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Durham e-Theses
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Clement of Alexandria and the Creative Exegesis of Christian Scripture

WARD-III, HAROLD,CLIFTON (2017) Clement of Alexandria and the Creative Exegesis of Christian Scripture. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 01 May 2020.


How might one describe early Christian exegesis? This question has given rise to a significant reassessment of patristic exegetical practice in recent decades, and the present thesis contributes to this reappraisal of patristic exegesis in two significant ways. First, this thesis attempts to move beyond the idea of exegesis to investigate the textual practices that serve as its modus operandi. In order to accomplish this task, I develop the notion of "creative exegesis." I argue that creative exegesis permits one to pay attention in detail to two modes of archival thinking at the heart of the ancient exegetical enterprise: the grammatical archive, a repository of the textual practices learned from the grammarian, and the memorial archive, the constellations of textual memories from which textual meaning is constructed. Second, this thesis examines the textual practices of Clement of Alexandria, a figure whose exegesis has on the whole been neglected in modern scholarship. I argue that an assessment of Clement's creative exegesis reveals his deep commitment to scriptural interpretation as the foundation of theological inquiry, even in his works that cannot be explicitly labeled "exegetical." Clement employs various textual practices from the grammatical archive to read Scripture figurally, though he restricts the figural referents of Scripture to two mysteries, bound up in the incarnation of Christ and the knowledge of God. These mysteries are discovered in an act of rhetorical invention by reading Scripture for the constellations that frame its narrative. For Clement, the plot of Scripture—and the progression from Old Testament to New—is expressed under the dual constellations of "fear," by which God leads his people to faith, and "wisdom," through which God leads his people to the ultimate vision of the divine essence.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Clement; exegesis; Scripture; Bible; memory; imagination; grammar; rhetoric
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 May 2017 15:28

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