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Through the eyes of the other: what Western theologians can learn from John Zizioulas’ reading of the trinitarian theology of the Cappadocian Fathers

Shepherd, Robyn 2017. Through the eyes of the other: what Western theologians can learn from John Zizioulas’ reading of the trinitarian theology of the Cappadocian Fathers. MPhil Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This project was inspired by a perceived discrepancy between the the trinitarian theology of the Cappadocian Fathers and the theology imputed to them by Greek Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas. Alongside a lack of scholarly consensus on Cappadocian theology, there exists a broadly negative reaction to Zizioulas’ reading of Cappadocians. In spite of this, there are many who seem happy to quote his interpretation or make use of his conclusions without serious inquiry into the background and influences behind that interpretation. This leads to further confusion about the theology advocated by both Zizioulas and the Cappadocians. In order to simplify this confusing tangle of trinitarian theological ideas, this project clarifies the meaning and content of the Cappadocian category, seeking to identify both the specific Cappadocian Fathers and what, if anything, can be termed “Cappadocian theology.” Further, this project examines the historical and academic context of the theology of John Zizioulas, restates his system through a trinitarian lens, and seeks to understand his probable approach by examining the mindset of the Eastern Orthodox Church in its dealings with patristic studies and theological authority and its perceptions of the West. The project concludes that Zizioulas reads the Cappadocians from a specifically Orthodox perspective, not as authorities but as conversation partners. This approach, foreign to a western historical-critical approach, baffles many western scholars. Asking whether Zizioulas has read the Cappadocians correctly is to misunderstand the purposes behind his appeal to their theological ideas. As the Eastern Orthodox Church continues to grow in ‘exile’ in the West and increasingly interact with Western theology and scholars, it is imperative that theologians of both backgrounds communicate clearly about their assumptions and intentions in theological dialogue.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 31 May 2017
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2021 10:56

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