The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Dr. Parry interviews Dr. Ramelli on Patristic Universalism

Dr. P has been working with Dr. R on a book about medieval Christian universalists; and interviewed her back on August 10 about the original Tome on Patristic universalists.

Audio is a bit dotty at the beginning. Naturally her accent is hard to understand in English. 45 minutes.

A summary by Sobornost :sunglasses:

I’ve said it before, including recently on this topic, so I’ll say it again here:

ALL HAIL SOBOR! ALL HAIL SOBOR! :sunglasses: :ugeek:

Jason; hi old mate :slight_smile: And how very kind of you :slight_smile: Glad to be of service here - and it all happened by chance. Alex saw I was writing up notes on the lecture and was in like a shot :smiley: (I did my initial notes partly because understand European accents well because I hear and converse with people with European accents all of the time in cosmopolitan old London town; but I thought that perhaps this might be difficult for some others - especially some Americans). Anyway thanks to Alex for editing my notes for EU and for formatting and putting all of the great footnotes and sources in - he done good :slight_smile: And Alex - if/when you read this - I’m always happy for you to edit and format anything you see my write anywhere for friends here to read (if what I write seems helpful to you :slight_smile:)

As for all that ‘Hail Sobor’ shtick Jason :smiley: - I receive this in the sweetness and the generosity of the spirit in which it was written (with a touch of mischievousness in the mix I discern :wink: :smiley:). But I take my dear Erasmus’s good counsel on this one regarding my own limitations :smiley: - and it’s Dame Folly who speaks btw :slight_smile:

By all the gods, I’ll lay your odds
You’ll find no mortals happier
Than nitwits, stupes and nimcompoops
And morons even sappier
(those ‘titles’ sound so sweet around
My well positioned ears!)
That seems absurd. But take my word:
It’s truer than appears

A couple of questions to EU scholars - on the grounds of mutual back scratching :slight_smile:

I couldn’t find the quotation from the Psalm of David that Origen used as a prefiguration of the passage in Paul about ‘God being All in All’. This was important in her discussion of the Arians as heretics and the universalist as their orthodox opponents. Can anyone help me?

Also I was intrigued by Dr Ramelli’s suggestion that Meister Eckhart was working from within the tradition of ‘apocatastasis’ - because it could explain a lot concerning lineage of traditions of universalism I think - and I’ve sketched one out (which Alex can have a look at and post the relevant bits here if he likes - Dr Ramelli’s book on later universalism will be a long time coming I think). So my question here to Jason and anyone else who knows the answer is - I know that Dr Ramelli has considered Dionysus the Areopagite in her massive study (which I’ve only read bits of and am too busy to read in entirety - and its not my specialism anyway). Dionysus was also a huge influence on Eckhart. I know he was later than Origen but I wondered whether she concludes that he was actually a universalist too and of the school of Origen? :slight_smile:

Please do get back to me - I am your friend :slight_smile:

She does discuss (pseudo-)Dionysus the Areopagite several times, mainly in a block starting at page 694 through the top of 721 (if you have the Tome and want to go into the details).

The discussion is necessarily complicated by most of his works being lost on one hand, and why most of his works have been lost on another hand, and then on yet another hand having the ancient standard collection of his works being edited and commented upon by a fan of his who understood the universalistic implications of his material but re-presented them in a more acceptably orthodox fashion (by the standard of this late time).

Her conclusion is that the evidence points in favor of Pseduo-Denys being Origenian but not Origenistic – the former being in effect (proto-)trinitarian universalist, the latter being a distinction of the heretical shape given by some groups a few generations after Origen, which were mistaken for Origen’s actual thought and used as a pretext for anathematizing him. However I don’t think she thinks she can conclude it decisively, due to the condition of the surviving sources.

I haven’t watched enough of the interview yet to make a guess about which Psalm of David she’s saying Origen ref’d in connection with 1 Cor 15’s God being all in all. The Tome, while it has an index, is not very good for that – the ancient author/source index doesn’t index scriptural citations, so I can’t look for the Psalms and see which ones overlap her main discussion(s?) of Origen.

Thanks Jason :slight_smile:

This was really encouraging to me! Thank you Dr.s Robin and Ramelli!

I especially liked the bits about the Origenist view of sin as negativity and Jesus as the ultimate healer of our souls (Christ Victor model of atonement ALL OVER THE PLACE).
I’d say I was as surprised as Robin was to realize that Athanasius was (probably?) a universalist. I remember reading the beginning of the creed of his namesake and seeing the doctrine of ECT fitted quite prominently into the beginning lines! Suppose the creed came after him, eh?

I have a question to throw out: So Dr. Ramelli noted that there were many universalist fathers back then. Again, Athanasius was a surprise, but does anybody know who else would be in that crowd besides Origin, Gregory of Nyssa and Clement? Thoughts?

Yes, the AthCreed came long afterward, even well after St. Augustine: its wording closely resembles his version of the Chalcedonian polish of the Nicean doctrines (which Ath did have a hand in defining and polishing) – although Gregory Nyssa and his fellow Cappadochians were the people largely responsible for the Chalcedonian polish.

And they’d have spit at the wrapping statements around the two lobes of the catholic faith statement, which are nothing more or other than the rankest gnosticism (salvation by doctrinal assent). But those were attached by the Roman Catholic Church as a propaganda tool for emphasizing that if an Eastern bishop wanted to join the Pope and Western Christendom, he’d have to give up belief in universal salvation (if he still had that) and accept the filioque (the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son as well as the Father, which I agree with but not presented as a doctrine that someone has to believe to be saved), as well as accept the ultimate human spiritual authority of the Roman bishop as leader of the universal Church, of course. EOx otherwise accept all the other doctrines – it was the EOx who helped refine them to begin with!

The wrapping statements before, after, and between the actual doctrinal ‘lobes’, are not really the Creed anyway; they talk about the catholic faith represented by the two parts of the Creed. But by formally attaching the wrapping statements like this, the RCC authorities made them in effect part of the Creed.

I’m not usually someone who whines about church conspiracies, and I’m usually pretty appreciative of the RCC (and the EOx), but even I have to admit that this really was a conspiracy to hijack the faith as a socio-political tool. :angry:

As for who else is in the crowd mentioned by Dr. R in the Tome… man I’m still making a list. :laughing: Which isn’t helped by the necessarily scattershot topical arrangement of her book. She and Hanson overlap a lot, for what it’s worth, although she’s more accurately detailed and doesn’t try to push things as far as he did. Also, a lot of the names won’t mean anything to us today although they were famous at the time. Irenaeus is one of the big early surprises that people today would have heard of, although she points out that he still counts as annihilationist because he thought God would only save all humans but annihilate the rebel angels. Another early name that she suspects was EU was Ignatius, but she doesn’t argue much there because his epistles have been demonstrably tampered with a lot and it’s hard to say for sure which parts are original – and the ones which are generally agreed to be original don’t really talk about Last Things.

Jason, I’m confused. I would say the following were the major “heroes” of the first four Ecumenical Councils:

1st (Nicea): St. Athanasios
2nd (Constantinople): St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. Gregory of Nyssa (collectively referred to as the Cappadocian Fathers)
3rd (Ephesos): St. Kyril of Alexandria
4th (Chalcedon): St. Leo the Great

In other words, my understanding is that the Cappadocians helped establish the language used A) to define the doctrine of the Trinity as three persons and one nature; and B) the deity of Holy Spirit. The 4th Council established the language used to define that Christ is one person in two natures. I don’t remember the Cappadocian Fathers making significant contributions to the language used to define that Christ is one person in two natures.

Sorry, I’ve got my Councils mixed up then, though I’m sure I didn’t pull that connection to Chalcedon out of nowhere. :confused:

Thanks Jason! I’d like to look into Athanasius a bit more. I heard C. Baxter Kruger gained a lot of insight from his writings.

Thanks again,


I’ve found out which Psalm Dr Ramelli is referring to Jason :smiley: . Here is the note I did on it elsewhere:

‘’This theme of our dignity in freedom is one that Origen found throughout the Bible. Dr Ramelli gave a key example:

When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:28, English Standard Version)

This text speaks of submission of all to Christ, after evil and death (physical and spiritual) cease to exist. This submission must be voluntary. For Origen, freewill was paramount and voluntary submission is the only thing that is worthy of God, for God is not an earthly king who crushes people into submission.’

I’ve finally been able to locate the Psalm of which Dr Ramelli is speaking here. She is referring to the first two lines of what is Psalm 62 in most modern Bibles translated from the Hebrew Masoretic text, but is Psalm 61 in the Septuagint Greek translation used by Origen, Gregory Nyssen and most of the time by the New Testament writers too. English translations of the Masoretic text here speak of the soul resting in the God of salvation (NIV), or waiting for the God of salvation in silence (ESV). However, a translation of the Septuagint has a slightly different emphasis

‘’Shall not my soul be subject to God?
For from him is my deliverance ‘’

From these words Origen concluded that the subjection of all to Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:28 must mean the salvation of all – because subjection to God is the same thing as deliverance/salvation.

Furthermore, Dr Ramelli says in her ‘Social Justice and the Legitimacy of Slavery’ (p.210) that:

  1. Origen, like Gregory after him, draws a sharp distinction between being a slave of/ subjected to a human person and being a slave of/subjected to God. While the former bears a negative connotation, the latter is decidedly good. For serving God does not mean that God needs help or that we are diminished in our dignity, as is the case with serving humans, but it means receiving a benefit and becoming ‘without afflictions or passions’ (Contra Celsum 8.8.)

  2. Origen makes the repeated claim that submission to God , as opposed to submission to humans , is voluntary and coincides with salvation (E.g. Commentary on John 6.295-6; Peri Archon 1.1.6; 3.5.6-7)

  3. Origen insists that Christ recommends the subversion of any logic of power. The highest ought to be slaves of all (Commentary on Matthew 16.8.). Gregory extended this insight to teach that followers of Christ should overturn every logic and institution of power and oppression and chiefly to overturn the human institution of slavery.