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The Preface and Subject Matter of Cyril of Alexandria’s 'De Adoratione'

Crawford, Matthew R.

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Matthew R. Crawford


Cyril of Alexandria’s treatise De adoratione is unique among his writings in that it lacks a preface or prologue in the edition of the work found in Patrologia Graeca. Although in 1989 Georges-Matthieu de Durand pointed to the existence of a preface to De adoratione preserved in an eleventh-century manuscript in the Bodleian library, subsequent studies of Cyril’s corpus have failed to take note of Durand’s find. Moreover, Durand apparently did not realize that this same preface also survives in a single Syriac manuscript held by the British Library, which predates the Bodleian Greek manuscript by several centuries. In this article I provide a transcription of the Greek and Syriac recensions along with an English translation, and then consider the significance of this passage for interpreting De adoratione. The preface indicates the treatise should be read not primarily in the light of Jewish–Christian power struggles in late antique Alexandria, but rather as a contribution to the ascetic project being undertaken at the time in the Egyptian desert. Hence, Cyril’s attempt to use Scripture to provide ‘moral guidance’ in De adoratione should be seen as a complementary mode of exegesis to the ‘more dogmatic exegesis’ of his well-known Johannine commentary.


Crawford, M. R. (2013). The Preface and Subject Matter of Cyril of Alexandria’s 'De Adoratione'. The Journal of Theological Studies, 64(1), 154-167.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 1, 2013
Deposit Date Oct 8, 2013
Publicly Available Date Mar 19, 2014
Journal Journal of Theological Studies
Print ISSN 0022-5185
Electronic ISSN 1477-4607
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 64
Issue 1
Pages 154-167


Accepted Journal Article (200 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Theological Studies following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Crawford, Matthew R. (2013) 'The preface and subject matter of Cyril of Alexandria’s De adoratione.', Journal of theological studies., 64 (1). pp. 154-167. is available online at:

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