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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In the history of biblical interpretation, ‘questions and answers’ are both a method of exegesis and a literary genre. Both go back to the classical tradition of Graeco-Roman philosophy and literature, starting with Aristotle’s Poetics. Within Christian exegesis, the method is applied to scriptural passages that are seen as problematic. As a genre, ‘questions and answers’ are not easy to distinguish from other exegetical genres, in particular the scholia.Their target audience is readers who wish to study the Bible more deeply as well as a variety of critics of the Bible. But when the genre takes on more accessible forms like ‘catechisms’, it is able to address a larger audience. Exegesis in the mode of ‘questions and answers’ seems to prefer a literal interpretation, but this is not a fixed rule. The genre enjoyed great success in Greek, Latin and Syriac literature. Though Philo of Alexandria wrote questions on Genesis and Exodus, after Origen’s rich exploitation of the method the proper initiator of the genre among Christian authors is Eusebius of Caesarea. Its diffusion in Late Antiquity and the early Byzantine period is witnessed by the many successors, most notably, Theodoret and Maximus Confessor. In the Latin West Augustine wrote several writings of ‘questions’.

Keywords: questions and answers, literary genre, scholia, literal interpretation, Philo, Origen, Eusebius

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