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Hellenism and Christianity

The conflict between hellenic and christian wisdom in the contra galilaeos of julian the apostate and the contra julianum of st. cyril of Alexandria

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pp. 468, Roma
data stampa: 1978
codice isbn: 978887652181

From the general introduction: Three Fathers of the Church produced Christian apologies in the first half of the fifth century. At the same time as St. Augustine was completing the last books of the Civitas Dei, Theodoret, the future bishop of Cyrrhus, was writing ms Graecarum Affectionum Curatio. A short time later, St. Cyril of Alexandria began to circulate the Contra Julianum, the detailed refutation of the Contra Galilaeos of Julian, the Apostate.
While the first two major defenses of the Christian faith of this period have been subjected to the exigencies of modern scholarship, interest in St. Cyril's polemic against the Emperor Julian has been largely marginal. Scholars have been principally attracted to the Contra Julianum until the present because of fragments of the Contra Galilaeos and passages of the writings of other ancient authors that it has preserved. The Contra Julianum, moreover, has been consulted in so far as it offers pertinent material for those investigating some particular aspect of Cyrillian thought. But the Contra Julianum has yet to receive a complete examination in its own right in order to discover exactly what was St. Cyril's apologetic methodology and to assess ms originality and indebtedness to others.
The analysis of the Contra Julianum, however, can do more than just fill in a lacuna in Cyrillian studies. Since it also is the unique source for the fragments of Julian's Contra Galilaeos, the analysis of the Contra Julianum affords the opportunity to observe at close hand the struggle between the representatives of two different mentalities that shared the same language and culture. The attentive reading both of the Contra Galilaeos and the Contra Julianum can then provide a possible access into Julian's and St. Cyril's literary and intellectual world. This entrance into their respective worlds, of course, allows a glimpse into the wider world that they typically represent. The careful study of the Contra Galilaeos can then be an introduction into the thinking of those who were committed to the revival of Hellenism in the second half of the fourth century and into the mentality of the Christian theologian in Alexandria at the first half of the fifth century. But perhaps the research into this attack on Christianity by Julian and the attack on Hellenism by St. Cyril can do more. Beneath the intellectual categories and moral ideals proposed by Hellenism, there had to be something that motivated Julian to adhere to this faith and at the same time to abhor those whom he called the Galileans. And beyond his intellectual admiration for the theological system and moral purity of the Christian life, St. Cyril must have been attracted to Christianity because of something special to make him react so strenuously to Julian's attack and impel him to combat so violently Julian's new belier. Perhaps the study of these two writings will yield the reasons why these two were men very committed to their respective faiths.

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