the law of nature is implied to be universal. Natural law refers to the use of reason to analyze human nature to deduce binding rules of moral behavior from nature's or God's creation of reality and mankind; the concept of natural law was documented in ancient Greek philosophy, including Aristotle, was referred to in Roman philosophy by Cicero. References to natural law are found in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible expounded upon in the Middle Ages by Christian philosophers such as Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas; the School of Salamanca made notable contributions during the Renaissance. Modern natural law theories were developed in the Age of Enlightenment, combining inspiration from Roman law with philosophies like social contract theory.
Key proponents were Alberico Gentili, Francisco Suárez, Richard Hooker, Thomas Hobbes, Hugo Grotius, Samuel von Pufendorf, Matthew Hale, John Locke, Francis Hutcheson, Jean Jacques Burlamaqui, Emmerich de Vattel, Cesare Beccaria and Francesco Mario Pagano. It was used to challenge the divine right of kings, became an alternative justification for the establishment of a social contract, positive law, government—and thus legal rights—in the form of classical republicanism. Conversely, the concept of natural rights is used by others to challenge the legitimacy of all such establishments. Contemporarily, the concept of natural law is related to the concept of natural rights. Indeed, many philosophers and scholars use natural law synonymously with natural rights, or natural justice. While others distinguish between natural law and natural right; because of the intersection between natural law and natural rights, natural law has been claimed or attributed as a key component in the United States Declaration of Independence, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of France, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations General Assembly, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights of the European Union.
The use of natural law, in its various incarnations, has varied throughout history. There are a number of theories of natural law, that differ from each other with respect to the role that morality plays in determining the authority of legal norms; this article deals with its usages separately rather than attempt to unify them into a single theory. Those who see biblical support for the doctrine of natural law point to Abraham's interrogation of God on behalf of the iniquitous city of Sodom. Abraham dares to tell the Most High that his plan to destroy the city would violate God’s own justice: “That be far from Thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; this Socratic reply became for writers the beginnings of natural rights theory. In this respect, natural law as described in the interaction between Abraham and God predates the Greek exposition of it by Plato and Aristotle. However, an earlier set of laws is attributed to the Seven Laws of Noah.
The seven Noahide laws as traditionally enumerated are the following: Not to worship idols. Not to curse God. To establish courts of justice. Not to commit murder. Not to commit adultery or sexual immorality. Not to steal. Not to eat flesh torn from a living animal. According to the Genesis flood narrative, a deluge covered the whole world, killing every surface-dwelling creature except Noah, his wife, his sons and their wives, the animals taken aboard Noah's Ark. According to this, all modern humans are descendants of Noah, thus the name Noahide Laws in reference to laws that apply to all of humanity. After the flood, God sealed a covenant with Noah with the following admonitions: Flesh of a living animal: "Only flesh with the life thereof, the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.” Murder and courts: "And your blood of your lives will I require. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man. Although Plato did not have an explicit theory of natural law, his concept of nature, according to John Wild, contains some of the elements found in many natural law theories.
According to Plato, we live in an orderly universe. The basis of this orderly universe or nature are the forms, most fundamentally the Form of the Good, which Plato describes as "the brightest region of Being"; the Form of the Good is the cause of all things, when it is seen it leads a person to act wisely. In the Symposium, the Good is identified with the Beautiful. In the Symposium, Plato describes how the experience of the Beautiful by Socrates enabled him to resist the temptations of wealth and sex. In the Republic, the ideal community is "a city which would be established in accordance with nature". Greek philosophy emphasized the distinction between "nature" on the one hand and "law", "custom", or "convention" on the other. What the law commanded would be expected to vary from place to place, bu
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria called Athanasius the Great, Athanasius the Confessor or in the Coptic Orthodox Church, Athanasius the Apostolic, was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His intermittent episcopacy spanned 45 years, of which over 17 encompassed five exiles, when he was replaced on the order of four different Roman emperors. Athanasius was a Christian theologian, a Church Father, the chief defender of Trinitarianism against Arianism, a noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century. Conflict with Arius and Arianism as well as successive Roman emperors shaped Athanasius' career. In 325, at the age of 27, Athanasius began his leading role against the Arians as a deacon and assistant to Bishop Alexander of Alexandria during the First Council of Nicaea. Roman emperor Constantine the Great had convened the council in May–August 325 to address the Arian position that the Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, is of a distinct substance from the Father. Three years after that council, Athanasius succeeded his mentor as archbishop of Alexandria.
In addition to the conflict with the Arians, he struggled against the Emperors Constantine, Constantius II, Julian the Apostate and Valens. He was known as Athanasius Contra Mundum. Nonetheless, within a few years after his death, Gregory of Nazianzus called him the "Pillar of the Church", his writings were well regarded by all following Church fathers in the West and the East, who noted their rich devotion to the Word-become-man, great pastoral concern and profound interest in monasticism. Athanasius is counted as one of the four great Eastern Doctors of the Church in the Catholic Church. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, he is labeled as the "Father of Orthodoxy". Athanasius is the first person to identify the same 27 books of the New Testament that are in use today, he is venerated as a Christian saint, whose feast day is 2 May in Western Christianity, 15 May in the Coptic Orthodox Church, 18 January in the other Eastern Orthodox Churches. He is venerated by the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Catholic Church, the Lutheran churches, the Anglican Communion.
The Council of Nicaea, "passed twenty disciplinary canons for the better government of the Church. By one, C. 6, of these the Bishops of Rome and Antioch, were declared to possess jurisdiction over the Churches in their respective provinces". Hence, the Alexandrian Bishop was declared with the authority of Patriarch. Athanasius was born to a Christian family in the city of Alexandria or the nearby Nile Delta town of Damanhur sometime between the years 293 and 298; the earlier date is sometimes assigned due to the maturity revealed in his two earliest treatises Contra Gentes and De Incarnatione, which were admittedly written about the year 318 before Arianism had begun to make itself felt, as those writings do not show an awareness of Arianism. However Cornelius Clifford places his birth no earlier than 296 and no than 298, based on the fact that Athanasius indicates no first hand recollection of the Maximian persecution of 303, which he suggests Athanasius would have remembered if he had been ten years old at the time.
Secondly, the Festal Epistles state that the Arians had accused Athanasius, among other charges, of not having yet attained the canonical age and thus could not have been properly ordained as Patriarch of Alexandria in 328. The accusation must have seemed plausible; the Orthodox Church places his year of birth around 297. His parents were wealthy enough to afford giving him a fine secular education, he was clearly not a member of the Egyptian aristocracy. Some Western scholars consider his command of Greek, in which he wrote most of his surviving works, evidence that he may have been a Greek born in Alexandria. Historical evidence, indicates that he was fluent in Coptic as well given the regions of Egypt where he preached; some surviving copies of his writings are in fact in Coptic, though scholars differ as to whether he himself wrote them in Coptic or whether these were translations of writings in Greek. Rufinus relates a story that as Bishop Alexander stood by a window, he watched boys playing on the seashore below, imitating the ritual of Christian baptism.
He discovered that one of the boys had acted as bishop. After questioning Athanasius, Bishop Alexander informed him that the baptisms were genuine, as both the form and matter of the sacrament had been performed through the recitation of the correct words and the administration of water, that he must not continue to do this as those baptized had not been properly catechized, he invited his playfellows to prepare for clerical careers. Alexandria was the most important trade center in the whole empire during Athanasius's boyhood. Intellectually and politically—it epitomized the ethnically diverse Graeco-Roman world more than Rome or Constantinople, Antioch or Marseilles, its famous catechetical school, while sacrificing none of its famous passion for orthodoxy since the days of Pantaenus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen of Alexandria and Theognostus, had begun to take on an secular character in the comprehensiveness of its interests, had counted influential pagans among its serious auditors. Peter of Alexandria, the 17th archbishop of Alexandria, was martyred in 311 in the closing days of the persecution, ma
John Scotus Eriugena
John Scotus Eriugena or Johannes Scotus Erigena was an Irish theologian, neoplatonist philosopher, poet. He wrote a number of works, but is best known today for having written The Division of Nature, called the final achievement of ancient philosophy, a work which "synthesizes the philosophical accomplishments of fifteen centuries." Eriugena argued on behalf of something like a panentheistic definition of nature. He translated and made commentaries upon the work of Pseudo-Dionysius, was one of the few Western European philosophers of his day that knew Greek, having studied in Athens. Famously, he is said to have been stabbed to death by his students at Malmesbury with their pens; the form "Eriugena" of his byname is used by John Scotus to describe himself in one manuscript. It means'Ireland -born'.'Scottus' in the Middle Ages was the Latin term for "Irish or Gaelic", so his name translates as "John, the Irish-born Gael."'Scotti" was the name that the Romans called the Irish. The spelling'Scottus' has the authority of the early manuscripts until the 11th century.
He is named'Scottigena' in the manuscripts. He is not to be confused with the philosopher John Duns Scotus. Johannes Scotus Eriugena was an Irishman, educated in Ireland, he moved to France and took over the Palace School at the invitation of Carolingian King Charles the Bald. He succeeded Alcuin of York as head of the Palace School; the reputation of this school, part of the Carolingian Renaissance, seems to have increased under Eriugena's leadership, the philosopher himself was treated with indulgence by the king. Whereas Alcuin was a schoolmaster rather than a philosopher, Eriugena was a noted Greek scholar, a skill which, though rare at that time in Western Europe, was used in the learning tradition of Early and Medieval Ireland, as evidenced by the use of Greek script in medieval Irish manuscripts, he remained in France for at least thirty years, it was certainly during this period that he wrote his various works. The latter part of his life is unclear. There is a story that in 882 he was invited to Oxford by Alfred the Great, laboured there for many years, became abbot at Malmesbury, was stabbed to death by his pupils with their styli.
Whether this is to be taken or figuratively is not clear, some scholars think it may refer to some other Johannes. He never left France, the date of his death is given as 877. From the evidence available, it is impossible to determine whether he was a layman, his work is based upon Saint Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus the Confessor, the Cappadocian Fathers, is Neoplatonist. He revived the transcendentalist standpoint of Neoplatonism with its "graded hierarchy" approach. By going back to Plato, he revived the nominalist–realist debate; the first of the works known to have been written by Eriugena during this period was a treatise on the Eucharist, which has not survived. In it he seems to have advanced the doctrine that the Eucharist was symbolical or commemorative, an opinion for which Berengar of Tours was at a date censured and condemned; as a part of his penance, Berengarius is said to have been compelled to burn publicly Eriugena's treatise. So far as we can learn, Eriugena was considered orthodox and a few years was selected by Hincmar, archbishop of Reims, to defend the doctrine of liberty of will against the extreme predestinarianism of the monk Gottschalk.
Many in the Church opposed Gottschalk's position. The treatise De divina praedestinatione composed for this occasion has been preserved, it was from its content that Eriugena's orthodoxy became suspect. Eriugena argues the question of predestination on speculative grounds, starts with the bold affirmation that philosophy and religion are fundamentally one and the same. More significant is his handling of authority and reason. Eriugena offered a skilled proof that there can be predestination only to the good, for all folk are summoned to be saints; the work was warmly assailed by Drepanius Florus, canon of Lyons, Prudentius, was condemned by two councils: that of Valence in 855, that of Langres in 859. By the former council his arguments were described as commentum diaboli. Eriugena believed that all people and all beings, including animals, reflect attributes of God, towards whom all are capable of progressing and to which all things must return. Eriugena was a believer in apocatastasis or universal reconciliation, which maintains that the universe will be restored under God's dominion.
At some point in the centuries before Eriugena a legend had developed that Saint Denis, the first Bishop of Paris and patron saint of the important Abbey of Saint-Denis, was the same person as both the Dionysius the Areopagite mentioned in Acts 17.34, Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, a figure whose writings were not yet being circulated in the West in the ninth century. Accordingly, in the 820s ambassadors from the Byzantine emperor to the court of Louis the Pious donated Louis a Greek manuscript of the Dionysian corpus, given to the Abbey of Saint Denis in the care of Abbot Hilduin. Hilduin proceeded to direct a translation of the Dionysian corpus from Greek into Latin, based on this single manuscript. Soon after by th