Category Archives: Patristic Exegesis

God’s Word and God’s world

In On Christian Doctrine III.10.14, St. Augustine has famously told us that “Whatever there is in the word of God that cannot, when taken literally, be referred either to purity of life or soundness of doctrine, you may set down … Continue reading

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The Letter Kills; The Spirit Gives Life

Interestingly, St. Augustine testifies that it was spiritual exegesis of the Scriptures that first convinced him of the falsehood of Manichaeanism: I had thought that nothing could be said for the Catholic faith in the face of the objections raised … Continue reading

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Preconditions for Understanding the “Plain” Scriptures

Athanasius, who in so many places so eloquently describes Scripture as “plainly” teaching or proving this or that, elsewhere urges that certain preconditions must be present if one is to truly understand the “plain” Scriptures: But for the searching of … Continue reading

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Qualifying Negative Appraisals of Antiochene Exegesis

Bertrand de Margerie, S.J., asks whether it is fair, when evaluating the Antiochene school of biblical exegesis, to reduce it to the oft-suspiciously viewed work of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Diodore of Tarsus.:”(An Introduction to the History of Exegesis Vol. … Continue reading

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Antioch and Alexandria, Again

A key difference between the Antiochene and Alexandrian schools of biblical exegesis seems to have been that Antioch was more influenced by the discipline of rhetoric and a sense of rooted-ness in history, while Alexandria preferred philosophy and spiritual realities … Continue reading

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Literal and Spiritual (II)

Antiochene exegete Diodore of Tarsus on how the literal meaning of Scripture does not exclude a higher meaning, but provides the necessary foundation for such: We do not object to anagoge [a search for higher meaning] and a more lofty … Continue reading

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Literal and Spiritual (I)

Francis M. Young helpfully delineates the hermeneutical assumptions of the Greco-Roman schools of grammar, rhetoric, and logic within which the Church Fathers received their formative educations.:”(“Alexandrian and Antiochene Exegesis,” in A History of Biblical Interpretation, Vol. 1: The Ancient Period, … Continue reading

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