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Kirchengeschichte: Alte Kirche, Christliche Archäologie


Aragione, Gabriella, et Rémi Gounelle [Éds.]


»Soyez des changeurs avisés«. Controverses exégétiques dans la littérature apocryphe chrétienne.


Turnhout: Brepols Publishers; Strasbourg: Université de Strasbourg (Centre d’Analyse et de Documentation Patristiques) 2013. 174 S. = Cahiers de Biblia Patristica, 12. Kart. EUR 35,00. ISBN 978-2-906805-11-8.


Joseph Verheyden

This volume presents a selection from the papers that were given at the Third International Colloquium on Christian Apocryphal Li-terature that was organised by the »Centre d’Analyse et de Documentation Patristique« (CADP) and the »Centre Paul-Albert Février« and was held at Strasbourg University, 14–16 January 2010. The theme of the colloquium was »Christian Apocryphal Christian and the Jewish Scriptures«. It contains seven essays, four on various aspects of the Pseudo-Clementine Literature and three others dealing with different topics.
The title needs perhaps a word of comment. It is of course a citation of one of the most famous agrapha. I am not sure readers will immediately see the link with the overall topic, but it is explained to them in the Introduction: it has (correctly, I think) been interpreted as an admonition to be careful in exchanging or receiving ideas and to make sure one duly distinguishes between what is true and what is false. This is indeed a major concern and matter of dispute to many ancient authors dealing with Jewish Scripture and how it is explained by adversaries.
The saying is also the topic of the first well-researched essay, by Giovanni Battista Bazzana (Harvard Divinity School), who studies its reception by Apelles, Origen, and the author of the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies (or rather, as Bazzana argues, already by the author of the »Grundschrift« that was incorporated in the Homilies). Helen Rhee (Westmont College) studies the authority given to Jewish Scripture in these same Homilies in comparison with the Acts of Peter, in combatting the doctrines associated by Simon Magus, the ruthless opponent of Peter and the unfortunate anti-hero in both works. Rhee shows that this confrontation was as much a battle over the Bible and over who has authority to explain it than it is over specific doctrines. The Homilies again (and also a bit of the Recognitions, the other version of the Pseudo-Clementine romance) are the topic of the essay by Meinolf Vielberg (Jena) on the origin of evil according to Hom. 19–20. Vielberg argues that the author of the Homilies, contrary to what is often said, has a rela-tively good knowledge of certain philosophical traditions on the matter and also is able to distinguish between the biblical and the ancient philosophical approaches to the problem. We are no longer in the domain and milieu of the »simple« Jewish-Christians of Christian anti-heretic literature. Dominique Côté (Ottawa) critically assesses the hypothesis put forward by G. Scholem that there are clear identifiable links between Jewish mystical and Jewish-Chris­tian traditions (and literature). Côté focuses on the Shiur Qomah, the concept of the measuring (and the form) of the divine body which he compares with how Peter in Hom. 17 argues that God has a body and that there is nothing heretic about such a position. He concludes that there are some similarities but that all in all Homilies is tributary above all to Greek philosophical tradition.
The second part consists of essays by Claudio Gianotto (Turin) on the use of Scripture in the Gospel and in the Acts of Thomas; Bernard Pouderon (Tours) on the origins of the label »Cainite« used for certain groups in ancient Christian polemics; and Laurence Vianès (Grenoble) on the use of biblical citations in the First Apocalypse of John and two seventh-century works of Quaestiones et Responsa, one of which is authored by Anastasius Sinaita, the other being the anonymously transmitted Quaestiones ad Antiochum Ducem. Gianotto argues that both Thomas writings rely on similar or the same ascetic traditions for interpreting Gen 1–3, but that the similarities are rather too general to be more specific about the origins of the traditions that lie behind these texts. Pouderon offers a complete and valuable dossier of the attestations of »Cain« in Christian liter­ature, apocryphal and other, and concludes that the label was most probably introduced by the opponents but was then picked up as a »nom de gueux« by their adversaries. Vianès lists the similarities between the three texts she is studying in the way they deal with aspects of eschatology and evoke end-time descriptions; she dates the First Apocalypse in the mid-sixth century and argues that the Quaestiones ad Antiochum Ducem may have known it, or at least a tradition close to it.
This little volume, accompanied by good Indexes, may look a bit »versatile« in its selection, but the essays are interesting and the variety of topics and methods addressed just show the importance and breadth of the topic in ancient authors and also give a good idea of the dangers there certainly were in trying to capture the Jewish Scriptures for Christian polemics.