CATENAE BIBLICAL

I. Greek catenae – II. Eastern catenae – III. Latin catenae. This term designates collections of exegetical passages on a book of Scripture put together by later compilers, who drew these passages from earlier, generally lost, exegetical works. Essentially anthologies of biblical exegesis, thanks to them we know, though only in fragments, the interpretations given by the Fathers on various texts of Scripture, interpretations which would not have reached us without the catenae. Biblical catenae are to be distinguished from the dogmatic and ascetical-moral collections which were also called catenae, incorrectly, as they were more properly florilegia and are much more akin to the collections of the scholia of classical and juridical works. But the term catena is also inappropriate for anthologies of biblical exegesis; to those works the first compilers gave the more correct name of evklogai,, evxhghtikai. evklogai,, sunagwgh. or sullogh. evxhgh,sewn, paragrafai,, in Latin excerpta or collectanea. I. Greek catenae. In Greece, the first biblical catenae appeared at the end of the patristic era, after a period of intense production in the field of scriptural exegesis; the first compilers had an abundant quantity of material to choose from. The founder of the genre may be considered the rhetor Procopius of Gaza, who in the mid-6th c. composed catenae of the Octateuch, the books of Kings, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. For the Octateuch, he collected such an immense amount of material that he himself made a compendium for it: he selected only one interpretation when the opinions of the various exegetes agreed, whereas, when they differed, he reworked them into a kind of continuous interpretation which included the words of all of them ta.j avpa,ntwn fwna,j. Notable among Procopius’s successors was Nicetas, metropolitan of Heraclea in Thrace 11th c., who composed catenae of Job, Psalms, the major prophets, the gospels and Paul’s Epistles. For many other catenists we know only their names, without being able to specify the period in which they worked or the sacred books they chose; for most of them, we don’t even know their names, as the large number of anonymous manuscripts testify.

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