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The Setting in Life for The Arbiter of John Philoponus, 6th Century Alexandrian Scientist Paperback – November 1, 1997

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 173 pages
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Pub (November 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579100902
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579100902
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 6.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,528,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Rossi on August 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
John McKenna has written a very compelling study on a little known but fascinating 6th Century theologian and scientist, John Philoponus, the Grammatikos (usually translated "the Grammarian" but "the Professor" would probably be more accurate). Philoponus was embroiled in the 6th Century controversies around the incarnate nature of Christ--whether it was more correct to say Christ was of one nature (as the monophysites heretically declared) or of two natures (as the Chalcedonian or orthodox faction maintained). The difficulty was that both parties considered themselves followers of St. Cyril of Alexandria, who used the term "one nature" (mia physis) in a way that superficially sounds monophysite but actually was grounded entirely in the orthodox understanding of the hypostatic union of Divine and human natures in Christ. John Philoponus was commissioned by the Emperor Justinian to write a clarification that would unite the truths on both sides of the argument into one orthodox statement that would end the debate and bring theological peace to the Byzantine empire. The result was Philoponus' The Arbiter. Unfortunately, for his pains John was condemned by both sides, by the Chalcedonians as a monophysite, by the monophysites as a tritheist or believer in three gods. He was ultimately condemned by the 6th Ecumenical Council in 680, over 200 years after his death. Dr. McKenna's book makes a persuasive case for a positive re-evaluation of The Arbiter on its true merits in its own context. He argues that John was not a monophysite, and describes the theological and political complexities of the situation in John's time, his relationship with Justinian, why he wrote The Arbiter and how and why both sides of the debate seemed to have misunderstood him.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By zonaras on September 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
_The Setting in Life for The Arbiter of John Philoponus_ by John Emory McKenna is an odd dissertation that gives the political and theological background behind the work of a noted sixth century Alexandrian scientist. McKenna notes that Philoponus' life and background remain somewhat of a mystery. "Philoponus" literally means "Toil Lover." There is no evidence that he was married, he was widely respected for his research and scholarly enterprises and the epithet "Philoponus" may refer to a group or brotherhood of dedicated scholars and Christians to which this scientist may have been a part. He was also known as the Grammarian, or professor. As McKenna outlines, the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire was rife with conflict during the late 400s and 500s because of the "monophysite" schism between the eastern Orthodox churches which either did or did not affirm the doctrine of Christ's "two natures after the union" of the Council of Chalcedon. The problem was further compounded because of the fact that both sides anathematized against each using the authoritative writings of St. Cyril of Alexandria's Christology confirmed at the Council of Ephesus in 431 against the Nestorian heresy. The emperor Justinian was interested in somehow resolving the theological issues between the Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians with a definitive statement on Christology, making an attempt to understand of the relationship between the Divinity and humanity of Christ in terms acceptable to both sides. John Philoponus was commissioned by the emperor to accomplish this task and regrettably failed. He was disdained by the Orthodox as a monophysite and the non-Chalcedonian churches regarded him as a tri-theist because of his heavy emphasis of Christ's single, composite nature.Read more ›
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Didaskalex VINE VOICE on January 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
John Philoponus, who?
Alexandrian academy first Christian dean, John Philoponoi, the sixth century toil lover is now considered the greatest natural philosopher before Newton. He is compared only to Einstein and Maxwell by many scientists of renown. John the Grammarian was appreciated by the great physicist Huygens, father of modern light theories. Masters of Elm Alkalam, Islamic dialectic medieval philosophy has known him 'Yahya AlNahawi, utilizing his authority in their debates. No serious book on the history of Eastern Christianity or account of doctrinal theology, dare neglect him. He became recently a focal point in the interface of science with theology. In 1990, after 13 centuries, the Greek Orthodox Church lifted the unjust anathema of the sixth council in 681, on initiative of the outstanding theologian professor T. Torrance of Edinburgh.
The arbiters' Setting in life:
Many books were written about John's outstanding and original achievements in philosophy of natural science and cosmology. He was called 'the most learned man of his time.' Mckenna's thesis is unique because in spite of many particular details, and many quotations in Greek, German, and French is a condensed though thorough study, self booting, inspiring treatment of the sixth century Alexandrian scientist, exposing his Christology. (an alternative is to read the books listed at this review's end)
How to read the Book:
For a first timer encountering our marvelous Archdidaskalos, a great defender of Alexandrine Orthodox Miaphysite (united nature) and his philosophical defense of its Christology, I would follow this sequence:
a. Ch. 3, The Scientific Culture of Alexandria:
Dr. McKenna takes you in a speedy refresher of john's place of life and work, its history, civilization and wonders.
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