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Knowledge, Language and Intellection from Origen to Gregory Nazianzen

A Selective Survey


Anna Usacheva

Epistemological theories of the patristic authors seldom attract attention of the researchers. This unfortunate status quo contrasts with a crucial place of the theory of knowledge in the thought of such prominent authors as Origen and the Cappadocian fathers. This book surveys the patristic epistemological discourse in its various settings. In the context of the Church history it revolves around the Eunomian controversy, Eunomius’ language theory and Gregory Nazianzen’s cognitive theory, where the ideas of Apostle Paul were creatively combined with the Peripatetic teaching. In the framework of Biblical exegesis, it touches upon the issues of the textual criticism of the Homeric and Jewish scholarship, which had significantly shaped Origen’s paradigm of the Biblical studies.

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I started to think about the methodology of the theological discourse according to Gregory Nazianzen when I was reading his theological orations with my students. Although I deeply yearned to explore this issue in detail and in a broad philosophical context, this intention of mine would never be realized unless Anders-Christian Jacobsen had not suggested to me to apply for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie individual fellowship for experienced researchers.1 Not only had Anders-Christian suggested this, but he even insisted and helped me throughout my fellowship. It has been an immense privilege and delight to work on this project together with Anders-Christian and the colleagues from the Department of Theology, School of Culture and Society, at the University of Aarhus.

I wish to particularly thank Jakob Engberg and the Centre for the Study of Antiquity and Christianity and René Falkenberg and the New Testament research unit for the enlightening and thorough academic discussions and friendly support.

My especial and profound gratitude to René for his instructive critique, bright suggestions, fascinating discussions and an unmeasurable amount of help with the improvement of my thoughts and texts. I am sincerely grateful to Karla Pollmann and Tobias Georges for the time they spent on reading my texts and providing me with their precious and illuminating suggestions. A critial reading of my work by Jörg Ulrich proved to be immensely helpful and enriching in various ways. Jörg encouraged me to ameliorate my book at the final stage...

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