Theological anthropology of Eustathius of Antioch
Cartwright, Sophie Hampshire
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Eustathius of Antioch is recognised as a pivotally important ‘Nicene’ figure in the early part of the ‘Arian’ controversy but, largely due to the paucity of sources, there is very little in-depth discussion of his theology. The recent discovery that Eustathius wrote Contra Ariomanitas et de anima, an anti-subordinationist treatise focusing on the soul, now preserved in an epitome, both offers unprecedented opportunities for understanding Eustathius’ theology. This thesis examines Eustathius’ theological anthropology, an important aspect of his thought. It considers the question with regards both intrinsic ontology and the meta-narrative of human history – soteriology and eschatology – and situates it within the context of fourth-century metaphysics and the uncertainty surrounding questions of human society raised by Christianity’s new status under Constantine. Eustathius’ picture of the relationship between the body and the soul relies on a hylomorphic dualism indebted to Platonised Aristotelianism, emphasising the interdependence of body and soul whilst sharply distinguishing them as substances. He regards the soul as passible in itself. Eustathius regards human beings as degraded both in existential state and in circumstance relative to the condition in which they were created and articulates the gap between human potential and human actuality primarily in terms of the relationship between Adam and Christ. Eustathius’ picture of Christ as perfect humanity is informed by a sense of radical disjunction between God and creation, typical of fourth-century metaphysics, and he consequently holds a relatively autonomous conception of human perfection. Eustathius regards free will as freedom to discern and choose the right thing, which relies on a fundamentally optimistic perception of human moral nature. Eustathius’ anthropology consistently grounds human essence and identity in earthly life and correspondingly founds his soteriology on the fulfilment of current potential, believing that Christ will reign, eschatologically, over an earthly kingdom.