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Archetypal Heresy: Arianism Through the Centuries [Paperback]

Maurice Wiles

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Book Description

12 April 2001
Arianism has always been regarded as the archetypal heresy. It did affirm the divinity of Christ as the Son of God, but, unlike orthodoxy, it regarded the divinity as secondary and inferior to that of the Father, the one supreme God. Recently many scholars have presented a more positive view of the religious intentions of Arianism than has been customary in the past. Yet the Nicene Creed, which was designed explicitly to outlaw Arianism, remains one of the primary expressions of Christian orthodoxy. Maurice Wiles traces the history of how Arianism has been viewed in later Christian thought, particularly where scholars or religious groups have adopted broadly Arian views. The main example of a re-emergence of Arian ideas is among the leaders of new scientific Englightenment in the early eighteenth century, especially Sir Isaac Newton and his disciples, William Whiston and Samuel Clarke. The longest section of the book deals with how and why their beliefs took this form, and why this approach disappeared again around the end of the century. A final section considers the interaction of belief and cricital judgement in British Arian scholarship during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 214 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; New Ed edition (12 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199245916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199245918
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14 x 1.2 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,385,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book is a rarity: a work of ripe and profound scholarship that is nevertheless both concise and readable...Throughout there are comments of great insight and good sense which make the book much more than just a monograph for specialists in the history of doctrine. It is rather an important case study giving much food for thought to anyone interested in the health and the commending of Christian doctrine in our own day.

About the Author

Maurice Wiles is Regius Professor of Divinity Emeritus, University of Oxford, and past Editor of the Journal of Theological Studies.

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First Sentence
For centuries the Nicene Creed has been a distinctive feature of baptismal liturgies in the East and of eucharistic liturgies in the West. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
26 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Once and Future Arians 14 July 2003
By Kevin Freeman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is laudable in its coverage of the "original" 4th century Arianism, as well as its revival among British intellectuals in the 18th century, the most well-known being Isaac Newton. Readers interested in a thorough summary of the same substance/similar substance debate, as well as the subtle differences between an "Arian" and a "Socinian" will not be disappointed.
The work bears a strong signature of Oxfordian "ivory tower" isolation, pronouncing Arianism dead and gone, when the impetus for publication of the book probably came from the immense interest in a resurgent Arian viewpoint. Arianism simply refuses to go away.
The actual doctrine of the Trinity is a thorn in the side of modern Christianity because it is A)rather hard to grasp for those who spend their lives outside a seminary, B)not obviously supported by the New Testament narrative, C)smacks of Platonic philosophy and the "trinities" of pagan gods,and D)seems to have popped up during the Nicene period and is thus associated with many of the "errors of Constantine" and his interference in the early Christian church.
With the "bloody bishops" gone, and the political pressure of adhering to a Trinitarian creed no longer as intense as it once was, a belief gap between clergy and laity may be widening. A number of "ordinary" Christians, quizzed on their beliefs vs. various articles defining and Arian dogma might say, of course Jesus Christ is a "secondary" divine being, created by the Father for the purpose of salvation, and of course the Holy Spirit is only the active force of the Father in the world and has no personality in and of itself.
One might ask at this late date if an Arian or Trinitarian confession really matters to the continuance of the Christian community. It will be exciting to see if the "gatekeepers" one day simply scrap the Trinity concept due to lack of interest and Biblical support.
Remember, just as our ancestors fought over the "one iota" of difference between the words "homoousia" and "homioousia", without the Trinity, a Trinitarian becomes an Arian!
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Archetypel Haresy 20 Jan 2013
By joeypaul - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
It is very informayive and close to the mark. As I have a large interest in theological readings ,I would read more work by same author.
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