Foucault and the Practice of Patristics

In Markus Vinzent (ed.), Studia Patristica LXII. Peeters (2013)

David Newheiser
Australian Catholic University
This paper argues that, among the many ways in which the work of Michel Foucault may usefully contribute to the field of Patristics, his attention to the invention of concepts represents a valuable corrective to the tendency to read ancient texts through the lens of later settlements. The temptation to construe the history of doctrine as an harmonious process of development is frequently motivated by the conviction that tradition represents a sort of continuity; in response, Foucault's method helps to clarify the ruptures involved as new ways of thinking emerge. Taking the debate concerning the Nicene homoousion as an example, I aim to show that Athanasius's interpretation of Nicaea represents a genuine novelty despite his own claim to represent a univocal tradition.
Keywords Foucault  philosophy of religion  philosophy of history  continental philosophy  critical theory
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