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For Gregory the Great, the communities, as seen from the outside, together form in the world one Catholic church among all peoples Mor. 16, 68; but internally the number of the elect is fixed Mor. 25, 20. Many who are part of the holy church of the elect Mor. 13, 46 lived before Christ and were saved by faith in the future passion, which was suffered for them too, just as we are saved through the same passion, now past Hom. in Ez. 3, 16. Gregory sees the church as a reality erected against the glory of this world Hom. in Evang. II, 32, 6. The church’s splendor is shown not just by the miracles at the tombs of the saints, but also by the high esteem enjoyed by preachers In 1 Reg. 1, 104, who direct the whole world, enjoy prosperity and sing the praise of almighty God by the splendor of their lives In 1 Reg. 2, 59, 62.

The word oivkonomi,a Latin dispensatio, dispositio found ample theological use, rich in content, in the patristic writings Lampe 940-943. This is easily explained, given the frequency of the word in secular authors see Reumann and the suggestive ideas expressed by economy in the corpus paulinum Eph 1:3-14; 9:3; Col 1:25. In the Apologists and the Alexandrians, economy refers, with Stoic nuances, to the order in creation and to divine providence.

At the same time economy takes on a soteriological meaning, comprising all the divine decrees, decided in eternity and fulfilled in time in view of human salvation. Developing this properly Christian subject matter, the gnostics distinguish between the internal organization of the pleroma and its earthly manifestation. Irenaeus, taking up this idea, gives it a clearly historical meaning. In view of the unity of the two Testaments, he joins it to his famous idea of recapitulation. But Tertullian, opposing the mistaken opinion of divine monarchia, follows the gnostics in the sense that he prolongs the historical economy as far as the eternal dispositio. Origen, among the divine economies, makes that of the incarnation prevalent a meaning prepared by Ignatius and Justin see Studer, Theologia, 577-578. In his wake, economy was confined more and more to the saving action of the incarnate Word, as distinct from his eternal existence; thus in Eusebius HE 1,1,7-8; C. Marc. II 3,22, Athanasius anti-Arian polemic and then in Greek theology Greg. Naz., Or. 38; Greg. Nyss., Orat. cat.. In the Cappadocians, the term economy is vested with an ecclesiological meaning: it concerns the administration of the sacraments Basil., Ep. 199,47, Greg. Nyss., Orat. Cat. 34 and the tolerant attitude to ecclesial communion, a meaning that would come to have great popularity in Byzantine theology. Though avoiding the term theologia in a Christian sense, Augustine, like other 4th-c. authors, opposes the res aeternae to the dispensatio cf. Studer, Theologia, 579, with F. et symb. 4,6; Agon. 17,19. Further developing ideas that were already traditional, he arrives at the clear affirmation that the economy reveals theologia. Like his predecessors, he applies this principle to the real distinction and order of the divine persons, Kolkata Map to the relation of the temporal missions of the Son and the Spirit and the eternal characteristics of the Father, who has existence from himself and not from another, of the Son who is born of the Father, and of the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son see Studer, Theologia, 587-590, with the cit. texts. In this sense Augustine’s doctrine on the immanent Trinity is solidly based on historia, i.e., on the narratio rerum gestarum see Studer, History, 354-364.

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