Didymus the Blind

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Didymus the Blind (c. 313 – 398) was an Coptic Church theologian of Alexandria whose famous Catechetical School, he led for about half a century. He became blind at a very young age, and therefore ignorant of the rudiments of learning. Yet, he displayed such a miracle of intelligence as to learn perfectly dialectics and even geometry, sciences which especially require sight.

Didymus wrote many works: Commentaries on all the Psalms, the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of John as Against the Arians, and On the Holy Spirit, which Jerome translated into Latin. He also wrote on Isaiah, Hosea, Zechariah, Job, and many other topics.[1] (See Jerome and Early Church Fathers, Chapter 109)

Didymus’ biblical commentaries (supposedly on nearly all the books of the Bible) survive in fragments only, and those on the Catholic Letters are of dubious authenticity. He is probably the author of a treatise on the Holy Spirit that is extant in Latin translation.


Early life

Although he became blind at the age of four,[2] before he had learned to read, he succeeded in mastering the whole gamut of the sciences then known. He was a loyal student of Origen, though stoutly opposed to Arian and Macedonian teaching. Such of his writings as survive show a remarkable knowledge of scripture, and have distinct value as theological literature. Among them are the De Trinitate (On the Trinity), De Spiritu Sancto (On the Holy Spirit) (Jerome's Latin translation), Adversus Manichaeos (Against the Manichaeans), and notes and expositions of various books, especially the Psalms and the Catholic Epistles.

Catechetical School of Alexandria

Upon entering the service of the Church he was placed at the head of the Catechetical School of Alexandria, where he lived and worked. According to Palladius, the 5th-century bishop and historian, Didymus remained a layman all his life and became one of the most learned ascetics of his time. He counted among his pupils Jerome and Rufinus.

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