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Irenaeus of Lyons and the Theology of the Holy Spirit

Irenaeus of Lyons and the Theology of the Holy Spirit
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US$ 124.99
Irenaeus' theology of the Holy Spirit is often highly regarded amongst theologians

today, but that regard is not universal, nor has an adequate volume of literature

supported it. This study provides a detailed examination of certain principal, often

distinctive, aspects of Irenaeus' pneumatology. In contrast to those who have

suggested Irenaeus held a weak conception of the person and work of the Holy Spirit,

Anthony Briggman demonstrates that Irenaeus combined Second Temple Jewishtraditions

of the spirit with New Testament theology to produce the most complex

Jewish-Christian pneumatology of the early church. In so doing, Irenaeus moved

beyond his contemporaries by being the first author, following the New Testament

writings, to construct a theological account in whichbinitarian logic did not

diminish either the identity or activity of the Holy Spirit. That is to say, he was

the first to support his Trinitarian convictions by means of Trinitarian

logic.Briggman advances the narrative that locates early Christian pneumatologies in

the context of Jewish traditions regarding the spirit. In particular, he argues that

the appropriation and repudiation of Second Temple Jewish forms of thought explain

three moments in the development of Christian theology. First, the existence of a

rudimentary pneumatology correlating to the earliest stage of Trinitarian theology

in which a Trinitarian confession is accompanied by binitarian orientation/logic,

suchas in the thought of Justin Martyr. Second, the development of a sophisticated

pneumatology correlating to a mature second century Trinitarian theology in which a

Trinitarian confession is accompanied by Trinitarian logic. This second moment is

visible in Irenaeus' thought, which eschewed Jewishtraditions that often hindered

theological accounts of his near contemporaries, such as Justin, while adopting and

adapting Jewish traditions that enabled him to strengthen and clarify his own

understanding of the Holy Spirit. Third, the return to a rudimentary account of the

Spirit at the turn of the third century when theologians such as Tertullian, Origen,

and Novatian repudiated Jewish traditions integral to Irenaeus' account of the Holy


Oxford University Press; January 2012
264 pages; ISBN 9780191629679
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