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Psalm 22
Psalm 86


Saint Athanasios Archbishop of Alexandria (c. 296-373) wrote one of the earliest complete Christian commentaries on the Book of Psalms. There are a number of problems about the text and the authenticity of parts of it and there is no proper critical edition, nor, to the best of my knowledge, any English translation. These pages, then, are to a great extent pioneering and provisional.

I have not, for the moment, translated the passages that are of suspect authenticity. They often seem to be duplicate comments to ones in the generally accepted text.

St Athanasios writes not so much a full commentary as a series of short notes, or scholia, on whole verse or individual words or phrases. These discuss not only the original meaning of the Psalms in the context of the story of the People of God under the Old Covenant but also the prophetic and typological nature of the Psalter. It is not for nothing that David is known in the Church as both Prophet and King.

As an introduction to the commentary readers of this page are warmly encouraged to read St Athanasios Letter to Marcellinus, which has been translated into English a number of times. At least two of these are available on the web at http://www.athanasius.com/psalms/alettem.htm and http://people.ne.mediaone.net/nchin/marcelli.htm. I have not checked either of these versions. Neither of these links seems to work properly, but the first can be found by going to http://www.athanasius.com and clicking on the link there to Spiritual Texts. The second seems to work if you go to it through a search engine, like Google.

All texts and translations on this page are copyright to
Archimandrite Ephrem

This page was last updated on 03 November 2008