Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Il Divino Senza Veli: La Dottrina Gnostica Della 'Lettera Valentiniana' Di Epifanio, Panarion 31 5-6. Testo, Traudzione E Commento Storico-Religioso

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Il Divino Senza Veli: La Dottrina Gnostica Della 'Lettera Valentiniana' Di Epifanio, Panarion 31 5-6. Testo, Traudzione E Commento Storico-Religioso

Article excerpt

Il divino senza veli: La dottrina gnostica della Lettera valentiniana' di Epifanio, Panarion 31 5-6. Testo, traudzione e commento storico-religioso. By Giuliano Chiapparini. [Studia Patristica Mediolanensia, vol. 29.] (Milan: Vita e Pensiero. 2015. Pp. xiii, 278. euro30.00 paperback. ISBN 978-88-343-2918-4.)

Scholars are often (begrudgingly) grateful to Epiphanius for his preservation of otherwise lost texts in his massive heresiology, the Panarion. In particular, those interested in "Gnosticism" have benefitted from Epiphanius's documentary practices, especially for Ptolemy's Letter to Flora and portions of Irenaeus's Against Heresies in their original Greek. While there is a growing body of recent scholarship interested in studying Epiphanius in his own right, there is also a long-standing scholarly practice of mining his writings for information on those whom he condemned as heretics. The learned study under review here fits into the latter category and will be of particular interest to scholars of Valentinian Christianity.

Ensconced in the entry dedicated to the Valentinians in Panarion 31 is an anonymous letter, identified by Chiapparini as the Lettera dottrinale valentiniana (LDV). Scholars have marginalized or even dismissed the significance of this letter because the text is perceived to be in such a mangled state-the result of multiple recensions-that it lacks coherence and is thus not useful for understanding early Valentinian theology. In addition, the contents of the letter seem to exhibit significant variance with other known writings in the tradition, in particular a strong and consistent sexual component, and so scholars have pushed the date of the text closer to the end of the second century. However, through careful philological and theological analysis, Chiapparini offers a completely different dating, context, and interpretation of the text. He suggests that much of the problem lies with the modern textual tradition of the Panarion, in particular the edition of Karl Holl, first published in 1915. Scholars have long been aware of Holl's penchant for conjecture and unnecessary emendations to the text; and in the case of the LDV, Chiapparini argues that Holl's choices have had a problematic impact on the scholarly reception of the letter, evident most poignantly in faulty translations of the text into modern languages. …

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