Saturday, 11 April 2015

Christopher Graham: The Form-giving Meaning of Way-language in Irenaeus's Epideixis

This paper will demonstrate the symbiotic relationship between the purpose and structure of Irenaeus's Epideixis and the meaning of way-language in that text. The tentative consensus has been that way-language is used in the preface with some relationship to the so-called Two Ways tradition. Scholars have neglected, however, to correlate its usage in the preface with its usage through the rest of the work (Epid. 16; 41; 89; 98). An examination of its appearance throughout the text shows that Irenaeus employed way-language primarily as a means to connect the way of the reader with the way as it is referred to in the narrative of Scripture from the expulsion (Gen 3:24) to the creation of the Church (Acts 9:2). This challenges not only the contemporary interpretive consensus with regard to way-language in the preface but also the regnant model of the text's rhetorical form, that is, a bipartite structure employed to strengthen the reader's faith through a demonstration of the legitimacy of the apostles' teaching which is the object of the reader's faith. Instead, when Irenaeus's stated purpose, "to demonstrate, by means of a summary, the preaching of the truth, so as to strengthen your faith," is read with this deliberate use of way-language in mind, the work emerges not as a bi-fold argument for the objective content of the reader's faith but as an affirmation of the subjective side of the reader's faith through an elucidation of the origin of that faith.

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