Saturday, December 04, 2010

An Evangelical Introduction to Church History (Introduction - Part 1)

A Short Summary View


Much of the following information has been mentioned separately here at Beggar’s All before and other Reformed apologetic web-sites (see sources at the end), but I thought I would try to give a summary of some of the clearest issues in the early church for the Protestant side, so you can see them all at one time in one article.

By no means exhaustive, here are some highlights from early church history with references and sources for further study that show that Protestant Evangelicals can be deeper in understanding church history properly and more Biblical and stand against the false claim of John Henry Newman, that “to be deep in history is to cease to be Protestant”, that has been attracting so many to Rome in recent years.

What follows will be a short outline summary of some examples from early church history that lean more toward the Protestant understanding of doctrines and Scripture, rather than the modern Roman Catholic view. In future articles, Lord willing, I will elaborate more on each issue and writer; for now it is valuable to see an overview of the evidence for an early church that is not Roman Catholic, and compatible with what will later become Protestantism in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Clement of Rome ( 96 AD) - Presbyters and Bishops are the same office – I Clement 44, confirming Acts 14:23; 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7; I Peter 5:1-4.

Clement also has an early statement on justification by faith apart from good works wrought by us within us. I Clement 32. See also Mathetes, Epistle to Diognetes (9)

Irenaeus (writing around 180-200 AD) – bishop of Lyons, France. (On the “rule of faith”, “tradition”, “the preaching”, and “the faith”, these are all early Biblical Trinitarian doctrinal statements, similar to what will become the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed; not the RC understanding of tradition).

Against Heresies, 1:10:1 to 1:11:1; 1:22:1; 3:4:2

About Gnostic Secret oral traditions, viva voce (living voice) and using other sources and accusing the Scriptures of being unclear – Against Heresies 1:8:1 and 3:2:1

Irenaeus did not believe in the Perpetual virginity of Mary, as demonstrated in Against Heresies, 3:21:10 and 3:22:4.

Tertullian, died around 220 AD – Carthage, North Africa, wrote five books against Marcion and other works against Gnostics and other heresies.

Tertullian understood that Mary and Joseph had a normal sexual relationship within marriage after Jesus was born and so the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ is biblical and historical, but the “brothers and sisters of the Lord” are truly the children of Mary of Joseph. (see “On the Flesh of Christ”, chapter 23; On Monogamy, 8; and Against Marcion, 4:19)

For the believer’s baptism or credo-baptism position, Tertullian also cautioned against baptizing young children who could not understand the gospel yet, or repent or trust in Christ yet, see On Baptism, 18

Tertullian on the Rule of Faith, similar to Irenaeus –
Prescription Against Heretics 13:1-6
Against Praxeas 2:1-2

Cyprian (bishop of Carthage, died in 258 AD), executed under the persecution of Valerian) (he was right in his disagreement with Stephen, bishop of Rome).

Cyprian did not hold to a primacy of jurisdiction of Rome. He and 86 other bishops disagreed with Stephen, bishop of Rome, and they wrote, "no one sets himself up as bishop of bishops". See the Seventh Council of Carthage under Cyprian: This fact alone is enough to destroy any idea that the early church believed in a Papacy.

Athanasius (died 373) (deacon at the Council of Nicea in 325 and bishop of Alexandria from 328 – 373, when he died) He was exiled 5 times in his defense of the Deity of Christ and the Trinity against the Arian heretics who had taken over the churches. (Dr. White/ Webster/King all demonstrate he, along with many of the other early church writers, had a closer view of Scripture as the final authority - closer to Protestantism than the RCC view of Scripture and tradition; without claiming that he was a full blow Protestant.)

After listing the 27 books of the NT in his famous Easter Letter of 367 AD, Athanasius writes,

“These are the fountains of salvation that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness.” (Festal Letter 39) Notice the word "alone" here.

“Vainly then do they run about with the pretext that they have demanded Councils for the faiths sake; for divine Scripture is sufficient above all things; but if a Council be needed on the point, there are the proceedings of the Fathers, for the Nicene Bishops did not neglect this matter, but stated the doctrines so exactly, that persons reading their words honestly, cannot but be reminded by them of the religion towards Christ announced in divine Scripture.” (De Synodis, 6) (On the Councils, 6)

“For indeed the holy and God-breathed Scriptures are self-sufficient for the preaching of the truth.” (Against the Gentiles, 1:3)

Augustine (died in 430 AD right before the barbarian Vandals took Carthage.) Augustine influenced Luther and Calvin on the bondage of the will of man in sin (with John 8:34 and Ephesians 2:1-3); and God’s grace and sovereignty in election and effectively calling and drawing His people. (Grace must precede repentance and faith and decision for Christ, agreeing with John 6:44 and Acts 16:14 and many other passages.).

(See, for example, Augustine, The Enchiridion, chapter 30)

Jerome (347-420 AD) (his view on the Apocrypha is the right view).
“As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it also read these two Volumes (Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus) for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church. ( Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series 2, Vol. 6, St. Jerome, Prefaces to Jerome's Works, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs; Daniel.)
See also: (NPNF2, Vol. 6, St. Jerome, Prefaces to Jerome's Works, The Books of Samuel and Kings, pp. 489-490).

Origen (254 AD), Basil (379 AD), and Chrysostom (407 AD) all denied that Mary was sinless.

Basil of Caesarea (379 AD) on Scripture as the final infallible authority over customs/traditions:

“What is my reply? I do not consider it fair that the custom which obtains among them should be regarded as a law and rule of orthodoxy. If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right, then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favor of that side will be cast the vote of truth." (Basil of Caesarea, Letter 189, 3)

Most of this information, I have learned over the years from these books and web-sites:

Sola Scriptura: The Protestant Position on the Bible, especially chapter 2 by Dr. White, “Sola Scriptura and the Early Church”. (General Editor, Don Kistler, Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1995. (other Chapters by John McArthur, R.C. Sproul, Robert Godfrey, Sinclair Ferguson, and others.)

Scripture Alone by James R. White. Bethany House. 2004.

Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith, (3 volumes) by David T. King and William Webster. Christian Resources, 2001,

The Church of Rome at the Bar of History by William Webster (Banner of Truth, 1995)

www.aomin.org

www.christiantruth.com

Jason Engwer’s massive and well-researched articles at Triablogue (I have yet to have made it through all of these, though I hope to soon.)

Turretinfan's exhaustive and tenacious research (I confess I don't think I will ever get to the bottom of reading all of this amazing material.)

James Swan’s very important articles on Luther and Justification and on Alister McGrath and his work on Justification

124 comments:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"for now it is valuable to see an overview of the evidence for an early church that is not Roman Catholic, and compatible with what will later become Protestantism in the 16th and 17th centuries."

Thanks Ken for this valuable work!

steelikat said...

Ken,

What do you think of Jurgens "Faith of the Early Fathers?" Do you agree with me that it is basically worthless, that the works he was picking and choosing from did not deserve to be used that way and weren't meant to be used that way?

It is peculiar and strange that the primary thing you would take from Clement is "Presbyters and Bishops are the same office." Your understanding of what the other authors you are citing seems strange to me as well. Have you read I Clement? Have you read the other works you are citing? Do you really think you are summarizing their content fairly and well?

It seems that what you may be doing is combing the works of these writers trying to find things that seem closer to Protestantism (and your specific version of Protestantism at that) than RCism. Jurgens has done what you are trying to do but for the RC side, in a project on which he spent years of concentrated effort. What Jurgens did seems to be pretty worthless to most patristic theologians and historians of theology.

Ken said...

Steelikat,
Yes, Jurgens is selective and years ago I checked all 3 volumes out from a library near me and spend several months in them off and on for several years.

One of the biggest problems I remember was how Jurgens cut the Athanasius quote from "To Serapion" 1:28, on "the tradition". We will get to that later, be patient.

I don't know if I would go so far as to say "worthless", but, I do try to be fair, and I will say that it is selective and biased and many times, cutting the quote too soon or too late - shows that if the quote was begun earlier or extended, the ECF is closer to the Protestant viewpoint.

You accuse me of doing the same thing - selective, biased, etc.

Yes, to both; (and I admitted it - see below) we need an overview response to the RC apologetic "summaries".

That is why I was careful to call it "An Introduction . . . " and "A short summary view" -

Yes, I wanted to get the main positive points out there in one summary/overview article that covers basically the first 450 years.

I also informed the reader that I will, Lord willing, in future posts expand and explain more context and background for each and I will probably bring in other EFCs and writers and sources and books.

Yes, I have read all the works I cited, except for Turretinfan's exhaustive articles on the same subjects. I have read most of what Jason Engwer has written. (and I wrote that I hope to finish his material soon.) I have been reading all of these works and many more since 1996. I admit I cannot fit everything into a blog post.

Yes, I have read I Clement; and studied it. There is more to be said, for sure, and I said that I would expand on that.

Even many Roman Catholics and other scholars admit that I Clement treats presbyters and bishops as the same office. It was later with Ignatius that the bishop/episcopos/ overseer is separated out from the presbyters as a higher office over them. Even Ignatius can be taken as the overseer being the moderator or "president" (Justin Martyr) or the most gifted preacher/teacher or the "one who leads or rules" (I Timothy 5:17), but that is still not in any Roman Catholic Papal sense.

Be patient.

Ken said...

And yes, I have read (and studied) Against Heresies, by Irenaeus, most of what Athanasius has written (some of it is not available in the standard EFC works), Tertullian On Baptism, (and more of Tertullian's works, though not every single work of his); a lot of Cyprian (not everything, I admit, but enough of the the pertinent material in his letters and "on the Lapsed" and "The Unity of the Church"; all of Ingatius' letters, a lot of Augustine's material pertinent to election and Salvation and the freedom and bondage of the will; ( I confess I tried to read "the City of God" years ago and just could not get through it, it was so ponderous and repititious, but I think it is ok to rely on other scholars who have summarized his work and provide enough quotes and footnotes to be basically familiar with it. I have read enough of Augustine, but not all; but I have read his Confessions and some of his shorter works completely, especially his anti-Pelagian material; etc.

Ryan said...

Thanks for the summary, Ken.

Speaking of Augustine's monergistic beliefs, I too wrote a summary post here outlining this.

steelikat said...

There is little doubt that Clement treated them as the same office, and I don't think it's a controversial point. Remember that I Clement was written at end of the first century, probably before the two offices were separated.

natamllc said...

steelikat:

"... What Jurgens did seems to be pretty worthless to most patristic theologians and historians of theology."

Steelikat, asking, "so you have read most all patristic theologians and historians of theology to make that assertion"?

Are you an accredited scholar?

Do you have a D.D. or PhD?

Who are you that you can make such an assertion and, ironically, question Ken's integrity?

zipper778 said...

I don't think there's anything wrong with people questioning others regardless of who they are. That's where the RCC errors. It's not important who you are but what you ask. However, with that being said I also believe it's important that steelikat acknowledges that this is a summary, a quick overview of material that Ken admitted will be covered later.

Thank you Ken for this article! It's a great start!

steelikat said...

natamIIc,

"Who are you that you can make such an assertion..and question Ken's integrity."

1. I don't know which assertion you mean.
2. I am no one that can question Ken's integrity.

Ken said...

Thanks Ryan for the link to the article you did on Augustine and monergism - excellent!

I have now saved your link and will enjoy looking deeper into it.

I think you really nailed it and all of those quotes are exactly what I was talking about in my short synopsis of Augustine's view on that.

Ken said...

Steelikat wrote:
There is little doubt that Clement treated them as the same office, and I don't think it's a controversial point. Remember that I Clement was written at end of the first century, probably before the two offices were separated.

That's what I was saying! I don't understand why you wrote what you did at first, if you are now agreeing with me on that point. Why did you write this? -

* "It is peculiar and strange that the primary thing you would take from Clement is "Presbyters and Bishops are the same office." Your understanding of what the other authors you are citing seems strange to me as well. Have you read I Clement? Have you read the other works you are citing? Do you really think you are summarizing their content fairly and well?"

what's the deal with that?

steelikat said...

Ken,

I thought it was strange that the primary thing you would take from Clement is "Presbyters and Bishops are the same office."

Ken said...

Natmallc,
Thanks for your kind words.

Did you realize that Jurgen's is a Roman Catholic author?

It is a "quote book" of three volumes, seeking to prove Roman Catholic distinctive doctrines, dogmas and practices as early and historical.

It seems pretty powerful, at first glance, until you actually look up the passages and read the larger context of each quote.

And sometimes he even translates words wrongly to build his case for Rome. More on that in later articles.

Sometimes early meanings of some words are not the same meaning as what the words are interpreted by the Roman Catholic Church centuries later.

For example,
"Catholic" just means "universal", "kat - short for Kata = "according to"; and "holicos" = "whole"; hence "according to the whole", and it was used to speak of all the true churches in all areas that followed the Bible and the "rule of faith", ie, "the tradition of the apostles"; it did not mean any kind of "Roman Church" that was over all the other churches. It was used to distinguish the true churches from the heresies such as Gnosticsim, Docetism, Arians, Montanists, Novatians, Monarchians (Modalists), Apollonarius, Pelagians, Manacheans, and Augustine used it against the Donatist schism.

Eucharist is another example of a good word, "thanksgiving" for the Lord's supper, but it did not mean transubstantiation - that started in the 800s and was declared dogma in 1215.

"tradition" is another word, that can have a good meaning, or a negative meaning, again, according to context.

"The chair of Peter" in early centuries meant "in unity with the faith of Peter that he confessed in Matthew 16:16-18, that "You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God". It carried no such meaning of infallibility or automatic succession of office or Papal jurisdiction, etc.

natamllc said...

steelikat,

1. I don't know which assertion you mean.
2. I am no one that can question Ken's integrity.


As to number 1 above, go back to my comment to you. The citation in italics are your words from your first comment. I believe it is the very last sentence in your comments to Ken, above.

I will ask you again. Are you a scholar and have you read all that that you are arguing from as the basis to question Ken's article?

It seems odd to me when reading these words of yours, here, if you are not. It is a portion of the citation made by me, above:

"... most patristic theologians and historians of theology."

Have you read "most" patristic theologians so that you can make that assertion? Are you a trained Minister or Theologian?

Have you read the works of historians of theology so that you can make that assertion? Are you a trained Historian?

Now that you opened the door, let me go through it some more and quote an earlier paragraph of yours from your first comment above:

It is peculiar and strange that the primary thing you would take from Clement is "Presbyters and Bishops are the same office." Your understanding of what the other authors you are citing seems strange to me as well. Have you read I Clement? Have you read the other works you are citing? Do you really think you are summarizing their content fairly and well?

When I read something like that in that form, as written, I assume the one writing it has some scholarly knowledge of these things so as to ask those kinds of questions.

Your assertion here presupposes you have certain knowledge of not only Clement 1, also that you have "read the other works?" also.

Your opinion expressed in here is strong and in some ways calls into question the judgment of Ken's article and his representations to his blog audience.

Therefore, contrary to this claim of yours about you: "2. I am no one that can question Ken's integrity.", the way you are questioning Ken's work above seems as though you are a somebody, well read, scholarly and knows that Ken's article lacks sufficiency or merits your criticism.

Criticism is good if you are one who has the scholarly acumen in the field of knowledge and understanding so as to offer edification that is critical of another's work.

natamllc said...

Ken, you asked:

"Did you realize that Jurgen's is a Roman Catholic author?"

No.

I too am in living anticipation of your future work on this subject being posted in here!

natamllc said...

Can someone unleash my other comment held up in the spam filter?

James Swan said...

I try to check the spam box everyday.

steelikat said...

"have you read all that that you are arguing from as the basis to question Ken's article?"

I don't understand what you mean by that.

"Have you read "most" patristic theologians so that you can make that assertion? Are you a trained Minister or Theologian?"

I haven't read most patristic theologians, but anyone calling himself a patristic theologian who recommended that you read "Faith of the Early Fathers" in order to become familiar with the works it quotes from would be doing you a great disservice and would not be someone you should find credible.

"When I read something like that in that form, as written, I assume the one writing it has some scholarly knowledge of these things so as to ask those kinds of questions."

You can gain a similar "scholarly knowledge." Read I Clement. After reading it ask yourself what Clement's response would be if he received in reply to his epistle a postcard from the Corinthians thanking him for his wonderful letter explaining to them how the presbyterate and the episcopate are the same office. Would Clement think that the Corinthians had understood the point of his epistle?

"Your assertion here presupposes you have certain knowledge of not only Clement 1, also that you have "read the other works?" also."

I don't know what you mean by "certain knowledge" but I have read I Clement and some of the other works and Fathers Ken mentioned.

"seems as though you are a somebody..."

Of course I am somebody but I am not somebody who can question Ken's integrity. You asked me who I am that can question Ken's integrity. I was answering that question. I am no one that can question Ken's integrity. That does not mean that I am no one simpliciter.

"Criticism is good if you are one who has the scholarly acumen..."

(Valid, significant) criticism is good if you are anyone. Critical thinking is one of the things that substantially distinguishes us from chimpanzees, that makes us human.

Lvka said...

I just have to wonder, at this point, whether you also believe that the four bishops you mention on your list also share in your opinion about bishops & presbyters.


Irenaeus did not believe in the Perpetual virginity of Mary (Against Heresies, 3:21:10 and 3:22:4).

Irenaeus does no such thing: neither in the passages you referenced, nor anywhere else in his writings, for that matter.


The Church's tradition is anything but secret: if it were so, then maybe your conscience would have an excuse before Christ at the last judgement (John 15:22): as things stand, it doesn't.

steelikat said...

Ken,

Yes, Lvka brought up something I was going to ask you about but forgot. Neither of the two passages you mentioned from Irenaeus deny Mary's perpetual virginity.

By the way, the Reformers believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary. I'm sure you know that but it seems like a good point to bring up at this time, given the thesis of your article. This isn't a question that divides Rome and the Reformation, per se.

Ken said...

Lvka and Steelikat,
The Irenaeus passages imply that Mary was not a virgin after the virgin birth, but they clearly teach that she was a virgin until after Jesus was born.

The parallel of "as yet virgin soil, for it had not rained yet" with
"as yet, a virgin", shows this.

Granted, it is not as strong as Tertullian,and is an implication; but seems to be essence of Irenaeus' thoughts there in writing.

It is the same idea as "heos hou" in Matthew 1:25 - "Joseph kept her a virgin until (heos hou) she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus."

Eric Svendsen did an excellent job of showing that "heos hou" meant "until, and then afterward, there would be a change in relationship."
Who is My Mother? The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism. Calvary Press, 2001.

And along with all the passages of the "brothers and sisters of the Lord", it becomes very clear.

I asked another Roman Catholic apologist what the purpose of the perpetual virginity doctrine was; and all he could tell me what that it gave extra protection to the doctrine of the virgin birth. But since the virgin birth is clear enough in Scripture, Matthew 1:18-25; Luke chapters 1-2; why the need for more tradition that supposedly protects that doctrine? The writings of commentators that for her to have a normal marriage with sex, after Jesus' birth, saying that this is "inappropriate" seems to have been influenced by Gnostic ideas that sex is somehow dirty, even in marriage. The same RC apologist also admitted to me that most all the early church fathers went too far in their views of "sex as sin and dirty", even in marriage.

We will expand more on that later.

Ken said...

Yes, James Swan has written on Luther's theology of Mary and his lifelong view that she was a perpetual virgin. (see sidebar of Beggar's All for Jame's excellent articles on Luther)

http://tquid.sharpens.org/luther_mary1.htm#V

But Luther also rebuked RCs who made too much out of her perpetual virginity and exalted her and made her almost a goddess out of that tradition.

Yes, Zwingli and John Wesley did also.

Calvin did not say more for the doctrine or against it, just that arguments over it are not profitable.

"It is said that Joseph knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born son: but this is limited to that very time. What took place afterwards, the historian does not inform us. Such is well known to have been the practice of the inspired writers. Certainly, no man will ever raise a question on this subject, except from curiosity; and no man will obstinately keep up the argument, except from an extreme fondness for disputation." Calvin, Commentary on Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom31.ix.xv.html

Ken said...

Lvka wrote:
"I just have to wonder, at this point, whether you also believe that the four bishops you mention on your list also share in your opinion about bishops & presbyters."

By the four bishops, I guess you mean, Irenaeus (bishop of Lyons), Cyprian (Carthage), Athanasius (Alexandria), Augustine (Hippo).

Probably not, but Clement did, and he was earlier than all of them. The Didache, also older, also only mentions 2 offices in the church, "bishops and deacons", as Philippians 1:1 does also.

The transition from a college of presbyters who keep each other accountable in each church (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-7; Acts 20:17, 28; I Peter 5:1-4) to the bishop being exalted as a separated office with higher authority over the Presbyters seems to be one of the first small steps of drifting away from the Scriptures.

Cyprian's strong disagreement with Stephen, bishop of Rome, shows that no jurisdiction of Rome over the other areas was the early church belief either, which you, as an EO, agree with Protestants on that issue.

Ikonophile said...

Regarding Clement,

doesn't he use the Levitical Priesthood and the laity to show the divisions of ordination in Christianity? He doesn't use the words presbyter and bishop, but by using the Levitical Priesthood as a shadow or type, he explains that there is indeed a presiding presbyter, or bishop, and also priests, and deacons and the laity. This four-fold structure is used to describe the various ordained ministries in the Church.

I know that it is 1 Clement 40 and 41, though my copy of the text is not in front of me to reproduce in full, but I can find it if need be.

I guess I'm not sure how you think Clement denies the division of bishop/priest, and the later division being incorrect. Lack of particular vocabulary doesn't deny the distinction between priest and bishop, especially when his use of the Levitical Priesthood affirms in practice what is later articulated in more precise and different terms.

John

steelikat said...

"Eric Svendsen did an excellent job of showing that 'heos hou' meant 'until, and then afterward, there would be a change in relationship.'
Who is My Mother? The Role and Status of the Mother of Jesus in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism. Calvary Press, 2001."

You read that and you found it persuasive?

This is essentially his argument, as far as I can tell:

If you are careful to restrict yourself to those biblical and literary Greek writings from 100BC and 100AD that have survived, and take care not to consider any writings from even a few decades before or after this specific range of time, you will not find any examples among the few dozen occurrences of this phrase where heos hou is semantically consistent with the "perpetual virgin" interpretation of Matthew. Except for the verse in Matthew, if you believe that is consistent. And also several other examples, but you're clearly misinterpreting those. Oh, and there are examples both before 100 BC and after 100 AD, but don't count as evidence because Matthew was written ca. 50 AD. Therefore I've proven conclusively that Matthew implies that Mary was not perpetually virgin.

Anyway, against heresies was written outside Svendsen's 200-year range, and even if he did use the phrase "heos hou" Svendsen himself admits there are examples from that period of time where "heos hou" does not imply "until but not after"

steelikat said...

Ken,

I just took a look at your Tertullian references and they don't deny Mary's perpetual virginity, either. Tertullian was quoting and commenting on the Gospel passages where Jesus asks "who is my mother and who are my brothers?"

Matthew D. Schultz said...

steelikat writes:

This is essentially his argument, as far as I can tell:

That is not his argument. Neither is it as weak as you make it out to be. You might not think the evidence he adduces to defend his argument succeeds, but the version you have presented is not appropriate to judge its merits. Have you read his work in this area?

steelikat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
steelikat said...

Matthew,

I read an essay he wrote that used to be on his website. If I remember right I think it was his PhD thesis. You do have a good point, that's not the whole of his argument. But I have a good point too, and my description is what a key part of his argument logically reduces to. Svendsen is simply wrong that "heos hou" necessarily implied "until but not afterward." There are counterexamples in Greek both before and after the book of Matthew was written, if one doesn't except Matthew 1:25 itself as a counterexample.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Svendsen is simply wrong that "heos hou" necessarily implied "until but not afterward."

Svensden gives a somewhat more nuanced and qualified thesis:

This construction [heos hou] is used in Matt. 1:25 and so is of special interest here. It occurs only seventeen times in the NT, and all are temporal. Two of these have the meaning "while" (Matt. 14:22; 26:36), whereas the other fifteen occurrences are instances in which the action of the main clause is limited by the action of the subordinate clause and require the meaning "until a specified time (but not after)" (Who Is My Mother? [Calvary Press, 2001], 52).

You continue:

There are counterexamples in Greek both before and after the book of Matthew was written, if one doesn't except Matthew 1:25 itself as a counterexample.

Yes, and these are discussed by Svendsen. (For example, he takes into account the usage in the Septuagint.) I think the critical question is whether the period of time Svendsen sets is sufficient to demonstrate the asserted semantic range. Given Svendsen's survey in Who is My Mother?, I would answer that question in the positive. Whether you reach the same conclusion would be best decided after you take some time to critically engage the relevant portions of his book.

steelikat said...

"I think the critical question is whether the period of time Svendsen sets is sufficient to demonstrate the asserted semantic range."

That's ridiculous. First of all there are examples from within Svendsen's arbitrary range (~150 years before to ~50 years after assuming Matthew was written ca. 50 AD) and even if there weren't anny examples it's ridiculously arbitrary. He rejects examples from the early second century BC because they fall outside the time range he's chosen.

I am amazed that someone seemingly as intelligent as you would defend that particular argument. It's ludicrous.

You're a math guy, aren't you? Think about the probabilities. There are only several dozen examples of the phrase from that arbitrary time period anyway (less than a hundred if I remember right, including all the biblical examples). There is no doubt that only in a small percentage of cases of the use of the phrase (or the word heos by itself for that matter) will the question even be semantically applicable. Even if you went out on a limb and gave Svendsen's time range idea the benefit of the doubt (he's not arguing the usual sort of semantic evolution he's arguing that the phrase changed in meaning BC and then CHANGED BACK to the older meaning a few generations later, very conveniently) there simply aren't enough extant examples to make the argument statistically valid.

steelikat said...

I'm sorry. When something seems so obvious to me and smart people like you don't see it I get frustrated and excited.

Svendsens hypothesis was a very good one, scientifically speaking, in that it was clearly defined and falsifiable. A single instance will falsify it (as he admits). 4 Maccabees 7:3 is undoubtedly such an instance. There is no reason to think that the author of 4 Maccabees was trying to imply that Eleazar did shift the metaphorical rudder of piety after it entered the harbor of victory.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

steelikat writes:

Think about the probabilities. There are only several dozen examples of the phrase from that arbitrary time period anyway (less than a hundred if I remember right, including all the biblical examples). There is no doubt that only in a small percentage of cases of the use of the phrase (or the word heos by itself for that matter) will the question even be semantically applicable.

Even if you went out on a limb and gave Svendsen's time range idea the benefit of the doubt (he's not arguing the usual sort of semantic evolution he's arguing that the phrase changed in meaning BC and then CHANGED BACK to the older meaning a few generations later, very conveniently) there simply aren't enough extant examples to make the argument statistically valid.I'm sorry. When something seems so obvious to me and smart people like you don't see it I get frustrated and excited.


Lots of otherwise intelligent people believe various false propositions and succumb to bad arguments. I am not surprised when it happens to anyone given the fall and its effects on the totality of our being--which includes the inner workings of the intellect.

However, setting aside the specific breakdown of meanings and usage that Svendsen details in his book, and the more general principles of New Testament word studies, I am not sure I'm willing to take your level of skepticism with regard to just what can be known about words in the New Testament; it is quite possible your standard would relegate large portions of Scripture unintelligible:

According to statistics collected by Robert Morgenthaler, the Greek New Testament makes use of 5,436 different Greek words. More than one half of these (namely, 3,246 words) occur only once, twice, or thrice in the entire New Testament. Of the remainder, about eleven hundred occur ten or more times. (Bruce Metzger, Lexical Aids for Students of New Testament Greek [Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI, 1997], 1)

Meaning is also not limited to the bare number of occurrences. Some examples and their context (such as the 4 Maccabees reference you provide below) are notoriously difficult to analyze, while others give a clear indication of the meaning of a particular word. The quality of each example is relevant.

Now, perhaps you know all this. If you do, I don't mean to make an affront to your intelligence or learning. But either way I would like to know how you would account for your probability standards based on the available data and how New Testament scholars are able to distinguish the meaning of words from far less than 100 examples.

Svendsens hypothesis was a very good one, scientifically speaking, in that it was clearly defined and falsifiable. A single instance will falsify it (as he admits). 4 Maccabees 7:3 is undoubtedly such an instance. There is no reason to think that the author of 4 Maccabees was trying to imply that Eleazar did shift the metaphorical rudder of piety after it entered the harbor of victory.

Since you don't give specifics, I'm not sure what you find problematic in Svendsen's analysis of this example.

Shammah said...

Thank you for this compilation.

I've been working on compiling early Christian quotes--from my own reading--for years (www.christian-history.org/christian-quotes.html), but since I can't do that full-time, it's nice to have direction.

So often, I follow up the references of others, and I find the quotes inaccurate or out of context. The ones I looked up from you were quite accurate.

Thanks again!

Oh, and I didn't read all the comments on your post, but I see you get the same flak from Catholics that I get. It doesn't matter how much you explain, how much you put things in context, nor how clear the quote is, they come on and spout their unthinking tradition.

One of your commenters asked if you'd read those works. I've read most of the pre-Nicene ones you quote--repeatedly--and you're quoting them fairly.

Ken said...

Thanks Matthew for your comments regarding "heos hou"/Matthew 1:25 and Svendsen's book.

Steelikat,
Svendsen deals with 4 Maccabees 7:3 on pages 64-65 of his book. Too much to type out fully right now for me, except for one sentence. See the pages for the rest of his argumentation.

"The metaphorical nature of this passage makes it exceedingly difficult to make a firm decision as to the continuation/discontinuation of the action of the main clause." p. 64-65

Overall, even if it can proven there are some exceptions to the overwhelming examples of heos hou meaning "until, and after that a change, or no more", etc.

-Matthew still chose the strongest prepositional phrase construction to communicate the idea that Svendsen and we are defending.

Out of the other choices of prepositional temporal constructions of "until",

"heos" by itself;
or
"heos an"
or
even going outside of the "heos" construction to "axpri hou" (Romans 11:25 shows "until, and then stop", but in I Cor. 15:25, it communicates the "until, but not stopping" meaning.) Roman Catholics many times bring up examples of heos by itself or "heos an" or axpri hou, but don't seem to realize the difference and that "heos hou" is the strongest construction that Matthew could have chosen to communicate "until" and "after that, no more".

- Matthew (the gospel writer) still chose the strongest one of all these choices where 99 % of the time (given your view that there are exceptions outside of that time range) - (for now you give one exception, and that is unclear, and Svendsen answered that issue.

My point is, context is a more important principle here (Matthew 1:18, the nature of marriage itself, calling her "his wife", etc., along with teaching in I Corinthians 7 - "stop depriving one another", and the fact that sex in marriage is good and holy and right and even RCs admit that the early fathers such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Augustine, and Jerome went too far in their negative views on marriage; and secondly, the other information in Matthew and the rest of the gospels about "Jesus' brothers and sisters" soundly and decisively defeats the "perpetual virginity" view of the Roman Catholic church.

more on these things, including the Tertullian quotes, that Steelikat brings up, later. (as time allows me, Lord willing)

Ken said...

Thank you, Shammah, for your comments and confirmation!

You also have a lot of interesting material at your website, that I have noticed over the past few years (?) when you comment at various blogs on these issues. (though I have not looked at all your stuff thoroughly.)

Shammah said...

Thanks! Your post today made some of the material at my site better! Sure filled out the quotes on the virgin birth well.

steelikat said...

"Lots of otherwise intelligent people believe various false propositions and succumb to bad arguments. I am not surprised when it happens to anyone given the fall and its effects on the totality of our being--which includes the inner workings of the intellect."

You're right, and I'm sorry I'm so impatient.

"it is quite possible your standard would relegate large portions of Scripture unintelligible"

That is not true. What Svendsen is doing here (in a specific sense) is unusual. His thesis is original and is something that no one thought of before he came along. Yet no one besides careless RC apologists complain that Scripture is unintelligible (and even they add that it is intelligible with a lot of help from the RC church).

"Meaning is also not limited to the bare number of occurrences."

Of course it is not. Who said it was?

"Some examples and their context (such as the 4 Maccabees reference you provide below) are notoriously difficult to analyze..."

Really? Show me. I am not saying you are wrong, I am saying "show me that the 4 Maccabees reference is difficult to analyze specifically in terms of the 'heos hou' argument." Eric Svendsen tried to show me (not me specifically but his readers) and failed. He made good points about the metaphors and referents in the passage not all being clear but none of these points specifically impacted the "heos hou" thesis since no plausible metaphor allows that Eleazar would shift the rudder of piety so close to his goal and still be so praiseworthy as the overall context (4 Maccabees itself) demands he must be.

"But either way I would like to know how you would account for your probability standards based on the available data and how New Testament scholars are able to distinguish the meaning of words from far less than 100 examples."

ONE example suffices to establish the meaning of a word if the context makes the meaning clear. Probability doesn't even enter into the question that you are now framing. Let me remind you that Svendsen is not trying to show (at least not with the particular 'heos hou' argument that Ken appealed to) that a particular sense of a word or phrase is what is intended in a passage. If he were trying to do that he could accomplish it with a SINGLE example if the context were clear enough to overcome reasonable doubt. What Svendsen argues is that he has the evidence to prove that one particular connotation of the phrase "heos hou" utterly vanished from written usage during the time period from 150 years before and 50 years after the time that Matthew was written, then re-emerged. Something that is absolutely necessary to prove his argument is a statistically sufficiently large sample plus the complete absence in his data of any use of the phrase with that connotation.

Statistical probability is an essential component of his argument. To help you understand why, let us suppose that every Greek text (and its memory in the minds of scholars) dating from Svendsen's time range magically vanished, except for one book. Let us say furthermore that in that book there is only one use of the phrase "heos hou" and in that instance, as is usually the case with both the phrase and the word "heos" alone, the particular sense of the word "until" that we are talking about is clearly not intended. Would the absence of the particular sense of the phrase "heos hou" tell us anything about whether that sense existed during that time period? I hope you would see that the answer is "no" because there isn't enough data to establish the hypothesis. How much data then would be necessary? I invite you to think about that question, as your response to my point indicates you have not yet tried to do.

steelikat said...

Ken,

"The metaphorical nature of this passage makes it exceedingly difficult to make a firm decision as to the continuation/discontinuation of the action of the main clause."

Why?

Svendsen succeeds in showing that the passage is metaphorical (actually that's so obvious he didn't need to show it). More to the point he successfully argues that the metaphors and references are unclear. That's really doesn't help him though, because what he must do is show that Eleazar, upon reaching the harbor of victory, shifted the rudder of piety. Surely you must be able to see that no plausible metaphor allows for that.

"Overall, even if it can proven there are some exceptions to the overwhelming examples of heos hou meaning 'until, and after that a change, or no more,' etc."

Svendsen admits that there are many exceptions, and clearly these are exceptions to a general rule. What he argues (I will assume cogently but I am unable to judge that question) is that the range of possible connotations of the phrase changed as Greek evolved. He goes further than that, though, and makes the more bold hypothesis and attempts to demonstrate it, that the exceptional usage utterly vanished after 100 BC, so that no Greek author could plausibly use it. It is that last quite bold hypothesis that his proof depends on. People who believe Mary remained a virgin after the Nativity wouldn't say and don't need to say that the necessary connotation is what is usually intended by the phrase or the word alone for that matter. Usually the phrase (and the bare word itself for that matter) does mean "but not after" as does the English word "until." Usually.

"My point is, context is a more important principle here"

I agree with that, which is why I challenged your appeal to Svendsen's "heos hou" argument in particular. The immediate context of the verse seems to me to suggest that what Matthew was trying to do was affirm that Mary was a virgin when Christ was born, and was not really addressing the question of whether she was a virgin afterwards (?why should he?, the Gospel is about Jesus not about his mother).

The wider context you mention, the nature of marriage itself and sex within marriage being a good thing, is a good argument. You don't need to know what "heos" means to make that argument.

steelikat said...

Matthew and Ken,

My comments went into the spam filter.

Ken said...

Steelikat,
I tried to look for the spam folder thing, but I confess I don't know how to; and couldn't find it.

Maybe James Swan (or others on the blog team who know what to do) can help us on this, when he checks into his blog.

I did notice that your comment came out on the side bar, but when I clicked on it, it wasn't there.

Lvka said...

Ken,

regarding Mary's virginity:


the New Eve (Mary) did not lose her virginity in parallelism to the Old Eve, much in the same manner in which also the New Adam (Christ) did not sin after the manner of the Old Adam.

Or to put it another way:

the New Adam and the New Eve did NOT go on losing their first estate (sinlesness and chastity) after the manner of the old Adam and Eve: quite on the contrary, through the two of them, mankind returned (back) to its original state, undoing the harm caused by the former original pair.

The parallelism here is a negative one: Eve disobeyed, whereas Mary obeyed; Adam got us OUT of the Garden, whereas Christ was burried IN a Garden; Adam died, whereas Christ resurrected; etc.

Lvka said...

Now, concerning bishops:


bishops ar to priests what arch-deacons (like Stephen) are to the rest of their colleagues. Or what Saint Peter was to the rest of the Twelve. Or what Saint Paul was to the rest of the Seventy [Galatians 2:7-8]. Or what Moses (and Joshua after him) was/were to the rest of the 70 elders of Israel. Or what the king of Jerusalem was among the rest of the judges of the cities. Or what Joseph and David were among their brethren. Etc.

It's simply a pattern that spreads throughout both Testaments, and it would be unwise to ignore it.

Matthew D. Schultz said...

Ken and steelikat,

James has administrative rights to the spam folder. He checks it most days. If it doesn't appear later, I can either inquire directly with James or repost steelikat's response for him (it is saved in my Google Reader subscription).

Ryan said...

Lvka wrote:

"The parallelism here is a negative one: Eve disobeyed, whereas Mary obeyed; Adam got us OUT of the Garden, whereas Christ was burried IN a Garden; Adam died, whereas Christ resurrected; etc."

Is Christ's bride His mother or the church? Who is the mother of believers, Mary or heavenly Jerusalem?

Ken said...

I plan to deal with the New Eve / virgin parallelism in future posts.
Be patient on that one; I have too much other work right now.

Lvka said...

Ryan,

Mary is to Christ what the Church is to Christians. Mary is also our mother (John 19:26).

Ryan said...

"Mary is to Christ what the Church is to Christians."

Point? Are you saying the Church is married to Christians? I don't see how this helps your Marian New Eve typology at all. If anything, it's more absurd than ever.

"Mary is also our mother (John 19:26)."

John 19:26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”
27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Ergo, Mary is the mother of every believer? What a joke.

Lvka said...

Uhm,... Ryan,


it's not "my" "Marian New Eve typology", it's St. Irenaeus'.

And "I" didn't bring it up, it was the author of this article, Ken. I was just filling in some explanations here and there, that's all.

Lvka said...

Mary is the mother of every believer?


Yes.

Just like Christ is the Brother and Bridegroom of every believer (including Mary); just like God is the adoptive Father of every believer; etc.

Lvka said...

Just like God is both the Father as well as the Husband of Israel in the OT, etc.

Shammah said...

Lvka,

As far as I know, Irenaeus never says that Mary is the mother of every believer. He definitely contrasts Mary with Eve (in a way that seems to suggest he didn't believe in her perpetual virginity), but he says nothing that I know of about Mary being a mother to all believers.

Can you reference your statement?

Ryan said...

Lvka,

I would also be interested in seeing the passages in Irenaeus to which you are referring.

"Yes."

If so, John 19 certainly doesn't teach that. You can't really think that the fact John was to care for Mary means that every believer ought to regard Mary as mother. How is that even remotely suggested?

Your analogy to God as Father and Husband of Israel is fine and dandy, but you are missing a key element: an actual reference that Mary is our mother or Christ's wife. So far, you are just pontificating.

Lvka said...

Shammah,

I never said that.


-----------------------------------
Ryan,

Christ is the mystical bridegroom of every believer. Mary is a believer. Connect the dots.

We're all Christ's brothers. Mary is Christ's mother. Connect the dots.

-----------------------------------
Ryan,

if you don't like the Mary-Eve typology, tell it to Ken, not to me: he wrote the article. I wasn't the one to bring it up.

You can't have it both ways, guys.

Ryan said...

"Christ is the mystical bridegroom of every believer. Mary is a believer. Connect the dots."

I know that since I was the one who brought that up. What I'm wondering is how this functions as an argument Mary is the new Eve.

"We're all Christ's brothers. Mary is Christ's mother. Connect the dots."

Then again, Christ called his disciples his mother and brothers too; are you going to argue a typological connection between Eve and the apostles?

"if you don't like the Mary-Eve typology, tell it to Ken, not to me: he wrote the article. I wasn't the one to bring it up."

I don't see where Ken brought it up, but in any case, he has already said he's going to write a future post on it. I'll address that then, if he is arguing that there is a typological connection between Eve and Mary. I'll reply to your posts now since you are the one who is making the argument now.

Viisaus said...

"Mary is to Christ what the Church is to Christians."

And THIS notion, ladies and gentlemen, is why RC and EO ecclesiolaters are so fond of Mariolatry. By worshipping Mary, they are indirectly worshipping themselves. By exalting Mary, the church hierarchy is actually exalting ITSELF.

One of the most blasphemous Mariolatrous notions is the idea that Mary has some inherent "maternal authority" over Christ and can downright COMMAND Him to do this or that.

Following the Mary=Church reasoning, this nicely dovetails the notion that the church can boss and order believers around (like loading them with extra-Biblical legalistic fastings and celibacies, and introducing new articles of belief) and generally have "dominion over their faith" (versus 2 Corinthians 1:24).

Lvka said...

I don't see where Ken brought it up

Buy a pair of reading glasses then.

___________________________________
V.,

no more than we also worship ourselves (as Christians) by worshipping Christ, whom we try to emulate.

Viisaus said...

And concerning the doctrine of "Perpetual Virginity", Isaac Taylor explains below WHY this doctrine became so widespread (although not unanimous) in the early church in spite of such seemingly heavy Biblical evidence against it.

The PV was a classic case of Eisegesis, forcibly making the Scriptures fit the independently existing ideal of ascetic celibacy, which was largely influenced by semi-Gnostic contempt of fleshly relations and could not tolerate the notion of Mary having earthly sex.

Many church fathers ardently wanted to promote virginity and celibacy, and thus felt themselves forced to argue that Mary too had been a sort of proto-nun - this was the way it happened, and not "the other way round".

http://www.archive.org/details/ancientchristia05taylgoog

p. 83

"But why, it may be asked, was there all this anxiety on a point, apparently so remote from any practical bearing? Why? — Because the Blessed Virgin — 'always virgin,' as the Oxford writers are now telling us with a solemn and significant emphasis, was wanted, as the patroness of celibacy, and the bright example of immaculate chastity. To have admitted the plain sense of the intelligible phrase employed by the inspired evangelist, in reference to this inconsequential point, would have been tantamount to a betrayal of the whole scheme of religious celibacy.

Only let it have been granted that the virtue of the 'mother of God' was nothing better than ^real virtue^, and that her piety was a principle of the heart, and that her purity was the purity of the affections; and only allow that she was a 'holy woman,' and an exemplary wife and mother, such as the apostles speak of, and commend — only to have done this, would have marred the entire scheme of theology and morals, as fancied, and fashioned, by the ancient church. The perpetual inviolateness of the blessed virgin was well felt to be the key-stone of the building; or, to change the figure, Mary's unloosened zone was the tier of the ecclesiastical dome, the rending of which would have been, a universal crash."

Viisaus said...

"the New Eve (Mary) did not lose her virginity in parallelism to the Old Eve, much in the same manner in which also the New Adam (Christ) did not sin after the manner of the Old Adam.

Or to put it another way:

the New Adam and the New Eve did NOT go on losing their first estate (sinlesness and chastity) after the manner of the old Adam and Eve: quite on the contrary, through the two of them, mankind returned (back) to its original state, undoing the harm caused by the former original pair."


Lvka is providing us here a good example of Eastern not-so-Orthodox semi-Gnosticism: he argues as if losing virginity would be IN ITSELF "sinful and unchaste"! It's almost as he'd think that having sex WAS the "original sin" - as many Gnostics explicitly taught.

But in their original state of purity, Adam and Eve were commanded to fill the earth, not to "remain chaste."

The over-exaltation of celibacy was truly one of the earliest and greatest successes of Devil in subtly corrupting the church of early centuries - just as Paul prophesized (1 Timothy 4:1-3). The evil spirit masqueraded as "the angel of light" and in the guise of ascetic righteousness and purity loaded Christians with grievous legalistic burdens.

Scholars have debated on the extent of (indirect) Manichaean influence in the birth of the monastic system:

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/secondary/BURLAT/11*.html#ref150

"The ascetic spirit, which expressed itself in monasticism, affected the secular clergy also. The strict austerity of the Manichaean heretics was a certain challenge to the Church,150 and in their extravagant praises of virginity some of the Christian fathers were barely able to stop short of the condemnation of marriage which was a tenet of the Manichees."

Viisaus said...

Btw, it has occurred to me; many people say that we should uncritically admire the Nicene-era (4th and 5th century) Christian church, overlooking its various doctrinal and practical follies, because you know, "they saved the Trinitarian orthodoxy for us!"

To this I would answer:

"Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not." (Luke 17:9)

In other words, should Nicene-era Christians receive special credit just for having managed not to completely apostasize by denying such an elementary NT doctrine as the real divinity of Christ? Rejecting Arianism was literally merely "the least they could do."

Like the servant of Christ's parable, Nicene Christians only did what they were anyways duty-bound to do, not something that they would deserve special extra praise from.

Viisaus said...

"no more than we also worship ourselves (as Christians) by worshipping Christ, whom we try to emulate."

Following Lvka's faulty logic all the way through, ALL Christians should emulate Christ by being celibate. That is the reductio ad absurdum of your position.

If celibacy was a truly essential part of Christ or Mary's righteousness, then how could any married person consider himself a true follower of Christ?

It really seems that only "blessed" or unprincipled inconsistency prevented RC and EO ascetic ideologues from openly denigrating the whole institution of marriage and the wicked act of spawning children to this world.

That is, they did not dare to openly attack it - having to content themselves with merely demeaning "carnal relations" with constant passive-aggressive insinuation. ("If you TRULY loved God, you would be a celibate"...)

But these elements did manage to impose forced celibacy on all clergymen in the West and on all bishops and higher church personnel in the East. In this open, willful rebellion against clear Biblical precepts (see Paul's pastoral epistles) we see the fruits of obsessive celibacy-mongering.

Viisaus said...

What made celibacy especially obnoxious institution in the Middle Ages was its combination with the denial of the "priesthood of all believers" which led to the situation where celibates (or supposed celibates) had gotten a monopoly on the distribution of the sacraments - essentially hijacking the whole church. Non-celibate laymen became ecclesiastically disenfranchised second-class Christians.

Ikonophile said...

V,

"extra-Biblical legalistic fastings and celibacies"

This has nothing to do with Gnosticism especially considering the canons of the ecumenical councils (which I can produce if need be, I haven't them in front of me right now) that state that marriage and virginity are both not to be reviled but to be praised.

One can not be a virgin because one thinks that marriage is contemptible (because it is not) and one should not be married because they see virginity as contemptible (because it is not).

Nothing gnostic here. In fact, the Scriptures themselves (St. Paul in this case) uplifts celibacy and virginity whereas you seem to degrade it as a mere gnostic idea.

Perhaps most of what you argue against is either Medieval Roman Catholic teaching (which I would reject as well) or some poorly understood "proof-texts" that you pick out of the early Fathers without actually hearing what they have to say completely about one particular subject (which is why my reference to the ecumenical councils is important. It will shed light on a subject you seem to misunderstand in early Christianity). I won't argue for anything Roman Catholic, so what you have to say about them I don't particularly care. In some cases, I might even agree with you.

Our fasting is also not 'extra-biblical' except to say that our particular fasts are not outlined in Scripture. This doesn't make fasting unscriptural, as you certainly know. We are just more consistent in our fasting than you are. Using an analogy, you seem to think that my "legalistic fasting" is a horrible thing but if you only worked out physically when you wanted to (which if we all admit would probably be almost never) you'd never grow strong muscles, heart and lungs. Likewise, when you fast consistently you work out spiritually. Nothing legalistic there, just consistency. The Jews fasted consistently (Mondays and Thursdays according to the Didache) yet Christ attacked not their fasting consistently but their fasting and making a show of it. Context, sir, is important.

Also, Lvka does not promote losing virginity as a sin in and of itself. You are failing to understand something here, I think, and Lvka will hopefully explain further why your thoughts are incorrect. I'll let him continue with his own discussion.

John

Ryan said...

"Buy a pair of reading glasses then."

Or you could quit sulking and just tell me.

Lvka said...

Or you could quit sulking and just tell me.


Or you could actually learn to pay attention to what has been said in a discussion before budging in unanounced. [And I think that in the long run this will be the only thing that matters, don't you?]

Lvka said...

V.,


the old Adam and the old Eve lost their virginity. The New Adam and the New Eve didn't. (So unless you want to argue that Christ also had a wife*, I'll hold my peace if I were you).

[*] other than being the mystical Bride-Groom of the Church...

Ryan said...

"I think that in the long run this will be the only thing that matters, don't you?"

Not really. If you can't tell me, that's fine. The points I've made you've left untouched are more pertinent anyways, I think.

Viisaus said...

"In fact, the Scriptures themselves (St. Paul in this case) uplifts celibacy and virginity whereas you seem to degrade it as a mere gnostic idea."

I am not denigrating celibacy IN ITSELF. I only believe it should have a much more modest position in Christian life than RCs and EOs claim, and certainly should not be made a necessary requirement for being a pastor or bishop.

Historically, this practice has born corrupting fruits even within Eastern Orthodoxy where full-blown clerical celibacy did not take root, but where monastic celibates nonetheless practically monopolized lucrative prelate positions, lower married clergy being their mere servants.

French RC writer Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu thus described the ecclesiastical system in late 19th-century Russia:

http://www.archive.org/details/empireoftsarsrus03lerouoft

pp. 201-203, 276-277

"The two extremes of the clergy meet in the monasteries — the most intelligent men and the most ignorant, the most cultivated and the most uncouth. All sorts of men come there: mature men; aged priests who seek a haven of rest for their latter days; young men, whose only object is to qualify for an ecclesiastical career. Among the recruits furnished by the clergy can be met most brilliant subjects and also the dead fruit of the monasteries. The latter are doomed to a long novitiate, and they may never become priests or even deacons at all (for in Russia, as in the primitive Christian Church, there are many monks who are not priests); while for the others the convent is only a brief stage on the road to a bishopric or to other church dignities. While in the West it is usual for monks to forswear the honors of episcopacy and prelacy, with the exception of countries where missions are established, in Russia men enter convents with the special object of making "a career."
...

Once the seminarist has taken the vows, nothing can run more smoothly, more rapidly, than his advancement. The law does not allow a man to take the irrevocable step before the age of thirty; but for the academy student the legal term is set down to twenty-five; he is, besides, exempted from the test of the novitiate. As soon as his term of study is completed, he is appointed inspector or professor at some seminary; after that he is made rector, or father superior of a convent, and by the time he is thirty he may be a bishop. These privileged few sometimes even arrive at the highest dignities without having led the cloister life at all or scarcely resided in a monastery.
...

Were there no other barrier between the priest and the episcopate, the white clergy would soon dispose of that; but there are the canons, the traditions, the universal practice of all Orthodox churches, and these have hitherto been respected. This rule assuredly leads to strange confusions: by compelling the Church to take her high dignitaries from the ranks of the monks, it forces monachism into a course directly opposed to the spirit of the institution. Out of a life of renunciation and humility has been made an ambitious career; the vow of poverty has become the door to fortune."

Viisaus said...

"the old Adam and the old Eve lost their virginity. The New Adam and the New Eve didn't. (So unless you want to argue that Christ also had a wife*, I'll hold my peace if I were you)."

Lvka, you are again showing you lack of logic - you are blaming me for the deficiency of your own metaphor. This case only shows that Adam & Eve and Christ & Mary CANNOT be eisegetically compared to each other, no matter how much you’d like to. For example, the first pair was intended to righteously breed with each other, while the latter was not.


I think church historian Henry H. Milman (who was no militant Protestant) put the whole celibacy thing in a quite balanced manner:

http://www.archive.org/details/savonarolaerasm01milmgoog

pp. 396-397

"Believing, as we implicitly do, the whole monastic system to have come originally not from the shores of the Jordan, but from those of the Ganges — not from the foot of Carmel or Lebanon, but of the Himalaya; believing it to be founded on a false philosophy — the malignity of matter, and in consequence the sinfulness of everything corporeal; believing it to be a dastardly desertion of on half of our duty under the pretence of exclusive devotion to the other — the utter abnegation of one of the great commandments of the Law, the love of man; believing it to be directly opposite to the doctrine of our Lord, who seems designedly to reject the example of John the Baptist as applicable to his disciples; believing that the one or two passages in the New Testament which can be thought to tend that way relate merely to the dangerous and afflicting times of the primitive Christians; believing that the perfection of Christianity is the active performance of duty, the devotion, the dedication of every faculty of body and of mind with which we were endowed by God to the identical cause of God and human happiness; believing it to be inconsistent with any pure and lofty conception of the Godhead, and of the true dignity and destination of man; believing it to be low and selfish in its object — superstitious and degrading in its practices — at best but a dreamy and indolent concentration of the individual upon himself under the fond supposition that he is in communion with God — or the degradation of our better faculties to coarse employments, which there are and must be coarse natures enough to fulfil; — yet, with all this, we hesitate, not to do justice, and ample justice, to individual monks, to monasteries, and to monasticism itself. In their time they have doubtless wrought incalculable good — good which could not have been wrought without them. The monk, because he has been a monk — at least, because he has not been encumbered with earthly ties — has been able to rise to the utmost height of religious self-sacrifice, of Christian heroism in the cause of God and of man."

Viisaus said...

"In fact, the Scriptures themselves (St. Paul in this case) uplifts celibacy and virginity whereas you seem to degrade it as a mere gnostic idea."

I am not opposed to celibacy IN ITSELF. But I think that it should occupy a much smaller part in the Christian worldview than it does in RC/EO traditions, and it definitely should not be a forced requirement for eithers pastors or bishops.

Even through Eastern churches never adopted total clerical celibacy as the RCC did, they adopted merely a lesser form of the same error as they put marriage-ban on bishops and higher church personnel. Recruits from monasteries monopolized the lucrative prelatical careers, and married lower clergy were mere servants of this celibate oligarchy.

French RC writer Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu thus described the ecclesiastical system in late 19th-century Russia - this was the un-romantic real-world effect of forced celibacy in EO countries:

http://www.archive.org/details/empireoftsarsrus03lerouoft

pp. 201-203, 276-277

"The two extremes of the clergy meet in the monasteries — the most intelligent men and the most ignorant, the most cultivated and the most uncouth. All sorts of men come there: mature men; aged priests who seek a haven of rest for their latter days; young men, whose only object is to qualify for an ecclesiastical career. Among the recruits furnished by the clergy can be met most brilliant subjects and also the dead fruit of the monasteries. The latter are doomed to a long novitiate, and they may never become priests or even deacons at all (for in Russia, as in the primitive Christian Church, there are many monks who are not priests); while for the others the convent is only a brief stage on the road to a bishopric or to other church dignities. While in the West it is usual for monks to forswear the honors of episcopacy and prelacy, with the exception of countries where missions are established, in Russia men enter convents with the special object of making "a career."
...

Until quite lately, the ecclesiastical academies were controlled exclusively by monks, who spared no pains to attract and keep promising young men. Even craft was sometimes used for the purpose, and stories are told of stratagems which would have done credit to the recruiting sergeants of olden times. But such things belong to an order of things which has passed away. As a rule, there is no need of fraud or finessing; self-conceit and dread of the well-known hardships of a priest's existence are sufficient inducements, where true piety is lacking, for most young men who have been singled out by their superiors.

Once the seminarist has taken the vows, nothing can run more smoothly, more rapidly, than his advancement. The law does not allow a man to take the irrevocable step before the age of thirty; but for the academy student the legal term is set down to twenty-five; he is, besides, exempted from the test of the novitiate. As soon as his term of study is completed, he is appointed inspector or professor at some seminary; after that he is made rector, or father superior of a convent, and by the time he is thirty he may be a bishop. These privileged few sometimes even arrive at the highest dignities without having led the cloister life at all or scarcely resided in a monastery.
...

Were there no other barrier between the priest and the episcopate, the white clergy would soon dispose of that; but there are the canons, the traditions, the universal practice of all Orthodox churches, and these have hitherto been respected. This rule assuredly leads to strange confusions: by compelling the Church to take her high dignitaries from the ranks of the monks, it forces monachism into a course directly opposed to the spirit of the institution. Out of a life of renunciation and humility has been made an ambitious career; the vow of poverty has become the door to fortune."

Ikonophile said...

V.,

It seems the spam filter ate your comments. I saw them when the comments were sent to my e-mail address but are not yet posted below. I was thinking of waiting until they show up but I don't know when that will be.

In reference to your quote from a RC about 19th century monasticism in Russia:

All you've shown me is that men can corrupt something that in and of itself is a good thing. The Scriptures are corrupted by Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. By your own logic, the source of corruption are the Scriptures and not the men who seek to do them a disservice. The same can be said of almost anything. It is the person who corrupts monasticism, not monasticism who corrupted these men (though those who are not ready for the monastic life or who are not called to it can be harmed by it. Not all are called to celibacy). Likewise, it is men who corrupted the teachings of the Scriptures, not the Scriptures who corrupted the Mormons and JW's.

A few examples of sinful men distorting something doesn't mean that that something, be it monasticism or the Scriptures have, as you put it, "born corrupting fruits". The people themselves have.

You also forget great monastics who became bishops and were extremely holy and Christ-like, such as St. John Maximovich, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco and St. Nektarios, bishop of Pentapolis (both recent saints, within the last 200 years). Both of these men were monastics and were bishops and I think their actions speak for themselves and for monasticism and a celibate bishopric.

John

Ikonophile said...

On Jerome,

It seemed that his theoretical canon was much different than his practical canon. This is evident in more than one Church Father.

Jerome was fond of more than a few of the so-called Apocryphal books and would quote heavily from the Wisdom of Solomon.

Can't say the same for the Protestants who uplift Jerome as a Church Father who supposedly supports their own view of the canon.

John

Ben m said...

Viisaus,

But in their original state of purity, Adam and Eve were commanded to fill the earth, not to "remain chaste."

Not true!

In their “original state of purity,” Adam and Eve had no children. It was only later, after they had sinned and were expelled from Paradise that “Adam knew Eve his wife” and so began bringing children into the world. (Gen. 4:1)

St. Jerome:

"The command to increase and multiply first finds fulfilment after the expulsion from paradise, after the nakedness and the fig-leaves which speak of sexual passion." - Letter 22:19.

So the kiddos came along after man had become, in Calvinist parlance, “totally depraved”!

The over-exaltation of celibacy was truly one of the earliest and greatest successes of Devil in subtly corrupting the church of early centuries - just as Paul prophesized (1 Timothy 4:1-3). The evil spirit masqueraded as "the angel of light" and in the guise of ascetic righteousness and purity loaded Christians with grievous legalistic burdens.

This is not only factually untrue, but borders on (if not actually is) pure slander and blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, whom Christ promised would guide and protect his Church for all time!

And Protestants are hardly in a position to criticize those true Christians who have always taken Christ at his word in speaking of those who have left WIFE and CHILDREN for the sake of the kingdom of God. (Lk 18:29, Matt 19:29).

These true Christians willingly "follow the Lamb wherever he goes." (Rev 14:4). Not so Protestants, not so. Rather, blinded and enslaved by their sensuality, virtually ALL Protestants have rejected this sacred teaching of Christ, not only for themselves but for others as well, preferring instead only the carnal way of men like Luther, Calvin et al.

As for 1 Timothy, all it says is that “SOME will abandon the FAITH”. It neither says nor implies that the CHURCH ITSELF will ever abandon the true faith. Indeed, such a thing could never happen unless Christ himself abandoned his bride - a thing quite impossible (except of course in Protestant / Mormon theology).

But what you are really saying is that the Devil desires,

a. to corrupt only the early Catholic Church.

b. not to corrupt the later Protestant churches (or is it that he’s just been on vacation since the 16th c?). ;)

Very strange.

Viisaus said...

"Not true!

In their “original state of purity,” Adam and Eve had no children. It was only later, after they had sinned and were expelled from Paradise that “Adam knew Eve his wife” and so began bringing children into the world. (Gen. 4:1)"

You cluelessly only confirm what I said about the semi-Manichean mentality of many RCs and EOs regarding sexuality.

It #does not matter# that Adam and Eve did not have time to "replenish the earth" until they fell - that is anyways what they were commanded to do while still being in their prelapsarian state:

"And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it" (Genesis 1:28)

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." (Genesis 2:24-25)

And it seems that Jerome drew wrong conclusions from this:

"The command to increase and multiply first finds fulfilment after the expulsion from paradise, after the nakedness and the fig-leaves which speak of sexual passion." - Letter 22:19.

I see that in the same passage you cite, Jerome wrote: "He who desires to replenish the earth may increase and multiply if he will. But the train to which you belong is not on earth, but in heaven. ... Let them marry and be given in marriage who eat their bread in the sweat of their brow; whose land brings forth to them thorns and thistles, Genesis 3:18-19 and whose crops are choked with briars."

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3001022.htm

In other words, Jerome says that non-celibate Christians are NOT "heavenly" in the same sense as celibates are. And at least insinuates that sexual marriage is in some manner "cursed" state.

Jerome was really one of the worst anti-sexuality Pharisaical cranks of the early church - a good representative of the deficiencies of Nicene-era theology that I spoke of. I recall that he was one of those writers who at times only BARELY managed to restrain themselves from condemning sexuality altogether, even within marriage.

(I am here being milder on Jerome than Jerome himself was to his own various theological opponents, cursing them in recklessly vindictive manner. Celibacy did not make his spirit any sweeter.)


The rest of your cultist Romanist blather is hardly worth responding to in this context.

Viisaus said...

In his letter to Eustochium, Jerome indeed provides an almost quintessential example of how a semi-Gnostic celibacy-fanatic degrades marriage with condescending backhanded compliments - the only function of marriage is to provide a supply of virgins!

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3001022.htm

"20. I praise wedlock, I praise marriage, but it is because they give me virgins. I gather the rose from the thorns, the gold from the earth, the pearl from the shell."

Ikonophile said...

V.,

Well, V, you can take one man's extreme views and charge that the entire early Church, RC and EO are therefore guilty of his excess, I suppose.

Again, if you look at the canons of the ecumenical councils regarding virginity and marriage, within them contain a very balanced view of both and respecting both. This is a good thing, in order to correct the excesses of Jerome, as one example.

But I won't take your word on Jerome necessarily because I've not read all of his works on the subjects. It is very possible that you are merely proof-texting Jerome without reviewing all he has to say on the issue. On the other hand, you could be correct. In which case, I once again refer you to the canons of the ecumenical councils on virginity and marriage.

I don't think any fruit will be born out of anymore conversation with you on this particular subject, so I'll call this good.

John

Ben m said...

Viisaus,

You cluelessly only confirm what I said about the semi-Manichean mentality of many RCs and EOs regarding sexuality.

I doubt you would say such a thing if you truly understood the broader context of the early Church's struggles against pagans and innumerable heretics of every stripe. Take one example, the Manicheans. These wretched folks went so far in the audacity of their opinions as to charge that ”Catholics wallowed in the “filth” of reproduction”!

It was against just such kinds of poison - and from so many quarters - that the Fathers had to continually contend.

It does not matter# that Adam and Eve did not have time to "replenish the earth" until they fell - that is anyways what they were commanded to do while still being in their prelapsarian state.

Viisaus, who’s saying otherwise? All I'm saying is that, according to the Fathers, Adam and Eve remained virgins until after they were expelled from the Garden.

St. Augustine:

“For it was after they were expelled from [Paradise] that they came together to beget children, and begot them.” - The City of God (Book XIV), 21.

“The first woman whom God made, having taken her out of the side of a man, was called a woman before she "knew" her husband, which we are told was not till after they went out of Paradise, for the Scripture says, "He made her a woman." - Sermon 1:18, on the New Testament.”

As to why Adam and Eve never fulfilled the command to "be fruitful and multiply" in Paradise is, of course, an interesting question in itself.

Now as to Jerome, granted he could be harsh at times, and may have even, in some ways, overemphasized celibacy. But remember: he was speaking in the heat of battle against wild-eyed heretics. Yet for all his forceful expressions, his theological views on celibacy (and marriage) are still basically sound, still essentially in harmony with those of the other early Fathers.

In any event, as Ikonophile basically said, certain excesses of the Fathers must be seen and judged against the backdrop of the entire life and development of the early Church, which the Holy Spirit always guided and protected.

But now let's hear Jerome himself offer a brief defense against the charge that he so exalted sacred virginity that he deprecated marriage.

Read Jerrome's letter to Domnio, introduced thus:

“Domnio, a Roman (called in Letter XLV. "the Lot of our time"), had written to Jerome to tell him that an ignorant monk had been traducing his books "against Jovinian." Jerome, in reply, sharply rebukes the folly of his critic and comments on the want of straightforwardness in his conduct. He concludes the letter with an emphatic restatement of his original position. Written in 394 A.D.”

Note particularly what Jerome says in paragraph 5:

“As it is, without hesitation or shame, he raises again and again the noisy shout, “Jerome condemns marriage,” and, while he constantly moves among women with child, crying infants, and marriage-beds, he suppresses the words of the apostle just to cover me — poor me — with odium.”

Letter 50


Peace.

Ikonophile said...

Ben M,

Thanks for the reference. I apologize for not posting one. As I said, I do not know much of St. Jerome's writings.

John

Ben m said...

John,

As I said, I do not know much of St. Jerome's writings.

That's ok. I myself have much still to learn about Jerome and indeed the Fathers - Patrisics is a vast field! Alas.

Turretinfan said...

"These wretched folks went so far in the audacity of their opinions as to charge that ”Catholics wallowed in the “filth” of reproduction”!"

Jerome's view of human reproduction wasn't a whole lot higher than that: The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean. Jerome, Against Jovinius, Book I, Chapter 20.

Shammah said...

In case that seems out of context, here's the whole quote from Jerome:

Does [Jovinianus] imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? As regards Moses, it is clear that he would have been in peril at the inn, if Sephora which is by interpretation a bird, had not circumcised her son, and cut off the foreskin of marriage with the knife which prefigured the Gospel. This is that Moses who when he saw a great vision and heard an angel, or the Lord speaking in the bush, could not by any means approach to him without first loosing the latchet of his shoe, that is, putting off the bonds of marriage.
And we need not be surprised at this in the case of one who was a prophet, lawgiver, and the friend of God, seeing that all the people when about to draw nigh to Mount Sinai, and to hear the voice speaking to them, were commanded to sanctify themselves in three days, and keep themselves from their wives. I am out of order in violating historical sequence, but I may point out that the same thing was said by Ahimelech the priest to David when he fled to Nob: "If only the young men have kept themselves from women." And David answered, "of a truth about these three days." For the shew-bread, like the body of Christ, might not be eaten by those who rose from the marriage bed.
And in passing we ought to consider the words "if only the young men have kept themselves from women." The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean.
In the law also it is enjoined that the high priest must not marry any but a virgin, nor must he take to wife a widow. If a virgin and a widow are on the same level, how is it that one is taken, the other rejected? And the widow of a priest is bidden abide in the house of her father, and not to contract a second marriage. If the sister of a priest dies in virginity, just as the priest is commanded to go to the funeral of his father and mother, so must he go to hers. But if she be married, she is despised as though she belonged not to him.
He who has married a wife, and he who has planted a vineyard, an image of the propagation of children, is forbidden to go to the battle. For he who is the slave of his wife cannot be the Lord’s soldier.

Shammah said...

In case there's any wonder whether that quote is in context, here's the rest of what Jerome said in Against Jovinianus 20:

Does [Jovinianus] imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? As regards Moses, it is clear that he would have been in peril at the inn, if Sephora which is by interpretation a bird, had not circumcised her son, and cut off the foreskin of marriage with the knife which prefigured the Gospel. This is that Moses who when he saw a great vision and heard an angel, or the Lord speaking in the bush, could not by any means approach to him without first loosing the latchet of his shoe, that is, putting off the bonds of marriage.
And we need not be surprised at this in the case of one who was a prophet, lawgiver, and the friend of God, seeing that all the people when about to draw nigh to Mount Sinai, and to hear the voice speaking to them, were commanded to sanctify themselves in three days, and keep themselves from their wives. I am out of order in violating historical sequence, but I may point out that the same thing was said by Ahimelech the priest to David when he fled to Nob: "If only the young men have kept themselves from women." And David answered, "of a truth about these three days." For the shew-bread, like the body of Christ, might not be eaten by those who rose from the marriage bed.
And in passing we ought to consider the words "if only the young men have kept themselves from women." The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean.
In the law also it is enjoined that the high priest must not marry any but a virgin, nor must he take to wife a widow. If a virgin and a widow are on the same level, how is it that one is taken, the other rejected? And the widow of a priest is bidden abide in the house of her father, and not to contract a second marriage. If the sister of a priest dies in virginity, just as the priest is commanded to go to the funeral of his father and mother, so must he go to hers. But if she be married, she is despised as though she belonged not to him.
He who has married a wife, and he who has planted a vineyard, an image of the propagation of children, is forbidden to go to the battle. For he who is the slave of his wife cannot be the Lord’s soldier.

Shammah said...

Here's the rest of what Jerome said. This is really pretty amazing:

Does [Jovinianus] imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? As regards Moses, it is clear that he would have been in peril at the inn, if Sephora which is by interpretation a bird, had not circumcised her son, and cut off the foreskin of marriage with the knife which prefigured the Gospel. This is that Moses who when he saw a great vision and heard an angel, or the Lord speaking in the bush, could not by any means approach to him without first loosing the latchet of his shoe, that is, putting off the bonds of marriage.
And we need not be surprised at this in the case of one who was a prophet, lawgiver, and the friend of God, seeing that all the people when about to draw nigh to Mount Sinai, and to hear the voice speaking to them, were commanded to sanctify themselves in three days, and keep themselves from their wives. I am out of order in violating historical sequence, but I may point out that the same thing was said by Ahimelech the priest to David when he fled to Nob: "If only the young men have kept themselves from women." And David answered, "of a truth about these three days." For the shew-bread, like the body of Christ, might not be eaten by those who rose from the marriage bed.
And in passing we ought to consider the words "if only the young men have kept themselves from women." The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean.
In the law also it is enjoined that the high priest must not marry any but a virgin, nor must he take to wife a widow. If a virgin and a widow are on the same level, how is it that one is taken, the other rejected? And the widow of a priest is bidden abide in the house of her father, and not to contract a second marriage. If the sister of a priest dies in virginity, just as the priest is commanded to go to the funeral of his father and mother, so must he go to hers. But if she be married, she is despised as though she belonged not to him.
He who has married a wife, and he who has planted a vineyard, an image of the propagation of children, is forbidden to go to the battle. For he who is the slave of his wife cannot be the Lord’s soldier.

Shammah said...

Here's the rest of what Jerome said, in case there's any question of it being in context:

Does [Jovinianus] imagine that we approve of any sexual intercourse except for the procreation of children? As regards Moses, it is clear that he would have been in peril at the inn, if Sephora which is by interpretation a bird, had not circumcised her son, and cut off the foreskin of marriage with the knife which prefigured the Gospel. This is that Moses who when he saw a great vision and heard an angel, or the Lord speaking in the bush, could not by any means approach to him without first loosing the latchet of his shoe, that is, putting off the bonds of marriage.

And we need not be surprised at this in the case of one who was a prophet, lawgiver, and the friend of God, seeing that all the people when about to draw nigh to Mount Sinai, and to hear the voice speaking to them, were commanded to sanctify themselves in three days, and keep themselves from their wives. I am out of order in violating historical sequence, but I may point out that the same thing was said by Ahimelech the priest to David when he fled to Nob: "If only the young men have kept themselves from women." And David answered, "of a truth about these three days." For the shew-bread, like the body of Christ, might not be eaten by those who rose from the marriage bed.

Shammah said...

And a bit more:


And in passing we ought to consider the words "if only the young men have kept themselves from women." The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean.

In the law also it is enjoined that the high priest must not marry any but a virgin, nor must he take to wife a widow. If a virgin and a widow are on the same level, how is it that one is taken, the other rejected? And the widow of a priest is bidden abide in the house of her father, and not to contract a second marriage. If the sister of a priest dies in virginity, just as the priest is commanded to go to the funeral of his father and mother, so must he go to hers. But if she be married, she is despised as though she belonged not to him.

He who has married a wife, and he who has planted a vineyard, an image of the propagation of children, is forbidden to go to the battle. For he who is the slave of his wife cannot be the Lord’s soldier.

Lvka said...

To interject or not to interject: this is the question..


The discussion started simply by noticing the obvious: namely that Saint Irenaeus does nowhere either say OR imply a loss of Mary's virginity by his comparison between her and Eve, much like he ALSO doesn't imply a loss of Christ's sinlesness by comparing Him to the old Adam. -- plain and simple.

Shammah said...

But Irenaeus does imply that Mary was not a perpetual virgin. By saying she was "as yet" a virgin (Against Heresies III:22:4), he does not state outright that later, after her betrothal, she was no longer a virgin, but he certainly implies it.

steelikat said...

Shammah,

"But Irenaeus does imply that Mary was not a perpetual virgin. By saying she was "as yet" a virgin (Against Heresies III:22:4), he does not state outright that later, after her betrothal, she was no longer a virgin, but he certainly implies it."

Where does Irenaeus imply that she was not a perpetual virgin? The bible says that she married Joseph, Irenaeus is not saying anything that the Bible itself does not say. You are begging the question and failing to understand what it means to imply something.

Stick with good arguments. When you pile bad arguments and non-sequiturs on top of the good arguments you don't help your case you make your arguments seem less convincing. I know that isn't entirely rational but it is a fact that people will react that way.

steelikat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
steelikat said...

Shammah,

Are you saying that the English phrase "as yet" implies that her virginity was temporary?

1. I am a native speaker of North Midwestern American English and what you are saying is not true in my dialect. How do you know that Irenaeus was writing in your native dialect of English rather than mine?

2. Of course Irenaeus did not write in English he wrote in Greek, and his writings were subsequently translated into Latin.

zipper778 said...

steelikat says:

Where does Irenaeus imply that she was not a perpetual virgin? The bible says that she married Joseph, Irenaeus is not saying anything that the Bible itself does not say. You are begging the question and failing to understand what it means to imply something.


If people are going to use the argument that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Christ even though she was in a legal, moral, and God endorsed marriage, then people are reading that message into the text.

Mary had a normal sexual relationship with Joseph after the birth of Christ which is shown by the fact that she had other children (the brothers of Christ mentioned in Matthew 13 for example). There is no need to imply that the context is different except to support man made ideas which have no base unless you accept apocryphal gospels.

Shammah said...

I have no way of knowing, Steelikat, whether you're a troll doing it on purpose or whether you're really so bent on defending your religion that you're willing to be ridiculous.

Either way, I have no intentions of engaging in silliness with you.

steelikat said...

"If people are going to use the argument that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Christ even though she was in a legal, moral, and God endorsed marriage"

That's not an argument that's an assertion. Anyway like you I cannot find it in the text, so please try not to seem to be arguing with me.

"...which is shown by the fact that she had other children..."

Good point.

steelikat said...

Shaman,

"defending your religion..."

Critical thinking is not my religion but I do try to make it a habit. It is not enough for you to baldly assert that "Irenaeus implied" something. if you expect your assertion to be taken seriously you need to show where and how he implied it.

zipper778 said...

steelikat, I'm kind of confused about what you said here:

That's not an argument that's an assertion. Anyway like you I cannot find it in the text, so please try not to seem to be arguing with me.

You said that in a response to what I said:

If people are going to use the argument that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Christ even though she was in a legal, moral, and God endorsed marriage

What do you mean that this is an assertion? It's not a complete statement yet.

Ben m said...

Turretinfan,

Jerome's view of human reproduction wasn't a whole lot higher than that: The truth is that, in view of the purity of the body of Christ, all sexual intercourse is unclean. Jerome, Against Jovinius, Book I, Chapter 20.

It’s hard to say exactly what Jerome really means here. Perhaps he was thinking on some of Paul’s teachings, to wit:

“It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 1 Cor. 7:1

“Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.” 1 cor. 7:5

Clearly, there is something about intercourse which inhibits perfect holiness, otherwise why the need to abstain?

“Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do.” 1 Cor. 7:8

Clearly, there is something preferable about celibacy. And again in the same letter Paul writes:

26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife.

29 What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not.

32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both BODY and SPIRIT.

So celibacy allows one to be totally devoted to God, both in body and in spirit, whereas marriage is an impediment to such total consecration. Hence Paul's (and thus God's) preference for celibacy, for sacred virginity.

But now as I said an earlier post, Jermoe could be harsh, and his meaning sometimes misunderstood. Here’s what the Catholic Encyclopedia says of him:

"The relative dignity of virginity and marriage, discussed in the book against Helvidius, was taken up again in the book "Adversus Jovinianum" written about ten years later. Jerome recognizes the legitimacy of marriage, but he uses concerning it certain disparaging expressions which were criticized by contemporaries and for which he has given no satisfactory explanation. Jovinian was more dangerous than Helvidius. Although he did not exactly teach salvation by faith alone, and the uselessness of good works, he made far too easy the road to salvation and slighted a life of asceticism. Every one of these points St. Jerome took up."

Viisaus said...

"He who has married a wife, and he who has planted a vineyard, an image of the propagation of children, is forbidden to go to the battle. For he who is the slave of his wife cannot be the Lord’s soldier."

Yes, good catch Shammah. We can see here that Jerome is quite clearly arguing, without making any exceptions, that married believers are only second-rate Christians. The RCC's forced celibacy of clergy was only a logical application of Jerome's position.

This is not full-blown Manicheanism in the sense that it would openly curse or condemn sexuality - it's only SEMI-Manicheanism in the form of systematic belittling and lack of positive praise.

Paraphrasing modern expressions, people like Jerome definitely showed "soft bigotry of low expectations" towards marriage and sexuality. But we cannot call him an all-out Gnostic bigot because you know, "many of his best friends" were married people!

Viisaus said...

"Jerome recognizes the legitimacy of marriage, but he uses concerning it certain disparaging expressions which were criticized by contemporaries and for which he has given no satisfactory explanation."

When even pre-Vatican II Catholic Encyclopedia admitted this much, you know how far Jerome had gone. "Recognized the legitimacy of marriage" - how magnanimous of him!


"Jovinian was more dangerous than Helvidius. Although he did not exactly teach salvation by faith alone, and the uselessness of good works, he made far too easy the road to salvation and slighted a life of asceticism."

The horror! The horror! Slighting the ascetic-monkish-Pharisaic do-it-yourself method of holiness and salvation!

We Protestants also remember how recklessly Jerome ranted against the reasonable proto-Reformer Vigilantius.

steelikat said...

Zipper,

I mean that I agree with you that people are reading that message into the text (of scripture). That's the best way to approach the question: "where do you find Mary's perpetual virginity in scripture?" If you cannot find it taught, you are free not to believe it.

Turretinfan said...

No, Ben. The marriage bed does not inhibit holiness. The marriage bed is undefiled. Scripture says so.

The concerns Paul raises regarding marriage are prudential concerns, as Paul goes on to explain.

And no - it's not hard to know what Jerome thought. Jerome was influenced by asceticism to view sex as dirty. The rationalization was that for a man to participate (I'm sure you can understand my euphemism here) requires lust and consequently cannot be free from sin.

Turretinfan said...

SK:

You wrote:Are you saying that the English phrase "as yet" implies that her virginity was temporary?

1. I am a native speaker of North Midwestern American English and what you are saying is not true in my dialect. How do you know that Irenaeus was writing in your native dialect of English rather than mine?


I've heard a lot of Midwesterners talk. When I ask them if they brought their cows in, and they say "not yet," it typically implies that they plan to. When they simply say "no," it doesn't have a similar implication.

- TurretinFan

steelikat said...

turretinfan,

Yes, The phrase "not yet," to my ears, does have the connotation (denotation?) you describe. Lewis&Short mentions a similar connotation when the Latin word "tamen" is used in a negative construction.

We weren't talking about the phrase "not yet," however.

steelikat said...

turretinfan,

Moo.

Ben m said...

Turretinfan,

No, Ben. The marriage bed does not inhibit holiness. The marriage bed is undefiled. Scripture says so.

I didn’t say the marriage bed inhibits holiness, but only that it in some way inhibits perfect holiness. Else why abstain from relations in order to “devote” oneself to prayer?

And no - it's not hard to know what Jerome thought. Jerome was influenced by asceticism to view sex as dirty. The rationalization was that for a man to participate (I'm sure you can understand my euphemism here) requires lust and consequently cannot be free from sin.

Careful, TF. I'm sure you don't want to slander Jerome. Sure, he had his faults, but the fact is, he never anywhere says sex is “dirty”. Where do you get such notions??

Turretinfan said...

"I didn’t say the marriage bed inhibits holiness, but only that it in some way inhibits perfect holiness."

What's the difference?

"Else why abstain from relations in order to “devote” oneself to prayer?"

Same reason one abstains from eating to devote oneself to prayer.

"Careful, TF. I'm sure you don't want to slander Jerome. Sure, he had his faults, but the fact is, he never anywhere says sex is “dirty”. Where do you get such notions??"

I got those notions from reading his writings, such as those already quoted above.

-TurretinFan

Lvka said...

(What Viisaus still doesn't seem to understand is that it's not just the evil Roman Catholics and Saint Jerome who say that Mary was a vigin her whole life.. rumor has it the family-friendly Eastern and Oriental Orthodox share the same view.. but maybe that's just me..)

Lvka said...

(And the same goes for TurretinFan as well..)

Turretinfan said...

Even some of the Reformers made that mistake, Luka. If that were all that separated you and us, we'd be the best of friends, as opposed to the sort of stand-off-ish position in which we find ourselves because of those icons.

Lvka said...

If you cannot find it taught, you are free not to believe it.


Feel free to tell this to Luther.. I don't think he'd agree though..

Lvka said...

Even some of the Reformers made that mistake, Luka


...because they came from the bossom of the Catholic Church.. but the Orthodox never shared that particular view on human sexuality and original sin..

Turretinfan said...

The term "Original Sin" was never popular in the East. The concept may be a different story. But as to whether sex always involves sin, the ascetic influence in the East would not make such a view particularly surprising.

Lvka said...

It's considered a blasphemy to say that normal marital intercourse is or involves sin. Or that meat is evil. Etc.

(And it was ascetic bishops who defended this in synod, at Gangra and Niceea).

Turretinfan said...

Luka:

Interesting! Can you narrow down a citation of some sort for me?

-TurretinFan

Lvka said...

Niceea.

Gangra (Canons).

Niceea again.

Shammah said...

The Orthodox and Roman churches did not split--even on a practical level--until a significant amount of time after Jerome. The 4th century was plenty of fertile ground to create the perpetual virginity myth, and it would have propagated to both east and west.

Lvka said...

Shamanh,


I'm not saying that we split, and I'm not saying that we don't have a lot in common: but this thing in particular [this view of marriage and intercourse] is not among them (along with the filioque, clerical celibacy, papal power, original sin, etc).

Lvka said...

We've never changed or denied the marital status of any other saint: bishop, martyr, apostle etc; and Saint James, the Brother of the Lord, holds a special place of awe in our faith, being the one to whom the earliest Liturgy, as well as the service of Annointing the Sick are attributed: why should there be shame in having him as a son? Why the double-standard?

Shammah said...

I don't want to be rude, but you're just saying words as though if you say enough of them it will hide the obvious real point.

We've made it clear that there is an extremely negative view of sex, even in marriage that began in the 2nd century and grew till the 4th. In the 4th century, hero worship was rampant. Julian the Apostate says it was worse among Christians than among pagans.

Of course Mary was one of the heroes--a primary one--and so she had to be one of the celibates. All the truly "great" in 4th century eyes were celibate, and so of course Mary had to be.

This eliminates the possibility of having any sons. Thus, James' character is irrelevant.

Turretinfan said...

"The Orthodox and Roman churches did not split--even on a practical level--until a significant amount of time after Jerome. The 4th century was plenty of fertile ground to create the perpetual virginity myth, and it would have propagated to both east and west. "

One minor caveat here - Jerome was a Western father living in the East. He felt out of place there and continued to correspond with the Roman church, with whom he felt the closest connection.

Just because Jerome says something, I wouldn't therefore attribute that view to the eastern churches. I don't think you were saying that, I just wanted to point that out.

The practical divide between the two started long before each side excommunicated the other.

That's why, for example, you don't see a lot of Eastern fathers quoting Augustine favorably, even though he was held in high regard in the West.

The language barrier issue was part of the problem (Greek vs. Latin).

Turretinfan said...

Luka:

Thank you very much!

-TurretinFan

Lvka said...

Shammah,

no offense, but you really don't know what you're actually talking about, do you?


Of course Mary was one of the heroes--a primary one--and so she had to be one of the celibates. All the truly "great" in 4th century eyes were celibate, and so of course Mary had to be.

Like Saint Peter? Or Saint James? Or many other Apostles, or Early Fathers and Martyrs of the Church? Or Saints Joachim and Anna? Saints Constantine and Helen? [no, the latter were not married to each other]. Etc.


Thus, James' character is irrelevant.

To you, maybe... but not to the Orthodox.

Shammah said...

Turretinfan,

Thank you for the note on Jerome. That's fair. I couldn't get settled with the idea that Jerome was eastern, even though I knew he lived in the east. I was going to look it up, but I didn't have time and I wasn't basing what I said only on him, anyway, so I didn't look it up.

You did it for me! Thanks.

Shammah said...

Lvka,

I'll just leave our discussion where it is. I'll assume we're just miscommunicating, but if anyone else is reading, my answer is that what I said stands on its own, and the comments you made don't even apply to it, much less refute it.

But I'll let the reader decide that.

Lvka said...

Mary was one of the heroes--a primary one--and so she had to be one of the celibates

And Saint Peter was NOT "one of the heroes--a primary one"? Yet he was married.


All the truly "great" in 4th century eyes were celibate, and so of course Mary had to be.

So Saints Constantine and Helen, 4th century EMPERORS of the Roman Empire, were NOT among "the truly great in 4th century eyes" ?


what I said stands on its own

What you said FALLS on its own, being self-contradictory.