Saturday, 11 April 2015

Lavinia Cerioni: The Patristic Sources of Eriugena's Exegesis of the Parable of the Bridesmaids

Eriugena’s thought is traditionally interpreted as the result of the encounter between East and West. Using the parable of the Bridesmaids (Mt. 25:1-13) as a case study, this paper’s aim is to determine the extent of this statement truth.
This parable was commented on by most of the Western theologians, first of all Augustine, but also Ambrose, Gregory the Great and Bede. Contrariwise, most Eastern theologians (e.g. Origen, Gregory of Nyssa and Dionysius) overlooked this text almost completely. The Western exegesis certainly influenced Eriugena, but his use of these sources appears highly selective. However, while he uses the Western sources, he did so using allegorical bridal imagery more akin to the eastern exegesis of the passage.
To demonstrate my argument, I will compare Eriugena’s use of the parable’s main images, such as the lamps, the oil and the sleep, with previous patristic interpretations. In addition, given that the parable was used in discourses on eschatology, I will examine Eriugena’s use of the parable in his own eschatology.

In conclusion, Eriugena uses the parable, an evangelical text suggesting an exclusive soteriology, to symbolise his idea of universal salvation. This paper will show that such an unexpected exegesis can be explained only through his original use of patristic sources.

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