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Glaphyra on the Pentateuch, Volume 2
by St. Cyril of Alexandria
translated by Nicholas P. Lunn
Catholic University of America Press, 2019
Cloth: 978-0-8132-3161-7 | eISBN: 978-0-8132-3162-4
Library of Congress Classification BS1225.C975 2018
Dewey Decimal Classification 222.107

The translation of the commentary of Cyril of Alexandria (ca. 376-444) on the Pentateuch, known as the Glaphyra, or “elegant comments,” is now completed by this second volume. Volume 1 contained the whole of his remarks on Genesis, and now Volume 2 presents his comments on Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, along with indices for the entire work. At this early stage in his patriarchate Cyril was an avid expositor of Scripture, on books of both Testaments, possibly undertaking this work as a model and guide for the clergy under his direction. While Cyril’s other large-scale commentaries on Old Testament books, such as Isaiah and the Minor Prophets (the latter commentary also published in translation by CUA Press), followed a verse-by-verse approach, the Glaphyra is more thematic. As Cyril works through the narrative passages of the Pentateuch, he pauses to explain those elements within the text that present possible difficulties or admit alternative interpretations, and invariably concludes each section by bringing out spiritual lessons of benefit to the congregation. Many of these latter relate to Christ, since, for Cyril, a Christological reading of the Old Testament was unavoidable. While in the Glaphyra it was not Cyril’s purpose to tackle the legal passages within the Pentateuch, a task that he wished to reserve for a separate work of an entirely different character (De adoratione et cultu in spiritu et veritate, “Concerning Worship and Service in Spirit and in Truth”), he does nevertheless here depart from his own remit on occasion and deal with some of the more prominent ceremonial passages. Cyril gives considerable space, for example, to the sacrifice of the Passover lamb and the levitical ritual for the cleansing of the leper, among others. As with Volume 1, Cyril’s treatment of these books is published here for the first time in English translation.

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