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Tradition and Theology in St John Cassian$
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A. M. C. Casiday

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199297184

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199297184.001.0001

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Monastic theology in fifth‐century southern Gaul

Monastic theology in fifth‐century southern Gaul

(p.16) 1 Monastic theology in fifth‐century southern Gaul
Tradition and Theology in St John Cassian

A. M. C. Casiday

Oxford University Press

This chapter revisits the classic (and enormously influential) argument for Cassian's incompetence — Prosper's Against the Conferencer — and finds it seriously and irredeemably defective. It advances an alternative strategy for reading Cassian: presenting him as a fifth-century monastic theologian, whose understanding of, approach to, and account of Christian redemption are permeated by the concerns, experiences, and perspectives that were his as a monk. As a monastic theologian, Cassian is compared to other monks whose theological writings have come down to us, not least Augustine of Hippo and the ‘Provençal Masters’. This interpretation of Cassian resists the temptation of anachronism that contrasts the monk-theologians of Gaul to the bishop-theologian of Africa against the backdrop of Prosper's robust Augustinianism. This chapter is important not least for debunking the recrudescent belief that monks were predisposed to squeamishness about Augustine's writings and that ‘Semipelagianism’ represented a realistic, ascetically informed working doctrine of the balance of grace and freedom in the Christian life.

Keywords:   Semipelagianism, Prosper, Against the Conferencer, Augustine of Hippo

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