Sunday, August 18, 2019

093: A Byzantine Fragment of Acts from the 500s in Egypt

            Today, let’s take a close look at part of 093 – a small fragment that contains text from Acts 24:22-26, and text from First Peter 2:22-3:7.  (I will focus here especially on the text from Acts.  093 is a palimpsest with an interesting history:  it was among the approximately 193,000 fragments that had been stored in the Genizah of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo over the course of centuries.  (The story of how researchers Charles Taylor and Solomon Schechter discovered this immense collection of materials and, in 1896-1897, arranged for its transportation to Cambridge University for continued study, can be found online.) 
            Charles Taylor published a transcription of the text from Acts in 093 in 1900, along with a short summary of the text from First Peter, and some other texts.  He also noted that the upper writing on the palimpsest consisted of Hebrew extracts from the Bereshith Rabbah (ch. 45, 47,and 98). The lower writing contains most of Acts 24:22-26 on one page in two columns of 24 lines each.  The text on the verso is mostly illegible but Taylor made out words from the tops of the two columns:  from Acts 24:26, οτι χρηματα / δοθησεται, and from Acts 24:27, ελαβεν διαδο / χον ο Φηλιξ  / Πορκιον Φη / στον.  (This manuscript is identified in the catalog of Joseph van Haelst as item 487; in the Taylor-Schechter Collection it is in Collection 12, 189 and 208.  For a while, 093 was identified with the siglum ﬥ.)
Green lines:  093 disagrees with Alex.
Red lines:  093 disagrees with Byz.
            The smattering of text on the verso does not allow much insight regarding the type of text of Acts that 093 contains, inasmuch as the Alexandrian Text and the Byzantine Text are in exact agreement in those parts of Acts 24:26 and 24:27.  When we turn to the much more extensive text on the recto, however, there can be no doubt:  093’s text of Acts is Byzantine:  except for its inclusion of the contracted sacred name Ιν after Χν in verse 24, and the reading λαβων instead of μεταλαβὼν in verse 25, the text from Acts in 093 agrees perfectly with the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform.  (The Textus Receptus differs from RP2005 in this passage in two places; the TR includes αυτου after γυναικι in 24:24, and reads δε between αμα and και in 24:26.)
            Meanwhile, 093 disagrees with the Nestle-Aland compilation at the following seven places:
● 1.  In verse 22, there is a word-order variant:  ανεβαλετο αυτους follows Φηλιξ, instead of the Alexandrian reading in which ανεβαλετο δε αυτους precedes ὁ Φηλιξ.
● 2.  In verse 22, after οδου, 093 reads ειπων, not ειπας.
● 3.  In verse 23, before τω, 093 reads τε. 
● 4.  In verse 23, after τηρεισθαι, 093 reads τον Παυλον instead of αυτον.
● 5.  In verse 23, before αυτω, 093 reads η προσέρχεσθαι.
● 6.  In verse 24, before γυναικι, 093 does not read ιδία. 
● 7.  In verse 25, after μέλλοντος, 093 reads εσεσθαι.

            Two points are illustrated by this evidence. 
            First, contrary to the much-repeated claim that the Textus Receptus is a late medieval compilation (as opposed to an essentially early form of the text with a relatively small stratum of late medieval readings), 093 confirms that the Byzantine Text of Acts – at least, Acts 24:22-26 – existed in the 500s, around a thousand years before Erasmus, Stephanus, and Beza made their compilations.
            Second, there is some reason to suspect that apparatuses in some widely used Greek New Testaments cannot be trusted to present evidence in an even-handed way in cases where Byzantine readings receive early support:  
                 Of the seven reading in Acts 24:22-26 that are supported by 093 and the majority of Greek manuscripts, the Nestle-Aland apparatus (in NA27) fails to record four of them (#2, 3, 4, and 6). 
                 In the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (4th ed.) only one variant-unit is covered in the verses that are extant in 093:  the contest between Ιν Χν and just Χν in 24:24.  In this case the theoretical mechanics of the “expansion of piety” have been rejected in favor of strong early support (including support from 093) for the longer reading. 
                 ● In the apparatus of the Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament, only one textual contest in the passage that is extant in 093 is mentioned:  the contest in Acts 24:24 between the inclusion or non-inclusion of ιδια before γυναικι, and the inclusion or non-inclusion of αυτου after γυναικι.  The reading found in 093 is mentioned as a reading supported by C* L P 1424, but 093’s support is not mentioned.  The compilers of the Tyndale House edition of the Greek New Testament apparently never looked at 093.  (A list of consulted witnesses in an appendix of THEGNT does not mention 093, although over a dozen manuscripts younger than 093 are listed.)   
            Third – provisionally accepting the classification of the fragmentary text from First Peter 2:22-3:7 as Alexandrian – it was possible for a Byzantine text of Acts to appear in the same manuscript as an Alexandrian text of First Peter in Cairo, Egypt.  While it cannot be demonstrated that 093 was produced in Egypt, the presence of an Alexandrian text of First Peter in the manuscript favors this possibility, and the presence of 093 among the genizah’s fragments also indicates that the Byzantine Text of Acts in the 500s was used in a broad range of territory. 

            093 is not the only manuscript with texts from the New Testament that was discovered in the Cairo Genizah.   A few palimpsests were discovered to have material from the New Testament in their lower writing, in Palestinian Aramaic; these texts were studied, and published, by the scholarly sisters Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson, with assistance from J. R. Harris – including a palimpsest-fragment with Palestian Aramaic text from John 14:25-15:16.  The Syriac specialist G. H. Gwilliam published the contents of five palimpsest-fragments (assigned to the 700s) in 1893, containing text from chapters 4 and 5 of Numbers, and from Colossians 4:12-18, First Thessalonians 1:1-3 and 4:3-15, Second Timothy 1:10-2:7, and Titus 1:11-2:8.  Michael Sokoloff and Joseph Yahalom brought such investigations up to date in 1979, and expanded upon them, in a detailed essay in Revue d’Histoire des Textes, “Christian palimpsests from the Cairo Geniza.”  (Fragments of manuscripts of the Hexapla from the Cairo Genizah, by the way, can be viewed at the Greek Bible in Byzantine Judaism website.)

            A few other palimpsest-fragments in the Cairo Genizah contain some New Testament passages.  (One fragment contains Syriac text from Second Corinthians 3:2-15; another fragment contains Syriac text from chapters 3 and 4 of First Thessalonians.)  The lower writing on yet another fragment consists of the remains of an early (600s or 700s?) Greek uncial lectionary, now catalogued as lectionary 1276, a.k.a. Taylor-Schechter 16.93, containing excerpts from Matthew 10:2-15 and John 20:11-15.  We may take a closer look at lectionary 1276 in a future post.

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Mary, Martha, and John 11

            Back in 2016, an interesting text-critical thesis was proposed in Harvard Theological Review:   unusual readings in Papyrus 66, considered alongside textual variants in many other manuscripts, indicate that the character of Martha did not originally appear in the Gospel of John; she was inserted by a later writer who understood Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene to be the same person, and who wished to diminish the role of Mary Magdalene.
            Lately this theory has been getting some attention;  in 2018, Candida Moss (of Notre Dame University) concluded an article about it by stating, “for the first time there is a plausible scholarly argument for the idea that Mary Magdalene was written out of the Bible and the history books.”  And in July of 2019, Elizabeth Schrader, the thesis-writer, made an appearance at the Religion for Breakfast video-show, promoting the theory.
            Is Schrader’s main idea plausible, or has she misread the evidence?  She has misread the evidence, mainly by consistently misinterpreting scribal errors as if they have implications that they simply do not have.  This may be concisely demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt by undertaking the challenge that Schrader issued near the end of her Religion for Breakfast interview:  to demonstrate that Martha is not an addition to the Gospel of John, one needs to do the following:
            ● explain the unusual readings in P66.
            ● explain why the names are always changing in John 11:5. 
            ● explain why there’s only one sister in so much early artwork.
            ● explain why there is not similar confusion involving the names of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42.
            ● explain the reading of Codex Alexandrinus in John 11:1, where the name Mary is changed to Martha, and the verse ends by referring to his sister rather than her sister.

Let’s begin.


            The copyist who transcribed the text of P66 was not particularly competent.  Occasionally, he got ahead of himself and over-anticipated the text he was copying, somewhat it the same way that a typist, upon encountering the phrase “The quick brown fox jumped” at the end of a page, might continue to type “over the lazy dogs,” without bothering to turn the page – only to find a different phrase after the page is turned. 
            In John 11:1, the copyist of P66 initially wrote the Greek equivalent of “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and Mary her sister.”  Then, realizing that he had written “Mary” twice,” he went back and corrected the text by erasing the letter iota in the second Μαριας and replacing it with the letter theta, so as to write Μαρθας.  This kind of mistake is not particularly unusual for this copyist; he made at least 15 other mistakes of dittography (writing twice what should be written once) in the text of John.  
            Apart from this careless one-letter mistake, the copyist of P66 initially wrote a normal text of John 11:1, identical to what is found in the Textus Receptus.  In verse 3, we find a reading in which, according to Schrader, “one named woman has been split into two unnamed women.”  After writing the Greek equivalent of “Sent, therefore,” (απεστιλεν ουν) the copyist initially wrote a name – either Μαριας  or Μαρθας – and continued on a little further, to the end of the line he was writing:  προς αυτον λεγουσα, that is, “to Him, saying.”  (Probably he also started the verse with και (and) and then declined to keep the word, but this does not figure into the subject at hand.)  At this point, the copyist of P66 realized that he had over-anticipated the text in his exemplar (perhaps when he finished writing λεγουσα, consulted his exemplar, and saw that it read λεγουσαι), went back, adjusted the endings of the verbs so to as to turn them into plurals (απεστιλαν and λεγουσαι), erased the name (which is why we’re not sure whether it was Μαριας  or Μαρθας , but I suspect it was Μαριας), and in the space where the name had been, wrote αι αδελφαι, that is, “the sisters.” 
            It could be said that one woman has been replaced with a reference to two woman – but to what extent is this saying anything more than that the copyist of P66 began verse 3 by assuming that it was about one woman, and then corrected his mistake?  If the presence of αι αδελφαι was the special property of an interpolated manuscript in the hands of the copyist of P66, then it certainly was well-travelled:  αι αδελφαι is the reading here in John 11:3 in Codex Vaticanus, and in Codex Sinaiticus; αι αδελφαι is the reading in Papyrus 45, and in Papyrus 75.  Likewise Origen, in his Commentary on John, VI:40, in the course of discussing a textual variant in John 1:28, mentions that John says that Bethany was the town of Lazarus, and of Martha and Mary.  If one consults Schrader’s data-tables in which the contents of many manuscripts are compared, it appears that αι αδελφαι is supported in every extant Greek manuscript in the list in which verse 3 appears – except P66, in which the copyist almost immediately fixed his mistake. 
            Schrader seems to consider problematic the inclusion of αυτης (her sister) at the end of John 11:1, arguing that the original text was αυτου.  However, by asserting that αυτου is the original reading, Schrader is arguing for a reading that originated as an expression of a tendency among some copyists (especially in Old Latin texts) to adjust the text in favor of the dominance of men – that is, in Codex A (from the 400s), 841 (from the 1400s), 1009 (from the 1200s), 1071 (from the 1100s), and in two medieval lectionaries, we see the effect of a scribal preference to refer to “his sister” instead of “her sister.”  In such a smattering of witnesses, the reading αυτου simply pops up; meanwhile in P66, P75, B, ℵ, K, L, M, S, W, Y, Δ, Θ, Π, 047, and so on, αυτης has ancient, abundant, and coherent support.
            To put it another way:  there is no genealogical connection between Codex A and the medieval minuscules 423, 841, 1009, 1071, and two lectionaries; the reading αυτου at the end of John 11:1 appears in these manuscripts not as something with ancient roots, but as something more like a weed that has sprouted from the minds of what a few copyists thought the text should say.              
            Before moving on to the next point, I should address a reading in the important medieval minuscule 157:  In John 11:1, the words και Μαρθας are absent.  Is this evidence that minuscule 157 echoes some ancient exemplar in which Martha did not appear in the narrative?  No; what has happened is that the preceding word Μαριας appears at the end of a line; the copyist lost his line of sight as he began the next line, shifting forward to the letters at the end of και Μαρθας.  Thus he accidentally skipped those two words – but their presence in his exemplar is obvious from the words that he wrote next:  της αδελφης αυτης (that is, her sister).  Schrader observes that 157 thus “nonsensically” applies a feminine pronoun to Lazarus, but it seems not to have registered that the obvious explanation of this nonsense-reading is that a simple scribal mistake has been made, rather than that a lost Martha-less form of John 11 is being attested.


            The text of John 11:5 in most Greek manuscripts says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.”  Whether one consults the UBS compilation or the Robinson-Pierpont Byzantine Textform, or Michael Holmes’ SBL-GNT, or even the Textus Receptus, they all agree:  ἠγάπα δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν Μάρθαν καὶ τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτῆς καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον.  The text of P66 is identical with the exception that Jesus’ name is contracted (as is typical in Greek manuscripts) and the word αὐτῆς is not in the text; however it is supplied in the margin.   
            An assortment of other manuscripts disagree, primarily because of two scribal tendencies:  (1)  the tendency to supply names, so as to make the text more explicit, and
(2)  the tendency to put Mary’s name first, so as to correspond to the order of names given when the characters are introduced in John 11:1.
            Under the influence of those two natural tendencies, some copyists rewrote the verse to say, “Now Jesus loved Mary and her sister Martha, and Lazarus.”  This may be considered the Caesarean form of the verse, attested in a special cluster of manuscripts (consisting mainly of Θ, f1, f13, 543, 565, 828, and others), the members of which share other textual features, such as unusual placements of the pericope adulterae (John 7:53-8:11).  
            A few other manuscripts list Martha first, but add Mary’s name, so as to say, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary, and Lazarus.”  Schrader lists two medieval manuscripts – 2561 and 2680 – which support the form, “Now Jesus loved Mary and her sister and Lazarus,” thus putting Mary’s name in the place formerly occupied by Martha’s name.  
            What is not seen in any of these Greek manuscripts is a form of the text in which Martha is entirely absent.  Even in the few relatively late manuscripts in which her name does not appear in 11:5, she is referred to as Mary’s sister.  When the rival readings are analyzed, from the more explicit to the less specific, and from those harmonized to 11:1 to those less harmonized, the anomalies are easily sorted out and the usual, ordinary text is confirmed, and the flow from more specific to less specific, and from more harmonized to less harmonized, is generally matched by the flow from the  younger to the older witnesses.  In other words, the consistent picture shown by Greek manuscripts in John 11:5 is that the insertion of Mary’s name, and the transposition of Mary’s name to the front of the list, and the loss of Martha’s name, are late scribal adjustments, not echoes of an ancient exemplar.
            Furthermore, it is not accurate to say that the names in John 11:5 are “always changing.”  The verse is altered in the Caesarean Text, i.e., in select members of f1 and  f13.  But in most manuscripts (including P45, P75, ℵ, B, A, K, L, W) it is stable.  In all Greek manuscripts of John 11:5, the verse conveys that Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus, whether the names of all three individuals are supplied in this verse or not.


            In Schrader’s thesis, there is very little emphasis on artwork; her appeal to artwork in the Religion for Breakfast interview may be something that was just thrown in.  Nevertheless, it may be briefly considered:  artwork is art, and the degree of detail provided in a work of art is subject to the whims, abilities, and resources of the artist.  Artists have creative freedom which copyists do not.  A depiction of the resurrection of Lazarus in the Catacomb of the Giordani shows only Jesus and Lazarus.  Similarly in a mosaic on the wall of the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, made around 530, a scene depicts the raising of Lazarus without any females present.  Likewise the Murano Diptych, from the 400s-500s, depicts Jesus and Lazarus, but no women.  And at the Museo Pio-Cristiano at the Vatican, a scene on a sarcophagus-lid from the cemetery of Saint Agnes depicts the resurrection of Lazarus, but without anyone except Jesus and Lazarus. 
               Should we therefore assume that the artists of these four early works of art knew a form of John 11 in which Mary and Martha (and the crowd of mourners accompanying them) do not appear?  (Meanwhile The Jonah Sarcophagus depicts two women present at the raising of Lazarus.)  I think the point is already clear:  it would be absurd to treat ancient artwork as a means to answer the question at hand.


            Why, we are invited to ask, is there instability involving the names of Mary and Martha in John 11:1-12:2, but not in Luke 10:38-42, where the same two characters are depicted?  There are two very simple reasons why this is the case.  First, Luke 10:38-42 constitutes only five verses, in which Mary’s name appears twice and Martha’s name appears four times, and the two names never appear side-by-side; in contrast, John 11:1-12:2 constitutes 59 verses – or 46, if we exclude John 11:47-57, which is really a different scene – in which Mary’s name appears eight times and Martha’s name appears eight times, and both names appear in the same sentence twice (in v. 1 and v. 19).  The passage in Luke is one-eighth the length of the passage in John, and it provides very little opportunity to get the sisters’ names mixed up.
            The second reason is that while in John, each sister is described as a sister of Lazarus, and both sisters undertake similar actions (both say the same thing to Jesus, in John 11:21 and 11:32), in Luke their actions and attitudes form a stark contrast; Martha is busy, while Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet.  It is impossible not to see this contrast in the episode in Luke; it forms the foundation of the lesson that is intended to be conveyed.  Meanwhile, in John, the two sisters are described similarly, and say similar things.  There is a stark contrast between them in Luke which precludes confusion of the two individuals, whereas in John there is not.  

A hypothetical reconstruction
of the uncorrected text of John 11:1
in Codex A.  The manuscript is online.

In Codex Alexandrinus, the text that stands in the manuscript now says, “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and Martha his sister,” differing from the usual text only by the presence of “his” (αυτου) instead of “her” (αυτης), a difference addressed already.  When the copyist initially wrote out this verse, however, he made another, more significant mistake (which was detected by the researcher Cowper in 1840). 
            Normally, the text of John 11:1 goes, Ἦν δέ τις ἀσθενῶν Λάζαρος ἀπὸ Βηθανίας, ἐκ τῆς κώμης Μαρίας καὶ Μάρθας τῆς ἀδελφῆς αὐτῆς – “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.”  But besides shifting from αυτης to αυτου (and thus causing the text to refer to “his sister Martha”), the copyist of Codex A made a parableptic error, skipping from the letters –as at the end of Μαρίας to the same letters at the end of καὶ Μάρθας, thus skipping the two words καὶ Μάρθας.  A clever correction was made:  the word κώμης was erased, and then written in small letters at the end of the previous line, and the newly blank space was filled with the words Μαρίας καὶ Μάρθας. 
            That’s all there is to that scribal mistake and correction.  The other mistake in John 11:1 in Codex A – αυτου instead of αὐτῆς – was addressed in the first point.

            Although Schrader’s five-part challenge has been answered, there are two additional components of her thesis that I will address here. 


            This point is slightly technical:  should the word αυτη in 11:4 be understood as if it was meant to signify the person Jesus was addressing – causing the sentence to begin, “Upon hearing that, Jesus said to her” – or should it be understood (as most English translations render it) instead as a nominative term, causing the sentence to begin, “Upon hearing that, Jesus said, “This,” and so forth.   The copyist of P66 put a comma-like mark before αυτη, as if he perceived that the text could initially seem ambiguous without it, and wished to ensure that readers would understand the αυτη to mean “This” instead of “to her.”
            And the copyist of P66 wasn’t the only scribe to do so.  Codex Sinaiticus has a separating mark between ειπεν and αυτη.  In Codex Vaticanus, ειπεν ends a line, and some empty space is leftover, before αυτη begins the next line.   Jumping ahead several hundred years, the Elfleda Bond Goodspeed Gospels displays a separating dot between ειπεν and αυτη.  I am confident that many other copies share this feature, so as to elicit the understanding that “This sickness” was the intended meaning.  In some other manuscripts, such as 138 and 1321, the risk of ambiguity has been eliminated by moving αυτη to the other side of ἡ ἀσθένεια. (Schrader lists a total of 12 Greek manuscripts with this reading, and seems to consider each one as somehow problematic, but this is simply a clarifying transposition.)   Following this clever adjustment, some copyists conflated both placements; as a result, seven manuscripts Schrader has examined have αυτη both before, and after, ἡ ἀσθένεια.  (These, too, are counted as problematic by Schrader.)

            The translator of the Latin text in the Old Latin Codex Carotensis (VL 33) seems to have been at a disadvantage; his Greek exemplar(s) apparently did not have distinction-making marks or separation-spaces in this verse, and due to this ambiguity, this manuscript has the phrase “dixit ei,” that is, “said to her,” in John 11:4.  This is a symptom of a Latin translator’s confusion, however; it does not indicate that αυτη was meant to be understood this way. 


            In P66 – after Martha’s name has appeared in – John 12:2 begins not with the usual ἐποίησαν (“they made), but with the singular ἐποίησεν.  This is a very slight variation, probably elicited by a scribe’s desire to relieve readers of the burden of asking who “they” were; the resultant sense, with ἐποίησεν, is that Lazarus made a supper for Jesus.  Minuscules 295 and 841, Schrader has observed, share this reading.
            A little further along in the verse, P66 says that Martha served.  This is the reading of almost all manuscripts, whether early or late – but – but Schrader has observed that minuscules 27, 63, and 1194 have Mary’s name here, instead of Martha’s.  I leave it to readers to mull over the probabilities:  is this a simple effect of scribal inattentiveness, sparked by anticipation of Mary’s actions in the following verse, or do three Byzantine minuscules preserve the original reading, against all other Greek manuscripts?


            There is more material in Schrader’s thesis that I have not considered in this brief essay.  However, the major points have been covered, and her five-point challenge has been answered.  Although Schrader has collected many variant-readings in John 11 (which must have taken considerable work), a very large majority of the readings in question, and especially the variants at the core of her arguments, are the effects of scribal carelessness, or the effects of scribes’ desire to augment the clarity the text.   
            This tends to hollow out her claim that one in five of the Greek manuscripts she has examined displays some problem involving the character of Martha in John 11:1-12:2; the evidence points toward a different and unremarkable direction:  copyists were sometimes careless, and sometimes desired to augment the clarity of the text.  None of these textual variants suggests anything remotely resembling the massive interpolation that Schrader has proposed.

Readers are invited to double-check the data in this post.

n the first posting of this post, I had the words απεστιλεν and απεστιλαν mixed up.  My bad.]


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Mark 10:24: Is It Easy to Enter the Kingdom?

            In Mark 10:23, Jesus told His followers, “How difficult it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God.”  This was just after a young man with many possessions had gone away from Jesus, after Jesus had invited him to sell everything he had, and give to the poor, and expect heavenly treasures instead.  The disciples were astonished.  But then, in Mark 10:24, Jesus affirmed:  “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!”
Mark 10:24 in GA 2474 (900s).
            That is Jesus’ statement in the vast majority of Greek manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark, representative of a broad assortment of locales.  The same sense is given in the KJV, the NKJV, the EHV (Evangelical Heritage Version), the MEV (Modern English Version), and the WEB (World English Bible).  The Latin Vulgate (produced by Jerome in 383), the Gothic Version (produced by Wulfilas in the mid-300s), the Peshitta (the dominant Syriac version, probably produced in the late 300s), the Sinaitic Syriac, and most Old Latin copies (representing Latin translations made before the Vulgate) agree with this.
            Yet, when one turns to popular modern English versions such as the ESV, NIV, and CSB, the text of Mark 10:24 is shorter:  the phrase “for those who trust in riches” is absent.  This is not due to any editorial decision on the part of translators:  the phrase is missing in four important early manuscripts Sinaiticus (ℵ), Vaticanus (B), Delta (Δ), and Ψ, and in the Old Latin Codex Bobbiensis (k), and two Egyptian versions (the Sahidic and Bohairic). 
            Although ℵ, B, and k are old (from the fourth and fifth centuries) they are relatively isolated.  Furthermore, this is one of those cases – not as rare as one might think – in which our earliest manuscripts are not our earliest evidence.  Two important patristic writers provide significantly older evidence:  Clement of Alexandria (in the fourth chapter of his composition Who Is The Rich Man Who Shall Be Saved?), and Ephrem Syrus (in his Commentary on the Diatessaron). Let’s look at them one at a time.
            The exact years of Clement of Alexandria’s birth and death are unknown, but it can be safely deduced that he served the church from some time in the 180s to some time in the 210s.  Clement espoused various controversial doctrines, but for today’s purposes, we may zoom in on his quotations in the composition Who Is the Rich Man Who Shall Be Saved?:  in chapter 4, Clement makes an extensive quotation from Mark 10:17-31, specifically stating (at the outset of the next chapter) that he is drawing on text from the Gospel of Mark.  The text of Clement’s work was the subject of a doctoral dissertation by Reuben Swanson, and in his volume on Mark in the New Testament Greek Manuscripts series, he provides the relevant extract from Mark 10:23:
            περιβλεψαμενος δε ο Ιησους λεγει τοις μαθηταις αυτου, πως δυσκολως οι τα χρηματα (χρημα 1 ms) εχοντες ειςελευσονται εις την βασιλειαν του θεου.   
            Here is the Byzantine text of Mark 10:23, with differences noted:
            Και περιβλεψαμενος [Clement has και before περιβλεψαμενος, instead of δε after it]
            ο Ιησους λεγει τοις μαθηταις αυτου, [no differences]
            πως δυσκολως οι τα χρηματα (χρημα 1 ms) [no differences]
            εχοντες εις την βασιλειαν του θεου ειςελευσονται [Clement has ειςελευσονται before the words εις την βασιλειαν του θεου instead of after them].  

            Likewise for Mark 10:24, Swanson has provided Clement’s text:
            Οι δε μαθηται εθαμβουντο επι τοις λογοις αυτου.   παλιν δε ο Ιησους αποκριθεις λεγει αυτοις, Τεκνα, πως δυσκολον εστι τους πεποιθοτας επι χρημσασιν εις την βασιλειαν του θεου εισελθειν.
            Comparing this to the Byzantine text of Mark 10:24, bit by bit, we see the following differences:
            Οι δε μαθηται εθαμβουντο επι τοις λογοις αυτου.   [no differences]
            παλιν δε ο Ιησους αποκριθεις λεγει αυτοις, [transposition of παλιν]
            Τεκνα, πως δυσκολον εστιν τους πεποιθοτας επι χρημσασιν [spelling; χρημασιν]
            εις την βασιλειαν του θεου εισελθειν [no differences].
            (I think Swanson’s transcription contains a typo and should read χρημασιν.)

            The thing to see is that as Clement quotes Mark 10:24, he quotes it with the words τους πεποιθοτας επι χρημσασιν – not in the Alexandrian form (which lacks this phrase), and not in the Western form (in which verse 24 appears after verse 25).  Thus we have confirmation, in a patristic composition written around the year 200 in Egypt, of the presence of this phrase in Mark 10:24.
            Now we turn to Ephrem Syrus.  Ephrem wrote in the mid-300s, in Syria, in the Syriac language.  The Diatessaron – the text upon which he wrote a commentary – is older; an individual named Tatian compiled the Diatessaron as a combination of all four Gospel accounts, in the early 170s.  The discovery of an important manuscript of Ephrem’s commentary on the Diatessaron was announced in 1957, when Syriac MS 709, assigned to the late 400s, was added to the Chester Beatty collection – and subsequently additional parts of Ephrem’s commentary were found, including two more portions of Chester Beatty Syriac MS 709 in the 1980s.  Not only was this evidence was unavailable to Hort in 1881; it was unavailable to Metzger when he wrote his Textual Commentary on the New Testament. 
            When we look into Ephrem’s quotations from Tatian’s Diatessaron, (cf. page 231 of Carmel McCarthy’s Saint Ephrem’s Commentary on Tatian’s Diatessaron:  An English Translation of Chester Beatty Syriac MS 709 with an Introduction and Notes) we see this statement:  “When he turned away, our Lord said, It is difficult for those who trust in their own riches.”  One might initially suspect that Ephrem has merely cited 10:23, but the quotation does not refer merely to those who possess wealth; it refers to those who trust in their wealth – a statement not found in Mark 10:23, nor in the parallel accounts in Matthew 19:23-24 and Luke 18:24-25, but exclusively in Mark 10:24.
            Via Ephrem’s comment, we may see the Gospels-text used by Tatian in the 170s – a text in which Mark 10:24 included the phrase “for those who trust in riches.”
            Thus two very early patristic writers, from two far-removed branches of the transmission-stream, constitute strong support for the inclusion of the words “for those who trust in riches” in the text of Mark 10:24; finding these citations in the quotations of Clement and Ephrem is roughly congruent to finding small second-century papyrus fragments of Mark 10:24 in Alexandria (where Clement wrote) and in Rome (where Tatian studied under Justin Martyr).
            Nevertheless, what answer shall be given to Metzger’s theory (phrased as an assertion):  “The rigor of Jesus’ saying was softened by the insertion of one or another qualification that limited its generality and brought it into closer connection with the context”?  Besides mentioning the usual reading, he adds that two different readings are attested:  Codex W and itc support πλουσιον, and 1241 reads οι τα χρηματα εχοντες.  The counter-point is not hard to find: πλουσιον is not a wholesale insertion, but a harmonization to the parallels in Matthew and Luke; meanwhile οι τα χρηματα εχοντες is a harmonization to the identical phrase in Mark 10:23.  (Willker mentions that the latter harmonization is read by five other minuscules, 588, 973. 1090, 2791, and 2812.)
            Finally, we may consider the simple mechanics by which the phrase for those who trust in riches could be lost.  This phrase – τους πεποιθοτας επι χρημασιν – ends with the same two letters that come before it, at the end of the word εστιν.  If an early copyist’s line of sight drifted from the letters ιν at the end of εστιν to the letters εστιν at the end of χρημασιν a line or two later, the accidental disappearance of the phrase in an early transmission-stream in Egypt is accounted for.  Meanwhile, everywhere else, the phrase was included, perpetuating the original reading, though in some witnesses it was expanded (so as to read “in their riches”) or harmonized to the parallels in Matthew and Luke or to the preceding verse.

            So, rather than tell His disciples that it is hard to enter into the kingdom of God, Jesus did not contradict what He said elsewhere, that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  Entering God’s kingdom can be hard indeed, if we attach ourselves to the things of this world and turn them into priorities above the will of God.  But if we let go of the things of this world, and trust in the atoning work of Christ, with surrendered hearts, then the entrance into God’s kingdom, even through tribulations, can become not only easy, but joyful.

Friday, August 2, 2019

News: The Durham Gospels is Online!

            Nice try, Viking marauders, but we still have most of it!
            The Durham Gospels, an important Latin manuscript, has recently been digitized and made available online.  It is just one of the many manuscripts that can be viewed at the Durham Priory Library Recreated website, listed there as Durham Cathedral Library MS. A.II.17.
            The presentation-format at the website is better than practically any other manuscript-presentation on the internet; not only can the digital full-color page-views be magnified, so that viewers can zoom in on fine details, but by accessing a menu in the left upper corner of the page-views, viewers can rotate the page, adjust brightness, adjust contrast, adjust saturation, and more – even invert colors.  There is also an easy-to-navigate Rolodex-style bar of page-views below the main image, allowing viewers to sift through the entire manuscript.  It may be wished that this will become a new standard in online manuscript-presentation.  
            The Durham Gospels had already been produced (probably by monks at Lindisfarne monastery) well before the Vikings attacked there in 793.  It might have undergone some damage at the hands of the Vikings:  almost all of the Gospel of Matthew is missing.  The last two chapters of John are missing.  Several chapters of the Gospel of Luke are missing, too, and have been replaced with pages from another (very different) manuscript.  Presently, when one reads the Durham Gospels, the text of John appears first, which is highly unusual.  This was not how the manuscript was made; some unknown person re-ordered the pages.  Most of the text is neatly written in a semi-uncial insular script, very similar to the handwriting in the Echternach Gospels. 

Here is a basic index for the Durham Gospels:

2r – The Gospel of John begins, with a huge and elaborately embellished initial.
16r-16v contain the passage about the adulteress.
38v – The text of John ends in 19:32.
38r* – The text on this page is all somewhat damaged; its text begins in Matthew 25:35.
38v* – The text on this page begins in Matthew 25:45.
38r2 – The text on this page (as a note above the text near the upper left corner indicates) begins in Matthew 26:13 and continues through Matthew 26:23; the handwriting is different in the final line.
38v2 – The text on this page begins in Matthew 26:24.
38r3 – Centered on the page is the text of Matthew 28:17-20, within a frame enhanced by knotwork.  Although this is the last page of the Gospel of Matthew, it must have existed adjacent to 38v2 for some time, because the imprint of some of the lettering on 38v2 is visible on the page; the intervening pages from chapters 26, 27, and 28 were absent. 
38v3 has a full-page picture of Christ crucified, flanked by two angels.  A heading identifies Him as Jesus the King; the Greek letters alpha and omega appear to the left and right of His head, respectively.  A soldier is offering Him a sponge on the end of a reed (cf. Mark 15:36).  There are words on the outside of all four sides of the frame.  This may be the earliest English depiction of the crucifixion.
38r4 – Introduction to the Gospel of Mark.  The introduction begins with an elaborately decorated title.
394 – More introductory glosses, including a list of some non-Latin words (beginning with Abba)
40r – The text of Mark begins in 1:12.
(Many of the pages in the Gospel of Mark have been cut at the bottom of the page, almost as if someone was in very desperate need of blank parchment.)
66r features a pair of ornate embellished initials in the text of Mark 14:27.
69r features a particularly beautiful intial E, with knotwork, at the beginning of Mark 16:2.
69v has the text from Mark 16:3-14a (the last words are illis XI apparuit), but the final page of Mark is not extant.
70 apparently has been the victim of a thief; someone cut away the upper half of the page, probably to obtain a particularly beautiful sample of the copyist’s artistic penmanship.
70r begins the text of Luke 1:9.
71v, a well-executed M (with eagle-heads) begins the Magnificat, in Luke 1:46.
72v features some nice colorful artistry in the opening letters of Luke 2:1.
On fol, 75, half of the page has been cut out.
102v ends on the last line in Luke 22:2.
103r begins the supplemental manuscript, written in an entirely different script (uncial) and different ink, containing text from Luke 21:33ff., cola-and-commata style, in two narrow columns per page.
105r features, I think, an Anglo-Saxon note scrawled in the upper margin.  The name “Aldred” is in this note, and is repeated on the same page.  This may have been added by the individual known as Aldred the Scribe, who in the mid-900s inserted an Old English translation in between the Latin lines of the Lindisfarne Gospels.  This suggests, in turn, that the Durham Gospels were once housed in Chester-le-Street, the town where Aldred resided.
106v includes the text of Luke 22:43-44.
111v ends the last line of its text in Luke 23:44.

An ornamental initial
in the Durham Gospels.
            Many initials, especially those with colored interiors (yellow, green, purple) are surrounded by small red dots of lead, a feature shared by many initials and decorations in the Book of Kells.
            The Durham Gospels – at least, the main portion – was probably made at Lindisfarne, while either Eadberht or Eadfrith was bishop there (i.e., sometime in 688-721), and, probably, after undergoing severe damage when Vikings attacked Lindisfarne in 793, it was taken inland, and was (at least partly) repaired at Chester-le-Street by someone using part of a two-column Gospels-manuscript that had some affinity with copies made at Wearmouth-Jarrow
             Those seeking more detailed information about the Durham Gospels may wish to seek out The Durham Gospels:  Together with Fragments of a Gospel Book in Uncial (1980) by the team of Christopher Verey, Julian Brown, and Elisabeth Coatsworth, along with Roger Powell. 
             The individuals responsible for the digitalization of the manuscripts at the Durham Priory Library Recreated website are to be thanked and congratulated for bringing online such an excellent collection of resources.  Funding for the project has come from, among other places, The Foyle Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Jnr. Charitable Trust, the Zeno Karl Schindler Foundation, and various generous individuals.  Those responsible for producing the digital materials and formatting them for online use include Andrew Tremlett, David Cowling, Liz Waller, Stephen Taylor, Judy Burg, Richard Higgins, Richard Gameson, Geoff Watson, Liz Branigan, Olli Lyytinen, Frank Addison, Robin Brownlee-Sayers, Caroline Craggs, and Gizella Dewath.   There is a blog which explores various aspects of the digitalization project.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Hort's Lecture on Origen

Fenton John Anthony Hort

            In 1890, Fenton John Anthony Hort (half of the Westcott-Hort duo) delivered a series of six lectures on ante-Nicene fathers.  They were published in 1895, a few years after his death.  What follows here, with slight adjustments, is the sixth lecture in the series.


            In the last two lectures the Fathers who have come before us have all belonged to Africa. It will be the same today.  We return now from North Africa, and the two great Fathers whom at this early time it brought forth for Latin theology, to Egypt and to the most characteristically Greek theology.
            If the influence of Clement of Alexandria over the later times of early Christianity was less than we might have expected, the same cannot be said of his great pupil Origen.  Not only had he the veneration of devoted disciples for several generations, but the theologies built up in the succeeding centuries of the age of the Fathers would, as far as we can see, have been very different from what they actually were, had it not been for the foundations laid by him.  Above all, his influence as an interpreter of the Bible, direct and indirect, has been both wide and lasting.  In the ancient Church three men stand out above all others as having left a deep mark by their independent interpretation of Scripture.  The other two are Theodore of Mopsuestia (late in the fourth century), the highest representative of the School of Antioch, and (a generation later) Augustine the North African, the primary teacher of the Latin West.  Not the least interesting fact however in the history of the influence of Origen as an interpreter is the way in which his thoughts and often his words were appropriated and handed on by Latin Fathers, and especially the three greatest Latin Fathers of the fourth century, Hilary of Poitiers (theologically the greatest of them all), Ambrose and Jerome.
            In this manner, as well as by direct translations of some of Origen’s works, Origenian ideas, penetrating down through various channels, supplied a by no means insignificant element in the very miscellaneous body of traditional interpretation which prevailed till the fresh and open study of the meaning of Scripture was restored, chiefly by the Revivers of learning just before the Reformation and by some of the Reformers themselves.  The permanent value of his interpretation of Scripture is much lessened by the fact that, in common with most ancient interpreters outside the School of Antioch, he shows an excessive devotion to allegorical senses; yet along with this mere fancifulness we find in him evidence of a genuine and profound study of the words of Scripture.  For all his great and lasting influence, Origen’s name has been by no means surrounded with the halo of conventional glory which has traditionally adorned Fathers inferior to him in every way.  Some of his speculations were doubtless crude and unsatisfactory, but these are but trifles beside the vast services which he rendered to theology; and accordingly, every now and then, from Athanasius onwards, he has received cordial words of vindication from men who were able to recognize goodness and greatness, in spite of an unpopular name.
            Unlike the Fathers whom we have been lately considering, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Origen had the blessing of Christian parentage, and received from his father Leonides a careful education both in the ordinary Greek culture of the day and in the study of Scripture, becoming the pupil of Clement.  He was not seventeen when that persecution of about the year 202 under Septimius Severus occurred which drove Clement from Alexandria, and Leonides was thrown into prison. Origen himself, being restrained by a device of his mother’s from rushing to join him in the anticipated martyrdom [she hid his clothes – JSJ], wrote to him entreating that no care for his family should be allowed to shake his constancy.  On his father’s martyrdom, with confiscation of goods, he provided for his own and his mother's and six brothers’ wants by teaching, except that he was lodged by a lady of wealth.
            Some heathens came to him for instruction, including Plutarchus, who was martyred, and Heraclas, who became Bishop of Alexandria; and thus he was led to take up, though in an informal way, the dropped work of the Catechetical School.  After a time he was placed formally at its head by the Bishop Demetrius.  For some twelve years he went on without other interruption than a short visit to Rome and another to Arabia, lecturing to large audiences as a layman, living a sternly rigorous and self-denying life.  To this time belongs the rash act of self-mutilation always associated with his name, suggested to him by a misunderstanding of the real drift of one of our Lord’s sayings.  Meanwhile he labored to fit himself for his work more and more.  On the one hand he studied Hebrew; on the other he attended the lectures of the most eminent heathen philosophers, that he might be ‘better able to understand the thoughts of those’ who came to him for help.  The work increased so much that he associated with himself his convert Heraclas.
            At length about the year 215 he was driven by tumults to leave Alexandria, as Clement had done, and took refuge for a considerable time at Caesarea, the Greek or Roman capital of Palestine.  Alexander, now Bishop of Jerusalem, of whom we heard a fortnight ago, and the Bishop of Caesarea joined in inviting him to preach (homilein) to the assembled congregation. On receiving a remonstrance from Demetrius at their permitting a layman to preach before bishops, they cited various precedents in defense of their action.  But Demetrius refused to give way, and fetched Origen back to Alexandria in a peremptory way.  After his return he was persuaded by Ambrosius, now a friend, formerly a convert of his from some Pseudo-Gnostic sect, to undertake commentaries in writing, for which purpose Ambrosius provided short-hand writers.
            But after Origen had taught at Alexandria for about a quarter of a century, his career there came to a painful end.  The Churches of Achaia, being much distracted by what were called heresies (of what kind, is not related), invited him to come to their help.  He started without obtaining license from Demetrius (but under what circumstances we do not know), and took his way through Palestine.  There he was ordained presbyter by the Bishop of Caesarea, with Alexander’s knowledge and approval.  He then completed his journey to Greece, making sojourns at Ephesus and Athens, and at length returned home.  His reception there is a sad one to read of.  Demetrius assembled “a synod of bishops and of certain presbyters,” by whom he was forbidden to teach or even reside in Alexandria.  They did not agree to reject his ordination, as apparently Demetrius wished, but this too he obtained from a subsequent smaller meeting of bishops alone.
            Our too fragmentary authorities do not tell us quite clearly the ground of condemnation. Apparently it was the ordination of one who was mutilated, though it is also possible that doctrinal differences and it may be even personal jealousies were unavowed motives of action. There is reason to believe that the Roman Church supported the action of Demetrius, but it was entirely ignored by the Bishops of Asia; those of Palestine, Arabia, Phoenicia (i.e. probably North Syria) and Achaia being specially mentioned.  Origen left Alexandria for ever, and though beloved disciples of his own succeeded Demetrius as bishop, apparently no attempt was made to undo the banishment.
            Gentlest, humblest, and most peace-loving of men, Origen would be the last to disturb the peace of the Church for his own sake.  Accordingly for the third time he betook himself to the friendly Caesarea, and there in the great seaport beside the Mediterranean he made his permanent home for the rest of his life, above twenty years.  Being welcomed and cherished by the two Palestinian Bishops of whom we heard before, he carried on his literary work as a Christian theologian with the help of Ambrosius, and at the same time resumed oral instruction, partly by expository sermons of a comparatively simple kind in Church, partly by more advanced lectures to students and philosophical enquirers, as at the Catechetical School of Alexandria.
            With this period are specially connected the names of two illustrious disciples, Firmilianus and Gregory of Neocaesarea.  Firmilianus was apparently already bishop of the Cappadocian Caesarea, the capital of the inland regions of Eastern Asia Minor, when this recorded intercourse with Origen took place, though it may well have begun at an earlier time. Sometimes he used to get Origen to come to visit him in Cappadocia to instruct his Churches; sometimes he used to make stays in Palestine to have the personal benefit of hearing Origen discourse.  A man of still greater eminence in the years after the middle of the third century was Gregory Bishop of Neocaesarea in Pontus.  According to his own narrative he had traveled to Palestine to educate himself as an advocate by study at Beirut, where there was a famous School of Roman Law; but before fixing himself there, he had traveled on to Caesarea with his sister, whose husband held an official post there.  Beirut however was soon given up.  He fell (with his brother) under the spell of Origen’s teaching and personal presence, and remained under his instruction for five years.
            On his departure he delivered an address in expression of his gratitude, and this address is still extant.  In it he describes how he first came under Origen, and how Origen dealt with him and with other pupils.  First came a training in the faculties of the mind, a pruning away of wild growths of opinion for opinion’s sake, an enforcement of clear thinking and exact speaking.  Then came the study of the visible order of nature, founded on the study of geometry.  Thirdly came Christian ethics as founded on godliness, which he called the beginning and the end of all the virtues. Having passed through these preliminary stages of mental discipline, Origen’s pupils were encouraged to read freely in the works of Greek poets and philosophers, and then, thus prepared, to enter on the study of Christian theology proper, more especially in its primary source, the Bible.
            Such was the method of Origen’s regular teaching at Caesarea.  But he did not refuse invitations to leave home for a while, and give help to other Churches.  Some time, we know, he spent at Athens.  Twice he was asked to come into Arabia to help in neutralizing false doctrines which had arisen there.  In each case, instead of using declamation and anathemas, he sought quiet conference with the men who had propounded these doctrines; and in each case succeeded in persuading them that they had been in error.  If later controversies had been dealt with in the same spirit, what a different Christendom and a different world would now be meeting our eyes!
            Our first glimpse of Origen was as a boy, encouraging his father to face martyrdom without hesitation, undistracted by any anxieties for his helpless family. A third of a century later a similar task fell to his lot.  The emperor Alexander Severus, who had been friendly to the Christians, and with whose mother Mamsea Origen had had some intercourse, had come to a violent end, and his murderer and successor Maximinus entered on a persecution of such Christians, it would seem, as had stood in special favor with Alexander.  Origen was apparently saved by a Christian Cappadocian lady, Juliana, who kept him out of harm’s way.  But Ambrosius and a presbyter of Caesarea were imprisoned, and to them Origen wrote an Exhortation which we still possess.
            But fifteen years later, or less, he had to suffer grievously in his own person.  In that persecution of Decius in which his old fellow-student and supporter Alexander died in prison, he too was cast into prison, and had to undergo a succession of tortures.  Decius’ reign was a short one; and on his death Origen was released from prison, shattered by the treatment which he had received, and two years later he died at Tyre, being not far from 70 years of age.  His tomb in the Cathedral of Tyre is several times in the early Middle Ages noticed as then still visible, and the inscription of it still later; and a tradition of his place of burial is still said to be current in the neighborhood.  Though he does not bear the conventional title of Saint, no saintlier man is to be found in the long line of ancient Fathers of the Church.
            One of the best known sentences of Butler’s Analogy, occurring in the Introduction, is to this effect:  “Hence, namely from analogical reasoning, Origen has with singular sagacity observed, that he who believes the Scripture to have proceeded from him who is the Author of Nature, may well expect to find the same sort of difficulties in it, as are found in the constitution of Nature.”  These few words are characteristic of the subjects of Origen’s writings.  He was deeply and reverently occupied in meditation on all things in heaven and earth of which the human mind can take any cognizance; but the Bible was the center of all his thoughts and of all his studies.  He wrote commentaries or preached homilies, taken down by rapid writers, on a large proportion of books of both Testaments.  What is lost was far more than what is preserved: but we still have much, large portions of the commentaries on St. Matthew and St. John, that on the Romans in a too free Latin condensed translation, some Homilies on Jeremiah, many Greek fragments on various books, and many Latin translations of Homilies, chiefly on the Old Testament.
            A biblical work of another kind was what is called Origen’s Hexapla, an arrangement of the books of the Old Testament in (for the most part) six parallel columns, each containing a distinct text, the Hebrew, the same in Greek letters, the Septuagint, and three other Greek translations.  Numerous detached readings copied from it have been preserved, but hardly more. By this combination of texts Origen hoped to throw light on the meaning of many passages in which a Greek reader would be either bewildered or misled if he had only the Septuagint before him.  Besides the Exhortation to Martyrdom mentioned before, we possess a very interesting little treatise of Origen’s on Prayer. Very little unhappily remains of his letters, of which a collection was made some time after his death. But we fortunately possess in one shape or other what were probably his two greatest works, the systematic doctrinal treatise on First Principles, written before his departure from Alexandria, preserved for the most part only in a too free Latin version; and the eight books against Celsus in the original Greek, written near the end of his life. In connection with Origen’s writings it is worth while to mention the Philocalia, a small collection of extracts from them chiefly bearing on the interpretation of Scripture, made late in the fourth century by Basil and Gregory of Nazianzus.  It was from this source that Butler made his quotation, and the little book deserves to be better known.
            As an easy specimen of the book on First Principles, which chiefly consists of somewhat difficult speculative meditations, we may take a passage on the thirst for Divine knowledge implanted in the heart of man, and, however little he may know in this life, intended to render him capable of even higher levels of knowledge in the stages of the future life.
            “Therefore, as in those crafts which are accomplished by hand, we can perceive by our understanding the reason which determines what a thing is to be, how it is to be made and for what purposes, while the actual work is accomplished by the service of the hands, so in the works of God which are wrought by His own hand, we must understand that the reason and designs of the things which we see made by Him, remain unseen.  And just as, when our eye has seen things made by the craftsman, the mind, on observing something made with especial skill, is forthwith anxious to enquire in what fashion or manner or for what purposes the thing has been made, so much more and in an incomparably higher degree the mind is anxious with an unspeakable longing to recognize the reason of the things which we behold made by God.  This longing, this ardent desire, has we believe without doubt been implanted in us by God, and, just as the eye naturally requires light and object of vision, and our body by nature demands food and drink, so our intellect is possessed with a fit and natural desire for knowing the truth of God and discovering the causes of things.  Now this desire we have received from God not in order that it should never be satisfied or be capable of satisfaction; otherwise vainly will the love of truth appear to have been implanted in our intellect by God the Creator, if it is made never capable of satisfying its longing.
            “Wherefore even in this life those who have laboriously given their attention to godly and religious meditations, even though they obtain but a small amount from the great and infinite treasures of the Divine wisdom, yet just because they keep their minds and attention turned towards these subjects and outstrip themselves in this desire, receive much profit from the very fact that they are directing their minds to the search and love of discovering truth and making them more ready to receive future instruction, just as, when a man wishes to paint a portrait, if a pencil sketch in bare outline first marks out the plan of the coming picture, and prepares marks on which the features may be laid, the rough outline doubtless is found more ready to receive the true colors, so may a mere sketch, a rough outline by the pencil of our Lord Jesus Christ, be traced on the tablets of our heart.  And perhaps it is for this reason that it is said, ‘For to everyone that hath shall it be given, and it shall be added to him.’  Whence it is certain that to those who possess in this life a sort of rough outline of truth and knowledge shall be added in the future the beauty of the perfect picture.  Such, I imagine, was the desire indicated by him who said, ‘But I am constrained in two ways, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, for it is far better,’ knowing that when he had returned to Christ, he would recognize more clearly the reasons of all things which are done on earth.” [From Origen, ii. IV. p. 236.       Redep. (ii. xi. 4, 5).]
            The Books against Celsus contain at once the best and the most comprehensive defense of the Christian faith which has come down to us from the days of the Fathers.  They defend it not against popular prejudice and malice only, as the early Apologists had done, but against the careful and powerful indictment laid by an earnest though scoffing heathen philosopher who was also apparently an accomplished Roman lawyer, writing in the name of the highest philosophy of the time, and passionately devoted to the welfare of the Roman Empire.  A long time had passed between the writing of Celsus’ “True Account,” as he called his literary onslaught on the Christians and their faith, and its coming into Origen’s hands.  He had no real knowledge about the author, but he evidently felt that if he could answer him successfully, he would practically have effectually upheld the cause of the Gospel at all points.  If he sometimes fails to understand on what this or that smart saying of Celsus’ really rested, he never shows the unfairness of the mere partisan.  The candor and patience of his treatise are among its brightest qualities.
            The whole treatise amply repays reading and re-reading; one passage however must now suffice.  It is the reply to Celsus’ scoff about the lateness of the Incarnation and its limitation to an obscure corner of the world, a scoff in form, but covering a serious question.  As regards the time, Celsus compared it to the comic poet’s representation of Zeus as waking out of sleep and suddenly sending Hermes to men. As regards the place, he asked why God did not breathe souls into many bodies and send them all over the earth. Here is the answer.
            “Observe here too Celsus’ want of reverence when he most unphilosophically brings in a comic poet, whose object is to raise a laugh, and compares our God the Creator of the Universe with the god in his play who on awaking dispatches Hermes. We have said above that, when God sent Jesus to the human race, it was not as though He had just awoken from a long sleep, but Jesus, though He has only now for worthy reasons fulfilled the divine plan of His incarnation, has at all times been doing good to the human race.  For no noble deed among men has ever been done without the Divine Word visiting the souls of those who even for a brief space were able to receive such operations of the Divine Word.  Nay, even the appearance of Jesus in one corner of the world (as it seems) has been brought about for a worthy reason, since it was necessary that He of whom the prophets spoke should appear among those who had learnt one God, who read His prophets and recognized Christ preached in them, and that He should appear at a time when the Word was about to be diffused from one corner to the whole world.
            “Wherefore also there was no need that many bodies should be made everywhere, and many spirits like to that of Jesus, in order that the whole world of men might be illumined by the Word of God.  For it sufficed that the one Word rising like the Sun of Righteousness from Judea should send forth His speedy rays into the soul of them that were willing to receive Him.  And if anyone does wish to see many bodies filled with a divine Spirit, ministering like Him the one Christ to the salvation of men in every place, let him take note of those who in all places do honestly and with an upright life teach the word of Jesus, who are themselves too called ‘Christs’ (‘anointed ones’) in the passage, ‘Touch not mine anointed ones and do my prophets no harm.’  For even as we have heard that antichrist comes and nevertheless have learnt that there are many antichrists in the world, even so, when we recognize that Christ has come, we observe that owing to Him many Christs have been born in the world, to wit, all those that like Him have loved righteousness and hated iniquity, and for this reason God, the God of Christ, anointed them too with the oil of gladness.  But He however, having loved righteousness and hated iniquity to a higher degree than those who are His partners, has also received the first-fruits of the anointing, and, if we may so term it, has received the entire unction of the oil of gladness, while they that were His partners partook also in His unction, each according to his capacity.
            “Wherefore, since Christ is the head of the Church, so that Christ and His Church are one body, the ointment has descended from the head to the beard (the symbol of the full-grown man Aaron), and this ointment in its descent reached to the skirts of his clothing. This is my answer to Celsus’ impious speech when he says that ‘God ought to have breathed His Spirit into many bodies in like manner and to have sent them forth throughout the world.’  So then while the comic poet to raise a laugh has represented Zeus as asleep and as waking up and sending Hermes to the Greeks, let the Word which knows that the nature of God is sleepless teach us that God with regard to seasons orders the affairs of the world as reason demands.  But it is not to be wondered at, if, seeing that the judgments of God are sublime and hard to interpret, uninstructed souls do err, and Celsus among them.
            “There is then nothing absurd in the fact that to the Jews, with whom were the prophets, the Son of God was sent, so that beginning with them in bodily form He might arise in power and spirit upon a world of souls desiring to be no longer bereft of God.” [Origen, adv. Celsum, vi. 78 foll.]
            At Origen’s death in the year 253 we are still nearly half a century from the end of the first three centuries, and nearly three-quarters of a century from the Council of Nicea.  If time permitted, it would not be difficult to give some account of Fathers belonging to this interval who are quite worthy of being known.  At the same time it is true that we have only fragments, sometimes hardly that, of the men who seem as if they had been best worth knowing.  Moreover, with the exception of the almost forgotten Lucianus of Antioch, they seem to have been less original and important Fathers than nearly all those who have come before us this term.  The most attractive group is formed by the disciples of Origen, not only the two already spoken of, but Heraclas, and Pierius, and Dionysius of Alexandria of whom we can obtain a tolerably vivid and very pleasant image from the fragments of his letters preserved by Eusebius, showing how a great bishop trained by Origen would deal with the difficult questions raised by persecution without and false doctrine within.  Then would come Pamphilus, the loving collector of memorials of Origen and zealous champion of his good name against the detractors who were beginning to assail it; himself a martyr in the terrible last persecution at the beginning of the fourth century.  And Pamphilus in turn leads to his younger friend Eusebius the historian, who lived and wrote in the fourth century, and yet might in some ways be called the last of the Ante-Nicene Fathers.
            But we must be content with this very hurried glance at that most important but most obscure time between the death of Origen and Cyprian and the Council of Nicea.  A better break than at the death of Origen we could hardly desire.  Not to speak of the men of later days, looking only at those other Fathers who have come before us this term, we cannot help recognizing that they had often work given them to do which he could not do, and that they were enabled to see some truths which he could not see.  But he is for us practically the last and most characteristic of the early Fathers, properly so called, the Fathers who lived while Christian thought could still be free, and while Christian faith still embraced the whole world.  From all these early Fathers taken together, you will, I trust, have gained the feeling, if you had it not already, that Christian pastors and teachers in this nineteenth century can ill afford to neglect the thoughts and aspirations of those earliest Christian ages, though, like the thoughts and aspirations of all intervening times, they must remain a dead letter to us till they are interpreted by the thoughts and aspirations of our own time as shone upon by the light of the Spirit who is the teacher of Christ’s disciples in every succeeding age.