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Life, Scripture, Legacy

edited by Paul Foster and Sara Parvis

Publication Year: 2012

Champion of martyrs, scourge of heretics, erudite theologian, shrewd politician—no account of early Christianity is complete without careful consideration of Irenaeus of Lyons. Here a team of international scholars examines aspects of the saint’s life, historical context, engagement with scripture, and his ecclesiastical and theological legacy for succeeding generations.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

...The editors would like to thank all those who helped to make the Irenaeus conference— at the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh in August 2009—on which this volume was based such an enjoyable and stimulating occasion. This includes all those who attended, as well as our colleagues at the Centre for the Study of Christian Origins, and particularly Professor Larry Hurtado. Heartfelt thanks are also due to Kirsty Murray, Mrs. Murray, Alex Peden, and...


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pp. ix-x

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The Writings of Irenaeus

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pp. xi-xiv

...Among spurious works should be noted (10) the so-called “Pfaffian fragments”— four fragments in Greek, primarily relating to the eucharist, which Ch. M. Pfaff “discovered” in a manuscript in Turin—a manuscript, oddly enough, never seen again —and published in 1715. Their authenticity was vigorously debated from the moment of their publication. They are still included, as genuine...


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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. 1-10

...Irenaeus is the star witness of the post-sub-apostolic period of early Christianity, the period of the late second century. By then, not only were the eyewitnesses, the generation that had known Jesus, dead, but so also were the generation that had known the apostles. Irenaeus himself, who became bishop of Lyons in Gaul in the late 170s or early 180s, was one of the last Christian writers who could plausibly claim to have learned directly from someone who had known the apostles, that someone being Polycarp of Smyrna...

I. Life: Irenaeus and His Context

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1. Who Was Irenaeus? An Introduction to the Man and His Work

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pp. 13-24

...Or we could give an answer in terms of his “achievement,” which might involve us in talking about his role in the development of the very notions of orthodoxy and heresy or his contribution to a doctrine of “apostolic succession” or an understanding of the role of tradition in the life of the Church. But there are at least two problems there. One is the obvious fact that that sort of an approach means treating him as a sort of disembodied mind...

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2. The Cultural Geography of a Greek Christian: Irenaeus from Smyrna to Lyons

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pp. 25-34

...Seen within a broader context, Irenaeus is merely one among the thousands of Greeks—Christians and otherwise—who relocated themselves to Rome. But Irenaeus stands out in this company because of his final destination: most of those who came before and after him went no further west and north than Rome itself, and not as far as Lyons, the crossroads of Roman Gaul...

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3. How Irenaeus Has Misled the Archaeologists

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pp. 35-52

...Victor’s act, though short lived, is hailed by Simonetti as the origin of a monarchical episcopate at Rome that replaced government previously by a presbyteral council. Victor was succeeded by Zephyrinus, whose “associate” Callistus was. The “cemetery” over which the latter was put in charge has been identified, from de Rossi’s time onward, with the catacomb that traditionally bears Callistus’s name from the time... harm and to this end brought him back from Antheion and placed him in charge ...

II. Scripture: Irenaeus and His Scriptural Traditions

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4. The Parable of the Two Sons (Matt. 21:28-32)in Irenaeus and Codex Bezae

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pp. 55-64

...Souter agreed that “even as two different things,” they “are both Western texts.” The “Western text,” has, of course, been subject to much criticism since Westcott and Hort: Kurt and Barbara Aland note that “hardly anyone today refers to this putative Western text without placing the term in quotation marks,” as I have just done.4 In the same place they assert that “it is quite inconceivable that...

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5. Irenaeus and Hebrews

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pp. 65-80

...In the sixth century, Stephanus Gobarus stated that Irenaeus (along with Hippolytus) denied the Pauline authorship of the Letter to the Hebrews. A couple of centuries before, Eusebius had written that Irenaeus had quoted from the Letter in a no longer extant work. He had said that “[Irenaeus composed] a collection of addresses on various subjects, in which he mentions the Epistle to the Hebrews and the ‘Wisdom of Solomon,’ quoting several passages from...

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6. Irenaeus’s Contribution to Early ChristianInterpretation of the Song of Songs

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pp. 81-88

...The title of this chapter may strike the reader as odd, for Irenaeus neither cited nor alluded to the Song of Songs—at least as far as our extant evidence goes. What I hope to demonstrate, however, is that the bishop of Lyons had an important role to play in establishing the contextual framework according to which the Song would be interpreted by subsequent Christian exegetes. In so doing...

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7. The Man with No Name: Who Is the Elder in Irenaeus’s Adversus haereses IV?

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pp. 89-94

...Despite the fact that the teachings of this man seem to be of high importance to Irenaeus, he omits revealing his name. This omission on Irenaeus’s part has given rise to much speculation regarding the identity of his source, starting as early as in the 1575 edition of Irenaeus’s works by François Feuardent...

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8. The Man Who Needed No Introduction: A Response to Sebastian Moll

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pp. 95-104

...Marcion that we possess, and provides information about other related controversies of the day. The material is therefore worthy of renewed consideration and of any serious attempt at further refinement in our understanding of it. I am happy, then, for Sebastian Moll’s contribution in this volume, for it advances the discussion on at least one point. He claims that...

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9. Irenaeus and the Noncanonical Gospels

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pp. 105-118

...Irenaeus not only states that there are four Gospels, but by using natural analogies he implies that “four” is the fitting number since this provides a stable basis because it allows the church equipped with “the gospel and the spirit of life” to bring life to humanity. As he states, “It is not possible that the Gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are...

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10. Irenaeus, the Scribes, and the Scriptures: Papyrological and Theological Observations from P.Oxy. 405

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pp. 119-130

...There is thus no mistaking Irenaeus’s ideal of copying texts of scripture, at least in continuous manuscripts. In Irenaeus’s day, however, and for a long time both before and after, scripture did not necessarily come through the...

III. Legacy: Irenaeus and His Theological Traditions

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11. The Heart of Irenaeus’s Theology

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pp. 133-140

...The title of this chapter is meant to provoke. After all, many scholars and many books have described Irenaeus’s theology and located the heart of his thought in other places. Recapitulation is probably the theological idea most frequently proposed as the central theme for Irenaeus. Even if I did not harbor the suspicion that Irenaeus learned about recapitulation from Justin Martyr...

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12. Irenaeus and the Knowledge of God as Father: Text and Context

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pp. 141-150

...It is a commonplace of his theological vocabulary, and it is fundamental to his theology that it be understood that the creator God of the Old Testament and the Father of Christ of the New Testament were one and the same. But did he have a conception of the fatherhood of God? Indeed, did the word have any particular theological significance for him? The question is not patient of a certain answer. He nowhere engages in a discussion of the meaning of the word or why he thinks it appropriate to use...

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13. “The Rule of Truth . . . which He Receivedthrough Baptism” (Haer. I.9.4): Catechesis, Ritual, and Exegesis in Irenaeus’s Gaul

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pp. 151-158

...This chapter explores the relationship between baptismal ritual and catechesis in Irenaeus’s context in the light of his statement that the rule of truth is received through baptism. For whereas it is entirely possible that this statement is a confusion of baptismal ritual with catechumenal process (it is taken as axiomatic that the rule of faith was the basis for catechetical direction...

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14. Irenaeus, Women, and Tradition

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pp. 159-164

...Questions of gender have from time to time been identified as key to Gnostic thought and writing. For Elaine Pagels, gender was central to Gnosticism’s implicit critique of patriarchal Christianity. For many other scholars, images of the feminine have continued to be a refreshing part of what Gnosticism...

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15. Irenaeus and the Exegetical Roots of Trinitarian Theology

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pp. 165-172

...In 1988 Michael Slusser published an important article entitled “The Exegetical Roots of Trinitarian Theology.” Slusser’s thesis makes a significant contribution to the development of trinitarian theology in the early church. He calls attention to the dominance of analytical analysis in trinitarian discussions and reminds us that the very terms of the debate...

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16. The Image of God in Irenaeus, Marcellus, and Eustathius

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pp. 173-182

...The image of God is central to Irenaean theology and the extensive scholarship that explores it. Theological anthropology is deservedly important to this scholarship. God’s image in Adam and Christ is fundamental to Irenaeus’s anthropology both because Adam represents the human race and because Christ, as New Adam, is “the first-fruits of the resurrection of...

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17. Packaging Irenaeus: Adversus haereses and Its Editors

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pp. 183-198

...The Trappist monastery of Orval nestles in the midst of trees and green fields in southern Luxembourg, a mile or so from the French border. It is, of course, well known for beers, cheeses—and editions of Irenaeus. There Dom Adelin Rousseau, the editor of Irenaeus, died at the beginning of 2009, on 13 January, at...

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18. Tracing the Irenaean Legacy

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pp. 199-211

...Some legacies are easier to trace than others. Athanasius of Alexandria’s role in promulgating the creed and language of Nicaea, however one might assess it, ensured that he was remembered, quoted, discussed, and debated for centuries to follow. Exploring his influence and legacy...


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pp. 212-213


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pp. 214-254


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pp. 255-268


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pp. 269-275

E-ISBN-13: 9781451424447
E-ISBN-10: 1451424442
Print-ISBN-13: 9780800697969
Print-ISBN-10: 0800697960

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2012