The Bishop and the Apostle: Cyprian’s Pastoral Exegesis of Paul by Edwina Murphy
Winner of the SBL De Gruyter Prize
This study examines how Cyprian of Carthage, the most significant bishop in the early Latin tradition, appropriates the canonical Paul. Cyprian, like Paul, is a pastoral theologian, so his pastoral concerns provide a helpful lens through which to study his use of the apostle. These include divine truth and eternal glory; the church’s unity, ministry and sacraments; discipline and repentance; and wealth and welfare. Examining Cyprian’s use of Paul in these areas allows us to move beyond a simple literal/allegorical paradigm to appreciate the wide range of reading strategies used by Cyprian: model, image, maxim, title, contextual exegesis, direct application, prophetic fulfilment and qualification. It also provides a different perspective on Paul than the one arrived at by privileging a handful of texts.
This study of Cyprian’s appropriation of Pauline texts therefore illuminates the interplay between text, context and theology in his exegesis. It also deepens our understanding of the early North African hermeneutical tradition and the early reception of Paul.
About the author: Edwina Murphy is Lecturer in Church History at Morling College, Sydney.