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A Model for the Christian Life

Hilary of Poitiers' Commentary on the Psalms

Paul C. Burns

Publication Year: 2012

In this examination of Hilary's treatise, Paul C. Burns discusses the intended audience of Hilary's text and the use of the Psalms by Christians in the fourth century. He identifies Hilary's distinctive perspectives; his dependence on Origen; his Latin theological and exegetical tradition; and the creative directions of Hilary's thought.

Published by: The Catholic University of America Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

For this work I am very indebted to the works of many scholars upon whom I have relied for textual, literary, cultural, historical, and theological perspectives. The most prominent have been Jean Doignon and Marc Milhau. I have also benefited from exchanges of correspondence with Marc Milhau. ...


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pp. xi-xii

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pp. 1-16

In his Tractatus super Psalmos, composed between AD 364 and 367, during the last three years of his life, Hilary of Poitiers designed a commentary on the Psalms into which he inserted a specific theme. From the time of its original publication, his text was read and understood as a commentary on a book of Scripture. ...

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1. Hilary's Commentary and the Psalms

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pp. 17-59

In the Tractatus super Psalmos Hilary has produced an extensive commentary on a selection of fifty-eight Psalms. In three passages, Hilary states that each cluster of fifty Psalms deals with a stage in his model of the Christian life. How Hilary announces he intends to interpret this text, ...

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2. Hilary's Principles of Exegesis

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pp. 60-100

To illustrate his approach to principles of interpretation, Hilary develops two extensive comparisons at Instructio 24 and on Psalm 13. By extension the same illustrations and principles will guide our understanding of his Tractatus. In the first passage, Instructio 24, he uses a plan of a generic city ...

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3. First Transformation: Baptismum

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pp. 101-135

In his first cluster of Psalms, Hilary deals with the progress from vir saecularis to the life of the baptized Christian. He presents the critical limitations for life prior to baptism with another aspect of his polyvalent city metaphor. This version describes the dire situation of a “city in plague.” ...

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4. The Christological Foundation for Transformation

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pp. 136-172

The power and dynamism that effects transformation in each stage of Hilary’s model for the Christian life is communicated by the divine operating in and through the body of Christ. Right from his early In Matthaeum, Hilary links this theme to his understanding of Church and develops that connection throughout the Tractatus. ...

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5. The Last Transformation: Demutatio

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pp. 173-224

Hilary’s treatment of the third and final transformation in the Christian life, which he terms demutatio, continues to depend on incorporation in the body of Christ. In exploring this theme we are brought back to Hilary’s proposal with which we began this study. ...

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pp. 225-232

In this book I have examined Hilary’s objectives, thesis, intended audience, cultural context, and literary resources in his expansive Tractatus super Psalmos. In his introduction and commentary on a selected fifty-eight Psalms, Hilary lays out principles for the interpretation of this biblical text. ...


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pp. 233-244

Index of Selected Scriptural Passages

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pp. 245-246

Index of Classical and Patristic Authors

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pp. 247-252

Index of Modern Scholars

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pp. 253-254

E-ISBN-13: 9780813219882
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813219875

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 815276573
MUSE Marc Record: Download for A Model for the Christian Life

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Subject Headings

  • Hilary, Saint, Bishop of Poitiers, d. 367? Tractatus super Psalmos.
  • Bible. O.T. Psalms -- Commentaries.
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