A Moral Theological Reading of ‘The Acts of Thomas’

 

 

A Moral Theological Reading of

The Acts of Thomas

Dr. Dominic Vechoor

dominicvechoor@gmail.com
acts of thomas

 

Acts of Thomas is a valuable patristic source of information regarding the mode of Christian living, existed in the early Syriac Christianity.

Introduction

The Acts of Thomas is the gem in the early Syriac literature and its theological importance is being recognized by Scholars today.[1] It is an apocryphal work,[2] composed in the first half of the third century. The book has 13 chapters, describing the missionary and apostolic activities of St. Thomas in the Indo-Parthian Kingdom and concluding with the narration of the martyrdom of the Apostle. It is, perhaps, one of the most valuable patristic sources of information that may throw light on the earliest mode of Christian moral living in the Syriac tradition and in the Thomistic Churches, originated from the Gospel preaching of St. Thomas. It gives a number of theological orientations, which are ever relevant to the faith and moral life of the Christian believers. This brief study is an attempt to bring out the moral theological implications of The Acts of Thomas.  

1. New Hermeneutical Methodology in the Post-Conciliar Catholic Moral Theology

One of the main theological contributions of the ecumenical Council of Vatican II was the re-discovery of the Church as a communion of individual Churches (ecclesia sui iuris).[3] The Catholic character of the Church with her essential unity and legitimate diversity in the context of the cultural and ecclesial diversity and in the light of communion ecclesiology, is said to be a hallmark of the post-Vatican theological thinking. In this fiftieth year of the publication of the key reference texts for the communion ecclesiology of Vatican II (Lumen Gentium, Orientalium Ecclesiarum and Unitatis Redintegratio, all three documents published on 21 November 1964), we believe that this present study is all the more relevant.

A pluralistic approach to theology has been proposed by Vatican II as a new hermeneutical methodology to courageously address the emerging issues of faith and morals in the contemporary context of Christian life. The traditional moral thinking in the Catholic Church has been for the most part determined by the Latin (Western) theological perspectives, especially by the scholastic theological and the Aristotelian philosophical categories. While we fully appreciate the wisdom and genius of this rich cultural and ecclesial tradition, we have to bear in mind that there are also profound moral theological notions, coming from other cultural and ecclesial heritages. It is the right time now to become familiarized with other theological traditions, both Eastern and Western.[4] As St. John Paul II rightly observes, “the Church by God’s providence, gathered in the one Spirit, breathes as though with two lungs, of the East and of the West, and burns with the love of Christ in one heart, having two ventricles”[5].

A ‘tripartite approach to Christian theology’- the Syriac Orient, the Greek East and the Latin West- as inheriting the three basic theological traditions of Christianity,[6] has now become well accepted among the Catholic theologians. We should understand these different theological traditions as mutually complementing. In the past, too often, one theological tradition has tried to dominate the other, thus creating a serious imbalance and impoverishment of the Christian tradition. Each tradition needs to recognize the value of the other traditions and thus be enriched by them.[7] 

A pluralistic, dynamic and realistic approach to theology and a going back to the authentic and valid sources of theology are said to be two distinguishing characteristics of the theological thinking in the post-conciliar period. A study on The Acts of Thomas becomes timely in this context.

2. The Acts of Thomas: An Early Masterpiece of the Syriac Literature

        images  Acts of Thomas is an early masterpiece of the Syriac prose literature, written in Edessa in the first half of the third century. This work is believed to be originally composed in Syriac in Edessa. It is easily readable like a drama or novel.   The missionary activities and the martyrdom of St. Thomas are beautifully narrated in it.  Most of the narrations in the Acts of Thomas clearly reflect the ‘twin’ (Thama/Didymus) characteristics of Apostle Thomas and Lord Jesus Christ. It is a scholarly approved fact that the Acts of Thomas has Mesopotamian, Jewish, Judeo-Christian and Gnostic backgrounds and influences. It is said to be a Christian-Gnostic prose in the Oriental novel literature.[8] The book is organized as a good narrative story with a cryptic style, always having a hidden meaning.

Though it is an apocryphal work, it bears unique historical and theological significance.[9] It is historical in the sense that it is one of the earliest documents that deal with the Indian apostolate of St. Thomas and his martyrdom in India.[10] However, the authorship, chronology of the events narrated in the book and the geography of the book, etc. are not very clear.   At the same time, they are not to be understood as mere stories or fictions but composed, based on traditions, existing in those Churches, founded by St. Thomas. The author, most probably, belonged to the sect of Bardaissan in Edessa.[11] However, the author’s main intention is to state that the Apostle Thomas came to India. Even if there are differences of opinion about the authorship and historicity of the text, scholars unanimously agree that it is profoundly theological in the sense that it contains a mosaic of valid and orthodox theological doctrines, although false or heterodox views are also sometimes found in the book. The theological methodology used in the text is more symbolic and doxological. It contains many foundational doctrines of early Christianity. It is a remarkable synthesis of the Christology, soteriology, ecclesiology, sacramental theology, eschatology and the ascetical life style of the Syriac tradition.[12]  

3. Moral Theological Significance of The Acts of Thomas

          Vatican II understands Christian (faith and moral) life primarily as a ‘life in Christ’ (OT, 16). This ‘life in Christ’ isimages2ZRM7IOX so rich a reality that there are as many valid theological approaches to it as there are to the mystery of Jesus Christ. The Council Fathers affirm this fact, when they say that the Church is blessed with different ‘mode of Christian living’, ‘ordering of Christian life’, ‘way of life’ and ‘spiritual patrimony’ within the different cultural and ecclesial traditions of the Church (Cfr. LG, 23; OE, 1; UR, 16-17; see also Orientale Lumen, 5-6). The Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches states: “A rite is a liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary heritage, differentiated by the culture and the circumstances of the history of the peoples, which is expressed by each Church sui iuris in its own manner of living the faith (modus proprius fidei vivendae” (Can. 28). The ethos (mode of living) of a culture as a mode of living and rite are closely related to the Church sui iuris. As B. Petra explains, rites are a ‘Christian sign of a culture’ and a ‘cultural sign of Christianity’.[13]

Hence it is presumably clear that the Syriac tradition also has a unique ‘mode of living the Christian faith’, echoing her unique cultural and ecclesial milieu. As far as we are concerned, early patristic period was a time of self-definition for Christian faith and morals. The early Christian ideals were reflected in the writings of these periods. In like manner, Acts of Thomas is a valuable patristic source of information regarding the mode of Christian living, existed in the early Syriac Christianity.

4. Moral Theological Teachings Reflected in The Acts of Thomas

          After having understood the theological context of our study and the theological and moral theological importance of the Acts of Thomas, we now try to understand the basic orientations of Christian moral life, reflected in the Acts of Thomas.

4.1. Christian Moral Life as a Life in Christ

In line with the biblical understanding, the Eastern Churches primarily understand Christian moral life as a ‘life in Christ’.[14] This life in Christ grows through the assimilation of man into Christ and to his Gospel ethos, which is the basis of all Christian moral norms. Such a life in Christ is nurtured by the sacraments of the Church and manifests itself as a progressive deification of the faithful into the Trinitarian communion by the action of the Holy Spirit.[15]  So this life in Christ has Christological, Trinitarian and Pneumatological dimensions.

Christological dimension of moral life is also emphasized in the Acts of Thomas.   Christian life is understood as a life in Christ, who is the real ‘master’ of life. In the first chapter of the Acts, when Apostle Thomas is asked by Habban, the merchant, he says: “He (Jesus) is my master”.[16] Again in the third chapter, the young man, healed by Apostle Thomas, was gradually brought to a new ‘life in Christ’ (III, 34-38). In the seventh chapter, Thomas invites the Captain and his family to abide in their faith in Christ: “My sons and brothers and sisters in our Lord Jesus, abide in this faith and trust in our Lord Jesus the Messiah, him whom I preach unto you; and let your hope be in him and he will keep you and fall not away from him because he will not forsake you…”. [17].

4.2. Bridal Imagery of the Christian Moral Life

images83J0YO5MBridal imagery of this life in Christ is also seen in the Acts of Thomas. Christian life is understood as a life of betrothal to Christ. In the tenth chapter of the Acts, through the words of Mygdonia, this idea is made clear: “…that was the time of the beginning; this is the time of the end. That was the time of the temporal life, which passes away; this is the time of the life everlasting. That was the time of the transitory joy; this is the time of eternal joy…the marriage feast you see passes away but this marriage feast shall never pass away. That was the marriage feast of corruption; this is the marriage feast of life everlasting…that was the bridal chamber, which was taken down; this is the bridal chamber, which remains forever…”.[18] The Acts of Thomas also gives a solid Christology and soteriology from the Syriac perspective through the different Christological titles like ‘Lord’, ‘healer of the sick souls’, ‘giver of life’, ‘physician without fee’, etc. described in the various prayers and hymns of the Acts (I, 10; IV, 39-40; V, 45, 47-50; XII, 143; XIII, 156).

4.3. Eschatological Orientation of Christian Moral Life

          Christian life is presented as an eschatological journey. The transitory nature of this world and ‘the everlasting life in the world to come’ are frequently referred to in the Acts (II, 21; see also I, 10; VI, 61; X, 124, 127; XI, 135). Acts I, 14-15 speaks about Jesus Christ as the ‘incorruptible and true bridegroom’ and as the ‘heavenly bridegroom’. This is in keeping with the early Church’s expectation of the imminent parousia of the Lord.

4.4. Ascetical Life as an Aid to Christian Moral Life

Early Syriac Christianity in all its manifestations was based on strong ascetical tendencies, known especially for itsimages3Q15IIFI enthusiasm for virginity.[19] Ascetical life was a power house for the flourishing of the ecclesial life.[20] As R. Murray says, no other characteristics are likely to strike a modern reader more immediately than its asceticism, moderate or extreme, dominating or at least colouring almost all the literature.[21] After having made a detailed study of the various forces and structures in the development of early Syriac theology, H. J. W. Drijvers observes: “they have one thing in common: a strong emphasis on asceticism, the command of the body and its passions in order to create room for the divine spirit, truth and wisdom.”[22] The early Syriac Christians were familiar with the various ascetical trends seen in the Semitic world, Judaism and among the Judaeo-Christian groups of the early period. Here the observation of K. McVey is worth mentioning. She says: “Certainly one fact agreed upon by scholars is that early Syriac Christianity in all its manifestations seems to have been based on strong ascetical tendencies. It was this same asceticism that underlies the Encratism of Tatian, the asceticism of Mani and the absolute sexual renunciation demanded by the Acts of Thomas. This ascetic tendency affected not only the fringe sects but also exerted a strong influence on the mainline community”. [23]

Ascetical vocabularies like fasting, prayer, abstinence, virginity, singleness, almsgiving, etc. are very frequent in the Acts of Thomas. An ascetical life style is always suggested as the means for a holy life and thereby for salvation. The concept of free will and the thinking that fasting cleanses us from the filth of the body and prayer from the filth of soul is a very strong theme in it. The regaining of the original state of harmony through the right use of mind and will and through various ascetical practices is frequently seen in Syriac literature. Repentance is also a frequent theme in the Acts. We see a continuous plea for divine mercy and forgiveness of sins (II, 17-29; III, 38; V, 48, 58-59). Repentance is suggested as the true medicine for the sickness of sin (I, 14; II, 28).

Syriac asceticism was not merely negative but positive. S. Brock observes: “Far from being the outcome of a dualistic world view and a negative attitude to the body, these ascetic ideals in fact imply a very biblical and positive attitude towards the human person as body cum soul, with great value attached to the sanctity of the body and emphasis laid on the interpenetration of the physical and spiritual worlds….”[24]

4.5. Liturgico-Sacramental Character of Christian moral Life

imagesWR9XKLPXThe liturgico-sacramental character of the moral life is also an essential characteristic of the Eastern tradition.[25] The profound unity that exists between moral life and the sacraments is now generally accepted by all. The Christian moral life, namely, life in Christ, is born of and nurtured by the mysteries (sacraments) of the Church especially by the divine liturgy, in which ‘life in Christ’ manifests itself as a progressive ‘deification’ of the faithful by the grace of the Holy Spirit.   Liturgy is the expression and celebration of Christian moral living in the concrete context of day to day life, which is the fountain and summit of the Church’s activities and Christian life (SC, 9-10; VS, 21; CCC, 2031). There is a sacramental itinerary in Christian life. The Christian existence can be better interpreted in the light of the sacraments. [26]

Acts of Thomas is an earliest document that refers to the sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist. Those who are moved by the preaching of the word of God, feel repentance over their sins and receive Baptism.  This text calls Baptism ‘sign’, an earliest patristic term, referring to baptism (II, 26; IX, 87; X, 120).   Those who are baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity are gradually led to the Eucharistic table (II, 25-29; V, 48-50; X, 121-122, 131-133).

The Christian tradition has long expressed the profound relationship between liturgy and theology in terms of the normative principle Lex orandi, lex credendi: the law of prayer establishes the law of faith and vice versa. The traditional principle of theology could also be further expanded to include the lex vivendi; thus we can say lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. Moral life and worship are not two distinct realities but are closely interrelated. Liturgy as the celebration of the faith, morals and ethos of the people of God, is the place, where theology, ethics and spirituality are contained and expressed.

4.6. Ecclesial Dimension of Moral Life

            The references to the communitarian and ecclesial dimension of Christian life are seen in the Acts (II, 25-29, III, 37; VI, 59). Those who received Baptism and shared the Eucharistic fellowship became a community. It was basically a Eucharistic or worshipping community. The narration on the martyrdom of St. Thomas ends with a reference to a first Christian community, founded in his place of martyrdom. This faith community was also conscious of the Sunday celebration (III, 29, 31). The Church is presented as ‘daughter of light’ (I, 6-7, 16). Various symbols like flock, fold,, adorned bride, virgin, maiden, place of refuge, etc. are also seen in the different chapters of The Acts of Thomas.

4.7. Concept of Marriage and Marital Fidelity

            Generally saying, Acts of Thomas gives not a very positive picture on marriage and sexual union. Marriage and sexual intimacy are presented as something unclean, heinous and unspiritual and therefore it instructs the Christians to refrain from them. In chapter I, 12, we read: “Remember my children…as soon as you preserve yourself from this filthy intercourse, you become pure temples and are saved from afflictions, manifest and hidden and from the heavy care of children, the end of whom is bitter sorrow…But you will be persuaded by me and keep yourselves pure unto God; you shall have living children to whom not one of these blemishes and hurts come nigh and you shall be without care, grief and sorrow and you shall be hoping for the time, when you shall see the true wedding feast and you shall be in the praisers of God and shall be numbered with those who enter into the bridal chamber”[27] This pessimistic picture of marriage can be understood in its historical context of the influence of the dualist thinking, prevalent in the then existing philosophical trends of Stoicism, Gnosticism and Manicheanism. This also may be understood in the light of the pre-occupation of the early Christians with the eschatological realities.

            Even though the main stream of thinking about marriage in the Acts of Thomas is negative, this book is alsoimagesO67RN75Z positive about marriage and marital fidelity. The fact that marriage imagery itself is taken to present the spiritual reality of eschatological life is to be understood as a positive approach to marriage and marital realities. Besides, this text also refers to marriage and marital acts as willed by God the Creator. In chapter VI, 55, we read: “…those who transgress the law, which change the sexual union that has been appointed by God, will go to the torment…”. The text speaks about the marital fidelity. Those who are unfaithful to their marital partners will inherit punishments (VI, 56; VIII, 76-79). In the words of the captain, narrated in the sixth Act, “I have a wife and daughter and I love her as nature too teaches….” (n.62). As S. Brock observes, “…marriage was equally seen as a state whose truly sacred character was something which wife and husband should constantly strive to establish. Moreover it is important to remember that those who chose the life of virginity here on earth were by no means rejecting marriage as something inferior but only postponing it to the eschaton (last things), when the wedding feast with Christ the bridegroom would take place, for at baptism the soul had been betrothed to Christ”.[28]

The book also speaks about the natural moral law, willed by God the creator (VII, 67; VIII, 70). This can be considered as a patristic reference to natural moral law, though of course, not in a detailed manner as in the scholastic terms.

4.8. Concept of Virginity

Since the main thrust of the Acts is ascetical life, we see in them generally a preference for virginity over marriage. In chapter I, 14, we read: “…I am in great love and I am praying to my Lord that I may continue in this love, which I have experienced this night and may call for the incorruptible Bridegroom, who has revealed himself to me this night…This deed of corruption is despised by me and the spoils of this wedding feast that passes away because I am invited to the true wedding feast and that I have not had the intercourse with a husband, the end whereof is bitter repentance because I am betrothed to the true husband”.[29]

imagesPEYOU6C8The book of the Acts speaks very highly of ‘virginity’ and ‘life of holiness’. This has led some modern scholars to suppose that the early authors held a very low view of sexuality and marriage. S. Brock argues that this interpretation is extremely misguided. For the Syriac Fathers, the ideals of virginity and holiness were ‘periods of preparation’ (Ex, 19: 9-15; Gen,7-8) and this provides a pointer to one of the main motivating forces which led people to undertake these ascetic views at baptism, namely, the concept of Christ as the heavenly bridegroom.   This ideal of virginity was seen as concomitant of betrothal to the heavenly bridegroom to serve him with ‘single mindedness of life.[30] The preference for virginity and absolute singleness of life (ihidayoosa; ihidaya; monogenes) in East Syriac theology are also to be understood in the context of the ascetical emphasis of the Syriac tradition.[31]  

As R. Murray says the ascetical life style of the Syriac Churches reflects the eschatological character of the Christian life, the passionate longing for the ‘heavenly bridegroom and heavenly bridal chamber’ that had characterised most of the Judeo-Christian literature. The Church looks for fulfilment in the eschatological kingdom or paradise.[32] This eschatological and paschal orientation is especially clear in the Oriental tradition.[33] The very outlook of a Christian is eschatological, eagerly awaiting the second coming of Jesus. The common tradition of the early Church in praying facing the East and the liturgical posture of standing that manifests the pilgrim character of the people of God, show the eschatological orientation of Christian life.

4.9. Christian Moral Life as a Life of Virtues

          A rich Christian moral life with the practice of virtues is seen in this work. Syriac theologians very often speak of the need of discipline of the body and heart, self-control, modesty and temperance.[34] In the final discourse of Apostle Thomas before martyrdom, he reminds: “…believe in this God, whom I preach and walk not in your hardness of heart but walk in all virtues that become the freedom and the glory of men and the life that is with God” (n. 166). Christian life is presented as a life of charity, by which Christians build palaces in heaven (II, 19; VIII, 66). Faith, hope, charity, purity, innocence, humility, self-control, modesty and temperance are presented as the basic virtues (IX, 85, 94).

4.10. Unified vision of Christian Life

            A unified vision of Christian moral life, as we see in Acts, 2, 46, is very strong in Acts of Thomas as well. Christian life is understood as a ‘life in Christ’ with a single and harmonious organic unity. No dichotomy between faith, worship, Christian living and spirituality is seen in it. Everything is to be understood and evaluated in a faith context.   Dichotomy or separation between various branches of theology is of later origin. In the Acts, we see a lived-in-moral theology than a systematic treatment on moral concepts. Christianity is above all a ‘way of life’(marga) rather than a ‘set of doctrines’. Morality is faith lived and faith lived is morality.

Conclusion

This study has convinced us that there is a strong moral theological thinking that lies hidden in the Syriac sources. Just as each theological tradition has its own liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, it will have its own moral theological perspectives as well, drawn from the proper cultural and ecclesial milieu. Since the Church of Christ manifests herself equally in her Eastern and Western traditions, we need to appreciate the theological genius and wisdom of both East and West. We also believe that the creative theological thinking on the ethical dimension of individual Churches would enhance the genuine quest for their identity within the Catholic communion. This study also invites us to plentifully draw from the three equally important streams of Christian tradition for a Catholic understanding of the moral theology. It also inspires us to have our appreciation and love for the Syriac sources, language and culture. The patristic orientations, seen in the Acts of Thomas will assist us to address also the post-modern issues related to human life, human person, human sexuality, marriage and family, social ethics, etc. These orientations will also contribute for the renewal of Christian life, envisioned by Vatican II and constantly reminded by the constant magisterium of the Church, especially by the Holy Father Pope Francis for a genuine pastoral and missionary commitment to Jesus Christ, his Gospel and his Church.

[1] J. KALLARANGATT, “The Acts of Thomas Deserves More Theological and Ecclesiological Attention”, Christian Orient, 18 (1996), 3-18; G. NEDUNGATT, “The Apocryphal Acts of Thomas and the Christian Origins in India” Gregorianum 92 (2011), 533-557 . For a detailed recent study on the history and theology of the Acts of Thomas, see P. MATTATHIL, Symbolic Discourses and Trinitarian Theology: Pneumatology of Ephrem the Syrian (unpublished thesis, defended in the Catholic Institute of Paris & Catholic University of Leuven, 2011), 51-88.

[2] The word ‘Apocrypha’ literally means ‘hidden’ or ‘not genuine’. Generally, it refers to those non-canonical Christian writings from the second to the fourth centuries, which aim to supplement and revise, what the canonical Gospels tell us of Jesus’s birth, life and teachings and of the missionary activities of the Apostles.  

[3] For a detailed understanding of the communion ecclesiology of Vatican II, see X. Koodapuzha, ed. Communion of Churches (Kottayam, 1993); M. VELLANICKAL, Church: Communion of Individual Churches, Biblico-Theological Perspectives in the Communion Ecclesiology of Vatican II (Mumbai, 2009).

[4] Cfr. B. PETRÀ, “Church sui iuris, Ethos and Moral Theology” in Church and Its Most Basic Element, ed. P. Pallath (Rome, 1995), 161-178; D. VECHOOR, “Catholic Moral Theology in the Light of Communion Ecclesiology of Vatican II; Promises and Challenges” in New Horizons in Christian Ethics: Reflections from India, ed., S.Kanniyakonil (Bangalore, 2014).

[5] JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Constitution Sacri Canones, 18 October 1990, AAS 82 (1990), 1033-1044. For details see, B. PETRÀ, “Church with ‘Two Lungs’: Adventures of a Metaphor”, Ephrem’s Theological Journal 6 (2002), 111-127.

[6] Cfr. S. BROCK, “The Syriac Orient: A Third ‘Lung’ for the Church”, Orientalia Christiana Periodica 71 (2005), 5.

[7] Cfr. International Theological Commission, Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria (2011), nos. 5, 74-85, 99.

[8] J. KALLARANGATT, “The Acts of Thomas”, 6.

[9] J. KALLARANGATT, “The Acts of Thomas”, 10-11.

[10] J. VELLIAN, ed. The Syrian Churches Series, Vol. I : The Apostle Thomas in India according to the Acts of Thomas (Kottayam, 1972)

[11] J. QUASTEN, Patrology, Vol. I, 139.

[12] J. KALLARANGATT, “The Acts of Thomas”, 11-18.

[13] B. PETRÀ, “Church sui iuris, Ethos and Moral Theology”, 168.

[14] B. PETRÀ, “Moral Theology in the Orthodox Tradition”, 13. This is quite in line with the Vatican II understanding of Christian moral life as ‘life in Christ’ (OT, 16).

[15] B. PETRÀ, “Teologia morale e scienze liturgiche”, in Liturgia: Itinerari di ricerca, scienza liturgica e discipline teologiche in dialogo (Roma, 1997), 363.

[16] A.F. J. KLIJN, The Acts of Thomas: Introduction, Text and Commentary, Leiden, 1962 (Hereafter AT), I, 2.

[17] AT, VIII, 66; see also AT, XIV, 160.

[18] AT, X, 124

[19] K. McVEY, ed. Ephrem the Syrian, The Selected Prose Works (Washington D. C., 1994), 11; R. C. BONDI, “The Spirituality of the Syriac Speaking Christians” in Christian Spirituality: From the Origins to the Twelfth Century, eds. B. McGinn & J. Meyendorff (London, 1986), 153-157.

[20] R. MURRAY, Symbols of Church and Kingdom, 11, 154-157.

[21] R. MURRAY, “The Characteristics of the Early Syriac Christianity” in East of Byzantium: Syria and Armenia in the Formative Period, eds. N. G. Garsoïan et al (Washington D. C., 1980),6.

[22] H. J. W. DRIJVERS, East of Antioch: Studies in Early Syriac Christianity (London, 1984), I, 18.

[23] K. McVEY, ed. Ephrem the Syrian: The Selected Prose Works, 11-12.

[24] S. BROCK, Syriac Fathers on Prayer and Spiritual Life, xxv.

[25] B. PETRÀ, “Teologia morale e scienze liturgiche”, 366.

[26] Cfr. L.M. CHAUVET, Symbols and Sacrament: A Sacramental Re-interpretation of Christian Existence (Collegeville, 1995).

[27] See also AT, V, 43; VI, 52; IX, 84, 88

[28] S. BROCK, Syriac Fathers on Prayer and Spiritual Life, xxv.

[29] See also AT, I, 15; VI, 52

[30] S. BROCK, Spirituality in the Syriac Tradition, 54.

[31] S. BROCK, “The Syriac Oreint: A Third lung for the Church”, OCP 71 (2005), 9-12.

[32] R. MURRAY, Symbols of Church and Kingdom, 343-346.

[33] J. KALLARANGATT, “Dimensions and Perspectives of Oriental Theology” in Eastern Theological Reflections, ed. X. Koodapuzha (Kottayam, 1999), 103-104; R. TAFT, Beyond East and West: Problems in Liturgical Understanding (Rome, 1997), 158-159.

[34] S. BROCK, Luminous Eye, 20-22.

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