Re-assessing the use of scriptural material and interpretations in the "Peri Pascha" attributed to Melito of Sardis

1996 1996

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Abstract (summary)

The recently discovered (1932) and published (1940) $\Pi$EPI $\rm\Pi A\Sigma XA$ (PP) has excited much discussion in early Christian theology and homiletics, as well as in Jewish/Christian relations. The homilist proposes that the Passover (Ex. 12) foreshadows Jesus' Passion, and includes a virulent anti-Jewish attack. The author of PP is identified by most scholars as Melito, Quartodeciman bishop of Sardis (2d century CE) described by Eusebius (EH 4.26.1-13, 5.23-5). Many scholars interpret the homily's anti-Jewish rhetoric as the author's reaction against an influential, wealthy Jewish community in Sardis (as evidenced by the Sardis synagogue excavations). Some scholars suggest that our homilist was influenced by emerging rabbinic thought and the developing Passover Haggadah. Both approaches are challenged through an evaluation of the Jewish scriptural material cited by our homilist. The scriptural quotations and allusions help formulate and support the author's argument. The evidence suggests that our homilist had access to derivative-biblical sources (sources other than a biblical manuscript), such as testimony books, liturgies, catechisms, etc. The study recommends caution in interpreting the homily as reflecting Jewish/Christian relations in Sardis. The suggested dependence on emerging rabbinic Judaism lacks adequate and convincing evidence. Both positions misinterpret the evidence from Eusebius, and thus the authorship and provenance of our homily cannot be secured. The Quartodeciman label is rejected based on a deficiency in the homily of defining Quartodeciman characteristics. The PP can be most helpfully understood as an anonymous second or third century CE text with an undetermined provenance. The homily's anti-Jewish invective is best interpreted in light of developing Christian self-definition.

Indexing (details)

Religious history;
Ancient civilizations
0320: Religious history
0579: Ancient civilizations
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; Peri Pascha; homiletics
Re-assessing the use of scriptural material and interpretations in the "Peri Pascha" attributed to Melito of Sardis
Cohick, Lynn Harrison
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 57/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780591205343, 0591205343
Kraft, Robert A.
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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