Archive Page 2
December 3rd, 2013 by Roger Pearse
A 4-5th c. Coptic manuscript now in the British Library (Ms. BL. Addit. 5114), acquired under unknown circumstances by a Dr Askew, contains a gnostic text which bears the title of the Pistis Sophia. Another copy was found in a 5th century codex unearthed at Akhmim in 1896 also containing three other texts (now P.Berol. 8502). The text of the Pistis Sophia was translated from the first copy by G.R.S Mead in the late 19th century.
In the Pistis Sophia, chapter 147, on p.381, l.6-20 of Schwartz’s edition (Copenhagen, 1925) appears a condemnation of a Borborite practice recorded by Epiphanius. It appears in a list of sins and penances to be endured in the afterlife. Here is Mead’s translation.
Thomas said: “We have heard that there are some on the earth who take the male seed and the female monthly blood, and make it into a lentil porridge and eat it, |387. saying: ‘We have faith in Esau and Jacob.’ Is this then seemly or not?”
Jesus was wroth with the world in that hour [p. 322][ and said unto Thomas: “Amēn, I say: This sin is more heinous than all sins and iniquities. Such men will straightway be taken into the outer darkness and not be cast back anew into the sphere, but they shall perish, be destroyed in the outer darkness in a region where there is neither pity nor light, but howling and grinding of teeth. And all the souls which shall be brought into the outer darkness, will not be cast back anew, but will be destroyed and dissolved.”
Or as Tardieu puts it:
For the sacrilegious gnostic … there is neither instruction nor judgement; he is sent directly into the exterior darkness to be destroyed.
The ascetic gnostic does not care much for the libertine gnostic, it seems.
UPDATE (6/12/13): I have corrected some misunderstandings about the contents of the manuscript and added more detail, and a note about the Berlin copy.
December 2nd, 2013 by Roger Pearse
Epiphanius of Salamis devotes a section of his Panarion to the Borborites or Phibionites, a bunch of libertine gnostics of a pretty disgusting kind. But few will know that Theodoret also mentions this group, in his Compendium haereticarum fabularum book 1, chapter 13. The English translation of this is itself little known. Let’s hear what Theodoret has to say.
Chapter 13: Concerning the Barbelioti, that is to say the Borboriani.
The pollution of those called Barbelioti, that is to say, Borboriani, or Naasenes, or Stratiotici, or Phemioniti, sprouted from the seeds of Valentinus. For they set forth a certain Aeon who continues indestructible in virginal spirit, which they call Barbeloth; and Barbeloth asked for Prognosis from him. But after Prognosis came forth, then, asking again, Aphtharsia came forth, then Zoe Aionios. And they say that after Barbeloth was rejoicing, she became pregnant and bore Phos.
They said that Phos, having been anointed by the perfection of the spirit , was called Christ. Again this Christ asked for Nous, and he received (it). And the Father added also Logos. Then Ennoia and Logos, Aphtharsia and Christ, Zoe Aionios and Thelema, Nous and Prognosis were joined in pairs. Again they said that Autogenes was emanated from Ennoia and Logos, and with him Aletheia, and again there was another pair from Autogenes and Aletheia. And why is it necessary to speak of the other emanations, (namely) those from Phos and Aphtharsia? Because the myth is long, and, in addition to the impiety, it is unpleasant.
And they had put upon them also the Hebrew names, trying to astound those more simple. And they said that Autogenes emanated a perfect and true man, whom they call Adamas. He emanated with him a yoke-mate: Perfect-Knowledge. Hence, again, (they said that) the mother, father and son were manifested. A Tree grew from Anthropos and Gnosis; and this they also called Gnosis.
But they say that the Holy Spirit emanated from the first Angel, whom they term Sophia and Prunicus. This one, they say, desired a husband, [and] and she begot Work, in which was Ignorance and Arrogance. And they called this Work Protarchon and they say that he is the maker of creation.
Now [they say that] this one, having coupled with Arrogance, begat Evil and the [various] categories of this. Therefore, these things I have narrated summarily, passing over the immensity of the fiction. So who is thrice-unhappy as to their mystical rites as to wish to utter orally the things that they have performed? For all the things done as divine works by those men transcend every immoral conception and every abominable thought. And to speak the name is sufficient to hint at their all-abominable adventure. For the Borboriani were so called because of this.
50. See: Irenaeus, Adv. Her. 1.29-30; The Apocryphon of John; and Epiphanius, Pan. 25.2-5; 26.1-19. For further references see: Dizionario Patristico e di Antichita Cristiane, ed. A. di Berardino, Roma 1983, vol. 1, 474-5; W.Foerster, Gnosis: A selection of gnostic texts, tr. R. McWilson, 2 vols., Oxford, 1972-74, pp. 100-120; R. Haardt, Gnosis: Character and Testimony, tr. J.F. Hendry, Brill 1971, pp. 66-69.
51. Epiphanius, Pan. 25.2.
52. Irenaeus, Adv. Her. 1.29.1, states this was done by the Father.
The obvious question is to what extent Theodoret is relying on Epiphanius, and therefore not independent of him. To evaluate this, we need to see what Epiphanius has to say.
November 29th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
To the local library, to collect a copy of the English translation of a Byzantine text. The volume was a substantial hardback, with the library plate of the John Rylands Library in Manchester. Inside the book at various points was an old train ticket fromWigan, and two trading cards from some exhibition in 2007, all presumably used as book marks.
But what struck me most was the condition of the binding. It was very loose.
This book, to my trained eye, has been on the photocopier. Not once, or twice, but dozens of times. In each case the copy has been made by someone anxious that it should lie flat and thereby fit two pages onto one A4 sheet. This saves money, but more importantly reduces the number of times the book has to be lifted and moved. Anyone who has copied a book will know very well how the arms ache after a while!
The result is that the book is barely holding together. Which is a shame.
Of course I intend to run the book through my scanner too. I’ve paid a non-trivial sum to borrow it; the British lending library service now being corrupted by the greed of local councils — Suffolk, in my case — who levy “fees” under one pretext or another. I only have the loan for a few weeks. But I may need to consult it in future.
Which leads me to wonder … rather than dozens of people all copying the same book again and again and again … isn’t there a better way?
Wouldn’t it be better, for the book and the users, to copy it once, create a PDF, and make that available instead? And save us all the effort of making one every time, and the book the injury of repeated copying?
In a sane world, this is what would happen. You’d borrow the book, and get the book for a time and the PDF for good. Some adjustment of rights and copyrights would be necessary, but it could be done.
The greedier kind of library official would try to loan you the PDF for a short time also; using something like Adobe Reader. Which would defeat the object, of course, and would ensure that photocopying would resume. I mention this possibility only because I can imagine it.
But really … wouldn’t it make much more sense to recognise that the library books of Britain are being copied into non-existence, and address the evident need?
November 28th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
It’s been a while since I did anything with the translation of Origen’s Commentary on Ezekiel which I commissioned. The book has sat in a collection of .doc files on my hard disk, while other tasks went forward.
The main obstacle to progress is getting the book typeset. I did buy a copy of Adobe Indesign CS5, with a view to doing it myself; but I simply don’t have the time necessary, nor, in truth, the energy.
This evening I have enquired of an advertiser on PeoplePerHour.com whether he would be interested, and at what price. I want to get this thing published. To do otherwise is to waste the time and money spent on it. And when it has been printed, and sold whatever quantity of books it is going to, we can get the thing online.
The Eusebius book is winding down. It’s still selling a few copies, although I haven’t checked since the summer precisely how many. It sold fairly well in the first year; in the second, to my surprise, more or less the same, after a distinct ‘sag’ in the early months. But I get the definite impression of the decline.
I’ve begun to think about how this can go online as well, as was always intended. I will place the English translation on my website, and make that freely available. But it would be good to make the entire PDF available as well, perhaps at Archive.org, if this can be done without relinquishing copyright. A copyright question arises on the PDF of the whole book because I don’t own the copyright of parts of it, which I only leased. I will look at the sales this year at New Year, and work out exactly how things are going. If I keep it in print, in April/May 2014 I shall have to pay Lightning Source another chunk of cash.
I’ve spent this evening scanning in a wodge of photocopies of pages from Van den Ven’s French translation of the Life of St. Symeon Stylites the Younger. It’s a daunting amount of text!
And I do feel drawn to translate some more of the Life of Severus of Antioch. Both these Lives are historical sources.
Finally there is still a lot of interesting material to look up in Cyril Mango’s article.
I’d also like to return to Ehrman’s Forgery and counterforgery and do some more work on this. A post containing all the primary sources used would be good; and I think Armin Baum gives that material in his book, and E. just made use of it. There is more to be done with the book also.
So there is no lack of tasks drawing my attention! If only I didn’t have to go to work for money as well!!!
November 28th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
The article by Dodds on theurgy and Neoplatonism mentions
Compare … Hippolytus’ receipe for simulating a fiery apparition of Hecate by natural if somewhat dangerous means (Ref. Haer. 4, 36).
The magician casts his spell, and … suddenly a flame is seen ascending in the sky nearby!
The Refutation of Heresies IV, chapters 35-6 is online in English here:
And that a fiery Hecate seems to career through air, he contrives in the mode following.
Concealing a certain accomplice in a place which he wishes, (and) taking aside his dupes, he persuades them (to believe himself), alleging that he will exhibit a flaming demon riding through the air. Now he exhorts them immediately to keep their eyes fixed until they see the flame in the air, and that (then), veiling themselves, they should fall on their face until he himself should call them; and after having given them these instructions, he, on a moonless night, in verses speaks thus:-
“Infernal, and earthy, and supernal Bombo, come!
Saint of streets, and brilliant one, that strays by night;
Foe of radiance, but friend and mate of gloom;
In howl of dogs rejoicing, and in crimson gore,
Wading ‘mid corpses through tombs of lifeless dust,
Panting for blood; with fear convulsing men.
Gorgo, and Mormo, and Luna, and of many shapes,
Come, propitious, to our sacrificial rites!”
And while speaking these words, fire is seen borne through the air; but the (spectators) being horrified at the strange apparition, (and) covering their eyes, fling themselves speechless to earth.
But the success of the artifice is enhanced by the following contrivance.
The accomplice whom I have spoken of as being concealed [underneath a cauldron], when he hears the incantation ceasing, holding a kite or hawk enveloped with tow, sets fire to it and releases it. The bird, however, frightened by the flame, is borne aloft, and makes a (proportionably) quicker flight, which these deluded persons beholding, conceal themselves, as if they had seen something divine.
The winged creature, however, being whirled round by the fire, is borne whithersoever chance may have it, and burns now the houses, and now the courtyards.
Such is the divination of the sorcerers.
I wonder from where Hippolytus obtained these details? In particular the verse chanted?
November 27th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
In a preceding post I quoted from two different versions of the Saint’s Life of S. Symeon Stylites the Younger (521-592). I have now obtained photocopies of much of Van den Ven’s edition, and I think a summary might be of general use.
The following manuscripts exist.
A = Codex Athous Lavra B 71 (catal. 191), s.XI or XII. Parchment. Single column. 370 folios; the Life is on f.1-151v, the rest including the Life of S. Martha (his mother), 30 of his sermons, and some liturgical pieces in honour of both saints. Written by 2 scribes. Little ornamentation. Titles and initials in red; the Life is divided into 259 chapters, with chapter numbers in the margin in the original hand. 46 numbered quaternions.
- S = Codex Sabaiticus 108, now at the Greek patriarchate in Jerusalem with the other Mar Saba mss. End of s. X. Parchment. 202 folios, the Life is on f.3-164v, followed by the Life of Martha, and then a vision of a monk of the abbey of S. Symeon on the Wonderful Mountain, to which the ms. belonged in the 12th c. Originally the ms. only contained the two Lives, as the quaternion numbering shows, although most of this, being at the edge of the page, has been cut off. There are 3 colophons. Written in a single column in minuscule. The 259 chapters are numbered in the margin in capitals, mostly in red ink. The titles are in capitals with an ornamental band above them.
- B = Codex Barrocianus 240, at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. s.XII. Parchment. Contains a menologion for the month of May. 268 folios. Written in 2 columns by a monk, Ignatius, who left a subscription on f.268v. The Life is on f.175-258v. The chapter numbering, written in the margin in uncial letters, is identical to A and S, except that chapter 256 is divided into two, giving 260 chapters.
- M = Codex Monacensis gr. 366. s.X. Parchment. Like B, a menologion for May. 243 folios. The Life is on f.112-214. Ehrhard believed that it was written at the Studios monastery in Constantinople; it seems to have later belonged to the Xenophon monastery on Mt. Athos. Divided into only 240 chapters, usually by a second scribe who only added marginalia to the text.
- P = Codex Parisinus gr. 1459. s.XI. 101 folios. Written in 2 columns in a rounded minuscule. 30 quaternions. Contains only the Life, mutilated at both ends; the ms. seems to have been a menologion like others, as the quaternion numbering suggests. Chapter numbering is identical to A, S, and B.
- V = Codex Athous Vatopedi 84 (once 79). s.IX. Parchment, 272 f. Also a menologion, for May-August. Written in an early minuscule. The Life is on f.83v-98v but very incomplete. It has a title in uncials. Not divided into chapters.
- L = Codex Lesbiensis Leimon. 43. s.XII-XIII. Paper. 271 f. Two columns. A menologion for May and June. The Life is on f.103-204. Not divided into chapters. Copied at the monastery of St. John the Prodromos of Petra, at Constantinople.
- J = Codex Patmiacus 257. s.XII. 261 f. Menologion for May. Two columns. The Life is on f.145v-196. Not divided into chapters.
- Codex Athous Esphigmenou 105. s.XVIII. Paper. 287f. After various homilies, f.69-160v are the Life of S.Symeon; f.161-191v are the Life of S. Martha; f.192-287 are the 30 homilies of Symeon. Ehrhard believes that it was copied from A. Negligently copied, but showing some of the special readings of A. 258 chapters.
These nine manuscripts are the survivors of a much larger number, as attested by the many later derivative Lives, the (probably 8th century) Georgian translation, quotations in John Damascene, in the Acts of the 2nd council of Nicaea in 787 and liturgical texts. But the text offered by these mss. is sound and can be confirmed by some 8th century quotations and the translation into Georgian.
Two groups appear: AS and BMP. The relationship of the first two is particularly close, and, when they agree, of great value, although they also have many faults in common.
A long verbatim extract of the text from chapter 158 appear in John Damascene’s 3rd discourse on images, composed ca. 726-30 AD (although in the ms. used by John Damascene the chapter was numbered 132). A second long extract from chapter 118 was read at the 2nd council of Nicaea in 787 by the deacon Cosmas from a copy of the Life given to the council by Joseph, Hegoumen of the monastery of Heraclea.
A paraphrase of the Life exists, by Nicephoros Ouranos, of almost equal length to the original. It was published in 1685 in the Acta Sanctorum for May, vol. 5, by the Bollandist Janninck. He used ms. B.14 (s.XI) of the library of Vallicellane. There are many other copies, which have never been studied: Berlin. gr. Fol. 17 (s.XI), Bodleian Clark 44 (s.XII-XIII), Bodleian Rawlinson Auct. G 199 (1141 AD), Athos Dionysiou 143 (1632-3), Athos Iviron 424 (s.XVI), Moscow 15 (Vlad. 381) (1023 AD). The author is named in the title in the Vallicellane and Oxford mss.: Nicephoros Ouranous, magistros of Antioch. He was chamberlain of Basil II, and was sent to Baghdad by the emperor in 980 AD, where he was imprisoned by the Sultan Adoud-ad-Dawla. He was permitted to return to Constantinople in December 986, and appointed magistros and commander of the soldiers in the east. In the latter role he defeated the Bulgars at the battle of Sperchios. At the end of 999 AD he became governor or duke of Antioch, and was still there in 1006 when he put down an Arab revolt. He was also a literary figure, and the author of a Tactica. His paraphrase adds specific detail which the original had left vague. In particular he gives details about Amantius, his predecessor as governor of Antioch which are entirely absent from the original. He also uses much more elaborate language than the relatively simple contemporary Greek of the original. Some of the faults of A and S also turn up in Nicephorus Ouranous’ paraphrase, suggesting that the latter had access to a manuscript of a similar parentage, probably from Antioch.
Three short abridgements of the Life also exist.
There is no trace of a Syriac, Armenian or Arabic translation of the Life, but a Georgian translation does exist. The Life records that Georgians made the journey to see the Saint, even in his own lifetime. The translation was published in 1918. It was based on ms. Tiflis A 105 (1697 AD), and A 177 (s.XVIII). Other mss. exist, much more ancient, which were not used: Sinai Georgian 46 (before 987 AD, when it was rebound); Patriarchal library of Jerusalem 33 (s.XIII-XIV). From the age of the Sinai ms., the Georgian translation must predate the year 950.
The author of the Life is not named in any of the manuscripts. When John Damascene gives the extract from chapter 158, the title names the author as Arcadios, archbishop of Constantia in Cyprus (still alive in 638, and died). The same passage (as well as the other) was read at the council of Nicaea II in 787, but without the title. Chronology is against the identification: the author states that he became a disciple of Symeon at the time when the patriarch Ephrem of Antioch died. This took place in 545 AD; and if the author was Arcadios, and was only 15 at the time, he would have been at least 108 years old by 638 AD, when he is recorded by Anastasius the Sinaite as being in a fortress near Constantia. Van den Ven concludes that in reality the Life is anonymous. The author was a contemporary of Symeon, as he tells us. There is some evidence of the use of written sources; and in chapter 71, we learn that he has become a disciple of Symeon’s. Prior to that point, the text consists of narratives of visions and other material, perhaps transmitted orally. It is notable that the Life contains little mention of contemporary politics after the accession of Tiberius II (in 578 AD, chapter 211), but much before then. The rest of the Life is a description of the miracles of the saint, and a brief account of his last moments. The author, therefore, is silent about a great deal in the last 15 years of the Saint’s life.
The original text of the Life only became known in 1894, when some extracts were edited by A. Papadopoulos-Kerameus. The publication of a critical edition was begun by Paul van den Ven of Louvain in 1913, but only actually appeared in 1962.
There is more to say, but I think we’ll leave that for a subsequent post now.
November 26th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
I’m still looking at Cyril Mango’s marvellous paper on the fate of ancient statues in medieval Byzantium, and looking up references from it. I learn something from every one of these.
The last few posts concerned references to Christians smashing pagan statues:
The deliberate assembling of ancient statues in Constantinople constitutes something of a paradox. We must not forget that paganism was very much of a live issue, not only in the fourth century, but until about the year 600. Statues of pagan divinities were, of course, an essential part in the celebration of pagan rites. The lives of the saints are full of references to the destruction of pagan statues. A few examples must suffice.
After which Mango (my first post is here) gives the three examples we have already looked at: the Life of S. Porphyry of Gaza, the Life of Severus of Antioch, the Acts of S. Abramius, and the Life of S. Symeon Stylites the Younger (on which I shall have more to say in a future post).
Mango then goes on to say:
These are a few examples chosen at random. We must also remember that, whereas some Christian thinkers rightly believed that the idols were inanimate, the general opinion prevalent at the time-as we have seen from the incident at Gaza-was that they were inhabited by maleficent demons.
7. Conversely, in the eyes of fourth-century Neoplatonists, idols were animated with divine presence: see E. R. Dodds, “Theurgy and its Relationship to Neoplatonism,” Journal of Roman Studies, XXXVII (1947), p.63 f.
The Dodds article is in JSTOR and is itself a fascinating work, although full of untranslated Greek. I’m not quite certain that it entirely endorses Mango’s view: for, rather than the “general opinion”, Dodds discusses magical statues and statuettes. The context of this is theurgy — magic designed to compel the gods to grant favours by rituals – so some of the statues are indeed of pagan deities. But we’re not really discussing the same thing.
The details given about the infection of Neo-Platonism by theurgy are fascinating, all the same. Plotinus may have stoutly rejected all the hocus-pocus of magic and theurgy; but his disciple, Porphyry, admitted some of it, and Iamblichus far more, to the point of rejecting reason. Dodds quotes a fascinating passage from the latter’s De mysteriis, introducing it thus:
The de mysteriis is a manifesto of irrationalism, an assertion that the road to salvation is found not in reason but in ritual:
‘It is not thought that links the theurgists with the gods: else what should hinder theoretical philosophers from enjoying theurgic union with them? The case is not so. Theurgic union is attained only by the efficacy of the unspeakable acts performed in the appropriate manner, acts which are beyond all comprehension, and by the potency of the unutterable symbols which are comprehended only by the gods . . . Without intellectual effort on our part the tokens by their own virtue accomplish their proper work.’ (de myst. 96, 13 Parthey).
To the discouraged minds of fourth-century pagans such a message offered a seductive comfort. The ‘theoretical philosophers’ had now been arguing for some nine centuries, and what had come of it? Only a visibly declining culture, and the creeping growth of that Christian atheotes which was too plainly sucking the life-blood of Hellenism.
Such an attitude among such pagans would explain much of the fate of the later Neo-Platonists in Athens. In the 5th century Proclus himself saw ‘Hecatic’ visions and was “great at rain-making”. No wonder Justinian felt a strong urge to close down the philosophical schools, if they were training magicians!
But let’s return to what Dodds says about statues.
Of these two branches of theurgy, the first appears to have been known as telestikh/, and to have been concerned mainly with the consecrating (telei=n, Procl. in Tim. III, 6, 13), and animating of magic statues in order to obtain oracles from them.
Then follows a quote from Proclus’ commentary on the Timaeus III, 155, 18, referencing symbola; and further references given but not quoted from the Theol. Plat. I, 28, p.70; and In Tim. I, 51, 25; III, 6, 12 f.; In Crat. 19, 12.
Proclus gives a list of magical herbs, stones, animals and scents which are usable for various purposes. Each god has a “sympathetic” representative in the animal, vegetable and mineral world, which either is or contains a symbolon of its divine cause, and is therefore connected to it by sympatheia (references to Proclus in the CMAG VI, 148 f. and 151 f. is given). Indeed the same idea underlies the practice of making effigies of people as a way to cast spells upon them, or indeed to stick pins in them, in voodoo. The symbola were placed inside the hollow statue, so that they were known only to the spell-caster.
The 3rd century theurgists do not originate this idea, of course. The idea is instead based on Egyptian religion, diffusing ideas into the syncretic Graeco-Roman world.
This contained the idea of producing statues, inside which the souls of demons might be trapped by means of these kinds of gems, herbs, etc.
The late Hermetic dialogue, To Asclepius III, 24, may be referenced here:
Trismegistos: [I mean their] statues, O Asclepius, … statues, ensouled with sense, and filled with spirit, which work such mighty and such [strange] results,—statues which can foresee what is to come, and which perchance can prophesy, foretelling things by dreams and many other ways,—[statues] that take their strength away from men, or cure their sorrow, if they do so deserve.
2. Since, then, our earliest progenitors were in great error,—seeing they had no rational faith about the Gods, and that they paid no heed unto their cult and holy worship,—they chanced upon an art whereby they made Gods [for themselves].
To this invention they conjoined a power that suited it, [derived] from cosmic nature; and blending these together, since souls they could not make, [they set about] evoking daimons’ souls or those of angels; [and thus] attached them to their sacred images and holy mysteries, so that the statues should, by means of these, possess the powers of doing good and the reverse.
Apparently receipes for constructing such statues are to be found among the magical papyri. They appear in the Roman world in the 1st century AD and onwards.
But the real promoter of the idea is Iamblichus, who perhaps saw a way to defuse the Christian argument that idols are merely lumps of wood and stone. He asserts ‘that idols are divine and filled with divine presence’. His disciples did more, so Dodds tells us:
His disciples habitually sought omens from the statues, and were not slow to contribute apithana of their own: Maximus makes a statue of Hecate laugh and causes the torches in her hands to light up automatically; Heraiscus has so sensitive an intuition that he can at once distinguish the ‘animate’ from the ‘inanimate’ statue by the sensations it gives him.
95. Eunapius, Vit. Soph. 475.
96. The Suda under that name.
All this degenerate paganism must have shaped the attitude of the Christians of the same period towards statuary. It is likely enough that a statue by Phidias or Praxiteles could be readily distinguished even by the simplest from a magical statue or talisman.
But then again you didn’t have to be a pagan to create a magical statue. Magic outlived paganism. Statues standing in the streets of Antioch and Constantinople in the middle ages were sometimes supposed to be talismans, protecting the city against snakes and the like. Often they were supposed to be the work of Apollonius of Tyana, or some other ancient magician, by then legendary.
It is in this way, perhaps, through the activities of the theurgists in late antiquity, that statues of the pagan gods can be thought of as containing demons; or of being magical in nature; and eventually of becoming protective talismans, rather than pagan idols.
November 26th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
Nathalie Rambault has undertaken the task of editing some works by John Chrysostom for the Sources Chretiennes series. Just to list the manuscripts of Chrysostom takes many volumes, so we may admire her courage!
The first volume (of two) is now out, I believe, and includes homilies on the resurrection, ascension and Pentecost. 6 pages of the book – the covers and the tables of contents – have been placed online here. The second volume is due Jan-Feb 2014.
November 23rd, 2013 by Roger Pearse
The next statement by Cyril Mango on the subject of the destruction of pagan statues in the lives of the saints is as follows:
At about the same time idols were subjected to popular derision by being hung in the streets of Antioch.
The reference is to the Vita S. Symeonis junioris, the Life of Simeon Stylites the Younger, d. 592, BHG 1689, in the Acta Sanctorum, May, vol. 5, p.371B. The work is very long, in 259 chapters. Anyway, let’s have a look at this text in the Acta version also.
That item is online, and may be found here. It all concerns the actions of a certain Amantius, “judex severus” (=”a severe judge”), who was sent to the East by Justinian to administer punishment to various groups.
And so it was predicted by Symeon; they had not interceded for four months when a certain man named Amantius [b], greatly concerned in the rule of the East, came to Antioch. He was a literary man, capable in government, strong in reasoning, constant in mind, liberal in mind, and primarily most studious of justice. He acted as much on behalf of virtue as against iniquity, and in both cases with the utmost zeal. Previously when he came to Antioch, he both put down iniquity in the East as much as he could in a similar way, and also more acutely with an sharp sword among those who held positions of authority. So that fear and trembling invaded everyone, when he was approaching: not only men who were nothing and malevolent, but also those for whom life had conjoined probity and good morals might feel dread, so terrible was his presence.
174. Here he arrested and imprisoned many of the pagans and atheists and those dedicated to observing the aspects and conjunctions of the stars, and indeed many standing against the divine providence, and especially carefully sought out the most illustrious. Moreover he collected all their books, from which they drew out false wisdom and novel ideas contrary to the truth; nor those alone, but likewise all the idols, in which they trusted as in the gods. They had made for themselves idols of silver, obviously, and of gold, and they had worshipped those which they had made with their own fingers, as was spoken by Hosea and Isaiah the prophets (Hos. 8:4, Is.2:8). And from the books he started a not inconsiderable fire, throwing them in the flames in the middle of the forum. But he openly demonstrated the impotence and imbecillity of the idols, hanging them up at the cross-roads and in the main streets, proving that they were no more significant than they seemed to be, i.e. works of hand and art; nothing more than the artificers had wanted them to be, so again I shall make use of the words of the prophets. Also a man, whom some time previously had appeared to Simeon in a vision, was standing in the presence of the Governor, called in for investigation; but a certain monk, very like Simeon, seized him from the threat of a justice made mild, when the Governor was called away.
The events recounted belong to 555-6, when Justinian sent Amantius to suppress the Samaritan revolt in Palestine, and then to suppress non-conformists in Antioch, some of whom were labelled as “pagans”.
Update: I have just discovered a long translation from the Life online! It’s somewhat different, but probably from a better text than that of the Latin translation in the Acta Sanctorum — I have no details on the transmission of the text. It may be found in A.D. Lee, Pagans and Christians in Late Antiquity: A Sourcebook, Routledge, 2013, 135-136:
7.2 Persecution of pagans in sixth-century Antioch: Life of the Younger St Symeon the Stylite 161, 164
The younger Symeon was a holy man who lived on one of the mountains near Antioch (521—92), and the modern editor of his biography considers it to have been written by one of Symeon’s disciples. Although this episode, probably from 555, is couched in high-flown language, the official at the centre of the investigations, Amantius, is known from an independent source which describes his involvement in the suppression of a Samaritan revolt (John Malalas Chronicle p. 487), and suppression of paganism is certainly a general feature of the emperor Justinian’s religious policies, as is book-burning (Maas 1992: ch. 5). Further reading: Trombley 1994: 182-95.
(161) Within a four month period of the holy man predicting all these events, that official arrived. His name was Amantius, and before coming to the city of Antioch, he destroyed many of the unrighteous found en route, so that men shuddered with fear at his countenance. For everywhere he suppressed all evil-doing whether in word or deed, inflicting punishment, including death, on those who had gone astray, so that from then on even those living a blameless life feared his presence. For he removed, as much as was possible throughout the east, all quarrelling, all injustice, all violence, and all wrongdoing. When this had happened, God showed his servant another vision, which he reported to us: ‘A decision has come from God against the pagans (Hellenes) and heretics (heterodoxoi), that this official will reveal the idolatrous errors of the atheists and gather together all their books and burn them.’ When he had foreseen these things and reported them, zeal for God took a hold of that official and after investigating, he found that the majority of the leaders of the city and many of its inhabitants were preoccupied with paganism (hellenismos), Manichaeism, astrological practices, automatism, and other hateful heresies. He arrested them and pur them in prison, and after gathering together all of their books — a huge number — he burned them in the middle of the stadium. He brought our their idols with their polluted accoutrements and hung them along the streets of the city, and their wealth was expended on numerous fines. … (164) … Then the judge took his seat on the tribunal and subjected to special punishments some of them, who had confessed to having committed many terrible crimes on account of their ungodliness; some he ordered to do service in the hospices, while others, who called themselves clerics, he sent to receive instruction in monasteries; still others he sent off into exile, while some he condemned to death. But by imperial command, the majority of them, who pleaded ignorance as an excuse and promised to repent, he released without further investigation. And so it came about that after being corrected, everyone was dispersed and none of them remained in prison, with the exception of one who had caused many disturbances during times of public unrest, on account of which he deserved punishment. So it was an appropriate time to recall the judgements of God and to sing the praises of his inexpressible benevolence towards us.
Few of us will read this account without a shudder. Such trials and punishments for wrong thinking are a sign of a decaying state. The fondness of the Byzantines for religious persecution was a feature of their state as long as they retained any vestige of power. Nothing in the account above is inconsistent with the policies of Justinian towards paganism or heresy.
I don’t know how historical this life is; but on the face of it, we do have clear evidence of Mango’s “derision”; although, if they were made of silver and gold, I suspect that they were not left unattended!
November 23rd, 2013 by Roger Pearse
A useful article: via here: https://twitter.com/WillNoel/status/404219313877684224