Book Write-Up: Julian of Eclanum’s Commentaries on Job, Hosea, Joel, and Amos

Julian of Eclanum. Ancient Christian Texts: Commentaries on Job, Hosea, Joel, and Amos. Translated and edited by Thomas P. Scheck. IVP, 2021. Go here to purchase the book.

Julian of Eclanum was the bishop of Eclanum in Italy. He lived from 386-455 C.E. Julian was a leader of the Pelagians, and Pelagianism was opposed by Augustine and eventually became marginal within Christianity. As the title indicates, this book is a new translation of Julian’s commentaries on the biblical books of Job, Hosea, Joel, and Amos.

The back cover of the book states that “Julian’s Pelagianism does not fundamentally affect the commentaries presented in this volume[.]” Overall, that is a fair assessment. The book of Job, however, does coincide with Julian’s Pelagianism, as the editor’s scholarly introduction to this book acknowledges. In the Book of Job, God affirms that Job is righteous in his behavior, whereas Job’s friends, who claim that humans are morally and spiritually rotten to the core, turn out to be wrong. Job sounds like Pelagius, whereas Augustine sounds like Job’s friends!

Another topic of interest is Julian’s approach to prophecy, specifically the question of how the prophets were addressing their own times while also speaking about Christ, who would come centuries later, as well as eschatology. Julian addresses this issue most explicitly and systematically in his discussion of Joel 2:28-32, where God promises to pour his spirit on all flesh, and the moon will be turned to blood. Peter in Acts 2 asserts that this found some fulfillment at the day of Pentecost, yet the moon was not turning to blood at that time. Julian wrestles with this.

Julian’s interpretation of the biblical books is literal, moralistic, and focused on minutiae, in areas. The book was edifying to read while I was reading it but, with the exception of Julian’s comments on Joel 2:28-32, Julian’s discussions do not stand out in my mind. The editor’s introduction to the book is strong, though, as Thomas Scheck addresses the Pelagian controversy, what Augustine may have gotten right and wrong about Pelagian beliefs, and how Julian believed the Hebrew prophets spoke to their own time while also predicting the far-off future.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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