Thursday, March 29, 2007

Patristics Roundup- March 22-28, 2007

Another week, another roundup. Now that I'm back on my normal day for the roundups, I'm starting to feel little more organized in my life. It has been a quietish week, although I'm sure St. Benedicts comments on St. Ireneaus will resound for a while. Enjoy the offerings this week. Wee-haw!


Mike Aquilina on The Way of the Fathers deals with Pope Benedict's continued discussions about the Fathers. This week: Ireneaus.

Will Weedon on Weedon`s blog offers his Patristic Quotes of the Week from St. Ephrem, Ephrem again and Ephrem again.

Danny Garland on Irish-Catholic and Dangerous continues his Ask a Father series, inquring about women from St. Jerome, about parables from St. John Chrysostom , about the Theotokos from St. John Damascene.

Cynthia Neilson on per caritatem features a (so far) six part series on St. Augustine's encounter with words and the Word. I'm a little late picking up on this, but here are the parts: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six.

Stay Catholic offers a patristic catena on the Sabbath (on Sunday).

jp on the fantastic planet blog offers a criticism of Pope Benedict's use of St. Irenaeus by suggesting that St. Irenaeus is not only anti-Gnostic, but also anti-Jewish. This is an interesting modern Gnostic view, even if I think he has misread St. Irenaeus.

papabear on the Diligite iustitiam blog features an interview with David Warner on Pope Benedict's comments about Ireneaus. The Fathers aren't just for Catholics anymore.

James Swan on the Beggars All blog features Martin Luther on the Church Fathers.

Father Z on the What does the Prayer Really Say blog directs our attention to a podcast on St. Augustine.

Rick Brannon on ricoblog has gathered his translation and commentary of the Didache into a pdf here. Rick, on his other blog, Pastoral Epistles, has completed his study of the use of the Pastoral Epistles in the Epistle of Barnabas, Part 5

Apocryphal Corner

April DeConick on The Forbidden Gospel blog features an excellent discussion (the first of a new series)on communal memory

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Martin still delayed

I'm afraid this has been a busy week again and a busy weekend. I've been focusing my efforts on the Patristic Roundups as more potentially beneficial for my readers, so I think I have to delay the St. Martin translation again. Time and energy is simply lacking right now.

God willing, I'll manage to get the translation out next week.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

Patristics Roundup- March 16-22, 2007

I'm still running a little late and behind from my vacation, but I think I'm caught up now. It has been another busy week in patristics land with a lot of varied posts. Enjoy!

New Blog

Announcing a new Patristics blog: East to West A respository of thoughts on theology and history . Already there are entries on Irenaean soteriology, a book list of primary and secondary sources for Theodore of Tarsus, Irenaeus on Mary and Irenaeus on the Roman Church. So far, these are just quotes from secondary sources, but it will be interesting to see where the author, James Siemans, will go. His other blog, fides et ardor, is worth following as well.Hat Tip: Mike Aquilina. I'm going to have to get both of these on my favourites.


Mike Aquilina on The Way of the Fathers blog features St. Cyril of Jerusalem, and St. Joseph; the latter including patristics citations about St. Joseph and corrects the Smithsonians' neglect of Alexandrian Christians in their Alexandria exhibit.

William Weedon on Weedon's Blog features Patristic quotes on St. Ephrem Syrus, Ephrem again,Ephrem again, St. Ephrem again , St. John Chrysosthom and, finally, St. Ephrem.

Danny Garland on the Irish-Catholic and Dangerous blog features St. Gregory Nyssa on the persons of the Trinty, asks St. Gregory of Naziansus about the image of the invisible God and the difference between the wills of the Son and the Father. He continues his promise new feature, Ask the Father, with St. Augustine on the greatest of God's miracles and St. Aphraphat on Christ as the new Moses.

The God-Fearin' Fiddler on The God Fearin' Forum features articles on whether the Catholic Church is like the Early Church, Mathetes to Diognetus on Christian behavior and St. Augustine on sola scriptura.

Antony Hanson on the Coming to the Quiet blog quotes his professor talking about Origen's attitude of the relationship between the intellect and the spirit.

Jason Engwer on Triablogue reflects on a fellow blogger's shortcomings in Interpreting the Church Fathers. At least, there are some citations of the Fathers on Mary.

Paul Roberts on the Commonplaces blog sides with Origen and Jerome on the importance of extra-biblical literature.

Weekend Fisher on the Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength blog reflects on the similarites in Luther's, Jerome's and Athanasius' attitudes to the Apocrypha

This is a bit of a missed item, but Rick Brannon on his other blog, Pastroal Epistles, has started a series on the use of the Pastoral Epistles by the Apostolic Fathers. Here is his introduction, followed by the Epistle to Diognetus, parts one, two, three and four .

Fleming Rutledge, one of my favourite Anglican sermon writers, has some comments on her Generous Orthodoxy blog concerning the stabilizing influence of the Fathers in the historical Jesus debates. Hat tip to Nicolas Kingsley on the Entangled States blog.

James Swan on the Beggars All blog quotes St. John Chrysosthom on raising children in his Ancient Voices series.

Peter Leithart on explains why Alexandrian exegetical methods proved to be more important to the mediaeval theologians than Antionchene.

Mark Gordon on The Suicide of the West blog features Justin Martyr and on the Nicene Creed in his 40 Days, 40 Graces reflection on the "practices, doctrines, personalities, and moments that have been particularly precious to me during my ten years as a Catholic.". Both of these are late, but thanks to Mike Aquilina for directing me to it.

Patrick Hagman on the God in a Shrinking Universe blog announces the publication of his Swedish translation of 13 letters of St. Augustine. Congrats, Patrick!

Apocryphal Corner

Tony Chartrand-Burke on Apocryphicity features a discussion of the (rather dubious)employment of Christian Apocrypha in the Talpiot tomb controversy. This very thoughtful essay is well-worth reading now that the sensationalism around the Talpiot tomb controversy is beginning to lift.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Patrisics Roundup- March 9-15, 2007

Well, I'm back from Palm Springs (aka Poodle Springs or Palmy Balmy)and a wonderful March Break vacation! We had excellent weather (95 degrees plus), so we spent a lot of time by the pool and relaxing.

Meanwhile, life went on in Patristics land, so I thought I would catch everyone up to last Thursday as a way to get back started on my routines.


Mike Aquilina on The Way of the Fathers blog features posts on St. Gregory Nyssa, alerts us to a book on vocation (with frequent references to the Fathers), gives a short patristic related passage from the letter of Pope Benedict, Sacramentum Caritatis, another quote from Conyer's book on vocation

Will Weedon on Weedon's blog features Patristic Quotes of the Day by St. Maximos, St. Maximos again , again, again,

Paul Chandler on the Carmelitana blog features a quote by St. Gregory of Nyssa on fasting.

Carl Olsen on the Insight Scoop blog announces (among other offerings) a new edition of Henri de Lubac's History and Spirit: The Understanding of Scripture According to Origen from Ignatius Press.

Taylor on the 603 North Locust blog offers a book list on Late Antiquity/Patristics.

Benedict Seraphim on the This is Life! blog alerts us to a symposium on St. John Chrysosthom's 1600th anniversary in St. Louis in September, features entries on St. Gregory of Rome (the Great), on the author's first encounter with St. Benedict, a more formal entry on St. Benedict and on St. John of the Ladder.

Ian Dalrymple on The Scrivener blog features a series on the Cappadocians (I'm afraid I blinked and missed the first two entries, so I'm linking the whole series. Hat Tip to Benedict Seraphim). So far there is an introduction, a comparison of St. Basil and his school-mate and later apostate emperor, Julian and a touching letter of St. Basil on the art of snaring pigeons

Ben Smith on the Thoughts on Antiquity blog gives us a new installment on his canon series. This one is on the Cheltenham canon.

Rick Brannon on ricoblog contiues his series on the Didache with a translation and commentary on Didache 16.

Apocryphal Corner

Tony Chartrand-Burke on Apocryphicity alerts us to a book by Andrew Bernhard, Other Early Christian Gospels: A Critical Edition of the Surviving Greek Manuscripts.

Apri DeConick on The Forbidden Gospels blog features articles on what is Gnosticism with a follow-up post and a plea for scholarly detachment in the Jesus Tomb controversies

Okay, I think that is it for this week. Watch for the regularly scheduled edition of the roundup on Thursday or possibly Friday this week (Parent's meeting!)


Saturday, March 10, 2007

On Rest and Recuperation

No, this isn't a reference to a little known patristic work by St. Boglash of Flinge. I'm just leaving a quick note that I'm off on vacation in California, so will not be able to blog for around a week. Needless to say, the next installment of Martin's Life will have to wait as will the Patristics Roundup.

Meanwhile, my wife and I will be sitting in the sun, sipping margaritas. It is a tough life.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Patristics Roundup- March 2-8, 2007

It's been a very busy week in patristics land. Perhaps it is Lent or something, but there has been an increase in patristics posts. It was getting right hard to round up them little dogies (or Augies, as my wife would have it).

This week has also seen the suspension of the Patristic Carnival which I had suggested way back in December. In consulation with Keven Edgecomb on biblicalia, it seemed like it might be premature to press the Carnival. Besides, it seems these Roundups are providing a service. I appreciate, incidently, Kevin's praise of this effort. I'm glad that there are so many people finding this effort so helpful.


Mike Aquilina on The Way of the Fathers reviews a little book, St. Augustine LifeGuide: Words to Live By from the Great Christian Saint, alerts us to the Israel today website featuring images of the pre-Constantinian church at Megiddo, a recommendation of Father Joseph Lienhard’s book St. Joseph in Early Christianity: Devotion and Theology: A Study and an Anthology of Patristic Texts, makes a link to his broadcast on Sts. Perpetua and Felicity and calls attention to the patrologist Pope on St. Clement of Rome.

William Weedon on Weedon's blog deals with the charge that Lutherans pick and choose from the everyone else as Will suggests. He also features in his Patristic Quotes of the Day section quotes from St. Maximos the Confessor, Maximos again, and again, a reflection on Sts Perpetua and Felicity, back to Maximos

God-Fearin Fiddler features a discussion of St. Clement as the 4th Pope, complete with video feed.

Dave Armstrong on the cor ad cor loquitur blog has published an index of his blog entries on the Fathers. There is lots and lots to read from a Roman Catholic apologetic perspective!

Ad Orientem features an entry on St. Gregory Palamas and the Fathers.

P.J. Williams on the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog let us know about another web resource on the Fathers.

Guy Davies on the Exiled Preacher blog features a quote from the Letter of Diognatus.

Ben Arbour on the Believing Jesus blog featurs a book review of St. Augustine's On Free Choice and Will

Gordon Lyn Watley on the Sibyline Leaves blog offers suggestions of where to start in learning Greek for patristics.

Pfitz on the Coffee Klatz announces a new e-mail list publishing patristic quotes.

Stay Catholic offers a patristics catena on the Early Fathers on the Church.

James Swan on the Beggar's All blog offers a quote of St. Augustine on Matthew 16,18.

John Botsharow on the John Botscharow: Reflections on religion, politics and life blog features a discussion of Pelagianism.

Ben Myers on the Faith and Theology blog features a review of two books by Khalid Anatolios dealing with St. Athanasius.

Nicholas Hardesty on phatcatholic features a discussion of the Christological heresies and the Council of Chalcedon.

spurgeon on A Shepherd's Scrapbook blog features a discussion on evangelicals and the Fathers including a review of the Ancient Commentary on Scripture series.

The Lent and Beyond blog offers advice on how to pray from John the Solitary.

Hank's Eclectic Meanderings remembers Sts. Perpetua and Felicity.

Mark Gordon on the Suicide of the West discusses the impact that St. Justin Martyr had on his conversion and Justin's confession of faith. I'm with Mark on this one. I've always loved St. Justin's brave defence of the faith and his willingness to confront the powers and principalities of his day.

Kevin Edgecomb on biblicalia continues his series on translating the Desert Fathers with entries on Arsenios, part two and part three.

Rick Brannon on ricoblog features two more installments on his series on translating the Didache (Didache 14 and Didache 15) and reviews Ehrman's Loeb on the Apostolic Fathers, Vol. 2

Apocryphal Corner
Dr. April DeConick on the Forbidden Gospels blog features a discussion of "canonism" and asks whether the writers of the Gospel of Judas were Christians.

Rick Brannon on ricoblog features a discussion of the Acts of Philip and Mariamne

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Tertullian, Heresy and the Rule of Faith.

I'm sure I've admitted it before and I'll admit it again before too long, but I really do like Tertullian; that driven and relentlessly polemical lawyer who, it appears, veered into heresy, but not before leaving us a series of brilliant attempts to figure out the relationship between the Christian and the rest of the world. You would think, given my irenic temper, I would find him rather too much at times (I do think he gets a little too rigorous from time to time), but he asks all the right questions and doesn't put up with theological fuzziness. We spend so much time in the Anglican church (for example), making things fuzzy enough to include everyone, I honestly think that clarity is what we need more.

What got me thinking about this was conversations I've had on the Forbidden Gospels blog as well as the latest pseudo-Biblical tempest in a teapot, the 'Jesus Tomb'. What struck me this week was the impossibility of making oneself clear when the assumptions of the other side are so fundamentally different that we can't even argue from anything resembling common ground. Not that this sense of advanced futility is exactly a revelation to me; I've had more than my share of discussions of this type in my life and I know when I know when the ground goes out from under me in a conversation. I'm just stubborn enough to keep going after that, but I'm never convinced that it is wise to.

All this got me thinking about Tertullian and, specifically, his treatise, the de praescriptione haereticorum. This, I should note, is not one of Tertullian's most liked works, largely because it is pretty clear about what it thinks about heresy: it doesn't like it. In an age when heresy is considered more adventurous than orthodoxy, a condemnation of heresy is an admission of narrow-mindedness and, worse, oppressive tendencies.

Yet, Tertullian has four main points in the whole treatise that we would do well to pay attention to:

1. Don't be surprised that heresy is a powerful force in the world.

This is particularly important point to make today. A even peremptory gaze on the religion and Christianity books shelves of any major book seller will convince you that heretical writers have such a large share of the market that it is wonder that orthodox writers still publish. That is an exaggeration, of course, but not a ridiculous one. There are a large number of authors who are trying very hard to update Christianity in the spirit of the age and the result is confusion and a lot of unsound teaching. I speak, of course, with a bias here, but traditional orthodoxy is hardly the most popular Christian position out there.

In Tertullian's day, heresy had considerable popularity and there were people who were surprised so much at its strength that they began to question whether orthodoxy was as great as they once thought it was. Tertullian's argument is that one should expect heresy to be powerful because it is one of the ways that our faith is proven, by facing false teaching and turning away from it. It wouldn't be much of a test if heresy was obviously weak and foolish. We can, I think, grieve the strength of heresy and the degree to which it leads people astray to an untrue image of God, but we should not be surprised at its existence or even its power.

2. Seeking is fine while you are looking for Christ, but, once, you found him, you don't need to seek.

This is particularly applicable today to my denomination these days. We find so many people who are seeking spiritual answers out there, but very few who actually find them. Yet, so many of us believe that the seeking is the most important thing for a Christian to do. We see this all over the place, but perhaps the best example is a Christian initiation series which promises to allow the space to ask questions, but which instructs its facilitators not to give any answers. While I agree all this emphasis on questions is very post-modern and inclusive, it isn't very helpful for those who would like to bite down on something other than air or who are genuinely seeking Christ in the hopes of finding their connection to God.

Tertullian would have little sympathy with this approach. He is very clear. Seeking makes sense as long as one doesn't believe in Christ or know Christ, but, once we've found our answer, why do we need to seek some more? This comes out all very harsh and judgmental, but, really, there is a tough-minded practicality to this logic. If we have found what we are looking for, why go on looking as if there was a peculiar benefit in the search. This isn't to say that we should hunt down God and shove him into a box, but rather that, once we have found him, we don't fling him aside in search of something different. Once we have found God, I would think that what we would want to do is explore and develop our relationship with Him, not run out the door in the hopes of finding him again. There is, I think, enough to keep us busy learning about God and how we relate to him that we don't need to start the search all over again.

3. Don't argue Scripture with heretics

This is the one I really do have to pay attention to. Tertullian is firmly of the opinion that it does no good and some harm to argue Scripture with people who simply don't interpret it according to orthodoxy or the Rule of Faith. His point is that, not only is the exercise futile (and that is demonstrable), but it actually exalts the alternative view by giving it air time. I think the reason why it is so futile to try is that there is no way that a heretic will agree on rules of exegesis or on the Rule of Faith, so there is no way that your carefully thought out examples will have any bite against their interpretation. There simply is no shared interpretative framework to allow for a clear and achievable standard for falsification of an argument. Yet, by arguing, we are implying that this alternative view has validity, so, as Tertullian suggests, when we stomp off in frustration at our opponent's stubbornness, those who we were trying to save by challenging the non-orthodox views will just walk away, confused at the draw.

I demonstrably get drawn into the futile discussions and I think there are times when I should have just left well enough alone. A large number of these anti- heretical discussions just end in a "You just aren't reading the Bible properly" kind of statement from both sides and little else. Sometimes the best refutation is a thundering silence.

4. The Rule of Faith guides our reading of Scripture

The Rule of Faith to which Tertullian refers here is, of course, the early version of the Creed (de praescriptione haereticorum, 14) and serves as the interpretative framework for reading Scripture. This is interesting because it is clear in Tertullian that the Rule and Scripture should not be considered as succeeding one another, but rather as emerging from the same source: the apostolic testimony about Jesus and his teachings. There is no priority because both the Rule and Scripture are designed to say the same thing, but in different ways. The Rule is condensed Scripture just as Scripture is the Rule expanded with the details of Jesus' life and teachings. They serve as checks against each other to make sure the other is in line with what the apostles taught so many centuries ago.

All this is, of course, clear to anyone who holds an orthodox view of Scripture and theology. That is, it is clear to all within the orthodox tradition (by this I mean Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and many Protestants--a very broad group, I concede and a group whose composition will be disputed), but, equally clearly, disputed by those outside of this tradition. Yet, this takes us back to point three. If we can't agree on the rules of exegesis (which is provided by the Rule), how can we decide on a correct interpretation? The simple answer is that we can't.

Tertullian offers us, in the de praescriptione haereticorum, a carefully reasoned discussion on biblical hermeneutics (ugly word that is). I don't doubt that many who read this blog will dislike it and many more will question whether I really do mean that I abide by the Rule of Faith which Tertullian holds up as the standard for biblical exegesis. That is one of the saddest things about our current state of ecclesial division: there is no clear standard to decide theological arguments between denominations. Yet, if we do return to the Rule of Faith, perhaps we could find enough common ground to work out our differences. At least, at any rate, we will have a common standard to decide on what is and is not a legitimate argument. Perhaps that would be the most profitable line of ecumenical endeavor.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Patristics Roundup- Feb. 22-Feb. 28th, 2007

It's been a busy week in patristics this week. Perhaps the various saints days or the remain of the Ash Wednesday Lenten glow, but there was a good amount of posting on the Fathers. It is good to see.

Incidently, before any one asks, I decided early this week that I was NOT going to try to keep track of the whole 'Jesus Tomb' debacle currently playing itself out there in the Biblical Studies blogosphere. I decided against even trying to keep track of this controversy partly because I just didn't have the energy for it, but also because, I think, my head would explode if I tried. Two excellent discussions of this development are Christopher Butler's take on the evidence on the "Jesus" or Talpiot tomb in Jerusalem and Ben Witherington on the withering criticism of the case for the "Jesus Tomb". Tyler Williams also tracks the days' developments on this story at Codex.

Mike Aquilina at The Way of the Fathers blog features a call for volunteers to write a Wikipedia article on Patristics, an excerpt from the Catechetical Oration of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, advice from St. Benedict's Rule about how to keep Lent, announces the publication of his new book, Love in Little Things, which, though focusing on family life had, we are told, plenty of the Fathers to edify us as we think about how to be the Church in our families

William Weedon on Weedon's Blog offers Patristic Quotes of the Day from St. Augustine and John Cassian.

Danny Garland on Irish-Catholic and Dangerous quotes St. Caesarius of Arles on people as the Image of God, quotes St. Athanasius on the Orthodox tradition

The God-Fearing Fiddler quotes St. Clement on the Church and an excellent discussion on the reliability of tradition.

Kevin Edgecomb on biblicalia has started a series on the Sayings of the Desert Fathers. I'm a little late with this, but he has already completed an introduction, a translation of the prologue, part one on St. Antony, part two on Antony and part one on St. Arsenios .

Kyle Porter on the Vindicated blog features a discussion of St. Polycarp's 'organic' ecclesiology.

stfassissi posts the essay of Father John A Haldon on the Christology of the Fathers.

Chris Lyons on the Swept Over blog discusses St. Ignatius and the episcopal structure of the early Church.

Jared Coleman on delectatio Dei offers an appreciative answer to Chris Lyon's post on St. Ignatius.

Paul Gregory Alms on incarnatus est quotes St. Leo the Great on Satan, Lent and the Christian.

Dave Armstrong on cor ad cor loquitur asks whether Augustuine was closer to Reformed Protestants or Catholics, complete with lengthy quotes of Augustine and Calvin.

James Swan in his Ancient Voices feature on Beggars All: Reformation and Apologetics quotes Augustine.

Ben Arbor on Believing Jesus offers a review on a book dealing with St. Augustine's On the Free Choice of the Will.

Sam on General Terms and Conditions describes his encounter with St. Athanasius' Life of Antony in a Episcopalian seminary. I think he found it bracing!

The Lent and Beyond Anglican prayer blog features advice on how to pray from John the Solitary.

Ben Myers on Faith and Theology quotes St. Augustine as a prayer for ethicists.

For you audiophiles, Maria Lectrix features a whole mess of new MP3s of the Church Fahters readings.

Jim Davila on PaleoJudaica features a link to some Syriac texts online.

Adrian Murdoch on Bread and circuses
discusses St. John Chyrsosthom and Eutropius and an excerpt from a sermon of Asterius of Amaesa also on Eutropius.

Apocryphal Corner

Tony Chartrand-Burke on Apocryphicity features a discussion of the Jesus Tomb and the Gospel of Philip in two parts (Part One and Two) as well as alerting us to a review of J. K. Elliott's A Synopsis of the Apocryphal Infancy Narratives

April DeConick on The Forbidden Gospels blog features a discussion on meta-narratives and writing history, a critique of sexism and the Church Fathers, a continuation of her discussion of the principles of historical hermeneutics, and some thoughts towards her book in progress on the Gospel of Judas.