The Focal Point of Study for My Dissertation
This study's focal point is the Lactantian concept of God the Father in the light of classical and contemporary metaphor theory. Accordingly, it has four primary goals: (1) This investigation will determine the possible conceptual or ecclesiastical antecedents that motivated Lactantius to apply the paternal metaphor "Father" to God; (2) it will explore what Lactantius and other Christian writers possibly mean by "Father"; (3) moreover, this study will scrutinize how Lactantius conceives the relationship between the Father and the Son; (4) it will probe the eschatological significance that "Father" possibly has for Lactantius.
The introductory portion of this study is structured as follows. First, it is necessary to provide an overview of Lactantian studies. In the overview, a marked contrast between common preoccupations of patristic scholars or historians and the focus of this work will be established. Second, the overview will supply an outline of Lactantius' conception of God the Father. In that portion of this investigation, the seeming heterodox Christology of Lactantius will also be contextualized. Third, a synopsis of each chapter contained in this study will be furnished. In contrast to other works that have elected to research non-theological aspects of the early apologist's work, this study will scrutinize Lactantian thought pertaining to God the Father. Its chief aim is to ascertain whether Lactantius employs "Father" as a metaphor for God rather than as a proper name for an immutable and eternal distinction of the triune Godhead. Furthermore, this study proposes that by using the divine epithet "Father" as a metaphor, Lactantius apparently downplays the role of gender in his conceptualization of God. It is possible that Lactantius believes that gender is not an intrinsic property of God or a category of being whose primordial exemplar is divine. Therefore, while it might not be possible to apodictically discern Lactantian intent regarding divine gender, this investigation will argue that at the very least Lactantius is not preoccupied with the reputed gender of God the Father when he employs this venerable concept.