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Athanasius' Use of the Gospel of John

A Rhetorical Analysis of Athanasius' Orations against the Arians


The Orations against the Arians are an important landmark in the development of Christological and Trinitarian doctrine. The Orations contain extensive references to the Christian Scriptures and are steeped in rhetoric. The use of Scripture and polemical rhetoric against Athanasius’ theological opponents, the Arians, is intricately interwoven. This monograph offers a rhetorical analysis of the Orations against the Arians to demonstrate the interplay of scriptural reasoning and polemic in Athanasius’ work. In this way, Boezelman’s study provides a fresh perspective on the reception of John’s Gospel in the fourth century.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-4257-2
  • *
Publication Status: In Print
Publication Date: Apr 30,2021
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 417
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-4257-2
$144.95
Your price: $86.97

The Orations against the Arians are an important landmark in the development of Christological and Trinitarian doctrine. The Orations contain extensive references to the Christian Scriptures and are steeped in rhetoric. The use of Scripture and polemical rhetoric against Athanasius’ theological opponents, the Arians, is intricately interwoven. This monograph offers a rhetorical analysis of the Orations against the Arians to demonstrate the interplay of scriptural reasoning and polemic in Athanasius’ work. In this way, Boezelman’s study provides a fresh perspective on the reception of John’s Gospel in the fourth century.

The Orations against the Arians are an important landmark in the development of Christological and Trinitarian doctrine. The Orations contain extensive references to the Christian Scriptures and are steeped in rhetoric. The use of Scripture and polemical rhetoric against Athanasius’ theological opponents, the Arians, is intricately interwoven. This monograph offers a rhetorical analysis of the Orations against the Arians to demonstrate the interplay of scriptural reasoning and polemic in Athanasius’ work. In this way, Boezelman’s study provides a fresh perspective on the reception of John’s Gospel in the fourth century.

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ContributorBiography

Wijnand Boezelman

Wijnand Adrianus Boezelman is a lecturer at the Cornerstone Centre for Intercultural Studies, Beugen, the Netherlands. He completed his BA in Theology (2008) and MA in Theology (2010) at VU University Amsterdam. He achieved his PhD at the Protestant Theological University in Groningen (2015).

Foreword ................................................................................. xi
Preface..................................................................................... xv
Abbreviations ......................................................................... xix
Chapter One. General Introduction ........................................... 1
Athanasius’ Episcopate ...................................................... 3
Influences on Athanasius’ Episcopate ..................... 3
Athanasius’ writings and theology ........................ 11
Classical Rhetoric and paideia .......................................... 17
Key Concepts and Definitions in Classical
Rhetoric ....................................................... 19
Use of Rhetoric in Biblical Studies and
Patristics....................................................... 26
Studies on Athanasius’ Relation to Rhetoric ..................... 31
Studies on Athanasius’ Rhetorical Education ........ 31
Rhetorical Strategies Traced in Athanasius’
Work ............................................................ 37
Focus of This Research .................................................... 39
Outline of this monograph ............................................... 42
Chapter Two. Conceptual Framework ..................................... 43
The Means of Persuasion ................................................. 43
Ethos .................................................................... 44
Negative Ethos ...................................................... 50
Logos .................................................................... 56
The Christology of the Gospel of John ............................. 58
The Role of John’s Gospel in this Monograph ........ 59
The Agency and Mission of the Johannine Son ......... 62
The Johannine ‘I Am’ Statements ......................... 67

The Pre-existence of Christ in John ...................... 72
Methodological Remarks ................................................. 75
General Terminology............................................ 76
Note on the Editions and Translations .................. 76
Chapter Three. General Remarks about the Orations against the
Arians .............................................................................. 79
General Remarks about the Orations against the Arians......... 79
The Dating of the Orations .................................... 79
The Relation between Orations I-II and III ............ 81
The Genre of the Orations ..................................... 82
The Addressees of the Orations ........................................ 85
Formal Addressees ............................................... 85
Orthodox Christians ............................................. 86
‘Impartial’ Christians ............................................ 88
Arian Opponents .................................................. 89
Patristic Method of Biblical Interpretation ..................... 100
Irenaeus and Tertullian on Biblical
Interpretation against Heretics .................... 100
Athanasius on Biblical Interpretation ................. 103
Chapter Four. Analysis of Oration I ....................................... 111
CA I 1–10: Introduction to the Orations ......................... 111
CA I 11–36: Athanasius’ Rebuttal of Arian teachings ..... 125
CA I 11–13: Eternity of the Son .......................... 126
CA I 14–16: Father, Son, Spirit ........................... 131
CA I 17–21: The Trinity is Eternal and
Creator ....................................................... 134
CA I 22–36: Four Arian Questions ...................... 138
CA I 37–64: Refuting the Arian interpretation of
Scripture ............................................................... 152
CA I 37–45: Phil 2:9–10 ..................................... 153
CA I 46–52: Ps 45:7–8 ........................................ 160
CA I 54–64: Heb 1:4 ........................................... 173
Conclusion .................................................................... 180
Chapter Five. Analysis of Oration II ....................................... 183
CA II 1–11a: Heb 3:2 ..................................................... 185
CA II 11b–18a: Acts 2:36 ............................................... 188
CA II 18b–43: Prolegomena to Proverbs 8:22 ................ 195

CA II 19: The Son is Not a Creature Like
Any of the Creatures ................................... 197
CA II 20–22: The Son as Maker of Creation ........ 199
CA II 23–24: The Son Is Worshipped .................. 203
CA II 25–31: The Son Is Not an Intermediate
Being .......................................................... 205
CA II 32–40: The Father and the Word are
Inseparable ................................................. 208
CA II 41–43: Excursus on Baptism ...................... 215
CA II 44–82: Athanasius’ Exposition of Proverbs 8:22...... 218
CA II 44–52: Prv 8:22 as a Proverbial Text ......... 219
CA II 53–55: The Custom of Scripture ................ 223
CA II 56–64: The Priority of ‘Clear’ Sayings ........ 227
CA II 65–72: The Ways and the Works ............... 232
CA II 73–77: Excursus on Prv 8:23 ..................... 235
CA II 78–82: Prv 8:22 Revisited ......................... 236
Conclusion .................................................................... 239
Chapter Six. Analysis of Oration III ........................................ 241
CA III 1–25: ‘Self-evident’ Johannine Texts Discussed .... 242
CA III 1–6a: Jn 14:10 ......................................... 242
CA III 6b–9: Jn 17:3 ........................................... 251
CA III 10–16: Jn 10:30 ....................................... 255
CA III 17–25: Jn 17:11,20–23............................. 264
CA III 26–58: The Human and Divine in Jesus ............... 273
CA III 26–41: General Discussion of the
Weakness Texts ........................................... 273
CA III 42–50: Mk 13:32 ...................................... 288
CA III 50b–53: Lk 2:52 ....................................... 292
CA III 54–58a: Jesus’ Agony and Fear ................ 295
CA III 58b–67: Divine Nature versus Divine Will ........... 303
CA III 58b–59: Will and Heretical Writers .......... 304
CA III 60–63: The Son is Begotten by Nature ...... 306
CA III 64–65: The Son is the Living Will ............. 309
CA III 66–67: The Father’s Delight in the
Son ............................................................. 310
Conclusion .................................................................... 313
Chapter Seven. Conclusion .................................................... 315
Athanasius’ Use of John in the Orations ......................... 316

Athanasius’ Use of John and Negative Ethos ....... 318
Athanasius’ Use of John and Logos ..................... 320
The Selective Use of John’s Gospel in the
Orations ...................................................... 327
Evaluation ..................................................................... 329
The Purpose of the Orations ................................ 330
The Development Towards Christological
Reflection within Christianity ..................... 331
Reconciling Christian Monotheism and the
Worship of Jesus Christ .............................. 333
Bibliography ......................................................................... 337
Texts and Translations of Athanasius ............................. 337
Other ancient texts and translations .............................. 338
Secondary Sources ......................................................... 340
Indices .................................................................................. 361

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