Thursday, 7 February 2019

Tommaso Interi: Origen and Eusebius Interpreting Psalm 77

The discovery of twenty-nine new Greek Homilies on the Psalms by Origen has consistently widened our knowledge on the Alexandrian’s interpretation of the Psalter. He dedicated nine sermons to Psalm 77, addressing several distinctive points of his exegesis, and especially stressing the spiritual meaning of the historical events recalled in the composition. His interpretation urges the audience to a moral edification and to avoid the perils of the heresies, symbolised by the schism between the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel.Eusebius, who most likely knew Origen’s works on the Psalter, composed a Commentary on the Psalms which we can partly read from direct tradition (Ps 51-95). His interpretation of Psalm 77 is in line with the Alexandrian exegesis, inasmuch as it investigates the persona loquens of the psalm or gives importance to the other Greek translations from the Hexapla. However, even if Eusebius never refused the allegorical interpretation, or denied its moral value, he was more interested in explaining the text from a historical point of view, stressing the responsibilities of the Jews for their punishments and thus highlighting the apologetic stance of the events narrated in the psalm.The analysis will compare the two fathers’ exegesis of Psalm 77, focusing on some key-issues they presented, as to highlight the peculiarity of their own interpretations, and to outline the different perspectives that led them to explain the same psalm in different ways.

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