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Title: Divine perfection and human potentiality : trinitarian anthropology in Hilary of Poitiers' De Trinitate
Author: Mercer, Jarred A.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5354 3404
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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No figure of fourth-century Christianity seems to be at once so well known and so clouded in mystery as Hilary of Poitiers. His work as an historian provides invaluable knowledge of the mid-fourth century, and he was praised as a theologian throughout late antiquity. Today, however, discussions of his theology are founded upon less solid ground. This is largely due to methodological issues. Modern scholarship has often read Hilary through anachronistic historical and theological categories which have rendered his thought incomprehensible. Recent scholars have sought to overcome this and to reexamine Hilary within his own historical, polemical, and theological context. Much remains to be said, however, in regard to Hilary's actual theological contribution within these contextual parameters. This thesis contends that in all of Hilary's polemical and constructive argumentation in De Trinitate, which is essentially trinitarian, he is inherently and necessarily developing an anthropology. In all he says about the divine, he is saying as much about what it means to be human. This thesis therefore seeks to reenvision Hilary's overall theological project in terms of the continual, and for him necessary, anthropological corollary of trinitarian theology-to reframe it in terms of a 'trinitarian anthropology'. My contention is that the coherence of Hilary's thought depends upon his understanding of divine-human relations. I will demonstrate this through following Hilary's main lines of trinitarian argument, out of which flows his anthropological vision. These main lines of argument, namely, divine generation, divine infinity, divine unity, the divine image, and divine humanity, each unfold into a progressive picture of humanity from potentiality to perfection. This not only provides a new paradigm for understanding Hilary's own thought, but invites us to reexamine our approach to fourth-century theology entirely, as it disavows any reading of the trinitarian controversies in conceptual abstraction. Further, theological and religious anthropology are widely discussed in contemporary scholarship, and Hilary's profound exploration of divine-human relations, and what it means to be a human being as a result, has much to offer both historical and contemporary concerns.
Supervisor: Edwards, Mark J. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Late antiquity and the Middle Ages ; Intellectual History ; Theology and Religion ; Church history ; Hilary of Poitiers ; early Christianity ; history of Christianity ; patristics ; theology ; theological anthropology ; trinity ; fourth century ; trinitarian theology