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Prosopological Exegesis and the Development of Pre-Nicene Pneumatology
Author: Kyle Hughes
In The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit, Kyle R. Hughes offers a new approach to the development of early Christian pneumatology by focusing on how Justin, Irenaeus, and Tertullian linked the Holy Spirit with testimony to the deity and lordship of the Father and the Son. Drawing extensively on recent studies of prosopological exegesis and divine testimony in the ancient world, Hughes demonstrates how these three pre-Nicene Christian writers utilized Scripture and the conventions of ancient rhetoric and exegesis to formulate a highly innovative approach to the Holy Spirit that would contribute to the identification of the Spirit as the third person of the Trinity.

In: The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit
Author: Kyle R. Hughes

Abstract

In Dial. 56.14–15, Justin Martyr presents the Spirit as testifying to the deity and lordship of the Father and the Son on account of his prosopological reading of the Old Testament. This pneumatological innovation was rooted in various New Testament ideas, which Justin was the first to synthesize in this particular manner. Justin’s portrayal of the Spirit’s Trinitarian testimony most likely emerged in the context of his engagement with Judaism, with Justin desiring to fashion a Christian self-identity that was distinct from Judaism as he constructed it. Indeed, by identifying the Spirit, which held such a significant role in the worship and life of his Christian community, as the source of testimony to the beliefs that would come to distinguish Christians from Jews, Justin solidified the theological distinctives of his religious community while paving the way for future pneumatological developments in this regard.

In: The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit
Author: Kyle R. Hughes

Abstract

In Prax. 11.7–8, Tertullian of Carthage employs, with significant modifications, his predecessors’ understandings of the Trinitarian testimony of the Spirit. Unlike Justin and Irenaeus, when Tertullian portrays the Spirit as participating in intra-divine dialogue, the testifying function of the Spirit is only implicit in the quotations themselves and not in Tertullian’s own introduction or explanation of those quotations. Instead, Tertullian’s understanding of the Trinitarian testimony of the Spirit is most clearly stated apart from his portrayal of the Spirit’s prosopological speech. This pneumatological advance was inextricably linked with his support of the New Prophecy, which contributed to a more explicit portrayal of the Spirit as a Trinitarian person. Thus, because his use of prosopological exegesis only implicitly brought out the Spirit’s testifying role, as well as on account of his association with Montanism, Tertullian paved the way for the eventual diminishment of this aspect of the Spirit’s ministry in the later pre-Nicene Latin tradition. Still, Tertullian’s clear identification of the Spirit as a distinct divine person tasked with leading believers into a better understanding of the mystery of the Trinity both demonstrates thematic continuity with his predecessors as well as sets the stage for later pro-Nicene Trinitarian theology.

In: The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit
Author: Kyle R. Hughes

Abstract

In Haer. 3.6.1, Irenaeus of Lyons further refines Justin’s understanding of the Trinitarian testimony of the Spirit, clarifying and expanding the precise nature of this testimony by expanding the range of terms used to describe this action of the Spirit and by setting out contrasts with other forms of testimony from the Father and the Son. Irenaeus would, however, shift its application to a different polemical context from that of his predecessor, focusing on limiting rather than expanding the potential referents for the terms “God” and “Lord.” In addition, Irenaeus moved beyond Justin by identifying the Spirit as the source of revelation concerning the divine economy and the means by which human beings are prepared to share in the Trinitarian life of the Godhead. These theological developments resulted from Irenaeus’s competition with the Gnostics over the question of religious authority; to the extent that Irenaeus offered access to a Holy Spirit who would in turn offer some degree of access to the true fount of divinity, he turned the tables on the Gnostics and their own claims to have exclusive access, by the Spirit, to knowledge of the true God.

In: The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit
In: The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit
Author: Kyle R. Hughes

Abstract

For nearly a century, scholars have wrestled with the presence of Lukanisms in the Pericope Adulterae ( John 7:53-8:11) even as the manuscript evidence clearly indicates this account was not originally part of the Third Gospel. A comparison of the version of this pericope found in Papias and the Didascalia with the pericopae associated with the Lukan special material (or “L source”) reveals remarkable similarities in style, form, and content. In light of these discoveries, we conclude that Papias and the Didascalia preserve a primitive form of the Pericope Adulterae that was originally part of the L source behind Luke’s Gospel, shedding light on the tradition history of this pericope as well as the nature of L.

In: Novum Testamentum
Author: Kyle R. Hughes

This paper considers the role of the Spirit within early Christian writers’ use of prosopological exegesis, an interpretive method which seeks to identify various persons (prosopa) as the “true” speakers or addressees of a Scriptural text in which they are otherwise not in view. While scholars are increasingly recognizing that, for some early Christian writers, the Spirit could himself be a speaking agent, there remains no systematic analysis of the texts in which the Spirit speaks from his own prosopon. After making just such an analysis, focusing on key texts in the writings of Tertullian and Justin Martyr, this paper concludes that the need for divine testimony concerning both the Father and the Son was the central motivating factor for assigning ot quotations to the prosopon of the Spirit. In particular, this paper argues that this emphasis on the Spirit’s role as one who testifies is a direct outgrowth of the portrayal of the Spirit in the Johannine corpus and arose in the context of conflict with Judaism concerning the cessation of the Spirit. By making this connection, we have a new means by which to glimpse the theological dynamics at work in the pre-Nicene period that would contribute to the development of a distinctively Trinitarian, and not merely binitarian, view of God.

In: Vigiliae Christianae