Hilary's Understanding and Use of Scripture

Carl L. Beckwith

in Hilary of Poitiers on the Trinity

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551644
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720789 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Hilary's Understanding and Use of Scripture

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Hilary's understanding of scripture and its normative use in discussions about God does not proceed on apologetic grounds. The challenge faced by Hilary is that his Homoian opponents routinely insist that their theological assertions are rooted in scripture. Hilary regrettably acknowledges throughout De Trinitate that his opponents not only assign scripture a normative role in their arguments but also promote what he considers faulty theological positions by appealing to scripture only. Hilary recognizes that the dispute over scripture is not on its place in theological reflection but over its employment and the assumptions made about the text. This first half of this chapter surveys Hilary's understanding of scripture. The second half of the chapter looks at two key texts from the fourth-century Trinitarian debates: Proverbs 8 and the prologue to the Gospel of John. These texts demonstrate not only Hilary's theological and exegetical development in the various editorial stages of De Trinitate but also show his careful handling of scripture in securing a pro-Nicene theology.

Keywords: scripture; exegesis; Word of God; analogy; metaphor; unity of Scripture; soteriology; Photinian; Photinus of Sirmium; Arius; Homoian; Proverbs 8; Gospel of John

Chapter.  9239 words. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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