Handbook of Patristic Exegesis: The Bible in Ancient Christianity - Vol. 1

Handbook of Patristic Exegesis: The Bible in Ancient Christianity - Vol. 1

Handbook of Patristic Exegesis: The Bible in Ancient Christianity - Vol. 1

Handbook of Patristic Exegesis: The Bible in Ancient Christianity - Vol. 1


TThrough this Handbook of Patristic Exegesis, the reader will obtain a balanced and cohesive picture of the Early Church. It gives an overall view of the reception, transmission, and interpretation of the Bible in the life and thought of the Church during the first five centuries of Christianity, the so-called patristic era. The handbook offers the context and presuppositions necessary for understanding the development of the interpretative traditions of the Early Church, in its catechesis, its liturgy and as a foundation of its systems of theology.

The handbook presents a comprehensive overview of the history of patristic exegesis. Apart from a general introduction to the major topics in this field, it contains essays by leading patristic scholars on the most important Church Fathers, such as Augustine, Irenaeus, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and others. The essays are supplemented by bibliographies of editions and studies on patristic exegesis published from 1945 until 1995. Together, these bibliographies form the only comprehensive bibliography presently available on this topic.


The present Handbook of Patristic Exegesis was in the making for over a decade. A first incentive for its conception came in the form of a circular letter from Brill inviting experts to collaborate on a number of projected handbooks. Soon after the signature of the contract the idea of a collection of essays dealing with the whole history of patristic exegesis revealed itself to be unworkable and counter-productive. The diversity of viewpoints in specialized aproaches excluded a coherent oversight of biblical hermeneutics during the patristic period.

I made the risky decision to become solely responsible for the whole project under consideration, while calling on a number of friends and colleagues for help. Their sixteen “Special Contributions” enhance the present publication. One of these contributions, “Patristic Exegesis of the Books of the Bible,” by David L. Balas and D. Jeffrey Bingham is noteworthy in its sheer volume (here the entire chapter 4 of Part A) and its methodological complementarity: whereas the Handbook presents patristic authors with regard to the Bible, Balas and Bingham concentrate on the Books of the Bible as presented by patristic authors.

The unselfish commitment and extreme patience of the contributors are for me a source of intense gratitude. My comparatively recent familiarity with written English, together with the challenges of teaching commitments, as much as the amassing of bibliographic information needed for a synthesis never attempted before, underlies the over-long incubation of the Handbook.

Without the assistance of Deacon Phil Dunn, my former student at Concordia University, who relentlessly computerized all bibliographic data, and without the friendly welcome of Father Claude-Roger Nadeau, s. j. in the oasis of his Bibliothéque de Théologie in Montreal, the project would have failed. The full support of Dr. Martin Singer, Dean of the College of Arts and Science at Concordia University, and that of the Department of Theological Studies since 1992 were another vital input towards the conclusion of the project. Heartfelt gratitude goes to all helping hands from which the incubating handbook benefitted during the past decade: my Australian relatives and friends, Anne and John Bright, Maureen and Denis McNamara, Pauline Allen and her staff; my French family, especially Josepha and Fernand Jenny; my Japanese colleagues; and closer to home, my colleague at Concordia University, Russel Moroziuk, in the last stages of proofreading, and Bernard Glover, also of Concordia, whose expertise with computers made miracles. In different ways they all allowed the project to reach completion. Last but not least, the publisher Brill, taking on for me a human face through the . . .

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