Friday, March 19, 2021

James White Obsession Syndrome

Now that the COVID scare is dissipating, I'm interrupting my normal programming to make my readers aware of a syndrome that appears to infect a small percentage of people... primarily American Roman Catholic males with access to the Internet. Fortunately, the great majority of American Roman Catholic males with access to the Internet appear to be immune (in fact, they have no idea who James White is or what the Roman church actually teaches). 

For a small group though, an interest in apologetics may run the risk of developing into a full-blown James White Obsession Syndrome. What begins as simply learning to defend their church and their beliefs, if unchecked, turns into an obsession with James White. There are signs that you may be infected:

1) A lengthy amount of time is spent negatively mentioning James White on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube videos, and any form of social media that allows the inner-narcist to take control of a keyboard.  

2) If James White is mentioned, you feel the uncontrolable urge to add a comment about how awful you think James White is. 

This syndrome is hard to cure. There is though a remedy that may work on those who are not too deeply infected:

1) Direct the sufferer to the official Vatican website.

2) Locate the Vatican search engine. Type in the words, "James White." Typically, the results will say this: "0 results have been found for "James White"


3) Using the technique of cognizant dissonance, slowly explain to the sufferer that the Vatican has no idea who James White is, nor do they care who James White is. 

4) Explain to the sufferer that if they really want to be faithful to following the authority structure of the Roman Catholic Church, they should primarily be concerned with the issues that the Vatican is currently concerned with. Instead of obsessing over James White, they should regularly be reading all the news coming out of the Vatican and first being concerned with that.

5) If this doesn't work and they insist that James White is a significant threat, encourage them to contact the Vatican directly to ask if James White is someone the Magisterium should be concerned with. In waiting for an answer,  encourage the sufferer to fast and pray rather than mention "James White" on social media. Breaking this social media addiction though by fasting and prayer probably won't work. Most people would rather spend their time online than doing that boring prayer and fasting stuff.

This has been a public service announcement.  Have a nice day... especially the folks on the "Catholics & Reformed" Facebook Group

Sunday, March 07, 2021

The Historical Reliability of the Book of Acts in the Age of Wikipedia

 

 Introduction

I have lived during the transition from a world in which detailed historical information was typically bulk housed in my local library to now being available with the press of a thumb on a small plastic gizmo. The time saving benefits are immeasurable: having instant access to the time my local pizza parlor closes, the tedious details of my favorite movie, or the entire biography of an eighteenth-century playwright. Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia,” or, “Wiki,” tends to be the source instantly occurring in basic web-searches. Its anonymously written entries (sometimes by multiple authors!) have seeped deep into the zeitgeist of popular culture, baldly accepted as being as reliable as the dusty set of encyclopedias whose entries were written by specialized scholars.

True, Wiki is helpful with common knowledge facts. The acquisition of immediate information though should be tethered with the modern proverb, “just because it’s on the Internet, does not mean it’s true!”  For an explicit example of the folly of immediate gratification of instant cyber-knowledge, I set Google with the search criteria of the broad category, discrepancies in the Book of Acts. Out of the returned search results of about nine million hits, in the top three were links to Wikipedia and its overtly secular sister, “rationalwiki.”

This paper will examine Google hit #2, Wikipedia’s “Passages of disputed historical accuracy” found in their entry, “Historical reliability of the Acts of the Apostles.” It will be demonstrated that the entirety of the Wiki entry is fraught with a biased worldview which evaluates the details of history with a skewed skeptical lens. It will be shown that their title words, “historical reliability” means in essence, historical unreliability. Wikipedia is soaked in the underlying assumption that the only thing one can know with certainty about the Book of Acts is that one cannot know anything with certainty. Wiki stands in direct antithesis to Luke’s overt goal of providing historical and theological certainty of the early church (Acts 1:1-4).

 II.  Inherent Article Bias

Before delving into the actual disputed Acts passages presented by Wiki, it is necessary to have a careful look at the overall entry that sets the stage they appear on. Whoever wrote the article clearly falls in the scholarly tradition of skepticism coming to fruition in the 19th-century German Tübingen school.[1]  

The article opens mentioning that Acts does contain some accurate historical details. It immediately adds the qualifier that Acts is not accurate in its depiction of Paul, “both factually and theologically.” Only two paragraphs in, Wiki informs its readers that the “Paul” presented by Luke is not “generally prefer[ed]” by “scholars,” substantiated only by a source simply saying, “When it comes to the ‘life of Paul,’ the modern scholarly consensus is that Paul’s letters are to be given priority over Acts in any historical reconstruction.”[2] This amounts to the philosophical determiner of history being a simple headcount rather than any sort of detailed analysis. The false crescendo of this underlying presupposition comes later when Wiki ironically says, “By 2017 consensus had emerged among scholars that the letters of Paul are more reliable for information about Paul than Acts,” but substantiates this with merely, “citation needed.

 On the one hand, the Wiki entry gives the traditional view that Luke was a contemporary “follower of Paul,” but then with the other says, “However, most scholars understand Luke–Acts to be in the tradition of Greek historiography.” This statement is offered as a contrast with Luke’s assertion that his historiography was written to provide “certainty” (Luke 1:4).  This seemingly innocuous comparison is substantiated and fleshed out only in an endnote to a New Testament scholar who holds that while Luke was personally associated with Paul, his work as a historian is riddled with error.[3] Thus, “the tradition of Greek historiography” is a tradition of trivial correct historical facts mixed with misinformation and personal agendas.   

Regarding the sources Luke may have used to compile Acts, Wiki provides nothing definite. Wiki highlights an author’s comment that Luke’s use of previous historical sources was a “seriously distorted” series of “stringed together” stories by the time it reached him.[4] This assertion presents a true sense of irony: Wiki has, in a few paragraphs, strung together a number of poorly substantiated biased facts, and this one in particular lacks any documentation!

 Wiki also sets the stage with a brief discussion on the textual traditions of the Book of Acts.  While they conclude that the shorter Alexandrian text tradition of Acts is preferred, their underlying point presents dissonance by questioning whether Luke’s writings can be trusted in their current form. Of the Book of Acts Wiki says, “the differences between the surviving manuscripts are more substantial than most.” What is left out is the fact that the existence of a substantial manuscript tradition does not speak against the reliability of a source, but rather is that tool which allows the original to be substantiated by a comparison of the existing manuscripts.        
           
In a seeming attempt to balance out their overt skepticism, Wiki does present a section dedicated to historically accurate details found in Acts. These examples though are followed by a series of disclaimers set in the form of scholarly opinion: Acts does get some basic things historically correct but is still not to be completely trusted. Scholars cited suggest using “caution”: be skeptical of the history of the early church. That skepticism includes taking seriously the ‘hallucination theory” of Christ’s post-resurrection appearances, that Acts may have been written early but Luke did not know Paul, etc. This negativity is mixed with scholars positive to the veracity of some of the tedious details of Acts and its early composition. The entire section amounts to a cacophony of opinion rather than any sort of meaningful presentation of the accuracy of the Book of Acts.  

 III. Passages of Disputed Historical Accuracy

 In comparison to the nine passages Wiki deems historically accurate, six examples are offered. While the offering of three more positive proofs for the historicity of Acts may seem generous, the differences in presentation is striking. Wiki’s historically accurate passages are put forth as simple one sentence snippets with little or no documentation. Of the six negative examples, each is given a full paragraph explanation with plenteous documentation. The positive passages are given one overall hyperlink in the table of contents while each disputed passage has its own so readers can immediately be brought to the content. Let us review each disputed passage.

A.    Acts 2:41 and 4:4 – Peter’s Addresses

The first example involves alleged discrepancies with statistics and venue amplification. Acts 2:41 says Peter’s sermon at Pentecost resulted in three thousand conversions and Acts 4:4 records an additional five thousand.  According to Wiki, these extraordinary numbers are impossible because Jerusalem only had a population of 25-30,000 people.

In response, the extraordinary need not be deemed impossible from a presuppositional Biblical worldview. Logically, if the overall population was as is claimed, this does not necessarily render Luke’s conversion tally inaccurate. It coincides with Luke’s emphasis that the effectual work of the Holy Spirit was being poured out, miraculously.

Wiki’s numbers though need not be confidently assumed.  First, to determine the population of first-century Jerusalem involves, at the very least, estimating from ancient primary sources. Josephus records 6,000 Pharisees living in Jerusalem in the mid first century[5] and that 1,100,000 Jews died during the 70 A.D. siege of Jerusalem with 97,000 taken captive.[6]   Tacitus numbers the population at the time of Rome’s invasion as 600,000.[7]  While these numbers differ, Josephus and Tacitus are at least unified in having a population well over 25-30,000.  Second, Wiki is offering statistical certainty without any meaningful examination. Their statistic of 25-30,000 has its genesis in outdated nineteenth century scholarship.  For instance, an 1847 book, Ancient Topography of Jerusalem by James Ferguson went after the veracity of the numbers provided by Tacitus and Josephus. He arrives contrarily at an estimate of 23,000 – 37,000, saying, “which I do not think it at all probable that Jerusalem could have contained as a permanent population.”[8]  His determination has been debated, but not in any way favorable to his small numeric conclusion. Modern studies in archaeology are producing numbers much higher: 50,000, 80,000, 100,000, 200,000.[9]  

Wike also disputes the method which produced the large number of converts recorded by Luke. Wiki says (via Grant), “Peter could not have addressed three thousand hearers without a microphone.”[10] First, there is no physical reason why a person could not stand in front of three thousand and address them. Second, Luke does not specify the exact spot of the sermon or what natural sound surroundings could have been utilized. Third, Wiki ignores that the feat of speaking to large crowds previous to contemporary electronic amplification certainly did occur: Charles Spurgeon once spoke to an audience upward of 20,000 without modern sound equipment. Fourth, Luke says that it was not simply one sermon at one time: “And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them” (Acts 2:40).

B.     Acts 5:33-39: Theudas

Whereas the accuracy of Josephus was left out of the previous example by Wiki, this one relies on his description of the Jewish rebels Judas and Theudas. The purported discrepancy is that Luke made a chronological error when presenting Gamaliel’s account of Theudas followed by Judas. Even though put in the same order, Josephus ultimately presents their chronology reversed: Judas’ revolt occurred around 6 A.D., Theudas between 44 – 47 A.D. The discrepancy further insists the later revolted after the date of Gamaliel’s speech recorded by Luke.  

Wiki says the discrepancy rests on the assumption that Luke and Josephus were referring to the same Theudas. A plausible answer is to first assume Luke and Josephus are referring to the same Judas “who rose up in the days of the census” (Acts 5:37) during the census of Quirinius (Ant. 20,5,2), but to not assume the same Theudas is being mentioned. In this alternate scenario, neither Luke nor Josephus has committed an historical error. Luke’s Theudas, according to Gamaliel, “claim[ed] to be somebody” (Acts 5:36). Josephus says Theudas was a magician claiming to be a prophet (Ant. 29,5,1). Theudas was a common name at the time and is representative of similar names, used interchangeably: Theodotus, Theodosius, Theodorus.[11] Luke’s Theudas was previous to Judas and that documented by Josephus’s was after.

C.     Acts 10:1 Roman Troops in Caesarea

This discrepancy asserts no Roman troops (an Italian regiment or “cohort”) were stationed in Caesarea during the reign of Herod Agrippa (41-44), therefore Luke is in error in his description of the Roman Centurion Cornelius, “a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort.” Wiki bases the discrepancy on a “lack of inscriptional and literary evidence” and insinuates that Luke either made it up or “projected” Roman troops back to an earlier time.  

Surprisingly, Wiki offers a solution. They highlight that Acts 9:32-11 may be out of chronological order (taking place after Herod’s death), therefore only calling into question Luke’s accuracy in the sequence of events. For those who trust Luke, this amounts to a non-solution solution: Luke may be accurate on the one hand, but inaccurate on the other.  

Wiki concludes by noting a few historians “see no difficulty here” but hide any hint of their considerations in footnotes: Cornelius may have lived in Caesarea away from his troops and there is a record of “troops of Caesarea and Sebaste” between A.D. 41-44 (the later solution taken from F.F. Bruce). In essence, Wiki appears to realize there is not an actual discrepancy; rather there is an ambiguity in the historical presence of Roman troops in Caesarea during the time period in question.  Consulting Bruce, Wiki left out that “the soldiers making up an auxiliary unit were usually provincials, not Roman citizens… awarded Roman citizenship when their period of service had expired.”[12] There is therefore no legitimate basis for doubting Luke’s account.

D.    Acts 15: The Council of Jerusalem

Wiki presents the old conundrum that the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 is the same event of Galatians 2. Fleshed out in footnotes, if the two chapters from different Biblical books are referring to the same thing, there is “the presence of discrepancies between these two accounts,” “open contradiction,” and “There is a very strong case against the historicity of Luke's account of the Apostolic Council.” The only aspect Wiki will allow is there actually was a Jerusalem Council but to grant its historical existence only with “caution.”

There are two plausible solutions. Some attempt to harmonize Acts 15 with Galatians 2. For instance, Roman Catholic scholar Raymond Brown sees Acts 15 as “a simplified and less acrimonious report.”[13] F.F. Bruce takes four pages in his commentary on Acts to smooth over the accounts.[14]The New Bible Commentary avoids mentioning the discrepancies between the chapters and simply exegetes both together (as do a number of conservative sources).[15] This method moves closest to special pleading. The more plausible solutions is to not assume Acts 15 and Galatians 2 are documenting the same event. Rather, Galatians 2 should be harmonized with Acts 11:29-30. Robert Cara says this harmonization explains Paul’s refusal to circumcise Titus (Ga1. 2:3) and his circumcision of Timothy, the latter being circumcised after the declarations of the Council meeting of Acts 15.[16] This solution places the writing of Galatians in AD 48 and the Acts 15 council a year later.

E.     Acts 15:16-18: James’ Speech

This discrepancy challenges the quotation of Amos 9:11-12 by James during the Jerusalem Council. The text James cited is from the Greek Septuagint. James “presumably spoke Aramaic” so, posits Wikipedia, it would be unlikely for him to have cited the text in this linguistic form.

This criticism is a discrepancy based on assumptions rather than solid historical facts or external evidence of an actual discrepancy. First, Wikipedia refutes itself by mentioning the obvious: “Although Aramaic was a major language of the Ancient Near East, by Jesus's day Greek had been the lingua franca of the area for 300 years.” There is no reason why James be limited to one language and one Bible translation. Second, Wiki assumes Lukean deceit before considering theological implications:  James could have had a theological motivation for using the Greek text for its emphasis on “all the Gentiles” rather than the Hebrew, “all the nations.”

F.      Acts 21:38: The sicarii and the Egyptian

This discrepancy insists that Luke made an error when he quoted the Roman Tribune asking Paul if he was “the Egyptian” rebel who led Assassins into the wilderness. The error arises because Luke miscited Josephus who described two different groups and different events: The Assassins (the sicarii) and also an Egyptian rebel who led followers to the Mount of Olives. Luke carelessly morphed these two together.

First, this discrepancy assumes that Luke via the Roman Tribune was citing historical fact, but it could be just as easily assumed that Luke was recording what the Roman Tribune said, however erroneous it was. Paul does not answer the question directly, but rather simply affirms who he is... perhaps because the question was factually ridiculous. Second, if Luke and Josephus are referring to the same “Egyptian,” the discrepancy rests on Josephus documenting thirty thousand while Luke documents four thousand. But “The tendency of Josephus to exaggerate especially in regard to numbers is well noted by scholars.” [17]  Could it not be Josephus in error rather than Luke?  The editors of The Works of Josephus point out,  

Accordingly Josephus, Antiq. 20.8.6, agrees well with St. Luke; for as he there says nothing of so great a number as 30,000, so he says that the number slain by Felix, when he subdued them, was no more than 400, and 200 taken prisoners. These smaller numbers much better agree to 4000 than to the 30,000.[18]

 

IV. Conclusion

As has been demonstrated, there are plausible solutions to each discrepancy put forth by Wikipedia. For Acts 2:41 and 4:4, the numeric discrepancies are solved via more recent historical inquiries. It is within the realm of possibility that large groups of people did hear what was preached, without modern-day equipment.  For Acts 5:33-39, the discrepancy rests on using Josephus to interpret Luke (whereas in the previous discrepancy, his history was avoided because it would have substantiated Luke). The solution comes by treating both Luke and Josephus as being accurate though not necessarily referring to the same Theudas. Acts 10:1 is resolved by demonstrating Wiki did not actually prove a certain discrepancy. Simply because there is not yet “inscriptional and literary evidence” does not mean that an Italian Regiment was not in Caesarea. There is no negative evidence suggesting Luke was in error, like an extra-biblical inscription saying, “there were no Roman troops in Caesarea A.D. 41-44.”  

Acts 15 is resolved by harmonizing it with Acts 11:29-30 rather than Galatians 2.  Acts 15:16-18 is the weakest of Wiki’s discrepancies, arguing ridiculously that James only spoke Aramaic and could not have cited the Greek Septuagint. The discrepancy amounts to conjecture rather than a meaningful presentation of proof. Finally, Acts 21:38 once again rests solely on choosing the accuracy of Josephus over Luke (while the editors of Josephus grant his “30’000” terrorists was an exaggeration).

We now live in a different era of information dissemination. One hundred years ago, the tedium involving possible discrepancies in the book of Acts was often confined to books, journals, and newspapers. Now, almost anyone has direct access to information to plug into their worldview, however erroneous it may be. It might seem ridiculous to take the effort to refute a source that has no bonafide credibility or responsibility. Wiki’s authors are anonymous and the content of the entries are subject to change at a whim.  But this is now where the battles for the soul are often being fought. Christians must never underestimate how the enemy works. The enemy no longer needs to wait for a book of antibiblical sentiment to be published. He can do immediate damage, on a much broader scale, in a matter of moments, by the push of a button on a smart phone. Being able to defend the faith “in the arena” now means entering the cyber-arena, being ready to demonstrate flawed history and underlying biases in popular culture, particularly those found in the most popular Google hits on any given subject.  

Endnotes

1. Van Ommeren, Nicolas M. “Was Luke an Accurate Historian?” Bibliotheca Sacra, 148. 1991, 60.

2. Hornik, Heidi J.; Parsons, Mikeal C., The Acts of the Apostles through the centuries (New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2017), 10.

3. Robert Grant, A Historical Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Harper & Row, 1963), 145. “Luke evidently regarded himself as a historian, but many questions can be raised in regard to the reliability of his history.”

4. Richard Heard, An Introduction to the New Testament (London: A and C, Black, 1950), 138. “But it remains doubtful whether Luke had yet formed his plan of writing Acts when he was in contact with [Silas and Paul], and in his narrative in the early part of Acts he seems to be stringing together, as best he may, a number of different stories and narratives, some of which appear, by the time they reached him, to have been seriously distorted in the telling.”

5. Josephus, F., The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged (Philadelphia: J. Grigg, 1825), 9.

6. Josephus, F., The Works of Josephus: With a Life Written By Himself, Volume 4 (New York: A.C. Armstrong & Son, 1889), 169.

7. Ibid.

8. James Ferguson, An Essay on the Ancient Topography of Jerusalem (London: John Weale, 1847), 52


9. See the extensive comparative lists found in Richard Bauckham, The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1995), 241-242.

10. Grant, 145.

11. A.T. Robertson, “Points of Chronology in Luke’s Writings,” The Methodist Quarterly Review 70 (January, 1921), 147.

12. F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts (Grand Rapids: Wm. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988), 202.

[13] Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1996), 306.

[14] F.F. Bruce, Commentary on the Book of Acts (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1964), 298-302.

[15] Guthrie, D. (ed.). The New Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1970), 991.

[16] Michael J. Kruger (ed.), A Biblical – Theological Introduction to the New Testament (Wheaton: Crossway, 2016), 154.

[17] Janeway, B. “Is the Acts of the Apostles Historically Reliable? Part 2 of 2,” Chafer Theological Seminary Journal Volume 5, 5(2), 72.

[18] Josephus, F. The Works of Flavius Josephus (London: George Virtue, 1841), 972.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Pius X: "Protestantism as proudly called by its founders, is the sum of all the heresies, that have been before it, after it, and that could still be born to slaughter the souls"


On a web page entitled, Martin Luther: The greatest heretic in human history comes the following quote from Pope Pius X:  

“Protestantism as proudly called by its founders, is the sum of all the heresies, that have been before it, after it, and that could still be born to slaughter the souls” -Pius X
I was curious to see this quote in its original context, especially in light of the current Pope and the trend in ecumenism the Magisterium has engaged in since the twentieth century. For instance, see my post from a few years ago: Pope Francis and Martin Luther. While many of Rome's defenders battle in cyber space to stomp out the "Protestant Revolt," Pope Francis willingly received a statue of Luther at the Vatican and is saying things like, "With gratitude we acknowledge that the Reformation helped give greater centrality to sacred Scripture in the Church’s life." If you were a faithful Roman Catholic between 1903 and 1914, Pope Pius X seems like he's saying something a bit different about the Reformation than Pope Francis in the twenty-first century. Let's take a look at the quote from Pius X and make sure it says what it's purported to say.    
 
Documentation
The web page in which I found this quote does not provide a reference, nor did any of the others I came across in my cursory search with this exact wording. However, there are other versions of the quote that offered up helpful clues:   
"Protestantism, or Reformed religion, as proudly called by its founders, is the sum of all heresies that have been before it, that have been after it, and that still could be born to slaughter souls." St. Pius X, ora pro nobis. (link)
This same catechism (p. 398) states “Protestantism * * * is the sum of all Heresies. The most monstrous congeries of errors, both private and individual, and enfolds all heresies.” (link)
“Protestantism, or the reformed religion, as its founders haughtily call it, is the sum of all heresies that ever existed before it, that have arisen since, or that may arise hereafter for the ruin of souls" (link)

From these texts I was able to determine the primary source: Compendio della dottrina cristiana prescritto da sua Santita Papa Pio X. As one of the texts above states, this was a 1905 Catechism by Pope Pius X.  The quote is found on page 398 of the 1906 edition


Context

128. Fra le altre, vanno tristamente famose le eresie: di Sabellio, che impugnò il dogma della SS. Trinità; di Manete, che negò l'Unità di Dio, ed ammise nell'uomo due anime; di Ario, che non volle riconoscere la Divinità di N. S. Gesù Cristo; di Nestorio, che negò a Maria SSma la sua eccelsa qualità di Madre di Dio, e distinse in Gesù Cristo due persone; di Eutiche, il quale in Gesù Cristo non ammise che una sola natura; di Macedonio, che combattè la divinità dello Spirito Santo; di Pelagio, che intaccò il dogma del peccato originale e della necessità della grazia; degli Iconoclasti, che ripudiarono il culto delle Sacre Imagini e delle Reliquie dei Santi; di Berengario, che disdisse la presenza reale di N. S. Gesù Cristo nel SS. Sacramento; di Giovanni Hus, che negò il primato di S. Pietro e del Romano Pontefice; e finalmente la grande eresia del Protestantesimo (sec. XVI), prodotta e divulgata principalmente da Lutero e da Calvino. Questi novatori, col respingere la Tradizione divina riducendo tutta la rivelazione alla S. Scrittura, e col sottrarre la S. Scrittura medesima al legittimo magistero della Chiesa, per darla insensatamente alla libera interpretazione dello spirito privato di ciascheduno, demolirono tutti i fondamenti della fede, esposero i Libri Santi alla profanazione della presunzione e dell'ignoranza, ed aprirono l'adito a tutti gli errori.
129. Il protestantesimo o religione riformata, come orgogliosamente la chiamarono i suoi fondatori, è la somma di tutte le eresie, che furono prima di esso, che sono state dopo, e che potranno nascere ancora a fare strage delle anime.


Conclusion

Yes, the quote says Protestantism is the sum of all heresies that have been before it, that have been after it and that it's a soul killer. The quote is found in an appendix to the Catechism which discusses church history (Breve Storia Della Religione). In #128 (above), Luther and Calvin are specifically singled out for rejecting "divine Tradition" "reducing all revelation to Scripture," and interpreting Scripture without the Roman Magisterium. The quote then follows in #129.  It's interesting that this Catechism is found in various places online (translated into English), but this section does not appear (see, for instance, EWTN's version and this print version). The 1905 Catechism was revised and rereleased in 1912. "The history of the Christian religion" appendix section does occur in the revision, but it appears the appendices are left off at times.  I don't suspect any nefarious purposeful deletions. Rather, it appears the Catechism section has more pragmatic value. 

The Catechism also has some other interesting tidbits: 

Q. What should a Christian do who has been given a Bible by a Protestant or by an agent of the Protestants? A Christian to whom a Bible has been offered by a Protestant or an agent of the Protestants should reject it with disgust, because it is forbidden by the Church. If it was accepted by inadvertence, it must be burnt as soon as possible or handed in to the Parish Priest.

D. Che dovrebbe fare il cristiano se gli venisse offerta la Bibbia da un protestante o da qualche emissario dei protestanti? R. Se ad un cristiano venisse offerta la Bibbia da un protestante, o da qualche emissario dei protestanti, egli dovrebbe rigettarla con orrore, perché proibita dalla Chiesa; che se l'avesse ricevuta senza badarvi, dovrebbe tosto gettarla alle fiamme, o consegnarla al proprio parroco.[source]

Q. Why does the Church forbid Protestant Bibles? A. The Church forbids Protestant Bibles because, either they have been altered and contain errors, or not having her approbation and footnotes explaining the obscure meanings, they may be harmful to the Faith. It is for that same reason that the Church even forbids translations of the Holy Scriptures already approved by her which have been reprinted without the footnotes approved by her.
D. Perché la Chiesa proibisce le Bibbie protestanti? R. La Chiesa proibisce la Bibbie protestanti perché o sono alterate e contengono errori, oppure, mancando della sua approvazione e delle note dichiarative dei sensi oscuri, possono nuocere alla Fede. Per questo la Chiesa proibisce eziandio le traduzioni della Sacra Scrittura già approvate da essa, ma ristampate senza le spiegazioni dalla medesima approvate. [source]
Pope Pius was not tolerant of ecumenism towards Protestants. He lumped all Protestants in with "modernism," that movement of liberalism within theology that infiltrated the ivory towers of academia (philosophy, history, sciences), most particularly Roman Catholic scholarship. Protestantism, according to Pius X, was that movement that ushered in the destruction of religion. Pius also called modernism the "sum" or "synthesis" of all heresies. Despite these attributes, J.N.D. Kelly refers to him as "deeply conservative" and "one of the most constructive reforming popes." Kelly also calls him "A man of transparent goodness and humility" [The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986, 314].

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Luther openly acknowledged the rapid decline in morals that his new religion was bringing about?

Here's a snippet from one of Rome's defenders on the failure of the Reformation:
Luther openly acknowledged the rapid decline in morals that his new religion was bringing about: "Luther quite candidly admitted the distressing state of things described above without in the least glossing it over, which indeed he could not well have done; in fact, his own statements give us an even clearer insight into the seamy side of life in his day. He speaks of the growing disorders with pain and vexation; the more so since he could not but see that they were being fomented by his doctrine of justification by faith alone. "This preaching,"; he says, "ought by rights to be accepted and listened to with great joy, and everyone ought to improve himself thereby and become more pious. But, unfortunately, the reverse is now the case and the longer it endures the worse the world becomes; this is [the work of] the devil himself, for now we see the people becoming more infamous, more avaricious, more unmerciful, more unchaste and in every way worse than they were under Popery."
The basic gist is that Luther admitted his teaching ("his doctrine of justification by faith alone") made people worse. This is a typical charge, often argued by Rome's defenders that Luther was vexed and agonized that his teaching made things worse. If Luther's teachings really were from God, wouldn't they make people better? Wouldn't they make the world better? Even though I've covered this quote before, let's take a fresh look and see what Luther was saying about his evangelical teachings and their impact on the world.

Documentation
While no documentation is provided, Rome's defender mentioned the old Roman Catholic biographer Hartmann Grisar a few times. A quick Google search reveals the quote came from Grisar's multi-volume biography of Luther. In volume 4:210, Grisar states, 
Luther quite candidly admitted the distressing state of things described above without in the least glossing it over, which indeed he could not well have done; in fact, his own statements give us an even clearer insight into the seamy side of life in his day. He speaks of the growing disorders with pain and vexation; the more so since he could not but see that they were being fomented by his doctrine of justification by faith alone.

“This preaching,” he says, “ought by rights to be accepted and listened to with great joy, and everyone ought to improve himself thereby and become more pious. But, unfortunately, the reverse is now the case and the longer it endures the worse the world becomes; this is [the work of] the devil himself, for now we see the people becoming more infamous, more avaricious, more unmerciful, more unchaste and in every way worse than they were under Popery.”[3]
[3] “Werke,” Erl. ed., 1², p. 14, “Hauspostille.”
Grisar's original text was in German. He provides a helpful reference: ""Werke,” Erl. ed., 1², p. 14, “Hauspostille.”"  Here is Werke Erl. ed., 1², p. 14. The text reads, 


“Hauspostille” refers to the House Postil. The House Postil sermons were delivered by Luther at his house (the old monastery) to his friends and family between 1531 - 1535.  These sermons were not written by Luther, but were put together by two of Luther's associates  (Veit Dietrich and Georg Roerer). In many cases, two versions of the sermons exist, as is the case with this text. The text Grisar is citing is Veit Dietrich's. His account can be found in English in Dr. Martin Luther's House-Postil, in the First Sunday in Advent sermon (Matthew 21:1-9). Roerer's version can be found in The Complete Sermons of Martin Luther Volume 5 (Michigan: Baker Books, 2000) pp. 25-30. Both accounts are very similar, except that Dietrich's is longer, containing additional material at the end. We'll be primarily utilizing the English translation in which the quote in question can be found here, but also referring to Roerer's version also. 

Context
Luther first explains how the Jews expected a grand powerful king, not a meek man riding on a donkey. They expected a man of might and power like all earthly rulers. A king who could provide earthly riches and power, thrusting the Jews to a powerful place over all the nations. Rather, this man on a donkey had a different power: the forgiveness of sin and everlasting life:
For we are all poor sinners, but in baptism, and afterwards in our whole life, if we turn unto Christ, He comforts us, and says: Give me your sins and take my righteousness and holiness; let your death be taken from you, and put on my life. This is, properly speaking, the Lord Jesus' government. For all His office and work is this, that He daily takes away our sin and death, and clothes us with His righteousness and life. [Dietrich''s version]
Luther explains that a king with such extraordinary gifts should be most coveted, yet it is not:
"This announcement we should indeed hear with great joy, and every one should thereby be bettered and made more holy. But alas, the contrary is true, and the world grows worse as it grows older, becoming the very Satan himself, as we see that the people are now more dissolute, avaricious, unmerciful, impure and wicked than previously under the papacy." [Dietrich''s version]
"We must certainly receive this message eagerly and gratefully, by it becoming more pious and godly. Unfortunately there's the opposite side, that by this teaching the world becomes more and more hostile, wicked, and malicious; yet not through the fault of the teaching but of the people, thanks to the pernicious devil and death. Today people are possessed by seven devils, whereas before it was only one. The devil now bulldozes the people so that even under the bright light of the gospel they become greedier, slyer, more covetous, crueler, lewder, more insolent and ill-tempered than before under the papacy." [Roerer's version]
Notice in Roerer's version, Luther doesn't blame his teaching, but the people and ultimately Satan.
Luther goes on to say:
What causes this? Nothing else than that the people disregard this preaching, do not use it aright for their own conversion and amendment, that is, for the comfort of their conscience, and thankfulness for the grace and benefit of God in Christ; but every one is more concerned for money and goods, or other worldly matters, than for this precious treasure which Christ brings us. For the most of us, when we do not feel our misery, the fear of sin and death, would rather, like the Jews, have such a king in Christ as would give us riches and ease here on earth, than that we should comfort ourselves in Him in the midst of poverty, crosses, wretchedness, fear and death. The world takes no delight in this, and because the gospel and Christ do not give it what it desires, it will have nothing to do with Christ and the gospel.[Dietrich's version]
"Why so? Not through fault of the teaching but because the message is not met with thankful acceptance; people cast it to the wind and pay more attention to money and goods than to the blessed treasure which our Lord Christ brings to us." [Roerer's version]
In harmony with his earlier points, he explains people seek after earthly riches, not heavenly riches. Most people want the same powerful king the Jews expected, not the foolishness of Christ. With a pastoral heart, Luther warns:
Therefore our Lord in turn rebukes this world and says: Do you not rejoice in this, nor thank me, that through the sufferings and death of my only begotten Son, I take away your sins and death? Then I will give you sin and death enough, since you want it so; and where you were possessed of and tormented by only one devil, you shall now be tormented by seven that are worse. We see farmers, citizens and all orders, from the highest to the lowest, guilty of shameful avarice, inordinate life, impurity and other vices. Therefore let every one who would be a Christian be hereby warned as of God himself, joyfully and thankfully to hear and receive this announcement, and also pray to God to give him a strong faith, that he may hold fast this doctrine; then surely the fruit will follow, that he will daily become more humble, obedient, gentle, chaste and pious. For this doctrine is of a character to make godly, chaste, obedient, pious people. [Dietrich''s version]
Luther states those who accept this gospel will have fruit follow and "will daily become more humble, obedient, gentle, chaste and pious. For this doctrine is of a character to make godly, chaste, obedient, pious people." Then there are those who will not accept the gospel:
But those who will not gladly receive it, become seven times worse than they were before they heard it, as we see everywhere. And the hour will surely come when God will punish this unthankfulness. Then it will appear what the world has merited by it. Now, since the Jews would not obey the prophet, it is told to us that our King comes meek and lowly, in order that we may learn wisdom from their sad experience, and not be offended by His poverty, nor look for worldly pomp and riches, like the Jews; but learn that in Christ we have a King who is the Just One and Savior, and willing to help us from sin and eternal death. This announcement, I say, we should receive with joy, and with hearty thanks to God, else we must take the devil, with walling, weeping and gnashing of teeth." [Dietrich''s version]

Conclusion
Was the world getting worse because of Luther's "new religion"? Yes! In context, it's the world which grows worse because of the gospel being preached. Those though who accept the gospel are transformed by the gospel. Luther consistently held that the gospel would find great opposition, and would be attacked from all sides. The gospel would be used by the world as a license to sin and all sorts of evil because of Satan. The gospel would indeed make those of the world worse, while changing the lives of those who accept it. Luther wasn't postmillennial. While he was discouraged that the world seemed to be getting worse, his eschatological expectation can be traced back even to the early days of his Reformation work. For Luther, it was the end of the world. Things were indeed going to get worse. The Gospel was going to be fought against by the Devil with all his might. The true church was a tiny flock in a battle against the world, the flesh, and the Devil. He hoped the people would improve with the preaching of the Gospel, he often admitted he knew things were going to get worse because of the Gospel.


Addendum
These two links are of vital importance for anyone attempting to understand how Luther's House Postil was put together:

Unravelling Luther’s House Postils, Part 1

Unravelling Luther’s House Postils, Part 2

Of interest is the author's conclusion that "Veit Dietrich was correct; he was the only one who transcribed the sermons Luther preached in his home in the early 1530s, though Rörer may have been in attendance to hear portions of some of them."

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Bernard of Clairvaux: "Holy Scripture was written for Mary, about Mary, and on account of Mary"

What is the purpose of Holy Scripture? According to this website, via a quote attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, "Holy Scripture was written for Mary, about Mary, and on account of Mary." This statement is part of a pro-Roman Catholic cumulative case of quotes from church history alleging to prove, "devotion to Mary is necessary for salvation." The page is representative of the worst of Roman Catholic propaganda: historical quotes devoid of references are used to bolster a pernicious Mariolatry. 

True, St. Bernard was known at times for excessive Mariology. It's ironic that Bernard's Marian views played a role in the sixteenth century Reformation.  Luther mentioned him a number of times, sometimes fondly, other times critical of his Mariology: that the church of his day put forth a warm and friendly Mary while Christ was portrayed as a harsh judge.  It's in the realm of possibility, therefore, that Bernard penned an excessive Marian comment. We'll see though, there is reason to doubt he wrote it. While some of Rome's defenders may believe "Holy Scripture was written for Mary, about Mary, and on account of Mary," it doesn't help their credibility when they use spurious quotes from church history. Let's take a closer look.   

Documentation
In the link I utilized, no documentation is provided. However, in an 1948 English translation of a seventeenth century Roman Catholic work from Jean Eudes, comes the following:  
1. The all-surpassing love of God for Mary causes Him to become entirely hers: "My beloved to me;' by His thoughts, words and actions. By His thoughts, because she has been from all eternity the first object of His love, after the sacred humanity of His Word, and the first and worthiest subject of His thoughts and designs: "The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways." (4) By His words, because St. Bernard declares that the whole of Sacred Scripture was written "for Mary, about Mary and on account of Mary."(5) By His works, because everything that God has done in the world of nature, grace and glory, and everything He has accomplished in the God-Man and through Him is more for the sake of this admirable Virgin, than all other creatures together as He loves her alone above all His creatures.
 (4) Proverbs 8,22                                                                                                                                                         (5) De hac, et ob hanc, et propter hanc omnis Scriptura facta est. Serm. 1 in Salve.
The only difference in the English wording is the use of the word "sacred" rather than "holy." This text therefore may be the origination used to create this popular English version cyber-quote. This text from Jean Eudes was originally written in French in 1681:


The French version similarly provides Bernard's text in Latin (De hac, et ob hanc, et propter hanc omnis Scriptura facta est), and provides the same reference: "Serm. 1 in Salve." "Serm. 1" refers to "sermon one," while "in Salve" refers to "Salve Regina" (Hail, Holy Queen, Marian Hymn). The reference then is to St. Bernard's first sermon on the Salve Regina (there are four sermons in total).  When searching out this Latin text, I discovered Eudes was correct that the quote was from Bernard's Salve Regina sermon, but he was in error as to which one it was. It's from Bernard's third sermon, not the first.


Context 

2. Non solum autem coelum et firmamentum, Domina rerum intelligitur, sed aliis nominibus convenienter appellatur, et rerum vocabulis designatur. Ipsa tabernaculum Dei, ipsa templum, ipsa domus, ipsa atrium, ipsa cubiculum, ipsa thalamus, ipsa sponsa, ipsa filia, ipsa arca diluvii, arca testamenti, urna aurea, ipsa manna, virga Aaron, vellus Gedeonis, porta Ezechielis, civitas Dei, ipsa coelum, ipsa terra, ipsa sol, ipsa luna et stella matutina, aurora ipsa et lucerna, tuba et mons, fons quoque hortorum, et lilium convallium; desertum ipsa, et terra repromissionis lacte et melle manans, stella maris, navis quoque, via in mari, sagena, vinea, ager, arca, horreum, stabulum, praesepe subjugale, apotheca, aula, turris, castra, acies, populus, regnum, sacerdotium. Ovis est, pascua est, paradisus est, palma est, rosa est, fluvius est, potus est, columba est, columna est, vestis est, margarita est, candelabrum est, mensa est, corona est, sceptrum est, panis est, oleum est, vinum est, arbor est, virga est, cedrus est, cypressus est, platanus est, cinnamomum est, balsamum est, myrrha est, thus est, oliva est, nardus est, crocus est, fistula, calamus, et storax est, soror et mater est. Et ut breviter concludam, de hac et ob hanc, et propter hanc omnis Scriptura facta est, propter hanc totus mundus factus est, et haec gratia Dei plena est, et per hanc homo redemptus est, Verbum Dei caro factum est, Deus humilis, et homo sublimis.

A partial English translation can be found here:

“ O Lordess, Holy Mary, thou art heaven, earth, pasture, paradise, bread, drink, manna, oil, wine, cinnamon, balm, myrrh, frankincense, olive, spikenard, saffron, gum, a temple, a house, a bed-room, a bride, a lamp, a kingdom, a priesthood, a trumpet, a mountain, a wilderness, a field, a vine, a floor, a barr, a stable, a manger, a warehouse, a ball, a tower, a camp, an army, a bird, a palm, a rose, a river, a pigeon, a garment, a pearl, a candlestick, a table, a crown, a sceptre, a tree, a cedar, a cypress, a pipe, a reed, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a sun, a moon, a star, the city of God, the rod of Aaron, the fleece of Gideon, the gate of Ezekiel, the morning-star, the fountain of gardens, the lily of the valley, and the Land of Promise flowing with milk and honey.” 

And here:

His saintship, in the same elegant and edifying style, calls her ladyship, heaven, earth, pasture, paradise, bread, drink, manna, oil, wine, cinnamon, balm, myrrh, frankincense, olive, spikenard, saffron, gum, a temple, a house, a bed-room, a bride, a lamp, a trumpet, a mountain, a wilderness, a field, a vine, a floor, a barn, a stable, a manger, a warehouse, a hall, a tower, a camp, an army, a kingdom, a priesthood, a bird, a palm, a rose, a river, a pigeon, a garment, a pearl, a candlestick, a table, a crown, a sceptre, a tree, a cedar, a cypress, a reed, a daughter, a sister, a mother, a sun, a moon, a star, the city of God, the rod of Aaron, the fleece of Gideon, the gate of Ezekiel, the star of the morning, the fountain of gardens, the lily of the valley, and the land of promise flowing with milk and honey.
And here:
St. Bernard shows that the most orthodox faith finds no exaggeration in the words of the Rabbins, when he cries : 'It is for Mary that all Scripture has been made, for her the universe has been created. Full of grace, it is by her that the human race has been bought, the Word made flesh, God human and man God.'”.

Conclusion
The line that Eudes appears to be citing is "De hac, et ob hanc, et propter hanc omnis Scriptura facta est, propter hanc totus mundus factus est." This translates to, "The Scriptures were intended for her, and the world made for her sake.

There is reason to doubt Bernard is the author of this quote. It's generally accepted that Bernard's four sermons on the Salve Regina are wrongly attributed to him. As far back as the seventeenth century, the Salve Regina sermons have been flagged as dubious. Jean Mabillon released a set of Bernard's collected works and included these sermons in his volume, Opera dubia, notha et supposititia (dubious, spurious, and inauthentic works).  In his 1891 Bibliographica Bernardina cataloging Bernard's writings, Leopold Janauschek lists the four Salve Regina sermons as falsely attributed to St. Bernard:
92. Sermones IV in (antiphonam) "Salve Regina" (qui Bernardum Totelanum auctorem habent).
Others have also noted the sermons are not from St. Bernard:
"And the spurious St. Bernard, “ De hac, et propter hanc omnis Scriptura facta est, propter hanc totus mundus factus est,” &c. "The Scriptures were intended for her, and the world made for her sake.'" (source)
"But, be this as it may, they cite the sermons on the Salve Regina, and represent St. Bernard as having said—“innocens fusti ab originalibus et ab actualibus peccatis—Thou wast innocent, oh Queen, of all sin, whether actual or original.” But, as to this, the answer is, that the four sermons on the Salve Regina, attributed in some old collectors to St. Bernard, so far from being known to be his, are quite indisputably recognized as the work of another, as may be seen in the preface to the Paris folio edition. This is an important fact.
(d) Although thus marked as spurious by their own highest authorities, (as in the late Benedictine edition, in large octavo, vol. iv. p. 1442,) would it be believed that this passage is quoted, at large, as St. Bernard's, in a book published in Boston (Patrick Donahoe, 1855,) and approved by Bishops Neuman and Fitzpatrick? The work abounds in similar deceptions." (source)
Here's an irony I came across while looking into this quote: not only is the quote used unchecked to promote Mariology, it's also used by Rome's detractors to combat Mariolatry. When I first saw the quote, I immediately placed it in the "this quote sounds too good to be true" category... which provoked me to track it down.  Protestant apologists / lay-apologists are also responsible for the arguments they use against Roman Catholicism. If Protestants also use bogus information to refute Rome, shame on them! 

Thursday, February 11, 2021

John Chrysostom: "sinners receive pardon by the intercession of Mary alone"

I recently came across the following quote attributed to the early church father,  John Chrysostom: "sinners receive pardon by the intercession of Mary alone."  This Chrysostom snippet was part of a pro-Roman Catholic cumulative case of quotes from church history alleging to prove, "devotion to Mary is necessary for salvation." Without any disposition in looking up any of the quotes, I picked this Chrysostom quote from the list at random and decided to search out the original context. 

I don't claim to have any in-depth knowledge of Chrysostom's Mariology.  However, reading a quote from the actual source it came from as opposed to seeing it isolated surrounded by other out-of-context snippets often determines how much trust a particular web-page should be given.

My expedition to find the primary source determined that the context actually doesn't matter: it strongly appears this Chrysostom quote has a spurious pedigree. If he wrote it, the extant primary sources available today don't verify its authenticity.    

Documentation

This is a popular quote: simply do a basic Google "all" search to see the numerous hits it receives. It's not simply excessively Pro-Marian Roman Catholics utilizing it, a number of Rome's cyber-detractors find it an obvious example of blatant Mariolatry. A Google Books search reveals the obvious source of this quote and how it gained it's notoriety.  The majority of book usages point to one ultimate source,  Alfonso Maria de' Liguori, The Glories of Mary:

On these words St. Bernard encourages sinners, saying, 'Go to this Mother of Mercy, and show her the wounds which thy sins have left on thy soul ; then will she certainly entreat her Son, by the breasts that gave him suck, to pardon thee all. And this Divine Son, who loves her so tenderly, will most certainly grant her petition.'  In this sense it is that the holy Church, in her almost daily prayer calls upon us to beg our Lord to grant us the powerful help of the intercession of Mary to rise from our sins: Grant thy help to our weakness, O most merciful God; and that we, who are mindful of the holy Mother of God, may by the help of her intercession rise from our iniquities. With reason then does St. Lawrence Justinian call her the hope of malefactors;' since she alone is the one who obtains them pardon from God. With reason does St. Bernard call her the sinners' ladder;' since she, the most compassionate Queen, extending her hand to them, draws them from an abyss of sin, and enables them to ascend to God. With reason does an ancient writer call her the only hope of sinners;' for by her help alone can we hope for the remission of our sins. St. John Chrysostom also says 'that sinners receive pardon by the intercession of Mary alone (Per hanc et peccatorum veniam consequimur.---S. Joan. Chrysost. ap. Metaph. Brev. Rom. In Off. Nat. B. M. die 5.).
de' Liguori originally wrote this in Italian:



The Reference given in both the Italian and English share basic similarities, though the English has more information. This is because the English translator tried to check all the quotes and references (and also mentions a number of errors due to "the negligence of printers and editors"). 

What the reference actually shows is that it is not to a primary source from John Chrysostom. Rather, "Metaph" refers to the author Symeon Metaphrastes (tenth century). The old Catholic Encyclopedia refers to him as "The principal compiler of the legends of saints in the Menologia of the Byzantine Church." "Brev." refers to "Breviary" which is a book corresponding to chronological dates and readings, so in this case, it would be a chronological sampling utilizing the material of  Symeon Metaphrastes alleges to have collected of Chrysostom. 

The section from Metaphrastes citing Chrysostom appears in a number of sources. Let's utilize this one here. Basically, three small excerpts from Chrysostom from Symeon Metaphrastes are presented (Lectio IV, V, VI). The quote in question is found in Lectio VI.
  

Context


She is the mother of him, who was begotten of the Father before the beginning of all things; whom Angels and men acknowledge to be the Lord of all things. Would you know how much greater is this Virgin than any of the heavenly powers? They stand in his presence with fear and trembling, and veiled faces; she offers human nature to him whom she brought forth. Through her we obtain the forgiveness of our sins. Hail, then, O mother, heaven, maiden, virgin, throne, ornament, glory and foundation of the Church: pray without ceasing for us to Jesus, your Son and our Lord, that through you we may find mercy in the day of judgment, and may be able to obtain those good things which are prepared for those who love God, through the grace and loving-kindness of Jesus Christ our Lord: to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be glory, and honour, and dominion, now and forever, world without end. Amen.

Conclusion
In fairness to Rome's defenders, the reference found in de' Liguori's The Glories of Mary is indeed found in "ap. Metaph. Brev. Rom. In Off. Nat. B. M. die 5." It is true that Symeon Metaphrastes did present this quote from John Chrysostom "Per hanc et peccatorum veniam consequimur" (through her is the remission of sins) and de' Liguori translated it more forcefully: "che solo per l'intercessione di Maria i peccatori rivcevono il perdono" ("sinners receive forgiveness only through Mary's intercession"). This forcefulness was retained in the English translation.

The major problem with the quote is that it doesn't appear to be found in the extant writings of John Chrysostom. Note the following: 
"In the Roman Breviary, Festa Setembris die xii., there is the following extract from Metaphrastes. Vainly have we endeavored to find it in the Benedictine edition of Chrysostom's works, and there can be little doubt that it was not written by Chrysostom" (source).
"The passage is found in the Breviary, in Off. Nat. B. M. Die. 5, infra Oct. Lect. vi. The heading to Lect. iv. derives that and the two following Lessons from Sermo Sancti Joannis Chrysostomi apud Metaphrasten. It is sufficient to say that they do not occur in any discourse, published as genuine or spurious, in the great editions of S. Chrysostom. The authority of Symeon Metaphrastes is really worth less than nothing in such a case as this; for a genuine work of S. Chrysostom would have had little attraction for a writer who took upon himself to remodel and embellish the unadorned Lives of the Saints, with which the earlier Church had been contented, that they might be more agreeable to the false taste and corrupted religious sentiment of the tenth century" (source). 

I have vainly endeavored to find this extract in the Benedictine edition of Chrysostom; and have little doubt that it is taken from some spurious work (source).

 Theoretically, Symeon Metaphrastes could have had access to a primary source in the tenth century from Chrysostom that is no longer extant today. The Old Catholic Encyclopedia does their best to defend his reputation. They do though point out, "It is certain, that a number of these legends were written by Symeon from such sources as he found (partly oral tradition)." And also:

At one time his name was a byword for absurd fabrications. Ehrhard, Dobschütz and others have now shown him to be a conscientious compiler who made the best use of his material that he could. The often absurd stories in his lives were already contained in the sources from which he wrote them; he is not responsible for these, since his object was simply to collect and arrange the legends of the saints as they existed in his time.