AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies

The Twelve between two testaments : the Minor Prophets as Christian scripture in the commentaries of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Cyril of Alexandria

by Hauna T. Ondrey

Institution: University of St. Andrews
Year: 2015
Keywords: viii, 225 ; Cyril of Alexandria ; Theodore of Mopsuestia ; Patristic exegesis ; Minor Prophets ; Prophecy ; Christology ; Salvation history ; Israel ; Law ; Fifth century ; Fourth century ; Bible. Minor Prophets – Commentaries ; Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia, ca. 350-428 or 9 ; Cyril, Saint, Patriarch of Alexandria, ca. 370-444
Record ID: 1393616
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10023/6267


My thesis offers a comparison of the Minor Prophets commentaries of Theodore of Mopsuestia and Cyril of Alexandria, isolating the role each assigns (1) the Twelve Prophets in their ministry to Old Testament Israel and (2) the texts of the Twelve as Christian scripture. While the two produce radically different commentaries in terms of quantity and detail of christological interpretation, the source of their divergence cannot be reduced to Cyril’s admitting messianic prophecy whereas Theodore does not. Rather, I argue that Theodore does acknowledge christological prophecies, as distinct from both retrospective accommodation and typology. Further, a careful reading of Cyril’s Commentary on the Twelve limits the prospective christological revelation he ascribes to the prophets and reveals the positive role he grants the Mosaic law prior to Christ’s advent. My thesis secondly explores the Christian significance both Theodore and Cyril assign to Israel’s exile and restoration, the pivotal event to which the Twelve bear witness. I here argue that Theodore’s reading of the Twelve Prophets, while not attempting to be christocentric, is nevertheless self-consciously Christian. Cyril, unsurprisingly, offers a robust Christian reading of the Twelve, yet this too must be expanded by his focus on the church and concern to equip the church through the ethical paideusis provided by the plain sense of the prophetic text. Revised descriptions of each interpreter lead to the claim that the label “christocentric” obscures more than it clarifies and polarizes no less than earlier accounts of Antiochene/Alexandrian exegesis. I advocate rather for an approach that takes seriously Theodore’s positive account of the unity and telos of the divine economy and the full range of Cyril’s interpretation, in order to move beyond a zero-sum assessment and offer instead a positive account that appreciates the strengths of each Christian reading of the Twelve.