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Title: Repentance in Christian late antiquity, with special reference to Mark the Monk, Barsanuphius and John of Gaza, and John Climacus
Author: Torrance, Alexis
ISNI:       0000 0004 2698 8774
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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From its beginnings, Christianity has been fundamentally conditioned by the idea of repentance. However, while the institutional practice of repentance in the early Christian world has received much scholarly attention, relatively little exists which deals with the development and applications of the wider concept (of which its institutional aspect is only a part). The purpose of this dissertation is to provide both a re-assessment and a re-framing of this foundational concept of repentance in Christian late antiquity, with special reference to formative Greek monastic sources from the fifth to seventh centuries. Following a discussion of scholarship, terms, and methodology in chapter one, the question of defining repentance in the Greek patristic world is addressed in chapter two, looking first at the major sources for later approaches (the Septuagint, the New Testament, and Classical/Hellenistic texts). A significant re-appraisal of the dominant scholarly narrative of repentance in the early church will be offered in the following chapter, making way for a close study of the chosen monastic authors: Mark the Monk, Barsanuphius and John of Gaza, and John Climacus in turn. A threefold framework whereby their respective approaches to repentance can be understood in their integrity and diversity will be suggested, involving 1) initial or 'cognisant' repentance, in which the sinner recognizes his or her fallen state and turns it heavenward; 2) 'existential' repentance, which involves the living out of repentance as a way of life, governing all the Christian's actions and intentions; 3) 'Christ-like' repentance, which serves as the summit and ultimate goal of the Christian's personal repentance, whereby the loving and sacrificial 'repentance' of Christ for others and the world at large is assimilated and worked out in the Christian's own life. It will be argued that this framework provides a new and significant hermeneutical lens through which not simply the early Christian concept of repentance in itself can be better understood, but also through which the development of early Christian self-identity and self-perception, particularly in an ascetic context, can be gauged.
Supervisor: Baun, Jane Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Theology and Religion ; Church history ; Christianity and Christian spirituality ; repentance ; penance ; asceticism ; Christian late antiquity ; Mark the Monk ; Barsanuphius and John of Gaza ; John Climacus