Athanasius Contra Gentes 46: Christ is not Wisdom & Word by participating in those things (as creatures do); rather, "he is the very Wisdom, very Word, and very own Power of the Father, very Light, very Truth, very Righteousness, very Virtue," etc.
All these "very" constructions are a string of auto-compounds in Greek: autosophia, autologos, autodunamis [idia tou Patros estin], autophos, autoaletheia, autodikaiosune, autoarete. It's like
Latin 'ipse,' and you could translate it "itself." Coolness rating: 100.
Origen did something very similar, even calling Christ the very kingdom, autobasileia (see his comm. on Matt 18). It's a way of talking that likely derives from neoplatonism (Plotinus wrote about autohenosis), but the string of auto-compounds is fully at home in christology.
This is one reason I don't get worked up about Calvin & co. calling the Son autotheos. Whether any Greek father ever called Christ that or not, the tradition definitely made good use of 'auto' to mark the Son's full deity w/out intending some kind of independence from the Father.
Contra Gentes 19th-c translation free online here:…

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More from @FredFredSanders

27 Oct
This is a fantastic Douglass speech, reported from Scotland, 1846. Facing the argument that American slaves "were favoured with religious instruction," Douglass performed "a sketch of a sermon which he had often heard preached." (Bottom half of page)…
His strategy is to take apart the pro-slaver's appeal to Scripture via "mimic solemnity." It's a risky strategy (reverse minstrelsy + tropes useful to infidels), but he has to force a wedge between the Bible & its mis-use. The stenographer records [laughter] over a dozen times. Image
I would love to have a recording of FD's delivery of lines like "Think of the feelings of that pious master. Oh! it was a trying situation for a servant of the Lord to be placed in." The whole Sam story is a roller coaster ride dependent on lively audience response.
Read 5 tweets
27 Oct
My teaching rotation has me spending the next 2 days in the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (by Himself!) w/our juniors. (If I'm on Twitter at all during this heavy teaching phase of the week, tweets'll skew in that direction. A rich text!)
My notes tell me the the first session I taught on this book in @TorreyHonors was in Feb 2000. Those students are now in their 40s. Image
Our program has very gradually built on that Douglass reading, and we now cover four texts from the African American tradition. I describe briefly how the 4 texts fit with each other & with our broader project here:…
Read 5 tweets
8 Oct
Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae mindmap as tree. From Rijksmuseum, 16th c print Image
It's a very ambitious print, y'all! Here's a look at the bottom left: Image
More detail: Image
Read 5 tweets
29 Sep
I recently gave some brief answers to a few questions from a seminary student who was assigned to teach on the Trinity based on the essay printed as chapter 2 in Fountain of Salvation. Here's a threadthreadthread .com of some of the answers.…
The doctrine of the Trinity is a vast & comprehensive doctrine, so it makes sense to place it very early in any course of Christian instruction. Things like Christology & pneumatology can then drop into their proper places. In education jargon, Trinity is an advance organizer.
Teaching on the Trinity should begin with the two visible missions of the Son & the Holy Spirit, which are historical events to which the Old Testament looks forward prophetically, and to which the New Testament looks back interpretively. Start w/this clarity & move outward.
Read 16 tweets
28 Sep
I ran across another case of somebody saying, "how can 3 be 1, and 1 be three; who knows, mystery etc." I don't think people do this on purpose, but notice the moves they have to make: reduce the doctrine to math by subtracting the actual nouns involved.
The nouns are "being" & "persons," & they're kinda important. But never mind that for now: If you'd like to perform a reduction to math, you should at least be consistent in your translation, & represent different nouns by different algebraic signifiers. It's not 3x = 1x...
It'd have to be 3x=1y, right? If you just cancel the nouns, you're treating them as "like terms," since that's what we are allowed to cancel when simplifying equations or rational expressions.
Read 5 tweets
15 Sep
For those of us whose theological home base is Paul, pondering First John is wonderful but strange. There's no contradiction between John & Paul, but the voice is astonishingly different. One major difference: I John is not structured by the "once lost, now saved" schema.
Where Paul frequently reminds his readers what they once were, what they left behind, how they have been transformed, what they have now turned to, John doesn't bring it up. In fact, John doesn't provide any terms or structures that even invite reflection on these things.
That old-vs-new structure is replaced, for the most part, by the dynamic of light vs darkness (which in turn is developed and applied via other categories, like love vs. hate). There's some salvation history (the darkness is passing), but no ordo salutis or conversion.
Read 9 tweets

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