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Title: Contextualizing Aphrahat's Demonstration 8
Subtitle: Bardaisan, Origen, and the Fourth-Century Debate on the Resurrection of the Body
Author(s): McGLOTHLIN, Thomas D.
Journal: Le Muséon
Volume: 127    Issue: 3-4   Date: 2014   
Pages: 311-339
DOI: 10.2143/MUS.127.3.3062096

Abstract :
Aphrahat’s Demonstration 8, 'On the Resurrection', engages unnamed opponents who make specific and coherent philosophical and exegetical arguments and whom Aphrahat characterizes as 'foolish', 'obstinate', and 'childish of mind'. Nevertheless, few interpreters of the text attempt to contextualize Aphrahat’s arguments by identifying these opponents, and those who do suggest Marcion, Valentinus, and Mani. The important role played in Demonstration 8 by arguments based on texts from the Old Testament, however, suggests that Aphrahat’s primary focus is on opponents who both accept the authority of the Old Testament and hold problematic views on the resurrection. Based on a detailed profile of Aphrahat’s implied opponents and synthetic surveys of the views and arguments ascribed to Bardaisan and Origen in the fourth century, this article argues that the debates swirling around these latter authors – especially Bardaisan – are the context within which Aphrahat’s Demonstration 8 should be read. A closing case study uses this contextualization to illuminate Aphrahat’s deployment of soul-sleep against those who use a spiritual definition of death to deny the resurrection of the body, comparing it with Ephrem’s anti-Bardaisanite arguments on the same issue.

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