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1 Scripture: Its Formation and Interpretation Dr. Ann T. Orlando 2 May 2011.

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1 1 Scripture: Its Formation and Interpretation Dr. Ann T. Orlando 2 May 2011

2 2 Overview Judaism and Christianity Christian Scripture: what is it How to interpret it (hermeneutics, exegesis)  How (if at all) to use philosophy

3 3 Judaism(s) During Jesus’ Lifetime Near end of Second Temple Judaism Before and during Jesus’ life there were many types of Judaism in Palestine (Josephus describes this):  Pharisees: upholders of the Law (Torah)  Sadducees: from aristocracy and high priests, did not believe in resurrection of dead; closely associated with Temple  Essenes: disgusted with impurities in Temple; left for desert ; Dead Sea Scrolls usually associated with them  Zealots: ‘terrorists’ against Roman occupation Diaspora Jews not living in Palestine but scattered around Mediterranean;  Then, as now, more Jews living outside of Palestine (Israel) than in it  Greek Jews (Hellenists in Acts of Apostles); Septuagint (LXX) Greek translation of Bible c. 200 BC in Alexandria  Jews in Mesopotamia who did not return after the exile in 6 th C BC, but flourished under Persian rule; Scripture did not include any late Second Temple Greek works (e.g., Maccabees, Sirach, Wisdom)

4 4 Map of First Century Jewish Communities in Roman Provinces: darkwing.uoregon.edu/~atlas/europe/static/map11.html

5 5 Philo (20 BC – 50 AD) Contemporary of Jesus and Apostles Leader of Jewish community in Alexandria Wrote many, many philosophical treatises, apologies Tried to create a bridge between Judaism and Greek philosophy  Especially Stoicism Key was using allegory to interpret Scripture (LXX) Huge influence on early Christians theologians in Alexandria

6 Example from Philo: Hexeameron, Six Days of Creation Days of creation could not literally be 24 hours  Time, sun not created yet on first ‘day’ ‘Days’ instead are allegorical ways to speak of order of creation  May represent eons or seconds Philo’s understanding is found in  Origen  St. Basil the Great  St. Augustine  St. Thomas Aquinas 6

7 7 Development of Rabbinic Judaism During the First War with Rome AD, the Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots were destroyed The Pharisees were the group out of which rabbinic Judaism grew in the 2 nd and 3 rd C AD.  Reestablished contact with the Mesopotamian Jews and their theology;  Rejected use of Greek philosophy and parts of the OT written in Greek, not Hebrew  Rejected developments of Alexandrian Jews like Philo Hellenistic (Greek) Jewish theology was taken over, preserved and used by early Christian theologians, especially in Alexandria  St. Clement of Alexandria  Origen

8 8 Early Christianity Acts of the Apostles tells the story of spread of Christianity around Roman Empire Christianity is  Primarily urban  Greek speaking  From many socials classes, but associated with Jewish communities But distinction between some forms of early Christianity and Judaism were not clear  Both Christianity and rabbinic Judaism are establishing themselves and evangelizing at the same time as replacements to Second Temple Judaism(s)

9 9 Issues Surrounding Christian Scripture The OT (Septuagint): in or out?  Relation of creator God to Father of Jesus Christ  How can there be suffering if the creator God is a good God? (theodicy problem)  Is God anthropomorphic; as OT might indicate?  Relation to Judaism What is in NT?  Paul primary or Gospels  What literature about Jesus is sacred  What writings of early believers is in/out (e.g., First Letter of Clement, Epistle of Barnabas, Shepherd of Hermes) Answers to these questions determined which books considered authoritative by various Christian groups In this era many Christian groups selected books to support their theology; Canon is from Greek word for rule or measure  Stoic philosophical term

10 10 2 nd C Gnosticism Gnosticism is really a ‘catch all’ term for several groups of early Christians which shared some beliefs, usually with a Platonic philosophical background Gnostic is from Greek, gnosis, knowledge Most Gnostic Christians believed:  Jesus was divine, not human (docetism);  Jesus was the son of Sophia (Wisdom) and God the Father  Physical, material world was, at best, irrelevant, at worst evil  Believers have special, secret, knowledge of divine things  But only a few are believers; most humans do not have souls

11 11 2nd C Gnosticism: Scripture and Gnosticism Gnostics rejected the OT  God of OT was evil, creator God  God of OT was anthropomorphic, not spiritual Gnostics accepted many different types of literature about Jesus  Gospel of Truth, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Philip; Recent discovery (1945) of many Gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi, Egypt Key Gnostic: Valentinus, early 2 nd C, Alexandria and Rome

12 12 2 nd C Marcion: OT Out; only Paul, Luke In NT Most important impetus for development of Scriptural canon was Marcion (c ) Wealthy sea captain, who carefully studied Christian literature  Initially part of orthodox Roman church Decided that only Paul and parts of Luke were canonical Opposed to Judaism and so rejected OT Left Roman church to start his own church; spread very rapidly around Mediterranean; Marcionites in West for next 200 years; in East much longer

13 13 2nd C: Montanists Continuing Prophecy In ‘NT’ Started by Montus, Prisca, Maximillia late 2cd Century in Asia Minor Believed in continuing prophecy and revelation led by Holy Spirit Believed apocalypse immanent Believed that once Baptized, sins could not be forgiven (similar to Donatists); Church only for pure

14 14 Defenders (Developers) of Orthodoxy 2nd Century defenders of orthodoxy  St. Ignatius of Antioch  St. Justin Martyr  St. Irenaeus  Tertullian Note how these people from different parts of Empire knew of each other; network of orthodox believers; Rome, Antioch, Alexandria centers for large, famous Christian schools

15 15 Christian ‘Systematic’ Theologian: Origen ( ) Born in Alexandria; towering giant over Eastern theology; many subsequent debates trace to how to interpret Origen May have studied in same philosophical classes as Plotinus; also knew St. Clement of Alexandria (not to be confused with late 1 st C Pope St. Clement)  Along with Clement, Origen preserves the works of Alexandrian Jewish philosopher and theologian Philo Traveled extensively, including to Rome and met with Hippolytus Wrote:  An apology, Contra Celsum  Many Biblical commentaries, including on OT books  Biblical scholarship: Hexapla comparing Hebrew, and several different versions of Greek OT (not extant)  Different ways to interpret Bible, especially OT allegorically (debt to Philo)  ‘systematic’ presentation of Christianity: On First Principles Suffered persecution during Decius reign, eventually died from wounds Not declared a saint because of controversies about his ideas after he died

16 16 Styles of Christian Scriptural Interpretation Highly allegorical; associated with Alexandria; based on Stoic interpretive techniques  Origen (3 rd C) More literal; associated with Antioch  St. John Chrysostom (late 4 th C) NB: Church now recognizes two senses of Scripture: Literal and Spiritual; Spiritual includes allegorical, tropological (moral) and anagogical (goal) see CCC

17 17 3 rd C: Mani Founder was Mani ( ), Persian Synchristic combination of Gnostic and Montanist Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism:  “As once Buddha came to India, Zoroaster to Persia, and Jesus to the lands of the West, so came in the present time, this prophecy through me, the Mani, to the land of Babylonia" Very potent, well organized religion Accepts some aspects of NT Lasted for over a Millennium (Dominicans founded to combat Cathars, a Manichean sect is 13 th C) ‘Martyred’ by Persians

18 18 Main Points of Manichaeism Solve the theodicy problem by saying that there are two gods: one evil, one good Material world associated with evil god Special knowledge comes from good god; only available to initiated Manicheans Scripture includes parts of NT, Zoroastrianism and works of Mani  Mani considered himself reincarnation of Apostle Paul and/or incarnation of Holy Spirit

19 19 New Philosophical Development: NeoPlatonism Plotinus ( ) Alexandria, pagan philosopher  Considered himself a Platonist; wanted to defend Plato against gnostics  Knowledge of the One is available to everyone  Steps to achieve spiritual unity with the One  Material world is not bad (but not complete; completion only in the One) Most important philosophical statement as solution of theodicy problem: Evil is the absence of a good that should be there (see definition of evil in CCC)

20 20 Catholic Opposition to Manichaeism: St. Augustine ( ) Born in North Africa Included here because most famous opponent of Manichaeism in West; he was a Manichean hearer for 11 years Towering giant of Western Christianity (even more than Origen was in the East) Only limited knowledge of Greek; wrote in Latin Story of his move away from orthodox Catholic Church toward Manichaeism and his return is chronicled in Confessions Like Origen, developed rules for interpretation of Scripture

21 Conclusion Jesus Christ never said what was in Scripture Apostolic tradition and teaching provide the definitive canon of Scripture Septuagint (LXX) has a special place in Christian canon (see Dei Verbum) Catholic and Orthodox Christianity have always relied on use of philosophy to interpret Scripture There are multiple meanings to Scripture  Magisterium safeguards the truth from false interpretations 21


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