The Christ who Embraces: An Orthodox Theology of Margins ... Jacob ¢  formation of an Orthodox

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    The Christ who Embraces:

    An Orthodox Theology of Margins in India

    `

    By

    Jacob Joseph

    B.A., B.D., M.A., MTh.

    A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the

    degree of Doctor of Philosophy

    University of Divinity

    2019

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    Abstract

    This thesis develops a Christological response to Orthodox Christian mission in the context

    of caste dynamics among St. Thomas/Syrian Orthodox Christians in India. The world’s

    Orthodox community recognises as axiomatic Ion Bria’s description of mission as the

    ‘liturgy after the liturgy.’ The liturgy inhabits an all-encompassing space, one without any

    room for exclusion, as is proper for the God of all creation. To justify this argument, Ion Bria

    develops his dictum in terms of the cosmic missional fulfilment of ‘the liturgy:’ the

    imperative to witness in the public and political realms, identifying with the struggles of

    politically marginalized communities in order to embody the gospel in hostile contexts.

    This thesis considers the implications of this Orthodox model of mission in the Indian

    social context; in particular, how an emphasis on transcendence and liturgy might take

    political form in relation to Dalit social and theological concerns. It explores theological

    resources within miaphysite Christology, especially as developed by early teachers of the

    church in their treatment of a transcendental and immanent Christology. This theological

    perspective is then engaged in a contextual debate on the theology of margins in India,

    namely Dalit Christology, and the importance it places on meaningful engagement in the

    formation of an Orthodox theology of margins in India.

    Finally, I propose an all-encompassing praxis of the liturgical embrace (kiss of peace), a

    Christological metaphor for the Syrian Orthodox liturgy, which extends from the liturgical to

    the social milieu. This proposal aims to define touch or embrace in the context of

    ‘untouchability,’ where people identify as equal, without discrimination, reflecting the

    inseparable unity or embrace of the transcendental (divine) and immanent (human) nature of

    Christ. In following these threads, this thesis intends to offer a casteless Orthodox theology of

    mission that envisions a reconciling mission through a Christological embrace.

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    Declaration

    I hereby certify that this thesis contains no material which has been accepted for the

    award of any other degree or diploma in any university or other institution, and affirm

    that to the best of my knowledge, the thesis contains no material previously published

    or written by another person, except where due references is made in the text of the

    thesis.

    Signed _________________

    Jacob Joseph Date:

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    Acknowledgements

    This thesis was made possible with the support and encouragement of many. First and

    foremost, I wish to acknowledge the oversight of my principal supervisor, Rev Associate

    Professor John Flett, and associate supervisor, Rev. Dr. Duncan Reid, and express my

    gratitude to them for their intellectual and practical guidance, personal concern and warm

    encouragement, without which this thesis in its current form would not have been possible.

    I would also like to thank the entire team from the Research Office of the University of

    Divinity, in particular Professor John McDowell and Dr. Suman Kashyap for their timely

    guidance. My thanks are also due to the faculty and staff of Trinity Theological College,

    where I began my research program, and Pilgrim Theological College, where I have enjoyed

    student life for the past two and a half years. I am grateful to Rev Associate Professor Sean

    Winter, Associate Professor Katharine Massam, Rev Associate Professor Monica

    Melanchthon, Rev Associate Professor Geoff Thompson, and Ms Erlinda Loversed for

    encouraging my academic life so meaningfully.

    Many international scholars have generously shared their knowledge and wisdom with me

    over the past few years. I would particularly like to mention Dr. Sebastian Brock, Dr.

    Yonatan Moss, Dr. Sathianathan Clarke, Dr. P. T. George, Dr. Gudrun Löwner, Dr. Santhosh

    Kumar, Dr. Jayakiran Sebastian, Dr. Francis Clooney, Dr. Stephen B. Bevans, Dr. Peniel

    Rajkumar, Dr. George Zachariah, Dr. Y.T. Vinayraj, Dr. George Pati, Dr. Fr. Roger Ackrass,

    Dr. Raj Bharat Bhatta, Aboona Boutros Touma Issa, Deacon Jithin James, and Mr. Aziz

    Maud.

    My thanks also to the library staff from Dalton McCaughey Library, Parkville, St. Paschal

    Library, Box Hill, St. Athanasius College Library, Donvale, Oxford University Library,

    Manchester University Library, and the United Theological College Library, Bangalore. I

    especially wish to acknowledge Mr. Stephen Connelly, Ms. Sabine Voermans, T. Marshal,

    and Ms. Tosca Waerea from Dalton McCaughey Library and Mrs. Deborah Decru from St.

    Athanasius Library. I also thank Mr. Kuriakose Kurian, Canberra for beautifully formatting

    the text.

    I would like to express my appreciation to the bishops, priests and parishioners of the

    Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church in India, the United States of America, and Ireland for

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    their guidance and support in sustaining my spirit of research. Particularly, I thank His

    Eminence Mor Malatius Malki Malki, their Graces Mor Ireneous Paulose, Mor Athanasios

    Geevarghese, and Mor Militius Yuhanon, and the priests and members of St. Mary’s Jacobite

    Syrian Orthodox Church, Frankston, and all other churches in Australia.

    I am grateful to Dr. Mathew Samuel, Mr. Binoj Mathew and Mrs. L. Varghese for helping

    me access various endowment funds to meet the cost of my tuition at the University of

    Divinity. I have also been fortunate to have many friends organizing primary and secondary

    resources from across the world.

    Thank you to my family whose love and prayers made all this possible: my mother,

    Ammini Joseph, mother-in-law Mrs. Lissamma Mathai, and siblings Mr. Thomas Kutty and

    Eliyamma and families; Mr. Varghese M. A. and Mrs. Lissy Varghese and family, Mr.

    Thomas Mathai and family, and Ms. Cijy Mathai; and to some who have already departed

    this world for their heavenly abode, namely my father Mr. P. T. Joseph, father-in-law, Mr.

    Thomas Mathai and my brother Mr. Lassar V.J.

    Words cannot do justice to the thanks I owe my beloved wife Deepa Jacob, and children

    Hansel Joseph Jacob and Georgy Mathew Jacob. Throughout this journey, they have

    compromised their time and social enjoyment, and sacrificed so much in various other ways

    to allow me to fulfil this dream.

    Finally, and most importantly, I wish to thank God Almighty for enabling me to write this

    thesis.

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    Table of Contents

    Abstract ............................................................................................................................1 Declaration .......................................................................................................................2 Acknowledgements ..........................................................................................................3 Abbreviations ...................................................................................................................8 1. Introduction .................................................................................................................9

    1.1 A Problem of Liturgy ...............................................................................................9 1.2 Orthodox Mission, Culture and Caste ..................................................................... 13 1.3 Orthodoxy in India, Dalit Embrace, Confusions ..................................................... 18 1.4 A Problem and Future Ahead ................................................................................. 20 1.5 Liturgy, Body and Politics ...................................................................................... 22 1.6 Dalit Theology, Christology, and Embrace ............................................................. 24 1.7 Dalit Theology, Exclusivism and Methodology ...................................................... 29 1.8 Chapter-by-chapter Outline .................................................................................... 33

    2. The Problem of ‘the Other’: A Historical and Theological Query among the St. Thomas Christians in India. .......................................................................................... 35

    2.1 Introduction............................................................................................................ 35 2.2 St. Thomas Christian Identity, Way to Dominance, and Religious Exclusivism ...... 37 2.3 Transcendental Brahmanic God and Immanent Human (Atman)............................. 41 2.4 Douglas and Harper: Purity and Pollution, Towards Caste Expression .................... 43 2.5 Varna System, Untouchability and Tra