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. 1: The Greek Fathers [Petersham, MA: Saint Bede's Publications, 1993], pg. 165.)”: One needs to take care not to oversimplify. Judging Antiochene exegesis to be Nestorian (because of it’s “rationalistic” tendency and suspicion of alleged deeper mysteries) would be premature, since no less an orthodox exegete than John Chrysostom was nurtured in the Antiochene school. Nestorius may have been Theodore’s disciple, but Chrysostom was Diodore’s. Clearly Antioch per se is not heretical.

Furthermore, whatever their final limitations key Antiochene principles do supply valuable correctives to excessive spiritualizing. They can yet facilitate many valuable insights into both the literal meaning of Scripture and ongoing research into the sensus plenior of Scripture.:”(Ibid., 184-186.)”:

This entry was posted in Biblical Interpretation, Christianity and Classical Culture, Patristic Hermeneutics. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Qualifying Negative Appraisals of Antiochene Exegesis

  1. Very true, Tim. The Antiochene school is a valid and healthy catholic hermeneutical and Christological tradition, and is by no means fundamentally “Nestorian.” Developed to an extreme degree it can run into the error of Nestorianism, but when guarding against this extreme, Antiochene exegesis and Christology is thoroughly catholic. And it should also be noted that, on the other side of things, the school of Alexandria can be criticized in much the same way as the school of Antioch has. When developed to its extreme, Alexandria ran into the error of Eutyches. But, like Antioch, when guarding against extremes it is thoroughly catholic.

    This is why it is so important to view the the Definition of Chalcedon in its historical context as a synthesis of the Christological concerns of these two schools of thought which rules out the extremes of both trajectories. It embraces the fundamental concerns of both the Antiochene and the Alexandrian schools, while at the same time ruling out the extremes of both Nestorianism and Eutychianism.

    Putting a modern spin on the issues: the Reformed are thoroughly Antiochene in hermeneutical and Christological emphasis, which is why they have always been suspected of Nestorianism by Lutherans and, in turn, have suspected Lutherans of Eutychianism. But, when viewing Chalcedon in light of its original intent, which was, in my view, to embrace the concerns of both schools while ruling out the extremes, neither of these charges holds much weight. This gives me hope for an eventual reunion of the two communions. Of course, this won’t happen unless the polemicism ceases, but at least theoretically the two systems are not irreconcilable, as Chalcedon, I think, demonstrates.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>