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biblical commentators of the fourth to sixth centuries looked to deepen commitment to the Christian worldview and way of life.

'Interpretation' in this period was a project at once 'contemplative', aspiring to a comprehensive vision (theoria) of God's revelation to and in the world, and 'performative', embodying itself in ritual actions and in moral praxis. The Bible was not just a treasury of'senses' (literal, allegorical, moral, anagogical, etc.) awaiting exposition by erudite commentators. It was prophecy still being fulfilled. Beneath its textual veil lay a glorious mystery bursting the bounds of human writ, a redemptive drama that had climaxed in Jesus Christ and now had its denouement in the foreground of the church's life and mission. As Augustine suggested in a symbolic reading of the miracle at Cana, Jesus turned the 'water' in clay jars (i.e., the ages of prophecy) into a new wine 'intoxicating' for the church's consumption - a wine previously only latent in that prophetic water.4

Scriptural prophecy and Christian discernment

Christians in the fourth century and beyond inherited two major strategies of biblical interpretation from their pre-Constantinian forebears. One was the model of expounding the harmony of Old and New Testaments through prophetic proof-texts (testimonia) and the enhancements of sophisticated typological exegesis. Integrally related to it, the legacy of the Alexandrian tradition was a cultivated non-literal interpretation that grasped for moral instruction and mysterious allegorical or anagogical insights transcending the material letter (gramma) of scripture.

Mapping the correspondences between prophetic events or figures (typoi) in the Old Testament and their fulfilments or antitypes under the Christian dispensation had long served to confute Jewish and pagan criticism of the novelty of Christianity, establishing a sacred past and credible identity for the Christian movement. Eusebius of Caesarea continued this discipline in the early fourth century, interpreting numerous prophecies as 'literally' Christocentric and in various works employing typology to demonstrate the Gentile church's displacement of Judaism in the incipient Constantinian regime. Constantine himself, for Eusebius, became an antitype of Moses the liberator: like Moses raised under the regime of 'tyrants' and polytheists whom he would defeat; like Moses destroying his nemesis Maxentius in a watery deluge (the Tiber

4 Augustine,Johannis evangelium tractatus 9.3-6 (CCSL 36: 91-4).

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