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Arius: Heresy and Tradition

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  61 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
Arius is widely considered to be Rowan Williams's magnum opus. Long out of print and never before available in paperback, it has been newly revised. This expanded and updated edition marks a major publishing event.

Arianism has been called the "archetypal Christian heresy" because it denies the divinity of Christ. In his masterly examination of Arianism, Rowan Williams arg
Paperback, 392 pages
Published January 24th 2002 by Eerdmans (first published September 1st 2001)
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Jacob Aitken

Being faithful to church teachings does not mean merely chanting former slogans, but critically receiving the church’s witness and faithfully putting it into a new context in response to a new crisis. Rowan Williams has cogently suggested that we saw such a handling of philosophical issues in the Nicene crisis (Williams 2002). According to Williams’ reading, Arius conservatively employed a number of respected (if pagan) philosophical traditions which compromised the biblical narrative of the Son
Mar 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, philosophy
The Archbishop's book takes Arius seriously as a theologian and philosopher, and examines his history and the context in which he worked. His history is painstakingly elucidated from the few surviving pre-Nicene documents, but the actual council seems to get kind of a short shrift.

But that's because the meat of the book is about Arius's theology and Arius's context. The theology is, again, painstakingly recreated, from the few passages we have, mostly from Athanasius's posthumous attacks on Ariu
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I can see why this book is considered by many to be Rowan Williams' magnum opus: this book is without a doubt the most comprehensive study of Arius and the Christological controversy of the 4th century that bears his name that I have ever seen, or, truthfully, that I can imagine. Williams begins by recapitulating the sum of Arius scholarship throughout the last two hundred years, and then proceeds to retrace the biography and history of Arius and his writings in as much as is possible (a formida ...more
Joseph Rizzo
Jan 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Those who know ancient Greek and Latin will do much better at processing this book than I did. I thoroughly enjoyed it though, and there is still much to learn from the English in the book, but the writing is very academic. You will come away with a greater understanding of the trinitarian issues especially encountered in 4th century, and a better understanding of broader church history. Much time is spent on the theology of Origen, and the Alexandrian school for example. In my opinion, there is ...more
C Lucas
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
It feels arrogant to give only four stars to one of my favorite contemporary theologians. But this monograph is more difficult than need be because its layout is backward (a nicer way to say, read linearly, many readers likely won't go past the intro or first section, as was the case with my priest). After fighting to find a thesis, I re-started reading this work, beginning in the middle, continuing to the end, then going back to the beginning; read like this, it made far more sense because it s ...more
Jacob O'connor
Nov 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Arius is the archetypical heretic. He was brilliant, and he came at the perfect time in church history to shake things up. The Church was wrestling with just who Jesus was. Was He a created subordinate to God, or was He God incarnate?

There’re a few interesting things about Arius. For one, he was no slouch. He would beat many of us in a debate. Also, he meant well. This was no villian from a Disney cartoon, complete with flaring nostrils and bruise-colored cape. He held his positions in an hones
Joseph Sverker
This book is not for the average reader. I fully agree with Jim Holton. HAving said that there are of course deep insights and Williams treats Arius as a theologian in his own right, as far as that is possible. It is only at the end in the post script that he brings in Athanathius in any substantial way. I didn't quite get the relevanse of part 1 and 2, but part 3 was interesting and I certainly learnt much about Plato and Aristotle, strangely enough, when reading a book about Arius.
Aug 12, 2011 added it
Shelves: book, religion, antiquity
I know more than the average person about church history. I know more than the average person about Platonism. I know a lot more ancient Greek than the average person. This book has to do with all these things and was way over my head. I learned some things and some things were interesting, but it was way over my head.
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: early-church
Likely now the standard work on Arius. Williams is especially good at placing him within his Alexandrian context. Bogs down a bit when Williams starts reconstructing his Iamblichan Neoplatonism. A sympathetic reading.
Joel Zartman
Dec 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One would not have thought so much could be done on Arius.
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Rowan Douglas Williams, Baron Williams of Oystermouth, is an Anglican bishop, poet, and theologian. He was Archbishop of Canterbury from December 2002-2012, and is now Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge and Chancellor of the University of South Wales.
More about Rowan Williams...