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The Journal of Late Antique Religion and Culture

Volume 4, 2010


Josef Lössl

Pauline Exegesis in Patristic Commentaries of Old Testament Prophets: The Example of Julian of Aeclanum's Tractatus in Amos

Abstract: The surge in Pauline exegesis in the Latin world during the late fourth / early fifth century has been referred to as a “Pauline Renaissance”. It produced numerous Pauline commentaries and led to a presence of Pauline motifs in many areas of late Roman cultural and intellectual life. This article is an attempt to show how it influenced not only New Testament but also Old Testament exegesis. Julian of Aeclanum’s Tractatus in Amos draws direct links between the figures of Amos and Paul and thus offers a re-interpretation not only of the role of Old Testament prophecy in late antique Christianity but, almost more importantly, of the role of Paul and his “call”, or, as it is more frequently understood, his “conversion”, from Jewish zealot to Christian apostle. What is suggested here, among other things, is that the link between Amos and Paul in the Tractatus in Amos leads to a greater appreciation of the role of Jewish prophecy and teaching in early Christian thought and of Paul’s Jewish identity.


John W. Watt

Commentary and Translation in Syriac Aristotelian Scholarship: Sergius to Baghdad

Abstract: This article considers the relationship between the composition in Syriac of commentaries on Aristotle and the translation of his treatises from the time of Sergius of Reshaina through to the Baghdad scholars of the 8th-10th centuries. Surveying the work particularly of Sergius, the scholarly translators of Qenneshre, and the interests of Patriarch Timothy I as evidenced in his letters, it argues that the translation activity up to the 8th century must be seen within the context of a school tradition in which the Syriac text of Aristotle was read in association with a written or oral commentary, or with the Greek text, or both. An appreciation of the link between commentary and translation, as also Syriac and Greek, in Graeco-Syriac Aristotelian scholarship of the 6th-8th centuries enables a better understanding of its relationship to the Syro-Arabic Aristotelian scholarship of Abbasid Baghdad.


Dirk Krausmüller

Human Souls as Consubstantial Sons of God: The Heterodox Anthropology of Leontius of Jerusalem

Abstract: In his treatise Contra Nestorianos Leontius of Jerusalem refers to the human soul as “divine inbreathing”, which he understands as a consubstantial emanation from God. This paper argues that Leontius was confronted with the Nestorian claim that a composition between an uncreated and a created entity is impossible and that he refuted this claim by arguing that the soul is divine and that the composition of a human soul with a human body is therefore a strict parallel for the incarnation. One of Leontius’ starting points was the traditional view that Adam’s soul was endowed with the Holy Spirit and not merely with a derivative grace. This model had the advantage that it located “God” in the human being but the disadvantage that this presence remained extrinsic to the human compound. To make it function as a precedent for the Incarnation Leontius substituted the Son for the Spirit and reduced the human nature to the body thereby indicating that the soul must be equated with the divine Son. In order to distinguish the case of Christ from that of Adam and other human beings he employed the Biblical motif of the “pledge”, which was traditionally used to contrast the partial spiritual endowment of the believers in this world with their complete spiritual endowment in the world to come but which he now applied to Adam and Christ. This permitted him to claim that in Adam the Son was only partially present while in Christ he was present completely. Thus he conceptualised the Incarnation not as the composition of the divine Word with a human nature consisting of body and soul but as a composition of the divine Word as soul and a human body. Consequently the divine component of traditional Christology could no longer be given a satisfactory role in the salvation of humankind. One reason for this shift, it is argued in this paper, was a too great dependence on the conceptual framework of his Nestorian opponent whose focus had been on the endowment of the human being Jesus with the Holy Spirit, who thus assumed a crucial role in the incarnation. Leontius accepted this framework as well as the Nestorian custom to see the difference between the Spirit in Jesus and the Spirit in other human beings in quantitative terms, and merely modified it by identifying the Holy Spirit with the Son on the one hand and with the soul on the other. However, it is suggested in this paper, Leontius may have believed in the divinity and timelessness of the soul independently of his Nestorian opponent. His interpretation of Philippians 2:6-7 suggests that he was a latter-day Origenist who could express his ideas more freely than his forebears because the political circumstances of the early seventh century made enforcement of orthodoxy impossible in the Eastern provinces.


James Siemens

Preliminary Enquiries Concerning the Place of the Laterculus Malalianus Among the Chronicles of Late Antiquity

Abstract: The chronicle played an important role in late antique historiography. It was, unlike a history, broad in scope, often serving to set local political or religious developments in wider context by means of annual entries that described events as they had happened through time and across different cultures. As deployed by Christian authors after Eusebius, however, concerned as such authors inherently were with time as the plane on which the divine will was enacted, chronicles took on an added theological dimension: one that would draw together concerns and motifs drawn from Judaism, and point, ultimately, to a future conditioned by the work of Christ. Of these, the sixth century Byzantine Chronographia of John Malalas represents a touchstone; the seventh century Latin Laterculus Malalianus, meanwhile, borrowing directly from it, amends the original text in favour of a new purpose of its own, while deepening any theological intent that had been present in the Chronographia immeasurably, and asserting a new future for humankind in Christ. Conceived in Greek but composed in Latin, and based on Irenaean soteriology set in an eschatological picture reminiscent of Ephrem the Syrian’s paradisical imagery, it is this combination of seemingly eclectic characteristics and its potential for yield across later historiography, exegesis, the Easter computus, and even cartography, that makes the Laterculus Malalianus a worthy text for study. The present paper serves merely to explore the lineaments involved in its composition, and suggests ways forward for further work.


Book Reviews

Andrew T.  Fear (ed.), Orosius: Seven Books of History against the Pagans (Translated Texts for Historians; Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010); 456 pp. ISBN-13: 978-1846314735. RRP £65.00. [Victoria Leonard]

Gabriel Said Reynolds, The Qur’ān and Its Biblical Subtext (Routledge Studies in the Qur’ān; London: Routledge, 2010); xi + 304 pp. ISBN-13: 978-0415778930. RRP £80. [Daniel King]

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