Antiochene 'theoria' in John Chrysostom's exegesis

Bradley Louis Nassif, Fordham University


Antiochene theoria (insight) is a principle of patristic exegesis belonging to the fourth-century School of Antioch. Theoria refers either to (a) a particular mode of predictive prophecy and its corresponding method of exegesis and/or (b) a particular type of textual meaning which discloses to the mind of the exegete the Spirit's revelatory activity in salvation-history. Since the late 1970's there has been a rising interest in theoria among a small number of influential scholars. Bertrand de Margerie defines the current problem: The complexity of the material available shows that we still undoubtedly await the definitive work which will give us an exact understanding of the meaning of Antiochene theoria, or, better still, of the different meanings of the term found in the authors of the School (of Antioch) and even within the same author. Thus the task of this dissertation was to conduct a critical and extensive analysis of Antiochene theoria in the NT homilies of John Chrysostom. Chapter I began by contextualizing the hermeneutic in Christian antiquity and in the history of exegesis. In Chapter II the author traced the history of scholarship on Antiochene theoria over the past hundred years and summarized the current state of the problem among both biblical and patristic scholars. Chapter III explored Chrysostom's vision of the nature of revelation and the task of exegesis in order to provide a framework in which to understand his use of theoria. In Chapter IV, the heart of the dissertation, the author conducted a hermeneutical analysis of theoria in Chrysostom's exegesis. The author concluded that, unlike other Antiochenes, theoria in Chrysostom functions as "a rarely applied principle of literal exegesis ... It endeavors to unfold the relationship between the publicly defined meaning of words and their higher spiritual content by contemplating the theological significance of grammatical or literal symbols in their historical dimensions (including figurative expressions, historical realities, or prophecies) and to draw from such facts the practical and soteriological teachings they contain." Chapter V concluded by addressing theoria to new areas of canonical criticism, and to questions of meaning and intentionality in the hermeneutics of Gadamer, structuralism, genre-criticism, and homiletical discourse.

Subject Area

Religious history|Theology

Recommended Citation

Nassif, Bradley Louis, "Antiochene 'theoria' in John Chrysostom's exegesis" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9118841.