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date: 21 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The term catena (Latin for ‘chain’) refers to an edited collection of excerpts from traditional exegetical authorities. Such collections are evidenced in various fields and forms in Late Antiquity, but the production of biblical catenae was an enduring and distinctive practice of Byzantine exegesis from the sixth to the sixteenth centuries. Procopius of Gaza (c.460/70–c.530/538) occupies a significant, if disputed, place in the history of catenae, as his ‘epitomes’ provide the earliest chronologically secure point for the production, use, and transmission of collected excerpts. Outside of Procopius’ academy in Gaza, catenae proliferated in diverse centres in Syria-Palestine in the sixth to eighth centuries until the centre of production shifted to Constantinople in the aftermath of the Arab conquest. Catenae can be studied either as a genre of biblical commentary or as an exegetical technology that performed distinct functions within Byzantine schools, monasteries, and churches. This chapter focuses on the latter approach to identify practices and institutions that supported the use of these collections, calling attention to the role of catenae in reinforcing the limits of exegetical diversity in the Orthodox Church.

Keywords: Procopius epitome, Berlin Academy, Octateuch, Psalms, catena

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