Products>Creation and Contingency in Early Patristic Thought: The Beginning of All Things

Creation and Contingency in Early Patristic Thought: The Beginning of All Things

  • Format:Digital


Creation and Contingency in Early Patristic Thought: The Beginning of All Things explores the interface between philosophy and theology in the development of the seminal Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo. While its main focus lies in an analysis of first to third century patristic accounts of creation, it is likewise attuned to their parallelism with Middle Platonic commentaries on Plato’s theory of cosmological origins in the Timaeus. Just as Christian thinkers sounded out the theological implications of Gn 1:1-2, the successors to Plato’s Academy debated the significance of his teaching (Tim. 28b) that the world “came to be.” The fact that both Genesis and the Timaeus address the “beginning of all things” served as a means of bridging the conceptual gap between the Greek philosophical tradition and a Christian perspective rooted in scriptural teaching. Plato’s Timaeus and the doxographies it inspired thus provided early Fathers of the Church with the dialectical resources for explicating their distinctive understanding of creation as a bringing into being from nothing.



Part I: In the Beginning: Scriptural and Platonic Perspectives

Chapter 1: A Scriptural Point of Departure

Chapter 2: Plato on Cosmological Origins

Chapter 3: Middle Platonic Responses

Part II: The Shape of Things to Come

Chapter 4: The Creation Account of Philo Judaeus

Chapter 5: Creation and Cosmos in the Apostolic Fathers

Part III: Forging the Doctrine

Chapter 6: The Christian Platonism of Justin Martyr

Chapter 7: The Christian Philosophy of Athenagoras of Athens

Chapter 8: Tatian of Syria: The ‘Stages’ of Creation

Chapter 9: Theophilus of Antioch: At the Threshold

Chapter 10: The Alexandrian School

Epilogue: Creation as ‘Beginning’



About the Author

Joseph Torchia has given us a careful and thought-provoking study of the development of the Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo. Beginning with an examination of the doctrine of creation in Scripture, where a metaphysical dimension of creation from non-being is discernable only inchoately, Torchia traces the emergence of an explicitly metaphysical doctrine within the early Church. Through dialogue with and assimilation of the Greek philosophical traditions (viz. Plato and the Middle Platonists) patristic thinkers ultimately articulated the idea that God’s role as Creator involves fundamentally an existential creation from non-being. Such a development paved the way for new and more sophisticated theological and metaphysical questions to be asked within the Christian Tradition.

Fr. Torchia’s study will be helpful and particularly illuminating for graduate students and anyone who is interested in questions regarding the development of doctrine, the relationship between Hellenistic philosophy and Christian thought, faith and reason in the Christian Tradition, and patristic metaphysics of creation (protology).

What do the earliest Greek patristic readings of the opening verses of Genesis have to do with Plato's Timaeus? For the answer, I highly recommend Torchia's excellent account.

This superbly-written work fills a void when examining the cosmogonies of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Instead of tracing the rarely-used expression 'ex nihilo,' Torchia's focusing in on the metaphysical concept of 'contingency' is brilliant, showing how Athens and Jerusalem stressed the unquestioned omnipotence of the divine and the obvious mutability of matter in different ways.

Product Details

  • Title : Creation and Contingency in Early Patristic Thought: The Beginning of All Things
  • Author: Torchia,, Joseph, O.P.
  • Publisher: Lexington Books
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • ISBN: 9781498562829

Joseph Torchia, O.P. is professor of philosophy at Providence College.


0 ratings

Sign in with your Faithlife account