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Arius: Heresy and Tradition Paperback – January 24, 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
Arianism is, historically speaking, one of the major heresies of the ancient church. It has remained an attractive tendency in theologians ever since the time of Arius in the third and fourth centuries. In brief, the heresy of Arius was that Jesus as the Son of God was not co-eternal of God the Father, that the Father and the Son were not of the same substance (ousia), and that Jesus was a created being. These issues are all addressed contra Arius in the Nicene Creed, which has as part of its construction 'of one being with the Father', 'begotten, not made', and other constructions intentionally directed against Arianism.
Williams' thesis, however, presents a different pictrue from that of the typical 'heretic'. Arius, according to Williams, was in fact a theological conservative wrongly portrayed as a rebel. Williams' first chapter traces images of Arianism in scholarship, from the early John Henry Newman in the 1830s through Harnack, Gwatkin, Elliger, and later scholars too numerous to mention - 'The post-war period has been astonishingly fertile in Arius scholarship,' Williams writes. This has ceased to be as polemical and has become more analytical in nature, 'though the shadow of Arianism-as-Other still haunts modern discussion.'
This is both an historical and a theological text. Theology is not divorced from history or the context in which it is formed. 'Orthodoxy continues to be made,' Williams states.Read more ›
To broadly summarize, the controversy was about the nature of Jesus: One group fo early Christians held that his is nature divine; Arius (and others, primarily from Alexandria and North Africa) believed that only God was divine, and that therefore Jesus' nature was human, and there was a time when Jesus (since he is human) did not exist. The controversey was ultimately resolved through the Council of Nicea (hence the "Nicene Creed" Christians recite during their services), and Arius was proclaimed a heretic.
The greatest challenge I had was following the historical background to the controversey - I simply didn't have the historical fluency to follow the divisions and politicing with Christendom at the time. Once Williams began to explain the controversy in detail, however, things began to fall into place, and (with some looking up of specific passages of Scripture) I was able to understand the basis of Arius' position.
I recommend the book, but with some reservations - Williams, apparently is writing for fellow theologians or historians of the early Church. For this audience, I highly recommend it. For the general historian (such as myself), it certainly provided much useful insight and detail into a critical matter of theological interpretation - in which case I do recommend. For the lay reader, however, it may be a bit "technical."
Williams has done a great service to the scholarly community; by providing an alternate way to reevaluate our thoughts on Arius. Although, I do not embrace his view, but I feel that his arguments are compelling and well presented.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A difficult read, even more so as I have no Greek and very little Latin.
The dynamics and politics of both the early Church and late Empire are interesting and somewhat... Read more
The author did a lot of valuable work, specially considering the scarce original information.
Good for readers interested in theology, specially Christian.
Being faithful to church teachings does not mean merely chanting former slogans, but critically receiving the church’s witness and faithfully putting it into a new context in... Read morePublished on January 14, 2014 by Jacob
This is probably the best book I have ever read, but I must warn that it's not easy reading - you wouldn't want it to be.. Read morePublished on September 6, 2013 by Thomas Thornton
Arius heresy centered around Jesus humanity, his being human, not divine. This is important to me because moslems make the same claim, citing documents in the Arian tradition. Read morePublished on January 28, 2013 by David Rasch
I came to Rowan Williams' book after first reading a novel titled Arius written by John Rather. I wanted to know more about how historians and theologians view the life of Arius... Read morePublished on June 10, 2012 by S. A. C.
If I credit Rowan Williams' work with 1 star only, this is not as an appreciation of the quality of his scholarship, but rather as an appreciation of its ethical dimension. Read morePublished on June 16, 2009 by Sorbonne
I have to admit that it was random chance that led me to this book. I have a company called Arius3D which was named after a concept. Read morePublished on July 7, 2005 by The Lone Voice