Thursday, 7 February 2019

Robert Lane: The Relationship of Structure, Occasion and Purpose in Irenaeus’ Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching

The scholarly consensus concerning the structure of Irenaeus’ Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching is that the writing is composed of two sections, a “narratival” presentation of the truth and a proof from prophecy of the truth. This structure has led to a number of proposals for the purpose of the writing, including pedagogical, catechetical, hermeneutical, and anti-heretical views. James B. Wiegel’s “The Trinitarian Structure of Irenaeus’ Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching challenged this consensus, stimulating renewed interest in this writing. An analysis of Demonstration in light of Wiegel’s three-part structure, especially as it relates to the form of the Rule of Faith and the content of the writing, appears to indicate that the structure as well as these other elements are not directly related to purpose. Instead, it is the occasion of the writing, the appearance of people who have heretical understandings of the Trinity, that guided the arrangement of these elements. This “demonstration” could then be useful for a variety of purposes in the church.

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