referents. Their lucidity, Augustine notes in a crucial caveat, presupposes an accurate translation.48 Differing versions, nevertheless, already occasionally triggered significant differences of theological interpretation. A monumental case in point is Romans 5.12, where the Old Latin seemed to suggest that death spread to humanity in the one in whom all sinned (in quo omnes peccaverunt). For Augustine and other Latin writers the words in quo referenced Adam and the human race's implication in his guilt, exegetically funding the doctrine oforig-inal sin.49 Eastern Christian exegetes instead saw the Greek eph ho ('inasmuch as' or 'since'), implying that death spread to humanity because all human beings sinned for themselves - not inheriting Adam's guilt but imitating his example and incurring the same punishment.50 This difference of 'plain meanings' of a prepositional phrase engendered a virtual exegetical schism between East and West on a decisive issue of theological anthropology.

The 'literal' sense, however, could also indicate the coherence ofbiblical narratives, a major concern of exegetes like Jerome and Theodoret. For Theodoret, the literal sense often appears simply as grammatical, literary or historical elucidation, yet its purpose is to ground the church's interpretations - including its 'spiritual' ones - in salvation-historical reality. Such was a decidedly different project, as Hans Frei has observed, from the modern historical-critical judgment of 'literal' meaning in terms of the credibility and accuracy of texts in relating historical facts. Narrative coherence, for early Christian interpreters, ultimately concerned the 'realism' of the whole biblical drama, according to which individual stories could be judged 'literally' true in their 'figural' relation to the larger narrative, just as what was 'literally' true now in the church's experience was what made sense in the light of that commanding story.51

More controversial by modern standards was the 'literal' sense arising from those instances where patristic interpreters understood scriptural texts to be overtly instructing the church in mysteries of the faith. In the Latin tradition, the finest specimen is Augustine's commentary On the literal meaning of Genesis, the last in his series of attempts to explain the creation account against errant (especially Manichaean) interpretations. The 'literal meaning' here is actually

48 Augustine, De doctrina christiana 2.11.16-2.15.22 (ed. Green, 72-82).

49 Following Ambrosiaster, Comm. in Rom. 5.12, cf.Augustine, Contra duas epistulas Pela-gianorum 4.4.7 (CSEL 60:527-8); Denuptiis etconcupiscentia2.42,45 (CSEL 42:296,298-9); ContraJulianum 1.3.8; 1.7.33 (PL 44: 645, 663-4). Erasmus later identified the weakness of the Old Latin reading, and of Augustine's consequent interpretation, in his Annotationes in Rom. 5.12, first published in 1516.

50 E.g., John Chrysostom, Hom. in Rom. 10 (PG 60: 473-84); Theodoret, Comm. in Rom. (PG 82: 100); Cyril ofAlexandria, Comm. in Rom. (PG 74: 784).

51 Hans Frei, The eclipse ofbiblical narrative, 1-3.

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