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Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century.

This interesting and scholarly volume examines how the classical views of friendship were adopted and adapted by fourth-century Christian writers, mainly Fathers of the Church, in both the East and the West. After introductory chapters on classical theories and some of the problems that Christianity posed for such theories, White turns to particular individuals who exemplified friendship in their lives and theorized about it in their writings, beginning with Basil the Great and Gregory of Nazianzus and moving on to Chrysostom and Olympias. Synesius of Cyrene, whose Christianity seems to have been a thin veneer over his Neoplatonism, though interesting in his own right, serves as a foil to others, such as Ambrose of Milan, Jerome, Paulinus of Nola, and Augustine, whose Christian views and lives profoundly influenced their theories.

A chapter on monasticism and friendship sketches several ways in which the monastic life and monastic rules both fostered friendship within Christian ascetical life, while also pointing out some of the dangers and problems posed by friendship. W. considers Augustine's reflections on friendship the culmination of a century of assimilation and transformation of classical ideals of friendship by Christian thinkers.

The volume has 35 pages of notes, a short list of English translations and primary sources, a select bibliography, a general index, as well as an index to the most common classical statements on friendship and an index to biblical citations. W. offers her readers a balanced, scholarly, and interesting overview of her topic.
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Author:Teske, Roland J.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Words:244
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