This study explores the content correlation of two important and well-known early gospel harmonies for the first time – a visual harmony and a textual harmony – that originated within the Roman Empire in the Latin west and the Syriac east some 400 years apart during Late Antiquity. Based on in-depth comparative analyses summarized in tables and diagrams, it identifies four distinctly diatessaronic patterns in the painting that do not accord with any one of the canonical gospels, nor any other possible combination of them, but follow instead the unique construction of the Diatessaron as documented by its Arabic Christian witness. In light of contemporaneous Latin and Syriac evidence about the liturgical rites of pedilavium and eucharist during the Holy Week, this study also contextualizes the choice of the focal vignettes in the painting.
Although often considered a moralist, John Chrysostom frequently discusses the incomprehensibility of God. This paper both contextualizes his teaching on divine incomprehensibility within a pro-Nicene tradition and demonstrates what is particular to his own theology. It puts forward two major arguments. First, Chrysostom expands upon a pro-Nicene discourse of divine incomprehensibility – as also seen in Basil of Caesarea and Gregory of Nazianzus – to include not only the incomprehensibility of God’s essence but also the incomprehensibility of God’s economies. Second, Chrysostom’s apparently simplistic biblicism and doctrine of faith are in fact theological corollaries of this doctrine of divine incomprehensibility. In these ways, Chrysostom’s moral teaching is seen to have a robust theological basis.
Only one allusion to the phrase “the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) survives from the early church, in Book 10 of Origen’s Commentary on John. This article establishes that Origen is offering a close paraphrase of this saying, and suggests that it appears as a slogan, possibly reflecting use by other Christians, in favour of overriding the implications of the spiritual reading of John 2.20–22. It shows how Origen’s interpretative procedures – distinguishing literal and spiritual senses, and invoking the key principle of Scripture’s internal harmony – interact and combine to resist this deployment of Jude 3. Although this requires Origen to admit some kind of “change of good things once given to the saints”, it constitutes an application and further elucidation of his careful exegetical method which, ultimately, “preserves the harmony of the narrative of the Scriptures”.
The following study of Epiphanius, Panarion 26 is divided into three parts. The first part argues that Epiphanius used a macro heresiological category, “Gnostics,” to combine what were in fact several different social formations in different areas with recognizably different practices. If we pay attention to practices, we can plausibly identify at least two groups in Egypt: the “Stratiotics” (with their distinctive agape ritual) and the “Phibionites” (with their distinctive ascent-descent ritual of 730 sex acts). The second part contends that, since Epiphanius shed light on several different social formations, we cannot assume they were all in one place, namely Alexandria. The third part, finally, offers an “annotated bibliography” of the texts used by “Stratiotics” and “Phibionites,” among others. It argues that the “Stratiotics” in particular used the Greater and Lesser Questions of Mary, which they may have in fact composed. In turn, “Phibionites” used the Birth of Mary and their own Gospel of Philip, though these works probably had a pre-“Phibionite” history. “Stratiotics” may also have modified received works such as Noria. Not all of these books said the same things, supported the same rites, and upheld the same ideology. The literature was diverse, making it difficult to fit “Stratiotic” and “Phibionite” theology neatly into any modern scholarly category (e.g., Sethian, Valentinian, or Ophite).
The correspondence of Isidore of Pelusium (360–435/440?), which consists of approximately two thousand letters, deals to a considerable extent with spiritual teachings and biblical exegesis and to a lesser degree with theological subjects. This article focuses specifically on Isidore’s Trinitarian doctrine and aims to bring to light its sources. The examination of the predominant anti-Arian and anti-Neo-Arian arguments and of the biblical passages Isidore deployed to support his doctrinal points illustrates two aspects of interest: on the one hand, it reveals Isidore as a derivative representative of Neo-Nicene orthodoxy acquainted with different anti-Anomoean works; on the other hand, it confirms the well-established view that Isidore was a resourceful and cultivated exegete.