Construal and Construction of Genesis in Early Syriac Sermons


Genesis, Biblical Studies, Early Syriac Sermons


The literary critic Stanley Fish argued that, ‘interpretation is not the art of construing but the art of constructing’. Thus meanings are to be found in (re)constructing texts and not simply in explaining them. We could argue whether Fish’s observation is in fact correct, but I prefer to take it a prompt to reassess the interpretative value of the reconstructed narratives which we find in numerous late antique Syriac sermons on Genesis.We are entirely comfortable in attributing interpretative value to the commentary, which is predominantly construing a text. My concern in this article, however, is with the interpretative process and impact of the construction of a new scriptural story in Syriac sermons. In doing this I draw a distinction between forensic and narrative exegesis.

Original Publication Citation

“Construal and Construction of Genesis in early Syriac Sermons.” Pages 25-32 in Studia Patristica. Vol. LXXVIII - Papers presented at the Seventeenth International Conference on Patristic Studies held in Oxford 2015: Volume 4: Literature, Rhetoric, and Exegesis in Syriac Verse edited by Markus Vincent, Jeffery T. Wickes and Kristian S. Heal. Leuven: Peeters, 2017.

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Peer-Reviewed Article

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Studia Patristica




Religious Education


Ancient Scripture

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