Cyril of Alexandria and Matthew 27:25 (part 2): the case of the vanishing passage!

Yesterday I discussed 5 passages from Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on the XII minor prophets, which according to a TLG search supposedly reference Matthew 27:25, “His blood be upon us all”.  Passage #1 was a glitch, and #3-5 are genuine and I gave the passages in translation using the Fathers of the Church translation.

But it is passage 2 that I want to discuss now.  For I was unable to see it, in the Google Books Preview of the commentary.  The TLG result is as follows:

  • Volume 1 page 530 line 13: γὰρ τῷ Πιλάτῳ σταυροῦν ἀναπείθοντες τὸν Χριστόν “Τὸ “αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.” τοιγάρτοι  πανοικὶ διολώλασι καὶ αὐτοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἡρπάσθησαν πόλεις,

As we can see, the Greek of Matthew 27:25 is right there.  Here is the page from the Pusey edition[1], volume 1, page 530 (click on the picture below for a larger image):


So … why did it not show up in my search of the Fathers of the Church translation?

The running header in Pusey tells me that this is from the Commentary on Amos, chapter 9:4, at the end.  If I look at the Fathers of the Church 116, Commentary on 12 Minor prophetsvolume 2, p.120 indicates the start of Pusey p.530, and p.121 shows the start of p.531.  But it is noticeable how much less text there is, than between “(531)” and “(532)”.


There’s only one conclusion to draw.  The translator, for whatever reason, has omitted this passage from his translation.

This may be an honest error. After all, similar passages do appear translated in the next volume of the same commentary.  But the passage might be considered anti-Semitic, and so politically controversial.  I have referred before to the atmosphere of fear in US universities these days.  It would be worrying if it was omitted for reasons of self-preservation: just as copies of the Talmud in medieval Europe omitted material about Jesus, out of fear of the inquisition.

I have asked a correspondent for a translation of the missing portion, which I will add here.  And I shall write to the editors of the FOC series, and draw their attention to the omission.

UPDATE: Two kind commenters have had a go at the passage (see below).  Bryson Sewell has sent in a version in PDF, with some notes on an unusual Greek usage, which I attach.  Comments are welcome!

“And the wretched crowd of the Jews has endured this, who transferred his righteous blood upon their own heads. For when they were persuading Pilate to crucify Christ, they said, ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children!’ Accordingly, they all perished with their whole households and their cities were plundered together with their men, so that no one was able to escape. As regards the sort and number of the things that they have suffered, the long history books of those who have written about such matters sing of them.”

In addition I have looked again at Pusey’s edition, and verified that there are four, and only four references to Matt.27:25 in the commentary on the 12 prophets:


  1. [1]P.E. Pusey, Sancti patris nostri Cyrilli archiepiscopi Alexandrini in xii prophetas, 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1868: 1:1-740; 2:1-626.  Volume 1; Volume 2.

Cyril of Alexandria and Matthew 27:25 (part 1)

The evil day has arrived, when I have to sift the references to Matthew 27:25 found in the works of Cyril of Alexandria.   Woe is me.

We start with his Commentary on the 12 Minor Prophets.  The TLG search gave us the following five references:

  • Volume 1 page 90 line 7: φόνος καὶ κλοπὴ καὶ μοιχεία ἐκκέχυται ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, καὶ    αἵματα ἐφ’ αἵμασι μίσγουσιν.   Ἀναγκαῖον ἡμᾶς διατρανοῦν ἐθέλοντας τῶν προκειμένων τὸν νοῦν, μονονουχὶ παλινάγρετα ποιεῖσθαι τὰ ἐν ἀρχαῖς, …
  • Volume 1 page 530 line 13: γὰρ τῷ Πιλάτῳ σταυροῦν ἀναπείθοντες τὸν Χριστόν “Τὸ “αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.” τοιγάρτοι  πανοικὶ διολώλασι καὶ αὐτοῖς ἀνδράσιν ἡρπάσθησαν πόλεις,
  • Volume 2 page 232 line 9: τὸ ἀπηνέστερον, ἢ τί πρὸς θυμοὺς ἀγριώτερον; οἵ γε καὶ αὐτὸ τὸ δίκαιον αἷμα ταῖς σφῶν αὐτῶν ἐπαντλήσαντες κεφαλαῖς, ἀπεριμερίμνως ἔφασκον “Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ “ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.” πρᾶος δὴ οὖν ὁ λαὸς, ὁ τῆς τούτων
  • Volume 2 page 324 line 22: ὄλεθρον ἐν ἡμέρᾳ μιᾷ, καθ’ ἣν ἔφασαν προσάγοντες αὐτὸν τῷ Πιλάτῳ “Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα “ἡμῶν.” εἰ γὰρ μὴ καὶ συνεκβέβηκε παραχρῆμα τὰ ἐκ
  • Volume 2 page 454 line 12: “αἶρε, σταύρου αὐτὸν,” καὶ αὐτὸ δὲ τὸ δίκαιον αἷμα ταῖς    σφῶν αὐτῶν ἐπηντλήκασι κεφαλαῖς. ἔφασκον γὰρ πάλιν “Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.” διὰ τοῦτο τοίνυν, φησὶν, οὐκέτι φείσομαι ἐπὶ τοὺς κατοικοῦντας

The edition used in the TLG is that of Philip E. Pusey in 1868-72.[1].  I would prefer to map this to the PG edition, in PG71-72 (which reprints the Aubert edition).  The page numbers are to the Pusey edition.

Thankfully I learn that a translation (in three volumes!) of this work exists, published by Catholic University of America Press in the Fathers of the Church series, and made by Robert C. Hill, a man who deserves very well of this age.  Better still, Google Books previews exist.  The text used was the same Pusey edition.

The first passage – Pusey vol.1, p.90 – does not seem to reference Matt.27:25, and when I examine the original volume, it does not appear there.  The list of references was supplied to me by a kindly colleague, however, and it may simply be a glitch.

I shall comment separately in a moment about the second passage, where something unusual has happened!

The last three references, all from Pusey’s volume 2, all appear in the FOC translation.  Here they are.

From FOC volume 3, p.51, commenting on Zephaniah 3 (“volume 2” p. 232):

I shall leave in your midst a people gentle and lowly, and the remnant of Israel will reverence the name of the Lord; they will not be guilty of iniquity and will not say idle things, nor will deceitful talk be found in their mouth (vv. 2-13).

Again he addresses Zion, or the holy city—I mean Jerusalem—in which he also promises will be left the gentle and lowly people. Though in fact the synagogue of the Jews had raged against Christ the Savior of all, and had turned murderer of the Lord, and of it he requires an account, yet not all perished; the remnant was preserved and the survivors saved, a great number of them coming to faith. (232) These were the gentle, not venting on Christ their rage like a bull, like of course those who at that time brought him before Pilate, crying out in the words, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him,” and adding to this the cry, “If you do not kill him, you are no friend of Caesar’s.” In fact, what could be more cruel than such people, and more fierce than their anger? They brought innocent blood upon their own heads in saying without a thought, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.” So the people who had no share in their savagery were gentle, therefore, and likewise lowly in their subjection to Christ, submitting the neck of their mind to his yoke, and willingly heeding his loving call, “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I shall give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

They are therefore also conformed in this to Christ, who for our sake made himself poor, as though unconcerned for the glory proper to God and his pre-eminence by nature, in order that in the divine plan he might endure the condition proper to a slave. Let those who enjoy spiritual guidance from his laws therefore model themselves on him. It is they who will also reverence the name of the Lord; the divinely inspired disciples, who before others also have the role of light of the world, are among those who have particular love for God. Now, those who love God, and are good, will avoid iniquity and idle words, he says: they will not say idle things, nor will their talk be false, the meaning of deceit. By contrast, this is spiritual adornment, highly befitting the ornaments of virtue like a kind of crown: …

From FOC volume 3, p.124, commenting on Zechariah 3 (“volume 2” p. 324):

Lo, I am digging a pit, says the Lord almighty, and I shall get a grip on all the injustice in that land in one day.

He presented our Lord Jesus Christ as light and dawn, and the fact that he will illuminate like daylight those in darkness and the shadow of death, that is, in error. But it was also necessary to forecast the fulfillment of the divine plan, namely, death for the sake of us all, which he willingly underwent by surrendering his own body to the cross, because the Jewish race had also offended and forfeited their relationship with him. You see, since the  wretches did not understand the mystery of the Incarnation and became murderers of the Lord, consequently and very properly  they were deprived of hope and perished miserably as miserable people, caught up in terrible and ineluctable calamities. So he  actually likens the cross of the Savior to a pit, since those who  shed the Lord’s blood fell into a pit, as it were, even presuming  to give over to crucifixion the Author of life.

Now, if the Father himself spoke of digging a pit, let no-one be scandalized, but consider rather that the expression  is redolent in some way of the Incarnation; it is like what is said wisely and precisely by Christ, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” Admittedly, while there is truth in claiming that he did not come for this reason, for some people to become blind, nevertheless it was not only the fault of uncomprehending people that ntisrepresented the manner of the wonderful Incarnation; they refused to see, in fact, despite having access to the divine light. This is the way to take it here, too: while the Father sent the Son “so that the world might be saved through him,” on account of the folly of those who failed to understand, he who was sent became a pit and a trap for those who crucified him. Perhaps it was the one who sent him who is somehow thought to have dug the pit; so he actually says, I shall dig a pit, and I shall get a grip on all the injustice in that land in one day, by digging a pit meaning, I shall seek it out and carefully pry into it.

You see, they killed the holy prophets, and like hunters they assailed those sent at various times, abusing some, maltreating others, killing still others. God was still tolerant, however; the victims were servants and fellow slaves of those who committed the murders. Since in their unrestrained assaults they went to extremes, and contemplated such an unholy outrage as audaciously to do violence to the Son himself, and fell into the pit by crucifixion, he no longer forgave their unbridled sin. He sought out the offenders and submitted them to punishment, decreeing the destruction of the whole of Judea on one day when they paraded him before Pilate and cried, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”  Even if the effects of divine wrath did not immediately befall them, even if the penalty was not sought without delay, nevertheless the just sentence from God took effect on them, destruction gripping the land of the Jews, as I said. (325) While the Savior was taken off to crucifixion, therefore, women followed him, weeping and wailing; he then turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me: weep for yourselves and for your children.” They were, in fact, delivered to destruction and slaughter, and there happened to them what was said in the verse of Isaiah, “Your land is desolate, your cities are bumed, foreigners consume your very land before you, and it is devastated and overwhelmed by foreign peoples.”

From FOC volume 3, p.216, commenting on Zechariah (“volume 2” p. 454):

…of all—Christ, I mean—and be subject to him, they stupidly associated themselves instead with those who slaughtered and sold them. The Only-begotten Word of God became man, remember, and clearly said in  unmasking both those men’s knavery and the sincerity of the divine plan for us, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, whereas the hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, leaves the sheep, and takes to flight. (454) The wolf snatches them and scatters them, because he is a hired hand, and does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd.” Now, the Jews, miserable though they were and needing to voice their criticism of the hired shepherds, did not do so; rather, the good shepherd, who laid down his own life as a ransom for all, they abused in countless ways, stoned, reproached, and in the end opened their mouth wide against him, crying out along with their leaders in demanding from Pilate, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him,” and actually bringing down his righteous blood on their own heads in the words, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

Hence I shall no longer spare the inhabitants of the earth, the text says: they no longer deserved pity from God; instead, each person was delivered into the hands of their neighbor and into the hands of their king or ruler. In fact, they crucified Emmanuel, and became murderers of the Lord, completely sacrilegious. But God called them to repentance, and did not immediately inflict on them the effects of His wrath. After the lapse of thirty years from the crucifixion of the Savior, however, peace departed from the country of the Jews; there were enemies everywhere, city invading city, people in each one divided among themselves and fighting with one another, the result being that they found themselves in equal trouble from one another as befell them from the enemy. The bold Roman generals were in control of the land of the Jews, burning cities along with inhabitants, (455) and subjecting the country to the yoke of slavery. Those capable of fleeing dwelt in the lands of the nations, which is still the case today.

A Google Books search of volume 1 and volume 2 turns up no results.  In fact there are no results to be found in these volumes.  I will discuss passage #2 in just a moment.

  1. [1]P.E. Pusey, Sancti patris nostri Cyrilli archiepiscopi Alexandrini in xii prophetas, 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1868: 1:1-740; 2:1-626.  Volume 1; Volume 2.

Procopius of Gaza and Matthew 27:25 (part 2)

Let’s continue looking at the references to Matthew 27:25 – “His blood be upon us, and upon our children” in the 6th century writer Procopius of Gaza.  Earlier I translated a number of passages here.  We’re looking at this reference in BiblIndex:

  • Procopius of Gaza, Commentarii in Octateuchum, PG 87.1, 21-1220. (p.252); (p.491, l.46); (p.919); (p.923); § 1 (p.41)

The “pages” are actually column numbers.  We dealt with col. 252 in the last post.

Col.491 is next.  This is from the commentary on Genesis, dealing with chapter 49, verses 1-2, but the commentary seems to have little or nothing to do with the passage.  This quickly turns into a list of the crimes of Israel.

On looking at the text of “column 491” in the PG, I find pages of Latin, for some unknown reason.  Migne is reprinting an old edition, as usual.  Most Greek texts were printed first in a Latin translation, and the Greek text was printed later.  So I hypothesise that the Greek text of the Commentary on the Octateuch was not printed in its entirety, forcing Migne to print the full Latin version, and whatever Greek he could find.

The text reads as follows:

Nor was it held back by its weakest part.  While the Jews were fleeing the limits of their homeland and were dispersed in Israel, God was sifting the gentiles who lacked his enlightenment.  In fact we can say this about those who assailed the knees of the bull [=Christ], not about all of them.  For we can say about them, that they didn’t make themselves companions in this most awful but necessary murder, as it is read in Deuteronomy, “Our hands are not covered with this blood, nor did our eyes see it.”  God orders that those who have not committed murder must say these words, washing their hands in the valley above a slaughtered cow: i.e. those who are near the town within whose boundaries the murder was committed and near where the body was found.  The others [commentators] suppose that this cow is a type of Christ.  To this statement the Jews emit a contrary statement, clamouring, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”  But Moses withdrew the curse from the Levites, when they took up arms with the Rephidim on account of the dereliction of the people and the making of the [golden] calf, and did not spare brothers or sons.  This curse, which they needed to be dispersed, was converted into a blessing, and the Levites accepted offerings from the other tribes of the city: in which they lived as strangers and pilgrims.  Not otherwise do perfect Christians and true worshippers of the divinity abide in this world.[1]

This seems to be suggesting that it is wrong to hold all the Jews blameworthy for the murder of Christ, even though the Jews said, “His blood be upon us and our children”.

Next up is column 919.  This is commenting on Deuteronomy 18:11.  Interestingly Migne does not signal the reference to Matt.27:25:

And as God illustrated the dignity of the laws of this prophet, he says, “Whoever will not hear what was said in my name by the prophet, I shall lay a penalty on him,” in the same way a penalty was taken from this people on account of the blood which was shed from Abel to Zachariah, and last of all, of Christ himself, whose blood they had blamed on their heads and those of their children, and still they receive the penalty of that impiety.[2]

Next col. 923, on Deut.21:1.  This is about Jewish conversions to Christianity.  I apologise for the poor translation – the general sense is obvious but I could not follow the syntax very well.

Indeed far away they recede from the impiety of the Jews, in that city in which He was wounded and tortured, found far away by a strong order, they submit however first in a rustic church, and at that instant wash their hands in Christ himself, stained with his blood.  And they certainly receive remission of sins, hiding themselves no part of the impiety of the Jews who said, “His blood be upon us and upon our children”.  Thereafter, purged by baptism, they say, “Our hands have not shed hus blood.”  And although they were from the Jews, they have renounced however all community with them.[3]


The final reference “§ 1 (p.41)” unfortunately doesn’t seem to mean anything.  There is certainly nothing in col. 41.

I don’t know that we learned a lot from Procopius, did we?  He expresses the same views as earlier writers.  The main point of interest is the reference to legal restrictions on Jews, which may be lifted by baptism.  This is probably a Byzantine thing.

  1. [1]Nec tamen a molle est retentus. At Judaei patriae fugerunt fines, et dispersi sunt in Israel, gentibus cernentibus Deum, cujus alma luce ipsi carent. Hoc vero dicitur de iis, qui poplites tauri inciderunt, nec de omnibus. Possumus enim de his dicere, qui non se dedere socios ad hanc iniquissimam caedem perpetrandam, quod legitur in Deuteronomio : “Manus nostrae non fuderunt sanguinem hunc, nec oculi nostri viderunt”. Haec verba jussit Deus dicere illos, qui non caedem commisissem, in valle lavantes manus super mactata juvenca : nempe illos, qui proximi essent oppido, in cujus finibus homicidium esset perpetratum, et cui proximum jaceret cadaver. Caeterum juvenca illa quoque Christi typus censetur. Judaei huic voci emisere vocem contrariam, clamitantes : “Sanguis ejus super nos, et super liberos nostros”. Verum Moses ademit Levitis maledictionem, cum in Raphidim ob derectionem populi et formationem vituli ceperunt arma, et nec fratribus nec filiis pepercerunt. Hinc maledictio, qua dispergendi erant, conversa est in benedictionem, accipiuntque Levitae ab aliis tribubus urbium primitias : quas inhabitabant ceu hospites et peregrini, non secus ac in hoc mundo commorantur perfecti Christiani et veri adoratores Numinis.
  2. [2]Atque ut dignitatem legum prophetae hujus Deus illustret, inquit : “Quicunque non audierit omnia quacunque locutus fuerit propheta in nomine meo, ab eo poenam exigam,” quemadmodum poena de hoc populo sumpta est propter sanguinem qui ab Abel effusus est usque ad Zachariam, et postremo omnium ipsum Christum, cujus sanguinem cum in caput suum liberorumque devovissent, etiamnum impietatis illius poenam sustinent.
  3. [3]Quotquot vero procul a Judaeorum impietate recesserint, urbe ea in qua vulneratus est, et excruciatus est inventus procul valere jussa, concedunt quidem in Ecclesiam prius incultam, ibidem manus in ipso Christo in mortem ejus tincti, abluunt. Ac reportant certe peccatorum remissionem, se latentes nullam parte in habere cum impietate Judaeorum qui dixerunt: “Sanguis ejus super nos, et super liberos nostros”. Caeterum baptismo repurgati, aiunt : Manus nostrae sanguinem hunc non effuderunt. Ac etsi ex Judaeis fuerint, omni communitati eorum tamen renuntiaverunt. Quod sane discipuli, et qui ipsis crediderunt, fecerunt.

Post-antique / Byzantine references to Matthew 27:25

Two kind correspondents have sent me the results of a search of the TLG for references to wording found in Matt.27:25.  I have used these (different!) outputs, to supplement my blog post on ancient references, which hitherto ends with Procopius of Gaza.  This has added a few extra items: the big finds are a bunch of references to Cyril of Alexandria, about whom there was nothing in BiblIndex; and a couple of odd references.  The results of the TLG search are not comprehensive either.  In many cases BiblIndex had additional results for an author.  So clearly both must be used.

But there are further authors right through the Byzantine period.  Now these lie outside the scope of my original enquiry, which itself is proving larger than I had thought! I may or may not do anything with these later writers, in the way of examining them or translating them. But here is a list anyway.  Note that when the TLG refers to “Volume nn, page mm, line xx” it seems to mean the Patrologia Graeca vol. nn, column mm, line xx.

    *    *    *    *

THEODORUS STUDITES Scr. Eccl. et Theol. Μεγάλη κατήχησις {2714.007} Catechesis 29 page 205 line 17: σταύρωσον αὐτόν”, τῶν Ἰουδαίων τὰς ἐξαιτήσεις, τῶν λεγόντων “τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν”, τὴν κατ’

HESYCHIUS Scr. Eccl. Commentarius brevis {2797.004} Psalm 54 section 16 line 3: ἠπείλησεν ὁ λόγος· αὐτοὶ γὰρ ᾐτήσαντο λέγοντες· τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.

HESYCHIUS Scr. Eccl. Commentarius brevis {2797.004} Psalm 57 section 11 line 8: ἁμαρτωλοῦ λαοῦ, τοῦ εἰπόντος· τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.

HESYCHIUS Scr. Eccl. Commentarius brevis {2797.004} Psalm 128 section 4 line 3: τὴν ἰσχὺν ὁ Χριστός, ἡνίκα εἶπαν· τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.

Pseudo-CAESARIUS Phil. et Rhet. Quaestiones et responsiones {2868.001} Chapter 112 line 38: σταύρωσον αὐτόν, τοῦ μὲν ἀπονιψαμένου τῆς κυριοκτονίας τὸ αἷμα, τῶν δὲ ἀντισπασαμένων τὴν ἐκεῖθεν κατάκρισιν βοῇ· τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν· ὅπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀξιεράστως φαμέν, οὐ τῇ αὐτῇ ἐκείνοις διαθέσει· ἐκεῖνοι γὰρ ὡς βροτὸν

MAXIMUS CONFESSOR Theol. Quaestiones ad Thalassium {2892.001} Section 64 line 531: προλαβόντες ηὔξαντο καθ’ ἑαυτῶν, εἰπόντες· τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ (530) ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν. Σαφῶς γὰρ μετὰ τὴν ἀνάστασιν καὶ τὴν ἀνάληψιν τοῦ σωτῆρος πνεῦμα καύ-

CONSTITUTIONES APOSTOLORUM Eccl. Constitutiones apostolorum (fort. compilatore Juliano Ariano) {2894.001} Book 5 chapter 19 line 22: τοῦ δικαίου τούτου, ὑμεῖς ὄψεσθε», ὁ δὲ Ἰσραὴλ ἐπεβόησεν· «Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.» Καὶ Πιλάτου εἰπόντος· «Τὸν βασιλέα ὑμῶν σταυρώσω;» αὐτοὶ

LEONTIUS Scr. Eccl. In sanctam parasceven (homilia 7) {2914.008} Line 58: καὶ ἀντὶ κειμηλίων ἀκάνθινον στέφανον πλέκοντας, καὶ τολμηρῶς βοῶντας· Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν. Διὰ ταῦτα βουλευομένου τοῦ πατρὸς ἐξαλεῖψαι

EVANGELIUM NICODEMI Apocryph. et Evangel. Recensiones Μ 1 et Μ 2 {2976.001} Chapter 8 section 2,3 recension m1-m2 line 11: Εἶπον οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι· Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.

EVANGELIUM NICODEMI Apocryph. et Evangel. Recensio Μ 3 {2976.002} Chapter 8 section 2,3 line 11: Εἶπον οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι· (10) Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.

Georgius CEDRENUS Chronogr. Compendium historiarum {3018.001}Volume 1 page 382 line 17: λείαν δυσσεβῶς ἐπισπασάμενοι, κράζοντες “οὐκ ἔχομεν βασιλέα εἰ μὴ Καίσαρα” καὶ “τὸ αἷμα Χριστοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.” διὸ καὶ μέχρι τῆς συντελείας τὴν εἰς τὰ ἔθνη

GEORGIUS Monachus Chronogr. Chronicon (lib. 1-4) {3043.001} Page 313 line 24: νων, τὸ μὲν αἷμα, ἵνα Ἰουδαίους ἐλέγξῃ εἰπόντας· τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν, τὸ δὲ ὕδωρ, ἵνα τοῦ Πιλάτου κατηγορήσῃ, ὅτι λαβὼν ὕδωρ καὶ νιψάμενος (25)

GEORGIUS Monachus Chronogr. Chronicon breve (lib. 1-6) (redactio recentior) {3043.002} Volume 110 page 373 line 44: μάρτυρες τῶν κυριοκτόνων, τὸ μὲν αἷμα ἵνα Ἰουδαίους ἐλέγξῃ εἰπόντας· «Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν·» τὸ δὲ ὕδωρ, ἵνα τοῦ (45)

GEORGIUS Monachus Chronogr. Chronicon breve (lib. 1-6) (redactio recentior) {3043.002} Volume 110 page 456 line 44: σάμενοι, κράζοντες· «Οὐκ ἔχομεν βασιλέα εἰ μὴ Καίσαρα,» καί· «Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν,» διὸ μέχρι τῆς συντελείας τὴν (45)

Michael GLYCAS Astrol. et Hist. Quaestiones in sacram scripturam (Cap. 3-40) {3047.006} Chapter 24 page 277 line 8: ἀθῴου αἵματος ἐμφορεῖσθαι—εἰ μὴ γὰρ τοῦτο ἦν, οὐκ ἂν ἔλεγον «τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν»—παθεῖν αὐτὸν εἰ καὶ ἑκουσίως ἠνάγκασε. Παθεῖν δὲ λέγομεν ἑκουσίως

Michael ITALICUS Epist. et Rhet. Epistulae {3081.001} Epistle 35 page 216 line 10: καὶ ἀγχοῦ κειμένην· δηλοῖ γὰρ καὶ τὸ αἷμα πολλάκις καὶ τὸν φόνον αὐτόν, ὥσπερ ἡ φωνὴ τῶν ἀλαστόρων ἐκείνων ἔχει καὶ θεοκτόνων· τὸ αἷμα   (10) αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν. Οὐ γὰρ αὐτὴν τὴν χύσιν τοῦ αἵματος ἐθέλει δηλοῦν ἡ λέξις, ἀλλὰ τὸ τοῦ φόνου μῦσος καθάπαξ καὶ τὸν ἀπὸ τῆς

NICOLAUS HYDRUNTINUS Theol. Disputatio contra Judaeos {3103.003}Page 76 line 16: θείαν γραφήν, ἀλλ’ ἀναντιρρήτως περὶ τοῦ κυρίως ἀθῴου φησίν, περὶ οὗ   (15)
ἐκραύγαζον οἱ πατέρες ὑμῶν· «τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν».

Joannes VI CANTACUZENUS Epist., Math. et Theol. Contra sectam Mahometicam apologiae IV {3169.005} Hypothesis-apology 2 section 5line 603: “Ἀθῶός εἰμι ἐγὼ ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ δικαίου τούτου· ὑμεῖς ὄψεσθε.” Οἱ δὲ εἶπον· “Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν.”   Τότε παρέδωκε τὸν Ἰησοῦν τοῖς στρατιώταις, ἵνα σταυρωθῇ. Οἱ δὲ παρα-

SCRIPTA ANONYMA ADVERSUS JUDAEOS Hist. Dissertatio contra Judaeos {3186.008} Chapter 7 line 476: τέκνοις ἀναμιμνήσκοντος· καὶ γὰρ εἰρήκεισαν ἐκεῖνοι τῷ   (475) Πιλάτῳ κατ’ ἐκεῖνο καιροῦ τὴν Ἰουδαίαν διέποντι· Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν. Ἐπεὶ οὖν ἡ ἐπὶ τῷ αἵματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ κατάκρισις ἐνδικωτάτη τῶν Ἰουδαίων

SCRIPTA ANONYMA ADVERSUS JUDAEOS Hist. Dissertatio contra Judaeos {3186.008} Chapter 8 line 678: παραδοῦναι Πιλάτῳ καὶ φάναι πρὸς αὐτὸν πάντα τὸν τῶν Ἰουδαίων λαὸν Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν, καὶ μετέπειτα δ’ αὖ ἐκδύσαι τὸν ἱματισμὸν αὐτοῦ καὶ

THEOPHANES III Theol. De lumine Thaborio orationes i-v {3272.002}Oration 4 line 1127: κῶν λύθρων καὶ μιασμάτων, ἀλλ’ ἐκεῖνοι μὴ ὅτι γε τῆς ἁφῆς ἐκείνης ἀπώναντο καὶ τοῦ ῥαντισμοῦ, ἀλλὰ τοῖς τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ εἰποῦσιν «ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν» ὁμοίως εἰσπραχθήσονται δίκας. Ὡσαύτως καὶ ὁ Ἰούδας, τὸν θεῖον ἄρτον δεξάμενος,

PHOTIUS Lexicogr., Scr. Eccl. et Theol. Epistulae et Amphilochia{4040.009} Epistle-Amphilocia Amph epistle 307 line 29: καὶ ὁρμῇ μιαιφόνῳ προενηνεγμένα, πέρας δὲ προφητικὸν εἰληφότα· ὡς τὸ ‘τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν’· καὶ γὰρ ἐπέπεσεν αὐτοῖς ἔσχατον ἡ τῶν αἱμάτων ἔκχυσις καὶ ὁ διὰ ξίφους φόνος. καὶ ‘ἐὰν ἀφῶμεν

CATENAE (Novum Testamentum) Caten. Catena in Matthaeum (catena integra) (e cod. Paris. Coislin. gr. 23) {4102.001} Page 233 line 29: δὲ οὐ μόνον ἑαυτοῖς οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα εἵλκυσαν τὴν ἀρὰν εἰπόντες, “τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς, καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα “ἡμῶν,” διὰ τὴν πολλὴν αὐτῶν παραπληξίαν, ἀλλ’ ὅμως ὁ φιλάν-

CATENAE (Novum Testamentum) Caten. Catena in Acta (catena Andreae) (e cod. Oxon. coll. nov. 58) {4102.008} Page 35 line 20: εἶπε, καὶ οὐ περὶ τῆς πλευρᾶς· αἷμα δὲ λέγω, ὃ ἐξέχεαν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, καὶ καθ’ ἑαυτῶν ἐπεσπάσαντο λέγοντες, “τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’  “ἡμᾶς καὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν·” καὶ μετὰ τὸ ἀνελεῖν ἀρνοῦνται· ἀεὶ γὰρ ἡ κακία καθ’ ἑαυτῆς ὁρίζουσα μετανοεῖ, καὶ ἀνακαλεῖται τὰς

CATENAE (Novum Testamentum) Caten. Catena in Acta (catena Andreae) (e cod. Oxon. coll. nov. 58) {4102.008} Page 35 line 23: γὰρ ἡ κακία καθ’ ἑαυτῆς ὁρίζουσα μετανοεῖ, καὶ ἀνακαλεῖται τὰς ἰδίας φωνάς· οἱ εἰπόντες “τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς,” λέγουσι τοῖς  Ἀποστόλοις “τί βούλεσθε ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς ἐπαγαγεῖν τὸ αἷμα τοῦ ἀν-

CATENAE (Novum Testamentum) Caten. Catena in Acta (catena Andreae) (e cod. Oxon. coll. nov. 58) {4102.008} Page 349 line 1: σὶν ἐν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις τῶν πεπιστευκότων· (349)   Τοῦ αὐτοῦ. Αὗται οἱ μυρίαδες, ἐκ τῶν βοησάντων “τὸ αἷμα  “αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν,” ὑπῆρχον· ἀλλ’ ὅμως ὁ φιλάνθρωπος τοσαύτῃ μανίᾳ χρησαμένων, καὶ καθ’ ἑαυτῶν καὶ

CATENAE (Novum Testamentum) Caten. Catena in epistulam Joannis i (catena Andreae) (e cod. Oxon. coll. nov. 58) {4102.043} Page 110 line 10:   Πάλιν καὶ τοῦτο πρὸς Ἰουδαίους ἀποτείνεται τολμήσαντας εἰπεῖν “τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν,” ὡς μὴ  οὔσης ἁμαρτίας σταυρῶσαι Χριστόν. ἐὰν οὖν τοῦτο λέγωμεν,

ACTA MONASTERII THEOTOCI EUERGETAE Acta, Legal. et Theol. Typicon (sub auctore Timotheo secundo conditore) {5326.001} Chapter 12 line 557: κληρονόμος γένοιτο, καὶ τῷ προδότῃ σύγκληρος Ἰούδᾳ, καὶ τοῖς Ἆρον, ἆρον, σταύρωσον αὐτόν, καὶ Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν κραυγάσασι συναρίθμιος, ὅτι τὸ πολλοῖς ἱδρῶσι καὶ κόποις ἐξ ἀγριδίου

TYPICA MONASTICA Hagiogr. Typicon sive regula monasterii Theotoci Heliu Bomon (sub auctore Nicephoro Mystico) {5330.008} Chapter 4 line 31: προδότῃ σύγκληρος Ἰούδᾳ, καὶ τοῖς τὸ „ἆρον, ἆρον, σταύρωσον αὐτόν“,  καὶ „τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν“ κραυγάσασι συναρίθμιος.

TYPICA MONASTICA Hagiogr. Typicon monasterii sancti Mamantis (sub auctore Athanasio Philanthropeno) {5330.013} Chapter 4 line 25: ὀκτὼ ἁγίων πατέρων ὑπόδικος γένηται καὶ τῷ προδότῃ σύγκληρος Ἰούδα καὶ τοῖς τὸ ἆρον ἆρον σταύρωσον αὐτὸν καὶ τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς   (25) καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν κραυγάσασι συναρίθμιος.

TYPICA MONASTICA Constitutio monasterii Prodromi τοῦ Φοβεροῦ (sub auctore Joanne monacho) {5330.015} Chapter 28 page 49 line 10: τὰς χεῖρας εἶπεν· Ἀθῶός εἰμι ἐκ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ δικαίου τούτου· ὑμεῖς ὄψεσθε. ὁ δὲ Ἰσραὴλ ἐπεβόησε· Τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ   (10) τέκνα ἡμῶν, καὶ οὐκ ἔχομεν βασιλέα, εἰ μὴ Καίσαρα. ἀναστάντος δὲ τοῦ

TYPICA MONASTICA Constitutio monasterii Prodromi τοῦ Φοβεροῦ (sub auctore Joanne monacho) {5330.015} Chapter 33 page 51 line 22: ὀκτὼ ἁγίων θεοφόρων πατέρων κληρονόμος γένοιτο καὶ τῷ προδότῃ σύγκληρος Ἰούδᾳ καὶ τοῖς “Ἆρον, ἆρον, σταύρωσον αὐτὸν καὶ τὸ αἷμα αὐτοῦ ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἐπὶ τὰ τέκνα ἡμῶν” κεκραγόσι συναρίθμιος· διότι οἱ κατὰ καιροὺς χαριστικάριοι εἰς τὸ μηδὲν ἐποίησαν τὴν τοιαύτην μονήν, μεγάλην καὶ πε


Procopius of Gaza and Matthew 27:25

Our review of patristic references to Matthew 27:25 (“His blood be upon us and our children”) has now reached the latest author given by BiblIndex, Procopius of Gaza.  With this author we have reached the 6th century, and there is a case that we are no longer dealing with patristic writers, but rather with Byzantine ones.  Procopius was the author of the catena-type of commentary, the medieval Greek commentary formed out of quotations of earlier writers.

But I have never looked at his work, so it might be rather fun to see what he has to offer.

BiblIndex offer two references:

  • Procopius of Gaza, Catena in Esaiam, PG 87.2, 1817-2718. § 1 (p.857); § 2 (p.352); § 2 (p.600)
  • Procopius of Gaza, Commentarii in Octateuchum, PG 87.1, 21-1220. (p.252); (p.491, l.46); (p.919); (p.923); § 1 (p.41)

Let’s start with the Catena on Isaiah.

The first reference is to PG 87.2, column 1857 (not 857).  This is commentary on Isaiah 1:21-23, “See how the faithful city has become a prostitute! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her— but now murderers!

And it [Jerusalem] is called a prostitute, on account of the fornications of the inhabitants; whom likewise he calls murderers.  For finally after shedding the blood of Christ, they are bold enough to say, “His blood be upon us.”  But indeed they had not even spared the prophets themselves previously.  For it says, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kill the prophets.”

Stephen upbraids the Jews, “For which of the prophets did your fathers not kill?”  But in those times it was more appropriate, in which the Saviour came among us; whence he was accustomed to call them also a wicked and  adulterous generation.  And so, in his time, Isaiah accuses them, not now of idolatries, but of violence and murder.  And since, after being so bold in the crime against the Lord, they wished to be considered as masters of piety.[1]

All of this is merely historical exegesis, following the practice of earlier commentators in identifying in the Old Testament parallels to the events of the New Testament.

The second passage is on col. 2352 (not 352 – it looks as if the first numeral has been omitted in every case), which I would link to if the wretched hotel wifi and the equally wretched Google Books viewer would cooperate.  This passage is on Isaiah 41:1-7.

What can I [God] be lacking of that, who am eternal, without corruption of any kind, and unaffected in fact by the customs of men?  But you argue so with yourself, he says, “If the new things surpass the old, what a trouble it is to carry on altogether with the old laws. Is it not better to be taught that which is now proclaimed?  And you do not know the economy of the divine wisdom, of which the apostle learnedly predicted, he affirmed that the law was introduced that sin might abound: then, that the scripture said that all are under sin, that He might have mercy on all.”

The law itself shows the weakness of man, not justifying them but condemning them, whom Christ has justified by grace.  For He is the one who, although he does not hunger, grants spiritual power to those who hunger after justice.  And he makes the destitute, drowned in feeling grief, understand the vindication of the sinners.  For he is used to the grief that leads to salvation, which is according to God, so that penitence may be done in a way requiring least penitence; in fact he even understands the grief, which those who shouted “His blood be upon us and our children” felt at the capture of the city [of Jerusalem].  For with spiritual food the destitute have escaped illness, although they earlier exceeded in power, when on account of their weakness, the nations were being trampled by the feet of the devil; … [2]

Hmm… that was hard going.  But the passage is about the merciful nature of God, extending even to those who crucified him.

What’s the betting that the third reference is at col. 2600?  I have now downloaded a PDF, so it is easier to page through.  And … sure enough, it is!  This is comment on Isaiah 59:1-18 (and often the comment makes a lot more sense if you read the passage first, by the way!), which begins thus: “Behold the hand of the Lord is not shortened that it cannot save, neither is his ear heavy that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have divided between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you that he should not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity: your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue utters iniquity. There is none that calls upon justice, neither is there any one that judges truly: but they trust in a mere nothing, and speak vanities: they have conceived labour, and brought forth iniquity.”

He [Isaiah] speaks here in the manner of Jeremiah: …   and so on.  By whom, so to speak from little beginnings of wickedness, they went on to the murder of Christ the Saviour, which especially in this place it is reasonable to include.  For although from the blood of the Saviour their hands were unpolluted, they were not at all free from blame; those who demanded that blame for his blood be placed upon themselves and their children; those who attacked him with abuse, and stirred up the people against him, those who said he was mad, those who said he was a Samaritan, those who said he was born from adultery, those who said he drove out demons by the name of Beelzebub; they never ceased to accuse.[3]

Again Old Testament comments about the wickedness of Israel are being seen as a prediction of the wickedness of Israel in New Testament times.

Now let’s move on to the Commentary on the Octateuch.  Col.252.  This is on Genesis 4:15, And the Lord said to him, whoever kills Cain, I will avenge it sevenfold.  The comparison is between the blood of Abel and the blood of Jesus, both shed unjustly.  Procopius compares the wanderings of the Jews, under legal protection, with those of Cain, similarly protected.

Some here infer an allegorical sense.  They say that Cain was a type of the Jews, who seeing Christ, who is meant under the name of Abel, eager to be carried to his murder, crying, “Why do you seek to kill a man who has told you the truth?”  Of these it is testified that the father was Cain, whom Satan calls upon, … The rest [of the Jews], so that they are not completely destroyed, have been marked with a sign.  The remnant of them are preserved to testify to the truth of scripture.  They have gone out also, like Cain, from the sight of God. And the divine power speaks thus to us, saying, “When you multiply your prayers, I will not hear you, for your hands are full of blood.” For they killed the Lord and author of life.  In addition they shouted, “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”  But this sacred blood, shed for us, cries out against the Jews, and according to the eloquence of Paul, better than the blood of Abel.[4]

This is starting to sound very close indeed to the medieval attitude to the Jews.

I will look at the remaining four passages in my next post.

  1. [1]At meretrix dicitur, propter scortationes incolarum; quos item homicidas vocat. Tandem enim effuso Christi sanguine, dicere ausi sunt : “Sanguis ejus super nos.” Imo ne prophetis quidem ipsis antea pepercerunt. Ait enim: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, quae occidis prophetas.” Quem enim prophetarum non occiderunt patres vestri, Judaeis exprobrat Stephanus? Sed temporibus istis magis conveniant, quibus peregrinatus est nobiscum Salvator; unde erat etiam generationem pravam et adulteram eos appellare solitus. Hoc itaque tempore, non eos jam idololatriae, sed caedis, et homicidii, Isaias accusat. Et quoniam post tam audax in Dominum facinus, pietatis magistri haberi volebant.
  2. [2]Qui possum ego istis indigere, qui sum aeternus, nulli corruptioni, nulli denique, more hominum, passioni obnoxius? Sed tecum ita ratiocinaris, inquit: Si veteribus praestant, quae nova sunt; quid omnino priores ferre leges opus fuerat? num tunc doceri satius, quae nunc promulgantur? At ignoras divinae sapientiae oeconomiam, cujus cognitione praeditus Apostolus, legem introduci, ut peccatum abundaret, affirmavit: deinde, conclusisse Scripturam omnes sub peccato, ut omnium misereretur. Arguit igitur hominum imbecillitatem lex ipsa, non eos justificans, sed damnans, quos Christus gratia justificavit. Ipse enim est, qui, praeterquam quod non esurit, iis etiam, qui justitiam esuriunt spirituale robur largitur; sensuque destitutos immisso moerore, vindictam peccatorum persentire facit. Solet enim ad salutem moeror, qui secundum Deum est, poenitentiam operari minimo poenitendam: vel certe moerorem eum hic intelligit, quem ab urbis expugnatione iidem perceperunt, qui sanguis ejus super nos et super filios nostros inclamarunt. Illi enim spirituali cibo destituti, infirmi evaserunt , quantumvis, antea robore praestarent: cum propter imbecillitatem, diaboli pedibus gentes calcarentur; praeceptisque legalibus educati, gratia gentibus adveniante, …
  3. [3]Ait igitur hunc in modum Jeremias: “Virtus mea defecit me, ab iis qui maledicebant mihi.” Et noster hic propheta; “Vide ut justus tollitur,” et quae deinceps. A quibus, tanquam a parvis scelorum initiis, ad Christi Salvatoris caedem progressi sunt, quam maxime hoc loco nobis innui fuerit consentaneum. Etsi enim Salvatoris sanguine manus habent impollutas, culpa tamen haud vacant; qui sanguinis ejus in se, suosque filios, ultionem extendi postularunt: qui probris lacessere, populumque in illum concitare, qui furiosum, qui Samaritam, qui ex adulterio procreatum dicere; qui denique in Beelzelbul nomine daemonia ejiceret, incusare nunquam desierunt.
  4. [4]Quidam allegoricum sensum hinc colligunt. Aiunt Cainum esse typum Judaeorum, quos videns Christus, qui per Abelum designatur, in suam caedem cupidius ferri, exclamat : “Quid me quaeritis interficere hominem, qui veritatem vobis locutus sum?” Horum patrem esse testatur Cainum, quem Satanam vocat, ut qui illius sint similes.  … Caeterum ne penitus interciderent, signo notati sunt. Servatae enim sunt, ut testatur Scriptura reliquiae. Exierunt quoque, ut Cainus, e conspectu Dei ; Numenque sic nos alloquitur : “Cum multiplicaveritis orationem, ego non exaudiant, cum manus vestra sanguinibus repletae sint”. Interfecerunt enim ducem et auctorem vitae. Praeterea clamaverunt: “Sanguis ejus super nos et super liberos nostros.” Sed hic sacratus cruor pro nobis fusus vociferatur adversus Judaeos, et secundum eloquium Pauli, meliora quam sanguis Abeli.

Augustine’s “Treatise against the Jews”

Augustine’s Tractatus adversus Judaeos (Treatise against the Jews) is probably unfamiliar to most of us.  This short work – a homily, or a pamphlet – is printed in the Patrologia Latina vol. 42, cols 51-64.[1]  But I was quite unaware that an English translation exists, in Fathers of the Church 27, published under the title Treatises on Marriage and Other Subjects.[2]

I came across this treatise in the context of an accusation of anti-Semitism, referenced to 7:10 (“This is said about Christ whom you, in your parents, led to death.”)  It is difficult to understand quite how anyone could consider that this treatise is designed to stir up hatred in any way, if they have actually read it, and especially chapter 10.  But at least some of the ‘complaints’ of anti-Semitism that I have seen look, in reality, as if they are merely malicious, and designed purely for polemical advantage.

Since we seem to be dealing with treatises concerned with the Jews, and it is not easy to find this translation online, I thought that it might be helpful to give this translation – now in the public domain – here.  It was made from the PL text, according to the introduction.  Note that I have modernised the language slightly at one or two points.

Chapter 1

The blessed apostle Paul, the teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth, admonishes us with precepts when he exhorts us to remain firmly fixed in the same faith of which he was made the fitting minister; he instils fear in us by example when he says: ‘See then, the goodness and the severity of God: his severity towards those who have fallen, but the goodness of God towards you if you abide in his goodness.’ Assuredly he said this about the Jews who, as branches of that olive tree which was fruitful in its root of the holy patriarchs, have been broken off on account of their unbelief, so that, because of the faith of the Gentiles, the wild olive was grafted on and shared in the richness of the true olive tree after the natural branches had been cut off. He warns, however: ‘do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, still it is not you that supports the stem, but the stem you.’ And since some of the Jews are saved, he immediately adds: ‘otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them back.’ They, however, who persist in their unbelief are judged by the Lord, who says: ‘but the children of the kingdom will go into the darkness outside: there will be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.’ Of the Gentiles, on the contrary, who persevere in goodness, He says in addition: ‘many will come from the east and from the west, and will feast with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.’ By the just severity of God, therefore, the unbelieving pride of the native branches is broken away from the living patriarchal root, and, by the grace of divine goodness, the faithful humility of the wild olive is ingrafted.

 (2) When these Scriptural words are quoted to the Jews, they scorn the Gospel and the Apostle; they do not listen to what we say because they do not understand what they read. Certainly, if they understood what the Prophet, whom they read, is foretelling: ‘I have given you to be the light of the Gentiles, that you may be my salvation even to the farthest part of the earth’ they would not be so blind and so sick as not to recognize in Jesus Christ both light and salvation. Likewise, if they understood to whom the prophecy refers which they sing so fruitlessly and without meaning: ‘Their sound has gone forth into all the earth: and their words unto the ends of the world,’ they would awaken to the voice of the Apostles, and would sense that their words are divine. Consequently, testimonies are to be selected from sacred Scripture, which has great authority among the Jews, and if they do not want to be cured by means of this advantage offered them, they can at least be convicted by its evident truth.

Chapter 2

(3) First of all, however, this error of theirs must be refuted, that the Books of the Old Testament do not concern us at all, because we observe the new sacraments and no longer preserve the old. For they say to us: ‘What is the reading of the Law and the Prophets doing among you who do not want to follow the precepts contained in them?’ They base their complaint on the fact that we do not circumcise the foreskin of the male, and we eat the flesh of animals which the Law declares unclean, and we do not observe the Sabbath, new moons and their festival days in a purely human way, nor do we offer sacrifice to God with victims of cattle, nor do we celebrate the Pasch as they do with sheep and unleavened bread, nor do we revere the other ancient sacraments which the Apostle classifies under the general expression of shadows of things to come, since at their time they signified events to be revealed which we have accepted and recognized as already revealed, so that with the shadows removed we are enjoying their uncovered light. It would take too long, however, to dispute these charges one by one; how we are circumcised by putting off the old man and not in despoiling our natural body; how their abstinence from certain foods of animals corresponds to our mortification in habits and morals; how we present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God before whom we intelligently pour forth our souls in holy desires, instead of in blood; how we are cleansed from all iniquity by the Blood of Christ as the Immaculate Lamb. Christ is even prefigured in the old sacrifices by the goat because He took the likeness of our flesh of sin; nor does one who recognizes Christ as the greatest victim refuse to see Him, in the horns of the cross, prefigured in the bull. When we find rest in Him we truly observe the Sabbath, and the observance of the new moon is the sanctification of our new life. Christ is our Pasch; our unleavened bread is sincerity of truth without the leaven of decay. If there are any other events over which there is no need for delay at this time, events which have been represented by those ancient signs, they have come to an end in Him whose kingdom will be without end. It was necessary, indeed, that all things be fulfilled in Him, who came to fulfill, not to destroy, the Law or the Prophets.

Chapter 3

(4) Christ, then, did not change the ancient signs of events to come by censuring them; He changed them by their fulfillment. As there were signs which announced that Christ had already come, so there were signs foretelling that He would come. What else is intended to be meant when certain psalms, which the Jews themselves read and esteem with the authority of scared writings, are so designated that they have written in their titles ‘For those things that shall be changed.’ The text of these same psalms actually foretells Christ. They were so designated because they foretold the change that Christ would make—just as we know that through Christ the change has been fulfilled, so that the people of God, now the Christians, no longer have to keep the observances of the days of the Prophets; not because the observances have been condemned, but because they have been changed; not that the realities, that were themselves signified, might be lost, but that the signs of the events might befit their times.

Chapter 4

(5) Accordingly, in Psalm 44 (for that is the first of the psalms bearing the title, ‘For those things that shall be changed’—where one also reads: ‘A canticle for the Beloved’), Christ is quite evidently manifested: ‘you are beautiful above the sons of men’; ‘Who though he was by nature God, did not consider being equal to God a thing to be clung to.’ In this psalm it is said to Him: ‘Gird your sword upon your thigh,’ because He was about to speak to men in His human flesh. By the figure ‘sword,’ speech, of course, is signified; by thigh, the body, for He ‘emptied himself, taking the nature of a slave,’ that He who through His divinity was ‘beautiful above the sons of men’ through infirmity might become what another Prophet said of Him: ‘and we have seen him, and there is no beauty in him, nor comeliness; but His countenance is downcast, and He is acquainted with infirmity.’ The same Psalm 44 shows very plainly that Christ is not only man but also God, for it continues: ‘your throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of your kingdom is a sceptre of uprightness. you hast loved justice, and hated iniquity: therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows,’ Christ is named, in fact, from the word ‘anointing,’ which in Greek is chrisma. He Himself is God anointed by God, who changed this corporeal into a spiritual anointing, along with the rest of the sacraments. This psalm speaks to Him also of the Church: ‘The queen stood on your right hand, in gilded clothing; surrounded with variety.’ Here is signified the variety of languages of all the people within the Church, in whom, nevertheless, there is one simple faith, for ‘All the beauty of the king’s daughter is within.’ The psalm then addresses the Church: ‘Hearken, O daughter and see’; hear the promise, see it fulfilled; and ‘forget your people and your father’s house.’ Thus the new is fulfilled; thus the old is changed. ‘And the king shall greatly desire your beauty.’ The beauty, which He Himself made through Himself, He did not find in you. How could you be beautiful in His eyes when you were disfigured with your sins? So that you will not think, however, that your hope must be placed in men, the Prophet goes on to say: ‘for he is the Lord your God.’ That you might not despise the nature of a slave, that you might not scorn the infirmity of the Mighty One and the lowliness of the Lofty One, he says: ‘He is your God.’ In what appears small, the Mighty One hides; in the shadow of death hides the Sun of Justice; in the reproach of the Cross, the Lord of Glory. No matter that persecutors put Him to death, or unbelievers deny Him, ‘He is the Lord your God.’ Through His Body are changed the things that before were prefigured through shadows.

Chapter 5

(6) Psalm 68 also includes in its title the words: ‘For the things that shall be entirely changed.’ This psalm sings of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, assuming to Himself even certain words of His members, that is, of His faithful. For He Himself did not have any sin, but carried our sins; whence the psalm says: ‘and my offences are not hidden from you.’ Here is written and foretold what we read in the Gospel as having happened: ‘And they gave me gall for my food, and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.’ In Him, therefore, the old events have been changed which the title of the psalm predicted were to be changed. The Jews, reading the psalm and not understanding it, think that they are saying something when they ask us how we accept the authority of the Law and the Prophets since we do not observe the rites which there are prescribed. We do not observe them because they have been changed; those rites have been changed, moreover, which were foretold would be changed. We believe in Him by whose revelation they have been changed; hence, we do not observe the rites prescribed there because we understand what is being prophesied, but we hold fast to the promises made there. Moreover, they who make these charges against us have inherited the bitterness of their parents, who gave the Lord gall for His food; are still emulating the ancients who offered Him vinegar to drink. That is the reason why they do not understand that in the gall and vinegar the following anathema is fulfilled, ‘Let their table become as a snare before them, and a recompense, and a stumbling-block.’ They themselves have become full of gall and bitterness in serving food of gall and vinegar to the Living Bread. How else do they look upon these prophecies in the psalm: ‘Let their eyes be darkened that they see not,’ and how are they to be upright in order to lift up their heart, they about whom it has been foretold, ‘and their back bend you down always’? These prophecies have not been made, however, about all the Jews; only about those to whom the predictions apply. These indictments do not concern those who believed in Christ at that time because of these very prophecies, nor those who have believed in Christ up to the present or who, henceforth, up to the end of the world, will believe in Christ, that is, the true Israel who will see the Lord face to face. ‘For they are not all Israelites who are sprung from Israel; nor because they are the descendants of Abraham, are they all his children; but: Through Isaac shall your posterity bear your name. This is to say, they are not the sons of God who are the children of the flesh, but it is the children of promise who are reckoned as a posterity.’ They belong to the spiritual Sion and the cities of Judah, that is, to the churches about whom the Apostle says, ‘And I was unknown by sight to the Churches of Judah, which were in Christ,’ since a little later in the same psalm appears, ‘For God will save Sion, and the cities of Judah shall be built up. And they shall dwell there, and acquire it by inheritance. And the seed of his servants shall possess it; and they that love his name shall dwell therein.’ When the Jews hear these words they take them in their natural meaning and imagine an earthly Jerusalem which is in slavery with her children, not our eternal mother who is in heaven.

Chapter 6

(7) Psalm 79 is likewise entitled: ‘For the things that shall be changed.’ In this psalm among other things is written: ‘look down from heaven, and see, and visit this vineyard: And perfect what your right hand has planted: and upon the son of man whom you have confirmed for yourself. This is the vineyard of which is said: ‘you have brought a vineyard out of Egypt.’ Christ did not plant another; by His coming He changed that one into a better vineyard. Accordingly, we find in the Gospel: ‘He will utterly destroy those evil men, and will let out the vineyard to other vine-dressers.’ The Gospel does not say: ‘He will uproot, and will plant another,’ but, ‘this same vineyard He will let out to other vine-dressers.’ The City of God and congregation of the children of promise must be filled with the same community of saints by the death and succession of mortal men, and at the end of the world will receive its due immortality in all men. This same thought is expressed differently by means of the fruitful olive tree in another psalm, which says: ‘But I, as a fruitful olive tree in the house of God, have hoped in the mercy of God for ever, yea, for ever and ever.’ It was not because the unbelievers and the proud had been broken away and the branches were on that account unfruitful and the wild olive of the Gentiles was ingrafted that the root of the patriarchs and Prophets died. ‘For if your people, O Israel,’ says Isaiah, ‘shall be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them shall be saved, but through Him about whom the psalm says: ‘and upon the son of man whom you have confirmed for yourself,’ and  about whom is reiterated, ‘Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand: and upon the son of man whom you have confirmed for yourself. And we depart from you.’ Through this Son of Man, Christ Jesus, and from His remnant, that is, the Apostles and the many others who from among the Israelites have believed in Christ as God, and with the increasing plenitude of the Gentiles, the holy vineyard is being completed. Thus, in the passing of the old rites and in the institution of the new, the title of the psalm, ‘For the things that shall be changed,’ is fulfilled.

(8) Consequently, it is necessary to review with the Jews the more evident testimonies. Whether they consent to them or dissent, they cannot escape being sensible to them: ‘Behold the days shall come, says the Lord, and I will make a new covenant with the house of Jacob: not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt.’ This change, certainly having been foretold, is not indicated through the titles of psalms for the understanding few; it is expressed in the unmistaken proclamation of the Prophet. Clearly, a new covenant is promised, not according to that covenant which was made with the people when they were led out of Egypt. Since, then, there are in the Old Testament precepts which we who belong to the New Testament are not compelled to observe, why do not the Jews realize that they have remained stationary in useless antiquity rather than hurl charges against us who hold fast to the new promises, because we do not observe the old? Just as it is written in the Canticle of Canticles: ‘The day has broken, let the shadows retire,’ the spiritual meaning has already dawned, the natural action has already ceased. ‘The God of gods, the Lord has spoken: and he has called the earth from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof’; certainly the whole world is called to the new covenant which another psalm also makes known: ‘Sing to the Lord a new canticle: sing to the Lord, all the earth.’ Not, then, as the God of gods formerly spoke from Mount Sinai to one people, whom He called from Egypt, but He has spoken in this manner in order to summon the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. If the Jew were willing to understand the speech he would hear this call, and would be among those whom the same psalm addresses: ‘Hear, O my people, and I will speak to you: O Israel, and I will testify to you: I am God, your God. I will not reprove you for your sacrifices: and your burnt offerings are always in my sight. I will not take calves out of your house: nor the goats out of your flocks. For all the beasts of the woods are mine: the cattle on the hills, and the oxen. I know all the fowls of the air: and with me is the beauty of the field. If I should be hungry, I would not tell you: for the world is mine and the fulness thereof. Shall I eat the flesh of bullocks? or shall I drink the blood of goats? Offer to God the sacrifice of praise: and pay your vows to the most High. And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.’ Assuredly, here, too, the change of the ancient sacrifices is manifest. God foretold that the time would come when He would no longer accept the old sacrifices; He revealed to His worshipers a sacrifice of praise. He did not make this revelation because He was seeking after praise from us as if He needed it, but that in our praise He was looking to our salvation. The closing of the psalm makes His purpose quite evident: ‘The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me: and there is the way by which I will show him the salvation of God.’ What in truth is the salvation of God, if not the Son of God, the Saviour of the world; the Son as day from the Father as day, that is, Light from Light, whose arrival the New Testament has revealed? So, too, where it is said: ‘Sing you to the Lord a new canticle: sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing you to the Lord and bless His name,’ He Himself is at once shown to be worthy to be proclaimed, and it is added: ‘shew forth his salvation from day to day.’ He Himself as priest and victim has fulfilled the sacrifice of praise, granting pardon for evil works and lavishly bestowing the grace to perform good works. The sacrifice of praise is offered to the Lord by His worshipers for this end: ‘Let him who takes pride, take pride in the Lord.’

Chapter 7

(9) When the Jews hear the following words from the psalm, they answer with their heads held high: ‘We are they; the psalm is about us; it is said to us. We are Israel, the people of God; we recognize ourselves in the words of the speaker: “Hear, O my people, and I will speak to you: O Israel, and I will testify to you.”‘ What shall we say to these things? We know, of course, the spiritual Israel about which the Apostle says: ‘And whoever follows this rule, peace and mercy upon them, even upon the Israel of God.’ The Israel, however, about which the Apostle says: ‘Behold Israel according to the flesh,’ we know to be the natural Israel; but the Jews do not grasp this meaning and as a result they prove themselves indisputably natural. It may be well to address them for just a little while as if they were present: And so you belong to that people whom ‘the God of gods has called from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof’? Were you not brought from Egypt to the land of Canaan? Not thither were you called from the rising of the sun to its setting, but from there you were dispersed to the rising of the sun and to its setting. Do you not rather belong to His enemies referred to in the psalm; ‘My God shall let me see over my enemies: slay them not, lest at any time they forget your law. Scatter them by the power’? That is the reason why, not unmindful of the Law of God, but bearing that same Law about for a covenant to the Gentiles and a reproach to yourselves, you unknowingly are ministering the Law to a people that has been called from the rising to the setting of the sun. Or will you really deny it? Then, too, those events foretold with such great authority, fulfilled with such manifestation— do you either with great blindness fail to consider them, or with remarkable impudence refuse to acknowledge them? What reply, then, are you going to make to what the Prophet Isaiah proclaims: ‘And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared on the top of mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, and all the nations shall come to it, and shall say: Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God Jacob, and he will teach us the way of salvation, and we will walk in it: for the law shall come forth from Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ Or here, too, are you going to say: ‘We are they,’ since you heard the house of Jacob and Sion and Jerusalem? As if we were denying that Christ the Lord according to the flesh is from the seed of Jacob, Christ who is represented by the mountain lifted high above the tops of the mountains because by His height He transcends all heights; or are we to deny that the Apostles and those Churches of Judaea, which after the Resurrection of Christ continued to believe in Him, belong to the house of Jacob; or is another people to be understood as the spiritual Jacob other than the Christian people themselves, who, although younger than the people of Judaea, have surpassed them in increases and have replaced them, that the Scripture might be fulfilled in the figure of the two brothers, ‘and the elder shall serve the younger’? Sion, however, and Jerusalem, although spiritually understood as the Church, are nevertheless a fitting witness against the Jews, because from that place where they crucified Christ the Law and the Word of God has proceeded to the Gentiles. The Law, in fact, which was given them through Moses, on account of which they are quite proudly exalted and by virtue of which they are far better convicted, is understood to have come forth from Mount Sinai, not from Sion and Jerusalem. After forty years, to be sure, they arrived with the Law itself at the land of promise where Sion is, which is called Jerusalem. They did not, however, receive it there or from there. The Gospel of Christ and the Law of faith certainly did proceed from there, just as the Lord Himself said after His Resurrection when speaking to His disciples and showing them that the prophecies of the divine Scriptures had been fulfilled in Himself: ‘Thus it is written; and thus the Christ should suffer, and should rise again from the dead on the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’ See what Isaiah prophesied: ‘for the law shall come forth from Sion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.’ There according to the promise of the Lord, the Holy Spirit came down and filled those who were assembled in the one house and prompted them to speak in the native languages of all ‘the people’ gathered together. From there they went out and preached the Gospel to the understanding of all nations. Just as the Law which proceeded from Mount Sinai had been written by the Finger of God, signifying the Holy Spirit, fifty days after the celebration of the Pasch, in the same way, this Law which proceeded from Sion and Jerusalem is written on the tablets of the heart of the holy Evangelists by the Holy Spirit—not on tablets of stone—on the fiftieth day after the true Pasch of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord Christ, on the day on which the Holy Spirit who had been promised before had been sent.

 (10) Go now, O Israelites by nature, not by spirit; go now and even contradict this very apparent truth. When you hear: ‘Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob’ say: ‘We are of the house of Jacob,’ so that like blind men you may dash against the mountain, and with your face badly bruised you smash your head the worse. If you sincerely want to say: ‘We are they’ [the house of Jacob], say it when you hear: ‘for the wickedness of my people was he led to death.’ This is said about Christ whom you, in your parents, led to death; just like a sheep was led to sacrifice, that the Pasch which unknowingly you celebrate, unknowingly you fulfill in your madness. If you truly want to say: ‘We are the house of Jacob,’ then say it when you hear: ‘Blind the heart of this people, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes.’ Then say: ‘We are they,’ when you hear: ‘I have spread forth my hands all the day to an unbelieving and contradicting people.’ Say: ‘We are they,’ when you hear: ‘Let their eyes be darkened that they see not; and their back bend you down always.’ In these and other prophetic words of this kind say: ‘We are they.’ Without any doubt you are, but you are so blind that you say you are what you are not, and do not recognize yourselves for what you really are.

Chapter 8

(11) Listen carefully for just a minute to what I am going to say in reference to these even more obvious testimonies. Most certainly, when you hear: ‘in good Israel,’ you say: ‘We are Israel,’ and when you hear: ‘in good Jacob,’ you say: ‘We are Jacob.’ And when you are asked why, you reply: ‘Because Jacob himself is also Israel, and we are descendants of the patriarch; hence, we are distinguished by the merited name of our father.’ We are not, therefore, rousing you from a deep and heavy sleep to spiritual matters which you do not grasp. Nor are we now attempting to show you, blind and deaf as you are in your spiritual senses, how these words are to be accepted spiritually. Surely, just as you admitted and as a perusal of the Book of Genesis manifestly affirms, Jacob and Israel are one and the same; that is the reason why you boast that the house of Jacob is the house of Israel. What did the Prophet Isaiah mean, however, when he announced that a mountain would be prepared on the summits of the mountains, to which all peoples were going to come? The Law and the Word of God was going to proceed from Sion and Jerusalem to all nations, not from Mount Sinai to one nation. This we see most evidently fulfilled in Christ and the Christians. A little later, the Prophet says: ‘O house of Jacob, come you, and let us walk in the light of the Lord.’ Here, surely, you will speak your usual piece: ‘We are the house of Jacob’; but listen a moment to what follows, and when you have said what you want to say, hear what you do not want to hear. The Prophet continues: ‘For he has cast off his people, the house of Israel.’ Here say: ‘We are the house of Israel’; here acknowledge yourselves and forgive us for reminding you of these facts. If you hear them willingly, they are said for your encouragement; if, however, you hear them indignantly, then they are said for a reproach. Yet, they must be said, whether you are willing or unwilling. Behold, not I, but the Prophet whom you read—through whom you cannot deny God has spoken, to whom you cannot deny the authority of the sacred Scriptures—at the Lord’s command vehemently cries out and lifts up his voice like a trumpet and, rebuking you, says: ‘O house of Jacob, come you, and let us walk in the light of the Lord. You, in the person of your parents, have killed Christ. For a long time you have not believed in Him and you have opposed Him, but you are not yet lost, because you are still alive; you have time now for repentance; only come now. You should have come long ago, of course, but come now; your days are not yet ended; the last day is still to come. Or, if you believe that as the house of Jacob you have followed the Prophet, that now you are walking in the light of the Lord, declare yourselves the house of Israel which He has cast off. We have shown both, those whom with His divine call He has separated from that house, and those whom He cast off because they did not heed the call. Not only did He call the Apostles from that house, but even after the Resurrection He called a great many peoples. That is why, as we mentioned earlier, He cast off those whom you imitate by your unbelief, and by imitating them you are lingering in the same danger of destruction. If, on the contrary, you are they whom He called from there, where are those whom He cast off? For you cannot say that He cast off any other nation, when the Prophet cries out: ‘For he has cast off his people, the house of Israel.’ See what you are, not what you boast to be. Moreover, He also cast off that vineyard from which He expected a yield of grapes and received thorns instead, and as a result commanded His clouds not to rain down upon it. Furthermore, He called them away from there to whom He says: ‘Judge between me and my vineyard;’ about whom the Lord also says: ‘And if I cast out devils by Beelzebub, by whom do your children cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges’; to whom He makes this promise: ‘you shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ That is where the house of Jacob, which has been called and has walked in the light of the Lord, will sit to judge the house of Israel, that is, the people of that house whom He has cast off. How is it that, according to the same Prophet: ‘The stone which the builders rejected: the same is become the head of the corner,’ unless because circumcised and uncircumcised meet and unite in the keystone, like the union of two adjacent walls, as it were, in the kiss of peace. That is the reason that the Apostle says: ‘For he himself is our peace, he it is who has made both one.’ They who have followed His call—whether from the house of Jacob or from the house of Israel—are cleaving to the corner-stone and walking in the light of the Lord; they, however, whom He cast off from the house of Jacob or Israel are themselves builders of destruction and rejecters of the corner-stone.

Chapter 9

(12) Lastly, O Jews, if you try to distort these prophetic words into another meaning according to the dictates of your heart, you resist the Son of God against your own salvation. If you, I say, choose to understand by these testimonies that the house of Jacob or Israel is the same people, both called and cast off—not called in respect to some and cast off in respect to others, but the entire house called to walk in the light of the Lord, inasmuch as the reason why the house had been cast off was because its people were not walking in the light of the Lord; or some of the house certainly were called and others cast off in such a way that without any separation having been of the Lord’s table as regards the sacrifice of Christ; both called and cast off were under the same old sacraments, to be sure, both those who walked in the light of the Lord and observed His precepts and those who rejected justice and deserved to be abandoned by it—if you choose to interpret these testimonies in this manner, what are you going to say and how will you interpret another Prophet who cuts this reply away entirely, shouting with unmistakable manifestation: ‘I have no pleasure in you says the Lord Almighty: and I will not receive a gift of your hand. For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place sacrifice is offered to my name, a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty.’ Finally, with what words do you cry out against such evidence? Why do you continue to exalt yourselves so impudently beyond measure that you perish all the more miserably and with graver destruction? ‘I have no pleasure in you,’ He says; not anyone, but ‘the Lord Almighty.’ Why do you glory so much in the seed of Abraham, you who, whenever you hear Jacob or Israel, or the house of Jacob or the house of Israel, whenever any praise is uttered, assert so energetically that such praise can refer only to you? The Lord Almighty says: ‘I have no pleasure in you, and I will not receive a gift of your hand.’ Certainly, you cannot deny that here the Lord not only refuses to receive a gift from your hands, but you do not offer Him a gift with your hands. Only one place has been established by the Law of the Lord where He commanded you to offer a gift with your hands; He absolutely forbade any other place. Since, therefore, you have lost this place through your own fault, you dare not offer in any other place the sacrifice which He permitted you to offer there. Behold fulfilled to the letter what the Prophet says: ‘And I will not receive a gift of your hand.’ If in the earthly Jerusalem you still had a temple and altar, you could say that the prophecy has been fulfilled in the pagans among you whose sacrifices the Lord does not receive; of others from among you and in you, however, who keep the commandments of God He does accept gifts. It can be said, therefore, that according to the Law that has come from Mount Sinai there is not one of you who is able to offer sacrifice with his hands. Nor was the prophecy and its fulfillment such that the prophetic judgment permits you to answer: ‘We do not offer flesh with our hands, but with our hearts and lips we offer praise as the psalm: “Offer to God the sacrifice of praise.”‘ Even here He opposes you who says: ‘I have no pleasure in you.’

(13) In the next place, do not suppose that because you do not offer sacrifice and God does not accept it from your hands, a sacrifice is not being offered to God, which He certainly does not need who needs the goods of no one of us. Nevertheless, since He is not without sacrifice which is for our benefit, not His, He adds: ‘For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place sacrifice is offered to my name, a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, says the Lord Almighty.’ What do you say to that? Open your eyes at last, at any time, and see, from the rising of the sun even to its setting—not in one place as established with you, but everywhere—the sacrifice of the Christians is being offered; not to any god at all, but to Him who foretold these events, to the God of Israel. For this reason, in another place, He says to His Church: ‘And he who delivered you, the very God of Israel shall be called the God of all the earth.’ Search the Scriptures through which you believe that you have eternal life. Actually, you would have it, if you recognized Christ in the Scripture and cleaved to Him. Search the sacred writings carefully; the same writings bear witness to the world about this sacrifice which is being offered to the God of Israel, not by your nation alone from whose hands He foretold He would not take the gift; it is being offered by all nations who say, ‘Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord’; not in one place, in the earthly Jerusalem, as you were bidden; everywhere, even in Jerusalem itself, according to the order of Melchizedech, not according to the order of Aaron. It was said to Christ and about Christ long before it was prophesied: The Lord has sworn, and he will not repent: you are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedech.’ What does ‘The Lord has sworn’ mean except that He confirmed with unshaken truth what He said? What is the meaning of ‘he will not repent’ if not that absolutely for no reason whatsoever will He change this priesthood? God does not repent as man does. We speak of repentance in God despite the idea of anything changing which was instituted by God and thought to be lasting. In the same sense He says: The Lord has sworn, and he will not repent; you art a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech.’ He shows clearly enough that He had repented, that is, He had willed to change the priesthood which He had established according to the order of Aaron. We see the fulfillment of both: of Aaron, there is no longer any priesthood in any temple; of Christ, the priesthood continues everlastingly in heaven.

 (14) To this light of the Lord the Prophet calls you when he says: ‘O house of Jacob, come you and let us walk in the light of the Lord.’ You ‘house of Jacob’ whom He has called and elected, not ‘you’ whom He has cast off, ‘For he has cast off his people, the house of Israel.’ Whoever of you from the house of Jacob choose to come, you will belong to that house which He has called; you will be free from that house which He has cast off. The light of the Lord in which the Gentiles walk, that is the light about which the same Prophet speaks: ‘I have given you to be the light of the Gentiles, that you may be my salvation even to the farthest part of the earth.’ To whom, if not to Christ, is this said? In whom is it fulfilled if not in Christ? This light is not in you of whom it has been said over and over again: ‘God has given them a spirit of stupor; eyes that they may not see, and ears that they may not hear, until this present day.’ Not in you, I say, is this light, for with plenty of blindness you rejected the stone which was made the corner-stone. ‘Come you to him and be enlightened.’ What is ‘Come’ if not believe? Where may you go in order to come to Him, since He is the stone of which Daniel the Prophet speaks, that stone which grew into such a mighty mountain that it filled the whole earth? The Gentiles who also say: ‘Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord’ do not seek to go and reach a fixed place anywhere in the world. Wherever they are, that is where they ascend, because sacrifice is offered in every place according to the order of Melchizedech. Similarly, another Prophet says: ‘God shall consume all the gods of the Gentiles of the earth: and they shall adore him every man from his own place.’ Therefore, when you hear: ‘Come to him,’ you do not hear: Prepare ships or pack animals, and load yourselves with your victims, and go a great distance to the place where God will receive your sacrifice of devotion, but: Come to Him who is being preached in your ears, come to Him who is being glorified before your eyes. You will not be worn out with walking, for you come to Him there where you believe in Him.

Chapter 10

 (15) Dearly beloved, whether the Jews receive these divine testimonies with joy or with indignation, nevertheless, when we can, let us proclaim them with great love for the Jews. Let us not proudly glory against the broken branches; let us rather reflect by whose grace it is, and by much mercy, and on what root, we have been ingrafted. Then, not savoring of pride, but with a deep sense of humility, not insulting with presumption, but rejoicing with trembling, let us say: ‘Come you and let us walk in the light of the Lord,’ because His ‘name is great among the Gentiles.’ If they hear Him and obey Him, they will be among them to whom Scripture says: ‘Come you to him and be enlightened: and your faces shall not be confounded.’ If, however, they hear and do not obey, if they see and are jealous, they are among them of whom the psalm says: ‘The wicked shall see, and shall be angry, he shall gnash with his teeth and pine away.’ ‘But I,’ the Church says to Christ, ‘as a fruitful olive tree in the house of God, have hoped in the mercy of God for ever, yea for ever and ever.’

  1. [1]Online here.  A French translation by Aubert (1897) may be found online here.
  2. [2]Augustine, “Treatises on Marriage and Other Subjects”, Fathers of the Church vol. 27, Catholic University of America Press (1955), p.387-417.  The tractatus is included as “In Answer to the Jews”, introduced and translated by Sister Marie Liguori.  Preview is here.  The introduction on p.387 discusses the date; probably after 425 AD, because it uses ideas from the City of God.

Jerome, Commentary on Jeremiah, on Matthew 27:25

The next patristic work to refer to Matthew 27:25 is in Jerome’s Commentary on Jeremiah.  BiblIndex gives the following information:

Jerome, In Hieremiam prophetam libri VI. REITER S., CCL 74 (1960). § 2 (p.71, l.18) & § 3 (p.162, l.20 & § 3 (p.181, l.14)

Which is fine if you have the Corpus Christianorum Latina at your elbow.  As we all do, yes?  Ahem.  No, we don’t.  So we must seek for alternatives.

The text is in Migne, of course, in the Patrologia Latina 24, cols. 679-900 (here).  But it would be a bit weary looking through that for the three references.

Fortunately there is an English translation.  It’s another of those useful translations by IVP Academic, which are so rarely bought by libraries in the UK for some unknown reason.[1]  There’s even a Google Books preview, here.  That means we can search in it; and a search for “27:25” gives three locations, as of course it should.

The first is on page 46:

6:19b: “I am bringing evil on this people, the fruit of their thoughts,”—or “apostasy”— “because they have not given heed to thy words and as for thy law, they have rejected it.”

He calls “evil” the punishments and penalties that he is bringing, not on the nations who are called to the truth of the gospel but on this people who said, “We will not give heed.” The people will receive the “fruit” of their “thoughts” or “apostasies,” as blessed David says: “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands. And the reason for all of this is clear: they did not heed the words of the Lord, and they rejected his law.

6:20: “To what purpose does frankincense come to me from Sheba, or sweet cane from a distant land? Your burnt offerings are not acceptable, nor your sacrifices pleasing to me.”

That frankincense comes from Sheba no one doubts; thus the Virgilian phrase “And its hundred altars steam with Sabacan incense.” Moreover, “sweet cane,” which in Hebrew is cane, and which the LXX and Theodotion translated as “cinnamon,” is shown by the prophetic word to come from a faraway land, which we understand to be India, from where many perfumes come through the Red Sea. This particular kind of spice physicians call quill-cassia. And this is the sense: “It is in vain that you offer to me your sweet-smelling spices and your burnt offerings, even though you have performed acts of anointing that were commanded in the law; for you have not done my will in the law.” This is what was said above: “They have not given heed to my words; and as for my law, they have rejected it ” This may rightly be applied to those who offer sacrifices from what has been taken by violence and from the plundering of the destitute and then suppose that by this money taken from iniquity they are ransoming their sins. Scripture says, “The ransom of a mans soul is his wealth”—yet, not wealth derived from iniquity but wealth gathered by hard work and righteousness.

6:21: “Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will lay before this people devastations, and they shall be devastated by them,’ — or ‘weakness, and they shall become weak by them’—’fathers and sons together, neighbor and friend shall perish.'”

We see that everything the Lord threatened against this people has been fulfilled. For daily they are devastated by their blasphemies; there is nothing of strength in them, but every one among them is weak. Sons follow the blasphemies of their fathers, and every day they receive this curse: “His blood be on us and on our children!” And not only they but also their “neighbors and friends”—all who follow the law and the prophets according to the letter that kills and not according to the Spirit that gives life—all of them perish equally, because all have sinned equally.

On page 105 there is a reference, but this is not in the preview, sadly.  It must be on Jeremiah 17:1-6, or something like that.  A look at the PL reveals that it is on 17:1, col.786 (p.54 in the PDF linked above).  Let me translate bits of this myself.  (The poor quality printing rather impedes my understanding of the last bit, since I can’t work out what the words are!)

17:1. The sin of Judah is inscribed with an iron pen with an adamant point, written on the tablet of their hearts and on the horns of their altars.

Of the gentiles who were converted to God, it was written earlier, “Therefore, behold, I will make them know, this once I will make them know my power and my might” (Jer.16:21): now, concerning the Jews who were thrown down, it is said, “the sin of Judah is inscribed with an iron pen with an adamant point” etc.  I do not know why in the Septuagint … [text critical remarks omitted]  The sins of the gentles are erased, because converted to the Lord from the ends of the earth they hear this, “Praise the Lord, all you nations…”.  But the indelible sin of Judah, which, as I might say, has no reason to be abolished, is written with an iron pen with an adamant point, which in Hebrew is called … and it lasts because it is inscribed, for eternity.  For they themselves said, “His blood be upon us and upon our children”.  Which is why it is written or inscribed on the horns of the altars, or their altars, so that the sacrilegious work should be held in memory for ever.  But if this is so, …

On page 116, there is a final reference:

18:17: “Like a scorching wind I will scatter them before the enemy”—or “enemies—”I will show them my back, not my face, in the day of their calamity.

Even today the judgment of God remains against the Jews. Throughout the entire world they are scattered before their enemy, the devil—or their enemies, the demons. Although they invoke the name of God day and night in their synagogues of Satan, God shows them his back and not his face, so that they may understand that he is always departing and never coming to them. Moreover, the day of the calamity of the Jews is the whole period from the passion of the Savior to the consummation of the age, so that, after the fullness of the Gentiles has entered in, then all Israel will be saved.

18:18: Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us smite him with the tongue, and let us not heed any of his words.”

This is the plot, at that time of the Jews against Jeremiah or against the Lord Savior, and today of the heresies against the Lord’s servants. They make up false charges and preempt holy people with accusations, as they plan not what truth they will speak but what falsehoods they will invent. For they boast that God’s law, counsel and speech will remain with their priests, wise men and pseudoprophets, although Scripture says, “Wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul.”

18:19-22a: Give heed to me, O Lord, and hear the voice of my adversaries! Shall evil be rendered for good, since they have dug a pit for my life? Remember how I stood before you to speak good for them, to turn away your wrath from them. Therefore deliver up their children to famine; give them over to the power of the sword; let their wives become childless and widowed. May their men be struck with death, their youths slain by the sword in battle. May a cry be heard from their houses!

It was as a type of the Savior that Jeremiah endured all of this at the hands of the Jewish people, who later were destroyed when the Babylonians came. But it was fulfilled more fully and more perfectly in Christ, when the city was overthrown and the people were massacred by the Roman sword, not because of idolatry (which was not a problem at that time), but because they killed the Son of God, when all the people cried out together: “Away, away with such a one! We have no king but Caesar!” And the curse of eternal damnation against them was fulfilled: “His blood be on us and on our children!” For they had dug a pit for Christ and said, “Let us remove him from the land of the living!” But Christ had such great compassion toward them that he stood before the Father to speak good for them and to tum away the Father’s wrath from them. so that even on the cross he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”’ We are only touching briefly on what is clear so that we can spend more time on obscure matters. We will not offer the absurd interpretations of some and talk about the captivity of the heavenly Jerusalem. Instead, we follow the clear historia and the most obvious prophecy with complete confidence in the words and the meaning.

 It’s unfortunate that I can’t access one of the three references in the IVP translation, but the general approach is clear.  Jerome is treating the Old Testament text as a prediction or foreshadowing of the events of the life of Christ; and all those cases where Jeremiah was threatened by the hate of others, he relates to the Jews’ hostility to Christ and, no doubt, the Christian message.  This seems to be an exegetical principle, probably deriving from Origen and his approach to the OT.

Which of course leads us to wonder whether Origen’s exegesis of Jeremiah is extant, and, if so, what he says on these passages.

  1. [1]Jerome, Commentary on Jeremiah, ed. Michael Graves.  IVP Academic, 2012.

Origen on Matthew 27:25 from the Commentariorum in Matthaeum Series

Only books 10-17 of Origen’s Commentary in Matthew survive in Greek.  But as I wrote yesterday, a Latin translation from antiquity renders a large chunk, from books 12, chapter 9 to almost the end of Matthew’s gospel.  Unfortunately there are no signposts in the text as to Origen’s book division: only a division into sections, more or less equivalent to the verses of the gospel text.

In section 124,[1] on Matthew 27:22-26, there is, naturally, a reference to Matthew 27:25.  Let’s see what Origen says here.

124. Pilate said to them, “So what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ? They all said, “Let him be crucified”, etc.

Wishing to impress on them the shame of so great an evil, Pilate said to them, “What shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ”, but not only that but wishing to get the measure of their impiety.  But they, neither blushing at this because Pilate was acknowledging that Jesus was the Christ, nor keeping within the limit of impiety, all said, “Let him be crucified“. And they even petitioned for Barabbas to be set free, while on the contrary they desired that Christ go to the cross, namely that Barabbas should actually be absolved, for they did not petition that he be crucified, but set free by the power of Pilate, so that they might do with him as they wished.  The impiety so far was great, because they petitioned for a murderer and abandoned a just man.  But now they multiplied the measure of their impiety, not only seeking life for a murderer, but also death for a just man, and the nastiest death of the cross.  Thus far he [Pilate] was going along with them, because he wanted to confuse them, so that, confused, they might come to choose the just man (although not in a judgement from their hearts), he said to them, “What wrong has he done?”  They had nothing with which to respond to this, so they shouted more loudly, lying down but increasing their rage, animosity and blasphemy and said, “Let him be crucified!

But Pilate, seeing that nothing was being gained, made use of the Jewish custom, wishing to appease them concerning the innocence of Christ not only with words, but also by their own action, if they wished, or if they did not wish to condemn, and, acting not according to any Roman custom; for he took water in the sight of all and, washing his hands, said: “I am innocent of the blood of this <just man>; you see to it.  And indeed he washed, but they not only did not wish to cleanse themselves of the blood of Christ, but also to take it on themselves, saying, “His blood be upon us, and on our children,” on account of which they are found guilty not only of the blood of the prophets, but, filling up the measure of their fathers, they are found guilty also of the blood of Christ, and hear God saying to them, “When you lift up your hands towards me, I will turn my eyes away from you; for your hands are full of blood.” (Is. 1:15)  Therefore the blood of Jesus was not only blamed upon them, who were alive then, but also on every generation of the Jews following after, until the end of the world.[2]  For this reason their house is now derelict and deserted by them.  But Pilate, forgetting his good words, with which he had begun to defend the innocence of Christ, falling into evil not only handed over Jesus but also handed him over to be flogged, so that they might crucify him.

I did transcribe the Latin text from the GCS edition, so that I could use Google Translate and QuickLatin on it.  Let’s have that also:

124. Dicit illis Pilatus: quid ergo faciam Iesum qui dicitur Christus? Dicunt omnes: crucifigatur, et cetera (27, 22—26).

Volens eis pudorem tantae iniquitatis incutere Pilatus dicit eis: quid ergo faciam Iesum qui dicitur Christus, non solum autem sed et mensuram colligere volens impietatis eorum, illi autem, nec hoc erubescentes quod Pilatus Iesum Christum esse confitebatur nec modum impietatis servantes, dixerunt omnes: crucifigatur. Et si quidem Barabbam petissent dimittere, non autem econtra et Christum postulassent ad crucem, utputa Barabbam quidem petissent absolvi, hunc autem non petissent crucifigi sed in potestate dimisissent Pilati, ut faceret de eo quod vellet, adhuc magnae esset impietatis, quod relicto iusto homicidam petissent.  Nunc autem multiplicaverunt impietatis suae mensuram, non solum homicidam postulantes ad vitam, sed etiam iustum ad mortem et ad mortem turpissimam crucis, adhuc autem permanens in eo ipso, quod confundere eos volebat, ut vel confusi ad electionem iusti venirent (etsi non ex iudicio cordis), dicit eis: quid enim mali fecit?  Contra hoc nihil habentes quod responderent, amplius clamaverunt non deponentes sed augentes iram, animositatem, blasphemiam et dixerunt: crucifigatur.

Pilatus autem, videns quod nihil proficeret, Iudaico usus est more, volens eos de Christi innocentia non solum verbis, sed etiam ipso facto placare si voluerint, si autem noluerint condemnare, faciens non secundum aliquam consuetudinem Romanorum; accepit enim aquam in conspectu omnium, et lavans manus suas dixit: innocens ego sum a sanguine <iusti> huius; vos videritis. Et ipse quidem se lavit, illi autem non solum se mundare noluerunt a sanguine Christi, sed etiam super se susceperunt dicentes: sanguis eius super nos, et super filios nostros, propter hoc rei facti sunt non solum in sanguine prophetarum, sed inplentes mensuram patrum suorum facti sunt rei etiam in sanguine Christi, ut audiant deum sibi dicentem: «cum expanderitis manus vestras ad me, avertam oculos meos a vobis; manus enim vestrae sanguine plenae sunt«.  Propterea sanguis Iesu non solum super eos factus est, qui tunc fuerunt, verum etiam super omnes generationes Iudaeorum post sequentes usque ad consummationem. Propterea usque nunc domus eorum derelicta est eis deserta. Pilatus autem oblitus verborum suorum bonorum, quibus coeperat defendere innocentiam Christi, declinans ad malum non solum tradidit Iesum, sed etiam flagellis caesum tradidit, ut crucifigerent eum.

It is interesting how favourable Origen is to Pilate!  He actually makes up a story about what Pilate must have thought and intended.

I also notice a lot of repetition in here, as if this material was delivered orally.  Of course we know that Origen “wrote” by dictation, but even so, the points are repeated so much that it sounds a bit like a stenographic record.

  1. [1]GCS 38 p.258-60.
  2. [2]Given slightly less literally by Raymond E. Brown in The Death of the Messiah (1994), vol. 1, p.384, as “Therefore the blood of Jesus came not only upon those who existed at that time but also upon all generations of Jews who would follow afterwards until the endtime.”

Jerome on Matthew 27:25

While looking for information on the textual tradition of Origen’s Commentary on Matthew, I stumbled across a Google books preview of Jerome’s Commentary on Matthew, in the Fathers of the Church series, vol. 117 (2008), ably translated by Thomas Scheck.  This work in four books also references Matthew 27:25 (His blood be upon us and on our children).

Here’s what it says, from book 4, on 27:25.  FoC p.312-313:

27:24. So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the people, saying: “I am innocent of the blood of this just man; see to it yourselves.”Pilate took water in accordance with the following prophecy: “I will wash my hands among the innocent.” Thus, in the washing of his hands, the works of the Gentiles are cleansed, and in some manner he estranges us from the impiety of the Jews who shouted: “Crucify him.” For he contested this and said: I certainly wanted to set the innocent man free, but because a sedition is arising and the crime of treason against Caesar is being attached to me: “I am innocent of the blood of this man.” The judge who is compelled to bring a verdict against the Lord does not condemn the one offered, but exposes those who offered him; he pronounces that he who is to be crucified is just. “See to it yourselves,” he says; I am a minister of the laws; it is your voice that is shedding his blood.

27:25. And all the people answered and said: “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”This imprecation upon the Jews continues until the present day. The Lord’s blood will not be removed from them. This is why it says through Isaiah: “If you wash your hands before me, I will not listen; for your hands are full of blood.” The Jews have left the best heritage to their children, saying: “His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

27:26. Then he released for them Barabbas; but he had Jesus scourged, and handed him over to them to be crucified. Barabbas the thief, who made seditions among the crowds, who was the author of murders, was released to the people of the Jews. He stands for the devil, who reigns in them until today. It is for this reason that they are unable to have peace. But Jesus, having been handed over by the Jews, is absolved by the wife of Pilate, and is called a just man by the governor himself. …

This is useful for our current project into the use of Matthew 27:25 in the Fathers.  But paging idly back a little, I came across another interesting passage on p.310:

27:9-10. Then was fulfilled what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by the sons of Israel, and they gave them for a potter’s field, just as the Lord appointed for me.”This testimony is not found in Jeremiah. Something similar is recorded in Zechariah, who is nearly the last of the twelve prophets. Yet both the order and the wording are different, although the sense is not that discordant. Recently I read something in a certain little Hebrew book that a Hebrew from the Nazarene sect brought to me. It was an apocryphon of Jeremiah in which I found this text written word for word. Yet it still seems more likely to me that the testimony was taken from Zechariah by a common practice of the evangelists and apostles. In citation they bring out only the sense from the Old Testament. They tend to neglect the order of the words.

Interesting indeed, although I learn from the footnote that apparently G. Bardy supposed in a paper in 1934 that Jerome invented the story of finding an apocryphon. But we need not worry about such a speculation.


Another Matthew 27:25 reference in Theodoret on the Psalms?

The next reference in the Fathers to Matthew 27:25 – “His blood be upon us and our children” – is to be found in Theodoret.  The Biblindex site gives the reference simply as “Theodoret, Interpretatio in Psalmos. PG 80, 857-1997″ which is notable for the lack of a precise column number.  Oh dear.

Today I started the tedious process of flicking through the pages of a downloaded PDF of the PG80.  It’s more fun than a boy should have, I can tell you.  Only another 500-odd clicks to go.  Whee!

This evening, overcome by nagging doubt, I recalled the existence of an index volume by Cavallera.  Sadly, even on a smartphone, I quickly verified that it wouldn’t tell me where or whether Matt.27:25 was used in the text.

My next thought was whether an English translation existed of the Interpretatio in Psalmos.  And … one does!  A two volume “Commentary on the Psalms” is published by Catholic University of America Press in the Fathers of the Church series.  Furthermore there is a quite generous preview accessible via Google Books, from which I learn (on p.4) that the PG text is indeed the one translated.  This is useful in view of the tendency of ancient commentators on scripture to go round the ground more than once.  The translator writes:

Today’s reader of this work by Theodoret enjoys the advantage of its rich manuscript tradition, direct and in the catenae, while suffering the limitation of lack of a modern critical text. What is to hand is the eighteenth-century edition by J. L. Schulze that appeared a century later in J. P. Migne’s Patrologia Graeca 80.857-1998 with a Latin translation by Antonio Carafa. Study of the Commentary is further complicated by its survival in two forms, long and short, the latter better attested to by more ancient witnesses, yet the long form being cited by the Palestinian catena and thus in existence since the sixth century. Schulze  adopts the short form of the text for his edition, but—without obvious rationale—also incorporates excerpts of the longer form that would puzzle readers did he not acknowledge their inclusion, and that deepen the sense of urgency of need of a critical edition …

It is rather fun, this, chasing down the reference to an ancient text of which I knew nothing before this evening.  The Indiana Jones instinct is alive and well!

But the next stage is to lay hands on this translation.  And this is, of course, not so straightforward.

The FoC series now numbers over 127 volumes.  There is a reasonable possibility that Cambridge University Library will have the volumes in question: and a drive over there will supply me with the reference more easily than paging through 1000 columns of Migne.  Of course I’d rather have a PDF on my own machine, if I could obtain one.  After all, if they sold them at $5 a pop as ebooks, I’d buy just copies and think no more of it.  Maybe even at $10 a pop.

The world is changing, in this regard.  For instance computer manuals such as Spring in Action, sold by Manning, now come bundled with a copy of the eBook version as well.  They enclose a key in the book, and you unseal it and download it.  I have bought a number of their manuals, precisely because I got both (and wanted both).

So what about CUA?  A look at their website shows that they do offer ebooks, and well done them.  The pricing however, is less forward-thinking:

FOC_ebook_priceYour eyes do not deceive you, dear reader.  CUA do indeed want $40 for the paper book, and exactly the same for the ebook. Oh dear.  But as I say, at least the ebook does exist.  Not every publisher has got this far.  So … it’s progress of a sort.

Meanwhile, browsing Theodoret’s preface to the commentary I find an interesting snippet, relevant to my quest for patristic references to Matt.27:25, on p.41, complete with interesting footnote:

In my opinion, it is for a wise man to shun the extreme tendencies of both the former[Jews] and the latter[Christians]: the things that are relevant to stories of the past should be applied to them even today, whereas the prophecies about Christ the Lord, about the Church from the nations, the evangelical lifestyle, and the apostolic preaching should not be applied to anything else, as Jews with their proclivity to malice love to do and contrive a defense for their disbelief.[11]

11. This edge against the Jews can be found in other churchmen in Antioch, of course.

It will be interesting to see whether my survey of the use of Matthew 27:25 bears this last comment out.

Now I was going to leave it there: but these previews are such useful tools, particularly when a publisher is generous and allows a good portion of the book to appear (and, in honesty, you can’t read a book in a preview but you can find it is of use).  I remembered that the previews have a search box on them. So I thought that I’d try a search for “blood”.

And … it worked!  On p.338 and p.340 I found my reference, which is on cols. 1308 and 1312 of Migne’s Patrologia Graeca 80, it seems.  Theodoret is commenting on Psalm 59, which he reads as David foreseeing how the Jews would show their fury against Christ.

You, O Lord God of hosts, God of Israel, take the trouble to survey all the nations (v. 5). Perceiving sinlessness to belong to him alone who came from him in the flesh, and foreseeing in the Spirit the fury directed against him by the Jews who were of the same stock, he begs the Lord of’ hosts and God of Israel to leave the Jews to their own devices and transfer all his providence to the nations, illuminating them with the light of the knowledge of God. Now, in announcing this to the nations, he predicts the Jews’ punishment: Have pity on none of the workers of iniquity. Since with the eyes of inspiration he saw the cross, you see, he seemed also to hear [1308] the Lord of glory saying, “Father, forgive them their sin: they do not know what they are doing.” Loathing the extraordinary degree of their impiety, he prays that they enjoy no pardon.

(6) Then he prophesies the dearth of spiritual nourishment about to affect them. In the evening they will return, they will be as hungry as dogs, and will go around the city (v. 6). Just as dogs are in the habit of prowling around the streets of the cities at night, he is saying, forced to do it by an empty stomach, in like manner these people will be devoid of all spiritual provender; not enjoying the charism of inspiration, they will be completely bereft of high-priestly attention. Like a dog they will continue their meandering, not accorded the right to share even the scraps falling from their master’s table, as the Gospel saying has it.

(7) Then he teaches more clearly the cause of the punishment. Lo, with their own mouth they will speak out, and a sword on their lips, saying, Who has heard? (v. 7). With their tongue they cause slaughter, he is saying, giving forth their words like some dagger and sword, and events bear out their words. They crucified their Lord with their tongue, crying aloud, “Away, away with him, crucify him! His blood be on us and on our children!” They put their words into action with the aid of Pilate’s troops, and nailed the Savior to the gibbet. The inspired word said this, too: With their own mouth they will speak out, and a sword on their lips, saying, Who has heard? Because the words they utter they use in place of swords. Now, they do this, he is saying, as though no one were watching; the phrase saying, Who has heard? indicates this: they are so bold as though no one were watching or listening to what happened or requiring an account. Symmachus brought out this sense, in fact: in place of saying, Who has heard?he put “as though no one were listening.”

(8) Perceiving this attitude of theirs ahead of time, therefore, David adds the words, You, O Lord, will mock them (v. 8): [1309] though they are so bold, in other words, you are listening and watching and mocking their futility. You will set all the nations at naught: it is easy for you to prevail not only over them but over all the nations as well. The divinely inspired Isaiah said this, too, in his efforts to bring out the extraordinary degree of the divine power: “If all the nations were considered to be like a drop in the bucket, like a tilt in the scales and like spittle, and will be so considered, to what did you compare the Lord? By what comparison did you compare him?”

(9) I shall watch for you, my strength, because you are my support, O God (v. 9). I have you as supporter and guardian of my power, he is saying; I continue to enjoy your providence. My God, his mercy will anticipate me (v. 10): you always anticipate my petitions, O Lord, and in an excess of loving-kindness you do not wait for supplication. My God will show it to me among my foes. The inspired author considers his foes to he the same as the Savior’s foes. Then he predicts to them the future: Do not kill them lest they forget your Law (v. 11). I beg you, he is saying, not to let them undergo complete ruin: there are many among them who are being cured by the remedies of repentance. “In death there is no-one to remember you, after all; in Hades who will confess to you?”So what penalty does he intend to exact of them? Scatter them in your power and bring them down, O Lord, my protector. Scatter them throughout the whole world, he is saying, and make them exiles and refugees since they were involved in a wicked conspiracy against you.

(10) Now, what that conspiracy was he informs us: A sin of their mouth, a word of their lips (v. 12). This also concurs with what was said before: above he had said, Lo, with their own mouth they will speak out, and a sword on their lips, and here in turn he accuses them of a sin of the mouth, a word of the lips, teaching us in every case that they will pay [1312] a penalty for that statement which they uttered in concert, undermining Pilate’s just verdict. While he intended, in fact, to release him as an innocent man, they cried aloud, “Away, away with him! Crucify him! His blood be on us and on our children.” Symmachus, on the other hand, rendered this more clearly: instead of, Scatter them in your power, he said, “Drive them out in your power and destroy them, O Lord, our protector, in the sin of their mouths, the word of their lips.” Make them fugitives, he is saying, and turn them from free men into slaves on account of the sin of their mouth and the word of their lips. Likewise in the case of the construction of the tower he dissolved their evil concert in discord, and to the ailment of the damaging harmony he applied the antidote of division of languages.

Which is what we’re looking for.  Thank you CUA and Google Books!

I did look into the preview of volume 2 as well, but there are no references.

As a bonus, I found a footnote referring to Origen’s Commentary on Matthew, not mentioned in Biblindex, but giving a reference to I, 384 (although what that reference is I don’t know).

58. New Testament scholar Raymond F. Brown, The Death of the Messiah, ABRL (New York: Doubleday, 1994) traces this attitude back to the NT and the early Fathers, quoting Origen on Matt 27.25: “Therefore the blood of Jesus came not only on those who existed at that time but also upon all generations of Jews who would follow afterwards till the endtime” (I, 384).

And a search in the Ante-Nicene Fathers produces a result here, although not obviously the same one.  So I have more to do here: and this also casts doubt on the completeness of Biblindex.  Hum.  But what fun!