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The Dialectical Questions offers an English translation of the Erotemata Dialectices, the final and fullest textbook on the art of argumentation written by the reformer and educational innovator Philip Melanchthon (1497-1560). Representing an era when rhetoric and dialectic were seen as interdependent, companion arts, Melanchthon’s textbook was widely used in Protestant Latin schools and universities during the Reformation. The translation tracks revisions to the text across its lifetime editions (1547-1560) and traces its classical sources. The introduction chronicles the personal and political upheavals that Melanchthon experienced during its composition, and provides an overview of its rich and complex content. It then focuses on the unique feature that sets this work apart from other early modern dialectics: its many sample arguments drawn from medicine and natural philosophy.

Abstract

Easter themes and motifs constitute a secondary level of meaning of the fifth poem in Prudentius’ Cathemerinon, namely the “hymn for the lighting of the lamps”. This is the result of a comparison between this evening hymn and the proclamations that were sung during the Easter vigil throughout the West from the fourth century onwards. The parallels found include light, the crossing of the Red Sea, Christ’s descent into hell, as well as the close relationship between the Exodus and baptism, which was commonly celebrated during the paschal night. That kind of scenario better explains the presence of the Paradise scene that follows the Exodus narrative in Cathemerinon 5: the Eden regained as is depicted by Prudentius, with references to the enclosed garden in the Song of Songs, appears to stand for the Church community to which the newly baptised had finally access.

In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

In 543 and 553, two church councils initiated by Justinian condemned Origen’s belief that stars possess rational souls. In this article, I place Justinian’s anathemas in the wider context of sixth-century debates on Biblical cosmology and on the validity of astral sciences. In the first part, I review the arguments for and against astral ensoulment and astral signification in Origen, Evagrius, and other Christian and Neoplatonic authors. The second part consists of an in-depth reading of two sixth-century Christian authors who reacted differently to Origen’s ideas: Sergius of Rešʿaynā (d. 536) and John Philoponus (d. ca. 570). While Sergius endorses and expands on the Origenian view by integrating Evagrian and Neoplatonic elements, I argue that John Philoponus constructs his arguments not only in opposition to Origen, but specifically as a reaction to the Origenist-Evagrian line of interpretation represented by Sergius. Finally, I offer a few examples of how Sergius’ and Philoponus’ divergent readings of Origen can contribute to a better understanding of later debates on similar issues in Byzantium and the Islamic world.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
Author: Marc Malevez

Abstract

The presentation of monasticism given by Evagrius Ponticus corresponds essentially to the description – found in other sources of the time – of the approach actually followed by the first monks of Coptic Egypt. This article seeks to more systematically study the characteristics of this approach as described in these sources. This will include a study of what is called the “monastic armor”, of which one of the elements is fasting. In this article, we focus on the practices concerning fasting: its calendar and its timetables, its influence on the visit of hosts, the extreme practices. We conclude, here as elsewhere, that moderation is advocated as necessary by most monks of the Egyptian desert.

In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Using the example of Epistula 3 Jerome’s citation technique is analyzed in detail. For this purpose, a comprehensive classification grid of intertextual references is introduced for the first time, which allows a systematization of the narrative examination of citations and allusions. Thus, not only differences in the use of Bible verses and quotations of classics can be highlighted transparently but also a (radical) syntactic, structural, and semantic incorporation of biblical and classic pre-texts by Jerome’s text can be substantiated. In stark contrast to former, rather negative verdicts on Jerome’s “cento style” and semantic incoherences in his writing, this approach is capable of showing a high functionality and authority in Jerome’s strategy of referencing, which shapes the narrative of the friendship letter not only aesthetically but also significantly helps to constitute its semantics.

In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Recent studies of Victorinus by Stephen Andrew Cooper, Ellen Scully, Lenka Karfiková and Werner Steinmann have highlighted the need to read the philosophical treatises more closely alongside explicitly theological and exegetical work. But the approach of these authors reflects significantly divergent goals, from reading his work to defend an almost Lutheran emphasis on sola fide, or rather differently, in terms of a ‘physicalist’ approach on universal implications of Christ’s role as Logos. Appreciating the work of Cooper and Karfiková, the present treatment is focused on a recent article by Scully, questioning her understanding of Victorinus on the interconnection of cosmology and soteriology to present the human Christ in terms of a Platonic form.

In: Vigiliae Christianae