18 June 2006

Patristic Quote for the Day

35. Of these read the two and twenty books, but have nothing to do with the apocryphal writings. Study earnestly these only which we read openly in the Church. Far wiser and more pious than thyself were the Apostles, and the bishops of old time, the presidents of the Church who handed down these books. Being therefore a child of the Church, trench thou not upon its statutes. And of the Old Testament, as we have said, study the two and twenty books, which, if thou art desirous of learning, strive to remember by name, as I recite them. For of the Law the books of Moses are the first five, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. And next, Joshua the son of Nave, and the book of Judges, including Ruth, counted as seventh. And of the other historical books, the first and second books of the Kings are among the Hebrews one book; also the third and fourth one book. And in like manner, the first and second of Chronicles are with them one book; and the first and second of Esdras are counted one. Esther is the twelfth book; and these are the Historical writings. But those which are written in verses are five, Job, and the book of Psalms, and Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, which is the seventeenth book. And after these come the five Prophetic books: of the Twelve Prophets one book, of Isaiah one, of Jeremiah one, including Baruch and Lamentations and the Epistle; then Ezekiel, and the Book of Daniel, the twenty-second of the Old Testament.

36. Then of the New Testament there are the four Gospels only, for the rest have false titles and are mischievous. The Manichaeans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the souls of the simple sort. Receive also the Acts of the Twelve Apostles; and in addition to these the seven

Catholic Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude; and as a seal upon them all, and the last work of the disciples, the fourteen Epistles of Paul. But let all the rest be put aside in a secondary rank. And whatever books are not read in Churches, these read not even by thyself, as thou hast heard me say. Thus much of these subjects.

--St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, IV


Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

The term "apocryphal," which you mention without explaining, does not refer to the apocrypha of today (which Rufinus calls "ecclesiastical books"). Those who care may go to ccel.org under Cyril and read this in context--especially noting fn. 106. Further, Cyril refers in context to the "twenty-two books of the Old Testament, these that have been translated by the Seventy-Two Interpreters"--i.e. the LXX, which includes portions of Daniel (among others) not included in the Hebrew canon. One cannot rightly read and understand the Fathers (or the Scriptures themselves, for that matter) when one reads them outside their ecclesial/liturgical context.

Fr. Gregory Hogg

William Weedon said...

Fr. Gregory,

I cited St. Cyril, but I didn't say that the Apocrphyal books he was referring to were what is called the Apocrypha today. On the contrary, since he includes Baruch, and explicitly mentions the LXX, it is obvious from the quote that they are not coterminus.

I love the reference to LXX. I always remember your quip: "The only Hebrew you'll ever need is LXX." Amen!