Thursday, 7 May 2015

Michael Simmons: Exegesis and Hermeneutics in Eusebius of Caesarea's Theophany (Book IV): The Contemporary Fulfillment of Jesus' Prophecies

The original Greek text of Eusebius' Theophany is lost, surviving only in 17 fragments. A Syriac translation of the work written in the early fifth century has preserved all five books. Samuel Lee published the first edition of the Syriac text in 1842 and an English translation with notes the following year. Hugo Gressmann's German translation (1904) published in Band III.2 of the Griechischen Christlichen Schriftsteller compared the Syriac translation of the Theoph. with parallel Greek texts of various Eusebian works, the Greek fragments of the Theophany, and biblical passages, concluding that, on the whole, the Syriac translation is faithful to the original Greek. A number of scholars (Lightfoot [1880]; Gressmann [1904]; Quasten [1975]; Frede [1999]); and Kofsky [2002]) proposed that Theoph.Bk.IV was based on an earlier work devoted to the prophecies of Christ mentioned by Eusebius in the PE I.3. By offering a comparative philological study of the parallel Greek and Syriac passages of Book IV (12 of the 17 fragments come from this book, or 70.58%), this paper analyzes Eusebius' exegetical and hermeneutical method in conjunction with the overarching soteriological argument developed around a number of sub-themes in which he attempts to prove the fulfillment of Christ's predictions in contemporary society, a hermeneutic unique to Eusebius' apologies. A thorough analysis of the exegetical method which Eusebius applies to the 166 scriptural citations found in Book IV may help the modern historian to better understand the venue and purpose of this last apology of the bishop of Caesarea.

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