Currently, I’m reading a Byzantine text called the Palaea. It’s a collection of stories from the Old Testament, with all sorts of apocryphal legends filled in too. The work begins with a confession of orthodoxy, but I’m a bit puzzled on what refers to Jesus, and what refers to the entire trinity. There’s all sort of variants too, which makes it all the more frustrating. Here’s the portion of the first paragraph:
ὁ πατηρ ὁ αναρχος απεριγραπτος απεριοριστος αγεννητος αοριστος
ακαταληπτος παντα περιεχων και περιοριζων και υπ ουδενος οριζομενος.
θεος ὁ υιος γεννηθεις παρα του πατρος προ παντων αιωνων αρευστως, επ εσχατων
δε σαρκωθεις δια οικονομιαν εκ παρθενου μητρος. ατρεπτος απεριγραπτος κατα
τον πατερα περιγραπτος κατα την σαρκα. θεος το πνευμα το αγιον ομοουσιον τω
πατρι και τω υιω. ενεργουν τα παντα και διακρατων, διεπων, και συνεχων κατα αμφω
γαρ εν τοις τρισιν ουδε ατελες αλλα μια βασιλεια, μια θελησις, μια ουσια, εν
φως τρισηλιον, δυο φυσεις, θεοτητα λεγω και ανθρωποτητα.
The bolded part is what I’m curious about. My translation: “But [there is] one kingdom, one will, one nature, one three-fold (three-sunned?) light, two natures, I mean the divine and the human.”
The language seems to be referring to the Trinity at first. One will and one nature, in particular, wouldn’t be an orthodox confession of Jesus (condemned as monothelitism and monophytism respectively). I guess my question refers to that language in reference to the whole Trinity. Is there a common divine will among the Trinity? Or am I misreading θελησις which doesn’t strictly mean θελημα…? Why does the author switch so quickly from a confession of the Trinity to a confession of Jesus? Perhaps that’s standard fare that I’m no aware of? Any help would be much appreciated.
5 thoughts on “A question for all ye trinitarian specialists”
These are just my top-of-the-head thoughts. The author begins this list with the unity – kingdom, will, nature, and has the Trinity in view. 3-sunned does seem to be the odd neologism that he introduces to express the 3 persons, at which point he moves to the two natures, and notice of course the shift from ουσια to φυσεις, so that his final comment only refers back to the 2 φυσεις. The divine nature of Jesus shares the one divine will of the Trinity.
Does this shed light on it?
That does help. I suppose seeing a reference to Jesus (δυο φυσεις) in such close proximity to μια θελησις threw me off.
You know I don’t know if this helps. Not a language expert, I pay attention to history. I have been reading early Byzantine texts under the context of the 410 sack of Rome. Every time, they mention the trinity. The texts add their belief in one empire under God to their statements of Trinity. That might effect the writers style becuase Byzantine policy was controlled by this belief till the Great Schism.
One interesting feature about this text is its anti imperial tone. It’s very defensive of the priesthood, and completely downplays Melchizidek’s role as king, for instance.
How are things Vargas?
Wow, that’s weird Byzantines are know for their imperialist support among their people. Do you know the author’s origins? Life is great with me. I am writing a research paper on the effects of the sack of Rome in 410. Research and writing is lots of fun.