Procopius of Gaza – Commentary on the Old Testament

The way in which the Bible was interpreted in ancient Christendom is one of the main research subjects of the chair and of the research project „Die alexandrinische und antiochenische Bibelexegese in der Spätantike“ at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. An outstanding source of bible exegesis are the commentaries by the rhetorician and theologian Procopius (approx. 465/475 – 528/530 AD). They comprise a sequential commentary made up of quotations and paraphrases – especially important because they contain fragments of wholly or partially lost works by earlier theologians.

Plans are in place to edit the commentaries on the first books of the Greek Old Testament. The critical edition of the first and extensive part, the Genesis commentary, has been published in 2015 in the series „Die griechischen christlichen Schriftsteller der ersten Jahrhunderte“ of the De Gruyter publishing house. A German translation will be published soon in the same series. Research has begun to prepare the critical edition of the second part, the Exodus commentary.

The folio above shows an excerpt of Procopius of Gaza’s Commentary on Genesis, namely the transition from Chapter 1 to 2 of the First Book of Moses. On the right-hand margin, a later writer has added the chapter number. On the left margin, the lines with Bible quotes are marked by small quotation marks: in the first and second line, Genesis 1,31 is quoted: Καὶ ἰδοὺ καλὰ λίαν "and, behold, it was very good”. Just below the middle, we can see Genesis 2,2: Καὶ συνετέλεσεν ὁ θεὸς ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῇ ἕκτῃ τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing”.  On the top right, we can see the Greek symbol for the number 30 (λ) indicating the page number.

This image has been reproduced with the kind permission of the Finnish project GOPAL (Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Alexandria Library-Project, to be found at, which took the photograph with the permission of his Holiness Petros VII., Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and all Africa.