Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eusebius of Caesarea - Catholic bishop and "the Father of Church History"


Eusebius of Caesarea (ca. 260 - ca. 339/340), is known to many as "the Father of Church History". His famous Ecclesiastical History, or History of the Church, consists of ten "books", with the last being completed in 323 AD.

Eusebius was a student of the Christian scholar Pamphilus (ca. 240 - 309), who was a disciple of the Origen (ca. 185 - ca. 254). So committed was Eusebius to his teacher Pamphilus, that he added Pamphili ("the son of Pamphilus") to his name. In addition to being a prolific writer on apologetics, history, and theology, he was also elected/ordained bishop of Caesarea (ca. 313/314), and faithfully served in that office until his death.

Though I am quite sure that many are familiar with Eusebius' above mentioned history, I suspect few have read a number of this other important works. In addition to his history, I have provided links to some (but not all) of his other extant works below:

The Ecclesiastical History, or History of the Church -

NPNF – 2nd series, vol. 1, Arthur Cushman McGiffert

alternate

Loeb -vol. 1, Kirsopp Lake, 1926

Loeb - vol. 2, Kirsopp Lake, 1926

Christian Frederic Crusé, 1856

alternate

Christian Frederic Crusé, 1850

Christian Frederic Crusé, 1842

alternate

Greek ecclesiastical historians – vol. 2, 1843


The Life of Constantine -

Ernest Cushing Richardson, pp. 405ff.

Greek ecclesiastical historians – vol. 1, 1843


Demonstratio Evangelica (Proof of the Gospel) -

Vol. 1, W.J. Ferrar, 1920

Vol. 2, W.J. Ferrar, 1920

alternate - 1

alternate - 2


Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel) -

Vol. 1, E.H. Gifford, 1903

Vol. 2, E.H. Gifford, 1903

alternate - 1

alternate - 2

alternate - 3

alternate - 4

alternate - 5

alternate - 6

alternate - 7


Eusebius, bishop of Cæsarea, on the Theophana or divine manifestation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

Samuel Lee, 1843


History of the Martyrs in Palestine, discovered in a very ancient Syriac manuscript -

William Cureton, 1861

alternate


For those who read Greek, J.P. Migne, in his famous Patralogia Graeca, devoted 6 massive volumes to the writings of Eusebius:

Migne PG 19

Migne PG 20

Migne PG 21

Migne PG 22

Migne PG 23

Migne PG 24


I would also like to recommend the following work:

Eusebiana : essays on the Ecclesiastical history of Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea - by Hugh Jackson Lawlor


ENJOY!!!


Grace and peace,

David

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Creed of Ariminum; or, Maximinus' (a homoian bishop) "statement of faith".

In the combox of this recent thread, our Reformed brother in Christ asked: what is the formal definition of the "homoian" group?

This question was formed with the context of my objection to the Homoian bishop Maximinus being termed "an Arian" in mind. Maximinus was asked by Augustine, in their somewhat famous debate in 427/428 at Hippo to, "state for me your faith concerning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit"; to which Maximinus replied, "If you ask for my faith, I hold that faith which was not only stated, but was also ratified at Ariminum by the signatures of three hundred and thirty bishops." [See, John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., Debate With Maximinus (New York: New City Press, 1995), p. 188.]

 The following is the an English translation of so-called creed of Ariminum, that was:

 ...drawn up at Sermium, but had been kept concealed, as we have before observed, until their present publication of it at Ariminum. It has been translated from the Latin into Greek, and follows :

 'The catholic faith was expounded at Sirmium in presence of our lord Constantius, in the consulate of the most illustrious Flavius Eusebius, and Hypatius, on the twenty-third of May.

'We believe in one only and true God, the Father Almighty, the Creator and Framer of all things: and in one only-begotten Son of God, before all ages, before all beginning, before all conceivable time, and before all comprehensible thought, begotten without passion: by whom the ages were framed, and all things made: who was begotten as the only-begotten of the Father, only of only, God of God, like to the Father who begat him, according to the Scriptures: whose generation no one knows, but the Father only who begat him. We know that this his only-begotten Son came down from the heavens by his Father’s consent for the putting away of sin, was born of the Virgin Mary, conversed with his disciples, and fulfilled every dispensation according to the Father’s will: was crucified and died, and descended into the lower parts of the earth, and disposed matters there; at the sight of whom the (door-keepers of Hades trembled) : having arisen on the third day, he again conversed with his disciples, and after forty days were completed he ascended into the heavens, and is seated at the Father’s right hand; and at the last day he will come in his Father’s glory to render to every one according to his works. [We believe] also in the Holy Spirit, whom the only-begotten Son of God Jesus Christ himself promised to send to the human race as the Comforter, according to that which is written : "I go away to my Father, and will ask him, and he will send you another Comforter, the Spirit of truth. He shall receive of mine, and shall teach you, and bring all things to your remembrance." As for the term “substance,” which was used by our fathers for the sake of greater simplicity, but not being understood by the people has caused offense on account of the fact that the Scriptures do not contain it, it seemed desirable that it should be wholly abolished, and that in future no mention should be made of substance in reference to God, since the divine Scriptures have nowhere spoken concerning the substance of the Father and the Son. But we say that the Son is in all things like the Father, as the Holy Scriptures affirm and teach.' (Socrates, The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates Scholasticus, revised with notes by A. C. Zenos, D.D., based on E. Walford's trans., in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, gen. editors Schaff and Wace, Eerdmans 1976 reprint, 2.61, 62.)

[Alternate English translation and Greek text:  J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds, 2nd edition, 1960, pp. 289, 290; see also the translation of Athanasius' de Synodis 8, in The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, gen. editors Schaff and Wace, Eerdmans 1978 reprint, 4.454, as well as Migne's PG 67.305.]


Grace and peace,

David

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

TurretinFan vs. Mark Shea: inaccuracies and misnomers - part 2

In this second installment, I continue my reflections on TurretinFan's (hereafter, TF) recent thread, Nicaea Was Local Council, Arianism Not Settled Controversy, Implies Shea .

TF posted:

Shea again: "He regards himself as bound by the teaching and discipline of the synod whose jurisdiction is over his local geographic region, and the person he is writing to likewise feels bound by his local synod."

Maximinus was the Arian bishop of Hippo (see Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature). Augustine was the orthodox ("catholic" but not "Catholic") bishop of Hippo, as everyone knows. Even if the two councils mentioned were "local" councils, or even regional councils, both Augustine and Maximinus were in the same locale and region. Thus, this is the sort of impossible explanation for Augustine's words that can only come out of gross ignorance of the people involved in the dispute.

In part 1, I demonstrated that Maximinus was not an Arian, but rather a homoian, and that homoian Christian bishops condemned Arianism. TF then states that, "Augustine was the orthodox ("catholic" but not "Catholic") bishop of Hippo, as everyone knows". Once again, TF is anachronistically portraying this historical period, for 'orthodoxy' was anything but a settled issue. (As for Augustine being "catholic" but not "Catholic", I will deal with this silliness in a subsequent post.) He then gives one a misleading impression with his statement that, "both Augustine and Maximinus were in the same locale and region"—fact is, Maximinus had just arrived in Hippo with, "Count Sigiswulf (Segisvultus), a Goth," who in 427, "led a Roman army to Africa in order to suppress the rebellion of Bonifacius" [see John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., Debate With Maximinus, Introduction (New York: New City Press, 1995), p. 175.]—his ordination, and conciliar loyalty, had NOTHING to do with the Hippo locale/region. Yet once again, though neither Shea, nor TF have a good grasp of the historical landscape of this period, Shea is the more accurate.

TF:

Shea again: "With Augustine’s particular question the issue is this, lacking a verdict from the Church universal, and faced with differing rulings from different local councils, he is attempting to come to concensus [sic] by appeal to Scripture, since it is an authority appealed to by both him and his correspondent."

This is basically the same debunked theory we've already addressed above.

The only point that TF has "debunked" is that neither of the two councils being discussed were "local", the rest of his musings do not fit the facts. FACT #1: no council and/or creed up to this period was recognized as universally binding; FACT #2: if any council up to the date of the debate between Augustine and Maxinimus (427/428) had any semblance of a claim to universal authority it was the dual councils of Ariminum and Seleucia, which were convoked by emperor Constantius II in 359. These two parallel councils were really essentially one council held in two different geographical locations for the sake of logistics. The estimates of the number of bishops that attended range between 550+ and 750+, which means that this dual council was significantly larger than council of Nicaea held in 325. Not only the size, but also the geographical and theological representation was considerably more significant—Augustine was engaging in a bit of 'damage control' when he demanded that competing councils be left out of the equation.

Yet there is even more to the story...the famous quote from Augustine concerning the authority councils (see part 1 for full context) is a bit misleading, for it gives the impression that Maximinus gave the council of Ariminum the same kind of authority that was later given to councils that were accepted as Catholic and Ecumenical. Here, again, is what Augustine, wrote AFTER the debate (from TF's quote):

I should not, however, introduce the Council of Nicaea to prejudice the case in my favor, nor should you introduce the Council of Ariminum that way. I am not bound by the authority of Ariminum, and you are not bound by that of Nicaea. By the authority of the scriptures that are not the property of anyone, but the common witnesses for both of us, let position do battle with position, case with case, reason with reason. [John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., Answer to Maximinus, Book II, XIV - On the Sameness of Substance in the Trinity, Section 3 (New York: New City Press, 1995), p. 282.]

Compare the above with what Augustine and Maximinus actually said during their debate:

Maximinus said: "...if you ask questions, I will answer on the points where I can. If you say something reasonable, I shall have to agree. If you produce from the divine scriptures something that we all share, we shall have to listen. but those words which are not found in the scriptures are under no circumstance accepted by us, especially since the Lord warns us, saying, In vain they worship me, teaching human commandments and precepts" (Mt. 15:9).

2. Augustine said, "If I wanted to reply to all these items, I too would seem to be trying to avoid the point at issue. Hence, in order that we may quickly come to the point, state for me your faith concerning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

Maximinus answered, "If you ask for my faith, I hold that faith which was not only stated, but was also ratified a Ariminum by the signatures of three hundred and thirty bishops."

3. Augustine said, "I have already said this, but I repeat it, because you have refused to answer: State for me your faith concerning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

Maximinus answered, "Since I have not refused to answer, why am I accused by Your Holiness as though I made no response."

4. Augustine said, "I said that you refused to answer, because when I asked you to tell me your faith concerning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit—and I ask this now too—you did not tell me your faith, but mentioned the council of Ariminum. I want to know your faith, what you believe, what you think concerning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. If you are willing, I will listen to what you say. Do not send me to those writings. They are not now at hand, nor I am bound by their authority. State what you believe concerning the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

Maximinus answered, "I wanted the decree of the Council of Ariminum to be present, not to excuse myself, but to show the authority of those fathers who handed on to us in accord with the divine scriptures the faith they learned from the divine scriptures." [John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., Debate With Maximinus (New York: New City Press, 1995), pp. 188-189.]

Now, Maximinus does not attempt to 'bind' Augustine to "the decree of the Council of Ariminum" (as if the decree is accepted by all Christians), instead he is merely attempting 'shorten' his response to Augustine's question, directing him to a document that clearly states his position; adding that his appeal to the decree which he believes faithfully represents his views is, "to show the authority of those fathers who handed on to us in accord with the divine scriptures the faith they learned from the divine scriptures." In other words, not only does the decree represent Maximinus position, but it does so based on the authority of "the divine scriptures".

To sum up, apart from incorrectly terming the councils of Arminum (359) and Nicaea (325) as "local", Shea's assessment that, "What Augustine is doing is appealing to a common authority in a dispute where the Church Universal has not yet arrived at a consensus", is quite accurate, whilst TF's overall critique is significantly flawed.


Grace and peace,

David

Friday, August 12, 2011

TurretinFan vs. Mark Shea: inaccuracies and misnomers - part 1

On August 8th, 2011, the secretive, anti-Catholic, fellow who debates and writes under the psuedonym "TurretinFan" (hereafter, TF), posted a thread titled, "Nicaea Was Local Council, Arianism Not Settled Controversy, Implies Shea", on two separate websites: his own blog, Thoughts of Francis Turretin, and at James White's AOMIN blog .

The thread is a polemical piece directed at comments made by the Catholic apologist Mark Shea (link to Mark Shea's comments).

Apart from correcting Shea's obvious error of terming the councils of Nicaea (325) and Ariminum (359) as "local", the rest of TF's post is riddled with inaccuracies and misnomers. Citations from TF's post will be in red, my responses in black, and other cited references in blue. TF opens his post with:

I admit that I've never had a high view of Mark Shea's scholarship, yet a mixture of surprise and amusement washed over me as I took in Shea's breathtakingly ignorant response to a reader's question regarding Augustine and Sola Scriptura. A reader had pointed out to Shea that Augustine, in responding to the Arian heretic Maximinus, had sounded exactly like a Sola Scriptura Christian.

TF has established the tone for his thread. The following is the "reader's question regarding Augustine and Sola Scriptura", and the quote from which "the reader" formed his question for Mark Shea:

Apparently St. Augustine made this statement:

“I ought not to adduce the Council of Nice, nor ought you to adduce the Council of Ariminum, for I am not bound by the authority of the one, nor are you bound by the authority of the other. Let the question be determined by the authority of the Scriptures…”

It really does sound like he is preaching sola-scriptura there.

Now, we know he also made famous statements such as “I would not believe the Gospel if the Catholic Church did not tell me it was true”, so overall that is clearly not the case, but do you happen to know if there is more to his statement? Was his theology still evolving, etc? I cannot find a serious Catholic commentary on this quote anywhere online or in any of my books.

The quote that "the reader" provides for Shea is from Augustine's, Contra Maximinum Arianum ("Against Maximinus, an Arian"). "The reader" obtained the quote via a "challenge from one of the forum members", who appears to have linked "the reader" to the Fundamental Baptist Institute's online rendition of J.A. Wylie's, The Papacy; Its History Dogmas, Genius, and Prospects: Being The Evangelical Alliance First Prize Essay On Popery, Book II, Chapter VII - "Infallibility" (FBI incorrectly titles the book, History of the Papacy, and "the reader" incorrectly links to chapter XVII instead of VII—corrected link—a pdf version of the 1867 4th edition of the book is available HERE).


Now, "the reader's" quote is partial; the following is Wylie's actual quote from Augustine:

"I ought not to adduce the Council of Nice," says St. Augustine, "nor ought you to adduce the Council of Ariminum, for I am not bound by the authority of the one, nor are you bound by the authority of the other. Let the question be determined by the authority of the Scriptures, which are witnesses peculiar to neither of us, but common to both." (Page 252 in the pdf version linked to above.)

[Note: Wylie incorrectly attributes the above quote to Augustine's "De Unitate, c. xvi", instead of his Contra Maximinum Arianum.]

Having 'cleaned up' some of the germane sources, I shall now return to TF's post; he continued with an expanded citation of the above mentioned passage from Augustine's Contra Maximinum Arianum; however, interestingly enough, he did not use the same source that "the reader" supplied, opting instead, for the following from a different translator:


Augustine (354-430 AD):

The Father and the Son are, then, of one and the same substance. This is the meaning of that “homoousios” that was confirmed against the Arian heretics in the Council of Nicaea by the Catholic fathers with the authority of the truth and the truth of authority. Afterward, in the Council of Ariminum it was understood less than it should have been because of the novelty of the word, even though the ancient faith had given rise to it. There the impiety of the heretics under the heretical Emperor Constantius tried to weaken its force, when many were deceived by the fraudulence of a few. But not long after that, the freedom of the Catholic faith prevailed, and after the meaning of the word was understood as it should be, that “homoousios” was defended far and wide by the soundness of the Catholic faith. After all, what does “homoousios” mean but “of one and the same substance”? What does “homoousios” mean, I ask, but the Father and I are one (Jn 10:30)? I should not, however, introduce the Council of Nicaea to prejudice the case in my favor, nor should you introduce the Council of Ariminum that way. I am not bound by the authority of Ariminum, and you are not bound by that of Nicaea. By the authority of the scriptures that are not the property of anyone, but the common witnesses for both of us, let position do battle with position, case with case, reason with reason.


JohnE.[sic] Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., The Works of Saint Augustine, Part 1, Vol. 18, trans. Roland J. Teske, S.J., Answer to Maximinus, Book II, XIV - On the Sameness of Substance in the Trinity, Section 3 (New York: New City Press, 1995), p. 282.

NOTE: the above quote is actually from pages 281-282.


[BTW, this particular passage from Augustine is quite popular among anti-Catholic polemicists; in addition to Wylie, others that have cited it include John Calvin, John Jewel, William Goode, Michael Hobart Seymour, William Preston, and George Salmon.]

TF continues with:

Shea responded: "What Augustine is doing is appealing to a common authority in a dispute where the Church Universal has not yet arrived at a consensus."

Perhaps a little background would be helpful here. Maximinus was an Arian. The question was whether the Father and the Son are consubstantial. This is a matter that was directly addressed by the Council of Nicaea. We can agree with Shea in a limited way, namely that the Council of Nicaea was not ecumenical in the sense of speaking for every person who professed to be a part of the Christian faith: after all, it condemned the Arians. By that standard, there have not been any ecumenical councils, ever. If that's Shea's position, he's at loggerheads with Rome.

Judging Nicaea by modern Roman standards, though, Nicaea did not just "arrive at a consensus" but actually defined dogma that must be accepted de fide. That's obviously not how Augustine judged Nicaea, but that's because Augustine didn't share the epistemology of modern Rome.

Strictly speaking, TF's "little background" is deficient, for it fails to accurately portray the historical context of Augustine's statement. The period between the council of Nicaea in 325 and Augustine's Contra Maximinum Arianum (427/428) was one of the most contested in the history of the Christian Church; more than 130 councils were convened! (Consult Ramsay MacMullen's, Voting About God, pp. 3, 4 for the names and dates of the councils—see this thread for information about the book).


Concerning this turbulent period, Shea is certainly correct when he states that, "the Church Universal has not yet arrived at a consensus". Directly related to this historical fact is nature and role of the various councils that were held during this period; the understanding that some councils were "ecumenical", that the "ecumenical" councils were infallible when teaching on faith and morals, and needed to be accepted de fide, was a much later doctrinal development. As such, to write that, "Augustine didn't share the epistemology of modern Rome", concerning nature and role of councils convened in 4th and early 5th centuries, is to state the obvious. IMO, TF is pretty much wasting our time here, for even Shea is in agreement with him on this point!

[FYI: I have devoted 4 previous threads (which includes the above mentioned post) to the issue of councils, and they can be accessed via this link.]

Moving on, TF's statement that, "Maximinus was an Arian", is, at best, breathtakingly simplistic. An Arian is one who adheres to the basic theology of Arius—did Maximinus endorse Arius' basic theology? No, he did not. In fact, he emphatically denied THE defining doctrine of Arius, the doctrine that the Son of God was created ex nihilo; note the following:

The part of Arius' doctrine which most shocked and disturbed his contemporaries was his statement that the Father made the Son ' out of non-existence' (ἐκ οὐκ ὄντων). (R.P.C. Hanson, The Search for the Christian Doctrine of God, p. 24.)

This particular view of Arius [i.e. creation of the Son of God ex nihilo] has never been supplied with a convincing antecedent. It has always been an erratic boulder in his doctrine, preventing that doctrine being easily fitted into any known system...(Ibid., p. 88)

Before getting to Maximinus' theology, I think it would be prudent to supply a little background. Shortly after the council of Nicaea (325), the ordained bishops of the Christian Church at large split into 4 distinct factions; modern patristic scholars have termed those 4 factions as: 1.) the homoousians, those who accepted the Nicene Creed; 2.) the homoiousians, those who replaced homoousios (same being/essence/substance) with homoiousios (like being/essence/substance); 3.) the homoians, those who rejected the terms homoousios and homoiousios as being un-Biblical, and embraced the view that the Son of God was homoiōs (like, similar, in the same way) with respect to God the Father; and 4.) the 'Neo-Arians', sometimes termed the anhomoians (see Hanson, Search, p. 598 for the reason why many modern patristic scholars prefer the name 'Neo-Arian' over others).

Of the 4 factions, only the 'Neo-Arians' accepted Arius' most basic tenant that the Son of God was created ex nihilo, with the other 3 emphatically rejecting this doctrine.

Now, Maximinus was a staunch homoian, his theology being essentially that of the creed universally adopted by Christian Church at a council convened in 360 AD at Constantinople, which creed was a slight revision of so-called "Dated Creed" that was adopted in 359 AD via the convocation of a general council by emperor Constantius II, which convened at two separate locations: Ariminium (now Rimini) and Seleucia.

Commenting on this creed of 360 AD, the esteemed patristic scholar, J.N.D. Kelly wrote:

Arianism, it will be appreciated, is really a misnomer, for the creed asserts none of the articles of the old heresy [i.e. Arius/Arianism] and explicitly condemns Anomoeanism [i.e. 'Neo-Arianism']. (Early Christian Creeds, 2nd edition, 1960, p. 294.)

So, is it accurate to call Maximinus an Arian? With all due respect to the scholars that do attribute the label "Arian" to Maximinus, to do so is, IMO, a "misnomer", for Maximinus emphatically denied (as did all homoians) the most basic tenant of Arian theology: the creation of the Son of God ex nihilo. To call Maximinus an Arian would be analogous to calling someone who emphatically rejects TULIP a Calvinist!

So much more to cover, but given the length of this post, I think it best to do so in a subsequent thread.


Grace and peace,

David

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New book of interest: The Bible Made Impossible



It is extremely rare for me to recommend a book that I have yet to read, but I am going to venture into such rarity, concerning the above book (link to purchasing options). I have done so, based on the following three online reviews:


Dr. Peter Enns – “Have Evangelicals Made the Bible Impossible?

Dr. Tim Henderson – “Christian Smith: The Crumbling Foundation of Biblicism (Part 1)”

Kevin DeYoung – “Christian Smith Makes the Bible Impossible”


The first two reviews are favorable, whilst the third is hostile. Having not yet read the book myself, I am unable at this time to assess the reviews; however, I did find the following from Dr. Enns review to be cogent:

Smith’s central contention is that “pervasive interpretive pluralism” renders moot evangelical presumptions of the nature and authority of Scripture.

The above seems to duplicate the insightful reflections of Dr. A.N.S. Lane on this subject. I have provided the following from his pen on the right side-bar of this blog for over three years now:

It was this belief in the clarity of Scripture that made the early disputes between Protestants so fierce. This theory seemed plausible while the majority of Protestants held to Lutheran or Calvinist orthodoxy but the seventeenth century saw the beginning of the erosion of these monopolies. But even in 1530 Casper Schwenckfeld could cynically note that ‘the Papists damn the Lutherans; the Lutherans damn the Zwinglians; the Zwinglians damn the Anabaptists and the Anabaptists damn all others.’ By the end of the seventeenth century many others saw that it was not possible on the basis of Scripture alone to build up a detailed orthodoxy commanding general assent. (A.N.S. Lane, “Scripture, Tradition and Church: An Historical Survey”, Vox Evangelica, Volume IX – 1975, pp. 44, 45 – bold emphasis mine - LINK)


I have ordered this book, and hope to post some further reflections once I have read it (the Lord willing).


Grace and peace,

David