Wednesday, 13 July 2011

David Westberg - Rhetorical Exegesis in Procopius of Gaza's Biblical Commentaries

Procopius of Gaza (c. 465–c. 526 AD) was a Christian sophist and a chief member of the so-called rhetorical school of Gaza. Among his extant works are a panegyric to the emperor Anastasius I and a large collection of letters but also a number of commentaries on books of the Old Testament. These commentaries usually assume the form of catenae: juxtaposed quotations from various authors collected under the lemmata of the biblical text. In my paper I wish to explore the relationship between the classical and the Christian parts of Procopius’ oeuvre, whether his activities as a teacher of rhetoric is reflected in his commentaries, and, if so, how? Is rhetorical theory put into use in the discussion of biblical texts? To what extent does Procopius alter the quotations from his exegetical authorities to conform to classical rhetorical terminology? Can we discern in Procopius a consistent view on texts and interpretation, i.e. to what extent does Procopius’ works reveal a unified hermeneutics. As a point of departure I shall take the introduction to his commentary on Genesis, illustrated with selected examples from the commentary itself.

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