Last night the Second Century Seminar was treated to a fascinating paper on the reception of Paul in Irenaeus by Dr. Mark Goodwin of the University of Dallas. Goodwin, a New Testament scholar, is in the midst of a project on the patristic reading of Paul’s doctrine of participation and the way that patristic interpreters might dialogue with Paul’s own thoughts on the subject.
His forthcoming publication, tentatively titled Forays into Patristic Participation: Select Passages from Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, and Cyril of Alexandria, selects isolated sections of the fathers that contain the confluence of participatory language with the explicit use of Pauline language and concepts.
The respondent for the evening was Dr. David Hionides of Dallas Theological Seminary, who recently completed his dissertation on Irenaeus’ theodicy. Hionides pressed Goodwin on the hermeneutical relationship between Irenaeus and Paul and the way they each approach scripture. He also raised important qualifications about the relationship between Irenaeus’ polemical theology and his exegesis of Paul.
Irenaeus’ most important contribution for understanding Pauline participation, in the thinking of Goodwin, was located in Haer 3.18.7 where he combined the Pauline motif of divine adoption with a term for participation. This linkage solidifies a marriage between adoption and participation that was not seen as explicit in Paul. In this way, Irenaeus, if he is a good reader of Paul, has brought some measure of clarity to Paul’s doctrine of participation.
As always, it was a wonderful evening with a good dinner and engaging conversation. We all look forward to the next meeting on April 11.