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Modes of Scriptural Illustration: The Beatitudes in the Late Sixteenth Century

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discusses the modes of scriptural illustration in the Beatitudes. It proceeds from the more concrete of modes, which include narrative and exemplificatory, toward the more abstract, that is, figurative, hieroglyphic, and verbal, moving from allegoria in factis to allegoria in verbis and tracing a progressive Entbildung of the representation, as it were. The Beatitudes provide a rich but also problematic text for this approach: rich in that they have been illustrated in more than one mode, but problematic in that they assert general concepts rather than tell stories, and thus the term 'illustration' must be applied not as it is normally used with regard to narratives, but in the sense of casting light on the text, interpreting it, and thus offering a visual exegesis. There is inevitably some overlap with the medieval doctrine of the four senses of Scripture: literal, allegorical, tropological, and anagogical.

Keywords: beatitudes; modes of scriptural illustration



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