Thursday, January 31, 2013

Augustine: Sirach's Prophetic Character Uncertain

Moreover, I do not seem to have correctly called prophetic the words in this passage: "Why is earth and ashes proud?" [Sirach 10:9] for the book in which this is read is not the work of one whom we can be certain that he should be called a prophet. Augustine, Retractions, Section 3 of the Retractions regarding On Genesis Against the Manicheans, p. 43, The Fathers of the Church, Volume 60, Sister M. Inez Bogan, R.S.M. translator.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Liberius: Athanasius is Separated from our Communion

From Liberius in exile to Ursacius, Valens and Germinius: 1. Because I know you to be sons of peace, lovers of concord and harmony in the Catholic Church, I address you, very dear lords and brothers, by this letter. I have not been forced by any necessity, as God is my witness, but to do it for the good of the peace and concord which has prior place to martyrdom. Your wise selves are to know that Athanasius, who was the bishop of Alexandria, was condemned by me, before I wrote to the court of the holy Emperor, in accordance with the letter of the Eastern bishops, that he separated from communion with the church of Rome; as the whole body of presbyters of the church of Rome is witness. The sole reason for my appearing slower in writing letters about his reputation to our Eastern brothers and fellow-bishops, was in order that my legates, whom I had sent from Rome to the Court, or the bishops who had been deported, might both together, if possible, be recalled from exile. 2. But I want you to know this also: I asked my brother Fortunatianus to take to the most clement Emperor my letter to the Eastern bishops, in order that they too might know that I was separated from communion with Athanasius along with them. I believe his Piety will receive that letter with pleasure for the good of peace, and a copy of it I have also sent to the Emperor’s trusty eunuch Hilary. Your Charities will perceive that I have done these things in a spirit of friendship and integrity. Which is why I address you in this letter and adjure you by God almighty and his son Jesus Christ our Lord and God, to see fit to travel to the most clement Emperor Constantius Augustus and ask him to order my return to the church divinely entrusted to me, for the sake of the peace and concord in which his Piety ever rejoices, in order that the church of Rome may undergo no distress in his days. But you ought by this letter of mine to know, very dear brothers, that I am at peace with you in a spirit of calm and honesty. Great will be the comfort you secure on the day of retribution, if through you has been restored the peace of the Roman church. I want our brothers and fellow bishops Epictetus and Auxentius also, to learn through you that I am at peace, and have ecclesastical communion, with them. I think they will be pleased to receive this news. But anyone who dissents from our peace and concord which, God willing, has been established throughout the world, is to know that he is separated from our communion. See Lionel R. Wickham, Hilary of Poitiers: Conflicts of Conscience and Law in the Fourth-century Church, Liber II Ad Constantium, section 8 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1997), pp. 78-79. Cf. also Migne, PL 10:686ff.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Liberius: Athanasius is Estranged from Roman Communion

From Liberius, bishop of Rome to the Eastern bishops: To our very dear brethren and all our fellow-bishops established throughout the East, I, Liberius bishop of Rome, send greeting of eternal salvation. Eager for your peace and unanimity of the churches after I had received your Charities’ letter about Athanasius and the rest addressed to bishop Julius of blessed memory, I followed the tradition of my predecessors and sent Lucius, Paul and Helianus, presbyters of Rome on my staff, to the aforesaid Athanasius in Alexandria, asking that he come to Rome so that the matter arising from ecclesiastical discipline in regard to him might be decided upon in his presence. I sent Athanasius a letter, through the aforesaid presbyters, in which it was stated that if he did not come, he was to know that he was a stranger to communion with the church of Rome. Consequently, I have followed your Charities’ letter, which you have sent us about the reputation of the aforesaid Athanasius, and you are to know by this letter I have sent to your united selves, that I am at peace with all of you and with all the bishops of the Catholic Church, but that the aforesaid Athanasius is estranged from my communion and that of the church of Rome and from association in Church letters. See Lionel R. Wickham, Hilary of Poitiers: Conflicts of Conscience and Law in the Fourth-century Church, Liber II Ad Constantium, section 8 (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1997), p. 70.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Jerome (347-420): What is Said of Peter is Said of All Apostles Alike

But you say, the Church was founded upon Peter: although elsewhere the same is attributed to all the Apostles, and they all receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and the strength of the Church depends upon them all alike, yet one among the twelve is chosen so that when a head has been appointed, there may be no occasion for schism. NPNF2: Vol. VI, Against Jovinianus, Book 1, §26.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Jerome (347-420): Priests and Bishops were Originally the Same Thing

Therefore, as we have shown, among the ancients presbyters were the same as bishops; but by degrees, that the plants of dissension might be rooted up, all responsibility was transferred to one person. Therefore, as the presbyters know that it is by the custom of the Church that they are to be subject to him who is placed over them so let the bishops know that they are above presbyters rather by custom than by Divine appointment, and ought to rule the Church in common, following the example of Moses, who, when he alone had power to preside over the people Israel, chose seventy, with the assistance of whom he might judge the people. We see therefore what kind of presbyter or bishop should be ordained.

John Harrison, Whose Are the Fathers? (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1867), p.488. See also Karl Von Hase, Handbook to the Controversy with Rome, trans. A. W. Streane, Vol. 1, 2nd ed. rev. (London: The Religious Tract Society, 1909), p. 164.

Latin text: Haec propterea, ut ostenderemus apud veteres eosdem fuisse presbyteros quos et episcopos: paulatim vero ut dissensionum plantaria evellerentur, ad unum omnem sollicitudinem esse delatam. Sicut ergo presbyteri sciunt se ex Ecclesiae consuetudine ei qui sibi praepositus fuerit, esse subjectos: ita episcopi noverint se magis consuetudine, quam dispositionis Dominicae veritate, presbyteris esse majores, et in commune debere Ecclesiam regere, imitantes Moysen, qui cum haberet in potestate solum praeesse populo Israel, septuaginta elegit, cum quibus populum judicaret. Videamus igitur qualis presbyter, sive episcopus ordinandus sit. Commentariorum In Epistolam Ad Titum, PL 26:563.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Jerome (347-420): (Pope) Liberius Subscribed to Heretical Doctrine

Liberius was ordained the 34th bishop of the Roman church, and when he was driven into exile for the faith, all the clergy took an oath that they would not recognize any other bishop. But when Felix was put in his place by the Arians, a great many foreswore themselves; but at the end of the year they were banished, and Felix too; for Liberius, giving in to the irksomeness of exile and subscribing to the heretical and false doctrine, made a triumphal entry into Rome. E. Giles, ed., Documents Illustrating Papal Authority: A.D. 96-454 (Westport: Hyperion Press, reprinted 1982), p. 151. Cf. S. Hieronymi Chronicon, Ad Ann. 352, PL 27:684-685.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Euebius of Caesarea: Scriptures Teach us to Pray in Holy Places

The holy evangelists are not opposed to each other, when you observe that Luke brings him up with parents to Jerusalem eight days after his birth, and from there takes him to Nazareth; Matthew, on the other hand, [starts] from the time two years after that of Luke, when they returned to Bethlehem for holy memory. (We also do this: from the hearing of the holy books, we take pains to visit holy places often and perform our prayers there.) Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, p. 323, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), Adam C. McCollum, section translator.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Euebius of Caesarea via Ambrose: "Woman" Designates Person as Disbeliever

From Ambrose Commentary on Luke: Thus the scripture makes clear the difference between one Mary and the other. One runs to see Jesus, the other turns back; one is greeted, the other is shown to be mistaken. Conclusively, you have: "'Woman!' said Jesus to her": the one who disbelieves is a woman, and is so designated, by being addressed with her physical gender. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, p. 291, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), David J.D. Miller, section translator.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Euebius of Caesarea via Ambrose: Grace is before Law

From Ambrose, Commentary on Luke: Now, why was it that one put his hand out of the womb first, and the other preceded him in the order of their birth, if not because what is being portrayed in the mystery of the twins is the life of the twin peoples? One is the life according to the law, the other that according to faith; one according to the letter, the other according to grace. Grace is before the law, faith is before the letter. And the reason that the type of grace put his hand out first is that grace's way of life, the one which was in Job, Melchisedech, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who lived by faith without the law, came first and foremost. "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him for righteousness;" because the holy patriarchs, coming before the law and unfettered by the bonds of its commandments, shone with a free grace, like us. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, p. 275, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), David J.D. Miller, section translator.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Euebius of Caesarea: 6th Hour is Typo for 3rd Hour

From Corderius' Catena on John: Here is one of the subjects put forward for enquiry in Gospel PRoblems and Solutions, to Marinus, by Eusebius, known as the son of Pamphilus, of Caesarea: that the divine evangelist Mark said that the time at which Christ, our God and Saviour, was crucified was the third hour; but that John, the supreme theologian, write that it was at the sixth hour that Pilate took his seat out on the dias, at the place called the Stone Pavement, and passed sentence on Jesus. He says it is a textual error, overlooked by the original copyists of the gospels. The letter gamma, he says, means the third hour, but the episemon means the sixth; and, as these characters have a close resemblance to each other, a bulge in the elongated vertical stroke of the letter gamma, for the third hour, shifted it into the meaning of the episemon, for the sixth. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, pp. 219 and 221, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), David J.D. Miller, section translator. Cf. From Ishodad of Merv's commentary on Mark: Eusebius also bears witness to this in his letter on the suffering of our Lord that he wrote to Marinus: "John's 'at the sixth hour' is a scribal error, because the copyist was not paying attention as he copied the Gospels, for the letter which [stands for] the third hour and in Greek is called ἐπίσημον, looks like [the sign for] the sixth hour, and as the copyist, in a hurry, wanted to write 'three,' he erred and bent the letter back around a little bit, and it was found [to be] 'six.'" Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, p. 349, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), Adam C. McCollum, section translator. Cf. From the letters of Severus of Antioch: Eusebius of Caesarea, too, who is called "Pamphilii," and whom we have mentioned a little bit above, when he was writing to a man called Marinus concerning questions about our Lord's suffering and resurrection, made no indication at all about this addition mentioned by us, as though it were unknown and not recorded in the books of the Gospel. But in these letters to Marinus on our Lord's suffering and resurrection -- [Marinus] had asked him for an explanation -- he explained in the letters as follows: Mark the divine Evangelist said it was the third hour at the time that Christ, God our Saviour, was crucified, but John the divine (he said) recorded that it was at the time of the sixth hour that Pilate sat on his bema at the place called the stone pavement and was judging Christ. Concerning this, Eusebius said it was the error of a scribe who was not paying attention as he copied the Gospel. For the letter gâmal [is] the one which indicates three hours, but the letter called ἐπίσημον in Greek indicates the number of six hours, and these two letters are similar in Greek. When the scribe, hurriedly wanting to write "three," he turned it backwards a little bit, and it was [then] found to be six, because -- in that the letter had been turned backwards -- it was thought to be the letter indicating six. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, pp. 345 & 347, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), Adam C. McCollum, section translator.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Euebius of Caesarea: Believers Substituted for Israel

Do not suppose that the "house of Jacob" is only the Jewish people; no, it is all those, from the nations, who through the Saviour's call are included in the adoption of the saints. God's people is sometimes called "Jacob" and sometimes "Israel", because Israel and Jacob were the same person. In nature, Jacob was the ancient people, as being descended from him through blood-relationship; but by adoption, it is the new people, by a relationship of virtue. The new people has been substituted for the old; in future, therefore, he will be king over this people "to eternity" (in other words, for ever), and it will acknowledge him by its actions and its words, voluntarily submitting itself to his authority. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, pp. 165 & 167, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), David J.D. Miller, section translator.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Euebius of Caesarea: Single Word Inconsistencies May be Scribal Errors

Now, if the fact that the name "Magdalene" occurs in both evangelists confuses the meaning - no, it is inappropriate to introduce confusion into divine scripture on account of a single word or name, which often turns out to be actually due to a scribal error. Either we are to suppose that there were two women, both from the same town or village of Magdala; or that the appellation of "of Magdala" belonged to only one of them, and that once the scribe had made an error at the outset, subsequent scribes then followed the original error. A little further on, we shall be proving that this did in fact occur in another instance; meanwhile, just as it has happened in similar cases that something had originally been dictated correctly, but since then an erroneous alteration, not subsequently put right, has given rise to a problem, so one could say that the same thing has happened in the case of the appellation "the Magdalene", wrongly attached to one Mary. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, pp. 109 & 111, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), David J.D. Miller, section translator. Cf. Quite apart from that, immediately after what the young man said to the final group of women, whose names are not given,[fn18] Mark adds: "When they heard that, they ran away and said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid". Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, p. 199, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), David J.D. Miller, section translator. Fn18: This is puzzling. The corresponding sentence of To Marinus 4:2, and the text of fragment Nicetas-Marinus 8 in Mai both agree with the received text of Mark 16.1, which does give the women's names: Mary Magdalene; Mary, James's mother; and Salome. Interestingly, Codex Bezae omits these names at that point in Mark, though its text follows directly from 15:47 in which the first two of them are named; while Codex Sinaiticus omits the whole of 15:47 and "when the sabbath was over" in 16.1, but has the rest of 16.1, which includes the three names. It is possible that the MS used by Eusebius where is a witness to a fourth, presumably the earliest, tradition, which contained neither of the lists in the received text of Mark but just read, e.g., "Some women bought spices..."? In that case, the epitomator of To Marinus 4 will have known what is now the received text and changed this passage in accordance with that; and the epitome used by Nicetas will have been either inconsistent or interpolated in fr. 8 with the word ὀνομαστί. Surprising though this suggestion is, it would seem even more surprising for Eusebius to make a mistake over this point.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Euebius of Caesarea: Some People Maintain Multiple Readings

Another view, from someone diffident about athetising anything at all in the text of the gospels, however transmitted, is that there is a twofold reading, as in many other places, and that both are to be accepted; it is not for the faithful and devout to judge either as acceptable in preference to the other. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, p. 99, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), David J.D. Miller, section translator.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Euebius of Caesarea: Long Ending of Mark Spurious

Your first question waas: How is it that the Saviour's resurrection evidently took place, in Matthew, "late on the Sabbath," but in Mark "early in the morning on the first day of the week"? The answer to this would be twofold. The actual nub of the matter is the pericope that says this. One who athetises that pericope would say that it is not found in all copies of the gospel according to Mark: accurate copies end their text of the Marcan account with the words of the young man whom the women saw, and who said to them "'Do not be afraid; it is Jesus the Nazarene that you are looking for etc. etc. ...'", after which it adds: "And when they heard this, they ran away, and said nothing to anyone, because they were frightened." That is where the text does end, in almost all copies of the gospel according to Mark. What occasionally follows in some copies, not all, would be extraneous, most particularly if it contained something contradictory to the evidence of the other evangelists. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, p. 97, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), David J.D. Miller, section translator.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Euebius of Caesarea: If Jesus Rose in Less than Three Days, How is that a Problem?

I am constantly being surprised, and astonished, at the stupidity of people who ask questions about the reason for Christ's resurrection having taken place in less than the three days. If what they are saying is that the resurrection never actually happened at all, why are they quibbling about the timing? But if it is that it did happen, but sooner than he had promised, they should take it as proved, as a corollary of the fact that it happened, that he was telling the complete truth. Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 263 - 339), Gospel Problems and Solutions, Ed. Roger Pearse, p. 249, Chieftan Publishing (Ipswich, 2010), David J.D. Miller, section translator.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Irenaeus: Gnostics Deny the Sufficiency of Scripture

Irenaeus (c. 130-c. 200) speaking of the Gnostics: When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce:

ANF: Vol. I, Against Heresies, Book 3:2:1.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Jerome (347-420): Scripture's Authority Exceeds Everything that Comes After It

Jerome (347-420): ‘In his record of the peoples the Lord shall tell’: in the sacred writings, in His Scripture that is read to all peoples in order that all may know. Thus the apostles have written; thus the Lord Himself has spoken, not merely for a few, but that all might know and understand. Plato wrote books, but he did not write for all people but only for a few, for there are not many more than two or three men who know him. But the princes of the Church and the princes of Christ did not write only for the few, but for everyone without exception. ‘And princes’: the apostles and evangelists. ‘Of those who have been born in her.’ Note ‘who have been’ and not ‘who are.’ That is to make sure that, with the exception of the apostles, whatever else is said afterwards should be removed and not, later on, hold the force of authority. No matter how holy anyone may be after the time of the apostles, no matter how eloquent, he does not have authority, for ‘in his record of the peoples and princes the Lord shall tell of those who have been born in her.’

FC, Vol. 48, The Homilies of St. Jerome: Vol. 1, On the Psalms, Homily 18 (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1964), pp. 142-143.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Augustine: Mary More Blessed for Believing on Christ than in Conceiving Him

Augustine (354-430): It is written in the Gospel, of the mother and brethren of Christ, that is, His kindred after the flesh, that, when word had been brought to Him, and they were standing without, because they could not come to Him by reason of the crowd, He made answer, “Who is My mother? or who are My brethren? and stretching forth His Hand over His disciples, He saith, These are My brethren: and whosoever shall have done the will of My Father, that man is to Me brother, and mother, and sister.” What else teaching us, than to prefer to kindred after the flesh, our descent after the Spirit: and that men are not blessed for this reason, that they are united by nearness of flesh unto just and holy men, but that, by obeying and following, they cleave unto their doctrine and conduct. Therefore Mary is more blessed in receiving the faith of Christ, than in conceiving the flesh of Christ. For to a certain one who said, “Blessed is the womb, which bare Thee,” He Himself made answer, “Yea, rather, blessed are they who hear the Word of God, and keep it.” Lastly, to His brethren, that is, His kindred after the flesh, who believed not in Him, what profit was there in that being of kin? Thus also her nearness as a Mother would have been of no profit to Mary, had she not born Christ in her heart after a more blessed manner than in her flesh.

NPNF1: Vol. III, Of Holy Virginity, §3.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cyril of Jerusalem: Our Saving Faith is Based Only on Scripture

Cyril of Jerusalem (318-386): Keep this seal in mind at all times. I have spoken of it summarily, touching the main points, but if the Lord grant, I shall discuss it more fully later, to the best of my power, with proof from the Scriptures. For in regard to the divine and holy mysteries of the faith, not even a casual statement should be delivered without the Scriptures, and we must not be drawn aside merely by probabilities and artificial arguments. Do not believe even me merely because I tell you these things, unless you receive from the inspired Scriptures the proof of the assertions. For this saving faith of ours depends not on ingenious reasonings but on proof from the inspired Scriptures.

Fathers of the Church, Vol. 61, Catechesis IV.17 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, Inc., 1969), pp. 127-128.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Cyril of Jerusalem: Ignore Extra-Scriptural "Tradition" Regarding Mary

Cyril of Jerusalem (318-386): Now do not fix your attention on any skill of language on my part, for perhaps you may be deceived; unless you get the testimony of the prophets on each point, do not believe what is said. Unless you learn from the Holy Scriptures regarding the Virgin, the place, the time, the manner, “do not receive the witness of man.” For one who is now present and teaches may be open to suspicion; but what man of sense will suspect him who prophesied a thousand years ago and more? If then you seek the reason for Christ’s coming, go back to the first book of the Scriptures.

Fathers of the Church, Vol. 61, Catechesis XII.5 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, Inc., 1969), p. 229.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cyril of Jerusalem: Limit Yourself to the Twenty-Two Book Old Testament Canon

Cyril of Jerusalem (318-386): The teaching you have heard is that of the divinely-inspired Scriptures, both of the Old and the New Testament. For there is one God of the two Testaments, who foretold in the Old Testament the Christ who appeared in the New, and who, through the preparatory school of the Law and the Prophets, led us to Christ. For “before the faith came, we were guarded under the Law”; and, “the Law trained us for Christ’s school.” And so, if ever you hear any heretic blaspheming the Law or the Prophets, quote that saving word against him: Jesus came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it. Be eager to learn, and from the Church, what are the books of the Old Testament, what of the New; and I pray you, read none of the apocryphal books. For why should you, when you do not know the books acknowledged by all, trouble yourself needlessly with those whose authenticity is disputed? Read the divine Scriptures, these twenty-two books of the Old Testament translated by the seventy-two interpreters.

Fathers of the Church, Leo P. McCauley, Vol. 61, Catechesis IV.33 (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, Inc., 1969), pp. 135.

Greek text: Ταῦτα δὲ διδάσκουσιν ἡμᾶς οἱ θεόπνευστοι γραφαὶ τῆς παλαιᾶς τε καὶ καινῆς διαθήκης. Εἷς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ τῶν δύο διαθηκῶν Θεὸς, ὁ τὸν ἐν τῇ καινῇ φανέντα Χριστὸν ἐν τῇ παλαιᾷ προκαταγγείλας· ὁ διὰ νόμου καὶ προφητῶν εἰς Χριστὸν παιδαγωγήσας. Πρὸ γὰρ τοῦ ἐλθεῖν τὴν πίστιν, ὑπὸ νόμον ἐφρουρούμεθα· καὶ ὁ νόμος παιδαγωγὸς ἡμῶν γέγονεν εἰς Χριστόν. Κἄν ποτε τῶν αἱρετικῶν ἀκούσῃς τινὸς βλασφημοῦντος νόμον ἢ προφήτας, ἀντίφθεγξαι τὴν σωτήριον φωνὴν, λέγων· Οὐκ ἦλθεν Ἰησοῦς καταλῦσαι τὸν νόμον, ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαι. Καὶ φιλομαθῶς ἐπίγνωθι, καὶ παρὰ τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ποῖαι μέν εἰσιν αἱ τῆς παλαιᾶς διαθήκης βίβλοι, ποῖαι δὲ τῆς καινῆς. Καί μοι μηδὲν τῶν ἀποκρύφων ἀναγίνωσκε. Ὁ γὰρ τὰ παρὰ πᾶσιν ὁμολογούμενα μὴ εἰδὼς, τί περὶ τὰ ἀμφιβαλλόμενα ταλαιπωρεῖς μάτην; Ἀναγίνωσκε τὰς θείας γραφὰς, τὰς εἴκοσι δύο βίβλους τῆς παλαιᾶς διαθήκης ταύτας, τὰς ὑπὸ τῶν ἑβδομήκοντα δύο Ἑρμηνευτῶν ἑρμηνευθείσας.

Catecheses ad illuminandos IV, §33, PG 33:493, 496.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cyril of Jerusalem: Limit Theology to What is Written in Scripture

Cyril of Jerusalem (318-386): Let us assert of the Holy Spirit, therefore, only what is written; let us not busy ourselves about what is not written. The Holy Spirit has authored the Scriptures; He has spoken of Himself all that He wished, or all that we could grasp; let us confine ourselves to what He has said, for it is reckless to do otherwise.

Fathers of the Church, Leo P. McCauley, Vol. 64, The Works of Saint Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechesis Lecture 16, §2 (New York: Fathers of the Church, Inc., 1949), pp. 76-77.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Chrysostom: Scripture Must Determine Interpretation of Allegory

Chrysostom (349-407): There is something else we can learn here. What sort of thing is it? It is when it is necessary to allegorize Scripture. We ourselves are not the lords over the rules of interpretation, but must pursue Scripture’s understanding of itself, and in that way make use of the allegorical method. What I mean is this. The Scripture has just now spoken of a vineyard, wall, and wine-vat. The reader is not permitted to become lord of the passage and apply the words to whatever events or people he chooses. The Scripture interprets itself with the words, “And the house of Israel is the vineyard of the Lord Sabaoth.” To give another example, Ezekiel describes a large, great-winged eagle which enters Lebanon and takes off the top of a cedar. The interpretation of the allegory does not lie in the whim of the readers, but Ezekiel himself speaks, and tells first what the eagle is and then what the cedar is. To take another example from Isaiah himself, when he raises a mighty river against Judah, he does not leave it to the imagination of the reader to apply it to whatever person he chooses, but he names the king whom he has referred to as a river. This is everywhere a rule in Scripture: when it wants to allegorize, it tells the interpretation of the allegory, so that the passage will not be interpreted superficially or be met by the undisciplined desire of those who enjoy allegorization to wander about and be carried in every direction. Why are you surprised that the prophets should observe this rule? Even the author of Proverbs does this. For he said, “Let your loving doe and graceful filly accompany you, and let your spring of water be for you alone.” Then he interprets these terms to refer to one’s free and lawful wife; he rejects the grasp of the prostitute and other woman.

Duane A. Garrett, An Analysis of the Hermeneutics of John Chrysostom’s Commentary on Isaiah 1-8 with an English Translation, Isaiah Chapter 5 (Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1992), pp. 110-111.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Augustine: Plain Teachings of Scripture are Basis for Right Allegorical Interpretation

Augustine (354-430): For what else is it than superlative impudence for one to interpret in his own favour any allegorical statements, unless he has also plain testimonies, by the light of which the obscure meaning of the former may be made manifest.

NPNF1: Vol. I, Letters of St. Augustin, Letter 93 – To Vincentius, Chapter 8, §24, A.D. 408.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Jerome: Doubtful Understandings of Enigmatic Statements Don't Establish Doctrines

Jerome (347-420) commenting on Matthew 13:33: They interpret the three measures of wheat this way: while there is not a different nature in each [person of the Trinity], they tend toward a unity of substance. This is a godly interpretation to be sure, but a doubtful understanding of a parable and an enigmatic saying can never advance the authority of dogmas. FC, Vol. 117, St. Jerome: Commentary on Matthew (Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2008), p. 160.
Latin text: Farinae quoque sata tria, dum non est in singulis diversa natura, et ad unitatem trahunt substantiae. Pius quidem sensus, sed numquam parabolae et dubia aenigmatum intelligentia, potest ad auctoritatem dogmatum proficere. Commentariorum in Evangelium Matthaei, Liber Secundus, Caput XIII, v. 33, PL 26:91C.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chrysostom: No Intercessor Needed

Chrysostom (349-407) commenting on John 16:22, 23: “And ye now therefore have sorrow — [but I will see you again, and your sorrow shall be turned into joy].” Then, to show that He shall die no more, He saith, “And no man taketh it from you. And in that day ye shall ask Me nothing.”

Again He proveth nothing else by these words, but that He is from God. “For then ye shall for the time to come know all things.” But what is, “Ye shall not ask Me”? “Ye shall need no intercessor, but it is sufficient that ye call on My Name, and so gain all things.”

NPNF1: Vol. XIV, Gospel of St John, Homily 79, §1.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Chrysostom: God Listens More to Us than to Others for Us

Chrysostom (349-407): But thou art unworthy. Become worthy by thy assiduity. For that it both is possible that the unworthy should become worthy from his assiduity; and that God assents more when called on by ourselves than by others; and that he often delays the giving, not from the wish that we should be utterly perplexed, nor to send us out with empty hands; but in order that he may become the author of greater good things to us–these three points I will endeavor to make evident by the parable which has to-day been read to you. The woman of Canaan had come to Christ praying on behalf of a daughter possessed by a demon, and crying out with much earnestness (it says, “Have pity on me, Lord, my daughter is badly possessed by a demon.”) See, the woman of a strange nation, and a barbarian, and outside of the Jewish commonwealth. For indeed what else (was she) than a dog, and unworthy of the receiving her request? For “it is not,” he says, “good to take the children’s bread, and to give it to the dogs.” But, all the same, from her assiduity, she became worthy. For not only did he admit her into the nobility of children, dog as she was; but also he sent her off with that high encomium saying, “O woman great is thy faith; be it done to thee as thou wilt.” Now when the Christ says, “great is thy faith,” seek thou no other demonstration of the greatness of soul which was in the woman. Seest thou how, from her assiduity the woman, being unworthy, became worthy? Desirest thou also to learn that we accomplish (our wish) by calling on him by ourselves more than by others?

NPNF1: Vol. IX, Concerning Lowliness of Mind and Commentary on Philippians 1:18, Homily 3, §12.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Chrysostom: Even Laden with 10,000 Evil Deeds, We are the Best Presenters of Our Petitions to God

Chrysostom (349-407): There is to thee no need of mediators in audience with God; nor of that much canvassing; nor of the fawning upon others; but even if thou be destitute, even if bereft of advocacy, alone, by thyself, having called on God for help, thou wilt in any case succeed. He is not so wont to assent when entreated by others on our behalf, as by ourselves who are in need; even if we be laden with ten thousand evil deeds. For if in the case of men, even if we have come into countless collisions with them, when both at dawn and at mid-day and in the evening we show ourselves to those who are aggrieved against us, by the unbroken continuance and the persistent meeting and interview we easily demolish their enmity — far more in the case of God would this be effected.

NPNF1: Vol. IX, Concerning Lowliness of Mind and Commentary on Philippians 1:18, Homily 3, §11.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Chrysostom: Seeking Intercession by Others Suggests Lack of Trust in Christ

Chrysostom (349-407): What a boon, not to have to go about and seek one to ask of, but to find one ready? to have no need of others through whom thou mayest solicit? What could be greater than this? Since here is One who then does most, when we make not our requests of others than Himself: just as a sincere friend then most complains of us for not trusting in his friendship, when we ask of others to make request to him.

NPNF1: Vol. XI, A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, Homily 36, §3.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Chrysostom: Direct Appeals Better than Intercession by Others

Chrysostom (349-407): Prayer is a great weapon, prayer is a wonderful adornment, security and haven, a treasury of good things, wealth beyond threat. When we make requests of human beings, we need an outlay of money, servile flattery, much to-ing and fro-ing and negotiating. Often, in fact, it is not possible to make a direct approach to their lordships personally to grant a favor: it is necessary first to wait upon their ministers or managers or administrators with money and words and every other means, and only then through them to be in a position to receive the request. With God, on the contrary, it is not like this: it not so much on the recommendation of others as on our own request that he grants the favor. In this case, too, both the one receiving it and the one not receiving it are better off, whereas in the case of human beings we often come off worse in both cases.
Since, then, for those approaching God the gain is greater and the facility greater, do not neglect prayer: it is then in particular that he will be reconciled with you when you on your own account appeal to him, when you present a mind purified, thoughts that are alert, when you do not make idle petitions, as many people do, their tongue saying the words while their soul wanders in every direction — through the house, the marketplace, the city streets. It is all the devil’s doing: since he knows that at that time we are able to attain forgiveness of sins, he wants to block the haven of prayer to us, and at that time he goes on the attack to distract us from the sense of the words so that we may depart the worse rather than the better for it

Robert Charles Hill, trans., St. John Chrysostom, Old Testament Homilies, Volume Three: Homilies on the Psalms (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2003), Homily on Psalm 146.1, p. 125.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Chrysostom: If You Want to be Heard, Direct Prayers to God

Chrysostom (349-407) commenting on Psalm 7, v. 3: This must everywhere be our concern, not simply to pray but to pray in such a way as to be heard. It is not sufficient that prayer effects what is intended, unless we so direct it as to appeal to God.

Robert Charles Hill, St. John Chrysostom Commentary on the Psalms, Volume 1, Psalm 7 (Brookline: Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1998), p. 117.