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Christus in natura

Quellen, Hermeneutik und Rezeption des Physiologus

[Christus in natura. Sources, Hermeneutics and Reception of the Physiologus]

Ed. by Kindschi Garský, Zbyněk / Hirsch-Luipold, Rainer

Funded by Schweizerischer Nationalfonds (SNF)

Series:Studies of the Bible and Its Reception (SBR) 11

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November 2019
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Der Erlöser im Tarnanzug. Eine Studie zur Christologie des Physiologus, zu seiner Datierung und zur Rezeptionsgeschichte von Psalm 24 (23LXX)

Vollenweider, Samuel


The article deals with the programmatic first chapter of the Physiologus, which concerns the lion. Its three allegories refer to Christ’s incarnation, his death and his resurrection. In general, the author of the Physiologus only alludes to dogmatic conceptions and exegetical traditions of his age and expects his readers to fill any voids (‘Leerstellen’). A detailed analysis of the complex religioushistorical background of the lion chapter supports some chronological conclusions (based on the assumption that the 1st chapter has to be regarded as an integral part of the Physiologus’ first version). Whereas the figure of the hidden descent of the Saviour can be traced back to ‘heterodox’ Christian traditions of the 2nd / 3rd centuries CE, the motive of his angelomorphic status and the intertextual reference to Ps 24 (23LXX) are indebted to Origen and his theology. Moreover, the christological vocabulary - namely the leitmotiv of Christ’s “divine nature (θεότης) hidden in the flesh (/body)” - points most likely to the 4th century CE. The lion chapter also shows traces of 4th century debates about the status of Christ between death and resurrection (triduum mortis). If the first known version of the Physiologus originated in the first half of the 4th century, his milieu might probably be found among Origenist monks in Egypt (who may also have transmitted Gnostic traditions and texts). Finally, the article adresses the hermeneutical profile of the Physiologus’ allegorical method and his basic conception of the ‘two books of God’, nature and Scripture.

Citation Information

Samuel Vollenweider (2019). Der Erlöser im Tarnanzug. Eine Studie zur Christologie des Physiologus, zu seiner Datierung und zur Rezeptionsgeschichte von Psalm 24 (23LXX). In Zbyněk Kindschi Garský, Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (Eds.), Christus in natura: Quellen, Hermeneutik und Rezeption des Physiologus (pp. 93–132). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110494143-010

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110494143

Online ISBN: 9783110494143

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston. BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

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