Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Paul Saieg: SC: Irenaeus and Seneca: The Temptation of Christ and the Legis Sententiae

Adding to the recent work of Michel René Barnes and Anthony Briggman, which has connected Irenaeus more intimately with Stoicism, and despite the dominant scholarly tendency to marginalize Irenaeus' interaction with philosophy, I will argue that Irenaeus' reading of the temptation of Christ in Against Heresies 5.21–24 functions as an exemplum of the important spiritual practice of meditatio or μελέτη. To demonstrate this, I will read Irenaeus' treatment of the temptation against the background of the Stoic Seneca's use and theory of meditatio. I will look specifically at how both Seneca and Irenaeus employ sententiae, decreta, praecepta, and exempla as modes of meditatio for the ethical transformation of their readers. In this way, I hope to show that Irenaeus drew creatively and powerfully on contemporary philosophical practices in his biblical hermeneutic in order to aid his readers in being transformed into the image and likeness of God through meditating on the scriptures.

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