Varieties of Neopatristics: Georges Florovsky, Vladimir Lossky, and Alexander Schmemann
Variety, Religious, History, Biblical, Synthesis
The chapter argues that the twentieth-century neopatristic theologies were not purely historical exercises, but theologically motivated enterprises. More specifically, Georges Florovsky’s ‘neopatristic synthesis’ was a response to his ‘modernist’ predecessors, such as Pavel Florensky and Sergius Bulgakov. The organizing principle of Florovsky’s neopatristics was Chalcedonian Christology. In contrast, Vladimir Lossky’s reconstruction of ‘mystical theology’ had the vision of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and Gregory Palalmas as two focal points. It is argued that Alexander Schmemann’s liturgical theology may be likewise considered as a version of neopatristic theology with the emphasis on liturgical practice, and especially the eschatological dimension of the Eucharist, as the primary locus of theologizing. Thus, neopatristic theology cannot be regarded as a monolithic entity, but as a conglomerate of distinct theological visions, each with their own methods and organizing principles, which took as their inspiration the concept of a ‘return to the Church Fathers’ and creative appropriation of patristic heritage.
The Oxford Handbook of Russian Religious Thought