Harri Huovinen: Images of Divine Participation (SPF 18)

Harri Huovinen,
Images of Divine Participation: A Reappraisal of Fourth Century Views on Church Membership
Studia Patristica Fennica 18, 2022 (224 pages)



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This dissertation investigates the nature and significance of church membership in the metaphorical rhetoric of three mid-to-late fourth century ecclesiastical authors, Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil of Caesarea, and John Chrysostom. First, the study argues that the authors depict the nature and significance of church membership not only by means of the traditional metaphors of the church, but also by utilizing therapeutic, illuminatory and martial imageries.

Secondly, the authors’ use of ecclesial imagery reveals a dual approach to church membership. On the one hand, they adhere to the traditional dichotomy between members and non-members. On the other hand membership is attained progressively, in a gradual process, the partakers of which are not easily classifiable into these two categories.

The comparative analysis of these approaches provides unprecedented evidence of the ecclesiological import of the pre-baptismal process of initiation. It also elucidates the authors’ views of the importance of church membership both for individual members and for the ecclesial community. Furthermore, some implications of these findings for contemporary ecclesiology and ecumenism are proposed.

ISBN: 978-952-69567-8-7
ISSN: 2341-7447 Studia Patristica Fennica

Harri Huovinen earned a ThD in Systematic Theology and Patristics at the University of Eastern Finland in December 2022.