Studies on Commenting Texts in Antiquity and Middle Ages
Edited By Mieczyslaw Mejor, Katarzyna Jazdzewska and Anna Zajchowska
Filip Doroszewski: Commenting with Hexameter. The Imagery of Light and Darkness in Nonnus’ Poetic Exegesis of John 3:1–21
The sun and the moon
Commenting with Hexameter. The Imagery of Light and Darkness in Nonnus’ Poetic Exegesis of John 3:1–211
Institute of Classical Philology and Culture Studies,Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw
Nonnus of Panopolis, a Greek epic poet of the fifth century AD who was presumably bound up with the Alexandrian milieu,2 is primarily known as the author of the Dionysiaca, a vast poem on Dionysus consisting of forty eight books. In the recent decades, however, also the poet’s other epic work, the Paraphrase of St. John’s Gospel, has been receiving an increasing amount of attention from scholars. It has been demonstrated that the Paraphrase is not just a mere retelling of a purely rhetorical character, but also provides the reader with numerous exegetical hints hidden between its lines. A closer analysis of the Paraphrase (henceforth abbreviated as Par.) shows clearly that Nonnus was familiar not only with the Bible but also with many patristic authors, especially with Cyril of Alexandria, whose immense commentary on John’s Gospel has been proved to have had an important influence on Nonnus’ work.3 This paper aims at demonstrating Nonnus’ exegetical approach by analyzing the imagery of light and darkness in his retelling of the Nicodemus pericope (John 3:1–21).
The opposition between light and darkness plays an essential role in John’s Gospel. Light symbolizes Christ and his salvation (cf. John 1:1–13), and those who follow Christ are called the...
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