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The Christian Appropriation of the Jewish Scriptures: Allegory, Pauline Exegesis, and the Negotiation of Religious Identities

Objective

This project focuses on the appropriation of the Old Testament by early Christian interpreters of the Bible. A historical approach, not commonly adopted in the study of biblical interpretation, will enable us to study how this process contributed to the formation of distinctive Christian identities within the multicultural society of the late Roman principate and early Byzantine rule. The exegetes of this period were to a great extent responsible for the creation of a distinctive, sophisticated, and uncompromising discourse—a ‘totalising Christian discourse’, which determines Christian identities up to this day. In two projects, carried out by three researchers, we will make cross sections of the relevant material. It was allegorizing interpretation that enabled exegetes belonging to the so-called School of Alexandria to recognize Christ everywhere in the Old Testament, and thus to appropriate it and make it useful to the Church. Thus the Song of Songs was no longer considered an earthly love song, but was said to describe Christ’s love for the Church. Exegetes associated with the School of Antioch opposed to this kind of approach. They are often described as literalists. The traditional understanding of the distinctions between the two schools needs to be broadened and corrected by a picture of the actual practice of their hermeneutics. In my view the Antiochene opposition was brought about by the fact that pagan and ‘heretic’ critics did not accept the Alexandrian use of allegory. My innovative hypothesis is related to the central role played by the letters of the apostle Paul in the Antiochene reaction against Alexandria. For the Antiochenes, the use of Paul became an alternative means to bridge the gap between the two Testaments. Instead of a book in which every jot and tittle referred to Christ through allegory, the Antiochenes came to view the Old Testament as an amalgamation of moral lessons that agreed with Paul's teaching.

Field of science

  • /social sciences/educational sciences/pedagogy/teaching

Call for proposal

ERC-2007-StG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-SG - ERC Starting Grant

Host institution

STICHTING VU
Address
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Netherlands
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 655 309
Principal investigator
Hagit Amirav (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
A W Mulder (Mr.)

Beneficiaries (2)

STICHTING VU
Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 655 309
Address
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Hagit Amirav (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
A W Mulder (Mr.)
VERENIGING VOOR CHRISTELIJK HOGER ONDERWIJS WETENSCHAPPELIJK ONDERZOEK EN PATIENTENZORG

Participation ended

Netherlands
Address
De Boelelaan 1105
1081 HV Amsterdam
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
A W Mulder (Mr.)