Publications [#362314] of Nathan Porter

Papers Published

  1. Porter, N, "Holier than the All-Holy God": Divine Humility in Cyril of Alexandria’s Interpretation of Hosea, Journal of Early Christian Studies, vol. 31 no. 2 (2023), Johns Hopkins University Press
    (last updated on 2022/08/19)

    Cyril of Alexandria, often regarded as a mediating voice between Antiochene and Alexandrian exegetes, frequently cites his distinctively unitive Christology as warrant for literal interpretations of the Old Testament. That is, what scholars have regarded as rapprochement with Antiochene exegetes was partly motivated by a Christology with which they were at odds. For Cyril, Christological interpretation underwrites the integrity of the literal sense, for he holds that a typological connection with the self-humbling of the Word is very often good reason also to accept the truth of the ἱστορία. I consider several passages from Cyril's writings on the Old Testament, but special attention is given to a narrative that troubled many patristic commentators: the prophet Hosea’s marriage to Gomer. Cyril maintained that it must be interpreted literally, precisely because Hosea’s union with Gomer reflects the incarnate humility of Christ. To insist on the prophet’s moral purity would, in Cyril’s language, be to demand that Hosea be “holier than the all-holy God.” This reading appears to be unique among patristic commentators, and I will argue that this should be attributed specifically to Cyril’s opposition to Antiochene dual-subject Christologies.