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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Threads and Images: The Use of Scripture in Apophthegmata Patrum
Rönnegård, Per

Lund, Sweden: Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, 2007 pp. xii + 244. $33.00

Description: This study is devoted to the use of the Bible in the Greek systematic collection of Apophthegmata Patrum (AP). After an introductory survey of earlier research on the use of Scripture in general, and that of AP in particular, the main purpose of the investigation is formulated: to describe how the Bible text is contextualized, i.e., how the text is integrated with the teachings and ideals in the saying of which it is a part. The work is placed in the genre of collections of chreiai (collections of short pithy sayings attributed to well-known people). A classification system, a "taxonomy of references", is developed to sort out which sayings quote, paraphrase, or allude to Bible passages in an obvious way. The basis for the study is the 155 sayings classified as containing the most obvious uses of the Bible. In chapter three, 32 of these are analysed in depth. In chapter four the whole range of the 155 sayings are the basis for a systematization of the use of the Bible. One set of categories is developed in terms of how the threads of biblical material are woven into the new text of AP in order to bear on questions relevant to its first readers. Another set of categories is developed in terms of what role biblical texts have in individual sayings. Finally, a comparison is made between different uses of the Bible in AP and the way a chreia could be expanded on in an ergasia, a basic rhetorical exercise used at an intermediate level of the educational system of that time.

Subjects: Methods, Historical Approaches, History, Early Church Origins, History of Interpretation

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Review by Mark DelCogliano
Published 8/15/2009
Citation: Mark DelCogliano, review of Per Rönnegård, Threads and Images: The Use of Scripture in Apophthegmata Patrum, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2009).

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