AuthorsEdwards, Owen C.
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AbstractThe problem this dissertation addresses is at face a simple one: in the very specific case of Hebrews 7.1-3, what interpretive move is the author using to interpret the Old Testament, when he offers a comparison between Jesus and the mysterious figure of Melchizedek? However, the answer quickly becomes complicated due to the inadequacy of our terminology, where “typology” and “allegory” – the most common interpretive moves assigned to Hebrews 7.1-3 in the scholarship – take on medieval or modern meanings rather than definitions available to the ancient authors themselves. This dissertation explores the historical background to figural and non-literal readings of sacred texts, considering in turn Greek, Jewish, and Christian readers. Each group of readers considered provides necessary context for interpretive activity in Hebrews. Greek allegorists provide the idea of a religiously or philosophically encoded text via the Homeric allegorists and their critic Plato. They also provide the actual ancient definition of the term “allegory”, as a rhetorical trope involving extended metaphor and poetic hinting by an author, which might include techniques ranging from metonymy to numerology to concept-for-concept substitution. Jewish allegorists – Aristeas, Aristobulus, and Philo – make the distinctive move to seeing a text as encoded not by a human poet like Homer or Orpheus, but by the great divine Author, God. When turning to Christian allegorists, a natural touchstone is Paul – who uses the term allegory in Galatians – but Jesus himself and (Pseudo)-Barnabas also provide very important context for distinctively Christian allegorical reading, particularly involving the Christological fulfilment of hints laid by God in the sacred history of the Old Testament (that is, “typology”). Trajectories in allegorical exegesis in early Christianity are considered, to examine the latent tendencies within the form. Finally, the definitions and understanding gained are turned to use in analysing exegesis in Hebrews, where 7.1-3 – and several other texts – are read against the background of Hellenistic literary allegory.
CitationEdwards, O. C. (2021). Hebrews, allegory, and Alexandria [Unpublished doctoral thesis]. University of Chester.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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