Cyril of Alexandria (ca. 376–444) is best known for his defense of orthodoxy at the time of the Nestorian controversy over the nature of Christ. However, by far the larger part of Cyril’s literary output consisted of commentaries on books of both Old and New Testaments, written before the Christological debate was sparked off in 428. One of these works, of major proportions, was the so-called Glaphyra (“elegant comments”) on the Pentateuch. This comprises a total of thirteen separate “books,” or volumes: seven on Genesis, three on Exodus, and one each on Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. The comments primarily concern the narrative portions of the Pentateuch, hence the greater space given to Genesis, though a number of the legal prescriptions are also treated.
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Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444. He was enthroned when the city was at the height of its influence and power within the Roman Empire. Cyril wrote extensively and was a leading protagonist in the Christological controversies of the late-4th and 5th centuries.