Eusebius on the Psalms – some old quotations on the sabbath

A couple of years ago I discussed a quotation from Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms.  An incoming link alerts me to a discussion which gives a longer quotation, and a source for it.

The source given is Moses Stuart’s Commentary on the Apocalypse (vol. 2, p.9, p.40; Andover: Allen, Morrill, Wardwell, 1845).  But a quick look at the 1850 reprint suggests that something is awry.  A better source is Harmon Kingsbury, The Sabbath, 1840, p.218 f. As Eusebius’ Commentary on the Psalms does not exist in English, it seems useful to repeat what is said:

Professor Stuart says:

“The important testimony of Eusebius, (fl. 320,) in the time of Constantine has been unaccountably overlooked by all the patristical investigators whom I have yet been able to consult. It is contained in his commentary on the Psalms which is printed in Montfaucon’s Collectio Nova Patrum and some of it is exceedingly to our purpose and withal very explicit.

“In commenting on Ps. xxi. 30 (xxii. 29 in our English version) he says ‘On each day of our Savior’s resurrection [i.e. every first day of the week] which is called Lord’s day, we may see those who partake of the consecrated food and that body [of Christ] which has a saving efficacy after the eating of it bowing down to him.’ pp. 85, 86.

“Again on Ps. xlv. 6 (xlvi. 5) he says ‘I think that he [the Psalmist] describes the morning assemblies in which we are accustomed to convene throughout the world.’ p.195

“On Psalm lviii. 17 (lix. 16) he says ‘By this is prophetically signified the service which is performed very early and every morning of the resurrection day [i.e. the first day of the week throughout the whole world].’ p.272

“But by far the most important passage of all remains to be adduced. It is in his commentary on Ps. xci (xcii) which is entitled ‘A psalm or song for the Sabbath day’. He begins his commentary by stating that the patriarchs had not the legal Jewish Sabbath but still, ‘given to the contemplation of divine things and meditating day and night upon the divine word, they spent holy Sabbaths which were acceptable to God.’

“Then observing that the Psalm before him has reference to a Sabbath he refers it to the Lord’s day and says that ‘it exhorts to those things which are to be done on resurrection day.’ He then states the precept respecting the Sabbath as addressed originally to the Jews and that they often violated it. After which he thus proceeds: ‘Wherefore as they rejected it [the sabbatical command], the Word [Christ] by the New Covenant translated and transferred the feast of the Sabbath to the morning light and gave us the symbol of true rest, viz. the saving Lord’s day, the first [day] of the light in which the Savior of the world, after all his labors among men, obtained the victory over death and passed the portals of heaven, having achieved a work superior to the six days creation.’ … ‘On this day which is the first day of light and of the true Sun, we assemble after an interval of six days and celebrate holy and spiritual Sabbaths, even all nations redeemed by him throughout the world AND do those things according to the spiritual law which were decreed for the priests to do on the Sabbath, for we make spiritual offerings and sacrifices which are called sacrifices of praise and rejoicing, we make incense of a good odor to ascend as it is said, Let my prayer come up before thee as incense. Yea we also present the shew bread, reviving the remembrance of our salvation, the blood of sprinkling, which is of the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world and which purifies our souls. … Moreover we are diligent to do zealously on that day the things enjoined in this Psalm, by word and work making confession to the Lord and singing in the name of the Most High. In the morning also with the first rising of our light we proclaim the mercy of God toward us also his truth, by night exhibiting a sober and chaste demeanor; and all things whatsoever that it was duty to do on the Sabbath [Jewish seventh day], these we have transferred to the Lord’s day as more appropriately belonging to it, because it has a precedence and is first in rank and more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath. For on that day, in making the world, God said Let there be light and there was light; and on the same day the Sun of righteousness arose upon our souls. Wherefore it is delivered to us [paradedotai, it is handed down by tradition] that we should meet together on this day and it is ordered that we should do those things announced in this Psalm.’

“After some interval he speaks again of the title to the Psalm and says that it does not so much respect the Jewish Sabbath for ‘it signifies the Lord’s day and the resurrection day as we have proved in other places.’ ‘This Scripture teaches that we are to spend the Lord’s day in leisure for religious exercises (twn qeiwn a)skse)wn) and in cessation and vacation from all bodily and mortal works which the Scripture calls Sabbath and rest.’

It is useful to have this material.  I wonder what else in the way of patristic material lies buried in elderly English bible commentaries?

How I love these forum arguments! I have gained so much from them over the years.  How sad it is that, today, it is simply impossible for me to even find the discussions online, since it became impossible to search only for forums online.


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