"AESTHETICA PATRUM" in its systematic treatment of the
early Christian aesthetics as reflected in Patristic literature is a pioneering
study in international scholarship. The Church Fathers, like the ancient and medieval
thinkers in general, did not deal with the problems of aesthetics as such; it
was not until much later, in the Modern era, that these questions became the object
of scholarly reflection. Aesthetic consciousness, however, as one of the most
ancient non-verbal forms of consciousness which was embodied most fully in artistic
culture and religious cult, manifested itself distinctly in the numerous theological
treaties of the Church Fathers. The author demonstrates that the aesthetic, in
its many forms of manifestation, appears as one of the essential ways by which
a human being comes to God through a system of sense-perceptible symbols. Thereby
his approach extends far beyond the frame of traditional (in a modern European
The aesthetic consciousness of the Church Fathers is considered
in the context of the formation of their general philosophical and theological
views. The author discusses the formation of the fundamental propositions of the
Christian doctrine (concerning God, the incarnation of Logos-Christ, the creation
of the world, the sophijnost' of the creation, the concept of love, the problem
of the relationship between the human person and the Church etc.) and the place
and role of aesthetic ideas and phenomena in the formation of these.
The book consists of two parts. The first part is dedicated to the
aesthetic-culturological ideas of the early Church Fathers (the 2 - 3th c. apologists):
Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Origen,
Dionysius of Alexandria, Tertullian, Minucius Felix, Cyprian, Arnobius, Lactantius.
The author traces their Graeco-Roman and Middle East sources, in particular the
elements of Ciceronian aesthetics (whose influence on the Latin Fathers was substantial),
the aesthetic ideas of Philo of Alexandria, the teaching on beauty of Plotinus,
the Old Testament ideas of Sophia, art, the creation of the world and artistic
However, the main attention is focused on the birth of new Christian
aesthetic consciousness on the basis of the "aesthetics of negation"
(an attitude towards pagan artistic culture), in particular, on the understanding
of art, artistic activity, imitation, image, likeness, symbol, sign, allegory,
the beautiful and the sublime. The author demonstrates the change of aesthetic
preferences in the new culture as compared to the ancient.
Many ideas and principles of the apologists in the Latin world were
developed by one of the most celebrated Fathers of Western Christianity, St.Augustine.
The second part of the book is dedicated to the detailed analysis of his aesthetic
system (perhaps, a unique system of such kind in Patristics). Here the author
demonstrates the role that aesthetic phenomena and paradigms have in the Augustinian
historiography and his teachings on being, cognition and the Church. The rather
detailed Augustinian concepts and ideas of the universal order, number and rhythm,
the beautiful (and its numerous laws such as harmony, commensurability, likeness
etc.), artistic activity, the Christian understanding of art (and especially rhetoric
and music - the meaning of jubilatio), his theories of the sign and aesthetic
perception have formed a solid foundation for Western European medieval aesthetics.
Moreover, some of the questions examined by Augustine are still important for
The book is based on the study of Greek and Latin sources, many
of which still have not been translated into modern languages, as well as on the
most recent critical literature on Patristics.
At the present time the author is working on the second volume of
the Aesthetica Patrum which is dedicated to the Church Fathers of the 4th century,
the "Golden Age" of Patristics.