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Editors: Sergey Minov and Flavia Ruani
Chapters gathered in Syriac Hagiography: Texts and Beyond explore a wide range of Syriac hagiographical works, while following two complementary methodological approaches, i.e. literary and cultic, or formal and functional. Grouped into three main sections, these contributions reflect three interrelated ways in which we can read Syriac hagiography and further grasp its characteristics: “Texts as Literature” seeks to unfold the mechanisms of their literary composition; “Saints Textualized” offers a different perspective on the role played by hagiographical texts in the invention and/or maintenance of the cult of a particular saint or group of saints; “Beyond the Texts” presents cases in which the historical reality behind the nexus of hagiographical texts and veneration of saints can be observed in greater details.
In: Vigiliae Christianae
Author: Allison L. Gray

Abstract

In a seldom discussed episode from Gregory of Nyssa’s Life of Gregory Thaumaturgus, the wonderworking bishop converts a pagan temple custodian using the written word and a miracle. Physical proofs seem essential for teaching this outsider about divine power. Yet in the very next episode the narrator praises Thaumaturgus for disregarding physical appearances and for keeping silent. A close reading of the Life 34-47 demonstrates that Gregory of Nyssa models, within the narrative, a progression from basic catechesis through signs to the more complex work of interpreting signs, making inferences from what is seen to that which remains unseen. Contextualizing this paradoxical sequence of Thaumaturgus vignettes in Cappadocian discussions of divine condescension and principles of fourth-century Christian paideia, I show that Gregory of Nyssa uses the juxtaposition between Thaumaturgus’ teaching and conduct to model the flexible approach required for bishops to communicate the nature of divine power to varied audiences.

In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Gregory of Nyssa and Dionysius the Areopagite both contemplate the Exodus narrative of Moses’ experiences on Sinai. That narrative is complex, with Moses ascending and descending the mountain several times, sometimes in company, sometimes alone. Gregory follows the biblical twists and turns in Life of Moses; the relevant paragraph in Dionysius’ Mystical Theology tells of just one ascent. This article re-examines their dependence on the details of the biblical text, arguing that its exegetical puzzles proved fertile ground for their apophatic insights. Both seize on Exodus 20:21 as symbolising the utter incomprehensibility of God. But they resolve the enigmas of Exodus 33-34 differently. Gregory uses Exodus 33:18-23 as a springboard to his articulation of a never-ending journey into the infinite divine, while Exodus 34:29-35 provides the biblical impetus behind Dionysius’ concept of “union.”

In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Editio princeps of P.Duk. inv. 660, a possibly third- or fourth-century papyrus fragment containing a mixture or patchwork (i.e. a cento) of citations of and allusions to the Greek bible: Gen 27:28, Pss 26:2, 4, 41:2, 123:7, and 2 Cor 6:2 are present and a number of other scriptural references are likely. What remains of the papyrus indicates that it held some personal or devotional function.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
Author: Susan E. Hylen

Abstract

In the fifth century, the author of the Life and Miracles of Saint Thekla transformed Thekla’s story from a simple Greek work into a grand epic. He collected stories and rewrote the Acts of Thekla using methods that were similar to other Christian and non-Christian works. The author employed classicizing language and allusions to Homer and other ancient writers in order to convey the high status he deemed appropriate to the story. Like other Christian works, the author rewrote scripture as a way of reinforcing and updating its importance. Through these stylistic features, the Life and Miracles conveys an appreciation for literary education and suggests a context in which reading, writing, and devotion were mutually reinforcing.

In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

In this paper I examine the mythological references contained in Clem. Alex. Str. 4,19,118-123, a passage in which Clement develops the idea that perfection is equally attainable by men and women, and illustrates it by listing examples of female perfection, including biblical women, historical figures, and mythical heroines. After an analysis of Clement’s technique of embedment of the mythical examples, I show that his wording conveys a subtle distinction between the mythical women on the one hand and the historical and biblical women on the other by signalling the poetical character of the former. In this context, it is the synthetic and selective nature of the references that allows Clement to exploit myth’s illustrative function without explicitly distancing himself from it. Finally, I argue that his source on several mythical examples is a mythographical catalogue of figures grouped under φιλο- compounds.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
Author: Daniel Greb

Abstract

In his treatise de fuga in persecutione Tertullian argues that flight is not allowed for any Christian in times of persecution. As persecution originates in God and his will, there is no possibility to flee and avoid it. Such a behaviour would be nothing else than apostasy and would result in the loss of eternal life. Only by submitting oneself completely to God and his providence and the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Paraclete) it is possible to endure persecution and fulfil God’s demand for steadfastness. To convince his addressee Fabius, Tertullian gives his treatise a classical rhetorical disposition and arranges his arguments according to the partes orationis. This article investigates the rhetorical substance of the treatise and outlines its disposition as a deliberative speech. It is demonstrated, how Tertullian’s rhetoric influences and strengthens his argumentation.

In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Justin’s First Apology contains the longest extant description of an early Christian meal. This description (ch. 65-67) poses several problems, of which this short article singles out only two. On the level of textual criticism, an oft-discussed variant, rejected in all editions, suggests that the blessing is made over a cup of water, not wine. On the level of liturgical history, Justin’s Eucharist seems to contradict the view that early Christian meals resembled Graeco-Roman symposia. By combining the textual and the historical approach, this article offers a compromise. It is argued that water and not wine was indeed used during the opening ritual, but that the rest of the event did unfold as a symposium and hence included wine.

In: Vigiliae Christianae