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The Ecclesiology of Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov)

ALDEA, LEONARD-DANIEL (2014) The Ecclesiology of Archimandrite Sophrony (Sakharov). Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The present thesis is a critical study of Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov's ecclesiology. Its central claim is that Archim. Sophrony, a twentieth century Russian ascetic and theologian, understands the Church as a created-uncreated Being, which is hypostatizable, soborny, and sophiological.

Archim Sophrony’s theology stems from the idea of theosis, understood as the ontological meeting ‘ground’ between God and Man, which was the primary concern of most Russian theologians of the time. However, the differences of perspective among these theologians led to a variety of ways in which theosis is approached and defined. For Archim Sophrony, a theology of theosis needs to look first at the question regarding the simultaneous difference and identity between Divinity and Man. This exclusive concern with the ontological in-between, where God and Man become One Being, is the common concern of a series of other contemporary Russian theologians, most notably Fr Sergii Bulgakov, whose formative influence on Archim. Sophrony's thought will also be looked at in the present thesis.

Archim. Sophrony addresses the question of theosis by developing a highly creative system of interpretations around the concept of Divine image, founded on the theologies of St Gregory Palamas and Fr Sergii Bulgakov. Thus, he distinguishes between three moments of human existence: essence, energy and hypostaticity, which reflect the three Divine modes of existence. Consequently, Archim. Sophrony makes three central ecclesiological statements: (1) that the Being of the Church is hypostatical; (2) that it is soborny; and (3) that it enters a special ontological relationship with the Divine Being which allows for the simultaneous absolute distinction and absolute identity of the two Beings. These three ecclesiological statements represent the three main claims of our research, and also generate the structure of the present thesis.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2014
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Jul 2014 12:05

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