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Basilides's Gospel and Exegetica (Treatises)

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The surviving witnesses to Basilides of Alexandria (fl. 120-140 C.E.) reflect considerable variety and confusion concerning his writing(s). Attempts by scholars to present Basilides as an exegete of Christian scripture, and even as the author of a gospel, are based on precious little evidence, which scholars have at times misinterpreted. This article argues that only a limited interest in gospel materials on the part of Basilides can be demonstrated from the surviving portions of his Exegetica (Treatises). Moreover, if Basilides did indeed write a gospel, it was not a narrative or sayings gospel concerned primarily with the life or the teachings of Jesus. Finally, prior to Origen in the mid-third century C.E. the designation (or title) Exegetica did not connote an 'exegetical' commentary. Clement of Alexandria's title for Basilides's work ('Eξηγητικα, Strom. 4.81.1) instead supports the inference that this writing comprised "explanations" of Basilides's theological system.


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