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225 Conclusion I n 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. Moreover , at three critical passages at Instructio 11, 51.2, and 150.1, he describes his thesis, which he links to a threefold division of the book of Psalms in successive clusters of fifty. I have taken Hilary at his word when he proposed to present throughout his commentary a three-stage journey of the Christian from the condition of sin to baptism to resurrection concluding in the ultimate transformation within “the glorified body of Christ.” Marc Milhau had examined Hilary’s announcement of this theme in those three pivotal passages. He presented Hilary ’s identification of each stage as baptismum, resurrectio, and demutatio and then demonstrated the scriptural resources Hilary employed to describe these stages in each of those passages . I have shown how Hilary actually develops and applies this model throughout his discussions on the Psalms. Hilary had already demonstrated his interest in the Christian life earlier in the introductory book for De Trinitate. Features of that account reappear in the Tractatus in a considerably expanded form. At the outset I addressed Hilary’s choice of the Psalms to use as the scriptural resource and authority for his model of the Christian life. I suggested that the Psalms were the people’s Bible , as it were. Evidence, admittedly from a little later, indicates 226 ³ conclusion that people listened to other scriptural readings from the Old and New Testaments but they actually recited or sung selections from the Psalms as their response. There is not sufficient evidence from Christian practices in mid-fourth century Gaul to definitively substantiate this claim, so it remains as my operational hypothesis. It proved easier to identify Hilary’s sources and to demonstrate how he adapted them for his commentary . Hilary grew to respect the perspectives of Greek Christians whom he encountered around Ancyra, unlike Lucifer of Cagliari, another contemporary bishop exiled to the East. From his contacts around Ancyra, presumably he discovered the exegetical resources of Origen. To determine the degree of Hilary’s dependence on Origen’s texts, I have examined the surviving evidence for the Greek exegete’s contaminated and fragmented commentaries. I have followed Pierre Nautin’s research to explore how Hilary used both Origen’s early Alexandrine commentary and his later Caesarean Commentary on the Psalms. It is clear that Hilary takes the basic threefold division of the Psalter from Origen as well as a considerable amount of technical information. From Origen Hilary takes information about Hebrew and Greek versions as well as the privileged role of the Septuagint. He is indebted to the Greek scholar for interpretations of superscriptions, diapsalma, and for extensive portfolios of scriptural references. Hilary’s governing metaphor of the city may have been prompted by Origen’s use of “a house with many dwellings, each requiring its own key” in the prologue to his Alexandrine commentary . But Hilary does not copy Origen indiscriminately since he omits many things such as Origen’s interest in abstractions. Hilary, doubtless, learned about the works of Origen from his contacts around Ancyra. From them, too, he learned their distinctive theological articulation on the status of the Son’s relation to the Father, which he reported in his De Synodis. For his Tractatus super Psalmos, Hilary probably learned from them as well at least some of the possibilities of Christological themes in the Epistle to the Philippians. There is no evidence, however, that Hilary derived his central theme of a three-staged model of the Christian life from these Greek sources. Although the parallels with those fragmented Greek sources are highly suggestive, it is clear the Hilary remained profoundly influenced conclusion ³ 227 by the Latin exegetical, theological, and cultural traditions. These provided him with his basic critical perspectives, which he had demonstrated in his Commentary on Matthew, composed before his exile to the East. In many ways Hilary has developed his thought in creative directions. He retained many of the basic parameters for his analysis from his Latin western background. A significant reason for his continuing appeals to his Latin resources was his intended audience. I have proposed that his objective was to instigate a reflection on an authoritative text with his peers who would have shared his grammatical and rhetorical...


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