I happened to venture over to Nicholas Hardesty’s phatcatholic apologetics blog. Nick has one of the more aesthetically pleasing blogs- the layout is well done, and there are enough links on his sidebar to keep one busy for quite some time. Nicholas has taken interest in my brief entries on Cyril of Jerusalem:
Cyril of Jerusalem and Sola Scriptura
Cyril of Jerusalem on the Canon
Cyril of Jerusalem Revisted: On The Material and Formal Sufficiency of Scripture
Nicholas must have written some sort of response to these entries (I never saw it). In a blog post he mentions:
“James Swan has sparked my interest here recently. He proposed, originally in the CARM forum but also on his blog, that Cyril of Jerusalem, a great Father of the Church, believed in sola scriptura. This is an astounding claim to say the least, and I was interested to dig deeper into Cyril's Catechetical Lectures and find his beliefs on the matter. I found some good stuff, which I shared with Mr. Swan. For a while I had our debate over this on my blog, but I have decided to take it down and wait for it to develop further before I show it to the world.”
Well, I wasn’t aware of being in a “debate.” Really, in my thinking, debates have rules and are moderated. I prefer to see most of these internet interactions as “discussions”. Usually, in these discussions, it normally comes down to who can outwrite who. Even with Nicholas, i'm not even sure where our major differences lie in our understanding of Cyril. My view of Cyril is that with respect to ultimate authority, his was not the modern-day Roman Catholic ecclesiastical position (sola ecclesia), but rather conformity to the truth of Scripture. In the modern Roman Catholic view of authority, Scripture and Tradition are sub-authorities governed by the ultimate authority of the Church (sola ecclesia). Of course, Roman Catholics usually strongly deny this charge. But, here's a small example: The Pope is said to only speak infallibly when he pronounces on faith and morals. Okay...says who? Does the Bible say this? No. Search the Bible from cover to cover, you will not find such a statement. The Roman Catholic Church declared this. They attempt to cull prooftexts, but none really comes close to justifying such a statement.
I am not an expert on Cyril- in fact, I often learn a great deal when discussing various issues with others, this will probably be no exception. Cyril was more than his oft-quoted Catechetical Lectures. A fair amount of historical information exists about his life and interaction with the church of his day. For instance, Cyril and Jerome didn’t quite agree on everything. Some scholars have pointed out that that Jerome wrote negatively against Cyril because of personal dislike. Cyril had a rocky time in the church. Some scholars hold that even his office at Jerusalem was acquired underhandedly. Throughout his career, allegations of Arianism followed Cyril- but none ever stuck.
That being said, I do have some quotes from Cyril on his view of Scripture that I’d like to post. I’ve included links to the actual texts for further context. The majority of these quotes can also be found in Volume 3 of the King / Webster set on Holy Scripture. One thing appears certain with Cyril- he doesn't agree with the underlying presuppositions of the Roman Catholic Church, that certain doctrines find their certainty outside of Scripture, proclaimed to be true by unwritten extra-Biblical tradition or papal pronouncement.
“Have thou ever in thy mind this seal, which for the present has been lightly touched in my discourse, by way of summary, but shall be stated, should the Lord permit, to the best of my power with the proof from the Scriptures. For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell thee these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture IV.17].
“Now these the divinely-inspired Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testament teach us. For the God of the two Testaments is One, Who in the Old Testament foretold the Christ Who appeared in the New; Who by the Law and the Prophets led us to Christ's school. For before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, and, the law hath been our tutor to bring us unto Christ. And if ever thou hear any of the heretics speaking evil of the Law or the Prophets, answer in the sound of the Saviour's voice, saying, Jesus came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it. Learn also diligently, and from the Church, what are the books of the Old Testament, and what those of the New. And, pray, read none of the apocryphal writings: for why dost thou, who knowest not those which are acknowledged among all, trouble thyself in vain about those which are disputed? Read the Divine Scriptures, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, these that have been translated by the Seventy-two Interpreters” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture IV. 33].
“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”[Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture IV.35].
“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"[Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture IV. 36].
“But in learning the Faith and in professing it, acquire and keep that only, which is now delivered to thee by the Church, and which has been built up strongly out of all the Scriptures. For since all cannot read the Scriptures, some being hindered as to the knowledge of them by want of learning, and others by a want of leisure, in order that the soul may not perish from ignorance, we comprise the whole doctrine of the Faith in a few lines. This summary I wish you both to commit to memory when I recite it, and to rehearse it with all diligence among yourselves, not writing it out on paper, but engraving it by the memory upon your heart, taking care while you rehearse it that no Catechumen chance to overhear the things which have been delivered to you. I wish you also to keep this as a provision through the whole course of your life, and beside this to receive no other, neither if we ourselves should change and contradict our present teaching, nor if an adverse angel, transformed into an angel of light should wish to lead you astray. For though we or an angel from heaven preach to you any other gospel than that ye have received, let him be to you anathema. So for the present listen while I simply say the Creed, and commit it to memory; but at the proper season expect the confirmation out of Holy Scripture of each part of the contents. For the articles of the Faith were not composed as seemed good to men; but the most important points collected out of all the Scripture make up one complete teaching of the Faith. And just as the mustard seed in one small grain contains many branches, so also this Faith has embraced in few words all the knowledge of godliness in the Old and New Testaments. Take heed then, brethren, and hold fast the traditions which ye now receive, and write them an the table of your heart” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture V.12].
“And again, Go to the bee, and learn how industrious she is(4): how, hovering round all kinds of flowers, she collects her honey for thy benefit: that thou also, by ranging over the Holy Scriptures, mayest lay hold of salvation for thyself, and being filled with them mayest say, How sweet are thy words unto my throat, yea sweeter than honey and the honeycomb unto my mouth” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture IX, 13].
“What else is there that knoweth the deep things of God save only the Holy Ghost, who spake the Divine Scriptures? But not even the Holy Ghost Himself has spoken in the Scriptures concerning the generation of the Son from the Father. Why then dost thou busy thyself about things which not even the Holy Ghost has written in the Scriptures? Thou that knowest not the things which are written, busiest thou thyself about the things which are not written? There are many questions in the Divine Scriptures; what is written we comprehend not, why do we busy ourselves about what is not written? It is sufficient for us to know that God hath begotten One Only Son” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XI.12].
“And first let us inquire for what cause Jesus came down. Now mind not my argumentations, for perhaps thou mayest be misled but unless thou receive testimony of the Prophets on each matter, believe not what I say: unless thou learn from the Holy Scriptures concerning the Virgin, and the place, the time, and the manner, receive not testimony from man. For one who at present thus teaches may possibly be suspected: but what man of sense will suspect one that prophesied a thousand and more years beforehand? If then thou seekest the cause of Christ's coming, go back to the first book of the Scriptures” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XII.5].
“Was it without reason that Christ was made Man? Are our teachings ingenious phrases and human subtleties? Are not the Holy Scriptures our salvation? Are not the predictions of the Prophets? Keep then, I pray thee, this deposit undisturbed, and let none remove thee: believe that God became Man. But though it has been proved possible for Him to be made Man, yet if the Jews still disbelieve, let us hold this forth to them What strange thing do we announce in saying that God was made Man, when yourselves say that Abraham received the Lord as a guest?" [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XII.16].
“Spiritual in truth is the grace we need, in order to discourse concerning the Holy Spirit; not that we may speak what is worthy of Him, for this is impossible, but that by speaking the words of the divine Scriptures, we may run our course without danger. For a truly fearful thing is written in the Gospels, where Christ has plainly said, Whosoever shall speak a word against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XVI.1].
“Let us then speak concerning the Holy Ghost nothing but what is written; and whatsoever is not written, let us not busy ourselves about it. The Holy Ghost Himself spoke the Scriptures; He has also spoken concerning Himself as much as He pleased, or as much as we could receive. Let us therefore speak those things which He has said; for whatsoever He has not said, we dare not say” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XVI.2].
“The Father through the Son, with the Holy Ghost, is the giver of all grace; the gifts of the Father are none other than those of the Son, and those of the Holy Ghost; for there is one Salvation, one Power, one Faith; One God, the Father; One Lord, His only-begotten Son; One Holy Ghost, the Comforter. And it is enough for us to know these things; but inquire not curiously into His nature or substance: for had it been written, we would have spoken of it; what is not written, let us not venture on; it is sufficient for our salvation to know, that there is Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XVI.24].
“For now, as well as then, we candidly own that our weakness is overwhelmed by the multitude of things written. Neither to-day will we use the subtleties of men, for that is unprofitable; but merely call to mind what comes from the divine Scriptures; for this is the safest course, according to the blessed Apostle Paul, who says, Which things also we speak, not in words which man's Wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XVII.1].
“By all these proofs, and by more which have been passed over, is the personal, and sanctifying, and effectual power of the Holy Ghost established for those who can understand; for the time would fail me in my discourse if I wished to quote what yet remains concerning the Holy Ghost from the fourteen Epistles of Paul, wherein he has taught with such variety, completeness, and reverence. And to the power of the Holy Ghost Himself it must belong, to grant to us forgiveness for what we have omitted because the days are few, and upon you the hearers to impress more perfectly the knowledge of what yet remains; while from the frequent reading of the sacred Scriptures those of you who are diligent come to understand these things, and by this time, both from these present Lectures, and from what has before been told you, hold more steadfastly the Faith in "One God The Father Almighty; And IN Our Lord Jesus Christ, His Only-Begotten Son; And IN The Holy Ghost The Comforter." Though the word itself and title of Spirit is applied to Them in common in the sacred Scriptures,-for it is said of the Father, God is a Spirit , as it is written in the Gospel according to John; and of the Son, A Spirit before our face, Christ the Lord , as Jeremias the prophet says; and of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, thee Holy Ghost, as was said;-yet the arrangement of articles in the Faith, if religiously understood, disproves the error of Sabellius also” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XVII.34].
“And many are the proofs concerning the life eternal. And when we desire to gain this eternal life, the sacred Scriptures suggest to us the ways of gaining it; of which, because of the length of our discourse, the texts we now set before you shall be but few, the rest being left to the search of the diligent” [Source: NPNF2 Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture XVIII.30].
“Now these the divinely-inspired Scriptures of both the Old and the New Testament teach us. For the God of the two Testaments is One, Who in the Old Testament foretold the Christ Who appeared in the New; Who by the Law and the Prophets led us to Christ's school. For before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, and, the law hath been our tutor to bring us unto Christ. And if ever thou hear any of the heretics speaking evil of the Law or the Prophets, answer in the sound of the Saviour's voice, saying, Jesus came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it . Learn also diligently, and from the Church, what are the books of the Old Testament, and what those of the New. And, pray, read none of the apocryphal writings: for why dost thou, who knowest not those which are acknowledged among all, trouble thyself in vain about those which are disputed? Read the Divine Scriptures, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, these that have been translated by the Seventy-two Interpreters” [Source: NPNF2, Vol. VII, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture IV. 33].