Fun with footnotes – the Laudatio Apostolorum of ps.Chrysostom

I do enjoy looking into footnotes.  I’ve been looking into another couple on a passage in Dirk Rohmann’s book, which we encountered a few days ago.  (I’m ignoring footnotes that I’m not looking at; but giving the context).

In John [Chrysostom]’s metaphorical words, the apostles have “gagged the tongues of the philosophers and stitched shut the mouths of the rhetoricians.” This passage echoes a similar statement in an unpublished manuscript (attributed to John) which asserts that “the senate decrees have been overthrown, the philosophers and orators have been put to shame, and the Areopagus has been wiped out.”[12] This statement could be right because it is attested that in the last quarter of the fourth century large private mansions were constructed on the Areopagus hill, traditionally a place that housed archives.

[12] Voicu (1997), 515: “Senatsbeschlüsse sind von den Aposteln umgestürzt, Philosophen u. Redner  beschämt u. der Areopag vernichtet worden”, referring to the unpublished manuscript Cod. Vat.  Gr. 455 fol. 119v. (Voicu, Sever J. 1997. “Johannes Chrysostomus II (Pseudo-Chrysostomica).” RAC 18:503–15)

Mmmm… unpublished manuscripts!!!

…the senate decrees have been overthrown, the philosophers and orators have been put to shame, and the Areopagus has been wiped out…

That does sound rather interesting.  I wondered what the context is?  What is this “unpublished manuscript”?  So… I thought I’d see what I could find!

The RAC seems to be the Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum which no normal person has access to.  It’s not accessible online.  That’s annoying.  Presumably nobody ever looks at it.

My next thought was that perhaps the manuscript itself was online?  Maybe I could take a look at it?  Maybe get a text transcribed, or translated?  After all, 15,000 Vatican manuscripts are now online.  But unfortunately this is not one of them.  Okay…

But surely the Pinakes database, maintained by the IRHT, will list the manuscript and it’s contents?  Well indeed they do!  The entry is here.  The manuscript appears to be a Byzantine homiliary, of the 10th century, and the passage comes from a very short work (folios 118v-120v), entitled Laudatio SS Apostolorum (= Praise of the holy apostles), CPG 4970 (BHG 0160i), incipit Οἱ πρὸ τῆς κλήσεως ἁλιεῖς καὶ μετὰ τὴν κλῆσιν πάλιν ἁλιεῖς, and ending ὅτι ἔδει ἐξ ὕψους μεγάλαις ταῖς πτέρυξιν ἐφιπτάμενον τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα φίλους θεοῦ καὶ προφήτας κατασκευάζειν… ἀμήν.  Three manuscripts are listed – Thank heavens for the thoroughness of the IRHT cataloguers!  The CPG entry tells us no more; a couple of items of inaccessible bibliography are listed by the BHG.  A google search reveals another article by Sever J. Voicu, likewise inaccessible.[1]  I infer that the work does indeed have some interesting features!

We can do nothing with this work at the moment.  It’s quite unusual, these days, that I can’t find some kind of access online to some of this stuff.  But of course this was once normal.  It’s a reminder of what is still offline.

But once the manuscript comes online at the Vatican site, I must have a look.  If the manuscript is legible – and Greek manuscripts tend to be heavily abbreviated – then I might try to get a transcription made; and then a translation.  It might be fun!

There is nothing we can do at the moment, however.  Nice footnote, to nice stuff.

  1. [1]S.J.Voicu, “Echi costantinopolitani di sant’Ireneo. Note su una pseudocrisostomica «Laudatio apostolorum» (CPG 4970)”, in Ultra Terminum Vagari. Scritti in onore di Carl Nylander, a cura di B. Magnusson, S. Renzetti, P. Vian & S.J. Voicu, Roma: Edizioni Quasar. Associazione Internazionale di Archeologia Classica, 1997, 357-366.

32 thoughts on “Fun with footnotes – the Laudatio Apostolorum of ps.Chrysostom

  1. Why some scholars don’t understand the difference between an authentic and a spurious work? However, the title of my article (deal about the copyright with the publishing house) is crystal-clear.

    The homily seems EARLIER than Chrysostom, delivered – surely in Constatinople – some time between Julian’s death (363) and the introduction of Christmas in Constantinople (380?). It celebrates the end of the GREAT FEAR, namely that Julian might have succeeded in restauring paganism.
    “Closing mouths” of adversaries is a common phrase in Greek, underlining that they cannot even utter a response. Therefore, Christians have the “last word”. Probably the other phrases have no historical value, but are just an inference by the preacher (incidentally, not identified = ANONYMOUS).

  2. Hmm. The microfilm of the ms doesn’t have enough pages, if Pinakes is correct; or else the folio numbers are wrong. I can’t make out what texts the ms does contain – I have virtually no knowledge of Greek paleography. Can anybody see the text in the microfilm?

  3. “This statement could be right because it is attested that in the last quarter of the fourth century large private mansions were constructed on the Areopagus hill, traditionally a place that housed archives.”

    This wording is unbelievable!
    These are actually houses of pagan and non-Christian upper class members and with such a classical and pagan decoration that some authors (Frantz, Camp, Athanassiadi) have interpreted them as philosophical schools or teaching places. Rohmann’s source, Watts, interprets them, if not as schools, as an example of a pagan revival of the city (which if anything contradicts Chrysostomos’ rhetorical emphasis).
    So if this is a proof that the Areopagus has been ‘wiped out’, these houses certainly do not point to Christians but any reader would understands that Christians have built houses there destroying the archives.

  4. So, where does the sentence say/imply that the very owner of those houses (obviously rich people, therefore also the classical symbols) could possibly have ‘wiped out’ the Areopagus in order to build houses? This contradicts anything we know from temple destruction etc. This is simply an indication that there was a redevelopment in that area, which could be significant in this context. How is speculation about religious affiliation of the private house owners furthering our understanding?

  5. Btw, where does Watts mention “classical and pagan decoration”? All I can find is “elaborate interior decorations such as were common to urban and suburban villas of the time”. And where does he mention the “pagan revival of the city”?

  6. The sentence “This statement could be right because it is attested that in the last quarter of the fourth century large private mansions were constructed on the Areopagus hill, traditionally a place that housed archives” certainly suggests to me a connection between Christians destroying archives and the construction of those houses.

    The revival of the pagan ruling class is what I took from Watts. Isn’t there a reference to it on the next page?

  7. I wouldn’t read too much into that sentence. The whole section from which you quote this half a paragraph is simply about identifying recurrent themes in the sermons of John Chrysostom in which he shows his obvious disdain for ancient philosophy. In that context, I found the RAC quotation from the Vatican manuscript quite interesting. The sentence in question is simply a speculative note on the redevelopment of that area (I presume that Watts was unaware of that passage), which may or may not have significance for what the author of the text says (Senatsbeschlüsse umgestürzt, Areopag vernichtet).

    No, I wouldn’t read Watts in that way. He simply says that in the fourth century Athens recovered from the third century crisis (like most cities), and that there is also some evidence for pagan euergetic activity (which is also attested for many other cities in the fourth and fifth centuries).

  8. Watts actually mentions a total of five inscriptions from Athens somehow to do with pagan euergetism. He does not always give dates, but most seem to be from the fourth century. The latest I could find is the one dedicated to Herculius (this should be PLRE 2, H. 2, 545, thus AD 410 at latest), but the pagan connection is tedious in that case.

  9. So, is the Greek original of “von den Aposteln” distributed over the three effects? Including, something like ‘der Areopag ist von den Aposteln vernichtet worden’?

    And what(-all) then is, or may be, meant by “der Areopag”: a place, an institution, a group of people? And, what(-all) is meant by “vernichtet worden”? E.g., ‘the sort of people who used to meet at the Areopagus have been so thoroughly discredited that no such people meet anywhere any more, and where they specifically met has been torn down, and the whole area cleared, as a result of the Apostles teaching’?

  10. I’d happily study the original text.

    Having said that, apostles could also be a metaphor for those that follow the apostolic teaching (like ascetics, as John Chrysostom himself was – people involved in temple destruction etc). For example, in the “Demonstration against Jews and Pagans that Christ is God” (mentioned above), John wants to demonstrate the divinity of Christ because the mission of the apostles has come true (the ideas/writings of the philosophers have perished, temples are destroyed etc).

    The obvious point of comparison is Paul’s sermon at the Areopagus, mentioned a few times in the sermons of JC. But the addition “Senatsbeschlüsse umgestürzt” (why senate?) is quite peculiar and graphic. It does not seem to fit into the biblical text.

    Another interesting find is “Agora xvi, 73. 22-7. The copy which turned up in 1952 was found not in either of those two places but in the filling of a later building in the north-east of the Agora” (an inscription erected at both the Agora and Areopagus).
    http://www.jstor.org/stable/826868 – note 37

    I’m not an archaeologist, but probably most inscriptions are actually found in building/churches; cult statues melted and reworked as saint images and so on.

    Not sure if the building north-east of the Agora can be dated.

  11. Trying again:

    I’d happily study the original Greek.

    Having said that, apostles could also be a metaphor for people following the apostolic teaching (ascetics, like JC himself was – people involved in temple destruction and so on). In the “Demonstration against Jews and Pagans that Christ is God”, JC demonstrates the divinity of Christ because the mission of the apostles has come true as foretold (the ideas/writings of the philosophers have perished, temples are destroyed and so on).

    The obvious point of comparison is Paul’s sermon at the Areopagus, mentioned a few times in the sermons of JC. But the addition “Senatsbeschlüsse umgestürzt” seems pecular and graphic, and does not seem to fit into the biblical text.

    Another interesting find is “Agora xvi, 73. 22-7. The copy which turned up in 1952 was found not in either of those two places but in the filling of a later building in the north-east of the Agora” (i.e. inscription erected at both the Agora and Areopagus). Reference from Rhodes, G&R 48, note 37.

    Probably most inscriptions are found in buildings/churches, cult statues were melted and reworked into saints images and so on.

    I don’t know if the building north of the Agora can be dated.

  12. Trying again:

    I’d happily study the original Greek.

    Having said that, apostles could also be a metaphor for people following the apostolic teaching (ascetics, like JC himself was – people involved in temple destruction and so on). In the “Demonstration against Jews and Pagans that Christ is God”, JC demonstrates the divinity of Christ because the mission of the apostles has come true as foretold (the ideas/writings of the philosophers have perished, temples are destroyed and so on).

    The obvious point of comparison is Paul’s sermon at the Areopagus, mentioned a few times in the sermons of JC. But the addition “Senatsbeschlüsse umgestürzt” seems peculiar and graphic, and does not seem to fit into the biblical text.

    Another interesting find is “Agora xvi, 73. 22-7. The copy which turned up in 1952 was found not in either of those two places but in the filling of a later building in the north-east of the Agora” (i.e. inscription erected at both the Agora and Areopagus). Reference from Rhodes, G&R 48, note 37.

    Probably most inscriptions are found in buildings/churches, cult statues were melted and reworked into saints images and so on.

    I don’t know if the building north of the Agora can be dated.

  13. There is a bit more on that area of the city (north of the Areopagus and south of the Agora) in the excavation report:
    http://www.jstor.org/stable/147341?seq=9#page_scan_tab_contents

    With p. 102: “But parts at least of the old buildings were subsequently, probably in the fifth century after Christ, patched up and used once more. The latest evidence for habitation in the area comes from a well which yielded pottery of the sixth and seventh centuries”

    And p. 103 on the northeast foot of the Areopagus: “In this region the houses of the Greek period were almost completely obliterated by two large establishments that date from the general revival of the 5th century after Christ”

    So, evidence for urban redevolopment in the late fourth and fifth centuries, with some evidence for continuing habitation, but no more building activity beyond the fifth century?

    Perhaps the author of laudatio apostolorum alludes to the Herulian sack in AD 267?

    On the inscription mentioned above: “the law of 337/6 threatening the Areopagus with suspension in the event of an attempt to overthrow the democracy was to be published ‘on two stelai, … one at the entrance to the Areopagus as you go into the council-house and the other in the assembly.” (Rhodes, l.c., p. 36f.)

    Who would want such an inscription built in his house? A reflection of the triumph of Christianity?

  14. “Another interesting find is “Agora xvi, 73. 22-7. The copy which turned up in 1952 was found not in either of those two places but in the filling of a later building in the north-east of the Agora” .. .
    “Who would want such an inscription built in his house? A reflection of the triumph of Christianity?”

    The later building is dated third century B.C. (Hesperia, vol. 21, no 4 , p. 359).
    It is very hard to see in this a reflection of the triumph of Christianity.

  15. Thank you for these notes! The archaeology is definitely interesting, and I appreciate the links.

    I think the sentence is genuinely misleading then. Really it’s a footnote on the previous sentence, offering the building work on the Areopagus as confirmation of the destruction of the Areopagus referenced in the ps.Chrysostom, with no connection to Christianity. That said, where it is, it does suggest to the reader that the builders are Christians.

  16. I honestly didn’t consider that the sentence could be misread in that way.

    If you look up the reference provided by domenico:

    “To have found its way into the fill of this building the stele itself must have been thrown down earlier”

    As far as I’m aware this is the standard view of archaeologists (first a site is destroyed regardless of reason, then the site used as a stone pit for construction work, often in the vicinity). Wealthy house owners destroying ancient sites to acquire building material didn’t cross my mind (and Watts convincingly deconstructs the very speculative link between the private theatres mentioned in Eunapius and the dining areas of the houses in question, so I can’t see a reason to say the builders were not Christians)

    Please also note that this really is speculation and marked as such (could be).

    Perhaps part of the problem is that we are already on p. 202 here, and a lot of explanatory material precedes that section.

  17. Dr. Rohmann,

    Thank you for addressing “the addition ‘Senatsbeschlüsse umgestürzt’ (why senate?)”, about which I was wondering, too, but thinking perhaps I simply did not know the context well enough. Thinking out loud, might this be some kind of partial reference to the history of the Areopagus? In Walker’s translation of Chrysostom’s Sermon 38 on Acts 17:16-17, I read, “The Athenians no longer enjoyed their own laws, but had become subject to the Romans.” But that obviously preceded the Apostles. And why, and which, “-beschlüsse”? Perhaps an association of ideas and telescoping of time – from Areopagus to anti-Christian decisions of the Roman Senate before Constantine and after Julian?

  18. To try to put that last phrase more clearly: the overthrowing of anti-Christian “-beschlüsse” taken under Julian, after his fall.

  19. It’s really difficult to comment on the text without the Greek original.

    My initial thought was that “senate” is a secondary translation of “bule” (council of Athens). This is often translated to “senate” in English. In German that would be “Senat” (but in German it would not be “council of Athens”). There is no other word in Greek specifically for the Roman senate.

    I don’t think that quotation could be linked to the Roman occupation of Greece. This is because of the “shaming the philosophers”. After the conquest of Greece, actually Greek philosophers and rhetoric teachers were on the rise in Rome. There is quite an obvious link to Paul’s sermon at the Areopagus in the phrase “shaming the philosophers”.

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+17%3A16-34&version=KJV

    In my book, I discuss a few of such comments on this passage in the sermons of John Chrysostom, and I generally found these to be quite interesting. Even if the authorship of the text in mind is uncertain, I’d still assume a certain similarity of mindset.

    The fate of the Areopagus is interesting if only for that reason.

    Yes, there is evidence for retaliatory measures after the death of Julian. I don’t see much evidence for Christian authors/preachers describing Julian’s attempt to restore pagan cults (he did not demonstrably try to persecute Christians) as something like the “great fear”, however.

  20. Romhann: “If you look up the reference provided by domenico:“To have found its way into the fill of this building the stele itself must have been thrown down earlier”. As far as I’m aware this is the standard view of archaeologists (first a site is destroyed regardless of reason, then the site used as a stone pit for construction work, often in the vicinity).”

    Again Dr Rohmann you seems not to grasp the meaning of that stele which tells a different story.
    This stele was taken down in 322 BC when Macedonians occupied Athens. It was taken down by someone who wanted to preserve it and it was put in the fill of a building then under construction to hide it. It was not used as a mere material of construction. (AGORA XIV, p. 61. n. 173). Archaeologists know that the reasons why an artifact lies underground can be the most diverse.

    Regarding to our topic, the Areopagus houses, I am not aware that they have been made with reused materials taken from that place or near.

  21. That’s a lot of conjecture: “The stele was probably taken down when the Macedonians occupied Athens in 322 B.c. and put out of sight by being thrown into the earth fill of a building then under construction. The stele when found in 1952 was remarkably fresh.” The reasons sound unclear to me. If it was taken down to preserve it, why was it not recovered later at some point?

  22. … because whoever has hidden it was dead and so nobody knew where to look if they have searched for it but mostly because Athens was no more independent and politically no one has any interest in finding it again and the few opposing Macedonians had other concerns.
    Later, on that place it was built the Stoa of Attalus under which it was found in 1952.

  23. Not impossible, but the example is from the Hellenistic period (for which there is also evidence for deliberate destruction of temples or other sites, so we don’t know).

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