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Orthodoxy and heresy in early Christianity

Class at Hussite Theological Faculty |


The annotation of the seminar includes two basic course focus frameworks, from which the doctoral student chooses upon consultation with his or her supervisor. Within the chosen focus, the specific topic of the seminar will be specified, taking into account the ISP of the student, or the topic of his or her dissertation, and the current state of research of the given problems (new monograph, monothematic issue of the relevant periodical, etc.). Therefore, the annotation characterizes only the basic outline of partial areas of focus and informs about the general framework from which one specific problem is chosen for a specific semester. The course is organized in the form of active participation by doctoral students. Doctoral students take responsibility for partial topics, supervise, and correct the reading of a given section of the work and its interpretation, and moderate the discussion. The connecting framework of both directions is the issue of the formation of orthodoxy.

A) In the course, students study the relationship between (proto) orthodox (“majority”) Christianity and Gnostic interpretations of Christianity, primarily with a focus on the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The heresiological works of Justina,

Irenaeus and Tertullian are thematized here as strategies of self-definition by defining oneself compared to someone else. The course not only follows the strategies used by the hereseologists of the “majority church”, but also focuses on the controversy of the Gnostics against the majority church. Attention is focused not only on the educational, but also on the ritual and social aspects. The original context (on the subject level) and the analytical contribution (on the metalanguage level) of the terms gnosis and (proto) orthodoxy are reflected. The annotation characterizes only the basic outline of the course, informs about the general framework from which one partial problem is chosen for a specific semester, on which the whole course focuses.

Selection of topics:

- Gnosis - Christian or non-Christian?

- The importance of practice in hereseological texts

- Sethian gnosis and Christianity

- Heresiologists and their catalogues

- Bauer’s “Orthodoxy and Heresy” in contemporary discussions

- Marcion as a Gnostic?

- Gnostics as self-designation

- Valentine’s gnosis

B) The subject deals with the origin and formation of Christological titles in early Christianity. They observe how titles distant from Greek philosophical thought in early Christianity receded into the background and how some

Greek philosophical concepts were transformed into Christological titles. The use of titles in early Christianity points to pre-conciliar Eastern and Western creeds, liturgical texts, and reflections on early Christian authors.

Selection of topics:

- Christological titles in the context of the New Testament

- The first Christological formulas and acclamation

- Christological titles in the pre-conciliar Eastern creeds

- Christological titles in the pre-conciliar Western creeds

- The meaning of the Logo in the context of Greek philosophy

- The meaning of the Logo for apologetics

- The question of the embodiment of the Logo as a central Christological problem