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The Book of Rules of Tyconius

Its Purpose and Inner Logic

Pamela Bright

Publication Year: 1988

The Liber Regularum, written by Tyconius in the Fourth Century A.D., was the first system of biblical interpretation proposed by a Latin theologian. Augustine was very interested in this work and included an extraordinary summation of it in his De doctrina christiana. Although this treatment insured the preservation of the work and its lasting fame, Augustine's summary became better known than the original. Pamela Bright's The Book of Rules of Tyconius: Its Purpose and Inner Logic reintroduces this neglected classic of early church literature. Bright asserts that although Augustine was greatly influenced by the Liber Regularum, his philosophical differences caused him to misunderstand its meaning. Bright reexamines the meaning of “prophecy” and “rule” from Tyconius's perspective and reveals that the purpose of the book was not to provide a general guide to scriptural interpretation, but rather a way to interpret apocalyptic texts. She cites Tyconius's intense concern with evil in the church as the genesis of his interest in the apocalypse and subsequently the meaning of the scripture concerning it. Tyconius speaks of the “seven mystical rules” of scripture that with the grace of the Holy Spirit reveal the true meaning of prophecy. If an interpreter follows the “logic” of these rules, the nature of the church as composed by both good and evil membership is revealed. Bright argues that Tyconius was not illogical or incompetent in the work's composition as many critics have claimed but rather that he organized his material in a concentric pattern so that Rule Four, the center of the seven rules, is also the central development of his theory.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press


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pp. 1-14

Just over a hundred years ago, the English scholar F.C. Burkitt was looking for a pre-Augustinian African writer whose citation from the Prophets might shed light on the Old Latin versions of the Bible. He found such a writer in the fourth century Donatist theologian and exegete, Tyconius. The Liber Regularum (LR)l of Tyconius, a treatise on the inter-...

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pp. 15-34

In tracing the manuscript tradition of the Book of Rules, B urkitt came across a memoria technica of the seven rules of Tyconius in a thirteenth century Laon manuscript, first published in the French Departmental Catalogue 5/1 849. ...

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pp. 35-52

Little is known of Tyconius. From Gennadius' account in De Viris Inlustribus, we learn that Tyconius was an African, a Donatist, well-educated, an ecclesiastical writer, and a scriptural commentator. From Augustine we learn of Tyconiu s' conflicts w ith the Donatist bishop of Carthage, Parmenian, in the late seventies. After ...

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pp. 53-88

In the preamble (LR 1 : 1-9) to the Book of Rules. Tyconius claims that in writing a book of rules libe llum regularem scribere. he is in effect making "keys or windows for the secrets of the Law" secretorum legis veluti claves et luminaria fabricare. Tyconius lays...

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pp. 89-118

The careful reading of the Book of Rules makes one increasingly aware of Tyconius' craft as a writer. On the one hand, his is a terse, no-nonsense prose with little attention to the elegance of style and the vivid touches one finds in Ambrose and Augustine....

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pp. 119-158

To come to a better understanding of the hermeneutical theory of the Book of Rules one must first ask what is the Tyconian notion of "rule," what does he mean by the " logic of the rules," and even more importantly, in what sense are the rules "mystical." ...

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pp. 159-184

At the end of the fifth century, at least a hundred years after the Book of Rules was written, Gennadiu s included an account of Tyconius in his Lives of Illustrious Men.1 Gennadius places this account immediately after that of Rufinus whom he ...

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pp. 185-192

The aim o f the study h as been to understand the purpose and the inner logic of the Book of Rules. It has been argued that a lack of recognition of the thematic and systematic character of the work has made its theory of exegesis as enigmatic to subsequent ...

Index of Contemporary Authors

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pp. 193-194

Index of Ancient Authors

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pp. 195-196

Index of Biblical References

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pp. 197-200

E-ISBN-13: 9780268075774
E-ISBN-10: 0268075778
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268012878
Print-ISBN-10: 0268012873

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 1988