Euthanasia and Patristic Tradition: Reading John Damascene and Symeon the New Theologian on Christian Bioethics

By Ioannis Bekos

A critique of contemporary bioethical thought, drawing on the Patristic tradition to develop a Christian anthropology that offers an alternative approach to bioethics.

ISBN: 9780227176986


Euthanasia and Patristic Tradition presents secular and Christian bioethics as opposing forces in dialogue, highlights the importance of the Christian Patristic tradition in revealing disguised characteristics of bioethics in our era, and challenges the idea of individualism in modern societies through the development of a Christian individualism. While the book is focussed on euthanasia, it also offers important perspectives on other ethical dilemmas.

Ioannis Bekos applies Panagiotis Kondylis’s theory for the emergence of worldviews as a function of power where all ethical theories have been proved to be subjective. Bringing together bioethical theories and just war theory, he exposes the disguised power claims of modern bioethics over human existence. Then, through an account of the history of thought, society, and politics of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Bekos delivers a profound critique of the idea of common morality, popular theories such as principlism and contractualism, ethicists like Peter Singer, and philosophers like Habermas.

Using the works of St John Damascene and St Symeon the New Theologian, Bekos shows the fundamental elements of a Christian anthropology regarding the constitution of man, the character of pain and death, and the importance of the free will in man, offering a critique of modern bioethics.

Additional information

Dimensions234 × 156 mm

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Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Ioannis Bekos lectures on Christian Ethics and Religious Education at the Theological School of the Church of Cyprus and the University of Cyprus, and is a member of the Cyprus National Bioethics Committee. He is the author of Which Ethics? Which Story? (En Plo, 2010), on the commentary of St Nicholas Cabasilas on the Divine Liturgy and the development of Christian ethics.


Foreword by Stanley Hauerwas

General Introduction

Part One: Power Claims over Human Life and the ‘Creation’ of a ‘New’ Human Being
1. Bioethics and Power Claims on Human Life
2. Bioethics, Euthanasia and the ‘Creation’ of a ‘New’ Human Being

Part Two: The Creation of Man According to the Image of God and the Prospect of Voluntary Death
3. St John Damascene and the Character of Man
4. St Symeon the New Theologian and the Character of Man

Part Three: Christian Tradition and the Issues Surrounding Euthanasia
5. Christian Individualism and Decisions on Euthanasia

Epilogue: Euthanasia – Self-sacrifice or Murder?
Afterword by Ulrich Volp



Endorsements and Reviews

Both medical sciences and bioethical theories are neither neutral nor innocent – so at least it is claimed in this impressive book. Ioannis Bekos argues that modern bioethical theories often presuppose problematic anthropologies and mask power claims, which can and must be exposed with the aid of Christian theology and the Greek patristic tradition. This is a stimulating book that will help the reader re-examine their assumptions in critical and constructive ways.
Demetrios Bathrellos, Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies and Emory University

This book offers a critique of the anthropological assumptions that give rise to bioethics and of the resulting collapse of ethics into the management and regulation of life and death. The historical investigation of Western thought is conducted with generosity and respect, whilst the author demonstrates an alternative understanding of the human person that arises in the work of two seminal Eastern theologians. Readers will be inspired by this fresh reading of basic elements of Christian faith.
Susan Frank Parson, editor of Studies in Christian Ethics