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Durham e-Theses
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Divine abandonment of Christ and the soul in Byzantine exegesis and ascetic literature

Bartzis, Evaggelos (2008) Divine abandonment of Christ and the soul in Byzantine exegesis and ascetic literature. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis examines the role that the motif of divine abandonment played in the exegetical and ascetical literature of late antiquity. Divine abandonment of the soul was an integral part of the spiritual life. Its "normativeness" was related to the notion of divine paideia: God instructed the soul by abandoning the soul to ethical trials. This paideia had eschatological implications: divine abandonment highlighted the eschatological orientation of the Christian faith. Divine abandonment of Christ, however, is treated in Christological, rather than ascetical, terms. The experience of abandonment by the ascetics was not based on a "Christ-like" ethical model: Christ's abandonment was only connected to the ascetical abandonment within the scope of divine providence. The first part introduces the Patristic exegesis on the Song of Songs. It shows that Patristic exegesis related divine abandonment of the soul to ethical trials and highlights the role of the motif as part of divine paideia that leads the soul to an eschatological ethical perfection. The second part discusses Christ's abandonment on the cross, which Patristic literature handled with a certain hesitancy, even uncertainty. The last part examines the ascetical tradition. The motif illustrated God’s providential care for the ascetic soul where God remedied the soul's weakness and led her to the ethical fulfilment in the eschaton. This part also addresses the subtle way in which ascetical literature envisaged Christ as a spiritual model. The conclusion that this thesis draws is that it is within the theological framework of divine paideia and eschatology that the Patristic literature understood the notion of divine abandonment. Furthermore, it suggests that it is in this framework of their common tradition that the Eastern and Western spiritual traditions might mutually approach and understand each other.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2008
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:33

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