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The School of Antioch

The interpretive school of Antioch, known as Antiochene, is often contrasted to the catechetical school of Alexandria, particularly in the approaches each used in interpreting scripture. Antiochene scholars took a literal approach to the scriptures and did not look for the mystagogical in them. (They sometimes considered the mystagogy of the Alexandrians to be arbitrary). Antiochene tendencies have been characterized as Aristotelian (concerned with what is before them); Semitic (emphasizing the oneness of God); and historical (focussing on the incarnation of Christ). Understanding the meanings and origins of the words in the scriptures was important to exegesis of texts. Operation was, for these thinkers, the way to distinguish the persons of the Trinity. Antiochenes tended to place much emphasis on the humanity of Christ and saw a great need for human moral effort.

Although Lucian of Antioch and Diodore of Tarsus headed groups of students in Antioch, no formal Antiochene school existed the way the catechetical school of Alexandria did. Other important writers of the Antiochene school include St. John Chrysostom, Malchion, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Theodoret of Cyrrhus. Arius was a pupil of Lucian, and although Arius' heretical teachings were condemned at the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea in 325, the school itself was not attacked until controversy over the Three Chapters in the fifth century.

Karen Rae Keck


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