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A Letter that Killeth: Gregory of Nyssa on How (Not) to Read Scripture, Platonically

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Published version
Peer-reviewed

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Authors

KATSOS, ISIDOROS C 

Abstract

jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pIn this essay, I explore the emergence of multicolumn Bibles in late antiquity, with a particular emphasis on Origen's jats:italicHexapla</jats:italic> and its use by Gregory of Nyssa. I contextualise Gregory's use of multicolumn Bibles within the Origenian tradition and show that, in this intellectual context, multicolumn Bibles functioned as hermeneutical rather than text‐critical devices. I argue that the best explanation for Gregory's use of multicolumn Bibles comes from the hermeneutical theory of the jats:italicPhaedrus</jats:italic> as it was developed in later Neoplatonism. I demonstrate how the adaptation of the jats:italicPhaedrus</jats:italic>‐hermeneutics to Scripture can animate the biblical text, revealing hidden elements of discursiveness in it. I conclude by arguing that the Christian adaptation of the jats:italicPhaedrus</jats:italic>, as exemplified by Gregory, is distinguished by originality from Neoplatonic hermeneutics. My argument shows that in Origen and his school the use of multicolumn Bibles should not be theorised in terms of ‘exegetical maximalism’ but in terms of ‘dialectical hermeneutics’. The difference between the two approaches lies in the shift between modern and late ancient approaches to text and Scripture: while modernity is characterised by the pursuit of the authentic text, Origen's literary world is characterised by textual plurality, orality, and vocality. As a result, while the modern reader expects to find the meaning of Scripture jats:italicin</jats:italic> the text, the Origenian reader expected to find the meaning of Scripture in the discourse that lies latent jats:italicin between</jats:italic> the text.</jats:p>

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Keywords

5005 Theology, 50 Philosophy and Religious Studies

Journal Title

Modern Theology

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0266-7177
1468-0025

Volume Title

Publisher

Wiley