18 January 2019
This book considers the interactions between Cyprian and the five bishops of Rome during the ten years he was bishop of Carthage (249-258) as revealed in his letters and argues that this is more revealing than the theory to be found in De unitate. The conclusion reached is that Cyprian did not regard Rome as having jurisdiction outside its own provincia, although it had enormous influence.
Simply put, sinners by nature or sinners by choice are the traditional positions of Western and (Near) Eastern branches of the Church. John Chrysostom, an early fifth century Bishop of Constantinople, took the latter position. Having gained a basic anthropology from his training in the Greek paideia, he understood the mindset (γνώμη) to be the centre of responsibility of the person. Repeatedly in his homilies, the γνώμη is held responsible for sin in action, thought, and intention. The mindset evaluates passions and thoughts, and then directs the προαίρεσις (the moral choice) towards the end decided by the γνώμη. The γνώμη, a store of deliberated attitudes, is the very lodging-place of sin in the psyche. Chrysostom, holding our basic nature to be unchangeable, found in the γνώμη, a faculty of the soul distinct from nature, a citadel of sin needing to be overcome by the power of the Gospel. Then the person with a renewed mindset sets about shaping it to be conformed to the image of Christ.
Volumes 11 and 15 of the Early Christian Studies Series are now back in print. Order your copy at the SCD Press Shop.