From my diary

The final version of the leaflet for the Eusebius Gospel Problems and Solutions book has arrived.  I’ll check it at the weekend.

A purchase of a CDROM from my site has involved me in a dispute.  The owner of the credit card has claimed that the purchase is not his.  I have already posted the CDROM, so this is less than welcome news.  But I find it hard to believe that credit card fraud is used for the purpose of buying collections of the Fathers of the Church.  Most likely the purchaser did not recognise the debit on his card, or changed his mind.  I have emailed him — a certain John Ford, at a PO box in Australia — and it will be interesting to see what he says.

This evening I have been sitting on the scanner, creating a PDF of an old and hard-to-find library book.  Sadly after almost 200 pages a cramp developed in my hip which I know from past experience will render me unable to walk or work for a few days if I ignore it.  So I must stop!  Ah the joys of middle age.

While lifting the book and turning the pages, I came across an interesting quotation online, attributed to St. Augustine:

If you believe what you like in the gospels, and reject what you don’t like, it is not the gospel you believe, but yourself.

Google books reveals no quotations of this before the last ten years, and it is used almost exclusively in popular Christian paperbacks.  It is, of course, a very apt and accurate saying.  But … did Augustine say it?

I developed an idea that it sounded like something he might indeed have said, in the context of his disputation with Faustus the Manichaean.  Faustus, we all recall, claimed to be a Christian and to believe in the gospel.  Augustine points out that he uses the gospels selectively, claiming the authority of God for this, while denying the inspiration of that.  Of course all the heretics do this; but somehow it felt right. 

So I spent some time going through the online translation searching for “gospel”.  I got to book 30 of the work against Faustus before I had to stop scanning.  It certainly reflects the sort of things Augustine is saying.  But I did not find any very close match.

Perhaps it is merely a summary of what Augustine says, from some secondary source, which has become attached to Augustine himself?

A burning hot day in the office today, and hot this evening (although not hot enough to hook up the air-conditioning).  It greyed over this evening, and started to drizzle.  So far the only effect is to add humidity to heat. 

The pile of now useless (to me) academic books on the side, which has stared at me reproachfully for some time now, might finally be disposed of.  It turns out that the scholar to whom I intended to give them — who will find them useful, where I will not — is on a temporary posting to the United Kingdom.  The incredible postal charges become moot; I can probably drive down and hand them to him.  Let us hope so.

4 thoughts on “From my diary

  1. It does sound like a rough paraphrase of “Your design clearly is to deprive Scripture of all authority, and to make every man’s mind the judge what passage of Scripture he is to approve of, and what to disapprove of. This is not to be subject to Scripture in matters of faith, but to make Scripture subject to you.” Reply to Faustus, Book 32, Chapter 19.

  2. Roger,

    My deepest apologies. There was an obvious mix up in things and you can rest easy.

    I had not realized I had followed your link with CCEL website and I thought I was ordering through CCEL.

    When I got no confirming email I went into a tailspin particularly when CCEL said that had no such order and that you don’t work for them.

    I also know that Paypal was a bit suss a while back so I guess I overreacted.

    Again, my heartfelt apologies for any sleepless nights. And thank you for understanding.

    In Christ

    John Ford

  3. Thanks for the note, and no hassle. I spent most of yesterday trying not to lose my job, so everything else sort of vanished in the heat of the action! Remiss of me, I know.

    CCEL mirror my collection of the fathers, including (bless them) the link to the CD you ordered, and I suspect that I get a fair proportion of my traffic therefrom. My CD, as you know, consists of the Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, plus the collection that I made myself and which they mirror. I think that’s more comprehensive than anyone else’s. I burn each CD individually, so it’s always up to date.

    I did give CCEL the OK to include ‘my’ collection in their own CD’s — indeed I don’t mind who distributes them — but they never did. I suspect that the reason why they never did is that the main site creator is getting on a bit and finding he has too much to do for the hours available. One day, it will happen to us too!

    Paypal are a nasty bunch to deal with, as a seller as well as a buyer. The resolution centre options they gave me for this one were quite useless to me.

    But who else can one use? It’s Paypal or nobody, really, for international trading.

    I have come to avoid buying through them if I can. I made three purchases from eBay, my very first, and with the fourth one I ran afoul of a conman in the US who supplied substandard goods and when I complained turned to abuse and threats. Naturally I turned to eBay and Paypal, who were utterly useless. The latter refused me a refund; but my credit card company took one look at the dossier I sent them, complete with abusive emails and photographs of “what I ordered” and “what I got”, and refused to honour the transaction. Whereupon I got one final howl of rage from the swindler, that Paypal had suddenly changed their mind and booted the conman off the system. He demanded from me “compensation” and threatened to come over to the UK and sue me. I thought to myself, “Go ahead: manifest a legal personality anywhere over here, my boy, where the consumer protection law of England can lay hands on you, and you’ll get what you deserve via the police and the fraud squad.” Of course he never did: but I retained a lasting memory of how rubbish Paypal were.

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