Ante-nicene fathers



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There is Joseph, faithful, and intelligent, and wise, and who feared God in everything. Did not a woman conceive an excessive passion for the beauty of this chaste and upright man? And, when he would not yield and consent to gratify her passionate desire,39 she cast the righteous man into every kind of distress and torment, to within a little of death,40 by bearing false witness. But God delivered him from all the evils that came upon him through this wretched woman. Ye see, my brethren, what distresses the constant sight of the person of the Egyptian woman brought upon the righteous man. Therefore, let us not be constantly with women, nor with maidens. For this is not profitable for those who truly wish to “gird up their loins.”41 For it is required that we love the sisters in all purity and chasteness, and with all curbing of thought, in the fear of God, not associating constantly with them, nor finding access to them at every hour.

Chapter IX.—Samson’s Admonitory Fall.

Hast thou not heard concerning Samson the Nazarite, “with whom was the Spirit of God,”42 the man of great strength? This man, who was a Nazarite, and consecrated to God, and who was gifted with strength and might, a woman brought to ruin with her wretched body, and with her vile passion. Art thou, perchance, such a man as he? Know thyself, and know the measure of thy strength.43 “The married woman catcheth precious souls.”44 Therefore, we do not allow any man whatsoever to sit with a married woman; much less to live in the same house with a maiden who has taken the vow, or to sleep where she sleeps, or to be constantly with her. For this is to be hated and abominated by those who fear God.

Chapter X.—David’s Sin, So Admonitory to Us Weak Men.

Does not the case of David instruct thee, whom God “found a man after His heart,”45 one faithful, faultless, pious, true? This same man saw the beauty of a woman—I mean of Bathsheba—when he saw her as she was cleansing herself and washing unclothed. This woman the holy man saw, and was thoroughly46 captivated with desire by the sight of her.47 See, then, what evils he committed because of a woman, and how this righteous man sinned, and gave command that the husband of this woman should be killed in battle. Ye have seen what wicked schemes he laid and executed, and how, because of his passion for a woman, he perpetrated a murder—he, David, who was called “the anointed of the Lord.”48 Be admonished, O man: for, if such men as these have been brought to ruin through women, what is thy righteousness, or what art thou among the holy, that thou consortest with women and with maidens day and night, with much silliness, without fear of God? Not thus, my brethren, not thus let us conduct ourselves; but let us be mindful of that word which is spoken concerning a woman: “Her hands lay snares, and her heart spreadeth nets; but the just shall escape from her, whilst the wicked falleth into her hands.”49 Therefore let us, who are consecrated,50 be careful not to live in the same house with females who have taken the vow. For such conduct as this is not becoming nor right for the servants of God.

Chapter XI.—Admonitory History of the Incestuous Children of David.

Hast thou not read concerning Amnon and Tamar, the children of David? This Amnon conceived a passion for his sister, and humbled her, and did not spare her, because he longed for her with a shameful passion; and he proved wicked and profligate because of his constant intercourse with her, without the fear of God, and he “wrought uncleanness in Israel.”51 Therefore, it is not proper for us, nor right for us, to associate with sisters, indulging in laughter and looseness; but we ought to behave towards them with all chasteness and purity, and in the fear of the Lord.

Chapter XII.—Solomon’s Infatuation Through Women.

Hast thou not read the history of Solomon, the son of David, the man to whom God gave wisdom, and knowledge, and largeness of mind,52 and riches, and much glory, beyond all men? Yet this same man, through women, came to ruin,53 and departed from the Lord.

Chapter XIII.—The History of Susanna Teaches Circumspection with the Eyes and in Society.

Hast thou not read, and dost thou not know, concerning those elders who were in the days of Susanna, who, because they were constantly with women, and looking upon the beauty which was another’s,54 fell into the depths of wantonness, and were not able to keep themselves in a chaste mind,55 but were overcome by a depraved disposition, and came suddenly56 upon the blessed Susanna to corrupt her. But she did not consent to their foul passion, but cried unto God, and God saved her out of the hands of the bad old men. Does it not, therefore, behove us to tremble and be afraid, forasmuch as these old men, judges and elders of the people of God, fell from their dignity because of a woman? For they did not keep in mind that which is said: “Look thou not on the beauty which is another’s; ”and, “The beauty of woman has destroyed many; ”57 and “With a married woman do not sit; ”58 and that, again, in which it says: “Is there any one that puts fire in his bosom, and does not burn his clothes; ”59 or, “Does a man walk on fire, and his feet are not scorched? So whosoever goeth in to another man’s wife is not pure from evil, and whosoever comes near to her shall not escape.”60 And again it says: “Thou shall not long after the beauty a woman, lest she take thee captive with her eyelids; ”61 and, “Thou shalt not look upon a maiden, lest thou perish through desire of her; ”62 and, “With a woman that sings beautifully thou shall not constantly be; ”63 and, “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”64

Chapter XIV.—Examples of Circumspect Behaviour from the Old Testament.

But see what it says also concerning those holy men, the prophets, and concerning the apostles of our Lord. Let us see whether any one of these holy men was constantly with maidens, or with young married women, or with such widows as the divine apostle declines to receive. Let us consider, in the fear of God, the manner of life of these holy men. Lo! we find it written concerning Moses and Aaron, that they acted and lived in the company of65 men, who themselves also followed a course of conduct like theirs. And thus did Joshua also, the son of Nun. Woman was there none with them; but they by themselves used holily to minister before God, men with men. And not only so; but they taught the people, that, whensoever the host moved, every tribe should move on apart, and the women with the women apart, and that they should go into the rear behind the host, and the men also apart by their tribes. And, according to the command of the Lord, so did they set out, like a wise people, that there might be no disorder on account of the women when the host moved. With beautiful and well-ordered arrangements did they march without stumbling. For lo! the Scriptures bear testimony to my words: “When the children of Israel had crossed over the Sea of Suth, Moses and the children of Israel sang the praises of the Lord, and said: We will praise the Lord, because He is exceedingly to be praised.”66 And, after that Moses had finished67 singing praises, then Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, took a timbrel in her hands, and all the women went out after her, and sang praises with her, women with women apart, and men with men apart. Then again, we find that Elisha and Gehazi and the sons of the prophets lived together in the fear of God, and that they had no females living with them. Micah too, and all the prophets likewise, we find to have lived in this manner in the fear of the Lord.

Chapter XV.—The Example of Jesus; How We May Allow Ourselves to Be Served by Women.

And, not to extend our discourse to too great length, what shall we say concerning our Lord Jesus Christ? Our Lord Himself was constantly with His twelve disciples when He had come forth to the world. And not only so; but also, when He was sending them out, He sent them out two and two together, men with men; but women were not sent with them, and neither in the highway nor in the house did they associate with women or with maidens: and thus they pleased God in everything. Also, when our Lord Jesus Christ Himself was talking with the woman of Samaria by the well alone, “His disciples came” and found Him talking with her, “and wondered that Jesus was standing and talking with a woman.”68 Is He not a rule, such as may not be set aside, an example, and a pattern to all the tribes of men? And not only so; but also, when our Lord was risen from the place of the dead, and Mary came to the place of sepulture, she ran and fell at the feet of our Lord and worshipped Him, and would have taken hold of Him. But He said to her: “Touch Me not; for I am not yet ascended to My Father.”69 Is it not, then, matter for astonishment, that, while our Lord did not allow Mary, the blessed woman, to touch His feet, yet thou livest with them, and art waited on by women and maidens, and sleepest where they sleep, and women wash thy feet for thee, and anoint thee! Alas for this culpable state of mind! Alas for this state of mind which is destitute of fear! Alas for this affrontery and folly, which is without fear of God! Dost thou not judge thine own self? Dost thou not examine thine own self? Dost thou not know thine own self and the measure of thy strength? These things, moreover, are trustworthy, and these things are true and right; and these are rules immutable for those who behave themselves uprightly in our Lord. Many holy women, again, ministered to holy men of their substance, as the Shunammite woman ministered to Elisha; but she did not live with him, but the prophet lived in a house apart. And, when her son died, she wanted to throw herself at the feet of the prophet; but his attendant would not allow her, but restrained her. But Elisha said to his servant: “Let her alone, because her soul is distressed.”70 From these things, then, we ought to understand their manner of life. To Jesus Christ our Lord women ministered of their substance: but they did not live with him; but chastely, and holily, and unblameably they behaved before the Lord, and finished their course, and received the crown in71 our Lord God Almighty.

Chapter XVI.—Exhortation to Union and to Obedience; Conclusion.

Therefore, we beseech you, our brethren in our Lord, that these things be observed with you, as with us, and that we may be of the same mind, that we may be one in you and ye may be one in us, and that in everything we may be of one soul and one heart in our Lord. Whosoever knoweth the Lord heareth us; and every one who is not of God heareth not us. He who desires truly to keep sanctity heareth us; and the virgin who truly desires to keep virginity heareth us; but she who does not truly desire to keep virginity doth not hear us. Finally, farewell in our Lord, and rejoice in the Lord, all ye saints Peace and joy be with you from God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord. So be it.

Here endeth the Second Epistle of Clement, the disciple of Peter. His prayer be with us! So be it.

Pseudo-Clementine Literature

Introductory Notice to Pseudo-Clementine Literature

By Professor M. B. Riddle, D.D.

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The name “Pseudo-Clementine Literature” (or, more briefly, “Clementina” ) is applied to a series of writings, closely resembling each other, purporting to emanate from the great Roman Father. But, as Dr. Schaff remarks, in this literature he is evidently confounded with “Flavius Clement, kinsman of the Emperor Domitian.”1 These writings are three in number: (1) the Recognitions, of which only the Latin translation of Rufinus has been preserved;2 (2) the Homilies, twenty in number, of which a complete collection has been known since 1853; (3) the Epitome, “an uninteresting extract from the Homilies, to which are added extracts from the letter of Clement to James, from the Martyrium of Clement by Simeon Metaphrastes, etc.”3 Other writings may be classed with these; but they are of the same general character, except that most of them show the influence of a later age, adapting the material more closely to the orthodox doctrine.

The Recognitions and the Homilies appear in the pages which follow. The former are given a prior position, as in the Edinburgh series. It probably cannot be proven that these represent the earlier form of this theological romance; but the Homilies, “in any case, present the more doctrinally developed and historically important form of the other treatises, which are essentially similar.”4 They are therefore with propriety placed after the Recognitions, which do not seem to have been based upon them, but upon some earlier document.5

The critical discussion of the Clementina has been keen, but has not reached its end. It necessarily involves other questions, about which there is still great difference of opinion. A few results seem to be established:—

(1) The entire literature is of Jewish-Christian, or Ebionitic, origin. The position accorded to “James, the Lord’s brother,” in all the writings, is a clear indication of this; so is the silence respecting the Apostle Paul. The doctrinal statements, “though not perfectly homogeneous” (Uhlhorn), are Judaistic, even when mixed with Gnostic speculation of heathen origin. This tendency is, perhaps, not so clearly marked in the Recognitions as in the Homilies; but both partake largely of the same general character. More particularly, the literature has been connected with the Ebionite sect called the Elkesaites; and some regard the Homilies as containing a further development of their system.6 This is not definitely established, but finds some support in the resemblance between the baptismal forms, as given by Hippolytus in the case of the Elkesaites,7 and those indicated in the Recognitions and Homilies, especially the latter.8

(2) The entire literature belongs to the class of fictitious writing “with a purpose.” The Germans properly term the Homilies a “Tendenz-Romance.” The many “lives of Christ” written in our day to insinuate some other view of our Lord’s person than that given in the canonical Gospels, furnish abundant examples of the class. The Tübingen school, finding here a real specimen of the influence of party feeling upon quasi-historical literature, naturally pressed the Clementina in support of their theory of the origin of the Gospels.

(3) The discussion leaves it quite probable, though not yet certain, that all the works are “independent elaborations—perhaps at first hand, perhaps at second or third—of some older tract not now extant.”9 Some of the opinions held respecting the relations of the two principal works are given by the Edinburgh translator in his Introductory Notice. It is only necessary here to indicate the progress of the modern discussion. Neander, as early as 1818, gave some prominence to the doctrinal view of the Homilies. He was followed by Baur, who found in these writings, as indicated above, support for his theory of the origin of historical Christianity. It is to be noted, however, that the heterogeneous mixture of Ebionism and Gnosticism in the doctrinal views proved perplexing to the leader of the Tübingen school. Schliemann10 took ground against Baur, collecting much material, and carefully investigating the question. Both authors give the priority to the Homilies. While Baur went too far in one direction, Schliemann, perhaps, failed to recognise fully the basis of truth in the position of the former. The next important step in the discussion was made by Hilgenfeld,11 whose views are briefly given in the Notice which follows. Hilgenfeld assigned the priority to the Recognitions, though he traced all the literature to an earlier work. Uhlhorn12 at first attempted to prove that the Recognitions were a revision of the Homilies. Further contributions were made by Lehmann13 and Lipsius.14 The former discovered in the Recognitions two distinct parts by different authors (i.-iii., iv.-ix.), tracing all the literature to the Kerygma of Peter. The latter finds the basis of the whole in the Acta Petri, which show a strong anti-Pauline tendency.

Influenced by these investigations, Uhlhorn modified his views. Lechler,15 while not positive in his convictions, makes the following prudent statement: “An older work lies at the basis both of the Homilies and Recognitions, bearing the title, Kerygmen des Petrus.16 To this document sometimes the Homilies, sometimes the Recognitions, correspond more faithfully; its historical contents are more correctly seen from the Recognitions, its doctrinal contents from the Homilies.” Other views, some of them quite fanciful, have been presented.

The prevalent opinion necessarily leaves us in ignorance of the authors of this literature. The date of composition, or editing, cannot be definitely fixed. In their present form the several works may be as old as the first half of the third century, and the common basis may be placed in the latter half of the second century.

How far the anti-Pauline tendency is carried, is a matter of dispute. Baur and many others think Simon is meant to represent Paul;17 but this is difficult to believe, though we must admit the disposition to ignore the Apostle to the Gentiles. As to the literary merit of these productions the reader must judge.

For convenience in comparison of the two works, the following table has been prepared, based on the order of the Recognitions. The correspondences are not exact, and the reader is referred to the footnotes for fuller details. This table gives a general view of the arrangement of the two narratives:—





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