The Gnostic Gospels are gnostic collections of writings about the teachings of Jesus , written from the 2nd — 4th century. That year, twelve leather-bound papyrus codices buried in a sealed jar were found by a local peasant named Mohammed Ali Samman. In his "Introduction" to The Nag Hammadi Library in English , James Robinson suggests that these codices may have belonged to a nearby Pachomian monastery, and were buried after Bishop Athanasius condemned the uncritical use of non-canonical books in his Festal Letter of AD.
The contents of the codices were written in Coptic language , though the works were probably all translations from Greek. After the discovery it was recognized that fragments of these sayings attributed to Jesus appeared in manuscripts discovered at Oxyrhynchus in , and matching quotations were recognized in other early Christian sources. Subsequently, a 1st or 2nd century date of composition c. The once buried manuscripts themselves date from the 3rd and 4th centuries. To read about their significance to modern scholarship into early Christianity , see the Gnosticism article.
The works of Josephus provide crucial information about the First Jewish-Roman War and are also important literary source material for understanding the context of the Dead Sea Scrolls and late Temple Judaism. Josephus includes information about individuals, groups, customs and geographical places. His writings provide a significant, extra-Biblical account of the post-Exilic period of the Maccabees , the Hasmonean dynasty, and the rise of Herod the Great. He is an important source for studies of immediate post-Temple Judaism and the context of early Christianity.
The Annals is among the first-known secular-historic records to mention Jesus which Tacitus does in connection with Nero 's persecution of the Christians. The passage contains an early non-Christian reference to the origin of Christianity , the execution of Christ described in the Bible 's New Testament gospels , and the presence and persecution of Christians in 1st-century Rome.
While a majority of scholars consider the passage authentic, some dispute it. Some who argue against authenticity assert:  . The surviving copies of Tacitus' works derive from two principal manuscripts, known as the Medicean manuscripts , which are held in the Laurentian Library , and written in Latin. It is the second Medicean manuscript which is the oldest surviving copy of the passage describing Christians.
In this manuscript, the first 'i' of the Christianos is quite distinct in appearance from the second, looking somewhat smudged, and lacking the long tail of the second 'i'; additionally, there is a large gap between the first 'i' and the subsequent long s. Georg Andresen was one of the first to comment on the appearance of the first 'i' and subsequent gap, suggesting in that the text had been altered, and an 'e' had originally been in the text, rather than this 'i'.
In , at Harald Fuchs request, Dr. Teresa Lodi , the director of the Laurentian Library, examined the features of this item of the manuscript; she concluded that there are still signs of an 'e' being erased, by removal of the upper and lower horizontal portions, and distortion of the remainder into an 'i'. Ida Giovanna Rao , the new head of the Laurentian Library's manuscript office, repeated Lodi's study, and concluded that it is likely that the 'i' is a correction of some earlier character like an e , the change being made an extremely subtle one.
Also in Minuscule 81 this spelling is used in Acts of the Apostles The historicity of Jesus concerns the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth. While scholars often draw a distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith, and while scholars further debate what can specifically be known concerning Jesus' character and ministry, essentially all scholars in the relevant fields agree that the mere historical existence of Jesus can be established using documentary and other evidence.
The lines of evidence used to establish Jesus' historical existence include the New Testament documents, theoretical source documents that may lie behind the New Testament, statements from the early Church Fathers , brief references in histories produced decades or centuries later by pagan and Jewish sources, gnostic documents, and early Christian creeds. The Historical Jesus is a scholarly reconstruction of the 1st-century figure Jesus of Nazareth using modern historical methods.
Fathers of the Church Series (127 vols.)
In the last half of the 19th and the 20th centuries, historians and biblical scholars have made great strides [ citation needed ] in the quest for the Historical Jesus. The purpose of these scholars is to examine the evidence from diverse sources and critically bring it together in order that we can compile a totally up-to-date composite of Jesus. It will also sometimes differ from Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Hindu beliefs. The historical Jesus was a Galilean Jew living in a time of messianic and apocalyptic expectations.
He was baptized by John the Baptist , and after John was executed, Jesus began his own preaching in Galilee. He preached the salvation, everlasting life, cleansing from sins, Kingdom of God , using pithy parables with startling imagery and was renowned as a teacher and a healer. Many scholars credit the apocalyptic declarations that the gospels attribute to him, while others portray his Kingdom of God as a moral one , and not apocalyptic in nature. It was the time of Passover , when political and religious tensions were high in Jerusalem.
The Gospels say that the temple guards believed to be Sadducees arrested him and turned him over to Pontius Pilate for execution. The movement he had started survived his death and was carried on by his apostles who proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus. The quest for the historical Jesus began with the work of Hermann Samuel Reimarus in the 18th century.
The Historical Jesus is conceptually different than the Christ of Faith. The former is physical, while the latter metaphysical. The Historical Jesus is based on historical evidence. Every time a new scroll is unearthed or new Gospel fragment is found, the Historical Jesus is modified. And because so much has been lost, we can never know him completely. Meier , David Flusser , James H. Charlesworth , Raymond E. Brown , Paula Fredriksen and John Dominic Crossan argue that, although many readers are accustomed to thinking of Jesus solely as a theological figure whose existence is a matter only of religious debate, the four canonical Gospel accounts are based on source documents written within decades after Jesus' lifetime, and therefore provide a basis for the study of the "historical" Jesus.
These historians also draw on other historical sources and archaeological evidence to reconstruct the life of Jesus in his historical and cultural context. In contrast, Charles Guignebert, Professor of the History of Christianity, at the Sorbonne, maintained that the "conclusions which are justified by the documentary evidence may be summed up as follows: Jesus was born somewhere in Galilee in the time of the Emperor Augustus, of a humble family, which included half a dozen or more children besides himself.
He adds elsewhere "there is no reason to suppose he was not executed". Recent research has focused upon the "Jewishness" of the historical Jesus. Each of these proposed that the Jesus character was a fusion of earlier mythologies. The views of scholars who entirely rejected Jesus' historicity were summarized in Will Durant 's Caesar and Christ , published in Their rejections were based on a suggested lack of eyewitnesses, a lack of direct archaeological evidence, the failure of ancient works to mention Jesus, and similarities early Christianity shares with then-contemporary religion and mythology.
Doherty, for example, maintains that the earliest records of Christian beliefs the earliest epistles contain almost no reference to the historical Jesus, which only appears in the Gospel accounts. Nevertheless, the historicity of Jesus is accepted by almost all Biblical scholars and classical historians.
According to Christian tradition, the Christian Church was founded by Jesus. In the Gospel according to Matthew , the resurrected Jesus gathered his Twelve Apostles together, issued the Great Commission , and selected Simon Peter as their leader, proclaiming "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven ". Many modern scholars, including some Catholic ones, flatly deny that Jesus ever even intended to found a Church, much less that he did so. Even those scholars who agree that Jesus founded some kind of Church are divided on whether he founded it on Simon Peter or gave him any sort of primacy.
Even those scholars who accept that Peter held some sort of primacy among the apostles are divided on the issue of whether Jesus intended that primacy to be continued by others after Peter's death apostolic succession. Even those scholars who accept that Jesus intended a continuing Petrine primacy are divided on whether this primacy was uniquely devolved upon the Church of Rome ; some, for example, following the lead of Cyprian of Carthage , insist that the Petrine primacy is possessed by every bishop throughout the world who stands in legitimate apostolic succession, whether in communion with Rome or not.
Even those scholars who accept that a unique Petrine primacy attached to the See of Rome are divided on exactly how and why that primacy became attached to Rome, by what means or succession it was passed down within the See of Rome, whether Rome itself remained true to that primacy, and exactly what authority the primacy legitimately exercises in the world today. The Catholic Church believes itself to be the continuation of the Christian community founded by Jesus in his consecration of Simon Peter.
The See of Rome is traditionally said to be founded by Peter and Paul. While the New Testament says nothing directly about Peter's connection with Rome, indirectly Romans —22 may indicate that when Paul wrote it, another Apostle was already in Rome, and it is highly probable that the "Babylon" mentioned in 1 Peter , a letter attributed to Peter, is Rome. The traditional narrative starts with Peter being consecrated by Jesus, followed by Peter traveling to Rome sometime after Pentecost , founding a church there, serving as its first bishop and consecrating Linus as bishop, thus starting the line of Popes of whom Francis I is the current successor.
This narrative is often related in histories of the Catholic Church. Elements of this traditional narrative agree with the surviving historical evidence, which includes the writings of several early church Fathers among them Pope Clement I and some archaeological evidence. While some historians of Christianity assert that the Catholic Church can be traced to Jesus's consecration of Peter, others argue that Jesus did not found a church in his lifetime but provided a framework of beliefs.
Other historians disagree with the traditional view that the papacy originated with Peter, instead asserting that the papal office developed at an unspecified date before the mid s and could possibly have been superimposed by the traditional narrative upon the primitive church. The only part of this narrative that is supported directly by the Scriptures is the consecration of Peter; however, elements of the rest of the narrative are attested to in the writings of Church Fathers such as Ignatius , Irenaeus and Dionysius of Corinth.
Largely as a result of a challenge to this narrative initiated by Alfred Loisy , some theologians have challenged the historicity of the traditional narrative, resulting in a less literal interpretation of the Church's "founding" by Jesus and less specific claims about the historical foundations and transmission of the Petrine primacy in the Church's early years.
While most scholars agree that Peter died in Rome, it is generally accepted that there was a Christian community in Rome before either Peter or Paul arrived there. Two apostolic and patriarchal sees are claimed to have been founded by Peter: those of Antioch and Rome.
With the see of Alexandria, see Coptic Pope , viewed as founded by a disciple of Peter, these formed what became known as the three Petrine Sees, endowed with special authority as recognized by the First Council of Nicaea. The apostolic period between the years 30 and produced writings attributed to the direct followers of Jesus Christ. The period is traditionally associated with the apostles, apostolic times and apostolic writings. The New Testament books were connected by the early church to the apostles, though modern scholarship has cast doubt on the authorship of most New Testament books.
In the traditional history of the Christian church, the Apostolic Age was the foundation upon which the entire church's history is founded. The Apostolic Age is particularly significant to Restorationism which claims that it represents a purer form of Christianity that should be restored to the church as it exists today. The unique character of the New Testament writings, and their period of origin, is highlighted by the paucity of the literary form in later writing.
Once the canon of the New Testament began to take shape , the style ceased to be used on a regular basis. Noncanonical writings persisted, but died out within a historically short period of time. Early patristic literature is dominated by apologetics and makes use of other literary forms borrowed from non-Christian sources. According to 19th-century German theologian F. Baur early Christianity was dominated by the conflict between Peter who was law observant and Paul who advocated partial or even complete freedom from the law. Later findings contradicted this theory.
The allegedly continuous conflict was not supported by the available evidence. However, theological conflict between Paul and Peter is recorded in the New Testament and was widely discussed in the early church. Marcion and his followers stated that the polemic against false apostles in Galatians was aimed at Peter, James and John , the "Pillars of the Church", as well as the "false" gospels circulating through the churches at the time.
Irenaeus and Tertullian argued against Marcionism's elevation of Paul and stated that Peter and Paul were equals among the apostles. Passages from Galatians were used to show that Paul respected Peter's office and acknowledged a shared faith. James D. Dunn has proposed that Peter was the "bridge-man" between the two other prominent leaders: Paul and James the Just. Paul and James were both heavily identified with their own "brands" of Christianity. Peter showed a desire to hold onto his Jewish identity, in contrast with Paul. He simultaneously showed a flexibility towards the desires of the broader Christian community, in contrast to James.
This balance is illustrated in the Antioch episode related in Galatians 2. Thus, Peter became a unifying force in the church. The See of Rome is traditionally said to be founded by Peter and Paul, see also Primacy of Simon Peter , who had invested it with apostolic authority. The New Testament says nothing directly about Peter's connection to Rome, but an early Catholic tradition supports such a connection. Most Catholic and Protestant scholars, and many scholars in general, conclude that Peter was indeed martyred in Rome under Nero.
Ignatius of Antioch implies that Peter and Paul had special authority over the Roman church,  telling the Roman Christians: "I do not command you, as Peter and Paul did" ch. However, the authenticity of this document and its traditional dating to c. Later in the 2nd century , Irenaeus of Lyons believed that Peter and Paul had been the founders of the Church in Rome and had appointed Linus as succeeding bishop. Tertullian also writes: "But if you are near Italy, you have Rome, where authority is at hand for us too.
What a happy church that is, on which the apostles poured out their whole doctrine with their blood; where Peter had a passion like that of the Lord, where Paul was crowned with the death of John the Baptist, by being beheaded. Later tradition, first found in Saint Jerome, attributes to Peter a year episcopate or apostolate in Rome.
Paul's Epistle to the Romans 16 c. Elaine Pagels , professor of religion at Princeton and an authority on Gnosticism , argues that Paul was a Gnostic  and that the anti-Gnostic Pastoral Epistles were "pseudo-Pauline" forgeries written to rebut this. British Jewish scholar Hyam Maccoby contends that the Paul as described in the Book of Acts and the view of Paul gleaned from his own writings are very different people.
Some difficulties have been noted in the account of his life. Paul as described in the Book of Acts is much more interested in factual history, less in theology; ideas such as justification by faith are absent as are references to the Spirit, according to Maccoby. He also points out that there are no references to John the Baptist in the Pauline Epistles , although Paul mentions him several times in the Book of Acts. Others have objected that the language of the speeches is too Lukan in style to reflect anyone else's words.
Moreover, some have argued that the speeches of Peter and Paul are too much alike, and that especially Paul's are too distinct from his letters to reflect a true Pauline source. Examination of several of the major speeches in Acts reveals that while the author smoothed out the Greek in some cases, he clearly relied on preexisting material to reconstruct his speeches. He did not believe himself at liberty to invent material, but attempted to accurately record the reality of the speeches in Acts.
Baur considers the Acts of the Apostles were late and unreliable. This debate has continued ever since, with Adolf Deissmann — and Richard Reitzenstein — emphasising Paul's Greek inheritance and Albert Schweitzer stressing his dependence on Judaism. Maccoby theorizes that Paul synthesized Judaism, Gnosticism, and mysticism to create Christianity as a cosmic savior religion. According to Maccoby, Paul's Pharisaism was his own invention, though actually he was probably associated with the Sadducees. Maccoby attributes the origins of Christian anti-Semitism to Paul and claims that Paul's view of women , though inconsistent, reflects his Gnosticism in its misogynist aspects.
However, rather than a sudden split, there was a slowly growing chasm between Christians and Jews in the 1st centuries. Even though it is commonly thought that Paul established a Gentile church , it took centuries for a complete break to manifest. However, certain events are perceived as pivotal in the growing rift between Christianity and Judaism. Christianity throughout the 2nd and 3rd centuries have generally been less studied than the periods that came before and after it.
This is reflected in that it is usually referred to in terms of the adjacent periods with names as such "post-apostolic" after the period of 1st century formative Christianity and "ante-Nicene" before the First Council of Nicaea. However, the 2nd and 3rd centuries are quite important in the development of Christianity. There is a relative lack of material for this period, compared with the later Church Father period. For example, a widely used collection Ante-Nicene Fathers includes most 2nd- and 3rd-century writings in nine volumes. According to Siker the developments of this time are "multidirectional and not easily mapped".
While the preceding and following periods were diverse, they possessed unifying characteristics lacking in this period. The 2nd and 3rd centuries saw a sharp divorce from its early roots. There was an explicit rejection of then-modern Judaism and Jewish culture by the end of the 2nd century, with a growing body of adversus Judaeos literature. Christianity in the 4th and 5th centuries experienced imperial pressure and developed strong episcopal and unifying structure. The ante-Nicene period was without such authority and immensely diverse.
Many variations in this time defy neat categorizations, with as various forms of Christianity interacted in a complex fashion to form the dynamic character of Christianity in this era. By the early 2nd century, Christians had agreed on a basic list of writings that would serve as their canon,  see Development of the New Testament canon , but interpretations of these works differed, often wildly.
Bishops still had a freedom of interpretation. The competing versions of Christianity led many bishops who subscribed to what is now the mainstream version of Christianity to rally more closely together. Some bishops began to take on a more authoritative role for a region; in many cases, the bishop of the church located in the capital city of a province became the central authority for all churches in that province.
These more centralized authorities were known as metropolitan churches headed by a Metropolitan bishop. The churches in Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome exerted authority over groups of these metropolitan churches.
The church fathers are generally divided into the Ante-Nicene Fathers , those who lived and wrote before the Council of Nicaea and the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers , those who lived and wrote after In addition, the division of the fathers into Greek and Latin writers is also common. The early Church relied on apostolic authority in separating orthodox from unorthodox works, teachings, and practices.
The four Gospels were each assigned, directly or indirectly to an apostle, [Note 5] as were certain other New Testament books. Earlier church fathers were also associated with apostles: Clement with Peter associated closely with Rome and with Paul as the Clement Paul wrote about in Philippians , Papias and Polycarp with John associated with Asia Minor. The earliest Church Fathers, within two generations of the Apostles of Christ are usually called the Apostolic Fathers. In addition, the Didache and Shepherd of Hermas are usually placed among the writings of the Apostolic Fathers although their authors are unknown.
The writings of the Apostolic Fathers are in a number of genres, some, e. The "Apostolic Fathers" are distinguished from other Christian authors of this same period in that their practices and theology largely fell within those developing traditions of Pauline Christianity or Proto-orthodox Christianity that became the mainstream. They represent a tradition of early Christianity shared by many different churches across cultural, ethnic, and linguistic differences. The tradition they represent holds the Jewish Scriptures to be inspired by God against Marcionism and holds that the Jewish prophets point to the actual flesh and blood of Jesus through which both Jew and Gentile are saved.
Furthermore, they present the picture of an organized Church made up of many different cross-cultural, sister churches sharing one apostolic tradition. Their ecclesiology, adoption of some Judaic values, and emphasis upon the historical nature of Jesus Christ stand in stark contrast to the various ideologies of more paganized Christianities, on the one hand, and more Jewish Christianities on the other.
Other texts written much later are not considered apostolic writings. They were actively denounced from the very beginning by men such as Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, and the writer of the canonical First Epistle of John as being "anti-christ" and contrary to the tradition received from the apostles and eyewitnesses of Jesus Christ. The texts presenting alternative Christianities were then actively suppressed in the following centuries and many are now "lost" works, the contents of which can only be speculated. The Church History Latin: Historia Ecclesiastica or Historia Ecclesiae of Eusebius of Caesarea was a 4th-century pioneer work giving a chronological account of the development of Early Christianity from the 1st century.
Eusebius' Chronicle , that attempted to lay out a comparative timeline of pagan and Old Testament history, set the model for the other historiographical genre, the medieval chronicle or universal history. Eusebius made use of many ecclesiastical monuments and documents, acts of the martyrs, letters, extracts from earlier Christian writings, lists of bishops, and similar sources, often quoting the originals at great length so that his work contains materials not elsewhere preserved. For example, he wrote that Matthew composed the Gospel according to the Hebrews and his Church Catalogue suggests that it was the only Jewish gospel.
It is therefore of historical value, though it pretends neither to completeness nor to the observance of due proportion in the treatment of the subject-matter. Nor does it present in a connected and systematic way the history of the early Christian Church. It is to no small extent a vindication of the Christian religion, though the author did not primarily intend it as such. Eusebius has been often accused of intentional falsification of the truth; in judging persons or facts he is not entirely unbiased.
Some of the new words and phrases introduced by William Tyndale in his translation of the Bible did not sit well with the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, using words like 'Overseer' rather than 'Bishop' and 'Elder' rather than 'Priest', and very controversially , 'congregation' rather than 'Church' and 'love' rather than 'charity'. Tyndale contended citing Erasmus that the Greek New Testament did not support the traditional Roman Catholic readings.
Contention from Roman Catholics came not only from real or perceived errors in translation but a fear of the erosion of their social power if Christians could read the bible in their own language "the Pope's dogma is bloody" Tyndale wrote in his The Obedience of a Christian Man.
To change these words was to strip the Church hierarchy of its pretensions to be Christ's terrestrial representative, and to award this honour to individual worshipers who made up each congregation. The historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles , the primary source for the Apostolic Age , is a major issue for biblical scholars and historians of early Christianity. While some biblical scholars and historians view the book of Acts as being extremely accurate and corroborated by archaeology [ citation needed ] , others view the work as being inaccurate and in conflict with the Pauline epistles.
Acts portrays Paul as more inline with Jewish Christianity , while the Pauline epistles record more conflict, such as the Incident at Antioch. Traditionally, orthodoxy and heresy have been viewed in relation to the "orthodoxy" as an authentic lineage of tradition. Other forms of Christianity were viewed as deviant streams of thought and therefore " heterodox ", or heretical. Bauer endeavored to rethink early Christianity historically, independent from the views of the church. He stated that the 2nd-century church was very diverse and included many "heretical" groups that had an equal claim to apostolic tradition.
Bauer interpreted the struggle between the orthodox and heterodox to be the "mainstream" Roman church struggling to attain dominance. He presented Edessa and Egypt as places where the "orthodoxy" of Rome had little influence during the 2nd century. As he saw it, the theological thought of the Orient at the time would later be labeled "heresy". The response by modern scholars has been mixed. Some scholars clearly support Bauer's conclusions and others express concerns about his "attacking [of] orthodox sources with inquisitional zeal and exploiting to a nearly absurd extent the argument from silence.
Perhaps one of the most important discussions among scholars of early Christianity in the past century is to what extent it is appropriate to speak of "orthodoxy" and "heresy". Higher criticism drastically altered the previous perception that heresy was a very rare exception to the orthodoxy. Bauer was particularly influential in the reconsideration of the historical model. During the s, increasing focus on the effect of social, political and economic circumstances on the formation of early Christianity occurred as Bauer's work found a wider audience.
Some scholars argue against the increasing focus on heresies. A movement away from presuming the correctness or dominance of the orthodoxy is seen as understandable, in light of modern approaches. However, they feel that instead of an even and neutral approach to historical analysis that the heterodox sects are given an assumption of superiority over the orthodox movement.
The current debate is vigorous and broad. While it is difficult to summarize all current views, general statements may be made, remembering that such broad strokes will have exceptions in specific cases. Bauer reassessed as a historian the overwhelmingly dominant view  that for the period of Christian origins, ecclesiastical doctrine already represented what is primary, while heresies, on the other hand somehow are a deviation from the genuine Bauer, "Introduction".
Morin, upon whose edition — these volumes are based. An Appendix supplies additional notes relating to the sources of the sermons contained in Volumes I and II, as well as the Indices to all three volumes. The sermons preached to the monks show a Caesarius who accommodates to those especially dedicated Christians an appeal for the avoidance of vices and the pursuit of virtue that more commonly he directs to layfolk. His fervid exhortation is not without its message to those men and women of today who will hear it.
Gregory the Great was known as an intellectual, administrative, and spiritual giant. While providing for the temporal needs of the Church duing his pontificate — , he wrote the Dialogues to take care of the eternal welfare of his people. In four books, the Dialogues honors the memory of the saints of Italy through the first three, and in the fourth, discusses the immortality of the human soul. John of Damascus ca. Outstandingly important for his support of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy, this priest-monk of St.
Sabbas near Jerusalem is known also for his treatment of Christian morality and asceticism the Sacred Parallels , for a small but precious group of powerful sermons, and even for verse contributions to the Greek liturgy. His reputation rests mainly, however, on one of his latest writings, the Fount of Wisdom. This relatively brief work is called by the late Fr. Thomas Aquinas. Epiphanius is the chief source of Part Two, with its exposition of heresies. But what emerges is not a compilation but rather a synthesis, marked by originality in the mode of treatment and by a remarkable clarity of expression.
The complete text of the Letters of Barsanuphius and John appears here in English for the first time. Addressed to local monastics, lay Christians, and ecclesiastical leaders, these remarkable questions and responses of them offer a unique glimpse into the sixth-century religious, political, and secular world of Gaza and Palestine during a period torn by doctrinal controversy and in a context shaped by the tradition of the early desert fathers.
Choosing to dwell in complete isolation, they saw no one with the exception of their secretaries, Seridos and the well-known Dorotheus of Gaza. Barsanuphius and John communicated in silence through letters with numerous visitors who approached them for counsel. Curiously, this inaccessibility became the very reason for the popularity of the elders. They formed an extraordinarily open system of spiritual direction, which allowed space for conversation and even conflict in relationships, while also accounting for the wisdom and the wit of the correspondence.
The two elders in fact complement one another, together maintaining a harmonious authority-in-charity. Their letters are characterized by spontaneity and sensitivity, as well as by discretion and compassion. The second volume of the Letters of Barsanuphius and John completes the collection of these monastic writings, which provided both spiritual and practical advice to a variety of sixth-century interlocutors from diverse walks of life. The two anchorites, having settled in an isolated location near Gaza, were in demand as trusted counselors, responding to questions on topics ranging from relationships within monasteries to problems of municipal taxation.
Distinctive to this volume are many colorful letters that will attract the interest of historians of this period. Some of these are responses to inquiries about specific problems of mundane life, such as veterinary treatment for a horse, the leprous disease of a household servant, and vandalism in a vineyard. Of broader applicability is the advice regarding such issues as the replacement of an unworthy bishop, the management of alms donated for the poor, and the quality of public entertainment in faraway Constantinople.
The religious diversity of the Gaza region at this time, a century before the advent of Islam, generated questions about how Christians should interact with Jewish, pagan, and Manichaean fellow citizens. Abundant also are insights into the human heart. Barsanuphius and John offer timeless teachings on the inner warfare against resentful thoughts, temptations, doubts, anxieties, and reluctance to surrender oneself trustfully to God.
They examine the human foibles arising from relationships among monks, and between monks and abbots, with a serene clarity resulting from these holy men's long experience with the introspective asceticism of the desert. What is now Portugal embraces Braga, the sec-city of Martin, Pannonian-born missionary.
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While abbot of nearby Dumium, Martin had a pupil Paschasius, whose Questions and Answers of the Greek Fathers has never before been translated complete in any language. To what is now Spain belongs the third author in the volume, Leander, future bishop of Seville, where he was succeeded by his more famous and more prolific brother, Isidore. As with Paschasius, the works of Leander of Seville and of Martin of Braga are translated complete, many for the first time. The subjects range widely and include ethics with the doctrine sometimes coming from Seneca or other pre-Christian writers , pastoral and ascetical theology, monastic discipline, liturgy, and the computation of the date of Easter.
In this second volume of translations from the Iberian Fathers appear the works of two seventh-century writers. From the first of these, bishop Braulio of Saragossa, a figure in Visigothic literature second only to St. Isidore of Seville, comes an extensive collection of letters. These are variously addressed to Isidore himself, to other ecclesiastics, to Pope Honorius, and to King Receswinth; friends and relatives were the recipients of seven letters of consolation. Emilian, and by a valuable list of the writings of Isidore, under whom Braulio studied. Fructuousus of Braga is represented by two monastic rules.
The first of these was composed for Compludo, a foundation made by Fructousus himself; the other rule is a general or common one. Two other writings dealing with monastic practice accompany these rules, together with a letter to King Receswinth. Nearly all of the material presented here by professor Barlow is new to English readers, and all of it offers a lively and wide-ranging insight into conditions prevailing in the seventh century among the people, lay, clerical, and religious, of what later became Spain and Portugal.
The early seventh-century Roman Empire saw plague, civil war, famine, and catastrophic barbarian invasions. Eschatological fervor ran high, as people were convinced that the end of the world was near. In this climate, a noteworthy Greek commentary on the Apocalypse was composed by Andrew, Archbishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia.
In , Andrew of Caesarea applied his superior exegetical skills to the challenging Book of Revelation and concluded that the end was not near, in spite of the crises that the empire was facing. Standing in the stream of patristic tradition, Andrew wove together pre-existing written and oral interpretations of Revelation passages by earlier Fathers and anonymous teachers, drawing together various interpretive strands and pointing to a previously unknown rich tradition of Apocalypse interpretation in the Greek East.
His commentary also influenced the textual transmission of the Apocalypse and created a unique text type. Andrew influenced Eastern Christian eschatology and is responsible for the eventual acceptance of Revelation into the canon of the Oriental and Eastern Orthodox Churches. Fulgentius of Ruspe was perhaps the most brilliant North African theologian in the era after St.
He wrote widely on theological and moral issues. Between the years AD and , Fulgentius engaged in correspondence with a group of Latin-speaking monks from Scythia, and that correspondence is translated into English—almost all of it for the first time—in this volume. The correspondence is significant because it stands at the intersection of two great theological discussions: the primarily Eastern Christological controversies between the Fourth Ecumenical Council in and the Fifth in , and the largely Western Semi-Pelagian controversy, which ran from to the Second Synod of Orange in Contemporary Western scholars normally treat these controversies over Christ and grace separately, but there were noteworthy points of contact between the two discussions, and Fulgentius and the Scythian monks were the ones who drew the connections between Christology and grace most strongly.
These connections suggest that we today may do well to treat Christology and grace more as two sides of the same coin than as separate theological issues.
Fathers of the Post-Nicene Era
Both sets of issues deal fundamentally with the relation between God and humanity: Christological questions ask how the divine and human are related in the person of the Savior, and grace-related questions ask how the divine and human are linked in the conversion, Christian life, and final salvation of each Christian. It can also contribute to our contemporary thinking on the relation between two of the Christian faith's most central doctrines.
Fulgentius, bishop of Ruspe ca. When Fulgentius was born, North Africa had been under the rule of Germanic Vandals for several decades. His family was repeatedly victimized by Vandal persecutions, and Fulgentius himself suffered persecution and exile. While in exile, he continued his pastoral labors and became the theological spokesman of the displaced. Though he was not an original thinker, he propagated the Augustinian heritage and defended it against its adversaries, notably the Arians and Pelagians or semi-Pelagians.
With thorough understanding and conviction, Fulgentius promoted the Trinitarian theology of Augustine. He also defended and explained Augustine's difficult and controversial stance on the question of predestination. Fulgentius contributed greatly to the transmission and interpretation of a theological heritage that would dominate and shape the Church in the West for hundreds of years to come.
Of those that have survived, the most important are dated to the period of his second exile and the sixteen years from his return to North Africa from Sardinia until his death. This volume gives English readers for the first time an opportunity to study a representative selection of the writings of this early sixth-century author. It also presents Fulgentius's biography, the Life, for the first time in English. The idea of writing about St.
Severin, so Eugippius tells us, came to him as he witnessed the success of a Life, in letter-form, of the monk, Bassus, who had died—recently, it seems—in the south of Italy. The Letter, the work of a layman, was circulated privately, and a number of people took copies. Eugippius and his community thought the miracles of their founder should be made known in a similar way.
On hearing this, the biographer of Bassus offered his services and approached Eugippius for information. Eugippius feared that the work would be written in such an elaborate style as to be almost unintelligible to ordinary readers; and, to judge from the literary fashion of the times, such fears were not unfounded. Eugippius asked Paschasius to turn his sketch into a book of such form and style as its subjects would demand.
This request, it seems, was not meant too seriously. Written in the sixth century but discovered only at the beginning of the twentieth, it presents a fascinating view of a writer who strove to be faithful to the teaching of the church while at the same time allowing his imagination to make sense of the stories and visions of Revelation. In interpreting the events surrounding the destruction of the wicked he shows sensible pastoral restraint and refuses to be swayed by the dogmatic certainty shown even by some modern interpreters.
The short introduction to the translation by John N. Suggit provides a brief account of the identity of the author and the theological issues with which he was involved, especially the controversy over the beliefs of Origen and his followers. The study is particularly interesting today when the words of Scripture are often interpreted literally without the poetic and dramatic quality which alone gives them true life.
The book therefore should be of interest not only to serious scholars, but also to those who are ready to listen to this New Testament book not as a record of past history but as the description of the drama of life today. Divided into 13 books, the Confessions are autobiographical admissions of his sinful youth and conversion to Christianity. The translator believes this work was written to address God directly, being both a meditation on the workings of Providence and a hymn of divine praise.
Perhaps one of the most profound treatises on Christianity and government, the City of God envisions Christianity as a spiritual force, which should preoccupy itself with the heavenly city, New Jerusalem, rather than the earthly municipal and state affairs. The Fathers of the Church Series has divided this ancient classic into three convenient volumes. These letters, taken as a whole, present a vivid and fascinating view of life in North Africa at the beginning of the fifth century.
In addition to the comments about ecclesiastical and episcopal affairs, there are also letters on various threats to peace and security common in this period of the late empire, on slavery and the growth of the slave trade, and on Roman involvement in African affairs, both ecclesiastical and civil. There are letters dealing with moral questions and pastoral problems, in both marriage and the family, as well as in larger areas of doctrine and discipline in the Church. The conflict resulting from the end of the Donatist schism becomes clearer, as does the refrain of desperation stemming from an inadequate supply of clergy for parishes needing to be served.
A large number of these letters illustrate the day-to-day worries of a fifth century North African bishop: clerical scandals, Church finances, people seeking sanctuary in a church and the ensuing problems with the civil authorities , and disputed episcopal succession. The Letters appearing here in translation were written approximately between the years and This period in Augustine's life coincides with the ending of the long controversy with the Donatists and the spread of the Pelagian errors concerning nature and grace. When compared with earlier letters there is more emphasis in these letters on intellectual and doctrinal matters.
Perhaps the most important, and certainly the longest in this collection, pp. It gives a vivid description of the crimes committed by the Donatists against Catholics. The civil authorities eventually intervened in these disturbances and at times with coercive measures. Finally on January 30, the Emperor Honorius made the profession of Donatism a criminal offense and ordered clerics and ministers of such heretics removed from the African soil which they had polluted by sacreligious rites.
Though initially opposed to coercion, Augustine changed his view. Most of the works of St. Augustine of Hippo — have been extant and studied for centuries by Christians throughout the world. Since this Doctor of the Western Church has long been the best known and most widely read of the Latin Fathers, it is so much more unexpected that a previously unknown work should be found. Johannes Divjak found not only a single work but in fact a whole collection of letters, which he published in a critical Latin edition in This volume contains the first English translation of these newly discovered letters.
The letters range in size from short memoranda to long treatises on various subjects. In addition, there are three other previously unknown letters: two written to Augustine by Consentius, a North African rhetorician, and one written by Saint Jerome to Aurelius of Carthage. Originally written between the years and , this commentary discusses Matthew 5—7, and is regarded as a product of his early years of his priesthood. His exegesis reveals an unexpected spiritual insight for his limited training at the time of its composition. Although Augustine agrees that many things in Scripture may seem absurd to the unlearned, he holds that they can produce great pleasures once they have been explained.
It was this tenet, realized in his spiritual rather than corporeal interpretation of Scripture, that led him to counter the impious attacks the Manichees used to attract those who sought a more intellectual understanding of God over and against an anthropomorphic view. The Teacher , written in the form of a dialogue between Augustine and his son Adeodatus, discusses linguistic philosophies, such as the association of words and their corresponding signs and the nature of that arrangement.
This exposes the natural miscommunication that occurs between two conversing humans, establishing his concluding point: we are all called to listen, as God is the source of all true and substantial knowledge. Finally, Grace and Free Will , written against Pelagius to defend the necessity of grace and simultaneously deny the sufficiency of free will , demonstrates that grace and free will are not mutually exclusive concepts.
They were monks of Provence, led by John Cassian, who were disturbed by the more extreme consequences of the theology of grace and predestination that Augustine had worked out in his controversy with the Pelagians. These treatises include some of Augustine's most significant statements on grace. Intended for scholars and students of theology and philosophy, this edition includes three treatises translated for the first time from modern critical texts.
In Christian Latinity, the tractate is a specific type of sermon, delivered as part of a liturgy, which combines scriptural exegesis, preaching, spiritual commentary, and theological reflection. This volume contains the first ten of the tractates on the Gospel of John delivered by St. Augustine, the world-renowned fourth-century bishop of Hippo Regius in North Africa.
As sermons they exemplify the theory of preaching he outlined in his De doctrina Christiana On Christian Instruction —to preach in a simple and direct style accessible to all without compromising the theological knowledge and spiritual experience of the message. Beyond contemplation of John's Gospel, the Tractates reveal much about the heresies to which Augustine's congregation was exposed: Manichaeism, with its dualistic logic; Donatism, a schismatic, puritanical, and sacramental movement which involved the intervention of the state in the affairs of the Church; and Pelagianism, with its doctrines of original sin, grace, free will, and predestination.
Augustine delivered these sermons in Ciceronian oratorical style, having as his purpose to teach, to please, and to persuade. Through his allegorical exegesis, his audience was led to an understanding of the meaning of Scripture that would so affect their souls as to help them grow spiritually and bring them to eternal salvation. Of the tractates that St. Augustine delivered to his congregation at Hippo Regius, the first fifty-four form a distinct group. They differ in length and character from the remaining tractates, contain many chronological references, and consist of bitter attacks on the Donatists and other heresies.
The remaining tractates 55— are brief and contain no chronological references to prior tractates. Scholars maintain that the latter were dictated for later reading to the people rather than extemporaneously delivered. This volume contains tractates 11— In 11—16 Augustine continues the attack, begun in tractates , on the heresies of Manichaeism, Donatism, and Pelagianism. Beginning with the seventeenth tractate, however, he focuses greater attention on Arianism, a Trinitarian heresy whose major tenet was that divine being was uncreated, unbegotten, and unique and that Christ was not true God but a creature who had a beginning.
Augustine also attacks lesser Christological heresies: the Apollinarists, who assert that Christ did not assume the complete human nature but only the body, and Photinus of Sirmium, who held that Christ did not except for his miraculous birth and acquired a plenitude of grace through moral perfection.
In these tractates Augustine combines scriptural exegesis, the refutation of false teachings, and theological reflections with the spiritual and moral instruction of his congregation. For if you busy yourself in these things which the erring mind makes for itself, you speak with your own images, not with the Word of God; your images deceive you. Transcend the body and savor the mind. Transcend the mind also and savor God. In his preaching, St. Augustine developed an oratorical style based on the classical rhetoric he had learned prior to his conversion which he adapted to the unique demands of Christian preaching.
He still recognized the classical ends of rhetoric: to teach, to please, and to persuade. He gave, however, the place of most importance to content: what was said was more important than how it was said. He eschewed the more elaborate figures of speech, using a more direct manner to educate an audience that was, to a great extent, illiterate. The result, however, is not a debased Ciceronian style but a method of preaching that is clear, lively, and well-suited to its purpose.
His commentary, then, contains more than exegesis. His reflections on Scripture lead him to discussions of both moral action and dogma. In unfolding the mysteries contained in these chapters of St. John, Augustine moves easily from exegesis to reflections on moral virtue and doctrine, especially the Trinity and the Incarnation.
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But he never loses sight of his audience. Even in his comments on the loftiest of ideas, he strives to make the teaching accessible to all. These tractates, then give us a glimpse of the man that we do not often get from his other works. This is the fourth of five volumes of John W. In the Tractates, Augustine progressively comments on the Gospel text, using a plain yet compelling rhetorical style. With the keen insight that makes him one of the glories of the Latin church, he amplifies the orthodox doctrinal and moral lessons to be read therein.
Modern scholars generally concede that Tractates 55— fall within a distinct group thought to have been composed between AD and In them Augustine deftly employs the sacred text to defend the teachings of Nicene orthodoxy. Among the more noteworthy theological features upon which the reader can focus is a defense of the much controverted Filioque in Tractate There is also an examination of the paradoxes inherent in the Incarnation: the entrance into history of an immanent and transcendent God the Word; how that union of that Word with human nature; how that union in the Person of Christ does not confound or diminish either Nature.
In these Tractates Augustine comments upon a discrete portion of the sacred text: the Last Supper and the priestly prayer of Jesus. The reader is left, in the end, in a state of watch with the Savior for his impending Passion, Death, and Resurrection, which will be discussed in the last volume of the Tractates. In this volume, which concludes John W. Augustine clarifies the meaning of words and phrases often appealing to the Greek text , resolves obscurities, and reconciles apparent contradictions. He explains the Scriptures on several levels of meaning and draws from them practical implications for the Christian life.
Always evident in his teaching and exhortation is his strong desire to lead souls to a knowledge and love of God. In order to maintain some continuity, he decided to preach upon the First Epistle of John. Its central theme, which Augustine saw to be caritas Christian love , was especially appropriate at this time, for the Donatist schism had torn many away from the Church at Hippo. In the ten tractates on the First Epistle of John, Augustine develops an outline of his theology on love and explains its implications for the Mystical Body of Christ.
He teaches that those who hate the members of Christ cannot truly love Christ—even if they profess otherwise, even if they were to lay down their lives for Him. In these tractates Augustine once again reveals himself as the humble and zealous pastor of souls. His words seem to radiate the very love about which he speaks, so that few of his listeners could accuse him of preaching what he himself did not practice. The present volume consists of a collection of minor writings of St. Augustine is well known for his great masterpieces such as the Confessions and City of God, too little is known about him as a writer of short treatises intended for the general spiritual welfare of the people.
These little essays still have an unending appeal for people of all times who are concerned about the salvation of their immortal souls. Other works of moral and practical theology are not included, notably the De catechizandis rudibus, and the De doctrina christiana, but arrangements have been made to present these in other volumes. Augustine's, but it is included here because it comes from the same general period as the other essays and treats of a similar subject. Moreover, it has special interest in that it probably was written by a close follower of Pelagius, one of St.
Each treatise in this volume has its own introduction, giving pertinent information for an intelligent understanding of the essay and other matters of general interest. A collection of nine short works by Augustine and translated by numerous editors for the Fathers of the Church Series.
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Among these works includes:. In the autumn of AD , St. Augustine returned from Italy to northern Africa. Here in his native Thagaste he assembled a monastic community. When the brethren found their leader Augustine in a rare moment of leisure, they had no misgivings about putting questions to him on a variety of topics which he answered from the store of his vast knowledge. These questions together with the answers were later collected and assembled in a random order ractions.
The English translation presented here affords the reader a rare opportunity to glimpse some of the topics that interested members of a community that eventually gave the early Church four bishops: Alypius of Thagaste, Severus of Milevis, Profuturus of Citra, and Possidius of Calama. Even though St. Augustine intended no specific sequence in this collection, four broad categories in the question and answer literary form are discernible. One category serves as Christian apologetic, e.
The second presents Augustine in the role of exegete of selected passages from both the Old and New Testaments. After the death of his wife, Julian joined the clergy of his native diocese and eventually succeeded his father as bishop. With a mastery of Greek and Latin Julian combined a great store of theological learning which, however, was tainted with Pelagian errors. Because of his support of Pelagius Julian himself was condemned, deposed and expelled from Italy.
In Against Julian Augustine stresses in the first two books the traditional teachings of the Church found in the Fathers and contrasts their teaching with the rationalism of the Pelagians. Thereupon he refutes the error of the Pelagians that grace is given according to merits. This section is a valuable witness to the ritual of baptism as it was conferred in the age of the Fathers. This younger Augustine intends to disprove the boastings of the Manichaeans that their way of life is more pious and devout than the Catholics—and, further, that the Catholic faith is proven true by its truer systems of devotion.
The major portion of St. As the aged Augustine reread his extensive production, he sought to identify and to report to his widely scattered readership anything in his writings that had offended him or might offend others. In achieving this purpose, Augustine brought out a book scarcely to be matched in world literature.
His letters and sermons are in general not dealt with; they were to be covered in further parts of the Retractations that Augustine did not live to achieve. Eusebius was commonly known among the ancients as Eusebius of Caesarea or Eusebius Pamphili. The first designation arose from the fact that he was bishop of Caesarea for many years; the second from the fact that he was a close friend and admirer of Pamphilus, a proselyte of Caesarea and a martyr. At least 40 contemporaries bore the same name, among which the most famous were Eusebius of Samosata—and so arose the necessity of distinguishing him from these others by specific designation.
The year of the Edict of Milan, which divides the first from the second epoch of Church history, does like service for the life and for the literary medium of the Church's first historian. According to the growing assent of scholars, marks off chronologically the Alexandrian from the Byzantine period of Greek literature, and it is that cleaves into uneven but appropriate parts that career of Eusebius Pamphilil.
In training and in literary taste, Eusebius belongs to the earlier time. Officially and in literary productivity, he belongs to the later. It was shortly after that Eusebius became a bishop, as it was, for the most part, after that his works were actually composed. Of events contemporary with these later years, Eusebius recorded much that is valued, but it is for what he tells of the earlier period—of the days before the Peace of the Church—that he looms so large in the history of history and of literature. Through him—through him almost alone—are preserved to us the feeble memories of an age that died with himself.
Friend of John Chrysostom and pupil of Diodore of Tarsus, the founder of the method of exegesis practiced in Antioch, Theodore was appointed bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia in His works were condemned by the fifth ecumenical council of , and only the Commentary on the Twelve Prophets , here appearing in English for the first time, survives entirely in Greek.
Does Theodore deserve either or both of these extreme assessments? Why did his adversaries allow this one work to survive the flames untouched? Theodoret of Cyrus in the decades after Theodore's death had his works open before him as he commented on prophets, just as modern commentators will also appreciate his work. That may have been the reason why in he visited the Alexandrian scholar Didymus the Blind and requested a work on this prophet. Though long thought to be lost, the work was rediscovered in at Tura outside Cairo along with some other biblical commentaries.
As a result we have in our possession a commentary on Zechariah by Didymus that enjoys particular distinction as his only complete work on a biblical book extant in Greek whose authenticity is established, which comes to us by direct manuscript tradition, and has been critically edited. Thus it deserves this first appearance in English.
Even Cyril of Alexandria in the next generation will lean rather to the historical style of commentary found in the Antiochene scholars Theodore and Theodoret, whose works on the Twelve are also extant and who had Didymus open before them. Didymus alone offers his readers a wide range of spiritual meanings on the obscure verses of Zechariah, capitalizing on his extraordinary familiarity with Holy Writ despite his disability , and proceeding on a process of interpretation-by-association, frequently invoking also etymology and number symbolism to plumb the meaning of the text.
His zealous and intrepid defense of the orthodox faith and his contribution to handling the external affairs of the Eastern Church were by no means the whole service to which St. Basil the Great devoted his considerable talents. His life both exemplified and shaped the ascetical movement of his time. After renouncing a brilliant career as rhetorician, he traveled widely, studying the various forms of asceticism practiced in Eastern Christendom.
On his return, he retired in the year to a place near Neocaesarea to put into practice the best of what he had seen, and there disciples soon joined him. When his friend Gregory of Nazianzus visited him there in , he began to write his Rules and other works that have had great importance in promoting and regulating the common life of monasticism.
Benedict in legislating for Western monasticism. The ascetical writings of St. Basil contained in this volume, addressed to both monks and laymen, are of prime importance for understanding the role their author played in the Church of the fourth century and, through his influence, still plays today. The letters of St. Basil, in number, which comprise the most vivid and most personal portion of his works, give us, perhaps, the clearest insight into the wealth of his rich and varied genius.
They were written within the years from , shortly before his retreat to the Pontus, until his death in , a period of great unrest and persecution of the orthodox Catholic Church in the East. Their variety is striking, ranging from simple friendly greetings to profound explanations of doctrine, from playful reproaches to severe denunciations of transgressions, from kindly recommendations to earnest petitions for justice, from gentle messages of sympathy to bitter lamentations over the evils inflicted upon or existent in the churches.
As may be expected, the style in these letters is as varied as their subject matter. Those written in his official capacity as pastor of the Church, as well as the letters of recommendation and the canonical letters, are naturally more formal in tone, while the friendly letters, and those of appeal, admonition, and encouragement, and, more especially, those of consolation, show St. He had the technique of ancient rhetoric at his fingertips, but he also had a serious purpose and a sense of fitness of things.
To St. He himself disapproved of a too ornate style and carefully avoided it. His early education, however, had trained him for the use of rich diction and varied and charming figures, and, when the occasion warranted it, he proved himself a master in their use. Whether we look at them from an historical, an ecclesiastical, or a theological point of view, the letters are an important contribution. These exegetical homilies explore numerous Psalms and the Hexaemeron—and ancient theological treatise on the six-day creation account.
These writings on the Hexaemeron are the earliest written and were noted to be extremely popular among the educated Christians of his era, and display a profound devotion to God and evidence of his goodness in the workings of creation. In Against Eunomius , we see the clash not simply of two dogmatic positions on the doctrine of the Trinity, but of two fundamentally opposed theological methods.
Thus Against Eunomius marks a turning point in the Trinitarian debates of the fourth century, for the first time addressing the methodological and epistemological differences that gave rise to theological differences. Amidst the polemical vitriol of Against Eunomius is a call to epistemological humility on the part of the theologian, a call to recognize the limitations of even the best theology. While Basil refined his theology through the course of his career, Against Eunomius remains a testament to his early theological development and a privileged window into the Trinitarian controversies of the mid-fourth century.
The Christian funeral oration is one of the most elaborate of Christian literary forms. It represents an attempt to adapt to Christian use a pagan Greek form with many hundreds of years behind it. The Christian masterpieces presented in this volume reflect a long, rich, and varied pagan literary tradition in East and West, and at the same time exhibit modifications and new elements which give them their specific Christian character. The volume presents the most generally admired ancient Christian funeral orations—four from the Greek those of St.
Gregory Nazianzen , four from the Latin those of St. From the Bishop of Nazianzen, we have words spoken in honor of three kinsmen, his father, a brother, and a sister, and of the great St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea. Two of the orations from the lips of St. Ambrose are likewise for a kinsman, his brother Satyrus, while the other two are for wearers of the purple, the youthful Valentinian II and the emporor Theodosius.
Raised in a multi-generational Christian family, Gregory of Nazianzus was also well-educated, well-traveled, and tutored in almost every discipline of the Greek arts, philosophies, sciences, and literatures. The numerous poems written by Gregory had a profound influence over Byzantine hymnology, although, beyond that, they largely provide a treasure trove of autobiographical and historical data.
This translation makes available nineteen orations by the fourth-century Cappadocian father Gregory of Nazianzus. Most are appearing here in English for the first time. Composed in a variety of rhetorical formats such as the lalia and encomium, the sermons treat topics that range from the purely theological to the deeply personal. Up until now, Gregory has been known primarily for his contributions as a theologian, indifferent to the social and political concerns that consumed his friend Basil.
This view will change. It has been due in large measure to the interests and prejudices of the nineteenth-century editors who excluded the sermons translated here from the Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Church. This new translation will help the English-speaking reader appreciate just how deeply Gregory was engaged in the social and political issues of his day. Exemplifying the perfect synthesis of classical and Christian paideia, these homilies will be required reading for anyone interested in late antiquity.
The introduction and notes accompanying the translation will assist both the specialist and the general reader as they seek to navigate the complex environment in which Gregory lived and worked. In the Christian world of the fourth century, the family of St. Gregory of Nyssa was distinguished for its leadership in civic and religious affairs in the region of the Roman Empire known as Pontus. Cardinal Newman, in an essay on the trials of St. Macrina, a work included in this volume, we learn of the fortitude of the three preceding generations. On her death-bed, St.
Macrina, recalling details of their family history, speaks of a great-grandfather martyred and all his property confiscated, and grandparents deprived of their possessions at the time of the Dioceltian persecutions. Their father, Basil of Caesarea, a successful rhetorician, outstanding for his judgment and well known for the dignity of his life, died leaving to his wife, Emmelia, the care of four sons and five daughters. Gregory praises his mother for her virtue and for her eagerness to have her children educated in Holy Scripture.
After managing their estate and arranging for the future of her children, she was persuaded by St. Macrina to retire from the world and to enter a life common with her maids as sisters and equals. This community of women would have been a counterpart of the monastery founded nearby by St. Basil on the banks of the Iris River. In a moving scene, St. Gregory tells of his mother's death at a rich old age in the arms of her oldest and youngest children, Macrina and Peter. Blessing all of her children, she prays in particular for the sanctification of these two who were, indeed, later canonized as saints.
Newman notes the strong influence of the women in the family, and in one of his letters, St. Basil gives credit to his mother and his grandmother, the elder Macrina, for his clear and steadfast idea of God. The homilies on St. The 88 homilies, which date from about , work systematically through the text of St. In his exposition Chrysostom reflects his youthful Antiochene training in the interpretation of Holy Scripture through his emphasis upon the literal or historical meaning of the sacred text.
The exposition focuses sharply on practical morality and thus often supplies telling information about fourth-century life and times. Judged by modern tastes the Discourses may seem lengthy, and Chrysostom himself admits that they taxed his energies when he complains of having become hoarse. In Antioch of the late fourth century two highly divisive forces contributed to deteriorating Judaeo-Christian relations: very successful Jewish proselytizing, and Christian Judaizing.
Both activities profoundly disturbed a vigilant leader and eloquent preacher such as Chrysostom was. These Discourses , frequently interrupted by applause from the audience, present in their historical context one facet of the deteriorating relations. Antedating Chrysostom by some two centuries, emerging views that the Jews were a people cursed and dispersed in punishment for their unbelief and deicide were gaining credence; witness some statements by Irenaeus in Lyons and Tertullian in northern Africa. In the course of time certain passages of sacred Scripture began to be reinterpreted, when occasion presented itself, in such a way as to endow the polemics with divine authority.
A simplistic view of the complex problem of anti-Semitism raised the cry, almost a century ago, that the Church nurtures hatred against the Jews and at the same time protected them from the fury she had unleashed. Acta apostolicae sedis 58 — Therein the Council officially re-affirmed the common religious patrimony of Jews and Christians. It clearly rejected any alleged collective guilt of the Jewish people for the death of Christ and their alleged rejection of God. John Chrysostom presented here were delivered at Antioch over a period of several years beginning in AD The final two homilies were delivered in after Chrysostom became patriarch of Constantinople.
All but one of the homilies aim at refuting the Anomoeans, heretics who revived the most radical tenets of Arius and blatantly claimed that man knows God in the very same way that God knows himself. He departed from this series of refutations only in the sixth homily, which he delivered on December 20, , again at Antioch. It consists of a panegyric of St. Philogonius, bishop of Antioch ca. AD —, who before his episcopal ordination had led a very exemplary life, practiced law and contracted a marriage that was blessed with a daughter.
In addition to their theological content, these homilies contain many other points of interest. On one occasion, people applauded the speaker and were very attentive to the homily but then left the church so that when Christ is about to appear in the holy mysteries the church becomes empty Hom III.
Chrysostom also indicates that people kept talking to one another at the sacred moment when Christ becomes present Hom IV. He also mentions that chariot races often proved more enticing than going to church Hom VII. Chrysostom relates the story of St. Babylas, bishop and martyr, who defended the Church against an evil emperor and whose relics produced sobriety at Daphne and silenced the oracle of Apollo. Although a product of Christianized sophistic rhetoric, the discourse on Babylas furnishes interesting new material on the development of the veneration of relics and church-state relations in the third and fourth centuries.
This translation makes available for the first time in English one of the most significant Old Testament commentaries of the patristic period. The Genesis homilies, his richest Old Testament series, reveal a theologian, pastor, and moralist struggling to explain some of the most challenging biblical material to his congregation in Antioch. While critical exegetical details go without mention and Chrysostom was limited to the Greek version of the Old Testament in his studies, his oratory has been judged golden and his theology profound. He was a preacher satisfied with commenting on Scripture with his moral purpose always to the fore.
Chrysostom studied the Scriptures with Diodore of Tarsus, a distinguished exegete known from fragments of his commentaries on Genesis and Psalms, and a polemic style developed from his pastoral concern to protect his congregation from the dangerous influences of fourth-century Antioch. As such, his Genesis homilies constitute a milestone in the history of biblical interpretation. This first of several volumes on Genesis contains homilies 1—17, delivered in Antioch before Chrysostom moved to Constantinople in Robert C.
He continues in Homily 18 with Genesis 3 and finishes in Homily 45 with Genesis They seem to have been delivered perhaps as early as , half just before and during Lent and the remainder, from Homily 33 onward, after Pentecost. The Genesis homilies reveal Chrysostom as commentator, preacher, moralist, and profoundly theological and precise exegete of Scripture, the truth of which he teaches for the betterment of this congregation. In the homilies in this volume, the last of three, Chrysostom concludes his examination of the lives and virtues of the Old Testament patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph as recounted in the last three chapters of Genesis.
Known for his eloquent preaching, Chrysostom delivered these final 22 homilies after Pentecost. His motive for examining the accounts of the lives of the patriarchs is to show how the just forebears of the Israelites, in a time when both the law and the Gospel were yet unpreached, were able to live Christian lives with only simple trust in God and the balanced, almost ingenuous manners of antiquity.
His interest in the events and characters of Genesis is largely moral, even moralistic; he tends to see Scripture as hagiography. As an exegete, Chrysostom may seem disappointing to those grounded in the methods of modern biblical scholarship, since he largely ignores any sense of Scripture other than the literal and is generally unaware of how to resolve difficulties and appreciate subtleties that a knowledge of the original text would provide. However, what lacks in scientific accuracy he more than compensates for with his earnest practice of pastoral care. John Chrysostom delivered nine homilies on repentance in Antioch of Syria sometime between and With conviction and certitude, he preached that repentance was a necessity for both the sinner and the righteous man.
He believed that repentance is the liturgical tool that rejuvenates sinners and admits them into the life-giving Eucharist where they experience fully and dynamically the concrete presence of God. The powers of repentance have rich biblical roots, and Chrysostom masterfully weaves his teaching with a plethora of Old and New Testament citings. From Scripture, the reader learns that repentance is never confined to the eucharistic context—it becomes a way of life for the believer. In his introduction to the homilies, Fr. Gus Christo includes a succinct biography of Chrysostom within which he sets the homilies in their chronological context.
This volume presents for the first time in the Fathers of the Church series the work of an early Christian writer who did not write in either Greek or Latin. It offers new English translations of selected prose works by St. Ephrem the Syrian c. AD — The volume contains St. The translators have enhanced the volume with a general introduction, extensive bibliography, and specific introductions to each of the works.
Together these features provide an overview of the major scholarship on St. Ephrem and Syriac Christianity. In the two commentaries presented here, Ephrem focuses only on portions of the sacred text that had a particular theological significance for him, or whose orthodox interpretation needed to be reasserted in the face of contemporary heterodox ideas. He does not provide a continuous, verse by verse exposition. Ephrem marshaled his considerable theological and rhetorical talent to challenge the appeal that the doctrines of the Arians, Manicheans, Marcionites, and the followers of Bardaisan might have had to the minds and hearts of Syrian Christians.
In the face of their rational systems, his was the voice that insisted on the incomprehensibility of the divine nature. Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria — , is best known as a protagonist in the christological controversy of the second quarter of the fifth century. Readers may be surprised therefore to find such polemic absent from this early work on the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament.
Indebted to the diverse approaches of Didymus, Jerome, and Theodore, Cyril appears in this work as a balanced commentator, eclectic in his attitude and tolerant of alternative views. Although he displays an occasional uncertainty in his grasp of historical and geographical details, as well as an inclination to verbosity, Cyril has conspicuously influenced the exegesis of his younger contemporary Theodoret of Cyrus, and has made a vital contribution to the development of biblical interpretation in the church. Cyril of Alexandria was the Patriarch of Alexandria from to Cyril was well educated, wrote extensively, and was a leading figure in the First Council of Ephesus in , the third ecumenical council of the early Christian Church.
The council convened amid disputes over the teachings of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, and Cyril led the charges of heresy against Nestorius. Drawing insights from older contemporaries, Cyril examines in depth the historical contexts of prophetic texts, utilizing his knowledge of events and geographical locations in deriving his interpretations. Cyril in turn has exerted a direct influence on Theodoret of Cyrus, thus forging a link in the succession of patristic exegetical developments.
For Cyril, as for the Fathers in general, the internal unity of the Bible guarantees that its texts can be applied to the interpretation of other texts within the scriptural canon. This relationship is the basis of a motif that unifies the Old and New Testaments, with the prophets serving as precursors of the Savior; thus their proclamations, though often aimed at the events of their own times, speak to believers of all eras.
Applying his knowledge of ancient Israelite history in his analysis of the immediate context for each of these prophetic books, Cyril believes that Zephaniah was addressed to the residents of Jerusalem in the years preceding the Babylonian Exile, and the other three were addressed to a newly repatriated, post-exilic nation. An emphasis on theodicy is a primary theme of this book.
When no repentance ensues, God sends harsh but just punishments, employing the brutality of enemy nations as his instruments, yet always doing so with the loving purpose of returning his people to himself. Where the prophetic oracles mention the Jewish priesthood, altar, or sacrifices, Cyril takes the opportunity to exhort Christian priests to preserve their moral purity and to fulfill their liturgical duties with devotion.
This extrapolation from the ancient to the contemporary, from Israel to the Church, is compatible with the typological interpretation that Cyril utilizes in conjunction with his literal, historical approach. The Temple is a type, or foreshadowing, of the Church, and the sacrificial lamb of the Passover prefigures Christ. Thus Cyril maintains his connection with the Alexandrian tradition of allegorical exegesis while presenting a balanced, multi-faceted interpretation that applies passages from many other parts of the Bible to extract a wealth of meaning from the prophetic books.
Cyril of Alexandria famously took up the debate against Nestorius on the theological interpretation of the deity of Christ, a number of which are addressed in these volumes. This fifth-century Christological controversey comprises most of the teaching of these letters, notably even letters not addressed to Nestorius.
The conflict with Nestorius eventually brought Nestorius to condemnation after the Council of Ephesus in , in which Cyril presides at the request of Pope Celestine. Almost the entire collection here has to do with the controversey surrounding the Council of Ephesus and the schism of bishops on either side of the theological controversey. Cyril of Alexandria is best known for his role in the Christological disputes of the fifth century. In recent years, however, scholars have turned their attention to Cyril the exegete. Cyril wrote extensive commentaries on nearly every book of the Bible; in fact, two-thirds of his extant corpus is devoted to biblical interpretation.
Yet, despite this strong interest in Cyril as theologian and biblical interpreter, his activity as the Patriarch of Alexandria remains obscure. In Alexandria, festal letters functioned primarily as a vehicle for announcing the beginning of Lent and the proper date for the celebration of Easter. They also served an important catechetical purpose by providing the patriarch with an annual opportunity to present his flock with a pastoral version of the theological issues that found more formal and complex expression elsewhere.
Cyril of Alexandria is best known for his role in the Christological controversies of the fifth century. In recent decades, scholars have been attending more carefully to his exegetical legacy. Indeed, during his long career he wrote commentaries on nearly every book of the Bible. Here the Festal Letters are especially helpful. The present volume completes the set. Festal letters were used in Alexandria primarily to announce the beginning of Lent and the date of Easter. They also served a catechetical purpose, however, allowing the Patriarch an annual opportunity to write pastorally not just about issues facing the entire see, but also about the theological issues of the day.
Thus, in these letters we catch a glimpse of Cyril the pastor writing about complex theology in an uncomplicated way.