Communion and Being: Re-thinking Ontology and Morality with John Zizioulas

Wright, Charles Daniel, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Hart, Kevin, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
Guroian, Vigen, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

This project is an appreciative yet critical extension of John Zizioulas’s theological system. Zizioulas has constructed an ingenious synthesis of patristic and philosophical insights. Nonetheless, commentators are right to suggest that his system devalues the ascetical and ethical aspects of the Christian tradition. The fault in not in his system itself, however. In fact, the system, properly expounded, demands a robust ascetical and moral theology. The problem is that while Zizioulas sets forth an innovative framework for differentiating two separate ontologies—two different definitions of “being”—he effectively re-confuses them, building his theology on an equivocal and inconsistent ontology. The following chapters offer an interpretation of Zizioulas’s theological system for the purpose of (1) providing a coherent account of his dual-ontology and (2) expounding the implicit ethical aspect of his theological system. In consequence of these two objectives, I also uncover a more nuanced way of differentiating Eastern and Western ways of theology which opens new possibilities for ecumenical encounter.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Eastern Orthodox theology, neo-patristic theology, ontology, ethics, repentance
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