Chapter

Toward a Christian Theology of the Beginning (and End) of the World

Paul M. Blowers

in Drama of the Divine Economy

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199660414
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745980 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199660414.003.0006

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Toward a Christian Theology of the Beginning (and End) of the World

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The opening phrase of Genesis, “in the beginning,” launched a fertile tradition of christological and/or temporal interpretations of the “beginning.” Christian exegetes argued that the ontological foundation of creation was already bound up with the Word who was “in the beginning” with God (John 1:1), the same Word who would remain in the end (Rev. 22:13); on the other hand, they aimed to answer historic Greco-Roman claims about the eternity of the world. Within the analysis of the “beginning” some patristic theologians—including Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, and Maximus the Confessor, profiled here in detail—developed theories concerning “double” phases of the creation of the universe. This chapter also revisits the different reasonings behind the enduring principle of creation ex nihilo: its representation of divine omnipotence; its effectiveness in refuting the eternity of matter; and its utility in opposing the pagan cosmological axiom that “nothing comes from nothing.”

Keywords: beginning; matter; eternity of matter; Gregory of Nyssa; Augustine; Maximus the Confessor; creation ex nihilo; nothing

Chapter.  24299 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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