Oecumenius, Commentary

Oecumenius: Commentary on the Apocalypse. Trans. John N. Suggit. (Fathers of the Church). Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2006. Cloth, xii + 216 pp. $34.95.

Oecumenius’ commentary may be the earliest extant Greek commentary. This makes it a very important one. It is reviewed Pieter G. R. de Villiers in Review of Biblical Literature (2007).

Dr. de Villiers writes: “This translation of Oecumenius’s work offers valuable insights into the way early Christians interpreted the Bible and especially Revelation as a controversial and difficult text. Despite the commentary’s ideological character, evident from the way in which monophysitism and Oecumenius’s own orthodox position functions in it, useful perspectives on early Christian exegesis can be gained from it. Oecumenius engages in debate with critical readings of Revelation. He responds, for example, to doubts about Johannine authorship of Revelation because of differences between Johannine texts, to the chiliastic interpretation and to the Naherwartung that some readers read into the text. Although he expects the second coming of Christ (e.g., Oec. 1.15; 2.7) and vigorously defends the resurrection of the body (11.10), he tones down any imminent expectation of the end and refrains from calculating end events. He further offers interesting suggestions on the symbolic meaning of numbers and colors. At the same time, Oecumenius as a Greek from Isauria in Asia Minor shared the same location as the author of Revelation and thus provides an insider perspective on the way in which Christianity in the provinces continued to experience oppressive Roman rule. It is, however, in terms of its hermeneutics that this early commentary will elicit special interest, especially now that early Christian exegesis is increasingly being researched.” Read it all!

William C. Weinrich includes Oecumenius (quoted from another translation) in his volume on Revelation, which I will return to very shortly.

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