Origen’s References to Heracleon : A Quotation-Analytical Study of the Earliest Known Commentary on the Gospel of John
Abstract: This study of Origen’s references to the second-century author Heracleon addresses two problems in previous research: Scholars have regularly presumed that every statement Origen attributes to Heracleon is equivalent to a verbatim quotation, and that Heracleon’s beliefs conform to those described in heresiological sources. The study develops a method of quotation analysis that uses variations in Origen’s attribution formulas to categorize the almost two hundred references as “verbatim quotations,” “summaries,” “explanatory paraphrases,” or “mere assertions.” The more trustworthy references are used to reconstruct Heracleon’s interpretations within a context given by the literature to which he refers himself, including the Gospel of John, a Synoptic gospel tradition similar to the Gospel of Matthew, a collection of Pauline epistles, and the Preaching of Peter. The views exhibited in Heracleon’s comments are compared to those used by Origen to categorize his exegetical opponents. The study identifies over fifty quotations from Heracleon and seventy summaries of his interpretations, and concludes that the views of the heterodox and “those who bring in the natures” are more likely to be inferred by Origen than expressed by Heracleon.
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