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Mind, Text, and Commentary

Noetic Exegesis in Origen of Alexandria, Didymus the Blind, and Evagrius Ponticus


Blossom Stefaniw

Scholarship on early Christian exegesis is full of puzzlement at the commentator’s apparent lack of concern for the literal or historical meaning of the text, usually explained as the result of an illegitimate allegorical method. This study comes to grips with the particularities of this type of interpretation by using tools from ethnography and literary criticism. By analysing the commentator’s interpretive assumptions and the framework of significances within which the commentaries were produced and read, the author is able to solve a chronic problem in the study of early Christian exegesis. Further, she articulates the social context of the performance of noetic exegesis and its significance for monastic teachers, philosophers, and their audiences.


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Acknowledgements 415


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This book is a slightly revised version of my 2008 dissertation which was completed at the University of Erfurt under the supervision of Professor Jörg Rüpke and Professor Johan Leemans. These scholars contributed a mercilessly acute eye for systematic coherence from the perspective of Roman religion and the history of religions, on the one hand, and unflinching standards of honorable work and the morality of the intellect rooted in the tradition of continental patristics, on the other. The research for this book was financed by a Christoph Martin Wieland stipend and a start-up stipend from the Interdisciplinary Forum on Religion, both of the University of Erfurt. I would also like to thank the editors of this series. The recognition and encouragement of David Brakke when this book was first proposed were key in allowing it to come to fruition, as was the commendation of Anders-Christian Jacobsen at Aarhus. Jörg Ulrich has promptly and cheerfully dealt with final editing and typesetting issues, seeing through the last steps of this long process. There are many junior and senior colleagues in both Europe and the United States who, while some of them have no formal association with my work at all, have contributed significantly to the development of this project, and my own development, by embodying scholarly good sportsmanship, frankness, and love for their craft. I would like to express my thanks, admiration, and appreciation for those people here. I would especially like to thank Elizabeth Depalma Digeser for...

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