Monthly Archives: October 2013

The Latin Epiphanius Text on the Tongues of Corinth

The Epiphanius text on the problem tongues of Corinth in the Latin.

The following copy was produced around 1543 by Janus Cornarius — a person who was extremely gifted in this field and very well trusted for a consistent and accurate translation.

Why digitize a Latin translation that is over a thousand years removed from the Greek original? The Latin has value in three ways: assistance in understanding a Greek word or phrase not readily found in Greek dictionaries or grammars, an accuracy checker for anyone doing an English translation of this text, and to see if the Latin translator had a different interpretation himself than what the Greek actually meant. It gives an idea if a doctrine had changed over time.

The Greek original can be found at The Greek Epiphanius Text on the Problem Tongues of Corinth

Below is the Latin copy found in Migne Patrologia Graeca, Volume 41, Columns 791-795.
Adversus Hæreses Lib. I. Tom. III – Hæres. XLII
. Franciscus Oehler’s edition , Corporis Haereseologici. Tomus Secundus. Continens S. Epiphanii Episcopi Constantiensis. Panariorum, was frequently consulted for accuracy.(1)Corporis Haereseologici. Tomus Secundus. Continens S. Epiphanii Episcopi Constantiensis. Panariorum. Franciscus Oehler, ed. Berolini: A. Asher et Socios. 1859. Pg. 659ff :

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Schol. 13 et 21. Perperam ista concepit: Sed in ecclesia volo quinque verba sensu meo loqui: aliter enim scripsit, et ob legem, adjecit.

Refut. 13 et 21. Linguæ igitur a spiritus sancti gratia derivantur. Ejusmodi porro, de quibus apostolus loquitur, linguæ sunt, ut non Hebraicas modo voces comprehendant, quae in singularis vocabulis præclarem quandam ac sapientem varietatem exhibent, sed et alia quoque idiomatum discrimina, quae nonnulli Graecæ linguæ periti, cui insitus quidam fastus ac vanitas est, gloriose jactabant, qualis est Attica, Æolica, ac Dorica proprietas, quarum freti scientia nonnulli turbas illas Corinthi ac seditiones excitarant, ad quos ideo hanc apostolus epistolam dedit. In qua primum singularis cujusdam esse beneficii docet Hebraicis uti vocabulis posse ac legem docere. Deinde ut Graeci sermonis tumorem arrogantiamque comprimeret, sese linguarum illorum usu instructiorem illis ipsis esse monuit, quod Hebræus ab Hebræis esset oriundus, et ad pedes Gamalielis institutus. Ita Hebraicæ linguæ scientiam in laude posuit, et inter spiritus sancti beneficia numeravit. Unde et ad Timotheum de iisdem scribens, Tu, inquit, ab adolescentia sacras Litteras didicisti. Quod vero ad illam eruditionem politiores quoque Graecorum litteras, hoc est poëticas ac rhetoricas, adjecerit, iisce verbis expressit : Abundantius vobis omnibus linguis loquor, uti se Græcarum disciplinarum excellentiori quodam usu præditum esse monstraret. Nam et scribendi genus ipsum quo utitur, humanitatis illum studiis haud mediocriter imbutum fuisse declarat, ut ne Epicurei quidem ipsi Stoicive possent resistere ; quos omnes cum aræ illius inscriptionem ejusmodi, Ignoto Deo, erudite legisset, summa cum eloquentia artificioseque refutavit, id ipsumque ita declaravit : Quem ignorantes colitis, hunc annuntio vobis. Item illud alio loco dixit, Dixit quidam proprius illorum propheta.

Cretenses semper mendaces, malæ bestiæ, ventres pigri.

Epimenidem veterem philosophum intelligens, Mithræ cujusdam apud Cretenses idoli sacerdotem. De quo et Callimachus Libycus poeta idem testimonium falso ad institutum suum transtulit, cum ita de Jove cecinit :

Creta quidem assidue mendax. Rex magne, sepulcrum

Creta tuum exstruxit, sed te mores nulla subegit.

Vides quorsum ille de linguis Apostoli sermo pertineat : Volo quinque verba in Ecclesia sensu meo, hoc est cum interpretatione, loqui. Quemadmodum propheta quæ sibi sancti Spiritus afflatu in animum immissa fuerint in medium proferens, auditoribus suis per prophetiam illam affert utilitatem, ita ego, inquit, loqui sic cupio, ut me Ecclesia omnis audiat, et ædificari possit, non ut Græce aut Hebraicæ linguæ scientia elatus me unum, qui eam scilicet intelligam, non Ecclesiam ipsam, ædificem. Tu vero illud addidisti, Marcio, ob legem, quasi ita scripserit Apostolus : Volo quinque verba in Ecclesia propter legem. Pudeat te, secunda Babylon, ac Sodomorum nova confusio. Quousque linguas istas confundes ? Quousque contra eos quibus nocere nihil potes tuam armabis audaciam ? Nam angelis vim moliris afferre, et ab Ecclesia veritatis sermones abjudicas, quasi ita sanctum Lot alloquare : Educ viros illos. Verum tuus in te conatus recidet ; nec ideo veritatis illos sermones ejicis, sed tibimetipsi cæcitatem infligis, atque in densissima noctis caligine versaris, fores palpans, nec inveniens, donec sol ortus fuerit, tuque judicii diem aspicias, in quo mendaciis tuis vindex ignis occurrat. Nam hic te, uti vides, exspectat. Cæterum apud Apostolum non legitur, propter legem ; sed illud a te perperam est adjectum. Quod si istud addidisset, consentaneum ei foret, quod ab ejus Domino fuerat dictum : Non venisse se ut legem solveret, sed ut adimpleret.

Schol. 14 et 22. In lege scriptum est : Quoniam in aliis linguis et labiis aliis loquar populo huic.

Refut. 14 et 22. Nisi illa quæ in lege prædicta fuerant Dominus implesset, quid attinebat Apostolum ea commemorare, quæ ex lege veteri fuerant in Novo Testamento perfecta ? Quemadmodum et Salvator ipse demonstrat, eumdem se esse, qui tum in lege locutus est, in hunc modum interminatus : Ideo offensus fui generationi huic, et dixi, Semper hi errant corde ; et : Juravi si introibunt in requiem meam. Propterea in aliis linguis locuturum se esse denuntiavit, ut et locutus est ; nec ingressi illi sunt. Hujusmodi enim quiddam discipulis suis dixisse legitur : Vobis datum est nosse mysteria regni dei ; illus autem in parabolis, ut videntes non videant, etc. Cum itaque in Novo Testamento ea ubique sint impleta, quæ in Vetere continebantur, dubitare nemo potest, quin ejusdem ambo Testamenta Dei sint, non alterius ac diversi.

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References   [ + ]

The Greek Epiphanius Text on the Problem Tongues of Corinth

A Greek source text on the Epiphanius passage about the problem tongues of Corinth:

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ιγ καὶ κα σχόλιον. Πεπλανημένως ὁ Μαρκίων [μετὰ τὸ] «ἀλλὰ ἐν Ὲκκλησιᾳ θέλω πέντε λόγους τῷ νοΐ μου λαλῆσαι», προσέθετο «διὰ τὸν νὸμον».(1) MPG has ἑτέρως, δὲ διὰ τὸν νὸμον and Oehler has ἕτέρως δε, Διὰ τὸν νόμον. Holl states that ἕτέρως δε is found in Vaticanus gr. 503 and Marcianus 125

ιγ καὶ κα ἔλεγχος. Ἄρα καὶ αἱ γλῶσσαι ἐκ τοῦ χαρίσματος τοῦ πνεύματός εἰσι. γλώσσας δὲ ὁποίας λέγει ὁ ἀπόστολος; ὅπως γνῷ οὐ(2) Holl has an alternative ὅπως γνῶσιν οἱ Oehler has ὅπως γνῶς, οὐ while MPG has ὅπως γνῶ οὐ τὰς φωνὰς τὰς Ἑβραΐδας(3)Oehler has a comma after τὰς Ἑβραΐδας, τὰς διαφόρως καὶ ποικίλως ἐν ἑκάστῃ λέξει καλῶς μετὰ σοφίας ποικιλθείσας, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν κομπώδη γλῶσσαν τῶν Ἑλλήνων αὐχοῦντες, τὸ ἀττικίζειν καὶ αὶολίζειν, καὶ Δωρικῶς(4)Vaticanus gr. 503 διορικῶς and Marcianus 125 δοριστικῶς φθέγγεσθαί(5)Oehler has this last portion differently ἀλλὰ καὶ τὴν κομπώδη γλῶσσαν τῶν Ἑλλήνων· ηὕχουν τινὲς τὸ Ἀττικίζειν καὶ Αἰολίζειν, καὶ Δωρικῶς φθέγγεσθαι…(6) Hull refers here vgl. haer. 69,68,4 ὅτι οὐ μίαν μόνον γλῶσσαν προσίεται ὁ θεὸς ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ, ὡς ἐνόμιζον τινες τῶν παρὰ τοῖς Κορινθίοις τὰς πτύρσεις καὶ στάσεις ἐργασαμένων, οἷς ἡ Ἐπιστολὴ ἐπεστέλλετο.(7) MPG and Oehler ἐπετέλλετο καὶ ὡμολόγησε(8)MPG and Marcianus 125 ὁμολόγησε μὲν χάρισμα εἶναι πνευματικὸν τὸ ταῖς Ἑβραϊκαῖς λὲξεσι κεχρῆσθαί τε καὶ τὸν νόμον διδάσκειν. οὐ μὴν ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ ἄλλα κομπώδη καθελὼν τῆς τῶν Ἑλλήνων γλώσσης ἔφησεν μᾶλλον γλώσσαις αὐτὸν αὐτῶν λαλοῦντα, διὰ τὸ εἶναι αὐτὸν Ἑβραϊον ἐξ Ἑβραιων, παρὰ τοὺς πόδας Γαμαλιὴλ ἀνατεθραμμένον, ὧν Ἑβραίων(9) MPG has ὦν (Ἑβραίοις) τὰ… τὰ γράμματα ἐν ἐπαίνοις τίθησι, καὶ τῆς τοῦ πνεύματος δωρεᾶς ὄντα χαρίσματα.(10) Holl has δωρεᾶς ὄντα χαρίσματα ὑποδείκνυσιν as a possible ending. The next sentence can alternatively start as: καὶ διὸ Vaticanus gr. 503 διὸ καὶ περὶ τῶν αὐτῶν [καὶ] Τιμοθέῳ γράφων, ἔλεγεν «Ὅτι ἀπὸ νεότητος ἱερὰ Γράμματα ἔμαθες». ὄτι(11) Holl has ἔτι while MPG and Oehler have ὄτι I think Holl’s edition is a printing error δὲ προστιθεὶς (πρὸς) τοὺς ἀπὸ Ἑλλήνων ποιητῶν καὶ ῥητόρων ὁρμωμένους τὰ ἴσα φάσκων ὁμοίως ἔφη «Πάντων πλέον ὑμῶν λαλῶ γλώσσαις», ἳνα δείξῃ καὶ τῆς Ἑλληνικῆς παιδείας αὐτὸν ἐν πείρᾳ ὑπερβαλλόντως γεγενῆσθαι. καὶ γὰρ καὶ ὁ χαρακτὴρ αὐτοῦ σημαίνει αὐτὸν ὑπάρχειν ἐν προπαιδείᾳ, οὗ(12) Holl has a possible addition here: τῇ σοφίᾳ κηρύσσοντος τὸ εὐαγγέλιον Ἀθήναις οὐκ ἠδυνήθησαν Ἐπικούρειοι καὶ Στωϊκοὶ ἀντιστῆναι. ἀνατρεπόμενοι διὰ τῆς λογίως παρ᾽ αὐτοῦ(13) MPG has αὐτῷ ἀναγνωσθείσης τοῦ βωμοῦ ἐπιγραφῆς τῆς(14) Oehler claims τῆς ἀντία γνωστοῦ ἐπιγεγραμμένης is shown in at least one manuscript, but it is an emendation ἐπιγεγραμμένης «τῷ Θεῷ ἀγνώστῳ»,(15) MPG has ἀγνώστως ῥητῶς(16) MPG has ῤητορικῶς ἀναγνωσθείσης παρ᾽ αὐτοῦ καὶ εὐθὺς μεταφραστικῶς ῥηθείσης «ὅν ὰγνοοῦντες εὺσεβεῖτε, τοῦτον ἐγὼ καταγγέλλω ὑμῖν» καὶ πάλιν φήσαντος «εἶπέν τις ἴδιος αὐτῶν προφήτης·

Κρῆτες ἀεὶ ψεῦσται, κακὰ θηρία, γαστέρες ἀργαι»(17)Titus 1:12

ἵνα τὸν Ἐπιμενιδην δείξῃ, ἀρχαῖον ὄντα φιλὸσοφον, και κτιστὴν(18)MPG and Oehler: Μίθρα τοῦ παρὰ Κρησὶν είδώλου·(19)MPG footnotes an alternative spelling: εὶδωλίου Ἀφ᾽οὑπερ καὶ Καλλιμαχος ὁ Λιβυς τἠν μαρτυριαν εὶς ἑαυτὸν συνανέτεινε, ψευδῶς περὶ Διὸς λέγων·

Κρῆτες ἀεὶ ψεῦσται. καὶ γὰρ τάφον, ὦ ἄνα, σεῖο

Κρῆτες ἐτεκτήναντο, σὐ δ᾽οὐ θανες· ἐισὶ γὰρ αὶεί.

kαὶ ὁρᾷς πῶς διηγεῖται περὶ γλωσσῶν ὁ ἅγιος ἀπόστολος, «Ἀλλὰ θέλω πεντε λόγους ἐν Ἐκκλησιᾳ τῷ νοΐ μου», τουτέστιν διὰ τῆς ἑρμηνείας «φράσαι». ὡς ὁ προφήτης, ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ εὶς τὸν νοῦν προκεχορηγημένα φέρων εὶς φῶς διὰ τῆς προφητείας ὠφελεῖ τοὺς ἀκούοντας, οὕτως κὰγὼ [θέλω], φησὶ, λαλῆσαι εὶς ἀκοὴν τῆς ἐκκλησίας καὶ οὶκοδομὴν καὶ μὴ διὰ τοῦ κόμπου Ἑλληνίδος τε καὶ Ἑβραΐδος ἑαυτὸν οὶκοδομεῖν τὸν ειδότα, καὶ οὐχὶ τὴν ἐκκλησίαν, δι᾽ἧς ἐπίσταται γλώσσης. σὺ δὲ προσέθηκας, ὦ Μαρκίων, τὸ «διὰ τὸν νὸμον», ὡς τοῦ ἀποστόλου λέγοντος «Θέλω πέντε λόγους ἐν Ἐκκλησιᾳ διὰ τὸν νόμον», αὶδέσθητι, Βαβυλὼν δευτέρα, καὶ καινὴ Σοδόμων πολυμιξία. ἕως πότε συγχεῖς(20)MPG: συνέχεις and Oehler: συγχέεις –Oehler’s is likely a print error τὰς γλώσσας; ἕως πότε τολμᾷς κατὰ τῶν ὑπὸ σοῦ μηδὲν ἀδικουμένων; ζητεἴς γὰρ βιὰσασθαι ἀγγελικὰς δυνάμεις, ἐκβαλὼν τοὺς λόγους τῆς ἀληθείας ἀπὸ τῆς ἐκκλησίας φάσκων τῷ(21)this dative article does not exist in MPG or Oehler Λὼτ τῷ ἁγίῳ «ἐξάγαγε τοὺς ἂνδρας».(22)Genesis 19:5 The present Septuagint we use has ἐξάγαγε αὐτοὺς πρὸς ἡμᾶς καὶ ὅ ἐπιχειρεῖς κατὰ σεαυτοῦ ἐπιχειρεῖς. τοὺς δὲ λόγους τῆς ἀληθείας οὐκ ἐκβαλεῖς, ἀλλὰ σεαυτὸν πατάσσεις ἐν ἀορασίᾳ, καὶ ἐν νυκτὶ ἐζοφωμένῃ διάγεις, ψηλαφῶν τὴν θύραν, καὶ μὴ εὑρισκων ἔως ἀνατείλῃ ὁ ἥλιος καὶ ἴδῃς τὴν ἡμέραν τῆς κρίσεως· ἐν ᾗ καὶ τό πῦρ ἀπαντήσεται τῇ σῇ ψευδηγορίᾳ. τοῦτο γὰρ σε ἐκδέχεται, ὡς ὁρᾷς. οὔτε γὰρ κεἴται παρα τῷ ἀποστόλῳ [τὸ] «διὰ τὸν νόμον» καὶ παρὰ σοῦ τοῦτο πεποιήτευται. εὶ δὲ καὶ ἔλεγεν ὁ ἀπόστολος «διὰ τὸν νόμον» συνᾳδόντως ἔλεγεν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ κυρίῳ, οὐχ ἳνα καταλύσῃ τὸν νόμον, ἀλλ᾽ ἳνα πληρὼσῃ.

ιδ καὶ κβ σχόλιον. «Ἐν τῷ νόμῳ γέγραπταί ὅτι ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις καὶ ἐν(23)This ἐν is absent from MPG and Oehler χείλεσιν ἑτέροις λαλήσω πρὸς τὸν λαὸν τοῦτον.»

ιδ καὶ κβ ἔλεγχος. Εὶ μὴ ἐπλήρωσε κύριος τὰ ἐν τῷ νὀμῳ προειρημένα, τίς ἦν χρεία τὸν ἀπόστολον ὑπομνῆσαι τὰ ἀπὸ νόμου ἐν καινῇ διαθήκῃ πληρούμενα; ὡς καὶ ὁ Σωτὴρ ἔδειξεν ὅτι αὐτὸς ἦν ὁ καὶ τότε ἐν νόμῳ λαλήσας καὶ κατὰ ἀπειλὴν ὁρίσας αὐτοῖς λέγων «διὸ προσώχθισα(24)MPG and Oehler have προσώχθησα τῇ γενεᾷ ταύτῃ καὶ εἶπον, ἀεὶ πλανῶνται τῇ καρδίᾳ, καὶ ὤμοσα εὶ εὶσελεύσονται εὶς τὴν κατὰπαυσιν μου»· διὸ καὶ ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις ἐπηγγείλατο λαλῆσαι αὐτοῖς, ὡς καἰ ἐλάλησε, καὶ οὐκ είσῆλθον. τοῦτο γὰρ εὑρίσκεται λέγων τοῖς αὐτοῦ μαθηταῖς «ὑμῖν δεδοται(25)MPG and Oehler have ὑμῖν δεδοται λαλῆσαι τὰ μυστήρια τῆς βασιλείας, ἐκείνοις δὲ ἐν παραβολαῖς, ἵνα βλέποντες μὴ βλέπωσι» καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς. πανταχοῦ τοίνυν ἐν τῇ καινῇ τὰ ἀπὸ παλαιᾶς πληρούμενα, παντί τῳ σαφές έστιν, ὅτι οὐχ ἑτέρου θεοῦ καὶ ἑτέρου θεοῦ,(26)οὐχ ἑτέρου θεοῦ καὶ ἑτέρου, ἀλλὰ in MPG or Oehler ἀλλὰ τοῦ αὐτοῦ αί δύο διαθῆκαι συνίστανται.

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Notes on the Greek Source text:

  • A previous digitized Epiphanius’ Greek text posted on this blog used the Migne Patrologia Graeca version of Against Heresies as the basis. Dr. Karl Holl’s textual work, Epiphanius (Anchoratus und Panarion)(27)Epiphanius (Anchoratus und Panarion) von Dr. Karl Holl. Zweiter Band. Panarion Haer. 34-64 Leipzig: J.C. Hinrich’sche Buchhandlung. 1922. Pg. 168-171 has now become the source text. He preferred to call it by the original name, the Panarion.

  • Holl’s text is compared against the versions in Migne Patrologia Graeca(28)Migne Patrologia Graeca, Volume 41, Columns 791-795.
    Adversus Hæreses Lib. I. Tom. III – Hæres. XLII
    and Franciscus Oehler’s edition found in his Corporis haereseologici.(29)Corporis Haereseologici. Tomus Secundus. Continens S. Epiphanii Epicsopi Constantiensis. Panariorum. Franciscus Oehler, ed. Berolini: A. Asher et Socios. 1859. Pg. 658ff

  • Both MPG and Oehler liked to add modern capitalization standards to the Greek nouns. This has not been noted in the footnotes. Holl did not follow this convention.

  • MPG and Oehler also used more grammatical points such as commas than Holl did in his text. Holl’s grammatical points were followed but differences were not noted.

  • Holl put lines above characters when they are to be understood as numbers rather than text. This was omitted in the digital copy in the four occasions that it occurs because there is no keystroke for this. It does not change the accuracy of the reading. The reader should be able to identify when the letters are being used as numbers.

  • I would have liked to examine the manuscripts themselves, which Holl has done extensively already. However none of them are easily available, if at all. Holl’s work is quite extensive and it appears no more textual work is required.

  • Holl’s personal editorial notes at the bottom of every page are in German — a language I am not fluent with. Some notes are overlooked because of this.

References   [ + ]

Antisemitism in the Ancient Church

Trying to make sense out of the antisemitism found in a large corpus of Christian literature.

If anyone begins to read ecclesiastical writings with keen interest, it will be inevitable that one has to struggle with the anti-semitic remarks in ancient Christian literature. Anti-semitism is an over-simplification. This was a small part of a much larger problem. The church viewed anyone outside of the christian community as less-than-human especially Scythians (Russian type of peoples). The political and military aspirations of Christianity in some epochs sought to annihilate any person or communities that that did not embrace its message. Jews were lucky, due to their theological history, and were often spared. Although they got to live, they were second class citizens. At least they could tell their story of oppression. The many other pagans and whole unclassified communities who refused to convert have stories that will never be told.

Many familiar with Patristics will normally go first to the thoughts of John Chrysostom and will surprisingly find that he held the Jewish people with contempt. If he spoke today and wrote contemporary pieces on the Church and Jews, he would be charged with a hate crime under Canadian law.

It may be fairer to treat him in a little better light, but not much more. His intentions were defensive more than offensive because Judaism was a competing religion for his adherents. There existed at that time a warm relationship between Christianity and Judaism that allowed both parties to freely intermingle on many points, and there was a strong attraction by many of his adherents to Judaism. This proved to be a great challenge to Chrysostom to address. It was not a case of the stereotyped lowly Jew versus the Goliath of the Graeco-Roman Christian religion. It was a match of equals.

Antioch had a history of good community and Jewish relations, which undermined Chrysostom’s and the Church’s influence.

The following is a demonstration of how he reacted, and it is ugly:

“But the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it also is a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. Jeremiah said: “Your house has become for me the den of a hyena”. He does not simply say “of wild beast”, but “of a filthy wild beast”, and again: “ have abandoned my house, I have cast off my inheritance”. But when God forsakes a people, what hope of salvation is left? When God forsakes a place, that place becomes the dwelling of demons.”(1)Chrysostom. Against the Jews. Homily 1, 3:1. http://www.todayscatholicworld.com/homily-i.htm

Chrysostom vehemently wanted to break the relationship for his own political purposes:

“Many, I know, respect the Jews and think that their present way of life is a venerable one. This is why I hasten to uproot and tear out this deadly opinion. I said that the synagogue is no better than a theater and I bring forward a prophet as my witness. Surely the Jews are not more deserving of belief than their prophets. “You had a harlot’s brow; you became shameless before all”. Where a harlot has set herself up, that place is a brothel.”(2)IBID. Chrysostom. Against the Jews. Homily 1, 3:1.

Another clue that motivated Chrysostom’s posture was a third group called the Anomoeans:

“And so it is that I hasten to anticipate this danger and prevent it. This is what physicians do. They first check the diseases which are most urgent and acute. But the danger from this sickness is very closely related to the danger from the other; since the Anomoeans’ impiety is akin to that of the Jews, my present conflict is akin to my former one. And there is a kinship because the Jews and the Anomoeans make the same accusation. And what charges do the Jews make? That He called God His own Father and so made Himself equal to God. The Anomoeans also make this charge—I should not say they make this a charge; they even blot out the phrase “equal to God” and what it connotes, by their resolve to reject it even if they do not physically erase it.”(3)IBID Chrysostom. Against the Jews. Homily1, 1:6

This group appears to be a popular quasi-Christian group that integrated both Christian and Jewish elements together and re-defined the Trinity.

One must understand also that Chrysostom had no patience or mercy for anyone or any faith outside of the Christian message.(4)Chrysostom. Homilies Against the Jews. Homily 1, 4:9 http://www.todayscatholicworld.com/homily-i.htm

Chrysostom’s message against the Jews contradicts the positive and warm relationship with the Jewish community espoused by Origen – a Church leader whom he respected.(5)The Jews in the Writings of Origen

Chrysostom was also known to have a brazen tongue and little tolerance for those even within the Church. He was banished for virulent language against a benefactor and leader, the Empress Eudoxia. He took contest against her because she erected a lavish statue of herself. He made some scathing remarks in regards to this(6)“Again Herodias raves; again she is troubled; she dances again; and again desires to receive John’s head in a charger.” Schaff, Philip ed. NPNF2-02. Socrates and Sozomenus Ecclesiastical Histories by Salaminius Hermias Sozomen and Socrates of Constaninople. Pg. 150 http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf202.ii.ix.xix.html and was banished to Armenia for this protestation.(7)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Chrysostom

The over-zealousness of his rhetoric inside and outside the Church and his subsequent banishment labeled him an extremist by his own peers. This person cannot be held as the definitive example of Jewish-Christian, or any other Church relation. Neither can he be held as a representative of the official Church position during his time or any other.

The Jewish based The Encyclopedia Judaica also believes there were both negative and favourable relations between the Jewish and Christian communities in the third and fourth centuries. It wasn’t a scene that can be pictured as black and white antisemitism.

This did change over time. The complete separation of Greek Christianity from its Jewish foundation can be traced back to the emperor Constantine, who issued a decree over the celebration of Easter:

“under the 79th header, which is the first Council of Antioch itself, this is expressed with these words, “If anyone would be bold enough to change the definition of the holy and great council which was by the Nicean gathering, in the present devout and reverenced leader Constantine, regarding the solemn healing of the passover, we assess those to be excommunicated and banished of the Church, if then they should remain unmoved, obstinately against that which they have decreed as good. And this also was decried to the laity. If then those who are presiding over the Church,either episcopates, presbyters, deacons, should attempt to alter this definition, through the subversion of people and disturbance of the Church, to separately gather, and to celebrate the Passover with the Jews, this holy synod declares this (person) a stranger from the Church. Not only himself but any who should proceed to cause with manifold corruption and agitation. Not only are such kind removed by a minister, but also those who should attempt to communicate afterwards with the damned, they are damned.”(8)My own translation taken from http://hermes.ulaval.ca/~sitrau/calgreg/denys.html, Liber de Paschate: Praefatio

This was the official beginning of legal ostracization of the Jews from the Christian realm and the loss of any Jewish identity within the movement — a movement originally founded by them.

Why such a strong statement? If the Jewish people were recognized as the people of God and holders of the oracles of God, then two possibilities could occur:

  • The power of religion, which was the base of any governmental authority in ancient times, would shift from Rome to Jerusalem. The Jewish leaders would be the ones establishing law, spiritual piety and directing the national social conscience. This would undermine the Roman governmental system.

  • The Romans and the Greek populace with such pride in their own identity could not be forced to adapt to a foreign religion belonging to a minor territory. They would naturally overthrow any monarchy or leadership that proposed such a thing.

The only option the Roman leadership had to retain their own power and integrate the originating Jewish faith into their own system was to scrub out the Jewish element and make it into a Greek identity.

And that is what Constantine started with the decree.

Neither Chrysostom nor Constantine can be declared official icons of fourth century Jewish-Christian dialogue. There were other powerful voices within the Church which promoted a different position.

Epiphanius, the fourth century Bishop of Salamis, wrote a book called the Panarion which was a polemic against certain groups that contested or challenged the institutional Church teachings. This writing is at times written in a condemning tone, almost a street-level vernacular. There are numerous references to Jews and movements within Judaism, but Epiphanius refrains from any serious attack on standard Judaism.

This isn’t always the case.

For example the Ambrosiaster document, first written in the fourth century and emendated up to the 13th illustrated Jews as antithetical to the Christian message. The Ambrosiaster writer(s) used the Jews as an abstract illustration of what one must not be.

Some go as far to say that the New Testament has an anti-semitic bias to it, especially from the book of John onwards. This may be taking it too far. Rabbi Dr. Pesach Schindler, a professor at the Hebrew University, directed another approach. He specifically addressed our Introductory Talmud class on the subject of antisemitism in the Bible, “You have to realize this was in-house fight.” The discussions in the New Testament are for the most part hostile tensions between various Jewish groups and individuals who were shooting fiery barbs at each other over Jewish legal issues. Third parties who are not Jewish that read these accounts can easily take it out of context.

This may be too simplistic, as the Book of John does appear in places to be written from a non-Jewish perspective and for a non-Jewish audience. It could easily be interpreted as critical of the Jewish race. One passage in particular, John 8:44 where Jesus stated, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire,” has given special license to many ignorant Christian leaders, movements and peoples over the centuries to treat Jewish people maliciously. Prof. Van der Horst, a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences cites this as one of the most destructive passages:

“In later Christian literature, that expression is picked up. This fatal short remark has had lethal consequences over two millennia. It cost tens of thousands of Jewish lives in later history, especially in the Middle Ages. This verse was taken by Christian Jew-haters as a license to murder Jews. These murderers thought: ‘If Jesus says that Jews have the devil as their father, we should eradicate them as best as we can.’

…I once argued before an audience of Christian ministers that if we were to confront John with the consequences of what he wrote, he would deeply apologize and say, ‘Please, delete it from my Gospel.’ Until the present day these words have their influence, because the average Bible reader cannot contextualize them in the first century when they were written.”(9)http://writingtw.blogspot.com/2009/05/origins-of-christian-antisemitism.html

It is not the actual problem of the Johanine writing, but the selective interpretation of it.

The great eighth century European ruler, Charlemagne, forced conversions on all his defeated territories. If they refused, they would be killed, regardless if they were Jews or otherwise. This brought on the ire of Alcuin of York who entreated Charlemagne that “that faith is a free act which cannot be enforced; that instruction, persuasion, love and self-denial are the only proper means for converting the heathen.”(10)History of the Christian Church, Volume IV: Mediaeval Christianity. A.D. 590-1073.

Some would also want to single out the Jews as the object of Church oppression. This too is an overgeneralization. The Church had no respect for anyone who was not converted, whether it was a Barbarian German, Gaul, Spaniard, or a pagan. This was also extended to those within the Church realm too – Donatists, Montantists, Arianists, Marcionists, and the list goes on, were not treated much better. Those who were unconverted were considered less-than-human and did not have the same rights as those who were.

Chrysostom also reflected the spirit of the times. In this period the problem was not of antisemitism, but an issue of accepting a religion that did not have Greek or Roman origins, especially something as obscure as the Hebrew religion.

The Romans and Greeks considered the Hebrew religion unknown, foreign and non-Greek — everybody knew that the Greeks or to a lesser extent Romans were superior in every way. Nothing could originate outside of Greece or Rome that could be the center of their religion. The only way to make it universal within their world was to strip it of its Jewish identity, or any other nationality, and make it Graeco-Roman.

One must realize as well the writing style of the New Testament, which utilizes ‘the Jews’ in manifold ways within the texts was not written to mean from a non-Jewish standpoint. All the authors of the New Testament, with perhaps the exception of Luke, are Jewish. But then why is it written in such a third-party form? The Jewish historian Josephus utilized the same term, ‘the Jews’ in a similar context, as if he himself appeared to be a historian above Jewish bias, though his whole intention was to defend the Jewish people against antisemitism. This writing style is also found in the Talmud, though the frequency of usage is unknown,(11)Talmud Yerushalmi, Berakhot ix:1 as found in Ephraim E. Urbach. The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs. Trans. by Israel Abrahams. Jerusalem: Magnes Press. 1979. Pg. 81. Note here that R. Tanhuma was attempting to demonstrate the superiority of the Jewish religion over the Greek one. He recognized these two influences were in conflict. The New Testament writers were simply following the writing conventions of that time and it was not meant as a slight against the Jewish people.

What is one to make out of this? It is a human trait to want to lord over the vulnerable, the minorities, the poor, the widow, the orphan and rival groups. History is full of such examples of human nature. The Church has not been exempt. It is not simply a case against the Jews, but the Church’s stance against any group different than them. Other ethnic groups could also make a historical claim that they were discriminated against, but they were annihilated. The Jews escaping this pogrom because of their historic religious identity, still endured discrimination and were treated with lesser rights, but unlike the others, have lived to tell the story.

This is a dark part of our Christian heritage that many don’t know, or don’t want to know about. It is antithetic to the message Love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:38). Unfortunately the historic Church writings on the subject cannot be erased or rewritten. The only option is to use these as examples in the past as lessons in what not to do in building a better world.

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