Monday, November 2, 2009
Ignoring the fact that patristic scholars of the highest caliber reject the notion that St. Athanasius embraced a Protestant version of sola scriptura (nor ANY early Church Father; see THIS THREAD for examples of the scholarly consensus), TurretinFan (hereafter TF), continues to advance the theory. And it is not just his attempts to portray St. Athanasius as a proponent of SS that is troubling, TF also supports the notion that St. Athanasius attempted to “mock pope Liberius.” From the 6th installment of TF’s ongoing diatribe directed at Matthew Bellisario we read:
5) Athanasius was not unaware of the passage about the Ethiopian Eunuch. Let's see what he thinks of it:
The Eunuch of Ethiopia indeed, though he understood not what he read [Acts 8:27], believed the words of Philip, when he taught him concerning the Saviour; but the eunuchs of Constantius cannot endure the confession of Peter [FN: Matt. xvi. 16, allusion to Liberius? vid. Hard. Conc. t. 2. p. 305 E.], nay, they turn away when the Father manifests the Son, and madly rage against those who say, that the Son of God is His genuine Son, thus claiming as a heresy of eunuchs, that there is no genuine and true offspring of the Father.
- Athanasius, History of the Arians, Part V, Section 38
As the editor notes, it is not unreasonable to think that Athanasius is actually using this passage to mock pope Liberius. (Bold emphasis mine.)
This appears to be yet another ill-conceived attempt to portray St. Athanasius as an opponent of Liberius (for another such attempt, and critique, see THIS THREAD).
If TF had only taken the time to read the full context surrounding his above selected quote, he would have discerned (if but a bit of objectivity is applied) that if St. Athanasius was in fact alluding to Liberius (I believe that he was) when referring to the “confession of Peter”, he was doing so in a positive, supportive sense!
I urge everyone to read, in their entirety, parts V and VI of St. Athanasius’ Historia Arianorum (pages 282-287 in volume IV of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers -second series; online access HERE). If one takes the time to do so, one will discover that St. Athanasius clearly extolled Liberius, and did not “mock” him at all. Note the following selection:
But as it would seem, like madmen, having fixed themselves in the bonds of impiety, they are drawing down upon their own heads a more severe judgment. Thus from the first they spared not even Liberius, Bishop of Rome, but extended their fury even to those parts; they respected not his bishopric, because it was an Apostolical throne; they felt no reverence for Rome, because she is the Metropolis of Romania ; they remembered not that formerly in their letters they had spoken of her Bishops as Apostolical men. (Athanasius, Historia Arianorum, Part V.35 – NPNF 4.282 – bold emphasis mine.)
Plotting against St. Athanasius, the emperor Contantius (an Arian supporter), “sends a certain eunuch named Eusebius” to Liberius in an attempt to persuade him, “to subscribe against Athanasius, and to hold communion with the Arians.” In part V.36, Liberius soundly rebukes Eusebius, and it is this rebuke that Athanasius, a bit later (V.38) references as “the confession of Peter”.
No, St. Athanasius did not “mock pope Liberius”; rather, he praises Liberius, and the “Apostolical throne” that this Bishop of Rome sat on.
Grace and peace,
ADDENDUM: Just in case TF believes that the “editor” (A. Robertson) supports his view (i.e. that St. Athanasius was attempting “mock pope Liberius”, I think it is important to point out the actual note referenced was John Henry Newman’s (though the English translation was that of Miles Atkinson). Newman’s notes and the original edition in HTML HERE; PDF version HERE, and HERE.
Interesting enough, TF has listed the PDF version in his Library of Fathers – Index Page.