Saturday, May 24, 2008

Theology in Alexandria

In reading over the Moore College news letter, I was warmly surprised to read about a new theological college that has been opened up in Alexandria, Egypt. It is called the Alexandria School of Theology and is under the auspices of the Anglican Diocese of Egypt, North Africa and the Horn of Africa. I read this on the website:

"Our inspiration actually reaches back to the early centuries of Christianity. In the late second century AD, the first Christian school in history was established in Alexandria, Egypt. It was known as the Catechetical School and taught the Christian faith to inquirers, children and new converts. Its teachers wrote works in biblical studies and theology. Among the leaders of the School were Clement and Origen who, with others, were greatly used by God to spread the Gospel both in Egypt and far beyond. Today, we at the Alexandria School of Theology wish to emulate the best of what the early Catechetical School represented. Although almost two millennia have passed and times have changed, our Lord’s great commission to disciple the nations remains unchanged. It is our prayer that AST will be an instrument in the hand of God to spread the Gospel throughout our region and to equip men and women to serve in the Kingdom of God both in ordained and lay ministry."

Recently, Thomas Oden has said that he's committing the rest of his life to unearthing the great Theologians of ancient Africa. How joyous it would be if Africa was to again become a nourishing well of orthodox theology!


April DeConick said...


If this were REALLY a resurrection of the Alexandrian school from antiquity, its theology would be closer to the gnostics than any orthodox doctrines. Moreover, Origen was deemed a heretic by the church, and is still considered to be so. Neither Clement nor Origen would have drafted or signed the mission statement that I read on the ATS website.

Naomi said...

One can't deny the theological diversity of the Alexandrian tradition (e.g. Clement, Origen, Nag Hammadi, Cyril, and Athanasius), but I can't bring myself to say that Alexandrian theology would be "closer to the gnostics than any orthodox doctrines". True, gnosticism and Alexandrian theology both grew out of the same platonic soil, Origen's Logos Christology laid the foundations for Arianism, and the monophysite controversy makes us wonder if the Alexandrians could ever be described as Chalcedon compliant; but even so, Clement strikes me as about as "orthodox" as one can get for his time (though I'm no expert here), Origen opposed his one time gnostic benefactor (as a churchman, text critic, and exegete he is one of my heroes of antiquity), and Athanasius doesn't exactly score high on the unorthodox-o-metre! I get your point about "orthodoxy" but I think you might have overstated your case. But if you wanna lay out the case that the Alexandrian theological tradition is closer to gnosticism than to "orthodoxy", I would love to read it on your blog.

Dunc and Als said...

Wow! Naomi writes more like her husband every day!
Hey Birds! We miss you heaps.