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645On the Jewish Meats.53025302    Entitled “A Letter of Novatian, the Roman Presbyter.”


Chapter I.  Argument.—Novatian, a Roman Presbyter, During His Retirement at the Time of the Decian Persecution, Being Urged by Various Letters from His Brethren, Had Written Two Earlier Epistles Against the Jews on the Subjects of Circumcision and the Sabbath, and Now Writes the Present One on the Jewish Meats.

Although, most holy brethren, the day in which I receive your letters and writings is most ardently longed for by me, and to be reckoned among the chief and happiest—for what else is there now to make me more joyous?53035303    “Liberiorem,” translated, according to a plausible emendation, as “hilariorem.”—still I think that the day is to be deemed not less notable, and among special days, wherein I return to you similar communications, with the affection of love that I owe you, and write you letters with a corresponding interest. For nothing, most holy brethren, holds me bound with such bonds, nothing stirs and arouses me with such a stimulus of care and anxiety, as the fear lest you should think that any disadvantage is suffered by you by reason of my absence; and this I strive to remedy, in labouring to show myself present with you by frequent letters. Although, therefore, the duty which I owe, and the charge I have undertaken, and the very ministerial office imposed upon me, require of me this necessity of writing letters, yet you still further enhance it, by stirring me up to write through means of your continual communications. And inclined although I am to those periodical expressions of love, you urge me the more by showing that you stand fast continually in the Gospel: whence it results, that by my letters I am not so much instructing you who are already informed, as inciting you who are already prepared. For you, who not only hold the Gospel pure and purged from all stain of perverse doctrine, but also energetically teach the same, seek not man for a master, since you show yourselves by these very things to be teachers. Therefore as you run, I exhort you; and as you watch, I stir you up; and as you contend against “the spiritual things of wickedness,”53045304    Eph. vi. 12. I address you; and as you press “in your course to the prize of your calling in Christ,”53055305    Phil. iii. 14. I urge you on,—that, treading under foot and rejecting as well the sacrilegious calumnies of heretics as also the idle fables of Jews, you may hold the sole word53065306    Traditionem. and teaching of Christ, so as worthily to claim for yourselves the authority of His name. But how perverse are the Jews, and remote from the understanding of their law, I have fully shown, as I believe, in two former letters,53075307    These letters are not extant, but they are mentioned by Jerome, De vir. Illustr., ch. lxx. wherein it was absolutely proved that they are ignorant of what is the true circumcision, and what the true Sabbath; and their ever increasing blindness is confuted in this present epistle, wherein I have briefly discoursed concerning their meats, because that in them they consider that they only are holy, and that all others are defiled.53085308    [1 Cor. vi. 13. A passage probably connected with the Jewish superstition. But see the Peshito-Syriac version on Mark vii. 19. Compare Murdock’s version ad loc., ed. 1855.]

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