Chapter

Defining Repentance in the Greek Patristic World, Part II: Repentance in the Early Church (a Re‐assessment)

Alexis Torrance

in Repentance in Late Antiquity

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199665365
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745065 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665365.003.0004

Series: Oxford Theology and Religion Monographs

Defining Repentance in the Greek Patristic World, Part II: Repentance in the Early Church (a Re‐assessment)

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The development of repentance in the early church up to the fifth century has been an area dominated by discussion of the rise of penitential discipline. The prevailing narrative of this rise is presented, before suggestions are offered for its improvement or reassessment. Five major re-evaluations are proposed, involving: 1) repentance as a multi-layered concept in early Christian and patristic texts; 2) the nature of the single post-baptismal repentance; 3) Tertullian’s and Novatianist views of repentance as anomalous; 4) the pivotal role of monasticism in the development of repentance; 5) the early integration of monastic and institutional ideals of repentance (with special reference to John Chrysostom). This broad-stroked reassessment is given in order to set the stage for the ascetic authors to follow, as well as to encourage scholarly discussion of the merits and pitfalls of the dominant understanding of repentance in the early church.

Keywords: early church; patristics; post-baptismal repentance; penance; Tertullian; Novatian; monasticism; John Chrysostom

Chapter.  9927 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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