|« Prev||Holy Scripture.||Next »|
1. Holy Scripture.396396See histories of the Canon by Holtzmann, Schmiedel (in Ersch and Gruber “Kanon”); Weiss, Westcott, and especially Zahn. Overbeck, Z. Gesch. des Kanons, 1880. The controversy with the Jews as to the possession and exposition of the O. T. still continued in the Byzantine period; see on this McGiffert, Dialogue between a Christian and a Jew, entitled Ἀντιβολὴ Παπίσκου καὶ Φίλωνος κ.τ.λ. . . . together with a discussion of Christian polemics against the Jews. New York, 1889.
To the two Testaments a unique authority was ascribed. They were the Holy Scriptures κατ᾽ ἐξοχήν; every doctrine had 193to be proved out of them, in other words, opinions that held something necessary to faith which did not occur in Scripture, had no absolute validity. Any one who declared that he took his stand on Scripture alone did not assume an uncatholic attitude. This view of the Holy Scriptures presupposed that their extent was strictly defined, and placed beyond all doubt. But this supposition was for centuries contradicted by the actual facts, which, however, were concealed, partly because men neither would nor dared look at them, partly because they really did not see them. The theologians of Antioch, and especially Theodore, criticised on internal and external grounds the contents of the Canon, as these were gradually being fixed; but in doing so even they were guided by an ecclesiastical tradition. Their criticism still had its supporters in the sixth century, and its influence extended not only to Persia, but even, through Junilius, to the West. But neither the spirit of the criticism nor its results ever made any impression whatever on the great Church.397397On the attitude of Theodore and his disciples to the Canon, see the thorough investigations of Kihn (Theodorus von Mopsuestia und Junilius Africanus, 1880). Theodore rejected from the O. T., Job, the Song of Songs, Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, Esther, and the inscriptions of the Psalms; see Leontius Byz. Contra Nestor. et Eutych. L. III., ch. 13-17, Migne T. 86, p. 1365 sq. The fifth Synod expressly condemned Theodore’s criticism and interpretation of Job and the Song of Songs, as well as his idea of inspiration in reference to Solomon’s writings, and his exposition of some of the Psalms. On Theodore’s prestige in Nisibis, see Kihn, p. 333 f.; on Junilius’ dependence on him, l. c., 350-382. For the dependence of the Nestorian Canon on Theodore’s, see Noeldeke in the Gött. Gel. Anz. 1868, St. 46, p. 1826 and Kihn, l. c., 336.
As regards the O. T., the oldest and most revered of the Greek Fathers followed Melito and Origen, and only recognised the 22-24 books of the Hebrew Canon,398398Authoritative were especially the views of Athanasius, Cyril of Jerus. and Gregory of Nazianzus, who reckoned only 22 Books; see also the sixtieth Canon of the Council of Laodicea (363? inauthentic?). according to the others in the Alexandrian Canon only a secondary validity, or none at all. While there was some hesitation about the Book of Esther, and that not only in Antioch, this decision obtained 194in the Greek Churches, though divergences were not wanting in provincial communities. But it was always in danger of being disregarded, for the sacred books were continually transcribed from the LXX.; and so, as a rule, those writings, excluded in theory, were copied along with the others. The legend of the genesis of the LXX., again, was always highly valued, and it seemed to imply the sacredness of the whole translation. Yet it was only in consequence of the attempts at union with the Roman Church in the Middle Ages, and still more after the ill-fated enterprise of Cyrillus Lucaris (17th century), that the Greek Church was persuaded to give up the Hebrew and adopt the Alexandrian and Roman Canon. But a binding, official declaration never followed; the passiveness and thoughtlessness with which it changed, or upturned its position in so important a question, is extraordinarily characteristic of the modern Græco-Slavic Church. The question is not even yet decided, and there are distinguished Russian theologians, who regard the books of the Hebrew Canon as being alone strictly canonical. They are, however, growing ever fewer.399399See Gass, Symbolik der griechischen Kirche, p. 97 ff.; Strack, Kanon des A. T. in Prot. R.-E., Vol. VII. 2, p. 412 ff. The reader is referred to this article and to Introductions to the O. T. for details. Kattenbusch, Confessionskunde I., p. 292. In the Western Church a state of complete uncertainty still prevailed in the fourth century as to the extent of the O. T. But the Latin Bible, complete copies of which may not have been very common, was a translation of the LXX. This fact was more potent than the historical views which found their way into the West from the East, in a disjointed form, and for whose triumph Jerome had laboured. Augustine, who was ignorant of Biblical criticism, held to the current Latin collection (see, e.g., his list in De doct. christ. II., 8), and at the Synods of Hippo, A.D. 393 (can. 36), and Carthage, A.D. 397 (can. 47), the Alexandrian Canon was adopted. The decision that the Roman Church was to be asked for a confirmation of this conclusion does not seem to have been carried out. From that date the Hebrew Canon was departed from in the West, though the view of Athanasius, conveyed to it by Rufinus, and the decision of Jerome, exerted a quiet influence, and even apart from this 195some uncertainty—e.g., in the case of 4 Esra, the Pastor of Hermas, etc.,—still remained.400400Gregory I. (Moral XIX. 13) thought it necessary to excuse himself for arguing from Maccabees. Cassiodorus seems to have taken a very important part in finally shaping the Latin Bible. But we cannot by any means describe the attitude of the West as uncritical. It only avoided the inconsistency into which scholars had fallen in extolling the LXX. as a divinely composed and authentic work, while they ranked the Hebrew Bible above it.
As regards the N. T., the Alexandrian Church accepted the Western collection in the time of Origen, and in the course of the third century most of the others, though not yet all,401401Thus Syrian Churches still used Tatian’s Diatessaron in the fourth century; and in a few circles among them there were retained in the Canon, the apocryphal correspondence of the Corinthians and Paul, the two Epp. of Clement, nay, even the Ep. of Clement de virginitate. On the other hand, some books were wanting. Not a few apocryphal writings held an undefined rank in the Syrian Patriarchate. In a word, the old Roman Canon, expanded in the course of the third century in Alexandria, did not get the length of being acknowledged in vast territories of the East proper. In spite of the association of the Apostolic Epistles with the Gospels, the higher rank peculiar to the latter was not done away with as late as the fourth century. Alexander of Alexandria (in Theodoret H. E. I. 4) describes the contents of Holy Scripture briefly as ‘Law, Prophets, and Gospels.’ seem to have followed its example. In so far as any reflection was given to their historical characteristics, the Scriptures were regarded as Apostolic-catholic, and were acknowledged to contain the real sources of evidence for Christian doctrine. But the principle of apostolicity could not be strictly carried out. In many national Churches apostolic writings were known and revered which were not found in the Western collection, and conversely, it was not always possible to perceive the Apostolic origin and Catholic recognition of a received book. Origen already therefore adopted the idea, consonant to the spirit of antiquity, that the collection embraced those books about whose title a general agreement had prevailed from the earliest times. Canonicity was decided by unanimous testimony. But even this principle did not meet the whole case; Origen himself violated it in forming the group of seven Catholic Epistles. Yet it became the established rule, and put an end to any consideration of the question based on criticism of the facts. 196Eusebius, who was a very important authority, and who—if we are to understand the passage so—had been commissioned by the Emperor to prepare standard Bibles, followed the view of Origen; yet in the case of one book, the Apocalypse, he expressed his dislike in a way that ran counter to the principle of the Canon. The three, or four, categories, in which he required to arrange the books, show that men were struggling with a difficulty not to be solved in this way, which could only be solved by time with its power to hallow all inconsistencies.402402On the efforts of Eusebius to fix the extent of the N. T., see Texte und Untersuch. zur altchristl. Litteratur-Geschichte, Vol. II. 1, 2, p. 5 ff. If we collected statistically all the Eastern information we possess concerning the extent of the N. T. from the date of Eusebius up to the destruction of Constantinople—direct and indirect statements by Church Fathers, Synodal decisions, Bible manuscripts and indices from the Churches of various provinces, and especially Syria—we would be forced to the conclusion that complete confusion and uncertainty prevailed.403403Almost everything which was esteemed in quite different circumstances in the earliest period, is to be again found somewhere or other in the Byzantine age. Most instructive is the history of Clement’s Epistles and Hermas. Conversely, the old doubts also remain and even new ones emerge (Philemon, see Jerome in his preface to the Epistle). But this view would be erroneous. We have to multiply by hundreds the lists which enumerate 26 (27) books, i.e., the Acknowledged and the Disputed melioris notæ of Eusebius.—Athanasius’ Festival Epistle, A.D. 367, was of paramount importance in settling the complete equality of these two classes in the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Constantinople and in the West.—On the other hand, apart from the Syrian Churches,404404The N. T. had a peculiar history in the Syrian Churches, which has not yet been written; see Nestle, ‘Syrische Bibelübersetzungen’ in the Prot. R.-E. Vol. XV.; Bäthgen’s work on the Syrus Cureton. 1885, and my ‘das N. T. um das Jahr 200’ ( 1888). It is more than questionable whether Theodore of Mopsuestia did any independent criticism on the extent of the N. T. He, probably, simply adhered to the Canon of his Church, which then of the Catholic Epistles only admitted 1 Peter and 1 John, and rejected the Apocalypse; see Kihn, l. c., 65 ff. and the Canon of Chrysostom. While the whole Church was substantially agreed about the extent of the N. T., from the end of the fourth century, wide districts in the Patriarchate of Antioch retained their separate traditions. Only we must not forget that the vast majority even of these had accepted the Roman Canon of undisputed books in the second half of the third century. But the agreement went no further; for from the fourth century they would take no more instruction from Alexandria. the lists which diverge 197from the above owe their existence either to a badly applied scholarship, or to individual reminiscences, in rare cases to a divergent usage on the part of provincial Churches. From the end of the fourth century real unanimity prevailed, in the main, as to the contents of the N. T. and the authorship of the separate books, in Constantinople, Asia Minor, Alexandria, and the West. Apart from doubts of long standing, yet ineffectual and isolated, about the Catholic Epistles (and Philemon?), the one exception was John’s Revelation, for which Eusebius’ verdict was momentous.405405For the rest, Weiss has rightly shown (Einleitung in das N. T., p. 98) that the extent to which the Apocalypse was rejected, has been somewhat exaggerated. Extremely noteworthy is the view of Didymus on 2 Peter (Enarrat. in epp. cathol.): “Non est ignorandum præsentem epistolam esse falsatam, quæ licet publicetur non tamen in canone est.” But even in this case attempts to come to a decision were given up: the book was shelved, and reemerged, from the circles in which it had maintained its ground, without exciting any controversy worth mentioning. The disquieting distinction between Acknowledged and Disputed books, abolished by Athanasius, was but very seldom of any consequence in practice; but scholars still recalled it here and there. When the collection was limited to 26 (27) books, the reading of others in the Church was, from the end of the fourth century, more strictly prohibited. But even at the beginning of the fifth, men in a position to know, like Jerome and Sozomen, can tell us that the prohibition was here and there unknown or disregarded. Some primitive Christian writings were thus in use in the Churches down to the fifth century and later; but the Monophysite Churches preserved, as a monkish protest against the spiritualism of Origen, Jewish Apocalypses revised by Christians and belonging to the earliest period, and the barbarism into which they fell spread a protective covering over these writings.406406In the Byzantine Church also Apocalypses continued to be read, and new ones were constantly being produced.
The details are obscure of the way in which the Western 198Church obtained the Epistle of James, second Peter, and third John. The Epistle to the Hebrews, not unknown to it from the first, it received in the fourth century as a Pauline composition, from the East, through the famous intermediaries. Those same men did away with all uncertainty at the close of the fourth century on the ground of the decisions given by Eusebius and Athanasius. The 27 books, i.e., the Canon of Athanasius, were alone recognised at the Synods of Hippo and Carthage (397), and this result was confirmed by Augustine’s authority (see, e.g., De doctr. christ. II. 8) without any general declaration having been made.407407See also under this head the verdict, freer because dependent on Theodore, which Junilius passed on the Catholic Epistles. Critical investigations have not yet arrived at a final result regarding the Decretum Gelasii. Augustine himself has not failed, besides, to notice the doubts that existed in his time; see Retractat. II. 4, 2. In his De pecc. mer. I. 27, he still leaves the Ep. to the Hebrews unassigned. In De doctr. christ. II. 8, he writes: “In canonicis autem scripturis ecclesiarum catholicarum quam plurimum auctoritatem sequatur, inter quas sane illæ sint, quæ apostolicas sedes habere et epistolas accipere meruerunt.” Accordingly, this principle still holds. “Tenebit igitur hunc modum in scripturis canonicis, ut eas quæ ab omnibus accipiuntur ecclesiis catholicis, præponat eis quas quædam non accipiunt; in iis vero quæ non accipiuntur ab omnibus, præponat eas, quas plures gravioresque accipiunt eis, quas pauciores minorisque auctoritatis ecclesiæ tenent. Si autem alias invenerit a pluribus, alias a gravioribus haberi, quamquam hoc facile inveniri non possit, æqualis tamen auctoritatis eas habendas puto.” Since the older copies of the Bible continued to be transcribed, uniformity had not been secured. It is true we no longer possess western Bibles whose contents are limited to the earliest Roman Canon—Gospels, Acts, 13 Pauline Ep., 1 and 2 John, 1 Peter, Jude, Revelation—but we have them with an Ep. to the Laodiceans, the Pastor (though in the O. T.), and even with the apocryphal correspondence of the Corinthians and Paul. But the sharper the line drawn between the collection and all other writings, the more suspicious must those have appeared whose title could lead, or had once admittedly led, to a claim for recognition as Catholic and Apostolic. The category of “apocryphal” in which they had formerly been placed, solely in order to mark the alleged or real absence of general testimony in their favour, now obtained more and more an additional meaning; they were of unknown origin, or ‘fabricated’, and this was often supplemented by the charge of being ‘heretical’. But however great the gulf between the canonical and uncanonical books, it is impossible to conceal 199the fact that the Church never published a general decision, excluding all doubt, on the extent of the Canon in ancient times. The Canon of Augustine was adopted by Pope Innocent I. (Ep. 6, ch. 7, ad Exsuperium).
With the complete elaboration of the conception of canonical books, every other description applied to them gave way to the idea of their divinity.408408The conception that the canonical books were solemnly set apart, occurs first in Athanasius; the Alexandrians, however, including Origen, had the idea and even the word before him (Orig. Prolog. in Cantic.). Athanasius writes in his Festival Ep. τὰ κανονιζόμενα καὶ παραδοθέντα πιστευθέντα τε θεῖα εἶναι βιβλία. What could any predicate signify compared with the conviction that they had been composed by the Holy Ghost himself? Therefore the categories of canonical and inspired writings coincided, nay, inspiration in its highest sense was limited to the canonical books. The belief in inspiration was necessarily attended by the duty of pneumatic or allegorical exegesis. This sacred art was then practised by all, who were able thus to disregard the results of any other kind of exposition. The problems which pneumatic exegesis, praised even by cultured Hellenists,409409The Neoplatonic opponents of the Church were not quite honest, they were rather talking διαλεκτικῶς, when they objected to the allegorical method of interpreting Holy Scripture. They treated their own sacred writings in exactly the same way. had to solve, were mainly the following. It had (1) to demonstrate the agreement between the two Testaments, in other words; to christianise the O. T. completely, to discover prophecy everywhere, to get rid of the literal meaning where it was obnoxious, and to repel Jewish claims;410410Sozomen says (H. E. V.22) that the Jews were more readily seduced to heathenism, because they only interpreted Holy Scripture πρὸς ῥητόν, and not πρὸς θεωρίαν. (2) to harmonise the statements of Holy Scripture with the prevailing dogmatics; (3) to furnish every text with a profound meaning, one valuable for the time. Exegesis became a kind of black art, and Augustine was not the only man who was delivered from Manichæan, by Biblical, Alchemy.
But while these tasks were generally fixed, a sure and unvarying method was still
wanting.411411Thus Arians and Orthodox sometimes appealed to the same texts. But the impossibility
of drawing up a rule deciding how far the letter of Scripture was authoritative, caused more anxiety. Had God a human form,
eyes, or voice; was Paradise
situated on the earth; did the dead rise with all their bodily members, even with
their hair, etc.?—to all these and a hundred similar questions there was no sure
answer, and consequently disputes arose between adherents of one and the same confession.
All had to allegorise, and, in turn, all had to take certain texts literally. But
what a difference existed between an Epiphanius and a Gregory of Nyssa, and how
many shades of belief there were between the crude anthropomorphists and the spiritualists!
The latter, as a rule, had reason to dread the arguments, and frequently the fists,
of the former; they could not but be anxious about their own orthodoxy, for the
old regula was on the side of their opponents, and the most absurd opinion had the
prejudice that it was the most pious in its favour. Ultimately, in the course of
the fifth century, a sort of common sense established itself, which could be taken
as forming, with regard to the anthropomorphists, a middle line between the exegetic
methods of Chrysostom and Cyril of Alexandria, and which had been anticipated by
a few Fathers of the fourth century. Yet not many concessions were made to the anthropomorphists.
Even Antiochians like Theodore had become suspected of an anthropomorphism incompatible
with the honour of God (see Johannes Philoponus, De creat. mundi, I. 22. in Gallandi
XII., p. 496). He who did not rise from the turpitudo litteræ ad decorem intelligentiæ
spiritalis (Jerome ad Amos. 2) might come under suspicion of heresy. But, on the
other hand, the Cappadocians themselves opposed those who allegorised “too much”,
and thus approximated too closely to heathen philosophers; and after a part of Origen’s
expositions had passed into the traditional possessions of the Church, the rest
was declared heretical. Even before this Epiphanius had written (H. 61, ch. 6):
Πάντα τὰ θεῖα ῥήματα οὐκ
ἀλληγορίας δεῖται, ἀλλὰ ὡς ἔχει,
ἔχει, θεωρίας δὲ δεῖται καὶ
Origen’s thorough-going principle that “God can say and do nothing, which is not
good and just”, by which he criticised and occasionally set aside the letter of
Scripture, was too bold for the Epigoni with their faith in authority. God had done
what Scripture said of him, and what God did was good. This principle not only ruined
all lucid science, but also deprived the Church of the intrinsic completeness of
her creed. Yet we must not minimise the result of the compromise made in the fourth
and fifth centuries, between the literal, allegorical, and typical methods of interpreting
Scripture; for it has held its ground up to the present day in a way really identical
in all Churches, and it seems to possess no small power to convince. Even the principles of
200Origen were not strictly retained.412412For Origen’s principles see Vol. II., p. 346. On the other hand, the historical antiquarian interest, which he had
awakened, in Holy Scripture, continued to exert its influence. It not only lasted
up to the fifth century,413413Origen, Eusebius, and Jerome are links in a chain of scholarly tradition and work.
The succession, however, marked a descent not only in point of time. The attitude
of Jerome and the conflicts in which he was involved show at the same time that
the age no longer tolerated independent scholarship in historical criticism. Therefore
it ceased after Jerome; such work was confined to registering antiquarian notices,
even doubtful ones, which were accepted without reflection, since, having entered
into the stock of tradition, they no longer roused criticism. but it also exerted a critical and restrictive
201influence on pneumatic exegesis414414Besides, when driven by necessity, i.e., when brought face to face with inconvenient
passages of Scripture, a way was found out of the difficulty in the demand that
the historical occasion of the text must be carefully weighed. Thus Athanasius writes
(Orat. c. Arian. I. 54), when setting himself to refute the Scriptural proofs of
the Arians, and finding that he is in considerable straits:
ὡς ἐπὶ πάσης θείας γραφῆς προσήκει ποιεῖν καὶ ἀναγκαῖόν ἐστιν, οὕτω καὶ
ἐνταῦθα, καθ᾽ ὃν εἶπεν ὁ ἀπόστολος καιρὸν καὶ τὸ πρόσωπον καὶ τὸ πρᾶγμα, διόπερ
ἔγραψε, πιστῶς ἐκλαμβάνειν, ἵνα μὴ παρὰ ταῦτα ἢ καὶ παρ᾽ ἕτερόν τι τούτων ἀγνοῶν
ὃ ἀναγιγνώσκων ἔξω τῆς ἀληθινῆς διανοίας γένηται.
The same contention was often upheld in earlier times by Tertullian when driven
into a corner by the exegesis of the Marcionites (see De præscr. adv. Marc. II.-V.).
The exegetical “principle” of the Fathers gradually became the complexus oppositorum;
i.e., when the literal meaning was disturbing, then it was, in the words of Gregory
of Nazianzus, (Orat. XXXI. 3): ἔνδυμα τῆς ἀσεβείας
ἐστὶν ἡ ϕιλία τοῦ γράμματος:
or men spoke of the turpitudo litterræ, the Jewish understanding of Scripture, the
necessity of considering historical circumstances or the like. But if “advanced”
theologians produced suspected allegorical explanations, then the cry was raised
ὡς ἔχει, ἔχει, Holy Scripture is not to be understood according to Plato, etc. This was the case among the scholars of Antioch. Diodorus and Theodore
tried, following the precedent set by Lucian and Dorotheus, to form an inner connection
between the pneumatic and the grammatico-historical exegesis. It cannot be held that
this gave rise to a more rational method, or one more tenable from the critical
standpoint. Yet in detail they followed sound principles. These again had been already
pared down by Chrysostom and Theodoret in favour of the dominant method, but they
lasted in the Nestorian Church and its schools as long as science existed there
at all, and their influence extended into the West through Junilius.415415 The distinction between Alexandrian—Origenistic—and Antiochene exegesis does not
consist in the representatives of the latter having rejected wholesale the spiritual
meaning. They rather recognised it, but they tried to determine it typically from
the literal meaning. While the Alexandrians avowedly set aside the literal meaning
in many passages, and attached the pneumatic sense to texts by some sort of device,
the Antiochenes started from the literal meaning, seeking to discover it by all
the means of a sound exegesis, and then showed that the narrative concerned was
a σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων, a type created by God, which had been fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
They set up definite rules for the discovery of the literal meaning as well as for
that of the typical and allegorical sense (θεωρία, not
ἀλληγορία), which lay not
in the words, but the realities, persons, and events designated by the words. The
rules are strikingly like those of the Federal theologians—Cocceius—and the school
of Hofmann; the method of the author of the Hebrews furnished their model. This
procedure had various results. First, the method of Philo and Origen followed by the Alexandrians was strenuously opposed
both in independent treatises, and in connection with exegesis. Secondly, an effort
was made to give the literal meaning in all cases its due; thus Diodorus says in
the Catena of Nicephorus (Leipz. 1772, I. p. 524): τοῦ ἀλληγορικοῦ
πλεῖστον ὅσον προτιμῶμεν. Thirdly, a real covenant was accordingly recognised between
God and the Jewish people, and that nation was accorded its significant place in
the history of salvation: the “history of salvation” which thus originated differed
essentially from that of Irenæus (see Vol. II., p. 305). Fourthly and finally, the
number of directly Messianic passages in the O. T. became extraordinarily limited;
while, according to pneumatic exegesis, everything in the O. T. was in a sense directly
Messianic, i.e., Christian, the Antiochenes only retained a few such passages. The
horizon of O. T. authors was more correctly defined. Theodore decidedly disputed
the presence of anything in the O. T. about the Son of God or the Trinity. Further,
the Antiochenes distinguished grades of inspiration, namely, the spirit of prophecy,
and that of wisdom, and they placed the former far above the latter. Although the
advance of this exegesis on the Alexandrian is obvious, yet it is seriously defective
in completeness and consistency in method. First, the Antiochenes, in spite of their
polemic against the older expositors—Hippolytus, Origen, Eusebius, Apollinaris,
Didymus, and Jerome—could not altogether divest themselves of the old principle
of the authoritative interpretation of Scripture; “they regarded the old traditional
doctrine, the exposition given by the Fathers, and the definitions of Synods, as
the standard and touch-stone of agreement with the creed of the Church, and they
made of this rule what use they pleased”; from this source their attitude became
somewhat uncertain. Secondly, they only rarely succeeded in criticising the literal
meaning historically; where they did, they employed rationalistic interpretations,
and accordingly their procedure approximated to Origen’s. speculative exegesis,
yet without following any fixed principle. Thirdly, their typological exegesis also
often bordered very closely on the allegorical, and since they assumed a double
sense in Scripture, they did not remove, but only disguised, the fundamental error
of current exegesis. Fourthly, they could not make clear the difference between
the O. T. and the N. T., because, in spite of their assumption of different degrees
of inspiration, they placed the O. T. prophets on a level with the Apostles; see
Theodore, Comment. on Neh. I. in Migne, T. LXVI., p. 402:
τῆς αὐτῆς τοῦ ἁγίου
πνεύματος χάριτος οἵ τε πάλαι μετεῖχον καὶ οἱ τῷ τῆς καινῆς διαθήκης ὑπηρετούμενος
μυστηρίῳ. Finally, by assuming directly Messianic passages in the O. T. they gave up their
own position, and placed themselves at the mercy of their opponents.
See later for the history of the school of Antioch, especially its relation to Aristotle. Diestel, Gesch. des A. T. in der christl. Kirche, p. 126 ff. Fritzsche, de Theod. Mops. vita et scriptis, Halae, 1836. Above all, the works of Kihn, Die Bedeutung der Antioch. Schule a. d. exeget. Gebiete (1866), and Theodor von Mopsuestia und Junilius als Exegeten (1880), where the older literature is given. Swete, Theodori ep. Mops. in epp. Pauli Comment. Cambridge, 1880, 1881.
The West received through Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, and Rufinus, the erudite pneumatic method of the Greeks, as practised especially by the Cappadocians. Before this, and for a few decades afterwards, the exegesis of the West was mainly 203characterised by absence of system; along with reverence for the letter we find all sorts of allegorical explanations, and in turn a predilection for a dramatic close to earthly history. Jerome was far from having fixed exegetic principles, since he allegorised against his better knowledge wherever the orthodox confession required it. In his time Tychonius, a Donatist, drew up for the interpretation of Holy Scripture seven rules which were to remove all difficulties (Augustine, De doctr. christ. III. 30 sq.).416416These rules are of material importance (for theology). The first treats of the Lord and his body: i.e., we must and may apply the truth concerning the Lord to the Church, and vice versa, since they form one person; only in this way do we frequently get a correct sense. The second deals with the bi-partite body of the Lord: we must carefully consider whether the true or the empirical Church is meant. The third takes up the promises and the law, i.e., the spirit and letter; the fourth treats of genus and species: we must observe the extent to which texts apply; the fifth, of the dates: we must harmonise contradictory dates by a fixed method, and understand certain stereotyped numbers as symbolical. The sixth discusses repetition: i.e., we have frequently to refrain from assuming a chronological order, where such an order appears to exist, and the seventh deals with the devil and his body, i.e., the devil and the godless, many things referring to the latter which are said of the devil and vice versa—see the first rule. These were adopted by Augustine in his work ‘On Christian Science’, which, subject as it is to the errors of the age, is a glorious memorial of the great Bishop’s love of truth, and evangelical feeling. Of evangelical feeling, in so far as Augustine, in opposition to all biblicism, declared the study of Holy Scripture to be merely the path towards love; he who possessed love, no longer needed the Scripture, he lived with Christ and God; accordingly he had ceased to require separate ‘saving truths’, for he lived in truth and love.417417The thought wavers between that of Origen, who also elevates himself above the historical Christ, and the genuinely evangelical idea that the Christian must stop short at “means of salvation”; see De doctr. I. 34: “Nulla res in via (ad deum) tenere nos debet, quando nec ipse dominus, in quantum via nostra esse dignatus est, tenere nos voluerit, sed transire; ne rebus temporalibus, quamvis ab illo pro salute nostra susceptis et gestis, hæreamus infirmiter, sed per eas potius curramus alacriter etc.” In ch. 35 love is held up as the exclusive goal: ch. 36 teaches that no one has understood Scripture who has not been led by it to love God and his neighbour; but if he has been led to this love, then he loses nothing by failing to hit on the correct sense of detached texts: in that case he is deceived, but without guilt: “Quisquis in scripturis (I. 37) aliud sentit quam ille qui scripsit, illis non mentientibus fallitur; sed tamen, ut dicere cœperam, si ea sententia fallitur, qua ædificet caritatem, quæ finis præcepti est, ita fallitur ac si quisquam errore deserens viam, eo tamen per agrum pergat, quo etiam via illa perducit.” Augustine says indeed (l. c.): “titubabit fides, si divinarum scripturarum vacillat auctoritas,” but, on the other hand (I. 39): “Homo, fide, spe et caritate subnixus eaque inconcusse retinens, non indiget scipturis nisi ad alios instruendos. Itaque multi per hæc tria etiam in solitudine sine codicibus vivunt . . . Quibus tamen quasi machinis tanta fidei, spei et caritatis in eis surrexit instructio, ut perfectum aliquid tenentes, ea quæ sunt ex parte non quærant; perfectum sane, quantum in hac vita potest.” This forcible way of assigning a practical purpose to the reading of Scripture and the understanding at the root of it, viz., that it was the whole that was of importance, is the opposite of the conception that Scripture embraces innumerable mysteries; but an affinity exists far down between them, inasmuch as Augustine seems to reserve to the monks the state in which Scripture is not required, and he borders on the belief of Origen (I. 34) that the Christ of history belongs to the past for him who lives in love. The whole conception is first found, besides, in the description by the Valentinian school of the perfect Gnostic; see Excerpta ex Theodoto, ch. 27: ποῦ δὲ ἔτι γραφῆς καὶ μαθήσεως κατόρθωμα τῇ ψυχῇ ἐκείνῃ τῇ καθαρᾷ γενομένῃ, ὅπου καὶ ἀξιοῦται πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον Θεὸν ὁρᾶν; besides Augustine expressly argued against those who supposed they could dispense with Scripture from the start, and appealed to an inner revelation (see the Præfat. to De doctr. christ.). He puts it beyond doubt that he who uses Scripture must bow to its authority even where he does not understand it.204
But this thought of the book does not give its prevailing colour; this is furnished, on the contrary, by the other ideas that Scripture is the only way by which to come to God and Christ, that it is to be interpreted by the rule of faith, that obscure passages are to be explained by clear ones, and that the literal meaning, where offensive, must yield to the deeper sense. The numerous hermeneutic rules set up by Augustine,418418See the second and especially the third book of the work quoted. The second contains a short and precise review of all branches of knowledge which are collectively perceived to spring from heathenism, and it states which may and must be used by the Christian, and to what extent. The third book contains the hermeneutics proper. which are so many expedients and very like Origen’s methodic principles, determined the nature of exegesis in later periods in the West. In connection with whatever else was derived from the East, the view that there was a triple and fourfold meaning in Scripture became a fixed doctrine.419419 See Eucherius of Lyons, liber formularum spiritalis intelligentiæ ad Veranium filium, in Migne, Ser. lat. T. 50, p. 727. In later times the mnemonic formula was composed: Littera gesta docet, quid credas allegoria, Moralis quid agas, quo tendas anagogia. The little book by Junilius which 205contained the Antiochene system of hermeneutics as handed down at Nisibis, although much read, made few changes. But it was exceedingly significant that Augustine, in spite of his view that it was only a means, had placed the Bible on such a pinnacle that all theologians who afterwards took their stand upon it alone as against tradition, were able to appeal to him. As a matter of fact Scripture held quite a different place in the Church life of the West from that in the East: it came more into the foreground. That also is to be explained, above all, by the influence of Augustine,420420The work “On Christian Science” points to Scripture as its sole object, and does not discuss tradition at all. However, the latter receives its due inasmuch as Augustine regards the propositions of the rule of faith—based on the Symbol—as the matters, which constituted the essential contents of Scripture. In this definition we find. the reason why dogmatics never ceased to waver between Scripture and the rule of faith. Yet we know that Augustine was by no means the first to hold this view. Even the writer of the Muratorian fragment and Irenæus knew no better. and the deficiency of the West in speculative ability.421421Origen taught that Christian science was the science of Scripture; Augustine stands upon his shoulders. But afterwards, in the East, the interest in dogmatic formulas became uppermost, while in the West, the Bible remained pre-eminently the direct source of knowledge of the faith.
As the Church had never published a general decree, exclusive of all doubt, on the extent of Scripture, it had also failed to publish one concerning its characteristics. Freedom from error was generally deduced from inspiration, and it was, as a rule, referred to the very words. But on the other hand, an attempt was made here and there to leave room for the individuality and historical limitation of the authors; minor inconsistencies were not wholly denied (see even Aug., De consensu evang.); and exegesis was often practised as if the strict dogma of inspiration did not exist.422422Even the men of Antioch, by whom, Chrysostom not excepted, human elements were aknowledged to exist in the Bible, maintained the inspiration of other passages quoad litteram, just like Origen and the Cappadocians. Augustine accepted this freedom from error in its strictest sense; see Ep. 82. 3 (ad Hieron.): “Ego fateor caritati tuæ, solis eis scriptuaram libris, qui iam canonici appellantur, didici hunc timorem honoremque deferre, ut nullum eorum auctorem scribendo aliquid errasse firmissime credam. Ac si aliquid in eis offendero litteris, quod videatur contrarium veritati, nihil aliud quam vel mendosum esse codicem, vel interpretem non assecutum esse quod dictum est, vel me minime intellexisse non ambigam.” In his work De consensu evang., which is particularly instructive as regards his whole attitude to Holy Writ, he declares that the Apostles’ writings make up sufficiently for the absence of any by our Lord; for the Apostles were the Lord’s hands, and had written what he commanded. It is extremely surprising that this being the view taken of the Bible—and even the translation of the LXX. was held to be inspired—yet no one ever ex professo reflected on how the Canon was formed. No miracle was assumed. Even Augustine quite naively stated, sancti et docti homines had formed the N. T. (c. Faustum XXII. 79). Here the authority of the Church comes in. A clear idea of the sufficiency 206of Scripture was certainly not reached; it was maintained in general phrases, and was violated in generalities and in details.423423The early Catholic Fathers had already maintained the sufficiency of Holy Scripture, as well as the necessity of proving everything out of it; see for the latter point Orig. in Jerem., Hom. I. c. 7 (Lomm. XV. p. 115): Μάρτυρας δεῖ λαβεῖν τὰς γραφάς. Ἀμάρτυροι γὰρ αἱ ἐπιβολαὶ ἡμῶν καὶ αἱ ἐξηγήσεις ἄπιστοί εἰσιν. Cyril of Jerusalem has expressed himself similarly (Cat. 4, 17: Δεῖ γὰρ περὶ τῶν θείων καὶ αγίων τῆς πίστεως μυστηρίων μηδὲ τὸ τυχὸν ἄνευ τῶν θείων παραδίδοσθαι γραφῶν· καὶ μὴ ἁπλῶς πιθανότησι καὶ λόγων κατασκευαῖς παραφέρεσθαι. Μηδὲ ἐμοὶ τῷ ταῦτα σοι λέγοντι, ἁπλῶς πιστεύσῃς· ἐὰν τὴν ἀπόδειξιν τῶν καταγγελλομένων ἀπὸ τῶν θείων μὴ λάβῃς γραφῶν· Ἡ σωτηρία γὰρ αὕτη τῆς πίστεως ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐξ εὑρεσιλογίας, ἀλλὰ ἐξ ἀποδείξεως τῶν θείων ἐστὶ γραφῶν); cf. Athanasius (Orat. adv. gentes init.: Αὐτάρκεις μέν εἰσιν αἱ ἅγιαι καὶ θεόπνευστοι γραφαὶ πρὸς τὴν τῆς ἀληθείας ἀπαγγελίαν). So also the Antiochenes, moreover Augustine De doctr. II. 9: “In iis quæ aperte in scriptura posita sunt, inveniuntur illa omnia, quæ continent fidem moresque vivendi, spem scilicet et caritatem.” Vincent., Commonit. 2. Finally, as regards the relation of the two Testaments to each other, three views existed side by side. The Old Testament was a Christian book as well as the New: it was throughout the record of prophecy: it contained the true creed under certain limitations and imperfections, and led and still leads educationally to Christ. These points of view were adopted alternately as the occasion required. It was recognised that the Jewish nation had possessed a covenant with God, yet the consequences of this were far from being admitted. The same method of employing the Bible was still upheld in apologetic arguments as was followed by the Apologists of the second century.424424All the more did the use made of the O. T. for the constitution of the Church differ from the apologetic view. Very many of the regulations of the O. T. ceremonial law came once more to be highly valued by the Church, not as spiritually understood, but as directly applied to ecclesiastical institutions of every sort. For the rest, even Cyril of Alexandria still brought “heathen prophecy” to bear in this matter, while in other respects—speaking generally—the assumption of heathen ‘prophets’ and inspired philosophers excited suspicion.
|« Prev||Holy Scripture.||Next »|