Maximus the Confessor on Spiritual Gifts

Below is my translation of Maximus the Confessor’s ambiguum on part of Gregory of Nazianzus’s Or. 41.  

A few things stand out.  For one, Maximus cites several different opinions.  He gives his own in the first paragraph, wherein he argues that Gregory’s cryptic sentence refers to speaking in tongues and to prophecy.  These are the gifts “which require other ones to judge them.”  He describes why the gift of discerning spirits is a necessary complement to prophecy, providing some rather good reasons in my opinion.  But in the second paragraph he seems indicates that others believe Gregory’s sentence to refer to the “interpreting gifts,” which are discernment of spirits and interpretation of tongues.  

Much of this hinges on how you interpret the Greek phrase, «πρὸς διάκρισιν τοῦ βελτίονος. »   Βελτίονος could simply refer to a generic “better,” in which case we would understand the phrase as, “in order to understand what is best,” or something along those lines.  This appears to be the approach that Maximus himself takes.  But we could also supply an implied χαρίσματος from the previous phrase, in which we could read πρὸς διάκρισιν τοῦ βελτίονος χαρίσματος.  This would then read, “in order to interpret the better gift.” Indeed, the Sources Chretiennes text of Gregory chose the  «πρὸς διάκρισιν τῆς βελτίονος, » for the main text, which would ensure a reading along these lines.  Instead of supplying χαρίσματος, we would in this case supply διαφορᾶς with the meaning “type,” and read, “in order to distinguish the better type of gift.”  Maximus offers this line of interpretation as a distinguished alternative to his own reading. 

The Greek text of the PG for Maximus is quite problematic.  Unfortunately there isn’t yet a better one (a new translation and text is due out soon from the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library), and there aren’t any manuscripts online that I’ve been able to find with this passage.  I have consulted an early Latin manuscript (9th century, our earliest witness actually if I’m not mistaken).  The Latin translation is quite literal (painstakingly actually), but since Latin doesn’t have an article it doesn’t help our problem above of τοῦ vs. τῆς.  Time permitting, I’ll transcribe the Latin and post it too.  It’ll be a good exercise for me since I’m taking Latin paleography this semester.

English Translation

From the same oration, on the “And there is a type of spiritual gift, which requires another gift for interpretation.”  

The “type of gift which requires another for interpretation,” according to this great teacher is prophecy, I think, and speaking in tongues.  For prophecy requires the gift of distinguishing spirits, so that one may know the nature of the prophecy, where it comes from, what it carries, what spirit it belongs to, and for what reason it comes.  Otherwise, it may simply be idle talk, proceeding only from an offense that the speaker has suffered (thus from his own mind)[1], or it may be a self-caused impulse from the one prophesying, which comes from wide experience and a natural shrewdness about the nature of things, or even from an evil and demonic spirit, like the “marvelous” sayings in Montanus and those like him, which, it is said, are in the form of prophecy; or, someone may take the words of others and speak with great airs because of vanity, declaiming with great pomp learning that is not his own, lying so that others would marvel at him.  For some shamelessly make themselves into the deadbeat fathers of orphaned words and ideas by espousing and then abandoning them so that others might think them wise.  Thus the divine apostle says, “let two or three prophets speak, and the others judge.”   

Others happen to believe that he means the gift of discernment of spirits.  For prophecy requires, as I have said, the gift of discernment of spirits so that the prophecy may be understood, believed, and accepted.  Likewise, the gift of tongues requires the gift of interpretation, lest the one speaking in tongues seem mad to those present, and the audience not follow what is said.  For the great apostle says, “if you speak in tongues, and an unbeliever or some other outsider comes in, will they not say that you are mad?”  And so he orders those who speak in tongues to stay quiet unless an interpreter is present.  Those who have enlightened the mind with divine words say that the teacher here indicates by “in order to distinguish the better [gift]” that the gift of prophecy and the gift of tongues are superior to those which need a complementary gift to illumine and enlighten (that is, the gift of discernment of spirits and the gift of interpretation).  This is why the teacher says, “in order to distinguish the better [gift].” 

[1] There is a lacuna here in the Greek text that makes this phrase rather awkward.

Greek Text 

Taken from BL Add. ms. 18231 folio 179v. 

ἡ διαφορὰ τῶν χαρισμάτων ἡ ἄλλου δεομένη χαρίσματος πρὸς διάκρισιν κατὰ τὸν μέγαν τοῦτον διδάσκαλόν ἐστιν ἡ προφητεία καθὼς οἴμαι καὶ τὸ λαλεῖν γλώσσαις· ἡ μὲν προφητεία δεῖται τοῦ χαρίσματος τῆς διακρίσεως τῶν πνευμάτων πρὸς τὸ γνωσθῆναι τίς καὶ πόθεν καὶ ποῦ φέρουσα καὶ ποίου πνεύματός ἐστι καὶ δι᾽ἥν αἰτίαν· μήπως φλήναφός ἐστι μόνον εἰκῆ προσφερόμενος ἐκ τῆς κατὰ ………………1 τὸ ἡγεμονικὸν βλάβης τοῦ λέγοντος· ἢ αὐτοκίνητος ἡ ὁρμὴ τοῦ δῆθεν προφητεύοντος· ἐξ ἀγχινοίας περί τινων φυσικῶς κατὰ λόγον, διὰ πολυπειρίαν τεκμαιρομένου πραγμάτων· ἢ τοῦ πονηροῦ καὶ δαιμονιώδους πνεύματος· ὥσπερ ἐν Μοντανῷ καὶ τοῖς ἐκείνῳ παραπλησίοις ἐστὶ τερατολογία ἐν προφητείας εἴδει τὸ λεγόμενον· ἢ δόξης ἕνεκα κενῆς, τοῖς ἄλλων ἄλλος τυχὸν ἁβρύνεται λέγων τε καὶ πομπεύων ἅπερ αὐτὸς οὐκ ἐγέννησεν ὑπὲρ τοῦ θαυμασθῆναι ψευδόμενος· καὶ πατέρα νόθον ὀρφανῶν λόγων τε καὶ νοημάτων ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ τοῦ δόξαι σοφός τις εἶναι προβάλλεσθαι οὐκ αἰσχυνόμενος· προφῆται γὰρ δύο φησὶν ὁ θεῖος ἀπόστολος ἢ τρεῖς λαλείτωσαν. καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι διακρινέτωσαν.

τίνες δὲ τυγχάνουσιν οἱ ἄλλοι, δῆλον οἱ τὸ χάρισμα τῆς διακρίσεως ἔχοντες· δεῖται τοίνυν ἡ μὲν προφητεία, καθὼς ἔφην, τῆς διακρίσεως τῶν πνευμάτων ἵνα γνωσθῇ καὶ πιστευθῇ καὶ ἐγκριθῇ· τὸ δὲ χάρισμα τῶν γλωσσῶν δεῖται τοῦ χαρίσματος τῆς ἑρμηνείας, ἵνα μὴ δόξῃ τοῖς παροῦσι μαίνεσθαι ὁ τοιοῦτος μὴ δυναμένου τινος τῶν ἀκουόντων παρακολουθῆσαι τοῖς λαλουμένοις· ἐὰν γάρ φησιν ὁ μέγας ἀπόστολος λαλεῖτε γλώσσαις· εἰσέλθοι δέ τις ἄπιστος ἢ ἰδιότης· οὐκ ἐροῦσιν ὅτι μαίνεσθε;[2] καὶ κελεύει μᾶλλον σιωπᾷν τὸν λαλοῦντα γλώσσαις, ἐὰν μὴ ᾖ ὁ διερμηνεύων. τὸ δὲ πρὸς διάκρισιν φᾶναι τὸν διδάσκαλον τῆς[3] βελτίονος· φασὶν οἱ τὸν νοῦν τοῖς θείοις καταφωτίσαντες λόγοις, ὑπερέχειν τὸ τῆς προφητείας καὶ τὸ τῶν γλωσσῶν χάρισμα τῶν ὧν πρὸς διάκρισίν τε καὶ διασάφησιν χρῄζουσι χαρισμάτων· τουτἐστι τῆς διακρίσεως τῶν πνευμάτων καὶ τῆς ἑρμηνείας· ὅπερ εἰδὼς ὁ διδάσκαλος ἔφη· πρὸς διάκρισιν τῆς βελτίονος.

Notes

1 These dots are present in the manuscript, which seem to indicate a lacuna which the scribe recognized but could not fill.  

2 A paraphrase of 1 Cor. 14:23

3 This manuscript has τῆς βελτίονος in both the main text and in Maximus’s.  The PG prints τοῦ βελτίονος, which appears to be a minority reading in the earlier manuscripts of Gregory, but more popular in later ones.  Based on internal evidence, I suspect that Maximus had τοῦ βελτίονος as his reading, and that the reading in the scholia here has been conformed to the reading in the main text.  I’ll expand more in a future post dealing with text critical issues.    

Update:  Thanks to Charles Sullivan for spotting several typos!  They have been corrected.

Update:  I have updated the Greek text based on my transcription of BL Add. ms.  18231.  See here for more info. 

ἐν αὐτῷ,
ΜΑΘΠ 

Michael Psellos on Spiritual Gifts and Prophecy (Part 3)

Below completes my translation of Opusculum 60 from Gautier’s edition of Psellos’s Theologica.  Psellos continues his discussion on speaking in tongues and prophecy, in characteristically learned fashion.  He cites an additional oration of Gregory (Or. 16) along with citing several classical myths and texts.  Finally he extrapolates the discussion on spiritual gifts and applies it to his own context: a school with different subjects.  

Regarding current day debates, Psellos makes no comment about the gift of tongues ceasing, nor the gift of prophecy.  He does note in the prior part that the gift of prophecy was “most especially active during the time of Paul,” and he feels the need to apply this passage here to his own context after explaining what Paul and Gregory meant.  His discussion of free-will is also noteworthy.  Rather than understanding the spiritual gifts as something which “overcome” the will of the person, they are rather subject to the person’s discretion to encourage our restrain. He draws a contrast here with several classical examples (Ino and the Korybantes), where people lost control and gave themselves up in an ecstatic frenzy.  

English Translation

Other people, who receive gifts like administering souls, or interpreting tongues, think less about spiritual gifts, but those who speak in different languages, since they clearly have the breath of the Spirit on their tongue, make a big deal about their gift and think that they are superior to others because of their spiritual gift.  The apostle Paul evaluates their position lower, as the least important in the Church.  Thus the great father makes this clear when he says, “I would rather speak five words in the Church with understanding than thousands with the indistinct sound of a trumpet.”*

For he reveals both sides of the spiritual gifts.  By saying, “five words” he refers to those that teach from themselves, without speaking in different languages, but by the “thousands of indistinct words” he indicates those who speak in all sorts of languages, who nevertheless do not encourage the divine soldier onto the spiritual battle.  Thus the apostle exhorts these (if I may speak thus) overly-wordy ones to not entirely bridle the impulse for speaking in tongues.  Nor does he encourage them, if they begin to speak, to stretch the message out for a long time, until they come upon every single language.  Rather they are to speak in tongues, and then when the Spirit wills, another should be moved by the Spirit to interpret, as if they have “given up horsemanship”*  to stand.  

Lest any of these rabble-rousers say that bridling speech is for another, and that it’s not their responsibility to reign in the length of their message, he continues saying, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” (1 Cor 14:32) The prophetic gift does not alter your faculty of reason, he says, nor does this gift of the Spirit displace your mind, nor does it throw you into some sort of Korybantic* in frenzy and make you mad, replacing order for mania, like some sort of drunken Ino.  Nothing could stop her running, neither hollow nor steep descent, nor a deep cave, nor thick wood.*  

The Divine Spirit does not move the soul in this manner, but instead transforms it for the better, allows the faculty of reason, and even gives the faculty of reason as a bridle for the tongue.  This is done so that, when one wishes, one can spur on the course of speech, and again, if one wishes, one can hold firm the reigns and restrain the course of speech.  Since “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets,” it is the prerogative of each to encourage their speech or to keep it quiet.  Has your talk run from the starting point to the finish line of your discussion? Then restrain yourself, and let another interpret, for the gift is under your control.  Restrain yourself either before you begin, or when you’ve spoken a bit, and your speech has reached “full bloom” and you’re rounding the final-turn, then let another person interpret, while you restrain the impulse to speak.  

This passage applies not only to these sorts of problems, but let us also consider our own instruction.  Let there be disciplinary boundaries.  Let one speak as a rhetor, another as a philosopher, and another speak about geometric figures. Let this one explain how the stars and sun are placed in the sky, and thus how the division of years is made. Let another teach something about music, and how the different notes combine to form a single harmony, which seems to be simple and undivided to listeners.  But speak on these matters without confusion, without  everyone talking at once.  Rather while one is philosophizing, let the rhetor withdraw, and when the rhetor is teaching about the beauty of words let the philosopher be silent.  If you do this, then you will wisely manage both your own nature, from where the flow of the tongue comes, and your shared river of learning, apportioned equally to all the different streams, which you will show with gentleness and without pain.  

Notes

 A quote from Gregory Naz. Orat. 16.2, who in turn is paraphrasing Paul in 1 Cor 14:19.  Gautier was unable to find this in Gregory, but (God be praised!) the TLG allows one to find it pretty easily.  Gregory uses the passage here a bit ironically, to defend his father’s silence following a natural disaster.  

This is a reference to Aristophanes’ Clouds 109, but I don’t exactly understand it.  At this point in the play, two characters are discussing Socrates’ school of philosophy ironically, and one is urged to “give up horsemanship” and go to the school.  

The Korybantes were said to have presided over the birth of Dionysus, and their ecstatic frenzies were comparable to the maenads of Dionysus.

Ino helped raised Dionysus, and killed herself by lunging herself into the sea.  See here for more information and ancient citations.

Greek Text

Καὶ ἐπειδὴ οἱ μὲν ἄλλοι τῶν ἀξιουμένων τῆς χάριτος ἀντιλαμβανόμενοι τῶν ψυχῶν ἢ κυβερνῶντες ἢ διερμηνεύοντες ἔλαττον ἐφρόνουν ἐπὶ τοῖς χαρίσμασιν, οἱ δὲ διαφόρους διαλέκτους φθεγγόμενοι, ὡς ἐπίδηλον ἐπὶ τῆς γλώσσης τοῦ πνεύματος τὴν ἐπίπνοιαν ἔχοντες, ἐκόμπαζον ἐπὶ τῷ χαρίσματι καὶ προκεκρίσθαι τῶν ἄλλων κατὰ πνευματικὴν ἀξίωσιν ᾤοντο, καταστέλλει τούτους ὁ μέγας ἀπόστολος ὡς ἔλαττον τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ λυσιτελοῦντας· ὃ δὴ καὶ ὁ μέγας παρεμφαίνων πατήρ, ἐμοί, φησί, πέντε γένοιτο λόγους ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ λαλῆσαι μετὰ συνέσεως ἢ μυρίους ἐν φωνῇ σάλπιγγος ἀσήμῳ.

ἄμφω γὰρ δείκνυσι τὰ χαρίσματα, διὰ μὲν τῶν πέντε φωνῶν τοὺς αὐτόθεν διδάσκοντας καὶ μὴ διαφόροις γλώσσαις προσομιλοῦντας, διὰ δὲ τῶν μυρίων καὶ ἀσήμων λόγων τοὺς κατὰ πᾶσαν μὲν γλῶτταν φθεγγομένους, τὸν δὲ θεῖον ὁπλίτην πρὸς τὸν πνευματικὸν πόλεμον οὐκ ἐγείροντας. ὅθεν καὶ παρεγγυᾶται ὁ ἀπόστολος τούτοις δή, ἵν’ οὕτως εἴπω, τοῖς γλωττηματικοῖς μὴ πᾶσαν ἐνδιδόναι ἡνίαν τῇ φορᾷ τῶν γλωσσῶν, μηδέ, ἐπειδὰν ἄρξωνται λέγειν, εἰς μακρὸν κατατείνειν λόγον, μέχρις ἂν τὰς πάσας φωνὰς διεξέλθωσιν, ἀλλὰ φθέγγεσθαι μὲν γλώσσαις, ὁπόταν δὴ τὸ πνεῦμα βούλοιτο, ἑτέρου δὲ διερμηνεύειν κινηθέντος ὑπὸ τοῦ πνεύματος, ὥσπερ ‘σχασαμένους ἱππικὴν’ ἵστασθαι.

Ἵνα δὲ μή τις εἴπῃ τῶν οὕτω κατεγλωττισμένων ὡς ἐφ’ ἑτέρῳ ἡ τοῦ λέγειν ἡνία καὶ οὐ παρ’ ἐμοὶ τὸ ἀνασειράζειν ῥυτῆρσι τοῦ λόγου τὸν δρόμον, ἐπάγει ὅτι ‘τὰ τῶν προφητῶν πνεύματα τοῖς προφήταις ὑποτάσσεται’. οὐ γὰρ παραλλάττει σοι τὴν διάνοιαν τὸ προφητικόν, φησί, χάρισμα οὐδὲ τὸν νοῦν ἐξιστᾷ, οὐδ’ ὥσπερ οἴστρῳ βάλλον κορυβαντιᾶν καὶ μεμηνέναι ποιεῖ, εἰς μανιώδη μετάγον κατάστασιν, ὥσπερ τὴν μυθευομένην Ἰνώ, ἣν οὐδὲν ἵστα τοῦ δρόμου, οὐ κοῖλον, οὐκ ὄρθιον, οὐ φάραγξ βαθεῖα καὶ ὕλη συνηρεφής.

οὐχ οὕτω τὸ θεῖον πνεῦμα κινεῖ τὴν ψυχήν, ἀλλὰ μεταποιεῖ μὲν ταύτην ἐπὶ τὸ βέλτιον, ἐᾷ δὲ τὴν διάνοιαν, μᾶλλον δὲ ἐφιστάνει τῇ γλώττῃ ὥσπερ ἡνίοχον, ἵν’, ὅτε μὲν βούλοιτο, πρὸς τὸν δρόμον μυωπίζῃ, ὅταν δ’ αὖ ἐθέλοι, ἐπέχῃ τὴν ἡνίαν καὶ τοῦ δρόμου ταύτην ἱστᾷ. ὑποτάσσεται τοιγαροῦν τοῖς προφήταις τὰ πνεύματα, πρὸς τὴν ἐκείνων διάνοιαν καταστελλόμενα ἢ ἐγειρόμενα. τρέχει σοι ἡ γλῶττα ἐκ πρώτης ἀφετηρίας πρὸς τὴν τῶν διαλέκτων νύσσαν; ἀλλ’ ἔπεχε ταύτην, ἑτέρου διερμηνεύοντος, ὑποτάττεται γάρ σοι τὸ χάρισμα· ἔπεχε δὲ ἢ καὶ πρὶν ἄρξασθαι, ἢ καὶ βραχύ τι προβάς, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀκμάζων καὶ πρὸς τῷ καμπτῆρι τυγχάνων, ἑτέρου διερμηνεύειν λαχόντος, ἀναστέλλου σὺ τῆς φορᾶς.

Τοῦτο μὴ ἐξήγησιν μόνον τῶν διαπορηθέντων, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἡμετέραν παιδαγωγίαν ἡγώμεθα. ἔστωσαν τοιγαροῦν ὑμῖν ὅροι τῶν διαλόγων, καὶ ὁ μέν τις ῥητορευέτω, ὁ δὲ φιλοσοφείτω καὶ ἄλλος περὶ σχημάτων ἀποδεικνύτω, καὶ οὗτος μὲν ὅπως τὰ ἄστρα στηρίζοιντο διερμηνευέτω καὶ τὴν κατὰ μῆκος ἐποχὴν τοῦ ἡλίου τρανούτω καὶ τὴν ἐντεῦθεν ἀναφαινομένην διαίρεσιν τῶν ὡρῶν, ἐκεῖνος δὲ περὶ μουσικῆς τι διδασκέτω καὶ ὅπως τὰ διάφορα τῶν μελῶν εἰς μίαν ἁρμονίαν κιρνάμενα μονοειδῶς ἐμπίπτει ταῖς ἀκοαῖς· φθέγγεσθε δὲ ταῦτα μὴ συγκεχυμένως μηδὲ κατὰ θροῦν ἄσημον, ἀλλ’ ἑτέρου φιλοσοφοῦντος ὁ ῥητορεύων ὑποχωρείτω, κἀντεῦθεν τούτου περὶ κάλλους ὀνομάτων διδάσκοντος ὁ περὶ τὸν νοῦν σιγάτω. ἂν οὕτω ποιῆτε, τήν τε πηγήν, ἵνα μὴ λέγω ἐμέ, ὁπόθεν ὑμῖν τὸ ῥεῦμα τῆς γλώττης ἐρρύη, ἥτις ἐστὶ τὴν φύσιν, σαφῶς παραστήσετε, τόν τε ὑμέτερον ποταμόν, ὁμαλῶς τοῖς ὀχετοῖς μεριζόμενον, ἀλυπότατον καὶ προσηνέστατον τοῖς ῥεύμασι δείξετε.

ἐν αὐτῷ,
ΜΑΘΠ 

Michael Psellos on Prophecy and Spiritual Gifts (Part 2)

This part and half of the next section deal most explicitly Gregory’s assertion about the mysterious “type of gift.”  Psellos begins with a bit of pneumatology, describing the nature of the Spirit.  He acknowledges that the Spirit gives different gifts, but wants to prevent his students from therefore inferring that the Spirit himself is divided.  He then describes the different spiritual gifts, and notes how only speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues are not complete in themselves: they require one another to be most effective.  He offers an example, and then tells us that this complementarity between speaking in tongues and interpreting tongues is what Gregory means when he says, “there is a type of gift, which requires another to distinguish what is better.”  

English Translation

The Holy Spirit, being one properly and accurately according to the meaning of the word ‘one,’ in himself touches and grasps all things.  He is not formed from many things, nor divided, like the raving Numenius says, but is established in himself, proceeds to all places, is not separated from the One, and is shared among the many.  

But he is varied in the intentions and motives with which he comes to those who receive him.  Thus to one he comes to bring comprehension, to another he brings the gift of administration, and to another he pours languages upon the tongue, and to another the gift of interpreting what was said.  For whoever offers his own soul becomes worthy of receiving an appropriate spiritual gift.  But to be entrusted with the instruction of souls, or to lead and direct souls from the sea to the divine fire, or any of the other which the great Apostle lists for us, are complete in themselves and do not require another gift to complement them.  But to speak in tongues is to speak the languages of those present fluently: for example, at one moment to speak Babylonian, at another Persian, and then Assyrian.  This gift is not as powerful in itself, and becomes vastly more beneficial for those present when combined with the gift of interpretation.

For what use is it to a person walking by the prophets if he’s an Arab, and they’re speaking Attic Greek? Or if he knows the Attic tongue, but they’re speaking the Phoenician language?  But if someone with the gift of interpretation is present, he can interpret what is said and translate the speech into a language that the listener understands.  Don’t you see how the this gift brings the gift of tongues to perfection?  This then is what both the apostle and the passage from the Theologian (i.e. Gregory) mean when he says, “there is a type of gift, which requires another for the judgment of what is better.”  This is the gift of interpretation, when someone has spoken in tongues.  

Greek Text

Τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, ἓν ὂν κυρίως κατὰ τὴν ἀκριβῆ τοῦ ἑνὸς ἔννοιαν, αὐτῷ δὴ τῷ ἑνὶ πάντων ἅπτεται, πάντων δράττεται, οὐ πολλαπλασιαζόμενον ἢ μεριζόμενον κατὰ τὸν μαινόμενον Νουμήνιον, ἀλλ’ ἐφ’ ἑαυτοῦ ἱδρυμένον καὶ πανταχοῦ προϊὸν καὶ τοῦ ἑνὸς μὴ ἐξιστάμενον, καὶ τοῖς πολλοῖς μετεχόμενον.

μερίζεται δὲ ταῖς τῶν δεχομένων διαφόροις γνώμαις καὶ προαιρέσεσιν· ὅθεν τῷ μὲν εἰς ἀντίληψιν γίνεται, τῷ δὲ εἰς κυβέρνησιν, τῷ δὲ τὰς διαλέκτους ἐπὶ τὴν γλῶτταν προχέει καὶ ἄλλῳ τὴν ἑρμηνείαν τῶν λεγομένων χαρίζεται. πρὸς ὃ γάρ τις ἐπιτηδείαν τὴν ἑαυτοῦ παράσχῃ ψυχήν, ἐκείνου δὴ καὶ δεκτικὸς γίνεται τοῦ χαρίσματος. ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι τῶν παιδαγωγουμένων ψυχῶν ἢ κυβερνᾶν ταύτας καὶ διιθύνειν καὶ ἀπὸ πελάγους πρὸς τὸν θεῖον ἀνάγειν πυρσόν, τἆλλά τε ὅσα δὴ ὁ μέγας ἀπόστολος ἀπαριθμησάμενος φαίνεται, αὐτοτελῆ τυγχάνει καὶ ἀπροσδεᾶ τῆς παρ’ ἑτέρων συστάσεως· τὸ δὲ γλώσσαις λέγειν, τουτέστιν ἀθρόως μεταβεβλῆσθαι πρὸς τὰς τῶν προσιόντων φωνάς, ὡς νῦν μὲν Βαβυλώνιον, νῦν δὲ Περσίδα, νῦν δὲ Ἀσσύριον ἀφιέναι φωνήν, τοῦτο καθ’ ἑαυτὸ μὲν ἔλαττον ἰσχύει, συστὰν δὲ παρὰ τοῦ τῆς ἑρμηνείας χαρίσματος μεγαλωφελὲς τοῖς προσιοῦσιν ἐγένετο.

τί γὰρ δὴ ὁ φοιτῶν παρὰ τοὺς προφήτας ὠφέλητο Ἄραψ ὤν, ἐκείνων ὑπεραττικιζόντων ταῖς λέξεσιν, ἢ τὴν Ἀτθίδα γλῶτταν εἰδώς, ἐκείνων τὴν τῶν Φοινίκων διαλεγομένων; εἰ δ’ ὁ τοῦ τῆς ἑρμηνείας ἠξιωμένος χαρίσματος ἐφερμηνεύσειε τὰ λεγόμενα καὶ μεταβάλοι πρὸς ἃ γνοίη ὁ ἀκροώμενος, οὐ καινὸν δὴ τὸ τῶν γλωττῶν ἀπειργάσατο χάρισμα; τοῦτο γοῦν αὐτό φησιν ὅ τε μέγας ἀπόστολος καὶ ἡ θεολόγος φωνή, ὅτι ‘ἔστι διαφορὰ χαρισμάτων, ἄλλου δεομένη χαρίσματος πρὸς διάκρισιν τοῦ βελτίονος’, ὥσπερ ἡ τῶν γλωσσῶν τοῦ ταύτας διερμηνεύοντος.

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Michael Psellos On Prophecy and Spiritual Gifts (Part 1)

Below is my translation of Psellos’s passage explaining part of our enigmatic passage from Gregory.  The Greek text is found in Paul Gautier’s edition of Psellos’s Theologica, volume 1, opusculum 60.  It can be found in the TLG, and I’ve also consulted the printed text.  To my knowledge this passage has not been translated into English, though I’m not a Psellos scholar so I could easily be missing it.  I’ve been free when necessary with my translation, and suggestions are certainly welcome.

The text is rather interesting, even if I don’t quite follow all of it (particularly the bit about Pythagoras).  Psellos argues that prophecy etymologically refers to telling the future, perhaps on the basis of the prefix προ and the verb φημί, which does indeed make sense.  But he argues that in Scripture, prophecy refers only to those who foretell Christ’s coming.  He takes a rather broad understanding of “foretelling Christ’s coming” though, so that even Pythagoras, the great Greek philosopher, becomes a herald of Christ’s coming.  

The third paragraph here deals primarily with New Testament prophets, that is prophets after Christ.  Since they can no longer foretell Christ’s coming (it already happened!) Psellos has a difficulty with his prior definition.  But he argues that a person who receives the gift of prophecy after Christ and foretells the future may be called a prophet too, just like the men of old (Pythagoras included…).  Indeed, his analogy for the coming of the Spirit after Christ is not from the Old Testament, but rather from Athens.  The Spirit comes and sets up residence in our minds, just like he did in the Acropolis.  

I’ve a rough translation made of the rest, and will post it across one or two more posts.  

From Gregory of Nazianzus’s Oration on Pentecost, on the “And there is a type of gift…”

You all have asked me, what is this ‘type of gift,’ and how it is that some gifts require others to “distinguish the better,” as the great apostle says, while others are sufficient in themselves and do not require others to complete them.  Following this we may examine the saying, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets,” (1 Cor 14:26-29) what exactly a message of prophecy is, and the exact meaning Divine Scripture gives to prophets, and finally how others have improperly received this title.  

Let us first attend to the last difficulty.  Prophecy consists entirely of foreseeing the future, which the etymology of the word reveals.  Thence anyone so inspired, whether by a night-prophecy while asleep, or reading from hands (which the wise ones of old have called palmistry), or through auspices, or some other manner may tell the future, and thus be called a prophet.  But Divine Scripture, though often in quite varied ways, reserves this word for those who announced the coming of the Lord in the flesh.  Pythagoras has done the same, for he adapted the name of wisdom, predicated on the various branches of knowledge, for the first philosophy.

Thus this wise man, who understand the principles of the branches of knowledge which proceeded from the mind, in this way became a prophet and herald of Christ’s coming in the flesh.  Just as this one may be properly called a prophet, so too may one who comes after Christ be called a prophet if he is given the gift of prophecy and foretells the future. It was not only until the coming of Christ, after all, that the Divine Spirit worked upon pure souls.  Rather, when Christ had ascended to heaven, another Paraclete came, and established himself in our mind just like he had in the Acropolis, and made his activity known to us.  This was especially the case in the time of Paul: as they were striving continually for knowledge about the better path, they would foretell the future, as ones moved in their souls by God, and they were thus called prophets.  But come now, as we’ve solved this difficulty, let us “briefly philosophize” [1] about the spiritual gifts.  

[1] A quotation from the beginning of Gregory’s oration 41, where he exhorts us “philosophize briefly, that we may celebrate the feast spiritually.” 

Greek Text

οϛʹ. Ἐκ τοῦ τῆς Πεντηκοστῆς λόγου, εἰς τὸ ‘ἔστι διαφορὰ χαρισμάτων’

Ἠρωτήκατε τίς ἡ τῶν ‘χαρισμάτων διαφορά’, καὶ πῶς τὰ μὲν ἑτέρων ‘δεῖται πρὸς διάκρισιν τοῦ βελτίονος’ κατὰ τὸν μέγαν ἀπόστολον, τὰ δὲ ἐντελῆ τυγχάνει καὶ ἀπροσδεᾶ καὶ καθ’ ἑαυτὰ ἰσχύοντα· ᾧ δὴ ἀκόλουθόν ἐστι γνῶναι ἡμᾶς ὅπως τὰ τῶν ‘προφητῶν πνεύματα προφήταις ὑποτάσ- σεται’, τίς τε ὁ τῆς προφητείας λόγος, καὶ τίνας μὲν κυρίως προφήτας ὀνομάζει ἡ θεία γραφή, τίνες δὲ καταχρηστικῶς τούτου τοῦ ὀνόματος τετυχήκασι.

Δεῖ οὖν τῷ ὑστέρῳ τῶν ἀπορηθέντων τὴν λύσιν πρῶτον ἐπενεγκεῖν. ὅτι μὲν γὰρ πᾶσα τοῦ μέλλοντος πρόρρησις προφητεία ἐστίν, αὐτό, φασί, τὸ ὄνομα δηλοῖ. ὁπόθεν γοῦν τις ὁρμώμενος, ἢ τῆς καθ’ ὕπνον μαντικῆς ἢ τῆς ἀπὸ τῶν χειρῶν διαγνώσεως, ἣν δὴ χειροσκοπικὴν οἱ πάλαι σοφοὶ ὠνομάκασιν, ἢ δι’ ὧν ὄρνις ἐγείρεται καὶ κλάζει ἢ ἄλλο τι δρᾷ, προλέγοι τὰ μέλλοντα, προφήτης οὗτός ἐστιν. ἀλλ’ ἡ θεία γραφή, τὸ ὄνομα τοῦτο εἰ πολλὰ διεσπαρμένον καὶ διῃρημένον συναγαγοῦσα πρὸς ἑαυτό, τοῖς τὴν ἐπιδημίαν τοῦ κυρίου προκαταγγείλασιν, ἣν διὰ σαρκὸς ἐνεδείξατο, φέρουσα ἐδωρήσατο. ὥσπερ δὴ καὶ Πυθαγόρας πεποίηκε· κἀκεῖνος γὰρ τὴν τῆς σοφίας προσηγορίαν, πολλῶν κατηγορουμένην ἐπιστημῶν, τῇ πρώτῃ φιλοσοφίᾳ προσήρμοσεν.

ὥσπερ οὖν σοφὸς ὁ τὰς τῶν ἐπιστημῶν ἀρχὰς ἐπιστάμενος, αἳ δὴ ἀπὸ νοῦ τὸ προϊέναι εἰλήχασιν, οὕτω δὴ καὶ προφήτης ὁ τῆς τοῦ Χριστοῦ διὰ σαρκὸς παρουσίας κῆρυξ γενόμενος. ἀλλ’ οὗτος ἂν κυρίως μὲν προφήτης καλοῖτο, κληθείη δ’ ἂν καὶ ἄλλος τις, μετὰ Χριστὸν χαρίσματος ἠξιωμένος προφητικοῦ καὶ προλέγων τὰ μέλλοντα· οὐ γὰρ μέχρι τῆς τοῦ κυρίου ἐπιδημίας τὸ θεῖον πνεῦμα ἐπὶ τῶν καθαρῶν ἐνήργει ψυχῶν, ἀλλ’ ἐπειδὴ κἀκεῖνος πρὸς οὐρανοὺς ἀναβέβηκεν, ὁ παράκλητος αὖθις ἐπεφοίτα καί, ἐνιδρυμένος τῷ νῷ ὥσπερ ἐν ἀκροπόλει, φανερὰς αὐτοῦ τὰς ἐνεργείας ἐποίει. πλεῖστοι γοῦν ἐπὶ τῶν τοῦ Παύλου χρόνων, ἀθρόως τὴν γνώμην πρὸς τὸ κρεῖττον μεταποιούμενοι, προὔλεγόν τε τὰ μέλλοντα, θεοληπτούμενοι ἀφανῶς, κἀντεῦθεν προφῆται κατωνομάζοντο. ἀλλ’ ἐπειδὴ τοῦτο διαπορήσαντες διηρθρώκαμεν, φέρε δὴ καὶ περὶ τῶν χαρισμάτων ‘βραχέα φιλοσοφήσωμεν’.

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Origen: Ex Tempore Homilies Revisited

Several months ago, when the newly rediscovered Origen codex first came to light, I suggested that some of the homilies were impromptu lectures, possibly delivered in a school context rather than a church context.  That was mostly a guess based on the content of the homilies;  at that point I had not examined Eusebius very closely, or the work of Gregory Thaumatourgos (I still need to look at Epiphanius).  I still have plenty of primary source material to examine, but I’d like to revisit that suggestion now that I know a bit more.  I may just have made a lucky guess!

Steven Huller noted in a comment on that original post the Eusebius records that Origen only allowed tachygraphers to record his homilies near the end of his life (when he was past 60).  Here’s the passage in question:

Τότε δῆτα, οἷα καὶ εἰκὸς ἦν, πληθυούσης τῆς πίστεως πεπαρρησιασμένου τε τοῦ καθ’ ἡμᾶς παρὰ πᾶσιν λόγου, ὑπὲρ τὰ ἑξήκοντά φασιν ἔτη τὸν Ὠριγένην γενόμενον, ἅτε δὴ μεγίστην ἤδη συλλεξάμενον ἐκ τῆς μακρᾶς παρασκευῆς ἕξιν, τὰς ἐπὶ τοῦ κοινοῦ λεγομένας αὐτῶι διαλέξεις ταχυγράφοις μεταλαβεῖν ἐπιτρέψαι, οὐ πρότερόν ποτε τοῦτο γενέσθαι συγκεχωρηκότα.  ἐν τούτωι καὶ τὰ πρὸς τὸν ἐπιγεγραμμένον καθ’ ἡμῶν Κέλσου τοῦ Ἐπικουρείου Ἀληθῆ λόγον ὀκτὼ τὸν ἀριθμὸν συγγράμματα συντάττει καὶ τοὺς εἰς τὸ κατὰ Ματθαῖον εὐαγγέλιον εἴκοσι πέντε τόμους τούς τε εἰς τοὺς δώδεκα προφήτας, ἀφ’ ὧν μόνους εὕρομεν πέντε καὶ εἴκοσι. (Hist. Eccl. 6.36)

My translation, with a little help from Williamson:

“Then at that time, while the faith was growing and our message had been boldly proclaimed in the presence of all, it was fitting for Origen, who was past 60 years of age and had gained great learning due to broad study, to allow tachygraphers to record his lectures spoken in public, which he had not consented to prior.  During this same time he wrote 8 books against the work True Doctrine of Celsus the Epicurean, along with 25 books on the Gospel of Matthew and 25 on the minor prophets, from which we have only 25.”

This is a puzzling passage for scholars.  What exactly are these public lectures?  Some argue that Eusebius is referring to debates like the Dialogue with Heraclides.  The majority opinion (at least Crouzel and Nautin, two very important of the recent Origen scholars) believe that Eusebius is referring to homilies spoken in the Church.  Since Nautin dates almost all of the homilies before 245, and he simply dismisses the account as a fiction.

But instead of dismissing the account, I’d suggest that we understand a different type of public lecture.  διαλέξις was a commonly used to describe philosophical lectures, and that is what I think we have here.  Origen was in charge of a philosophical school in Caesarea, and regularly gave lectures to his students.  Eusebius mentions this only obliquely in 6.30, but we get a vivid picture from Gregory Thaumaturgus’s Panegyric of Origen.

Within this passage, Eusebius mentions that the “our λόγος had been emboldened among all” and notes that these were spoken ἐπὶ τοῦ κοινοῦ, which might mean “before the church,” but could also mean “before the public.”  Finally, he mentions Origen’s Contra Celsum, which would explicitly confirm Origen’s abiding interest in Greek philosophy.  

We know that Origen gave many philosophical lectures in his school.  Likewise, Eusebius tells us that people came from all over to hear Origen lecture while he was in Caesarea (Hist. Eccl. 6.30).  Gregory also tells us that in addition to standard Greek philosophy, Origen lectured on biblical exegesis. (Orat. Paneg. 15).  

So why would Origen allow tachygraphers to record his homilies in the Church before his school lectures?  I think it’s mostly a matter of audience and subject matter.  School lectures would deal with topics on a much more sophisticated level, and involve much more philosophical speculation.  Origen would also have to be ready to answer questions from the audience, as there was plenty of interaction between students and teacher in a philosophical school.  Church homilies, on the other hand, would be targeted at a less sophisticated audience: thus he allowed tachygraphers to record these homilies earlier.  The subject matter was also lest controversial. 

Do we have any evidence for this in his writings? I think the new codex offers evidence for both types of discourse.  Homilies like the ones on Psalm 36 were probably spoken in the Church.  They deal with largely moral matters: Rufinus in his translator’s preface says that the explication in them is entirely moral (expositio tota moralis est.)  But others were probably spoken in the school.  The four on Psalm 76 are explicitly labelled in the heading as “Ex tempore Homilies on the 76th Psalm.” [εἰς τὸν οστ´ (sc. ψαλμὸν) ἐσχεδιασμέναι ὁμιλίαι].  (folio 170v.)  Here’s the snippet from the codex:

CMB314

I haven’t done an exhaustive check, but I haven’t seen any other homilies in the codex that are explicitly labeled as “impromptu.”  Likewise, I have only read through one of the four homilies, but it strikes me as a very good candidate for a school lecture.  Homily 3 on Psalm 76 begins with a question, “Of what sort are these waters that see God?”  Origen dives into a discussion on many speculative question: does the sky and earth have a soul?  Do rivers and seas have souls? How do angelic administrators work? (See here for my text and translation).

Thus, I’d suggest that Eusebius is referring to school lectures rather than church homilies in this passage.  I haven’t come across this solution in the secondary literature, but if you’ve seen this suggestion do let me know.  Furthermore, I think the new material gives us a chance to compare both types: school lecture and church homily.  I certainly look forward to hearing Perrone’s thoughts once the critical edition is published.

ἐν αὐτῷ,

ΜΑΘΠ

ἄλλος, John 14:16, and Gregory of Nazianzus

If you’ve ever heard a sermon on the nature of the Holy Spirit, the speaker may have used John 14:16 as a reference:

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give another comforter to you, one that will be with you always.”

The Greek behind the English word, “another” is the adjective ἄλλος.  It’s common to hear that there are two words for “another” in Greek: ἄλλος and ἕτερος.  I can’t think of any English derivatives of ἄλλος, but ἕτερος is where we get our “hetero” words, like heterogenous.  At any rate, ἄλλος (which is used here), means “another of the same type” in classical Greek, while ἕτερος means “another of a different type.”  This distinction is still felt in the New Testament period, though the two words start to overlap more and more.

As always, with points of Greek usuage like this, I like to refer to the Greek fathers when possible.  Their Greek is better than mine will ever be!  Gregory, in his Oration on Pentecost (Or. 41), supports the distinction between the two words, and puts it to good use when discussing the Holy Spirit:

Διὰ τοῦτο μετὰ Χριστὸν μέν, ἵνα Παράκλητος ὑμῖν μὴ λείπῃ·  «Ἄλλος» δὲ, ἵνα σὺ τὴν ἰσοτιμίαν ἐνθυμηθῇς. τὸ γὰρ «ἄλλος» οὐκ ἐπὶ τῶν ἀλλοτρίων, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπὶ τῶν ὁμοουσίων οἶδα λεγόμενον.

Because of this, after Christ (the Spirit came), so that you would not lack a helper.  This helper is “another” (ἄλλος) so that you may know that he is one of equal honor.  For the word “ἄλλος” does not refer to things of a different type, but we know that it said about things that are of the same nature (gk. ὁμοούσιος, the word used in the Nicene Creed to refer to the “consubstantiality” of the Godhead).  

Scholars of Greek often lament the poor use of Greek in sermons, but this particular point is well-founded in our knowledge of Greek, and has precedent in the Church Fathers. One could, I suppose, argue against it, but it’s always nice to have Gregory of Nazianzus on your side.

ἐν αὐτῷ,

ΜΑΘΠ

En route to Boston!

As I write this, I’m en route to Boston, to attend the annual conference of the Byzantine Studies Association of North America.  Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting my first ever conference paper on digital tools for studying manuscript traditions.  I don’t have anything new to contribute to the digital stemmatology per se; I hope instead to present several of the tools currently available for the benefit of those curious about digital editing.  Hopefully it will go well.

Omnes qui oratis, orate pro me! 

ἐν αὐτῷ,

ΜΑΘΠ