"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Monday, February 6, 2012

Origen and Exegesis

Interest in the great Origen of Alexandria remains very high today, as I have noted in the past. A new book from the Oxford Early Christian Studies series looks in particular at his exegetical work: Peter W. Martens, Origen and Scripture: The Contours of the Exegetical Life (Oxford UP, 2012, 352pp.).

About this book, the publisher tells us:
Scriptural interpretation was an important form of scholarship for Christians in late antiquity. For no one does this claim ring more true than Origen of Alexandria (185-254), one of the most prolific scholars of Scripture in early Christianity. This book examines his approach to the Bible through a biographical lens: the focus is on his account of the scriptural interpreter, the animating centre of the exegetical enterprise. In pursuing this largely neglected line of inquiry, Peter W. Martens discloses the contours of Origen's sweeping vision of scriptural exegesis as a way of life. For Origen, ideal interpreters were far more than philologists steeped in the skills conveyed by Greco-Roman education. Their profile also included a commitment to Christianity from which they gathered a spectrum of loyalties, guidelines, dispositions, relationships and doctrines that tangibly shaped how they practiced and thought about their biblical scholarship. The study explores the many ways in which Origen thought ideal scriptural interpreters (himself included) embarked upon a way of life, indeed a way of salvation, culminating in the everlasting contemplation of God. This new and integrative thesis takes seriously how the discipline of scriptural interpretation was envisioned by one of its pioneering and most influential practitioners.
I look forward to seeing this expertly reviewed in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies. 

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