The "Belly-Myther" of Endor

Interpretations of 1 Kingdoms 28 in the Early Church


The story of Saul and the woman at Endor in 1 Samuel 28 (LXX 1 Kingdoms 28) lay at the center of energetic disputes among early Christian authors about the nature and fate of the soul, the source of prophetic gifts, and biblical truth. In addition to providing the original texts and fresh translations of works by Origen, Eustathius of Antioch (not previously translated into English), and six other authors, Greer and Mitchell offer an insightful introduction to and detailed analysis of the rhetorical cast and theological stakes involved in early church debates on this notoriously difficult passage.

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Rowan A. Greer, Ph.D. (1965) in Religious Studies, Yale University is Professor of Anglican Studies Emeritus at Yale Divinity School. He is the author of numerous books including Origen: An Exhortation to Martyrdom, Prayer, and Selected Works (Paulist); Broken Lights and Mended Lives: Theology and Common Life in the Early Church (Penn State); and Anglican Approaches to Scripture: From the Reformation to the Present (Crossroad).
Margaret M. Mitchell, Ph.D. (1989) in Bible, University of Chicago, is Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the University of Chicago. She is the author of The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation and Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation (both from Westminster John Knox) and the co-editor of The Cambridge History of Christianity, Volume 1: Origins to Constantine (Cambridge University Press).
"This collaborative volume exemplifies, and this series enables, an approach to early
Christian studies with rich dividends: readable, critical translations, theological analysis
of texts manifesting early Christian doctrinal concerns in connection with exegetical
struggles, and analysis of early Christian hermeneutical procedure through linkage with
the culture of the antique world." - D. Jeffrey Bingham, Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, Texas

"Greer and Mitchell are to be thanked for their fruitful cooperation and methodologically
concise conclusions, for they supply a fascinating volume consisting of two different and
at the same time interacting parts: analytical studies, on the one hand, and primary
sources and fluent translations, on the other. Their work is very much welcome, and it is
once again shown that scholars, students, and interested readers will tremendously
benefit from the indispensable volumes published in this series." - Thomas J. Kraus, Hilpoltstein, Federal Republic of Germany
1. Some Observations on the Texts Translated: Theological Perspectives
2. Patristic Rhetoric on Allegory: Origen and Eustathius Put 1 Samuel 28 on Trial
3. Compositional Analyses
A. Origen, De engastrimytho (Hom. 5 in Sam.)
B. Eustathius of Antioch, De engastrimytho contra Origenem
1. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 105
2. Tertullian, On the Soul 54-58: The Soul's Fate after Death
3. The Martyrdom of Pionius 12-14
4. Origen, Homily on 1 Kingdoms 28
5. Eustathius of Antioch, On the Belly-Myther of Endor, Against Origen
6. Apollinaris of Laodicea, A Fragment from the Catenae
7. Diodore of Tarsus, A Fragment from the Catenae
8. The Letter of Saint Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, Concerning the Belly-Myther, to Bishop Theodosius
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