A preliminary translation of the Ambrosiaster Latin text, I Corinthians chapters 12.
For introductory notes on this translation along with commentary go to: Notes on Translating Ambrosiaster’s Corinthians 12-14.
Beta version 2
Comment. In. Epist. I ad Corinthios 12
(Vers. 1-2) “Moreover brothers, concerning spiritual things I do not wish you to be ignorant. You know that you were heathens, these ones are following the appearance of idols, even as you were being led.”1 He was about to relate to them about spiritual matters. He is mindful of their earlier way of life; that just as they were in the form of images, worshipping idols, and were being led by the guide and will of demons. So then, the ones worshipping God, they are to exist with the form of the Law of the Lord, these ones march as if it is to be pleasing with the Lord. Consequently, the form of every piece of the law ought to appear in the occupation and the behaviour of the worshipper. Namely, the above form and image is of the law of God in which faith and conduct shines the truth of the Gospel.
(Vers. 3) “On this account which I make known to you that no one by speaking in the Spirit of God says anathema to Jesus. And no one can say the Lord Jesus except by the Holy Spirit.” Seeing those who are unaware of matters concerning spiritual things, they gave glory through every spiritual gift to man than to God, having not understood this gift to be furnished by the Holy Spirit. And because everyone who calls the Lord Jesus, he does not say this without the Holy Spirit, in fact he possesses the grace of his own faith within him personally. Namely one cannot say the Lord Jesus without the gift of God. And he demonstrates through this that there is to be praise and gratitude in all things of God. That2 just as the image of idols is in accordance with its attendants, having its own order through each part of the ranks, it is still wholly by men. Therefore also the rank of the gifts are with the office of the Church by the Law belonging to the Master, certainly they have not been granted by human merit. But while the the members which are pertaining to the edification of the Church that through them and in them they have glory, just like it is as well in human service. For instance there are schools who give worth to those who achieved a status. While the honour of a position may give glory, it is one’s own praise. As he then says, “No one by the Spirit of God says anathema to Jesus” (I Cor. 12:3). For the voice that says anathema to Jesus has been proved3 with human error. For whatever has been falsified is by man. “And no man can say the Lord Jesus, but by the Holy Ghost”4 (I Corinthians 12:3). For the expression itself which the Lord Jesus is being signified, not by the prostrating5 of men and such as they summon the image of a god. But the Holy Spirit has been poured out by means of the truth. Whatever truth is being spoken by whoever, it is spoken by the Holy Spirit. So that they were not then to esteem the favour of men in the Christian example and they were clearly not enough to prove by means of this itself, just as it is also in the likeness (I mean inventions by man when God is being called who is not and through this the priests have been subjected by them). For it demonstrates by them that their is no human benefit with them when the Lord Jesus is being called. But the greater gift of God, which its mystery has been deemed worthy to be made known to mankind.
And indeed the declaration itself acquires forgiveness of sins like the formal speech of idols magnifies. Therefore he points out these things because they do not perform a betterment in religion saying “Lord Jesus” yet they receive. Nor should they consider favour by the manner of human idols with regard to the law of the Lord, when god is called upon who does not exist.
Finally the ones who do not realize that the gift of God is that brings about faith; every single person has chosen for themselves whom they follow, saying, “I am of Paul, and I am of Apollo” (I Corinthians 1:12). He humbles the haughtiness of these people, that they undergo themselves, like I said, to prove.
(Vers. 4) “Now there are diversity of graces” Not that he wishes to ascribe this to human merit, but the favour of God for the purpose of honouring His name, namely just as that one says “Lord Jesus” says by the Holy Spirit, of what kind of force it is. So also has the grace of such a power been set in the place of the order of the office of the Church. By all means not his own, but of an order by the power of the Holy Spirit. From whence also he says from the beginning, “Neither he who waters is anything nor he who plants, but God is the one who gives the growth” (I Corinthians 3:7).
(Vers. 5, 6) “But the same Spirit. And there are the diversity of ministries.” He says diverse gifts are to be exhibited by the same Spirit. “The same Lord. And there are diversity of operations.” (I Corinthians12:6) For he joins Christ to the Holy Spirit. “But the same God who works all in all.” (I Corinthians 12:6). In such a thing it is not to be granted with these men, as if it would be their very own, but God plants in alone. In order that he may say as well the work is the gift of the Holy Spirit and the grace of the Lord Jesus of the one God. No grace and gift has been divided according to the characters of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. But of indistinguishable unity and threefold nature one work is being realized, that he should render all glory and divine excellence to the one. “And there are divisions of graces”6 in offices of the Church, not having been assigned by human merit. For if the Holy Spirit is similarly God and the Lord is similarly God and the one God is three. In fact seeing that the glory and power and nature of the Holy Spirit is of God and the Lord Jesus is the same in nature which God is, certainly one is the the Holy Spirit, and the Lord Jesus and the Father God. And indeed one God belonging to each and three one God.
Finally by one work, three are being named to be functioning. That the mystery of the Trinity should be confined in one God in nature and power.
(Vers. 7) “Moreover to each one the manifestation of the Spirit was given for an advantage.” That is, one receives the gift that his own life which is being directed by a divine restraints that he should be useful to himself and others while demonstrating an example of good behaviour.
(Vers. 8 ) “To one indeed, by the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom.” That is, good sense was given to him not through books but by the glittering fire of the Holy Spirit; that the heart shall be illuminated and shall be prudent, and discern what ought to be avoided and what ought to be strived for. “and to another, the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit.” That is, he has knowledge of divine matters. “to another, the grace of healing in one Spirit.” That is, a person has the ability to cure for the weak or sick.
(Vers. 9-10) “Others faith in the same Spirit.” He says this, that by the faith which is bound to be proclaimed and delivered, firmly planted in humility, one is to be able to receive the ability. “Others work of mighty works.” He signifies to be given the ability for demons to be cast out, or a sign which is to be brought about. “Others Prophecy.” That is, the one having been filled by the Holy Spirit would speak about the future. “Others discernment of spirits.” This says that the one who should understand or appraises, whether it is from the Holy Spirit or a worldly person. “Other kinds of languages, others interpretation of speech.” The thing to be interpreted, that the sayings of those who were speaking in languages or from writings is to be faithfully interpreted through the gift of God.
(Vers. 11) “But all these things, one and the same Spirit worketh, dividing to every one according as he will.” Because he says the above of the three persons, is now is declared to be delivered through the one Holy Spirit. That because they are of one nature and power because one performs the three performs.7 Nevertheless one is God, whose grace is being divided into individuals, even as he wishes, not by human merit, but instead for the edification of His own Church. That all that the world wishes to be imitating but yet does not satisfy because that is of the flesh. These are to be seen in the Church, which is the house of God, having been granted with the parts of separate pieces, gift and governance of the Holy Spirit among them for the approval of truth in them which are worthless things to the world.
(Vers. 12-13) “For as the body is one and has many members and all the members from one body, seeing that they are many, one body they are, therefore it is also in Christ. And indeed in one Spirit we all have been baptized in one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free. We all drank the one Spirit.”8 He teaches through these things that not one person as it were who has been looked down ought to be despised and neither has anyone been perfected be given preference, nor glory, which ought to be given to the only God which must be bestowed by mankind. Since one in all also the same God is glorious in everyone. Naturally, while we have all and one baptism and one and also the same Holy Spirit. On this account which has been said before, because they were glorifying some, just as certainly they were spurning others that were looked down upon.
(Vers. 14) “For the body is also not one member but many” Saying this: he demonstrates unity to have varieties of offices and this difference does not disagree in regards to the oneness of power. Since the unity of the body did not come about in singleness but in many members, that they perform mutually among themselves, which they ought to do.
(Vers. 15) “If the foot should say, because I am not a hand, I am not part of the body. Is it really therefore not belonging to the body?” That is, is it not possible for them who are fragile appear to be denied being part of the body among the brethren, because he is not capable.
(Vers. 16) “And if the ear should say, because I am not of the eye, I am not part of the body. Is it really therefore not belonging to the body?” Nor that he ought to say of him, who is somewhat inferior, that he is reckoned unnecessary to the body because he is not in the principal group.
(Vers. 17) “If the whole body be the eye, where is the hearing? If the whole thing is the hearing, where is the smelling? That is, if all are to be of one office and work; in what way is the remaining need of the body to be fulfilled, when is the work evident with the many offices that is for the regulating9 of the body?
(Vers. 18) “But now God has set the members each one in the body, as he desired.” The will of God, which is characterized by forethought and powers of reasoning. He says that the members of the body adjust in order that nothing lacks in the body but also is to bring about perfection in the many members.
(Vers. 19) “For if they had been all one member, where is the body?” It is clear that if everyone were of one function, they would not have declared members nor a body. For that very purpose they are to be joined together10 by the various services of the members. For all would not be able to be that one member. Behold, they are many because they different from each other in function.
(Vers. 20) “There are many members indeed, yet one body.” He says this because many members, while they mutually need one another, they do not differentiate in the unity of nature although they are separate. This diversity agrees as one so that the benefit of the body may be complete. Just as this diversity to which the world itself well knows too. Diverse they are not only in functions but also in natures. Yet they effect towards the perfection of the one world and from all this the proper mixture produces something in fruitful reward which they produce for the benefit of humanity.
(Vers. 21) “And the eye is not able to say to the hand: I do not need your help.” That is, the more powerful person cannot say to the inferior, “You are useless to me,” because the eye indeed sees but in fact the hands are the ones that do the work. Or rather the head to the feet, “You are not to me of any necessity.” That is, the greater in rank and authority cannot do without him who is of a lower rank. Because it is what the lower can do what the lofty person cannot do. Like iron can do what gold cannot. And through this the feet do honour for the head.
(Vers. 22) “But much more that the members of the body who appear to be weak ones, they are necessary.” It is clearly shown that no matter how high anyone shall be in a lofty position, if a subject under authority is lacking who has to create his own glory by orders, his worth will be contemptible. For it is the function, by which the worth consists of. So it would be like lacking armies to the emperor. Although yet he may be a wise emperor, it is still necessary to have an army. It is a member of his body, before having tribunes, officials, and experts. The soldiers are the least to all these and they are more necessary. Like members of the body which while they appear last, they are more advantageous. For the hand works without the eyes and the foot walks searching for nourishment.
(Vers. 23) “And such we think to the most ignoble members of the body, we place to those more abundant honour.” It is a similar experience, because those who are being reckoned [Col. 262] to be without dignity we find in them what we praise, just as also in the members of the lowest rank, that it is most pleasing to us than what we find in all the rest.
For which the hands are with regard of honour, when we want, we grasp! Or the feet, when want something, we go! For this reason also we add doing honour to them, for example with the feet: Someone that are insignificant and without worth, we equip with shoes. “and who are our degraded ones, they have more abundant honour.”11 It is evident because our shameful ones who appear disgusting, while they themselves avoid public appearance, are clothed in integrity, that not through irreverence do they have a rough appearance. In a similar way also certain brothers when they would be in need and in the condition of a degraded appearance, they are still not without grace, through which they are to be members of our body. For they are in the practice of having been girded with a gloomy garment and to walk with a bare foot. While they seem more worthless then, they are more in esteem, because they are accustomed to have a life of moral purity.12 For these who appear looked down upon [by man], it is a habit to be judged beautiful by God.
(Vers. 24) “But those who our distinguished ones lack nothing.”13 It was explained that a person does not lack neither face, nor hand, that he is being improved with these which they are adorned with. Thus also in the brotherhood in which some study of knowledge and honesty in of conduct, nothing is being added by us. For the due honour is being rendered to those. A truly necessary action of encouragement for the low or insignificant ones, through whom some honour is being added to these ones, in order that they may become useful. If not that, regarding the person who will be neglected with contempt, one ought to accomplish greater in such things.
(Vers. 25) “But God hath tempered the body together, giving to that which wanted the more abundant honour. That there might be no schism in the body: but the members might be mutually careful one for another.” Thus he says the human body has been controlled by God so that every member of it should be essential ones. And through these as with mutual concern with each other because some without the other is not possible and everyone reckoned inferior is more necessary. Just as it has been explained about the brothers, even for the purpose of a discussion, that no one ought to look down on as it were the helpless ones.
(Vers. 26) “And if one member suffer any thing, all the members suffer with it.” This which belongs to the members of the body of the flesh is not ambiguous, because if the eye, or the foot, or the hand is to take hold in any affliction of sickness, the whole body suffers greatly, so that he teaches us to suffer with the brethren, [that is] if anybody will appear of such a way or need. “or if one member glory, all the members rejoice with it.” It is clear that happy is the person or the other members, if the feet have been taken care of or [are] healthy. Thus we ought to become cheerful ourselves, if we see any brother who has interest of God, and abundance in integrity of morals. This is sound in common sense.
(Vers. 27) “Now you are the body of Christ and members of [a] member.” He openly points out our own responsibility that one is to conduct on account of the physical members. Seeing that we are not able [to do] everything the same but of each one according to the nature of the faith and the grace which we have been granted.
(Vers. 28) “And God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles.” The top, therefore, is set as the apostles in the Church “For by which we participate as an ambassador” (II Cor. 5:20). They are in that place bishops, by the declaration of Peter the apostle, and speaking, amongst other things, of Judas. “And the office of the bishop, let another take” (Acts 1:20).
“Secondly prophets.” We should understand prophets in a twofold sense both speaking regarding the things about to be, and revealing the Scriptures. However Apostles should be also prophets because the first rank has every subject. In fact the most wicked Caiphas on account that he was the chief priest, prophesied (John 11:51), certainly by the cause of rank, not of personal merit. Nevertheless, they were specifically prophets and interpreters of Scriptures,14 and speaking about the future as Agabus was doing, who had prophesied the ruins and imprisonments to be about this Apostle in Jerusalem (Acts 21:11),15 and foretold the famine, which happened under Claudius (Acts 11:28). Yet, for that reason, an apostle is a better state, yet sometimes there is a need for prophets. Because everything is from one God the Father, He ordained individual Bishops to take charge of individual churches.
“Third teachers.” That he says the teachers who were giving young men instruction in the church writings and readings that are in the act of being preserved from the custom of the Synagogue—whose tradition made a passage to us.
“Helps, administrators.”18 That he may keep watch with intelligence in divine matters. Yet nevertheless that with some things, which he is not being granted to complete, he can obtain by another who has the ability, because no one person is able to perform everything. There exists also administrators which warn of the spiritual snares of men.
“Kinds of languages”. That the gift of God is to know many languages.19 “Interpretation of words.” When this is granted to some by the grace of God that he has the expertise of languages which require translations.
(Vers. 29) “Can it be all are apostles?” The reality is that one Bishop is in the Church. “Can it be all are prophets?” It is not ambiguous, it is not to be granted the prophetic to everyone. “Can it be all are teachers?” That is a teacher, to whom it is to be granted to teach others.
(Vers. 30) “Can it be all are powers?” This one is able to possess the power, to whom God gives to expel demons. “Can it be all have the gift of healings?” How could he do it that all should have the gift of healings? “Can it be all are speaking in languages?” Certainly not, except one who receives the gift in this matter. “Can it be that all interpret?” The person is able to interpret words to whom God gives. For the sense has been said before, this must be inserted. In fact he had explained by the reckoning which had been rendered, that everyone is to have the diverse graces and it is not that anyone be granted the whole thing by example of the members. For by the example of the fleshly body he insinuates the spiritual body and through this in all things God must be praised, and in the name of this one must be glorified of whom is grace. We furthermore arrive at this reckoning in the natural science20 realm. For while gold is better than silver, yet more in use is silver. And while brass is necessary, yet the need is more in iron. For while it is inferior one makes no household goods without iron.
(Vers. 31) “Be zealous of the better gifts”. After this he sums up with regards to the subjects. “I will explain to yet a more excellent way”. He carries those step by step for a good purpose, showing those the grace of every gift which has been said before that is seen in mankind, whether speaking, or healing, or prophesying, that it is not to be related to the person’s merit, but to the honouring of God. Therefore for that reason now he says to show more plainly the way with those ones themselves who are being passed to heaven whose merit gathers together with God. Because, on the other hand, having been said before that one cannot always reach out by merit. The Saviour says, “Many are going to say to me in that day,” that is [the day] of judgment, “Lord, Lord, had we not prophesied in your name and in your name we had cast out demons and we performed great powers?” (Matt. 7:22). And because this does not extend by merit, but they are functions of the Church in response to the confusion of the gentiles and the honour of God which must be bourne witness to, the Lord says to them, “Withdraw from me, I never knew you, workers of iniquity.”21 Namely by the axe22, because the work of God was being examined with regard to those ones, who have no concern for consequences in respect to themselves. For instance too with the 72 disciples who are rejoicing because the demons have been placed under them [their authority]. the Saviour says, “Let not one wish to rejoice in this, that the demons are subjected to you, but rejoice in this that your name has been written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).
In what way is it not23 because they have been subjected in the name of God not by human merit? And in what way now does that not happen so, that men have the grace of God? It was required to do during the beginning times in order that the foundations of the faith were to receive strength but now it is not needed because people lead people to the faith when they see their good works and simple preaching.■
The original Latin copy used for this translation can be found here: The Ambrosiaster Latin text on I Corinthians 12-14
- The Ambrosiaster text reads, “De spiritalibus autem nolo vos ignorare, fratres. Scitis quia gentes eratis, simulacrorum forma euntes, prout ducebamini.” while the Vulgate is, “de spiritalibus autem nolo vos ignorare fratres. scitis quoniam cum gentes essetis ad simulacra muta prout ducebamini euntes.”
- Normally quia is supposed to be translated as “because” in English but it does not normally fit in the context of this writing throughout. It is used more as a relative pronoun.
- “Vox enim quae dicit anathema Jesu, humano est errore problata.” Problata here is identified in the manuscript as a typo and should read probata. Also this is likely meant to be probata est which is the nom sg fem perf pass participle.
- “Divisiones autem gratiarum sunt”
- quod unus operatur, operentur tres: it could be translated as because one operates the other follows.
- A very interesting Latin variance which is different from the Vulgate. A very heavy emphasis on the One. It appears two times more in his text than the Vulgate.
- ad gubernacula
- conjubernantur from conjubeo
- “and those that are our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.” Douay-Rheims
- Mundiorem: “In eccl. Lat., morally pure, upright, free from sin” Lewis and Short
- “But our comely parts have no need” Douay-Rheims”
- prophetae: not sure if it is nominative plural or gen. sg, “Nevertheless they were specifically interpreters of prophecy and of the Scriptures.”
- He is referring to Paul
- Whitakers Words has virtute as fem abl sg, and Perseus (Lewis and Short) have it as fem. pl. acc. or nom. The Vulgate translates it as “miracles” nom. pl. but I cannot find approval for this word having this semantic range. I therefore cannot use this word but rely on the dictionaries definitions of moral virtue.
- faith healer
- Douay-Rheims has it as “Helps, Governments”
- multas lingua. I am assuming that it should read multas linguas. It is a printing error.
- in rebus physicis
- Matt. 7:23: Ambrosiaster has “Recedite a me, non novi vos, operarii iniquitatis” whereas the Vulgate reads, “quia numquam novi vos discedite a me qui operamini iniquitatem.” The Vulgate in Psalms 6:9 is worded very similar to what Ambrosiaster used here.
- securi: it can be traced to securus (secure, safe, untroubled, free from care) or securis (ax (battle/headsman’s), hatchet, chopper; (death) blow; vine-dresser’s blade). Securis is considered a later addition to the Latin vocabulary and based on what I have seen in the manuscript so far, I would think the later form would prevail. I still think my translation of this word is doubtful and needs to be revisited.