The apostolic tradition in the ecclesiastical histories of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret.
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Rushing, Scott A.
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This dissertation analyzes the transposition of the apostolic tradition in the fifth-century ecclesiastical histories of Socrates, Sozomen, and Theodoret. In the early patristic era, the apostolic tradition was defined as the transmission of the apostles’ teachings through the forms of Scripture, the rule of faith, and episcopal succession. Early Christians, e.g., Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Origen, believed that these channels preserved the original apostolic doctrines, and that the Church had faithfully handed them to successive generations. The Greek historians located the quintessence of the apostolic tradition through these traditional channels. However, the content of the tradition became transposed as a result of three historical movements during the fourth century: (1) Constantine inaugurated an era of Christian emperors, (2) the Council of Nicaea promulgated a creed in 325 A.D., and (3) monasticism emerged as a counter-cultural movement. Due to the confluence of these sweeping historical developments, the historians assumed the Nicene creed, the monastics, and Christian emperors into their taxonomy of the apostolic tradition. For reasons that crystallize long after Nicaea, the historians concluded that pro-Nicene theology epitomized the apostolic message. They accepted the introduction of new vocabulary, e.g. homoousios, as the standard of orthodoxy. In addition, the historians commended the pro-Nicene monastics and emperors as orthodox exemplars responsible for defending the apostolic tradition against the attacks of heretical enemies. The second chapter of this dissertation surveys the development of the apostolic tradition. Chapter Three reviews recent developments in modern scholarship on the ‘Arian controversy’ and briefly summarizes the events of the fourth century. The focus then turns to the ecclesiastical histories of Socrates and Sozomen, both of whom relied primarily on the polemical writings of Athanasius. Theodoret departs from the narrative of his predecessors, which allows him to chronicle a more nuanced development of the Nicene party. Chapter Four analyzes the monastic theologies of the historians, while Chapter Five examines the apostolic vocation of the Christian emperors.