Irenaeus was a second-century Greek Christian from Smyrna (Izmir in modern Turkey) who ended his days as bishop of Lyon (east-central modern France) around 202 CE. Irenaeus brought his Greek learning and Greek Christianity with him when he removed to the West. He was keenly interested in attacking eastern heresies, such as Gnosticism. His most important surviving work, »Against Heresies«, argues that only orthodox Christianity is authoritative because it can be traced back directly to Christ and the Apostles. In buttressing his defense of Christianity as he saw it, Irenaeus drew extensively on Christian scriptures. At a time when Christian communities favored one Gospel or another, Irenaeus argued that all four Gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, were authentic and authoritative. During these early centuries when the shape and content of Christian scriptures was developing, his claim had a profound impact on Christianity that is felt down to modern times.
The 17 essays collected in »Irénée de Lyon et le début de la Bible chrétienne« address various aspects of Irenaeus’s fundamental contributions to the formation of the Christian Bible. As such, they offer much to specialists interested in Irenaeus and, especially, in early New Testament studies. Laurence Mellerin’s »Étude des usages bibliques d’Irénée à l’aide de Biblindex«, will be of interest to scholars generally who study how authors use biblical texts in their writings. Taking Irenaeus as a case study, Mellerin used the tools provided by Biblindex, the online index of scriptural references in late antique and medieval works, to analyze statistically how Irenaeus used biblical passages in his own work.
Mellerin’s analysis of the 2460 different verses Irenaeus cited in his works (6.7% of all biblical verses available to him) enabled him to provide a big picture of »Irenaeus’s Bible« (he cited 34 books of the Old Testament and 24 books of the New Testament) as well as more finely granulated snapshots (how many times Irenaeus cited each of the 2460 verses; the verses he most frequently cited; the chapters in biblical books that most attracted his attention, etc.). Mellerin was also able to compare scriptural usages in Irenaeus’s different works and to compare patterns in Irenaeus’s citations to those of other authors represented in Biblindex.
Scholars who work with texts and seek to understand patterns of influence on the authors they study will immediately appreciate Mellerin’s case study. The remaining essays in this volume are equally important, but perhaps will appeal to a smaller audience of specialists. Patrick Andrist’s »À propos de la citation de Mt 3,16–17 dans le Papyrus Oxyrhynque 405: rapports avec le codex Bezae; diplai marginales« demonstrates that Irenaeus’s text of Mt 3,16–17 preserved on an Oxyrhynchus Papyrus is not related to the text as preserved in the »Codex Bezae«. Further, the marginal marks on the papyrus, diplai, do not indicate the text’s purported sacred status.
Enrico Cattaneo, S. J., »Le figure di Pietro e Paolo in Ireneo«, shows that Irenaeus challenged the Gnostic argument that Peter and Paul opposed each other. Rather, Irenaeus saw them as complementary founders of the Church of Rome, a church Irenaeus especially promoted. Luc Devillers, »Irénée fait-il de l’apôtre Jean le Disciple bien-aimé?: Le point sur une question controversée«, challenged the conventional wisdom that Irenaeus identified John the Apostle as the author of the fourth Gospel. Irenaeus called many individuals, not just Christ’s direct disciples, »apostles«. It appears that Eusebius in the late-third or early-fourth century was responsible for identifying the author of the fourth Gospel as John the Apostle. One consequence of Irenaeus’s championing the canonicity of four Gospels was the troubling discovery that the Gospels sometimes contradict each other. Christophe Guignard, »Irénée, les généalogies évangéliques de Jésus et le Codex de Bèze«, explored Irenaeus’s reaction to the conflicting genealogies of Christ presented in Matthew 1,1–18 and Luke 3,23–38. Irenaeus’s solution was to accept the account in Luke as Mary’s genealogy. The solution adopted in the »Codex Bezae« was different altogether, another distinction between Irenaeus’s Bible and the Codex Bezae.
The remaining essays by Joaquin Blas Pastor, »Rationalis Esca (AH 4.16.3): Manger et connaître dans l’exégèse irénéenne de Dt 8,3«; Marie-Laure Chaieb, »La référence au dernier repas du Christ: Une question herméneutique au cœur des arguments eucharistiques d’Irénée de Lyon«; Alberto D’Anna, »Les ›Négateurs de la salus carnis internes à l’Église‹ et le conflit exégétique avec Irénée sur les Épîtres de Paul«; Patricio de Navascués, »Quelques principes herméneutiques chez Saint Irénée«; Pino Di Luccio, »Dimore eterne e fine dei tempi nei Vangeli e nell’Apocalisse, e per sant’Ireneo«, Maurizio Girolami, »Il Salmo 21 (LXX) nell’esegesi di Ireneo di Lione«; Christophe Guignard, »Le Quadruple Évangile chez Irénée«; Pierre Molinié, S. J., »Vase d’argile ou vase précieux? Saint Irénée et la théologie paulinienne du ministère (2 Co 4,7 et 12,9)«; Olivier Munnich, »Le texte scripturaire d’Irénée, témoin d’un état ancien de la Bible grecque et de reformulations néotestamentaires«; James R. Payton, Jr., »Irenaeus, Pseudonymity, and the Pastoral Letters«, Andrés Sáez Gutiérrez, »Interprétations scripturaires en conflit chez Irénée: Quelques réflexions théoriques et un exemple significatif«; and Joseph Verheyden, »Four Gospels Indeed, but Where is Mark? On Irenaeus’ Use of the Gospel of Mark«, each shed new light and new perspectives on their respective topics. The editors are to be commended for organizing a volume of such high quality and so much internal coherence and for providing four useful indices. Agnès Bastit’s 25-page introductory essay impressively synthesizes the contributions of the 17 essays that follow and highlights their contributions to the study of Irenaeus of Lyon and the formation of the Christian Bible.
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Contreni John, Rezension von/compte rendu de: Agnès Bastit, Joseph Verheyden (dir.), Irénée de Lyon et le début de la Bible chrétienne. Actes de la journée du 1.VII.2014 à Lyon, Turnhout (Brepols) 2017, 502 p. (Instrumenta Patristica et Mediaevalia. Research on the Inheritance of Early Medieval Christianity, 77), ISBN 978-2-503-57544-5, EUR 110,00., in: Francia-Recensio 2018/4, Mittelalter – Moyen Âge (500–1500), DOI: https://doi.org/10.11588/frrec.2018.4.57349