DIDYMUS the BLIND of Alexandria

Little is known of the life of this prolific 4th-c. writer. According to Jerome, he was still alive in 393 Jerome, De vir. ill. 109 and was 83 years old. Palladius says that he visited him four times in 10 years, and he ended his days aged 85 Hist. laus. IV, 1. Since Palladius went to Alexandria in 388 I, 1, this suggests that Didymus died in 398; he would therefore have been born between 310 Jerome and 313 Palladius. He lost his vision at four Pal. Hist. laus. IV, 1 or five Jerome, Chron.; his knowledge thus gives evidence of a prodigious memory. Rufinus of Aquileia presents him as the teacher of the ecclesiastical school of Alexandria approved by Athanasius HE II, 7. Rufinus’s mention is confirmed by a fragment of Philip of Side, an independent source, which inserts Didymus in a succession of scholarchs of the Alexandrian didaskaleion: despite some plain errors in Philip’s list, the convergence of his information with Rufinus’s, and that of external verification with Didymus’s own works in particular with the Commentary on the Psalms and that on Ecclesiastes found at Tura, in which Didymus shows himself to be a typical school teacher and reveals his attachment to the local bishop favor the acceptance of a continuity of Didymus with the didaskaleion founded by Origen and linked to episcopal institutions. The fact that Palladius, speaking of his cell Hist. laus. IV,3, suggests that Didymus led a monastic life, does not in the least contradict his role as a teacher of the didaskaleion. Early monasticism, esp. in Egypt, took quite different forms from the literary mythology of withdrawal to the desert, and many monks lived in cities. Even granting that Didymus’s audience was largely composed of monks as was the case with Rufinus and Jerome, this in no way alters his teaching which, like Origen’s in the great commentaries, is attentive to the rigorous application of proper exegetical method. Surviving works. Until recently, only the following works of Didymus were known: 1 a treatise Against the Manichees, preserved in Greek PG 39, 1088-1109; the preceding part, cols.

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