Recent theological scholarship has shown increasing interest in patristic exegesis. The way early Christians read scripture has attracted not only historians, but also systematic and exegetical scholars. However, the Christian reading of scripture before Origen has been neglected or, more often, dominated by Gnostic perspectives. This study uses the writings of Irenaeus to argue that there was a rich Christian engagement with scripture long before Origen and the supposed conflict between Antioch and Alexandria.
This is a focused examination of specific exegetical themes that undergird Irenaeus’ argument against his opponents. However, whereas many works interpret Irenaeus only as he relates to certain Gnostic teachings, this book recognizes the broader context of the second century and explores the profound questions facing early Christians in an era of martyrdom. It shows that Irenaeus is interested, not simply in expounding the original intent of individual texts, but in demonstrating how individual texts fit into the one catholic narrative of salvation. This in turn, he hopes, will cause his audience to see their place as individuals in the same narrative.
Using insightful close reading of Irenaeus, allied with a firm grounding in the context in which he wrote, this book will be vital reading for scholars of the early Church as well as those with interests in patristics and the development of Christian exegesis.
Table of Contents
1 Reading Scripture in an Age of Martyrdom
2 Creatio Ex Nihilo & the Freedom of Humanity
3 The Recapitulation of All Things in Christ:
4 The Mosaic of Christ (AH 1.8-9, IV.33): Reading Scripture within the Eucharistic Gathering
5 The Virgin Birth (AH III): A New Kind of Generation
6 The New Fulfilling the Old (AH IV)
7 Power Made Perfect in Weakness (AH V)
8 Conclusion: Joining the End to the Beginning
James G. Bushur is Director of Deaconess Formation and associate professor of Historical Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary, USA. He has published widely on Patristics and the early Christian Church and has been an ordained minister for over 20 years.