The Practical Christology of Philoxenos of Mabbug by David A. Michelson

By David A. Michelson

Philoxenos of Mabbug (c. 440-523) was once a prolific late-antique theologian and polemicist who produced the most important literary corpus to have survived in Syriac. He earned a name because the best Syriac opponent of the Council of Chalcedon (451) and its two-nature Christology. In The Practical Christology of Philoxenos of Mabbug, David A. Michelson bargains a brand new interpretation of Philoxenos' one-nature Christology through reading the post-Chalcedonian doctrinal disputes via a holistic research of Philoxenos' lifestyles and works. Michelson's exploration of the total Philoxenian corpus finds a miaphysite standpoint at the Christological controversies within which the highbrow conflict was once no longer basically over defining doctrine. As a metropolitan bishop, sponsor of a revised New testomony, and monastic theologian, Philoxenos was once mostly all for issues of Christian praxis and the ascetic pursuit of divine wisdom. This publication exhibits how he adversarial Chalcedonian Christology simply because he was once confident its 'intellectual' theological approach used to be inimical to the paranormal pursuit of divine wisdom via liturgical and ascetic perform. Philoxenos' polemical engagement drew upon a theological epistemology that he had tailored from late-Nicene theologians together with Ephrem, the Cappadocians, and Evagrius. Philoxenos argued that divine wisdom used to be to not be completed via human knowing or doctrinal inquiry. as an alternative, real divine wisdom used to be attained via perform, in particular contemplation, interpreting of scripture, participation within the liturgical mysteries, and ascetic self-discipline. Michelson considers every one of those practices in flip to teach how Philoxenos contextualized competition to Chalcedon as a part of a bigger imaginative and prescient of ascetic and religious fight. in brief, for Philoxenos the doctrinally recondite clash over Christology was once most efficient a pragmatic subject.

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1 —Letter to the Monks of Senun (written after 519) Stinging defeat marks many of the writings which survive from Philoxenos’ exile in 519. The passage above from the Letter to the Monks of Senun reveals yet another aspect to Philoxenos’ lament—the human costs of the controversy. In spite of his efforts as a bishop to ordain clergy and strengthen monastic communities, his former ecclesiastical constituents had swiftly abandoned the miaphysite side when it became impolitic. His bitter words from exile reveal the importance to Philoxenos of the human aspect of the doctrinal conflicts over 1 Philoxenos of Mabbug, Letter to the Monks of Senun (CSCO 231), 80–4.

Lettre aux moines d’orient,” ed. and trans. André de Halleux, Le Muséon 76 (1963): 5–26; Philoxenos of Mabbug, Letter to Simeon, Abbot of Tell ʿAda, published as “Textes inédits de Philoxène de Mabboug,” ed. and trans. J. Lebon, Le Muséon 43, 1‒2 (1930): 150–220. 49 Unfortunately, they are preserved primarily in catenae and florilegia rather than in their entirety. 51 Having played the many roles of experienced bishop, proven monastic leader, rigorous theologian, learned exegete, prolific polemicist, and would-be imperial counselor in these periods, Philoxenos’ theological agenda was tightly interwoven with his vision of Christian practice and community.

Irfan Shahîd, Subsidia Hagiographica 49 (Bruxelles: Soc. des Bollandistes, 1971), vi. 41 De Halleux, Philoxène de Mabbog: Sa vie, 78. 42 Philoxenos of Mabbug, Commentary on the Prologue of John, published as Commentaire du prologue johannique (Ms. Br. Mus. Add. 14,534), texte, ed. André de Halleux, CSCO 380 (Leuven: Secrétariat du CorpusSCO, 1977); Philoxenos of Mabbug, Commentary on Matthew and Luke, published as Fragments of the Commentary on Matthew and Luke (Text), ed. J.  Watt, CSCO 392 (Leuven: Secrétariat du CorpusSCO, 1978).

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