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Antiochene Theōria in the Writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theodoret of Cyrus

Author: 
Richard J. Perhai (Author)
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Description

Biblical scholars have often contrasted the exegesis of the early church fathers from the eastern region and “school” of Syrian Antioch against that of the school of Alexandria. The Antiochenes have often been described as strictly historical-literal exegetes in contrast to the allegorical exegesis of the Alexandrians. Patristic scholars now challenge those stereotypes, some even arguing that few differences existed between the two groups.
 
This work agrees that both schools were concerned with a literal and spiritual reading. But, it also tries to show, through analysis of Theodore and Theodoret’s exegesis and use of the term theōria, that how they integrated the literal-theological readings often remained quite distinct from the Alexandrians. For the Antiochenes, the term theōria did not mean allegory, but instead stood for a range of perceptions—prophetic, christological, and contemporary. It is in these insights that we find the deep wisdom to help modern readers interpret Scripture theologically.  
ISBN: 
9781451488005
Price: 
$69.00
ISBN: 
9781451494327
Price: 
$69.00
Release date: 
March 1, 2015
Pages: 
549
Width: 
6
Height: 
9

Emerging Scholars:

Endorsements

"Richard J. Perhai has produced a volume that has been desperately needed in the important exegetical and theological discussions that are currently raging in the academy and church. This discussion is more than a historical analysis, for it is centered on the method of theōria, which when properly understood and defined, places this method of interpretation right in the heart of the discussion of the New Testament use of the Old Testament and the debate over whether interpreters should use the grammatical-historical method exclusively in its search for meaning or defer more to an allegorical-spiritual rendering of Scripture if they wish to see more intimately the contemporary spiritual meaning of a biblical text for the believer today. His research involves a wide spectrum of scholars, many of whom are ordinarily left out of these important discussions and not given a space at the academic table. Nevertheless, here is a book that will be discussed for a number of years to come, for its appearance is long overdue. I heartily recommend this text to every serious student of the Scriptures, but especially to my colleagues who teach and write in the area of hermeneutics and to pastors who must grapple with asking how relevant this text is to mortals such as ourselves in our current world and our search for reality."
—Walter C. Kaiser Jr.
Emeritus, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

“This book is a masterful contribution to a neglected subject in patristic exegesis and its relevance for contemporary theology. It widens our comprehension of how Antiochene theoria was used by two prominent exegetes within the School of Antioch and offers a formidable challenge to those patristic scholars today who claim that Antiochene exegesis was little more than a variant of Alexandrian hermeneutics. The Antiochenes’ use of theōria reassures us of the rightful role historical and literary criticism plays today and that this reading of the Bible often supports a canonical, theological, and typological interpretation of Scripture with Christ as the principle of unity between the Testaments.”
Bradley Nassif
North Park University, Chicago
 
“Why do the exegetical nations rage? Richard Perhai’s valuable study of Theodore and Theodoret’s theōria goes a long way towards explaining the long-standing hermeneutical opposition between Antioch and Alexandria. More importantly, Perhai brings the results of his study to bear on contemporary discussions about the theological interpretation of Scripture. The way forward in debates about how best to understand, and integrate, the literal and spiritual senses of Scripture may well now lie through Antioch.”
Kevin J. Vanhoozer
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
 
“Richard Perhai’s work reminds us of the rich, profound, and multilayered meaning the Antiochene fathers observed in Holy Scripture. Reading theologically, they sought what the prophet Samuel experienced at Shiloh: to behold ‘the LORD who revealed himself by the word of the Lord.’  This volume moves us a good distance toward reading the Bible as Christians, leaving behind the reductionism of various one-dimensional, reactionary hermeneutics. Our hermeneutical ‘hands’ are freed then to grip tightly the full theological kit of church history. Dr. Perhai’s insights offer great help to those called to prepare souls to gaze deeply and forever, not merely upon the holy text, but into the holy face of God in Jesus Christ.”
Rev. Brent Nelson
Five Points Community Church, Auburn Hills, Michigan
 
“Perhai’s Antiochene TheÅ?ria in the Writings of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Theodoret of Cyrus fills a large gap in our understanding of theological method in the early church that has been too little studied.  With acute balance, Perhai’s work helps the reader to avoid overstatements about the literalism of Antioch over against the allegory of Alexandria. Most importantly, the work attempts to show a likeness between the theōria of Antioch and the modern movement of theological interpretation of Scripture (TIS). Even for those who do not normally embrace TIS in its strongest forms, the historical analogy is abundantly useful for scholarly analysis of theological method.”
Mike Stallard
Baptist Bible Seminary

“This fine book is a welcome addition to the discussion of ancient Christian approaches to reading Scripture that will significantly benefit us today. The church needs all of its best voices in the task of reading and bearing witness to God’s self-revelation. Richard Perhai has done us a great service in letting us hear some of those voices more clearly.”
Mark Saucy
Talbot School of Theology, Biola University