Situating Victorinus' Commentaries on Paul

Stephen Andrew Cooper

in Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780198270270
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603396 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Situating Victorinus' Commentaries on Paul

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This chapter surveys the various hypotheses suggested by scholars for establishing Victorinus’ motivations for commenting on the Pauline corpus. Reader-response criticism is employed to elucidate Victorinus’ intentions toward his audience. The dating of the commentaries, in relation to that of his Trinitarian treatises, is closely examined. Two major thematic complexes emerge from a reading of the extant commentaries on Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians: the Trinitarian Controversy; and justification by faith, often accompanied by polemics against Judaizing Christians. Victorinus’ concern to articulate an understanding of God and Christ consonant with the creed of Nicea is patent, but the attempt to identify that concern as the major motivation for his authorship of the commentaries is unconvincing. Victorinus’ frequent polemics against Jewish practices derives his own concern about Christians engaged in Judaizing — such Judaizing being well-documented by a variety of fourth-century sources. Victorinus’ pioneering employment of the formulation ‘faith alone’ (sola fides) and his understanding of justification by faith does not reach the point of Augustine’s anti-Pelagian exegesis but is not itself reducible to an incipient Pelagianism.

Keywords: motivation; Victorinus; Trinitarian Controversy; Nicene Creed; justification by faith; sola fides; anti-Judaizing; reader-response criticism; Symmachians

Chapter.  28317 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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