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Title: Treasure Hidden in a Field: Early Christian Exegesis of the Gospel of Matthew
Authors: Jorgensen, David William
Advisors: Pagels, Elaine
Contributors: Religion Department
Keywords: exegesis
New Testament
Subjects: Religion
Biblical studies
Religious history
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation is an integrated reception history of one of the early church's foundational documents, the Gospel according to Matthew. The project eschews traditional constructions of the boundaries of the church along retrospectively orthodox and heretical lines, in favor of a model that imagines the second- and third-century church engaged in a struggle for the right to assert the label of orthodoxy. From this point of view, what would eventually become the center cannot be adequately understood without attending to groups and individuals that were later depicted by the ecclesiastical authorities as always having been on the margins. Therefore, this study shows how in the second and third centuries, the Valentinians were important contributors to a shared culture of early Christian exegesis of shared foundational documents. The dissertation examines the use of Matthew's Gospel in the Valentinian texts the Gospel of Truth, Interpretation of Knowledge, and Ptolemy's Epistle to Flora, as well as Irenaeus' Against the Heresies, Tertullian's Prescription Against Heretics, and the Stromata of Clement of Alexandria. This approach illuminates a number of aspects of the history of the early church. I argue for a critical reevaluation of the false dichotomy between "orthodox" and "heretical" exegetical method, showing how Valentinian and patristic authors often apply the same innovative reading strategies to the same scriptural passages. I further argue that Valentinian exegetes made their own, unique contributions to what would become Christian orthodoxy, in two areas in particular: the application of allegorical interpretation to the New Testament, and a complex explanation of the historical and theological relationship between Judaism and Christianity. The project additionally deepens our knowledge of Irenaeus' grasp of Greco-Roman rhetoric, and of Valentinian cosmogonic speculation. As the first monograph-length study of Valentinian exegesis of the Gospel of Matthew, it contributes to recent scholarship on Valentinian ethics and ecclesiology, matters with which Matthew's Gospel was particularly concerned. Finally, the project enriches our understanding of the process by which the Gospel of Matthew came to be thought of as Scripture, and thus put on the path to eventual canonization within the New Testament.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Religion

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