A reparative reading of the eucharistic ecclesiology of John Zizioulas and its reception as Social Trinitarianism

Ruston, Thomas William (2022). A reparative reading of the eucharistic ecclesiology of John Zizioulas and its reception as Social Trinitarianism. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Since the publication of Zizioulas' seminal text, Being as Communion (1985), successive theologians have turned to his work to postulate a Social Trinity. The past decade has witnessed a significant repudiation of Social Trinitarianism, but such criticism has an implicit tendency to argue that Zizioulas posits a social doctrine of the Trinity. This thesis shall consider Zizioulas' eucharistic ecclesiology in relation to its reception by Social Trinitarianism and ask whether both his Social Trinitarian advocates (such as Volf, Gunton and LaCugna), and their critics (such as Tanner, Ayres, Turcescu, Holmes) do justice to the problems considered by Zizioulas. Whilst acknowledging that there are significant similarities in their initial engagement, and recognising the limitations of Zizioulas' project, this thesis shall maintain that Zizioulas does not argue for a social doctrine of the Trinity because his Social Trinitarian advocates are posing different questions to the relationship between the Trinity and the Church than those posed by Zizioulas. Although the Social Trinitarians draw from Zizioulas' work they do so to answer their own questions, which they resolve by projecting a revised Trinitarian schesis, rooted in perichoresis, onto ecclesial and social structures. By attending to the nature of Zizioulas' ecclesiological questions, I shall make the case that Zizioulas exhibits a nexus of question and answer that belongs to the neopatristic synthesis which emerged in Orthodox theology in the twentieth century, especially among Lossky and Florovsky. This thesis offers a reparative reading of Zizioulas eucharistic ecclesiology by examining how Zizioulas relates the Trinity to the Church on the basis of theôsis as Christification. In this thesis I use the lens of Zizioulas’ Christology to consider whether (1) Zizioulas projects a philosophical personalism onto the Trinity. This thesis reframes the discussion in terms of a Christianised Hellenism and that Zizioulas understands theôsis as Christification through participation in the filial relation between Son and Father. (2) That the Trinity forms a paradigm for the communion of the Church. This thesis argues that he does not because he identifies the Church with the hypostasis of the Christ as the pneumatological body of Christ. (3) This thesis considers whether Zizioulas maintains a social doctrine of the Trinity. It argues that the tension which exists between Zizioulas and his interlocutors on the monarchy of the Father suggests that Zizioulas and the Social Trinitarians operate within a different nexus of question and answer.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: Theology and Religion
Funders: Other
Other Funders: St.Luke's Theological Foundation, St.Matthias Trust
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BT Doctrinal Theology
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/12532


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