Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century

Feast of St Ambrose, Bishop of Milan
Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century by Carolinne White

White__Xian_Friendship_in_4th_Cent.jpgDRAWING from her extensive research and translation of the early Church Fathers, Carolinne White has constructed an accessible, possibly seminal, study of friendship and its development in one of the most formative centuries of Christendom. This richly academic volume builds on the classical understanding of friendship and its subsequent synthesis within the body of the early Church as a sacramental means toward salvation. By gathering the letters and theological writings of many of the great Christian thinkers of the fourth century—Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, John Chrysostom, Jerome and Augustine—Ms. White gleans valuable insight into the sustenance friendship yielded during a period of both heretical and pagan influence within the Church. Of notable interest are the chapters discussing the friendship between Chrysostom and the deaconess Olympias and the discussion of the practical arena monasticism provided in working out the daily particulars. Though we might be surprised how often these writers reveal their belief in the superiority of an exclusive, mutual love, our objections might be quieted upon reading Gregory of Nazianzus's description of his friendship with Basil: "We had all things in common and a single soul, as it were, bound together our two distinct bodies. But above all it was God, of course, and a mutual desire for higher things, that drew us to each other. As a result we reached such a pitch of confidence that we revealed the depths of our hearts, becoming ever more united in our yearning."

274 pp. paper $49.95

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