Friday, 24 May 2019

Shawn Wilhite: “In so far as he has manifested himself as human”: An Exploration of Cyril of Alexandria’s Partitive Reading Strategy

In this paper, I will explore the partitive exegesis in Cyril of Alexandria’s trinitarian exegesis. According to Boulnois, Crawford, Keon, and Beeley, Cyril will often turn to an Athanasian exegetical strategy (Beeley limits this practice to 433 when Cyril engages the Orientals). Yet, Crawford does suggest Cyril’s appeal to his exegetical strategy in earlier works, including Cyril’s Dialogue on the Trinity(V, 547b–c). An interpretive strategy has been fittingly titled “partitive exegesis,” developed in the fourth century to explain the two consecutive states of Christ. Athanasius (C.Ar.1.54.1) highlights that Christological texts must be considered according to its καιρός (“time”), to the πρόσωπον (“person”), and to the πρᾶγμα (“subject”). Cyril similarly suggests likewise but only highlights the καιρός (“time”) and the πρᾶγμα (“subject”) of Christological explanations. My research will build upon these Cyrilline works with a focused question about the partitive reading strategy of Cyril of Alexandria and explore two test cases. I will argue that Cyril’s partitive readings focus on the time of the assumption of humanity more so than an explicit two-nature division to remain pro-Nicene and non-Nestorian. This argument will progress in three different stages. First, I will offer a tentative paradigm for Cyril’s partitive reading practices. Second, I will explore Cyril’s partitive readings in his Commentary on Hebrews (Heb 1). And, third, I will explore Cyril’s partitive readings in Dialogue on the TrinityV, where he explicitly identifies his partitive reading strategy.

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