Theodicy and human freedom

Demetrios S. Katos

in Palladius of Helenopolis

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199696963
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731969 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Theodicy and human freedom

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This chapter continues the books presentation on Origenist theology at the turn of the fifth century. Human freedom and divine omnipotence were two hallmarks of Origen's legacy, and this chapter demonstrates Palladius' conceptual and linguistic affinities with this ancient tradition. Palladius borrowed from Origen many key ideas concerning free will, such as the permission (sygchoresis) of evil and suffering, and the value of providential abandonment (egkataleipsis). In these respects, Palladius differed sharply from Jerome, but he closely resembled his contemporaries Evagrius, Rufinus, and Cassian, who are also briefly surveyed. Whereas Jerome believed that this theodicy presupposed pre‐existent souls and multiple creations, this chapter argues that it did not. It posits that Palladius based his ideas upon an anthropological and cosmological foundation of binaries that was indeed developed by Evagrius (in his Letter to Melania and Kephalaia Gnostica), and which remained amenable to the orthodoxy of his day.

Keywords: freedom; divine omnipotence; permission (sygchoresis); suffering; abandonment (egkataleipsis); Jerome; Evagrius; Rufinus; Cassian; theodicy

Chapter.  16164 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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