Three Wise Men from the East: The Cappadocian Fathers and the Struggle for Orthodoxy

by and Rowan Williams (foreword)

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Book Details

Rating: ★★★★

Format: Paperback (254 pages)

Publisher: Sacristy Press

Date of Publication:

ISBN: 978-1-908381-17-0

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Includes a foreword by Rowan Williams.

The Cappadocian fathers of the fourth century—Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa and Gregory Nazianzen—produced thoughts on the Trinity, the creation, the incarnation, the holistic reading of scripture and the discipline of the soul which are playing a more seminal role in Christian theology today that at any time in the last four hundred years. Too often, however, their teachings are appropriated in a piecemeal manner, with no acknowledgement of their mutual interdependence.

In this comprehensive introduction to their writings, Patrick Whitworth enables the modern reader to share their understanding of the purpose and scope of theology. At the same time, he brings before us three strong personalities, who, like the rest of us, were children of time and place, taking up the pen to address a particular audience on particular occasions. Stripping out the ruling ideas from the polemical or rhetorical dress in which they have come down to us, he shows that the insights of genius lose nothing by being translated from the exquisite opacity of the original Greek into plain but accurate English prose.

— Professor Mark Edwards, Christ Church Oxford.

Wonderfully comprehensive and clear. We are able to see the Cappadocians not as counters in the board game of controversy but as complex human figures wrestling with the challenges of internal and external crises for the Church. This will be a really welcome tool for all students of early Christianity, and excellent and accessible reading for anyone who wants to understand better the formative period of Christian teaching. It is a message that the Church of our own time should take very seriously.

Rowan Williams (from the foreword)
Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and former Archbishop of Canterbury

This trilogy constitutes a lucid and masterly overview of the patristic period in terms of its theology and historical context. … These are books that can be read and re-read with profit and also enjoyment. The writer, and those who commend these volumes, are united in their view that Christians need an accurate understanding of the significance of the Church Fathers for the life of the Church today. To succumb to cultural amnesia is not a Christian virtue, for in Christianity, a living past alone can guide and nurture a living present. This is part of what it means to believe in the Communion of Saints.

—Douglas Dales, Fairacres Chronicle, Summer 2019

About the Author

Patrick Whitworth read Modern History at Christ Church Oxford, and a Theology MA in Reformation Studies under T. H. L. Parker at Durham. He has spent over 30 years in Anglican Ministry, currently Rector of All Saints Weston Bath, Langridge and North Stoke. He is married to Olivia with four grown up children.

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