Saturday, May 24, 2008

Patristics Carnival XII- Call for Submissions

Well, it's time for Patristic Carnival XI!

I'm a little late with this call for submissions, but here it goes. This month's Carnival will be back here at hyperekperissou.

The guidelines remain the same as Modest Proposal entry back in November, 2006 and my additions in August, 2007.

The last day of submission will be May 31st and the postings will be up later by the week of June 2nd. .

Remember you can offer submissions on the carnival site or the dedicated e-mail (


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Book Review: Scott Hahn and Mike Aquilina, Living the Mysteries. A Guide of Unfinished Christians.

This review, I fear, is rather late (I received this book along with several others before Christmas), but I think the delay turned out to be a fortuitous one, given that I didn't get to this book until Easter Day. Given that this set of patristic readings are intended as the second stage of instruction for new Catholics between Easter and Pentacost, the timing struck me as excellent.

There is, unknown to many, a tradition of this kind of instruction in the patristic era, intended as a supplement for the catechetical lectures during undertaken for those preparing for baptism. This kind of catechetical instruction has been rather consciously adopted in the Roman Catholic church as the RCIA process which is, arguably, one of the best Christian introduction courses out there. As well, other churches, including some Anglican churches, have created versions of the same thing and often run them during Lent. Many people have come to faith through these programs.

Yet, there has been, historically, a problem with these programs-a lack of follow-up. Various ad hoc ways have been worked out to deal with this, of course. In my own experience, when I took the British evangelical program, Alpha, my friends and I met for a few months after for a Bible Study which we, tongue in cheek, called Beta. Hahn and Aquilina's book looks to the patristic example for this follow-up- tapping into the tradition of mystagogy as the follow-up to catchechetical lectures.

The tradition of mystagogy was a logical follow-up to the catchechetical lectures because it was the instruction into the mysteries of the sacraments. When the newly baptised emerged out to the water, their formal instruction was not over. Between Easter and Pentacost, they were instructed in the understanding of the sacraments which was needed by all believers. We have several mystagogical lectures including those from Cyril of Jerusalem and Augustine. These lectures give us an invaluable insight into how we should understand the sacraments. Hahn and Aqulina's book directs us to this tradition and asks us to meditate upon the mysteries of our faith.

The readings of this book are divided into seven section, each consisting of seven section, with reading from a different Church Father on a different aspect of the mysteries including Sts Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus on an introduction to the mysteries, St. Cyril of Jerusalam on baptism and confirmation, St. Clement of Alexandria on illumination, St. Ambrose of Milan on the Eucharist, St. Augustine of Hippo on the Church, ST. John Chrysosthom on the Christian way of life and St. Leo the Great on the glory of God. Each section is meant to be read over a week. Each passage is followed up with passages to prayer out, learn by heart and some brief words on how to apply the message on the passage to one's life.

My experience in going through these readings day by day and week by week was an inspiring one to start with. The passages were short and well-chosen. I found them a helpful way to start the day in combination with my Bible readings. As a young father, it is difficult to find time to meditate, so this book was an excellent way to direct my precious meditation time. I admit that I didn't' get as great a benefit out of the last couple of sections, but I suspect that was because this is the busiest time of the year for me, so I was distracted. I certainly wouldn't blame the choice of the passages, but merely my own frailty.

What I liked about these readings was they weren't abstract or over-intellectual, but they were grounded in the life of the every day Christian. That is an important aspect of the patristic testimony, but there are times which patristic enthusiasts get more interested in the Fathers as an intellectual, not a spiritual, exercise. Hahn and Aquilina do not fall into this trap and this makes these reading genuinely good material for meditation. Particularly, calling attention to key passages and consciously applying the lessons of passages to real life makes this an eminently practical guide to the spirituality of the mysteries; something that I think we- Roman Catholics to a degree, but, more so, Protestant- very much need.

The audience is, of course, intended to be a Roman Catholic one. The theology of the sacraments and the commentary is clearly Roman Catholic. This means that someone who takes a strictly memorialist view of the sacraments would not find this a helpful or beneficial book. As someone who accepts the 'Real Presence' model of the Eucharist and who has a sacramental understanding, I found it very useful, despite my differences with some Roman Catholic doctrine. To both a Roman Catholic audience and a more generally catholic audience, I would strongly recommend this book and the practice of mystagogy.


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Patristics Carnival XI- April, 2008

I`m a little late with this carnival, I know, for a couple reasons. First, April and May are the busiest time of the year for me. That is just life. Second, there was so many entries to look at and to enter. That should be something for all of us who are interested in patristics happy.

Front Gate: Introductions to the Fathers

Michael Haykin on the Historia Ecclesiastica blog gives a Protestant answer to why one should seek out the Fathers?, offers a primer on how to start reading about the Fathers (complete with bibliography),

Dr. George Grant on the Wittendberg Hall blog offers an introduction and defence of patristics for Protestants.

Peter Orr on the
But Now blog offers still more reasons why we should read the Fathers: they're closer linguistically and culturally to the writers of the Bible than we are.

The Midway: Articles on the Fathers

Mike Aquilina on The Fathers of the Church blog reconsiders Elaine Pagels and finds a soft spot for her writing, despite its shortcomings, talks about St. John Chrysosthom and the mystery of marriage and posts on Pope Benedict's lecture on St. Benedict.

Felix Culpa on the Ora et Labora blog ends his series on St. Dionysius the Areopagite in Eastern Orthodox theology with part four,

Bobby Grow on The Stumbling Block blog features a discussion of the patristic (especially that of St. Gregory of Nyssa) understanding of the Holy Spirit,

cchris on the Zeal For Truth blog continues a series on Tradtion and text with part two,

Craig Carter on The Politics of the Cross blog offers an abstract for a paper dealing with Athanasius, Trinitarian theology and Scripture as a way of responding to modern historical-critical scholarship's challenge to theology.
Exhibition Place: Biographies of the Fathers

VC on the Synodos blog features a series on the Patristic commentary on Daniel, starting with a biography of Jerome and an analysis of Jerome's commentary on Daniel and a comparision between Jerome's and Hippolytus' commentaries on Daniel.

Tony Reike on the Sovereign Grace blog publishes an MP3 of an interview with Dr. Ligon Duncan offering Patristics for Busy Pastors. This interview caused quite a stir in patristic blogsphere with discussions about it on The Shepherd's Scrapbook, the Between Two Worlds blog (with a useful summary of content), the Heidelblog, Light and Heat, PastorHacks, the Studying the Bible blog, Th' eternal Promise blog (with Dr. Duncan's book recommendation), the Faith by Hearing blog (with rather more commentary),

Daniel on the All Possible Worlds blog features a discussion about universalism, Hell and the Early Church.

Macrina on the Vow of Conversation blog discusses the importance of the Fathers in doing theology, rather than merely limiting them to the realm of Church History.

tduffle on the Anagogic Endeaver blog starts a series on the Holy Trinity by discussing Modalism.

Clinton on the Summa Philosophae blog discusses tradition and Scripture.

lauraknowles on Laura's Blog discusses Suzanne Heine's feminist analysis of St. Clement's of Alexandria and Tertullian's discussion of women.

Mork on the Pragmatic-Eclectic blog discusses the failure of Early Christianity's mission to the Jews.

mcshaw on The Ancient Landmark blog discusses Justin Martyr and his contribution to Trinitarian theology as the foundation of the errors of the later Church. This is distinction an anti-Trinitarian viewpoint featured in this article.

James Swan on the Alpha and Omega Ministries blog discusses Catholic reactions to evangelical interest in the Fathers. David Wolf on the articuli Fidei blog discusses the polemic about evangelical apologetical use of the Fathers.

Puritan Lad on the Christianity in History examines Cyprian's approach to apocolyptic writing and his historicism.

cd on the Discover the Faith blog examines St. Ignatius' letters and his discussion of the place of the eccesiastical hierarchy.

David Kear on the Monumentum Ecclesia blog discusses Eastern Ecclesiology (especially in light of St. Cyril of Alexandria) and the position of Rome.

vivator on the vivacatholic blog reflects on D.H. Williams discussion of the fight over the legacy of the Early Church between Protestants and Catholics in the second part of his series on evangelicals and tradition.

Tim Trautman on the God Fearin' Fiddler blog discusses a passage from Eusebius dealing with a second century Roman Christian named Caius as evidence for the Christian connection to the Vatican, compares Valentinian Creation narratives with modern evolutionary theories, discusses the Anti-Semitic elements in heretical Christianity, cites evidence from Hippolytus against contraception, considers how those who do not see the papacy in the early centuries of Christianity believe this position, considers the historcity of the doctrine of the immaculate conception, analyses the term Pope in Eusebius and following up with a second post on the subject.

Rob Bradshaw on the Early blog posts an article by F.F. Bruce on Church History and its Lessons.

Kevin Edgecomb on the biblicalia posts on Scripture, Tradition and the death of historical-critical scholarship.

Weekend Fisher on the Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength blog offers a scoring system for evaluating attestations of various canons in the patristic period.

Eric Sowell on the Archaic Christianity blog discusses his collation of 2nd Corinthians.

On this blog, hyperekperissou, I began a series on Origen's On Prayer with an introduction, Part 1 and Part 2. Stay tuned for more installments.

The Marketplace: Book Reviews

Robert on the Weird Thinkers blog reviews Christopher Hall's Learning Theology With the Church Fathers.

Alex Tang on the Random Musing blog gives a short, but favourable review of D.H. Williams' Evangelicals and Tradition.

Wyman Richardson on the Walking Together blog presents the twelfth of his Patristics Summaries: The Martyrdom of Ignatius.
Exhibition Place: Biographies of the Fathers.

Candy W on the Christian e-books blog discusses the life of St. Ireneaeus of Lyons.
The Rodeo: Patristic catenae

Ken88 on the Hallowed Ground blog features a catena on the primacy of Rome.

Tim Trautman on the God Fearin' Fiddler blog reviews Jaroslav Pelican's Mary through the Centuries.

The Foreign Exchange Tent: Translations

No activity in this category this month.

The Apocryphal Aisle: Christian Apocrypha

Derek the AEnglican on the haligweorc blog challenges the contention that gnostics were proto-feminists. Peace,

Eric Sowell on the Archaic Christianity blog continues his discussion of the Protoevangelion of John and again and again and finishing with this post.

Tony Chartrand-Burke on the Apocryphicity blog post Bruce Chilton's criticism of Elaine Pagel's venerable book, The Gnostic Gospels, , asks about a possible new Judas Apocryphon, considers a scholarly exchange about Secret Mark, and another exchange on the same text.

April DeConick of The Forbidden Gospel blog discusses reactions to a March post on the Gnostic origins of the Trinity, posts a dissertation abstract by Bruce Landau on the Revelations of the Magi, , discusses the problem posed by the term gnosis again, asks whether the Gospel of Judas is that ambiguous?, continues her discussion with her readers on gnosis, and discusses Birger Peterson's opinion of the Gospel of Judas.

Well, I think that is all for this month. It has been a busy month.