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Theophilus of Alexandria

2018-01-09 09:41:00

Theophilus of Alexandria

The Early Church Fathers

Norman Russell, author


Theophilus of Alexandria by Norman Russell (hereafter R.) is a valuable addition to The Early Church Fathers series published by Routledge. Each volume in this series focuses on a specific church father, combining a biographical sketch with a sampling of representative texts in translation, and R.'s book offers a useful introduction to an important but neglected figure in patristic studies. Bishop Theophilus is perhaps best known for his association with the destruction of the Serapeum in Alexandria, his involvement in the Origenist Controversy of the late fourth century, and his role in the deposition of John Chrysostom at the Synod of the Oak in 403. In general, the primary sources have not been kind to him, and they have created a lasting impression, even to this day, of a manipulative, temperamental, and ruthless man. R. challenges this characterization, and from the onset he aspires 'to be fairer to Theophilus' (3). While overcoming centuries of negative press might ultimately prove impossible, R. does succeed at least in presenting the more revered side of Theophilus, particularly through his translations of letters and sermons (some of which were previously unavailable in English).


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