iconographie expression, in pastoral care offered and received, in ethical and ascetical commitments made, Christians were taking up their roles in the company of the biblical saints in a collective drama steadily moving toward that culmination in which Christ would truly be all in all (1 Corinthians 15.28).

Liturgy, in particular, modulated Christians' appropriation of scripture. As Gerard Nauroy notes, 'Scripture itself was first experienced by the faithful of the early church through a lectio,' a reading framed within liturgy.61 By the fourth century a lectionary was in place in Jerusalem and other churches were following suit, so that the liturgical reading of the Bible was co-ordinated with the developing Christian festal calendar. Theological interpretation, meanwhile, serviced worship and other Christian practices by explicating the Trinitarian and Christocentric oikonomia underlying the biblical narrative, an economy embracing Christians here and now as those created, baptised, redeemed and prospectively deified by the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In the final analysis we must return to theoria - 'contemplation', an embracing spiritual vision of divine revelation - as the principal key to understanding scriptural interpretation in late antiquity. Theoria was the cultivated intuition of the church, at once shaping and shaped by exegesis, developing in constant tandem with the lived 'performance' of the scriptures. Fed by varying approaches to the biblical text yet transcending any particular one as exhaustive, and thriving on the diverse media through which scripture infused Christian faith and thought, theoria represented the early church's aspiration to discern the fullness of the power (dynamis) and purpose (skopos) of the ever-contemporary word of God.


PRIMARY SOURCES Ambrose. De officiis, ed. I. Davidson (Oxford, 2002)

Apophthegmata patrum, alphabetical collection (PG 65). Trans. Benedicta Ward, The sayings of the desert fathers (Kalamazoo, MI, 1975) Athanasius. Epistola ad Marcellinum in interpretationem psalmorum (PG 27)

Orationes contra Arianos (PG 26) ps.-Athanasius. Expositiones in Ps. (PG 27)

Augustine. Confessiones, ed.J.J. O'Donnell (Oxford, 1992). Trans. H. Chadwick. Saint Augustine. Confessions (Oxford, 1998) Contra duas epistulas Pelagianorum (CSEL 60) Contra Julianum (PL 44)

61 G. Nauroy, 'L'écriture dans la pastorale d'Ambroise de Milan', in Fontaine and Pietri, Le monde latin antique et la Bible, 382-3.

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