Friday, 1 May 2015

John Voelker: Marius Victorinus' Gnostic Commentary

After his famous conversion in the mid-350s, the rhetor of the city of Rome, Marius Victorinus, spent the last decade of his life writing recondite Nicene-trinitarian treatises, in polemical engagement against various anti-Nicene parties, as well also being the earliest Latin church father to write commentaries on Pauline epistles. As one of the most creative and independent thinkers of the fourth century, Victorinus managed to produce the most sophisticated Neo-Nicene/Pro-Nicene theology in his day in the Latin West, partly due to his rhetorical-philosophical skills, including his fluently complex Greek, as well as the evidence that he had access to a wide range of theological works to throw himself into studying directly after his conversion.
  The past decade has shown surprising discoveries over Victorinus' familiarity with even Christian Gnostic sources, especially with contemporary theological currents in Alexandria. In the most turbulent years of the Nicene-Arian Trinitarian Controversy, Victorinus writes treatises in order to take up the Nicene cause of homoousion trinitarian definition, employing polemic exegetical work of the New Testament Scriptures, especially Nicene loci in the Fourth Gospel. And one Alexandrian writer and teacher would especially interest Victorinus in his exegetical project: the Valentinian Gnostic writer Heracleon, the first to produce a commentary on the Gospel of John.  In this paper I will argue that Victorinus has read Heracleon's commentary and has probably quoted it, finding inspiration within even Gnostic texts for his exegesis and commentary of Scripture.

1 comment:

  1. The relationship between Victorinus and Gnosis remains still obscure. Already Hadot in his Commentary on Victorinus’ work noticed Gnostic themes and motives. Tardieu, following Hadot’s intuition, shows that both Victorinus and the Coptic-Gnostic Text “Zostrianos” follow one and the same philosophical source. Other scholars (C.O.Moreschini, L. Abramowski) have recently claimed that Victorinus has access (unbewust?!) to Gnostic texts. Well, a very intrigued topic. May I have a copy of your contribution?! Stefan Marinca (