Severus of Antioch: A collection of letters from numerous Syriac manuscripts (1915). Letters 62-118.
TOMUS DECIMUS QUARTUS
A COLLECTION OF LETTERS OF SEVERUS OF ANTIOCH
FROM NUMEROUS SYRIAC MANUSCRIPTS
EDITED AND TRANSLATED
E. W. BROOKS
A = Brit. Mus. Add. 14601 (9th cent.).
E = ---- ---- ---- 17214 (7th cent.),
F = ---- ---- ---- 14538 (10th cent.).
G = ---- ---- ---- 12155 (8th cent.).
H = ---- ---- ---- 17193 (874).
I = ---- ---- ---- 12144 (1081).
J = ---- ---- ---- 12168 (8th or 9th cent.).
K = ---- ---- ---- 17191 (9th or 10th cent.).
L = ---- ---- ---- - 14532 (8th cent.).
M = ---- ---- ---- 14533 (8th or 9th cent.)
N = ---- ---- ---- 14613 (9th or 10th cent.).
Q = ---- ---- ---- 12154 (circ. 800).
T = ---- ---- ---- 14612 (6th or 7th cent.).
U = ---- ---- ---- 12153 (845).
V = Vat. Syr. 103 (841).
W= ---- ---- 100 (9th or 10th cent.).
X = ---- ---- 107 (7th cent.).
Y = ---- ---- 108 (7th cent.).
Z = Brit. Mus. Add. 7191 (7th cent.).
C = ---- ---- ---- 7192 (7th cent.).
FOR THE APPENDIX. Brit. Mus. Add. 14504 (9th cent.).
When the same passages occur in more than one place, in the same ms., the differentiation is marked by the addition of (1) (2) (3) or (4) after the letter indicating the ms.
LXII. (XIX)469. ---- OUR GOD-INSPIRED FATHER SEVERUS SAYS IN THE LETTER TO ISIDORE THE COUNT, THE BEGINNING OF WHICH IS, «I rejoiced greatly when I received the letter of your Christ-loving illustriousness».
[508-511(?)] As regards these things therefore I think that we ought to avoid this composite term, that we should call the Holy Trinity or the Father uni-essential, both because it is not found among the accurate fathers, and470 it gives occasions for the evil deviations of the heretics: but they called the Trinity co-essential, in order that by means of this word so plainly and very excellently stated there might be expressed in the same phrase both the oneness of the essence 471 and the separation of the hypostases, and by means of this one word unity and division: for by being called co-essential with the Father and the Holy Spirit the Son claims to share essence3 with those who are reckoned with him, but to be distinct in hypostasis; for a man is not co-essential with himself, but one man with another. |174
LXIII. ---- OF THE HOLY 472 MAR SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO CAESARIA473.
[519-33.] When474 therefore Adam was stripped of the blessedness of immortality, and was thereafter destined to be cast into the earth by means of death, then only there was introduced, as being necessary, the process of the generation of children, which preserves a succession to our race by means of the intercourse of copulation, and by means of the partnership of male and female, in the manner in which the quadrupeds also increase and multiply by generation. And for this reason also the flow comes from the very members which point downwards, and intercourse and birth do not take place from any other, in order that we may learn that it was from a high and heavenly position that we flowed down to this lowly state. |175
LXIV.475 ---- AND LET THE GOD-GLAD SEVERUS ALSO BEAR WITNESS, HE WHO IN ALL SUCH MATTERS HAS MORE KNOWLEDGE THAN MANY MEN. IN THE LETTER TO OECUMENIUS 476 OF WHICH THE BEGINNING IS, «Neither did I forget when I was writing the letter», IN SPEAKING ON THIS SUBJECT HE USES THE FOLLOWING WORDS.
[513-8.] For those therefore who wish to learn the purport of what has been written by me in brief and in few words it was right that these things should be put forward: but to those who desire to know the reasons and the argument 477 contained in this composition let the whole letter be given. But it is certain that even a man who has received summaries of what has been said will need the whole: for a summary is an epitome of many words; therefore he must first know those many words in order to know of what things it is an epitome. Otherwise the result will be that we shall be putting forward empty words devoid of sense, like those perhaps who desired to speak with tongues only, whom Paul reproves, saying, «For, if I prayed |176 in a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful»: and afterwards he adds what he thinks right, saying, «I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray also with my understanding. I will sing with my spirit, but I will sing also with my understanding» 478. And I therefore, making a slight change, say: It is right to argue with words; but it is right to argue also with the understanding. I do not know if any of the God-clad fathers pronounced it right for us to speak in brief when giving teaching; for in these matters it is a welcome thing if even by expending the whole power of speech that is in us we utter a small portion and that in obscure form of what the intellect has gathered.
LXV. ---- FROM THE LETTER OF THE SAME HOLY SEVERUS TO EUPRAXIUS THE CHAMBERLAIN 479, AND ABOUT THE QUESTIONS WHICH HE ADDRESSED TO HIM.
[508-11.] (And the first question is this, as to how we say that God the Word was begotten without beginning by the Father: and the beginning of the letter is this: «You, |177 God-loving Eupraxius, are smitten with divine love»: and a little farther on the defence). First therefore you seek to learn how we say that God the Word was begotten without beginning by the Father. But I from the very appellation 'Father' say that the generation of the Son is without beginning. If the Father was from eternity, the Son also, who shows forth the Father, existed from eternity: for, if there was a time when the Son did not exist, there was then a time when the Father was not a father. We, because we are a corruptible nature, come into being in time, and again pass away from being: therefore also the names applied to us vary; and at one time we are sons of certain persons, and after this we cease to be sons, and we become fathers, and we beget others. But God is in his nature invariable, and he is as he is from eternity, and he is a father from eternity. And the Son became such to eternity, and the Son is a son who is from eternity, and he was begotten everlastingly by the Father, and he did not acquire for the Father from outside the status of a father, because the Son was begotten by him without beginning and without time. If we say that the Son is the wisdom and the power of the Father in accordance with the wise Paul's |178 saying, «Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God»480, how is it not beyond all impiety for us to presume to say that the Father ever appeared without wisdom or without power? But, if he is wise from eternity, and he is powerful from eternity, then he has also wisdom and power from eternity, which is Christ: for he is the ray of the glory of the Father, and the impress of his hypostasis481. As the sun from which it. shines is the cause of the ray, and the sun is a circle and orb, and, so to speak, a composition, and the ray that comes from it is the light that is emitted and lightens everything under heaven, the land I mean and the sea at the same time, and one can never see the sun without the ray that comes from it, but, when you hear of the sun, then you also without separation think of and understand the light that comes from it, that which gives light and that which is lightened by it, for it is from it, and is not after it, so also from the everlasting and suprasensual light, which is the Father, the Son shone forth without beginning and everlastingly, who himself also is the suprasensual ray which proceeds from him by generation, and does not appear after him. And, as when we hear the divine Scripture calling the Son a ray, |179 we think of the Father from whom, he radiated, so, when we hear that he is the Word of God, according to the passage, «In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God» 482, we regularly think of the Father who is the subject of the Word, who begot the Son from his own nature without passion, the Word so to speak of a great intellect, and the messenger in whom he displays and makes known and on whom he impresses the hypostasis of the Father, who is a great intellect, and a mind above all . things. And, as our mind begets the word without passion, and makes known the thought that is in the heart, and the word is a true image of the mind and an exact likeness, and in conjunction with the word, so to speak, there proceeds forth, also the emission of the breath of the mouth, in the same way from the essence 483 of the Father also the Son proceeds by way of birth, and the Holy Spirit by way of procession. And of the person of the Son who is the wisdom of the Father it is written, «I was born before all the mountains» 484, and about the Spirit it is said, «The Holy Spirit which proceedeth from the Father» 485. And the divine Scripture does not use such words at random, saying that the Son is begotten and the Spirit proceeds, |180 486 but that we may not confuse the hypostases, and that 487 we may know definitely that the Son is one in his hypostasis, and the Holy Spirit another, and that, though they are both from the same essence488, and from the same one Father, one is begotten and the other proceeds: whence it follows that the Holy Spirit is not the Son; for he is not begotten but proceeds. But, if anyone say, «How is the Son begotten, and how does the Spirit proceed?», we discreetly say that it is as the Father knows that he begot and the Son that he was begotten, and the Spirit that he is from the Father; but this even the very angels are not allowed to understand, and we too will not contuse ourselves by investigating it. But, inasmuch as we are variable, our mind, being subject to variations and changes, emits a word that proceeds and is dissolved in the air 489, and a breath in the same way that as soon as it proceeds is diffused over the same air3. But God and the Father, the living and |181 hypostatic mind, being incorruptible and invariable, and everlastingly the same, consequently begets a living and hypostatic Word, and emits a living and hypostatic Spirit. And, as the Father is the Creator, so the Son is the Creator, and the Holy Spirit: for 'by the word of the Lord were the heavens established, and by the spirit of his mouth all the strength of them'490: and, since they are of the same essence 491 of the Father, they are of necessity 492 of the same glory and kingship and eternity; for the fact that they are of the same essence 491 brings with it identity in every respect. And, when we hear of the Son, we immediately understand that he himself is of the same essence 491 as the Father; for every father certainly begets a son of the same essence 491 as himself. Thus also from every appellation 493 we draw |182 God-befitting thoughts about the Son, from that of 'ray' the thought of co-eternity with the Father, from that of 'Word' impassibility of birth, from that of 'Son' the thought of co-essentiality. It is impossible for us in one appellation or illustration to comprehend all the attributes that exist in the divine nature, because it is without likeness and without peer: but, when we receive from each of the names that which is God-befitting, we dismiss all the other things and let them remain below. When we speak of the divine nature, we mean the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, separating the hypostases, but |183 uniting the Godhead. And, as the name 'Father' and the fact that he is not begotten by anything is the peculiar characteristic of the hypostasis of the Father, so also the name 'Son' and the fact that he is begotten by the Father is the peculiar characteristic of the hypostasis of the Son: similarly also the appellation 'Holy Spirit' and the fact that he is not begotten but proceeds from the Father is the peculiar characteristic of the hypostasis of the Holy Spirit. While therefore the hypostases or persons are recognised by the peculiar characteristics, and the Father is not converted into the Son or the Holy Spirit, nor does the Son pass into the Holy Spirit or the Father, nor yet is the Holy Spirit transformed so as to become the Father or the Son, the three are one, in that they are of the same essence of the Godhead; for the Father is God, and the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God, and, while |184 the hypostases remain unconfused, the Trinity is invariable in all points: for its essence 494 is one, its glory one, its everlastingness one, its kingship one, its power one, its will one, its operation one, and through it we hold that the Trinity is one God. And, though each appears by himself, yet there is one Godhead, in the same essence 495......the Son the fact that he is begotten, and the Spirit the fact that he proceeds. And these are from the Father as from a root and we refer their Godhead eternally and timelessly to one first cause, to the Father, and so the principle of a single first cause is preserved. For we do not hold several first causes, but we reject the Jewish poverty also which sees little,, and do not confine the Godhead in one person, and at the same time we know and think of three hypostases in one essence1, and one identity of honour, and do not divide it into a trinity of first causes, and shun the polytheism of the pagans.
(Of Cyril, from the 12th chapter of the Treasure. «As the sun is in the ray that proceeds from it, and the ray in the sun from which it proceeded, |185 and in the word is the intellect which begot it, and in the river the fount that sent it forth, and in the image the original, so the Father is in the Son and the Son in the Father, as he says, 'He who hath seen me hath seen the Father', and, 'I and my Father are one', and, 'I am in my Father, and my Father in me', being numerically divided into a duality, and being so in hypostases, but in that they are one in nature restricted to one Godhead») 496. Next the second question, 'Why and in what way do we say that God the Word was humanized?'. The defence. But now it is reasonable to consider why and in what way we say that the only Word, the Son of God, was humanized; for this is the second question that you put. But we without going outside the divine Scriptures say that the reason for which he shone upon and gave light to this world by the coming of his Humanization in the flesh was that, as in Adam we die, so in Christ himself we might live 497, and, as it is said, «By man is death, so also by man is the resurrection of the dead» 498. Since Adam was condemned to death after the transgression which was committed through the deceitfulness of the serpent, and heard the words, |186 «Dust thou art and to dust shalt thou return», and, «Cursed is the ground in the work of thine hands», and, «In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread», and Eve too was also condemned with him by hearing the words, «In pains shalt thou bear children» 499, so with us also who are sprung from them the charges of disobedience have been confirmed, and we ourselves are dust and to dust we return, and we are condemned to the curse and are creatures born in pains: and from that time we have been in subjection, being subject to lust and to the varied pleasure of this, according to the saying of the blessed Paul 500. For it was right that against the cunning contriver of evil, the serpent and the destroyer of our life, we should contend with him with the same weapons (?) 501 with which he deceived those founders of our race: and, since it was not the part of another power to annul the punishment fixed by our Lord himself, he did not send an envoy nor an angel, but, as Isaiah cries, the Lord himself saved us 502. The only God the Word who is before the ages, the power and wisdom of the Father, in whose image he created rational man, became flesh, I mean man according to the words of «John 503, not that he was changed into flesh (far be it!), but, while he remained invariable as God, he himself assumed the whole of me by a true |187 and hypostatic union, but still without the sin which had come in upon us 504. For, immediately after Gabriel had made announcement to the Virgin and said to her, «Rejoice greatly, thou that art made glad, the Lord is with thee»505, at the very moment of time, we believe that God the Word himself came to dwell in her womb, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit, and olthe very leaven of the holy Virgin, in flesh of our nature possessing an intelligent soul. For he says, «That which is born in thee is of the Holy Spirit» 506, since the Holy Spirit .operatively effected the fertilization of the conception, while Mary contributed the birth according to the natural manner of mothers. Wherefore also the period of conception was one of nine months (for he says, «But, when the days were accomplished that she should bring forth» 507), and all these things were devoid of phantasy 508, since he who was conceived took the seed of Abraham 509: for a descendant of Abraham is the Virgin, who also is of our nature, from whom the Lord took flesh and became a babe. For he himself became a babe, and the babe was not first formed separately, while he afterwards came to be with him by way of indwelling, as those who divide him into two natures say. This unsound opinion is |188 rejected by the blessed Paul when he says, «For, since the children partook of flesh and blood, he himself also similarly partook of the same, in order that through death he might destroy him who hath the power of death, who is the devil» 510. If then 511 he partook of flesh and blood similarly to the children and in the same way, it is plain that, as the soul of a man is born with its own body, though in its nature it is incorporeal, but is nevertheless reckoned to be one with it because of the union, so too he who was born is also said to be united to the body that was born that has a rational and intelligent soul. And, as you do not say that a man's soul passed into flesh, although it is united with the body by an original union, so also no one says that God the Word was changed into flesh and endured the process of mingling, because he is hypostatically united to a body. Wherefore, when he was born, he made the Virgin the God-bearer, but he did not receive the beginning of being God and being held as such from her, but in that he became man. he writes her as his mother. But he did not pass from being God, although he took that which he was not; but, as he remained that which he is, so also he became truly man. That the body which he united to |189 him was not without a soul is certain from the words of the angel: for he said, «Rise, take the boy and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for they are dead who sought the boy's soul» 512: concerning which he also said, «I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again» 513. But it was not without intelligence and imperfect, according to the statement of the proverbs of Apollinaris, but was in fact intelligent, as indeed the very term 'boy' and the fact that he was named 'man' is enough to show this same thing: for a boy's soul is not without reason, but it is reasonable because it is human. However this very same thing is also clearly shown even by the sacred writings of the gospel; for it said of him, «Then he began to be distressed and grieved, and to say, 'My soul is sorrowful, even unto death'» 514. But it is plain to everyone that distress and grief happen to a rational and intellectual soul. But, if they say that the Godhead of the Only one took the place of intellect, this is in truth a thing without intellect, for us to assign the passion of distress to the impassible nature of God. Accordingly the Only God the Word became perfectly man, that he might:bestow upon us perfect salvation: for, as soon as he was born, he did away |190 the punishment laid upon Eve, who was first led astray by the serpent. If Emmanuel had not been born, who is the Word of God who took flesh, who according to the saying of the prophet 'removed weeping from all faces' 515, the curse, «In pains shalt thou bear children» 516, would not have ceased: nevertheless it ceased because God was born. Further witness is borne to this by the actual unerring words of the gospel also: for it introduces to us the angel saying, «I announce unto you great joy, which belongeth to all the world, that to-day there hath been born to us a Saviour, who is the Lord Christ, in the city of David» 517. Mark clearly that, if it were not that hé who was born was the Lord, the joy that came to all the world, which is also the joy of the whole race of men, the curse, «In pains shalt thou bear children», would not have ceased. But, if the birth is the cause of the joy, she who bore is also free from the punishment; and thenceforth the joy necessarily passes to those who believe in him: for he said, «Those who received him he gave them power to become sons of God» 518, those who attained to the adoption through the Spirit, after he became man.
And next the third question, as to how we should, understand Paul's |191 saying, «In him all the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily» 519. The defence.
In the same God-befitting frame of mind let us also understand (and that is what in your third question you thought good to ask) the words which the wise Paul wrote and sent to the Golossians about Christ, how that in him all the fulness of the Godhead came to dwell bodily; for we do not understand the expression 'in him dwelleth' as the supporters of the impiety of Nestorius wish to understand it: for these say that the Word came to dwell in Christ by way of indwelling, as in one of the prophets. But, lest any man in consequence of the statement that he came to dwell decline from the proper opinion and reckon the Incarnation of the Word a mere indwelling, as happened in the case of a man, Paul is sufficient to meet this false tenet when he says that it came to dwell in him 'bodily', that is hypostatically and naturally, even as the statement that he similarly partook with us of flesh and blood 520 unconfusedly and immutably, in a Unity that is not dissipated, all mingling and phantasy 521 being far from it; for it is alien to a bodiless nature that in consequence of its union with a body it should be mingled or changed, a thing which in its nature does |192 not touch anything bodily. As to the fact that the word 'dwell' is also used of those who are hypostatically united, we have the testimony of the wise Paul himself; for in writing to the Corinthians he said, «We know that, even if this our house, our tent on earth, is dissolved, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, that abideth for ever in heaven»522. As we are said to dwell in a body as in a house, so too God the Word is said to dwell in a body, as being hypostatically united to a body that has a rational and intelligent soul. But he said that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells, that is, not one operation, nor yet a partial grace of the Word himself, as took place in the inspiration of the prophets, but the whole hypostasis of the Only one, although he is raised above all limitation, he who imparts tens of thousands of operations to others, and distributes graces by way of gifts as from a fountain.
And again the fourth question, as to how it is that, if we say that the Trinity is one nature, and also confess one incarnate nature of God the Word, we do not also say that the Father and the Holy Spirit became incarnate with the Son. The defence. |193
Since you have said that this also is impiously said by some men, that, inasmuch as we believe that God the Word was united to flesh, the Father also, inasmuch as he is named as being of the same nature, is necesarily said to have become incarnate, and the Holy Spirit also, we fitly say what we can and what we have believed, fixing our mind on the divine Scriptures, and not crying from the earth according to the prophet's saying 523, nor yet making up things that come from our heart 524. But this objection has occurred to them in this way. If so be that Christ cries in the gospel, «I am in my Father and my Father in me»525, and Paul again says that the Son is the image of the invisible God 526, and the Holy Spirit also the image of the Son, in that he said of those who had been admitted to the adoption as sons by the Spirit, «they became conformed to the image of his Son» 527, that it might be shown as following from this that the Holy Trinity is one essence 528, when it is said that the Son became incarnate, how can we not also allow that the Father and the Holy Spirit too became incarnate, inasmuch as they are in the Son and appear in him? This is what these say. But we say with intelligence: These, my good men, are the words of those who confuse the hypostases. But, if the Father is the Father, he never passes |194 into the Son, and the Holy Spirit also remains fixedly and without transformation in his own hypostasis, and does not pass into the hypostasis of the Son: but the divine Scriptures have said that the Son became incarnate and became man, and it is on account of the co-essentiality that, the Father and the Holy Spirit are said to be in him, not in order that we may dissolve and confound the hypostasis of the Father and of the Holy Spirit in the Son. But, if the Son is the image of the Father, the very name 'image' shows that it is understood to be the image of another hypostasis separate from itself: for, if it is an image, it is an image of some one, and, because it is an unvarying image in all points, it is not therefore the person himself of whom it is an image; for, if it were the person himself, it would fail to . be an image, for of whom would it be an image? Suppose a man delineates and copies a design and pattern from an original tablet on to another, and draws it correctly in all points, and makes the copy like the original, in no |195 point falling short of the pattern that was first designed, but makes the colour and form 529 and stature and size and pose of the limbs also alike, and those who see it for the first time do not know, if one may so say, which is the original from which it was drawn and designed, on account of the exact resemblance of the appearance in both, and after this he takes the copy and fixes it on a wall, then 530 will anyone of right understanding say that the original tablet has been fixed on the wall, because it is a copy of it and contains all that belongs to the original pattern? So we say that the Son became incarnate, the true image of the Father, who has by nature everything that belongs to his begetter, and we do not on this account hold that the Father became incarnate, who appears in his own special hypostasis or person. |196 What has been said is intended as an indication of the subject, in order that the understanding may receive a defective and obscure example, because the whole force of the example does not follow in the footsteps of the truth, since here the image is without soul and immoveable, and is limited by the appearance of colours, but above there is a living and moveable image, suprasensual and unlimited and without appearance 531, and possessing immutability by nature. But, if we look into the divine Scriptures, we may through the mystery that has been richly revealed in them by another example also reçoive an illustration of what is stated. It is everywhere known that our speech 532 is the offspring of our mind, and not the offspring only, but also the clear image, which represents the disposition 533 that is in the depths of the mind, and with the speech comes forth also the |197 breath 534 of the mouth. The example is defective, and is a kind of similitude and shadow of the truth itself for those who are able to listen properly and intelligently. However, as our speech comes out through the organ 535 of the voice and moves the hearing and passes inside him who hears, and no one says that the speech which is begotten by the mind, exists hypostatically, the speech which enters into the hearing of him who hears, or says that the breath which comes out in the speech through the voice exists in hypostasis 536, but only calls it a help to the hearing, so understand also with regard to the mystery of God the Word, because he himself alone hypostatically and ineffably and as he himself only knows came to dwell in the Virgin's womb and became incarnate from her, and neither the Father his begetter nor the Spirit which proceeds shared in this, but according to the saying of John, «The Word became flesh, and he was God, and was with God» 537, as one with another, because the hypostases exist severally. Since then these things are so, that question of theirs which arises from ignorance |198 is superfluous and vain, a question that amounts to actual impiety. «If» (they say) «you say that the Trinity is one nature, and say that there is one nature of the incarnate Word, how are you not driven to saying that the whole Trinity became incarnate?» I am surprised at the cunning rusticity of those men, as shown by the way in which they display courage without consideration against the right opinion. We 538 use the name 'nature' sometimes generally of 'essence' 539, and sometimes specifically signifying the hypostasis of a man. We term all mankind one nature, as in the text «Every nature of beasts and of birds and of things that are in the water is subjected and made subject to human nature» 540: and again we call a man 'nature', Paul for instance or Peter or James. Where we name all mankind one nature, we use the name 'nature' generically in place of 'essence': but, where we speak of one nature of Paul, we employ the name 'nature' in place of 'individual hypostasis'. So also, when we say that the Holy Trinity is one nature, as in the text, «In order that we may be sharers of the divine nature» 541, we use the name 'nature' in place of the general |199 designation 'essence' 542. And to say that the Holy Trinity is one nature is the same as to say that it is one Godhead, as we are in fact accustomed to call all mankind one nature. But, when we say 'one incarnate nature of God the Word', we say 'nature' in place of an individual designation, and thereby we denote the one actual hypostasis of the Word, like that of Paul or Peter or any single man. Therefore also, when we say one nature which became incarnate', we do not say so absolutely, but we say 'one nature of the Word himself, and clearly denote that it is one hypostasis. But again let no one stain the divine nature that is raised above all things with anything lowly taken from the example of Paul and Peter. For, although they are of the same essence, they differ not only in hypostases, but also in power and operation, and stature and shape, and in the various kinds of impulses that are in men's minds. The Holy Trinity however differs by the difference of hypostases only, and in every point is unvarying in equality, and in the fact that it is of the same essence. And avoid that poverty of the example which is not worthy of the Godhead, and do not conceive of the Word as without hypostasis, nor yet of the Spirit as being dissipated in the air 543. |200
Next the fifth question, as to how the Only one, who is a quickening blessing, was termed a curse 544. The defence.
We will now go on to give you an answer with regard to the fifth question also, how the Only one, who is a quickening blessing, was termed a curse. If he became man to free our race from the bonds of former crimes, and took upon him the seed of Abraham, and flesh of our nature, and united a human soul to himself hypostatically, therefore he made all the debts of our race to which we were liable his own: for we are accursed, and we came under, the penalty of the curse, and heard the words, «Dust thou art and to dust shalt thou return», and, «Cursed is the earth in the work of thine hands», and, «In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread» 545; and he became the firstfruits of our nature. For in that he took upon him the seed of Abraham he is consequently said to have become 546 those things to which our nature was subject. Nor yet was he subject to these things for a moment of time, but rather after they had been vainly applied to him he destroyed them. Just as the sun when it shines in a gloomy and dark house, as soon as it puts forth its ray, dispels the darkness, since it itself is not affected |201 by darkness, in the same way also the Only God the Word, the Sun of righteousness, as soon as he approached our nature, also dispelled the curse. For the holy Virgin, who conceived with the divine and incorruptible conception, immediately heard from Elizabeth who had been divinely moved, that is the servant of the Baptist, the words, «Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?» 547. If she had not known that it was the Lord who was conceived of the God-bearer Mary, she would not have cried, «Blessed is the fruit of thy womb». In agreement with this our Lord himself also in his words dispelled the curse, that the earth might no more be 'cursed in the work of thine hands', saying, «Work not the food that perisheth, but the food that abideth in eternal life, which the Son of man will give you», and not, «In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread», but, «I am the bread of life which came down from heaven, and if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever», and no more, «Dust thou art and to dust shalt thou return», but, «This is the will of my Father, that everyone who seeth the Son and believeth on him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day» 548. You see that on all points by |202 being himself made a curse he becomes a dispeller of the curse, and this curse he takes up on to the cross, and thence puts it to flight: for it was overcome by the law which said, «Cursed of God is everyone who shall be hanged upon wood» 549. And he himself underwent the accursed death that was for our sake, and thence blessed the whole human race; and the blessed Paul bears witness who writes to the Galatians and says, «Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, and became a curse for our sake, because it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged upon wood', in order that the blessing of Abraham might be among the nations in Jesus Christ» 550. So also he is said to have become sin 551, because he endured the death that was the due of sinners; for, while he is himself the pure justice of the Father, he is crucified between two robbers; but these on account of their offences, and in accordance with the passage in the Gospel of Mark who says, «And with him they crucified two robbers, one on the right hand and one on the left, and the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, 'He was numbered with the unjust'» 552. So he became sin to remit the sins of others: so also he paid the debt that was incurred for us, and we ourselves became righteousness in him; for those who have been freed from debts are righteous, and |203 are not termed liable. And, because during the time of his Humanization he did no sin, therefore also iniquity was not found in him, but he showed himself righteous, that is, he is righteousness; and, when he became flesh, all our nature again was justified in him as in firstfruits; and this is what the wise Paul said to the Corinthians about the Father, «He made him sin for our sake, who knew no sin, that we might be the righteousness of God in him» 553. This too was carried out in the ritual of the law also; for the two goats on whom lots were laid were a type of Christ our Saviour, who is made up of two elements, the perfect Godhead I mean and the manhood: and the one, on whom the Lord's lot fell, was slaughtered, while the other was dismissed into the wilderness that is not passed,, who also was named 'the dismissible', who gained the appellation also from the fact itself; for he was dismissed, but was hot simply dismissed, but in the manner which Scripture mentioned; for it said as follows: «And thou shalt bring the living goat, and Aaron shall lay his two hands on the head of the living goat, and shall confess over him all the sin of the sons of Israel, and all their wickedness and their iniquity, and shall lay them on the head of the living goat, and shall dismiss him by means of a man who is ready into the wilderness; |204 and the goat shall take upon him all their iniquity» 554. This therefore was thus performed in the case of the two goats also, that the one was slaughtered and the other dismissed. We clearly see the hidden meaning which relates to the Cross: for the type denotes that the same one Christ suffered in the flesh, but remained without suffering in that he is considered to he true God. For the same person both is separated by lots to the Lord and slaughtered (for 'he delivered himself for our sake as an offering and a sacrifice to God the Father for a sweet savour' 555), and goes away without suffering bearing the sins of all Israel, which in the type of Aaron were confessed over the head of the goat: for he clearly displays himself as being himself true God, over whom we confess our sins according to law; for «I will make confession», he saith, «unto thee, Lord, concerning my sins, and thou wilt forgive the wickedness of my heart» 556; for, though 'he was led as a lamb to the slaughter', yet, 'who shall tell his generation, because his life is taken away from the earth?' 557, for he is without descent as God, and he is life in his nature, for he was taken away and lifted up from the earth. Truly is it said of him in reference to the type that he shall be dismissed into the wilderness that is not passed; for that country is impassable to all outside |205 nature, and is passable to him who became incarnate only, I mean the throne of the kingdom, on which he sits at the Father's right hand, bearing our sins; for so too John also the loud-voiced preacher and ambassador of the Word himself cried and said, «Behold! the Lamb of God who beareth the sin of the world» 558. For the same person is termed at one time a goat, at another a lamb; and he shows that he came to suffer not only for the sake of sinners, but also for the sake of the righteous; for death reigned 'even over those who had not sinned' also, as Paul also said 559. Accordingly the lamb is the type of the righteous, and the goat of sinners; for the righteous stand as lambs on the right hand, and the sinners as goats on the left. Let no one think- that through the symbol of the two goats he shows us two Christs, one passible and the other impassible, but one and the same, passible in the flesh, but impassible in his Godhead. For indeed one goat only was not sufficient to signify what was signified with two (how was it possible for the same to be slaughtered and not slaughtered?), to show that Christ tasted death in the flesh, and in his Godhead is raised above suffering. Is it not plain therefore that another goat is necessarily taken, in order that the one fact may be perfectly revealed symbolically in |206 the two? Just as a painter, when he depicts the story of Abraham, depicts him several times, now hearing God saying to him, «Offer thy son to me as a burnt-sacrifice», now cutting faggots, now again binding Isaac and laying him on the faggots, now with his hand armed with the knife and stretched out to slay and held back by the heavenly voice coming from above, and we do not think the one Abraham to be many because the same person was depicted many times, and indeed one picture was not sufficient to tell the whole story, so also for the shadowy representation of the symbol, for the sake of perfectly setting forth the fact, two goats were taken, and we do not divide the one Christ into two, but we declare him to be one out of two natures, the perfect Godhead and the manhood, according to the faith of the divine Scriptures, and the words of the fathers that are inspired by the Spirit, from which sources we also speak these things. That the two goats symbolized the one Christ is plain from the allegory of the lots; for the priest Aaron did not select one of the goats at haphazard to be slaughtered, but committed the matter to the uncertainty of lots, that by this he might show the primary unity of God the Word and his flesh. As he is himself God |207 impassible and free, but by reason of the union with a body possessing a rational soul was condemned to death, though in his nature he is immortal, so also the one goat who was to be dismissed to the wilderness symbolized the impassibility of the Godhead of the Only one, and was under the decree of slaughter; for the lot cast over him, whether he was to be slaughtered or dismissed, was uncertain. Accordingly it is plain that the two goats signify the one Christ, and that the same suffered in the flesh, and, in that he is God, remained raised above sufferings. Nor yet let anyone, imitating the madness of the heathen, imagine that the dismissed goat was set apart and dismissed to the wilderness for some demon; for this is a departure from the laws of Moses, inasmuch as he said, «Hear, Israel. The Lord thy God is one Lord», and again, «Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou draw near, and in his name shalt thou swear», and, «Thou shalt not go after other gods» 560; and again in another place, «And ye shall not make mention of the name of other gods, and it shall not be heard from your mouth»; and again, «Thou shalt not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds, but shalt utterly overturn them and destroy their pillars, and shalt serve the Lord |208 thy God only» 561. How then should he in the same mind break in pieces and overturn their pillars (and he did not allow the name of other gods to be mentioned at all beside the one Lord God), and on the other hand separate the goat to another beside him as to some evil fiend, and propitiate this fiend in this way? But it is plain that the two goats were offered in order to honour one God only, and completed the symbolic allegory which we have already mentioned, and two lots were cast, and one was slaughtered to the Lord, and the other was dismissed after the manner of the separation of the lots, and therefore he was called 'the dismissible'. If he had said, «One goat to the Lord, and one goat to the dismissible», perhaps their charge would have derived some plausibility from the divine Scripture, because it said, «One lot to the Lord, and one to the dismissible»; for it is plain that the one was separated for the purpose of slaughter, and the other was dismissed to the Lord, not to another different from him; for this is what the divine Scripture said, «And he shall set' the living one before the Lord, in order to dismiss him in dismissal» 562. But some of the learned Hebrews, that is rather those who are earlier than those who are of the Hebrews, said |209 «One lot to the Lord, and one lot to him that was dismissed» 563, in order that in all points and that even from the very imagination of the heathen, or, to speak fittingly, from their lack of instruction, it might be seen that their charge against the holy laws of Moses is without plausibility. For those who after the Christian religion were lifted up in philosophy, and endeavoured to adorn demon-worship in a reverend fashion 564, as they themselves say on behalf of others, say of their god who is called 'mb1khywn, «We should not sacrifice to the gods, but by purity of mind propitiate and honour them» 563: but men who were fettered in the same chain as they said that men should sedulously offer sacrifices to the evil spirits who delight in blood, not that they may help, but that they may not injure 565. If then Moses separated and dismissed one of the goats to a demon, according to the madness of those men he ought to have ordered this goat to be slaughtered to the demon, and he who is pleased by blood ought to have rejoiced in his blood. But now the exact contrary is the case: the one who was set apart to God Most High was slaughtered, while the other, the dismissible, or, as they wish to say. the one who was separated to an evil |210 demon, was dismissed into the wilderness without blood and without sacrifice. By all these arguments the ingenious madness of the heathen has been refuted, who wished to stain the divine Scripture with the blame of their cults of many demons, men who did not shrink from calling the usual sacrifices to their idols 'dismissible', in order to substantiate their error by a plausible identity of name. These things we have stated shortly in the desire to show how Jesus became sin for us, that we might in him become the righteousness of God. He endured a death that was for our sake, he who for the sins of us all became one that is subject, he who knows not sin, for according to the prophet's saying, «He came to death for the sins of my people, and for our sake he suffered pain, and was smitten, and he endured sickness for our iniquity» 566. So also Paul wrote to the Hebrews and said, "Christ was offered once, that he might bear the sins of many» , and he says that 'by his sacrifice he hath been revealed once for all at the last for the doing away of sin', and 'he offered one eternal offering for our sins' 567: and Peter the eminent among the apostles said, «The same carried up our sins in his body on to the cross, that we, being freed from sins, might live in righteousness»568.
And again the sixth question, as to how we say that the same suffered in |211 the flesh, and in his Godhead remained without suffering, and, while we do not make him alien to suffering, we keep him without suffering. The defence. Now we will give a sufficient answer to that question also, how we say that the same suffered in the flesh, and did not suffer in the Godhead, and, while we do not make him alien to suffering, we keep him without suffering. On the same subject we will lay before you an example which has come to us from our fathers. The force of examples is in truth small, and far removed from the truth; nevertheless, if only in some thin and shadowy phantasies 569, it offers to the understanding a beginning of conceptions. As, when iron or another similar substance 570 is abundantly warmed by fire, and is heated by flame, we know that, while the iron does not pass out of its own nature, the iron which has passed into a complete flame, and has been made to hiss and to glow by it, it appears to be all fire, and, while it is in this state, blows are applied to it, it being smitten by a hammer or by means of other kinds of strokes, but the iron is exposed to the blows themselves, being expanded and narrowed at the same time, while the nature of the fire is in no way injured by the smiter, so must we also understand the mystery |212 concerning Christ also, even although all the power of speech shrinks, from the glory of the fact. He was hypostatically united to a body with a rational and intelligent soul, but he permitted it to suffer naturally from the blows of pains, I mean on the cross, when he might have deadened these also as God, but he was not desirous of this, for it was not for himself, but for our race, that he was purchasing the successes of victory. Therefore he permitted his body to suffer, while even he himself also was not alien from suffering, for he was united to a suffering body, and, as it is his body, so also it is called his suffering; nevertheless as God he remained without suffering, for God is not touched by suffering. He is said also to have tasted death for us, in that his soul was separated from his body; not that his soul was cut away from his Godhead, or his body left without Godhead; but he showed that he was in both without separation, for neither was his soul left in Sheol, nor did his flesh see corruption 571, according to the saying of the Psalmist. For he was not separated from his body that was buried, and therefore he annihilated corruption; for, if it had been separated from him who is life and incorruption, perhaps it would have been constantly |213 attacked by corruption also. For he went down into Sheol with his soul also, the whole of him being in it, and the whole of him in his body without separation, as one that is incorporeal and is able to fill everything as one that is infinite. It was necessary for him to give light even to the lower regions also, and to have mercy on the souls there imprisoned, and, according to the saying of the prophet, «to say to those that are in bonds, 'Come forth', and to those also that are in darkness, 'Be revealed'» 572. This he accomplished in action. The gates of Sheol which saw him trembled, and he broke the bars of iron and gates of bronze 573, and opened Paradise which was shut, and «many bodies of just men among those who had fallen asleep came out of their graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared to many» 574. Very properly the evangelist added, 'after his resurrection'; for it was necessary that he who is life in his nature should himself first begin the resurrection, and that the very one who was able to dissolve the power of death should himself tread the way for the rest who came after him. He did not deal arbitrarily with the devil, the same who led the first man astray, when he was defeated as by God, but, as one who is just and 'taketh the wise in their craftiness' 575, he brought the |214 crafty one into subjection by means of his devices. He who led Adam astray and said to him, «You will be a god, if you transgress the law», fell by the device of craft. He fought with the second Adam who is Christ, and found him to be God and man at the same time; and he won a just victory over him; and henceforth we confidently sing songs of praise for his victory over death and say, «Where is thy victory, death? and where is thy sting, Sheol?» For Paul says that 'the sting of death is sin' 576.
Next the seventh question, why the law was given to the fathers that they should circumcise their foreskin. The defence.
Now we pass on to discuss the subject of circumcision. This 577 is what you ask, "Why was the law given to the fathers that they should circumcise their foreskin?» Some have simply and easily handed down a reason like this. They say, «Because Abraham migrated from the land of the Chaldees, and the Chaldees were permitted (and the same was the case too with the Medes and Persians also) according to the custom of their fathers to have intercourse with their mothers and sisters, for this reason therefore he circumcised his foreskin, that he might shun kindred flesh, |215 and renounce marriage with those of his kin, and on this account God gave the law to the sons of Israel through Moses and said, 'A man shall not go in to any that is related to him in the flesh to uncover his shame' 578». And others say that the reason why Abraham was commanded to circumcise his progeny also besides was that it might be plain that Christ should come of them in the flesh who is God over all for ever and ever. But, if you please, we will pass from these reasons; for it is known that the Egyptians also as well and other nations circumcise their foreskin, even although they imitated the Hebrews; and we state that which is true and befits God the lawgiver, and that is very sublime and to which testimony is borne by the Scriptures, that circumcision promises renunciation of fleshly birth, and acquisition of the adoption of the Spirit, by which we are called sons of God; for it is written, «Thus saith the Lord, 'Israel is my son, my firstborn'» 579. After the fall from Paradise and the' destruction of immortality, Adam knew Eve, and she conceived and bare; and this unstable intercourse, intercourse befitting beasts, was given for the propagation of our race, it being a kind of healing of the sickness, that the race of men might |216 not be cut off through death. The woman was not at first given to Adam for the sake of the procreation of children, but that she might be a helper to him; for the Lord God said, «It is not good for Adam to be alone; let us make him a helper like to him» 580. He did not say from the beginning that he would make her be fruitful and multiply, in order that by means of fertility the race might go on to multiplication; for God might have done this even without the intercourse of marriage, and have made our race increase and multiply like the myriads of angels, as the Lord himself actually said in a place in the gospel, «In the resurrection there is no marriage, nor yet are they joined in marriage, but they will be as the angels in heaven» 581. If anyone says, «What is the help that the woman was to give the man?», we easily say: In the worship in Paradise and in the keeping of the law; as Solomon also said of a similar woman, «Who can find a manly woman?» 582, and again another wise man says, «A manly woman gladdeneth her husband», and, «A good woman is a good portion 583»: and for this reason they also received the law in common, that through union and conjunction of breath 584 they might be cautious, and not liable to be overcome by the |217 deceit of the serpent; for he said to them, «Of the tree of knowledge of good and evil ye shall not eat of it; but in the day in which ye shall eat of it ye shall die» 585. For, as long as they kept the law, and rejoiced with one another without passion, and did not perceive one another's nakedness, and also did not think of their union in marriage, they enjoyed the blessed life in Paradise itself. But, when the woman gave up the duty of help, and like a weak person out of simplicity accepted the deceitful counsel of the serpent, then she herself also became an evil counsellor to the man, and immediately they were alien to God, and also to the life in Paradise, and by means of death were condemned; and Adam knew his wife, and she becomes a helper to him in the second line, through the procreation of children 586. And at first she was given him as a helper in the worship in Paradise; for such is God's care for us that, even when we change, he continues to help us: for he made man his own master, and to honour that which is good; and, having foreseen that he would change, he provided a helper for him beforehand. Therefore also Adam by the grace of God, as soon as the woman was created, foretold that a man should 'leave his father and his |218 mother, and cleave to his wife, and they two should be one flesh' 587. This bodily birth circumcision renounces, which was given after the fall from the life in Paradise in the character of a remedy, and causes us to approach to the impassibility which existed during the residence in Paradise; by which we are named sons of God, inasmuch as it slays our members upon the earth, and puts off from us the old man. The truth itself, of which circumcision is a type, testifies to us; for Paul wrote to the Colossians and said that circumcision in Christ is baptism, whereby we put away from us our old man, and the mortality wherein we died after our fall from Paradise, and we also cut away the bodily desire as it were a kind of foreskin, and bury it in the waters which slay sin, and in the same way we are buried with Christ, and rise as new men and born afresh, and hasten to the new and; passionless life; for this is what Paul wrote: «In whom ye were circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, by stripping off the body of your flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, and were buried with him in baptism, and rose in him through faith in the operation of God who raised him from the place of the dead; and you also, who had died in your sins and in the foreskin of your flesh, he quickened |219 with him, and he forgave you all your sins» 588. You see that circumcision is the destruction of the foreskin, and contains a renunciation of fleshly birth and of the body's pleasure in mortality; for it confesses the passionless and new-fashioned life, as the actual truth of baptism showed, of which circumcision is a type, which in a shadow cuts away the foreskin of the flesh, while baptism cuts away the foreskin of the soul, and, so to speak, destroys its excessive wickedness. Such was the legal ceremony, and the covenant with Abraham, and of 589 his descendants, which by the ancients was carried out in a bodily and sensual fashion, but signified beforehand the allegorical conceptions, which the spiritual and suprasensual ceremony in Christ revealed and brought to pass, for through baptism we are circumcised with a suprasensual circumcision, and receive in our mind the privilege of being no longer sons of the flesh, for we are named sons of God. Hear what John the thunder and trumpet of the divine words says, «For those who received him he gave them power to become sons of God, those who believed on his name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God» 590. Joshua 591 also the son of Nun, who typified Jesus who is God and our Saviour, shows this clearly, that circumcision is the baptism which is |220 perfected in Christ, and was given to the sons of Israel as to a kind of sons without passibility; but, because they had lived forty years in the wilderness, it happened that the sons who were begotten by them remained uncircumcised, though it was possible for them to circumcise. But this did not happen by chance, but because God was directing this matter in order to reveal the future mystery; and neither did Moses circumcise them, the exact observer of the fathers' customs, who ordered that anyone who collected sticks on the sabbath-day should die 592, who knew all things beforehand, and among them the threat pronounced by God who said, «Whoever is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin on the eighth day, that soul shall perish from among its people, because it hath set at naught my covenant» 593; nor yet did Joshua 594 again, who succeeded to the government after Moses, circumcise them before they crossed Jordan; but, after they had crossed Jordan, then he took knives of rock and cut away their foreskins from them. And this is plain, that he who has crossed Jordan and by the laver is admitted to regeneration is circumcised with a rock-knife, which is Christ: for «the |221 Word of God is living, and effectual and sharp beyond a two-edged knife»595; and according to Paul's saying Christ also is a rock 596. Let no one hold the unreasonable supposition that they had no iron-knives in the wilderness; for they were armed, and slew those who opposed them. Mark again the same type in other mysteries also; for the blessed Paul said, «Those who were baptized in Christ were baptized in his death» 597, and. Joshua 598 the son of Nun presents the same figure, for he provided that the knives with which he circumcised the sons 0f Israel should be buried with him, that thereby he might show that those who are baptized in the name of Jesus the true God with the baptism that is completed in his death are by it circumcised. And, when we examine the sense of Scripture, we find an unlimited abundance of thoughts, and a primary union and agreement of the types with the truth, and praise the one God, the giver of the two covenants 599. And, as to the manner again in which we on being admitted to the divine laver and regeneration and putting off from us our old man are both invited by Christ to the mystic table and eat the angelic heavenly bread, Joshua the son of Nun himself again showed us this mystery. For, |222 after they had crossed the Jordan and been circumcised with knives of rock, then for the first time those who were circumcised ate of the wheat of the land of promise, and celebrated the Passover, not with the old leaven, but with the pure true leavens: and, as, when Jesus Christ ate the legal Passover with his disciples, and thereby fulfilled the law, and took the bread of thanksgiving in the midst, and blessed 600 the cup, and put an end to the legal Passover, the new 601 suprasensual sacrifice received a beginning and entrance, so also, when Joshua 602 the son of Nun as in a kind of prefigurement and type kneaded 603 unleavened loaves out of new wheat and kept the Passover, the old eating of manna ceased, and on that same day came to an end. Thus in every single point the type set forth the truth, It is proper also for us to hear the actual words of divine Scripture: |223 «And the sons of Israel celebrated the Passover on the fourteenth day from the evening, to the west of Jericho, beyond Jordan in the plain. And they ate of the produce of the land, and the next day they ate of the unleavened loaves of the Passover. And that same day the manna was taken away, after they had eaten of the wheat and the fruits of the land, and the sons of Israel had no longer manna» 604. The fact again that he who was bom was circumcised on the eighth day shows clearly that that circumcision is a type of the life of impassibility in which we truly live, not the life that is spent by those who are bom to destruction; «for in the resurrection there is no marriage, nor yet persons given in marriage, but they are as the angels in heaven» 605: for the eighth day itself is the beginning also on which our Lord rose, when he became firstfruits for our resurrection. He who is circumcised on the eighth day, which is the beginning of the future world 606, is raised above this world, for the rest of which the seventh day was appointed, the end of which brings us to that day which is the beginning and the eighth, on which is the impassible life, and he does not know the words, «Be fruitful and multiply» 607. These, we think, are the |224 things which through circumcision were given to the sons of Israel. But you perhaps, conversant as you are in divine things, can think of something else that is greater and more sublime.
And next the eighth question, how we ought to understand the saying of our Saviour in the gospel, «Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him» 608. The defence.
It agrees with the order of your questions that we should also shortly refer to your other question about the words spoken by our Saviour in the gospel by way of persuasion and advice, «Agree with thine adversary quickly, while thou art in the way with him, lest thine adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison, and thou shalt not come out thence till thou pay the last mite» 609. This commandment is almost the same which says, «He that will sue thee and take away thy tunic, let him have thy coat also» 610. However this needs a great effort in order that we may restrain and cut away the corruptions of sin. For what he said is like this. «If you are standing in the |225 court that is trying the case itself, and are prosecuting before the judge, and are altogether wrapt up in the court, rouse yourself on the way, and change from enmity towards your adversary to agreement, considering the uncertainty of the issue, lest you have to submit to an adverse verdict, and the adversary on the contrary part deliver you to the judge as one that is guilty, and you fall some time under sentence, and the judge deliver you to the officer, and so you be chastised until you pay the last mite» (it is the custom to term the bronze coin that is the smallest a mite). Luke also clearly confirms this sense, and for perfect understanding it seems to me sufficient to cite his actual words: «But why dost thou not of thyself judge righteously? But, when thou art going with thine adversary on the way to the judge, make it thy business to be quit of him, lest he deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the exactor, and the exactor cast thee into prison. And verily, verily I say unto thee that thou shalt not come out thence till thou pay the last mite» 611. To strip off your cloak also for the man who has a suit with you about your tunic and with great power overcome the rapacity of him who is contending with you is an act of sublime and exalted wisdom. Think only of getting rid of the running to, the judge |226 and duly preventing it during the time that is pressing upon you, when 612 you are not master of yourself, either to ruin your enemy or to reconcile him; and this needs the labour and toil of philosophy. For he commands us not only not to become adversaries, but to agree with our adversaries, and by watchfulness to keep guard over and restrain wrath, and quickly assuage the fire of enmity, and reconcile our present enemies by agreement. This is the simple conclusion of this in the form of exposition; for some have taken this saying in a higher sense. They say that a man's adversary is the reminder that comes from his conscience, and our Lord says this: «When you sin or wish to sin 613, agree with your adversary»; that is, accept the admonition that comes from your conscience, when it reminds you and blames you, if you have sinned or wished to sin; and, if you neglect the reminder from your conscience, and do not obey nor restrain yourself 614, you do not agree |227 with your adversary, but rather use force against your adversary. So also is it written in the prophet Hosea: «Ephraim used force against his adversary and forgot judgment, because he began to go after vanity» 615. So also Paul wrote to the Romans and said: «Our conscience beareth witness, or maketh defence, on the day on which God shall judge the secrets of men» 616. The words, 'as long as thou art in the way with him', have this meanmg, 'as far as this world extends', and the way is trodden by all men: and this is what he said: «While you are walking in this world as on a way, 617 accept the reminder that comes from your conscience and do not refuse it. If you refuse it and pass out of this world without having agreed 617, the conscience will take the place of an adversary and accuse you before the judge and place you under his sentence, and the judge will deliver you to the torture 618; |228 and these things would not have befallen you if you had made union with your adversary in this way of the world, when admonition was offered to you, and you did not accept this in agreement. This John the Evangelist also wrote in an epistle and said: «If our conscience condemneth us not, we have confidence towards God» 619.
And next the ninth question, as to how we ought to understand the words used by Paul in the first epistle to the Corinthians, «Every sin that a man may sin is outside his body; but he who committeth fornication sinneth against his body» 620. The defence.
Since you wished to have that other saying of the wise Paul also explained to you which is made in the first epistle to the Corinthians, «Every sin that a man may sin is outside his body, for he who committeth fornication sinneth against his own body», examine the explanatory and easy exposition of our holy fathers, who take this as a decree. Some say that Paul's |229 intention was this, to show the offence of fornication to be something greater than all other sins, and therefore he frightens those that are weak in order that they may rise to reformation, and by way of deterrent says that fornication is a sin of the body, and as if the other sins are outside the body, and, though a murderer defiles his hand with blood, and sins against his own body, and a slanderer immerses his tongue in calumny as in blood, yet he who commits fornication, he says, dips his whole body in the mire of sin, and lets it down as into a pot that is fall of putrid matter; therefore too he who commits fornication also, in that he thinks that the whole of him has been defiled and polluted, runs to the laver in order to wash off the stain itself of the pollution, which a slanderer or a robber or a thief never does, for they do not think that their body is polluted and defiled by the sin: for Paul, wishing to show that the offence of fornication is higher than the other sins, used this expression and said, «The other sins are outside the body; for he who commits fornication sins against his body». But certain others say that this is the meaning of the saying that he who commits fornication sins against his own body, that is, that he offends against the structure of the body, and, so to speak, against the very formation of man, |230 and the very mystery of the beginning of birth (for it is indeed an ineffable and all-glorious mystery and is known to God alone, how from the emission of a small seed this great and rational animal, that is to say man, takes a beginning); and this, they say, is the meaning of the words 'sins against his body': «and abstain, I pray you, so to speak, from doing despite to the formation of nature, from which your body too also sprang, by unlawful intercourse; for you forget that you are acting madly against yourself, for this act is in truth one of madness and drunkenness».
This is what these say. But others say better, as I also judge their interpretation to be the highest, that is the nearest to the apostle's meaning. Paul desired, so to speak, to show that the sin of fornication is beyond forgiveness; and above this he says, «Know ye not that your bodies are members of Christ?», and he turns reprovingly and says, «Shall I 621 then take a member of Christ and make it a member of a harlot 622?» 623: and by this he |231 showed that he who commits fornication offends against the members of Christ; and so he goes on to say, «Every sin that a man may sin is outside the hody, but he who commits fornication sins against his own body». A slanderer or a thief or a robber or a covetous man sins against a man by slandering him or by stealing his property or by desiring his goods; but he who commits fornication sins against his own body, that is against a member of Christ. Every sin distresses God, and men are reckoned to have sinned against him. These however are human sins, and have been committed as it were against men. But blasphemy or idolatry, and contempt and neglect of the sacred service, and things like these, are, we say, acts of impiety against God, and they are believed, so to speak, to be without |232 forgiveness, as also Eli the priest and old in days who was negligent concerning his sons, who were evil men as it is written and unlawfully offended against the divine service; for 624 he testified to them and said, «If a man sin against a man, they shall pray to the Lord for him: but, if he sin against the Lord, to whom shall they pray for him?» 625 So therefore Paul also wishes to make it appear that the sin of fornication is committed against Christ himself: and just as, if a man take a harlot and bring her into the holy temple of the Saviour of all, and there commit fornication, he will not merely be called to account for fornication, but also judged for impiety as having polluted the illustrious and holy place, so also he who commits fornication before believing: in Christ and writing him as his leader commits fornication |233 only; but, when he has through adoption been inserted in Christ's body, he is not only charged on account of fornication, but is also accused of impiety, as doing despite to the members of Christ 626. Therefore it is with this meaning that Paul says, «He who commits fornication sins against his own body». Immediately without any intervening words he went on to say, «Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Spirit that is in you, which ye have from God? And ye are not your own, for ye were bought with a price. Praise God therefore in your body» 627. Accordingly it is plain that through the adoption of the Spirit, which is the Spirit of Christ, we both become a temple of God, and, as it is said, «Christ dwelleth in our hearts» 628; and let no one say that he who slanders and he who robs pollutes the one the tongue, the other the hand only; for the pollution is not the same, nor are the stain and the mire the same; and, even if we allow it to be the same, yet the pollution does not affect the whole body equally, nor is the whole temple of God so to speak defiled. For he who commits fornication with a woman who commits fornication intertwines his whole body. |234 This objection the blessed Paul demolished beforehand by having recourse to the divine Scriptures and saying, «They two shall be one flesh» 629. That the sin and pollution of the other sins and those of fornication are not the same, but that the sin that arises from fornication is far removed from these, because it renders the man who commits fornication with his body, or with the temple of God, suddenly void of divine grace, this is clearly signified by the story of Samson. He even before his conception received a commandment by the voice of an angel, his mother being barren and his father Manoah 630; and, when he had been conceived and grown up, his affairs were determined according to the commandment of the angel who appeared; for he said, «Thou shall observe and not drink either wine or strong drink, and thou shalt not eat aught that is defiled; for lo! thou shalt conceive and shalt bear a son, and iron shall not go up upon his head, because the boy is a Nazirite unto God from thy womb» 631. And he grew up and became very great, and he was blessed by the Lord, and the Spirit of God was upon the boy, through whom he wrought marvellous and glorious deeds. But, |235 when he began to transgress the law of the Lord, the other sins were worthy of forgiveness, and the grace of the Spirit did not yet depart from him; but the sin of fornication rendered him bereft of the grace of the Spirit. First he transgressed against the law which commands the sons of Israel that it is not right to take in marriage women alien to their tribes, who 632 were the peoples round them whose land they inherited. For Samson said, «I have seen a beautiful woman in Timnath, of the daughters of the Philistines: now, take her for me to wife». And his father said to him, «Is there not a woman in the house of thy brethren of thy people to take, that thou goest to the uncircumcised Philistines to take thee a wife?» 633: however, they did not persuade him, but on the contrary even went with him to make the unlawful betrothal. And God suffered this wickedness to be carried out, in order that he might requite the Philistines, even against the wish of the sons of Israel; for Samson's going down became an occasion for their destruction. But, as they were going along and were bent on making the betrothal, he turned a little out of the way, and he came upon a lion and killed him as a man might kill a little kid. And the divine Scripture states that the Spirit of the Lord worked mightily upon him', or according to the text |236 contained in other manuscripts, 'the Spirit of the Lord prospered his way' 634; and, though he opposed himself to God's laws, the grace of the Holy Spirit did not abandon him. However it was not fornication on which they were bent, but marriage. And again at the wedding-feast he composed a certain question, or rather 635 a riddle, and asked it of those Philistines, fixing gifts for them and promising them so many garments and articles of clothing, if they told him the solution of that riddle; but, if they failed to find the origin of it and did not tell it, on the other hand he appointed a similar present for them to give. So much for what he did: but they could not find the interpretation of the question; but they persuade the woman who had been united to him to get the answer to the riddle from him by a trick, and make this known to them, as was in fact done. And thereupon those garments had to be exacted from him; for the holy Scripture said, «The spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and he went down to Ascalon, and there killed thirty men; and he took their spoils, and gave their garments to those who interpreted the riddle to him» 636. Now mark here again also how it said that the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, because he killed men alien to his race in fight, since God, as we have said, permitted this |237 same thing, that these men should perish, as men who had oppressed Israel: and at every great and wonderful and glorious deed that he did Scripture stated and said that the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him 637. And, after he had gone down to Gaza as is written 638, and had there seen a harlot and gone in to her, he shone with the same brilliant deeds and was resplendent with the same good successes, and with great power advanced to such acts, God instigating him to these. Nevertheless after the fornication on the occasion of the successes gained by him the divine Scripture no longer stated that the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; for the sin of fornication which is committed against the body, that is which is a sin against God, is of such a kind as to drive away the Holy Spirit. Wherefore also the wise Paul too says, «He who commits fornication sins against his own body», not as if the other sins were not objects of condemnation, for all of them contain a falling from the kingdom, but for the reason that was stated he was desirous to show that fornication is evil, and he wished to eradicate the passion itself from every man, as from some root; because the |238 Corinthians sinned wickedly in this respect; for he said, «Such fornication is reported among you, and fornication of such a kind that is not even named among the peoples, that a man should have his father's wife" 639. He began with an accusation of this kind, founded upon the particular unlawful intercourse, and he went on to use the spiritual knife against all fornication; and he raised a charge of this kind to a height. Look at the strict mercifulness of God, as in the history of Samson. As soon as he had committed fornication, the grace of the sanctifying power of the Spirit departed from him, but it was nevertheless poured out upon him in the power and operation of the successes obtained by him, giving an opportunity for repentance by means of which every sin is overthrown and cast out, unless we throw ourselves into the pit of despair 640.
LXVI. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO EUPRAXIUS.
[508-11.] For not only the manifestations of wrath that arise from wars, but also the chastisements of many kinds which are brought to pass from heaven for our correction it is the habit of Scripture to call evils. For the prophet |239 Amos said, «Is there evil in a city which the Lord hath not done?» And, explaining what an evil of this kind is, which is brought to pass by God in order to benefit, he said as his mouthpiece: « 'I smote you with heat and with jaundice, ye increased your gardens: your vines and your olives and your figs the caterpillar ate, and even so ye turned not to me', saith the Lord» 641.
(A little farther on.) Of these chastisements and calamities therefore God is the maker, for our reproof and the repression of our sins. Indeed we also call the things that are brought upon us by way of chastisement evils: and the holy prophet also speaks and composed according to our custom, or rather 642 the Lord himself who spoke in him.
LXVII. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO EUPRAXIUS THE CHAMBERLAIN.
[508-11] First he says, «I am he who formed light», and then he added, «and made darkness;» 643 meaning this; that, because he formed light, he himself |240 made darkness. If light had not existed first, darkness would not have been brought into being, from the shield of the heavenly body. When light was formed, and heaven was stretched like a roof over the earth, the space between became of necessity 644 not light, and so darkness was accidentally brought into being, not having existed before; and for this reason the maker of all had need to say, in order to illuminate the darkness that was in the world, «Let there be light» 645. All darkness is brought about by reason of shadowing bodies; because, if bodies did not exist in the way of the light, darkness would not result. The words are moreover spoken in order to do away with the falsely-named gods, and that we may know that he is the Creator of night and of day, and not, as the deceivers say, that the Creator of light is one and the creator of darkness again another.
But the phrase «maketh peace and createth evil» makes its interpretation clear from the very understanding of the composition of the words: for he meant, 'Let everyone know that I am he who makes peace and creates evil'. What evil? That which stands in active opposition to peace, that is wars, and devastations of cities, which are justly brought upon us on account of our sins: just as, when the sons of Israel sat in peace |241 and plenty, and afterwards left the Lord and turned aside to idolatry, God delivered them into the hand of the Moabites, and at times to the sons of Ammon, and to the rest of the nations: and this Micah declares when he says, «Evils came down from the Lord upon Jerusalem, noise of chariots and horsemen» 646.
LXVIII. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE 10th LETTER OF THE 2nd BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN BEFORE EPISCOPACY, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO PHOCAS AND EUPRAXIUS THE CHAMBERLAINS.
[508-11.] For, after the fishermen had proclaimed the gospel and caught all the world, the word of truth took teachers of the church from profane wisdom, and seized them like vessels of sanctification (?) 647, and, having given them to taste of the bowl of true wisdom, and satisfied them with the unintoxicating drinks of the Holy Spirit, it sent them out like fishermen and they caught those who were puffed up with the wisdom of the rulers of this world on all mountains, that is by means of the very thoughts of false |242 knowledge which are supposed to be high and elevated. This was proclaimed beforehand by Jeremiah the prophet when he said thus: «'Lo! I send out the many fishermen', saith the Lord, 'and they shall catch them; and after these things I will send out the many hunters, and they shall catch them on all mountains, and on all high places'» 648; though indeed, when a goodly spoil has been caught by the doctrines of divine wisdom, they reveal and expose their own defeat by means of another prophecy, crying to God their Saviour, «Behold us. We will be bondmen to thee, because tho.u art the Lord our God, and truly the high places and the power of the mountains were reduced to falsehood» 649. But, if the thoughts of profane wisdom are understood to be the low mountains, we shall consequently understand that the gates of bronze which are shattered and the bars 650 of iron that are broken 651 are the snares of argument and the precise questions stated in words from which there is no escape, which have many windings; questions which the truth has refuted and dissolved, being, stronger than everything, which heaven also blesses, as Ezra said 652; questions which Jeremiah calls 'holes of the rocks', on account of the secrecy and obscurity and the |243 ambushes hard to see which the same objections contain; for «they shall catch them», he says, «on all mountains, and on all high places and from the holes of the rocks». For the low mountains may be understood in another way also as those who are proud and arrogant in character, but are taught the gospel and made lowly, and are changed so that they cast themselves on their faces on the earth and converted to a humble demeanour by hearing the Teacher say, «Learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest for your souls» 653, and thereby another prophecy of Isaiah also is fulfilled in addition which says, «All mountains and all high places shall be brought low, and the crooked places shall be made straight, and those that have rough paths smooth, and all flesh shall see God's salvation» 654. But, if we call the change of the souls of the haughty to a lowly demeanour the low mountains, we shall not receive it as unfitting that the gates of bronze and the bars 655 of iron are the character of wickedness that is very wicked, that has not only set men under the compulsion 656 of nature, but also 657 brought them to such a state that they cannot be reformed, since 'they have been constrained in their will', as Jeremiah says, 'and |244 become pieces of flesh' 658, so that they are not able to have God's spirit dwelling in them. That character so to speak of gates of bronze and bars 659 of iron was shattered and crushed by the power of the divine Incarnation by him who said, «The kingdom of heaven belongs to violent men, and violent men seize it» 660, and, «I will give thee hidden and secret treasures, and invisible ones will I open to thee that thou mayst know that I am the Lord God who calleth thy name, the God of Israel, because of Jacob my bondman and Israel my chosen»661. And we said before at the beginning of the composition that Cyrus searched the very depths of the earth themselves in Babylon, and carried all the riches of the Babylonians into captivity. This therefore God himself promises to Cyrus by word of mouth, saying, «I will give thee hidden and secret treasures, and invisible ones will I open to thee, that thou mayst know that I am the Lord thy God, who called thy name, the God of Israel». But he uses the name 'kingdom', on account of which he also termed him 'anointed' 662. «These», he says, «you shall find, because of Jacob my bondman and Israel my chosen», |245 whom also Cyrus brought up from captivity: therefore he merited also the aforesaid rewards. It was because of Cyrus therefore that the announcement was put together in this way: but the aforestated words fit Christ the Saviour of us all also; for, if he divested himself and became poor for our; sake while he is rich 663, he does not refuse to have words used of him which befit his exinanition.
LXIX. ---- THE LETTER OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS, PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH, TO ANASTASIA THE DEACONESS 664.
[522-6.] While walking in the way of righteousness (I mean that of asceticism), and the monastic life, you meditate on the sublime thoughts of the God-inspired Scriptures, and gather benefit from them, and shun lack of knowledge and the poverty arising therefrom as something alien to the commandments of religion, and for this disposition therefore you are an object of praise. For the book of Proverbs also somewhere said, «The lips of the |246 righteous know high things, but fools die in scarcity». For this reason it has decreed for you a blessing from above, and a life that is without sorrow and blessed: for it adds, 'The blessing of the Lord upon the head of the righteous, this maketh rich, and sorrow in heart shall not be added unto it» 665. It is therefore known beforehand that to me too you bring freedom from sorrow through your God-loving questions, inasmuch as you cause me to enjoy the pleasure of spiritual thoughts. Accordingly I will readily try to give an elucidation of the rest 666 of your questions also. You are pleased to ask me what our Lord Jesus Christ wishes to make known to us by that parable which Luke the Evangelist recorded as follows: «Who among you shall have a friend, and he shall go unto him at midnight and say to him, 'My friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend hath come to me from a journey, and I have not wherewith to set before him', and he from within shall answer and say, 'Trouble me not. Lo! the door is shut, and my children with myself are in bed. I cannot rise and give to thee'? I say unto you that, if he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, because of his importunity he will rise and give him as much as he needeth». For 667, us to find the reason of this parable from outside is foolish and senseless, |247 since our Saviour himself plainly added by his own words and declared that he brought this forward to convince us that we ought to pray and make requests without ceasing and at all times, readily 668 and without ever growing slack or weak from the constant habit 669: for he added, «I also say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given unto you. Seek, and ye shall find, knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened unto him» 670. In what precedes he delivered to the disciples the form of that divine prayer which begins, «Our Father which art in heaven» 671; and so he added to it the parable given above, so that on all sides the object'is clear. But, since you have thought to yourself that there is some spiritual, sublime, lofty allegory 672 contained in the words of the parable, and ask what those three loaves are, we ourselves also find it quite impossible not to be uplifted with your instruction-loving and inquiring mind, and to state the partial result which we have reached; for assuredly we must not force the parables into an allegory 673 in every point. These 674 three loaves I consider to be faith in |248 the Father and in the Son and the Holy Spirit; to which it is reasonable to suppose that our Lord, the ' one of the Trinity ' is urging all men through these words; because indeed, as the apostle said, he ' wisheth all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth' 675. Since therefore some have wasted all their life in negligence, and taken no account of the faith, and at last towards the end of life come to a perception of their sins, and rush to the faith, the merciful one says this: «Even men of this kind, who come and knock at my door at an untimely hour of night, I will hear, not for the sake of justice, but because of their importunity 676, and I will hand to them the loaves of faith, which is the confession of the Holy Trinity». The friend therefore, the master of the house, is the God and Saviour Jesus 677, who loves every man, even those who have not yet believed on him, and thirsts for their salvation. But he who asks for the three loaves in the middle of the night is he who comes to the faith late. But the friend who came from a journey and was received by him we should afterwards rightly understand as the angel or angels who come at the end of life to take us and |249 conduct us on the last journey; for they themselves also love us, and make our salvation a subject of rejoicing, according to the testimony of our Lord which says, «Joy ariseth before the angels of God over a sinner who repenteth»678. But the children who are resting in the bed are those who have been brought up as children, and have believed the gospel with a simple heart, and have been judged worthy to rest with our Lord. For the lying on the bed also is a sign of rest, as our Lord himself again says in the Gospel of Matthew: «Many shall come from the east and from the west, and shall recline with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven»679.
The words spoken by our Saviour to the Jews, «In order that upon you may come all the blood, of righteous men that has been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous to the blood of Zacharias 680 whom ye |250 slew between the temple and the altar» 681, have been variously understood by those who have interpreted, because concerning this matter nothing is plainly stated by the God-inspired Scripture. But, since our Saviour's purpose requires that he should unite and comprise in the saying all the blood of righteous men that was unjustly shed, from Abel down to the day on which he himself said these things to the Jews, and lay the responsibility for this upon them and upon their ancestors, it 682 is a right and reasonable thing, as it seems to me, to understand that he referred to Zacharias the priest, who begot for us the holy 683 John the Forerunner and Baptist, whom a tradition not contained in Scripture relates that the Jews slew between the temple and |251 the altar, because he plainly prophesied or rather 684 showed the God-bearer to be a virgin 685, and him that is born of her, the great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, like some King and chief and Lord over their people, and did not remove the holy Virgin herself after the incomprehensible conception by the Holy Spirit from the virgins' place in the temple, between the temple and the altar, as one that was married, but knew her to be still a virgin, and allowed her to stand in the same 686 accustomed place as usual. For this reason (they say) those who heard of it fell into a rage and took weapons in their hands against him, fearing the king who was expected from his |252 prophecy, who was to exercise sway over them and lay the yoke of bondage upon them. And these things Gregory the wise in divine things, the brother of Basil the great, and bishop of Nyssa, in the sermon on the Nativity of our Saviour, states thus: «But, if we are not straying a long way from the subject, it would perhaps not be inopportune to adduce Zacharias also who was slain between the temple and the altar to testify to the undefiled mother. This Zacharias was a priest, but not a priest only, but possessing also the gift of prophecy, and the power of prophecy is proclaimed in the book of the gospel as inevitable 687, in that the divine grace makes a way for men beforehand, that they may not think the birth from a virgin incredible, and, training the assent of those who did not believe beforehand by small miracles, a child |253 is born to her that is barren and past age 688. This is the beginning of the miracle that is performed in the Virgin 689. For, as Elizabeth does not become a mother by the power of nature, inasmuch as she had grown old in the world 690 without bearing, but the boy's birth is referred to the divine will, so also the incredibility of the virgin birth-throes obtains belief by reference to the deity. Since therefore the son born of the barren woman, who at the voice of her that had conceived the Lord, before he came forth to the light, leaped in his mother's womb, preceded the son born of the virgin, immediately on the forerunner of the Word coming forth to birth, then the silence of Zacharias is dissolved, by the prophetic indwelling, and all things that Zacharias utters were a prophecy of the future. This man therefore who was being led by the spirit of prophecy to the knowledge of hidden |254 things, having understood the mystery of virginity in the undefiled birth, did not exclude the unmarried mother in the temple from the place which according to the law was assigned to the virgins, teaching the Jews that the Maker of the things that are and Ring of all creation has human nature under his rule with all things, and by his own will leads it to that which pleases him, and is not himself controlled by this nature, so that it is in his power to make a new form of birth which will not cause her who has become a mother to cease from being a virgin. Therefore he did not exclude her in the temple from the ranks of the virgins; and this place was a space between the temple and the altar. Since therefore they heard that the King of creation was coming forth 691 by dispensation to human birth, in fear of being under a king's rule they slew the man who testified these things |255 concerning the birth, sacrificing 692 the priest at the very altar» 693. But of the Zacharias who was one of the twelve prophets we cannot reasonably understand the passage quoted, since it is not related that he was killed, but he departed from life by the ordinary end of human life. Wherefore also in the times of the pious king Theodosius the grandson of the elder Theodosius his holy body was found by revelation in the territory of Eleutheropolis, when it had not been in the least corrupted but was found as if it had been buried yesterday, at a place at which an oratory is now to be seen, and a temple which was consecrated to God in his name; and it is known and honoured by all who pass by that way. This is related by a certain Sozomen who wrote ecclesiastical histories 694. Some have supposed that in the above-quoted passage our Saviour referred to Zacharias the son of Jehoiada who was put to death by Joash, king of the Jews. But this explanation is futile, and is refuted by the facts themselves. For it is not the case that the foul murder of prophets and priests, the murder which it is the intention of the |256 evangelic saying of our Saviour to set forth, was perpetrated down to his time and then ended: for after Joash other kings of the Jews also reigned who turned aside to idolatry, and, as is natural, were ill-disposed towards those who pleased God; among whom Manasseh is said to have put Isaiah the great among prophets to death with a saw. But besides these things we should know this also, that the man who was put do death by Joash was called Azarias and not Zacharias, though in certain copies some men have changed the name, and by a slight change have written 'Azarias' as 'Zacharias' 695. Accordingly for all these reasons it seems to be a just conclusion that we must consequently understand our Saviour's saying of the father of John the Baptist, as the holy Gregory said.
Of the passage written by the wise Paul in the first epistle to the Corinthians, «He that speaketh with tongues edifieth himself, but he that prophesieth edifieth the church 696», this is the elucidation. In the times in which the apostles were "propagating the saving preaching of the gospel in the |257 world, many of those who believed worked signs and prodigies, in order to bring unbelievers to accept the truth. For it is for this cause that miracles are numerous among unbelievers, and not among those who have already believed, according to the saying of the same Paul 697. For this very same reason the gifts of the Spirit were given with greater liberality, and more openly, to these who were being brought to the faith. And those who were baptized often spoke with tongues immediately, and some were thought worthy to receive prophetic inspiration, while certain others even enjoyed the possession of both, as is written in the book of the Acts about some men who were baptized by Paul at Ephesus, as follows: «But, when they had heard it, |258 they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And, when Paul had laid his hand upon them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spake with tongues and prophesied» 698. This grace therefore flourished among the Corinthians also at that time, and some used to speak with tongues, while others were thought worthy to prophesy. And the form of prophecy was such that it was made known not only by foretelling the future but also by the commingling of words of instruction which corrected morals, as the God-clad doctors such as Athanasius the great and Basil, and such as Gregory and John, and all who were like these, gained renown at one time and another in the churches. Since therefore certain men at Corinth were puffed up and thought much of themselves because they spoke with |259 tongues, while others prophesied and taught things useful and beneficial, Paul, wishing to bring down their high looks, says this: «He who speaks with the tongues of the nations edifies himself, that is, establishes his own reputation, and is admired only, but does not benefit the soul of the hearers by reforming morals: but he who prophesies and weaves a web of moral teaching, and reproves secret things of the heart, and purifies the souls of the hearers from shameful passions, edifies the church, and acquires the gift of prophesy or of teaching for others rather 699 than for himself».
The meaning of Job's saying, «May the blessing of him that hath perished come upon me» 700 is plain to those who read with intelligence and not carelessly from the fact that it follows the words which precede, and from |260 the words which next follow. This is what he says: «Often have I seen a man suffering extreme tortures, and just on the point of perishing, as perhaps when enemies were upon him, or violent men, and have rescued him from distress701 and saved him; and such a one has blessed me, because against all hope he had been delivered from the destruction that was impending over him702. May that blessing therefore come upon me, and may God bring it to effect» 703. That this is so the words which follow will prove as I said before. What in fact does he say? «For I delivered the poor from the hand of the powerful, and I helped the orphan who had no helper. May the blessing of him that hath perished come upon me; and the mouth |261 of the widow hath blessed me» 704. But one may also understand this in a higher sense as a parable. For our Lord also says in the gospels about those who mortify their soul to the world, and give up their body to the arena 705 of martyrdom, or to labours of asceticism, and are thereby thought to be destroying and slaying their soul, because they are deprived of worldly pleasure: «He that destroyeth his soul for my sake shall find it» 706. The prayer and blessing therefore of a man who has thus perished according to our Saviour's saying and finds his soul is a great thing: and any right-minded man will pray that this may come upon him, and will wisely say the words, «May the blessing of him that hath perished come upon me».
As to what is written at the end of the book of Job, that he took an Arabian 707 wife, it is unnecessary for us to inquire much who this is, |262 whether this is another wife by whom he had other children after the calamity, or the former one, who under the magnitude of the afflictions that came upon him gave way and stumbled, and advised him to utter some blasphemous speech and depart from his pains. However it is reasonable for us to understand that the wife by whom the children after the calamity were born was some other one different from her. For it is as if adding something new that the writer uses the words: «Having taken an Arabian wife he begets a son» 708. For it would have been far from just that she should share in the good things, who shrank in the time of the struggle, and tried to bring the combatant 709 down from the highest summit of endurance. |263
The words that were written by the writer in the book, and these also about Job, of whom it is written that he also 'shall again rise with those whom the Lord raiseth' 710, we must suppose to have been composed with this meaning. In consequence of so great a trial he had in a sense gone down to Sheol and final destruction, so that even his name should thenceforth be extinguished, as he himself said when he was being tormented by the pains 711, and suddenly he arose as from the dead, and put off the unsightliness of the sores, and he was comely in body, as in the bloom of youth, and everything ended for him in a change to the best fortune. Therefore, lest any think that the prize of virtue ends with these things, and lest we who read imagine that we shall receive the rewards for the labours |264 of virtue in this world, for this reason the writer recorded the words that are written, «He shall again rise with those whom the Lord raiseth»; that is, lest any think that his rewards are completed and ended with present things: for these were given as an earnest for the things that are future and are expected by us all. For he shall rise with those whom the Lord raiseth, viz. those who have conducted themselves after the same pattern, of whom Paul also in writing to the Hebrews says that all those who have borne testimony through faith 'did not receive the promises, God having provided some better thing for us, that they might not be made perfect without us'712. By the words which he used (and it is written, «He shall |265 again rise with those whom the Lord raiseth») the writer is thought to be explaining this also, that he endured such pains, not because he looked to the things that were given him in this.world, but to the hope of the great and wonderful resurrection, concerning which also he said, «I will endure for thee until I shall again be» 713; and again, «For I know that he ever floweth who shall release me upon the earth. He shall raise my skin which endureth these things»714. The words which are before us for the purpose of interpretation were used by the author with reference to the general resurrection which is expected by everyone (and the words are «He shall again rise with those whom the Lord raiseth»), and not, as your religiousness has supposed, to that by which some of the saints rose, |266 when our Lord took the saving Cross upon him for our sakes, and the Good Shepherd laid down his soul for the sheep. For this the holy 715 Matthew the Evangelist recorded in these words: «But Jesus, when he had cried with a loud voice, gave up the ghost. And lo! the veil of the temple was rent in two, from the top to the bottom, and the earth quaked, and the rocks were rent, and the graves were opened, and many bodies of the saints who slept arose, and came out from the graves, and after his resurrection went into the holy city, and appeared to many» 716. Since then the Evangelist stated indefinitely that many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep rose, it is unnecessary for us to inquire who these were, and if Job was among them. For the reason why he said 'many', and not 'all the bodies of the saints' is because the resurrection which is expected by everyone is not that one, |267 but the one at the second coming of our Saviour Christ. For then, I mean at the time of the revered Gross, it was only in order to demonstrate the power of our same Saviour, who in that the soul separated from the body went down to Sheol, that certain men rose by a divine manifestation, showing that in the places beneath the earth there was perception of the God-befitting illumination. And these were prophets and some of those who lived after the same manner as they, who were well-known from the Holy Scriptures among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. This is stated also by the God-clad Ignatius, who adorned the throne of the Antiochenes, immediately after the apostolic administration 717, and the first see of the chief of the apostles Peter, and was perfected with a crown of martyrdom. In writing-to those at |268 Magnesia he wrote as follows about our Saviour Christ: «How shall we be able to live without him? whom the prophets also, being his disciples in the spirit, expected as a teacher; and for this reason he whom they rightly awaited when he came raised them from the dead»718. But that we should think that those who rose then, at the time of the saving Cross, remained to this day the words of the gospel do not permit; for they cry plainly, «They went into the holy city and appeared to many». The word 'appeared' plainly denotes a temporary appearance, for the purpose of confirming, as we 719 said, the power of our Saviour, who broke the gates of bronze, and the bars of iron 720 from which there is no escape, of the places |269 beneath the earth. After therefore those who rose had shown themselves at that time, they again laid their bodies aside and departed to their places, awaiting the general resurrection which is expected by everyone. That this is so, the holy John bishop of Constantinople also testifies in the fourteenth note of the second part of the commentary on the first epistle to the Corinthians, where he wrote thus: «But if any be in doubt why, when speaking about the resurrection, he did not here introduce the bodies which rose in our Lord's time, we will say this, that this is not speaking about the resurrection. For to show that those who rose die again was alien to the purpose of one who is showing that death is finally destroyed. For it is for this reason also that he said that it is the last thing to be destroyed, in order that you may no longer fear that it will rise. For, when evil is |270 done away, much more shall death be annihilated» 721. And in the fifteenth note which follows, when speaking about saving baptism, and explaining why a man who is about to be baptized, when he repeats 722 the baptismal confession, is baptized into the remission of sins and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life, he says this: «For, since sin brought in death, the root being dried up, we must no longer dispute in any way about the: destruction of the fruit. Therefore after first saying 'the remission of sin', he then confesses 723 also the resurrection of the dead, being led from this to that also. And afterwards, since the name 'resurrection' does not suffice to set forth everything (for many after they had risen departed again,' as |271 those in the Old Testament, as Lazarus, as those at the time of the Cross) you are bidden 724 to say, 'and in eternal life', that none may any longer fear death after that resurrection» 725.
We have now discharged, as you see, all the God-loving debt of your, esteemed questions, according to our feebleness, and according to the small measure of knowledge which has come to us; and we pray that there may fall to you the glorious part of Mary, who never tired of bending her instruction-loving ear to the saving teaching of Jesus, and upon whom that testimony was given which said, «For Mary hath chosen for herself the good part, which shall not be taken from her» 726. But, whereas in the previous letter to us you stated how your religious brother Innocent and the sisters stand in the faith, and after writing this about them, as if you had done something contrary to the profession of philosophy, you then added that you take no «thought for them, know clearly that it is not a thing unworthy of your perfection that as regards the faith and in fitting spiritual matters you should take thought for those who are related to you, and perform all that is in your power, and give assistance with counsels and |272 prayers. For in these things our duty consists; and to this also the apostolic saying extends, «If any man taketh no thought for his own and especially those of the house, he denieth the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever» 727. And that we should take thought for their worldly opulence, or for anything else that is pleasant, is the part of those who are not philosophers. This distinction therefore I too made, and asked the love of God that is in you to write to me about them; and you have done well in telling everything both wisely and in accordance with truth; and it is proper that the distinction in this point also should not escape you. Upon another matter you have asked me questions of this kind. 1 have heard that Isaiah 728 the unlawful, like Dathan and Abiram, has risen against the laws of the priesthood, and has trampled upon everything like a hog, with foul, disorderly, uncanonical feet; and that, having gone to Pamphylia, he has thought fit to whisper lies about me, and to say that in what I wrote about the incorruptibility of the body of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ 729 I proclaimed the faith, and said that the body was corrupted and dissolved during the three days' burial, and certain similar blasphemies which are not plausible, which wound the ears, and disturb the souls, of those who listen without intelligence: and it |273 is therefore in my mind to send a man there carrying all that has been written by me, in order to establish the truth. If then you also have heard of any similar report that has been whispered there, since some persons have perhaps written and told you, tell me. The statement on which you have dilated in the letter, as to how you have loved and still love my humility with peculiar warmth, I read with great pleasure, and I rejoiced with spiritual joy on learning the fervour of the love that is in you, the God-befitting and pure love, wherewith rational souls are smitten towards one another, even among those with whom you associate in the blood of Christ. But I believe of you that, even if you write at very great length in every letter, you will not be able to express even a small portion of the love and confidence that you have towards me, who am unworthy and fall far short of this. But I pray that for this perfect love you may receive rewards both in this world, and in the future and endless life.
The end of the letter to Anastasia the deaconess 730. |274
LXX. ---- OF THE SAME CONCERNING DAVID'S SAYING, «AS ARROWS IN THE HAND OF A MIGHTY MAN, SO ARE THE SONS OF THE SHAKEN» 731, FROM THE LETTER TO ANASTASIA THE DEACONESS 732.
[522-6.] But the words used in the 126th 733 Psalm, which is the 8th of the Songs of Ascents, «As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the sons of the shaken», should receive this interpretation. But the words contained in this statement apply also in a higher sense to each man's soul which by means of deeds of repentance is built up and renovated to form a holy temple of God. Those who returned from Babylon to this tangible and visible Jerusalem became sons of the shaken; who after captivity came to repentance, and by means of many trials were driven this way and that and shaken, and produced fruits of repentance, and thereby merited the return. But those who build up their own soul are in another sense sons of the shaken. |275 Divine Scripture calls the holy prophets and apostles, and all who conducted themselves like these, 'the shaken', because they shook out of their own soul like ashes all earthliness, whether thought or action, and all the likeness of the creature of dust and of the old man, and introduced into and impressed upon themselves instead of these the likeness of the heavenly one 734 by means of a new life, as through the mouth of Isaiah our Lord is introduced saying to Jerusalem, and raising her obediently (?) from earthly deeds, «Shake the dust from thee and rise» 735. And a garment that is shaken is not eaten by moth, and remains whole and uneaten. So therefore also those who by means of earnestness that is not eaten by evil things have been preserved for the adoption are understood to be and are called shaken. And again. Those who like smooth rocks that cannot be broken receive without changing the waves of this world and the assault of trials will therefore be understood and that very rightly to be shaken : and the sons of those who are shaken are the teachers of the church, who are held like arrows in the hand of a mighty man. For God the Lord of hosts is able to shoot those who through the same men learn religion, and to send into their |276 hearts the arrow of wisdom, the arrow of righteousness, the arrow of love in him, which comprises all the virtues; and through the same men also he shoots those too who oppose the word of truth, sending shafts of reproofs to effect a saving restoration if they will. To these sons of the shaken therefore, who are as arrows in the hand of a mighty man, he next gives a blessing, and says, «Blessed is the man who shall fill his desire from them» 736, for a blessing is given to the teacher who fills his desire by means of such arrows. But what else is the teacher's desire except the things that are for the profit of the souls of those that are saved? And this therefore should be understood not of a teacher only, but also of every Christian who lives virtuously, and through his own manner of life shoots everyone else as with arrows, and draws them to his own pattern. For those who so teach, or live, 'shall not be ashamed when they speak with their enemies in the gate' 737; and the gate is the exit from this world. For, even when they depart from the world, and take the last journey, and are about to go to the actual presence of their God himself, the demons the enemies of man's life are no longer able to encounter them; because, when they take |277 the last departure, those holy ones are not silent, but speak with the high voice of deeds, and in company with the rulers, I mean with the good and angelic hosts, who come to receive them, sing songs of victory and thanksgiving, according to what is said in the 67th Psalm, «Rulers went in front following singers, in the midst of damsels beating tambourines» 738. And he applies the expression 'damsels beating tambourines' to the souls which show youthful prowess over evil passions, and like tambourines have deadened the bodies and fleshly desires.
LXXI. -------- OF THE SAME FROM THE 8th LETTER OF THE 2nd BOOK OF THOSE AFTER EXILE, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO ANASTASIA THE DEACONESS.
[522-6.] As to the words therefore which the Evangelist Matthew wrote that our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ used: «Pray that your flight be not in the winter nor on the sabbath» 739, know that they have a double meaning, and as a historical fact this has already happened to the Jews at the time |278 of the captivity at the hands of the Romans 740, but in a higher sense it is expected to take place at the end of the whole world. In fact after the outrage on the cross the judgment of God-slayers was exacted from them when the Romans took arms against them, and encamped over all Judaea and over the country round for whole years, and during the winter-seasons the evil consequences of war prevailed, and these especially in the winter when the fighting-men were idle; and not so only, but on the sabbath also they were slaughtered, because on account of the cessation of the sabbath they could not take arms in their hands and exact vengeance from those who were fighting with them. And this is often recorded by those who described the calamities of those men, that, by reason of the distress of the calamities which came upon them, they disregarded even the cessation of the sabbath, and took arms against their adversaries: nevertheless even so they fell with a complete and lamentable fall, and endured utter ruin. But, when our Saviour's words in respect of this prophecy are raised in meaning so as to refer to the time of the end and of Antichrist, it induces believers |279 always to persevere in works of virtue, and strive not to be caught by the winter or by the sabbath, at the time of the end, or the departure of every soul and its separation from the body, the winter signifying absence of fruit, and the sabbath cessation from virtue: for we know that the winter is unproductive as regards the production of fruit, and that the sabbath signifies cessation. For the winter, in which there is much rain and falls of snow, and gathering of clouds and a murky atmosphere 741, and scarceness of pure air 741, may denote confusion. The intention of the saying therefore is that our souls should be active and fruitful, and free from confusion as regards readiness and preparation for acts of religion, as in the words sung by David the prophet, «I was made ready and was not confounded» 742. In the same way should also be interpreted the saying, «Woe to them that are with child and to them that suckle in those days» 743. For this also occurred as a historical fact throughout Judaea, when the hand of the Romans fought with them, so that the women who were with child and those who were |280 suckling were pitifully slain with their children themselves, either while they were yet in the womb or while they were being nourished at the breast. And in a higher sense on the last day the souls are to be reckoned as objects of pity which received in the mind the practice of virtue and bear it as in a womb, and began to hold the seed of the word of religion, which was with difficulty conceived in them, which bring forth to the light and as it were give birth, but produce the thing itself in very imperfect form, like women who are unable to give perfect nourishment to their babies. For those who cultivate virtue must according to the parable that is in the gospel bear the full measure so as to rise to the number of 100, or produce fruit of the measure of 60, or at least of 30; for what is less than this should like an incompletely-formed and unnourished babe be reckoned as nothing.
But the saying «Where the corpse is, there will the eagles be gathered together» 744 is spoken as a kind of simile and proverb and illustration. As, when a dead body is found lying anywhere, both eagles and other birds of |281 prey come from different quarters from very lofty heights, suddenly and unexpectedly, in order to be fed, 'in the same way' (he says) 'shall be also the coming of the Son of man' 745, for, when he shall again appear upon the earth, at the glorious second coming to judge the world, and shall appear with armed ranks of angels, all the saints also, rising 'suddenly and in the twinkling of an eye at the last trump' 746, as the apostle said, shall suddenly all appear like some swift eagles of rapid motion. And very rightly were they compared to eagles, because they had high and heavenly thoughts, and lived in a manner worthy of the kingdom of heaven. But some have tried to interpret this saying in the following way, and have said that at the Lord's second coming all those who have lived a righteous life, and were like high and heavenly eagles in their mind, shall receive Paradise, and shall be gathered in the same place where Adam's fall 747 was, and the disobedience through which he fell into sin. Of the words, «Two men shall be at that time m the field, one is taken away and one left, two women shall be grinding |282 in the mill, one is taken away and one left» 748 this is the explanation. The field is the world, according to what was said by our Saviour, «He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; but the field is the world»749. Those therefore who have received the seed of the gospel, and the word of religion, while they are in the field and at work, either are taken into the kingdom because they are working and acting strenuously, or are left and remain as men who are indolent and slothful and lax. And the mill after the same model is this world, in which we pass our 750 time as at a mill, eating bread by labour and toil; and some strenuously undergo hardship and exertion in works of righteousness, while others spend their time in vain acts which pass away like a shadow. And on account of those things 751 therefore it is |283 manifest that some are taken and others left. But the very wise Luke the Evangelist wrote this passage in the following form: «In this night there shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken and the other left. There shall be two women grinding together; the one shall be taken away but the other left» 752. And these things are brought about beforehand by each act, of the rich that is and of the poor, some of whom because they have done deeds worthy of the kingdom of heaven shall be taken, while others who have been negligent shall be left. For indeed even those who are in bed, those that is to say who enjoy ease in this world, and are in the portion of the rich, who 753, if they administer the riches well, shall earn the privilege |284 of the kingdom of God, but those who spend this on vanities will justly be despised and put to contempt. But by the work of the mill those again are denoted who live in poverty and contempt, according to what is said in Exodus, «And all the firstborn shall die in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sitteth on his throne down to the firstborn of the bondwoman who is in the mill-house»754; so that from this it is manifest that the name of [mill-house or 755] mill signifies the utter contempt and poverty of those who continue in such service for the sake of daily sustenance. Accordingly our Lord's saying in the gospel signifies that both from among the rich who enjoy ease upon beds, and from among the utterly poor who are occupied in contemptible employments on the last day some shall be found, of whom |285 some will be saved, while others will perish, and neither poverty nor riches are 756 impediments to him who seeks to live in the fear of God, in order to earn the kingdom of heaven. But some have said that the words «Two women shall be grinding in the mill, one is taken and one is left» were meant by our Saviour to refer to those who teach in the church. For those men grind the word of teaching as in a mill for those who learn, and lay rational bread before them, suprasensually feeding the souls. Wherefore also they say that what is written in Deuteronomy, «Thou shalt hot take a millstone nor an upper millstone in pledge, because this man taketh a soul in pledge» 757, was meant to refer to teaching, that a teacher must not lay them under any debt and bond of debt, since the souls of those who are |286 taught are taken in pledge, and made void 758 in respect of the principles of religion and the hope that arises thence. And this holy Scripture signifies in Koheleth also, saying of the time of the end, «And the grinding-women ceased because they had became few» 759. Then accordingly all teaching shall be silent, and labour and toil, when those who have previously performed shall receive rewards: for neither is it time then for them to teach or perform. Therefore Paul in writing to the Galatians said: «Therefore then while we have time let us work that which is good» 760. This then is what our Saviour said: «Then shall there be two women grinding» (and that means souls occupied in teaching), «one is taken and one is left»: and he who has taught the things that belong to religion, and has set the sound word without detraction and accurately before the rational sheep is taken |287 into the kingdom, but he who has detracted from 761 the teaching by heretical doctrines and deceived many, who by his own deceit has injured some, shall be left and sent outside the kingdom, having extreme judgments exacted from him on account of the wrong that he has done. Those again upon the roof they interpreted as those who have stood at the height of eminence.
LXXII. ----OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO ANASTASIA THE DEACONESS. 762
[522-6.] But do not think that the words written in the Revelation, of John, «Blessed and holy is he who hath part in the first resurrection» 763 indicate a first and second resurrection, in order of time. There is one resurrection of all men, and God 'appointed one day, on which he will judge the world in righteousness' 764, and that is the day of the resurrection and of the judgment, |288 and of receiving of good things. But John used the term 'first resurrection', because it has the first, glorious, superior rank. Our Lord said in the gospel, «The abodes in my Father's house are many» 765. But, if there are many abodes, it is plain that the ranks are also many of those who are admitted to the different abodes; so that one is first, and another second, and another third, and others lower, as each prepared his conduct. But the first rank belongs to the souls which have suffered tribulation for the testimony of Jesus' 766, and those who are like these 767.
LXXIII. ---- OF THE SAME, AS TO WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE SAYING THAT THOSE WHO HAVE RECEIVED THE HEAVENLY SEED WILL PRODUCE FRUIT A HUNDREDFOLD AND SIXTYFOLD AND THIRTYFOLD 768, FROM THE LETTER TO DOROTHEUS THE COUNT.
[513-8 (?).] Those therefore who love the Lord as it is written with all their heart and with all their soul 769, and observe the commandments that were given |289 by him, and follow him as far as men can rise to the height, are said to produce fruits to the number of a hundred; and to the number of sixty those who hold a middle place; and after the same fashion those who produce thirtyfold also, who are lower than these. Though all received the saving word with the very same faith, and therefore all were with equal honour termed 'good soil', yet all had not the same capacity. Accordingly therefore among the crowns that are provided in the future blessed life they will receive abodes and honours on different scales, those which our Lord signified when he said in the gospel, «Many are the abodes in my Father's house» 770. And, when as in a parable he was about to go on a journey, he distributed talents among his bondmen to use, for it is plainly written thus: «To one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each of them according to his own capacity, and immediately started on his journey» 771. Words agreeing with these were spoken by Paul also in writing to the Corinthians, «Every man shall receive his own reward, according to his own labour» 772. |290
LXXIV. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO VlCTOR THE PRESBYTER 773, THE BEGINNING OF WHICH IS, «With great pleasure I received the letter of your God-loving wisdom».
[513-21] (?). And these things are obvious in accordance with the primary and as one might say the superficial sense, for it was not even my intention to touch upon the deep meaning of the expression: but now the very expressions which precede in Job's speech appear to me to lead the man who examines them up to a higher understanding, and to show very clearly that we must understand the saying as referring to the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, and is himself Life and God, who is everlastingly with the Father and the Son.
LXXV. ---- To VICTOR THE PRESBYTER.
[513-21 (?).] A great and stern rebuke given in its time as the saying is should not be called presumption as some think, but gentleness. |291
LXXVI. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERDS, FROM THE LETTER TO GEORGIA THE PATRICIAN AND TO HER DAUGHTER 774.
[532-8 (?)] Your modesty's highness asked me some time ago why towards the end of the proverbs of Solomon we find this heading placed among them, as it were between two lines: «These are the indiscriminate admonitions or proverbs of Solomon, which the friends of Hezekiah king of Judah set down or arranged» 775; and it seems to me that the sentence bears some such meaning as this; that the proverbs contained in the book down to this heading are those which were discriminately arranged as one may say in one corpus and volume, that is which were set down in order and collected, Solomon having so arranged them; but many others also which were spoken by him as in short utterances were in a scattered way current. And the book of Kingdoms also states this, that Solomon spoke 3000 proverbs or parables 776, from those therefore that were set down in a scattered way, confusedly |292 and indiscriminately, not as in a series and collection, Hezekiah's friends chose these, brought them into one order and collection, and added them to the book itself. You certainly do not forget that Hezekiah was a lover of God and an observer of the commandments of the law. Consequently therefore some learned Hebrews, wise in the divine words, took the trouble to dispose these indiscriminate and confused proverbs in some order, put them together as in one corpus, and presented them as a rational present to the king.
LXXVII. ---- OF MAR SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO PHILOXENUS THE BISHOP.
[513-8.] This saying refers to teaching; and this is plain from the words that precede: for he said, «According to the grace of God that was given to me like a wise master-builder I laid a foundation» 777. But what is the foundation that Paul laid in the souls of believers except the gospel-preaching? |293
What he here said therefore is this. If a man has expounded the genuine message of the gospels to those who listen, like gold or silver or precious stones, this man's work, that is his teaching, will by the test of the last fire, and by the impartial judgment, be shown to be genuine, and of necessity 778 it abides and is not destroyed. But, if one of the falsely-named teachers has used defiled and spurious doctrines, like pieces of wood and reeds and hay, this man's doctrine does not endure the fire, but, as soon as it is brought into contact with the flame, it will be burnt and consumed. But the expounder and teacher of this doctrine will not be destroyed, nor come to annihilation, but he shall be saved, continuing to maintain a'strange kind of existence, painful and grievous, being consumed by the fire without being consumed. This Isaiah the prophet also said, «Such mens' worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched» 779. |294
LXXVIII. ---- Or THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS, FROM THE 55th LETTER OF THE 2nd BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN DURING EPISCOPACY, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO CONON THE SILENTIARY 780.
[513-8.] The reason for which we are said to have become heirs of the curse and of condemnation and of death is not that the sin and condemnation and death passed to us, as if these fell to our nature by lot, for man's nature was from the beginning free from all these things, but that the method by which intercourse takes place derived its origin from sin, as I have said, a method which cut away the blessing of immortality, so that the race of men is preserved from dissolution by the procreation of children 781. We therefore were in consequence born mortal from a mortal father. These things are defined both by the holy John in the Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans 782, and by the holy Cyril in the letter to Succensus 783. |295
LXXIX. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE 4th LETTER OF THE 6th BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN AFTER BANISHMENT, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO PROBUS THE GENERAL 784.
[519-38.] «Give a portion to seven, also to eight» 785. This has this elucidation. In six days, as the writings of the blessed Moses mystically teach us, God made this visible world, and on the seventh he rested. This same period therefore during which we men live in this world, like a wheel, turns and revolves round itself in the space of seven days, but at the end it gives up the course and this circular movement; and thereafter rises a great much-beloved light, that of the last day, with which there is no night, but this day is one thing extending without end, and does not pass into another; the day on which the Lord the Judge will come, and 'will reward every man according to his works' 786, and to those who have lived well, and are prepared by zealous actions, he will reveal the good things which ' eye hath not seen, |296 and ear hath not heard, and which have not gone up into the heart of man' 787, and the whole kingdom of heaven itself. This last and renowned day without evening therefore is one reckoned by itself: but, if a man reckons it with the seven days of this world, he mentions it in the sequence of the eighth 788; the day for which all who have believed in Christ are made ready by good actions, yearning to be admitted to the good things in it, which do not wither, which belong to the angels only. This therefore is (he 789 says) the commandment of Koheleth also, that we ought to give a portion to seven, that is, give the proper attention to the affairs of this world, in which the seventh period is passing 790, but give a portion also to the eighth, and that means show great earnestness in the matter of labours of virtue, and of good works which on the eighth day procure for us the beloved bliss, not the enjoyment that blooms and withers. |297
LXXX. ---- OF THE SAME MAR SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO AMMONIUS THE PRESBYTER OF ALEXANDRIA 791.
[515-8.] That which you say is staled by Koheleth, «There is nothing new under the sun; whosoever shall speak and say 'Lo! this is new'; whatever happened is already», and, «All things that are to be lo! they have been already» 792, does not apply to everything, but only to those things that belong to the weekly circle, and to this limited and temporal life, which revolves upon itself by means of nights and days, and blooms and withers by means of birth and death, and to the distraction and vanity to which Adam was condemned after the disobedience, and the fall from the immaterial and blessed life in Paradise.
But all things that occurred in Christ and after Christ are the appointed time 793 or beginnings of that eighth day, and of that new life without evening and without end. Therefore also the torments that are applied to those who come afterwards are terrible and beyond conception, and such as the |298 previous time did not display. What also shall we in fact say, when our Saviour himself cries in the gospel about the things that shall happen in the last times, «For there shall be then great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world unto now, and shall not be» 794? Or what solution shall we devise in consideration of the plagues beyond conception which John the son of thunder named, when he had mysteries revealed to him in the wonderful revelation? Shall we say that these things also fall under the words of Koheleth? But how is it not unreasonable, and a thing that plainly contends against the truth, and against the sacred Scriptures?
LXXXI. ---- OF THE SAME TO JOHN OF BOSTRA 795, EXPLAINING WHY, WHEN THE GOSPELS AND THE OTHER DIVINE SCRIPTURES SAY THAT CHRIST DAWNED UPON US IN THE LAST DAY, WE SEE THAT MANY REVOLUTIONS OF YEARS HAVE PASSED SINCE THAT TIME.
[519-38.] If Jews and heathens accepted the words of the apostles, we should have said what Peter says in the second epistle: «One day with the Lord is as a |299 thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord delayeth not from his promise, as some reckon delay; but he is long-suffering toward us not wishing that any should perish, but that all men should come to repentance, but the day of the Lord will come as a thief, wherein the heavens shall pass away with a cry, the elements shall be burnt and dissolved» 796. But, since those men are under no obligation 797 to bow to the writings of the New Testament 798, but from this source yet more increase their unbelief, we will produce a demonstration for them from the prophetic words. Daniel the seer of those divine visions hard of interpretation, when he was explaining Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and was revealing the heterogeneousness of the image that appeared to him in the dream, which was composed of gold and silver and bronze and iron and earthenware, and by the diversity of the materials 799 signified the various kingdoms, said of Christ's kingdom as follows: «And in the days of those kings the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall not be destroyed for ever; and his kingdom shall not pass to another people. It shall break in pieces and scatter all the kingdoms and itself shall stand for ever» 800. Those therefore who proclaimed |300 the gospel applied the term 'last days' to the days of Christ's kingdom and the evangelic life.
John the Evangelist also when he said in his epistle, «Children, it is the last season» 801, did not speak falsely. For it is in fact the custom to apply the term 'seasons' 802 not only to those of the days, but also to those of the whole year: for the whole course of the year is divided into the spring season, the summer season, the autumn season, and the winter season; and the winter was in truth that of godlessness, which covered the whole world, in which there was all spiritual barrenness, and coldness as regards the fervour of the divine Spirit, and the whole earth was completely devoid of the gifts from heaven, when Christ 'the Sun of righteousness' 803 by his coming in the flesh dawned upon us.
And, to put it in another way, since 5000 years and more had passed since the world came into being, as the writings of Moses have handed down to us, and from Christ's coming there has not yet been completed as much as 600 or 700 or 1000 years4 (let us concede this), how can it appear unreasonable to apply the term ' last' to the days of the 600 years or may be 1000, |301 'when compared with those of the 5000? Johannes also in the 34th homily of the Commentary on the Gospel of John uses these words, which agree with the above sentiments: «For whence do you know, O man, that the end is not near and that the things mentioned will occur after a short time 804? For, as we do not say that the last day is the end of the year, but also the last month, although it contains 30 days, so also, even if I call 400 years the end of so large a number of years, I shall not be wrong» 805.
LXXXII. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE 11th LETTER OF THE 1st BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN AFTER BANISHMENT, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO SCHOLASTICUS.
[519-38.] «Hungry men he filled with good things and rich men he sent empty away» 806. For the Jews, who thought that they were rich in the riches of the divine Scriptures, became empty of these, and the nations who were hungry with the hunger of the word of God, as the prophet Amos said 807, |302 were filled. This our Lord himself also foretold to the proud Pharisees, who were to fall completely away from the principles of the divine Scriptures; «The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and shall be given to a people that shall bring forth its fruits» 808.
LXXXIII. ---- OF MAR SEVERUS TO JOHN 809, THAT, ACCORDING TO THE LETTER, BOTH CHRIST AND PAUL ABOLISHED THE LAW, BUT, ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT, THEY CONFIRM IT.
[519-38.] We say that according to the letter the law was abolished through Christ, but that in the spirit it was much more fully brought to confirmation. But what were the things of the letter? Sacrifices, sprinklings, various temporary cleansings repeated at stated times, and other similar things, which were different from heathen demon-worship, but prefigured the truth as in a shadow, as Paul also says: «For the law contained a shadow of the future good things, not the very image of the facts» 810. In the |303 same way Gregory the Theologian 811 also in the homily on the Holy Spirit wrote thus: «The first, when it cut away idols conceded sacrifices: the second, when it caused sacrifices to pass away, did not forbid circumcision. But afterwards, when they had once accepted the suppression, they conceded even what had been conceded, the one sacrifices, the other circumcision; and they became instead of Gentiles Jews, and instead of these Christians, having by a gradual change of position been brought near to the gospel. Let Paul persuade you of this, who from circumcising and being purified was brought to say: 'But as for me, my brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I continue to be persecuted?' The one is a matter of the dispensation, the other of perfection» 812.
That God permitted sacrifices in order to lead men to shun idolatry, Moses also testifies, since in Leviticus he wrote thus, after he had said that those of Israel were not allowed to perform any kind of sacrifice in another place besides the tent of witness: «And they shall no longer perform their own sacrifice to the vanities after whom they themselves go a whoring» 813. When therefore we say that the enactments which were laid down for that infant people, who were incapable of rising to the perfect service of God, |304 that I mean which is performed through the spirit, when the perfection came, which is Christ, were in the bodily form done away, we do not sin 814. Let me, as if dealing with a hypothesis 815, test the matter. Various animals were formerly sacrificed for sin, and the blood of these was brought into the sanctuary by the high-priest, while, their bodies were delivered to be burnt outside the camp. This kind of sacrifices therefore symbolized beforehand the great sacrifice which balances the great sin of the world, as Paul also says: «For, as for the animals whose blood was brought into the sanctuary because of sins by the high-priest, the bodies of these were burnt outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, in order to sanctify the people by his own blood, suffered outside the gate» 816. Since then Christ the Saviour of all was sacrificed in the original model on the cross, and is also slaughtered so to speak every day on the altar, and is distributed to the believers limb by limb by the hand of the priests, who is so mad, and so exceedingly uninstructed in the greatest matters, as to dare to deny that the type was abolished in the letter, that is according to the bodily form, and the |305 sacrifice of animals ceased, but the intellectual meaning 817 was also preserved according to the spirit, in which the truth was prefigured through it? After the same manner also the eating of unleavened bread was abolished according to the letter, but according to the spirit it is still maintained, in that we 'keep the feast not in the leaven of wickedness and bitterness, but in the unleavened bread of purity and truth' 818. (A little farther on). But we will grant if you wish that the wax represents the letter, and the bronze that has been melted is the perfection in the spirit. If then it is the fact that, when the bronze is brought to the fire, it is reduced to non-existence, and the wax, when liquefied, gives to the bronze the shape only of that which was fashioned, explain if you have any abundant store of wisdom. But, if the wax has been dissolved and liquefied, the letter will be dissolved, but the spiritual meaning 819 of the law will remain, preserving the form 820 of the letter. or Cyril teaches and says: «We have not relegated the types to utter desolation(?), though certainly to partial desolation, I mean since the letter of the bodily observances ceases» 821. Listen to the expressions of Gregory |306 the Theologian 822, and let the words of that man and his thoughts be a law to you, and a fixed ordinance, since they are indeed such to all Christians. When in the homily on the Passover he discussed the meaning 823 of all the rites performed at the old Passover, he also caused the hearer to pass from the letter to the spirit: for, when he came to the staff, and solved the riddle of this, he commanded the man who eats this our Passover in truth to lean upon the staff of faith, using these words: «Stand firmly, with feet strongly planted, being in no point shaken by the adversaries, nor carried away by words of plausibility. These things Christ fulfilled, the subverter of the letter, the fulfiller of the spirit» 824. If 'the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life' 825, and Christ is life as it is written, «When Christ our life shall be revealed» 826, how can it be that when the life came that which slew was not abolished? since, if you deny that the law was abolished in the letter, but brought to confirmation in the spirit, Paul also will be seen to say contradictory things, writing in one place that he 'annulled the law of commandments in teachings' 827, and saying in another, «Do we therefore annul the law through faith? For be it. Nay we establish the law» 828, recognising the |307 commandment as 'holy and just and good' 829, and in another sorrowfully crying to those who chose after recognition of the truth to live by the law, «Ye who are justified in the law have been annulled from Christ, ye have fallen from grace» 830. It is a thing impossible that of the same object he should say that it has been annulled and openly confess that it has been established, and that he should admire it as just and good, while he rejects those who are justified in this and asserts that they have fallen from the grace that is in Christ. For it seems to some extent likely that we [shall remove] the enigma..... from doubt if we look carefully at the words of Gregory the Theologian 831; for he called Christ 'the subverter of the letter, but the fulfiller of the spirit'. Let us therefore cleave to the law inasmuch as it has been fulfilled, but let us neglect it, let us make haste to eradicate it with the swift foot of the word inasmuch as it has been abolished, rightly treating its bodily observances with contempt. Nay, you say, but that holy man says that the letter was abolished, while you say the law, inasmuch as you said that Paul is a subverter of the law. Rather ..... from what we have said you have the certain truth which |308 was before likely. When Paul says that the law of commandments was annulled, we say that he means that according to the letter it was annulled, trusting to the words of Gregory; and there is therefore nothing that prevents me also from calling the letter the law. However 832, if you desire to hear one of the fathers saying that the law was abolished when he should have said the letter, we will readily produce this citation also for you.
LXXXIV. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE 20th LETTER OF THE 8th BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN DURING EPISCOPACY, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO THE MONKS OF THE HOUSE OF MAR ISAAC 833.
[513-8.] But the 'abomination of desolation ' (for you asked this also as well) Daniel the prophet mentions at the end of the 10th vision, saying thus: «And in the middle of the week the sacrifice and the libation shall be taken away, and together with these things upon the temple shall be the abomination of desolation» 834; and a mention of it was made also in the gospels 835. And John the holy and of renowned memory, who adorned the throne 836 of |309 the church of Constantinople at that time, said 837 that the abomination of desolation is the image which Hadrian, king of the Romans, set up within the temple, when he encamped against Jerusalem838: for it is the habit of Scripture to say that likenesses made with hands, and the graven statues of the demon-worship of the heathen, are an abomination, as Manasseh says in the song that he set up abominations and multiplied pollutions 839. For it is better for us to say that the abomination of desolation is Antichrist; since it is impossible for us to interpret all the expressions contained in the gospel in the same passage like a record of Scripture 840 history. Of him the apostle also in writing to the Thessalonians said, «In order that the man of sin may be revealed, the son of perdition, who is opposed to and exalteth himself against everyone that is called God or is an object of worship, so that he sits in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God» 841: for the temple at Jerusalem is termed a ' holy place'. For it is possible for the same words of the gospel to be taken both in a historical sense as referring to the desolation and devastation of Jerusalem, and in a sublime sense to the complete |310 desolation and end of the world. But for your assurance I have thought it to be necessary for us to cite also the words of the interpretation of the man whom we have mentioned, the holy John, which are these: a But he said that the image of him who came at that time, who also devastated the city, and set up the image within the temple, is an abomination; wherefore also he called it a desolation» 842.
LXXXV. ---- Of THE SAME HOLY SEVERUS FHOM THE 27th LETTER OF THE 2nd BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN AFTER BANISHMENT, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO SERGIUS THE COUNT AND archiatros 843.
[519-38.] You ask why our Lord and God Jesus Christ took Peter and the sons of Zebedee, James that is and John, apart from the other apostles and disciples, and this when he raised the daughter of the president of the synagogue who was dead, and again when he took them up with him into the mountain, and as the text of the gospel says ' was transfigured before them, and his face |311 shone like the sun, and his raiment Became bright like the light' 844. My opinion is that he shows them such honours beyond the others because they had a more specially acute mind, and one that rose with the height of the Godhead of him who voluntarily humbled himself for us and condescended to become incarnate and remained in the same and did not leave his most exalted glory and his divine height 845. For Peter after he had confessed him and said, «Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God», heard the plain words, «Blessed art thou, Simon Bar Jona, for flesh and blood revealed it not to thee but my Father which is in heaven» 846. And James and John, as Mark the Evangelist related, being brothers in the spirit more than in the body, were named by our Saviour Bnai ragsh, that is 'sons of thunder' 847. The reason for which they merited such an appellation was that he who proclaimed, «In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God» 848, loudly thundered the divine utterance from heaven |312 and the gift of the Spirit that in truth came down thence, and stirred the attention of all nations by reason of the wonder, and tore up from its roots and as one might say from its foundations every false and human opinion that creeps upon the earth 849. For it is manifest that James also was rich in the same grace as his brother, according to the unerring testimony of him who honoured them by one comman appellation. But some have said that the reason for which those three were peculiarly honoured beyond the rest of the disciples was that they specially loved Jesus, and in the same way he also too loved them, because of the virtues that were in them, as the very wise John bishop of Constantinople also said in the 56th homily of the Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, where he thus interpreted the words concerning them: «Why did he take these? Because these excelled the others. And Peter showed the superiority by the fact that he loved him much, and John by the fact that he was much loved, and James by the answer which he returned saying, 'We can drink the cup', and not by the answer only, but also by other actions, among them the fact that he carried out what he said. For he was so troublesome and burdensome to the Jews that Herod |313 thought this would be a great present to give to the Jews if he put him to death» 850. The words used by our Lord to his disciples, «Greet no man by the way» 851 naturally cause perplexity among those who read the divine Scriptures superficially: for greeting more especially becomes ministers of peace and teachers of a humble disposition. But it is not possible for us to take the actual injunction as bearing this meaning; for our Saviour is thereby shown to contradict himself and to be making use of injunctions which do not agree with one another; for Matthew wrote of him that he said to his disciples, «And, if ye greet your friends only, what special thing do ye? Do not the tax-gatherers also the same?» 852. How then can he who enjoins us to greet not only those who are friends but also enemies prohibit us from greeting those who meet us on the way? Accordingly therefore it is manifest that we must direct the purport of the injunction to another meaning. It is the habit of men to visit their acquaintances who live at a distance from them, and whom they have not seen for a long time, making this the occasion |314 of a journey, the greeting of those persons, as Luke wrote of Mary the God-bearer that the reason for which she went to the hill-country was to greet Elizabeth, saying thus: «And Mary arose in the same days, and went to the hill-country in haste, to a city of Judah, and entered the house of Zacharias, and greeted Elizabeth» 853. Since therefore our Lord and God wished his disciples to be unencumbered and self-reliant, and that they should be very zealous for the preaching-journey, he prohibited such greeting, when they were setting out on the apostolic and divine journey, lest they should give up the zeal for the journey set before them and enter upon the journey that is called vain, which leads aside to another path. For he wished the divine service of the gospel-message and of the saving preaching to be honoured before fitting human affection and the love that creeps upon the earth. And the approved Cyril also bishop of Alexandria wrote in agreement with these things in precise words and at length, in the 62nd homily of the Commentary on the Gospel of Luke: «Again how could it not be incumbent on men who were to enlighten those that were in darkness and to bring |315 them to the knowledge of the truth above all others to adopt a gentle demeanour and great affability, and not roughly shun intercourse with them, so as to refuse even to greet them? though it indeed becomes saints together with other good qualities to have that also of approaching people in a proper way and giving greeting. For perhaps it would happen that those who met them were not under all circumstances unbelievers, but also some of those who shared their opinions, or of those who had been already enlightened, so that for this reason it was necessary to give them a message of love, I mean the word ' Hail! '. What therefore? And for this reason Christ does not give the injunction in order that they may be misanthropes, nor does he give it in order to show honour to 854 a refusal to offer greeting, but rather he teaches them to avoid such refusal. It is not unreasonable for us to understand that, when the disciples were going round the cities and villages, and propounding the mysteries relating to the divine doctrines to those in every place, they did not then wish to do this without distraction, but so to speak at leisure, turning out of the way and making use of certain diversions, because someone perhaps wished to see a man whom he knew |316 and his friend, and afterwards spend the time proper for teaching in gluttony, not in urgent things. Accordingly he says that, showing unencumbered zeal for the divine proclamation, they should be sure not to give attention that does not profit to friendships (but rather that which pleases God is placed before every thing), and, while employing acts of courtesy that cannot be impugned and do not occupy attention, to give close attention to the apostolic business» 855.
LXXXVI. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE 70th LETTER OF THE 6th BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN AFTER BANISHMENT, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO SERGIUS THE COUNT AND archiatros 856.
[619-38.] As to the fact that our Lord and God Jesus Christ appeared after the Resurrection to Peter and John and their companions, and commanded them to cast the net on the right side of the ship, and to catch a multitude of great fish, making up the number of 153, I say in brief language that its meaning |317 is this 857. The gospel related that that night after toiling greatly they caught nothing whatever; and this narrative, when transferred to spiritual and suprasensual sublimity, suggests to us that before our Saviour's coming there was night in this world, for human affairs were devoid of the knowledge of God, being devoted to the service of gods falsely so-called; but, when a kind of rising and dawn of light took place, when our Saviour came and rose and shone upon those on earth, like a 'Sun of righteousness' (this the divine Scripture says 858), then the apostolic net was let down, and made a great catch of men, and for this reason had the right side allotted to it. For Moses and the prophets, when they let down the fishing-net, during the past night, caught the people of Israel only, while these often jumped out of the net and served demons, and the present state is understood to be the same as if they had not been caught 859. Wherefore, also they 860 left for the apostles the most honourable place on the right, while they themselves occupied the left station, which according to our custom is inferior in honour. But in respect of the fish which were caught the number 100 shows the great |318 multitude from the nations who were caught by the proclamation of the gospel; and, when Israel did not succeed, the teaching of the gospel seized that which is perfect;for the number 100 is perfect, being composed of 10 times 10. Wherefore also our Saviour likened all rational creation to 100 sheep, saying that 99 861............
LXXXVII. ---- OF THE SAME ON OUR LORD'S SAYING, « I WILL NOT DRINK WITH YOU HENCEFORTH OF THIS PRODUCT OF THE VINE TILL THE DAY ON WHICH I SHALL DRINK IT ANEW WITH YOU IN MY FATHER'S KINGDOM»862, FROM THE 60th LETTER 863, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO LEONTIUS THE PRESBYTER 864.
[514-8.] But the words spoken by our Saviour to the disciples at the institution of the new and divine mystery, «I will not drink henceforth of this product of the vine till the day on which I shall drink it with you new in my Father's kingdom» are explained and interpreted in two ways. John bishop of |319 Constantinople says that the new drinking of the cup is that occasion on which he drank with his disciples after the Resurrection, thereby confirming the nature of the body which rose, and eradicating the profane notion of phantasy; for the holy Peter is related in the Acts of the Apostles to have said to Cornelius, «Us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead» 865. But Gregory the Theologian in the homily on the Passover says that the new drinking of the cup is the revelation of the divine conceptions that shall take place and is expected in the kingdom of the heavens, when mirrors and riddles are done away, and the sight face to face is revealed, as the divine apostle says 866. But it is fitting that I should quote to you these words of the doctor, the contents of which are as follows: «We shall receive the Passover, but now symbolically 867, and a Passover that is more plainly revealed than the old one (for I am bold enough to say that the legal Passover was an obscurer symbol of a symbol); but a little later |320 one thatis more perfect and purer, when the Word shall drink it new with us in the Father's kingdom, revealing to us and teaching us things that he has now shown ohscurely; for that which is now made to appear is always new. But, what the drinking and enjoyment is, it is ours to learn, but his to teach, and to show the matter to his disciples. For even the teaching is the food of him who teaches» 868. And very well did the Theologian give expression to these words; for our Lord also reckons our profit his own food and drink; for thus also he says in the gospel, «My food is to do my Father's will» 869; and again, when he was about to speak to the men from Samaria, he said to the disciples, «1 have food to eat, which ye know not» 870.
LXXXVIII. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE 69th LETTER OF THE 4th BOOK OF THOSE APTER BANISHMENT, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO SERGIUS BISHOP OF CYRRHUS 871.
[519-38.] But, since your saintliness asked with regard to Enoch and Elijah, of whom one was translated that he should not see death, as the apostle said 872, |321 while the other was caught up towards heaven, if they will undergo the common death, it is incumbent upon us to state, in proportion to the small capacity which we possess, the things that have reached our comprehension from the teaching of the fathers. It is believed therefore according to the testimonies of the divine words that Enoch was translated, and Elijah was caught up towards heaven, and was carried by the air 873, and that they are alive, and that they are in such places as God knows, and that he 874 bestowed upon them such a marvellous translation hence, and that they are in a mortal body, having not yet received the blessing of immortality. For let us agree with Paul who says generally of all the holy men who pleased God, «And all these to whom testimony was borne through faith received not the promises, God having foreseen , some better thing for our sakes. that they might not be perfected without us» 875. And it is manifest that perfection |322 is nothing else except a state of immortality and glory, and impassibility, that does not grow old, in the kingdom of heaven. That this is so is confirmed by John also the wise in the Spirit, who became bishop of Constantinople, in the 22nd homily of the commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he gives the following teaching: «But many inquire whither Enoch was translated, and why he was translated, and why he did not die, neither he nor. Elijah, and, if they are still living, how they are living, and in what form. But it is superfluous for us to inquire into these things. For that the one was translated and the other was taken up the Scriptures stated; but where they exist or how they exist they did not go on to say; for they do not say anything beyond what is necessary» 876. And the same doctor delivered an expository discourse in Constantinople in the church of Marth Anastasia 877 about the saying of the apostle who says, «Henceforth, my brethren, be strong in our Lord and in the power of his might» 878, and, it being the day of the actual commemoration of the martyrs, and the king |323 having come to the martyrs' chapel and withdrawn before the sermon, he delivered a discourse after the king's departure, of which the beginning is: «Blessed is God for the greatness of the power of the martyrs, for yesterday they drew the whole city with the queen, and to-day the king with his soldiers, with great reverence». And, when in this discourse he was explaining about death and the resurrection, he gave this teaching: «Since therefore the fear had increased and had shaken the mind, see how thereafter he introduces also the hope concerning the resurrection, a dark hope indeed and not clear, but still he introduces it. For Enoch, who came into being after these things, he did not allow to die; and Paul says that 'by faith Enoch was translated that he might not see death; and he was not found, because God translated him'. For he translated him and did not allow him to die. He did not yet make him immortal, in order that he might not do away the fear, but he remains without dying. And he is not immortal; but he gave continuance of life in the mortal body, opening up, as I said, obscurely the hope of the resurrection» 879. |324
LXXXIX. ---- OF MAR SEVERUS TO AMMONIUS THE SCHOLASTIC OF BOSTRA.
[519-38.] For Paul says, « [Those who sinned without the law] shall also perish without the law; [and] those who sinned in the law shall also be judged in the law.» 880.......every created thing.......good and evil who are creatures and a rational soul.................... 'shall stand before the judgment-seat of Christ' 881.............. [shall give account] 882 for all the contempt and................ renounced the recognition of God.................... and that they kept the natural law and in piety............... lived ... according to the law from among those who........ ......according to the law....................... |325 and those who.....the gospel-commandments............ from among those who........................... For neither did he leave himself without witness............. ... made men perfect towards righteousness, since [he permitted ....] all men in freedom of will to walk as pleased them, but he........... ..... that, being rational, they should understand [the words that Paul] and Barnabas [said] to those who wished to sacrifice to them as gods: «. .. turn [from these vain things] to the [living] God who made heaven and earth [and] the seas [and all that is in them, who in] past [generations] permitted all nations to go [their own] ways; and that without [leaving himself] without witness, in that he did good, since from heaven [itself] he gave them [rains and] fruitful [seasons], filling their own [hearts] with food and gladness» 883............................... |326 performed unlawful deeds, and from lack of perception did not know their own Maker, shall be bereft of this grace 884.
XC. ---- OF THE SAME, FROM THE LETTER TO CONSTANTINE BISHOP OF LAODICEA 885, AN INTERPRETATION OF THE POINTS STATED BELOW.
[513-38.] You ask therefore what is the meaning of the divine command which is contained in the law that was given through Moses and says: «If thou make me an altar of stones, build them not hewn; for thou hast laid thy hand-tool upon it, and it is defiled» 886. By 'hand-tool' he designates the instrument 887 of iron, the ax or hatchet, that is wielded by the hewers. For he reckons an altar fashioned of hewn stones to be abominable and does not |327 accept it as being a defiled thing. But the symbol teaches that fruits that spring by nature itself from the earth are more pleasing to God, which shall be offered to God upon the altar rather than those that are gained by the rapine and violence of war, which are the acquisition of iron.
(And again.) But the symbol of the law introduces to us also another thought which is akin to this and edifying. 'The altar that was built of chance stones naturally produced by the earth establishes the fact that God is pleased 888 by the simple impulses and natural thoughts that are in our soul, not by thoughts that are decked out by artificial preparation and manifold devices, and, as if hewn out, mingle with the truth and the simplicity arising from this. (And again from the same.) For as the holy Cyril interprets in the 9th book about worship in spirit, «He names Emmanuel an earth-altar. For 'the Word became flesh'. For the nature of flesh is earth and |328 from earth» 889. «But, if thou make me an altar of stones, build them not hewn». He does not allow words offered to God to be cut with iron. For Christ was 'the elect stone of the head of the corner and precious', 890 incapable of being cut by sin, because he knew not how to be injured by the devil's strokes; and he was not divided between God and the world, though he became flesh, but he is all holy. Accordingly the altar made of earth, and the stones also that are not smitten by iron, signify Christ, as in the illustrations mentioned above.
XCI. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH, FROM THE 15th LETTER OF THE 5th BOOK OF THOSE AFTER BANISHMENT, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO MAR CONSTANTINE BISHOP OF LAODICEA.
[519-38.] But the next point to which I will apply myself is the words found in the Book of Genesis that were spoken by God, when he was about to bring |329 the flood in the days of Noah, «My spirit shall not dwell among those men forever, because they are flesh; but their days shall be 120 years» 891. You ask how it is that, when a space of 120 years had been granted, he is seen to have carried out the same threat after 100 years, and flooded the whole earth together. For Noah was 500 years old on the day on which he granted him the space; and the divine Scripture said, «And the waters of the flood came upon the earth in the 600th year of the life of Noah, in the 2nd month on the 27th day of the month» 892. Upon this, being directed to the truth by the divine Scripture itself, we say that the term of 120 years was given in mercifulness, in order that those who were living an evil life might change for the better in fear of the threat. But they came to the utmost limit of wickedness, and treated the divine long-suffering with contempt, and accordingly God brought the punishment immediately; not as if he did not know what was to happen, but to show by the long term the abundance of his own long-suffering, and to establish also the greatness of those men's wickedness, who so much increased their impiety, and went down to the very end and bottom of wickedness, so as to call the sentence quickly down upon them. |330 Therefore he further also said to the righteous Noah, «The end of all flesh hath come in before me, because the earth hath been filled with iniquity by them» 893. For it is his custom to change his own sentences in the direction of fury and goodness according to our change, either towards wickedness or towards virtue. And this he stated plainly through Jeremiah the prophet: «If I speak a determination against a people or against a kingdom to root it out and destroy it, and that people turn from their evil deeds, I will repent concerning the evil things which I spake to do to them. And, if I speak a determination against a people and against a kingdom, that it be built and planted, and they do evil deeds before me, and hearken not to my voice, I will repent concerning the good things which I spake to do to them» 894. And that these things are so is laid down by the very wise John also who became bishop of Constantinople, when he is interpreting the 104th Psalm and writing thus, and contending as against the Jews, who adduced the promises to their fathers: «But, if the Jew argues against these things, and holds to the promise that was made to them, I learn that many such promises were indeed made in the Old Testament also. He promised to give the land |331 from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates, and did not give it. He promised Adam to lay the fear and dread of him upon the animals, and the promise was not brought to completion. He promised that the life of men should be 120 years, and he brought the punishment before the term. And in the opposite cases the same things are to be seen. He threatened Hezekiah with death, and turned it away. He threatened the Ninevites with overthrow, and dispelled the wrath, showing that neither good things nor painful things depend on him only, but also on the recipients. For, if he threaten something grievous, and those who receive the threat change, they repel the wrath from them. But, if he promise something good, and they show themselves to be unworthy, they will be deprived. Therefore he says, ' I will speak a determination against a people and against a kingdom, to build and to plant', but, 'if he says 'they are seen to be unworthy, I will not bring these things'. Let them not therefore bring God's promises before us, but let them show if they were seen to be worthy of these. But they cannot show it: therefore they passed to others. For we nowhere find that they are able to show that the words 'In thy seed shall all the nations be blessed' 895 'were fulfilled of them» 896. It is the same difficulty and elucidation |332 to which the words' also relate which the holy Cyril wrote in the 12th book of the commentary on the Gospel of John, as follows: «But, because 897, though he often promised to do many things at the fitting time, he nevertheless did them even before the time appointed, for the purpose of persuading us, in order that we may truly believe that even under all circumstances the things said by him will come to effect, we will show from the following. He promised to raise the dead, and to bring back to life those who are laid in the earth and dust. For, 'there cometh', he saith, 'an hour, wherein the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of man and come forth, they that have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but they that have done evil deeds to the resurrection of judgment'. And that he will easily make this good, and will hasten to persuade 898 he taught by saying, ' I am the resurrection and the life'. And, because he would not make the greatness of the thing that the dead should rise at that time so to speak incredible, for a useful purpose the time of the resurrection is hastened 899 and he shows the sign in that he raised Lazarus and the widow's son, and Jairus' daughter. And what else besides these things? He says that the resurrection of the |333 saints shall be something exceedingly glorious. 'Then', he says, 'the righteous shall shine in their Father's kingdom', that he may again be believed as one who speaks truly, in that he saw the disciples beforehand and gave the sight of this 900. For 'he took Peter and James and John, and went up into a mountain, and was transfigured before them; and his face shone as lightning, and his raiment became white as snow'» 901. But in the above-mentioned commentary on the 104th Psalm we find the holy John bishop of Constantinople solving the point in Exodus that seemed doubtful; and the point that seemed doubtful is, you said, as follows: «How is it that, after Moses had turned all the water in Egypt into blood, Scripture said that the magicians were able to show the same sign against that? For, since all the water had been changed, how was it possible for pure water to be found in which these men were to show the sign?» Some have said that it was possible for sea-water to come, since the sea was not at a great distance, in order that they might change this by magic skill; while others have said that it is not incredible that Moses himself, after the change to blood, turned |334 the water back to its own appearance and nature, in order that the magicians might show their own skill on the other side. But the wise doctor John, since he understood the divine power as is right and in very discerning1 fashion, said that, as in the case of the darkness the Egyptians had that darkness, while the sons of Israel had light, and, as in the matter of the herds, and in the case of the yoke-animals when they died, those belonging to the Israelites remained unharmed, and, in the case of the plague of hail, where the sons of Israel were in the land of Goshen no hail fell, in the same way you should understand as regards all the plagues too, among which that change from water to blood was also included, and it must be believed that in the land of Goshen, and where the sons of Israel were, the water remained for the sons of Israel in its own nature without change, in which it was possible for the magicians to show the performances of their own skill. Among the words uttered by the doctor is contained the following passage by way of summary: «' He sent darkness and made it dark' 902; and it was a very glorious fact that, while the ray shone everywhere, in, Egypt darkness appeared; and there not throughout, but only where the Egyptians were. For, lest any one should say that what happened was an eclipse 903, |335 that is a disappearance of the moon, nor 904 the course of nature, the Hebrews who were living in the same country with them were not affected by this plague, a thing which happened in the other plagues». After a similar manner Gregory also bishop of Nyssa, who was great in the knowledge of divine things, in the treatise which he composed about virtue said these things: he said: «For then all the nature of the waters in Egypt was in accordance with Moses' command turned to blood, and the fish were destroyed, because the water was converted to fleshlike density; but the Hebrews, when they drew the blood, had water 905. Therefore there arose an occasion for the display of skill, that with the water found among the Hebrews they might in a defective manner contrive to produce the appearance of blood» 906. The words used in the 1st Book of Kingdoms to Ahimelech the priest by the holy David, «Is the journey itself also profane? 907 because it will be hallowed to-day by means of my implements», if it is very carefully and clearly read, is seen to be much plainer than the sun, and to be free from all obscurity. David asked for bread to eat; and the priest answered and said, «There are no profane loaves under my hands; but there are holy |336 loaves. If the slaves have refrained, at least from a woman, they shall eat». And David answered and said, «But we have kept away from a woman since yesterday, and since the third day. Since I set out on the journey, all the slaves have been pure». And, these things having been so stated first, what follows should be read as a question, «Is the journey itself also profane?» 908; and thereupon the addition will give the reason for which the journey is not profane; and the addition runs, «Because it will be hallowed to-day by means of my implements», that is to say, 'Will anyone call the same journey a profane thing, a journey which has been hallowed by means of my implements?', viz 'by means of my armour, and the burden of my implements, and by my going to war'. And from this it is manifest that, inasmuch as the slaves were accustomed to carry his implements and arms, when he went out to war, they were purified. And, that slaves again used to march after generals or commanders, as armour-bearers, this is manifest from many instances; for the present from the end of the Ist Book |337 of Kingdoms, in which it is stated that Saul said to his weapon-carrier, «Draw thy sword and transfix me with it» 909. And towards the end of the 2nd book he says, in the numeration and reckoning of the generals or commanders of the divine David. «Naharai the Berothite, weapon-carrier of Joab the son of Zeruiah» 910. This then is what David here said, «Even the slaves themselves are pure, because they are weaponbearers»; and this now when he had fled from Saul, and was not carrying arms. Wherefore also he asked the priest saying, «See if there be here under thine hand a spear or a sword, because I did not take my sword and my weapons in mine hand, because the king's word was pressing» 911. And from what is here stated especially it is manifest that those who went out for the purpose of being ranged in order of battle were purified. And this is very clearly recognised also from the commandments given in Deuteronomy; for he says: «If thou go out against thine enemies, keep thyself from every evil action. And, if there be among thee a man who is not pure from his discharge at night, he shall go outside the camp and shall not' come into the camp. And it shall be that towards evening he shall bathe his body in water, and, |338 when the sun hath set, he shall go into the camp. And thou shalt have a place outside the camp, and he shall go out there without. And thou shall have a peg on thy loins, and it shalt be that, when thou sittest outside, thou shalt dig with it, and shalt turn and hide thy shame with it; because the Lord thy God walketh in thy camp, to rescue thee, and to deliver thine enemies into thine hands; and thy camp shall be holy; and the shame of an act shall not be seen in thee and shall turn away from thee» 912. And in the 2nd Book of Kingdoms Uriah too also manifests this same sentiment. When he had returned from the lines, and was about to go to them, David ordered him to go down to his own house after supper; and he answered and said, «If the ark and Israel and Judah dwell in tents, and my lord Joab and my lord's bondmen are encamped upon the face of the field, shall even I go into mine house and eat and drink and sleep with my wife? how? As my soul liveth, I will not do this thing» 913. These are the conclusions at which we for our part have arrived on the questions that were presented to me by your saintliness according to the capacity that our meanness possesses. |339
XCII. --- AGAIN OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO PROCLA, IN WHICH HE SHOWS THAT THE WOMAN HAD EQUAL HONOUR WITH THE MAN IN THE LIFE IN PARADISE.
Though the man is ruler, and holds the position of head towards the woman 914 (it was indeed for this reason that she came into being from his rib), yet nevertheless the two had equal honour in the life of bliss in Paradise. Holy Scripture says that the woman was given as a helper to the man, who was ordered to till and keep Paradise 915, and both the tilling and the keeping was common to them. But, because the deceitfulness of sin came in through the woman, then she lost the equality of honour with the man; for she heard the words, «To thy husband shalt thou turn, and he himself shall have authority over thee» 916; which punishment your modesty desired to undo. |340
XCIII. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE 5th LETTER OF THE 9th BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN WHILE HE HELD THE BISHOPRIC, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO ARCHELAUS THE READER 917.
[513-8.] For you write to the effect that certain men said about the holy John the Evangelist that he did not undergo the common end, but still continues even now to exist without death, like Enoch, of whom the apostle said that he 'was translated that he might not see death' 918, and Elijah of whom it is written that he 'was carried up in a whirlwind toward heaven' 919. I am astonished at the crassness of the ignorance of those who said this and their lack of information. As the evangelist manifestly corrects the supposition of many and says, «Jesus did not say to him 'He shall not die', but 'If I will that he tarry till I come what is it to thee?» 920, where is there room for us to speak in opposition to the divine Scriptures and say that he who said these things remained immortal? The disciples above all, they who were the preachers of the resurrection, were bound to undergo the common |341 end, in order that all who received the preaching of the gospel might learn that all the chances of their blessedness rest in the future life, and that we must despise the life here, and willingly hasten to death. Such wonderful things were done in the times of the old covenant, when men were not yet in a perfect condition, and were deficient in faith, and were unable to receive the teaching of the resurrection, and firmly to believe that, after the separation of soul and body, it is possible for those who have once died to come back again to life. As to the fact that John the Evangelist underwent the common end, it is not we only who admit this, but men also who are highly distinguished among the fathers, and guides to the mysteries and doctors of the holy church. And John, who became bishop of Constantinople, in the commentary on the Gospel of John, when commenting on the very place from which those who are blind towards what is manifest and plain draw the erroneous inference, says thus: «For, because Peter was always confident and forward in asking such questions, it was again by way of cutting away his impetuosity and teaching him not to make any further inquiry that he said this. Therefore the report went out among |342 the brethren that that man should not die. And he did not say, 'He shall tarry till I come', but, 'If I will that he tarry'. 'For do not suppose either', he says, 'that I manage your affairs in one way only'. But this he did because he wished to detach them from excessive love towards one another. For, since they were to receive the charge of the world, it was not right for them any longer to be bound up with one another: for, if this had been so, this would have been a great loss to the world. Therefore he says thus': 'You have had a work entrusted to you, look to it, and act and fight like a combatant. For what even though I will that he tarry here? look you to your own affairs, and concern yourself about them'. But do you observe, I pray, even here also the unassuming character of the evangelist. For after mentioning the belief of the disciples with regard to this matter he corrects it on the ground that they had not noticed what he said. For neither did Jesus say, ' He shall not die', but, 'If will that he tarry'921. And the very wise Cyril, while inserting a mention of the interpretation of this saying, writes thus: «When Peter therefore saw this man, he tried to be curious, and begged to learn to what and what kind of |343 dangers he also would after these things be exposed, or to what the end of his life also would come. But the question was manifestly beyond the limits of due reason, and that act was one of inquisitiveness rather; not of useful learning, that, having obtained knowledge about himself, he should inquire into the things that were coming upon others. For this reason, as I think, the Lord answered and said something, though not a direct answer to, the things asked or inquired about, but he turns in a way the purpose of the questioner to other things, so that he does not say 'John shall be immortal' but 'If I will that he be alive till I come, what then is it to you yourself?': 'therefore', that is, 'you have heard, O Peter, the things that concern you, and why are you curious about things that concern others? and why do you probe into the knowledge of the divine judgments out of season? For, if he had actually said that he should never die 922, how then will this comfort your anxiety?'»923 And Athanasius patriarch of Alexandria in the 41st exposition spoken at a festival on the 3rd of the month of Farmenothi said these words: «And the graves of all these exist to this day, and we have ourselves seen them, as that of Peter and that of Paul at the great Rome, |344 and that of John at Ephesus» 924. And Eusebius Pamphili in the 3rd book of the Ecclesiastical History plainly wrote that John the theologian-apostle and evangelist underwent the common end of all men, and that he awaits the true and long life that has no ending which is after the resurrection: and in the 68th chapter of the book which we have mentioned he says; «It is related that John, the apostle and evangelist at the same time, was still living in the world, and on account of the testimony concerning God the Word was condemned to live in the island of Patmos»; and again in the 23rd chapter he writes thus: «In these times there had been left in the world in Asia the actual man whom Jesus loved, John the apostle and evangelist at the same time, and he was governing the churches there, having returned from the island in which he had been exiled after Domitian's death»; and in the 31st chapter he immediately adds these things about him: «But the chronology of John's life we have already mentioned, but the locality of his body is shown from the letter of Polycrates (he was bishop of the region of Ephesus), in writing which to Victor bishop of the Romans |345 he mentions him and Philip the apostle at the same time and the latter's daughters as follows: 'In Asia also sleep great lights who shall rise at the last day of our Lord's coming, in which he comes with glory from heaven and shall search out all the saints, Philip who was of the 12 apostles, who also sleeps in Hierapolis, and his two daughters who had grown old in virginity; and his other daughter, who lived her life in the Holy Spirit, fell asleep in Ephesus. Moreover John also as well who fell upon our Lord's breast, who became a priest, having put on the crown, and martyr 925 and doctor, he sleeps in Ephesus'. So much we have said concerning these persons' death» 926. But that other argument also besides is one of great madness and of uninstructed understanding, which confirms the erroneous supposition from the gospel saying which was spoken by our God and Saviour Jesus Christ to his disciples in this way: «Verily I say unto you; there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom» 927. It is time for those who thus err to say also of which of the other disciples they suppose that together with John himself they did not taste of death, but that they have remained immortal to this day; for the |346 saying is expressed in the plural, for Christ did not say 'someone who shall not taste death till he see the Son of man coming in his kingdom'. What answer will the men who speak all their words without examination give to this? It was not in reference to immortality in this world that our Saviour himself spoke these things to his own disciples, but because he wished to supply confirmation in the matter of the promise of the future life, and of the glory that is in it; for in fact a little before he said, «The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then shall he reward every man according to his works»928. It was because he wished, as I have said, to raise their mind which still saw little and was confined to the lowliness of the dispensation and had no God-befitting thoughts to the height of that hope that he immediately added the saying, «Verily I say unto you that there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom», and because he was about to take the three disciples, Peter, James, and John, up into the mountain, and to show them a phantasm and very obscure picture of the future kingdom and of his own glory, and as on a stage give to that which was immediately |347 duly to appear the future exalted and God-befitting greatness which our mind cannot grasp. For after these words in immediate sequence the evangelist added, «After six days Jesus took Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up into a high mountain alone and was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his raiment became white like the light» 929. Let no one again from the statement that the Son of man shall come in his kingdom refer the saying to the second coming of our Saviour; for the name 'coming' may be used not only to signify a bodily coming, but also for the glory and light of the divine revelation. This is shown by the divine saying of our Saviour when he says in the Gospel of John to his disciples, «If a man loveth me, he will keep my words, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make an abode with him» 930. Here the expression 'we will come'manifestly denotes not a bodily coming, but a revelation as we have said of God-befitting glory and brightness. |348
XCIV. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO ARCHELAUS, WHERE HE ADDUCES TESTIMONIES FROM THE DOCTORS.
[513-8(?).] For the holy Basil the wise in divine things in the homily on the Faith says thus: «For as to angels' tongues, whatever they are, to know what they are is not within our compass» 931. But the holy Johannes also the great in spiritual wéath taught in accord with this in the commentary on the Epistle to the Corinthians: «But he here says ' angels' tongues', not that he clothes angels in a body, but what he says is of this kind: ' even if I so speak as it is the law for angels to speak to one another, without love I am nothing'. So therefore also in another place, when he says, 'To him shall every knee bow of those in heaven and of those on earth, and of those under the earth', he does not say this as assigning knees and bones to angels (away with the thought!), but he wishes to signify the intense worship through the form that it takes among us. So here also he uses the term 'tongue', not as |349 signifying an organ of flesh, but because he wished to signify their own intercourse with one another by the method known among us» 932.
XCV. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO ISIDORE THE COUNT 933.
[508-11(?)] But perhaps someone will say in question, «How are we to understand that the words which God spoke were uttered?" (meaning words such as those that were addressed to Adam, «Where art thou, Adam?» 934, and those to Moses on the mountain at the giving of the law, and on the banks of Jordan, when Christ was baptized with the dispensatory baptism which saves us, and again when his appearance was changed on the mountain, when Peter and James and John were with him); for lo! we see that they are words of a saying that was uttered through the articulation, and it is written that they were heard by human ears, and it plainly cried by the Jordan and on the mountain, «This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased» 935. We should therefore know, both in these cases and in all similar ones, that we ought not to fall from the supposition that befits God, and say that God emits |350 the sound of the composition of words made through the lips and with the tongue, but be assured, and that very wisely and confidently, that, by the divine operation and by the power that makes all things that exist, the filling word was brought into being. This the holy Cyril teaches and confirms in the work which he addressed to Theodosius: «For the Jews said that they knew that God spoke with Moses 936. For perhaps they did not know by reason of great stupidity that no one has ever heard the nature that is above all things speaking in a manner befitting men, but the words that are addressed to men are brought into being in a manner which he knows, for it is not possible for us to say. For what work will God fail from weakness to perform? For what will he not bring to pass if he wishes, and that very easily?» 937
When also it is written that the words of God were brought to one of the saints through a mediating angel, according to the same reverent principle let us say that the words that were emitted by the mediation of an angel were brought into being through divine inspiration and so to speak by operation. And this Athanasius teaches in the 3rd treatise on the Trinity 938. |351
XCVI. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS THE 22nd LETTER OF THE 2nd BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN DURING EPISCOPACY, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO SOLON BISHOP OF ISAURIA 939.
[514-7.] After we had held the love of God that is in you much to blame for sending the religious bishops Epiphanius and Symbatius 940, who are under your authority by right of the metropolitan dignity, without a letter, the well-tried Basil arrived, bringing us a letter written by you, and, after gladly seeing this, we believed it to be a defence to the same charge, since we perceived that by means of it the reason for which the bishops came to the city of Antiochus is made clear. And the contents of the letter were concerned with other matters: for among these there was a query concerning a certain scriptural problem; and it seemed to me difficult and evidence of great ignorance for us to return an answer to the question while I am distressed in my soul on account of the division in the faith which has prevailed among you because of our sins. For we remember one of those wise in divine |352 things who says, «Instruments of music at a time of mourning are a tale out of season» 941. However, since by the other letter 942 we were released so to speak from the mourning of sorrow, I considered it right on account of the great honour maintained towards your excellence to write a few words in answer to that query, such as have come into my mind, and words which are drawn from the Scriptures composed by the Spirit and the fathers who with the help of the Spirit expounded these, little as we have understood. Since you have set. down in your letter (therein acting rightly) the points raised by every kind of understanding or by impulsive eloquence, I have determined not to extend this letter to a great length; for I myself also have believed that the enjoyment of the good things that are promised us in the kingdom of heaven is not sensual, nor yet does it consist in eating and drinking. Since the man who propounds the contrary argument is vehement, and everywhere introduces the restoration to the primitive state and the enjoyment in Paradise, I pass over the theory which raises the enjoyment and the trees and the ends of the branches to an allegory 943, and come to a matter which is free from dispute, and simple, and one which draws its defence |353 from the truth only. That Christ by means of his Incarnation raised or raises us to these primitive conditions is certain. But this must be understood as far as concerns in corruption arid the abolition of death, to which the bitter taste enjoyed by disobedience gave birth. That Emmanuel invites us to prizes and crowns that surpass the primitive state, making our right actions means of support for further assistance, and that he does not raise us to Paradise again, but introduces us in a new fashion into the kingdom of heaven, is manifest and is never a matter of doubt, not even to those who are very perverse. And, in order that we may not be thought to be rousing the hearer to maintain the contrary argument by using our own inventions, we will as a superfluity cite the laws of the God-clad guides to the mysteries 944 of the church, which suffice to bring before our eyes the meaning of the divine words. Gregory the Theologian in the homily on the divine Epiphany in speaking about the Incarnation wrote thus: «This is more godlike than the former. This to those who have intelligence is higher» 945. But, if there is more likeness to God, and it is higher than a new creation, it is manifest that it leads those who are formed anew to a higher and more divine |354 condition. And John the holy bishop of Constantinople in the homily entitled 'Why that tree was called the tree of good and evil', and 'What is the meaning of the words «To-day thou shalt be with me in Paradise» ', laying down clear teaching on this matter, said these words: «The robber entered Paradise. And what is this? Are these the good things which God promises us? Do you not hear Paul saying, ' These good things eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, and they have not gone up into man's heart'. But Paradise both eye has seen, that of Adam, and ear has heard, and man's heart has received, for indeed we have been speaking about it for so many days. How then did that robber receive them? For God does not promise to bring us into Paradise, but into heaven itself; and he did not proclaim a kingdom of Paradise but a kingdom of heaven. For 'he began to proclaim and to say, «Repent, for the kingdom of heaven hath drawn near»"946. Since these things therefore have been thus stated by the holy doctors, it is good to add Paul's words as a head and confirmation to what has been stated; for he |355 said, «The kingdom of heaven is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit» 947. For the saying, «Blessed are the lowly, for they shall inherit the earth»948, must on no account lead us to the notion that after release from this world and the future life we shall enjoy sensual things. For even the holy John also whom I mentioned a short time ago stated how Christ, following the custom of the Old Testamen, which promises a land of promise flowing with milk and honey, himself also similarly promised to the lowly after this model abundance of days in this world, and a share in the good things of the earth, writing thus in the commentary on the Gospel of Matthew: «For he does not incite from future good things only, but also from present ones, and that on account of the more dense among the hearers, who seek these things before those that are future»; and a little farther on: «And in another way also, because in the Old Testament the prophet says, 'For the lowly shall inherit the earth', he therefore weaves the sentence together out of words that had grown up with them, in order that they may not everywhere hear strange things» 949. And the saintly Gregory bishop of Nyssa in the work entitled 'About the |356 Beatitudes' said thus: «But, if we soar in language and stand above the arch of heaven, we shall find there the supracelestial earth also, which is kept as an inheritance for those who have lived in virtue, so that the order of sequence of the blessings may not seem to be at fault, in that heaven was first set before us by God and afterwards a promise of earth» 950. But, if any man, having regard to his belly and occupying himself with foods that please the throat, turn against these things also, saying, «Why therefore shall we make use of the earth?», then we must say to him; If we look for a new heaven and a new earth according to his promise, as the divine Scripture said 951, how is it anything but inconceivable that we should introduce the old custom into the renovation of the elements? When the earth is new, the life also as well: will assuredly be new, a life that on every point lies outside this one and differs from it; for we may hear the Psalmist saying, , «The voice of praise and salvation is in the tent of the righteous» 952. And this a man will say is the food of those who are about to live the expected life, continual songs of praise and the sublime contemplation on which the angels also feed, and joy and inexplicable exaltation, in life that does not |357 end. For those whose throat gapes for sensual enjoyment, being involved in the same empty-mindedness as those men, make use of senseless fatuities and say, «For what purpose then shall we make use of teeth, or the other members by which the perception of the things that please is received?» To these it is obvious to answer that, since the soul receives the body in perfection at the time of the resurrection, those who rise not being devoid of genital members, and this though the book of the gospel cries, «In the resurrection they marry not, nor are given in marriage, but they are as the angels that are in heaven»953, after the same fashion they will have also |358 teeth and all the members of the body, that, as they have together with the soul practised habits of virtue, they may also partake of the glory; for it is not in order that they may make use of these according to the ancient custom. If we crave for and need sensual food in the future painless life, it is then time to desire also clothes made of wool, and the other things which this life shows to be necessary, in the summer and in the winter which comes round in the succession of the other seasons. But it is very certain that the expected life is free from all these things, since the seven days' circle which makes up the existing time ceases, and there is one day the eighth 954, one which has none to succeed it and is without evening. If then there is a new heaven and a new earth and a new course of time expressed in one endless day and not divided into days and nights, how is it anything but reasonable to expect that the new life which is unknown to us and is not |359 even comprehended by the mind is severed from sensual foods, just as the life of the angels is far removed in comparison with the present life of men? But I for my part say this also, that, since Christ became a beginning for us in all things, it is manifest that the conditions of our resurrection also bear a resemblance to the same beginning. If then Christ after the Resurrection from the place of the dead is 955 made known in flesh as it is written 956, having, as he had, that body and no other, but no longer susceptible of hunger, or of any similar thing, nor yet one sustained by foods, it is assuredly necessary that our bodies also should not want anything; for Paul said, «As we were clad in the image of the earthy, so shall we also be clad m the image of him that is from heaven» 957. For the fact that he ate and drank with the disciples as it is written 958 and received food should be ascribed to dispensation; because he did this same thing in order to confirm the nature of the body that had risen and cast out the supposition of phantasy. But, even though in conflict with the beginning of the argument, I say this also, guiding my opinions by the labour of the God-clad guides to the mysteries, |360 that, even if we expect the kingdom of heaven, and an end that is greater than the life of Paradise, we are not debarred from expecting a fresh return of the primitive state; for Basil the great said in the homily entitled ' God is not the cause of evils' that, if Adam had kept the commandment and not transgressed, suprasensual prizes and crowns and such as raise to an equality of honour with the angels were prepared for him; for he wrote as follows: «It was not fitting that he should have clothes either from nature or from craftsmanship, but there were others prepared for the man, if he displayed virtues, clothes such as by God's grace glistened and were to flash, shining garments, as those of the angels also are, surpassing the varied hues of the flowers, and excelling the light of the stars. For this reason therefore the garments were not immediately forthcoming, because they were prizes of virtue reserved for the man, to which by Satan's fraud he did not receive permission to attain» 959. For us to adduce the food of the angels who were |361 entertained by Abraham is very much beside the point; for how can those who appeared as in a vision and a symbol be patterns for the things that are expected by us in reality? Shall we say that these three, who appeared to the, patriarch in the likeness of men, and signified the Holy Trinity (for the sacred Scripture said that God himself was manifested to Abraham 960), ate of that unleavened bread and partook of that calf in such a way that these things actually passed into the digestion and the material exits, and not rather that they were invisibly consumed in a manner which God understands, who brought about these things? But how is it anything but foolish and an act of great madness for us here to think of the phantasy 961 of Eutyches? Eutyches by comparing our Saviour's dispensation in the flesh, by means of which the word of God shared our nature, to earlier utterances and revelations of |362 God both to prophets and to patriarchs, which were described in symbols and adumbrations as being of God, missed the right principle. But we, who follow the apostolic teachings, who know that a vision shown in a symbol is one thing, and the truth of the fact another, pronounce that the coming of the Word in the flesh is quite distinct from the earlier manifestations which were made as in a dream and an adumbration. For we also hear of revelations coming from God which say to Aaron and Miriam, «If there shall be among you a prophet to the Lord, I will be made known to him in a vision and will speak to him in a dream» 962, and cry in Hosea the prophet, «I for my part multiplied visions, and by means of prophets was I likened» 963. But he who multiplied visions and was variously likened by means of prophets became man for our sake truly and without variation, and in a new way. As therefore the shadowy and primitive symbols in no way impair by comparison the fact that our Lord and God Jesus Christ became in truth man invariably, so we do not on account of his true Incarnation refuse to hold the earlier symbols and obscure revelations given as in a dream and visions to be |363 adumbrations, since the Holy Scriptures cry this out with loud voice. Since then these things are so, we must shun the false opinion of those who think that the enjoyment promised in the kingdom of heaven consists in some sensual foods, an opinion into which Irenaeus bishop of Lyons in Gaul fell, who through the books of Papias departed from the truth, as Eusebius, who composed the Ecclesiastical Histories for us, wrote 964. Those who so hold, and expect a kind of recurrence of a cycle, are of a folly which even madmen do not possess; into which the witless Apollinaris also fell. This is as much as we are able to write on the present question, according to our small capacity. But it is the duty of your saintliness after the reading of these things to acquaint us by letter what was the frame of mind of those who disputed about this; for we shall think this a reward for our labours, to know clearly if after what has been written the supporters of the contrary opinion were helped. The other thing also do not forget, that, if after reading these things they retain any contrary opinion in their mind, we shall perhaps not be wanting in the needed medicines for this also. |364
XCVII. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE 74th LETTER. OF THE 3rd BOOK OF THOSE AFTER EXILE WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO CAESARIA THE HYPATISSA WHICH BEGINS, «The various communications addressed to me by your highness».
[519-38.] And the other thing also which you ask is a question of the Phantasiasts who hold the opinions of the Manichees, since they think that they are propounding and saying something against which it is impossible to argue: «If our Lord underwent the circumcision required by the law, 'when', as the gospel says, 'eight days were accomplished for circumcising him, and his name was called Jesus' 965, what happened to his foreskin?»; for those wretched men think that they are driving us into a corner, and do not understand that it would be an act of their own godless lack of intelligence |365 for us to refuse to acknowledge things that are written on account of things that are not written. It is not the gospel only which testifies through these words which have been cited that Christ was circumcised according to the law, but Paul also, who in writing to the Romans says, «For I say that Christ became a minister of circumcision on behalf of the truth of God, that he might confirm the promises made to the fathers» 966. For to Abraham and Isaac and Jacob our fathers both the covenant of circumcision was given, and the promise was made, «In thy seed shall all the families of the nations be blessed» 967; for Christ was their seed. Therefore also in writing the epistle to the Galatians he says, «But to Abraham were the promises made and to his seed; for he saith not 'and to seeds' as to many, but, as to one, 'and to thy seed', which is Christ» 968. In order to carry out the accomplishment of those promises therefore Christ came, and truly to endure |366 circumcision in the flesh, and to carry out the dispensation that consists in this; for the whole principle of the dispensation is dispensation and service; and so he caught all the nations by faith in him and made them Abraham's sons. Since therefore the God-inspired Scripture says that he was circumcised in reality, who is he who presumes to say that he did not undergo circumcision? a thing which those who teach the phantasy 969 seek to deny along with the other things. Because nothing is written about the portion of himself that was cut off (I refer to the foreskin), we will not therefore refrain from confessing that he was circumcised in reality, he who said, «For so it becometh us to fulfil all justice» 970, and was in everything made like unto us except sin 971. Perhaps indeed some God-befitting miracle was performed with regard to the portion that was cut off, which Scripture left unknown to us; and for us to guess about unknown matters is a thing of great danger. But what |367 is assuredly already known is this, that, when he rose from the dead, he took that also, inasmuch as it is a portion of the whole body, and he preserved it with this without corruption according to ineffable methods which he understands. For we also shall receive our own body complete at the resurrection, not carrying the diminution caused by sores or other injuries, but whole and perfect. It is a good thing to ask the impious men, who think that by such questions they frighten those who believe rightly, so as to reduce us not to acknowledge 972 that our Lord suffered real sufferings in the body, what they themselves say about the blood which came out from the pure rib mixed with water. Did it reach the earth? For this also is |368 not declared by the holy Scripture of the gospel. But let them themselves be frightened by the fear of loss; and it is consistent for them to say that the blood was poured, out in semblance only, and did not flow in reality. But John, who became bishop of Constantinople and was a preacher of the true dispensation with boldness, in the homily entitled 'Concerning the cross and concerning the robber, and concerning the fact that we should frequently pray for enemies' was not frightened by the fear of these impious men, but said that the blood dropped upon the earth and purified the whole of it, inasmuch as he wrote thus: «But why is he slaughtered at the height of the tree, and not under a roof? In order to purify the nature of the air, therefore it is done high up, without a roof above him, but heaven. For |369 the air was purified by the sheep being sacrificed high up. But the earth also was purified; for the blood dropped from the rib upon it» 973. Accordingly therefore, if on this analogy the foreskin that was cut off touched the earth, it assuredly also sanctified it, and by methods which he himself understands who was voluntarily circumcised, he assuredly, as I said before, preserved it; and at the time of the Resurrection he rose with the whole body complete and without corruption, having this portion also undiminished, although he showed the scars of the nails and the lance; with which he will also appear to those who pierced him, according to the unerring words of the God-inspired Scripture 974. |370
XCVIII. ---- OF MAR SEVERUS FROM THE 5th LETTER OF THE 4th BOOK OF THOSE AFTER EXILE, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO CAESARIA THE HYPATISSA, WHICH BEGINS, «When I read the letter of your magnificence's love of God, not once nor twice».
[519-38.] But to the question which your excellency's magnificence has asked me by letter I return an easy answer, that for my part I have never accepted or expressed agreement with those who speak of an apokatastasis, and an end to the judgment involved in the torments that are threatened us in the future world, and the man who says that he has a letter of mine which proclaims this opinion manifestly lies. Therefore I praised your God-loving magnificence for asking for such a letter to be shown to you; a letter which the man who concocted it necessarily set himself falsely to show to be my composition. Those who hold such an opinion, wishing to accomplish their desires, as if forsooth on the basis of plausible suppositions, make use of arguments that are gratifying to the hearers, saying that it is unbecomingto or unworthy |371 of God, and far removed from his mercifulness, that the man who has sinned for 50 or 100 years in this world should endure torments for unending ages, forgetting this, that God's laws and those which, prevail among men think fit to requite sins according to the intention of the sinner, and one may hear even wise men outside saying of certain persons who have done foul deeds and acts that are not permitted, «This man deserves to die not once but many times»975. But, when a man hears as we do that God who became incarnate and was humanized without variation for our salvation, and who for this reason came down from heaven and conversed with us plainly threatens 976 fire that is not quenched and an undying worm 977, and 978 makes light of it, how does he not deserve, if it is possible to say so, to be condemned |372 twice over to 979 endless torment? If a man live 100 years or more in this present world and spend such a period in vanity, it is certain that this man, if he were allowed to live this same temporal life 980 without end 981, would not cease from his eternal 980 greed and wantonness 982. How therefore will this man in accordance with his disposition not justly 980 be tormented without end? Even the very men who introduce an apokatastasis 983 say of sinners that they will be tormented for many 984 and long periods so to speak 985, and then afterwards will be purified and admitted to clemency and attain to the promised blessedness. But they 986 forget that their human reasonings |373 themselves show God to be unrighteous in his judgments 987. If a man lives 988 in sin 50 or 80 years, but 989 endures torments many long generations, it is again apparent on their principle that this is not worthy of God's mercifulness 990, to extend the period of torment beyond the time of the life in sins, If God agreed with the reasonings of those who think thus 991, the man who sins for 50 years should endure torment for 50 years, and it 992 should not be thus long extended over many generations, as they say 993. For our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ also, in the holy words of his preaching, when |374 separating the righteous from the sinners, said, «These shall go to eternal torment, and the righteous to eternal life» 994, and with regard to both the classes 995, that of the former and that of the latter, he spoke in exactly the same fashion of an equality without distinction, applying the word ' eternal' to both without distinction. Basil the great among teachers of the truth shows this clearly in the teaching composed by him in the form of question and answer addressed to the brethren of the convents; and it is the 219th question, which is expressed as follows:
«The brethren say 996.
'If 997 one shall be beaten with many stripes and another with few, how |375 say some that there is no end to the sentence of those who are tormented?'
Basil 998 says.
Points which are matters of dispute and seen to be obscurely expressed m various places of the Holy Scriptures are elucidated by clear statements in other places. Since therefore our Lord says at one time, 'These shall go into eternal torment 999', and at another dismisses some to 'the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels', and at another mentions 'the gehenna of fire', uttering further the words,1000 'Where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched', and again said before through the prophet about certain |376 men, 1001 'Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched'; while these and similar expressions, are often 1002 used in the divine Scriptures, this also was brought about by the machination of the devil, in order that men, forgetting these and similar decrees of our Lord, might presume to sin without restraint, persuading themselves that there is an end to judgment. For, if it is possible for there to be 1003 an end to eternal judgment, there will assuredly also be an end to eternal life. But, if we do not consent to think this with regard to 1004 life, what plausibility is there in our assigning 1005 an end to eternal judgment? For the addition of the word 'eternal' is made equally in both cases. 'These shall go into eternal |377 judgment, and the righteous into eternal life'. These things therefore being thus admitted, we must know that the words 'He shall be beaten with many stripes' and 'shall be beaten with few' are not an end, but signify a difference of torment. For, if God is an upright judge, not only to the good but also to the evil 1006, and requites each according to his deeds, it is possible for one to be in the fire that is not quenched 1007, burning either less or more than the other, and another in the worm that dies not, both one that hurts little and one that hurts much 1008, each as he deserves, and another in gehenna that has a variety of torments, and another in outer darkness, and that there |378 is a place where a man is found amidst weeping only, and there is a place where he is amidst gnashing of teeth also from the severity of the pains 1009. But the outer darkness signifies that there is in truth an inner darkness also.1010 And the words used in the Proverbs 1011 'at the bottom of Sheol 1012' signify that there are persons in Sheol and not at the bottom of it, because their torment is smaller 1013. And this is depicted now also in bodily afflictions. For there is aman who is in a fever together with other pains, and another |379 who is in a fever only, and the latter is not like the former, and another has no fever, but is troubled by pain in some limb 1014, and one again either less or more than another. But this expression 'much' or 'little' is employed by our Lord in accordance with customary usage, as are also many other similar phrases. For we know that this form of speech is frequently adopted even with regard to those who are suffering from one disease 1015. For example, in the case of a man who has a fever only, or has pain in the eye only 1016 we 1017 say in astonishment ' How much he has suffered! ' or ' What anguish he has endured!' Accordingly the expression 'shall be beaten with many' |380 and 'with few', I say again, stands not in the extent of the time and the shortness1018, but in the difference of the torment» 1019. These things this great ruler and shepherd of rational souls Basil taught and stated with great completeness.1020 And Gregory, who became bishop of Nazianzus, himself in the homily of defence thinks that the future torment is endless, teaching thus: «But for us, the salvation of whose blessed and immortal soul is in danger, which will be undyingly tormented or glorified1021 by reason of wickedness or of virtue, how great do you think should the contest be1022?»1023 And John in the 66th homily1024 of the commentary on the Gospel of Matthew |381 states things consonant with these as follows: «For all these reasons accordingly let us first pay the taxes; for it is indeed very easy, and the reward is greater, and there is great abundance of profit, and worse is the torture if we do not understand, and a torture that has no end»4. And the same again in the 79th exposition when speaking of the Passion referred to the kingdom, and to the endless torment. And in the 82nd about the man who approaches the communion of the holy mysteries in a careless mood and without caution he gives teaching in the following words: «He who approaches after he has sinned is worse than a demoniac; for the: latter because they have a demon do not receive punishment, but the |382 former, because they approach unworthily, are delivered to undying torment 1025» 1026. And at the end of the commentary on the epistle to the Ephesians he 1027 expressed himself thus: «For a man to be burnt 1028 and not consumed, and to be perpetually gnawed by a 1029 worm is indestructible 1030 destruction, as happened to the blessed Job, who was in process of destruction and did not perish for a considerable time, but was constantly suffering and wasting away, while he scraped off putrid matter from his body 1031 for a long time. Something similar will happen to the soul at that time, when the 1032 worms surround and gnaw it, not for two years 1033 nor for ten nor for a hundred nor |383 for myriads 1034, but for years without end; for 'their worm', he says, 'shall not die'» 1035. The wise Cyril 1036 also in the 1st book of the commentary on the Gospel of John said: "We ought not to be ungrateful to God but on the contrary 1037 to thank him because by means of the Resurrection from the dead he has appointed for us torment that does not pass away 1038»1039.
XCIX. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE 57th LETTER OF THE 4th BOOK OF THOSE WRITTEN AFTER EXILE, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO CAESARIA THE HYPATISSA 1040.
[519-38] «But in the fourth watch of the night Jesus came to them walking on the sea»1041. Know therefore that it is the custom in a city for the sake of |384 precaution against housebreakers and thieves, as well as in military camps for the sake of precaution against an attack upon them by their enemies, to keep ward by night and watch in turns; and some watch during the first portion of the night, and go round the city or the camp, and some during the second portion and some during the 1042 third, and others during the fourth, and others at the very appearance of dawn, those who follow in succession coming in in order after the previous ones are tired. And this is recorded even in the Old Testament Scriptures also. When Gideon was ordered to attack a city by night, I mean the camp of the Midianites, the divine Scripture said: «And Gideon went in and the 100 men who were with him into a part of the camp when they had begun the middle watch, when those who set the guards had just set them, and they sounded the horns» 1043. And in the 2nd book of Ezra, when the walls of Jerusalem were being built, and the barbarians who lived near the country wished to assail them and stop the work, it is written thus: «And I prayed to our God, and we set guards over us day and night against them»; and again, «At that time I said to the |385 people, 'Every man with his slave shall go up and down in the midst of Jerusalem, and let us take night for the first watch, and day for the work'». Accordingly therefore the evangelist desired to signify the very time of night at which Jesus, who is God appeared to his disciples when distressed in the boat walking on the sea.
(And after other things.)
But that which is written in the divine gospels about the cloak with which the Romans at the time of the Passion and of the voluntary saving Cross sought to clothe our Lord and God Jesus Christ, and indeed did actually clothe him, for the purpose of mockery contains no discrepancy, because Matthew related as follows: «And, when they had stripped him, they put on him a cloak of scarlet», and Mark, «And they clothe him in purple robes», and John, «And they covered him with a purple garment». You should understand that the rascally company of soldiers, by way of prolonging the mockery and ridicule and derision for him, first clothed him with the cloak of scarlet, that is red, and after this with the purple one, |386 thinking by the change of attire to increase the mockery. That they did this for the sake of mockery is plainly signified by the story told by Luke also, for he said that, when Pilate learned that Jesus was from Galilee, he sent him to Herod, on the ground that the supremacy and authority was by right his, and he was glad to see him; and when he did not hear any word from him, or see any sign done by him, but found him silent, 'having set him at naught' (he says) 'with his soldiers and made fun of him, having clad him in splendid robes, sent him to Pilate'. But, if one considers the matter carefully and minutely, one may say that there is one cloak, of purple, but of purple which contains some inferior dark tincture, so that it disavows the true purple, and changes its appearance to one that is redder, and appears to hold a position approximating to both colours, and to be each of them, and in strictness is neither of them.' Accordingly the evangelists looked one at the one colour and the other at the other, so as to mention each of them both with the same meaning and in different terms. Since it was the purpose of those blasphemers against God to pile up the whole mass |387 of insult and increase the mockery, for this reason they found even the very dress which, as they thought, would excite much mockery; but the mystery contained in it which was hidden was shown by each of the colours, in order that the purple colour might show the King of kings and Lord and God, who was of his own will coming to the Passion, while the scarlet and red showed the fact that he himself took the whole of our sin, so that he was clad in the crimson cloak of blood, and nailed this to the saving Gross. For he suffered who knows not sin, not on his own behalf (may we never say this!), but rather on behalf of our sins. This therefore John also the ambassador said: «Behold! the Lamb of God who beareth the sin of the world» 1044. And Peter the chief of the apostles wrote in his epistle: «He took up our own sins in his body on to the tree, in order that being separated from the sins we may live in righteousness» 1045. And the wise Paul wrote to the Corinthians about God and the Father, who wishes with him that he should suffer for for the sake of the salvation of the race of all men: «Him who knew not sin he made sin for our sake, that we in him may become righteousness unto God» 1046. |388
For there is also another further question which you ask, as to how we should understand the statement made by Gregory the Theologian in the 2nd peace-making homily about the Holy Trinity in the following words: «A perfect Trinity of three perfect ones, Unity having been moved on account of wealthiness, while duality was passed over on account of the material and the form of which bodies consist, and a Trinity was fixed on account of perfection, for it first passes the composition of a duality, in order that the Godhead may not remain narrow, nor be diffused into infinitude; for the one is mean, and the other disorderly, and the one is utterly Jewish, and the other heathen and polytheistic»1047. This abominable notion must therefore first be removed from our mind, that we should not 1048 think that the Father first existed in his own sole hypostasis, and was moved as if by some |389 afterthought to put forth another hypostasis, that of the Son, and similarly further conceived the thought of putting forth a third hypostasis also from himself, that of the Spirit, in order that he might exist in a Trinity. On this theory it will result that the Son and the Holy Spirit are not ever-existing but were afterwards added to the Father, and we shall give occasion for the blasphemy of Arius who says, «There was once when the Son and the Holy Spirit were not». But this is abominable; for one who was acquired later and came into being afterwards is not God; for the Holy Trinity is of equal everlastingness, and it is therefore understood and acknowledged to be one God truly in three hypostases. The words used by the doctor we should therefore understand in the same way as that which is stated in Wisdom, «From the greatness and beauty of created things the causer of their birth |390 is inferentially seen» 1049; and from formed creation and this visible world we may conceive not only of the wisdom and power of him who created them, but also of the very peerlessless of his Godhead in regard of creation, and its distance in all points and lack of similarity. We see that all the bodies which make up the world are composed of material 1050 and form, and arise from a duality; but what material 1050 and form are we will state in the form of an example. For instance the potter's material 1050 for the craft is the clay, but he adds the form to the material 1050, that is to say, that which belongs to the fashioning of the vessel that is being manufactured, a jar or a pot or anything of the kind. But in this case the potter is the maker of the form only, and he borrows the material 1050. But God, the Maker of all and perfect in craftsmanship, both brought the material 1050 of every body from that which did not exist and added the form; and, if you speak of fire or of earth, or |391 of air 1051 or of water, or of the sky and the sun and the moon and the other stars, he both formed the material 1052 of all of them out of non-existent things, and the form was devised for them in different ways at the moment that they came into being, and he is both the Maker and the adorner of the shapeless material 1052 of the bodies, in that he differentiated it into the various forms of the bodies. And this Wisdom also states, when it declares concerning Pharaoh and the Egyptians, who were vexed by the serpent and the vile reptile: «For neither was thine almighty hand, which created the world out of shapeless material, at a loss to send against them either a multitude of wolves or fierce lions» 1053. Therefore our mind, seeing that the bodies in this tangible world consist as we have said of material 1052 and form, |392 and that they arise from a duality, and being instructed by the sacred Scriptures that there is one Godhead in a Trinity, wonders and is amazed at the profoundness of the theology, since it sees a corresponding fact in creation, and is as it were initiated into a mystery and learns from creation the inaccessibility of the Trinity and its lack of likeness to and community with creation, and reflects in itself and says: The reason then why the Godhead does not exist in one hypostasis is that it may not be inferior to the bodies, falling short in the restriction of number. And it does not again exist in a duality, because it shuns similarity to the bodies, which arise from a duality, but it only appears in a Trinity and as plural, which is admirable; for in the Trinity is completed the unique number which follows two. Therefore also, when Moses said to him, «Show me thyself, let me see thee plainly», he refused this, saying, «Thou wilt not be able to see my face, for a man shall not see my face and live»; but he added, «Thou shalt see my back parts, |393 but my face shall not be seen by thee» 1054; signifying that by the very essence 1055 and by the sight, as one may say, of the face no man can comprehend God, but from his back parts a man shall know the things that pertain to him. out his back parts are created things which came into being afterwards, through which he is inferentially seen as the causer of their birth, as our father the Theologian himself also said in the 2nd theological homily: «These are God's back parts, all things which, being after him, make him known, like the shadows and reflexions of the. sun upon waters, which show the sun to weak eyes, because they cannot look at it, since by the purity of the light |394 it overcomes the perception» 1056. And therefore in the passage now before us for interpretation he applied the expression 'movement of the Unity towards a duality' to the everlasting birth of the Son from the Father, and 'passing over of the duality' to the procession of the Holy Spirit which is timeless and thereby without beginning, and by means of the words used as we have said he gave a philosophical 1057 explanation in mysterious and divine fashion of the lack of community in the Trinity towards bodies which exist in a duality. The passage contained in the homily entitled 'of Lights' which says, «But where there is purification there is shining, and shining is the completion of love, to those who desire things that are great, or that which |395 is great, or beyond what is great»1058, is plain and contains nothing difficult of comprehension. What he said is, «Where there is purification of the soul by means of virtues, there is the shining of knowledge, which raises and uplifts to the satisfaction of divine love». But the satisfaction of love is the end of things delightful and pleasing, which is God, who exists and is made known in things that are great, and in that which is. great, and beyond that which is great; in things that are great in the three hypostases which are equal in power and of which none is in anything inferior to the others in power and in equality in all things, except that they are distinct in the matter of non-generation and generation and procession, in the unconfused individualities which stamp each of the hypostases; in that which is great, |396 because he is one and the same and because of the Unity of the Godhead; and beyond that which is great, because he is not limited by size and quantity. For, in. that we employ the poverty of names that exists among us, we name God great, when he is more than great. Therefore also the Psalmist said: «Great is the Lord and very admirable; and there is no end to his greatness»1059. For all greatness is limited, but the Godhead cannot be limited, and is not limited by any boundary. |397
[Syriac] |398 [Syriac] |399
C. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE 3rd LETTER OF THE 6th BOOK OF THOSE AFTER EXILE, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO THE GLORIOUS CAESARIA.
[519-33.] You say therefore that it has been discovered by certain persons concerning Balaam the soothsayer and seer and propitiator of falsely-named gods that it is testified by the divine words that he had such power in his mouth |400 that those whom he blessed were bles'sed, and those on the contrary whom he cursed were cursed. For this reason therefore the man who bore such a character was then lifted up to bless Israel also the holy people, the people which was named God's people; for you say that the same men who discovered this plainly produce these words. And at this I am not surprised; for it is the peculiarity of those who repeat the contents of divine Scripture cursorily and as it were from hearing, and not from learning and accurate knowledge, to arrive at false and erring notions. Where did the divine Scripture testify of the reprobate Balaam, as they said, that he had such a power? Moses who wrote these things, being inspired 1060 by the very excellent Spirit and being a minister of the truth, neither gave this testimony as in his own person, nor said of God that he gave any such testimony concerning Balaam, but recorded that Balak, King of the Moabites, being a demon-worshipper and a slave of foul fiends, thought of Balaam the soothsayer that he could curse and bless authoritatively and not in a worthless manner. And it is a simple thing to listen to the divine Scriptures manifestly proclaiming this: «And Balak son of Zippor, King of Moab, was at that time, and he sent |401 ambassadors to Balaam son of Beor the interpreter of dreams, who was on the river-land of the sons of his people, to call him. saying. 'Lo! a people hath come out of Egypt, and lo! they have covered the face of the land, and this people hath encamped round me. And now come, curse me this people, because this people is stronger than we, in case we may be able to overthrow some of them, and cast them out of the land; because I know that they whom thou blessest are blessed, and they whom thcu cursest are cursed'» 1061. Since therefore Balak and the Moabites who were under subjection to him, and the Midianites their neighbours, who were barbarians, held this belief, God 'who wisheth that all men should live and come to the knowledge of the truth' 1062 according to the apostle's saying, instructing our race, hard as it is to turn, by many various methods, first showed his power with which none can contend, and displayed the kings round about them, Sihon, King of the Amorites, and Og, King of Bashan, who were giants, and trusted to their strength, and were eager to engage in battle, and met Israel in warlike guise, slain with the sword and dead together with their followers; and |402 afterwards, when the same Balak, prince, of the Moabites, as we have said, perceived the feebleness of his own power, and feared lest he also should become the prey of the Israelite sword, and had recourse to the power of the falsely-named gods, and thought that by means of the soothsayer's curse he was escaping from his troubles, the wisdom that is higher than all understanding instructed the barbarian by the instrumentality of the very soothsayer himself in whom he trusted that there is no other god beside him, and that by the very demons and the very soothsayers who serve them witness is borne that he alone is true God. For it is his habit to convert those who are in error to the truth by the very paths of the error. And this we do not say out of our imagination, but because we learn it from Scripture itself. It is recorded in the first book of Kingdoms that the Philistines who dwelt in Ascalon and Gaza and the neighbouring cities took arms against Israel and won a great victory over them in combat, insomuch that together with the rest of the spoil they took the ark of God also and placed it in the sanctuaries and shrines of the idols, and every city to which they carried it was smitten with the disease of emerods for which there was no cure, and the land produced a multitude of mice, and they [deliberated] 1063 and took counsel |403 what they could do to escape from such distresses, and, having called upon the soothsayers, who were accustomed to instigate their actions by making use of the deceit of demons, they begged them to find a means of release from these calamities, and those men proposed to them the following plan; to bring cows that were first-born 1064 and were unaccustomed to the yoke, and to yoke these to a new cart bearing the ark and golden figures of the emerods and of the mice, equal in number to the cities that had been smitten with a plague of this kind, and upon this to shut up the calves that had been born in one house, that, if their mothers went on drawing the cart to the land of Judah, where the ark was previously placed, they might know that the God of Israel had laid the plagues upon them as a punishment, but, if hey turned towards the cry of the calves and were affected in accordance with their own natural instincts, they might learn that it was not on account of Israel that the punishment came upon them, but they happened as men to suffer these things. And, when these things had been thus stated, those cows as if very forcibly driven by the command of God, went of their own |404 accord to the land of Judah and brought the ark with the propitiatory offerings, though it was not those words of the soothsayers that were able to do these things, but God himself acted according to their words, and by means of the soothsaying to which they were accustomed and which they loved led the Philistines who were in error to the knowledge of the truth. So too Nebuchadnezzar also had future things revealed to him beforehand by an ordinary vision seen in dreams, in order that by Daniel's wise interpretation concerning the things seen in the dream the Babylonians might know what the God of the Hebrews was; and Nebuchadnezzar must not on this account be placed among religious men, as neither must the soothsayers who advised the Philistines to adopt the above-mentioned plan; for even they themselves also could if they wished on the strength of such signs have recognised God and not remained in error. For neither did God bring such things about for any other purpose, condescending as he did at times to men who were not in the perfect state, except that every man might be saved, because he is indeed the Creator of all. The prophesyings and workings of miracles are not under all circumstances performed by men who are worthy, but perhaps by men who are unworthy also for their own profit, because they are |405 barbarians, and cannot be brought to religion by teaching or by any other similar method. This same thing our Lord and God Jesus Christ also said in the gospel: «Many shall say in that day, 'Our Lord,] our Lord, did we not in [thy] name prophesy, and in [thy] name cast out demons, and in thy name do many mighty works?' and then will I profess unto them, ' I never knew you, depart ye from me, workers of iniquity'» 1065. And Caiphas, being president and ruler of the assembly of the Jews that contended with God, those who crucified our Lord, said prophetically that he should be crucified for the people; and this John the Evangelist who was indeed the Theologian described as follows: «But one of them, Caiaphas, who was the high-priest of that year, said to them, 'Ye know nothing, and do not consider that it is expedient for us that one man die for the people, and the whole people perish not'. But this he said not of himself, but, because he was the high-priest of that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the people, and not for the people only, but also that he might gather into one the sons of God who were scattered»1066. Accordingly therefore neither |406 Caiaphas nor Balaam are 1067 religious men, but actually blasphemers and contenders against God, and remained in the snares of impiety, although God, In order to show the truth, and in order to convert those who were in error, made use of their words.
(And after other things.) The citations which we have made from the testimonies of the divine Scriptures are in themselves sufficient; but I will show by means of a few instances that the genuine doctors of the church also have taught us to think and say these things. The very wise John who became bishop of Constantinople in the 6th homily of the commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, when he was speaking about the Magi who by seeing the star were led to know our Lord and God Jesus, who was in swaddling-clothes and was being nurtured on milk from his mother's breast in the flesh, teaches as follows: «And wherefore did he attract them by such a sight? But how should he have done so? Should he have sent prophets? but the Magi would not have submitted to the prophets. But should he have emitted a voice from on high? but they would not have regarded this. But should he have sent an angel? but him also they would accordingly have |407 neglected. But on this account God, having set all these methods aside, calls them by means of things to which they are accustomed, condescending greatly, and showing them a great and peculiar star, in order by means of the size and the beauty of the appearance to make them astonished, and by the method of movement. Imitating these things, Paul spoke to the heathen from the starting-point of an altar, and cites testimonies from the poets, and he spoke with the Jews from the starting-point of circumcision, and with those who lived according to the law he took the beginning of teaching from sacrifices. For, since each man loves that to which he is accustomed, both God and also the men who were sent by him for the salvation of the world used facts in this way. Do not therefore think it an unworthy thing that he called them by means of a star; since, if it is so, you will find fault with all the practices of the Jews also, their sacrifices and their cleansings, and the beginnings of the months and the ark and the temple itself. For these things also received their origin from heathen denseness. But nevertheless God for the sake of the salvation of those who had gone astray consented to be worshipped by means of the very things by which the demons outside were worshipped, changing them himself a little, in order [that] he might |408 remove them gradually from the custom [and] bring them to the high philosophy; a thing which he also does to the Magi, in that he consented to call them by means of the appearance of the star, in order to make them thereafter higher. Since therefore he brought and led them, and set them by the manger, he did not again thereafter speak with them through a star, but through an angel, and so they gradually became better. The same thing he did also to the men of Ascalon and Gaza. For these five cities also, since after the coming of the ark they had been smitten with a regular plague, and found no escape from the plagues laid upon them, having called the soothsayers and held an assembly, wished to find a release from the plague which came from God. But the soothsayers said that they should yoke unbroken and firstborn 1068 cows to the ark and let them go, no man leading them; 'for so it will be plain whether the plague is from God, or from some chance or disease. For, if' (they say) 'they either from inexperience break the yoke, or return to the calves when they low, it is a chance or an accident that has happened. But, if they walk straight, and are in no way affected by the lowing of their young, or by the ignorance of their error 1069 |409 in the way, it is very plain that it is God's hand that has touched these cities'. Since therefore, after the soothsayers had said these things, those who dwelt in these cities obeyed, and did as they commanded, God also followed the counsel of the soothsayers, again condescending, and it did not seem to him to be a thing unworthy of him to carry into effect the thing stated beforehand by the soothsayers, and make them appear to be truthful men in what they spoke at that time. For indeed the success obtained was a great thing, that the adversaries themselves should bear witness to the power of God, and their own teachers themselves should pronounce a decision concerning him. And many other such things one may see that God performs by dispensation» 1070. And in the 24th homily of the same work, where he is expounding the passage which we ourselves mentioned above, which says, «Many shall say to me on that day, 'Our Lord, our Lord, did we not in thy name prophesy, and in thy name cast out demons, and in thy name do many mighty works?' And then he will profess unto them, 'I never knew you. Depart ye from me, ye who work iniquity'», he gave the same teaching in the following form: «Who therefore are these?» (he says). |410
"Many of those who believed received gifts, as was 1071 the man who was casting out demons and was not with him; as was1 Judas, for even he also, being an evil man, had gifts. And in the Old Testament one will accordingly find that the grace often worked in men who were unworthy, in order to benefit others. For, since all had not readiness for all things, but some were pure in life, but had not an equal amount of faith, while others were in the converse position, he both entices the former by means of the latter in order that they may show great faith, and calls the latter by means of this incomprehensible grace to become virtuous. Wherefore also he used to gave the grace with great abundance, for '«We did many mighty works». But then will I profess unto them «I know you not». For now they think they are my friends, but then they will know that I did not give as to friends'. And why are you surprised if he gave his graces to men who had believed in him but had not a life consonant to the faith, when he is in fact found to work even in men who have fallen from both? For Balaam was an alien both to faith and to life; but nevertheless the grace was effected in him for |411 the sake of influencing others. And Pharaoh likewise; but nevertheless to him also as well he showed the future. And Nebuchadnezzar was a great transgressor of the law; and to him again he revealed things that should happen later after many generations. And to his son again who surpassed his father in transgression of the law he showed the future, in that he brought wonderful and great things to pass. Since therefore at that time also the proclamation was at its beginning, and it very was desirable that a display of its power should be made, many even among the unworthy also received gifts. But nevertheless those men gained nothing from these signs, but are even judged all the more. Wherefore also he said to them those terrible words, 'I never knew you'. For many he already hates even here, and before the judgment turns away from them" 1072. By means of all these things therefore he clearly establishes the fact that Balaam also and Nebuchadnezzar, and Belteshazzar the latter's son, and all such men, did not profit by the grace of God, in that they remained in the snares of demon-worship, but even endure the decrees of the sentences of tortures all the more. |412
(And after other things.) But, as to the tunic of God our Saviour Jesus, on which those who performed the crucifixion cast lots, your mightiness' love of God should know that we should understand the statement exactly according to the letter. In Palestine it is the custom for men to make such tunics as are divided in the middle and not woven together throughout, but contain the sections of the texture separately; so that even now we may see many such tunics, made of wool and linen, in the city of Gaza; since afterwards, when it is about to be put on, and is skilfully and becomingly folded, that division is concealed by the tailors. But some 1073 of those who are of low station have it all woven together from beginning to end, and these they |413 describe according to custom as being woven from the top to the bottom, since there is no division in them. But this indicates also a mystery which shows 1074 that the Only Word who was born below in flesh is above from God and the Father. Since every human soul has a body like some garment which springs up with it, as is said by Job the man of mighty endurance to God: «With skin and flesh hast thou clothed me, and with bones and sinews hast thou strengthened me»1075, so also our Saviour's body, if one conceives of it as a kind of tunic that sprang up at the same time, because it was united to the Word invariably by a natural union, was woven from the top, that is by the coming of the Holy Spirit, and not by human seed. That these things are so the genuine doctors of the holy church also show; for it is good that |414 we confirm every statement and opinion by the expressions used by these. John who became bishop of Constantinople in the 85th homily of the commentary on the Gospel of John wrote as follows: «But do you, I pray, observe the prophet's accuracy; for the prophet did not say only that they divided, but also that they did not divide. Some things they divided, but the tunic they did not divide, but also committed the matter to lot. But the expression 'woven from the top' is not added casually; but some say that by means of this expression one thing is indicated in place of another, because he who was crucified was not mere man, but had also the Godhead from above; while others say that the evangelist is depicting the actual pattern of the tunic, for, since in Palestine they join two pieces of material together and so weave garments, John signifies that the tunic was not 1076 of this kind, in that he says that it was woven from the top. And this it seems to me that he says by way of signifying the meanness of the garments, and, as in all other things, so also in raiment he followed a simple form» 1077. And Athanasius the great in the homily on the Cross says these things: «Together with these things |415 he put on also an unsewn tunic that was woven from the top throughout, that from this also the Jews might be able to believe who and whence he is who put on these things; that the Word is not from the earth, but that he came from above, and he is not one divided, but is without division from the Father; because, when he became man, he had not a body that was sewn together from a man and a woman, but one that was woven from a virgin alone by the Spirit's workmanship» 1078.
(And after other things.) But, as to the passage about the sweat and the drops of blood, know that in the divine and evangelical Scriptures that are at Alexandria it is not written. Wherefore also the holy Cyril in the 12th of the books written by him on behalf of the religion of the Christians against the impious demon-worshipper Julian plainly stated as follows: «But, since he said that the divine Luke inserted among his own words the statement that an angel stood and strengthened Jesus, and his sweat dripped like blood-drops or blood, let him learn from us that we have found nothing of this kind inserted in Luke's work, unless perhaps 1079 an interpolation has been made |416 from outside which is not genuine. The books therefore that are among us contain nothing whatever of this kind; and I therefore think it madness for us to say anything to him about these things; and it is a superfluous thing to oppose him on things that are not stated at all, and we shall be condemned to be laughed at and that very justly» 1080. In the books therefore that are at Antioch and in other countries it is written 1081, and some of the fathers mention it; among whom Gregory the Theologian made mention of this same passage in the 2nd homily on the Son 1082; and John bishop of Constantinople in the exposition composed by him about the passage, «My Father if possible let this cup pass from me» 1083. And I myself therefore in the 64th homily showed the religious meaning of the things thus brought about 1084, according to the limited power that has been given to me from above.
CI. ---- OF THE SAME FROM THE LETTER TO CAESARIA THE HYPATISSA.
[519-38.] But the Lord, when after the Resurrection he breathed upon the disciples |417 and said, «Receive the Holy Spirit» 1085, (since you ask this question also besides), gave them a beginning only of the gifts of the Spirit, and, as one may say, one kind among the many gifts of the Spirit which Paul enumerated in writing to the Corinthians 1086, I mean that of binding and loosing men's sins. This was signified by the addition, in that that Giver of the gifts of the Spirit said, «If ye forgive any men's sins they shall be forgiven to-them; and if ye bind any men's sins they shall be bound» 1087. And by means of the breathing he taught them in very mysterious fashion that he is himself the Creator of Adam, whom he formed out of earth and into whose face he breathed the Spirit of life, and that he made man 'a living soul' as it is written 1088, shining in the spiritual image and the beauty that flashes from it, and sharing in the divine likeness. And by breathing into the disciples he majestically shows that the Holy Spirit himself is of his essence 1089 and not alien.
And in addition to that you ask this other question, how then we are able to explain how it is that our Lord Christ does not speak falsely who says, «As Jonah was three days and three nights in the fish's belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the |418 earth 1090» 1091. Some say that we are to reckon the time from the very evening of the 5th day of the week when our Saviour supped with the disciples, and instituted the new Passover, causing the old to cease, since it was from that time that our Lord was virtually sacrificed of his own accord on our behalf, and went down into the lower parts of the earth, and they say that the one night and the six hours of the preparation should be reckoned as one day and night, and the darkness from the 6th hour to the 9th and the light from the 9th hour till sunset as the 2nd day and night, so that consequentially the following night and the sabbath-day make up the whole of the 3rd day and night, and in this way it is to be believed that our Lord rose after three days and nights. But others 1092 have appeared to give another elucidation upon the question 1093 before us, which is subtle and very accurate. They said that according to the custom and tradition contained in Scripture every day with the night preceding it are 1094 combined into one entity. Thus in Exodus, when Moses was giving orders about the Passover and about the feast of unleavened bread, he said, «When the 14th day of the 1st month beginneth, ye |419 shall eat unleavened bread from the evening» 1095, and he counted the beginning of the following day from the preceding evening: and the cessation of the sabbath he instituted the same way, so that they were to cease from work on the preceding night and the following day; and the Jews are known to observe this down to this day, and to honour not the night after the sabbath but the night before the sabbath by cessation and- abstention from work; and we ourselves on the Ist day of the week honour the preceding night as united with the honoured day, and not the night following. Accordingly therefore they say that every night-and-day is as one may say one entity, and, what therefore anyone does during one of these 24 hours, that act is said to have been performed on the whole of that day. As for instance, when a man is sent on a long journey and returns to his own country or city either on the 2nd or on the 3rd day of the week, this man entered the city during one hour or a small portion of an hour, but everyone says, «So-and-so arrived on the 2nd day of the week» or «on the 3rd», and they reckon the whole day which is one with the preceding night to his arrival. |420 And therefore, they say, we should on this principle regard the period of the three days' burial, and the descent of our God and Saviour who became incarnate into Sheol, as beginning from the time when he truly entered the heart of the earth; and that he did after he gave up his spirit, saying, «My Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit» 1096, and then his spirit departed, and thus, though he was united in a perfect union, the soul and the body were separated from one another, and through the burial of the body he does away corruption in graves, and through the soul he is seen in the lower parts' of the earth, and he released those who were bound in graves. Then it was therefore that he entered the heart of the earth, when 'he went down', as Paul says, 'to the lower parts of the earth' 1097, that is to the lowest limits and to the gloomy crowns (?) 1098 in the earth; From the departure of the spirit therefore the three day-and-nights are to be counted; and the departure took place at the 9th hour of the preparation, when three hours of the day remained. Since therefore the preparation is according to the custom handed down in Scripture united with the preceding night, we reckon that our Lord spent the whole of the day and the night of the preparation in the heart of the earth, and then after sunset the sabbath begins and its |421 night, the day which the Jews honour by a cessation; and the whole of this together with the following day which is joined to it our Lord spent in the lower parts of the earth. But, when the sabbath had gone by, and had been completed by the, setting of the sun, then began the night of the 1st day of the week; and the night again and the day following it are to be reckoned in order according to that same custom of Scripture, and our Lord will be found to have risen from the place of the dead on the 3rd day-and-night, that of the 1st day of the week; for in fact one who passed the beginning of a day-and-night in the heart of the earth is to be reckoned as having spent the whole of that day-and-night there. For this reason they say that Christ spent the preparation in the lower parts of the earth as regards the last portion of the day-and-night, and the 1st day of the week as regards the first portion, and the sabbath entirely through all the 24 hours, keeping the day of the Jews' feast in mourning, that thereby also he might fulfil the prophecy spoken through the prophet Amos, which threatens the Jews and says, «I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into wailing»1099. But those men say also that the three hours' darkness which took place is reckoned to be a night, and this is forced; for this darkness is not a night, |422 but an affliction of day; and they say that they are prevented from holding anything of the kind by the prophecy of Zechariah also, who prophesies about that day as follows: «On that day there shall be no light, and cold and frost shall be one day, and that day shall be known to the Lord, neither day nor night, and towards evening there shall be light» 1100. See! the prophet plainly says, «On that day there shall be no light», and, having first plainly named the darkness, he prevented such an affliction and the light which rose afterwards from being reckoned a night and a day by saying «neither day nor night»; and this he says plainly, in order that no one may reckon this a day and a night. As to the statement, «Cold and frost shall be one day», it is not unreasonable for us to understand it to mean that there was actually sensible cold and frost on that day; and supra-sensually that, because at a certain time fiery fervour had grown cold among the Jews, the grace of the Holy Spirit ceased to work among them 1101. This also besides we should know, that our Lord in the gospels sometimes said that he was destined to rise on the 3rd day, and sometimes that he would rise after three days, the expression signifying that even the beginning of the 3rd day is reckoned a whole day. |423
CII. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS, FROM THE WORDS WRITTEN TO CAESARIA THE PATRICIAN.
[519-38.] What he says therefore is this. In the way of worldly intercourse, that is to say in the business of this world, I do not forbid you to associate with idolaters, it may be, and with those who are differently situated and hold different opinions. Otherwise we are reduced to withdrawing outside the world. But, if, when a man is named a brother, that is one who has the same spirit of adoption with us and is judged among the sons of faith, he fall away to idolatry or any such abominable thing, with such a one it is good for us not even to eat1102. Otherwise, by disregarding foul behaviour of such a kind we fall under God's judgment.
CIII. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO CAESARIA.
[519-38.] For1103, since they had a mind in contact with earthly things, they said, |424 «Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary?» 1104; and again, «Thou art a 1104 Samaritan and hast a demon»1105; and, «For good deeds we stone thee not, but for blasphemy, that, being a man, thou makest thyself God»1106. Since therefore it was because they stumbled at the dispensation in the flesh that they said these things, all the blasphemies that they uttered against the Son of man, our Saviour said that they should be forgiven to them; for they have as a defence ignorance of the mystery and the condescension as man. «Therefore it shall be forgiven to men and not to you», as if he were saying, «I give forgiveness as to men who have not known the depth of the dispensation». But the things which they said in blasphemy against the divine signs and mighty works which he did and performed by the Spirit that was in him and of his nature (as he said, «I by the Spirit of God cast out the demons»), «In Beelzebub» (as they say) «he casts out the demons», these things (he says) as things which are concerned with blasphemy against the Holy Spirit and have from the acts |425 themselves the quality of God-befittingness 1107 and have no room for defence Christ said should not be forgiven 1108. But this blasphemy against the Son of man shall be forgiven, and it is smaller than the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, down to the time of the Cross, we must understand, because down to that time Christ obscured the greatness of his Godhead by means of the words and actions of the dispensation; but after the Cross and the Resurrection 1109 he did so no longer; since the dispensation had once for all received an end 1110.
CIV. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO CAESARIA.
[519-38.] But Luke related that he even communicated in the holy body and in our Lord's cup 1111, whence also the devil gained complete mastery over him, inasmuch as he had presumed to communicate in the mysterious spiritual food when he was unworthy and had a heart such as his. This we say, not |426 because that savage fiend in the case of men of this character treats the power of the mystery, with contempt, but because he who communicates when unworthy is delivered into his hands, when anyone presumes to receive the holy communion when secretly involved in impieties that are great, and especially in such as relate to God.
CV. ---- OF MAR SEVERUS TO CAESARIA THE HYPATISSA.
[519-38.] You should know that the priest who offers represents the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; for he in fact celebrates the memory of the sacrifice which he himself instituted, and of that which he himself began in the mysterious supper.
The veil therefore which before the priest approaches hides what is set forth and is removed after his entry manifestly cries by the mouth of the facts themselves that the mystery, which was previously concealed by means of the sacrifices of the law and the shadowy service, and was obscurely made known as it were by an indication only, by means of this spiritual and rational priestly ministration reveals Christ who is God to those who have believed on him. |427
To this refer also the words which Paul uses in the epistle to the Corinthians, «The veil remaineth upon the readers of the Old Testament, and it is not revealed because 1112 it is done away in Christ» 1113; since Christ has indeed done away or has removed the veil by means of the service and ministration in the Spirit, as is further stated by Paul himself, «We all with open face see the glory of the Lord as in a mirror» 1114. For what is done with the veil shows according to a simple explanation that things that are hidden from and not [seen] by those who initiate, these are manifest and visible to those who believe and are initiated. [In] Palestine and in Jerusalem, while the priest makes the said 1115 prayer, the deacons frequently and ceaselessly lift [the cover] 1116 up and let it down again, until the end of the prayer, and so after that the priest begins the petition over the offering of the sacrifice. Further what is done in this fashion reminds us of that veil or linen sheet which came down from heaven upon Peter, which contained all the quadrupeds and reptiles, and birds clean and unclean, and signified to him that |428 the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out not only on the people of Israel which was clean, because it received God's law, but upon all the nations which were without the law and unclean.
For this reason therefore the cloth that is laid upon what is set forth on the altar shows by being lifted and lowered the abundant and perfect gift of the divine Spirit, which was shown to Peter by the vision to have included all the nations, which descends from heaven upon [all] that is set forth, and consecrates and hallows it.....1117
CVI. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS THE PATRIARCH, ON SOME EXPRESSIONS TAKEN FROM THE SAME BOOK OF KOHELETH, WHICH ARE, «KEEP THY FOOT WHEN THOU GOEST INTO A HOUSE OF GOD, AND DRAW NIGH TO HEAR» 1118. FROM THE LETTER TO CAESARIA.
[519-38.] For you have listened with perception to Koheleth wisely warning and |429 saying, «Keep thy foot when thou goest into a house of God, and draw nigh to hear». For a man who is going along the road of religion must keep his own foot and be attentive lest he anywhere slip; and, when he is walking to the church as to a house of God, I mean the teaching of piety and the confession of the faith (for this is what we must suppose the church properly to be), draw nigh to hear, and not hold aloof, and apply and attach so to speak a ear that loves listening to the sound words of the teaching. For a mind that is so disposed God reckons in place of a sacrifice, and above every gift and fruit-offering of the foolish, who know not how to do good, nor yet will learn from those who know. Therefore he who said, «Keep thy foot when thou goest into a house of God, and draw nigh to hear», went on to say carefully, «Above a gift of the foolish is thy sacrifice, because they are not men who know how to do good» 1119. |430
CVII. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH AS TO WHAT THINGS THE SOUL WILL ENCOUNTER.
(To Thomas, bishop of Germanicea) 1120.
[519-38(?)] For we have already said that those who became founders of these evil heresies find fault with the Old Testament 1121, and put forward the New, some adding to it, others mutilating it; men whom the apostle Jude accuses through the words stated as men who speak (?) 1122 great swollen words of railing, which he also called their shame which comes after 1123 it. But Michael the archangel who was then contending with the devil, when he was speaking about Moses' body, did not dare to bring a railing accusation, but said, «The Lord rebuke thee» 1124, which seems to me to convey the following meaning. The law which was given through Moses showed all the things that relate to the cleansing of the soul and its justification |431 by means of bodily types and indications. Such is the fact that it passes judgment upon the body of a leper as unclean, and similarly also upon a man with an issue; for God does not exact punishment for involuntary afflictions, but by means of these things annuls the stain of sin which is diverse and hard to wash away, by which the soul is in divers manners stained. After this pattern therefore he judges it pollution that the man should be dissipated on pleasures who begets fruits for the benefit of the rational and intelligent soul 1125; and here therefore God further showed by a bodily type a certain mystery that happens to the soul. Since, when the soul is separated from the body after the release from this world, the angelic and good hosts and a company of evil demons meet it, in order that, according to the quality of the deeds which it has performed bad or good, either the one or the other may convey it to the proper regions to be kept till the last day, on which, we shall all rise, either to judgment or to eternal life, or shall be brought to the unending flame of the fire, therefore, because God wished |432 to show this to the sons of Israel by some bodily type, he caused the burial of Moses to appear before their eyes at the time of the swathing 1126 of the body and at: the customary deposition in the earth, as if the evil demon were opposing and, Michael the good angel were, acting contrary to him. who met him and drove him away, and did not authoritatively rebuke him, but yielded the judgment against that demon to the Lord of all, and said, «The Lord rebuke thee», that by means of these things those who are being instructed may learn that that the soul has a contest after the release from this world, and that we must by means of good deeds pre'pare ourselves in order that angelic help may come to us when the demons gnash their teeth enviously and bitterly at us. And, when this sight had appeared before the eyes, then there fell in that place a ray of light of a cloud that darkened and obstructed the sight of those who were standing on this side and that, that no man might know his grave. Therefore the Holy Scripture says in Deuteronomy also: «Moses the Lord's bondman ended his life there, in the land of Moab, by the word of the Lord; and they buried him there in |433 the land of Moab beside the house of Peor, and no man hath known the end or his grave to this day» 1127; which is also confirmed by that which the evangelist wrote 1128, since Luke one of the evangelists said in the story of the rich man and Lazarus, «And it happened that the poor man also died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom» 1129. These same details labout the burial of Moses men have stated to be contained in an apocrypha Book the more succinct title of which is 'The book of Generation or of Creation, which Moses himself wrote for us' 1130. And to us this seems to be the interpretation of what he propounded, so that I thus understand it. But some have said that Jude calls the law itself the body of Moses; and, when he came down to show this to the sons of Israel, the devil opposed, and he worked in opposition retarding the gift of the law, and contending and saying, «The people does not deserve this to be done for them»; and therefore Michael went before him and drove away him who opposed, uttering the rebuke, «The Lord rebuke thee». And others |434 again: «He calls the people whom he was leading the body of Moses; and he meant that, when they were leaving the land of Egypt, the devil opposed and resisted, as if he were saying in contention with Moses, «His body (which is the people) does not deserve deliverance from Egypt to be given to it». And this devil when he was opposing Michael put in bonds, and he reproved him saying, «The Lord rebuke thee».
CVIII. ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH, FROM THE 27th LETTER OF THE 9th BOOK AFTER EXILE WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO THOMAS BISHOP OF GERMANICEA.
[519-38.] «Thus saith the Lord: 'I found a hot one in the wilderness with the slain of the sword. Go and destroy not Israel. The Lord shall be revealed upon him afar off. With perfect love I loved thee; therefore I drew thee with mercy. Again I will build thee and thou shalt be built, virgin Jerusalem'» 1131. Certain men with experience of war say that generals of |435 armies have a custom of bringing besides the armed forces physicians also, and, after the hosts engage with one another and the battle is joined, and the opposite side is defeated, they send the physicians to search among the fallen, and examine carefully lest there be found a man among them who is warm and has breath in him, and may by medical skill recover from the deadly wounds that are upon him. Therefore also the purport of this figurative prophecy which we have cited is that, when Israel was reckoned with the dead, he restored him to life; but some have not discovered the meaning contained in this figure, or the explanation of the words, 'I found a hot one in the wilderness', but have given a foolish interpretation. They changed the reading 'hot', and instead of saying 'hot' said 'solitary', and supposed from this that there is some herb which grows of itself in the wilderness, and signifies the solitariness of Israel. For it is not so. The words of the following context refute and truly banish their supposition; and the words of Scripture are as follows: «I found a hot one in the wilderness with the slain of the sword». So therefore I also am in this manner lifted up, and am constrained to take courage and speak a few words about the communications that have been addressed to me by your eloquent wisdom. |436
(And after other things.)
But that our Lord Jesus Christ our God was pierced in the side with a lance by that soldier after he gave up the ghost, and blood and water came forth from it in a miraculous manner, the divine John the Evangelist recorded, and no one else wrote about this. But certain persons have clearly falsified the Gospel of Matthew and inserted this same passage, when the contrary is the fact, in order to show that it was while he was alive that the soldier pierced his side with the spear, and afterwards he gave up the ghost 1132. This question was examined with great carefulness when my meanness was in the royal city, at the time when the affair of Macedonius was being examined, who became archbishop of that city, and there was produced the Gospel of Matthew, which was written in large letters, and was preserved with great honour in the royal palace, which was said to have been found in the days of Zeno of honourable memory in a city of the island of Cyprus buried with the holy Barnabas, who went about with Paul and spread the divine preaching; and, when the Gospel of Matthew was opened, it was found to be free from the falsification contained in this addition, |437 of the story of the soldier and the spear. I do not know how and for what reason the holy John who became bishop of the same royal city, and the admirable Cyril, bishop of Alexandria, did not test this question, and allowed the two passages to stand, in the two evangelists, neglecting the evidence to the contrary;1133 but perhaps in order that this also might be known, that, while they speak and write everything under the operation of the Holy Spirit, and while these men are higher than we (for we are men who creep along the earth), as the heaven is higher than the earth1134, and that they themselves also might be known to be men, and to leave omniscience to God only, and that there is something in affairs which cannot be expressed, the complete revelation of which is not made known. Thus Samuel also, who as one may say saw with the eye of prophecy everything that was about to happen, did not know Saul when he was present and standing among all Israel, Because God by means of these things was instructing his bondmen, and teaching them to pay regard to humility. Wherefore also the divine Scripture is written thus: «And Samuel asked in the Lord and said, 'Cometh that man hither?' And the Lord said, ' Lo! he is hidden among the vessels'. And |438 he ran and took him thence» 1135. And at the time when the Shilumite woman's son died, and she had come to Elisha in great distress, as a mother who had been deprived of her beloved son, and, when she had just fallen at the feet of the prophet of God, and Gehazi tried to prevent her, the bondman of God, being moved by love and sorrow, said to Gehazi, «Let her alone, because her soul is bitter in her, and the Lord hid it from me and showed it not to me»1136. Accordingly you should know that Eusebius of Caesarea also who is called 'Pamphili', who wrote the canons of the gospel, and imitated those who wrote on this subject before him, and had more complete knowledge of this question than the others, in the 10th canon, in which he recorded the places peculiar to one of the evangelists, inserted this passage also about the soldier and the lance, saying that John alone recorded it 1137. And we also agree with this careful accuracy, not that we contend against our fathers (far be it!), but that we place the evangelists at a greater height than them, and assign to the evangelists only the intention which properly belongs to them, in order that in everything Jesus, who is God, who spoke in the |439 evangelists, may be glorified, 'in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden' 1138, according to the saying of Paul. But for the rest we find that the holy John himself also, the bishop of Constantinople, in the commentary on the same Matthew the Evangelist with regard to this same addition which we are now discussing, himself also said things that fit the truth; for he expressed himself thus: «'But another came up and perforated his side with a lance'. And what could be more wicked than these men? And who could be lawless like them? And who could be more savage than these same men, who showed their madness to such an extent, that they attacked a dead body. But do you mark how their madness was brought about for our salvation. For after the wound the fountain of life welled forth for us» 1139. But these are the words of a man who follows the footsteps of the narrative of John the Evangelist and nothing else; for he called the body 'dead'; because it was after he gave up the ghost that the soldier pierced him, and gave occasion for the fountain of our salvation to well forth thence, as the doctor John the bishop said. But this addition to the narrative of Matthew the Evangelist has never been inserted by any of the earlier |440 commentators who wrote, not by Origen, who examined such questions minutely, though he sinned 1140 in matters that are necessary for the truth of the faith of the church, nor by Didymus, nor by any other man who has written on this subject. But Eusebius 1141 of Caesarea, who is called 'Pamphili', whom we mentioned a little above, when writing to a man called Marinus about questions concerning the passions of our Saviour and about his Resurrection, showed us nothing whatever about the said addition, as being unknown and having no place in the books of the gospel. But in the same letters to Marinus, who had asked him for an interpretation on the subject of our Saviour's passions and his Resurrection, he inserted the following exposition also in his letters, that the divine Mark the Evangelist said that it was the 3rd hour at the time when Christ who is God and our Saviour was crucified, but the divine John (he said) wrote that it was at the 6th hour that Pilate sat upon his judgment-seat at the place called 'the pavement', and judged Christ. And therefore Eusebius said that this is an error of a scribe, who was inattentive when writing |441 the Gospel. For it is the letter gamal that denotes 3 hours, while the letter which is called in Greek episemon denotes the number of 6 hours, and these letters are like one another in Greek, and, the scribe wishing to write '3' quickly, and having turned the letter a little backwards, it was thereby found to be '6', because, since the letter had been turned backwards, it was supposed to be the letter that denotes '6'. Since therefore the three other evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke stated alike as with one mouth that from the 6th hour to the 9th there was darkness over all the land, it is plain that our Lord and God Jesus Christ was crucified before the 6th hour, at which the darkness took place, that is from the 3rd hour, as 1142 the blessed John himself wrote. Similarly we say that it is the 3rd hour, because those who wrote before, as we have said, changed the letter. We must insert also in this our letter upon this matter a part of what Eusebius himself stated at length; and his words are as follows: «We agree not with any chance man, but with the evangelist who gave this testimony, |442 Mark. For it happened that there was an error on the part of the scribe so that he changed the letter by adding length to it, and it was thought that the letter which represents '3' was '6', on account of the likeness of the two letters [of that which denotes '3' and that which denotes '6'. If the refore it is stated by John that it was the preparation of the day of unlevened bread, and it was about the 6th hour, and Pilate said to the Jews «Behold! your king» 1143, and so on, let there be read instead of '6th' '3rd', since the beginning of his trial took place at that time, and in the middle of the hour or after it had been completed they crucified him, so that the result is that they judged and crucified him at the same hour» 1144; If you look for and find the volume addressed to Marinus about the interpretation of these things, you will find the accuracy of the writer as regards these matters. For our part we do not wish to write much on these subjects in this our letter. May the industry of your holiness be preserved for us meditating on these things and occupied with these things in priestly fashion, and rousing up the gloom of our silence and urging it to speak 1145. |443
CIX. ---- OF THE SAME HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE 250th LETTER OF THE Ist BOOK BEFORE EPISCOPACY, WHICH WAS ADDRESSED TO THEOGNOSTUS. 1146
[508-12.] But now it is time for us to come to the other question. You say «What is meant to be signified by the phrase used by Isaiah the prophet about our Lord, that he was sent 'to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord ' 1147?» But this I say ..........1148
CX. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO EUGENIA THE DEACONESS AND ARCHIMANDRITESS.
[513-38.] «When thou sittest at the table of mighty men, to dine» (or «to take a meal»), «consider the things set before thee with intelligence, and stretch forth thine hand»1149. But a man will properly say that mighty men are am who showed themselves mighty and prevailed against the passions |444 of sin, but are ruled by righteousness, and made their own members an instrument of this, and give no passage for any strange and demoniac thoughts to creep into their own souls.
By these, as by men who have made themselves masters of the passions of lusts and gained the victory over them, the table of the word of religion is set before the pious hearer, which urges not only to fear God, but also strife against the devil and against all the passions of sin.
This teaching one should consider with intelligence and clothe oneself in the benefit derived from it, and delight oneself in its sweet and pleasant sustenance.
CXI. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO SIMUS THE SCRINIARIUS 1150, SHOWING THAT THE DIVINE INFLATION IN ADAM IS THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND THE POWER WHICH MAKES THE SOUL OF MAN.
[513-8 (?).] For against that contention we must vigorously make answer, that in |445 the composition or fashioning of man the rational soul of man is not created before the body, nor is the body formed before the soul. Why do you drag the teaching of the holy fathers which says that the divine inspiration is the Holy Spirit, an active and operative force, and is the power which makes the soul of man, to an abominable objection by saying this, that they who say this absolutely and by all means clearly hold that the body is created first, and after the formation is complete receives a soul, in that the Holy Scripture says, «And God created man dust from the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life» 1151, as if the formation comes first, and the animation follows afterwards, in the second place, according to the narrative of Scripture? But we shall not arrive at this cold supposition, if we receive in our mind that God creates, not like some feeble man. (A little farther on.) It would perhaps be possible for us to adduce other testimonies also that the human soul was created by divine inflation; but indeed this stands clear, that the holy Cyril taught all of them in his writings, showing that the soul of man came into being by divine inflation, and again that we are to |446 understand that, man having been created and possessing a soul, the inflation inserted only spiritual gifts and patterns of divine association.
And the holy Basil in what he wrote about the Holy Spirit taught as follows: «For, when Adam had lost the grace derived from the divine inflation, Christ gave it back again, when he breathed into the face of his disciples and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'» 1152. And again he said, «When he breathed in intellect, he is not another diifering from him who breathed at the beginning, but the same through whom he gave the inflation, then giving it with the soul, but now giving the soul». So much we have written as an abundant elucidation of the words, «Let us make man in our image» 1153, and of the words, «breathed into his face the breath of life».
CXII. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO URANIUS.
Therefore in the Old Testament also, when the high-priest was anointed, and at his anointing the sacrifice of the ram of perfection was offered, the |447 thumb of his right hand, and the great toe of his right foot, and the lobe of his right ear were anointed with the blood of the victim which was sacrificed 1154, the type signifying this, that, if he set himself to perform right actions, and if he make great progress in them (for the hand is the emblem of deeds and of actions, and the foot of effort and of advance towards the things that are in front), he will have his ears fall of divine announcements and revelations.
CXIII. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO ZACHARIAS 1155.
[513-8.] God said to Moses, «Choose thee seventy old men and I will take of thy spirit and lay it upon them» 1156. And the God of all said and did these things by way of giving instruction and teaching in the direction of humility (for the gifts of the Spirit are not scanty or defective), and it was not because he took away some of the spirit that was upon Moses that he filled others with this. For the whole of it was both with the recipients and with him, just as one may also see in the nature of fire. When a man has lighted several |448 torches from one torch, he has not diminished the one, and yet has from it caused many to be in equal honour. For the grace that was upon Moses appeared as it were to be darkened by the fact that the seventy shared in the same honour and prophesied in the Spirit. But this type was fulfilled by the future; for, when after the coming of the Only one in the flesh the Spirit was poured out, the grace that was upon Moses was darkened, and the fire of the torch of the law, when brought near to the gospel, is extinguished by the all-brilliant rays of the Sun of righteousness.
CXIV. ---- OF THE HOLY MAR SEVERUS FROM THE LETTER TO MITRAEUS 1157.
[519-38.] When he was about to deliver Jerusalem to utter destruction on account of the abundance of evil things that were done in it, and showed the prophet Ezekiel the form that such wrath was to take, and sent forth the angels who performed this office, one executor of these things he commanded|449 thus: «Pass through the midst of Jerusalem, and give forth a mark on the foreheads of the men who groan and are distressed, on account of all the unlawful acts that have been done within her»; and to the others he said, «Go after him and destroy and spare not; and have no mercy on old man and on young man and virgins; and the old men and the women slay utterly; and begin with my holy ones; but those that have the mark upon them approach not» 1158. The expression, 'begin with my holy ones' shows 1159 this, that there were men who were very proud of the garb of the high-priesthood, and on account of the place of the temple and the sanctuary were much puffed up, but were devoid of good deeds ; and therefore he tells the tormenting angels to make a beginning with those who ought to have conducted themselves in such a way as to be able to stretch out their hands to God on behalf of others also who sin, and restrain the threat and the punishment impending over them.1160 |450
CXV. ---- OF MAR SEVERUS, FROM THE LETTER TO HERACLIANA 1161.
[519-25.] But Isaiah 1162 also the prophet, beholding beforehand with foreseeing eyes the holy order of the monks, who take upon themselves the voluntary distresses for the sake of the law of the Lord, said that their tribulation was offered to God in place of sacrifices and offerings, in that he wrote thus: «At that time there shall come up offerings to the Lord of Sabaoth from a people distressed and plucked»1163. But the word 'plucked' shows the abundance of the distresses; for, if one grasp the hair of a man's head, and pluck this out by force, one causes him intolerable pain and injury. Wherefore also the great Job too, when he wished to show the abundance of his own pains, said, «Having grasped me by my locks he tore» (or «plucked») «me» 1164. Accordingly therefore, since you have been marked for such a life, you ought to have souls ready and prepared for every trial that is thought to be hard. |451
CXVI. (XXVII) ---- OF THE HOLY SEVERUS FROM THE TREATISE AGAINST THE CODICILS OF ALEXANDER; AFTER ITS TWO PARTS (?). (XXVII)
(To John, Theodore, and John) 1165.
[519-38.] But he 1166 says concerning what is written in Matthew, «Many bodies of the saints who slept arose» 1167: «For, if 'many', it is plain that all did not; and, if 'saints', it is beyond controversy that those of wicked men and. men who died in sins did not also rise».
(And a little farther on.) For this also is the reason for which he said that they 'appeared to many', to show the object for which they rose, and through a thing that is manifest to make known something that is not manifest, whom Christ's descent into Sheol benefited, viz. the saints who had already purified their soul. For, when he went thither, he made proclamation to the spirits in prison also who had aforetime been disobedient according to the statement of the apostle Peter 1168. And to all alike he appeared, having broken gates of bronze and shattered bars of iron as it is written 1169. But all did not know him, nor benefit by his appearance, but those |452 only who lived uprightly, who also, if he had appeared to them while they were still living the life in the flesh would certainly have believed on him. (And lower down.) But that all did not rise at that time with Christ, nor all who had died benefit by his descent into Sheol, although he himself appeared and made proclamation to all alike, but those who had already purified their soul as we have said, and therefore knew him and believed, Gregory the Theologian in the sermon on the Passover handed down, after expanding the question as is proper in what he added, writing thus 1170: «If he go down to Sheol go down with him. Know the mysteries there, what is the economy of the double descent 1171, what the principle. Does he simply save all by appearing, or there also those who believe 1172?» And Ignatius the truly God-clad and martyr, who, or some other man 1173, saw ineffable mysteries, so that he was even careful to say of himself, and this with humble mind, «For I also in that I am hound and am able to understand |453 the heavenly things and the angelic locations, and the princely companies, visible and again invisible, am not thereby a disciple» 1174, in writing to those at Magnesia said thus: «For the divine prophets lived in Jesus Christ; therefore also they were persecuted, being inspired by his grace in order that the incredulous might be persuaded that there is one God who revealed himself through Jesus Christ his Son»; and a little further on: «How shall we able to live without him? whom the prophets also, being his disciples in the spirit, expected as a teacher, and therefore he whom they rightly awaited, when he came, raised them from the place of the dead» 1175. You see that those who like the prophets lived in Jesus Christ, that is in justice and saintly deeds, benefited by our Saviour's descent into Sheol; many of whose bodies arose, and appeared for the confirmation only of the power of him who went down into the lower parts of the earth as I said, not to give the recompense of the resurrection that is promised to all together, on the day of the righteous recompensing.
(And lower down.) «For to this end it was preached to the dead also, that |454 they may be judged in the flesh as men, but live in God in the spirit» 1176. For it was not to the just, but chiefly to sinners and those sunk in transgression that the gospel was proclaimed, that they might judge themselves, humanly publishing a sentence against themselves and judging the flesh, and bringing their soul into subjection by works of repentance and urging it to escape from the divine judgment, since there is also fear of falling into the hands of the living God 1177, in order that they might be judged in the flesh as men (that is, that a man in mercy on his soul might judge himself), but live in God in the spirit.
CXVII. ---- OF THE SAME HOLY SEVERUS, FROM THE HYPOMESTIKA TO CAESARIA THE HYPATISSA, FROM THE Ist BOOK FROM THE 20th HYPOMNESTIKON 1178, SPEAKING ABOUT THE DEPARTED.
[519-38.] But they are conscious of services and prayers, and especially those that are made over the bloodless sacrifice on behalf of their life; and assuredly |455 some consolation results to them in proportion to the measure of each man's character. And they are conscious too of alms given to the poor on their behalf; for they also are a rational sacrifice as Paul teaches this and says, «To give alms and to impart forget not; for such sacrifices please God»1179. For that those who have fallen asleep in Christ are conscious of these things the ritual also which was handed down to the churches from of old by the apostles and from the beginning to the present day clearly witnesses; for the deacon makes proclamation to those who are standing while the bloodless sacrifice is being offered that they are to make supplication on behalf of those who have fallen asleep, and on behalf of those on whose behalf they are making commemorations and alms. But it is not lawful for us to say that any of the things enjoined in the holy churches is useless or vain.
Of the same holy Severus, from the same 20th hypomnestikon.
From the God-inspired Scripture we learn that in the resurrection both the just shall see the just and the sinners the sinners; but the just also |456 shall see the sinners who have conducted themselves in a manner opposite to their own being sent to the endless torments, and the sinners also shall gaze from afar at the righteous who have been injured by them enjoying pleasures. And this is a kind of punishment which they will bear in addition to their torments in the pains, that of being tormented by remorse, and then they will know from what good things they have fallen. These things the Lord taught us in the gospel as in an image and type delineated beforehand, by means of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Lazarus, having been justified by endurance in the distresses of poverty, was known by righteous Abraham, and was resting in his bosom; and the rich man also when judgment was being exacted from him for his sins, and his mercilessness towards Lazarus, while he was in the flame that is not quenched, from afar saw and knew Lazarus. This the Book of Wisdom also shows, in that it clearly depicts the wicked as knowing on the day of judgment the just who have been set at naught and evil entreated by them; and it speaks thus: «And they shall come to perception of their sins in fear; and their iniquity shall stand up against them and reprove them. Then shall the just man stand up with great boldness against the face of those who afflicted him and spurned his labour. They shall see |457 and be troubled with sore fear, and they shall be amazed at the greatness of his salvation. And repenting in their soul they shall say, and in affliction of spirit they shall groan and say, 'This was he who was then to us fools for a derision and a parable and a reproach. His life we counted folly, and his death contemptible. How is it that he hath been counted among the sons of God and his inheritance is with the saints? Did we then err from the way of truth, and did the light of justice not shine upon us?'» 1180 Lo! therefore they of whom we speak, who were friends to one another with the evil friendship that is of perdition, on the last day at the judgment shall recognise one another, and the just man, whom in this world they senselessly set at naught and derided, they shall see to have been counted among the sons of God and to be receiving inheritance with the saints; and so thereafter they shall be separated, the one party to the outer darkness as it is written 1181, or to the fire that is not quenched, or to the gnashing of teeth and to the weeping and to the worm that undyingly torments, and to judgments that are sent in such forms, and the other to the blessed abodes in the kingdom of heaven. For the words «Let the wicked man be taken away that he see not the glory of the Lord» 1182 are spoken with this meaning, that he shall not |458 share in the glory of the Lord that is given to his just ones. Though 1183 they shall not come lo judgment nor stand before the judgment-seat of Christ according to what is stated by the psalmist: «Therefore the wicked shall not stand in judgment»1184, yet still they will be aware what glory the just are enjoying, and of what they themselves have been deprived on account of their unbelief, in order that they may be tormented by this also. That it is the custom of Scripture to use the expression 'see' in place of 'share' or 'have experience' is made known by that which is stated by David also, «May the Lord bless thee out of Zion, and mayest thou look upon the good things of Jerusalem»1185. And Ezekiel the prophet shows that the grievous tyrants of the different peoples and the soldiers with them, who did evil with one another and armed themselves in sins, shall also be together in the eternal torments; for he said, «There is Assyria, and all his concourse»; and again, «There is Elam and all his host»; and further on, «There were given Moshach and Thubel, and all their host»1186. But that those who have lived uprightly will know those whom they love in the future life Isaiah |459 the prophet clearly cries, in that he terms them deer, inasmuch as by means of their struggles against passions they trampled upon serpents and scorpions, and upon all the power of the the adversary (for a deer is a serpent-slaying animal); for he said thus: «There the does met one another, and saw one another's face. They passed over in number and none of them perished. They sought not one another, because the Lord commanded them, and his spirit gathered them»1187. And kinsmen shall know kinsmen, as the sacred Scripture teaches us, saying of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob who died, in one place, «he was added to his fathers», in another, «he was added to his kin», and again, «he was added to his people»1188. And David the wise, who as a prophet was initiated in and saw the future hope beforehand, when he had buried his son, bathed and anointed himself, and changed his garments, and set out a table, saying, «Wherefore do I fast? Shall I be able to bring him back any more? I shall go to him, but he himself will not return to me»1189. He would not suddenly have been converted from that mournful sorrow to such great cheerfulness unless he had been assured that he should see the boy again living in the resurrection. The |460 doctors of the church, weaving words of consolation from these and similar thoughts and from scriptural indications, persuaded fathers and mothers who were mourning beyond measure that in the resurrection they would see and receive their children who had died, and in like manner kinsmen and friends.
CXVIII. ---- FRAGMENT OF A LETTER OF SEVERUS TO SOTERIC OF CAESAREA, FROM THE COPTIC. 1190
Apa Severus to Soteric, [the] bishop of Cappadocia. But the Christ-loving and revered general 1191 Patrick rose and said to him in righteous anger, «A synod that everyone has rejected it does not befit you to bring up afresh by the minute which you have drawn up». He answered and |461 said, «But I for my part will bring up nothing that may prejudice the synod. As for that minute, I drew it up at the bidding of the devout king, being desirous to bring certain monasteries into the faith with us». But I answered and said, «His majesty did not know that you were desirous of confirming the synod by that minute. The revered and Christ-loving patrician Paul the son of Vivian 1192 answered and said, «And in order to reconcile four or five monasteries to yourself you will dissolve the whole unity of the churches». The bishop Julian 1193 also said to him, «Must we needs draw up that minute, because you desire to reconcile the monasteries to yourself? And who constrained you to receive oaths and signatures from the bishops whom you from time to time ordain, that they would accept the synod of Chalcedon?» |462
A CANON CONCERNING THE HOLY AND GREAT SEVERUS PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH IN SYRIA WHICH IS PERFORMED ON THE 8th OF FEBRUARY, AND IS IN THE 4th OBLIQUE TONE.
The 1st hymn. Praise the glorious Lord.
The rod which was cleft 1194 divided the indivisible sea and the sun saw land which had never seen it; and it whelmed the iniquitous foeman in the water of the deep, and Israel passed through by a road that had not been trodden, singing a hymn and saying, «Let us praise the Lord God for he is gloriously splendid and glorious» 1195.
Who is able and sufficient as is meet to praise thy triumphs, O saintly and blessed Severus? For they overcome and surpass all intelligence and reason and knowledge. Thee Christ raised up as a champion of the orthodox faith, Christ whom also thou didst praise 'for he is gloriously splendid and glorious'. |463
Since thou first receivedst the seal of light, thou didst never consent to defile this by the lusts of the world, but straightway betookest thyself to the life of asceticism and didst commune with Christ the King, the Saviour of all created things, whom also thou didst praise 'for he is gloriously splendid and glorious'.
My heart hath been strengthened.
Thou art the strength and confirmation of them that hope in thee. Lord of all, thou art the light of them that are in darkness and to thee my spirit maketh confession without ceasing.
Thou art the strength of the truth, thou art the sound prop. Thou art the pillar and the foundation of the churches and we honour the day of thy commemoration.
Thou didst raise up and confirm the right faith in the churches which were torn by heresies, our father, and we honour the day of thy commemoration.
Lord, I have heard.
Thou rodest in procession upon horses which are those who please thee, |464 Lord of all, and with strength thou didst hold these reins in thine hands and they became as it were a great salvation in that comeliness becometh (?) 1196 them that cry in faith «Praise to the might of thy being, Lord of all».
That wolf once attacked as one that is bold when Justinian overthrew and expelled the party of the orthodox; but Severus opposed him in the mind of the Lord, and by the shafts of his words rescued and saved the flock that was being despoiled.
Thou didst set up and strengthen the right teachings of the faith without blame, having thrust away alike the cleavage and the confusion of those who foolishly dared io divide or confound, in that thou taughtest us rightly to proclaim the doctrine of one incarnate nature.
In the night my soul.
Give light to us all, Lord, by thy life-giving commands, and, leading us with thine exalted arm, grant thy peace to our souls, merciful one.
Supplicate, saintly one, on behalf of the members of the holy church, that |465 they may quickly in mercy be at peace and be united, and through thy prayer be delivered from the assaults of heresies.
Arise saintly one now also to defend the flock which hath fled to thee for refuge, and restrain by the might of thy prayer the treacherous wolves of all the heresies, who are howling to break it in pieces, and make them cease from it.
Thou confessedst the incarnate Word to be one hypostasis. and nature only, that was in no wise divided or changed; and therefore the believers zealously honour the day of thy commemoration.
«I cried unto the Lord» 1197.
I pour out my prayer before God, and to him I reveal and declare my distress, because my soul hath been filled with evil things, and my very life hath approached and reached Sheol. Lift me up from destruction, my God, like Jonah from beneath the sea and save me.
Thou passedst wisely through the grievous storm of this perturbed world, holding the definition of the orthodox faith, and now in heaven thou dwellest with the saints because thou showedst thyself a strenuous defender of the teachings that are full of life, O blessed one. |466
In knowledge and in a life of virtue, as in these two things 1198 thou didst glitter and shine brightly, while thou wast eminent in all things, and didst urge all nations to come to the faith and diligently admonish everyone with thy sound words, O blessed one.
«Blessed art thou»1199.
Once that tyrant commanded and provided the furnace to be heated in the plain of Dura to burn those who feared God, the furnace in which the three boys, having been made like to the one God, uttered a triple song of praise and said, «God of our saintly fathers, blessed art thou»2.
When Marcian once set up the evil invocation of two natures to overthrow the orthodox, thereby, our father, thou becamest more illustrious in that thou didst urge and teach all men to cry and say, «God of our saintly fathers, blessed art thou».
Thou showedst thyself an approved one among the doctors, O saintly Severus, and with them thou didst profess and proclaim and fill the world with the right doctrines and saidst, «The Son, the Word who became |467 incarnate, is one nature and hypostasis» and taughtest us to cry and to say, «God of our saintly fathers, blessed art thou».
«Bless, all ye» 1200.
Praise him who was glorified on the holy mountain, and in the flame in the bush figured beforehand and showed to Moses by a miracle the mystery of the Virgin, the Lord of all, and exalt him without ceasing for ever and ever.
Praise him who bestowed such a luminary upon his church, one who stood forth as an advocate of the right doctrines, and in all his contests was shown as victor, the Lord of all.
Thou becamest a teacher of the apostolic faith, and a subverter of the heresy that is full of impiety, thou who didst never divide Christ the Son, but who didst confess him. Praise the Lord of all.
«My soul magnifieth»1201.
Thee we confess to be verily the God-bearer in whom we have been saved |468 and delivered, O pure Virgin, and 1202 together with the bodiless hosts we all magnify thee.
We who have been enlightened through thee proclaim thee to be verily the teacher of orthodoxy, and therefore the church and all its children honou-reth the day of thy commemoration.
Truly thou art the invariable image of all the orthodox teachers, carrying their doctrine and their manner of life at the same time, saintly Severus.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.
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