AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

Trinity, Economy, and Scripture: A Theologically-Motivated Recovery of Didymus the Blind

by Jonathan Douglas Hicks

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: Trinity; Trinitate; Didymus; Blind; Alexandria; Economy; Scripture; Humanity; Triune; Hermeneutics; Interpretation; Zechariah; Commentary; Treatise; Dogmatic; Exegetical
Record ID: 1317458
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/4998


In this study I examine the question of the normativity of Didymus the Blind’s exegetical practices in light of his scriptural ontology. Given that Didymus understands the Scriptures primarily in relation to their function in the Triune economy of re-creation, I ask what this economy can tell us about how Scripture should be read. This involves the antecedent consideration of God’s being in its relationship to this economy and subsequent considerations of the human responses that are generated by participation in this economy. In chapter two, I argue that the state of the question on De Trinitate favors its attribution to Didymus, encouraging an attempt at rapprochement between his dogmatic and exegetical corpus. In chapter three, I take up the question of how Didymus, in De Trinitate, links Trinitarian being and what is particular to the hypostaseis with the activities of the hypostaseis in the economy. Chapter four contains my summary of the broad lines of Didymus’ scriptural ontology. The speech of the prophets and the apostles is located firmly within the divine economy to which they bear witness. I argue that Didymus’ account of Scripture in De Trinitate supports readings that recognize the inherence of Triune activity within the Old Testament, the christological focus of Scripture, and the deeply participational (or baptismal) character of proper interpretation. In chapter five, I turn to the Commentary on Zechariah to take up the question of the manner in and extent to which other people can be said to be conformed to the virtues of Christ, noting that Didymus believes such conformation to be possible in the present life with the help of God. In chapter six, I visit the issue of whether human knowledge of the Trinity progresses in the age to come in relation to the Son’s mediation of divine knowledge. I note two deficiencies of Didymus’ account of the economy in his denial of Christ’s material embodiedness in the eschaton and in his conviction that human knowledge of the Trinity must come to the point at which progress is no longer possible. In chapter seven, I examine the consequences of the above determinations about the economy for the reading of Zechariah 3, engaging with questions about Didymus’ employment of the criterion of the literal sense’s usefulness, his understanding of the historical dimensions of the vision, and the resulting vision of Christ that emerges from his reading. While I argue that certain elements of his reading practice are recoverable – his theologically-informed reading of history and the baptismal and participational character of faithful reading – I argue that his account of the mystery of Christ is finally deficient because he construes the “literal sense” in such a way that it no longer possesses the power to illumine critical aspects of Christ’s mystery in the “spiritual sense.” In the conclusion, I briefly draw together the various threads of the argument and bring them to bear on select conversations about the ongoing usefulness of patristic exegesis for the reading…