If you needed a gift idea for me…

So, because I know my loyal readers (both of them) are desperately wondering what in the world to get the man who always seems to buy everything well in advance of his birthday and/or Christmas, or are looking for a late nameday gift, I thought I’d pass this on:

The Case Against Diodore and Theodore: Texts and Their Contexts, edited with a translation and a historical and theological introduction by John Behr.

This is a landmark work, providing the first complete collection of the remaining excerpts from the writings of Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia together with a ground-breaking study of the controversy regarding the person of Christ that raged from the fourth to the sixth century, and which still divides the Christian Church. Destroyed after their condemnation, all that remains of the dogmatic writings of Diodore and Theodore are the passages quoted by their supporters and opponents. John Behr brings together all these excerpts, from the time of Theodore’s death until his condemnation at the Second Council of Constantinople (553) – including newly-edited Syriac texts (from florilegium in Cod. Add. 12156, and the fragmentary remains of Theodore’s On the Incarnation in Cod. Add. 14669) and many translated for the first time – and examines their interrelationship, to determine who was borrowing from whom, locating the source of the polemic with Cyril of Alexandria.

On the basis of this textual work, Behr presents a historical and theological analysis that completely revises the picture of these ‘Antiochenes’ and the controversy regarding them. Twentieth-century scholarship often found these two ‘Antiochenes’ sympathetic characters for their aversion to allegory and their concern for the ‘historical Jesus’, and regarded their condemnation as an unfortunate incident motivated by desire for retaliation amidst ‘Neo-Chalcedonian’ advances in Christology. This study shows how, grounded in the ecclesial and theological strife that had already beset Antioch for over a century, Diodore and Theodore, in opposition to Julian the Apostate and Apollinarius, were led to separate the New Testament from the Old and ‘the man’ from the Word of God, resulting in a very limited understanding of Incarnation and circumscribing the importance of the Passion. The result is a comprehensive and cogent account of the controversy, both Christological and exegetical together, of the early fifth century, the way it stemmed from earlier tensions and continued through the Councils of Ephesus, Chalcedon, and Constantinople II.

About the Author

Fr John Behr is the Dean of St Vladimir’s Seminary and Professor of Patristics, teaching courses in patristics, dogmatics and scriptural exegesis at the seminary, and also at Fordham University, where he is the Distinguished Lecturer in Patristics.

His early work was on issues of asceticism and anthropology, focusing on St Irenaeus of Lyons and Clement of Alexandria. After spending almost a decade in the second century, Fr John began the publication of a series on the Formation of Christian Theology, and has now reached the fifth and sixth centuries. He has recently completed an edition and translation of, and introduction to, the remaining texts of Diodore of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia. He has also published a synthetic presentation of the theology of the early centuries, focused on the mystery of Christ.

If, perhaps, you’re looking for something a little less spendy, the book on Ss. Irenaeus and Clement would also work. There’s also the amusing anecdote in which I see somebody whom I think might be an usher at a Broadway musical who actually turns out to be Fr. John Behr (to whom I’m still quite grateful for his encouragement, I might add, even if I didn’t wind up going to St. Vlad’s and even if I decided to not go with his more specific research-related questions… yet).

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