Last Friday I attended Duquesne University’s colloquium on the reception history of the Bible. It was a full day. If I were a better note-taker, I’d have much more to blog. But I was too busy listening and absorbing it all.
Both keynote addresses were superb: “The Church Fathers and New Testament Exegesis” by Dr. Dale Allison of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and “Christ, the Church, and the Shape of Scripture: What We Can Learn from Patristic Exegesis” by Fr. Brian Daley, S.J., of Notre Dame.
Dr. Allison gave five examples of plausible interpretations proposed (or, rather, commonly held) by the Fathers that are nowhere found in critical commentaries of the last two centuries (including his own!). He emphasized that his examples were representative, not exhaustive, that he was not a patrologist, and that a specialist might come up with many more. His bottom line: “Study of the Fathers should be part and parcel of … modern historical-critical exegesis.” He tagged Tertullian and Eusebius as two of history’s four great “intertextual” interpreters of Scripture (the others being Albert the Great and Grotius). T and E excelled at this, he said, because they were keen to disprove the Marcionites who sought to jettison the Old Testament with its God.
Father Daley looked at the “christological hermeneutics” of four ancient interpreters: Irenaeus, Origen, Athanasius, and Augustine. He directed us to the works where each shows his cards, hermeneutically speaking, laying out principles of interpretation. I hope to track these down for you in the near future and collect them in a single post.
In the afternoon I attended “Blessed is the Glory of God from His Place”: Notes on the Jewish and Christian Reception History of Ezek 3:12, by Fr. Alexander Golitzin, host of the excellent online interdisciplinary seminar, Jewish Roots of Eastern Christian Mysticism. He was every bit as entertaining and illuminating as I expected him to be. I also enjoyed “The Reproduction of Gen 1:26-27 in Y. Berakhot 12d and Early Syriac Sources” by Dr. Silviu Bunta (University of Dayton) and “Reception History within the Canon Itself: A Case Study on Leviticus 25 and the Year of the Jubilee” by my friend Dr. John Bergsma (Franciscan University of Steubenville).
A highlight for me was carpooling over to the conference with David Mills, David Scott and Rob Grano, whose Amazon book links I have not yet learned to incorporate, using the most recent version of WordPress.