11 December 2018

When you’ve hunted for years and years

...and the internet enables you to find the answer! Actually, the library would have too, but one has to GO there and know where to look.

I've long been fascinated by a quote that Chemnitz attributed to Chrysostom about the Sacred Scriptures:

When you shall see the wicked heresy, which is the army of the Antichrist, standing in the holy places of the church, then let those who are in Judea head for the mountains, that is, those who are Christians should head for the Scriptures. For the true Judea is Christendom, and the mountains are the Scriptures of the prophets and apostles, as it is written, 'Her foundations are in the holy mountains.' But why should all Christians at this time head for the Scriptures? Because in this period in which heresy has taken possession of the churches there can be no proof of true Christianity nor any other refuge for Christians who want to know the truth of the faith except the divine Scriptures. Earlier we showed in many ways which is the church of Christ, and which heathenism. But now there is for those who want to know which is the true church of Christ no way to know it except only through the Scriptures. Why? Because heresy has everything just like the church. How, then, will any who wants to know which is the true church of Christ know it in the midst of this great confusion resulting from this similarity, except only through the Scriptures? 

This is called Homily 49. It actually comes from an interesting work. It was known as Opus Imperfectum, A Commentary on Matthew. You can read it in PG 56 (p. 748, 749) in Google Books. Chemnitz does reproduce the work pretty faithfully. In the middle ages, it was indeed attributed to Chrysostom, and Aquinas thought highly of the work. He once remarked that he'd rather have the rest of this commentary (it's Imperfectum because it has massive parts AWOL), than be the mayor of Paris (well, who would want to be the mayor of Paris these days? Kyrie eleison!!!). Pope Nicholas I (d. 867) thought it was from Chrysostom's hand. It was Erasmus who demonstrated that this was NOT written by Chrysostom. Oden notes that there's an odd interplay between the figurative and the literal in the work, and some slight Arianizing tendencies (sometimes these passages were expunged - I doubt Thomas ever saw them). 

But finally, mystery solved. If CPH wants to footnote the passage accurately in Examen, it has a reference!

P.S. What clued me in was hunting in President Harrison’s splendid library in Chemnitz’ Harmony of the Gospels and finding this page:


Steve Bricker said...

Nice detective work.

James Kellerman said...

If your Latin isn't up to snuff enough to read the Latin, you can always read my translation of the work. It's two volumes in the Ancient Christian Texts series published by InterVarsity. The passage in question is on pp. 382-383 of the second volume.