Introduction

Recently, I was contacted by a regular commenter here, Stephan Huller, about translating a passage from a sermon attributed to John Chrysostom.  The sermon, entitled “On the Ascension,” was edited by Montfaucon, and eventually appeared in the PG 52.773-92.  Though originally attributed to Chrysostom, in the past century it has been definitively assigned to his rival, Severian of Gabala.  Ironically, most of Severian’s surviving works come to us under Chrysostom’s name.  More information can be found in De Aldama’s Repertorium Pseudo-Chrysostomicum.  This homily is n. 415 in that work, and the entry may be translated:

Montfaucon had advised that this homily (which appears variously in different manuscripts) was a pastiche of several homilies, perhaps composed from several authors, and that the second part (sections 8-10) mostly consists of material taken from Chrysostom’s lost second homily on the beginning of Acts.  Marx, however, in OCPer5 (1939) 283-291 showed that this homily actually belongs to Severian of Gabala, though granting the possibility that two homilies may have indeed been conflated into one.  Altendorf admits the attribution to Severian in a letter.

I don’t have the CPG number on hand, but it appears there under Severian’s name.  

Stephan asked me to translated section 6, along with the last bit of section 5 and the first bit of section 7.  His own interests, as I understand them, relate to early understandings of Mark 10:17-18, where Jesus rebukes his interlocutor for calling him “good teacher” by saying “why do you call me good?  No one is good except God, who is one.”  

In our homily here, Severian takes aim at Arians by using John 20:27-29, where Thomas calls Jesus “my Lord and my God”  after seeing him resurrected.  Arians, who taught that Christ was a created being, rather than co-eternal with the Father, naturally turned to Mark 10:18, as it seems that Jesus is refusing divine honors.  Severian compares the passage in Mark with the passage in John, as in John, Jesus accepts the title “Lord and God.”  Severian’s solution is that in Mark, Jesus is really rebuking his interlocutor for calling him “good teacher” rather than “good Lord.”  In Severian’s mind, “teacher” is an unworthy epithet for the son of God, and so he rejects it.  

My translation here is fairly literal.  We’re not dealing with highly polished rhetoric (like Gregory of Nazianzus), so putting the work into highly polished English prose would be disingenuous.  I’ve occasionally added bits for clarity, but I’ve tried to put [square brackets] around what I’ve added.  The bolded numbers in parentheses denote section numbers.  I’ve modified the paragraph structure from the PG (by ending section 5 sooner) because it’s clear (at least to me) that a new topic begins with the citation of Jn. 20:27.  

English Translation

(5) Thus Thomas’s finger has ended the quarrel of the heretics, for this is the finger, over which the the Egyptian magicians could not prevail, saying “this is the finger of the Lord” (Ex 8:15).  It was thus fitting for St. Thomas, after this assurance, to proclaim the words of David, “in the day of my affliction I have pursued God” (Ps. 77:2/76:3 LXX), and after enquiring with his hands to declare also what follows, “in the night, my hands are stretched out before him, and I have not been deceived” (Ps. 77:2/76:3 LXX) [1].


“Do not disbelieve, but rather believe” (Jn. 20:27).  Thomas, then, having recognized from the wound the one who suffered, due to Jesus’ foreknowledge, called him God, saying, “my Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28). (6) Let the heretics hear this!  If the son had actually rejected this, and does not possess identical honor with the Father, why then does he not dismiss this all-surpassing honor?  For he heard from someone else, “good teacher,” and he said, “why do you gall me good? No one is good, except God, who is one”  (Mk. 10:17-18), even though the word “good” is in use among us.  By your understanding, he refused the epithet “good.”  How much more should he have refused to accept “Lord and God”? [In that passage, the man says] “Good Teacher,” and [Jesus] replied, “why do you call me good?” But here we have, “my Lord and my God,” but he did not say, “why do you call me ‘Lord and God?’” In the prior case, since the word used was unworthy of him (for [the man] did not say, “Good Lord,” but “Good teacher”), he dismissed the worthless title and accepted the honorable one.  In this instance, he also offers a rebuke, but on opposite grounds: he rebuked Thomas because [Thomas] spoke too late.  He did not rebuke him for saying “my Lord,” but because he spoke later than he should have.  “After you have seen, you have believed, but blessed are those who do not see, yet believe” (Jn 20:29).  Though only one man [Thomas] has been summoned, all of us have been blessed, for this blessing was spoken over all of us and those after us.  Because we have not received these miraculous things by sight, but rather received them in faith, we become fellow partakers in this great and renowned blessing.  

 

(7) But let us turn from this story, which we have treated succinctly, and move on to another word of the prophet, lest you all grow weary from an abundance of words. Which passage shall we discuss? “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord” (Is. 2:3 / Micah 4:2)…  [2]

 

Notes

[1] The Greek reads, “I have not been deceived” at the end of this verse, which differs from the Hebrew (or at least our English translations of the Hebrew), which reads something like, “my soul refused to be comforted.”

 

[2] Severian discusses in this section the “mountain of the Lord” and the Mount of Olives, before turning back to a discussion on Acts.

If anything is unclear, let me know in the comments.

ἐν αὐτῷ,
ΜΑΘΠ 

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