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Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

Stephen Andrew Cooper

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780198270270
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603396 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198270275.001.0001

Series: Oxford Early Christian Studies

Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

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Marius Victorinus, the first Latin commentator on the Pauline epistles, has generally been considered out of the mainstream of fourth century Latin Christianity. This judgment is largely due to two factors: the dominant place of Neoplatonism in his Christian writings; and Jerome’s scornful remarks on Victorinus as an expert in profane authors who had the temerity to take upon himself the task of commenting on the Bible. This opinion does not do justice to the author or his exegetical work. This book, the first full-length study in English of Marius Victorinus the biblical exegete, presents the first English translation of his commentary on Galatians. An extensive introduction situates Victorinus within the historical and theological setting of the Roman church c. 350-365, and treats the disputed issues pertaining to his work as a biblical commentator. Despite Victorinus’ deep immersion in the world of late Roman rhetoric and philosophy, his commentaries on Paul are very much the work of the churchmen. This confirms the impression made by his better-known Trinitarian treatises: that his conversion to Christianity brought him into the church as a public intellectual eager to address both internal disputes (the Trinitarian Controversy; Judaizing) and the criticisms of an increasingly embattled paganism. Victorinus’ works on Paul are shown to have provided an important precedent for later Latin commentators like Ambrosiaster and Augustine, who followed Victorinus in adapting the literary-critical techniques of the Latin schools of grammar and rhetoric. Victorinus was indeed the initiator of the ‘rediscovery of the apostle Paul’ in the Latin church. This study of his commentary on Galatians shows the late antique rhetor to have undertaken a commentary on the Pauline corpus with a view to providing an intermediate-level introduction to the essentials of Christianity, encompassing both doctrine and moral life. It is argued that this schema parallels the graded approach to philosophical paideia favored by contemporary Neoplatonic schools. Victorinus chose the Pauline corpus as an object of commentary because this portion of the New Testament offered the best vehicle for promoting orthodoxy and orthopraxy in the church.

Keywords: Paul; Neoplatonism; Roman rhetoricm; Augustine; Ambrosiaster; Latin commentary; scholar consensus; Roman church; Trinitarian Controversy

Book.  430 pages. 

Subjects: Early Christianity

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Table of Contents

A Chapter in the History of Biblical Exegesis in Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

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The Life and Times of Marius Victorinus in Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

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The Apostle Paul in Fourth‐Century Roman Art in Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

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Exegesis and Interpretation in Victorinus' Commentaries in Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

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Situating Victorinus' Commentaries on Paul in Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

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Influence of Victorinus' Commentaries on Later Latin Exegetes in Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

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Book I in Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

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Book II in Marius Victorinus' Commentary on Galatians

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