ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ and John Chrysostom (Part 6)

This post is a part of a series: parts one, two, three, four, and five.

This post should round out my posts on πίστις Χριστοῦ, at least for now. This one should be rather brief. John’s comments on Eph 3:12, “In him, and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence,” are very brief. He does have a few interesting things to say about faith when discussing the prayer around 3:17ish. Thus, let us begin.

The first place to start is 3:12. John quotes the verse and then offers a comment or two: “‘In whom’, he says, ‘we have the boldness to approach him with confidence, through faith in him.’ Not as captives, he says, do we approach him, nor as those worthy of pardon, nor as ones who have sinned. This boldness, he says, we have in confidence. That’s to say, we have it with courage. Where does it come from? It comes from faith in him. (Πόθεν; Διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὺτοῦ.).” The comments are sufficiently vague that they could be rendered as “through his faithfulness” if that could be established elsewhere. But since he usually means “through faith in him” where that comes up, it’s proper to read it as we have traditionally: “through faith in him.” Though I do wonder about the article. What’s the difference between Διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὺτοῦ. as we have here and διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ in Romans? Anything significant? Anything that we could actually know? I guess I’ll have to defer to the linguists for now. I don’t have a clue!

Next, we’ll look at a few things he has to say about the prayer in 3:14-21. “‘So that he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner beings, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts though faith.’ See how he prays good things for them, and with such great desire, so that they may not waver. But how does this happen? Through the Holy Spirit, in your inner beings, Christ lives through faith in your hearts. How? In love, being rooted and established, so that you may experience together with all the saints, how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Later on, after tying 3:14-21 to the prayer in chapter 1, he continues, “This power, he says, strengthens us to bear temptations, so that we may not lead astray. How does Christ dwell in hearts? Hear the words of Christ himself, “The father and I, we will come and make a dwelling place with him.” And he doesn’t just dwell, but he dwells in your faithful hearts, which rooted are rooted in his love, not being lead astray.”. Later he talks about “knowing that Christ lives in us through faith.” The cognitive element is fairly strong here, just like it is in Philippians. The last little bit shows that that Christ’s dwelling in us results in us having “faithful hearts,” (ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ταῖς πισταῖς) that are “rooted in his love,” and “not led astray.” Thus, this knowledge of Christ does impact us. It enables our own faithfulness. John thus sees our faithfulness as part of that prayer, perhaps even the reason Paul prays it. The faithfulness of God isn’t in sight, but ours is.

Essentially, these passages back up much of what we see in Philippians. Faith is knowing and experience Jesus through the Spirit. John’s comments on 3:12, though ambiguous, support a “faith in Christ” reading since he doesn’t offer any indication to the contrary. We know Christ through faith, and this knowing results in Christ dwelling in us through the Spirit. It creates faithfulness in our own hearts as we are strengthened in him, rooted in his love. Faith and faithfulness are intertwined, though distinct.

ἐν πίστει αὐτοῦ,

ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ and John Chrysostom (Part 5)

This post is a part of a series: parts one, two, three, and four.

Unfortunately (or fortunately considering the length of the last post), I forgot a fascinating portion that comes right before John’s discussion in Eph 2:8. It provides some prior context for his discussion on faith then. After talking at length about the being raised and seated with Christ, he goes into this passage:

We are in need of the Spirit of revelation, so that we may know the depth of these mysteries. Then, so that you will not disbelieve, see what follows. “So that he may display, in the coming ages, the surpassing riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” As he said these things concerning Christ, do they matter to us? Some say, “what is it to us, if he rose?” But he shows that these things are indeed for us, if he is joined to us. Else, he would be saying these things about himself, “while we were dead in transgressions, he raised us and seated us with him.” Thus, as I have been saying, don’t disbelieve! He takes up this demonstration to show his goodness from the first things and the head. How does he show this, if these things have not yet happened? [being seated in the heavenlies] They happen in the coming ages. What [is proved]? That his good works were astounding, and that he was the most faithful of all. Currently these things seem foolish to the unbelievers, but then all will know.

Some of this I’ve found very difficult. The bolded part has had me puzzled for several days now. The emphasis here is on faith. John wants to tie Christ’s destiny (his rising and being seated with the father) with the believer’s destiny. The passage says such extravagant things about believers that he warns them to “not disbelieve.” The bolded bit has something about the “first things,” (προτέρων), the head (κεφαλῆς), and “wanting to show him(self?) to be the best,” as the reason for “taking up this demonstration.” He will demonstrate in the coming ages the greatness of his deeds, and that he was the most faithful of all. It’s not entirely clear here to me John here is referring to Christ or the Father. Is it the Father who “shows himself to be more faithful than all” or Christ? Ephesians 2 suggests that it’s the Father. “God, who is rich in mercy…” But Christ gets much more mention by name in this passage. My money is on the Father, but perhaps it’s a silly question. Whatever the case, part of this “demonstration” is to prove that God/Christ is the “most faithful of all.” God’s faithfulness provides a perfect basis for our faith

We have another interesting passage right before this. Discussing the transition from 2:3 to 2:4 we get, “‘On account of his great love, with which he loved us.’ Then he shows just how he loved us. These were not worthy of love, but of wrath and punishment on the last day. Thus, this was from great mercy! ‘And while we were dead in in our transgressions, he made us alive with Christ.’ Again Christ is the middle, as is his accomplishment that is worthy of faith (καὶ τὸ πρᾶγμα ἀξιόπιστον). For if the firstfruits lives, so shall we. He made him alive, and so too will he make us.

Here it is evident that we are “made alive with Christ” by his “worthy-of-faith” deed. Our faith is rooted in Jesus’ accomplishment in the incarnation-life-death-resurrection. Christ’s “deed” or “accomplishment” here probably does refer to his entire life. In Philippians, John talks at length about the necessity of faith in the incarnation and the resurrection, at one point saying that “these things accomplish righteousness.” I’d imagine that he has a similarly wide view here. God’s love is expressed chiefly through the coming, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection of his son.

As for the πίστις Χριστοῦ, these are only tangentially related. Human faith is clearly in view. John urges his listeners to “not disbelieve,” and he also describes Jesus’ life as “worthy-of-faith.” God’s faithfulness, however, is also in view. God (or Christ) will prove himself in the coming ages to be a “doer of great deeds” and the “most faithful of all.” When it comes to 2:8-9 (discussed in part 4), it shows that God’s faithfulness (or Christ’s) is on his mind. What I need to do there is see how John uses δῶρον elsewhere. In 2:8, after saying, “this faith is not ours,” he says, “The gift (δῶρον) is of God. What is the gift? faith? Jesus? salvation? Faith is the most likely candidate in the immediate context. Later he talks about a woman “offering her firstborn son, the son of prayer [ie, an answer to her prayer], the entire gift (δῶρον), back to God.” (PG 62.173) Alas, we shall see!

ἐν πίστει τῃ του αὐτοῦ,

Here are the Greek passages (please look at the bold and offer suggestions!):

Ὄντως Πνεύματος χρεία καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως, ὥστε τὸ βάθος νοῆσαι τῶν μυστηρίων τούτων.
Εἶτα, ἵνα μὴ ἀπιστήσῃς, ὅρα τί ἐπάγει· Ἵνα ἐνδείξηται ἐν τοῖς αἰῶσι τοῖς
ἐπερχομένοις τὸν ὑπερβάλλοντα πλοῦτον τῆς χάριτος αὑτοῦ ἐν χρηστότητι ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς
ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ. Ἐπειδὴ γὰρ εἶπε τὰ περὶ τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ταῦτα δὲ οὐδὲν ἦν πρὸς ἡμᾶς
(Τί γὰρ, φησὶ, πρὸς ἡμᾶς, εἰ ἐκεῖνος ἀνέστη); ἔδειξε μὲν οὖν ὅτι καὶ πρὸς ἡμᾶς, εἴ γε
οὗτος ἡμῖν ἥνωται· πλὴν ὅτι καὶ τὰ ἡμῶν κατ’ ἰδίαν φησίν· Ὄντας γὰρ ἡμᾶς νεκροὺς
τοῖς παραπτώμασι συνήγειρε καὶ συνεκάθισεν. Ὥστε, ὅπερ ἔφην, μὴ ἀπίστει, ἀπό τε
τῶν προτέρων ἀπό τε τῆς κεφαλῆς ἀπό τε τοῦ βούλεσθαι ἐνδείκνυσθαι αὐτὸν τὴν
ἀγαθότητα λαβὼν τὴν ἀπόδειξιν.
Πῶς γὰρ ἐνδείξεται, ἂν τοῦτο μὴ γένηται; Καὶ
ἐνδείξεται ἐν τοῖς αἰῶσι τοῖς ἐπερχομένοις. Τί; Ὅτι καὶ μεγάλα τὰ ἀγαθὰ ἦν, καὶ
πάντων πιστότερα. Νῦν μὲν γὰρ λῆρος εἶναι δοκεῖ τοῖς ἀπίστοις τὰ λεγόμενα, τότε δὲ
πάντες εἴσονται. (PG 62.33)

∆ιὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὑτοῦ, ἣν
ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς. ∆είκνυσι πόθεν ἡμᾶς ἠγάπησε. Ταῦτα γὰρ οὐκ ἀγάπης ἄξια, ἀλλ’
ὀργῆς καὶ τιμωρίας τῆς ἐσχάτης. Καὶ οὕτω οὖν ἀπὸ πολλοῦ ἐλέους. Καὶ ὄντας ἡμᾶς
νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασι, συνεζωοποίησεν ἐν τῷ Χριστῷ. Πάλιν ὁ Χριστὸς μέσος,
καὶ τὸ πρᾶγμα ἀξιόπιστον. Εἰ γὰρ ἡ ἀπαρχὴ ζῇ, καὶ ἡμεῖς· ἐζωοποίησε κἀκεῖνον, καὶ
ἡμᾶς. (PG 62.32)

ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ and John Chrysostom (Part 4)

This post is a part of a series: parts one, two, and three.

This time, Ephesians is the object of our study. The first passage to look at is Ephesians 2:8-10, especially 2:8, which reads: “ Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως· καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν, θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον·” (By grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is God’s gift). The passage does not contain the whole phrase, “πἰστις Χριστοῦ,” but John devotes an entire paragraph to discussing faith here and makes some rather intriguing statements. In the next post, I’ll look at 3:12 and 3:17.

John’s preaching on 2:8 is probably the most difficult of the passages I’ve looked at in the series, since he seems have a rhetorical interlocutor opposing him, at least in the latter part of our passage. I’ll offer a translation and then place the Greek at the end. Here’s the excerpt from 2:8:

“O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” “By grace you have been saved,” he says. So that you may not extol the greatness of good works, see how you he restrains you: “by grace you have been saved,” he says, “through faith.” Then, so as not to have free-will (τὸ αὑτεξούσιον) ruined, he writes these things about us (ἒθηκε καὶ τά ἠμῶν suggestions welcome). Again he takes up the subject and says, “This is not from us.” Neither is faith, he says, “from us.” If he had not come, if he had not called, how could we have believed? “How then,” he says, “will they believe unless they hear?” Thus, this is not our faith. (Ὥστε οὐδὲ τὸ τῆς πίστεως ἡμέτερον.)[1] For he says, “it is God’s gift, not from works.” “But is faith really enough to save?” ones says. Rather, [Paul] says that, so as not to save the vain or idle, God has sought (required?) faith. [Paul] says, “faith saves, but through God.” Since God has willed it, faith saved us. But how does faith save, tell me, apart from works? This is the gift of God himself, so that “none may boast,” so that you, being occupied with grace, may do acts of loving-kindness. (ἵνα εὐγνώμονας περὶ τὴν χάριν ποιήσῃ) “Why then,” one says, “does he prevent justification from works?” Of course he prevents it! Instead, he tells us that no one is justified by works, so that the grace and loving-kindness of God may be demonstrated. He has not rejected those having works. Rather, he saved by grace those who had abandoned works, so that no one would have room to boast.

He then begins a discussion of good works: “Then, that at hearing this, “that is not from works but by faith that all are set straight,” that idleness might not remain, see what follows….” (The sentence is every bit that difficult in Greek, at least for me).

Whew! Where even to start… John is concerned that free-will be upheld. He appears to ground it, though, in God’s gracious gift. He is also concerned that there should be no boasting on the basis of works, and stresses that Christ/God are the source of our salvation, not our works, or even our own faith. That brings us to interesting bit, “Neither is this faith, he says, from us. If he had not come, if he had not called, how could we have believed? … Thus, this faith is not ours.” Might this be God’s πίστις, or faithfulness? The next sentence begins, “Θεοῦ, φησὶ, τὄ δῶρον.” “The gift, he says, is God’s.” That τὸ δῶρον is readily available suggests that the reason “this faith is not ours” is because it is God’s gift to us. I don’t think he’s merely saying that God is the source of faith, because then he could have said “ἡ πίστις οὑκ ἐξ ἡμῶν again instead of “Ὥστε οὐδὲ τὸ τῆς πίστεως ἡμέτερον.” Because of the mention of Jesus’ coming it seems plausible to read πίστις here as referring to God’s faithfulness expressed through Jesus’ coming. Whatever the exact meaning of the phrase, it’s tied to Jesus’ coming, Jesus’ call, and “the gift.” (Jesus? Faith?)

John then moves on to a discussion of the sufficiency of faith. Things get a bit tricky with his interlocutor, but the point seems to be that, yes, faith is sufficient for our justification. Faith saves apart from works so that God may display his grace and loving-kindness. Interestingly, the tense of “saves” changes here. It goes back an forth between aorist and present (even in the indicative). I’m not sure if there’s significance there, but it did stick out. Finally, John proceeds to show how justification by faith is not opposed to good works, spending a lot of time in 2:10 exhorting his listeners to good works.

[1] The grammar here seems a bit strange, but I think Ignatius’ Smryneans 5:1 provides a similar construction (substantive ἡμέτερος plus genitive): οὒς οὐκ ἔπεισαν αἱ προφητεῖαι οὐδὲ ὁ νόμος Μωύσεως, ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ μέχρι νῦν τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, οὐδὲ τὰ ἡμέτερα τῶν κατ’ ἄνδρα παθήματα. Holmes translates as: Neither the prophecies nor the law of Moses have persuaded them, nor, thus far, the gospel nor our own individual suffering.

And here’s the Greek text of the excerpt, with a few parts bolded. It’s in PG 62.34.

Ὢ βάθος πλούτου καὶ σοφίας
καὶ γνώσεως Θεοῦ! Τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι, φησίν. Ἵνα γὰρ μὴ τὸ μέγεθος
τῶν εὐεργεσιῶν ἐπάρῃ σε, ὅρα πῶς σε καταστέλλει· Τῇ χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι, φησί.
∆ιὰ πίστεως. Εἶτα ἵνα μὴ πάλιν τὸ αὐτεξούσιον λυμήνηται, ἔθηκε καὶ τὰ ἡμῶν· καὶ
πάλιν αὐτὸ ἀνεῖλε, καί φησι· Καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ἡμῶν. Οὐδὲ ἡ πίστις, φησὶν, ἐξ ἡμῶν·
εἰ γὰρ μὴ ἦλθεν, εἰ γὰρ μὴ ἐκάλεσε, πῶς ἠδυνάμεθα πιστεῦσαι; Πῶς γὰρ, φησὶ,
πιστεύσουσιν, ἐὰν μὴ ἀκούσωσιν; Ὥστε οὐδὲ τὸ τῆς πίστεως ἡμέτερον. Θεοῦ, φησὶ,
τὸ δῶρον· οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων. Μὴ γὰρ ἤρκει ἡ πίστις σῶσαι, φησίν; Ἀλλ’ ἵνα μὴ κενοὺς
μηδὲ ἀργοὺς σώσῃ, ταύτην ἐζήτησεν ὁ Θεὸς, φησίν· Εἶπεν, ὅτι ἡ πίστις σώζει, ἀλλὰ
διὰ Θεοῦ· ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ὁ Θεὸς ἠθέλησεν, ἡ πίστις ἔσωσεν. Ἐπεὶ πῶς σώζει ἡ πίστις, εἰπέ
μοι, ἄνευ ἔργων; Τοῦτο αὐτὸ Θεοῦ δῶρόν ἐστιν, Ἵνα μή τις καυχήσηται, ἵνα
εὐγνώμονας περὶ τὴν χάριν ποιήσῃ. Τί οὖν, φησὶν, αὐτὸς ἐκώλυσεν ἐξ ἔργων
δικαιωθῆναι; Οὐδαμῶς· ἀλλ’, Οὐδεὶς, 62.34 φησὶν, ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη, ἵνα δειχθῇ
τοῦ Θεοῦ ἡ χάρις καὶ ἡ φιλανθρωπία. Οὐχὶ ἔχοντας ἔργα ἀπώσατο, ἀλλὰ
προδεδομένους ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων χάριτι ἔσωσεν, ὥστε μηδένα λοιπὸν ἔχειν καυχᾶσθαι.
γʹ. Εἶτα ἵνα μὴ ἀκούσας, ὅτι οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων ἀλλὰ πίστει τὸ πᾶν κατωρθώθη, ἀργὸς
μένῃ, ὅρα τί ἐπήγαγεν·

ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ and John Chrysostom

This post is part of a series. Parts: two, three.

So for my long paper topic, I’ve decided to look at πίστις (the Greek word for faith or faithfulness) in John Chrysostom’s exegesis of Paul. John was one of the best early exegetes of the Church, and has left us many pages of homilies on the Scriptures. He was especially fond of Paul, and did quite a bit of exposition. I’m currently interested in the πίστις Χριστου debate. For those unfamiliar, the debate has to do with a particular phrase in Paul, (πίστις Χριστου) which can be interpreted as either “faith in Christ” (the traditional reading), or “the faith(fulness) of Christ.” One example is Galatians 2:20, which reads in the NIV: “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” That’s the traditional reading, but the grammar is ambiguous enough to support the following interpretation. “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” The focus in this interpretation would be Jesus’ faithfulness on earth, especially his “obedience to death, even death on a cross!” (Phil 2:6-11). I’m inclined to this reading (especially in Gal 2:20, where contextually it’s stronger than in other places, like Gal 2:16). However, I trust Chrysostom’s mastery of Greek much more than my own, so I wanted to see how he would take it. What follows is some of my findings in Galatians.

I’ve been surprised, so far, to find evidence already that John understands the phrase πίστις Χριστου as “Christ’s faithfulness” in at least one location. His discussion in Galatians 2:16 mostly deals with the Law (especially polemic against those who still follow Jewish practices). However, once we get to 2:20 we have this little gem:

Ἐπειδὴ καὶ ὁ νόμος κατηγόρησε, καὶ ὁ Θεὸς ἀπεφήνατο, ἐλθὼν ὁ Χριστὸς καὶ εἰς θάνατον ἑαυτὸν ἐκδοὺς, πάντας ἡμᾶς ἐξήρπασε τοῦ θανάτου. Ὥστε Ὃ νῦν ζῶ ἐν σαρκὶ, ἐν πίστει ζῶ. Ἐπεὶ εἰ μὴ τοῦτο ἦν, οὐδὲν ἐκώλυσε πάντας ἀφανισθῆναι· ὃ καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ γέγονεν· ἀλλ’ ἡ τοῦ Χριστοῦ παρουσία στήσασα τοῦ Θεοῦ τὴν ὀργὴν, διὰ τῆς πίστεως ζῇν ἡμᾶς ἐποίησεν. Ὅτι γὰρ τοῦτό φησιν, ἄκουσον τῶν ἑξῆς· εἰπὼν γὰρ, ὅτι Ὃ δὲ νῦν ζῶ ἐν σαρκὶ, ἐν πίστει ζῶ, ἐπήγαγε· Τῇ τοῦ Υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ἀγαπήσαντός με, καὶ δόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ. (PG 61.646-647)

Here’s my translation of the passage, which will no doubt be rough, but I’m hoping it will be accurate enough.

Since the Law had brought charges, and God had announced his own evidence, Christ came and gave himself over to death, snatching us all from death. Thus, “my present life in the flesh, ἐν πίστει ζῶ.” Thus, if this had not happened, nothing would have stopped anyone from being destroyed, which happened at the time of the flood. But the coming of Christ, stilling the wrath of God, accomplished this for us through his faithful life.( διὰ τῆς πίστεως ζῇν). Listen to what follows! For this reason it says, “The life I now live in the flesh, I live in the faithfulness,” and it continues, “that is of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

He then goes on to chide Paul for “hogging what is common for himself,” since he talks about Christ “loving me” instead of “loving us.” I found this eternally amusing, though he goes on to explain Paul’s “usurping” in Old Testament terms.

As we see here, John believes that Paul is living in the faithfulness that Jesus expressed in his life on earth, especially his obedience in “handing himself over to death.” Some of it I’m not clear on (especially the ὃ καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ γέγονεν, though I know it has something to do with judgment). The “through his faithful life” or “through his faithful living” seems pretty clear though. Can any of you greeklings confirm my translation/interpretation of John here?

And, of course, John’s understanding of πίστις Χριστου doesn’t settle anything entirely, but it’s always helpful to have the early Greek fathers supporting you on a grammatical issue!

Update: My professor clarified the line that was giving me trouble: ὃ καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ γέγονεν. The translation now reads, “which happened at the time of the flood.”

More on the Fathers and the Charismata

The confusion continues! (well, not so much). Yesterday I wrote a post on John Chrysostom and miracles here. In it, I pointed out that John seems to argue for present day miracles as evidence for Christianity’s superiority to Judaism. Matthew over at crypto-theology was rightfully perplexed, since in his homilies on 1 Corinthians, John clearly acknowledges a cessation of the gifts. (See the comments for a relevant excerpt).

All of this led to some google searches. After looking at a published translation. I’m pretty sure I’m understanding John right. It also led me to a rather interesting post at the Continuationalism blog that examined some of the Patristic evidence on the issue. Note that I embarrassed myself in the comments by not reading the whole post before commenting! There I finally learned where Augustine changed his mind on the charismata. In the post there’s a quote from one of Augustine’s homilies that acknowledges a cessation, but in a later work (the City of God), he speaks of miracles happening up into the present day. I don’t know if Augustine changed his mind only with regard to healings, or if it was more broad (encompassing also prophetic gifts and glossalalia).

Finally, with regard to Chrysostom’s (perhaps?) change of heart, I read was able to track down an article by the same author who translated the homilies I mentioned earlier. He argues that John wrote and delivered these homilies in his youth, and they may have been his first exegetical work. There does appear to be evidence mentioned in the article, but he mostly just referred to the introductory notes in his translation. I’ve requested the translation via an inter-library loan, so hopefully I’ll get to see what he has to say on the issue! The bibliographic information for the article is:

Hill, Robert C. “Psalm 41 (42): a classic text for Antiochene spirituality.” Irish Theological Quarterly (March 1, 2003): 25 -33.

An Excerpt from Eusebius on Psalm 32 LXX

I liked this excerpt for several reasons. First, I’ve been able to make sense of the Greek. That’s a prerequisite! Second, I like what Eusebius has to say about almsgiving.

Here’s the Greek:

Ὅτι εὐθὺς ὁ λόγος τοῦ Κυρίου, καὶ πάντα τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ ἐν πίστει. Ἀγαπᾷ ἐλεημοσύνην καὶ κρίσιν· τοῦ ἐλέους Κυρίου πλήρης ἡ γῆ. Τὰ μὲν τῆς τῶν ὄντων καταλήψεως διὰ πίστεως ἡμῖν χωρείτω, τὰ δὲ τοῦ πρακτικοῦ βίου διὰ ἐλεημοσύνης καὶ κρίσεως. Ταῦτα γὰρ ἀγαπᾷ ὁ εὐθὺς τοῦ Κυρίου λόγος· ἅτε κριτικοὺς ἡμᾶς κατασκευάσας καὶ διακριτικοὺς τοῦ τε καλοῦ καὶ τοῦ ἐναντίου. Διὸ βούλεται ἡμᾶς μηδὲν ἀκρίτως πράττειν, μηδὲ ἀλόγως φέρεσθαι ταῖς ἐξ αὐτῶν ὁρμαῖς, κεκριμένως περὶ τῶν πρακτέων βουλεύεσθαι, καὶ πρός γε πάντων ἐλεημονικοὺς εἶναι, συγνωμονικοὺς δὲ πρὸς τοὺς ἁμαρτάνοντας γιγνομένους, συμπαθεῖς δὲ καὶ φιλανθρώπους πρὸς τοὺς ἐλέου δεομένους.

And my translation:

For the Word of the Lord is upright, and all of his works are done in faithfulness. He loves mercy and justice. The earth is full of his mercy.

Abstract things must be received through faith, but the practical things of life are done through mercy and justice. These are the things that the Word of the Lord loves: For us to be wise, prepared, and discerning both of the Good, and that which is before us. He never wants us to act unwisely, or to unreasonably give to those who beg from their own evil inclinations, who discreetly plot treachery and are beggars to all. Rather, he wants us to be aware of the sinners, but sympathetic and philanthropic to those in need.

The Wide World of Patristics

As I dive more and more into the world of patristic literature, I’m blown away by the sheer quantity of literature!  Many works have been lost, but even what we have extant is huge.  Much of if hasn’t even been translated into English.  I’ve been digging around in Eusebius of Caesarea’s commentary on the Psalms, which has never been translated fully into English.  The commentary itself is massive.  I think every psalms gets some comments, though some have been abridged.  The PDF I have is 509 pages, while his famous Ecclesiastical History only weighs in at 186 pages.  I’m toying around with the idea of translating some of it, but his Greek is tough! 

In this regard, good language skills are even more important for the Patristics scholar than the New Testament scholar, if only because so much remains untranslated.  Here’s to hoping (and praying) that my Greek improves quickly!


A Golden Quote from the Golden Mouth

I was (attempting) reading some Greek yesterday from my recently acquired Patristic Greek Reader. It has readings from a wide variety of fathers. Yesterday I was reading from Melito of Sardis’ On the Passover and some from Chrysostom’s homilies on Matthew. Melito definitely deserves a post of his own, but I wanted to note here a quote of Chrysostom’s that jumped out at me:

“Ουδε γαρ σκευων χρειαν εχει χρυσων ὁ Θεος, αλλα ψευχων χρυσων”

“For God doesn’t need vessels of gold, but golden souls.”

Little bits like these definitely encourage me to read more Chrysostom, even though his Greek is very difficult for me. I’ve lots to learn ;-).


John Chrysostom and the Psalms

Since I’ve been reading through the Greek psalms recently, I’ve been curious about how the Fathers read the Psalms.  John Chrysostom is probably the most notable of the early Greek Fathers, so I naturally turned to him first.  The wikipedia page informed me that he wrote homilies on the Psalms, and that many of them are extant, but it didn’t give me a list of what Psalms he commented on!  I was then even more surprised to find out that no one has done a critical text of his homilies on the Psalms.  They have been translated into English.  There is a list of the extant homilies in the in that product  description, but I didn’t see that my first go around ;-).

Still curious to see which ones he commented on, I stumbled about a PDF of the work from Migne’s Patrologia Graeca. (HT Roger Pearse).  The PDF is pretty good, from a cursory glance.  It had been OCR’ed, so it was searchable!  I believe it was a Russian group who did the scanning, so huge props to them! Unfortunately, there was not a table of contents, and the titles for each Psalm where in Greek numerals (think Roman numerals with a Greek twist).  However, I was able to whip up a nice Ruby script to give me the information I wanted.  I’m thinking of creating either a series of PDFs (one per psalm), or just redoing the entire PDF with a table of contents and Arabic numerals.

I did find a few oddities in the PDF.  Psalms 9-12 got inserted twice, as best as I could tell.  Also, the OCR didn’t seem to like the digammas which were used in the numerals.  The digamma is a Greek letter that was largely obsolete by the classical period, but it has hung around as a numeral.  Also, I’ve noticed a discrepancy with that product description of the English translation.  It states that “Psalms 4-13, 44-50, and Volume Two contains commentaries on Psalms 109-150 (with the exception of the long Ps 119)” are commented on.  It looks like that misses Psalm 41 (Hebrew 42), which Chrysostom also commented on.  Also note that the English translation follows the Hebrew numbers.

Either way, here’s the list of Psalms that John Chrysostom commented on, with both the LXX chapter number and the Hebrew (English) chapter number.  If I do any more work with them, I’ll post something.

4 (LXX) – 4 (Hebrew)
5 (LXX) – 5 (Hebrew)
6 (LXX) – 6 (Hebrew)
7 (LXX) – 7 (Hebrew)
8 (LXX) – 8 (Hebrew)
9 (LXX) – 9-10 (Hebrew)
10 (LXX) – 11 (Hebrew)
11 (LXX) – 12 (Hebrew)
12 (LXX) – 13 (Hebrew)
9 (LXX) – 9-10 (Hebrew)
10 (LXX) – 11 (Hebrew)
11 (LXX) – 12 (Hebrew)
12 (LXX) – 13 (Hebrew)
41 (LXX) – 42 (Hebrew)
43 (LXX) – 44 (Hebrew)
44 (LXX) – 45 (Hebrew)
45 (LXX) – 46 (Hebrew)
46 (LXX) – 47 (Hebrew)
47 (LXX) – 48 (Hebrew)
48 (LXX) – 49 (Hebrew)
49 (LXX) – 50 (Hebrew)
108 (LXX) – 109 (Hebrew)
109 (LXX) – 110 (Hebrew)
110 (LXX) – 111 (Hebrew)
111 (LXX) – 112 (Hebrew)
112 (LXX) – 113 (Hebrew)
113 (LXX) – 114-115 (Hebrew)
114 (LXX) – 116:1-9 (Hebrew)
115 (LXX) – 116:10-19 (Hebrew)
116 (LXX) – 117 (Hebrew)
117 (LXX) – 118 (Hebrew)
119 (LXX) – 120 (Hebrew)
120 (LXX) – 121 (Hebrew)
121 (LXX) – 122 (Hebrew)
122 (LXX) – 123 (Hebrew)
123 (LXX) – 124 (Hebrew)
124 (LXX) – 125 (Hebrew)
125 (LXX) – 126 (Hebrew)
126 (LXX) – 127 (Hebrew)
127 (LXX) – 128 (Hebrew)
128 (LXX) – 129 (Hebrew)
129 (LXX) – 130 (Hebrew)
130 (LXX) – 131 (Hebrew)
131 (LXX) – 132 (Hebrew)
132 (LXX) – 133 (Hebrew)
133 (LXX) – 134 (Hebrew)
134 (LXX) – 135 (Hebrew)
135 (LXX) – 136 (Hebrew)
136 (LXX) – 137 (Hebrew)
137 (LXX) – 138 (Hebrew)
138 (LXX) – 139 (Hebrew)
139 (LXX) – 140 (Hebrew)
140 (LXX) – 141 (Hebrew)
141 (LXX) – 142 (Hebrew)
142 (LXX) – 143 (Hebrew)
143 (LXX) – 144 (Hebrew)
144 (LXX) – 145 (Hebrew)
145 (LXX) – 146 (Hebrew)
146 (LXX) – 147 (Hebrew)
147 (LXX) – 147:12-20 (Hebrew)
148 (LXX) – 148 (Hebrew)
149 (LXX) – 149 (Hebrew)
150 (LXX) – 150 (Hebrew)

In the Mail

I was surprised to find a package in the mail yesterday, but when I opened it saw that it was from John Hopkin’s press, I knew exactly what it was:


Several weeks ago, I joined the North American Patristics Society, and they had sent me my first journal. This is the first academic journal that I’ve ever owned in a physical copy. I’m quite pleased! The book reviews were quite handy.