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


HanseaticEd said...

RE: 'jp on the fantastic planet'

I followed the link you provided to 'the fantastic planet' and was disappointed to discover that it was no patristic resource at all, but a vitriolic tirade against the Catholic Church and her hierarchy.

I don't know if you check out these links in detail or not, but considering the quality of everything else I have found on your site, I rather suspect you will find that the polemic to which I refer does not quite fit your bill.

I look forward to more scholarly and otherwise edifying links.


Phil S. said...


I did check that site out and read it quite carefully. It is polemical screed against Catholicism and against the Fathers. I was fully aware of that when I placed it in the roundup.

Let me explain my policy on such entries:
1. I will cite even a polemic, if it discusses the Fathers. That includes if it discusses them in a negative light. This was an extended original (if seriously flawed) argument based on the use of a Church Father. It is still in the purvue of this roundup.

2. I will cite a polemic, not because I agree, but, rather, because I think we need to know how the Fathers are misused. In my view, I've done my due diligence in warning my readers what kind of point of view to expect as well as my own position that I believed that he misread Irenaeus. Further discussion on exactly how he misread him is welcome and encouraged. Really, folks, we need to know our enemy and that is why I posted this entry.

I hope that clarifies my editorial position.


HanseaticEd said...

Sorry about that, Phil. First of all, my first comment comes across as far harsher than intended, and secondly, I could have tried reading your full entry before commenting. Mea maxima culpa.

jp said...

Wow, what a surprising assessment of my little post! Just for the record, I'm nobody's "enemy," nor am I anti-Catholic (my Catholic wife would be very surprised to find this out!).

I'm also very interested to find out in what way I've "misread" Irenaeus. Please do elucidate; if I'm wrong, I'm happy to rescind any comments I've made.

Thanks for the traffic, if nothing else....

Phil S. said...


Welcome to hyperekperissou! I'm glad you decided to pop by.

Enemies may have been bad choice of words. Shall we say opponent (as in a debate)))?

To start with, you do have a point about anti-Semitism among 'orthodox' Christians. That is well known and easy to find proof texts for. It isn't a attractive trait in many of the Fathers including Irenaeus. I would note that the polemic goes both ways, of course, and less than moderate comments were made by Jewish scholars from this period and after. Still, one would expect charity from Christian writers and we often fall down on that.

Here are the points which I question your reading.
1. I think it inaccurate to blame Irenaeus with fostering Anti-Semitic rhetoric. The particular polemic emerges as realy as the NT and continues to develop throughout the patristic period.

2. I think you are mis-characterizing Irenaeus' Book 4 which is rather more focused on establishing a method reading and thinking about Scripture than it is on demonizing the Jews. Yes, there are comments like the one you cite, but they don't seem to me to be the main focus. It is easy enough to quote passages, but it is harder to give an impression of the whole and it is that impression which I think is lacking in your post.

3. It is also a distortion to say that Catholicism and other Christians have not recognized the anti-Semitic elements of the Fathers or other writers. I don't know of any theologian, including Pope Benedict, who would endorse those elements of any Church Father including Ireaeus. You can score polemical points on this, but I think you would find it hard to say that the Catholic church hasn't worked hard on reconciliation with Jews.

Lastly, I think you are being inconsistent in the way that you deal with elements of our respective traditions which are not acceptable to current understanding. Key to this is your suggestion that Modern gnostics can deal with these kind of offensive passages because they can argue with the Scriptures. In passing, I wonder what you mean by that because there is an equal traidtion in 'orthodoxy' of struggling with the hard passages which has led to a lot of different answers: some good, some no so good. The difference is that this struggle is not done in a way to mentally edit the passages in question, but rather in seeing them as a whole.

Yet, your comments indicate a confusion about the authority of the Fathers in 'orthodox' circles. Whereas it is harder to ignore elements of Scripture in 'orthodox' theology, the Fathers are second order discourse and, hence, need to have their interpretations balanced against the Bible. Here, in the area of anti-Semitism, Irenaeus is wrong and demonstrably wrong for Scriptural reasons (that is, if we accept that God's promises don't remain unfulfilled). In that sense, just as it is possible for you to quote Gnostic scriptures without endorsing everything they say, it is possible for for me to quote a Church Father without agreeing with what he says. At the end of the day, the Church Fathers are commentary on Scripture and, hence, are not held to be correct in all things.

I hope all this makes sense and that it is helpful in explaining my point.

Peace, Phil

Jeremy said...

Thanks, Phil, for your well-crafted reply. I'd like to respond at greater length, and will do so when time allows.

Kevin P. Edgecomb said...

"St" Benedict, already? Getting ahead of things, I think! Though I don't disagree with the eventual evaluation, to be honest....

Phil S. said...

Thanks, jeremy. I'm glad you appreciated my comments and I look foward to your reply. I had wondered if I made much sense, since I wrote those comments rather quickly which explains the spur-of-the-moment canonization of Pope Benedict (thanks, Kevin, for noticing that).