Friday, 8 May 2015

Finbarr Clancy: The Church in St Ambrose's Homilies on the Hexameron

St Ambrose delivered nine homilies on the Hexameron on successive days, probably in Holy Week, in AD 387.  This Short Communication aims to gather together his reflections on the Church in the course of these homilies.  His chief comments on the Church occur in homilies 4-6, dealing with the third and fourth days of creation.  Isolated comments also occur in the other homilies.  The Church is variously associated with the Trinity, the waters of creation, the fluctuating phases of the moon, and the colourful seeds withing the pomegranate fruit.  Ambrose also links the Church with various characteristics of both trees and plants, and with bridal imagery.  The Church is discussed in relation to the Synagogue and the Gentiles.  He often draws moral lessons from the details of creation which are applicabel do the daily life of the Church's members.  The Hexameron homilies draw heavily on imagery form the Song of Songs.  Ambrose's possible indebtedness to Basil of Caesarea's homilies on the Hexameron, a text with which he was familiar, will also be briefly explored.

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